Top vintage military arms

Top vintage military arms

CO2 in War and Peace

By Dennis Adler

When we are talking about copies of legendary military arms as CO2 models, it is not just a gun based on a design, it is a gun copied in detail from an original design like the Umarex Luger P.08 Parabellum and Mauser Broomhandle Model 712. Pictured are the limited edition WWII models. Only the P.08 is currently available.

In the past several years the world of CO2 pistols and rifles has been exposed to military history in ways that airgun enthusiasts could only have dreamed about as little as five years ago. Sure, there have been BB and pellet guns in the past that were based on military arms, like the Crosman Model M-1 Carbine built from 1968 to 1976, as well as a number of military training air rifles manufactured during WWI and WWII (very rare finds today), and more recently the Winchester Model M14 CO2 BB and pellet rifle, introduced in 2012, and of course, the excellent Diana K98 Mauser (under lever cocking) pneumatic pellet rifle. But in the world of blowback action CO2 pistols, rifles, and CO2 BB and pellet cartridge loading revolvers, the period from 2015 to 2019 has been a remarkable one for military arms enthusiasts. read more


The Most Bang For Your Buck Part 1

The Most Bang For Your Buck Part 1

What can $100 buy?

By Dennis Adler

There are doctors, lawyers, biochemists, engineers, business professionals, retired and active law enforcement, military, and people in all fields of work who have always had an interest in firearms, either by profession, as a hobby, or a recreational sport. That describes a good percentage of Airgun Experience readers, and gun owners or “gun enthusiasts” as a group. Counted into that mix are gun collectors, and you would be surprised how many of them also collect air pistols.

Blowback action models are among the best buys in a quality CO2 pistol because so many of them sell for $100 or less including some of the top rated models like the new Umarex Glock 17, Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE, and Umarex HK USP, as well as established models like the Umarex S&W M&P40 and Swiss Arms P92. Each sells for just $100.

What this column has taught me over the years is that air pistols and actual cartridge-firing handguns (and rifles) are not mutually exclusive; a fairly high percentage of readers own both, and often choose duplicates of cartridge guns they own. But, there are also a fair percentage of airgun owners who do not own actual firearms, and they represent a group I call “airgun enthusiasts.” They were the intended core readership for Airgun Experience but as it turns out, they are not the core; the majority of readers own both. Still, it is the “airgun enthusiast” to whom I am writing most of the time. read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 3

Model 1911 Variations Part 3

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

It comes down to four guns that embody four different styles of 1911. The Umarex Colt licensed Commander was the standard against which other CO2 models were judged for several years due to its superior fit, finish, and accuracy. This has been challenged by guns like the Swiss Arms TRS that has all the features most people wished were on the Commander (though not everyone wants a Rail Gun), the Air Venturi John Wayne is totally retro, which appeals to 1911 purists, while the Sig Sauer is the best possible combination of features, as taken directly from Sig’s own .45 ACP 1911 models. But with this version, you have to be into making a bold statement with the look of a handgun, caliber notwithstanding.

With all four guns using the same self-contained CO2 BB magazine design and similarly based blowback action firing systems, one might expect that all four will have approximately the same average velocity and accuracy with their respective 5-inch smoothbore barrels. Allowing a + or – 5 fps for average velocity between guns, they should all be around 300 to 310 fps. Where I expect to see some difference is in accuracy at 21 feet due to varying internal tolerances, sight and barrel regulation (which too few blowback action CO2 pistols have), and, of course, different triggers. They are all hammer-fired designs but even there, hammer design can have an influence. This will be a proof of the sum total of parts used for each gun. The price spread for all four guns is from a low of $99.95 for the Sig Sauer to $109.99 for the Colt Commander and Swiss Arms TRS, and a high of $119.99 for the John Wayne (the higher price is reflected in the John Wayne name, licensing rights and use of the trademark signature). read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 2

Model 1911 Variations Part 2

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, well you shouldn’t judge a 1911 (.45 ACP or CO2) by its very familiar profile, either. These four guns, the John Wayne WWII commemorative, Umarex Colt Commander, Swiss Arms TRS and Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE have little in common other than being based on the 1911. How many differences can you spot?

This is a familiar picture for me with four different 1911 models being compared, because I have done it several times in the past with .45 ACP models and the results are just as telling with centerfire guns as they are with CO2 pistols. Of course, consider that there is an entire industry out there that builds custom components for the centerfire Model 1911, virtually upgrading every part of the guns from the inside out, and for every conceivable purpose from military and law enforcement tactical use, to competition pistols that barely resemble a 1911, and everything in between, just to meet the demands of consumers devoted to the Model 1911. Within the handful of top end CO2 models you can actually get some of that, but it is almost entirely on the outside, with very little changed on the inside. read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 1

Model 1911 Variations Part 1

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

This is where it all began in 1911 when the Colt .45 ACP was adopted as the official sidearm of the U.S. military. The early John M. Browning design for Colt bore Browning’s Apr 20 1897, Sept 5 1902, December 19 1905, February 11 1911, and Aug 19 1913 patent dates. Guns built through 1924 had the flat mainspring housing and longer trigger. (Military magazines had lanyard loops as well as the base of the grip frame.)

Shared design does not mean shared performance, or shared accuracy. This is true in the world of centerfire pistols and true in the world of blowback action CO2 pistols.

If there is one gun that epitomizes this statement, one handgun that has seen more variations, mechanical upgrades (internally and externally) and a greater variety of uses than any other, from a military side arm to a world class competition pistol, it is the Colt Model 1911. I honestly can’t even say “Colt” Model 1911 anymore because there have been so many 1911 models that have nothing to do with the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co., other than a shared design. 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


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

Each year since I began writing the Airgun Experience I have selected one new model as my Air Pistol of the Year. For 2018, given the variety of new air pistols and satisfying, though not overwhelming number of models introduced, the focus has specifically turned to CO2 air pistols that are based on actual centerfire handgun models, whether new (like the Sig Sauer M17) or older (like the HK USP) so long as the air pistol is new. I am also establishing an updated point system based on five comparative categories with values from 1 to 10 points for each. This is going to separate out a number of guns simply because of their various features, or lack thereof. The gun chosen as Replica Air Pistol of the Year will be based solely on total points earned. read more