Choosing a favorite .177 caliber CO2 pistol Part 2
And the winner is…
By Dennis Adler
What is it about a blowback action or cartridge-loading .177 caliber air pistol that excites you? For me it is having an air pistol that is as close to the real gun as possible. Often, this will also mean having a handgun chambered in.177 caliber that would not be affordable, or generally obtainable as a cartridge firing model. This specifically applies to those with selective fire mechanisms. The options for that latter category have increased over the past couple of years with models like the Mini Uzi pistol, one of the best built and most accurate to the original airguns in the world.
Another excellent example of late is the Umarex Mauser Model 712 Broomhandle pistol. Not only are the original Model 712 (or Model of 1932) Broomhandles incredibly rare and expensive, they are a Class III firearm. The Umarex comes very close to duplicating the look and operation of a real Model 712, with full metal construction, interchangeable CO2 BB magazines and selective fire.
It is by far one of the most desirable of all current blowback action air pistols and if you are a vintage firearms enthusiast or collector, the Umarex Mauser Model 712 is probably the must have airgun of the last couple of years, period.
Selective fire airguns are a rare breed in their own right and limited to a handful of models, both pistols and rifles. I will be testing one of the very latest Sig Sauer models next month, along with a series on military and historic longarms.
The real 7.63mm Model 712 Broomhandle and all Broomhandle’s before it had many unprecedented features like a manual safety on the left rear of the frame actuated by pushing the lever upward into a notch, which either locked the hammer so that it could not be cocked, or if cocked, blocked the hammer’s forward movement. This is the original “cocked and locked” and is correctly reproduced on the Umarex model. Umarex has also accurately copied the Model 712 selector switch right down to the N R indicators on the left side of the frame, as well as the elevation adjustable rear sight, blowback bolt action and thumb safety.
The gun is so exact in detail and dimensions that an original (or reproduction) Mauser wooden shoulder stock holster will not only mount on the back of the pistol grip, but the gun with the magazine removed will fit inside the stock just like a real Mauser Broomhandle. As to the gun’s markings, it bears the WAFFENFABRIK name on the right side of the frame, and the correctly milled out side panel just behind the magazine well. Except for a militarized (Parkerized-type) finish not used on the actual Mausers, the Model 712 stands out as one of the most authentic .177 caliber reproductions of a classic military pistol.
A little later in history and long after the Broomhandle had ceased production; another selective fire pistol came on the scene, the Israeli Uzi. Built as a carbine and in several pistol configurations, it has become one of the most legendary late 20th century designs, and the select fire .177 caliber Mini Uzi pistol is by far one of the best choices in a modern CO2-powered, large frame, semi-auto/full auto design. It is no lightweight, and has rudimentary military sights, but it is more fun to shoot than almost any other .177 caliber airgun on the market today. But I did say, “Almost.”
What is the most exciting new blowback action .177 caliber air pistol you should own? Well, the conspicuous absence of one new model introduced in 2016 may have tipped my hand, and for those of you who were expecting me to pick the Umarex Beretta 92 A1 as my top gun of 2016, you are 100 percent on target. This is the new airgun you have to own.
It has every desirable feature you can ask for. It is a 100 percent accurate copy of the 9mm model, it has a perfectly tuned double action/single action trigger, fires in either mode, has ambidextrous manual safeties that also function as a de-cocker, exactly as they do on the Beretta 9mm military models. The slide locks back after the last round is discharged; it uses correctly-sized CO2 BB magazines for quick, authentic reloading, a correct slide release, white dot sights for quick target acquisition, and it field strips exactly like the 9mm version.
It is as authentic in details as the Umarex S&W M&P40 and the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five. So why did I pick the Beretta over the S&W and Sig for 2016? The 92 A1 has selective fire control, the one added feature that put it over the top and into the year’s best slot. A choice made with Airgun Experience.
Happy Holidays! The Airgun Experience will return next week with a new series on 1911s, “The War Dogs.”
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.