Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 1

Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 1

Parts is Parts

By Dennis Adler

On face value (and in approximate MSRPs, $159.95 for the 009 and $149.95 for the G17 Gen4) these two blowback action CO2 models are very similar guns with the obvious $10 difference in retail being the 009’s select-fire capability and Glock 18-style selector switch on the slide. Barra took a lot of liberties with the overall design of their pistol by using a non-Glock style grip design and triggerguard configuration. As for the forward slide serrations, you can get those on new Glocks as well, though in not exactly the same style. Overall, the 009 looks like a subtly customized Glock 17. But there is more to it than that.

You all knew this was inevitable. Every time someone makes a variation of an existing gun there is the inevitable comparison, it happens repeatedly in the world of centerfire guns and Glocks are no exception. With the new CO2 models, however, the parallels are more specific because the guns use the same parts manufactured in Taiwan and there is no real exclusivity beyond trademarks, because design patents expire and the floodgates open; this has been true with centerfire guns since the Colt’s patents for the revolver expired in 1857. When patents for the Colt 1911 expired it happened, and it has happened to almost every famous handgun in history. In the end all one really has as a legendary armsmaker is their name. If it looks like a Colt, shoots like a Colt but isn’t marked Colt, it isn’t a Colt. (It might be better in some ways, but it is not, nor will it ever be a Colt). Same for Glock, not legendary yet, but certainly the stuff of which legends are made, if the Austrian armsmaker continues to build guns that are used by more military, law enforcement and government agencies than almost any other in the world. Glock is going head-to-head with Sig Sauer, Beretta, FN, H&K, Colt’s, Smith & Wesson, and other acclaimed manufacturers with histories far, far older than Glock’s. Not to put too fine of a point on this, the Glock 17 is regarded among the 100 most important gun designs in the history of firearms; not bad for a company that hadn’t made a gun before the 1980s! read more


Barra 009 Part 001

Barra 009 Part 001

A big surprise from out of left field

By Dennis Adler

More Glock than not, the new Barra 009 blowback action CO2 pistol is based on the Glock 18 design, and like its 9x19mm centerfire counterpart, is a select-fire pistol.

Yes, this is exactly what you think it is, a Glock 18, or rather the blowback action CO2 version of the select-fire 9mm made by Glock for law enforcement and military use, and the assassin in the opening scenes of the James Bond film Skyfall. In terms of modern centerfire handguns, the G18/G18C machine pistols are the Holy Grail of Glocks that you generally cannot own, let alone shoot, unless you’re part of a police SWAT team, member of an elite military unit, or government agency. Even if you are a Class III firearms dealer it’s pretty hard to get a G18/G18C, and you won’t find that many opportunities to shoot one. That is what makes the new Barra 009 (a very subtle reference to MI6 and the 00 section) about as desirable as blowback action CO2 pistols can get; this is simply as close as most of us will ever come to a G18, even though this new select-fire model bears no Glock markings! read more


Young Gun, Old Gun

Young Gun, Old Gun

The design of a firearm

is still based around a simple principle

By Dennis Adler

I am reminded every time I put a montage of CO2 models like this together, that we have at hand a remarkable variety of firearms designs. Some, like the early 20th century Mauser M712 would be almost out of reach for the majority of collectors as a centerfire pistol, first because of the value, and second in still being a Class III weapon after almost 90 years. Others have simply gone up in value exponentially because of their rarity, like original Colt Peacemakers and WWII pistols like the P.08 Luger, while most of what you see here remain the mainstream guns of the 21st century, such as the latest Ruger 10/22 carbine,the Glock 17, S&W M&P40, and Sig Sauer P320/M17. As real firearms this would be quite an expensive group of guns.

I am paraphrasing the legendary William B. Ruger, Sr., when I say that all gun designs serve the same purpose, to fire a projectile, but what the gun fires and how it fires it, will dictate the design of the gun. Case in point, John M. Browning designed .32 ACP and .380 ACP cartridges and he designed the guns to fire them in 1903 and 1908, respectively. Bill Ruger, Sr. was something of a modern day J.M. Browning and what I learned from my time around him in the 1990s, while I was writing a short biography of his life, visiting his factories, talking with his engineers and staff, and having quiet, introspective dinners with him discussing firearms history, was that great design, and the fundamental breakthroughs that come with them, become the paradigm for all that follows. I understood than as I do now, that with few exceptions, every single action revolver, regardless of manufacturer (including the c. 1953 Ruger Single Six and c. 1955 Ruger Blackhawk), is descended from Samuel Colt’s original revolver designs, even though Colt had died years before the Peacemaker was designed. Ruger’s point being that no matter how different, regardless of the ammunition it fires; however large or small the pistol may be, the fundamentals of its design began with Colt. Bill knew this when he designed the original “Old Model” Single Six .22 revolver, and all the Ruger-designed and built single actions that followed. Were it not for Sam Colt… 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


