Ghost Guns

Ghost Guns

Don’t look over your shoulder

By Dennis Adler

Looking ahead I know there are some new air pistols coming, I know of one or two for certain because I have them (and I still can’t tell you yet), but there are others promised that I have told readers about in recent weeks that are coming next month (as in tomorrow), that probably are not going to show. We all know most of the reasons and know the impact on imports and manufacturing wrought by the current global situation, so no point in belaboring things here. We will see some impressive new guns in July, maybe the long awaited optics mount for the Sig Sauer M17 P320 ASP, eventually the reportedly impressive new Glock semi-auto pellet model, and a comparable Walther PPQ, so appetites are thoroughly whetted and patience evaporating as we head into summer. read more

When good guns go away

When good guns go away

Losing the Tanfoglio Limited & Gold Custom

By Dennis Adler

When it comes to accuracy with a .177 caliber blowback action BB pistol, there were always two guns you could count on to provide sub 1-inch groups almost every time, the Tanfoglio Limited Custom and Gold Custom, two airguns that almost no one ever had a bad word to say. I certainly didn’t and always used the Gold Custom as my baseline for 21 foot accuracy with a BB pistol. The Limited Custom was always the close second. The CZ-75 based designs were just about flawless with precision triggers and consistent velocity in the 300 to 320 fps range.

I have been sitting on this for awhile. I have certain favorite air pistols that I bring into articles from time to time because they are worth a second or even third mention, because someone might not have read the original articles, or might be new to airguns and are looking for a really great pistol. These were really great air pistols. There are, in fact, a lot of really impressive air pistols today, some introduced just this year, that are almost game changers for blowback action CO2 models. But over the past half dozen years there have been several equally impressive blowback action models, and now two of them are conspicuously gone. I was hoping that the Limited Custom would come back as models sometimes do, but I don’t think it will, especially since the Gold Custom is gone as well. The Limited Custom was, in my opinion and that of individuals who own them, one of the most accurate and best built blowback action CO2 pistols since blowback action air pistols were introduced 19 years ago. And there is a certain irony in that, as the first blowback action CO2 pistol, the Umarex Walther PPK/S, is still being manufactured almost two decades later, while the Tanfoglio Limited Custom, introduced in 2012, is nowhere to be found. Every online retailer that still has a listing, shows it as “out of stock” or “no longer available” and that pretty much spells “out of production.”

The Limited Custom could be used as a practice gun with actual competition rings like this Safariland, so all that changed was the recoil and noise level when you drew and fired.
The Safariland rig was set up for the Gold Custom and could also be adjusted for the shorter Limited Custom. I used it for both. The magazine pouches also worked with the superb Tanfoglio CO2 BB magazines.

Why are we missing this one so much?

If you look at some of the very latest CO2 models, like the Umarex Glock 17 Third Gen, one of a handful of new air pistol designs based on an actual firearm, or the Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and 3.8, you have new, innovative designs that haven’t been previously built as CO2 models; they are not the same old 1911 rehash (not that I don’t love 1911s, but you really have to go some to reinvent that wheel, like Sig Sauer did with the We The People), but in 2012 the Tanfoglio was the “new gun” based on an existing centerfire pistol. It was followed a year later by the Tanfoglio Gold Custom based on the 9mm competition model. So why are the Limited Custom and Gold Custom gone?

With the Gold Custom I was able to practice speed drawing, target acquisition, rapid firing, and magazine changes with the same precision as the centerfire model and for just comparative pennies to firing 9mm.

The Gold Custom was a totally dedicated competition pistol, while the Limited Custom was straddling the line between target pistol and competition gun, much the same as its 9mm counterpart, though it depends upon what level and classification of competition you are interested in! While Tanfoglio firearms are manufactured in Italy, the air pistols are (were) made under license to KWC in Taiwan. The centerfire models are imported for the US market by European American Armory (EAA), which sells the latest centerfire version of the Limited Custom, as well as the Extreme Limited, which happens to look a lot like the CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow Blue 9mm and CO2 series models, (and well they should, since Tanfoglios are all based on the CZ 75 design). Tanfoglio also still sells the Gold Custom, which remains one of the most successful competition pistols in the world.

The 9mm Limited Custom from Tanfoglio was distinguished by having the same silver alloy grips and controls as the Gold Custom. I often wished the airgun had matched the 9mm this way as well. The centerfire pistol also has a ported barrel and slide, which were unnecessary for the CO2 model. The slide would have been another nice touch, though.
As much as I liked the Gold Custom, the Limited always held more appeal for me as a target shooter who prefers open sights. It was as close to the 9mm model as you could get.

I liked the CO2 version of the Limited Custom because it had a very close relation to the centerfire model with a Bomar-style adjustable rear sight that allowed you to dial in POA accuracy. At 21 feet, the Limited Custom could only be out shot by the Gold Custom fitted with a reflex sight.

The windage and elevation adjustable sight made the Limited Custom one of the most accurate blowback action CO2 pistols on the market.
It was a fully accurate, short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design, so it was again, as close to a centerfire gun as an air pistol can come.

While Tanfoglio and EAA still see the virtue of offering a greater variety of models, it seems airgun retailers and importers don’t have that option. I will never find fault with either of these air pistols. They are still the gold standard for blowback action CO2 pistol accuracy. Practical pistols like the Glock 17 Third Gen and Springfield Armory’s XDM models may be the biggest and brightest stars this year, but the guns that are gone, the Tanfoglio Limited Custom and Gold Custom, would still be in a class of their own. They are air pistols that, if you own them, are keepers and near perfection in blowback action CO2 pistol design, one that deserved a longer history.

When I first tested the Limited Custom a couple of years ago I had some of the best targets I’ve ever shot with a blowback action air pistol, and the gun worked flawlessly throughout.
While not as accurate as the Gold Custom with a reflex sight, I never had 10-shot groups wider than an inch with the Limited Custom from 21 feet.
The Gold Custom was always the gun to beat for overall accuracy at 21 feet when it came to blowback action air pistols. Both the Gold and Limited Custom models will be missed.

