Young Gun, Old Gun

Young Gun, Old Gun

The design of a firearm

is still based around a simple principle

By Dennis Adler

I am reminded every time I put a montage of CO2 models like this together, that we have at hand a remarkable variety of firearms designs. Some, like the early 20th century Mauser M712 would be almost out of reach for the majority of collectors as a centerfire pistol, first because of the value, and second in still being a Class III weapon after almost 90 years. Others have simply gone up in value exponentially because of their rarity, like original Colt Peacemakers and WWII pistols like the P.08 Luger, while most of what you see here remain the mainstream guns of the 21st century, such as the latest Ruger 10/22 carbine,the Glock 17, S&W M&P40, and Sig Sauer P320/M17. As real firearms this would be quite an expensive group of guns.

I am paraphrasing the legendary William B. Ruger, Sr., when I say that all gun designs serve the same purpose, to fire a projectile, but what the gun fires and how it fires it, will dictate the design of the gun. Case in point, John M. Browning designed .32 ACP and .380 ACP cartridges and he designed the guns to fire them in 1903 and 1908, respectively. Bill Ruger, Sr. was something of a modern day J.M. Browning and what I learned from my time around him in the 1990s, while I was writing a short biography of his life, visiting his factories, talking with his engineers and staff, and having quiet, introspective dinners with him discussing firearms history, was that great design, and the fundamental breakthroughs that come with them, become the paradigm for all that follows. I understood than as I do now, that with few exceptions, every single action revolver, regardless of manufacturer (including the c. 1953 Ruger Single Six and c. 1955 Ruger Blackhawk), is descended from Samuel Colt’s original revolver designs, even though Colt had died years before the Peacemaker was designed. Ruger’s point being that no matter how different, regardless of the ammunition it fires; however large or small the pistol may be, the fundamentals of its design began with Colt. Bill knew this when he designed the original “Old Model” Single Six .22 revolver, and all the Ruger-designed and built single actions that followed. Were it not for Sam Colt… read more


The Art of the Gun

The Art of the Gun

Coming full circle with hand engraving

By Dennis Adler

The very latest Airgun Builder Colt Peacemakers with nickel and gold finish have been hand engraved by John J. Adams, Jr. of Adams & Adams. The engraving is based on the .45 Colt in the center. This gun was copied from an original Nimschke engraved 7-1/2 inch nickel and gold model from the late 1890s, and duplicated on a 2nd Generation Colt Peacemaker by John J. Adams, Sr. in 2008.

We have stepped upon the coattails of greatness with the creation of the Peacemaker Airgun Builder,giving western air pistol enthusiasts the opportunity to experience what cowboys, lawmen, ordinary citizens, and quite a few famous outlaws with a full purse could do with the stroke of a pen, or a well phrased telegraph message. Case in point, on August 8, 1892 an order for 10 matching 5-1/2 inch barrel length Peacemakers, all with matching mother of pearl grips and nearly full engraving coverage were shipped from Colt’s to the attention of Mr. A.E. Williams in care of Simmons Hardware Company in St. Louis, Missouri. The 10 matching revolvers, chambered in .45 Colt, were not for sale to customers in St. Louis but for a group of individuals who would ride into infamy on October 5, 1892, The Dalton Gang, with their historically failed attempt at robbing two banks at the same time in Coffeyville, Kansas. The engraved Peacemakers were intended as a symbol of the Dalton Brothers and their gang’s solidarity. Bob and Grat Dalton died that October morning; their younger brother Emmett would be the only one of the five Dalton gang members to survive. It had taken just 15 minutes in Coffeyville, Kansas, at the hands of the armed citizens defending thier town and its banks to end the careers of one of the most notorious outlaw gangs of the early 1890’s American West. read more


Best entry-level CO2 pocket pistol Part 2

Best entry-level CO2 pocket pistol Part 2

Another “Tale of the Tape”

