Three guns at 10 paces Part 3

Three guns at 10 paces Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

How important is barrel length?

By Dennis Adler

Three contenders for accuracy, all Umarex models, all with rifled steel barrels and firing the same 7.0 gr. Meisterkugeln Professional Line lead wadcutter pellets from 10 meters. Will barrel lengths of 3-1/2 inches, 5-1/2 inches and 7-1/2 inches, make a significant different at that distance? Shown are the deluxe hand engraved Nimschke models, full nickel 7-1/2 inch holstered, nickel and gold 5-1/2 inch and the Umarex Legends 3-1/2 inch Ace in the Hole. (Hand carved holster and .38 caliber cartridge belt designed by Jim Barnard, TrailRider Products)

And now for the short end of the stick…and I mean that in a nice way, because the Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole is a really nice, short-barreled Single Action Army variant, albeit overdressed for the room. I think we have all slung enough criticism at this gun for its appearances, with apologies to Expendables fans, and this time we’re going for its better self as a close representation of a Colt Shopkeeper model. There is one advantage to this pistol (well two if you count that it even exists in any form), and one disadvantage. Oddly the disadvantage is what was intended to be the gun’s big advantage, the oddly shaped fanning hammer. This is a prop department’s idea of making a Single Action faster to work. Visually it has become one of the gun’s two trademark features, and if you want to fan away at the Ace it will shoot as fast as you can run it, with commensurate accuracy, and that’s pretty much what you get with a real cut down Peacemaker at fighting distances of 10 to 15 feet. I have done it with actual 3-1/2-inch barreled Colt’s. read more


Three guns at 10 paces Part 2

Three guns at 10 paces Part 2 Part 1

How important is barrel length?

By Dennis Adler

Loaded with Colts for every distance, a lawman might have carried both a 7-1/2 inch and a 5-1/2 inch Peacemaker, and even a Sheriff’s Model in a shoulder holster for a backup. With the fine Umarex CO2 models, 7-1/2 inch holstered, 5-1/2 inch deluxe Nimschke hand engraved model tucked in my belt, and the “Almost a Colt” Ace in the Hole in the c.1890s Al. Furstnow-style skeleton shoulder rig, optimum range for accuracy is 10 meters, no matter what the barrel length. The question is how much difference does barrel length make with the CO2 Peacemakers?

Although Colt’s offered many barrel lengths, the company only considered the 1888 Sheriff’s Model with 3-1/2 inch barrel, the 4-3/4 inch, 5-1/2 inch and 7-1/2 inch barrel lengths as “standard” models, everything else was a special order barrel. The 5-1/2 inch and 4-3/4 inch were introduced in 1875, technically, three years after the 7-1/2 inch model designed by William Mason was accepted by the U.S. Ordnance Department as the Army’s new military issue sidearm. That was in 1872 not 1873. While the Peacemaker is regarded as an 1873 model, the first patent was granted on September 19, 1871. A second patent was received on July 2, 1872 and both patent dates were stamped on the left side of Singe Action Army frames produced through 1875. That year Mason and Colt’s were granted a third patent for the design dated January 19, 1875. All three patent dates were stamped on frames beginning early that year. This was known as the three line patent date stamp and 5-1/2 inch models have three patent dates on their frames. read more


Three guns at 10 paces Part 1

Three guns at 10 paces Part 1

How important is barrel length?

By Dennis Adler

“Whenever you get into a row, be sure not to shoot

too quick. Take time. I’ve known many a feller to

slip up for shootin’ in a hurry.”

                                                 – James Butler Hickok

I was just finishing up a 2-day photo shoot for Guns of the Old West, so it seemed like the right time to bring out the Umarex Colt Peacemakers and get in some authentic looking photos for Airgun Experience with these three Umarex models. You have to give a little latitude for the Ace in the Hole in the shoulder rig, which isn’t officially a Colt-licensed model and not entirely authentic looking either. But it gets the job done.

In his famous July 20th, 1865 Springfield, Missouri, gunfight with ex-Confederate David Tutt, Wild Bill Hickok carefully rested his 7-1/2 inch barreled Colt 1851 Navy over his left arm and, after first being fired upon by Tutt, who missed Hickok by several inches, returned fire killing the man where he stood with a single shot through the heart at a distance of 75 paces. Just what exactly is a “pace?” Webster’s defines it as “…any of various standard linear measures, representing the space naturally measured by the movement of the feet in walking: roughly 30 to 40 inches.” Thus 75 paces across the Springfield town square was a distance of anywhere between 175 to 250 feet. Let’s call it an average of 200 feet from the muzzle of Hickok’s Colt Navy, fired from the corner of South Street, to David Tutt taking aim at Wild Bill from in front of the courthouse and the corner of Campbell Street. This was the gunfight that established Hickok’s legend as a shootist, a reputation that served him well as a lawman, giving many a man facing him a moment of clarity before reaching for a gun, but later in life prompted others to try a make a reputation by killing him. Jack McCall took the cowards way out and murdered Wild Bill in Deadwood, North Dakota Territory on August 2, 1876 by shooting him from behind. McCall eventually hung for his deed. read more


The BB Conundrum Part 3

The BB Conundrum Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Smart Shot, lead, steel and dust

By Dennis Adler

The generally underpowered Umarex Walther PPK/S gets an impressive boost from using lightweight Dust Devils which work perfectly in the stick magazine and blowback action of the PPK/S.

