Conceptual Evolution

Conceptual Evolution

Looking back and looking forward

By Dennis Adler

For 2019 Umarex only has three new models we haven’t already seen, the Glock 17 Gen4, Beretta M9A3, and Ruger 10/22 but they also count the late 2018 introductions of the Glock 19, Glock 17 Gen3, HK VP9, and Legends Cowboy Lever Action as new models for 2019. Considering their timeline in 2018, they certainly qualify, giving Umarex quite a lineup of new CO2 models for this year.

Every so often you watch a movie trailer and it looks like it is going to be the best new film of the year, but it turns out that all the best scenes were used in the trailer and the movie as a whole falls flat on its face. That’s kind of where we are looking forward to new air pistols this year. Tom Gaylord gave us a thorough look at what new airguns are coming in 2019 direct from the Shot Show floor. And there are a lot of new airguns coming, but in the area of CO2 models, the offerings are impressive but few, as they apply to Airgun Experience readers. We are a picky lot and expect every year to be a banner year with an abundance of new and exciting CO2 pistols and rifles. But the reality is not always as exciting and many months go by between debuts and availability. Case in point, Umarex has announced a second Glock 17 with an enhanced blowback action for even more realistic handling. As a training gun this will be a benchmark, at least for those who want to train for carrying a 9mm Glock. And even just as a CO2 pistol on its own, it will likely rise to the top as one of the, if not the most realistic CO2 pistols built to date. But exhale; we won’t see them until late this summer. This is about the same waiting period as last year’s Shot Show announcement of the Legends Cowboy Lever Action Rifle (before it was pushed back to December). But it has proven well worth the wait. The question is, “What are we waiting for next?” read more


Photo Finishes

Photo Finishes

What is it about battlefield weathered guns that is so appealing?

By Dennis Adler

Weathered finishes on new guns are intended to duplicate naturally aged finishes on actual handguns and longarms. The faded bluing and loss of finish and discoloration on the 1858 Starr double action revolver at top is about a 50 to 60 percent gun for finish. The weathered finishes on CO2 models like the John Wayne Signature Series Umarex Colt Peacemaker and Air Venturi Model 1911 are less severe but show fine edge wear and fading to give them a more historic appearance. A lot of airgun enthusiasts and collectors find this very appealing.

When you look through high end firearms auction catalogs, like the Rock Island Auction Co. Premier Auction catalogs, the first thing you want to see is the photo or photos of the gun for sale, then the item description, and at the very end, what is written after the word Condition:

What you want to see is “Excellent” or “Very Fine” or at the worst “Fine” which usually indicates a worn but attractive patina with 60 percent of the original finish remaining. The rarity of the gun is part of what makes “Fine” actually fine because the gun is either hard to come by in any condition, and this usually applies to guns that are over a century old, or to those used in battle where the finish has been worn or faded over time. When it comes to WWII firearms, gun collectors look to find Very Good and Excellent guns, Fine, once again, is only appealing if the gun is rare or has historical provenance, and that is what makes Battlefield Finish CO2 pistols particularly interesting, they have the look of a gun that has a story to tell! read more


FAS 6004 Part 3

FAS 6004 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Chiappa’s Single Shot Pneumatic Target Pistol

By Dennis Adler

The FAS 6004 delivered on velocity (based against factory velocity specs) with all three wadcutter pellets used for the shooting evaluations, Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr., RWS R10 Match 7.0 gr., and Air Venturi 7.48 gr. lead wadcutters.

What exactly is an entry-level 10 meter single stroke target pistol? Well, the answer depends upon who you ask and what period of time you’re  asking about. Some 30 years ago, the answer was quite different than it is today. And notice that I didn’t use the word “pneumatic.” Back in the 1980s, Feinwerkbau was one of the most respected names in 10 meter air pistols with models like the FWB 65 (introduced back in 1965 and manufactured until 2001), the Model 80, which added stacking barrel weights and an improved adjustable trigger mechanism, and Model 90, which used an electronic trigger. These were side-cocking, recoilless, spring-piston designs for competitive shooting. Feinwerkbau rifles and pistols were the championship airguns in International Shooting Sports Foundation (ISSF) competition and the FWB Model 65 pretty much ruled air pistol competition for 30 years.[1] Today, FWB’s precharged pneumatic (PCP) pistols are the standard bearers. read more


FAS 6004 Part 2

FAS 6004 Part 2 Part 1

Chiappa’s Single Shot Pneumatic Target Pistol

By Dennis Adler

More than a decade old, the FAS Domino AS 604 design was the basis for the new Chiappa FAS 6004, and this “mass produced” version has the same lines and handling as the original Fabbrica Armi Sportive model. In 2002, the almost entirely hand-built FAS 604 had a suggested retail price of $350, which is equivalent to about $500 today.

