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


Back in my Guns & Ammo days

Back in my Guns & Ammo days

Beretta Model 92FS XX-Treme

By Dennis Adler

I originally wrote this caption because at the time very few CO2 pistols looked like the XX-Treme. “Not your father’s Crosman pellet gun, the Beretta XX-Treme raises the bar for intimidating design. Fully equipped, as shown, the price is just $318.99.”

This is a little trip back in time, about 15 years back, when I was primarily an automotive journalist, gun enthusiast and collector. Early on in my career when I was writing about rare and expensive vintage American and European cars from the early 20th century, I had determined that I was never going to be a car collector. My interests were in photographing and writing about them, not owning them, and I never kept that a secret even when I was editor of one of the (at the time) top-rated collector car magazines in America. This led one of my competitors to brand me a “non-collecting voyeur” which really has a pretty nasty connotation. But I wore it well for over 30 years and through authoring dozens of automotive books and running the magazine. I loved old cars; I just didn’t want to own them. (Truth be told, the ones I would have loved to own were so far out of my reach financially that I had long dismissed any thoughts of ownership). read more


Parts Interchangeability

Parts Interchangeability

Beretta 92 Models

By Dennis Adler

When you fieldstrip all three of these Beretta 92FS-style CO2 pistols you end up with the same parts. The only difference is that the Crosman (far right) has a better magazine for loading, but the other mags work in the Crosman just as well. The full auto setting is selected by the safety when moved to the lowest position, allowing one pull of the trigger to fire the gun continuously until you let off. The select fire Umarex Beretta 92A1 has a different selector switch apart from the thumb safety.

The concept of parts interchangeability was pioneered by Samuel Colt in the 1850s to facilitate more efficient and precision manufacturing at his Hartford, Connecticut, South Meadows Armory. In a way, Colt even pioneered the moving assembly line with revolver and rifle components progressing along dedicated production lines, minimizing unnecessary movement. As noted in the book, Samuel Colt – Arms, Art, and Invention by Herbert G. Houze, within the Colt’s factory buildings there were “fifteen hundred machines, the majority of which were both invented and constructed on the premises. Every part of a pistol or rifle is made by machinery, and being made to gauge, is an exact counterpart of every other piece for the same purpose.” Every part was inspected for uniformity before going to assembly, and thus you had parts interchangeability. The efficiency of the Colt factory allowed guns to be built and assembled in large numbers, and for guns in the field (remember much of this occurred just prior to and during the Civil War) an armorer in a military unit or company could replace damaged or broken parts with spares that were identical and required very little hand fitting, if any. Henry Martyn Leland, the founder of both the Cadillac and the Lincoln Motor Car companies in the early 20th century, had worked for Colt’s during the Civil War where he learned the value of parts interchangeability. After Colt’s he took this skill to Springfield Armory and later Brown & Sharpe in Providence, Rhode Island, a precision tool making company, before setting off to Detroit and America’s emerging automobile industry. The significance of parts interchangeability has been realized globally by virtually all manufacturing, whether in the form of firearms, automobiles, hand tools, or appliances, and to the point of this article, air pistols. read more


The White Letter Chronicles

The White Letter Chronicles

History of white lettering on handguns

By Dennis Adler

Oh those pesky white letters. Sometimes they’re OK, like the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five or the Umarex S&W M&P40, they’re not correct but they’re not unattractive. Then there are manufacturers who feel compelled to fill the slide with their name, but white lettering isn’t exclusive to CO2 air pistols!

We all hate that white lettering on CO2 pistols. Nothing says air pistol like white lettering…or does it? White lettering on centerfire pistols has actually been used for almost a century. It is much less common today but there are some very noteworthy historical precedents for seeing white!

This Bergmann Model 1910 dates back to the early 1920s. You often see examples of this model, and later versions also built under license in Belgium, with white lettering to embellish the name.

