May the best gun win
By Dennis Adler
Let’s go with an assumption that the Barra 1911 is the second best blowback action 1911 on the market. First,authentic stylinghas to make it better than the Swiss Arms TRS and the Umarex Colt Commander. As for the Sig Sauer 1911 We The People, it is exactly the same in appearance as its .45 ACP Sig Sauer 1911 WTP counterpart, and whether you like the patriotic heavy-handedness of the gun’s design or not, 1:1 is 1:1 no matter what the centerfire gun looks like. I happen to think the Sig is one of the best looking 1911 designs that is not a Colt, not particularly for the “1776” and “We The People” embossing on the right and left sides of the slide, which is fairly subtle against the finish, but rather for the rugged, distressed finish itself, the 13 stars on top of the slide, and the 25 stars on each grip panel, the flat mainspring housing, fine grip checkering, and polished black grip safety, ambidextrous thumb safeties, hammer, and slide release. It is one of the most well thought out and finely-executed blowback action air pistols that has been built. Being second to that is no mean feat.
As for velocity (again with a more powerful magazine than comes with the gun), the Barra 1911 it is equal to the Colt Commander and, like all the rest, falls well short of the Sig Sauer. The Umarex, though nicely done, has always been a tossup for authenticity being misnamed a Commander and have the SF arrow on the thumb safety as well as white letter markings, etc. It does bear the Colt name and that’s still worth a lot in sales appeal. The Swiss Arms TRS does not exactly duplicate a Colt model but is the cleanest looking between the Umarex and Barra, but only the Barra 1911 is truly an authentic copy of a Colt 1911 production model. I know, it’s a lot of nit picking for an air pistol, but why make one gun more authentic than another if its not going be part of the decision making when considering a purchase?
Head to Head
How do you compare two different approaches to the 1911 design like the Sig, Swiss Arms and the Barra, one a contemporary combat model with white dot sights, target hammer, and target trigger on a conventional 1911 flat mainspring housing frame, the others a more updated tactical design with integrated accessory rail, white dot sights, flat mainspring housing, target trigger and standard 1911 trigger, respectively, Delta-style hammer, and extended ambidextrous thumb safeties? They have as much in common as they don’t, the Rail Gun frame being the most important. Why? Because it won’t fit in any conventional 1911 holsters you may have. Of course, they make 1911 Rail Gun holsters, so it’s just another expense to add. Clearly, the new Barra is the equal of the Swiss Arms TRS, but can it stand up in a head to head with the top 1911 for overall handling and accuracy? Time to find out and put the Barra into its proper ranking among 1911 blowback action CO2 models with self-contained CO2 BB magazines.
When you compare the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS with the Barra 1911 you can see that they are almost the same gun, but the Barra is more authentic in actual design, but only in a few ways. I am a little biased toward the TRS for one reason; Swiss Arms has put an impressive looking air pistol together, (more along the lines of the finish you might get from a Kimber, for example), and produced a 1911 CO2 model that eschews the obligatory white letter warnings. You won’t find them on the TRS. Even Sig Sauer did not achieve that. The only features that distinguish the TRS from the Barra is the finish and target trigger, the Barra has the advantage of the correct accessory rail design and an undercut triggerguard, after that the guns have the exact same features, slide serrations, white dot sights, and ambidextrous thumb safeties and palmswell grip safety an beavertail. For me, it is the fact that the Barra is so much closer to the actual Colt that makes the difference and the lack of markings (as in Colt markings) versus the Swiss Arms name on the TRS. Like I said, it gets really nit picky.
Let’s start off by shooting the Barra against the TRS. Basically both the same gun with different finishes and a few minor details, you expect the same results. I’m even going to use the same magazine for both guns. Sending rounds downrange at around 314 fps, the Barra put 10 consecutive shots into the 10 and bullseye at 1.625 inches with a best five rounds at 0.875 inches. Bear in mind, POA is still 6 o’clock at the bottom of the 9 ring. I’ve done better with the Barra, but that’s today’s best. With the same magazine in the TRS and same POA I put 10 rounds into an identical spread of 1.625 inches but a best five at 0.625 inches with four overlapping on the edge of the bullseye and one in the bullseye. Overall, it’s a little better than the Barra. Why? Because the TRS has a better, lighter target trigger with a smooth 0.187 inch take up and a trigger pull of 4 pounds, 12.3 ounces. Just enough difference with everything else the same to give the TRS a little edge. But we are essentially confirming that the two guns are almost identical and aesthetics plays the bigger part in deciding which to own.
Now, the wild card is the Sig Sauer, which is somewhat better built with a traditional 1911 frame, flat mainspring housing, palmswell grip safety and beavertail that is almost identical in shape (though not construction or color) to both the TRS and Barra 1911 models. But there is something in the total internal construction of the Sig that allows it to have a much higher average velocity that is at least 21 fps better than the Barra and almost 30 fps faster than the TRS.
At 21 feet using the same Swiss Arms/Tanfoglio magazine I put 10 rounds into a spread of 1.125 inches with a best five (actually seven) in one ragged hole measuring 0.50 inches, the best group I have ever had with Sig. What makes the difference is that this is a heftier, more solid feeling gun in the hand (even when you rack the slide) with a light target trigger and a pull of 4 pounds, 9.5 ounces. The Sig has been and remains the gun to beat, but the Barra is certainly in the running against the TRS, and for a smoothbore BB gun, well worth the price of ownership with a suggested retail of $109.99.