The lessons here are that the bottom line and the bullseye are not always on the same page, and when an airgun comes along that you like, you would do well to buy it.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

Springfield Armory 1911 A-1 MIL-SPEC Part 2

Springfield Armory 1911 A-1 MIL-SPEC Part 2

Evolving parts from one design to another

By Dennis Adler


There are two types of blowback action 1911 CO2 models, those that follow the John Browning design and have fully functioning slide and barrel interfaces, removable (drop free) self-contained CO2 BB magazines, and true operating features such as thumb safeties, slide releases, grip safeties and correctly designed SAO triggers. And then there are those that don’t, and use what I call short, short-recoil designs, are not field strippable, have a separate CO2 compartment in the grip frame and load BBs with a stick magazine. However nice they may look from the outside, they are not in the same league with CO2 models like the new Springfield Armory 1911 A-1 MIL SPEC.

Among the top 1911 CO2 models today are the Swiss Arms lines, represented here by the top of the line TRS tactical Rail Gun model (top left) with ambidextrous extended thumb safeties, flat mainspring housing, Delta-style skeletonized hammer, skeletonized trigger, front and rear slide serrations, palmswell beavertail grip safety, and white dot combat sights. Facing that model is the Air Venturi John Wayne 1911 A-1 WWII commemorative signature model, which is the basic Tanfoglio (and Swiss Arms) design based on the early c.1924-1925 updates to the original J.M. Browning design, with spur hammer, short trigger, early short thumb safety, and military sights. The accented weathered finish is the final touch. But, like the Umarex Colt Commander (lower left) it uses the (use your own terms, mine is distracting and unnecessary) S F arrow on the safety, which is my personal vexation. Getting to the Colt Commander, this gun has combat sights similar to the Swiss Arms TRS, a Delta-style skeletonized hammer and skeletonized trigger, and in case you missed it, the same lanyard lop at the base of the grip frame. What it doesn’t have is an equally updated ambidextrous safety (instead using an old pre-WWII design), the flat mainspring housing, and palmswell beavertail safety. At lower right is the best built of the group, the Sig Sauer WTP 1911, which is based on Sig’s centerfire model of the same unique design. While some of the features seem to be taken from the Swiss Arms and Umarex models, Sig has put its own stamp on this gun with unique ambidextrous safeties, the unusual external extractor used on the centerfire models, a specific skeletonized hammer and trigger design matching the .45 ACP model, a more pronounced palmswell beavertail grip safety, and white dot combat sights that are larger than those used on other CO2 models. Like the exterior finish and markings, the WTP is the perfect example of how far a manufacturer can go to create a unique design while still working from the same platform. That brings us to the new Springfield Armory MIL SPEC, which, if you compare it to the others is closest to the Air Venturi John Wayne and the Tanfoglio Witness (not shown) models, and it has the S F arrow small thumb safety. What helps set it apart are the white dot sights, special grips, and plated barrel bushing. The question is what level of internal parts upgrades, accuracy, and overall quality will the Springfield bring to the table?

This Springfield MIL SPEC, however, is not unique, but rather the latest in a series of 1911 CO2 models dating back to 2014, that share nearly identical internal designs, CO2 operation, and the same design self-contained CO2 BB magazines (so yes, the magazines are all interchangeable between guns). The only things that separate the guns are exterior aesthetics, meaning the design of the trigger, hammer, thumb safeties, sights, and grips. Otherwise, they are all the same gun underneath. Rather than relate each of the guns and their features in the body of this article, I am going to show the differences and expand the photo captions to cover all the bases.

Everyone uses the same self-contained CO2 BB magazine. But, not all of the magazines are built the same way for each manufacturer! Swiss Arms, Umarex and Springfield Armory magazines have a slightly different design.
The best magazines for ease of loading BBS come from Swiss Arms, Umarex and Springfield, which all use a magazine with a locking follower. If you shoot a lot you know the value of that little catch.

Time and change

As I have noted in the past, Umarex was the first to introduce a Colt Model 1911 with blowback action and self-contained CO2 BB magazine. A Colt licensed product, Umarex named the full-size Government Model air pistol the Colt Commander, which was actually the name Colt gave to its post WWII design fitted with a shorter slide and 4.25 inch barrel. So it wasn’t exactly the right name for the air pistol. They also went with a more modern design for the hammer, trigger, and white dot sights, making it this CO2 offering more of an upgraded 1911 version. The finish was (and remains) a light gloss black. This gun, however, is the literal foundation for all the 1911 CO2 models that have come, and you will see parts of this gun in other CO2 models, as well as newer and older WWII era versions all based on the same platform and essentially made by the same manufacturers in Taiwan for Umarex, Sig Sauer, Swiss Arms, Tanfoglio, Remington, and other brand names, including the new Springfield Armory 1911 MIL SPEC.

This is where a lot of difference between guns becomes evident. From left to right, your basic design as used for the Air Venturi John Wayne, as well as the Tanfoglio Witness and Swiss Arms 1911 A-1 models, with traditional checkered arched mainspring housing, original grip safety, and military sights. To the right, is the new Springfield Armory model which has the same grip frame design, spur hammer, and grip safety, but is fitted with white dot sights, which will unquestionably improve accuracy. The Umarex Colt Commander in the middle is the same basic grip frame but with a later style grip safety, smaller Delta-style skeletonized hammer, and larger white dot combat sights. The Umarex is well known for its accuracy. Upgrade the design with the more popular flat mainspring housing, palmswell grip safety, ambidextrous extended thumb safeties, and white dot sights that are again unique to this model, compared to the Springfield or Umarex, and you have the Swiss Arms TRS. Last, kick everything up another notch with even better white dot combat sights, unique ambidextrous thumb safeties, flat mainspring housing and a more aggressive palmswell grip safety, and you have the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE. They all start with the same platforms yet each is unique in its final design.

