Past Perfect Crosman Model 1377

Past Perfect

Crosman Model 1377

By Dennis Adler

Somewhere there’s an old photo of me with one of my very first air pistols, it was taken in the late 1970s and it was only my second air pistol since I was a kid. Back then I was an automotive journalist and editor of a now long forgotten magazine titled Custom Vans. It was in the days before gasoline soared to almost .50 cents a gallon (and those were the good old days), vans were very popular, not as family vehicles for moms to haul the kids to baseball practice (this is before soccer practice), but rather for single guys to cruise around in. These were not tradesmen’s vans with tools and shelves and storage compartments, but customized vans with interiors designed like mobile homes, well not the entire home, just the living room. Others were decked out like lounges, some had rear sunroofs, there was even one I wrote about that had a full bar inside. I’m not sure how that worked with open container laws in California, but I’m digressing. What I want to do is set up a time period in America, a time when service stations still had attendants that pumped your gas, cleaned the windshield and checked under the hood. Imported cars were in the minority and Detroit’s Big Three, (actually Big Four because back then there was still AMC/Jeep) all ruled the automotive roost, on road and off. read more


Stick it to me Part 3

Stick it to me Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Stick magazines vs. CO2 BB magazines in Blowback Action Pistols

By Dennis Adler

We may not get every CO2 model that is sold in Europe but the U.S. gets some excellent choices including the well-established Umarex Walther P.38 (upper right), Umarex Luger P.08 (upper left) in both self-contained and stick magazine versions, the best overall CO2 training gun on the market, the Umarex S&W M&P40 (bottom right) and best pocket-sized CO2 model, the Umarex Walther PPS (lower left). All of these guns are accurate in their designs and fit the same holsters as their centerfire counterparts. (Holsters by World War Supply for the P.38 and P.08, Galco for the PPS, and Safariland for the M&P40)

Is the gun, in and of itself, more important than the magazine it uses? From your comments I’d have to say yes, if the gun is the Umarex Walther P.38. And to answer the other question, it seems unlikely we will see the battlefield finish version of this air pistol in the U.S. anytime soon. The European market is far more saturated with CO2 models than the U.S. because throughout much of Europe having actual centerfire models is a laborious endeavor. From visiting people I know in Germany, for example, gun ownership is very limited and it takes a long time to get a permit to own one. One. To own more takes even longer. As a reader from Europe noted, we here in the U.S “…live in paradise compared to us.” But for airguns, the paradise is over there. Umarex and other manufacturers build airguns for a global market; the U.S. only gets a portion of them, and unfortunately there are some that never make it to our shores. The internet has made it possible for us to not only see what we have, but also what we can’t. read more


Stick it to me Part 2

Stick it to me Part 2 Part 3

Stick magazines vs. CO2 BB magazines in Blowback Action Pistols

By Dennis Adler

Comparable guns and an incomparable gun; the two versions of the Umarex P.08 Parabellum with stick and self-contained magazines, the Walther PPS and S&W M&P 40 with stick and self-contained magazines, respectively, and a pistol that has to equal, the Walther P.38.

Consider that the P.38 blowback action CO2 model has been around since 2012 and the Walther PPS since 2014, and neither has suffered in sales or popularity because they have stick magazines; maybe there is a reason why Umarex hasn’t made a change. I can’t speak for Umarex or the company’s marketing strategy, but they did update the PPK/S with an internal seating screw and clean up that gun’s exterior lines last year. I guess that’s something, but the PPK/S has never been a performance gun, its only claim to fame is its name and having been the very first blowback action CO2 air pistol 18 years ago. The newer Walther PPS, however, was in many ways a game changer in 2014. I saw it before its U.S. introduction when I visited the Umarex factory in Germany and tested a pre-production prototype (along with many other CO2 models and new Walther centerfire pistols that have since come to market). I knew then, despite its stick magazine that it was going to be a success on every other level, just like the P.38 that had preceded it two years earlier. read more


Stick it to me Part 1

Stick it to me Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Stick magazines vs. CO2 BB magazines in Blowback Action Pistols

By Dennis Adler

Despite having stick magazines, these three Umarex blowback action CO2 models, the Luger P.08, Walther P.38 and Walther PPS excel in authentic styling and features. No molded-in pieces here, and they fit original holsters. There’s a lot to be said for these three, especially at their retail price point. (WWII holsters courtesy World War Supply, PPS holster by Galco)

During my recent comparison between CO2 and Nitrogen for cold weather shooting I ended up using one blowback action pistol with a stick magazine and another with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine, and there proved to be a definite difference in overall performance. Was this a coincidence in my choice of guns? Perhaps, but this question led me to look at the motivations behind building otherwise new CO2 pistols that use older-style stick magazines as possibly being more than a manufacturing convenience, or an effort to build a lower price-point blowback action pistol. Maybe there is a more sporting notion behind it, too. read more


