Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 1

Sig Sauer’s new M17 Part 1

The P320 in military dress

By Dennis Adler

Is this a 100 percent understudy to the centerfire M17? Not entirely, even Sig Sauer, which appears to be able to design and manufacture new airguns at an impressive rate, can’t change the physics of a pellet-loading semi-auto, even one with an integral 20-shot rotary magazine and CO2 loading system. And it still comes in the unusual but sturdy Sig Sauer packaging which gives the gun plenty of storage protection.

This is where the history of blowback action CO2 air pistols begins to change. Sig Sauer has not only stepped over the threshold of door no one had opened before, they also built the door. The M17 could be a game changer for the future of blowback action 4.5mm pellet-firing pistols and that’s a lot to say in an opening statement, but I have had my hands on this pistol for over a month waiting to tell its story. We begin with the P320.

The Sig Sauer P320 ASP is a full-size duplicate of the P320 Nitron centerfire version, left, which is one of the P320 configurations I had tested for Combat Handguns. The CO2 model has a full length dustcover accessory rail to mount lights and light laser combinations for training practice, but comes with the compromises that have been corrected for the most part in the new M17 ASP.

The Sig Sauer P320 CO2 model was introduced in 2017 and was not the epiphany in pellet-firing blowback action CO2 models air gunners were hoping for. But I have a somewhat different perspective on the P320 CO2 model than most, having tested and evaluated the centerfire P320 modular handgun system that evolved in the M17 back in 2016. I knew that when Sig Sauer got into the airgun manufacturing business to build training guns that it could never be the equal of a P320; yes some airguns are the BB-firing version of their centerfire counterparts, including the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911, but when you are talking a pellet-firing semi-auto, you are not going to achieve the same goal, at least not for the price of most blowback action CO2 models. There had to be compromises and Sig Sauer chose wisely for the most part developing a P320 CO2 model that could serve the basic needs of the design for training and still be an enjoyable and affordable recreational air pistol. Not everyone will agree with me on this but the P320 was a means to an end, a stepping stone for a company that that moves quickly. read more


Accessorizing the Umarex Glock G19

Accessorizing the Umarex Glock G19

Best options for an entry level air pistol

By Dennis Adler

This is the Umarex Glock 19 air pistol, not an actual 3rd generation model, but it is hard to tell because there are only two obvious differences, first the crossbolt safety at the top of the trigger (if you see it) and the absence of the caliber marking 9×19 after the GLOCK logo, the model number 19, and AUSTRIA all in capital letters on the left side of the slide.

I like to think of myself as a “the CO2 cartridge is half full” kind of guy and hope that airgun manufacturers eventually get everything right. But I have learned that sometimes you just have to be overly optimistic. It’s like major league sports; you hope your team is going to win the championship every year even though you know from experience they’ll probably never make it to the semi-finals. But it does happen once in a great while, so there is always a glimmer of hope. I was disappointed with the first Umarex HK USP when it came out as a non-blowback model some years ago. After a long wait, in 2018 they hit it out of the park with the new blowback action USP, currently a serious contender for my Air Pistol of the Year. So, let’s take a second look at another non-blowback with the promise of greater things to come, the Umarex Glock 19, a pistol that was actually less disappointing than it appeared. This mid 2018 offering was a big surprise in ways that other non-blowback models have disappointed. For one thing there is the potential versatility of this entry level air pistol to lay the groundwork for a follow up blowback action model, very much like the first HK USP. When that will happen is a little uncertain, hopefully not as long as the USP, but what can the current G19 model accomplish in the interim? read more


Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 3

Umarex Walther M2 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Why Gun Manufacturers Change Designs

By Dennis Adler

Rarely do you have the opportunity to choose between an older and newer version of the same gun, the original version usually goes away, but not so with the Walther PPS and PPS M2, at least for the present. Making that choice is entirely based on aesthetics and function. The changes to the PPS in the M2 configuration has changed the way the magazine release works and where it is placed, changed the grip fit and contour and even the sights and magazines. They really are two completely different guns, especially as CO2 models.

I think this is an instance where one look at the new gun explains everything. There’s no question as to why Walther (and Umarex) redesigned the PPS, other than why it took them eight years. I’ll even concede that the magazine release button on the PPS M2 works just as well as the ambidextrous triggerguard release on the PPS (I’m right handed, so concession is easier). But that one issue does not detract from every other change in the pistol’s design and handling. The M2 is a better gun overall. Good enough, in fact, that the PPS has been updated as a CO2 model while the PPQ CO2 pistol is still based on the original 2011 design. (The PPQ Airsoft model has been updated to the M2 design as well as the .43 caliber paintball version). The original PPS CO2 model (or PPS Classic as it has been re-categorized), was an exceptional blowback action BB pistol and very close to the 9mm model in looks and general handling. It remains one of the best subcompact CO2 pistols in its class. The M2 version is unlikely to dethrone the original unless it is a more accurate pistol, and that’s a tall order. read more


Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 2

Umarex Walther M2 Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

Why Gun Manufacturers Change Designs

By Dennis Adler

At a glance, it is pretty obvious that the PPS M2 is a total redesign of the frame, grip, and slide. It goes even further on the 9mm versions. The squared off upright stance of the PPS has been replaced by more contoured lines, a more ergonomically shaped grip and a sense of style that the otherwise excellent PPS seemed to lack. As for the personally lamented loss of the ambidextrous triggerguard-mounted magazine release, I may be in the minority of Walther owners in the U.S., but I never had a problem with it or learning how to instinctively use it to drop an empty magazine. The new push button release is just as fast and by and large, more familiar to the majority of semi-auto pistol owners, but not ambidextrous.

