Revolvers vs. Semi-Autos Part 1

Revolvers vs. Semi-Autos Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Honing your shooting skills the old fashioned way

By Dennis Adler

A lot happed to firearms between 1873 and 1911 and the biggest change of all was the advent of semiautomatic handguns. A lot has also happened with airguns since 2014 when the Umarex Colt Commander blowback action CO2 semi-auto was introduced and 2015 when Umarex and Colt unveiled the first CO2 Peacemaker. Now the age old debate between revolvers and semi-autos has been reignited with BB and pellet firing copies of some of the greatest single action and semi-auto pistols in history being manufactured. And with those old debates also come the same old misconceptions about shooting and accuracy. We’re going to sort it out.

One of the more interesting discussions I have seen in recent articles, has been about the accuracy of revolvers vs. semiautomatic pistols, and in particular the 7-1/2 inch Colt Peacemaker compared to other airguns, including semi-autos. While this is truly an “apples and oranges” comparison, as one reader put it, it is a valid comparison in the light of how different handgun designs and systems of operation affect accuracy and, more importantly, one’s own confidence with a handgun. Testing handguns for as many years as I have, I’ve experienced every imaginable level of contentment and disappointment, either in myself or the firearm being tested. It is possible to have a bad or somehow flawed gun, or to have a bad day at the range shooting poorly because of weather, distractions, or just being off your game. Occasionally it can be both, which makes things seem even worse. But more often than not, the gun is unlikely to be at fault. When it is, things go south quickly. I have had single action revolvers with bad barrels and sights that were so off, I’d had a better chance hitting the target by throwing the gun at it! I’ve had semi-autos jam on every round, magazines that wouldn’t feed, sights that were impossible to adjust, and worse, random failures making the gun totally unreliable. And every one of these issues can be duplicated with an air pistol. However, just like cartridge-firing revolvers vs. semiautomatic pistols, the odds of a revolver having a failure are far less likely, which brings me to the question of revolvers vs. semi-autos for accuracy. read more


What are we looking for in a blowback action CO2 pistol?

What are we looking for in a blowback action CO2 pistol?

Reality Checks

By Dennis Adler

Blowback action airgun enthusiasts are a relatively new breed in terms of airgun history. Blowback semi-autos have only been around since Umarex and Walther developed the first PPK/S .177 caliber model in 1999. Prior to that Umarex and Walther had developed the non-blowback action CP88 pellet-firing models with a DA/SA trigger, but without blowback action the Walther’s hammer had to be manually cocked each time to fire single action.

This article is more of an open forum for debate than it is about any one specific airgun model. The development of new blowback action air pistol designs over the past several years has almost kept pace with centerfire and rimfire semiautomatic handguns, and in most cases, model for model, leading air gun enthusiasts down a very interesting path, yours truly included.

A little over 17 years ago the groundbreaking Walther CP99 (right) took the CP88 concept one step further with a P99-based polymer frame. The 8-shot, 4.5mm pellet firing, non-blowback action, striker fired air pistol became a training gun for German police using the P99. The concept of learning basic skills and firing without the cost of live ammo (9mm) made the CP99 one of the world’s most popular 12 gr. CO2 pistols. The PPK/S, however, remained the only blowback action CO2 pistol for many years.

When I began writing about air pistols I was already involved with cartridge-firing handguns and, by the nature of my work, reviewing new makes and models for Guns & Ammo, American Rifleman, Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, Pocket Pistols, and Guns of the Old West, I had access to the very latest firearms. read more


Five top blowback action semi-autos

Five top blowback action semi-autos…

with the easiest to load magazines!

By Dennis Adler

Five different guns all with one thing in common, a self-contained CO2 BB magazine that is easy to load. Clockwise from bottom left, Umarex P.08 Parabellum, Umarex Beretta M92A1, Sig Sauer P226 X-Five, Tanfoglio Limited Custom and Swiss Arms SA 1911 TRS.

Blowback action semi autos burn through .177 caliber rounds almost as fast as a selective fire model on full auto. That’s a great part of their appeal; a realistic airgun experience that simulates the cartridge-firing model’s operation. A semi-auto is a fast gun to shoot and reload, which is why they are generally preferred over revolvers. But even with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine, like all five of the airguns featured here, the reloading experience can vary from slow to excruciatingly slow. Not with loading the magazine into the gun, that’s 100 percent accurate in every respect, but rather with loading the BBs into the magazine! Pressing anywhere from 8 to 15 rounds of 9mm, .40 S&W or .45ACP into a cartridge magazine is no picnic either, but each round goes on top of the other and gets pushed down into the magazine compressing the follower spring as you go. If CO2 BB magazines worked the same way, loading would be pretty straightforward. But that isn’t the way BBs load into a self-contained CO2 BB magazine. read more


Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open Part 2

Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

Going head-to-head with Tanfoglio’s Limited Custom

The DA/SA vs. the SAO target pistol

By Dennis Adler

Top guns in .177 caliber CO2 blowback action models are the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open and Tanfoglio Limited Custom. The Sig is a slightly larger gun with a longer barrel (not counting the ported compensator), and longer sight radius. Their MSRP’s are within $20 of each other, the Tanfoglio having the higher retail price. Both are currently on sale.

