Model 1911 Variations Part 2

Model 1911 Variations Part 2

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, well you shouldn’t judge a 1911 (.45 ACP or CO2) by its very familiar profile, either. These four guns, the John Wayne WWII commemorative, Umarex Colt Commander, Swiss Arms TRS and Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE have little in common other than being based on the 1911. How many differences can you spot?

This is a familiar picture for me with four different 1911 models being compared, because I have done it several times in the past with .45 ACP models and the results are just as telling with centerfire guns as they are with CO2 pistols. Of course, consider that there is an entire industry out there that builds custom components for the centerfire Model 1911, virtually upgrading every part of the guns from the inside out, and for every conceivable purpose from military and law enforcement tactical use, to competition pistols that barely resemble a 1911, and everything in between, just to meet the demands of consumers devoted to the Model 1911. Within the handful of top end CO2 models you can actually get some of that, but it is almost entirely on the outside, with very little changed on the inside. read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 1

Model 1911 Variations Part 1

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

This is where it all began in 1911 when the Colt .45 ACP was adopted as the official sidearm of the U.S. military. The early John M. Browning design for Colt bore Browning’s Apr 20 1897, Sept 5 1902, December 19 1905, February 11 1911, and Aug 19 1913 patent dates. Guns built through 1924 had the flat mainspring housing and longer trigger. (Military magazines had lanyard loops as well as the base of the grip frame.)

Shared design does not mean shared performance, or shared accuracy. This is true in the world of centerfire pistols and true in the world of blowback action CO2 pistols.

If there is one gun that epitomizes this statement, one handgun that has seen more variations, mechanical upgrades (internally and externally) and a greater variety of uses than any other, from a military side arm to a world class competition pistol, it is the Colt Model 1911. I honestly can’t even say “Colt” Model 1911 anymore because there have been so many 1911 models that have nothing to do with the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co., other than a shared design. read more


First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 4

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 4

Point of Aim

By Dennis Adler

Green means go and with the LaserMax Spartan green laser you can go for the tight groups at POA with the Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 CO2 model.

There is little more that I can say about the new Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 that will help better define it as the new benchmark in blowback action CO2 air pistols. Yes, there are blowback action CO2 models that have higher average velocity, but another 25 to 50 fps isn’t going to make a significant difference when the cost of that higher velocity is a loss in hands-on performance. While there are certainly other CO2 models that are as realistic in their overall design as the Springfield, they can only make that claim from the left side of the gun, the right side of the slide and frame have white lettering and manufacturing marks that instantly defines them as air pistols, even the very best of them (except the Umarex Glock 17). Only the Springfield has achieved near 100 percent authenticity in every category of comparison to its centerfire counterpart. Why not 100 percent? Because no matter how brilliantly disguised the manual safety is, the fact that it has a manual safety in the first place, is a departure from the centerfire pistol design. It is a strange point of contention but the requirements of CO2 semi-auto air pistol manufacturing require a manual safety be added if the design of the centerfire gun it is based upon does not incorporate one. The XDM CO2 model has managed to comply without any other compromises and close enough in my book compared to every other blowback action model currently offered today. read more


First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3

“Everything you want in a blowback action pistol”

By Dennis Adler

Rarely can you look at the right side of a blowback action CO2 pistol and not know that it is an airgun due to the white letter safety warnings and manufacturer’s marks. With the centerfire Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 models having a black polymer frame and flat black finish slide, correctly duplicating it for the Air Venturi .177 caliber models guaranteed an air pistol with totally authentic looking fit and finish. Even with the small details.

I have said those words so many times in the past, “everything you want…” and every time it was true within the context of when it was said. But even the best of the lot in .177 caliber blowback action pistols with self-contained CO2 BB magazines, have suffered minor imperfections, and in the overall scheme of things CO2, they were nothing more than minor irritants, almost entirely limited to mandatory warnings in white letters marring otherwise pristinely authentic frames and slides. The first gun to break the mold, the Umarex Glock 17, suffered instead from being a design that could not be field stripped (and Umarex may correct that with the forthcoming Glock 17 Gen4). read more


First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 2

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 2

A new level of authenticity

By Dennis Adler

No tricks this time, this was my XDM from 2010. You can imagine how incredible it would have been nine years ago to have been able to lay a matching CO2 pistol next to it. Now you can.

