2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

How good can it get? – The Umarex Glock 17 Gen4

By Dennis Adler

An experienced eye will note the absence of a caliber stamping on this Glock 17 Gen4, the vast majority of people familiar with handguns and even Glocks might miss this small detail at first. There are no white letter warnings, and no markings other than would be found on the actual 9mm pistol, until you start looking very closely.

When serious air pistol enthusiasts said what they wanted, it seemed no one was really listening. Sure, airgun manufacturers were introducing new guns that were more and more authentic looking, but they still were not crossing the line drawn in the sand by consumers who wanted a 100 percent duplicate of an established centerfire pistol for training use, and to have the best possible air pistol for authenticity of design. They wanted a CO2 model entirely indistinguishable from its centerfire counterpart in appearance and handling, the kind of air pistol that could have corporate lawyers wringing their hands and airgun enthusiasts applauding with theirs. This is what Umarex and Glock finally arrived at this year with the Glock 17 Gen4. This is more than an impressive new blowback action CO2 air pistol. It is 20 years of air pistol evolution, from look-alike air pistols that were good, but not so perfect that you didn’t know they were air pistols in a matter of seconds, to one that you had darn well better remember almost no one can tell from an air pistol. This is the one above all others that you have to respect and treat as you would the 9mm because the Glock 17 design is the definition of ubiquitous, and easily the most recognized handgun in the world today.

Authenticity of design is more than looks; it’s an absolute standard that few CO2 pistols totally meet. Close won’t get you 1:1, and for holsters, especially injection molded and Kydex carry rigs, it has to be exactly 1:1. The Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 fits all Gen4 rigs. The magazines, though just a bit longer than a 9mm mag, fit in molded carriers like this paddle rig from Galco.

There are only two ways to know at a glance that the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 is an air pistol. You have to be looking down the barrel and see the brass muzzle of the inner .177 caliber barrel, or are so familiar with Glock design that you instantly recognize there is something wrong with this Glock; it has no caliber stamping on the slide. It fits every Gen4 holster; the CO2 BB magazines fit Glock mag pouches, and all Glock and aftermarket light and laser accessories mount on the perfectly duplicated dustcover rail.

How exact is 1:1 when it comes to injection molded holsters? The Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 is a match to this contoured fit Galco 1199 belt rig, (shown from the back side), right down to the triggerguard fit and indents for the serrations on the slide.

As a 1:1 training gun this is almost everything airgun enthusiasts have asked for. I say almost because the design is limited to the same lower velocity range average of 317 fps as other blowback action models that run in the 300 to 320 fps range. It is, however, consistently on the upper end with a high of 319 fps, low of 316 fps, and standard deviation of only 2 fps for 10 rounds.

A 1:1 copy has to fit centerfire accessories too, which, in this case, is limited to Glock or aftermarket light and light/laser combinations. 

The only way to significantly exceed that velocity is to sacrifice two of this air pistol’s most authentic features; field stripping, which is done exactly the same way as the 9mm model, and the dual recoil spring and guide rod design. And there would be the possibility of loosing a third feature, Glock’s Gen4 interchangeable backstraps. Part or all of this would be sacrificed to use a closed system like the Glock 19X, to achieve an average velocity of 378 fps. With all that has gone into the Glock 17 Gen4, it would be a high price to pay, and you can get that same performance from the Third Gen-based Umarex Glock 17, which uses the same firing system as the G19 X.

Considering the number of Glock 17 Gen4 models in use today for law enforcement, as well as for civilian use as a personal protection gun, a 1:1 CO2 model for training skills, from holstering, reloading, trigger control, proper aiming techniques, even backstrap changes, can be duplicated without the cost of expensive ammunition, or even wear on a centerfire model. This is particularly advantageous with Glocks because no matter what caliber or frame size, they all operate the same way. The gun at top is a centerfire Glock 17 Gen4.

The Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 shares two unique features with its centerfire counterpart, the use of an accurate dual recoil spring and guide rod design, copied from the 9mm Gen4 model, and interchangeable backstraps making this air pistol suitable for training use by a greater variety of individuals depending upon hand size. It is as close to the 9mm model as possible for an air pistol.

Yes, a lot of blowback action CO2 models can be field stripped like their centerfire counterparts but the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 went so far as to duplicate the duel recoil spring guide rod design from the centerfire guns. This increases the effort to rack the slide on the air pistol, imparting a more realistic sensation, and also giving the slide a more robust feeling when it closes.

Absolute authenticity of design goes for the Gen4’s trigger, which operates like the centerfire pistol’s, with a functioning Safe-Action blade safety and a precise, matching take up and average pull of 5 pounds, 5 ounces. This is also seen in the almost perfectly matching matte (Parkerized-look) over a Melonite treated slide and the overall fit and finish. There is only one other CO2 pistol that can even touch the Glock 17 Gen4.

