Blowback action felt recoil and what it means to shooting practice Part 3

Blowback action felt recoil and what it means to shooting practice Part 3  Part 2  Part 1

Last Gun Standing

By Dennis Adler

The final four test guns include (from left to right) Swiss Arms 1911 TRS, Sig Sauer 1911, Umarex Colt Commander and Sig Sauer P226 X-Five. (Both Sig models are Sig Sauer licensed airguns but not Sig Sauer products like the current P226 ASP and P320)

Right out of the chute the Umarex S&W M&P got bumped by the first of the final four test guns. But first, the .22 LR model used in Part 3 for a baseline; this is a classic American target pistol, the Browning Medalist. As you will notice the slide is short and has only 1.25 inches of travel, enough to eject the spent .22 shell case and re-cock the firing mechanism. The pistol uses target grips that support the shooting hand and bring the gun into proper alignment when aimed (this grip design will come into play later in Airgun Experience when we get into target shooting). It has a bull barrel and enough weight that recoil (muzzle rise) is less than an inch and felt recoil is less than some of the CO2 models already reviewed! So the bar has been lowered for felt recoil from a .22 but raised by two of the blowback action CO2 models in Part 3.

The .22 rimfire baseline for Part 3 is a vintage Browning Medalist target pistol. The Medalist was manufactured in Belgium from 1962 to 1976. Note the excellent target grips on the Browning, which have been copied for decades on various target model cartridge-firing handguns as well as many competition air pistols.

The slide on the Medalist is short and only retracts about 1.25 inches when the gun is fired to eject the spent shell case and re-cock the firing mechanism. The Medalist has very little felt recoil or muzzle lift, about the same as some blowback action CO2 models.

First gun up in the final four was the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS. This is a hefty, all metal blowback action 1911 with white dot combat sights, a very realistic weight and balance, functioning ambidextrous extended thumb safeties, and one of the best slide and frame finishes of any CO2 blowback action 1911. Felt recoil with the Swiss Arms model was slightly greater than the Umarex S&W M&P40, bringing the 1911 TRS to the top of the list for most felt recoil.

The first gun of the final four tested was the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS shown here ready to fire.

In this shot taken with the high speed camera the trigger has been pulled and the hammer is on the way up…

…the shot is taken, the slide is all the way back, the hammer re-cocked…

…and the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS is ready to fire again. There was very little in the way of muzzle rise but the Swiss Arms 1911 does deliver a fairly brisk recoil from the slide. It is just slightly heavier than that generated by the blowback action on the Umarex S&W M&P40.

Next was the Sig Sauer 1911 which has slightly more felt recoil than the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS or Umarex S&W M&P40, and a little more lightly felt muzzle lift when fired one-handed. This is all, of course, in small proportions, but the Swiss Arms and Sig 1911s feel about equal to the Browning Medalist .22 target pistol, and just a bit under the Walther P22 for felt recoil.

The Sig Sauer 1911 has just slightly more felt recoil than the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS and a bit more muzzle rise for the first 10 to 15 shots with a fresh CO2 cartridge.

Since we are on a run of 1911s, next up is the Umarex Colt Commander. This is the first of the great CO2 blowback action 1911 models and has earned a reputation as one of the most accurate and reliable. Again, it is very close to a 1911 in weight, balance, and handling, though not as “authentic” as the Swiss Arms model, and has fewer features than the Sig 1911. The Commander has a smoother, lighter trigger, which makes it very accurate, and it comes in almost equal with the the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS for felt recoil.

Last comes one of my favorites, the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five, second only to the Umarex S&W M&P40 and Tanfoglio Limited Custom for absolute authenticity and operation using a short-recoil, locked-breech operating design. The Sig P226 X-Five is another heavy weight pistol and as such has less felt recoil than any of the 1911s. It is a great shooter; but if you are looking for a palpable sense of recoil and muzzle lift this is not going to be your blowback action model.

Last guns standing out of the original eight are the Umarex S&W M&P40, Swiss Arms 1911 TRS and Sig Sauer 1911. All three exhibit minor muzzle rise and have the most felt recoil for CO2 blowback action BB models.

Last Guns Standing

For most felt recoil it is the M&P40, Sig Sauer 1911 and Swiss Arms 1911 TRS. For one last run, each gun was shot against the other to find the one with the most consistent felt recoil and noticeable muzzle rise. With a fresh CO2, the M&P40 has solid recoil and almost as much muzzle rise as the Walther P22. The Swiss Arms 1911 TRS has more robust felt recoil, but not as much muzzle rise. The Sig 1911 has the most muzzle rise with a full CO2 and felt recoil is just slightly greater than the Swiss Arms and M&P40. But, the Sig cannot maintain the level of recoil and muzzle rise beyond the first 10 or 15 shots, while both the M&P40 and Swiss Arms CO2 models can get through an entire reload before power begins to decline.

The last shootout for determining a winner, the Sig Sauer and Swiss Arms 1911s get another full magazine load with the same CO2 cartridge. And this is what ultimately determines the best gun.

Last gun standing is the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS which in the overall test out shot the Sig Sauer 1911 and maintained higher velocity and felt recoil overall. The second place finisher was the Umarex S&W M&P40.

The last gun standing is the Swiss Arms 1911 TRS. Most felt recoil and light muzzle rise. The Umarex S&W M&P40 is a very close second, and that really was to be expected. For anyone who seriously wants to use a CO2 blowback action BB pistol for practice and training, these are two standup airguns.

4 thoughts on “Blowback action felt recoil and what it means to shooting practice Part 3

  1. Despite not being considered a full sized pistol , but sometimes used as one, I would give the co2 mag Makarov Ultra honorable mention . Recoils like a little mule, hits around 350-360 fps so is in the same power range as the tested pistols . There should be more hard hitting pocket pistol replicas like the Makarov and the Beretta 84 . The Ppk/s should not even be mentioned in the same breath


    • The Makarov Ultra was on my original list of test guns but being closer to a pocket pistol than a full sized semi-auto I decided against it. There is also that cheeky exposed CO2 seating screw. But I will give it a go and report back on how it stacks up on felt recoil and muzzle rise. Aside from the screw a lot of folks really like the Makarov Ultra, including me. Wish Umarex would switch to a hex head seating screw and put out some updated magazines, it wouldn’t affect the gun one bit internally. You have to wonder, they did it for the underpowered PPK/S why not the Makarov?



      • There are a few pistols , like the Makarov, that while based on a pocket pistol frame , saw Service as holstered military weapons. Beretta 1934, FN 1922, Husqvarna 1909, Colt 1903/08, Walther PP , Mauser HSC ,CZ82/83, all of which would be large enough for replica airguns.


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