The Most Bang For Your Buck Part 2

The Most Bang For Your Buck Part 2

What can $100 buy?

By Dennis Adler

All blowback action models with self contained CO2 BB magazines, but not all exactly equal in design, fit, finish, or performance, yet they all sell for $99.99.

For those of you who own and shoot centerfire pistols, the cost of a day’s ammo at the shooting range can often reach $100, and after you are done, all you have is a lot of empty brass (if you police your brass and reload to save money on ammo) and the satisfaction of honing your target shooting skills and bringing home targets that reflect your day’s efforts. What the blowback action CO2 models in this article do is duplicate that range time, and if you have a safe backyard shooting area or a basement set up with an air pistol range, you don’t even need to leave the comforts of your own home. Dedicated airgun enthusiasts know this and gain the same benefits and satisfaction from target shooting with BBs or pellets as their centerfire handgun counterparts, only at a fraction of the cost. Skills learned with air almost entirely translate to shooting range experience with centerfire and rimfire pistols, more so the latter. A good blowback action CO2 pistol can come close to firing a .22, only with somewhat less recoil and much less noise. A .22 pistol with a sound suppressor is very close to a high performance blowback action CO2 pistol in feel and noise level. Blowback action CO2 models are good for practice, especially all of the models in this article, since they duplicate the look, feel, and operation of their centerfire counterparts. read more


The Most Bang For Your Buck Part 1

The Most Bang For Your Buck Part 1

What can $100 buy?

By Dennis Adler

There are doctors, lawyers, biochemists, engineers, business professionals, retired and active law enforcement, military, and people in all fields of work who have always had an interest in firearms, either by profession, as a hobby, or a recreational sport. That describes a good percentage of Airgun Experience readers, and gun owners or “gun enthusiasts” as a group. Counted into that mix are gun collectors, and you would be surprised how many of them also collect air pistols.

Blowback action models are among the best buys in a quality CO2 pistol because so many of them sell for $100 or less including some of the top rated models like the new Umarex Glock 17, Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE, and Umarex HK USP, as well as established models like the Umarex S&W M&P40 and Swiss Arms P92. Each sells for just $100.

What this column has taught me over the years is that air pistols and actual cartridge-firing handguns (and rifles) are not mutually exclusive; a fairly high percentage of readers own both, and often choose duplicates of cartridge guns they own. But, there are also a fair percentage of airgun owners who do not own actual firearms, and they represent a group I call “airgun enthusiasts.” They were the intended core readership for Airgun Experience but as it turns out, they are not the core; the majority of readers own both. Still, it is the “airgun enthusiast” to whom I am writing most of the time. read more


My favorite CO2 air pistol of all time Part 1

My favorite CO2 air pistol of all time Part 1

And what makes it special

By Dennis Adler

The very first Airgun Experience was a tribute to John Wayne’s last film, The Shootist, and the limited edition Umarex Colt Peacemaker hand engraved and custom finished Shootist CO2 model. This was the beginning of an entire series of hand engraved CO2 Peacemakers in 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 inch barrel lengths that would be introduced in Airgun Experience articles.

This marks the 400th Airgun Experience article and over the period from No. 1 to No. 400 so many new CO2 air pistols and rifles have been introduced it becomes difficult to keep them all in comparative categories. The only real defining characteristics are magazine types, blowback or non-blowback actions (and that has to include revolvers), sights, though most are fixed sights of one type or another, and lastly, the quality of the build, fit, and finish. In most cases the differences between blowback and non-blowback semi autos covers all the rest, but not in every case and with today’s choices, that really doesn’t pare down the list all that much. So to start, let’s look back at new models introduced since Airgun Experience No. 1, which started with a new model. read more


Sweet Inspirations

Sweet Inspirations

Borrowing from the past

By Dennis Adler

During the 1850s Colt produced .44 caliber Dragoon Models with detachable shoulder stocks. Although far from the first use of this combination to turn a holster pistol into a short barrel carbine, the Colt models from the 1850s through the 1860s are the most famous. Dragoons with shoulder stocks were generally fitted with a folding rear sight on top of the barrel lug (which you can see folded down). Accuracy with the stock attached was greatly enhanced and point of aim was more accurate than with the pistol’s hammer notch rear and half moon German silver front sight.

