Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

No real losers

By Dennis Adler

Six impressive new guns from 2020 cover the range from the 1870s to the 21st century. With that level of diversity among pellet cartridge revolvers, a belt fed pellet semi-auto, and two blowback action BB pistols, the comparisons are stretched to the limits but the underlying qualities of each gun, as well as their shortcomings, will ultimately lead to a best choice for 2020’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year.

In the past few years it has been a clear process of elimination that has made the annual top gun choice comparatively straightforward as one gun always rose to the top. Not so in 2020 with three guns tied at 49 points and two at 48 points. Even the gun that comes in last, the Chiappa Rhino, has 47 points and at the beginning was the one gun I thought had the best shot at 2020’s title being the only totally new CO2 air pistol of year.  The remaining five are all improvements or upgrades to existing models and every one of the six models reviewed for Replica Air Pistol of the Year fell short of 50 points (some even with bonus points added to their total) for one reason or another. read more


Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 3

Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 3

Can a laser do better?

By Dennis Adler

Red light or green light, which light is best? A green laser appears brighter and easier to see than red, but that’s a half truth. A green laser beam is easier to see but actually isn’t any brighter. All lasers are rated as Class IIIA – intermediate-power of 1 to 5 mW (milliwatts). Our eyes are just more sensitive to the green color spectrum, which makes a green laser appear brighter, and that is the principal advantage. In darkness or subdued light, red or green laser beams are easy to pick up, but as ambient light increases red lasers become more difficult to define and their effective visual range (EVR) starts to diminish. This does not happen with a green laser until much greater distances.

This is a much shorter challenge because lasers are a very discrete form of aiming a pistol (or rifle) and have been in use by law enforcement and military longer. Red dot scopes predate practical firearm’s laser sights, but modern reflex sights, like those used on the Sig Sauer M17 and other pistols (centerfire and CO2), are comparatively new.

We do have some more context here when you add a laser to the Beretta 92FS. The Walther laser used on my 92FS is the same basic unit that is sold for the .22 LR Walther P22 semi-auto pistol. If we can just briefly segue here, there was a lot of overlap of designs between the Walther P22 rimfire pistol and its accessories and those sold by Walther (Umarex) for the CP99 CO2 pellet pistols in the early 2000s. The P22 bridge mount and Walther P22 laser are still available, along with a variety of accessories for the current full line of P22 rimfire models, including the P22 Target models shown. The laser on my 92FS is a version of the P22 laser. read more


Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 2

Lasers vs. Red Dot Reflex Sights Part 2

20 Years in Context

By Dennis Adler

You’ve been looking at this picture in the header for Airgun Experience since 2016 and this is still one of my all time favorite CO2 pellet pistols, the Umarex Beretta 92FS with an optics bridge (which replaces the rear sight) and fitted with a Walther MRS reflex sight and Walther red laser. This was a custom combination put together by Umarex and it is a very difficult combination to find today.

Between the Umarex Beretta 92FS pellet pistol and the Sig Sauer M17 two decades have passed, and we have gone from 8-shot, cast alloy pellet magazines and non-blowback action pistols to 20-shot rotary belt-fed pellet magazines (also containing the 12 gr. CO2) and blowback action. We have gone from excellent red dot scopes (like the Walther Top Point) to the latest Sig Air reflex sight for the M17. It is all a giant leap in 20 years from one state-of-the-art era in CO2 air pistol technology to another, from what, in the context of my airgun experience, is now a comparison of “old school” vs. “high tech” in design and innovation. read more


Why I liked the Mauser Model 712

Why I liked the Mauser Model 712

I’m a creature of habit

By Dennis Adler

In 1930 Mauser added a detachable box magazine to the Broomhandle line and in 1932 introduced the select-fire Model 712. It was sold to both the military and to civilians in the 1930s. The guns were used during WWII by both German and European forces (having been in wide circulation long before the war) and captured German models were prized by underground resistance forces fighting in Europe. The Umarex Legends CO2 model is one of the most authentic CO2 air pistols made today and proof that great things can be accomplished in CO2. The guns have been out for over five years.

It doesn’t matter how many new select-fire CO2 pistols come out, no matter how modern or advanced in design and operation, when I get to the end of all comparisons I will always pick the Umarex Mauser Model 712. Yes, I’m biased and not to be swayed because I like old guns, and when it comes to old full auto pistols you can’t find a more famous, nor more valued pistol than the Mauser Model 712. To be fair, Spanish armsmaker Astra also built a select-fire Broomhandle model, the 903, and of course, though a semi-auto only, there is the rare 20-round model C96 Cone Hammer Broomhandle. A real model 712 will bring upwards of $25,000 today (you can add another 20 grand for a mint condition 20-round C96), so that makes the Umarex Mauser Model 712 quite the bargain for military airgun enthusiasts at a mere $150 (MSRP). For Mauser collectors it is also something of a must, as there isn’t anything quite like it in the airgun world, either. I would have to say that of all the WWII era pistols (the Model 712 was introduced in 1932 but saw use during the Second World War), the select-fire Broomhandle Mauser carries a far greater allure to collectors than the majority of wartime handguns. It also has an almost mythical status, as do all Mauser and Astra Broomhandle pistols, that has been created over almost a century of film making, whether in the hands of the villains or the heroes. read more


Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 3

Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 3

Wherein the 009 plays G18 for a full auto CO2 shootout

By Dennis Adler

Three very different generations of guns both as centerfire and CO2 models; the classic Mauser Model 712 select-fire Broomhandle with removable box magazine, developed in 1932 and introduced as an air pistol by Umarex in 2015, the latest Beretta 92-Series pistol, the M9A3 introduced by Umarex as a select-fire version last year, and the brand new Barra 009 CO2 version of the Glock 18 select-fire 9mm pistol. The 009 is also the most compact of the trio.

