Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 3

Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 3

Can a laser do better?

By Dennis Adler

Red light or green light, which light is best? A green laser appears brighter and easier to see than red, but that’s a half truth. A green laser beam is easier to see but actually isn’t any brighter. All lasers are rated as Class IIIA – intermediate-power of 1 to 5 mW (milliwatts). Our eyes are just more sensitive to the green color spectrum, which makes a green laser appear brighter, and that is the principal advantage. In darkness or subdued light, red or green laser beams are easy to pick up, but as ambient light increases red lasers become more difficult to define and their effective visual range (EVR) starts to diminish. This does not happen with a green laser until much greater distances.

This is a much shorter challenge because lasers are a very discrete form of aiming a pistol (or rifle) and have been in use by law enforcement and military longer. Red dot scopes predate practical firearm’s laser sights, but modern reflex sights, like those used on the Sig Sauer M17 and other pistols (centerfire and CO2), are comparatively new.

We do have some more context here when you add a laser to the Beretta 92FS. The Walther laser used on my 92FS is the same basic unit that is sold for the .22 LR Walther P22 semi-auto pistol. If we can just briefly segue here, there was a lot of overlap of designs between the Walther P22 rimfire pistol and its accessories and those sold by Walther (Umarex) for the CP99 CO2 pellet pistols in the early 2000s. The P22 bridge mount and Walther P22 laser are still available, along with a variety of accessories for the current full line of P22 rimfire models, including the P22 Target models shown. The laser on my 92FS is a version of the P22 laser. read more


Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 2

Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 2

20 Years in Context

By Dennis Adler

You’ve been looking at this picture in the header for Airgun Experience since 2016 and this is still one of my all time favorite CO2 pellet pistols, the Umarex Beretta 92FS with an optics bridge (which replaces the rear sight) and fitted with a Walther MRS reflex sight and Walther red laser. This was a custom combination put together by Umarex and it is a very difficult combination to find today.

Between the Umarex Beretta 92FS pellet pistol and the Sig Sauer M17 two decades have passed, and we have gone from 8-shot, cast alloy pellet magazines and non-blowback action pistols to 20-shot rotary belt-fed pellet magazines (also containing the 12 gr. CO2) and blowback action. We have gone from excellent red dot scopes (like the Walther Top Point) to the latest Sig Air reflex sight for the M17. It is all a giant leap in 20 years from one state-of-the-art era in CO2 air pistol technology to another, from what, in the context of my airgun experience, is now a comparison of “old school” vs. “high tech” in design and innovation. read more


Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 3

Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 3

Wherein the 009 plays G18 for a full auto CO2 shootout

By Dennis Adler

Three very different generations of guns both as centerfire and CO2 models; the classic Mauser Model 712 select-fire Broomhandle with removable box magazine, developed in 1932 and introduced as an air pistol by Umarex in 2015, the latest Beretta 92-Series pistol, the M9A3 introduced by Umarex as a select-fire version last year, and the brand new Barra 009 CO2 version of the Glock 18 select-fire 9mm pistol. The 009 is also the most compact of the trio.

This is where we have to suspend the reality of what are copies of actual firearms and what are versions of actual firearms and follow the almost irresistible fascination of full auto shooting with air pistols. You don’t even have to ask why because the question answers itself; the overwhelming majority of us cannot own a select-fire handgun, not even a vintage one like an original 1932 Mauser M712 or any of the few select-fire copies such as the Spanish-made Beistegui Hermanus Royal Broomhandle. Even these still fall under the federal rules for ownership of an automatic weapon. There’s that and the extremely high prices for these historic select-fire pistols. As for modern or at least relatively modern select-fire guns like the Beretta 93R or current Glock 18/18C, they breathe the same rarified air. But air is the answer, CO2, which opens up the possibility for anyone to own what looks like, feels like, and technically, shoots like the real guns. We have the somewhat fictionalized Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 with select-fire mechanisms (fictionalized because only the 93R ever had this option), the superb Umarex Broomhandle Legends M712 (a great gun in need of a better finish), the Crosman P1, which is another Beretta-style gun a hair closer in looks to the 93R and based off the same select-fire platform as the now defunct Gletcher BRT 92FS. (Then, of course, there are quite a few select-fire CO2 rifles and carbines like the Crosman DPMS and Bushmaster, the Mini Uzi, and vintage WWII era MP40 and M1A1 Thompson, but that’s another story and a lot of CO2.) Last, we have the new gun the Barra 009. read more


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