Reality Check

Reality Check

Answering an obvious question

By Dennis Adler

It’s time for a reality check because we seem to be living in a surreal moment right now, one that appears to be unraveling daily, sometimes hourly, as our nation and the world faces a global health crisis. The reality check here, however, is not political or medical, it is airgun related. Why in a time of national crisis do we need a reality check on airguns? Because in times like these, when we become unsettled by events around us, events that can spiral out of control, people can do the wrong thing, seemingly for the right reason. read more


Balance of power – Hammer and Hammerless guns

Balance of power – Hammer and Hammerless guns

Is one better than the other? It’s complicated

By Dennis Adler

From left to right are technology changes spanning 71 years from the Colt Model 1911 to 1982 when the Glock 17 design was first introduced. Prior to semi-autos, there was no such thing as a manual safety for revolvers other than the Old West wisdom of carrying the gun with the hammer resting on an empty chamber. For all intents, other than dropping a gun with a chambered round, the hammer was the safety. When semi-autos came about some form of manual safety was a priority from the start and the 1911 became the standard bearer for that idea, which was a requirement of the Ordnance Department during the gun’s developmental testing. In addition, the gun had the grip safety. Still, the early manual of arms stated that the gun should be carried without a round chambered. More modern guns like the H&K USP with a DA/SA trigger system, external hammer, and both a manual safety and decocker, make it one of the safest semi-auto designs. Glock rewrote the book with the G17 by designing the safety into the trigger and using a striker rather than either an external or internal (hammerless) design. There is no manual method for making a Glock safe (outside of carrying it without a chambered round) other than the Safe Action Trigger and internal firing mechanisms to prevent accidental discharge if the gun is dropped with a chambered round. All the safety and operating features are duplicated in the CO2 models pictured; however, the Umarex Glock actually uses a small internal hammer to strike the CO2 release valve, rather than an actual Glock-type striker.

Believe it or not, this question of hammers vs. hammerless has been a topic of debate among gunmakers since the Civil War! For me, it is a more complicated question. I am a self-confessed bag of complexities, and as I get older the bag has to hold more because I view handguns a little differently than the public at large. I look at them with an eye toward the art of gun-making and aesthetics of design. The gun is more than the sum of its parts for me, or its purpose. This ideal was true back in the 1700s and 1800s when guns were also regarded as symbols of appreciation and respect, as gestures of treaty or a means to open a political dialogue. The profuse embellishment of flintlocks, percussion pistols of all types, and cartridge-loading revolvers and rifles was an art form; the presentation pistol was a work of art. Today there are wings in museums dedicated just to the eloquence of firearms designs, engraving, and history. Those values still exist in the artistry of engraving older-style handguns based on 19th and early 20th century models.    read more


“One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 2

“One Gun, One Carry and Master it” Part 2

Practical considerations

By Dennis Adler

Thin and thinner, injection molded holsters like this Galco Model CVS 226 barely add to the footprint of a gun like the Glock 17 Gen4, and have a curve to keep the rig close to the body. It is still a big gun but easier to conceal in a holster like this. At right, a very thin but well made leather belt holster. The MTR Leather belt rig it is made for a variety of small handguns. Holsters like the MTR are very comfortable but offer little in the way of pistol retention other than the soft leather contoured fit. Injection molded holsters like the Galco add some residual retention of the gun with the tight contoured fit around the triggerguard, and slide ejection port.

There are many considerations when you decide to carry concealed, aside from the moral and legal implications that each individual must address. The first of which is why? If this seems a bit intense for an airgun article, it is, because in this instance the airgun is substituting for a real gun and you have to have your priorities straight.  

I chose these two extremes to illustrate different needs of carry. Both guns are 9mm; the Glock has a 17+1 capacity, the Sig 10+1, still quite an advantage at almost half the size. Both CO2 models can be used for general training use and learning concealed carry with Micro-Compact and full-size semiautomatic pistols.

Making the decision to carry a gun goes beyond the visit to your local Police Chief or County Sheriff to request a carry permit, which, depending upon where you live, can vary from simple questions to providing more specific information and even having to attend and pass a handgun training class before a carry permit is issued. In some states, counties and cities, a carry permit is almost impossible to get, while in some states you don’t even need a permit. But we are putting the cart before the horse here. read more