Choosing a favorite .177 caliber CO2 pistol

Choosing a favorite .177 caliber CO2 pistol Part 1

Narrowing down the list to my personal best for 2016

By Dennis Adler

Three of my top guns for 2016 include the Tanfoglio Witness 1911 for authentic c.1926 1911A1 design, the S&W M&P40 (center) for 100 percent authenticity to the cartridge-firing model, and the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five for the same reasons as the M&P40.

Three of my top guns for 2016 include the Tanfoglio Witness 1911 for authentic c.1926 1911A1 design, the S&W M&P40 (center) for 100 percent authenticity to the cartridge-firing model, and the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five for the same reason.

With 15 years of testing air pistols under my belt (that’s a lot of 12 gram CO2 cartridges!), my favorite guns keep changing from year to year with improvements in design, construction, and most of all authentic operation. Test guns come and go with regularity, some interesting, some intriguing, a few disappointing, but every so often one comes into your life that you put a hold on, and end up purchasing. This is the same for testing cartridge guns. Over the last couple of decades I’ve tested hundreds of handguns and rifles of all types from Colt single action revolvers to state-of-the-art tactical weapons, for half a dozen different publications, and once in a while a gun comes along that after testing it, you know it’s not going back. This is something you cannot do often otherwise you have to wear a T-shirt that reads “Will work for Guns”. Being a gun collector and testing guns for a living is like having a Cold Stone Creamery next door to a GNC.

Each year I try to pick one airgun that has so impressed me that it becomes a must have. If you have been reading Airgun Experience this past year you know I have several obvious candidates for 2016, but let me tell you about some of the older choices. It goes to motive.

Hard to tell at quick a glance but this Colt Single Action is a BB gun. The Umarex Colt Peacemaker has a 5-1/2 inch or 7-1/2 barrel, loads six BB cartridges or six pellets (in rifled barrel pellet models) and operates identically to a real SAA. This was my personal pick for 2015 and this is the prototype for the hand engraved models sold in 2015 and 2016. The latest version is engraved in the famous L.D. Nimschke New York style by Adams & Adams. (Holster by Chisholm’s Trail)

Hard to tell at a quick glance but this Colt Single Action is a BB gun. The Umarex Colt Peacemaker has a 5-1/2 inch or 7-1/2 inch barrel, loads six BB or pellet cartridges (in rifled barrel pellet models) and operates identically to a real SAA. This was my personal pick for 2015 and this gun is the prototype for the hand engraved models sold in 2015 and 2016. The latest version is engraved in the famous L.D. Nimschke New York style by Adams & Adams. 

I love the Old West. I have written about it for more than a decade, but Western airguns, like the Umarex Colt Peacemaker, are pretty new to the game, so you know what I picked in 2015 without too much thought. I have the very first hand engraved 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker model built. You might call it the prototype.

About 15 years ago I purchased my first semi-auto air pistol, an Umarex Walther CP99. I still have it and it is still one of the best 4.5mm multi-shot pellet guns you can own. Do I like it better than the more expensive CP88? In all honesty, yes. My CP99 models, some almost 15 years old, are still working and still more fun than almost any other semi-auto pellet pistol ever built. The popularity of the CP99, 4.5mm, 8-shot semi-auto has kept it in production for 16 years.

More than 15 years old, this is my first multi-shot CO2 semi-auto, an Umarex Walther CP99. The gun is such an excellent design it is still produced today!

More than 15 years old, this is my first multi-shot CO2 semi-auto, an Umarex Walther CP99. The gun is such an excellent design it is still produced today!

Aside from the Umarex Beretta Model 92 FS, I didn’t fall for much else for a long time, mainly because not much changed for a long time in the world of 12 gram CO2 powered BB and pellet firing semi-auto pistols. The blowback action Umarex Colt Commander 1911A1 upped the game a couple of years ago helping bring a real sense of authenticity to the CO2 powered semi-auto air pistol market, and it opened a door for a lot of others that have heightened that sense of authenticity even more. And this brings me to my next must have, the Tanfoglio Gold Custom. I have praised the CZ-75 based semi-auto enough in the past that nothing more need be said. So what really set me off for 2016?

Arguably one of the very best .177 caliber blowback action air pistols on the market, the CZ-75 based Tanfoglio Gold Custom is perfect for competitive shooting practice. Drawing the Tanfoglio Gold Custom from a Safariland Bianchi Cup 014 holster is as important as shooting the gun itself. Practicing magazine changes from the rig, which is set up to with two magazine pouches to hold Tanfoglio .177 caliber magazines at the correct position and angle for a quick reload, also contributes to making this a practical training experience.

One of the best .177 caliber blowback action air pistols on the market, the CZ-75 based Tanfoglio Gold Custom is perfect for competitive shooting practice. Drawing the Tanfoglio Gold Custom from a Safariland Bianchi Cup 014 holster is as important as shooting the gun itself. Practicing magazine changes from the rig, which is set up with two magazine pouches to hold Tanfoglio .177 caliber magazines at the correct position and angle for a quick reload, also contributes to making this a practical training experience.

