In CO2 air rifles there are not many you can confidently shoot at 25 yards, at which distance you are either shooting for precision (with open sights or with a scope) or small game hunting. Today, the test is precision with open sights on a 25 yard timed and rapid fire pistol target, which suits my purposes here, to place as many shots in the bullseye as possible, a bullseye with a diameter of 1.625 inches; this is a little more than half an inch greater than the kill zone on most small game with a .22 caliber air rifle of this power. If you can shoot consistently with the .22 Umarex 850 M2 on this target, you can expect to do well with it in the field.read more
At one point I had two versions of the Umarex-built Uzi .22 LR models which I had tested for Combat Handguns and when the CO2 model came out I was one of the first to order the new blowback action air pistol and put it to the test. The CO2 model averages between 380 and 390 fps. The faux suppressor does not extend barrel length (wish it did); it is just a plastic tube with a 0.25 inch circumference channel. It does shroud the BB from the elements for an additional 7.5 inches before it leaves the suppressor’s muzzle.
I sometimes get so caught up with authenticity I overlook some otherwise very good airguns that are also based on original designs, like the Umarex Mini Uzi Carbine, which is a Mini Uzi pistol with a folding metal shoulder stock, i.e., pistol becomes carbine by swinging the forward folding stock around from against the receiver to your shoulder. In the real world of firearms, a Mini Uzi with folding metal stock is a fairly pricey item to own, but as a CO2 model, only about $100.
Umarex had started out building .22 LR versions of the famous Uzi Pistol and Carbine for sale under the Uzi name, and using similar construction introduced the Mini Uzi in the popular and affordable .177 caliber with a plastic, rather than metal, receiver. Still, it averages 40 ounces. The BB pistol has a folding shoulder stock and features like a semi-auto 9mm Mini Uzi.
This one has been around for awhile and I have not really given it much coverage because I have always favored the select-fire version Mini Uzi Subgun (which you often see on the crawl at the top of the Pyramyd Air home page showing popular or new models). The Umarex version is a semi-auto only model and it houses the CO2 in the grip and not in the removable BB magazine, while the select-fire Mini Uzi subgun uses self-contained CO2 BB magazines and costs about $30 more. But, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Umarex semi-auto because it has the same style forward folding metal shoulder stock, plus it comes with a faux suppressor, which makes the gun a real conversation piece, and in the real firearms world a solid Title II firearm. But there are no requirements here, just a desire for a famous Israeli design that has become legendary.
With the folding shoulder stock extended (something you can’t have with a .22 LR model!) the CO2 Mini Uzi has the look and feel of the military and law enforcement 9mm pistols.
An Uzi is an Uzi? Not so.
It is one of those rare firearms that has an unforgettable look, and since it has been around for over half a century most everyone has seen an Uzi in photographs of Navy SEALS, Federal Agents, and in use by good guys and bad guys alike in decades worth of movies and television dramas; most famously, perhaps, in the hands of Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris in the original 1986 Delta Force movie (unless you’re old enough to remember The Wild Geese starring Richard Burton and Roger Moore made in 1978).
Uzi is not an acronym for the gun; it is actually the name of the gun’s designer, Uziel Gal, a Captain with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) in the 1950s. Gal based his design on the Czechoslovakian Model ZK 476 and Czech Model M23/25 sub machineguns, but designed his version so it could be more efficiently manufactured for quick deployment to the new Israeli military. The final version was patented in 1952, with production rights assigned to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which chose the designer’s nickname, Uzi, for the gun. In 1954, the Uzi was adopted by the Israeli military, and its fame spread from there. In 1975, Lt. Col. Uziel Gal retired from the Israeli military and spent the rest of his life in the United States working as a firearms designer. His designs included the Ruger MP9 sub machinegun. Gal passed away in 2002 at the age of 78.
The Umarex Mini Uzi is a remarkably accurate copy in .177 cal. The gun has a reciprocating charging handle and opening ejection port, folding double aperture rear and front post sights.
The original Uzi SMG and its variants, Uzi Carbine, Mini Uzi, Micro Uzi and semi-auto Uzi Pistol, have remained a staple of military and law enforcement agencies the world over for more than 50 years and in calibers ranging from the original 9mm to .41 AE, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .22 LR. Uzi .22 caliber rimfire conversion kits were first offered in 1987 and Umarex, (yes that Umarex) began offering .22 LR pistol and carbine models in 2012). The Uzi remained the Israeli military’s primary SMG for almost 50 years, finally being phased out by the IDF in 2003.
The details of making an Uzi CO2 model
Although Uzi construction is simple, a lot of forethought went into the gun’s engineering. Intended to lower manufacturing costs and make the Uzi easier to manufacture, the receiver is stamped out of flat steel and then formed around dies. The series of long ridges, also stamped into the sides of the receiver, is not for looks, but to strengthen the receiver flats against impact and damage. Unlike conventional rifles or sub machineguns the Uzi’s magazine inserts into the pistol grip just like a semiautomatic handgun, creating a better center of balance for one-handed operation. This also makes an Uzi faster to reload since the magazine well is already your hand. Another distinctive feature is the Uzi’s benchmark folding metal stock designs. First introduced in the 1960s, the collapsing design found on the larger carbines is regarded by many military arms historians as one of the best designs ever. Combined with the gun’s central pistol grip magazine well, the Uzi can be made as compact as possible for carry and ease of use when fired off hand or from the waist, yet, by simply pulling, or swinging, depending upon the model design, the shoulder stock into position, the gun can be rapidly converted into a shoulder-fired carbine. All of these fundamental features are reproduced in the Umarex Mini Uzi .177 caliber CO2 model.
The pistol grip design is almost identical to the semi-auto 9mm model, with the magazine release at the bottom (arrow) and Safe and Fire selector switch at the top (arrow) where it is easily actuated by the right hand thumb. The gun’s design, unfortunately, favors right-handed operators.
The 9mm Uzi uses a blowback mechanism with a bolt that wraps around (shrouds) the back of the barrel, and the Umarex Uzi .22 models (remember, Umarex also makes the .22 LR versions, so they know how to build an Uzi), use a closed bolt blowback operated semi-auto action. The blowback action for the .177 caliber Umarex Uzi CO2 model operates almost the same. The air pistol also has an identical 9mm-style manual grip safety, charging handle, trigger design, and pistol grip safety. The latter much like a Colt Model 1911; in order for the firearm to discharge the grip safety must be fully depressed.
The Umarex Mini Uzi CO2 model is as close in measurements and fundamental operation as possible to an original c.1980’s 9mm Mini Uzi. The correct-style, reciprocating charging handle is mounted on the top of the receiver, and the ejection port on the right side of the receiver opens as if an empty shell case were being extracted, thus the Mini Uzi .177 has the authentic look and feel of the 9mm when fired, less, of course, for the recoil and report of a 9mm. It also bears the IWI Mini Uzi and factory stampings on the left rear of the receiver, a rear sight with two flip-up apertures, and authentic looking plastic grips and forend.
The 28-round BB magazine is a two-part design with the BBs loading into a narrow column that inserts into the grip. The full sized Uzi 9mm magazine base locks into the grip and gives the gun an authentic look when loaded. Extra magazines sell for $12.99.