At the end of the article on the Crosman Backpacker Model 2289G I put in a picture of several Frank Wesson single shot .32 rimfire pistols from the 1870s which were fitted with shoulder stocks to make them into carbines. This shows that the concept for the Crosman was rooted in our past, but it is far more interesting than that. For so many of the very popular airguns we have today, the past is the source of their inspiration, like the early Gletcher Russian Legends, and Umarex Legends models such as the MP40 sub machinegun and M712 Broomhandle, among others. But this particular subject of making carbines out of pistols has its roots far more deeply planted in the past. Frank Wesson built his guns as simple, affordable single shot pistols, some with longer barrels that could be used to hunt small game and affixed with a metal skeleton shoulder stock to make the pistol more accurate, like a rifle, but removable for easier transport. In an airgun context the 2289G, Diana Chaser, shoulder stocks for any of the Crosman 1399 series models as well as other Crosman pneumatic pistols, even the shoulder stock for the Umarex S&W 586 (perhaps the closest relation to the Frank Wesson pistols) fall into this same category. read more


Last best semi-auto showdown Part 2

Last best semi-auto showdown Part 2

Three blowback action models that wowed us

By Dennis Adler

Oddly, while the Glock 17 is the newest blowback action CO2 model, it is the oldest of the three designs dating back to 1982. The M&P40 was introduced by S&W back in 2006 and as a CO2 model in 2016. The Heckler & Koch is an older design that evolved out of the U.S. Army SOCOM project (United States Special Operation Command) in 1989 and has been in production by HK ever since. As a CO2 model it barely beat the G17 to market.

I’m not sure what air pistol manufacturers can do in 2019 that will outshine the HK USP and G17, though Glock and Umarex will be adding a G17 Gen4 model this year, which will offer the improved Gen4 design modifications (but does not appear to have Gen4 interchangeable backstrap panels). While we wait to see what Sig Sauer will unveil or announce this coming week as well as the latest announcement of the Air Venturi/Springfield Armory models, let’s wrap up this week by drilling bullseyes with these three impressive blowback action models, starting with the Umarex Glock 3rd Model G17. This one delivers on the promise of striking authenticity of fit and finish hinted at by the non-blowback action entry-level G19 Compact model earlier in 2018. The G17 has made good on everything developed for the G19 with the addition of a blowback action and self-contained CO2 BB magazine, all of which were praised in last December’s rundown to Replica Air Pistol of the Year. The Glock lost 10 points and a solid shot at the top honors because it cannot be field stripped. I can’t say that field stripping is the be all and end all of what a CO2 semi-auto should encompass in its design, but it is a sticking point for many, myself included, but as you will see, there is so much more to the G17 (and hopefully the Gen4) than one facet of design authenticity. read more


Last best semi-auto showdown Part 1

Last best semi-auto showdown Part 1

Three blowback action models that wowed us

By Dennis Adler

There are a lot of choices in blowback action CO2 models, but this trio represents air pistols that have raised the bar. The Smith & Wesson licensed Umarex S&W M&P40 helped establish the standard against which most other blowback action models are judged. The 2018 (well…2019) Umarex Glock 17 has delivered on as much practical authenticity as possible given the limitations imposed by its design; not quite up to the M&P40 across the board but a new standard bearer in its own right. The Umarex HK USP blowback is really the first gun to rival the M&P40 in every way and do so as the only hammer fired model of the three.

Now that the Umarex Glock 17 is available and ready to ship, (so get your gun before they end up on backorder), it is fair to make some hard comparisons between a trio of blowback action models that simply leave you asking, “If they can get all this right, why can’t they get other things right?” Perhaps they do and we fail to recognize it. Let’s start a few years back with what I consider the one semi-auto CO2 air pistol everyone who likes modern pistols should own, the Umarex S&W M&P40. It just doesn’t get any more authentic than this. Or does it? read more


The White Letter Chronicles

The White Letter Chronicles

History of white lettering on handguns

By Dennis Adler

Oh those pesky white letters. Sometimes they’re OK, like the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five or the Umarex S&W M&P40, they’re not correct but they’re not unattractive. Then there are manufacturers who feel compelled to fill the slide with their name, but white lettering isn’t exclusive to CO2 air pistols!

We all hate that white lettering on CO2 pistols. Nothing says air pistol like white lettering…or does it? White lettering on centerfire pistols has actually been used for almost a century. It is much less common today but there are some very noteworthy historical precedents for seeing white!

This Bergmann Model 1910 dates back to the early 1920s. You often see examples of this model, and later versions also built under license in Belgium, with white lettering to embellish the name.

White lettering is most often seen on German firearms and among the oldest examples is the Bergmann Model 1910/21 semiautomatic pistol. Theodore Bergmann introduced his first autoloader a year after Paul Mauser patented his design for the Broomhandle in 1895. In 1897 Bergmann and arms designer Louis Schmeisser introduced a new pistol using a removable box magazine; the basic pistol configuration that would become characteristic of all future Bergmann designs. An improved version was developed after the turn of the century, and rather than manufacturing them in Germany, Bergmann moved production to Herstal, Belgium, under license to Societe Anonyme Anciens Establissments Pieper. That is the name you see stamped into the barrel extension on the 1910 Model pictured above. Mauser used white lettering as well, often to highlight the manufacturer’s name stamped into the frame. White lettering was also used for export models to denote the retailer, such as Von Lengerke & Detmold in New York, which began selling Broomhandle Mauser pistols in 1897. read more