The White Letter Chronicles

The White Letter Chronicles

History of white lettering on handguns

By Dennis Adler

Oh those pesky white letters. Sometimes they’re OK, like the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five or the Umarex S&W M&P40, they’re not correct but they’re not unattractive. Then there are manufacturers who feel compelled to fill the slide with their name, but white lettering isn’t exclusive to CO2 air pistols!

We all hate that white lettering on CO2 pistols. Nothing says air pistol like white lettering…or does it? White lettering on centerfire pistols has actually been used for almost a century. It is much less common today but there are some very noteworthy historical precedents for seeing white!

This Bergmann Model 1910 dates back to the early 1920s. You often see examples of this model, and later versions also built under license in Belgium, with white lettering to embellish the name.

White lettering is most often seen on German firearms and among the oldest examples is the Bergmann Model 1910/21 semiautomatic pistol. Theodore Bergmann introduced his first autoloader a year after Paul Mauser patented his design for the Broomhandle in 1895. In 1897 Bergmann and arms designer Louis Schmeisser introduced a new pistol using a removable box magazine; the basic pistol configuration that would become characteristic of all future Bergmann designs. An improved version was developed after the turn of the century, and rather than manufacturing them in Germany, Bergmann moved production to Herstal, Belgium, under license to Societe Anonyme Anciens Establissments Pieper. That is the name you see stamped into the barrel extension on the 1910 Model pictured above. Mauser used white lettering as well, often to highlight the manufacturer’s name stamped into the frame. White lettering was also used for export models to denote the retailer, such as Von Lengerke & Detmold in New York, which began selling Broomhandle Mauser pistols in 1897. read more


Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 3

Umarex Walther M2 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Why Gun Manufacturers Change Designs

By Dennis Adler

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

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


Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 2

Umarex Walther M2 Part 2 Part 1 Part 3

Why Gun Manufacturers Change Designs

By Dennis Adler

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

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


Umarex Walther PPS M2 Part 1

Umarex Walther M2 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Why Gun Manufacturers Change Designs

By Dennis Adler

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

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


Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 3

Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Where it all began 22 years ago

By Dennis Adler

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

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


Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 2

Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 2

Where it all began 22 years ago

By Dennis Adler

The Walther CP 88 4-inch Compact and 6-inch Competition (which is the Champion barrel length) models have been around for 22 years, so they are not newcomers to the precision CO2 airgun field, but rather 21st century standard bearers, with a long enough production history to have become somewhat iconic (and if you happen to have a nickel model even rare) in the airgun world. The latest matte black oxide finish on the current CP 88 models has the same great design and can still be fitted with factory optional hardwood checkered grips.

There’s an Old West story I like, and I have probably told it before, but it seems appropriate for the Walther CP 88. It is about a young cowboy who rides into town after getting paid for a cattle drive and decides that in addition to a hot bath, a shave and haircut, he wants to buy himself a new handgun. He goes into the local gun shop, asks the proprietor what he has, and is shown the latest .45 caliber Colt revolver, a Model 1878. “How do you like this? Newest thing out; a double action forty-five” he tells the young man. The cowboy handles the gun, looks at the trigger and turns up his nose. “Ain’t worth a row of beans,” he says, “no man ‘cept a tenderfoot wants that kind of thing? Ye see, a man that’s used to the old style is apt to get fooled, not pull her off in time, and then he’ll be laid out colder’n a wedge.” He hands it back and tells the shop owner, “Give me an old reliable all the time.” A lot of airgun owners can relate to that, “…Ye see these new fangled blowback action pistols don’t always work right, shoot slower, ain’t as accurate and might even wear out. Give me an old reliable all the time.” In the world of CO2 powered, pellet-firing, multi-shot semiautomatic pistols, an “old reliable” happens to be the Walther CP 88. read more


Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 1

Umarex Walther CP 88 Part 1

Where it all began 22 years ago

By Dennis Adler

In 1996, Umarex and Walther began a new chapter in the history of airguns with the innovative CP 88; a 4.5mm pellet-firing, CO2 powered semiautomatic pistol available in two versions based on the 9x19mm P 88 Compact and P 88 Champion (Competition). These latest CO2 models remain identical to the original 1996 versions.

If I were to go back to the very first pellet-firing air pistol I owned I would have to go back to the 1960s when I was in my early teens and had a Marksman MPR, a single shot pellet pistol (it also had a 20-shot spring fed BB magazine making it a repeater, if you call having to pull the slide back to cock it for every shot “repeating”). Pellets, however, had to be inserted individually at the breech. In a lot of ways not much has changed in that respect with single shot pistols and air rifles. The Marksman looked like a Model 1911 and was a good BB/pellet gun for the time, and I have to say, it was also what got me interested in both air pistols and small caliber revolvers and semi-autos. By the time I was in my 20s I was already a collector. I still have the very first .22 caliber rimfire semi-auto I ever owned, an Erma Navy Luger that I bought in 1972. As for the Marksman, it got lost somewhere along the way but amazingly Marksman still manufacturers a version of this same gun, the Model 2002. The MPR was built from 1958 to 1977. More to the point, at least in my case, is that one very interesting or groundbreaking BB or pellet gun can lead to a lifetime of collecting and shooting. In 1996 that happened for many Americans with a company named Walther, (yes that Walther) and an innovative CO2 powered, 8-shot pellet pistol accurately copied from the 9x19mm semiautomatic Walther P 88 model. When it was introduced in 1996, the Walther CP 88 was the first of its kind and the beginning of a new era in air pistol design and manufacturing. read more