When you are faced with two excellent guns the only way to make a choice is to shoot them both and see which one is best for you. After a lot of testing over the past few years I narrowed down my “Best Guns” list for blowback action semi-autos to about five, and of those, two proved best for target shooting, the Tanfoglio Limited Custom with open sights and Tanfoglio Gold Custom for use with optics. But there is also the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five, which even in its standard configuration can give the best semi-auto CO2 models a run for their money when it comes to features, handling and accuracy. The Sig’s Open model actually rivals either Tanfoglio and it is only one gun vs. two! So, here we go with the first runoff between the P226 X-Five Open and Tanfoglio Custom Limited. read more


Tanfoglio Limited Custom Part 2

Tanfoglio Limited Custom .177 caliber semi-auto

What it takes to make a winner Part 2

By Dennis Adler

The Tanfoglio Limited Custom is a full size copy of the 9mm competition model with a weight of 2 pounds, 12 ounces. The CO2 model has an identical slide release, ambidextrous thumb rest safeties, and oversize magazine release. The only noteworthy visual difference between the CO2 model and the 9mm Tanfoglio is the absence of a ported slide and the two-tone finish.

The Tanfoglio Limited Custom is a full size copy of the 9mm competition model with a weight of 2 pounds, 12 ounces. The CO2 model has an identical slide release, ambidextrous thumb rest safeties, and oversize magazine release. The only noteworthy visual difference between the CO2 model and the 9mm Tanfoglio is the absence of a ported slide and the two-tone finish.

The Tanfoglio Limited Custom is by far one of the best blowback action CO2 models I have ever tested, and as a competition practice gun, it is second only to the Tanfoglio Gold Custom. However, if your shooting preference is open sights, then the Limited Custom exceeds just about every other blowback action CO2 model you can own. High praise, but having tested all of the major blowback action airguns produced in the last 16 years, if I had to pick one for target shooting it would be the Tanfoglio models. Since I have not yet tested the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five with Bomar-style competition sights, I will reserve that one as a possible equal to the Tanfoglio. But we’ll get back to the Sig vs. the Tanfoglio next month. read more


Tanfoglio Limited Custom Part 1

Tanfoglio Limited Custom .177 caliber semi-auto

What it takes to make a winner Part 1

By Dennis Adler

Like the .177 caliber Tanfoglio Gold Custom, the Limited Custom with open sights is ideally suited for competition practice from the same holsters used is IPSC and Bianchi Cup Open Class. The Tanfoglio airgun is shown with a Safariland 014 alloy pistol platform, 032 ELS competition belt and magazine pouches.

The Tanfoglio Limited Custom with open sights is ideally suited for competition practice with the same holsters used in IPSC and the Bianchi Cup Open Class. The Tanfoglio airgun is shown with a Safariland 014 alloy pistol platform, 032 ELS competition belt and magazine pouches.

The Tanfoglio Limited Custom competition pistol is an Italian version of the CZ-75. The 9mm cartridge-firing versions of the .177 caliber Limited Custom and Gold Custom competition CO2 pistols are also based entirely on the CZ-75 using a short-recoil operated, locked breech design. The CZ-75 is a well established design used by armsmakers the world over, and though the names may be different, what is behind the name remains a CZ-75. Česká Zbrojovka developed the platform in 1976 and improved upon it with the addition of a firing pin block in the late 1980s, (CZ-75B), and the addition of a de-cocking lever (CZ-75 BD). While CZ-75 duty pistols are DA/SA, the competition versions are SAO designs (as are the CO2 models), but still share the ambidextrous safety, triggerguard design, and unique Česká Zbrojovka slide to frame fit. read more


Best blowback action airgun sights Part 3

Focused Groups

Best blowback action airgun sights Part 3

The Top Guns

By Dennis Adler

These four blowback action CO2 models have the best overall authenticity, operating features, balance in the hand, triggers, and sights of the air pistols tested. In price, the Tanfoglio is the most expensive with a $189 MSRP but the lowest at a discounted price of $80; the Sig is the next with an MSRP of $149 and a discounted price of $110, both the Colt 1911 and M&P40 have MSRPs of $120 and discounted prices of $100 and $90, respectively.

These four blowback action CO2 models have the best overall authenticity, operating features, balance in the hand, triggers, and sights of the air pistols tested. In price, the Tanfoglio is the most expensive with a $189 MSRP but the lowest at a discounted price of $80; the Sig is the next with an MSRP of $149 and a discounted price of $110, both the Colt 1911 and M&P40 have MSRPs of $120 and discounted prices of $100 and $90, respectively.

The four contenders for best blowback action airgun sights are the Umarex Colt Commander, Umarex S&W M&P40, Sig Sauer P226 X-Five and Tanfoglio Limited Custom. What pushed the Beretta 92A1, Sig Sauer 1911 and Max Michel 1911 out of contention? Little details, some almost negligible, others noteworthy when brought face to face with the four guns that came out on top. First the excellent Beretta M92A1; it could just as easily have been a top five with all of its authentic features and best-in-class handling, but it also has small, military-style sights, white dots yes, but smaller and just a step down from the excellent white dot sights on the Colt Commander and S&W M&P40 for rapid target acquisition. However, these are the actual sights used on the 9mm Berettas. In other respects the Beretta is hands down a better gun to shoot than the Colt Commander (isn’t that how Beretta got the U.S. Government contract in the first place back in 1985?), but this is about sights, and the M92A1 doesn’t make the cut. read more