The BB Conundrum Part 3

The BB Conundrum Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Smart Shot, lead, steel and dust

By Dennis Adler

The generally underpowered Umarex Walther PPK/S gets an impressive boost from using lightweight Dust Devils which work perfectly in the stick magazine and blowback action of the PPK/S.

A pound of lead or a pound of Dust Devils will fall at the same rate of speed according to Galileo, but a 7.4 gr. lead BB will have a slower velocity than a 4.34 gr. Dust Devil. Galileo never had to deal with such problems. To begin our final installment let’s review the velocities with the test guns fired using Smart Shot and Dust Devils.

The first gun up was the latest Umarex Walther PPK/S which sent the heavy copper plated lead shots downrange at a marginal average velocity of 228 fps, and even with .177 caliber steel BBs the PPK/S can barley do better than 290 fps. But loading the Walther with Dust Devil BBs gave the CO2 pistol a competitive average velocity of 315 fps. So, let’s see what the PPK/S delivers in accuracy at that velocity, and not from 15 feet but a full 21 feet like other blowback action BB models that shoot in the 300 fps range. read more

The BB Conundrum Part 1

The BB Conundrum Part 1 Part 2

Smart Shot, lead, steel and dust

By Dennis Adler

BB cartridge loading revolvers have it easy, semi-auto designs not so much when it comes to .177 caliber steel BB alternatives. There are plenty of options like Smart Shot (far left) copper plated lead BBs and traditional 4.5mm round lead pellets like Gamo Round. You have steel BBs like the Umarex Precision, which have proven to be among the best for blowback action pistols, even with rifled barrels, and then there is the innovative frangible Air Venturi Dust Devils (shown in a non-factory tin at far right). Dust Devils are designed for use on metal or hard surfaced targets and virtually disintegrate on impact to prevent ricochets, but they have another advantage.

Every so often we shoot ourselves in the foot (metaphorically speaking), and the ammunition of late seems to be Smart Shot. It is a great idea, a lead ball with a copper coating designed to minimize ricochets off hard surfaces, like reactive steel targets and pellet traps. Obviously no one should ever shoot a steel BB at a steel, metal or other hard surfaced target unless they’re willing to reap the ricochet whirlwind. Smart Shot was designed to make that less likely. For action shooting with an Umarex Colt Peacemaker or any BB cartridge firing revolver, Smart Shot is worth its weight in, well, copper and lead with reactive targets (more on this later in the year when the weather decides what season it is!) The question of late is how well it works in semi-auto designs with vertical magazines (stick magazines and self-contained CO2 BB magazines) and as I discovered it doesn’t have to be a blowback action pistol for Smart Shot to jam up the works. This has prompted me to look at other alternatives, especially when the air pistol is designed to shoot 4.5mm lead or alloy pellets, as well as BBs through a rifled steel barrel. Steel BBs work perfectly in these guns according to the manufacturers but as I have said before, over time the hard steel rounds traveling down a rifled barrel will begin to erode the lands and grooves. How much time? I don’t know; I tend to like shooting pellets in pellet pistols and have never quite settled into the idea that some can shoot BBs, too. If I wanted to shoot BBs I’d have purchased a BB pistol. But for the sake of argument, let’s look at some of the options available for dual ammo firing rifled barreled pistols. read more

Heckler & Koch pistols Part 2

Heckler & Koch pistols Part 2 Part 1

Revisiting two often overlooked CO2 pistols

By Dennis Adler

Like a number of higher-priced Umarex pellet-firing models, the HK P30 comes in a foam lined carrying case. Shown with the P30 are two included cast alloy 8-shot rotary magazines and the loading tool (to firmly seat 4.5mm pellets) and the BB adapter which replaces the rotary magazine when converting the HK into a non-blowback BB pistol using the self-contained CO2 BB magazine.

Throughout its comparatively short but highly successful history, Heckler & Koch has always catered to a variety of end users from civilians to military and law enforcement by tailoring certain models in multiple variants, like its P30 Series.

P30 features in centerfire and CO2

The centerfire models are offered in V1, V2 and V3 configurations. As categorized by HK, V1 is an enhanced DAO with light trigger pull or LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) which makes this version a much faster DAO to get into action than traditional double action only semi-autos or revolvers. As required by some law enforcement organizations, a light trigger is not approved, thus HK has the V2 LEM with enhanced DAO and standard weight trigger pull. Last there is the V3, a traditional double action, single action model with a hammer spur for manual cocking, and a manual decocker. The V3 DA/SA mode is also available with or without dual ambidextrous manual safeties. read more

Heckler & Koch pistols Part 1

Heckler & Koch pistols Part 1 Part 2

Revisiting two often overlooked CO2 pistols

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Heckler & Koch USP (left) and P30 are based on the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP models equipped with the DAO trigger system (although the CO2 model of the P30 can be manually cocked). The lower-priced, entry-level .177 caliber USP model is a non-blowback action design that provides just enough working features to make it an ideal training gun. The same applies to the higher-priced HK P30 which is designed to fire 4.5mm pellets with 8-shot rotary magazines or BBs from the self-contained CO2 BB magazine.