That being the facts, there are specific exceptions to everything I have just written because individual retailers, companies like Sig Sauer, Colt, Swiss Arms, Tanfoglio, Springfield Armory and others have their own set of standards and features for their guns, so they are different not only in finishes and features, but sometimes in how well they perform. This is also true in the centerfire market where certain manufacturers of frames, slides, barrels and other components that make up a 1911 offer different levels of quality and features to meet a specific price range.

Is it window dressing or is there a tangible difference in how the guns work. Except for the Swiss Arms TRS (second from left) these CO2 models use the same frame, the Swiss Arms and Sig Sauer with flat mainspring housings. The rest are 1911 A-1 versions with the arched mainspring housings. They all have identical blowback actions that lock back on an empty magazine and all have some style of white lettering for safety warnings and manufacturer’s marks. Swiss Arms, Umarex and Springfield use polished and plated external barrels with the .177 caliber steel CO2 barrel recessed from the muzzle. The aesthetics of the individual guns are what make them different; one more or less desirable than another. For a basic WWII-era gun, the Air Venturi John Wayne as well as the Tanfoglio Witness, Swiss Arms 1911 A-1 and Remington 1911RAC (not shown) are the closest to a military style but all have distracting graphics. Except for bands and markings all three are the exact same gun made from the same parts. The most highly detailed of the group is the Sig Sauer WTP followed by the new Air Venturi Springfield Armory MIL SPEC. The details of fit, finish and construction are what separate these guns and some have proven to be more accurate and easier to handle than the others. Where the Springfield fits into this group is what we will explore in the next articles. But you can tell a lot from the pictures when you begin doing visual comparisons.
Inside out the CO2 models all fieldstrip the same as a centerfire pistol (though with a lot less effort against the recoil spring’s resistance. Rather than utilizing the original J.M. Browning designed toggle link to anchor the barrel to the frame with the slide release pin, the pin passes through a fixed barrel lug hole that is screwed to the barrel.

Some 1911 CO2 brands, and we will use Tanfoglio and Swiss Arms as an example, want early-style 1911 designs as well as updated 1911 A-1 versions, and completely updated 21st century Rail Gun variations, while others, like Umarex, tend to stay with one model plus an occasional Limited Edition version. This is truer of companies that are licensed to produce a brand name like Colt. But the 1911 design is not protected by any patent today, just the Colt name, so anyone can build a 1911-style model. And just about everyone does, whether it is a centerfire gun or a blowback action air pistol.

Authenticity to a point; can you use actual 1911 grips on the CO2 models? The answer is no. This pair of Colt 1911 A-1 diamond pattern grips line up perfectly with the frame and screw holes but cannot fit flush to the grip frame because of the added contour to fit the CO2.
There is a bowed shape to the lower third of the grip frame to accommodate the round CO2 cylinder. This is easily disguised by the plastic grips that come with the guns that are molded to fit over the rise up the center. Depending upon the wood grips chosen, it is possible to reshape the inside of the wood panel to fit over the rise and onto the grip frame. Everything else is the same as a centerfire model and the panels will fit the CO2 model once modified.

The number of 1911 manufacturers today is too long to list here, but suffice to say you can find a 1911 from almost every American armsmaker covering original 1911-era designs, 1911 A-1 designs, models that combine 1911 and 1911 A-1 features, as well as more modern Rail Guns and tactical models. Today it is the same with the CO2 models and, like the centerfire semi-autos, they all begin with a common platform.

As the latest addition to the group, the Springfield Armory MIL SPEC is one of the best looking with an extremely well done slide, and modest white letter warnings on the frame. Well copied from the .45 ACP MIL SPEC model, the grips are a standout feature. And since the centerfire model has the same Parkerized finish, the matte black look on the CO2 model is as right as can be, and the same for the white dot sights. Overall, it is a very authentic looking airgun.

Next week, we’ll get into the performance and handing of the Springfield Armory model.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

Dennis’ Top 5 Picks

Dennis’ Top 5 Picks

A handful of Historic CO2 models

By Dennis Adler

Back in the 1970s and 1980s Crosman was already building some authentic looking CO2 air pistols based on the then very popular Colt Python models. While long before air pistols with swing out cylinders and BB or pellet loading cartridges, these early CO2 models helped set the wheels into motion for the impressive CO2 wheelguns and semi-autos we have today. (Photo courtesy Blue Book Publications)

It is a nice August afternoon, sunny but not abusively hot, a light breeze and the perfect day to set up some paper targets in the backyard and have some fun shooting an air pistol. If that sounds far and away from my usual “this is a must have training gun” style, it’s because some days you just want to have some fun with no agenda, in fact, this is what air pistols (and air rifles) were meant for. Thanks to a very industrious airgun industry that begins with some very intriguing CO2 air pistols developed in the 1970s and 1980s by Crosman, which were copies of Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Walther models, (with a really heavy emphasis on Colt), the wheels of industry were already in motion for what we see today from Umarex, ASG, Sig Sauer, and others, who build air pistols that not only look and feel authentic, but work in much the same way as the actual centerfire pistols they are based upon.

One of the longest lived semi-auto handguns in the world, (as in still being manufactured after more than 100 years) is the Colt Model 1911, offered today in its many versions as a CO2 model. This example, based on the pre WWII 1911A1 design introduced in 1925, is sold under the Swiss Arms and Tanfoglio names. The custom weathered blued finish was done by the author. (Western 1911 holster by Garcia Bros. Spain)

We have the best of the best today in blowback action semi-autos, and while authenticity is a driving force, most of these air pistols are just plain fun to shoot. On a day like today I can say I have five, what I call “default” air pistols to pick up and shoot just for fun, to target shoot and kick some soup cans around. Some of you may have the very same air pistols, (and even for the very same reason), so here are my top five, right up to the minute.

