Why manufacturers upgrade guns

Why manufacturers upgrade guns

Change is always questioned

By Dennis Adler

Change is inevitable in gun making. Manufacturers come up with improvements, some suggested by consumers, other created by factory designers. In CO2 pistols the best example of this is the Umarex Walther PPS and PPS M2, the same fundamental gun and firing system (blowback action, CO2 in the grip frame and stick magazine with a full size base pad), but otherwise an almost entirely new gun with improved sights, different triggerguard, slide and frame contours, grip design, and magazine release mechanism (the old PPS used the P99 based ambidextrous release from the P99, the M2 uses the frame mounted release, which is not ambidextrous, from the PPQ M2. The same has transpired with the 9mm centerfire guns with Umarex following suit, which makes sense since Umarex and Walther are the same company. Despite the use of a stick magazine, the PPS and now PPS M2 remains one of the very best blowback CO2 action pistols for shooting fun and fundamental CCW training. Change can be good.

“Why did they do that?” How many times have you said it in your life? And it’s not just firearms, it’s Oreos, it’s Coke, it’s your favorite brand of shoes, and it’s Colt, or Smith & Wesson, and the list goes on ad infinitum, just choose what item you want to debate. Change is always questioned and sometimes the answers are just not acceptable. Other times the answers are understandable, even if you don’t agree, and when it comes to firearms you need to have an open mind because change is inevitable. It is usually the result of improvements, something gunmakers have been doing since the beginning of gun making. Other times, change is to meet the demands of consumers, but that generally only satisfies a portion of customers, the other portion would have preferred things left as they were. (My personal one is Walther doing away with the ambidextrous triggerguard magazine release on the P99 in favor of a typical magazine release button on the frame. Why did they do that?) read more


Following a thread

Following a thread

The sound of faux silence

By Dennis Adler

About the only thing the two Beretta models share in common is the CO2 BB magazines. This makes the older magazines one may have for a 92A1 suitable for use in the newer gun and probably the most important thing of all for anyone who adds an M9A3 to their airgun collection. The treaded barrel presents an interesting feature since Umarex does not sell a faux suppressor for the M9A3.

In a recent article on “Why tan guns have great appeal” I pointed out that the Umarex Beretta M9A3 has a threaded barrel unlike the earlier 92A1 version, but that Umarex does not offer a faux suppressor to fit the newer Beretta semi-auto/full auto CO2 model. One of our regular readers, an avid collector and also one of the most astute when it comes posing questions, asked if there is a faux suppressor out there that fits the M9A3’s authentic-looking threaded barrel. The answer is yes, but it follows an idea that has long attracted air pistol enthusiasts to reproductions of military arms, some of which in their centerfire lives were designed for or altered to accept a silencer. read more


Why tan guns have great appeal

Why tan guns have great appeal

Because guns used to be blue

By Dennis Adler

Fifty shades of tan…the color is not the same on every gun that is listed as FDE, coyote tan, or desert tan, or just tan. Tan often isn’t even the same shade on the same gun. And that is part of what makes them interesting.

If you collect old guns, 19th century guns, most will be blued (or were at one time), others might be nickel plated, but the vast majority, well into the 20th century were blued. It is an old process that Samuel Colt (among others) refined in the early to mid 19th century. Go back another century and you won’t find many blued guns, you will find instead browned guns, an even older process that was so common in the 1700s’s that the famous Revolutionary War British musket, the “Brown Bess,” was named after its finish (or so the story goes). Browned Damascus barrels on shotguns and pistols were revered for their beauty, but bluing became the dominant finish intended to prevent rust. Rust was and will always be the nemesis of gun barrels, frames (except of course, newer polymer frames), and parts made from steel, iron or other metals, except aluminum and aluminum alloys, and thus you will not often encounter rust with a modern air pistol, except those which use steel in their composition. Bluing is, in fact, a controlled rust process that is stopped and treated, creating a protective layer over the metal. But time wears everything down and bluing wears away. That is why old guns that have not been well cared for (or reblued) have faded worn finishes and the worst, have pitting from rust. read more


Pocket Pistol Roundup Part 4

Pocket Pistol Roundup Part 4

What’s in your pocket? Walther and Beretta vs. Sig

By Dennis Adler

What exactly is a pocket pistol? It should be small enough to fit in a pocket and safely inside a pocket holster. The Umarex Beretta 84FS is really a little too large of a gun to be easily carried in a pocket, of course, it depends upon the size of the pocket and style of pocket holster. It would be a push to drop this gun into the front pocket in a pair of Levis. The Umarex Walther PPS, as a training gun will fit in a pocket holster but the longer grip poses some issues for total concealment. The little Sig Sauer P365 in 9mm or .177 caliber fits a variety of pocket holsters like this Galco horsehide PH 460. Why horsehide? A leather holster with a rough finish will stay put in your pocket and not pull out with the gun, as some lighter synthetic or smooth leather pocket holsters can occasionally do. It is also small enough to leave very little outline in the pocket.

