The final four top guns for 2019 are (from left to right) the Umarex Beretta M9A3, Umarex Glock 17 Gen4, Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 3.8 models. Each is a worthy contender for 2019’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year.
If there is a dark horse candidate among the final four, all with a least 50 points, it is the Umarex Beretta M9A3, because for all of its very authentic features, it has an “extra” feature that actually takes away from its exceptional value as a 1:1 CO2 version of the 9mm model. As much as I enjoy shooting BBs on full auto (with blowback action models that actually have select fire counterparts), this fun feature has done nothing for the M9A3 or the 92A1 before it in respect to it being an excellent training gun for its centerfire counterparts. If we disregard the selector switch, which is so small that it’s not hard to do, the M9A3 is just as accurate in its design as the Glock 17 Gen4 and the two new Springfield XDM models. It is a solid 50 point gun and any other year would have walked away with the win. But this year we have four guns that are equally worthy, but, only one can win.read more
Read the Airgun Experience articles on each of the 9 pistols being considered (just look back at the last 9 articles) and answer the question or questions for each of the guns, then make your pick for Replica Air Pistol of the Year. You can copy and paste the questions and your answers into your comments for this article. You must post your answer by Midnight December 23rd.
And here is something to take into consideration; regardless of the total points accumulated thus far I still have a 5-point bonus for Design Innovation to award to one of the top ranking guns. Only the Sig Sauer P365 has been given the 5-point bonus thus far. One of the remaining eight will get an extra 5 points and that will decide this year’s winner. read more
The then new Heckler & Koch VP9 earned instant hero gun status by becoming 007’s primary pistol in 2015’s Spectre. Daniel Craig as Bond took the VP9 from a Spectre assassin early in the film and while he still had the Walther, Bond used the HK throughout the rest of the film along with the PPK. It was as auspicious a launch for the HK VP9 in Spectre as Tomorrow Never Dies was for the Walther P99 in 1997 when Pierce Brosnan’s Bond traded in his PPK for the new 9mm Walther. The new Umarex HK VP9 CO2 model is a very close copy.
I think the title says it all, this is the gun that, had it been built a little differently, was already frontloaded with potential, but once again marketing and price point took the lead and a gun of great potential became a very good blowback action CO2 pistol that could have been one of the very best of 2019. Why, because the 9mm HK model was immediately catapulted to iconic status by being the latest pistol to fall into the hands of Bond, James Bond.
Very close indeed, from the left side, which has excellent detail. The blowback action CO2 model does not fieldstrip so the disassembly lever is a non-functional molded-in piece. The VP9 does, however, exhibit all the centerfire pistol’s markings, including 9mm x 19 on the slide.
A Bonded Gun
While Heckler & Koch rifles have had a recurring role for decades in Bond films, in Spectre, there was a clear combination of two handguns being used by in 007 throughout the film, his Walther PPK and the new HK VP9 that Bond “acquires” from a Spectre operative during a spectacular shootout at the Hofner Clinic in the Austrian Alps. From that point on, 007 has both the PPK and VP9 right up to the film’s climatic ending. It was a stunning debut for the new H&K pistol, introduced in mid 2014, so it was a new gun when Spectre came out in 2015. The Heckler & Koch has held on to its Bond mystique ever since.read more
Beat the Glock – The Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and 3.8
By Dennis Adler
Springfield Armory is the newest gunmaker to enter the CO2 marketplace and they did it in a big way with two new models and two finishes right out of the chute! The XDM 4.5 model is the full-size duty version offered in the same choice of finishes as the centerfire models. These are truly 1:1 blowback action CO2 pistols in every detail.
No CO2 pistol, thus far, has been so thoroughly matched to its centerfire counterpart as the Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and 3.8 models for design, fine detail, fit and finish. Just as Glock worked very closely with Umarex to build their air pistols, and Sig Sauer with its own Sig Air division, Air Venturi and Springfield Armory worked as closely to get these two CO2 models right in every essential detail. On the XDMs there are absolutely no obvious tells, not even a subtle hint, no .177 caliber markings, except on the barrel lug exposed in the ejection port, where every Springfield Armory model has it caliber stamped, nothing to give away the pistol’s airgun interior and CO2-powered blowback action, without the most detailed examination.read more
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.read more
Updating a timeless classic – Springfield Armory 1911 MIL-SPEC
By Dennis Adler
There’s a lot here to like that overrides what there is not to like, the white letter warning on the frame and the (Oh, is that how this works?”) S arrow F lettering on an otherwise very well designed early style 1911 thumb safety. Overlooking that, the slide with impressive MODEL 1911 – A1 and CAL 4.5 and matte Parkerized finish like the centerfire model, really sells the looks of this gun before you even get to the striking reproduction of Springfield’s crossed cannon diamond checkered grips.
There is no point in American firearms history since the 1911 was introduced that the Colt Model or some version of it has not been in production; it is an unbroken cycle that has lasted 108 years. Aside from the Colt Peacemaker (which actually did go out of production during WWII and until 1956) no American handgun has remained in production longer than the 1911. As an air pistol, the 1911 silhouette was the inspiration for classics old air pistols made by Marksman from the 1950s to the 1970s that shot BBs, pellets, or darts (in fact, they still make it). How many of you had one of those when your were a kid?read more
As new as an older pistol can be, the completely redesigned Beretta 92FS/M9A1 platform in M9A3 version gives the 20th century pistol a 21st century look with bi-tone FDE grips and slide, contrasting the frame and barrel. The CO2 model is a 1:1 reproduction for size and standard operating features.
The Beretta M9A3, like the Glock 19X, was unsuccessful in the U.S. ArmyModular Handgun System (MHS) trials; only the Beretta was never even given the chance to compete, being ruled out as too similar to the Beretta M9A1 model that was being phased out (i.e. the reason for the MHS trails). Beretta’s valiant effort to retain its government contract resulted in a very good handgun design but only met 86 percent of the Request for Proposals (RFP) outlined in the MHS program. The M9A3 is the most advanced version of the storied Beretta 92 Series semi-autos, and was actually developed for the U.S. military before the MHS program began. Significant changes were made to the Beretta design with a new dovetailed front and combat style white dot rear sight, a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail upgraded for easier mounting and removal of accessories, a new grip frame with Vertec-style thin grips and a flat mainspring housing similar to the Colt Model 1911 M45 CQBP that was being used by elite U.S. Marine Corp units at the time. The new design for the Beretta was intended to make the overall grip smaller and more suitable for a grater number of end users. A flared magazine well, increased magazine capacity to 17 rounds (9mm), larger magazine release button, and larger manual ambidextrous thumb safeties completed the upgrades, which were packaged in a new military FDE finish reminiscent of the M45 CQBP. After all the effort, Beretta didn’t make the cut, but they did make a better gun.read more