First, it’s the gun that may well launch a new era in the use of CO2-powered, blowback action semi-autos for serious law enforcement training, the Umarex S&W M&P40. You absolutely have to go back and reread what I have said about this gun. Its future will be changing in 2017 as it becomes the first blowback action CO2 air pistol to be officially adopted as part of a law enforcement training program. Much more about this in January.

When it comes to practice these two .177 caliber blowback action semi-autos are good enough to use for law enforcement training drills. The Umarex S&W M&P40 is the most accurate to the cartridge firing model air pistol on the market. The Sig Sauer P226 X-Five runs a very close second.

For practice, these .177 caliber blowback action semi-autos are good enough to use for law enforcement training drills. The Umarex S&W M&P40 is the most accurate to the cartridge-firing model air pistol on the market. The Sig Sauer P226 X-Five runs a very close second.

Secondly, another outstanding blowback action CO2 model, the Sig Sauer P-226 X-Five. When you can drop the airgun into the same Level II duty holsters as the cartridge gun, and put the self-contained CO2 and BB magazines into the mag pouches, you have it pretty much dialed in.

When an airgun can fit in the same holster and duplicate every function of the cartridge-firing model, you know everyone has done their homework.

When an airgun can fit in the same holster and duplicate every function of the cartridge-firing model, you know everyone has done their homework.

Along with the S&W M&P40, the Sig is as close to the real deal as semi-auto airguns can get without recoil and report. But these are still not my personal pick for 2016. I do hope some of these are yours.

The author draws from the Galco Combat Master open top belt rig. The holster’s contoured design helps keep the duty sized M&P40 handgun securely in place yet easy to draw. The weight, balance, and operation of the Umarex make it an excellent choice for low cost law enforcement training drills where the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP M&P models are carried as officer sidearms.

The Galco Combat Master open top belt rig’s contoured design helps keep the duty sized M&P40 handgun securely in place yet easy to draw. The weight, balance, and operation of the Umarex make it an excellent choice for low cost law enforcement training drills where the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP M&P models are carried as officer sidearms.

There have been 80 Airgun Experience articles this year (including this one) and there is one air pistol that I absolutely had to own, and it’s probably none of the guns you’re thinking about. What has joined my small but meaningful collection of keepers? I’ll tell you Christmas Eve.

9 thoughts on “Choosing a favorite .177 caliber CO2 pistol

  1. While I like the 1911s, think the Mauser Broomhandle and P08 are really nice, my pick has to be the Peacemaker. I shoot revolvers more than semiautos, and competed in CAS with single actions for years. The Peacemaker loads with shells, handles , meaning fast draw ,spinning and shooting like the real firearm,and doesn’t need any accessories to shot fast and straight. There may be more high tech firearms , but none with more appeal or nostalgia.That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.


  2. Choosing a favorite .177 caliber CO2 pistol is not an easy decision for me. I started buying replica .177 CO2 pistols as a way to acquaint myself with pistols that were representations of actual firearms by different manufacturers, both revolver and semi-automatics. My thinking was that I would use the CO2 pistols to possibly narrow down my preferences for an anticipated purchase of the actual firearm. It’s hard to pick a favorite CO2 pistol because they all have features I like. For revolvers, I like the Colt SAA and Dan Wesson models for the BB/pellet cartridges, but I like the S&W 586 more for its accuracy despite the fact that the 586 uses a disk magazine. For the semi-autos, I agree with Dennis regarding the Colt Commander, S&W M&P 40, and the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five BB pistols. I would even include the blowback Beretta M92A1 semi-auto pistol. In every one of those, I like the level of realism with the combined CO2/BB magazines and other replicated functions. At the same time I also like the semi-auto pellet pistols like the Walther PPQ, S&W M&P45, Beretta 92FS, and the Walther CP88 Competition despite the lack of blowback because these pellet shooting semi-autos are reasonably accurate. Then there’s the thrill I get shooting one of the historic semi-autos like the Parabellum P.08 or the Mauser / C96. With so many of these wonderful .177 caliber CO2 replicas to choose from, it’s just too hard to pick one favorite out of them all.


  3. I would have toads the 6 inch barrel Dan Wesson 715 for its realism ,and excellent finish . As a great surprise, ands truly welcome old west revolver,the Schofield , especially in nickel finish. I would like to see more blowback pocket pistols. I like the older pistols , but true modern pistols like a Colt Government 380 ,and for the polymer crowd a Ruger LCP 2 orS&W Bodyguard


  4. I forgot to add the Umarex Colt Government 1911 A1 to my earlier comments about non-blowback semi-auto pellet shooting pistols. All the functions of the Colt 1911 A1 firearm are replicated, and the pellet pistol is very accurate.

    I saw that Pyramyd Air now has the 2.5 inch Colt Python revolver available for purchase. Although this Python uses disk magazines instead of shells, it might be worth adding to my collection. I’m eager to see the reviews for it.


    • Would really like to see the 4 inch chrome finish Python in the US ,as well as a 2.5 inch barrel version , and pellet versions. The Python revolver , and the Colt name design deserve a high end metal revolver.


      • The email ad from Pyramyd Air and the Pyramyd Air listing for the this new 2.5 inch Python say that it shoots both BBs and pellets. It just doesn’t use the removable shell cartridges to hold the BBs and pellets. It uses 10 shot disk magazines. I think it would be better if it used the shell cartridges.


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