Go West Young Man Part 2

Go West Young Man Part 2

It’s all about realism

By Dennis Adler

Armed to the teeth or at least to the waist the author has the pair of engraved Colt Peacemakers holstered and the 1875 Remington tucked behind the cartridge belt. Were it not for the exposed seating screw holes in the bottoms of the frames the CO2 models would be almost indistinguishable from their centerfire counterparts.

It’s all about realism and authenticity, and I don’t care if you’re talking about centerfire Colt, S&W, and Remington reproductions or their CO2 counterparts, the guns have to look right, feel right, and handle right. That’s a tall order for Uberti and Pietta, (and they have been at it for quite awhile) even for U.S. armsmaker Standard Mfg. and their new, very expensive Colt-style Single Action models, so getting it right with an air pistol is even more difficult.

Drawn and aimed the CO2 Colts look as real as the centerfire pistols I was using for the Guns of the Old West photo shoot. The 1875 Remington is foolproof from this angle, too. It’s when you start getting closer that the details of a finely hand engraved CO2 model really start to blur the lines with the centerfire models.

What adds authenticity? read more


What makes a winner?

What makes a winner?

Last year’s Top 10 Selling air pistols

By Dennis Adler

Umarex and Glock walked away with 2019’s largest number of sales and guns from Pyramyd Air, with the Third Gen Glock 17 CO2 model (right) taking the number 1 spot in sales, the non-blowback Model 19 (back) taking the number 2 position, and the new Gen4 model placing 7th out of the Top 10 for the year’s sales leaders.

For what it’s worth, I picked and reviewed six of the Top 10 selling air pistols for 2019, and of the six I had written up over the last couple of years (yes, they were not all 2019 models), my top guns reviewed in Airgun Experience were in the first three places as well as 5th, 6th and 7th place as the most purchased air pistols of 2019. What is interesting, and perhaps a bit telling, is that they are all based on semi-auto pistols. I wasn’t so much surprised by that, as I was with the number 1 selling air pistol of the year for Pyramyd Air, the Umarex Glock 17 Third Gen. I would have expected the newer Gen4 to be the best seller, then the Third Gen or the G19X, which didn’t even make the list as a best seller! Instead, the first Umarex Glock Model, the G19 non-blowback slipped into the number 2 position ahead of the Sig Sauer M17, Beretta 92A1, and Sig Sauer P365, which came in an impressive 6th place for sales over the 7th place Umarex Glock 17 Gen4!

The first Umarex Glock model laid the groundwork for the three blowback action pistols that would follow in 2018 and 2019. Glock and Umarex went with an entry-level, non-blowback action model at a retail price point that placed the new CO2 pistol on big box store sales racks as well as at the forefront of internet retailers like Pyramyd Air. The exemplary fit and finish and details of the G19 set the standards for the blowback action models that would follow.

There is an interesting parallel here, which also plays out exactly in the centerfire handgun market with Glock and Sig Sauer being among the top selling handguns globally, and in the U.S. with civilian, law enforcement and military (in other words just about everyone). The Micro Compact 9mm Sig Sauer P365 is a double Gun of the Year award winner for 2018 and 2019, the Sig M17 is the new U.S. military sidearm, while Glock pistols still have a solid role in the U.S. military and law enforcement. Comparatively, Sig and Glock air pistols hold five of the top seven sales positions for 2019. The 8th, 9th, and 10th places are held, respectively, by the Crosman 2240, Crosman Vigilante CO2 revolver, and the old-style ASG Dan Wesson revolver with 6-inch barrel. That last one surprised the heck out of me, too. I would have bet on the correctly designed 2-1/2 inch pellet cartridge ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 to be among the year’s Top 10 sellers. But, sales figures are the real bottom line.

Another older CO2 model that certainly surprised me by being in the Top 10, albeit number 10, is the old-style ASG Dan Wesson. It was an impressive gun when it came out in 2016 as both a pellet loading cartridge model with rifled barrel and a BB cartridge loading version with smoothbore barrel. Nicely done but not authentic to the Dan Wesson design, it has been up against its own stiff competition from the newer ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 pistols with 6-inch and 2-1/2 inch barrels, which are dead ringers for the centerfire revolvers. This is also the most expensive of the Top 10 guns at a discounted price of $139.95.

What we have learned from 2019’s best selling air pistols is that improved design features like interchangeable backstrap panels and field stripping capability (in other words the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4), did not win out over the much higher velocities of the top two Umarex Glock models. Here’s something else, the only semi-auto pellet pistol to make the Top 10 was 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year, the Sig Sauer M17. If you’re counting, Sig Sauer holds only two spots on the list (whither thou WE THE PEOPLE, or any 1911 design for that matter?) while Glock holds three.

The second Glock model was the full size G17, introduced as a Third Gen design (while Glock already had the Gen4 and Gen5 models in production as centerfire pistols), making the first blowback action Glock air pistol released in the U.S. an unusual choice. Nevertheless, the airgun’s design allowed it to achieve an impressive average velocity of over 350 fps and accuracy out to 10 meters and beyond for training use. Selling for around $100 it became a hit despite the older Glock design and not being able to fieldstrip the pistol. (It also became the internal platform for the 2019 Umarex Glock 19X).

One of the most physically impressive CO2 models ever built, the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 hit the U.S. market with all the right stuff, correct Gen4 features, interchangeable backstraps, and full field stripping capability, but sacrificed the Third Gen’s impressive velocity to do it. Shooting at an average of 317 fps was the gun’s only disappointing feature. Going on sale in the summer of 2019 gave the gun less than six months to compete against the earlier Glock CO2 models that had been out over a year. Still, the Gen4 earned 7th place in sales against guns that had all been on sale for a longer period.

