Barra 009 Part 002
What’s in a name?
By Dennis Adler
Samuel Colt established a name, a brand, and legacy in the 19th century; Gaston Glock has done much the same in the 20th and 21st centuries,but like Colt or any other gunmaker, a design can only be protected by patents for so long. A name, well, that’s another thing altogether. Today you will see endless copies of Colt designs, but none can ever be called a Colt or wear the Colt emblem. They can look like a Colt but they can’t be a Colt. They can, however, occasionally be better. I’m picking on the Model 1911 both literally and as a case study. Many of the improvements we see today on 1911s, even Colt 1911s, were not developed by Colt. The ambidextrous safety, for example, the dustcover rail, and thus the Colt 1911 Rail Gun, were not developed by Colt; other guns that looked like a Colt 1911 had them first, although Armand Swensen’s ambidextrous extended thumb safeties and high visibility rear sights were actually developed in the mid 1960s for the Model 1911. Today, Colt offers ambidextrous safeties as do almost every maker of 1911-style pistols, same for high visibility sights, and even the squared triggerguard, also invented for the 1911 by Swensen.
In the early 1980s, Gaston Glock pioneered the polymer frame and the Safe-Action trigger with its integral blade safety. Today there are a lot of guns that look like Glocks, a lot of guns that have a version of the Safe-Action trigger (whether their profile mimics the four squared shape of a Glock or not), so what is in a name? The name is a heritage, the inventions, however unique, can only remain sacrosanct to that name for as long as the patents last. After that time is up, as the old expression goes, “here comes everybody.”
The Glock influence
It is safe to say that Glock’s design innovations have had far reaching influence on almost every major firearms manufacturer in the world over the past 38 years, and the company has gone from an almost unknown Austrian manufacturer to international celebrity on a scale with Colt, Smith & Wesson, Browning, Sig (Sig Sauer), FN (Fabrique Nationale), Heckler & Koch, Carl Walther, and a dozen other companies with histories established long before anyone ever heard of a Glock. And yet here we are looking at a design that isn’t even as old as Swenson’s ambidextrous thumb safety for a 1911!
Some companies that started out a few years ago making custom accessories for Glock pistols have graduated to building complete guns that look like customized Glocks, but are not Glocks. As for CO2 pistols, like the new Barra 009, its not the first to look like a Glock without bearing the Glock name. Years before Umarex and Glock teamed up, Umarex had one from 2010 to 2012 called the SA177 which looked almost exactly like a Glock 17, Crosman introduced a Glock-style air pistol in 2007, the Model T4CS, and then there is the ISSC M22 back in 2016, which was built to resemble a G18 with a non functioning selector switch on both sides of the slide (double the disappointment). If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, Glock should be very flattered by now because legions of gunmakers and airgun manufactures are pushing the Glock profile into a shape as familiar today as a Colt 1911 used to be. While Barra is far from the first to build a Glock-style air pistol, it could very well be the best so far!
What makes the 009 better?
Getting it right the first time is what we want all airgun makers to do. Few succeed at this because they are catering to multiple markets of which we more discerning (read fussy people who want realistic features and handling) only make up a small portion of the buying public willing to pay extra for, well, extra. Barra waded into the 009 with expectations to build a gun that filled a specific niche in the blowback action market, a gun that looked a lot like a G18 and actually had a semi-auto/full auto selector. Consumer expectations met. That in itself is not a new idea because there are a number of relatively new select-fire airguns out there; two Beretta models from Umarex and the 1930’s Legends Broomhandle Mauser M712, plus the WWII era Umarex MP40 sub machinegun, M1A1 Thompson, and very authentic looking and handling Mini Uzi select-fire pistol. What the 009 brings to the game is a modern day gun with that same attraction. Remember, there are no actual select-fire Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 centerfire guns; this is made up for the air pistols (because the real select-fire Beretta design, the 93R, is locked into the Air Soft world and there is no CO2 counterpart). In the “as real as it gets” category for contemporary air pistol designs, the 009 is hard to beat. And it has a few tweaks that the real G18 could use!
Get a grip
With an actual select-fire Glock 18/18C, your shooting stance on full auto needs to be slightly exaggerated with a forward body lean (and moving the right leg back) to better handle the rapid recoil, but otherwise it can be a Weaver stance with a two-handed hold. On full auto the 9mm Glock pushes relatively straight back and does not have the tendency to climb like some other full auto pistols. I have even seen videos of gun tests with the G18 fired on full auto with one hand. As a CO2 pistol the change in stance is not necessary but for training’s sake isn’t going to hurt and may even help with the modest recoil generated by this air pistol on full auto.
The specific features that separate the 009 from an actual G18 are the grip shape and the triggerguard. These are improvements to the design that aid in gripping the gun and using a two-handed hold. In all other respects it is the same as shooting the CO2 Gen4 model until you move the selector down to full auto.
The change in grip contour with the 009 gives you that old solid as a rock 1911 feel you get with flat mainspring housing models, though to be fair, the arched mainspring and guns like the Glock that have a curve to the grip that presses into the palm swell are equally popular; it becomes a matter of shooter’s preferences, that’s why they make 1911s today with flat and arched mainspring housing, and polymer frame semi autos with interchangeable backstrap panels. But hey, this gun feels good in the hand. The second of three alterations is the deeply undercut triggerguard, and I mean deeply undercut so that the middle finger is not only tucked up higher but your entire grip is raised which lowers the bore axis compared to a regular Glock. The improved triggerguard design does come at a price. The contour is different enough that the 009 will not fit any Glock 17 injection molded or Kydex molded holsters. It will, however, still fit in most leather holsters.
The last alteration is a second triggerguard undercut that allows the same relief for the support hand index finger to create a tighter two-handed hold. There is also a slight rest for the support hand thumb tip right behind the slide lock (slide release) that a Glock does not have. This all will have an effect on how well the gun shoots based on how you are holding it.
In Part 003 we will pull the trigger and test the gun as a semi-auto compared to the Gen4.