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! read more


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? read more


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!) 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. 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. 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. read more


Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 2

Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 2

The same but different

By Dennis Adler

Crosman has picked up the gauntlet dropped by Gletcher with the new Full Auto P1. However, as you can tell from this photo (regardless of perspective) the Crosman is a larger gun than the Umarex Beretta, which is proportioned exactly like its centerfire counterpart. It is a small difference in size and the weight of the guns is close, with the Umarex weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces, and the Crosman 2 pounds, 8 ounces. Unable to bear the Beretta name, which is licensed to Umarex, there is no patent on the design, which is used by other CO2 and centerfire pistol manufacturers like Swiss Arms and Taurus (with the PT-92).

The vast majority of blowback action CO2 models work about the same way with the main difference being whether the guns have a fixed barrel, like small to medium caliber blowback action centerfire pistols, the Walther PPK being a good example, or a version of the John Browning-designed, short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design used in most medium to large caliber centerfire pistols. The Beretta 92 Series is one of the few exceptions because of several distinctive Beretta designs, first the open slide with most of the barrel exposed, secondly, the 92 Series (and some of its earlier Beretta predecessors) do not have a feed ramp between the magazine and chamber, and third, the guns use a falling locking block design with the barrel traveling in-line during recoil, rather than tilting down, like the Browning design. This also makes the Beretta one of the easiest handguns to fieldstrip, and all three of the CO2 models take down exactly the same way as the 9mm pistol. read more