The 100th Airgun Experience

The 100th Airgun Experience

What have we learned?

By Dennis Adler

History has, in a way, dictated which guns are the most significant, among them the great Webley MKVI. As a manufacturer, Webley also has a lengthy history building airguns, so their c. 1937 MKVI in .177 caliber is based on the same blueprint as the original .455 caliber military revolver.

History has, in a way, dictated which guns are the most significant, among them is the great Webley MKVI. As a manufacturer Webley also has a long history building airguns and their c. 1937 MKVI in .177 caliber is based on the same blueprint as the original .455 caliber military revolver. (Webley holster by World War Supply, belt courtesy John Bianchi)

It’s hard to believe, but here we are at No. 100. A lot of airguns have been tested in the previous 99 Airgun Experience articles. When I set out to create this series of short features, rather than following a traditional blog format, I decided to write and illustrate them as I would for a magazine. This comes from 40 years in the print media world as an author, editor and publisher; it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Hopefully, those of you who have followed the Airgun Experience throughout the last 99 articles and others who have recently started to read the columns on Pyramyd Air have come to appreciate the depth and detail in each review. The goal has always been to inform, illustrate, and educate as much as possible, not only with reviews of the airguns but their use for enhancing firearms knowledge and improving shooting skills.

Gletcher makes the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 and 1944 military rifle models, one of the most popular of the legendary Russian bolt-actions. The Gletcher 1891, which is the sawn off version, makes this 19th century design a unique airgun in a world of airguns.

Gletcher makes the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 and 1944 military rifle models, one of the most popular of the legendary Russian bolt-actions. The Gletcher 1891, which is the sawn off version, makes this 19th century design a unique airgun in a world of airguns.

Air rifles (and later air pistols) have been used for law enforcement and military training for hundreds of years. From the late 1780s to early 1800s the Austrian Army actually carried Girandoni air rifles as military arms, and Lewis & Clark carried a Girandoni with them on the Corps of Discovery Expedition from 1804 to 1806.The use of airguns for training has historic relevance to this very day.

The most important new airgun of recent time is the Umarex S&W M&P40, which has been adopted as a training gun for law enforcement (police and Sheriffs that carry the S&W) due to its 100 percent accuracy to the cartridge-firing models.

The most important new airgun of recent time is the Umarex S&W M&P40, which has been adopted as a training gun for law enforcement (police and Sheriffs officers that carry the S&W) due to its 100 percent accuracy to the cartridge-firing models. (Holster courtesy Galco)

Most recently this has been proven with the adoption of the Umarex S&W M&P40 blowback action air pistol as a training gun for law enforcement, but more than 15 years ago, the Umarex Walther CP99 (4.5mm pellet-firing version of the Walther P99) was being used as a training gun by police departments in Germany. CO2 packs a lot more power than just for shooting BBs and pellets, it packs the promise of good firearms training skills at a fraction of the price and operating costs of comparable cartridge-firing models. With that in mind as we begin the second 100 Airgun Experience articles, I want to look back at what has happened in the world of airguns.

With our focus primarily on handguns and select historic and military rifles, a lot has happened outside of that small circle with pre-charged pneumatics, and other target shooting air rifles and pistols, which Tom Gaylord has handily covered over the same period. For me, and for you, it has been about new CO2 handguns, the authenticity to their cartridge-firing counterparts, and the enjoyment that comes from training with air.

Airguns for training can be for more than law enforcement and CCW use, models like the .177 caliber Tanfoglio Gold Custom are identical to the championship 9mm models and can interchange with the same competition shooting gear for training and indoor practice.

Airguns for training can be for more than law enforcement and CCW use. Models like the .177 caliber Tanfoglio Gold Custom are identical to the championship 9mm pistols and can interchange with the same competition shooting gear for training and indoor practice.

Those of you who have read Guns of the Old West magazine for the last 10 years or purchased any of my books on western and Civil War era arms, know I am first and foremost a 19th century firearms enthusiast, and this last year has presented a windfall of new western guns chambered in .177 (4.5mm) caliber.

Nothing says American West like an engraved Colt Peacemaker. When Umarex introduced the 5-1/2 inch barrel length .177 caliber model in 2015, it wasn’t long before a 4.5mm pellet firing six-shooter was added. The latest limited edition is this gold and nickel version of an L.D. Nimschke model sold in the 1870s by New York retailer Schuyler, Hartley, & Graham.

