My favorite CO2 air pistol of all time Part 1

My favorite CO2 air pistol of all time Part 1

And what makes it special

By Dennis Adler

The very first Airgun Experience was a tribute to John Wayne’s last film, The Shootist, and the limited edition Umarex Colt Peacemaker hand engraved and custom finished Shootist CO2 model. This was the beginning of an entire series of hand engraved CO2 Peacemakers in 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 inch barrel lengths that would be introduced in Airgun Experience articles.

This marks the 400th Airgun Experience article and over the period from No. 1 to No. 400 so many new CO2 air pistols and rifles have been introduced it becomes difficult to keep them all in comparative categories. The only real defining characteristics are magazine types, blowback or non-blowback actions (and that has to include revolvers), sights, though most are fixed sights of one type or another, and lastly, the quality of the build, fit, and finish. In most cases the differences between blowback and non-blowback semi autos covers all the rest, but not in every case and with today’s choices, that really doesn’t pare down the list all that much. So to start, let’s look back at new models introduced since Airgun Experience No. 1, which started with a new model. read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 3

Model 1911 Variations Part 3

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

It comes down to four guns that embody four different styles of 1911. The Umarex Colt licensed Commander was the standard against which other CO2 models were judged for several years due to its superior fit, finish, and accuracy. This has been challenged by guns like the Swiss Arms TRS that has all the features most people wished were on the Commander (though not everyone wants a Rail Gun), the Air Venturi John Wayne is totally retro, which appeals to 1911 purists, while the Sig Sauer is the best possible combination of features, as taken directly from Sig’s own .45 ACP 1911 models. But with this version, you have to be into making a bold statement with the look of a handgun, caliber notwithstanding.

With all four guns using the same self-contained CO2 BB magazine design and similarly based blowback action firing systems, one might expect that all four will have approximately the same average velocity and accuracy with their respective 5-inch smoothbore barrels. Allowing a + or – 5 fps for average velocity between guns, they should all be around 300 to 310 fps. Where I expect to see some difference is in accuracy at 21 feet due to varying internal tolerances, sight and barrel regulation (which too few blowback action CO2 pistols have), and, of course, different triggers. They are all hammer-fired designs but even there, hammer design can have an influence. This will be a proof of the sum total of parts used for each gun. The price spread for all four guns is from a low of $99.95 for the Sig Sauer to $109.99 for the Colt Commander and Swiss Arms TRS, and a high of $119.99 for the John Wayne (the higher price is reflected in the John Wayne name, licensing rights and use of the trademark signature). read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 2

Model 1911 Variations Part 2

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, well you shouldn’t judge a 1911 (.45 ACP or CO2) by its very familiar profile, either. These four guns, the John Wayne WWII commemorative, Umarex Colt Commander, Swiss Arms TRS and Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE have little in common other than being based on the 1911. How many differences can you spot?

This is a familiar picture for me with four different 1911 models being compared, because I have done it several times in the past with .45 ACP models and the results are just as telling with centerfire guns as they are with CO2 pistols. Of course, consider that there is an entire industry out there that builds custom components for the centerfire Model 1911, virtually upgrading every part of the guns from the inside out, and for every conceivable purpose from military and law enforcement tactical use, to competition pistols that barely resemble a 1911, and everything in between, just to meet the demands of consumers devoted to the Model 1911. Within the handful of top end CO2 models you can actually get some of that, but it is almost entirely on the outside, with very little changed on the inside. read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 1

Model 1911 Variations Part 1

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

This is where it all began in 1911 when the Colt .45 ACP was adopted as the official sidearm of the U.S. military. The early John M. Browning design for Colt bore Browning’s Apr 20 1897, Sept 5 1902, December 19 1905, February 11 1911, and Aug 19 1913 patent dates. Guns built through 1924 had the flat mainspring housing and longer trigger. (Military magazines had lanyard loops as well as the base of the grip frame.)

Shared design does not mean shared performance, or shared accuracy. This is true in the world of centerfire pistols and true in the world of blowback action CO2 pistols.

If there is one gun that epitomizes this statement, one handgun that has seen more variations, mechanical upgrades (internally and externally) and a greater variety of uses than any other, from a military side arm to a world class competition pistol, it is the Colt Model 1911. I honestly can’t even say “Colt” Model 1911 anymore because there have been so many 1911 models that have nothing to do with the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co., other than a shared design. read more


Crazy for holsters

Crazy for holsters

If the gun fits, buy it!

By Dennis Adler

In the Old West not everyone who carried a gun wore a holster. Some men just tucked the pistol into their pant’s waist. Others who wore a cartridge belt and holster often tucked a second gun behind the belt. The rig I am wearing in this photo is an exact copy of the holster and belt worn by Tom Horn. It was copied from the original by Alan Soellner of Chisholm’s Trail Leather. It was originally used for a feature on Tom Horn in Guns of the Old West. Here it plays host to a pair of 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemakers.

I hesitate to tell you how many holsters I have. Let’s just say that if I ever end up on an episode of Hoarders it is going to be because of holsters. I am not alone in this, there are, and this is the truth, people who collect holsters, not guns, just holsters. They buy guns, but only to put in the holsters, that’s where the term “holster stuffer” comes from.

I have purchased holsters, off the rack, as it were, and I have had holsters custom made to fit specific guns, I have commissioned reproductions of original western holsters to be made for articles (which is altogether different because I got paid to do that), but I have also done this just for my own satisfaction. I would dare say that there are some holsters out there today from certain makers that would not exist if I hadn’t been the instigator of its design and manufacturing. There is even one out there today surreptitiously named after me. But before this becomes a holsters anonymous meeting, there is a point to this as it relates to CO2 air pistols. 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


More Childhood Approved Airguns

More Childhood Approved Airguns

’Tis the Season

By Dennis Adler

Only Jean Shepherd could turn a kid’s BB gun mania into one of the most beloved Christmas movies ever. It’s an annual event in our house, we even have an early Christmas Story Daisy Red Ryder that sits on the fireplace mantle every Holiday Season. Our own BB gun mania.

I must admit that when I was a teenager I didn’t expect, nor did I want an “official Red Rider carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle.” (Of course, in truth I would have had to want a Red Ryder Model 94 Carbine back in the 1960s; the Red Ryder in A Christmas Storey was based on the Number 111 Model 40 Red Ryder Variation1 made in 1940 and 1941). The movie wasn’t released until 1983 and the gun didn’t even exist as it was written in Jean Shepherd’s Christmas classic until after the film. So what did I want? Well, as I mentioned in Thursday’s Airgun Experience I wanted a real Colt Model 1911. But there were other guns with which I had become equally absorbed. None of which existed as air pistols back then. Today, I would be in absolute airgun bliss. The guns I wanted back then were mostly all WWII models and earlier (I have always been a step out of time), and looking at this week’s Pyramyd Air emailing of “12 Airguns you wanted as a kid but never got” I decided to wrap up the week with my old Christmas list and why I wanted them (even though they didn’t exist as airguns back then.) read more