New isn’t always number 1

Among the earliest blowback action models developed was the Colt Model 1911A1. Umarex was first out of the chute with the Commander model, which is probably a staple of almost every contemporary airgun collection, but it is an updated combat design, and as most of you who have read Airgun Experience the last few years know, I lean toward older gun designs from the early to mid 20th century, and of course, Colt and other single action revolvers from the 19th century.

Crosman was among the first airgun manufacturers to have a CO2 model based on the Colt Peacemaker, but these 21st century models from Umarex, with custom hand engraving by Adams & Adams for Pyramyd Air, are truly as authentic as an air pistol can be. The standard nickel finished 5-1/2 inch models are readily available; while the hand engraved guns are a special order.

This may limit my appeal among some readers, but to diehard old gun enthusiasts like myself, the new stuff is interesting but there’s nothing like a classic old gun that has style, character and a look that is all its own. Yeah, you can tell a Glock from a Sig, and an H&K, but they are all variations on the same formula. The same can be said for old guns, too, I suppose, but it was a lot easier to tell a Colt Peacemaker from a Smith & Wesson No. 3 American, or an 1875 Remington, and when you hit the 20th century, even a Colt double action from an S&W, and certainly a Luger or Mauser Broomhandle from anything else (other than copies of Lugers or Mausers by other gunmakers).

The 5-1/2 inch nickel Umarex Colt Peacemaker pellet cartridge model has black Colt medallion grips and is also available in a John Wayne “Duke” edition. (Holster by Garcia Bros. Spain)

Not by any small coincidence, all of the guns I am talking about exist today as CO2 models. Classics inspire, because they become timeless. If that were not true, Colt (and other armsmakers) wouldn’t still be manufacturing Single Action Army pistols and 1911 semi-auto models, S&W would have shelved its revolver designs decades ago. It is not surprising then that my number one and number two “default” airguns are the Umarex Colt Peacemaker and a Colt-based 1911. I didn’t say Umarex Colt Commander because it’s too modern, instead my 1911 go-to pistol is the Swiss Arms/Tanfoglio branded model of the c.1925 Colt 1911A1.

In my series of articles on Defarbing a 1911, I showed all the steps I went through to take a standard Swiss Arms Model 1911A1 CO2 model and refinish it to look like a well worn WWII era pistol. While it is no more accurate than any other 1911 CO2 model of this design (they are all made in the same factories for different brand names like Swiss Arms, Tanfoglio and Air Venturi), refinishing makes it look so much more authentic than the standard matte look of CO2 versions, with the exception of more modern tactical models that have the look of a Cerakote finished gun. (1911 Tanker shoulder holster from World War Supply)

They are all made in the same factories in Taiwan (even the Umarex Commander and Air Venturi John Wayne 1911). Those who have been following Airgun Experience know I did a series of articles on defarbing the Swiss Arms model and refinishing it as a weathered, battlefield worn gun that looks much more like an actual old .45 ACP model than an air pistol. If you have the time and a little skill (and I have as little as possible), it is well worth the effort to do this with a 1911 because it will become a favorite just for the look of the gun.

The place to start is with one of the most authentically designed blowback action CO2 models, like the Tanfoglio Witness 1911, which has correct c.1925 1911A1 features including the small thumb safety, spur hammer, military sights, and arched mainspring housing. Getting that finish down to the bare metal is a lot of work but when you have it done and apply an aged, hand rubbed blued finish, the end result really is worth the time and effort.

The Swiss Arms/Tanfoglio 1911A1 models also have the correct older style hammer, trigger, small thumb safety, sights, and arched mainspring housing of the 1911A1, and are all about equally accurate out to 21 feet. This is also so for CO2 models based on later designs and tactical versions of the 1911. Older is still better, if you like old.

The Peacemaker goes without saying and you can still get one in a variety of models, including an entire John Wayne series, for BBs or pellets with 5-1/2 inch barrels, (I am hoping the 7-1/2 nickel models will be back in the pipeline some day), and as a 21 foot target gun, the old fixed sights and that light, single action trigger will still have you punching bullseyes and flipping over cans Old West style.

The Peacemaker is by far one air pistol on everyone’s short list and the variety of special John Wayne “Duke” models includes this weathered finish BB cartridge model. (The classic Duke Holster and cartridge belt is by John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather)

Even semi-autos are vintage guns when you look at their history. By the end of the 19th century German gunmakers were truly at the forefront of semiautomatic pistol design and one of the greatest semi-auto (and later select fire) pistols in history came from Mauser with the C96 Broomhandle (c.1896). There were multiple variations throughout the 1920s and 1930s, including the Model of 1932, or its more recognizable name, the Model 712, which offered an extended capacity (20-round) detachable magazine and a selective fire semi-auto/full auto switch. Of all the Broomhandle Mauser models produced, this was the gun Umarex chose to build as a CO2 powered blowback action (blowback bolt) air pistol in 2015, and since that time it has remained one of the most enjoyable airguns to shoot.

In the history of semiautomatic German firearms, which stretches back into the late 19th century, perhaps no handgun is better recognized the world over than the Broomhandle Mauser. The Umarex Legends Model 712 is one of the great modern blowback action CO2 models on the market with very authentic design, handling and operation.

While bullseye accuracy is not the 712’s strong suit, it is just pure fun to load and shoot at targets on semi-auto and with some degree of accuracy. On full auto, where you can send its total 18 rounds of .177 caliber BBs downrange in a little over a second if you don’t learn how to feather the trigger, accuracy suffers, but it is great fun to shoot. It is a masterful rework of an historic pistol and probably one of the best built CO2 pistols an enthusiast of vintage firearms could own. It will always be among my top five.

With a good hold on the magazine well you can get a sharp bead on the target and shoot some pretty tight groups with the M712 set to semi-auto. This remains my number 1 gun for summer fun target shooting outdoors. Might not be anywhere as accurate as modern-style CO2 semi-autos, but way more fun to shoot!