The most noteworthy absence for 2019 is any single action CO2 revolver from the Top 10. Umarex, which, for reasons unknown, has let the Peacemaker stall after an impressive start with 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 inch models in BB and pellet versions; Bear River, under new ownership, is waiting in the wings with new models, and the (Crosman) Remington Model 1875, well, it just failed to challenge the Colt and Schofield (history repeats itself).

In 2020, my hope is for some new Schofields via Bear River, and for Umarex to awake from its Glock euphoria (though with the forthcoming M1A1 “Tommy gun” probably not), and remember how important the Peacemaker is to American firearms history.

Speaking of guns that had been on sale longer, in this instance, much longer, the Umarex Beretta 92A1 has been selling strong since 2016 and managed to hold on to the 5th place in 2019 sales. The newer M9A3, which has proven to be a better gun, wasn’t on sale until spring 2019 and didn’t sell enough guns to earn a spot in 2019’s Top 10 sellers.

There are two other interesting lessons to be learned from 2019’s Top 10. First, is that price matters more than we (hardcore airgun enthusiasts) realize because the number 2 gun of the year, the Glock 19, was also the least expensive CO2 pistol (at $69.95 discounted), and the easiest to handle, because aside from loading CO2 in the grip frame and BBs in the stick magazine, the only other thing on the gun that moves is the trigger (and its crossbolt safety). It hit the market with ease of use, striking authenticity in its attention to details, even if they didn’t have to work, and a quality of fit and finish that excels over any other entry-level BB pistol on the market. It was also the very first ever Glock licensed air pistol, so even as inexpensive as it is, it has a certain panache as the “first” to ever bear the Glock name. Were it not for the blowback action G17 Third Gen’s success, it would have been the best selling air pistol of 2019! One can live with loosing to one’s self.

Sig Sauer grabbed the 3rd place for sales in 2019 with 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year winner, the M17. The solitary blowback action pellet pistol to end up in the Top 10, the Sig remains the only model with a self-contained CO2 pellet magazine, but that may change soon when Umarex introduces its first blowback action pellet models with self-contained CO2 pellet magazines. As they say, fame is fleeting.

The second thing that 2019’s sales figures tell us is that innovation has appeal, not just features like interchangeable backstrap panels and being able to fieldstrip the gun type innovations, but innovation through technology; the Sig Sauer M17 being the first blowback action CO2 pistol with a self-contained CO2 pellet magazine, and the Sig Sauer P365 being the smallest blowback action air pistol ever to have a self-contained 12 gram CO2 BB magazine, as prime examples.

The new Sig Sauer P365, which only came out this past summer, managed to come in right behind the old Beretta 92A1 in 6th place with only six months on sale. The P365 actually blew past the M9A3, which was out at least three months before the new Sig! A 1:1 gun for training with the popular 9mm P365, the CO2 pistol fell short of velocity expectations, but has still managed to attract a lot of sales.

The two oldest designs that made the Top 10 epitomize popular longevity, the Crosman 2240, which has been around since 1999, and the very inexpensive ($30) Beeman P17, which copies the original German-made P3 design ($230) introduced in 1999 (and still in production), and brings it down to a very affordable entry-level price with the famous Beeman name.

Entry level airguns may not be the big topic for Airgun Experience readers, but every airgun enthusiast needs to get experience. The popularity of low-price leaders, like those among 2019’s Top 10 sales list, means that more people are discovering the world of airguns.


2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 2

2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 2

Old idea, newer gun – Crosman Full Auto P1

By Dennis Adler

It looks like a Beretta 92FS with an unusual ambidextrous safety on the frame instead of the slide. It’s not wrong though, if you remember that the select-fire version built by Beretta as the 93R had this same look. It also had a folding forward grip, longer triggerguard and extended capacity magazine, but what aspects of the 93R Crosman has used for the P1 are well done. The fit and finish are very good, not as good as an Umarex Beretta 92A1, but nicely done.

Maybe in any other year I would have tested this gun, which is pretty nice, and never considered it a candidate for Replica Air Pistol of the Year but the Crosman has two things going for it, first the solid foundation upon which this “new” blowback action CO2 pistol is built, and secondly, the number of award worthy new models introduced in 2019. When you can’t even make a top 10 list, a newer version of an older design seems to carry more weight, especially when you take into account one of the newest blowback action models this year is based on a CO2 pistol design that has been around for over five years and a centerfire gun that has been around for 108 years! What is new?

The Umarex Beretta 92A1 has the same discounted price as the Crosman, so the advantage in purchasing the P1 is the red laser that comes with the gun.

The centerfire Beretta 92 Series is no spring chicken either, with the original Beretta Model 92 having been designed in 1976. Beretta 92FS models (and variations) are still used by police and military around the world today, but only in Italy was there a special select fire version, the Model 93R produced from 1979 to 1993 and originally designed for use by Italian counter-terrorism forces. It was also used by other police and military forces when a concealable weapon with rapid fire capabilities was required. The 93R is a rare and expensive Class III weapon today.

When Gletcher introduced the Beretta 93R inspired BRT 92FS Auto, around 2015 (in the U.S.), it was the only modern select-fire blowback action CO2 model on the market. Gletcher used a frame and slide design that was similar in appearance and operation to the 9mm Beretta 93R, with a large selector lever on the side of the frame that also served as the safety on the air pistol. This was one a notable difference as the 93R used a separate manual safety lever. Gletcher also used the squared 92FS style triggerguard. I mention this because on the centerfire 92A1 the triggerguard was rounded and this was the design used by Umarex in 2016 for their select-fire CO2 model.