There are many long established armsmakers that have licensed their name to manufacturers of CO2 pistols, and nearly all of the famous German brands have signed on with Umarex. Makes sense, Umarex is a German manufacturer and they own the greatest name in German firearms, Walther. But I would wager that Heckler & Koch, established in 1949, has become almost as famous the world over in just 69 years (Walther built its first handguns more than a century ago and thus has quite a head start on Heckler & Koch). read more

Umarex Heckler & Koch USP .177 caliber training pistol

Umarex Heckler & Koch USP .177 caliber training pistol

Your basic affordable understudy

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Heckler & Koch USP is a copy of the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP models equipped with the DAO trigger system. The entry-level .177 caliber model is a non-blowback action design that provides just enough working features to make it an ideal training gun for the HK USP.

There are certain features that a pistol designed for law enforcement or military use must have and these basic principles have not changed since John M. Browning and Colt’s fulfilled the design requirements for the Government Model of 1911 more than a century ago. What has changed is the means by which those requirements can be met. But the basic requirements of a 21st century sidearm are really not that different today than they were in 1911; dependability under all conditions, comfortable carry weight and ease of operation. The other requirement that many contemporary firearms either eschew or regard as passé is basic familiarity with common operating features; some modern handguns can be extremely complex. It is the latter that Heckler & Koch addresses in its modern but straightforward handgun designs. The USP is a sidearm that one can pick up and understand fully in a matter of moments. There is nothing discrete or clever here. read more

An alternative to steel BBs and rifled barrels

Going back to leaded

An alternative to steel BBs and rifled barrels

By Dennis Adler

The HK P30 is designed to shoot pellets with an 8-shot rotary magazine, but also has the ability to fire BBs that load in the CO2 magazine channel like a blowback action semi-auto. The problem is that with its rifled barrel, shooting steel BBs, (like the Umarex 1500 pictured at left) can erode the rifling in the barrel and ruin the gun’s accuracy with pellets. To get around it, you can use lead BBs like Smart Shot (which is copper coated) or traditional Gamo .177 caliber round lead BBs. The catch is how they function in the HK P30’s magazine.

I know the oil refining industry has a rational explanation for this, but I spent a good portion of my life as an automotive journalist and back in the 1970s when unleaded gas was introduced I was always amused that it cost more at the pump than regular leaded gasoline; you see lead is an additive, not a natural property of gasoline, so they were charging more for not putting it in! How does this apply to air pistols? Today we use steel BBs and a variety of cast alloy pellets as an alternative to traditional lead pellets. Even in the world of cartridge firing handguns and rifles, there are a number of non-lead bullets available today. Lead is not a good thing for humans or animals, but it is an often necessary component of a bullet, a pellet (such as the pellets in shotgun shells, though there is steel shot as well), and yes even original type BBs and pistol and rifle pellets. Environmentally conscious airgun shooters often defer to steel BBs and alloy pellets, and that is commendable, but lead pellets still dominate, and proper shooting conditions (use of pellet traps, just as lead bullets are reclaimed at indoor shooting ranges) can keep lead from becoming an environmental issue. (I use a baffle box behind my targets to trap the pellets). But, there is this little question that has arisen of late with the HK P30, a rifled barrel semiautomatic that can fire either pellets from an 8-shot rotary magazine or BBs from a combination CO2 and BB magazine. The question is what happens to the rifling when you shoot steel BBs through it, instead of a lead pellet? The answer is that using steel BBs will unfortunately erode the rifling over time. read more

Testing the Umarex H&K P30 Part 2

Testing the Umarex H&K P30 Part 2 Part 1

Downrange with the Heckler & Koch airgun

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex HK P30 comes in a hard plastic storage case with two 8-round rotary pellet magazines, the BB insert, pellet seating tool and one CO2 BB magazine.

A little more expensive than some CO2 semi-auto models, the dual firing system (rotary pellet and combined CO2 BB magazine) make the Umarex H&K P30 a double threat for accuracy and training. The double action trigger pull on the HK P30 airgun is 11 pounds, 10.5 ounces average. Single action, the trigger pull drops to a refined 5 pounds, 2.5 ounces average. The 9mm models average 5 pounds, 8 ounces single action and 11 pounds, 4 ounces double action, so the airgun’s trigger is nicely matched with only 0.375 inches of travel fired single action, a crisp break and minimal over travel. The latter is irrelevant since you have to manually cock the hammer again before you can shoot single action, although with a two-handed hold you can cock the hammer with the support hand thumb pretty quickly. Either way, this is an easy pistol to handle. read more