Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 3

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 3

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

Two entry-level CO2 models with great features, authentic designs and shared handicaps based on retail price point (actually selling for just $69.95), the new Umarex Glock 19 and updated Umarex Walther PPS M2, have the looks down pat, good performance, and make the issue of separate CO2 and stick magazines much easier to live with. Note that the stick mags in both pistols have full size base pads so the guns look right from the top down!

It’s the best new non-blowback action BB model vs. the latest update to an unseated champion in entry-level blowback action semi-autos, the Umarex Glock 19 against the Umarex Walther PPS M2. No two CO2 models could be better pitted against each other despite the fact that the Glock is a non-blowback pistol…it’s just that good!

It is a masterpiece of external design that does the best job of looking like its centerfire counterpart of any air pistol on the market. The Umarex Glock 19 is almost indistinguishable from the 9mm model, and Glock being aware of that subtly made one obvious change to the gun by eliminating the caliber markings on the slide. There is also the equally subtle crossbolt safety at the top rear of the trigger, even though the air pistol has a working Safe Action style blade trigger. Attention to details in the grip panel pattern, front strap grooves, checkering and every functional feature, such as the slide release are perfect, even though it is a non-blowback action pistol.

What Umarex and Glock have delivered with an entry-level model of the G19 is about as much fine detail as it is possible to get into a CO2 pistol’s exterior design. And you can say the same for the Walther PPS M2. Both the new Glock and updated Walther look like their centerfire counterparts in almost every important detail. Neither has a self-contained CO2 BB magazine, both use separate CO2 chambers in their grip frames and easy to load stick magazines. Overall, they are pretty much equals in the air and BB loading department and are priced the same selling discounted for $69.95. They are very affordable entry-level pistols with exceptional performance and design. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

Each year since I began writing the Airgun Experience I have selected one new model as my Air Pistol of the Year. For 2018, given the variety of new air pistols and satisfying, though not overwhelming number of models introduced, the focus has specifically turned to CO2 air pistols that are based on actual centerfire handgun models, whether new (like the Sig Sauer M17) or older (like the HK USP) so long as the air pistol is new. I am also establishing an updated point system based on five comparative categories with values from 1 to 10 points for each. This is going to separate out a number of guns simply because of their various features, or lack thereof. The gun chosen as Replica Air Pistol of the Year will be based solely on total points earned. read more


More Childhood Approved Airguns

More Childhood Approved Airguns

’Tis the Season

By Dennis Adler

Only Jean Shepherd could turn a kid’s BB gun mania into one of the most beloved Christmas movies ever. It’s an annual event in our house, we even have an early Christmas Story Daisy Red Ryder that sits on the fireplace mantle every Holiday Season. Our own BB gun mania.

I must admit that when I was a teenager I didn’t expect, nor did I want an “official Red Rider carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle.” (Of course, in truth I would have had to want a Red Ryder Model 94 Carbine back in the 1960s; the Red Ryder in A Christmas Storey was based on the Number 111 Model 40 Red Ryder Variation1 made in 1940 and 1941). The movie wasn’t released until 1983 and the gun didn’t even exist as it was written in Jean Shepherd’s Christmas classic until after the film. So what did I want? Well, as I mentioned in Thursday’s Airgun Experience I wanted a real Colt Model 1911. But there were other guns with which I had become equally absorbed. None of which existed as air pistols back then. Today, I would be in absolute airgun bliss. The guns I wanted back then were mostly all WWII models and earlier (I have always been a step out of time), and looking at this week’s Pyramyd Air emailing of “12 Airguns you wanted as a kid but never got” I decided to wrap up the week with my old Christmas list and why I wanted them (even though they didn’t exist as airguns back then.) read more


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