Revolvers have a way of making the best air pistols because they are fundamentally easier to build, can generate higher velocities, as all of the CO2 can be used for sending a BB or pellet downrange, while semi-autos have to proportion some of the CO2 for each shot to operate the slide’s blowback action; and revolvers fired single action, even if they are a double action/single action design, are inherently accurate target pistols.

Old guns, in my opinion, are more interesting to handle and shoot than modern ones, and considering that the original Webley & Scott MK VI (in .455 caliber) was designed in 1915 and remained in use through WWII, it is by far a British classic that really deserved to be made as a pellet cartridge firing CO2 model. It is also a darn accurate one at 10 meters!

There are quite a few popular models today but none as historic in its design and ease of handling and loading as the Webley MK VI, my fourth go-to gun for summer fun shooting outdoors. The Battlefield finish remains my number one choice with the Webley models for the best possible overall look of a real vintage WWI-era pistol.

And the fifth place belongs to a gun that has held a spot in my top five since it was introduced back in 2013, the CZ75 based Tanfoglio Gold Custom, which is not only still the most accurate blowback action CO2 pistol (it does require mounting optics but has the top rail included), but a remarkable bargain-priced air pistol with every possible feature, including a target trigger.

About as modern as it gets in my book for fun shooting is the best blowback action CO2 target pistol made, the Tanfoglio Gold Custom. You can go overboard with a holster for this one, as I did, getting the Safariland competition rig used with the 9mm versions (which costs more than the air pistol), but for some, a really fulfilling target shooting experience is worth it. The Center Point Optics reflex sight completes the package.

These are CO2 models that I will always own. Each has its unique characteristics, abilities, weaknesses (the Tanfoglio only because you have to invest in an optical sight to complete the gun), and historic significance. Their designs span nearly 150 years of firearms manufacturing and technology, yet remain popular even to this day, and all but the Broomhandle Mauser are still manufactured as centerfire models. These five represent timeless designs that have inspired some of the best air pistols you can own, especially if you love old guns.

These are my top 5 CO2 models for summer fun shooting. They are priced from $100 to $150, great value for great shooting.

Top vintage military arms

Top vintage military arms

CO2 in War and Peace

By Dennis Adler

When we are talking about copies of legendary military arms as CO2 models, it is not just a gun based on a design, it is a gun copied in detail from an original design like the Umarex Luger P.08 Parabellum and Mauser Broomhandle Model 712. Pictured are the limited edition WWII models. Only the P.08 is currently available.

In the past several years the world of CO2 pistols and rifles has been exposed to military history in ways that airgun enthusiasts could only have dreamed about as little as five years ago. Sure, there have been BB and pellet guns in the past that were based on military arms, like the Crosman Model M-1 Carbine built from 1968 to 1976, as well as a number of military training air rifles manufactured during WWI and WWII (very rare finds today), and more recently the Winchester Model M14 CO2 BB and pellet rifle, introduced in 2012, and of course, the excellent Diana K98 Mauser (under lever cocking) pneumatic pellet rifle. But in the world of blowback action CO2 pistols, rifles, and CO2 BB and pellet cartridge loading revolvers, the period from 2015 to 2019 has been a remarkable one for military arms enthusiasts.

Getting it right and wrong at the same time, the Tanfoglio Witness 1911 is an accurate copy of the WWII era 1911A1 c. 1926 design, but with a modern matte finish and overwhelming branding on one side and warnings and manufacturer’s marks on the other. Aside from that, the Tanfoglio (which is the same gun as the Swiss Arms 1911A1 currently not available), has it almost completely right including the small thumb safety, spur hammer and lanyard loop.

More than a century compressed into four years 

CO2 models copied, not based on but actually copied, from WWI and WWII era arms, are virtually a separate category of airguns today. I have covered all of them in Airgun Experience over the last several years but here is a recap of what is available and some links to the original articles to look back for specs and performance.

Right finish, but only sold as a commemorative, the John Wayne WWII 1911A1 is a fine-looking gun with just enough weathering in the finish to appear like a 1911 that has seen some action. Commemorative 1911s are not uncommon in the centerfire world, so this John Wayne CO2 model is right as it can be.

American military arms in CO2 are the scarcest, since the two primary field weapons were the M1 Carbine and Model 1911A1 pistol. The M1 is new to the game and really rounds out the best combination of rifle and pistol. For the 1911A1, there are a couple of period designs, all but the John Wayne Commemorative, however, have modern finishes. The JW has a weathered or battlefield finish that gives the gun a little character. The Swiss Arms 1911A1 version is currently unavailable but the Tanfoglio 1911A1 is the same exact gun with the same issues of modern finish and over embellishment of makers brand and safety warnings (Another is the Remington 1911 RAC with even bigger branding and warning issues). My solution to this was covered in a series of articles on Defarbing a 1911, which gives you a lot of work to do, but ends with a very war worn 1911A1 that is good for a second look when you un-holster it.

With a lot of handwork, you can take a modern finish off a CO2 model (like this Swiss Arms 1911A1) and make it look like a well worn blued gun. All that is missing is the correct markings, which unfortunately are almost impossible to do without having them hand engraved on the gun, which is an expensive proposition. This is still a head turner even without markings, which could have been worn down over time.
The current star of WWII American military arms is the new Springfield Armory M1 Carbine. This is the standard wood grained plastic stock model. A hardwood stock is also offered.

Russian arms are a bit more plentiful in design since guns developed before WWI were still in use during WWI and even into WWII, which gives you a broadly dispersed choice in revolvers, semi-autos, and one major Russian military rifle, the Mosin-Nagant. I have covered all the variations of the Nagant Model 1895 pistols in BB and pellet-loading cartridge versions and two finishes, plus the now unavailable but beautifully built Tokarev TT-33 that was sold by Gletcher.

One of my favorite WWII Russian models is the Tokarev TT-33, which was (yes, past tense) built as a blowback action CO2 pistol by Gletcher. I didn’t care for the modern finish on the gun and this CO2 model became my first defarbing project in 2017.