A pound of lead or a pound of Dust Devils will fall at the same rate of speed according to Galileo, but a 7.4 gr. lead BB will have a slower velocity than a 4.34 gr. Dust Devil. Galileo never had to deal with such problems. To begin our final installment let’s review the velocities with the test guns fired using Smart Shot and Dust Devils.

The first gun up was the latest Umarex Walther PPK/S which sent the heavy copper plated lead shots downrange at a marginal average velocity of 228 fps, and even with .177 caliber steel BBs the PPK/S can barley do better than 290 fps. But loading the Walther with Dust Devil BBs gave the CO2 pistol a competitive average velocity of 315 fps. So, let’s see what the PPK/S delivers in accuracy at that velocity, and not from 15 feet but a full 21 feet like other blowback action BB models that shoot in the 300 fps range. read more


The BB Conundrum Part 2

The BB Conundrum Part 2 Part 1

Smart Shot, lead, steel and dust

By Dennis Adler

The best all around choice for a CO2-powered, blowback action air pistol, the Umarex S&W M&P40 proved to function flawlessly on Smart Shot copper plated lead BBs. These make the training experience that much better since Smart Shot can be used on reactive metal targets.

The number one choice in blowback action CO2 pistols for training with a reactive or metal target has to be the Umarex S&W M&P40. So this is where we begin the search for a blowback action pistol with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine that will function correctly with Smart Shot. For whatever reason, the copper plated lead rounds, although heavier than steel BBs, get driven down into the magazine channel when the pistol fires. This compresses the follower spring and can force one round out of the loading port and jam the magazine. If there is no loading port nothing happens, and the Smart Shot functions perfectly. In semi-auto designs where jamming happens, it becomes continual making it impossible to use Smart Shot. But do all blowback action (or non-blowback action) semi-autos with self-contained CO2 BB magazines have loading ports that allow this to occur? The answer is not all, and the first and best example is the M&P40 which has one of the smallest loading ports and heaviest follower springs of any self-contained CO2 BB magazine. read more


The BB Conundrum Part 1

The BB Conundrum Part 1 Part 2

Smart Shot, lead, steel and dust

By Dennis Adler

BB cartridge loading revolvers have it easy, semi-auto designs not so much when it comes to .177 caliber steel BB alternatives. There are plenty of options like Smart Shot (far left) copper plated lead BBs and traditional 4.5mm round lead pellets like Gamo Round. You have steel BBs like the Umarex Precision, which have proven to be among the best for blowback action pistols, even with rifled barrels, and then there is the innovative frangible Air Venturi Dust Devils (shown in a non-factory tin at far right). Dust Devils are designed for use on metal or hard surfaced targets and virtually disintegrate on impact to prevent ricochets, but they have another advantage.

Every so often we shoot ourselves in the foot (metaphorically speaking), and the ammunition of late seems to be Smart Shot. It is a great idea, a lead ball with a copper coating designed to minimize ricochets off hard surfaces, like reactive steel targets and pellet traps. Obviously no one should ever shoot a steel BB at a steel, metal or other hard surfaced target unless they’re willing to reap the ricochet whirlwind. Smart Shot was designed to make that less likely. For action shooting with an Umarex Colt Peacemaker or any BB cartridge firing revolver, Smart Shot is worth its weight in, well, copper and lead with reactive targets (more on this later in the year when the weather decides what season it is!) The question of late is how well it works in semi-auto designs with vertical magazines (stick magazines and self-contained CO2 BB magazines) and as I discovered it doesn’t have to be a blowback action pistol for Smart Shot to jam up the works. This has prompted me to look at other alternatives, especially when the air pistol is designed to shoot 4.5mm lead or alloy pellets, as well as BBs through a rifled steel barrel. Steel BBs work perfectly in these guns according to the manufacturers but as I have said before, over time the hard steel rounds traveling down a rifled barrel will begin to erode the lands and grooves. How much time? I don’t know; I tend to like shooting pellets in pellet pistols and have never quite settled into the idea that some can shoot BBs, too. If I wanted to shoot BBs I’d have purchased a BB pistol. But for the sake of argument, let’s look at some of the options available for dual ammo firing rifled barreled pistols. read more


Heckler & Koch pistols Part 2

Heckler & Koch pistols Part 2 Part 1

Revisiting two often overlooked CO2 pistols

By Dennis Adler

Like a number of higher-priced Umarex pellet-firing models, the HK P30 comes in a foam lined carrying case. Shown with the P30 are two included cast alloy 8-shot rotary magazines and the loading tool (to firmly seat 4.5mm pellets) and the BB adapter which replaces the rotary magazine when converting the HK into a non-blowback BB pistol using the self-contained CO2 BB magazine.

Throughout its comparatively short but highly successful history, Heckler & Koch has always catered to a variety of end users from civilians to military and law enforcement by tailoring certain models in multiple variants, like its P30 Series.

P30 features in centerfire and CO2

The centerfire models are offered in V1, V2 and V3 configurations. As categorized by HK, V1 is an enhanced DAO with light trigger pull or LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) which makes this version a much faster DAO to get into action than traditional double action only semi-autos or revolvers. As required by some law enforcement organizations, a light trigger is not approved, thus HK has the V2 LEM with enhanced DAO and standard weight trigger pull. Last there is the V3, a traditional double action, single action model with a hammer spur for manual cocking, and a manual decocker. The V3 DA/SA mode is also available with or without dual ambidextrous manual safeties. read more