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


Saga of the MP40 and the baffle box

Saga of the MP40 and the baffle box

Stopping steel and lead in its tracks

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex MP40 is not only accurate but pretty powerful, even at 25 feet on full auto. And I have a blown to bits baffle box to prove it.

My recent exploration of the MP40 weathered model’s accuracy proved to be quite exceptional. After Thursdays article, I went back and shot several more magazines to test quick reloads (I have one spare magazine) and firing with the gun shouldered and my support arm through the sling (as pictured) my groups from 25 feet kept getting tighter. This is one very accurate CO2 air rifle on full auto, especially shooting in short bursts. I average six to 10 shots by feathering the trigger, i.e. just enough pull to fire the gun but not an extended trigger press, on and off in under a second. You can hear it and feel it in the bolt’s recoil so less than a second and you’ve got it. Some of you have already tried this using the shoulder strap to really stabilize the MP40 from the shoulder and are getting the same kind of accuracy, so I haven’t done anything exceptional. What I did do, however, is blow the entire center out of my baffle box! I usually get about 10 gun tests done before I have to make a new baffle box. I shot this one to piece in two days with the MP40. read more


The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2

The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 2 Part 1

Weathering History

By Dennis Adler

The weight of the MP40 pretty much neutralizes any appreciable muzzle lift on full auto, though the same cannot be said for the M712 Mauser with the selector on R. It climbs and empties in a couple of seconds fired offhand. These are the two best weathered finish military CO2 reproductions you can own, a pair that offers authentic looks at a price that wouldn’t even cover the shipping cost for one of the original Class III firearms. Currently an MP40 is worth from $13,000 to $19,000 and an M712 Broomhandle from $12,000 to $17,000. The real 9mm and 7.63mm guns come up for auction this weekend at Rock Island Auctions.

So, the Stanley Baker (center below) Guns of Navarone photo idea with the MP40 was not lost on at least one reader, even though the 1961 WWII epic starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn took place in occupied Greece, not France.

Seems I have a lot of old film buffs reading Airgun Experience so putting these Umarex Legends WWII models in a proper visual context makes it a bit more interesting. So does the fact that these guns were used by so many different factions, aside from the German military, underscores their role in the war with French, British and American forces. French partisans carried many different guns, whatever was available, and many were armed by the British with the Sten submachine gun. Built in Great Britain during the war, Stens were given to the French Underground and other partisan groups aiding the Allies. The Sten was about as cheaply made a weapon as possible, costing around $10 in 1940. To put that in perspective, a Thompson, used by U.S. forces, cost $200 in 1940. But nothing was cheaper to carry than a captured (liberated) German MP40. read more


The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 1

The latest Umarex Legends MP40 Part 1

Weathering History – Is it real or is it Umarex?

By Dennis Adler

During WWII men and women who fought with the French Resistance were often armed and famously photographed with captured guns like the MP40. The French Underground aided American and British forces with intelligence on German positions but the Resistance also saw its share of combat throughout occupied France. The Umarex MP40 looks very much the part in this modern rendition of a WWII photograph. The Umarex weathered model comes with a leather shoulder strap which makes the submachine gun easier to carry and fire on full auto.

The famous line “War is Hell” has many meanings, literally and figuratively, both to man, environment, and machine. The first two are well documented throughout history, the machine part is usually pictured in battlefield photographs of damaged or destroyed tanks, trucks, military and civilian vehicles, less seen are images of handguns and rifles lost on the field of battle. Handguns, carbines, and submachine guns, while marred and beaten often managed to continue in service, reclaimed by soldiers on one side or another, and in the case of the German MP40 often captured, stolen, or otherwise given into the hands of resistance fighters in France (the French Underground) who aided the Allies in the Western European theater, particularly in undermining the German occupation of France. The resistance movement provided the Allies with vital intelligence, attacked German occupation forces, and more importantly provided escape routes for Allies caught or trapped behind enemy lines. These men and women performed an invaluable service, often at the cost of their own lives. Members of the underground were often armed with captured German handguns, rifles and submachine guns like the MP40. read more


What are we looking for in a blowback action CO2 pistol?

What are we looking for in a blowback action CO2 pistol?

Reality Checks

By Dennis Adler

Blowback action airgun enthusiasts are a relatively new breed in terms of airgun history. Blowback semi-autos have only been around since Umarex and Walther developed the first PPK/S .177 caliber model in 1999. Prior to that Umarex and Walther had developed the non-blowback action CP88 pellet-firing models with a DA/SA trigger, but without blowback action the Walther’s hammer had to be manually cocked each time to fire single action.

This article is more of an open forum for debate than it is about any one specific airgun model. The development of new blowback action air pistol designs over the past several years has almost kept pace with centerfire and rimfire semiautomatic handguns, and in most cases, model for model, leading air gun enthusiasts down a very interesting path, yours truly included.

A little over 17 years ago the groundbreaking Walther CP99 (right) took the CP88 concept one step further with a P99-based polymer frame. The 8-shot, 4.5mm pellet firing, non-blowback action, striker fired air pistol became a training gun for German police using the P99. The concept of learning basic skills and firing without the cost of live ammo (9mm) made the CP99 one of the world’s most popular 12 gr. CO2 pistols. The PPK/S, however, remained the only blowback action CO2 pistol for many years.

When I began writing about air pistols I was already involved with cartridge-firing handguns and, by the nature of my work, reviewing new makes and models for Guns & Ammo, American Rifleman, Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, Pocket Pistols, and Guns of the Old West, I had access to the very latest firearms. read more


Umarex Legends MP40 Part 3

Umarex Legends MP40 Part 3 Part 2  Part 1

Loading, Handling, and Accuracy

By Dennis Adler

The MP40 set the stage for decades of full-auto (and select fire) submachine guns built from the 1940s through the late 20th century, including the MP5 and Uzi. The Umarex MP40 is a nearly identical copy of the WWII subgun.

To wrap up the MP40 we need to review all of its operating features, which are very close to those of the original guns. First off, loading the magazine is accomplished by holding the follower down, inverting the magazine (cast alloy top pointing down) and loading the BBs into the port. This is a large, beveled port so feeding BBs is pretty easy, easier still with an Umarex speed loader. Load the magazine into the receiver with a firm push; set the safety to SAFE, pull the bolt to the rear and the gun is charged and ready to fire. read more