Stick it to me Part 3

Stick it to me Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Stick magazines vs. CO2 BB magazines in Blowback Action Pistols

By Dennis Adler

We may not get every CO2 model that is sold in Europe but the U.S. gets some excellent choices including the well-established Umarex Walther P.38 (upper right), Umarex Luger P.08 (upper left) in both self-contained and stick magazine versions, the best overall CO2 training gun on the market, the Umarex S&W M&P40 (bottom right) and best pocket-sized CO2 model, the Umarex Walther PPS (lower left). All of these guns are accurate in their designs and fit the same holsters as their centerfire counterparts. (Holsters by World War Supply for the P.38 and P.08, Galco for the PPS, and Safariland for the M&P40)

Is the gun, in and of itself, more important than the magazine it uses? From your comments I’d have to say yes, if the gun is the Umarex Walther P.38. And to answer the other question, it seems unlikely we will see the battlefield finish version of this air pistol in the U.S. anytime soon. The European market is far more saturated with CO2 models than the U.S. because throughout much of Europe having actual centerfire models is a laborious endeavor. From visiting people I know in Germany, for example, gun ownership is very limited and it takes a long time to get a permit to own one. One. To own more takes even longer. As a reader from Europe noted, we here in the U.S “…live in paradise compared to us.” But for airguns, the paradise is over there. Umarex and other manufacturers build airguns for a global market; the U.S. only gets a portion of them, and unfortunately there are some that never make it to our shores. The internet has made it possible for us to not only see what we have, but also what we can’t.

Opposite equals, the P.08 Luger as a blowback action model comes in both stick fed magazine version (left) and self-contained CO2 BB magazine model. Notice the different triggers on these two pistols, the stick magazine model has a rougher trigger pull that makes it harder to shoot accurately. The self-contained magazine models also have a full takedown feature, a locking toggle on an empty magazine and a smoother, lighter trigger pull.

To answer my original question about how important is the magazine to the gun itself, I feel it depends entirely upon the airgun’s desirability. Take the now potentially hard to get Gletcher Tokarev TT. I like that gun on so many levels that I don’t care if it has a stick magazine. Same for the Umarex Walther P.38; these are historic firearms that I am glad to see in any version. I can’t say the same for using a stick magazine in a Model 1911; it’s just a cheap way to build it when the technology is so solidly established to build them with self-contained magazines. But when you find yourself with an actual choice, like the Umarex P.08 Parabellum models both having blowback action and realistic features, fit and finish, it comes down to price and performance, and no two CO2 action pistols better personify this than the P.08. But first, let’s finish the comparison between two other exceptional airguns, the Umarex Walther PPS and Umarex S&W M&P40.

It’s a face off between the best stick fed magazine CO2 blowback action pistol, the Umarex Walther PPS, and the best self-contained CO2 BB magazine semi-auto, the Umarex S&W M&P40. Both air pistols are at the top of their game for authenticity, handling, and accuracy. Stick vs. self-contained, what are you willing to give up?
This is a tough choice. The S&W M&P40 uses a self-contained CO2 BB magazine that is a bear to load with a tiny follower tab that has to be held down to load the BBs, and a CO2 seating cap that is awkward to thread back into the base of the magazine. Loading one of these magazines takes time and strong fingers. The payback is 100 percent authenticity compared to the centerfire model for loading a full-sized magazine and overall operation of the pistol. Conversely, you have the same fit, finish and handling capability with the PPS except for the stick magazine and loading the CO2 into the grip frame. Both are as smooth as glass when it comes to operation. The CO2 drops right in after removing the backstrap, which has the hex head seating tool built into it. The magazine has a large locking follower and BBs load smoothly. Both shoot accurately and have excellent handling. Like I said, it’s a tough choice.

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Downrange results

As we all know, there is no counterpart to the Umarex Walther P.38 which has the highest velocity for a blowback action CO2 pistol. What can the Walter PPS deliver in comparison to the 400 fps baseline of the P.38, and how does that stack up against the equally modern era M&P40? Let’s find out.

The Umarex Walther PPS is one of the most impressive air pistols for the money with exceptional attention to the details of its centerfire counterpart. Despite using a stick magazine and CO2 loaded into the grip frame the PPS excels in handling and delivers accuracy at 21 feet that is commensurate with the 9mm models. An absolute “best buy” for the money if you want a pocket pistol sized airgun.

The M&P40 with a fresh CO2 loaded delivered a high of 300 fps, a low of 296 fps, and an average velocity of 298 fps with a standard deviation of 1 fps for six consecutive rounds. If nothing else, it is consistent and 300 fps is right about average for a blowback action CO2 pistol with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine. The stick magazine fed Walther PPS clocked an impressive high of 375 fps, a low of 363 fps, and an average velocity of 368 fps, with a standard deviation of 6 fps for six consecutive rounds. Both guns have snappy blowback actions that give good felt recoil that falls just below that of a .22 rimfire pistol, and both have a medium decibel rating for loudness, especially when fired indoors. Both are excellent air pistols for training that are affordably priced; fit the same holsters, and use the same rail-mounted accessories as their centerfire counterparts.

