Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 1

Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 1

What Works Best?

By Dennis Adler

Nothing new about red dot sights, they just keep getting smaller…but the gun at top is a Walther CP99, with bridge mount and Walther Top Point red dot, all almost 20 years old, the vintage Aimpoint MK III is 37 years old and still works, although compared to modern red dot sights is a little less competitive. In its time though, it was groundbreaking.

This is a subject that has many shooters seeing red. Red dots. Painting the target with a laser literally gives you a red dot on the target (and there are green lasers too, that are easier to see in brighter light). The laser indicates where your shot is going to hit when sighted in for POA. With air pistols, like blowback action, smoothbore BB models, this is not always as precise as with a centerfire gun, but even so, a laser is easy to see. However, with red dot scopes, the first developed over a quarter of a century ago, (I still have one of the early models manufactured by Aimpoint, a MK III that I purchased in 1983), sighting becomes more focused because you were no longer looking at a red dot projected downrange on the target, but rather a red dot within the scope that is as stable as the pistol’s own sights. Why the distinction? With a laser any movement of the gun moves the laser on the target and the greater the distance the grater the movement. Trained operators (SWAT, military Special Ops) have little trouble with this, than say the average shooter, but at closer distances a laser is an advantage for anyone. This is still less of an issue with a red dot scope or reflex sight; today military and law enforcement use both. In civilian pistol competition the dominant use of red dot scopes and reflex sights (within specific classes of competition) really makes the case for their use. With air pistols, and primarily blowback action CO2 models, the options are more limited as only certain models are suitable for use with a reflex sight, while any air pistol with a dustcover accessory rail is laser adaptable. read more


Why I liked the Mauser Model 712

Why I liked the Mauser Model 712

I’m a creature of habit

By Dennis Adler

In 1930 Mauser added a detachable box magazine to the Broomhandle line and in 1932 introduced the select-fire Model 712. It was sold to both the military and to civilians in the 1930s. The guns were used during WWII by both German and European forces (having been in wide circulation long before the war) and captured German models were prized by underground resistance forces fighting in Europe. The Umarex Legends CO2 model is one of the most authentic CO2 air pistols made today and proof that great things can be accomplished in CO2. The guns have been out for over five years.

It doesn’t matter how many new select-fire CO2 pistols come out, no matter how modern or advanced in design and operation, when I get to the end of all comparisons I will always pick the Umarex Mauser Model 712. Yes, I’m biased and not to be swayed because I like old guns, and when it comes to old full auto pistols you can’t find a more famous, nor more valued pistol than the Mauser Model 712. To be fair, Spanish armsmaker Astra also built a select-fire Broomhandle model, the 903, and of course, though a semi-auto only, there is the rare 20-round model C96 Cone Hammer Broomhandle. A real model 712 will bring upwards of $25,000 today (you can add another 20 grand for a mint condition 20-round C96), so that makes the Umarex Mauser Model 712 quite the bargain for military airgun enthusiasts at a mere $150 (MSRP). For Mauser collectors it is also something of a must, as there isn’t anything quite like it in the airgun world, either. I would have to say that of all the WWII era pistols (the Model 712 was introduced in 1932 but saw use during the Second World War), the select-fire Broomhandle Mauser carries a far greater allure to collectors than the majority of wartime handguns. It also has an almost mythical status, as do all Mauser and Astra Broomhandle pistols, that has been created over almost a century of film making, whether in the hands of the villains or the heroes. read more


Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 3

Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 3

Wherein the 009 plays G18 for a full auto CO2 shootout

By Dennis Adler

Three very different generations of guns both as centerfire and CO2 models; the classic Mauser Model 712 select-fire Broomhandle with removable box magazine, developed in 1932 and introduced as an air pistol by Umarex in 2015, the latest Beretta 92-Series pistol, the M9A3 introduced by Umarex as a select-fire version last year, and the brand new Barra 009 CO2 version of the Glock 18 select-fire 9mm pistol. The 009 is also the most compact of the trio.