There’s about a 5-year gap between the Gletcher BRT 92FS Auto (left) introduced in 2015, and the 2019 Crosman Full Auto P1. And that is the only actual difference; every single part between these two is interchangeable. While Gletcher put its logo along with the model name on the left side of the slide, and the warning on the right, Crosman did just the opposite.

Gletcher was sourcing their airguns from the same manufacturers in Taiwan that were under contract to the majority of retailers, including Umarex and Crosman. It was no surprise then that Crosman picked up the design after Gletcher discontinued the BRT 92FS Auto.

As in all forms of gun making, there are different levels of quality based on what the retail price point is going to be. Crosman did not cut corners on updating the design being sold today as the Full Auto P1, but it is the same gun as earlier models with the added feature of an included red laser, which makes this gun a pretty good buy. This, unfortunately, has no bearing on the Crosman’s performance and where it places against the other eight guns being considered for Replica Air Pistol of the Year.

The distinctive Beretta 92 Series design with the cutaway slide and exposed barrel makes any copy, centerfire (Taurus PT-92) or CO2 gun, unmistakable as a Beretta design. The Crosman uses the same barrel breech and magazine interface as previous guns and the Umarex models, but it is not quite as finely finished on the inside. A minor detail, but overall, the gun’s fit and finish are going to cost the P1 a couple of points.

In terms of quality build, the Umarex Beretta 92A1 models (introduced in 2016) are a little more refined than the Crosman, but in operation they are pretty much equals. The safety/selector on the Crosman is still hard to move, just as it was on the Gletcher, especially into SAFE. On the plus side, you can’t accidentally knock it off SAFE or unintentionally slip the lever down from semi-auto to full auto.

Average velocity for this model clocked 316 fps with a high of 321 fps (328 fps with Crosman steel BBs), which is miles away from the advertised 400 fps, and that is going to cost the P1 some points. The trigger is quite good on this under $120 CO2 model (including the laser), with an average of 4 pounds, 10.4 ounces single action, and, if you want to pull the first shot off with the double action trigger, that averages 8 pounds, 9 .0 ounces.

The Crosman does have some strong points beginning with the magazine, which has a very easy to manage seating screw (threads back on without much fuss) and a follower tab that is big enough to get a thumbnail into, pull down and hold while BBs are poured into the wide loading channel opening. It’s less trouble than many newer self-contained CO2 BB magazines.

The P1 shoots low (not a big surprise) and POA requires a 3-inch holdover, and this is going to cost some points. The flat black front sight is also a little harder to see with the single center white dot in the rear notch, but this also depends upon the target and ambient lighting. Outdoors it isn’t a big deal, more so on the indoor range.

The P1 gets an extra bonus point for field stripping, which is the same as an actual 9mm model. Here you can also see the seating screw which is the base of the magazine and easier to manage than most.

I am shooting new accuracy tests for this series of articles, so the P1 gets one last shot (without the laser) to score some tight groups. I had a pretty good run with the P1 putting 10 shots inside 1.5 inches with a best five at 0.625 inches from 21 feet using a two-handed hold.

Still not a great bullseye puncher, I managed four out of 10 in or cutting the red, a tight trio off to the right, one lower, and two higher for a 1.5 inch spread from 21 feet. The bad part is I am aiming at the 7-ring at 12 o’clock (a 3-inch hold over) to put shots in the 10 and bullseye.

So, here is how the Crosman Full Auto P1 stacks up:

CATEGORY RATINGS

Model: Crosman Full Auto P1

Authenticity 1 to 10:  7 (More a 92FS/93R hybrid, well done but not great fit and finish)        

Ingenuity of the design 1 to 10: 8 (Based on older existing designs)

Ease of use 1 to 10: 9 (Easy to load BBs and CO2, heavy selector switch, good trigger)

Performance 1 to 10: 7 (Below advertised velocity but in the 300 to 320 fps range)

Accuracy 1 to 10: 8 (Shoots consistently low, best 5-shot group 0.625 inches at 21 feet

Bonus points: 1 (Can be field stripped)

Total Points: 40


2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

The Candidates

By Dennis Adler

 

This has been a year of surprises and disappointments for air pistol enthusiasts but the surprises have far outweighed the let downs in some areas, notably the conspicuous absence of any new revolvers from ASG, Umarex, or Bear River, all of which were expected to continue the successful runs that had begun with the Dan Wesson double action pellet cartridge loading models, the Colt Peacemakers, and Schofield. In fact, there are fewer models overall this year, as some have been discontinued or are not currently available, like the nickel 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker (more about that in 2020!)

When this still from the last James Bond film first appeared in 2015, everyone was convinced that 007 was trading in his Walther PPK for a brand new H&K VP9. But that’s not quite the way it went; Bond picked up the VP9 fairly early in the film and used it on and off throughout the remainder of the movie. Craig had used H&K rifles in most of his previous outings as Bond, but this was a first for an H&K pistol. It was also reason enough to have a CO2 version in the works which was released this year by Umarex. Seems it takes as long to build a new blowback action CO2 pistol as it does to make another Bond film, which will be out this spring.

What the coming year holds for western gun enthusiasts is under wraps awaiting the 2020 Shot Show, so the lapse this year in new models may well be the bellwether for new six-shooters to be unveiled next month and throughout the year. I remain an optimist. What’s fueling that optimism is the handful of impressive semi-auto models that have been introduced this year, all tough acts to follow, so perhaps some new wheelguns are next. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I have heard a few things.

