Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

No real losers

By Dennis Adler

Six impressive new guns from 2020 cover the range from the 1870s to the 21st century. With that level of diversity among pellet cartridge revolvers, a belt fed pellet semi-auto, and two blowback action BB pistols, the comparisons are stretched to the limits but the underlying qualities of each gun, as well as their shortcomings, will ultimately lead to a best choice for 2020’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year.

In the past few years it has been a clear process of elimination that has made the annual top gun choice comparatively straightforward as one gun always rose to the top. Not so in 2020 with three guns tied at 49 points and two at 48 points. Even the gun that comes in last, the Chiappa Rhino, has 47 points and at the beginning was the one gun I thought had the best shot at 2020’s title being the only totally new CO2 air pistol of year.  The remaining five are all improvements or upgrades to existing models and every one of the six models reviewed for Replica Air Pistol of the Year fell short of 50 points (some even with bonus points added to their total) for one reason or another. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 4

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 4

The improved Sig M17 with optics deserves a shot

By Dennis Adler

I know I said I wasn’t going to do this but with so few new CO2 pistols this year, and a couple of them variations of exciting models, the Sig Air low profile reflex sight added to the M17 ASP virtually creates a new gun. If Sig Air had put this out as a complete gun instead of making the sight a separate piece to add on to an existing gun we would have easily accepted it as a new 2020 model!

I know I said this would be throwing a ringer into the mix but with rebooted Schofields and Peacemakersit seems a little hypocritical to block the Sig Sauer M17 ASP with Sig Air reflex sight from this year’s somewhat limited competition, especially when the most accurate pellet-firing pistol so far is a 5-inch smoothbore Single Action revolver!

If you have the M17 ASP and don’t have the Sig Air reflex sight it is a game changer for this otherwise not overly accurate blowback action CO2 pistol. The M17 was never intended to be a target pistol just one capable of getting hits in center mass on a silhouette target, and it has proven very good at that, even from 15 yards out. The addition of the Sig Air red dot reflex sight gave the M17 the added accuracy that could not be readily achieved with its fixed sights, so this is like the Airgun Builder Peacemakers; you have to put it together. Unlike getting a complete custom Single Action from Pyramyd Air though, you have to do the assembly yourself as I outlined it in the October 2020 Airgun Experience articles on the M17. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year past winners

Replica Air Pistol of the Year past winners

The top guns from 2017, 2018, and 2019

By Dennis Adler

In 2017 the idea for Replica Air Pistol of the Year was born with my personal choice as the best new model, the Webley & Scott MK VI with rifled barrel and pellet loading cartridges. Wit the aged Battlefield Finish is quickly became the most popular of the MK VI models from Webley. The CO2 model is pictured with a blued civilian model from the WWII era.

Back in 2017 I made a favorite pick of new airguns and started what would become the Replica Air Pistolof the Year competition. The air pistols that have won top honors over the past three years are all still being manufactured and are just as worthy of the top gun honors today, in fact, none of them have been surpassed thus far. Building a new CO2 model that can meet or beat the design, handling, performance and accuracy of earlier airguns that earned the Replica Air Pistol of the Year title is never easy, and each successive winner since 2017 has raised the bar. The competition in 2017, 2018, and 2019 was pretty tough because there were a lot of exciting new models, some based on earlier designs (2015 models), that were improved upon and a few that made the jump from BB guns to pellet guns and further expanding the competition for one model to rise to the top. read more


Holster that Sig Part 2 and Part 3

Holster that Sig Part 2 and Part 3

“Holster al Dente” Cooking up a custom rig

By Dennis Adler

Holsters for the M17 with the Sig Sauer reflex sight are becoming readily available which is especially good news for those who have the CO2 model. I found drawing from the leather 1791 belt rig was very smooth and it was also easy to re-holster. The high speed camera caught this shot as I was firing five consecutive rounds (the slide doesn’t lock open on the Sig CO2 model!) and it is hard to catch the slide in motion even at 5-frames per second. With the low recoil of the CO2 pistol (snappy but linear) the reflex sight is really easy to keep on target even in broad daylight.