Exactly like the semi-auto 9mm models, a functioning Safe and Fire selector switch is at the top of the grips with the magazine release at the bottom center of the grip. From any angle, the CO2 model is a carbon copy of the centerfire and rimfire versions. The big difference is that a CO2 cartridge is loaded into the pistol grip by removing the right panel. After inserting the CO2, the integral seating screw in the base is turned clockwise until the cartridge is pierced. Replace the grip panel and you’re ready to go.
The 12 gr. CO2 cartridge loads into the right side of the grip frame by removing the snap-on grip panel. The base of the grip also contains an integral folding seating screw (shown folded). The magazine has a loading port which allows a quick fill. Shooting tests were done with Hornady Black Diamond anodized steel BBs.
For external accuracy, the magazine has a full width base where is extends from the grip, but inside it uses a narrow stick magazine that holds 28 BBs. Among other special features that come with the Umarex Mini Uzi is the aforementioned threaded faux suppressor. While lighter than an original (since the receiver shell is polymer and not metal), the Mini still weighs in at 40 ounces empty. The gun has a 5.6 inch smoothbore barrel and an overall length (with faux suppressor and open shoulder stock) of 29.5 inches (14.1 inches w/o suppressor and stock folded). The pistol looks and feels right, and more importantly, it shoots great from the moment you pull the cocking handle to the rear, until the 28-round magazine is emptied out. Extra magazines cost $12.95, making them among the most affordable.
Trigger pull averaged 6 pounds, 10 ounces on the test gun, and there’s 0.938 inches of take up with no appreciable resistance. It is a long, smooth trigger pull. The CO2-powered reciprocating action in the Uzi gives the airgun a little felt recoil; the gun’s report is medium-loud, and the combination gives this one a pretty nice feel when you pull the trigger.
I shot the accuracy tests with the Mini Uzi’s shoulder stock extended and a two-handed hold.
Sighting through the rear aperture and tall front post sight puts the Mini Uzi right on POA at 21 feet, and at that range I was able to put 20 shots into an area measuring 1.75 inches (five high over the bullseye and 10), with 15 rounds very close in the 10 and X, and at least a best five in a ragged hole measuring 0.43 inches; the benefits of saturation shooting. But this is a very easy airgun to shoot accurately because of its weight and stability. It is quick to handle and fast to reload, just the way Uziel Gal intended.
Only in films or in the real world of military, law enforcement and private security will any of us get to shoulder a Mini Uzi pistol with a suppressor. In CO2 you can do it for $100. From 21 feet I put all but five of 20 rounds into 0.75 inches and a best 5-shot group under half an inch. I also like that Umarex put all the white warnings in small print on the ejection port door and kept the rest of the gun clean.
The Uzi licensed Umarex, even as a semi-auto only version, (like centerfire and .22 LR caliber Title I Uzi models), remains a signature design anointed by firearms historians as legendary, in any caliber.
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.read more
The very first Airgun Experience was a tribute to John Wayne’s last film, The Shootist, and the limited edition Umarex Colt Peacemaker hand engraved and custom finished Shootist CO2 model. This was the beginning of an entire series of hand engraved CO2 Peacemakers in 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 inch barrel lengths that would be introduced in Airgun Experience articles.
This marks the 400thAirgun Experience article and over the period from No. 1 to No. 400 so many new CO2 air pistols and rifles have been introduced it becomes difficult to keep them all in comparative categories. The only real defining characteristics are magazine types, blowback or non-blowback actions (and that has to include revolvers), sights, though most are fixed sights of one type or another, and lastly, the quality of the build, fit, and finish. In most cases the differences between blowback and non-blowback semi autos covers all the rest, but not in every case and with today’s choices, that really doesn’t pare down the list all that much. So to start, let’s look back at new models introduced since Airgun Experience No. 1, which started with a new model.
The nickel finished 5-1/2 inch Peacemakers were the first fancy models, aside from early commemorative BB models like the U.S. Marshal’s Single Action. The western guns have always had a special place in Airgun Experience.
That air pistol, developed in 2016 from the 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemakers introduced the year before, was a hand-finished and engraved copy of John Wayne’s Single Actions from his final film, The Shootist and only 100 were made. They are gone now and forever in the “collectible” airgun category. But that gun did set the pace for the standards of Airgun Experience both for readers to expect and for me to live up to. With 399 articles under my belt I hope I have delivered what you have come to expect in an Airgun Experience review. And that you have come to know what it is that I like and expect in an air pistol or the occasional air rifle I might review. I’m a handgun guy and there’s no separating that from what I write and how I write it.
Sig Sauer jumped into the airgun market with rifled barrel pellet models like the P226 ASP, based on the P226 models that were made famous in the hands of U.S. Navy Seals. It was an authentic looking air pistol designed by Sig with the intention of its use as both a recreational shooting air pistol and as a training gun.
While the Sig lacked some very basic operating features for a blowback action pistol, like a slide and barrel lug interface (it was just molded into the slide), and functioning slide release (the slide could not lock back), the ruggedly built pellet model did offer a working safety decocker as one of its training features. It was a step forward in blowback action pellet pistol design and a portent of greater things to come from Sig Sauer by 2018.
What has surprised me most over the last three years has been the number of new CO2 models and the continual improvements in the authenticity of design, number 1 on my checklist, the quality of fit (“does this gun sound like it’s rattling to you?”), and finishes that don’t scream “air pistol” from 10 feet away. Of course, when it all comes together you end up with some very impressive looking CO2 models that bring a new level of responsibility with them, and that boldfaced paragraph I sometimes place at the end of an article about treating these highly authentic looking and handling air pistols with the same respect as their centerfire counterparts. That started early in the column with a couple of new Sig Sauer models in 2016, the first of which was featured in the second and third Airgun Experience articles covering the P226 ASP, a new Sig Sauer marketed blowback action, pellet-firing air pistol, the first of the ASP models, that both excited and disappointed. As a blowback action CO2 pistol it had several very neat features including a rifled barrel, working safety decocker, white dot sights, a fairly authentic trigger pull and a threaded barrel. But Sig used an economy of features to keep the price down and make the P226 ASP a basic hands-on training gun that was only good for familiarizing how the gun sighted, learning trigger control and safe handing with the safety decocker. Basic. It was a small step forward for pellet-firing CO2 pistols but functionally behind then current CO2 blowback action BB models like the Umarex Colt Commander. But it proved that Sig Sauer was in the game.
Aside from the Umarex Colt Peacemakers, the first new CO2 model that really rocked me back on my heels was the Air Venturi version of the Umarex Uzi pistol. Unlike the semi-auto only Umarex Uzi, this special version offered a real Mini Uzi-design selective fire system, making it as close to a real existing gun as any air pistol up to that time.
By the summer of 2016 I had found one blowback action CO2 pistol that would be my very first “keeper” when I reviewed the Mini Uzi select fire pistol. Going from guns like the Umarex Commander to the Uzi was like stepping through the looking glass. I had tested 9mm Mini Uzi and .22 caliber Uzi models for Combat Handguns magazine and this was as close to a real Uzi pistol as possible. It showed me, and I hope those of you who read that article in the summer of 2016, that the future of CO2 blowback action pistols was about to change from the simplistic to the outrageous.
Much as I like Model 1911 Colts and 1911 variations for competition shooting, I have always had a preference for the CZ 75 based Tanfoglio Gold Custom 9mm competition pistols (which have been in the hands of world champion shooters for years) and when the CO2 version was introduced and actually fit the Safariland Tanfoglio Gold Custom competition rig, I was sold on the CO2 model as another keeper. Even the CO2 BB magazines work with the competition rig’s mag pouches. This remains the most accurate (properly fitted with optics) CO2 blowback action BB pistol on the market.
