Dennis’ Top 5 Picks

Dennis’ Top 5 Picks

A handful of Historic CO2 models

By Dennis Adler

Back in the 1970s and 1980s Crosman was already building some authentic looking CO2 air pistols based on the then very popular Colt Python models. While long before air pistols with swing out cylinders and BB or pellet loading cartridges, these early CO2 models helped set the wheels into motion for the impressive CO2 wheelguns and semi-autos we have today. (Photo courtesy Blue Book Publications)

It is a nice August afternoon, sunny but not abusively hot, a light breeze and the perfect day to set up some paper targets in the backyard and have some fun shooting an air pistol. If that sounds far and away from my usual “this is a must have training gun” style, it’s because some days you just want to have some fun with no agenda, in fact, this is what air pistols (and air rifles) were meant for. Thanks to a very industrious airgun industry that begins with some very intriguing CO2 air pistols developed in the 1970s and 1980s by Crosman, which were copies of Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Walther models, (with a really heavy emphasis on Colt), the wheels of industry were already in motion for what we see today from Umarex, ASG, Sig Sauer, and others, who build air pistols that not only look and feel authentic, but work in much the same way as the actual centerfire pistols they are based upon. 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


Dennis’ Top New Airguns for 2017

Dennis’ Top New Airguns for 2017

And the winner is… Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

This year saw a number of new CO2 models, many based on guns from previous years, and a few that were first time models like the Umarex MP40 German submachine gun. The special John Wayne Edition Model 1911A1 was the first semi-auto in the John Wayne signature series, the odd but alluring Umarex Legends “Ace in the Hole” gave movie buffs a real taste of not being Expendable, ASG gave us a new 2-1/2 inch Dan Wesson Model 715, and Webley & Scott delivered its best MK VI CO2 model yet, the weathered and rugged Battlefield Finish.

Among the best CO2 models introduced in 2017 these five soared to the top of my “Best New Air Pistol or CO2-powered rifle” list. It is a fairly diversified group by gun types, but there is a dominant theme among the choices, vintage military arms with battle worn finishes. For arms collectors, condition is paramount but when condition becomes secondary to rarity, you look for a gun that has the most acceptable “patina” or as it is described in the Blue Book of Gun Values “…a good example of an older, used revolver in above average condition.” This is 70% condition which can show areas of wear, some discoloration and pitting. This also falls into the NRA Modern Good condition, which ranges from 60% to 80%. This is what most airgun makers are shooting for (pardon the pun) when weathering their CO2 military models. The weathering on the John Wayne 1911A1 is a bit more severe, closer to 60% condition, and the Webley MK VI is closer to 70%, while the “Ace in the Hole” falls somewhere in between, the MP40 is also around 70 percent finish in most areas. All four look very authentic, but the Webley and MP40 are just a little more realistic looking overall. read more


Dennis’ Top New Airguns for 2017

Dennis’ Top New Airguns for 2017

The Best of the Best in .177 and 4.5mm Part 1 Part 2

By Dennis Adler

I know many of you were hoping for more new models this year, but there are several in the wings for 2018 that are going to fulfill a lot of wishes. Still, 2017 brought quite a few new and significant CO2 models to the .177 and 4.5mm class of air pistols and magazine-loading rifles, and today we are going to review my top picks for the year. Let’s start with one of the most interesting new rifles, well actually submachine guns, in the world of centerfire or CO2 arms, the WWII era MP40.

Is it real or is it Umarex? The MP40 at the top is an original WWII model rated in “fine condition” by Rock Island Auction Co. The estimated value is between $13,000 and $19,000. Makes the Umarex weathered CO2 model a real bargain! (MP40 photos courtesy Rock Island Auction Co.)

