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


Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 3

Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 3

From the Old West, to Prohibition, to the battlefield

By Dennis Adler

The cut down Mosin-Nagant was a handy gun in its time, the rifles were plentiful having been made for over a quarter of a century by the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and easily modified. Some have the front sight remounted on the end of the shortened barrel, most had both sights removed. The Gletcher CO2 version favors the guns that were done by gunsmiths rather than revolutionaries with a hacksaw.

In the realm of military arms the Mosin-Nagant is a classic rifle, the Obrez on the other hand, is almost more of an historical curiosity because they were not made at any arsenal but simply modified individually in the field, much like cut down weapons used during the American Civil War. So, there was no absolute consistency from one to another, unless a revolutionary group with a decent gunsmith among them built a small quantity at one time, otherwise it was a pattern copied by individuals with surplus Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifles. In the Russian Revolution they served as a kind of rebel pistol in a rifle caliber. Some Obrez Mosin-Nagant pistols appeared during the Spanish Civil War and others were either resurrected or made new by resistance fighters during WWII, but still they were a rare gun to find in any numbers. This fact led Gletcher to the Obrez while looking at famous Russian military guns when they started their Russian Legends series of CO2 models some years ago. And while the rifle made most sense, the Obrez was almost irresistible as a unique CO2 model. And I don’t think anyone will disagree with that, even after Gletcher introduced the M1944 Mosin-Nagant WWII era rifle. The little sawed off M1891 had a look that any military weapons collector or arms enthusiast couldn’t shy away from. Many existing Obrez remain only because of the attachment their original owners had for them during the revolution. Those who survived, some maybe even as a result of using the gun, held on to them as wartime momentos. Other rifles throughout world wars and conflicts have been cut down in similar fashion; Obrez roughly translates to cut down, so it is not necessarily exclusive to the Mosin-Nagant. But it is to the Gletcher model. read more


Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 2

Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 2

From the Old West, to Prohibition, to the battlefield

By Dennis Adler

The Gletcher Obrez version of the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 is nothing if not interesting looking. The removable box magazine allows the combining of CO2 and BBs in one, and with spare magazines, quick reloads. The bolt action is impressively quick to work.

If necessity is the mother of invention, than war and crime is the mother of necessity. Most of the firearms developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries were built for offensive or defensive use in war; certainly many were also designed and built as target and hunting rifles, and even target pistols. There is, however, a fine line that separates that distinction, and everything needs to be viewed in the context of the times; we simply cannot subject 19th century thinking to 21st century interpretation. read more


Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 1

Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 1

From the Old West, to Prohibition, to the battlefield

By Dennis Adler

Rifles and shotguns that become, shall we say, “less than the sum of their parts” by being converted into unusual pistols or sawed off models present a unique substrata of guns. In the 1860s, percussion shotguns were made with short barrels for use on horseback by the Cavalry, but shotguns of all types were cut down with shorter barrels and stocks cut off behind the wrist to make them smaller and more concealable. Others were made as pistols from the start like the Ithaca-style double barrel in the center. Rifles also were given the barrel and stock cut for much the same reason, but the Winchester made for Steve McQueen’s character bounty hunter Josh Randall is the most famous cut down rifle of all time. At top, the Gletcher M1891 is a CO2 version of the early 20th century Russian Mosin-Nagant field-modified Obrez bolt action pistol.

Continuing on the theme of “Sweet Inspirations” it is safe to say that no one ever asked why you would saw the barrel down and cut the stock off a rifle or a shotgun, because the only people who did it already knew the reason. Most of the time it was either an outlaw or a lawman, and both for the same purpose, to conceal, either in a box or other cover, under a table, or on their person, a small but powerful weapon for use at close range. Sawed off shotguns came first, most prominently during the Civil War for mounted troops, later for lawmen, outlaws, and often mercantile shop and salon owners, especially in boom towns. By the end of the 19th century, sawed off shotguns and rifles were not that uncommon but used far less often than more conventional lever action carbines and short-barrel double guns and pump action shotguns. 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


1895 Nagant vs. 1895 Nagant Part 3

1895 Nagant vs. 1895 Nagant Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

The Russian Version of BBs vs. Pellets

By Dennis Adler

The Gletcher Model 1895 Nagant pistols deliver design quality, accuracy in features as well as downrange, and a choice of either a smoothbore BB or rifled barrel version. Gletcher also has a nickel silver version which is a sharp looking gun, but very few, if any were originally nickel plated. The blued guns were, however, sometimes engraved. The Gletcher models open up a variety of possibilities for customizing as well as just being authentic copies of one of the most famous military revolvers in history.

Like the Umarex Colt Peacemakers and the ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 double action revolvers, the Gletcher Model 1895 Nagant double actions are a perfect set for BB and pellet-firing cartridges. The Nagant models are also true to their centerfire predecessors with the exception of a manual safety on some of the newer production guns, but even the Peacemakers and Dan Wesson CO2 models are fitted with these added safety mechanisms. And let me digress on that for a moment because there are several reasons for adding manual safeties to air pistols when their centerfire counterparts, except most semi-autos, were never equipped with them. read more


1895 Nagant vs. 1895 Nagant Part 2

1895 Nagant vs. 1895 Nagant Part 2 Part 1

The Russian Version of BBs vs. Pellets

By Dennis Adler

There is a lot to like about the Gletcher Nagant Model 1895, one thing not to like is that they are probably in short supply and when this second series is gone it could be awhile until they are back again. It is an air pistol that vintage military arms enthusiasts should own. Whether you like the BB (bottom) or the pellet version (top), is a matter of personal preference. Either gun is very accurate for its size and barrel length; the plus goes to the pellet cartridge-firing model for its increased accuracy range out to 10 meters. Both airguns fieldstrip like the centerfire pistol, which is a very straightforward process.

Since we are talking about air pistols, it is easier to toss theories around and “in theory” the Nagant BB model with the BB loaded at the front of the cartridge and the cartridge nose sealing with the forcing cone, like the original Nagant Model 1895 design, makes the BB model more authentic in operation than the pellet-firing version which has the pellet seated at the back of the cartridge. It is a very minor point, which, in the past, has proven to favor the rear loading cartridges with Peacemaker BB and pellet models. Will a front loaded BB in the Nagant design have as much velocity and accuracy as a rear loading pellet cartridge model? And just for extra measure, we’ll toss in the wild card by also loading the BB model cartridges with lighter weight (i.e. higher velocity) Dust Devils. In Part 3 we will see which gun performs best at 21 feet and 10 meters, the BB or pellet model. It is a question that has been asked before and now with newer BBs to fire (that did not exist when the first Nagant Model 1895 models were introduced several years ago in the Gletcher Russian Legends series); the outcome should be more interesting. read more