All of the essential features of the 9mm model have been perfectly duplicated from the slide serrations to grip profile and alloy grips, and thumb safeties making the Tanfoglio Gold Custom the best competition training gun made today.
The Tanfoglio Gold Custom was also reviewed that summer and as the top level 9mm CZ 75-based competition pistol it was an equally impressive and accurate blowback action CO2 BB model that has maintained its position as the most accurate blowback action BB pistol on the market. Given all that has come, that is quite an impressive accomplishment for one of the earlier CO2 models. The Tanfoglio Custom Limited with adjustable sights followed, but did not stay around long enough to do anything but whet a lot of appetites for a Tanfoglio that didn’t require optics. If that gun ever comes back, there is a waiting list of CO2 owners who missed out on what was one of the very best CO2 pistols of the last three years.
One thing I have never grown out of is dressing the part with western guns. Helps to have been doing Guns of the Old West magazine for over a decade, but when the CO2 Peacemakers came out, especially the nickel 7-1/2 inch pellet cartridge-loading models with rifled barrels, they quickly found their way not only into Airgun Experience but Guns of the Old West as well. The CO2 Peacemakers cut their own niche into the airgun world and despite no new models (like a proper 2-1/2 inch barrel Sheriff’s Model), they remain the best Single Action air pistols made.
In the very near future you will be able to custom order your own Peacemaker from Pyramyd Air with your personal choice of finishes, combinations of finishes, and barrel lengths (5-1/2 or 7-1/2 inch). Stay tuned for more on this one.
The summer of 2016 also saw the beginning of an evolution in wheelguns. With the 5-1/2 inch and 7-1/2 inch rifled barrel Peacemakers, Umarex had established the BB and pellet cartridge as a new standard for revolvers.
ASG and its licensed Dan Wesson models got off to a good but not entirely accurate beginning in 2016 with both BB and pellet-cartridge firing models with smoothbore and rifled barrels. The grip frame, however, was closer to the Umarex 327 TRR8 and used a S&W-style cylinder release.
Within a year’s time ASG had added a new and very proper DW Model 715 with the correct crane cylinder release and superior hard rubber combat grips. The unique finish changed colors from deep blue black (outdoors) to a silver grey under different lighting.
Umarex and ASG were leading the parade, the latter with its first Dan Wesson models, which were nice but not authentic to the original Daniel B. Wesson II designs. ASG would follow up in 2017 with a truly bona fide 6-inch Model 715 with the correct crane-mounted cylinder latch, a rifled barrel and pellet-loading cartridges. This became the all-time best CO2 double action revolver, along with the 2-inch snub nose version that, in the estimation of many Airgun Experience readers, is the best CO2 revolver ever. And it has not been surpassed thus far.
The hottest ASG Dan Wesson came almost a year after the 6-inch version with a 2-inch nickel snub nose, pellet-cartridge model that is not only the best looking of the DW CO2 models but the Number 1 revolver training gun on the market. Another absolute keeper.
By the end of summer 2016 I had found that Umarex was delivering more new guns than ever and each was a benchmark in its own right with the Beretta 92A1 select-fire pistol, which combined two actual Beretta models into one gun, making the CO2 92A1 a bit of an anomaly for authenticity but one heck of an exciting blowback action air pistol to shoot. The 92A1 had the look and feel of a 9mm pistol, a more robust blowback action and of course, semi-auto and full auto fire. It also matched the current Beretta 92 series design, making it a truly up-to-the-minute pistol in most respects. The other great new model of 2016 was really quite unexpected; but first the back story.
Authenticity of style, fit, and finish, were all combined in what remains the most exciting Beretta CO2 model you could own, the 92A1, a virtual 1:1 of the 9mm version with the added option of a Beretta 93R-based selective-fire system.
I had seen a plastic Broomhandle Mauser semi-auto air pistol in the Umarex booth at the 2015 Shot Show and I had remarked, “too bad they didn’t do it in metal.” There were some restrained smiles from the Umarex folks and a, well you never know. The next summer I knew, we all knew. Umarex had launched a new Legends model, the Mauser Model 712 select-fire Broomhandle, an all-metal blowback action pistol that again reset the mark for what is considered an impressive air pistol. With the M712 added, the select fire air pistol world was getter better and better. There were three options, the Mini Uzi, The Beretta 92A1 and the Mauser M712. Each was unique in its design and history and as authentic as any airguns available at the time.
I have always had a passion for the legendary Mauser Broomhandle pistols, most of which, while expensive, are not hard to obtain in very good to excellent condition, despite most being 100 years old. The one that is hard to find and harder still to afford, is the Model 1932 select-fire pistol, or as it is also known, the Model 712.
When Umarex introduced the M712 select-fire Broomhandle they did it about as right as they could, making it so authentic that original Broomhandle shoulder stocks fit the air pistol!
Umarex also had another ace up its sleeve (and no, not the Legends Ace Single Action, with all due respect to Expendables fans) but rather a semi-auto so authentic in design that by the end of 2016 a few law enforcement agencies were trying them out for recruit and remedial training exercises, the S&W M&P40. It has been around just long enough to be an established benchmark that other CO2 models try to beat, and in fact by 2018 that was accomplished by three new semi-autos, which we will discuss a little later.
CO2 training guns are not new, but Umarex began perfecting the concept for law enforcement with the S&W licensed M&P40. The Military & Police model is so authentic that it can interchange with M&P40 duty gear and accessories. It also field strips exactly the same making it a total training gun for law enforcement agencies that carry the M&P pistols. And Umarex and S&W didn’t miss a thing, the CO2 model comes with three backstraps so it can be adapted to various hand sizes, essential for serious training with an air pistol.
These Pennsylvania Sheriffs carry the M&P 40 and train indoors with the CO2 models to keep up handling proficiency and lower the cost of live ammo (.40 S&W) range training, while still seeing accuracy results on paper 21 feet downrange. The CO2 model and its magazines fit the officer’s centerfire Level 3 duty holsters and spare magazine pouches.
We still have another 2016 introduction to revel in. While Umarex was asserting itself, Sig Sauer was testing the waters, ASG was belting out an authentic CZ 75 semi-auto and multiple Dan Wesson models one of the oldest airgun manufacturers in the world was revisiting its own history, Webley & Scott Ltd.
Remember the Tanfoglio Gold Custom? This is where it comes from, the CZ 75. ASG introduced a very realistic CO2 version of the classic DA/SA hammer-fired 9mm pistol that uses identical self-contained CO2 BB magazines with the 9mm model’s extended base pad. This is one of the most overlooked and underrated CO2 models on the market and one that every serious air pistol collector should own.
Rule Britannia. England has produced some of the finest and most rugged handguns in history and one of the longest lived and famous is the Webley MK VI. Webley & Scott entered the airgun market decades ago but in the past few years have brought forth something uniquely their own, the MK VI CO2 models. The current offerings have rifled steel barrels, pellet-loading cartridges, and either nickel or weathered Battlefield finishes.