Umarex and Glock didn’t ignore the rules, they just adapted them to Glock thinking and the warnings and other details are discretely placed on the underside of the triggerguard. The caliber markings and air pistol’s serial number and proofs are on the underside of the dustcover. And despite having a working Safe-Action trigger safety, to meet all of the safety requirements, a sliding manual safety is made out of the serial number plate that would be on a 9mm model. This is as low key as air pistols get!

Downrange proof

At 21 feet the Gen4 needs a correct 6 o’clock hold under the bullseye, and with a consistent velocity around 317 fps, it can punch 10 rounds under an inch using a solid two-handed hold. I put 10 rounds a little right of center into an overlapping cluster that spread 0.93 inches with a best five (at least five with overlapping hits) measuring 0.5 inches. With accuracy to equal its authenticity of design, this CO2 model has it all together. This is your second 50 point gun, and the first to claim a possible tie-breaking 1 point bonus for field stripping. This year’s winner may seem obvious with the G17 Gen4 totaling 51 points, but it is not a lock just yet!

While I hit a little low and right, my first few shots were so close together I just kept going and ended up with 10 rounds inside 0.93 inches with at least five at 0.5 inches. The G17 Gen4 can pack them in.

CATEGORY RATINGS

Model: Umarex Glock 17 Gen4

Authenticity 1 to 10:  10 (1:1 match to the 9mm model)

Ingenuity of the design 1 to 10: 10 (Superior fit and finish, Gen4 design dual recoil spring and guide rod for more authentic slide response)

Ease of use 1 to 10: 10 (Easy to load BBs and CO2)

Performance 1 to 10: 10 (Average velocity better than 300 fps)

Accuracy 1 to 10: 10 (Consistently shoots tight groups, best 5-shots at 0.5 inches)

Bonus points: 1 (Can be filed stripped)

Total Points: 51

How to win 2019’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year

On December 24th, one lucky reader will win 2019’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year to commemorate the 500th Airgun Experience article. To enter, all you have to do is be signed up to post comments on Pyramyd Air’s website and read this year’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year articles leading up to the announcement on December 24th.

The rules are simple; you need to post your choice for Top Gun by midnight Monday, December 23rd and answer one question about each of the nine guns from the Replica Airgun of the Year articles published between December 5th and December 21st. The nine questions will only be available at the end of the December 21st article, and you will have had to read the articles on each gun to find the answers. Because there will be several guns reaching 50 points, there will be a tie-breaker decision on December 24th. You will have to make that decision, too, and the first person to post the correct answers to all nine questions and name this year’s winner by midnight December 23rd wins the Replica Air Pistol of Year on Christmas Eve.

9 thoughts on “2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

  1. Wow a 51……That’s Big Time although I want to say that the Accuracy feature that you use to determine a Rating for all the Pistols is highly dependent on your Abilities not necessarily the Pistols, unless you are using a Ransome Rest ???………I am not complaining just Pointing Out…… Personally I still favor the HK and waiting for that Review.
    And BTW that is some Excellent shooting for an Old guy without a Red Dot, nice job.


    • Chuck:

      The accuracy has to be based on an average shooter’s skills unless I use a pistol rest for every test and most people shoot off hand not from a rest, so I have to be that average. If I can do well with a gun then the vast majority of you will be able to do the same. A pistol that shoots high or low, or needs a lot of POA corrections will have the same problems no matter who is shooting it. Honestly I have had some .45 Colt Single Actions that I have tested, some of the early ones made in Italy, that were so far off you could not hit anywhere near point of aim, worse than any air pistol I have ever tested. I shoot three times a week on average (air pistols), I have a routine, the same 21 foot indoor shooting distance (with few exceptions, even if the photos show me outside), ideal temperature, zero wind, and I take ample time to get the best possible accuracy out of the test gun. My baseline for accuracy is me, the guns change, I don’t. But it is a slow process that assures I find the best and worst aspects of each gun to report. If I can get good targets, so can the vast majority of air pistol shooters. If a gun does not do well for me, it will not do well for you. My shooting skills are nothing exceptional, (Lawman 67’s shooting skills, now that’s another story!) I just get a lot of practice and these days mostly with airguns. This year’s competition is exceptional.

      Dennis


  2. Experience has shown that good shots shoot well and you can tell if a firearm is accurate based on the shooter. If a firearm shoots poorly you can try it in a rest to confirm. Generally if a shooter shoots a firearm well consistently, you can be reasonably confident in their evaluations, even if they are old , and more so if they outshoot younger shooters.