Nothing says American West like an engraved Colt Peacemaker. When Umarex introduced the 5-1/2 inch barrel length .177 caliber model in 2015, it wasn’t long before a 4.5mm pellet firing six-shooter was added. The latest limited edition is this gold and nickel version of an L.D. Nimschke model sold in the 1870s by New York retailer Schuyler, Hartley, & Graham.

Umarex established a standard with their Colt Peacemakers that not only inspired other airgun manufacturers to add historically significant models such as the new Schofield and 1875 Remington, but engravers to begin lending their venerated skills to alloy as well as steel. Today, in less than a year, there are more hand engraved CO2 powered Peacemakers in the hands of enthusiasts than ever before.

The 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker followed in 2016 and is now offered in the same elegant hand engraved Nimschke patter in all nickel. The Schofield also arrived in 2016 and has become the most talked about of .177 caliber Old West air pistols. This is also now offered in a nickel finish and with authentic to the period hand engraving. These single actions are as realistic as an airgun can be.

The 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker arrived in 2016 and is now offered in the same elegant hand engraved Nimschke pattern as the 5-1/2 inch model. The Schofield was also introduced last year and has become the most talked about .177 caliber western model. It is also offered in a nickel finish or with authentic to the period hand engraving. 

The Schofield is already being offered in a hand engraved edition, and an 1875 Remington is sure to follow. These excellent guns perpetuate an American tradition and hold true to the history of the Old West. Limited Edition, hand engraved CO2 models will soon take their place among other contemporary hand engraved western guns as functional fine art, only at a far more reasonable price.

Training for concealed carry or just finding the right gun for carry can be an expensive proposition. Accurate .177 caliber models like the Umarex Walther PPS (left) and Sig Sauer P226 X-Five are 100 percent accurate in size and can be used with the same carry holsters. It is the most affordable way to see which gun is right for you in terms of ease of carry, weight, and concealment. In addition, training with the airguns almost perfectly duplicates all of the skills necessary for handling their cartridge-firing counterparts. (Holsters courtesy Galco)

Training for concealed carry or just finding the right gun for carry can be an expensive proposition. Accurate .177 caliber models like the Umarex Walther PPS (left) and Sig Sauer P226 X-Five are 100 percent accurate in size and can be used with the same carry holsters. It is the most affordable way to see which gun is right for you in terms of ease of carry, weight, and concealment. In addition, training with the airguns requires nearly all of the same skills necessary for handling their cartridge-firing counterparts. (Holsters courtesy Galco)

Using an airgun to practice concealed carry before committing to the actual gun can save you hundreds of dollars and help avoid purchasing a gun that is too big or too heavy for comfortable carry. And you still end up with a nice air pistol for plinking.

Using an airgun to practice concealed carry before committing to the actual gun can save you hundreds of dollars and help avoid purchasing a gun that is too big or too heavy for comfortable carry. And you still end up with a nice air pistol for plinking.

Modern handguns have seen an equally impressive growth in CO2 models over the last year, and this too, is a part of our American heritage benefiting the future of gun ownership, youth training, and the ability to use these remarkably accurate airguns as very cost effective substitutes when considering a cartridge-firing pistol for CCW use. They are a small investment with a substantial return, allowing you to experiment with everything from a subcompact semi-auto or revolver to a full sized six-shooter or Government Model 1911.

Historic firearms are usually old and out of date, no so with the Colt Model 1911A1, a semiautomatic pistol that has survived for 106 years! The limited edition .177 caliber John Wayne WWII model 1911A1 is a classic, just like John Wayne.

Historic firearms are usually old and out of date, no so with the Colt Model 1911A1, a semiautomatic pistol that has survived for 106 years! The limited edition .177 caliber John Wayne WWII model 1911A1 is a classic, just like John Wayne.

With 99 Airgun Experience articles to look back on, it is hard to pick one gun that rises to the top as the most significant model to come along, a choice based on the merits of the airgun’s authenticity of design, ease of use, performance, and accuracy.

Having the opportunity to fire, let alone own a selective fire Uzi is rare and expensive. The .177 caliber Mini Uzi with folding shoulder stock is one of the most authentic to the original airguns in the world.

Having the opportunity to fire, let alone own a selective fire Uzi is rare and expensive. The .177 caliber Mini Uzi with folding shoulder stock is one of the most authentic airguns in the world.

The list of candidates is filled with significant airguns that have allowed owners to experience gun designs that they would otherwise never have the opportunity to handle (without great expense), like selective fire pistols, rare and valuable vintage arms, or the opportunity to explore options for a CCW without the expense of purchasing a cartridge-firing model before knowing it’s right for you. The qualifications for the most outstanding gun are many.