Webley started out by introducing a BB cartridge loading model of the famous WWI and WWII British .455 caliber sidearm, the MK VI. While as authentic as any military copy could be (since they used the blueprints from the cartridge guns to design the air pistol) the MK VI was another check in an amazing year for CO2 models. What was missing was a rifled barrel version (which was already on sale in Europe) and the U.S market got that in doubles with nickel finish and weathered Battlefield finish rifled barrel pellet-firing models in late 2017.
The Battlefield finish MK VI is the most authentic looking of the current models. Nickel guns were rarely made and most were plated after the fact. The Battlefield adds just enough wear to look like a pistol that has seen the elephant.
In Part 2 we continue looking at the best new CO2 models, but first, something you all need to know! Thursday’s Part 2 will conclude my review of all the best guns I have tested since 2016, and in Saturday’s Part 3 conclusion, I will reveal my all-time favorite. Everyone who reads Airgun Experience on Tuesday and Thursday has a chance to win a brand new Umarex Beretta M9A3 by posting a comment with the gun they think I will pick on Saturday. This needs to be in the comments section before read more
The Uzi (right) is more than 50 years old in design yet remains as viable a self defense and tactical pistol today as in the 1950s. The blowback action CO2 model sold by Pyramyd Air has a select fire system that allows both semi-auto and full auto. The Umarex HK MP5 K is a more modern design which is still in use today by military and law enforcement. The CO2-powered PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) version is a very authentic rendering of the compact H&K pistol with folding stock.
Few military arms have remained as universally accepted around the world as the Uzi pistol and Heckler & Koch MP5K. Neither gun in full automatic military versions is available to the general public without an ATF Form 4, local law enforcement approval, a federal background check and a $200 tax stamp, or a Class III license for automatic weapons. But, both have been spectacularly duplicated as CO2 blowback action versions by Umarex. There is a special select-fire Uzi Pistol with folding shoulder stock sold by Pyramyd Air, a semi-auto only model from Umarex, and the HK MP5 PDW semi-auto version. These 20th century firearms, one more than 50 years old in design, are still in daily use the world over; that’s how good they are and how well they perform in combat and law enforcement situations. As CO2 models they put at hand designs that most of us could neither afford nor use for practical shooting, but as .177 caliber airguns, they serve a purpose for sport shooting and, if need be, as training substitutes for the actual guns. Either way, both are great fun to shoot as CO2 models.
About as close to real as it gets for this style pistol, the .177 caliber Mini Uzi Subgun is a select fire version with semiautomatic and full auto operation. The self-contained CO2 BB magazines give the CO2 version the final touch of authenticity.
UZI, the simple solution
The Uzi is named after its inventor, Uziel Gal, a Captain (later Major) with the Israel Defense Force. Gal based his design on the Czechoslovakian Model ZK 476 and Czech Model M23/25 sub machineguns, but designed his version so it could be more efficiently manufactured for quick deployment to the Israeli military. The final version was patented under Uzi Gal in 1952, with production rights assigned to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Two years later the Uzi was adopted by the Israeli military and the rest, as they say, is history. The Uzi SMG, Uzi carbine, Mini Uzi, Micro Uzi and civilian semi-auto Uzi pistol remain as practical for military use today as they were half a century ago. In fact, the Uzi SMG remained the Israeli military’s primary gun from its introduction until being phased out after 51 years in service in 2003. In the 16 years that have passed, Uzi models are still carried by military units around the world. The Uzi has also appeared in more films and television shows than almost at other automatic firearm.
All of the 9x19mm select fire features of the Mini Uzi Subgun are duplicated in this all metal construction air pistol. Note the authentic ridges stamped into the sides of the receiver to strengthen the flats against impact and damage. The pistol grip and forend are plastic just as they are on the centerfire models.
The CO2-powered, semi-auto and select-fire models are absolutely true to the Uzi design in virtually every important detail and operating feature. Although Uzi construction is simple, right down to the CO2 models, Uziel Gal put a great deal of forethought into the “simple” original engineering. The Uzi was intended to be an effective close-quarter battle (CQB) weapon for troops, and it served and continues to serve in that capacity.
The same as the centerfire models, the pistol grip incorporates a working safety that has to be depressed for the CO2 pistol to operate. The select-fire control is the same as the 9mm model with “S” safe, “R” semi-auto, and “A” automatic. Also note the flip-up rear sight aperture.
Gal’s ingenious design was also intended to lower manufacturing costs in the 1950s and decrease production time. To make the Uzi easy to build, the receiver is stamped out of flat steel and then formed around dies. The receiver for the CO2 model is made the same way and incorporates the same series of long ridges stamped into the sides of the receiver. The aesthetics of this design are unmistakable but their intended function is to strengthen the receiver’s flat sides against impact and damage. The same applies to the CO2 model.
Ease of handling was also another important aspect of Uziel Gal’s design which, unlike conventional sub machineguns, has the magazine inserted into the pistol grip just like a semiautomatic handgun. This not only resulted in a better balanced pistol or sub machinegun, but one far easier to reload. Pushing a magazine into the pistol grip is more intuitive than loading one into a mag well further forward on the receiver, especially under pressure or in a dark. This was Gal’s observation in the field and the principal reason he designed the Uzi with the magazine going into the pistol grip.
With the metal shoulder stock extended the overall length of the Mini Uzi air pistol is 23.5 inches. Note the charging handle on top which is channeled to allow sighting. The gun is cocked with the handle for the first shot and reciprocates with each round fired. The dual aperture rear sight is windage adjustable and the front post sight can be adjusted for elevation by turning it up or down.
Cartridge firing models have ranged from 9mm (the original chambering for the guns) to .41 AE, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .22 LR, in both pistol and carbine versions. Centerfire (and rimfire) Uzi models use a blowback action mechanism with a bolt that wraps around (shrouds) the back of the barrel; a design, although not unique to the Uzi, that contributes to reducing the overall length of the weapon. Civilian Uzi models, chambered all the way down to .22 rimfire in pistol and carbine versions (the latter also manufactured by Umarex), utilize a closed bolt blowback operated semi-auto action, with the same operating controls and pistol grip safety.
One more touch of authenticity, the ejection port opens and closes with each shot fired, even though there are no spent shell cases to eject.
The Umarex Mini Uzi CO2 is as close in measurements and operation as possible to an original c.1980’s Mini Uzi version. The correct-style charging handle is mounted on top of the receiver and reciprocates with each shot, and the ejection port on the right side of the receiver opens as if an empty shell case were being extracted.
At 21 feet fired semi-auto with the shoulder stock extended, the Uzi put 20 steel BBs into a spread of 1.5 inches with some really tight groups.
The CO2 Mini Uzi pistol has the same look and feel as a 9x19mm model and the same-style rear sight with two flip-up apertures, original style plastic pistol grips and forend, and even bears the MINI UZI and IWI imprint on the back of the receiver. The Full Auto version, available exclusively from Pyramyd Air, perfectly duplicates the “S” safe, semi-auto “R”, and automatic “A” fire control selector switch at the top of the grips. The magazine release at the bottom center of the grip is also a carbon copy of the cartridge-firing version. And best of all, the air pistols have self-contained magazines that hold both the single CO2 capsule and 25 BBs. With a weight (including magazine) of 4.85 lbs., the gun has a 5.6 inch (smoothbore) barrel and an overall length (with open shoulder stock) of 23.5 inches (13.4 inches with the stock folded). For an Uzi CO2 model, it just doesn’t get any closer to real than this.