By Dennis Adler

This is an interesting comparison for me because I have actually done this with the centerfire guns, so I have a somewhat unique perspective on how the PPS and P365 compare as personal defense handguns, and how well their CO2 counterparts can fill in as very affordable understudies for handling and CCW practice. In Combat Handguns we call this head-to-head type of comparison “The Tale of the Tape” and I am going to write this up in much the same way so that the guns speak for themselves and the best choice is clearly evident, though in CH articles I have had a couple of coin tosses over the years. You might want to have some pocket change ready. read more


Best entry-level CO2 pocket pistol Part 1

Best entry-level CO2 pocket pistol Part 1

It’s not the one you think it is

By Dennis Adler

Both entry-level blowback action CO2 air pistols, the Umarex Walther PPS M2 relies on older but still highly efficient operation with a separate CO2 and stick magazine, while the newer Sig Sauer P365 is smaller and uses a groundbreaking self-contained CO2 BB magazine. Both guns sell for within a few dollars of each other.

Pocket pistols are not as big a deal with airgun enthusiasts as they are with folks who carry a handgun for personal protection, even though the first blowback action CO2 pistol, the Walther PPK/S, was regarded as a pocket pistol. To be fair, the pocket pistol label has never really belonged to the PPK/S but rather the c. 1930 PPK, which is a smaller pistol. That’s splitting hairs these days because the PPK is larger than many contemporary pocket pistols, some of which are in larger calibers, too. read more


Expectations in context

Expectations in context

Why old guns are still interesting

By Dennis Adler

As a firearms historian, I have always been drawn to older designs which I find endlessly fascinating and often unique. Sure, it’s great to have a modern semiautomatic pistol that fires quickly and accurately and can be reloaded in seconds. It is technology at it’s best for the modern day. But the same could be said in the 1850s for a loose powder cap and ball percussion revolver like a Colt 1851 Navy; it was the best and most advanced technology for the modern day. The point being that everything needs to be understood in the context of the time in which it took place, something this country used to be pretty good at. Seems we have momentarily lost that ability and with it the capacity to view history in context with the modern day. But this is not about politics; this is about a handful of air pistols built only a decade ago that I wrote about in Wednesday’s Airgun Experience. There is more to the story. read more


Early blowback action designs

Early blowback action designs

Umarex already had an eye on the future

By Dennis Adler

In the world of blowback action CO2 models we tend to look back at 2014 as a watershed year when Umarex introduced the Colt licensed 1911 Commander, what was then, and even to this day one of the best 1911 CO2 models. There were, however, a handful of other blowback action models that preceded the Commander by at least a year and from other manufacturers, (and here we are referencing models with self-contained CO2 BB magazines only). Blowback action models began with the Umarex and the Walther PPK/S some 20 years ago, and though the period from 2000 to 2014 is not memorable for noteworthy blowback action air pistols, looking back to 2010 Umarex actually introduced a few that have been overlooked by many, some because they were only available for a very short time. They nevertheless represent benchmarks in blowback action pistol evolution.   read more


A new Schofield

A new Schofield

The game is afoot!

By Dennis Adler

One gun or two? That was a decision a lot of lawmen made in the 1870s and 1880s, usually it was two, one with a shorter barrel, but occasionally, it was a pair of long barreled six-shooters. In this case a mix of Colt Peacemaker in the strong side holster and a Schofield for crossdraw.

We wait patiently for things we want, and sometimes just when our patience is almost exhausted a glimmer of hope appears on the horizon. Of course, a glimmer isn’t always what you expect as you get closer, but when it is a new Schofield model that provides some balance to the new found weight of the Colt Peacemaker, it is a welcomed addition. The Schofield we have tested in the past is not changed, it is still the same barrel length, still the same fine construction and operation (worthy of going up against the Peacemaker even though it remains a smoothbore gun), but now the awful original finish has taken a second seat not only to the handsome nickel version but a brand new weathered finish model. If this sounds awfully familiar, you’re right; it is the same slow evolution that we saw with the Webley MK VI. And that begs the question, “Can a rifled barrel Schofield be too far off?” read more