This is where we have to suspend the reality of what are copies of actual firearms and what are versions of actual firearms and follow the almost irresistible fascination of full auto shooting with air pistols. You don’t even have to ask why because the question answers itself; the overwhelming majority of us cannot own a select-fire handgun, not even a vintage one like an original 1932 Mauser M712 or any of the few select-fire copies such as the Spanish-made Beistegui Hermanus Royal Broomhandle. Even these still fall under the federal rules for ownership of an automatic weapon. There’s that and the extremely high prices for these historic select-fire pistols. As for modern or at least relatively modern select-fire guns like the Beretta 93R or current Glock 18/18C, they breathe the same rarified air. But air is the answer, CO2, which opens up the possibility for anyone to own what looks like, feels like, and technically, shoots like the real guns. We have the somewhat fictionalized Umarex Beretta 92A1 and M9A3 with select-fire mechanisms (fictionalized because only the 93R ever had this option), the superb Umarex Broomhandle Legends M712 (a great gun in need of a better finish), the Crosman P1, which is another Beretta-style gun a hair closer in looks to the 93R and based off the same select-fire platform as the now defunct Gletcher BRT 92FS. (Then, of course, there are quite a few select-fire CO2 rifles and carbines like the Crosman DPMS and Bushmaster, the Mini Uzi, and vintage WWII era MP40 and M1A1 Thompson, but that’s another story and a lot of CO2.) Last, we have the new gun the Barra 009. read more


Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 1

Barra 009 vs. Umarex G17 Gen4 Part 1

Parts is Parts

By Dennis Adler

On face value (and in approximate MSRPs, $159.95 for the 009 and $149.95 for the G17 Gen4) these two blowback action CO2 models are very similar guns with the obvious $10 difference in retail being the 009’s select-fire capability and Glock 18-style selector switch on the slide. Barra took a lot of liberties with the overall design of their pistol by using a non-Glock style grip design and triggerguard configuration. As for the forward slide serrations, you can get those on new Glocks as well, though in not exactly the same style. Overall, the 009 looks like a subtly customized Glock 17. But there is more to it than that.

You all knew this was inevitable. Every time someone makes a variation of an existing gun there is the inevitable comparison, it happens repeatedly in the world of centerfire guns and Glocks are no exception. With the new CO2 models, however, the parallels are more specific because the guns use the same parts manufactured in Taiwan and there is no real exclusivity beyond trademarks, because design patents expire and the floodgates open; this has been true with centerfire guns since the Colt’s patents for the revolver expired in 1857. When patents for the Colt 1911 expired it happened, and it has happened to almost every famous handgun in history. In the end all one really has as a legendary armsmaker is their name. If it looks like a Colt, shoots like a Colt but isn’t marked Colt, it isn’t a Colt. (It might be better in some ways, but it is not, nor will it ever be a Colt). Same for Glock, not legendary yet, but certainly the stuff of which legends are made, if the Austrian armsmaker continues to build guns that are used by more military, law enforcement and government agencies than almost any other in the world. Glock is going head-to-head with Sig Sauer, Beretta, FN, H&K, Colt’s, Smith & Wesson, and other acclaimed manufacturers with histories far, far older than Glock’s. Not to put too fine of a point on this, the Glock 17 is regarded among the 100 most important gun designs in the history of firearms; not bad for a company that hadn’t made a gun before the 1980s! read more


Go West Young Man Part 2

Go West Young Man Part 2

It’s all about realism

By Dennis Adler

Armed to the teeth or at least to the waist the author has the pair of engraved Colt Peacemakers holstered and the 1875 Remington tucked behind the cartridge belt. Were it not for the exposed seating screw holes in the bottoms of the frames the CO2 models would be almost indistinguishable from their centerfire counterparts.

It’s all about realism and authenticity, and I don’t care if you’re talking about centerfire Colt, S&W, and Remington reproductions or their CO2 counterparts, the guns have to look right, feel right, and handle right. That’s a tall order for Uberti and Pietta, (and they have been at it for quite awhile) even for U.S. armsmaker Standard Mfg. and their new, very expensive Colt-style Single Action models, so getting it right with an air pistol is even more difficult.

Drawn and aimed the CO2 Colts look as real as the centerfire pistols I was using for the Guns of the Old West photo shoot. The 1875 Remington is foolproof from this angle, too. It’s when you start getting closer that the details of a finely hand engraved CO2 model really start to blur the lines with the centerfire models.

What adds authenticity? read more