Only in films or in the real world of military, law enforcement, and private security will most of us ever get to shoulder a 9mm MP5 K-PDW. The Umarex .177 cal. pistol makes it possible.
Heckler & Koch MP5 K
Umarex has done the same with a .177 caliber version of the MP5 K-PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) model. The experience Umarex gained for this CO2 version also comes from building .22 LR models of the full size MP5. The MP5 K in this particular CO2 configuration with short barrel, forward assist pistol grip, and folding stock is not available to the general population as a centerfire gun. With BB gun designs exempt from NFA edicts, the same selective fire and SBR (short barrel rifle) designs used by military and law enforcement can be duplicated in .177 caliber, although Umarex chose to make the CO2 model a semi-auto only.
With its folding shoulder stock closed the Umarex MP5 K-PDW is a .177 cal. doppelganger of the famed military pistol right down to the locking charging handle, sights, and muzzle break. Also note the ambidextrous thumb safety.
The earliest MP5 9mm models were introduced by H&K in 1964 to fulfill military contracts for a compact sub machinegun. There were five standard configurations, MP5 A1 without buttstock, A2 with fixed buttstock, A3 with collapsible buttstock, A4, a modified version of the A2, and A5, a variation of the A3 and the model that is most commonly recognized today as an MP5. Models later equipped with silencers for special operation were given an SD (schalldämpfer) suffix.
The .177 caliber PDW is authentic in almost every detail right down to an accurately-sized, 40-round capacity BB magazine. The MP5 K-PDW weighs in at a modest 3.56 pounds with a 6-inch smoothbore barrel and overall length of 24.5 inches, with open stock, and 15.25 inches with the stock folded.
Authentic handling is part of the Umarex design and the charging handle operates exactly like a cartridge firing model. Note the open ejection port and the charging handle in the rear locked back position.
Handling the CO2 version is almost identical to a 9mm with an ambidextrous thumb safety/fire switch just above the pistol grip, making it easy to reach and operate with the shooting hand thumb. The forward charging handle is functional in as much as it moves and also locks back, but has to actual purpose for the CO2 model other than to reciprocate as part of the blowback action. And the gun will not fire on an empty magazine, so you know when your 40 shots are gone. The CO2 loads into the receiver by releasing the shoulder stock and opening the CO2 chamber. It is not a quick operation but the number of shots per CO2 is sufficient for at least 80 rounds. Maybe it is a good thing this model doesn’t have full auto capability!
The authentically styled BB magazine is easy to load with a locking follower, and holds a total of 40 rounds (steel BBs).
Like the original guns, the MP5 K CO2 model design does not have an integral top rail, thus a rail must be added for optics, as it is shown in the article. For this purpose I added a Strike Systems MP5/G3 Series rail mounts to the top of the receiver providing a top mount for optics plus a side rail for a tactical light. The mount also allows co-witnessing with the H&K’s adjustable BUIS.
The CO2 cartridge loads inside the receiver after pulling a locking pin and opening the back of the gun by raising the folded shoulder stock…
…this tilts the back panel down allowing the CO2 to be inserted. After closing the back and re-inserting the locking pin, the seating screw is tightened down.
The MP5 is a big gun compared to the Uzi, but also more of a dedicated tactical pistol at 21 feet using optics. With an average velocity of 400 fps, the MP5 was fired off hand shoulder stock open. Using .177 caliber Umarex Precision steel BBs 20 rounds grouped in a spread of 2.5 inches with a best 10 shots inside the 10 ring and X at 1.75 inches. Not exactly target shooting accuracy, but this isn’t a target pistol. The gun shoots much better with optics than the BUIS. In comparison, the Uzi has no practical way to add optics to the pistol’s receiver (although it can be done) so the metal sights on the CO2 model are all you have.
To mount optics in the MP5 K-PDW I used a Strike Systems MP5/G3 Series rail mount on the top of the receiver. This allows fitting most optics, in this case a Walther PS 55 red dot. The mount also has a rail for mounting a tactical light on the side. The PS 55 is a military-styled sight with a 30mm objective lens, red duplex reticle, seven brightness settings and an integral Weaver mount making it a quick attach and detach from the rail without tools.
From 21 feet the MP5 put 20 Umarex Precision steel BBs into 2.5 inches with a best 10 shots inside the 10 ring and X at 1.75 inches.
Downrange competition from the Uzi
At a combat distance of 21feet, and an average velocity of 360 fps, the Mini Uzi put 20 Umarex steel BBs into a spread of 1.5 inches. Between the Uzi and H&K models, the Uzi has enough weight and balance in the hand that it feels like the real thing with the reciprocating bolt. It takes one CO2 capsule for each load of 25 steel BBs if you want to fire on full auto, about two loads on semi-auto. That CO2 has a big job to do operating the action on the Uzi. With a few magazines loaded and ready, the CO2 Mini Uzi subgun is as quick as its 9mm counterpart to operate and reload. It is an ideal tactical training gun and honestly about as authentic as possible for an air pistol of this type. The Uzi, even though it is an older design than the MP5 K-PDW, comes out on top for this competition in all the best ways.
Winner and still champion, the Uzi select-fire Subgun remains the best blowback action model in this class of CO2 powered firearms.
What are we looking for in a blowback action CO2 pistol?
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.
My history reviewing handguns and rifles for gun magazines and writing gun books goes back to the 1990s, a time when CO2 powered air pistols were, for lack of a better term, in their “primitive” stage of development. At the 2000 Shot Show (the annual international firearms industry tradeshow) I was impressed with the latest airguns from Gamo, Crosman, Beeman, and Umarex, among others, but mostly Umarex, which was showing the very first blowback action CO2 air pistol, a BB gun version of one of my personal favorite centerfire pistols, the Walther PPK/S. This was followed a year later by the Walther CP99, a CO2 powered non-blowback action, pellet-firing version of my other favorite Walther model, the P99. Along with the CP88, introduced back in 1996, Umarex and Walther had set the “adult airgun” market on a new and very intriguing course that not only caught the attention of airgun owners but gun owners as well.
It took years for semi-auto airgun designs to evolve, which was spearheaded by Umarex and their blowback action Colt Model 1911A1 Commander introduced in 2014. With its self-contained CO2 and BB magazine, the 1911 opened the door for even more authentic pistols like the Umarex S&W licensed M&P40 (above) introduced in 2016. This remains the most authentic to the cartridge model of all CO2 blowback action semi-autos and is also used as a training gun.
Today with brand name licensing agreements from manufacturers the world over, the airgun industry is building near 1:1 copies of cartridge-firing handguns. In the past three years alone airgun enthusiasts have had to totally reevaluate their interests and reasons for purchasing a CO2 pistol. This sea change within the airgun hobby spearheaded not only by Umarex but companies like ASG and Gletcher, has transformed BB and pellet-firing air pistols into something far greater than they were even a decade ago. Modern air pistol designs and specifically those I have written about in Airgun Experience in recent months have taken designs further than ever with a handful of models that serve as perfect surrogates for handgun training. As a result, there now exits a crossover between gun owners and airgun owners that once was only a small percentage of the hobby, but now proliferates because hardcore gun enthusiasts (and law enforcement) have realized the benefits of airguns as true training aids. The question I have posed is exactly how much authenticity do airgun enthusiasts expect with the technology at hand?