This is where we have to suspend the reality of what are copies of actual firearms and what are versions of actual firearms and follow the almost irresistible fascination of full auto shooting with air pistols. You don’t even have to ask why because the question answers itself; the overwhelming majority of us cannot own a select-fire handgun, not even a vintage one like an original 1932 Mauser M712 or any of the few select-fire copies such as the Spanish-made Beistegui Hermanus Royal Broomhandle. Even these still fall under the federal rules for ownership of an automatic weapon. There’s that and the extremely high prices for these historic select-fire pistols. As for modern or at least relatively modern select-fire guns like the Beretta 93R or current Glock 18/18C, they breathe the same rarified air. But air is the answer, CO2, which opens up the possibility for anyone to own what looks like, feels like, and technically, shoots like the real guns. We have the somewhat fictionalized Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 with select-fire mechanisms (fictionalized because only the 93R ever had this option), the superb Umarex Broomhandle Legends M712 (a great gun in need of a better finish), the Crosman P1, which is another Beretta-style gun a hair closer in looks to the 93R and based off the same select-fire platform as the now defunct Gletcher BRT 92FS. (Then, of course, there are quite a few select-fire CO2 rifles and carbines like the Crosman DPMS and Bushmaster, the Mini Uzi, and vintage WWII era MP40 and M1A1 Thompson, but that’s another story and a lot of CO2.) Last, we have the new gun the Barra 009. read more


Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 2

Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 2

Parts is Parts, or are they?

By Dennis Adler

It is the face off that could not be avoided, the brand name Glock 17 Gen4 vs. the no name Barra 009 version of a select-fire Glock 18.

We have seen “interchangeability of parts” with other CO2 pistols, blowback action 1911s and the non-Beretta branded Model 92 Series models (Swiss Arms P92 and Gletcher BRT 92FS), which I have addressed in previous Airgun Experience articles. It all makes perfect sense because the same design air pistols (from the same factories) basically use the same parts, only the names are changed, but they look pretty much alike otherwise. This is prevalent with blowback action 1911 CO2 models – Swiss Arms, Tanfoglio, Air Venturi (John Wayne 1911), Umarex Colt Commander, even the superb Sig Sauer We The People – so it should be no surprise that we are seeing the first gun to share the internal components that make up the Glock 17 Gen4 CO2 model. There is already a select fire G18C Air Soft model from Umarex, and there are different Glock CO2 and Air Soft (GBB) versions sold in Europe that we may never see in the U.S. (but you never know). The point is, the parts exist and work in different platforms and the 009 is the first CO2 BB model to emerge from the Glock parts bin. read more


Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 1

Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 1

Parts is Parts

By Dennis Adler

On face value (and in approximate MSRPs, $159.95 for the 009 and $149.95 for the G17 Gen4) these two blowback action CO2 models are very similar guns with the obvious $10 difference in retail being the 009’s select-fire capability and Glock 18-style selector switch on the slide. Barra took a lot of liberties with the overall design of their pistol by using a non-Glock style grip design and triggerguard configuration. As for the forward slide serrations, you can get those on new Glocks as well, though in not exactly the same style. Overall, the 009 looks like a subtly customized Glock 17. But there is more to it than that.

You all knew this was inevitable. Every time someone makes a variation of an existing gun there is the inevitable comparison, it happens repeatedly in the world of centerfire guns and Glocks are no exception. With the new CO2 models, however, the parallels are more specific because the guns use the same parts manufactured in Taiwan and there is no real exclusivity beyond trademarks, because design patents expire and the floodgates open; this has been true with centerfire guns since the Colt’s patents for the revolver expired in 1857. When patents for the Colt 1911 expired it happened, and it has happened to almost every famous handgun in history. In the end all one really has as a legendary armsmaker is their name. If it looks like a Colt, shoots like a Colt but isn’t marked Colt, it isn’t a Colt. (It might be better in some ways, but it is not, nor will it ever be a Colt). Same for Glock, not legendary yet, but certainly the stuff of which legends are made, if the Austrian armsmaker continues to build guns that are used by more military, law enforcement and government agencies than almost any other in the world. Glock is going head-to-head with Sig Sauer, Beretta, FN, H&K, Colt’s, Smith & Wesson, and other acclaimed manufacturers with histories far, far older than Glock’s. Not to put too fine of a point on this, the Glock 17 is regarded among the 100 most important gun designs in the history of firearms; not bad for a company that hadn’t made a gun before the 1980s! read more


Tales of Wells Fargo Part 3

Tales of Wells Fargo Part 3

Barra recreates the 5-inch Schofield model

By Dennis Adler

There were more than 300 refurbished Schofield revolvers purchased by Wells, Fargo & Co. with the majority having their barrels cut down to 5 and 5-1/2 inches. Some were also nickel plated in the refurbishing process. The shortened barrel .45 S&W Schofield caliber revolvers were easy to carry undercover, especially in some very innovative holsters that used steel clips to attach to the wearer’s trouser waist.