Umarex Legends MP40        read more


This weekend we celebrate a man named John Wayne

This weekend we celebrate a man named John Wayne

110 Years ago, in Winterset Iowa, a legend was born

By Dennis Adler

John Wayne had many memorable sayings, one of which has been on my desk for years, it is simply an honest observation of life that everyone can agree upon: “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

These three special John Wayne commemorative Signature Series Umarex Colt 5-1/2 inch barrel length Peacemakers cover the entire genre of Wayne’s western films. At top left 1939’s Stagecoach the only film where he didn’t carry a revolver but favored his now legendary Model 1892 large loop Winchester, at top right Wayne in his last film, The Shootist where he carried a pair of hand engraved Single Actions, bottom left a still from 1930’s Texas Cyclone where Wayne had a nickel plated Colt, and lower right from the 1956 John Ford film The Searchers where Wayne had a weathered Peacemaker with a 5-1/2 inch barrel.

For John Wayne it was how he lived, and though I never had the opportunity to meet him, over the years I have known several of his friends, including the late Hugh O’Brian (TV’s Wyatt Earp), and James Arness. It was Wayne who recommended Arness for the role of Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke (the producers originally wanted Wayne for the part). James Arness was very much like Wayne, a rock solid individual with deep convictions. Though we barely crossed paths in the 1960s when I had a short stint as a still photographer on the Gunsmoke set at CBS, 44 years later he wrote the Introduction to my biography on one of our mutual friends, John Bianchi. John is not only a friend, but a legendary holster maker who knew Wayne very well, and I learned a lot about John Wayne through Bianchi. Over the years he made some of the Duke’s signature holsters, as well as commissioning the bronze statue of Wayne by sculptor David Manuel, that stands in front of the John Wayne Birthplace and Museum in Winterset, Iowa. read more


The 100th Airgun Experience

The 100th Airgun Experience

What have we learned?

By Dennis Adler

History has, in a way, dictated which guns are the most significant, among them the great Webley MKVI. As a manufacturer, Webley also has a lengthy history building airguns, so their c. 1937 MKVI in .177 caliber is based on the same blueprint as the original .455 caliber military revolver.

History has, in a way, dictated which guns are the most significant, among them is the great Webley MKVI. As a manufacturer Webley also has a long history building airguns and their c. 1937 MKVI in .177 caliber is based on the same blueprint as the original .455 caliber military revolver. (Webley holster by World War Supply, belt courtesy John Bianchi)

It’s hard to believe, but here we are at No. 100. A lot of airguns have been tested in the previous 99 Airgun Experience articles. When I set out to create this series of short features, rather than following a traditional blog format, I decided to write and illustrate them as I would for a magazine. This comes from 40 years in the print media world as an author, editor and publisher; it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Hopefully, those of you who have followed the Airgun Experience throughout the last 99 articles and others who have recently started to read the columns on Pyramyd Air have come to appreciate the depth and detail in each review. The goal has always been to inform, illustrate, and educate as much as possible, not only with reviews of the airguns but their use for enhancing firearms knowledge and improving shooting skills. read more


John Wayne Commemorative 1911A1

The Latest John Wayne Commemorative

A 1911A1 to honor Wayne’s most memorable WWII films

By Dennis Adler

The new John Wayne Model 1911A1 is the first John Wayne semi-auto in the series of John Wayne commemorative airguns. (Shown with a publicity photo of Wayne in The Longest Day, and a copy of a WWII era JT&L Model 1942 holster from World War Supply).

The new John Wayne Model 1911A1 is the first John Wayne semi-auto in the series of John Wayne commemorative airguns. (Shown with a publicity photo of Wayne in The Longest Day, and a copy of a WWII era JT&L Model 1942 holster from World War Supply).

John Wayne’s cinematic legacy is “The Great American Western” but The Duke also left an unforgettable mark across film history with a handful of outstanding dramatic, and occasionally comedic films, along with a list of memorable war films during his 46 year career. He made 140 motion pictures from 1930’s The Big Trail to The Shootist in 1976 and this included more than a dozen war pictures, all of which were WWII films except for 1968’s The Green Berets. Among his most famous were The Sands of Iwo Jima in 1949 and The Longest Day in 1962. The Colt Government Model 1911A1 was a part of those films and that great era in American history. read more