Models like the M&P40 use actual locked breech designs with a tilting barrel and fully operational slide and locking barrel lug. Not every blowback action airgun uses this elaborate design. The Umarex S&W M&P40 should be the paradigm for all CO2-powered blowback action air pistols.
Plinkers and practitioners
This is almost a question that answers itself in Airgun Experience every time a new CO2 model based on a cartridge-firing counterpart falls short of expectations. This is where the industry, or part of it, and the consumer have failed to fully connect. That connection, however, depends entirely upon everyone’s reasonable understanding of what is practical and what is not. This is where design, manufacturing and marketing either score points or miss the bullseye with consumers. There is a segment of the adult airgun market that wants the most accurate and authentic handling and operating blowback action semi-auto and selective fire pistols and BB/pellet-loading cartridge revolvers possible, and they are willing to pay a premium for them. That is not necessarily the mainstream market. The majority of airgun enthusiasts are plinkers and target shooters, others collect old air rifles, or are into precision air rifle and air pistol competition with PCP models costing far more then even the best hand engraved CO2 Peacemaker. The best competition models cost well over $1,000. These dedicated air rifle and air pistol competitive shooters and serious target shooters are the backbone of the airgun hobby. Those of us who pursue collecting and shooting the best blowback action CO2 pistols and cartridge-loading Single Action and Double Action revolvers are another tier, but it is the plinkers who just want a nice BB gun that looks authentic and shoots well, that make up the greatest share of the marketplace and they spend less than $100 for an air pistol. When a new blowback action model comes close to that price point it is not necessarily going to meet all of the demands of every consumer, especially those who already have a high-quality blowback pistol with every (or most every) desirable feature.
Close behind the M&P40 is the Umarex Beretta 92A1 introduced last year. This CO2 model emulates in fine detail the current 9mm Beretta 92A1 model. For a full-sized pistol the 92A1 CO2 model is almost in a class of its own. Umarex had this gun nailed down perfectly, including the locked breech barrel and slide design, and then upped the game by adding a selector switch so the air pistol can fire full auto. While this is not a feature of the 9mm 92A1, the selector switch on the airgun is quite unobtrusive and does not interfere with any of the pistol’s other operating features, thus allowing it to be an excellent training gun.
Pyramyd Air has helped to close that gap (and continues to develop new products) with a number of exclusive or limited edition airgun models that provide as much realism as today’s technology can achieve. A few of these guns are remarkable like the selective fire Mini Uzi and the Colt Peacemaker limited hand engraved and custom finished editions.
The king of selective fire pistols is the Mini Uzi submachine gun, which almost perfectly duplicates the 9mm military version and uses self-contained CO2 BB magazines. This is by far one of the most exciting air pistols to shoot and one that every blowback action air pistol enthusiast should have in their collection, along with several extra magazines.
A handful of new (2016-2017) models from major manufacturers like ASG have also followed suit with guns like the latest Dan Wesson Model 715 revolvers, but the mainstream production guns are catering to a broader (less demanding) consumer than many of those who read Airgun Experience. The reality check is looking at what has been developed in the past two years that truly meets the highest expectations.
When it comes to wheelguns, nothing presently surpasses the ASG Dan Wesson licensed Model 715 revolvers for authentic styling and ease of use. The 4.5mm pellet cartridge firing guns are available with 2-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch rifled barrels.
Even with all that has been achieved with Western-style airguns since 2015, including the addition of the 7-1/2 inch Colt Peacemaker, the Schofield, and Model 1875 Remington (which should be available shortly), the demand is for more variations of the Peacemaker and Schofield, in line with what the original manufacturers offered in the 19th century. It is understandable, too, that there exists the expectation that what was done nearly 150 years ago out of steel and hand labor should be easy to reproduce today out of alloy with CNC machines and modern casting methods. It should be and is. The proof is in the variety of guns developed and on the market in just the last 18 months. The more tooling that is created, the more variations that are possible and Western airguns will very likely take the lead in groundbreaking technology to offer a greater diversity of models. Ironic in a sense, since contemporary semi-auto designs should be forging ahead of wheelguns when instead they seem to be occasionally stumbling.
The Old West has not been overlooked either and in just two years Umarex has delivered 5-1/2 inch and 7-1/2 inch Colt licensed Peacemakers, Bear River has introduced a full size .177 caliber BB and pellet cartridge loading version of the legendary Schofield topbreak, and Crosman and Remington have teamed up to build a Model 1875 (not pictured). Pyramyd air has also produced its own limited editions of both the Colt and Schofield with period correct hand engraving, bringing the past into the present as no airguns ever have.
Semi-autos are in all truth much more difficult to build, having more moving parts that can break. That’s why revolvers have survived for more than 180 years and the debate of revolvers vs. semi-autos continues to this very day. If you are a wheelgun enthusiast of either Single Action or Double Action models, this has been the best two years in the history of air pistols, and there is no end in sight.
Authenticity is what makes these four exceptional blowback action CO2 models worth owning. Each is almost identical to its centerfire counterpart in handling, trigger design, safety operation, full-size magazine loading and sighting. Though some of the cartridge models actually use tritium night sights, the white dot sights on the airguns are excellent. The only one that actually has a fully adjustable rear sight is the Tanfoglio (third from left) while the others have combat sights identical to the cartridge models for size, shape and sight radius. (Pictured left to right, Umarex S&W M&P40, Umarex Colt Commander, Tanfoglio Limited Custom, and Sig Sauer P226 X-Five)
The greatest ally to forging ahead in airgun design is consumer demand, and those of you who follow Airgun Experience and favor authenticity and accuracy over the expedience of manufacturing for a broader marketplace must make your voices heard. Demand drives manufacturing, but manufacturing also drives the market. That is why we still see new blowback action models with stick magazines and separate CO2 loading channels in the grip frame, even though the demand from the segment of the airgun market driven by gun owners now expects every CO2 blowback action semi-auto to be as good as the Umarex S&W M&P40, Beretta 92A1, Sig Sauer P226 X-Five, Tanfoglio Customs, Umarex and Sig Sauer 1911s, Mauser M712 and Luger P.08. Most of these guns are not high priced (most sell for between $100 and $150), especially for what they deliver in features and accuracy at combat handgun distances. Whether you are using one of these airguns for proficiency training, finding out what you like about the gun for CCW use before stepping up to make the big purchase, have the real cartridge guns and want a matching CO2 model, or are just an avid airgun enthusiast, there is more today than ever before. If you want more, if you want better, and are willing to pay the extra dollars to get it, write a comment, tell a friend to log on and write a comment, make your voices heard. Three years ago barely any of the models pictured in this article even existed. What do you want to see three years from now?
History has, in a way, dictated which guns are the most significant, among them is the great Webley MKVI. As a manufacturer Webley also has a long history building airguns and their c. 1937 MKVI in .177 caliber is based on the same blueprint as the original .455 caliber military revolver. (Webley holster by World War Supply, belt courtesy John Bianchi)
It’s hard to believe, but here we are at No. 100. A lot of airguns have been tested in the previous 99 Airgun Experience articles. When I set out to create this series of short features, rather than following a traditional blog format, I decided to write and illustrate them as I would for a magazine. This comes from 40 years in the print media world as an author, editor and publisher; it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Hopefully, those of you who have followed the Airgun Experience throughout the last 99 articles and others who have recently started to read the columns on Pyramyd Air have come to appreciate the depth and detail in each review. The goal has always been to inform, illustrate, and educate as much as possible, not only with reviews of the airguns but their use for enhancing firearms knowledge and improving shooting skills.