New Rules

I have had a very stringent set of qualifications awarding top honors for the replica air pistol of the year, and one of those has been field stripping capability. It’s a darn good rule, but it is also one that automatically kicks a lot of otherwise impressive guns to the curb with no chance of winning. To be fair, field stripping would knock a couple of new guns right out of contention this year, that in other ways greatly surpass some that can be taken down like their centerfire counterparts. This rule knocked the Umarex Glock 17 out of contention in 2018, and I really felt bad about that afterward because it was one of the first blowback action CO2 models, based on a current centerfire gun that could be used for training exercises beyond 10 yards. So, for this year field stripping capability is going to be a 1 point bonus for the total points, or as a tie breaker at the end of the competition. I am also adding a 5 point bonus for design innovation, which will be well spelled out.

With matching dimensions the CO2 model of the VP9 presents itself as a high value CO2 pistol at a price that comes in around $20 less then its historically older sibling the HK USP, which is built on a different platform as a CO2 pistol than the VP9, which is closer in its operation to the Third Gen Umarex Glock 17. The flipside of this pistol, however, reveals some of the budget cuts but doesn’t necessarily undercut the look and handling of the gun.

With fewer guns this year, the competition will be broken down into the following categories each with a possible total 10 points. Again, the first is, in my mind, the most important for a replica, Authenticity; how close is the CO2 model in physical appearance to its centerfire counterpart? Aesthetics of the design will also have a bearing, such as the air pistol’s finish and its weight and balance compared to the centerfire model.

As the latest addition to the lineup from Springfield Armory, the MIL SPEC is one of the best looking pistols with an extremely well done slide, and modest white letter warnings on the frame. Copied from the .45 ACP MIL SPEC model, the grips are a standout feature. And since the centerfire model has the same Parkerized finish, the matte black look on the CO2 model is as right as it can be, and the same for the white dot sights. It is a very authentic looking airgun.

Second is the Ingenuity of the design; (not to be confused with Design Innovation). This can come down to the type of firing system used and how close it is to the centerfire design. Guns that use essentially the same systems as earlier designs (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it), might garner fewer points than a gun improving on an older design.

Third is another very important qualification, Ease of use; because if a pistol is a chore to load it is not going to bode well for its popularity with some shooters. Another aspect of ease of use is how exact the handling is and placement of operating controls to the centerfire gun. When a manual safety is required on a gun that does not have one as a centerfire pistol, how well that is handled in the design of the CO2 model will have a bearing on awarded points.

Rarely can you look at the right side of a blowback action CO2 pistol and not know that it is an airgun due to the white letter safety warnings and manufacturer’s marks. With the centerfire Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 models having a black polymer frame and flat black finish slide, correctly duplicating it for the Air Venturi .177 caliber models guaranteed an air pistol with totally authentic looking fit and finish. Even with the small details. The XDM models are also available in an authentic matte black finish.

Next would have been field stripping but that is now awarded as a 1 point bonus point, since it is not crucial to handing and accuracy when training, but is itself more of a bonus for the gun’s design authenticity.

Last is probably as important as the first, Performance & Accuracy; this will be determined by accuracy at competitive distances of 21 feet since all of this years guns are BB pistols and there are no new semi-auto pellet-firing models. (The only breakout design this year is the Sig Sauer Super Target single shot pneumatic, which is in a different class of air pistol.) Perceptible recoil (the more the better) and average velocity will count, as will sight design and ease of target acquisition. A gun that accumulates 50 points wins the Replica Air Pistol of the Year for 2019.

Bi-tones look better to some, and the 3.8 is available in matte black as well, but the Compact 3.8 CO2 model (left), with its correctly-sized extended capacity magazine (same as used in the 4.5 model), utilizes the same XD Gear grip extensions as the centerfire pistols! Does it get any closer than this?

This year’s contenders

Within the CO2 group of handguns you either have revolvers or semiautomatic pistols, and of course, there are CO2 powered rifles and pistols in other categories, the pistols not being replicas, and the rifles based on semi-auto tactical rifle and carbine designs or lever actions. Paring down a list of handguns for this year was not a problem, because it wasn’t even possible to compile a list of 10, and so for 2019 there are only nine guns in contention, all semi-autos, three brand new entries from another well known firearms manufacturer stepping into the airgun arena, Springfield Armory. Teaming with Air Venturi, Springfield has put itself right up against Umarex and Sig Sauer.

A slightly larger 92FS, the Crosman P1 will still fit most leather holsters made for the Beretta. The finish on the Crosman has a gloss, so it doesn’t come off with that matte black look like so many air pistols. With the laser mounted, the P1 is a pretty sharp looking CO2 pistol. It is easy to reach the sliding switch with your right hand trigger finger to turn it on, and the support hand thumb to turn it off.

Sig Sauer, though its Sig Air division, has had an impressive run of significant semi-autos the past three years, and for 2019 has only added one new model, but they made it a jaw dropper, the Sig Sauer P365, a micro compact 9mm, which, as a CO2 model, demanded a whole new design paradigm for blowback action air pistols.

The new Sig Sauer model is a masterpiece of design like its 9mm counterpart that manages to squeeze 10 rounds into a narrow grip frame that traditionally uses a single stack. Sig Air’s blowback action P365 is the smallest air pistol in its class, utilizing a groundbreaking CO2 BB magazine and firing system design.

Umarex is like a quiet giant, and except for its penchant to introduce new models in Europe before the U.S. has not held back this year introducing three significant new blowback action models, the military style Beretta M9A3 with some impressive design updates over the 92A1, and the third and fourth new Glock models in two years, the G17 Gen4 and a dark horse that rode in almost unannounced, the military style Glock 19X. That makes up eight of the nine; with the last spot going to an updated version of Crosman’s Beretta 92FS clone and 93R-style select fire mechanism, reintroduced this year as the Full Auto P1.

The new M9A3 gives up little to hint at its air pistol interior. The grips and slide are shades of FDE, while the frame and exposed section of the barrel are almost the same contrasting colors as the 9mm model. The M9A3 also still offers the select-fire system used on the 92A1.

