Proofing a theory

Proofing a theory

Shooting .177 (4.5mm) Round Pellets through a rifled barrel pistol

By Dennis Adler

Smoothbore BB revolvers like the Bear River Schofield and Remington Model 1875 can fire BB-loading cartridges and also fire pellet-loading cartridges, and do so quite accurately as evidenced by these 21 foot shot playing cards ala John Wesley Hardin.

As we have proven in earlier articles, cartridge-loading smoothbore CO2 BB revolvers that have pellet cartridge-firing counterparts (or pellet-loading cartridges available), can also shoot 4.5mm lead or alloy pellets quite well; not as accurately as a rifled barrel model, but well enough to make it worthwhile with models like the Schofield and Remington. The cartridges are interchangeable, but you would not want to shoot a steel BB in a rifled barrel Colt Peacemaker; it’s a one-way street, unless you want to risk damaging the rifling with a steel BB. read more


A Boring Topic

A Boring Topic

When you can and can’t shoot a .177 caliber lead BB 

By Dennis Adler

The caliber conundrum, when is a .177 caliber not 0.177 inches? When it is a steel BB (far left) which actually has a diameter of 0.173 inches (average) or 4.3mm, compared to a lead round pellet (center) which is just slightly larger at 4.5mm, or a wadcutter pellet (right). The difference in diameter is what keeps you from loading a lead ball into a .177 caliber, magazine-fed blowback action pistol designed for steel BBs. This is the same whether it is a stick magazine or a self-contained CO2 BB magazine; that .2mm difference is a lot with an air pistol.

The operative word in Airgun Experience is experience, and the way you get experience is by doing things and often doing them wrong. Failure is the best teacher, and hopefully it isn’t always costly, just educational. One of the early mistakes I made was trying to shoot .177 caliber lead BBs from a semi-auto pistol chambered for .177 caliber steel BBs. Lead BBs don’t fit. An air pistol that shoots steel BBs and is marked .177 caliber (4.5mm) does not actually shoot a .177 caliber diameter BB. Now, if it is a pellet-firing rifled barrel pistol it can, because the bore on a .177 caliber BB pistol and a 4.5mm pellet pistol are not exactly the same. A steel BB will drop right through the barrel on a smoothbore blowback action BB pistol. A 4.5mm pellet won’t even fit if you try to insert it, whereas with a pellet firing pistol you can actually push the pellet into the barrel. read more


Revolvers vs. Semi-Autos Part 3

Revolvers vs. Semi-Autos Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

A history of arms at your fingertips

By Dennis Adler

History at your fingertips; CO2 powered semi-auto and revolver designs span more than a century of gun making with historic examples such as the Webley MK VI, American classics like the Colt Python, and semi-autos like the Colt 1911 and its U.S. military successor the Beretta M9 (92 FS, 92A1). These and other great CO2 models are all a part of the ongoing debate of revolvers vs. semi-autos in which you can have a voice. Write a comment and vote your preference.

Groundbreaking decisions are hard to make, especially when the subject being discussed has been debated for more than a century and no definitive conclusion has been reached. If revolvers were as antiquated as they should be, given that the fundamental design has barely changed in over 180 years, with the exception of advancing from loose powder cap and ball and percussion cap ignition to self-contained metallic cartridges and double action triggers (which are themselves more than 160 years old), then they would have long been discontinued by armsmakers. But no, revolvers have evolved and some have even reached a form of equivalence to modern semiautomatics by utilizing polymer frames and separate fire control housings. Revolvers have as much of a role in self defense, hunting, sport and competition shooting today as they did in the 19th century. The debate continues. 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


Guns and Holsters Part 2

Guns and Holsters Part 2 Part 1

Packing Alloy

By Dennis Adler

This trio of new holsters for CO2 Single Action Colts, Schofields and Remingtons follow the lines of classic Western styles developed throughout the 1870s and 1880s. Many of these slim, contoured rigs were wet formed for specific pistols to ensure solid retention, and ease of draw and re-holstering. These three new historically-based holsters are for the Umarex Colt Peacemakers and the 1875 Remington (left in Gunfighter black with the Remington and center in Cowboy brown with a 5-1/2 inch Peacemaker), and far right for Bear River Schofield models. The 1875 and 7-1/2 inch Peacemakers use the same holster.

Quality gunleather is not hard to come by; you just need to throw down some serious cash for an authentic holster and cartridge belt. In Cowboy Action Shooting a good gun rig is just as important as a good gun. This was also true back in the Old West among professional gunfighters and lawmen, as well as outlaws like Jesse and Frank James, the Dalton Brothers, Billy the Kid, and others who lived and died by the gun. With the latest CO2 powered Colt Peacemaker 5-1/2 inch and 7-1/2 inch Single Action revolvers, the Schofield, and 1875 Remington, high quality holsters make the shooting experience all the more realistic and enjoyable. But they often come at a high price. Shortly, there will be an entire line of high-quality American made leather holsters and cartridge belts designed especially for the Colt, Schofield, and Remington CO2 models that will be comparably priced to the airguns, so that anyone can have a period correct gun rig that will not only improve their Cowboy look, but their shooting skills when it comes to skinning that smokewagon. read more


Guns and Holsters Part 1

Guns and Holsters Part 1

Packing Alloy

By Dennis Adler

Holster designs from the 1880s and 1890s include a Mexican double drop loop (left) with a 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker. The design is based on the holster worn by Billy the Kid. Next, an El Paso Saddlery Tombstone Speed Rig, with 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker. This design is also known as Skeleton Shoulder Holster and was originally designed in the late 1890s by Al. Furstnow of Miles City, Montana. At center is a hand carved Slim Jim style holstering a Crosman Remington Model 1875. This is similar to the style of holster worn by Jesse James, and is made today by TrailRider Products in Colorado. At right a Schofield military flap holster of 1872 design. This model is handcrafted today by John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather.

Over the past two years a great deal of thought has gone into creating authentic CO2 reproductions of Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Remington revolvers, even special hand engraved models duplicating the original patterns used in the 1870s and 1880s. These high quality Colt, Schofield and Remington airguns deserve to be worn in proper western gunleather, the problem is that authentic western holsters and cartridge belts usually cost more than the airguns they hold (with the exception of the hand engraved guns, but it can still be close!) read more


One Year Anniversary of the Airgun Experience

One Year Anniversary of the Airgun Experience

12 months, 144 articles, and three “Top Guns”

by Dennis Adler

The Umarex S&W M&P40 is the first blowback action CO2 semi-auto to be adopted for actual law enforcement training. It is a 100 percent accurate handling substitute for the M&P models.

Exactly one year ago today the first Airgun Experience column was posted with a tribute to the 40th Anniversary of John Wayne’s last film, The Shootist and this past Saturday we celebrated the Duke’s 110th birthday with a roundup of all the John Wayne Colt Commemorative airguns. It might seem that we have come full circle, but over this past year quite a few new and exceptional CO2-powered air pistols have been introduced. To commemorate the One Year Anniversary of the column we are going to look back at the best of the best and select one gun in each category; blowback action semi-autos, BB or pellet cartridge loading double action revolvers, and BB or pellet cartridge loading single action revolvers, to be Gun of the Year. All three of the Airgun Experience’s first annual “Top Guns” will be revealed at the end of the article, and be sure to call Pyramyd Air Customer Service at 888-262-4867 and mention the “Airgun Experience promotion” for a special offer on these Top Guns! read more