Gletcher makes the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 and 1944 military rifle models, one of the most popular of the legendary Russian bolt-actions. The Gletcher 1891, which is the sawn off version, makes this 19th century design a unique airgun in a world of airguns.
Air rifles (and later air pistols) have been used for law enforcement and military training for hundreds of years. From the late 1780s to early 1800s the Austrian Army actually carried Girandoni air rifles as military arms, and Lewis & Clark carried a Girandoni with them on the Corps of Discovery Expedition from 1804 to 1806.The use of airguns for training has historic relevance to this very day.
The most important new airgun of recent time is the Umarex S&W M&P40, which has been adopted as a training gun for law enforcement (police and Sheriffs officers that carry the S&W) due to its 100 percent accuracy to the cartridge-firing models. (Holster courtesy Galco)
Most recently this has been proven with the adoption of the Umarex S&W M&P40 blowback action air pistol as a training gun for law enforcement, but more than 15 years ago, the Umarex Walther CP99 (4.5mm pellet-firing version of the Walther P99) was being used as a training gun by police departments in Germany. CO2 packs a lot more power than just for shooting BBs and pellets, it packs the promise of good firearms training skills at a fraction of the price and operating costs of comparable cartridge-firing models. With that in mind as we begin the second 100 Airgun Experience articles, I want to look back at what has happened in the world of airguns.
With our focus primarily on handguns and select historic and military rifles, a lot has happened outside of that small circle with pre-charged pneumatics, and other target shooting air rifles and pistols, which Tom Gaylord has handily covered over the same period. For me, and for you, it has been about new CO2 handguns, the authenticity to their cartridge-firing counterparts, and the enjoyment that comes from training with air.
Airguns for training can be for more than law enforcement and CCW use. Models like the .177 caliber Tanfoglio Gold Custom are identical to the championship 9mm pistols and can interchange with the same competition shooting gear for training and indoor practice.
Those of you who have read Guns of the Old West magazine for the last 10 years or purchased any of my books on western and Civil War era arms, know I am first and foremost a 19th century firearms enthusiast, and this last year has presented a windfall of new western guns chambered in .177 (4.5mm) caliber.
Nothing says American West like an engraved Colt Peacemaker. When Umarex introduced the 5-1/2 inch barrel length .177 caliber model in 2015, it wasn’t long before a 4.5mm pellet firing six-shooter was added. The latest limited edition is this gold and nickel version of an L.D. Nimschke model sold in the 1870s by New York retailer Schuyler, Hartley, & Graham.
Umarex established a standard with their Colt Peacemakers that not only inspired other airgun manufacturers to add historically significant models such as the new Schofield and 1875 Remington, but engravers to begin lending their venerated skills to alloy as well as steel. Today, in less than a year, there are more hand engraved CO2 powered Peacemakers in the hands of enthusiasts than ever before.
The 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker arrived in 2016 and is now offered in the same elegant hand engraved Nimschke pattern as the 5-1/2 inch model. The Schofield was also introduced last year and has become the most talked about .177 caliber western model. It is also offered in a nickel finish or with authentic to the period hand engraving.
The Schofield is already being offered in a hand engraved edition, and an 1875 Remington is sure to follow. These excellent guns perpetuate an American tradition and hold true to the history of the Old West. Limited Edition, hand engraved CO2 models will soon take their place among other contemporary hand engraved western guns as functional fine art, only at a far more reasonable price.
Training for concealed carry or just finding the right gun for carry can be an expensive proposition. Accurate .177 caliber models like the Umarex Walther PPS (left) and Sig Sauer P226 X-Five are 100 percent accurate in size and can be used with the same carry holsters. It is the most affordable way to see which gun is right for you in terms of ease of carry, weight, and concealment. In addition, training with the airguns requires nearly all of the same skills necessary for handling their cartridge-firing counterparts. (Holsters courtesy Galco)
Using an airgun to practice concealed carry before committing to the actual gun can save you hundreds of dollars and help avoid purchasing a gun that is too big or too heavy for comfortable carry. And you still end up with a nice air pistol for plinking.
Modern handguns have seen an equally impressive growth in CO2 models over the last year, and this too, is a part of our American heritage benefiting the future of gun ownership, youth training, and the ability to use these remarkably accurate airguns as very cost effective substitutes when considering a cartridge-firing pistol for CCW use. They are a small investment with a substantial return, allowing you to experiment with everything from a subcompact semi-auto or revolver to a full sized six-shooter or Government Model 1911.
Historic firearms are usually old and out of date, no so with the Colt Model 1911A1, a semiautomatic pistol that has survived for 106 years! The limited edition .177 caliber John Wayne WWII model 1911A1 is a classic, just like John Wayne.
With 99 Airgun Experience articles to look back on, it is hard to pick one gun that rises to the top as the most significant model to come along, a choice based on the merits of the airgun’s authenticity of design, ease of use, performance, and accuracy.
Having the opportunity to fire, let alone own a selective fire Uzi is rare and expensive. The .177 caliber Mini Uzi with folding shoulder stock is one of the most authentic airguns in the world.
The list of candidates is filled with significant airguns that have allowed owners to experience gun designs that they would otherwise never have the opportunity to handle (without great expense), like selective fire pistols, rare and valuable vintage arms, or the opportunity to explore options for a CCW without the expense of purchasing a cartridge-firing model before knowing it’s right for you. The qualifications for the most outstanding gun are many.
Rarity and history go hand in hand as does the name Mauser. The Umarex Legends Model 712 Broomhandle is another highly authentic to the original selective fire airgun, and is so accurate in detail that an original Broomhandle Mauser wooden shoulder stock will fit the airgun!
When you have a veritable history of American and European firearms recreated today in .177 caliber BB and 4.5mm pellet firing airguns, everything from selective fire pistols like the Mini Uzi and Broomhandle Mauser Model 712, to state of the art semi-autos like the Smith & Wesson M&P40, legendary Colts like the Peacemaker and Model 1911A1, finding one gun that raises the bar, that hits your “must have” list is like going to a premier firearms auction with the determination that no matter how many guns catch your eye, you are only going home with one. For the first 99 Airgun Experience articles, that one gun is the nickel plated Bear River Schofield. Whether you go for the nickel model with the standard wood finish grips or the deluxe, limited edition hand engraved model with aged ivory-colored grips, the Schofield is one of 100!
With so many great airguns to choose from, the best gun from the last 99 Airgun Experience articles is the one that stands out as the most historically interesting of all, the Schofield. The nickel model is the must have one out of 100.
Fully automatic handguns, rifles, machineguns and machine pistols were designed for a specific reason, saturation firing. From the 19th century Gatling gun to John M. Browning’s legendary BAR, the Broomhandle Mauser Model of 1932, Colt M16, and the famous Israeli Uzi, the use of full auto has been intended to give the user a tactical advantage. But what good is that advantage if you can’t hit anything (accurately) with the gun?