Italian armsmakers have a slight advantage over American armsmakers, and even over most European armsmakers; the Italian firearms industry is more than 500 years old. The earliest written reference to Italian gun making is dated April 21, 1459. [1] Beretta, the world’s oldest gunmaker, has been in business for 493 years, and thus it is safe to say that the Italians know a little bit about making guns. Chiappa has only shared in 60 of those 559 years of arms making, but has carved out its own niche among the most respected gunmakers in Italy. I have written thousands of words about Chiappa over the years, but never a word about airguns until now, and the FAS 6004, which is, in its own right, very much a “niche” airgun, with very few contemporaries as a single stroke pneumatic 10 meter target pistol. read more


The BB Conundrum Part 1

The BB Conundrum Part 1 Part 2

Smart Shot, lead, steel and dust

By Dennis Adler

BB cartridge loading revolvers have it easy, semi-auto designs not so much when it comes to .177 caliber steel BB alternatives. There are plenty of options like Smart Shot (far left) copper plated lead BBs and traditional 4.5mm round lead pellets like Gamo Round. You have steel BBs like the Umarex Precision, which have proven to be among the best for blowback action pistols, even with rifled barrels, and then there is the innovative frangible Air Venturi Dust Devils (shown in a non-factory tin at far right). Dust Devils are designed for use on metal or hard surfaced targets and virtually disintegrate on impact to prevent ricochets, but they have another advantage.

Every so often we shoot ourselves in the foot (metaphorically speaking), and the ammunition of late seems to be Smart Shot. It is a great idea, a lead ball with a copper coating designed to minimize ricochets off hard surfaces, like reactive steel targets and pellet traps. Obviously no one should ever shoot a steel BB at a steel, metal or other hard surfaced target unless they’re willing to reap the ricochet whirlwind. Smart Shot was designed to make that less likely. For action shooting with an Umarex Colt Peacemaker or any BB cartridge firing revolver, Smart Shot is worth its weight in, well, copper and lead with reactive targets (more on this later in the year when the weather decides what season it is!) The question of late is how well it works in semi-auto designs with vertical magazines (stick magazines and self-contained CO2 BB magazines) and as I discovered it doesn’t have to be a blowback action pistol for Smart Shot to jam up the works. This has prompted me to look at other alternatives, especially when the air pistol is designed to shoot 4.5mm lead or alloy pellets, as well as BBs through a rifled steel barrel. Steel BBs work perfectly in these guns according to the manufacturers but as I have said before, over time the hard steel rounds traveling down a rifled barrel will begin to erode the lands and grooves. How much time? I don’t know; I tend to like shooting pellets in pellet pistols and have never quite settled into the idea that some can shoot BBs, too. If I wanted to shoot BBs I’d have purchased a BB pistol. But for the sake of argument, let’s look at some of the options available for dual ammo firing rifled barreled pistols. read more


Out of Sight

Out of Sight

When black sights won’t work and how to fix them

By Dennis Adler

Seeing is believing (and hitting the target) so to make the Air Venturi V10 (rear) and Weihrauch HW 75 a little easier and faster to get on target I added a white dot to the V10’s front sight and a red square to the HW 75’s. Life gets easier if you do this, and it isn’t a permanent change (like nail polish or paint), just one that works.

There are all types of sights for handguns, some you can change and some you can’t, and sometimes you have to play the hand you’re dealt. Or do you? With the series on single shot pneumatics completed, the topic of sights, in particular those on the Air Venturi V10 and Weihrauch HW 75, was brought up, because while fully adjustable, they can be hard for some people to see. I can vouch for that because I’m one of them.

Black rear notch, black front blade, black target, and old eyes. It’s easier to fix the sights.

At some point in life most people end up wearing glasses, others have been wearing them since they were kids. I was fortunate for the first 50 years of my life to have had 20/20 vision. That changed in my early fifties to glasses for reading. Add another decade and it was glasses for reading, driving, and yep, shooting. Shooting glasses are a necessity, prescription shooting glass are as well. But even with glasses and adjustable sights, if you are putting back on black sights (rear notch and front blade) on a black target like a simple Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C it is hard to tell if the sights are perfectly aligned. I do this three times a week and sometime five, so I’ve learned to compensate; that’s a fancy word for putting a piece of masking tape on the front sight to make it easier to see when I have trouble. I’ve mentioned this a few times with certain airguns in the past. It’s a quick fix. Sloppy, and of course, I never photograph the guns with masking tape left on the front sight. Most of the time the guns go right back after the article is done and I don’t want to make any changes that would be permanent, like using nail polish or paint. I’m pretty much that way on airguns I own, too. Like them left as they were. However, there are better things to use than masking tape if you want to make a semi-permanent change to the front sight. Here are two of my favorites, and they are easy to do with simple items you might have around the home or office. read more


Target Pistols and Target Shooters Part 3

Target Pistols and Target Shooters Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Shooting the Air Venturi V10

By Dennis Adler

The Air Venturi V10 is absolutely capable of being used in entry level 10-Meter ISSF sanctioned shooting events. The grip design is based on 10-Meter styles although it is somewhat unique in its rough wood grained finish. This gives you superb grasp but rough edges need to be smoothed out for a comfortable grip by using a wood rasp. In this shot I have already adjusted the contour where my middle finger rests behind the triggerguard.

You can spend a lot of money for a 10-Meter pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) competition pistol like a Morini MOR-162MI (one of the most expensive with an MSRP of $1,900), a Hammerli AP20 PRO (one of the more affordable at just under $1,000) or a Walther LP400 (around $1,700), and they won’t feel much different in your hand than the Air Venturi V10 single shot pneumatic. A 10-Meter air pistol is built to a competition standard with mandatory grip designs and a generally similar configuration. Most PCP models look very much the same, as do modern single stroke pneumatics like the Air Venturi V10. The differences are speed and accuracy. A PCP pistol is faster to shoot, a single shot pneumatic slower, but the V10 is definitely competitive at the entry level, and at under $300 you can afford to get into training, even if you never intend to get into competitive shooting. (This also opens the door to Match Pistols, which I will begin covering in Part 4). read more