All nine have been covered this year in Airgun Experience articles, and I recommend taking the time to look back and review these articles by linking to the Articles header on the individual product pages at Pyramyd Air. Thursday I will begin the breakdown of guns and how they will be paired up for comparison tests. I welcome any opinions from readers on these individual guns, (especially if you own them and have found things you like or dislike strengths and weaknesses), so I have a broader sense of the guns beyond my own experiences with them. You will find links to the articles below.

The Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 is the most refined of the Glock CO2 designs, and except for the absence of a caliber stamping on the left side of the slide (for the U.S. market) the Gen4 looks exactly like the 9mm model right down to the interchangeable backstrap panels.

Later this month, Pyramyd Air will be announcing a Replica Airgun of the Year Contest that will award the Top Gun for 2019 to one reader on Christmas Eve, as we celebrate the 500th Airgun Experience article this December 24th.

The most significant differences between the Glock 19X CO2 model and the Gen4 Glock 17, aside from the Gen4 being field-strippable, and the G19X having the FDE color scheme of its centerfire counterpart, is the trigger and the sights. The Gen4 trigger is identical to a Glock centerfire pistol in that it is a SAO design. The G19X trigger is a simpler DA/SA style, which Glock does not use on centerfire guns. The other big difference is in how well the white dot sights are regulated to POA accuracy on the G19X, and the exceptional velocity it achieves over the G17 Gen4 CO2 model.

And the contenders for 2019 are, in alphabetical order:

 

Air Venturi Springfield Armory 1911 MILSPEC

https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-experience/springfield-armory-1911-a-1-mil-spec-part-1/

Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 bi-tone

https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-experience/first-test-springfield-xdm-co2-part-1/

Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 3.8 black

https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-experience/the-xdm-3-8-part-1/

Crosman Full Auto P1

https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-experience/select-fire-beretta-pistols-part-1/

Sig Sauer P365

https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-experience/sig-sauer-p365-part-1/

Umarex Beretta M9A3

https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-experience/first-look-umarex-beretta-m9a3-part-1/

Umarex Glock 17 Gen4

https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-experience/umarex-glock-17-gen4-part-1/ read more


Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 5

Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 5

Crosman P1 stands alone

By Dennis Adler

A slightly larger 92FS, the Crosman P1 will still fit most leather holsters made for the Beretta. The finish on the Crosman has a gloss, so it doesn’t come off with that matte black look like so many air pistols. Overall, were it not for the heavy verbiage on the left side of the gun, the P1 would look pretty good. Overlooking that, as Beretta clones go, this one is a pretty sharp pistol that really fills your hand. The large ambidextrous selector/safety also makes it a good choice for left-handed shooters.

In most instances, full auto is for suppressive fire to pin down an enemy. It is not precision shooting. This is sometimes essential in a military or law enforcement situation against multiple shooters or even superior numbers, and almost always executed with carbines and rifles that can fire on full auto; seldom is it with a pistol. At close range, a full auto handgun can be effective, but as distance increases, accuracy begins to decline, one reason why the 1932 Mauser Broomhandle Model 712 could be fitted with a shoulder stock holster, why the Beretta 93R had a metal shoulder stock that could be attached, and the H&K VP70M (the first pistol to use a plastic frame) could not fire in bursts (like the Beretta 93R) without the shoulder stock holster being attached (part of the burst fire mechanism was tied to shoulder stock). Stocks increased the potential accuracy, but turned the pistols into short carbines. This goes all the way back to the Civil War with shoulder stocks for Colt’s 1851 to 1848 Dragoons, the 1851 Navy and 1860 Army revolvers, which used by Union and Confederate Cavalry.

The practicality of selective fire with semiautomatic weapons was originally intended for rifles and machine guns, and again mainly for suppressive (saturation) firing with the intent of hitting a target in the process. At closer ranges, Tommy guns, the German MP40, and various select-fire H&K models, the Uzi carbine, and M16-based carbines have been proven more successful in the field than machine pistols, which also have more limited magazine capacities, (the Glock 18 with a small drum magazine being the one exception).

The P1 comes in a large box with a molded liner that holds the gun, as well as an extra magazine (not included). The accessory slot at the left holds the seating screw wrench and the included red laser.

Into this clash of select fire designs that have been developed for centerfire handguns over the decades, select fire CO2 pistols have either been copied from the original guns, like the Uzi and Mauser, or have been given the added feature, like the Umarex Beretta 92A1, M9A3, and Crosman (et al.) models, the latter of which come closer to the Beretta 93R than the Umarex models.

The red laser that comes with the P1 package uses a single screw to lock the housing into the channel on the dustcover rail. Since it fits the P1 (which only has one slot), it is self positioning.

The closest model to the Crosman’s red laser is the NcStar, which sells for around $30. As you can see, it has two holes so it can be more easily positioned on Picatinny dustcover rails.

We have shown that the Crosman Full Auto P1 comes up a close third on full auto against the Umarex Beretta models, but the question then arises, “can the P1 stand on its own as a semi-auto, blowback action air pistol?” It is the exact same price as the Umarex Beretta 92A1, which has out-shot the Crosman in full auto, and $10 more than the Umarex Beretta M9A3, which has outperformed both the 92A1 and Crosman. For the same money as the 92A1, Crosman ups the ante with a nice cardboard box (instead of a blister pack like the PFAM9B version), and for extra measure, throws in a trim, red laser with a sliding ON/OFF switch. While the laser that comes with the Crosman P1 bears no manufacturer’s marks, it is very similar to the NcSTAR Tactical Red Laser for Aluminum Rail, which uses an aluminum housing with a black anodized finish, and sliding ON/OFF switch. It sells for an average of $30 and is one of the most affordable red lasers for small caliber pistols and air pistols. The NcStar has two rail attachment point screw holes, while the Crosman is a dedicated design for the P1, which only has a single rail attachment point. Bottom line, Crosman is throwing in a roughly $30 value, Class 3a 633-655nm wavelength red laser with the gun. Not a bad deal if you are thinking about having a semi-auto air pistol with a laser sight.