I antiqued one, which has appeared in a several articles, along with the Makarov models like the PM 1951. Gletcher still has a Russian Legends line, and at the top of the order are two versions of the Mosin-Nagant, a circa 1891 cut down model with sawn off pistol grip, and the Model 1944 rifle. Both are excellent designs and have appeared in several articles over the last couple of years.

The WWII era Mosin-Nagant M1944 is manufactured by Gletcher and is a very close copy of the legendary Russian rifles. The bolt action air rifle is designed from original Mosin-Nagant plans but uses a removable box magazine (same style as the stripper clip fed integral magazine on the centerfire version) that holds CO2 and BBs. This is one of the better CO2 powered rifles made today and offers authentic operation. It is also accurate out to 10 meters.
Made by partisans during the Russian Revolution (1917) the Mosin-Nagant rifle was cut down into a concealable (under a long coat) bolt action pistol for close quarters use. The design was used in WWI and WWII as well. The Gletcher version is literally a cut down version of the 1944 model rifle. The shortened models were known in Russia as an Obrez.
Another pre-20th century design that remained in use by Russians in WWI and WWII was the Nagant revolver. A unique 7-shot design, it was one of the earliest military revolvers to be outfitted with a silencer because of its gas seal cylinder design. The Gletcher models are very authentic in design and offered in both smoothbore BB models (top) and rifled barrel pellet models (bottom). Both use cartridges. The guns also fit original and reproduction Nagant holsters.

It is the German military arms where airgun manufacturers have excelled, particularly Umarex, the parent company of Carl Walther. The Umarex Legends series has given us classic German pistols like the Walther P.38, Luger P.08, and the Mauser Broomhandle Model 712, perhaps the best blowback action pistol made for the sheer enjoyment of shooting CO2 airguns. To top off the German military line, the MP40 submachine gun allows realistic design and handling that is almost unrivaled by any modern CO2 design Carbine or select-fire arm. Umarex also has the Makarov Ultra version of the famous Russian semi-auto pistol.

Umarex has the P.08 in both the black grip (Black Widow) model and in a weathered WWII version.
Despite its stick magazine, the Umarex Walther P.38 (bottom) gets a pass for its fine polished blue black finish and accurate Walther banner markings.
If there is one masterpiece in German airgun design from Umarex it is the Broomhandle Mauser Model 712, pictured with an original C96 Broomhandle and shoulder stock holster.
Leather holsters were also made for the Broomhandle but the Model 712 demanded some extreme modifications for the extended capacity magazine. Pyramyd Air sells a reproduction of one such design to fit the CO2 version of the M712. (The Umarex Mauser is shown in the WWII finish, currently out of production.)
Fired from the shoulder, rather than this way like in the movies, the MP40 is surprisingly accurate even on full auto. Of course, recoil from .177 caliber steel BBs is a lot more manageable than 9mm cartridges!

Alas, the lofty British military arms are scarce in the CO2 world, in fact, presently there is only the Webley & Scott MK VI revolver, which is currently offered in the superior Battlefield Finish version with rifled steel barrel and pellet-loading cartridges, and the same model finished in bright polished nickel (which was not a traditional finish but was done back in the 1940s and later).

The best of the best in WWII weathered finish guns is the Webley & Scott MK VI which looks every bit as real as the actual WWII Webley at the top.

Of all the weathered finish CO2 military models, the Webley MK VI is the best for realism. There have been other weathered finishes offered as limited editions like the MP40 and M712 Broomhandle, both currently available only with standard matt finishes. We may see them again as WWII series guns, but likely not for awhile. The only weathered finish military guns remaining are the Webley, Luger P.08 and John Wayne 1911A1. When weathered finish guns come along that are appealing, buy them, because they often disappear from the market. The Umarex WWII Edition P.08 went out of production a couple of years back and is currently being offered again; this could be the last chance for that one.

The WWII period canvas holster, also sold by Pyramyd Air, adds the final touch of realism to the Battlefield Finish Webley MK VI.

As you can see, there have been some impressive models in the last several years, specifically in the military arms category, which is now a real category. Hopefully this review and the links to Airgun Experience articles will allow a quick reference to finding the best of the best in CO2 models. Happy reading!

The Airgun Experience will be on a brief hiatus and return on June 11th with the first series on the new Springfield Armory XDM 3.8 semi-auto in both black and bi-tone versions, vs. the actual 9mm XDM 3.8 models!

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.

A $100 bill gets you top rated features like full field stripping, fully operating features, and shot-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel designs on model like the M&P40 and Sig Sauer licensed P226 X-Five, and an accurate 1911A1 design on models like the Tanfoglio Witness 1911.

When I get into training with airguns and 1:1 comparisons, I am leaning more to one group than the other, but both can benefit from the information. And, as I have learned over this same three plus years writing the column, not all are willing or able to follow me down the path to BB gun obsession with open minds and wallets.

Total authenticity of features and interchangeability with the air pistol’s centerfire counterpart accessories and holsters is a hallmark of the very best blowback action CO2 models like the Umarex HK USP, one of the newest additions with 100 percent authenticity to its centerfire counterpart and an excellent example of a training gun.

I do this as a profession (it started out as a hobby, but let me tell you, once you make a hobby into a business, it’s not really a hobby anymore, it’s a job), so airguns come and go in and out of my life, to quote a poignant line from a movie, “…like busboys in a restaurant.” I don’t buy them, and I don’t usually keep them. The operative word there is “usually.” I think of it more like a restaurant I used to go to in San Francisco, where you had G-Scale (LGB I think it was) railroad engines pulling a line of flatcars around a great oval table. The flatcars had small plates of food on them and you picked what you wanted off the train as it went by. The cooks were in the center and continuously restocking the cars. It was great fun, like Benihana without the fire and smoke. At the end of your meal you were charged by the number and the color of the plates you had accumulated. It’s the color of the plate that I’m here to discuss.

