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


Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 3

Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 3

From perfection to perfection

By Dennis Adler

Take 10 paces, turn and fire. The very modern Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP brings the highest level of blowback action CO2 pellet-firing pistol technology to the table, while the Umarex Beretta 92FS retains the look and feel of a classic pistol.

In the end, this review comes down to technology either improving an operating system or simply technology creating something newer and more appealing, but with the old, established platform of the Umarex Beretta 92FS against the outwardly advanced design of the Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP, the truth of the comparison is, that outside of shooting accuracy, there is no comparison. For handling and authentic to the centerfire pistol design, the M17 cannot be touched by any other “pellet-firing” CO2 pistol. I have to unapologetically emphasize “pellet-firing” because even Sig Sauer’s own BB-firing Model 1911 WE THE PEOPLE blows the doors off the M17 for true authentic operation, construction and field-stripping capability. It is closer to the real centerfire gun because there are limits to what a pellet-firing semi-auto design CO2 pistol can do, and how it can do it. In that single respect, the 92FS and M17, though almost two decades apart in design and manufacturing technologies, are on common ground. With these pellet pistols, trigger pull, sighting, and accuracy are the only things that count from this point forward. read more


Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 2

Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 2

From perfection to perfection

By Dennis Adler

Top guns in their own right and in their own time, the Umarex Beretta 92FS has been manufactured for just shy of 20 years, the Sig Sauer by comparison has been around about 20 minutes. It has the advantage of the very latest air pistol technology while the Umarex Beretta is where multi-shot, semi-auto pellet pistol design began.

Almost two decades separate the technology between the Umarex Beretta 92FS pellet model and the Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP. For air pistols it is a big difference, for the actual guns, the Sig replaced the Beretta as the primary U.S. military sidearm, but the M17 only succeeded the Beretta M9 (military designation for the 92FS) because it provided specific features that the Beretta could not, regardless of how the gun was updated as the M9A3. The improved military model failed to give Beretta the competitive edge it needed to retain the government contract it had enjoyed since 1985. In a way, this is like the advanced technology between the two pellet-firing CO2 models. It is also fair to say, that both the Beretta 92 series (and latest M9A3 pistols) and the Umarex 92FS CO2 model remain in production, so the advances in technology over two decades have not made either of them undesirable. They’re just not state-of-the-art handguns. read more


Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution

Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution

From perfection to perfection

By Dennis Adler

Sig Sauer designed the M17 CO2 pistol and it is an actual Sig Sauer product, not a licensed design for another company to build and sell, but, unlike the Beretta 92FS, which is still made in Germany, the M17 is built for Sig Sauer in Japan. That, combined with a less expensive to produce polymer frame and integrated grips, as opposed to a cast alloy frame with wood grips, makes the 92FS more expensive to build no matter where it is manufactured.

It was just 23 years ago that Umarex introduced the first semi-auto style pellet pistol, the Walther CP-88. It is still manufactured. In 1999, Umarex developed its second semi-auto style pellet pistol, the Beretta 92FS, which was introduced at the turn of the new century, becoming what remains, 19 years later, the best built CO2 pistol of its kind, still handcrafted and manufactured in Germany. Two remarkable guns that launched a generation of rotary magazine semiautomatic pellet pistols, but were they true semi-autos? The answer then and now is no. The Umarex Beretta 92FS looks, feels, and handles like its centerfire Beretta counterpart but its internal operation is that of a revolver with the cast alloy 8-round rotary magazine turned from chamber to chamber by pulling the trigger. It was a beautiful deception. read more


Why the Sig Sauer M17 ASP Won

Why the Sig Sauer M17 ASP Won

M17 4.5mm vs. M17 9mm – The Real World Test

By Dennis Adler

Yes, the final choice was mine, but it was the best choice among a field of excellent competitors and one of the rare instances where the CO2 model could actually go up against its centerfire counterpart. For a comparison test with the 9mm Sig Sauer M17, I wore a UTG tactical vest to carry one of the guns. Here I have the centerfire pistol in my right hand and the CO2 model in my left. A spare CO2 pellet magazine is also in the holster’s mag pouch. This is currently the only way to securely carry a spare CO2 pellet magazine for the M17.

Of all the new CO2 models introduced this year, why did the Sig Sauer M17 ASP rise to the top to be chosen as 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year? The five distinct categories of comparison and the points system used left it tied with the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 and Umarex Heckler & Koch USP, a solid three-way that was broken by the extra one point given to the M17 for Technology of Design. But there is more to the technology side than just a CO2 pellet magazine, which is definitely a game changer for blowback action pellet firing pistols; there is also the capability of the M17 to be an honest real world training substitute for the 9mm centerfire pistol. read more