I began carrying .380 pocket pistols (as opposed to slightly larger 9mm semi-autos in belt rigs) about 10 yearsago when I got the first of several Ruger LCP models. I reviewed them for Combat Handguns and Pocket Pistols magazines,and over the years ended up with a fully customized LCP and one of the rare Red Trigger Ruger models (which evolved from the custom pistol). The Red Trigger has most often been my companion when I carry concealed. I say most often because sometimes I carry a larger caliber pistol, but only the LCP drops cleanly into the front pocket of a pair of Levis with barely a trace of gun or pocket holster. Larger caliber guns like the 9mm Ruger LC9 come close, but are harder to cover. Sig Sauer did well in the pocket pistol category with their 9mm P938, based on a slightly scaled up .380 ACP Colt Mustang design, as well as their .380 Auto P230, which is a Colt Mustang-sized pistol. But when it comes to packing the most 9mm rounds into the smallest semi-auto, Sig Sauer rewrote the book with the P365; the smallest, high-capacity 9mm semiautomatic pistol on the market. It is that gun, upon which the Sig Sauer P365 CO2 model is based, it too, being the smallest blowback action pistol made with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine. It is the personification of “pocket pistol” in any caliber. read more


Pocket Pistol Roundup Part 3

Pocket Pistol Roundup Part 3

The better of two – 84FS vs. PPS

By Dennis Adler

Big pockets only need apply for these older pocket pistols, especially the much older Beretta 84 series guns that inspired the 84FS CO2 model. An almost 1:1 design, the original Beretta 84 models were regarded as concealed carry .380 autos and even suitable for concealment in a pocket. The newer 21st century Walther PPS is smaller in overall dimensions and packs 9mm rounds. Both CO2 pistols are ideal for basic hands-on familiarization with their centerfire counterparts and well made air pistols for plinking and general target shooting.

This is a paring of pocket pistols which are larger than most but still fall into the subcompact category and will conceal in a large enough pants pocket with just shirt tails for cover. Compared to smaller .380 autos and the 9mm Sig Sauer P365 they are much larger guns, the Walther PPS fairly equivalent to a .380 Glock 42 (also considered a pocket pistol), only the PPS is a little narrower and a 9mm. They are all better suited for close body carry with belt holsters, but when push comes to shove they will fit in a pocket. I didn’t say comfortably, but they will fit. As CO2 models the Umarex Walther PPS/PPS M2 and Beretta 84FS are an interesting match because the centerfire Beretta is a .380 and the PPS is a 9mm, but smaller! read more


Pocket Pistol Roundup Part 1

Pocket Pistol Roundup Part 1

The CO2 subcompacts

By Dennis Adler

“Pocket Pistol” is an incredibly old terminology that dates back to the Old West, actually, even further if you consider Henry Deringer’s small, single shot pocket models which were introduced in the 1830s, and small pistol designs by famous armsmakers like Christian Sharps (of Sharp’s Rifle fame), who managed to put four barrels into a pocket-sized pistol, and of course, Samuel Colt, whose first production revolver, the c.1836 No.1 Paterson, was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand! “Pocket Pistol” is a term that has been liberally thrown around for a very, very long time. read more


Greater Expectations

Greater Expectations

A serious look at air pistols and practicality

By Dennis Adler

Back in 2000 when I was preparing the First Edition Blue Book of Airguns these were the latest designs. They were all pellet-firing pistols that had excellent velocity, authentic styling and fundamental handling, guns that could be used for target shooting and handgun training (like the Walther CP99), but they were not blowback action pistols, and they were not actually semi-autos. Internally they worked like a DA/SA revolver with the cast alloy pellet magazine inside the action, rotating like a cylinder with each pull of the trigger (or by cocking the hammer). Look at the guns pictured in my feature from the 2001 book, and you will see the finest CO2 air pistols on the market at the time.

Rarely do I use this forum to write an editorial opinion, but it seems that the time has come to compare the market, marketing and manufacturing of air pistols to the expectations of consumers, and these are seldom shared objectives. It does happen, but not as often as most of us would like. We expect new guns every year, and that means we are sometimes thrilled, but more often easily disappointed. 

When I came into the airgun/air pistol market as an author almost 20 years ago, most of the airguns I write about today not only didn’t exist, they were not even imagined as being possible (Glocks for example). BB guns were as basic in 2001 as they were a decade or more before. When I looked for superstars that would be the topic for my first book on airguns (published by my late friend Steve Fjestad at Blue Book Publications), the field was small but well focused on two fronts. There was adult sport shooting with BB and pellet guns, and secondly a handful of guns (some the same) aimed at use for fundamental handgun training. This was nothing new, airguns had been implemented in the past for military training in times of war. read more