Anyone who has ever fired an automatic weapon, whether an M16 (my first experience in basic training a very long time ago), an Uzi or other selective fire weapon never forgets the first time. I was told by the drill sergeant to “…squeeze off a few rounds,” and I did, about 30 of them….to which he responded, “son, (in a voice very much like R. Lee Ermey, “you’ve been watching too many John Wayne movies.” I learned how to feather the trigger, get a firm hold and maintain my sight picture. But accuracy was never as simple as all that when the selector switch was rotated. This was true the first time I fired an Uzi pistol and several other full auto weapons during visits to arms manufacturers over the years. The real takeaway was not learning to fire hell bent on emptying the magazine (you have to do that at least once) but using the firearm’s sustained fire capability to its best advantage, which is generally close quarters under fire or to suppress enemy fire.
The switch is on when you rotate the Model 712 selector from N to R, the Uzi by pushing the selector forward to A, and the Beretta by flipping the lever from one dot to three dots.
Learning how to manage impulses and maintain short burst fire is one of several skills you can gain with selective fire, blowback action, CO2 powered airguns like the Mini Uzi, Umarex Beretta 92A1, Broomhandle Mauser Model 712, and new Umarex Legends WWII era MP40 submachine gun. Of course, none of these deliver the recoil of their cartridge firing counterparts (for a selective fire Beretta you have to go back about 40 years to the introduction of the Model 93R which was produced until 1993), but surprisingly, even with blowback action CO2 powered models there is muzzle rise and a noticeable decline in accuracy. This Airgun Experience is about learning to control the physics of sustained fire.
The Mini Uzi is the easiest to shoot since it has a folding stock and good sized forend to wrap your hand around. Accuracy on full auto is only modestly effected by recoil or muzzle rise.
I began with the easiest of the current models available, the Mini Uzi Submachine gun. (The new Umarex Legends MP40 will not be out until a little later this year). The selective fire Mini Uzi is a special model and uses self-contained CO2 BB magazines, so it is about as real as it gets when you load and fire this machine pistol. With the selector pushed all the way forward to “A” you can empty a 25-round magazine in a little over 2 seconds. But you really don’t want to. With a firm hold on the forend (using a slight downward pull when you begin firing), and the shoulder stock pressed tight into your shoulder, try to squeeze off three to six shots and let up on the trigger. Average trigger pull is 3 pounds, 6.7 ounces, so it doesn’t take much effort. This is the easiest and most accurate of the blowback action, selective fire CO2 pistols currently available. With a little practice you should be able to fire consistently accurate short bursts with the Uzi. My best groups averaged from 0.75 inches to 1.25 inches and the overall spread for 25 shots was 4.5 inches.
Lean in, pull down and hold on, the M712 will deliver the most felt recoil (for a blowback action CO2 pistol) of any selective fire model, but with a secure grip as shown, the M712 will deliver satisfying results at 21 feet. This is the easiest of the three to fire in bursts of five to six rounds.
Shooting a Legend
Stepping up in performance and back in time to 1932 with the Umarex Legends Model 712 you have a unique selective fire handgun that is remarkably accurate in design and operation to the original Broomhandle model. Firing this pistol on full auto means taking things into your own hands with a firm grasp around the front of the frame, magazine well and magazine, and again with a slight downward pull as you begin firing to reduce muzzle rise. With an average trigger pull of 4 pounds, 10 ounces, using a firm grasp on the M712 and short burst fire with a light pull and release (that’s five to six consecutive shots), will help keep rounds pretty tight at 21 feet (optimum range for this blowback action pistol). Again this is a practice, practice, practice shooting skill but the M712 can deliver accurate burst fire. The real 712 was notoriously inaccurate fired on full auto, but with the addition of the wooden shoulder stock holster for support it was a lot better. You can, in fact, purchase a reproduction Mauser Broomhandle wooden shoulder stock (about $180 for the whole rig, shoulder stock and leather holster harness) and it will mount perfectly on the Umarex Model 712 pistol grip. I’ve done it and it works. It also improves accuracy even further. My best group fired off hand at 21 feet on full auto averaged 6 rounds at 1.05 inches. I tended to pull a little right on most shots, and with the Broomhandle’s bolt slamming back every fraction of a second, it has the most recoil and muzzle lift of any blowback action selective fire model. But if I can get groups like this so can you. The overall spread for 18 rounds measured 3.75 inches.
This is the hardest pistol of the three to control on full auto because the slide action is brisk; there is felt recoil and modest muzzle rise. It is also harder to feather the trigger on the Beretta. This is one reason the original Beretta Model 93R selective fire pistol only allowed 3-round bursts on the auto setting. The Umarex M92A1 lets the gun run to empty.
Last is the latest, the Umarex Beretta M92A1. This is one of the best built blowback action CO2 pistols on the market, and it uses a variation of the Model 93R action, which allows the pistol to switch from semi-auto to full auto with a selector switch. To get off an accurate burst from the M92A1 you need to use a firm grip with the support hand extended and the thumb resting along the leading edge of the frame just behind the rail mount. I actually got a firm rest on the side of the rail to give the pistol a little better stability on full auto. This is the most difficult pistol to shoot accurately on full auto because of its size, but it can still deliver accuracy if you run it in short bursts and keep the support hand working on muzzle control. Trigger pull after racking the slide is single action and resistance is a modest 5 pounds, 2 ounces average, so again it is easy to fire short bursts and release, allowing a pause for the CO2’s temperature to regulate. My best groups at 21 feet averaged a total spread of 4.25 inches for 18 shots with a best 6 grouping at 1.75 inches.
One other thing to remember, rapid sustained fire with a CO2-powered airgun will reduce velocity (thus accuracy), so shooting short bursts will keep your CO2 from super-cooling. Airgun Academy author Tom Gaylord explains it this way: “[CO2] cools when it expands by flashing from liquid to gas. Therefore, when you shoot a CO2 gun rapidly, the gas will cool the gun parts considerably. Because CO2 pressure is based on temperature, the pressure in a CO2 gun will drop if a series of shots are fired in rapid succession. In practical testing, I’ve seen velocities decrease by more than 100 fps over a long string of shots.”
When I shoot a selective fire air pistol I always try to shoot in short bursts (three to six shots) then pause before shooting again, at least 15 seconds. This will help maintain velocity and accuracy. You’ll also extend the number of shots from your CO2 cartridge.
The Uzi sent a best six rounds downrange at 0.75 inches (large red circle).
The M712 is the most fun to shoot of all the selective fire models, not only for its historic accuracy but the overall feel of firing on full auto. As for accuracy the Broomhandle punched six shots into 1.05 inches from 21 feet.
All 18 shots from the Beretta M92A1 in full auto struck the center of the target with a spread of 4.25 inches, a best six with two overlapping, at 1.75 inches. This gun has the most muzzle rise of the three but keeps the shots still closely grouped together. On a man-sized B-27 silhouette target every shot would be across the 9, 10 and X.
A blowback action air pistol on full auto will generate enough force from the action of the slide (on the M92A1), and bolt on the Broomhandle M712 and Mini Uzi Submachine gun, to induce mild muzzle lift, far less than a 9mm (or 7.63x25mm in the case of the Mauser), but enough to throw off accuracy compared to firing semi-auto. And remember, these are smoothbore barrels shooting round steel BBs, so accuracy is not their strong suit to begin with. Having said that, the CO2 powered models are as close as the vast majority of us will ever come to firing the real cartridge models, which are all expensive, rare (the M712 and Beretta 93R), and require either a Class III firearms license to own, or going through the steps and added expenses to purchase a Class III weapon. This process has not changed since 1934; it is slow, but possible. The airgun experience is faster and a whole lot less expensive.
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.read more