Redesign by design is the best way to summarize the total number of changes between the Walther PPS (henceforth the PPS Classic, anyone for a Coke?) and PPS M2 centerfire and CO2 models. The Umarex Walther PPS M2 shares very little with the PPS, aside from internal operation and trigger design, including the obligatory crossbolt trigger safety. The M2 clearly shows its PPQ M2-driven design changes making it a more contoured pistol that is better balanced in the hand. Visually the PPS and M2 have almost nothing in common, but as a CO2 training gun, the M2 falls into that same perfect niche as its predecessor. But perhaps even better, as each of the PPQ derived enhancements to the PPS benefits not only the gun but the individual who handles it. read more


Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 1

Umarex Walther M2 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Why Gun Manufacturers Change Designs

By Dennis Adler

At Walther, change has never been made for the sake of change. Developing the PPS took years and when it was introduced it created its own market niche; a 9mm slightly larger than a .380 Auto Walther PPK/S. The PPS was introduced in 2008; the Umarex CO2 version was introduced in 2014. The new PPS M2 CO2 model (right) updates the design to match the 9mm PPS M2 introduced in 2016.  

There is design development and then there is design evolution. The latter is often a change that comes over time to improve a pistol’s operation, such as a better safety mechanism, improved sights, or the famous change from the original Colt Model 1911 configuration to the 1911A1. This has always been controversial, since manufacturers, including Colt, often revert to the old design in order to appeal to consumers who prefer the flat mainspring housing. This is design change by consumer demand, and it doesn’t happen often, but it has happened to Walther, not once but twice in recent time with a change from what I personally regard as one of the truly innovative advancements in magazine release designs. It starts with the Walther P99 (developed in 1995) and later copied on the Walther PPS (in 2008). It is an ambidextrous magazine release incorporated into the back of the triggerguard. Heckler & Koch uses a variation of this design on their H&K pistols and it makes dropping an empty magazine a simple movement of the trigger finger, or support hand thumb, (with a two-handed hold). It is different, maybe even unconventional, but it’s easy to learn and easier to use than a traditional magazine release button on the frame. And the design was ambidextrous from the beginning. read more


Revolvers vs. Semi-autos Part 2

Revolvers vs. Semi-autos Part 2 Part 1

The age old debate and 1911 magazine swaps

By Dennis Adler 

There was an overlap between the Peacemaker and the 1911 in the early 20th century, even in the military where the Single Action Colts were still being used, and this combination remained practical for southwest lawmen well into the 1950s. This match up of CO2 models is a factual portrait of a time in the American West when old and new worked hand in hand. (Single Action holster is a copy of Billy the Kid’s handcrafted by Chisholm’s Trail. The military 1911 flap holster is a reproduction of the U.S. Model JT&L 1942 from World War Supply)

It has been said that if you do something right the first time, you never have to do it over. At the turn of the last century there were a lot of armsmakers doing things over, especially for the U.S. military, which was in the rather unique position of having to find a large caliber replacement for the Colt Peacemaker and discovering that nothing was really working. The military began to abandon the .45 Colt Single Action Army in 1889 when the U.S. Navy purchased Colt’s new .38 caliber Model 1889 Navy double action revolver. With a swing out cylinder it was much faster to reload than a Peacemaker. But the 1889 was short-lived. It was replaced within the Colt’s lineup and in the U.S. military by the Models 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1901 and 1903 New Army and Navy Revolvers in calibers ranging from .38 Colt to .41 Long and Short Colt. But none offered the stopping power of a .45 caliber Peacemaker. In 1905 the Marines Corps adopted another Colt revolver chambered in .38 Colt (or .38 S&W) aptly named the Model 1905 Marine Corps Revolver. This one saw only 926 guns produced before it was discontinued. By 1907 most of the earlier double action models were replaced by the Army Special model in either .38 or .41 caliber. read more


Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 3

Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Where it all began 22 years ago

By Dennis Adler

I had a fairly calm day for the shooting test and a temperature in the mid 80s. Both CP 88 models (the Compact is in the holster at my waist) functioned perfectly and I was able to shoot an average of eight rotary magazines on one 12 gr. CO2 at optimum velocity. All tests were shot from 10 meters (33 feet) fired off hand as pictured.

I suppose it is fair to ask why I would spend a week reviewing air pistols that are 22 years old, and the answer to that is simple; after 22 years they are still being manufactured, and precious few pellet-firing, multi-shot air pistols are built as well. Newer air pistols can out perform them in terms of capacity, loading system, and blowback action, but when it comes to hands down manufacturing quality very few modern air pistols can touch them. Those of you who have the Walther CP 88 know what I am talking about, and those of you reading this and wondering if you should get one of these old pellet models, are beginning to realize by this third installment, that these late 20th century Umarex Walther models are tangible proof that “new and improved” can be highly overrated. read more