If absolute authenticity to a centerfire pistol is what you want in a CO2 model, look no further than the Umarex S&W M&P40, which is already being used as a training gun for law enforcement officers who carry the 9mm or .40 S&W models. The airgun delivers an average of 300 fps velocity and sub 1-inch groups from 21 feet.

The blowback action P.08, with self-contained CO2 and BB magazine, uses a lot of its air to operate the very authentic feeling toggle action and thus velocity pays the bill with a high of only 291 fps, a low of 275 fps, average velocity of 285 fps, with a standard deviation of 10 fps making it the lowest performer of the four CO2 models. As far as feel and that great toggle action, it’s probably worth 15 to 20 fps. But do you pay as dearly with the stick-fed magazine? You pay in different ways. The stick magazine version has a different trigger action, you can see that it sits further away from the back of the triggerguard, has a larger spring and thus a much longer and heavier trigger pull than the other P.08 model. In comparison to the higher-priced P.08, the trigger pull on the stick magazine model is its worst feature. On the velocity end of the scale the stick magazine P.08 slammed its .177 caliber rounds downrange at a high of 378 fps, a low of 354 fps, and an average of 360 fps with a standard deviation of 10 fps. Overall, it is the most significant difference between stick and self-contained magazine models with a 5 fps higher average than the PPS over the M&P40. In both cases, the stick magazine models well outperformed their self-contained magazine counterparts by 70 to 75 fps. That’s a fairly big difference if you’re shooting for fun and accuracy vs. training with a correctly designed magazine.

Same deal with the P.08 models, one is easier to load (the stick magazine) but it sacrifices a lot more than the PPS does to the M&P40. The P.08 stick magazine model is not as good a gun as the self-contained magazine version. Its only advantage is much higher velocity, and that makes this another tough choice.

As for accuracy at 21 feet, the PPS and M&P40 are hard to beat with their white dot sights. The P.08s with hard to see rear notches on the back of the toggle and narrow front blades never made it easy in 9mm, so they are no better in .177 caliber, but at 21 feet you can still manage pretty tight groups with the Luger CO2 models.

While not known for exceptional accuracy, WWI and WWII-era military handguns were often masterpieces of design, like the Georg Luger 9mm Parabellum. The Model P.08 is well rendered by Umarex in both stick and self-contained magazine versions. Both guns do an adequate job of delivering decent accuracy at 21 feet. Of the two, the self-contained magazine version is clearly the better choice except for velocity, where the stick magazine version averages 75 fps higher average velocity in the 300 plus fps range. The self-contained model, while better overall, can barely reach 300 fps.


If I were a Luger fan, I would want the self-contained magazine version just to have a historically proper gun. It also has the better trigger and thus is the more accurate of the two versions. The Walther PPS and S&W M&P40 are mostly equals, but for the money it is just about impossible to get a better blowback action pistol than the Walther PPS. I like the M&P40 for its spot-on authenticity, but the PPS is easier to load, faster to handle, and just as accurate. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

7 thoughts on “Stick it to me Part 3”

    • The Air Soft and paint gun models are another world from the BB and pellet guns in Airgun Experience. I have seen a greater variety and even more authenticity with Air Soft (and a few paint ball) pistols, which are also used for firearms training, but at least for now, we are limiting our discussions and articles to BB and pellet models. Though I have to admit, there are some very interesting Air Soft models out there that I wish were also offered as BB or pellet firing models.

  1. The low velocity M&P40 and Po8 are fine for training and punching paper. Where they lose out to pistols like the P 38 are on knocking over and punching holes in cans, and that fun factor Is better served by highervelicity. Despite the stick magazine the P38 has appeal with400 fps and sharp blowback . The big surprise in stick magazines is the very low velocity in the Ppk/s.I would be willing to accept a stick magazine in a Colt 1903 with blowback and 400 fps.

    • Just have to figure out how to convince the actual manufacturer of the Gletcher branded TT-33 to reconfigure the platfrom to look like a Colt Model 1903. Heck, I’d even live with the stick magazine. I think you and I would be the first two customers!

  2. The fact that the reissue licensed Colt 1903 is selling for over $1200 , confirms there is still a market for the classics. I had tried to convince Colt to offer a 22 conversion unit for these, but Colt as usual gave excuses and nothing else.The closest thing would be a replica airgun , offered in blue ,weathered and nickel versions. Would a multi co2 charged gargling gun be too much to ask for as well? Ok, a dueling pistol then

  3. I am glad you are sticking to your story . No brag , just fact. Would be nice to see the Nagant pellet revolver continue , as well as being used as the basis for other replica revolvers . With the same basic size valve system, revolvers like the S&W model 10 Colt Official Police and the Colt Diamondback could be made.,Would be happy with the cut down TT 33as a 19o3to start

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