Most people who have a lot of handguns (or CO2 pistols) have a lot of holsters, it goes with the assumption. Getting a good holster for an air pistol can range from as little as twenty bucks to as much as the air pistol cost itself and really good holsters, ones you would feel confident in using with a matching centerfire pistol range from $60 to well over $100. The new P32/M17 rigs from 1791 Gunleather fall into the latter category. Even the Kydex holster Sig Sauer markets for the P320/M17 (with and without optics) is in the $60 to $70 range, so there’s no cheap way to holster an M17 ASP with the reflex sight, and if you have the centerfire model and actually carry it, you don’t want the least expensive rig, you want one that is well made, comfortable to wear, and above all holds the gun firmly while still allowing a clean draw. read more


Holster that Sig Part 1

Holster that Sig Part 1

G&A’s 2020 Holster Maker of the Year weighs in

By Dennis Adler

Three holsters representing a selection of 20th century designs. In the very early years after the 1911 was introduced, (as well as a handful of other semi-autos) holsters for the Colt remained based on later 19th early 20th century western designs. In the late 1950s, John Bianchi developed the Speed Scabbard (bottom left) which pioneered contoured belt holster design. In the early 1990s, Galco, among others, developed the modern Yaqui Slide belt and paddle rigs we see today (though the design was first developed earlier by Milt Sparks from a concept that the legendary Jeff Cooper saw while he was a Marine Corps Lt. Col. serving as an advisor in South America after WWII). The model pictured from Galco fits the M17 ASP with the reflex sight. While this is a good design, even with the tensioning screws, it offers very little solid retention of the gun, though it is easier for concealed carry, something that Cooper greatly supported as the founder of the American Pistol Institute, which became the world famous Gunsite Academy for small arms training.

Holsters were an afterthought. While much is made of them today, back in the early 19th century, and as far back as the 18th century, a man was just as apt to stuff a single shot pistol into a coat pocket or his paint’s waist as he was to go and purchase some form of belt and pouch holster (though sword belts made a decent belt to hold a leather pouch designed for a pistol). That began to change with the advent of revolvers in the mid 1830s and by the end of the century holsters were commonplace, though most were simple cowboy rigs, Slim Jims or Mexican drop loop designs for any number of Colt’s, Remington, Smith & Wesson or other popular revolvers. read more


Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 3

Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 3

Can a laser do better?

By Dennis Adler

Red light or green light, which light is best? A green laser appears brighter and easier to see than red, but that’s a half truth. A green laser beam is easier to see but actually isn’t any brighter. All lasers are rated as Class IIIA – intermediate-power of 1 to 5 mW (milliwatts). Our eyes are just more sensitive to the green color spectrum, which makes a green laser appear brighter, and that is the principal advantage. In darkness or subdued light, red or green laser beams are easy to pick up, but as ambient light increases red lasers become more difficult to define and their effective visual range (EVR) starts to diminish. This does not happen with a green laser until much greater distances.

This is a much shorter challenge because lasers are a very discrete form of aiming a pistol (or rifle) and have been in use by law enforcement and military longer. Red dot scopes predate practical firearm’s laser sights, but modern reflex sights, like those used on the Sig Sauer M17 and other pistols (centerfire and CO2), are comparatively new.

We do have some more context here when you add a laser to the Beretta 92FS. The Walther laser used on my 92FS is the same basic unit that is sold for the .22 LR Walther P22 semi-auto pistol. If we can just briefly segue here, there was a lot of overlap of designs between the Walther P22 rimfire pistol and its accessories and those sold by Walther (Umarex) for the CP99 CO2 pellet pistols in the early 2000s. The P22 bridge mount and Walther P22 laser are still available, along with a variety of accessories for the current full line of P22 rimfire models, including the P22 Target models shown. The laser on my 92FS is a version of the P22 laser. read more


Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 2

Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 2

20 Years in Context

By Dennis Adler

You’ve been looking at this picture in the header for Airgun Experience since 2016 and this is still one of my all time favorite CO2 pellet pistols, the Umarex Beretta 92FS with an optics bridge (which replaces the rear sight) and fitted with a Walther MRS reflex sight and Walther red laser. This was a custom combination put together by Umarex and it is a very difficult combination to find today.

Between the Umarex Beretta 92FS pellet pistol and the Sig Sauer M17 two decades have passed, and we have gone from 8-shot, cast alloy pellet magazines and non-blowback action pistols to 20-shot rotary belt-fed pellet magazines (also containing the 12 gr. CO2) and blowback action. We have gone from excellent red dot scopes (like the Walther Top Point) to the latest Sig Air reflex sight for the M17. It is all a giant leap in 20 years from one state-of-the-art era in CO2 air pistol technology to another, from what, in the context of my airgun experience, is now a comparison of “old school” vs. “high tech” in design and innovation. read more