Mounting the laser is covered in the Crosman’s instruction sheet (far right column). It comes with an Allen wrench hex key for the mount, and one for the windage and elevation adjustments.

Here you can see the underside of the P1 and the single mounting slot for accessories, (vs. a multi-slot Picatinny dustcover rail). The laser is made to fit this gun aligns with the front of the frame placing the sliding ON/OFF switch right in front of the triggerguard.

One last velocity check

I have been bugged by the performance of the P1, despite it being exactly where it should be for a typical blowback action pistol, in the 300 to 320 fps range. So, I loaded a fresh CO2 and used the .177 caliber steel Crosman BBs that come with the gun. It may be foolish to use the exact same weight steel BBs and expect a different result but Crosman pulled that “up to 400 fps” out of somewhere. And that is still a mystery.

Trigger pull on the P1 is a modest 4 pounds, 10.4 ounces single action, and if you want to pull the first shot off with the double action trigger that averages 8 pounds, 9 .0 ounces. The P1 shoots low (not a big surprise) and POA requires a 3-inch holdover. It also does not shoot much faster with Crosman steel BBs, averaging 328 fps for 10 shots.

With the laser mounted, the P1 is a pretty sharp looking CO2 pistol. It is easy to reach the sliding switch with your right hand trigger finger to turn it on, and the support hand thumb to turn it off.

Laser accuracy

It took about 20 shots shooting off hand to dial in the laser, which, at the beginning, was hitting a little right but very low. The adjustment screws for elevation and windage are not the most intricate, but I finally got it dialed in. I ended up still hitting a little low (I can attribute some of that to shooting off hand) but the group was tight. My best target gave me 10 shots inside of 1.0 inches, with the best 5-rounds tightly packed into an overlapping 0.62 inches. The laser is a good adjunct to the P1, making this model worth the price for everything you get.

The bottom target is from sighting in the laser after correcting for the windage. Elevation was a bit more difficult because the P1 shoots low, and it took a little longer to keep moving shots up until I was in the bullseye and 10. Still, it was grouping tight no matter where it hit. The last test target started out with a bullseye and then began hitting just a little low but very tight, packing 10 shots into an inch with five overlapping at a spread of 0.62 inches.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply. read more


Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 4

Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 4

Full Auto Test

By Dennis Adler

There are some interesting choices here because for overall authenticity, the Umarex Beretta branded 92A1 and M9A3 as semi-autos, totally eclipse the Crosman model for fine details and overall build quality. But, the Crosman has a more authentic semi-auto, full auto thumb selector (based on the actual Beretta 93R select fire pistol,) so it has that going for it. Also, the centerfire counterparts to the 92A1 and M9A3 are not select fire pistols, so authenticity flows both ways.

The first select fire Beretta 92FS-style CO2 model was the Gletcher BRT, later TAR92, and now the Crosman Full Auto P1 (also sold as the Crosman PFAM9B, without laser), it is worth noting that all these various versions of this same air pistol have been made in Taiwan by KWC, and thus are essentially the same gun re-branded. Why I expected the Crosman version to perform any differently than its predecessors was the claim of up to 400 fps. I found this frustrating and went and got another magazine (same mag as the Swiss Arms), loaded it with a fresh CO2 and Dust Devils. Average velocity increased to 351 fps, some 20 fps better than the first test with Dust Devils and the highest average velocity between the 92A1, M9A3, and P1, but using the lighter weight frangible BBs to do so. The Crosman does function smoothly with the Dust Devils. And in case you’re wondering, I ran Dust Devils through the M9A3 and velocity was 366 fps. But all of that is going out the window when you flip the selector to Full Auto.

The Gletcher select fire model (no longer available) the Swiss Arms version of the Beretta 92FS and the first select-fire Beretta-style model from Crosman are all based on the same parts manufactured by KWC. Only the Gletcher (left) had the KWC emblem on its grips. Swiss Arms and Crosman use their own logos. If you recall the test of the Crosman PFAM9B, it came in a blister pack. The revised P1 comes in a box like the Umarex models and includes the red laser in the price, which is competitive to the Umarex models alone.

We are looking for accuracy at 21 feet firing short bursts. For a target I wanted something a little larger so I am using an IPSC cardboard silhouette, which has an A-Zone target area of 5-7/8th by 11.0 inches. At 21 feet I should be able to keep 18 total shots inside the A-Zone. By feathering the trigger, I will be trying to shoot five to six round bursts.

All of the older designs were identical inside and used the same parts, except for the select fire setting and adjustable block for the disconnector, not used on the Swiss Arms model.

The Crosman’s results

Back to shooting Umarex steel BBs, the Crosman Full Auto P1 holds 19 rounds (which is what it says on the box), but to keep it even with the two Umarex models, I am only loading 18. Total spread for the Crosman measured 5.24 inches, all in the A-Zone, with the closest five to six rounds inside 1.25 to 1.5 inches.

The Crosman was a little easier to shoot (though harder to sight) than the Umarex Beretta models, because it has the large thumb safety selector. You can easily do this while shooting semi-auto, just push it all the way down and you’re on full auto. It is not as easy to switch from semi-auto to full auto with the Umarex models, since the selector is a small, separate lever at the back of the frame. The camera caught the P1 with the slide cycling on full auto.

On full auto, the Crosman had the widest spread of the three test guns at 21 feet, but even so it put all 18 shots into the IPSC silhouette target’s A-Zone.