No matter how famous or infamous the owner, the S&W Schofield found its way into the holsters of legendary outlaws and lawmen alike, many of who also famously carried Colts, Merwin Hulberts, and Remingtons; but the Schofield in its several iterations and barrel lengths was conspicuous throughout the period from 1875 to the turn of the century.

One of the most infamous guns of the Old West is the Smith & Wesson New Model Number Three used by Bob Ford to assassinate Jesse James in St. Joseph, Missouri on April 3, 1882. James, pictured at left, may even have given Ford, shown at right, the very gun that was turned against him. (William I. Koch Collection)
As the tenuous relationship between Jesse James and his men began to further disintegrate in 1882, brothers Robert and Charles Ford, (pictured), set upon a plan to kill Jesse in exchange for amnesty from the Governor of Missouri and a $10,000 reward. After they had murdered Jesse, Bob Ford had the S&W engraved and used it in a stage show about how he captured and killed the West’s greatest outlaw. The play was a sham because Ford had assassinated James by shooting him in the back of the head. Ford was reviled by everyone from the Governor of Missouri to the audiences at his plays who usually booed him off the stage.

Frank and Jesse James both had Schofield revolvers among their arsenal of handguns, (Jesse James was murdered by Robert Ford with an S&W Topbreak believed to have been given to him by Jesse), celebrated frontier lawmen Bill Tilghman carried a Schofield 7-inch model, El Paso, Texas, City Marshal (and Territorial Deputy U.S. Marshal) Dallas Stoudenmire also carried a 7-inch model in a leather lined trouser pocket, John Wesley Hardin owned an S&W No. 3 Topbreak (not a Schofield); as did Virgil Earp (the very gun he may have handed to brother Wyatt at the OK Corral shootout); lawman Pat Garrett had a Schofield, and Theodore Roosevelt carried a finely engraved New Model No. 3. The S&W topbreak revolvers were not at all uncommon guns. The Wells Fargo model and other cut down refurbished military Schofields more so into the 1880s and 1890s, with several hundred being purchased by Well Fargo alone. Civilian sales also likely numbered in the hundreds, and eventually more military Schofields, a sizable number also refurbished with cut down 5 inch and 5-1/2 inch barrels, ended up on the secondary market. The new Barra Schofield 5-inch models then, are in some very good company, including some very pricey .44-40 and .45 Colt caliber Schofield Wells Fargo reproductions manufactured in Italy by A. Uberti. (Smith & Wesson also made a limited edition of 7-inch and 5-inch models as commemorative pistols in 2000. These were official S&W copies, however, for safety reasons; these guns were fitted with an internal firing pin and a transfer bar, rather than a proper Schofield hammer-mounted firing pin. read more


Tales of Wells Fargo Part 2

Tales of Wells Fargo Part 2

Barra recreates the 5-inch Schofield model

By Dennis Adler

Wells, Fargo & Co. became the nation’s largest carrier of mail, gold, currency, and other valuable property between the early 1850s and the 20th century. It was also the largest target of highwaymen and train robbers in the late 19th century; a veritable who’s who of famous outlaws. In turn, the company pursued those who held up Wells Fargo shipments relentlessly with large rewards and a team of trailblazing late 19th century detectives. By the 1870’s, Wells Fargo agents were armed with refurbished military Schofield revolvers that had their barrels shortened to 5 and 5-1/2 inches.

The first guns used by Wells, Fargo & Co. field agents (investigators) were Colt’s 1848 Baby Dragoon and improved 1849 model.Both guns were essentially scaled down versions of Colt’s new First Model Dragoon and featured a full octagonal barrel in 3-inch, 4-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch lengths without loading lever. The new lightweight Colt pocket pistol could dispense five .31 caliber balls with deadly accuracy at close range. The 1849 Model Colts requested by Wells Fargo without loading levers came to be known as the Wells Fargo Model. That title was not attached to any other gun until the Schofield was taken up by Wells Fargo agents in the 1870’s. read more