We are by nature a people who want what they cannot have. This is not a bad thing; it is what inspires us to reach for higher goals. For Springfield Armory, those goals continue to extend the armsmaker’s reach across the spectrum of innovative semi-auto pistols, and now into the world of blowback action CO2 pistols. Originally (and still) known for its excellent line of Model 1911-A1 pistols, Springfield Armory broke its own mold in 2002 with the introduction of the polymer-framed XD (X-Treme Duty) models. In the subsequent 17 years the company has continued to expand the XD Series and make improvements, including the XDM models introduced in 2008. Yes, it took almost a decade for Springfield to develop its first CO2 powered, blowback action model in 2018, but like everything this company has done, it is done right the first time. Understanding the design of the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions, is the key to understanding the CO2 pistols. In purpose, they are one and the same. read more


First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 1

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 1

A line in the sand

By Dennis Adler

The new Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 blowback action CO2 model is shown with an early .40 S&W XDM with the complete case and accessories. The CO2 model will not have such a lavish presentation but it will fit the XD Gear holster and the CO2 BB magazines will fit the XD Gear dual magazine pouch. Care to venture a guess which one is the air pistol?

I can remember how impressed I was with the Umarex S&W M&P40, which became the first truly purposeful CO2 training gun, one so accurate in details that a few law enforcement departments that carried 9mm and .40 S&W M&P pistols used the CO2 models for indoor training exercises. The guns proved useful both for recruits and remedial training exercises where live fire (in this case with .177 caliber steel BBs at distances of three to seven yards) could yield a realistic training scenario against targets, while using all other duty gear and accessories in conjunction with the Umarex in place of the centerfire gun. This success as both training gun and as a popular brand name blowback action CO2 pistol for recreational shooting had few equals. In fact, for absolute equality, there was nothing as perfectly matched in all aspects of handling and operation until the Umarex HK USP late in 2018. There are other CO2 models that approach the level of the M&P40 and USP, but none that can equal it. And even the M&P40 has a very obvious air pistol tell with its white lettering on the left side of the slide and right side plastered with white letter warning and manufacturer’s marks. The HK USP followed suit, though far less noticeably. The Glock 17 finally cleared that hurdle with an almost perfect fit and finish and absence of any white lettering or warnings to detract from its authentic Glock appearance. But in building the G17, Umarex designed a gun that could not be field stripped, eliminating one of the essential components of a true CO2 training gun. Even the superb Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911, a virtual 1:1 match with its .45 ACP counterpart, had to succumb to white letter warnings on the right side of the slide. Perfection was close for all of these CO2 models, a perfection that would cross the line that visually blurs the CO2 pistol, with some modicum of time for scrutiny, from being anything but a CO2 pistol to the trained eye. Today, I submit for your consideration a blowback action air pistol that has drawn a line in the sand, the Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 semi-auto pistol. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Beretta models are accurate in size and fit the same holsters as the centerfire pistols; however, the different triggerguard designs dictate different holsters. The new M9A3 with the squared off triggerguard requires holsters for that contour such as the minimalist design Galco Yaqui Slide Belt Holster. This allows most effective concealed carry for the full-sized pistol (outside of an IWB rig) but much less retention than a full size holster or one with a thumb break safety strap.

The differences between the 92A1 and M9A3 as discussed in Part 2 can be categorized in one of two ways, first, exterior changes to duplicate improvements in the 9mm model’s design and operation, and secondly those made to the CO2 pistol either as improvements or changes in manufacturing. The latter is seldom the goal as retaining as many parts of the original mechanical design as possible is the most cost effective when upgrading an existing pistol. With the Umarex Beretta models there is one mechanical or manufacturing change that is quite evident, the new barrel breech on the M9A3. This is actually more than just the interface of the barrel breech with the CO2 firing mechanism. That part is also different on the M9A3. From a purely functional aspect the 92A1 firing CO2 delivery system is a plunger that comes forward and with a lug on the underside strips the next BB in the magazine and chambers it as the plunger extends into the back of the barrel breech. The face of the plunger sits flush with the barrel breech. Secondly, when the slide retracts, either manually or recoiling from being fired, the plunger snaps back into the firing mechanism under the slide, and then extends forward as the slide closes. This is something you can see by simply looking down on the top of the slide and pulling it back an inch. The plunger will snap back. read more