The 92A1

Another out of the box gun that has not been shot on full auto, the POA was again the red dot just below the letter A in the A-Zone of the IPSC silhouette. The Umarex Beretta 92A1 delivered its 18 rounds into a spread of 3.185 inches, again, all in the A-Zone with the closest five to six shot group inside 0.94 inches. The gun tends to shot a little high, I corrected by aiming 2-inches below the red bullseye but the gun ended up hitting right about POA, which was held under. As a side note, it shoots harder (more recoil) than the Crosman on full auto, so you have to contend with that, which is both good and bad, depending upon what you want to get out of the gun.

The Umarex Beretta 92A1 hit low, almost at POA as I held under since in semi-auto it tends to hit a little high. I did put two in the red dot just below the A in the A-Zone and the 92A1 had the best 18-round spread of the test.

The M9A3

Up to now, the M9A3 has been outperforming both the Umarex Beretta 92A1 and Crosman P1 with tighter groups, higher velocity and slightly more robust recoil than the 92A1. And the latter two may work against it on full auto despite the fact that from 21 feet the sights on the M9A3 are easier to hold on target (because they are a little larger and brighter). The recoil is going to bring you a little closer to what happens with an actual centerfire gun on full auto. As you continue to shoot the gun is going to have a tendency to rise. The downside is that trying to compensate as you shoot tends to cause shots to go a little low. It is all happening very quickly and you are also trying to feather the trigger and limit consecutive shots to five or six. The longer you shoot on full auto, the more the CO2 is cooling down and velocity dropping off proportionately.

The M9A3 on semi-auto almost hits POA so I held just slightly under. I put one in the bullseye two high and two right. Corrected and put the next two volleys low. The M9A3 came in behind the 92A1 for tightest 18-shot spread.

I was a little surprised that the gun hit low since I was limiting myself to very short 5-shot bursts. Since the 92A1 already shot a little high on semi-auto, I started by holding under and it turned out that the gun wasn’t hitting as high on auto as anticipated. The majority of shots went low.

With the M9A3, POA was very close to POI firing semi-auto from 21 feet. Holding under didn’t work for me that well again and shots hit a little low. My 18 rounds feathered from the latest Beretta model collected inside of 4.75 inches, with the majority of rounds hitting in the lower portion of the A-Zone with the best five to six shot group measuring 1.24 inches. The higher velocity and recoil cost me this time around and the M9A3 comes up second to the 92A1 on full auto. Both are better than the Crosman, but all three can put a full magazine into the A-Zone on an IPSC silhouette.

I decided to see if a Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C target would make it easier to put tighter groups together since you can see hits right away, and found the gun to be delivering just about the same spread. I had the same situation after the first groups hit the bullseye and then started going high. I corrected and the rest went low and a few to the right.

To wrap things up I shot one more set with each gun using a Shoot-N-C target and hoping I might do better when I could see the hits as I was shooting. I still ended up with 18 rounds over 4.75 inches and no better overall than with the IPSC silhouette. If you were to overlay the Shoot-N-C on the IPSC all 18 shots would still be in the A-Zone. I ran one last test with the 92A1 and the Shoot-N-C for an 18-round spread of 5.125 inches, so I got nowhere with that. Bottom line is that on full auto all three of these pistols will hit the center of a silhouette target and that’s about all the centerfire guns will do. When lead or steel is flying at up to 850 rounds per minute (in CO2, 1,200 rounds per minute with a gun like the Glock 18), bullseye accuracy is not what you’re going to get. With any of the select fire CO2 pistols, including the M712 Mauser and Uzi sub gun, the only reason for shooting them on full auto is for the shooting experience, one that few of us will ever have using a centerfire weapon. CO2 makes it possible for just about everyone to have that airgun experience. The Crosman, however, adds one more possibility; especially if you like the idea of a large thumb lever selector, like the actual Beretta 93R, compared to the small lever on the Umarex models.

I tried it with the 92A1 and after blowing a few high, started to hold under and the gun also began to shoot lower but threw a really tight 6-shot group low and center. Of the three, the 92A1 was most accurate on full auto, the M9A3 second and the P1 third.

To conclude this series, in Part 5 we will examine the Crosman Full Auto P1 as a semi-auto equipped with the included red laser.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply. read more


Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 3

Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 3

Faster than a speeding BB

By Dennis Adler

The original select fire design used for the new Crosman Full Auto P1 predates both the Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 because it is built on the same platform as the old Gletcher BRT 92. The 92A1 is a better built and more authentic looking Beretta pistol and the newer M9A3 (also a new 2019 model like the Crosman) takes the design a step further in exterior appearance. But there is a lot more going on between these three blowback action CO2 models which are all competitively priced, the 92A1 at $129.99, the M9A3 at $119.95 and the Crosman at $129.99 including a rail mount laser.

Select fire pistols have always been a curiosity because few of us will ever get to try one and for the most part, that is just as well, they are hard to control (except in movies) and not that many are in use by military and law enforcement. It’s some pretty rare air where full auto pistols come into play, but make no mistake, there are elite forces that use the Glock 18 and 18C as well as other select fire pistols, and of course during WWII there was the M712 Broomhandle Mauser, again not a particularly accurate handgun when fired on full auto. Given that one can have a select fire pistol in .177 caliber, you have the opportunity to experience a little (very little when it comes to recoil) of what it is like to shoot a full auto handgun. With the trio here, none of which have actual select-fire counterparts in this exact configuration, it is more just a shooting experience with a very high performing, blowback action CO2 pistol. These three don’t exist as centerfire arms. The two noteworthy exceptions in CO2 firearms are the Umarex Legends Mauser M712 and the Mini Uzi submachine gun, which are direct copies of actual select fire pistols.

