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


One last look at The Shootist

One last look at The Shootist

As 2016 comes to an end, we remember the last John Wayne Classic

with the finest 4.5mm caliber Colt ever created

By Dennis Adler

The poster from the 1976 film shows all of the legendary actors who made The Shootist one of John Wayne’s best western films of all time, Richard Boone (upper left), High O’Brian (upper right), Jimmy Stewart (lower right) Lauren Bacall (lower left) and John Wayne. The limited edition hand engraved 4.5mm Umarex Colt “Shootist” Peacemaker is copies from one of the guns carried by Wayne in the film.

The poster from the 1976 film shows all the legendary actors who made The Shootist one of John Wayne’s best western films of all time, Richard Boone (upper left), Hugh O’Brian (upper right), Jimmy Stewart (lower right) Lauren Bacall (lower left) and John Wayne. The limited edition hand engraved 4.5mm Umarex Colt “Shootist” Peacemaker is copied from one of the guns carried by Wayne in the film.

It is hard to believe but four decades have passed since John Wayne appeared in his last film, the 1976 classic The Shootist.  It was a film populated with memorable characters created by novelist Glendon Swarthout and his son Miles, who wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. To bring life to the Swarthout’s characters required actors of unparalleled talent and an acting experience deeply rooted to the American West. No one other than John Wayne could have portrayed John Bernard Books. Wayne was the perfect embodiment of an aging gunfighter, tall, heavy, craggy faced and filled with the sorrow and understanding of a man who had lived on both sides of the law, taken too many lives and lived too little of life without a gun. It was his wisdom that gave him solace to face a fight he could not win. Books was dying of cancer, a diagnosis twice confirmed, the second time by an old friend, Dr. E.W. Hostetler, played by the legendary Jimmy Stewart, also in his last film role. Stewart was remembered for two celebrated westerns of his own, Winchester ’73 and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (the latter also starring John Wayne). The film’s casting also required two equally dynamic villains, roles appropriately filled by another pair of unforgettable western actors, Richard Boone as gunman Mike Sweeney, who is seeking revenge for Books having gunned down his brother, and Hugh O’Brian as gambler and opportunistic gunfighter Jack Pulford. Boone and O’ Brian were cast against type having both been TV western heroes, but their roles in The Shootist gave them an opportunity to play off Wayne as few actors had. (Boone had actually done this before opposite Wayne in Big Jake). read more


Airguns of the American West Part 10

Airguns of the American West Part 10

The Guns of John Wayne

For almost 50 years The Duke’s favorite handgun was a Colt Peacemaker

By Dennis Adler

The guns of John Wayne have always helped to define his characters but none so dramatically as the pair of engraved single actions he carried as former lawman and gunfighter John Bernard Books in “The Shootist.” In this memorable image, recreated from the movie, the author had stepped in to play Books and a pair of Limited Edition, hand engraved Umarex Colt “Duke” Peacemakers, to fill the role of Wayne’s ivory griped Single Actions.

The guns of John Wayne have always helped to define his characters but none so dramatically as the pair of engraved single actions he carried as former lawman and gunfighter John Bernard Books in “The Shootist.” In this memorable image recreated from the movie, the author has stepped in to play Books and a pair of Limited Edition, hand engraved Umarex Colt “Duke” Peacemakers, to fill the role of Wayne’s ivory griped Single Actions.

John Wayne’s film career spanned more than three generations, from 1930 when he starred in his first western, The Big Trail to 1976 when he made his last film, The Shootist. The Western cinematic legacy he left chronicles almost the entire history of this uniquely American film genre and its kinship to the Colt Single Action Army revolver.

There are 10 John Wayne commemorative models available with blued, weathered, or nickel plated finishes, including four hand engraved models in both .177 caliber BB and .177 caliber (4.5mm) pellet versions.

There are 10 John Wayne models available with blued, weathered, or nickel finishes, including four hand engraved models in both .177 caliber BB and .177 caliber (4.5mm) pellet versions. Pictured are the weathered Duke model, (top) with a Bianchi Frontier Gunleather “Duke” holster and two-tone cartridge belt, the Limited Edition Shootist model (center) with a Legends in Leather copy of the gun rig worn by John Wayne in the film, and a Limited Edition hand engraved nickel plated Duke Model.

Up until 1930, the tall, rugged looking man from Winterset, Iowa, had been working as an extra, but he had determination and a look that caught the attention of legendary film director Raoul Walsh in 1929. The next year he gave the young actor named Marion Morrison his first big break in the 1930 epic The Big Trail. Walsh also changed Morrison’s name to John Wayne. Although the film was not a box office smash, even though it was one of the first shot in 70mm wide-screen, Wayne became a “B” movie hit, spending the next nine years making westerns and building a reputation as a film star. Many of his early films were remakes of old Ken Maynard silent movies with Wayne always playing a character named John (John Drury, John Steele, John Mason, John Trent), and riding a magnificent white stallion named, of all things, Duke. read more