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


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

If you don’t think this was a good year for new CO2 pistols, (and I know some of you have been disappointed by guns that didn’t come out or did and are not yet available), but this trio makes 2018 a pretty good year for new blowback action CO2 models that meet up to the standard of training guns. The Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE, Sig Sauer P320 M17 and Umarex HK USP deliver everything you expect and some things you didn’t. All three are winners in my book.

We find ourselves with three CO2 models tied for the title of Replica Air Pistol of the Year and it is as diverse and well defined a representation of three distinctly different types of blowback action semi-auto pistols as possible, spanning more than a century of firearms design. First, a very traditional SAO (single action only) Colt-style Model 1911, with a few modern improvements such as white dot combat sights, ambidextrous thumb safeties, and a custom finish. But the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE is also the most authentic 1911 CO2 model made, an exact copy of Sig Sauer’s .45 ACP WE THE PEOPLE 1911. It is our standard bearer for design integrity. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 6

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 6

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

The Sig experience is an emersion in technology as much as it is one of authenticity, accuracy, and performance. Sig Sauer’s up-and-coming Airgun Division has devoted several years to evolving their designs to arrive at two superb pellet-firing, blowback action CO2 models that are designed for different purposes, target pistol accuracy and training pistol superiority. The 2018 X-Five ASP delivers on 10 meter accuracy and high 20-round capacity for a pellet-firing model, while the P320 M17 ASP delivers not only the same high capacity but groundbreaking new features in the 4.5mm semi-auto pellet pistol market. 

We have come down to the two guns that some readers have predicted would be this year’s winner. But we have learned from the preceding eight guns that the point system allows very little latitude. Some favorites have fallen by the wayside on the simple fact that they cannot be field stripped. If you are looking at authenticity as a guideline for the best overall model, it needs to be capable of duplicating as many features of its centerfire counterpart as possible, field stripping is one of them, it is among the most basic of skills learned in handgun training. Even though it is not an essential part of a quality CO2 blowback action pistol (which can be cleared of a stuck BB or pellet without full disassembly) it is a feature that says “this gun has been built to the highest standards of authenticity.” Only a handful of the 10 guns for 2018 meet that standard, but it is not the sole defining quality for being chosen as Replica Air Pistol of the Year. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 4

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 4

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

The mettle of their metal, the alloy construction of both the new Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 (left) and ASG CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow makes them a little lighter than their centerfire counterparts, but the accuracy of design, fit and finish (particularly with the unique weathered finish on the Sig Sauer), and authentic short-recoil, locked-breech designs make them two of the most authentic CO2 blowback action models on the market.

This has been an impressive year for new blowback action models and this is where the toughest competition for Replica Air Pistol of the Year emerges with guns like the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 and ASG’s CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow; air pistols that not only visually correspond to their centerfire counterparts but match handling, operation and ability to be field stripped. These are two examples (but not the only two this year) where manufacturers went the distance to get everything as accurate as possible. Why do this for a CO2 BB pistol? Like the highly regarded Umarex S&W M&P40, the new Shadow SP-01 and Sig Sauer 1911 are more than great air pistols, they are so well matched to their centerfire counterparts that they are perfect training guns that allow total familiarization with the firearm right up to pulling the trigger. And there, all that is lacking is heavy recoil from the velocity of a centerfire cartridge, the high dB rating of a live round vs. the low dB rating of a CO2 pistol, and accuracy beyond the optimal 21 to 25 foot range of a .177 caliber steel BB. Thus the CZ Shadow (and competition-style Shadow Blue) and Sig’s custom 1911 WE THE PEOPLE are the first to square off against each other. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

Each year since I began writing the Airgun Experience I have selected one new model as my Air Pistol of the Year. For 2018, given the variety of new air pistols and satisfying, though not overwhelming number of models introduced, the focus has specifically turned to CO2 air pistols that are based on actual centerfire handgun models, whether new (like the Sig Sauer M17) or older (like the HK USP) so long as the air pistol is new. I am also establishing an updated point system based on five comparative categories with values from 1 to 10 points for each. This is going to separate out a number of guns simply because of their various features, or lack thereof. The gun chosen as Replica Air Pistol of the Year will be based solely on total points earned. read more