The surprise with the two Umarex Berettas is that the newer gun is $10 less and that is rationalized by a slightly lower cost of manufacture with the M9A3 using an impressive polymer frame, rather than alloy. The M9A3 also has an updated grip design, improved white dot sights, and matching magazine, which make it a bargain at $119.95. But there is more here than just more modern looks and a little lower price.

The M9A3 was meant to be a military pistol but like the rest of the guns in the U.S. Army’s MHS trials that lost out to the Sig M17, the Beretta became a new civilian model (2016). The 9mm comes as shown with an MSRP of $1,100. Really makes one appreciate the CO2 model for its attention to detail. 

Velocity bursts

Today I am going to test all three for average velocity since there is a significant disparity (in print) between the two Umarex Beretta models and the Crosman Full Auto P1. When you’re talking 310 to 320 fps it’s not that big a deal. A difference between 310 to 320 fps, and say, 350 to 376 fps, is a little bigger deal (like the Glock 19X and Glock 17 Third Gen vs. just about any other blowback action CO2 model), but when you have very similar designs like the Beretta 92 Series being used by Umarex and Crosman and Crosman claiming “up to 400 feet per second” on the box, you have to wonder what they have done differently with essentially the same parts.

Into the Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 mix, with their unique select fire feature not found on the centerfire guns comes the older Gletcher design in new Crosman livery. In what can only be considered a decision made by Crosman’s designers, the white warnings usually put on the right side of slide, (both Umarex models have it on the right), the Full Auto P1 bears the verbiage on the left side and the name on the right. It is just as bad on either side but we have come to expect it on the right. It’s a coin flip, heads or tails, but I think the left side of the P1 lost the toss. The gun is shown with the select fire lever all the way down for full auto. It is a big lever and looks closer to the real Beretta select fire 93R’s selector.

I am starting with two new out of the box guns (the 92A1 and Crosman Full Auto P1), so these have not been velocity tested before and if the results are a little different for the 92A1 from my previous articles, it is because it is not the same gun. The M9A3 is the same gun that performed quite well a couple of months back. Still, there should be a consistency from one production gun to another but a little variation is also not unusual. As a baseline, the M9A1’s previous velocity tests gave me an average of 320 fps, and the M9A3 an average of 330 fps (and an impressive high of 353 fps). That’s still a long way from 400 fps, and as another baseline, the Swiss Arms P92 that I tested back in 2017 had an average velocity of 310 fps, with a high of 321 fps. I mention this because the basic components and design of the Swiss Arms P92 and the discontinued Gletcher BRT 92FS select fire model are identical to the new Crosman.

Aside from external differences, the Crosman uses a different design CO2 BB magazine with an open side that exposes the CO2 cartridge. It also has a flat seating screw which is easier to thread back on compared to the angled cap used on the Umarex magazine design.

Let’s start by running a new 92A1 through the ProChrono’s screens and see what it delivers. I am using Umarex High Grade CO2 and Umarex Precision steel BBs. I put a drop of RWS Chamber Lube on the tip of the CO2 cartridges for each gun. With a fresh CO2, the 92A1 averaged 310 fps for 10 shots fired at 30 second intervals, which is 10 fps slower than the last 92A1 I tested. The M9A3 has already shown itself to be a better performer than its 92A1 predecessor but this test gun set a new benchmark for the Beretta CO2 model with an average velocity of 344 fps and a high of 352 fps bettering the average velocity from the first M9A3 test by 14 fps. I even went back and ran the M9A3 magazine in the 92A1 and it did not perform any better, still sending shots downrange at 310 fps, then I switched it back into the M9A3 and the last two shots in the magazine clocked 344 and 342 fps. Now the onus is on the Crosman to beat the Umarex M9A3.

While the CO2 may be a little easier to load into the Crosman magazine, the Umarex has the advantage of a locking follower on the magazine (left) rather than having to manually hold the follower down while loading BBs into the Crosman magazine. There is a big price spread on the magazines with the Crosman selling for $35.95, and the Umarex 92A1 for $45.99. The surprise is that the M9A3 mag sells for $39.95 which is less than the 92A1 magazine. They are the same and interchangeable.

First off, the Crosman has a slightly different design CO2 BB magazine (same as the Swiss Arms P92 and old Gletcher); it is an open side mag that allows the CO2 cartridge to be exposed. It also has a different type seating screw (actually a little easier to thread back on than the Umarex mags), and a slightly different valve. The Umarex mags have a locking follower, the Crosman do not. Internally, the air nozzle is slightly different on the Crosman, as is the smoothbore barrel’s feed ramp, which is more refined on the Umarex models, so the Crosman has inherited all of the previous Gletcher model’s features, good and bad. How then will it perform better than the Gletcher or Swiss Arms models? The answer is that it can’t. Average velocity was 316 fps with a high of 321 fps. Where is Crosman coming up with up to 400 fps? Perhaps with Dust Devils? But steel BBs are not going to come anywhere near 400 fps with the Crosman. So what about lightweight frangible Dust Devils? The answer here is also no; average velocity was 331 fps, so average velocity for the Crosman Full Auto P1 is pretty much the same as the Swiss Arms and old Gletcher select fire Beretta-style pistols, give or take a few fps.

The small things also play a part in distinguishing the Umarex Berettas from the Crosman. The fit and finish are a little more refined on the Umarex (top) which has a smoother feed ramp compared to the Crosman. The P1 also seems to allow more CO2 to escape when it is fired (air coming up from the slide as it recoils) than the Umarex pistols.

Sorting out the Umarex and Crosman models is going to come down to accuracy, and for the next article, that’s going to be testing on full auto. To be continued…

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply. read more