Model 1911 Variations Part 3

Model 1911 Variations Part 3

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

It comes down to four guns that embody four different styles of 1911. The Umarex Colt licensed Commander was the standard against which other CO2 models were judged for several years due to its superior fit, finish, and accuracy. This has been challenged by guns like the Swiss Arms TRS that has all the features most people wished were on the Commander (though not everyone wants a Rail Gun), the Air Venturi John Wayne is totally retro, which appeals to 1911 purists, while the Sig Sauer is the best possible combination of features, as taken directly from Sig’s own .45 ACP 1911 models. But with this version, you have to be into making a bold statement with the look of a handgun, caliber notwithstanding.

With all four guns using the same self-contained CO2 BB magazine design and similarly based blowback action firing systems, one might expect that all four will have approximately the same average velocity and accuracy with their respective 5-inch smoothbore barrels. Allowing a + or – 5 fps for average velocity between guns, they should all be around 300 to 310 fps. Where I expect to see some difference is in accuracy at 21 feet due to varying internal tolerances, sight and barrel regulation (which too few blowback action CO2 pistols have), and, of course, different triggers. They are all hammer-fired designs but even there, hammer design can have an influence. This will be a proof of the sum total of parts used for each gun. The price spread for all four guns is from a low of $99.95 for the Sig Sauer to $109.99 for the Colt Commander and Swiss Arms TRS, and a high of $119.99 for the John Wayne (the higher price is reflected in the John Wayne name, licensing rights and use of the trademark signature). read more


Model 1911 Variations Part 2

Model 1911 Variations Part 2

The shape of the past, present and future

By Dennis Adler

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, well you shouldn’t judge a 1911 (.45 ACP or CO2) by its very familiar profile, either. These four guns, the John Wayne WWII commemorative, Umarex Colt Commander, Swiss Arms TRS and Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE have little in common other than being based on the 1911. How many differences can you spot?

This is a familiar picture for me with four different 1911 models being compared, because I have done it several times in the past with .45 ACP models and the results are just as telling with centerfire guns as they are with CO2 pistols. Of course, consider that there is an entire industry out there that builds custom components for the centerfire Model 1911, virtually upgrading every part of the guns from the inside out, and for every conceivable purpose from military and law enforcement tactical use, to competition pistols that barely resemble a 1911, and everything in between, just to meet the demands of consumers devoted to the Model 1911. Within the handful of top end CO2 models you can actually get some of that, but it is almost entirely on the outside, with very little changed on the inside. read more


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. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Beretta models are accurate in size and fit the same holsters as the centerfire pistols; however, the different triggerguard designs dictate different holsters. The new M9A3 with the squared off triggerguard requires holsters for that contour such as the minimalist design Galco Yaqui Slide Belt Holster. This allows most effective concealed carry for the full-sized pistol (outside of an IWB rig) but much less retention than a full size holster or one with a thumb break safety strap.

The differences between the 92A1 and M9A3 as discussed in Part 2 can be categorized in one of two ways, first, exterior changes to duplicate improvements in the 9mm model’s design and operation, and secondly those made to the CO2 pistol either as improvements or changes in manufacturing. The latter is seldom the goal as retaining as many parts of the original mechanical design as possible is the most cost effective when upgrading an existing pistol. With the Umarex Beretta models there is one mechanical or manufacturing change that is quite evident, the new barrel breech on the M9A3. This is actually more than just the interface of the barrel breech with the CO2 firing mechanism. That part is also different on the M9A3. From a purely functional aspect the 92A1 firing CO2 delivery system is a plunger that comes forward and with a lug on the underside strips the next BB in the magazine and chambers it as the plunger extends into the back of the barrel breech. The face of the plunger sits flush with the barrel breech. Secondly, when the slide retracts, either manually or recoiling from being fired, the plunger snaps back into the firing mechanism under the slide, and then extends forward as the slide closes. This is something you can see by simply looking down on the top of the slide and pulling it back an inch. The plunger will snap back. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 2

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 2

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

Generally, a new gun replaces an older version, but this has not been the case with Glock which still produces five different generations of pistols separated by features and pricing. Walther has done the same with the PPS and PPS M2, as both models remain in production, and Beretta will continue selling the 92FS, 92A1 and new M9A3. It is fitting then, that Umarex has done the same with the PPS and PPS M2 CO2 models, perhaps setting the precedent for keeping both the 92A1 and M9A3 in the lineup. The M9A3 should be available by spring.

Glock tried to win the MHS trials with an upgraded G19, the G19X, Beretta had upgraded the M9A1 to the M9A3 before the trials began and was out of the competition almost before it started. The M9A3, as a civilian gun, is in all aspects a better, stronger latter generation Model 92FS. Translating everything Beretta designed into the improved 9mm semi-auto to a CO2-powered blowback action air pistol is actually more than different colors, it is, for the most part, a new gun that looks a lot like the old one, but is much more. The closest example to this kind of design change is the Walther PPS and PPS M2. The 9mm guns have their CO2 counterparts as well, and as I pointed out in reviewing the PPS M2 in Airgun Experience, the gun may have been the same platform but a totally different gun in most respects. This is true of the 92A1 vs. the new M9A3 CO2 models. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 1

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 1

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

Beretta is not known for making frequent model changes (some unusual guns, perhaps, like the Nano and Pico), but the upgrades to the 92 Series have always been to improve the gun either for the military or civilian market. The Model 92 platform dates back to 1976 and the latest models, now in CO2, are the 92A1 and M9A3. While similar, the centerfire and blowback action models have a number of different design features, aside from the FDE finish.

In 2017, after 32 years providing this nation’s standard issue military sidearm, Beretta lost its contract after failing to win the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition. Back in 2012, Beretta was awarded a secondary contract to improve the M9 (Beretta 92) in use by the U.S. military since 1985 and the result was the M9A1, an upgraded 92FS for the military that also found its way into the civilian market. When the Army’s XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition was announced in September 2015 to find a replacement for the M9A1, Beretta again worked to upgrade the Model 92 to meet the new standards established for the MHS trials. The significantly upgraded M9A3, however, only met 86 percent of the Request for Proposals (RFP) outlined in the MHS program requirements. The most noteworthy issue for the MHS was not being a modular handgun design, of course, neither were most of the guns developed for submission to the MHS trials, including Glock and S&W, leaving Sig Sauer with a clear avenue given its already established and proven modular designed P320. read more


Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 3

Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 3

From perfection to perfection

By Dennis Adler

Take 10 paces, turn and fire. The very modern Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP brings the highest level of blowback action CO2 pellet-firing pistol technology to the table, while the Umarex Beretta 92FS retains the look and feel of a classic pistol.

In the end, this review comes down to technology either improving an operating system or simply technology creating something newer and more appealing, but with the old, established platform of the Umarex Beretta 92FS against the outwardly advanced design of the Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP, the truth of the comparison is, that outside of shooting accuracy, there is no comparison. For handling and authentic to the centerfire pistol design, the M17 cannot be touched by any other “pellet-firing” CO2 pistol. I have to unapologetically emphasize “pellet-firing” because even Sig Sauer’s own BB-firing Model 1911 WE THE PEOPLE blows the doors off the M17 for true authentic operation, construction and field-stripping capability. It is closer to the real centerfire gun because there are limits to what a pellet-firing semi-auto design CO2 pistol can do, and how it can do it. In that single respect, the 92FS and M17, though almost two decades apart in design and manufacturing technologies, are on common ground. With these pellet pistols, trigger pull, sighting, and accuracy are the only things that count from this point forward. read more