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


Proofing a theory

Proofing a theory

Shooting .177 (4.5mm) Round Pellets through a rifled barrel pistol

By Dennis Adler

Smoothbore BB revolvers like the Bear River Schofield and Remington Model 1875 can fire BB-loading cartridges and also fire pellet-loading cartridges, and do so quite accurately as evidenced by these 21 foot shot playing cards ala John Wesley Hardin.

As we have proven in earlier articles, cartridge-loading smoothbore CO2 BB revolvers that have pellet cartridge-firing counterparts (or pellet-loading cartridges available), can also shoot 4.5mm lead or alloy pellets quite well; not as accurately as a rifled barrel model, but well enough to make it worthwhile with models like the Schofield and Remington. The cartridges are interchangeable, but you would not want to shoot a steel BB in a rifled barrel Colt Peacemaker; it’s a one-way street, unless you want to risk damaging the rifling with a steel BB. read more


A Boring Topic

A Boring Topic

When you can and can’t shoot a .177 caliber lead BB 

By Dennis Adler

The caliber conundrum, when is a .177 caliber not 0.177 inches? When it is a steel BB (far left) which actually has a diameter of 0.173 inches (average) or 4.3mm, compared to a lead round pellet (center) which is just slightly larger at 4.5mm, or a wadcutter pellet (right). The difference in diameter is what keeps you from loading a lead ball into a .177 caliber, magazine-fed blowback action pistol designed for steel BBs. This is the same whether it is a stick magazine or a self-contained CO2 BB magazine; that .2mm difference is a lot with an air pistol.

The operative word in Airgun Experience is experience, and the way you get experience is by doing things and often doing them wrong. Failure is the best teacher, and hopefully it isn’t always costly, just educational. One of the early mistakes I made was trying to shoot .177 caliber lead BBs from a semi-auto pistol chambered for .177 caliber steel BBs. Lead BBs don’t fit. An air pistol that shoots steel BBs and is marked .177 caliber (4.5mm) does not actually shoot a .177 caliber diameter BB. Now, if it is a pellet-firing rifled barrel pistol it can, because the bore on a .177 caliber BB pistol and a 4.5mm pellet pistol are not exactly the same. A steel BB will drop right through the barrel on a smoothbore blowback action BB pistol. A 4.5mm pellet won’t even fit if you try to insert it, whereas with a pellet firing pistol you can actually push the pellet into the barrel. read more


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

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

Just for kicks

By Dennis Adler

For this series on recoil I have chosen eight different blowback action semi-auto models, most with different characteristics, several with true short-recoil operating designs where the back of the barrel lug and slide lock together in battery and disengage with the barrel tilting slightly downward and unlocking from the slide interface when fired. Pictured from top to bottom, Tanfoglio Limited Custom, Umarex S&W M&P40, Umarex Beretta 92A1, ASG CZ-75, Swiss Arms 1911 TRS, Sig Sauer 1911, Sig Sauer P226 X-Five, and Umarex Colt Commander. They all work about the same way, but only one will deliver the most felt recoil for training purposes.

Readers have already raised the question of building CO2 powered blowback action air pistols with increased recoil. While this contradicts the goals of centerfire pistol manufacturers who look for ways to reduce recoil, for CO2 pistols, if you want more authenticity, you need more felt recoil. This is, in part, what will be a result of Sig Sauer’s current venture into building new models that generate higher velocities with self-contained drop free CO2 BB magazines. Higher velocity should mean more recoil from the blowback action (if everything is kept proportionate); action, reaction. read more