The highest level of authenticity went into the design and manufacturing of the Sig Sauer 1911 WE THE PEOPLE, which is based on the matching .45 ACP model with identical weathered finish and details to the special edition Sig. The WTP, as a CO2 pistol, is the most accurate to an existing centerfire 1911 of all blowback action models. In terms of fit, finish, and working features, this is one of the best values on the market for $100.

I’m talking about a restaurant from back in the 1980s and you could get out of there for $15 or $20 including a drink. But if you really indulged, it could cost three times that amount. Buying airguns on line, like with Pyramyd Air, is like that train, you pick something off the flatcar. I like the restaurant reference because if you are reading Airgun Experience you’ve already decided to pass the fast food place (though there are some fine airguns in the big box stores).

What can you get for $100?

I’m using $100 as a purchase price cutoff (less sales tax and shipping), because many of the best blowback action CO2 pistols sell for $99.99 or less. Others will take you up to $129.99, a few $149.99 or more and this is for standard models. When you start adding extra features, like the hand engraved Peacemakers, you are into another level altogether.

The latest model in the $100 club is the Umarex Glock 17, a 100 percent exterior and handling match to the centerfire pistol. To gain a significant advantage in velocity over other blowback action CO2 models, the G17 uses a shorter recoil system and different magazine interlock and CO2 delivery. The tradeoff is being one of the two models that cannot be field stripped.

What falls under the $100 line? Here’s a sample of the best offering that I have reviewed in Airgun Experience. Remember MSRP is not the deciding factor because just about every air pistol is discounted from retail. We are talking $100 or less selling prices.

For a quality 1911 CO2 model, the Sig Sauer WTP is not alone in the $100 price class. Swiss Arms, a part of the companies that comprise Sig Sauer, and Sig Arms AG, does not make centerfire 1911 models but the licensed Swiss Arms brand does offering several variations including modern Rail Guns like the SA 1911 TRS. The Swiss Arms models offer a variety of finishes and range from standard 1911A1-style models to the latest tactical pistol designs.
The military finish MRP Swiss Arms Rail Gun is another version that sells for just $100. All Swiss Arms models have fully functioning features and field strip like centerfire models.

At the $99.99 price point you have the Umarex S&W M&P40, Umarex H&K USP blowback, Umarex Glock 17, Sig Sauer P226 X-Five (BB model), Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911, (it takes another $10 to get into the discounted Umarex Colt Commander), but $99.99 will get you a Tanfoglio Witness 1911, you can also get a Swiss Arms SA92 or P92 (Beretta 92FS), and one of several Swiss Arms 1911 models, like the MRP, SSP, and Tactical. With a higher MSRP and greatly reduced selling price, there is one top gun, the Tanfoglio Gold Custom (but you have to buy a reflex sight for it, so the complete gun will take you over $100). The last entry is the Umarex H&K VP9 which is the lowest priced gun selling for $79.99. This list is limited to blowback action pistols with self-contained CO2 BB magazines, i.e., the most gun you can get for $100.

Another new comer to the market in 2018 was the Umarex HK VP9 which uses a firing system similar to the Umarex Glock 17 but is the lowest-priced blowback action model with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine selling for just $79.99.

Next Tuesday, we’ll find out what CO2 blowback action pistol gives you the best features, best quality, and best accuracy for the money.

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.

Changes beginning around 1924 designated the 1911 as the A1 model with the notable change in the length of the trigger, and the addition of the arched mainspring housing intended to provide a better grip on the pistol. The jury is still out on that 95 years later.

The original Colt patent for the 1911 expired almost 90 years ago, but long before that, during WWI, Colt was licensing its 1911 design to other manufacturers to meet U.S. Ordnance Department production demands for the U.S military and its allies. This repeated itself again during WWII with other U.S. manufacturers building Model 1911A1 pistols for the U.S. military and its allies, though by WWII the patent had expired. Today, the list of U.S. and overseas manufacturers of 1911 models exceeds any other handgun design in the world, even the CZ75, which comes in a close second, but is not nearly as old or legendary as the John M. Browning Model 1911 design.

It is this platform of frame, slide, barrel, and short-recoil, locked-breech design upon which all 1911 models are based, regardless of caliber, frame or grip size, barrel length, original Browning toggle link or later camming lug variations, and that includes today’s top-of-the-line 1911 CO2 models. But, just as with centerfire 1911s either made in the U.S. or manufactured abroad, their shared design does not mean shared performance or accuracy, and certainly not shared price or quality.

If copying the 1911A1 in CO2 is the goal of a good air pistol, the Air Venturi John Wayne model is about as close as it gets except for the ridiculous arrow and S F on the thumb safety. This is a version of the 2014 Umarex Colt Commander and uses the same thumb safety markings. It is not however, an Umarex model, nor anything like the Combat Commander for features. It is simply made by the same company that builds the Colt licensed model for Umarex.

The 1911 platform

There are certain things, and I use “things” in a broad sense to imply everything from soft drinks, to automobiles, to brand logos, to handguns or rifles, that, by their very design, are universally recognized almost anyplace on earth. No translation is needed. A Model 1911 is one of those things. Within the U.S., the Model 1911 is currently manufactured by Remington, Ithaca, Smith & Wesson, Browning, Sig Sauer, Dan Wesson, Kimber, Ruger, Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, Cabot Gun Co., Springfield Armory, STI, and of course, Colt. And this is before getting into 1911s built in China, the Philippines, and other countries, and sold in the U.S. under varying brand names. There are a lot of 1911s, but when it comes to CO2 models, not quite as many, but the diversity of models extends to some examples that lack almost all of the essential qualities of a 1911 except a familiar shape.

You will find the same design configuration used in the Tanfoglio Witness and Swiss Arms 1911s, only without the markings on the thumb safety. The same parts are also used for the Remington 1911 RAC, which is so covered with white lettering and warnings that it makes the Tanfoglio look subdued.

