A Boring Topic

A Boring Topic

When you can and can’t shoot a .177 caliber lead BB 

By Dennis Adler

The caliber conundrum, when is a .177 caliber not 0.177 inches? When it is a steel BB (far left) which actually has a diameter of 0.173 inches (average) or 4.3mm, compared to a lead round pellet (center) which is just slightly larger at 4.5mm, or a wadcutter pellet (right). The difference in diameter is what keeps you from loading a lead ball into a .177 caliber, magazine-fed blowback action pistol designed for steel BBs. This is the same whether it is a stick magazine or a self-contained CO2 BB magazine; that .2mm difference is a lot with an air pistol.

The operative word in Airgun Experience is experience, and the way you get experience is by doing things and often doing them wrong. Failure is the best teacher, and hopefully it isn’t always costly, just educational. One of the early mistakes I made was trying to shoot .177 caliber lead BBs from a semi-auto pistol chambered for .177 caliber steel BBs. Lead BBs don’t fit. An air pistol that shoots steel BBs and is marked .177 caliber (4.5mm) does not actually shoot a .177 caliber diameter BB. Now, if it is a pellet-firing rifled barrel pistol it can, because the bore on a .177 caliber BB pistol and a 4.5mm pellet pistol are not exactly the same. A steel BB will drop right through the barrel on a smoothbore blowback action BB pistol. A 4.5mm pellet won’t even fit if you try to insert it, whereas with a pellet firing pistol you can actually push the pellet into the barrel. read more


Red Dot Scopes vs. Reflex Sights

Red Dot Scopes vs. Reflex Sights

The eyes have it

By Dennis Adler

The Tanfoglio Gold Custom CO2 model and the 9mm centerfire model are competition guns designed for mounting optics. The optics of choice is red dot sights, either scope designs, or HUD reflex style. While scope-style red dot sights are more than 40 years old, as evidenced by this c.1983 Aimpoint Mark III mounted on the Tanfoglio’s rail, the concept has changed very little since Aimpoint developed the first red dot sights.

Why doesn’t a newer design make an older one so outmoded that it simply ceases to be relevant as a consumer product? I think the answer lies not only in the product but the longevity of its role in the consumer marketplace. This applies to just about everything including firearms and airguns. In fact, about the only place that this theory fails to prove itself is in communications and technology. I mean who would want to walk around today with a Motorola Dyna TAC? Same for early portable computers, sometimes new technology makes old technology into an anachronism. Not so with older airguns, which, even in the face of newer designs, still maintain their allure like many older centerfire and rimfire pistols and semi-autos. read more


Perchance to Dream

Perchance to Dream

If we had our way

By Dennis Adler

You can do the same thing with a Colt licensed CO2-powered Peacemaker as was done with the original guns in the Old West; in other words, make them more than the sum of their parts through engraving. The real 3rd generation Colt Nimschke New York engraved model at top, engraved by Adams & Adams, was the inspiration for the current hand engraved CO2 model (bottom) available from Pyramyd Air.

If we were to interpret the meaning of this line from Hamlet in the context of “to have versus to want,” then the question is, “is it better to give up than face the troubles?” Not our troubles, but those of airgun manufacturers with a global market. A lot of us are expecting a renaissance in airgun design for the American market, but the Renaissance took place in Europe the first time, and that is where it is happening again, at least for airguns that have the greatest appeal to readers of the Airgun Experience. We covet what we cannot have, it is human nature, and more so the nature of collectors and enthusiasts. What many of us envision as the “next logical step” is, in fact, logical, but it is not always practical, “…ay, there’s the rub.” read more


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