Winning the Cold War

Winning the Cold War

The battle between CO2 and the thermometer Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

Back in the Old West guns had to work no matter what the temperature. With CO2 powered Peacemakers it isn’t quite as cut and dried. Depending upon the gun, CO2 can be problematic at temperatures below 50 degrees (CO2 works best at between 70 and 80 degrees), but as this cold weather test will show, there are always exceptions. (The custom 5-1/2 inch Colt holster by Chisholm’s Trail is now available from Pyramyd Air)

Using Nitrogen in place of CO2 has its benefits if the temperature is well below minimum for CO2. But there is another question, CO2 super cools when rapid firing is involved, this could be fanning a single action, like the 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker or using a select fire semi-auto, such as the Umarex Model 712 Broomhandle Mauser. I have put these two classic 19th century handguns (the Broomhandle was initially developed in 1895), into a 21st century battle to see how well Nitrogen survives the ultimate test of an air pistol. read more


Winning the Cold War

Winning the Cold War

The battle between CO2 and the thermometer Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

If you find yourself on a winter day with a need to shoot a CO2 powered air pistol in 28 degrees, it will work for a short time. How short? Depends upon the air pistol, its internal design, and how soon the CO2 loses PSI and velocity drops to the point where the pistol won’t function. With the Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 it turned out to be 90 shots with the first four of five 18-round magazines maintaining at least 346 fps velocity and 1.25 inch accuracy at 21 feet. This is what you would definitely call a best case scenario.

Over the years I have had varying results with CO2 in cold weather, particularly with blowback action pistols, but also with single and double action revolvers. My most disappointing test was two winters ago with a Peacemaker that got about two reloads from a CO2 cylinder before the BBs (this was before the pellet models were introduced) almost rolled out of the barrel. With a couple of semi-autos I managed two magazines before the CO2 failed to power the slide. The temperatures were almost always in the 30s. For this most recent test it was 28 degrees with a light wind and the test gun was a Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 blowback action [1], which completely surprised me by performing exceptionally well in below freezing temperatures. With the ProChrono chronograph using infrared screens plugged into an outside power source, I was able to clock velocity for each magazine I shot. After only a few minutes exposure to the outside weather, having come from a 70 degree room where the CO2 had been loaded into the pistol grip, the first 9 shots fired clocked from 355 fps to 327 fps with an average velocity of 346 fps. I went through five 18-round stick magazines before the gun clocked a low of 276 fps and then was unable to continue firing. That’s a total of 90 shots over a period of 15 minutes outdoors in 28 degree weather. This is the best result I have ever had with a CO2 pistol in below freezing temperatures. The Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 has been an exceptional gun since it was introduced, but I would have to say it is an all around performer despite having a stick magazine and separate CO2 channel in the grip frame. The blowback action is snappy, even at 28 degrees. The bottom line here is that I picked a gun that happens to perform well in cold weather. read more


Winning the Cold War

Winning the Cold War

The battle between CO2 and the thermometer Part 1 Part 2

By Dennis Adler

The airgun that came out in the cold; I used my custom weathered finish Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 for this test of CO2 vs. Nitrogen in below freezing temperatures. (The Russian semi-auto model seemed an appropriate choice for the artic chill). The shot count is 18 rounds for the Tokarev CO2 model’s stick magazine, so we’ll see how many times I can shoot and reload with CO2 before the outside temperature brings things to a halt.

I have two things in common with CO2; I don’t function well in cold weather or extreme heat. CO2 likes to be at an optimum temperature range of no less than 60 degrees and no greater than 90 degrees. That’s actually the extreme ends, between 70 and 80 degrees is really where CO2 functions best. When the temperature gets above 80 degrees, pressure (PSI) increases with CO2; the upshot is you also get slightly elevated velocities and at around 90 degrees you begin to see vaporization of the CO2 leaving the barrel (very cold air meeting very hot air). This looks like a trail of gun smoke, some people call it wisps. An airgun based on a centerfire or rimfire pistol or rifle is even more realistic looking with a smoking barrel, but high temperature is not conducive to proper functioning, especially with blowback action models. The higher PSI can be hard on the action and seals. At the other extreme, temperatures from 50 degrees to just above freezing, the CO2 is chilled, and already being cold to begin with, the PSI is lowered and performance drops rapidly along with velocity. In a very short time of exposure to freezing temperatures CO2 powered blowback action pistols stop working. Revolvers don’t fair much better after a few minutes. Whenever I have had to shoot tests outdoors in winter I keep the gun in a warm coat pocket between shooting sessions, or even pull the car nearby and keep the gun in the heated vehicle so the CO2 is at 70 degrees before taking it out to shoot. This extends my shooting time but the end result is still the same after a few minutes. read more