From the start I am going to discard any 1911 CO2 designs that have a double action trigger (unless someone wants to start making a CO2 version of the old Para LDA or short-lived Colt Model 1991 DAO Government model), any with non-functioning grip safeties, non-blowback action, or that use a stick magazine. That knocks out a lot of 1911 CO2 copies. What it leaves are the best of the 1911 models that stay true to the look, feel, and operation of a Colt Government Model 1911, or other current production 1911 centerfire (or rimfire) designs.

Cleaning up its act, Swiss Arms also has a 1911A1 design in brushed alloy that looks more modern, but again has the same features as the original black Swiss Arms 1911A1 and the Tanfoglio Witness. They all pretty much feel and shoot the same.

While there are highly modified centerfire (and rimfire) versions of the 1911 with ambidextrous safeties, integral MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rails, numerous styles of combat sights, white dot sights, adjustable target sights, tuned triggers, custom hammers to reduce lock time, extended capacity magazines, optics mounts, and countless finishes and grip styles, the single action semiautomatic gun is nevertheless old school; a gun that was used in the early 1900s by Texas Rangers and U.S. soldiers, while they were still mounted on horseback, as well as a handful of government and law enforcement agencies in the 1920s. The first combat use of the 1911 was during General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s Punitive Expedition into Mexico in 1916 pursuing Pancho Villa. The 1911 was equally popular with early 20th century outlaws and gangsters in the 1920s and 1930s, and we haven’t even gotten to WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War. Even to this day, despite the adoption of the Sig Sauer M17 and M18, variations of the Model 1911 are used by select special operations units within the U.S. military, as well as Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.

Umarex broke the mold from the start in 2014 with the first of the blowback action 1911s going with a modernized version under Colt license and called the Commander. The name was taken from the centerfire Commander model which actually had a shorter 4-1/4 inch barrel when introduced in 1950. For the CO2 model Colt added a skeletonized combat trigger, Delta-style cutaway hammer, and white dot combat sights. The only issue everyone had with the design was the markings on the thumb safety which were explained as being mandatory for an air pistol. In 2014 it was the new benchmark in blowback action pistols.

It is no surprise then, that there are many variations of the Model 1911 manufactured as fully field strippable, blowback action CO2 models that range from relatively stock configuration to those with ambidextrous safeties, various combat sights, grip frame and grip designs, and all of them matching centerfire examples. And these CO2 models share one other thing in common, self-contained CO2 BB magazines that are so well matched that, like actual .45 ACP Model 1911s, they are interchangeable.


For those of you who have been reading this column for the past several years, this is all very familiar and many readers may already have one or more of the best blowback action 1911 CO2 models. This is really being written for new readers or those of you who may still be on the fence about getting a blowback action 1911 or adding one of the newer versions to your collection. For the contenders in blowback action CO2 1911 designs, the top models are the Umarex Colt Commander, Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE, Air Venturi John Wayne commemorative 1911A1, Tanfoglio Witness/Swiss Arms 1911, and Swiss Arms 1911 tactical models, including the TRS and MRP versions. The Swiss Arms tactical series all share ambidextrous thumb safeties and MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rails, but differ in finishes.

Swiss Arms rolled out its tactical series a little ahead of Sig Sauer’s 1911 WE THE PEOPLE and added a Colt Rail Gun frame with MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail, flat mainspring housing, combat sights, and also a clean ambidextrous safety.
Swiss Arms is not too shy on variations either, with the TRS bi-tone polished alloy slide and Cerakote style grey finish frame. Same gun more stylishly dressed.
And for fans of the military version of the Model 1911 designed for the Marine Corps and designated as the CQBP, the desert tan version of the Swiss Arms Tactical line, the MRP (Military Rail Pistol) rounds out the choices. Basically, if you can’t find a satisfactory 1911-style CO2 pistol in the Swiss Arms line, you’re not looking.

Ironically, Swiss Arms sells the most variations of the 1911 under their name but the company, (formerly Sig Arms AG until 2000) which own Sig Sauer GmbH, Sig Sauer, Inc. and SAN Swiss Arms, doesn’t make a cartridge firing 1911 under the Swiss Arms name. It does, however, own Sig Sauer, which makes both 1911 centerfire and CO2 models. So, yes, the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 and all current Swiss Arms CO2 models built under license compete directly against each other. And since all the CO2 models are manufactured in Taiwan (including the Sig Sauer WTP) and share a considerable number of parts (thus being able to use the same CO2 BB magazines in all the different brands), you have to wonder “Are they all the same gun with different names?” And the answer to that is no.

Moving the design forward Sig Sauer raised the stakes with the WE THE PEOPLE 1911 that bettered the Umarex Colt Commander by proving that authenticity need not come at a high price, delivering a superior finish copied from the Sig 1911 centerfire model, a target-style trigger, white dot combat sights, Delta-style hammer, flat mainspring housing (preferred by most 1911 competitive shooters), and obviously making the point, as did Swiss Arms, that the arrow and S F markings on the thumb safety (which is ambidextrous on the Sig) is not mandatory for an air pistol.

As an example, take the centerfire models. Is a lower-priced 1911 made in the Philippines by Armscor and sold in the U.S. under a number of different names and models by importers and retailers, as good as a much more expensive handcrafted Wilson Combat 1911, a 1911 made by Colt, or one by Springfield Armory? No, and the price spread is striking, as is the quality of fit and finish, operation (and wear of parts under heavy use), quality and type of sights, and above all, accuracy; you get what you pay for, yet all are essentially the same gun design. This is also true of the CO2 models. They are not all the same.

It doesn’t matter which 1911 CO2 model you pick, they all disassemble the same and have the same complement of parts. But are they equal in every way?

In Part 2, the top 1911 CO2 models go head to head for triggers, sights, safeties, and downrange accuracy to find the best “overall” 1911. 

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.