  3. Hi Denis – completely off topic for sure!
    I recently came across this muzzle velocity update from Sig:
    https://hardairmagazine.com/reviews/sig-sauer-p320-co2-air-pistol-muzzle-velocity-update/
    which shows that a Sig airgun (P320) shooting Sig 5.25 gn. alloy pellets at a “Sig Defined” temperature of 88°F will give the advertised maximum muzzle velocity of 430 fps.
    The P320 is a given, it’s what they’re testing.
    The Sig Alloy pellet is their lightest which I consider fair for fps testing.
    What I consider unfair is inflating the maximum fps by raising the temperature 20 Farenheight Degrees above the Standard Temperature of 68°F and not noteing this temperature increase anywhere in the advertising, manuals or notifications/emails!
    If you correct back down to the normal 68°F it still leaves the pistol with a respectable muzzle velocity in the range of 390fps. That’s still darned good for a pellet pistol of this type!
    Why would a Company like Sig Sauer advertise in such a manner? Is this the proverbial wool pulling we read about everywhere!
    Or maybe all they need is a better JpEng translator program.
    Let me know what you think of all this.
    Cheers
    Red


    • Red:

      I think the explanation is pretty clear. Why they used 88 degrees as the test temperature is a fair question, but it that is the ambient temperature when the tests are done, then the increase in velocity is commensurate with the temperature. All my velocity tests are done in a fairly consistent environment that is between 70 and 72 degrees, so I am going to get optimum velocity for that temperature. I have, in fact, done some velocity tests outdoors in the summer and velocity has increased with higher temperatures, and as Hard Air Magazine noted, that is to be expected. I would have to go back to the Crosman Full Auto P1 that was so far off the advertised velocity that it would have had to have been around 90 degrees to maybe get up to 400 fps. In general, I have found most advertised (factory) specs for CO2 pistols are close to what you will get at home at temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees. Some guns surprise, like the Umarex G19X, which exceeds its factory velocity on the indoor test range, while others disappoint, like the P1. Of course, we are talking BBs guns here, not pellet pistols like the Sig P320, where pellet weight is a factor as well as ambient temperature. At the end of the day, if a BB model is hitting between 300 and 320 fps, you’re going to do just fine at 21 feet indoors or out. Same for a CO2 pellet pistol at 350 to 400 fps shooting at 10 meters. It is accuracy, the quality of the sights, easy of handling and trigger design that can make or break an air pistol, and I think we sometimes get too caught up in the velocity when it fails to meet expectations. If the gun shoots well, shoots accurately, and you are happy with it, whether or not it is meeting, exceeding, or falling a little short of advertised velocity really isn’t going to make that great a difference for plinking and target shooting with a blowback action CO2 pistol. Only when the systems fail to deliver adequate velocity to get the job done, and this can happen due to a failing magazine or valve problem within the gun, is there a real issue. As for the P320, like you said, even at a velocity in the 390 fps range it’s darn good for a pellet pistol of this type. In this year’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year, there has only been one gun that exceeded factory velocity specs, the rest are all in the ballpark and I don’t think you can ask for more than that with these guns.

      Dennis



  4. Hi Denis – Chuckles too
    You’re right. If that was the ambient temperature when the guns were documented I can’t really fault Sig for being honest. My thoughts are that Sig should note little things like ambient temperature and accuracy at testing on the box or in the manual. Change the specs to read something like “[email protected]°F” would be a nice way of doing it.
    I can give you a good example of why: Recently I purchased a P320/M17. Same performance specs as the P320 in the HAM article. Out of the box it was shooting what I thought was OK so I ran a 500ct tin of 7.8gn. El Cheapo pellets through the gun to get the valve and barrel broken in. Lots of hold over needed – not the best way to go. It was only the last few shots when I moved out to 10m that I noticed a pronounced flight time. Switching to Sig 5.25 gn. alloy pellets with a new co2 cartridge chrony results were only 370fps. I thought the gun might be defective and needed to be returned. At about the same time I came across the Sig Velocity Upgrade on the HAM WebSite and applied that upgrade to my conditions with the result being a corrected MV of approx 420fps. My indoor range, due to a cold snap, was about 59°F. The 10 fps difference from the advertised 430 fps was probably due mostly to the gun needing its full 1000 count break in and a good clean and lube.
    A pellet pistol shooting like that is not defective in the least.
    I also chronyed another Sig – an X-Five Silver with the same specs as the P320/M17 and it showed right on the money. The X-Five was well broken in at over 1200 shots and grouping about 1″ compared to 8″ out of the box
    Maybe the airgun community should get together and standardize how MV and Accuracy specifications are documented. It would sure make it easier for the buyer to make an informed decision!
    Cheers
    Red


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