White lettering is most often seen on German firearms and among the oldest examples is the Bergmann Model 1910/21 semiautomatic pistol. Theodore Bergmann introduced his first autoloader a year after Paul Mauser patented his design for the Broomhandle in 1895. In 1897 Bergmann and arms designer Louis Schmeisser introduced a new pistol using a removable box magazine; the basic pistol configuration that would become characteristic of all future Bergmann designs. An improved version was developed after the turn of the century, and rather than manufacturing them in Germany, Bergmann moved production to Herstal, Belgium, under license to Societe Anonyme Anciens Establissments Pieper. That is the name you see stamped into the barrel extension on the 1910 Model pictured above. Mauser used white lettering as well, often to highlight the manufacturer’s name stamped into the frame. White lettering was also used for export models to denote the retailer, such as Von Lengerke & Detmold in New York, which began selling Broomhandle Mauser pistols in 1897. read more


Compartmentalizing Airguns Part 2

Compartmentalizing Airguns Part 2 Part 1

Best in class options and a new contender!

By Dennis Adler

There are a few visual differences between the Umarex Beretta 92A1 (left) and the 9mm Beretta model. There’s the obvious white lettering on the CO2 model’s slide but in terms of size, handling, balance, and features, this is the one air pistol I would choose to be my one and only full-sized blowback action CO2 model. It has every desirable feature including a couple of years of production under its belt and readily available spare CO2 BB magazines.

What’s my choice for the gun that offers the most options for the money, as well as accuracy and reliability? I narrowed my best choices down to the Umarex Colt Commander or Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE for accuracy, trigger pull, and long term reliability (based on internal design, which is the same on both pistols). I have had the Umarex Colt Commander since the model was introduced in 2014; never a failure, never a problem. I have also chosen the Umarex Beretta 92A1 for the same reasons plus the advantage of a DA/SA trigger and selective fire like its distant cousin the 93R. All three guns are fully field-strippable and have excellent white dot sights. My overall first choice in the category then, the gun that fits the first compartment on my list, is the 92A1. read more


Compartmentalizing Airguns Part 1

Compartmentalizing Airguns Part 1

Best in class options

By Dennis Adler

When it comes to blowback action CO2 models with self-contained CO2 BB magazines, excellent triggers and combat sights, there are several choices including the first of the blowback action models, the Umarex Colt (Colt licensed) Commander which is a contemporary 1911A1 version, and the more modern Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS which updates the design to match current .45 Colt Rail Gun (CQBP) models with ambidextrous thumb safeties, forward slide serrations, and a long, integrated Picatinny rail for lights and laser sighting systems. These CO2 models offer superb handling and accuracy (at 21 feet) for around $110.

Not everyone has the ability to buy every airgun they want (and neither do I), so you have to make some informed decisions on what to buy. With so many excellent choices today, in just the single category of air pistols, how do you decide? Sure, I get to test them all, but I only keep certain ones, the rest go back, and I make those choices through a process I call Compartmentalizing Airguns. This is simply breaking down specific interests into categories, or compartments. I have four. Since this is my article I’m going to use my interests, and since you are reading this, it’s pretty likely we have shared interests. So, what makes one air pistol more desirable than another? And price isn’t always the answer; in fact, to do this right price has to be a secondary consideration. read more


Favorite airgun and holster combos Part 2

Favorite airgun and holster combos Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

One gun, one holster…

By Dennis Adler

Deciding on a modern gun and holster combination is actually quite a bit more difficult than a vintage, or pre-WWII gun and holster. There, the choice for a number two could easily have fallen to one of the early-style CO2 1911 models and a World War Supply Tanker shoulder holster; an excellent combination. My choice would have been my custom weathered Gletcher Tokarev TT-33 and the World War Supply Tokarev holster. Choosing a modern day blowback action CO2 model presents a far more varied field, which also makes the point that there are a lot of modern pistols available as CO2 models. Getting the right gun and holster combination can be equally difficult. Back in the pre-WWII era most semi-auto handguns had unique contours and dedicated holsters like those for the Luger P.08 and Walther P.38, or PPK, Russian handguns also had distinctive shapes so again holsters were limited to specific guns and there were few choices. Today, there are more holster makers than gun manufacturers and choices abound for every conceivable handgun and means of carry. read more