Rarity and history go hand in hand as does the name Mauser. The Umarex legends Model 712 Broomhandle is another highly authentic to the original selective fire airgun, and is so accurate in detail that an original Broomhandle Mauser wooden shoulder stock will fit the airgun!

Rarity and history go hand in hand as does the name Mauser. The Umarex Legends Model 712 Broomhandle is another highly authentic to the original selective fire airgun, and is so accurate in detail that an original Broomhandle Mauser wooden shoulder stock will fit the airgun!

When you have a veritable history of American and European firearms recreated today in .177 caliber BB and 4.5mm pellet firing airguns, everything from selective fire pistols like the Mini Uzi and Broomhandle Mauser Model 712, to state of the art semi-autos like the Smith & Wesson M&P40, legendary Colts like the Peacemaker and Model 1911A1, finding one gun that raises the bar, that hits your “must have” list is like going to a premier firearms auction with the determination that no matter how many guns catch your eye, you are only going home with one. For the first 99 Airgun Experience articles, that one gun is the nickel plated Bear River Schofield. Whether you go for the nickel model with the standard wood finish grips or the deluxe, limited edition hand engraved model with aged ivory-colored grips, the Schofield is one of 100!

With so many great airguns to choose a best gun for the last 99 Airgun Experience articles, the one gun that stands out as the most historically interesting of all is the Schofield. The nickel model is the must have one out of a 100.

With so many great airguns to choose from, the best gun from the last 99 Airgun Experience articles is the one that stands out as the most historically interesting of all, the Schofield. The nickel model is the must have one out of 100.

7 thoughts on “The 100th Airgun Experience

  1. Congratulations ,and hopefully 100 is just a warm up! These airguns and the articles evaluating and testing them are priceless. For training ,collecting and just shooting either understudies, or guns that would just be too expensive, or in the case of select fire versions, impossible ,where I live ,to own. Some like the Peacemaker, Mauser, P08, 1911, Schofield and soon the Remington 1875 are just history in your hand. Airguns also prevent one from making excuses for not shooting and training, they can be shot inexpensively almost anywhere. I would say that these articles and airguns have changed my life for the better. Thank you Dennis


  2. You are very welcome! In case anyone is wondering if there was a runner-up to the Schofield, there were three, in order, the Mini Uzi selective fire model, Colt 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker, and the S&W M&P40. All are worthy of top honors. More to come for 2017! Thanks to everyone for reading Airgun Experience.

    Dennis


    • The Peacemaker, being about my favorite historic revolver , would have been my first choice initially.Available in bb and 177 pellet, blue and nickel , standard and engraved finishes. I have over a dozen of the Umarex Peacemakers , and aShootist version onorder . I gave one each to two of my best friends who shot in SASS with me for years , still shoot with me today , who stuck with me through thick and thin , especially the thin . That being said I would have to pick the Schofield as you did . I hoped it would appear and it caught me off guard when it did . The Peacemaker is very close to the original except for the 1860 Army size grip necessary to house the co2 . The Schofield however is pretty much a dead ringer. It would be interesting to see if it will appear in a rifled barrel pellet version, as well as other barrel lengths and historical versions like the 44 Russian. Time will tell . The big advance for next year may be the belt fed pellet magazine appearing in the Sig 320 . That may well open a new doorway for pellet pistol and select fire pellet carbines.


  3. So , what will be the next wave of candidates for air gun of the year?In handguns , a 2 inch 38 like the reissued Colt Cobra needs an airgun understudy. In semiautos , the Colt 1903 is a great goal for manufacturers . The neglected classic Browning High Power in blowback version is screaming for attention . InOld West Handguns ,the Colt 1878 da, Merwin/ Hulbert, Colt Blackpowder 1851 and 1860 , Remington 1858 could compete for top honors. Overdue Peacemaker 4 3/4 barrel and Sheriff or Storekeeper version . The race for select fire carbines , Thompson , M2 , Greasegun , and SW 43/44 , and the AK.


    • The race is on. Let’s see what the manufacturers have up their sleeves for 2017. We all have to be patient because every new design starts almost from scratch (internals may be shared) but the externals are all new pieces, and the operative word here is “tooling.” I think we will see some amazing new airguns throughout the year in western guns, and legendary military arms. Look how far we have come in just the last three years!



  4. What 19th century handgun is begging to be done in its’ actual design, that would be a breakthrough in replica airguns, and make a perfect partner to the Colt Peacemaker? Yup the 1877 Lightning in da/sa. Make my day.


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