Compartmentalizing Airguns Part 2

Compartmentalizing Airguns Part 2 Part 1

Best in class options and a new contender!

By Dennis Adler

There are a few visual differences between the Umarex Beretta 92A1 (left) and the 9mm Beretta model. There’s the obvious white lettering on the CO2 model’s slide but in terms of size, handling, balance, and features, this is the one air pistol I would choose to be my one and only full-sized blowback action CO2 model. It has every desirable feature including a couple of years of production under its belt and readily available spare CO2 BB magazines.

What’s my choice for the gun that offers the most options for the money, as well as accuracy and reliability? I narrowed my best choices down to the Umarex Colt Commander or Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE for accuracy, trigger pull, and long term reliability (based on internal design, which is the same on both pistols). I have had the Umarex Colt Commander since the model was introduced in 2014; never a failure, never a problem. I have also chosen the Umarex Beretta 92A1 for the same reasons plus the advantage of a DA/SA trigger and selective fire like its distant cousin the 93R. All three guns are fully field-strippable and have excellent white dot sights. My overall first choice in the category then, the gun that fits the first compartment on my list, is the 92A1.

The bonus points that the Beretta received in my choice come from the little lever at the rear of the frame just behind the grip, this is the selective fire control that takes the 92A1 from semi-auto to full auto. Not a feature found on the centerfire guns, it puts the Umarex into multiple classes as it also fits the second category of Select Fire Air Pistols.
An ambidextrous pistol (thumb safeties) the Umarex Beretta 92A1 delivers on the key features necessary for training as well as enjoyable air pistol target shooting with its DA/SA trigger, white dot sights, and relative POA accuracy fired in the semi-auto mode. This is a hand-filling air pistol that has the feel and character of its 9mm centerfire counterpart.

This should be my final choice, but, in the interim, another player has entered the field, the new Umarex Heckler & Koch HK USP blowback action model. This new HK is right in the heart of the category, a full-sized duty pistol with blowback action, self-contained CO2 BB magazine and full operating features, including a decocker for the DA/SA trigger system. The USP has white dot sights, a short-recoil, locked breech design (with tilting barrel) and has the HK-design disassembly system for full field stripping capability. A Heckler & Koch licensed model, this new CO2 entry not only adds a breath of fresh air and interesting possibilities to the options in blowback action models, but is a serious challenge to my choice for best blowback action CO2 pistol!

But wait…there’s a new competitor to the Beretta’s crown, a gun that is the “apparent” equal in authentic features to its centerfire counterpart, the Umarex Heckler & Koch USP. The new blowback action CO2 model (top) is an almost 100 percent match-up to the 9mm HK pistol with the same operating features as the cartridge-firing model.

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On to another day

I’m going to push the remaining parts of Compartmentalizing Airguns to a later date and turn to looking at this new Umarex HK offering. Today will be a cursory look at the pistol and on Thursday we’ll begin a three-part series on the new H&K CO2 model.

Though the 9mm HK USP models are offered with right-side (left handed) safety-decocking levers (not ambidextrous) the airgun only has a left-side (right handed) manual safety. It is accurate in other operating features such as the slide release and ambidextrous magazine release paddle at the rear of the triggerguard. The grip is the same contour but a bit different in finish and markings.

First off, (and this is just my opinion, but one shared by many of you), this is the HK model Umarex should have introduced last year and not a non-blowback version. This is the exact same strategy Umarex and Glock have used by introducing a non-blowback action model first, that will be followed (hopefully by late fall) with a blowback action G19. The H&K non-blowback HK USP (April 2017 Airgun Experience) had a self-contained CO2 BB magazine despite being a very inexpensive entry-level air pistol. On the other hand, the Glock 19 is a better entry level gun for design details, even though it has a stick magazine (more about the G19 in early October).

The CO2 model has a fully functioning short-recoil, locked breech design like the centerfire model. It also uses the same bobbed hammer for manually cocking the gun.

In terms of scale, the new HK USP is a very accurate match-up to the centerfire Heckler & Koch model as shown in the accompanying photo. The centerfire USP weighs an average of 28 ounces without magazine (depending upon caliber, it is offered in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP), and has an overall length of 7.68 inches, width of 1.26 inches and barrel length of 4.25 inches. The new blowback action CO2 model weighs in on my scale at 22 ounces without magazine and 34 ounces with the empty CO2 BB magazine inserted, (yes, it is a very heavy, all-metal 16-round magazine). Height from the base of the magazine to the top of the sights is 5.74 inches, width including release levers 1.26 inches and the internal smoothbore barrel length is 4.25 inches (recessed 1/16th inch from the 9mm diameter muzzle). Like I said, it is a very close match-up.

The barrel lug locks into the slide like a centerfire model for absolute authenticity.

Thursday we will begin a full review of the Umarex HK USP blowback action model.

11 thoughts on “Compartmentalizing Airguns Part 2”

  1. Dennis,

    That H&K USP has a really beautiful profile. It is it’s own thing, but I see in it a combination of the 1911A1, some CZs, and yes, a bit of Gock (that whole Bauhaus form-is-function aesthetic).

    But I especially like that with many of their models H&K has an extended trigger-guard for shooters wearing gloves. I have very thick fingers, thick enough that with my Umarex Makarov, for example, I have to shove/squeeze my finger into the guard in front of the trigger! That is far from safe trigger technique. Kudos to H&K for adding a design feature few other makers seem to even consider.

    Thanks very much for beginning your reporting on this air pistol so quickly after its introduction to the market. I look forward to your forthcoming impressions.


  2. One area of weakness in both pistols is the price of spare magazines, more so for the H&K . The Beretta lists for $129.99 and spare mags $45. The H&K lists for$99.99 and spare mags $42.99, almost half the price of the pistol,

    • Lawman67,

      It seems $39.95 is the bottom dollar for any combination CO2 bulb “carrier” / BB magazine. I have a couple of them, each for a different BB gun. I shoot BBs in my backyard, so after I run out of BBs in one pistol, I reload it and place in the sun. Then I put the fresh one in and repeat until I’m out of CO2. By placing them in the sun (even when they have fresh CO2 in them) I believe I get a good 10-15% more shots, not insignificant when we’re talking about blowback pistols.

      I feel that by placing them in the sun, two mags total is enough for each CO2 pistol.


    • Lawman67,

      A question just came to me, along with the realization that the H&K spare magazine is not worse. It costs $2 less than the Beretta.

      Back to my question, the answer of which will likely come with Dennis’ full evaluation: Is the H&K $30 less air pistol than the Beretta? :^)


      • The beretta pistol costs around $30 more. 1911 mags usually run around $30, a fair amount less. For a $99 pistol, Ithink a$43 spare mag is high. The Beretta is select fire with ambi safety. H&K looks decent, will see how the shooting evaluation goes

    • It is a very “robust” magazine as you’ll see in the upcoming reports. Mags are pricey for these guns I’ll admit, but they have a big job to do. I like to have at least two and when prices come down after a gun has been out for awhile get another couple. It is the one costly but expendable part.

  3. Dennis,

    As a part of your HK USP Blowback review, would you discuss the accessory options for the USP’s universal mounting grooves? I had a difficult time finding anything that didn’t cost as much or more than the BB pistol itself. I finally found a picatinny rail adapter by LaserLyte that I was able to buy from Amazon for about $10. I expect to receive delivery on Saturday. I’d like to know what additional USP accessories you can find.

  4. I hope its self contained mag is better than that for the 1911 series which still drive me potty and go through co2 like soft mick!!
    I know Dennis has 7 mags and never a problem but I am sure as a yank he says a prayer over them!!!

    • Derek,

      I’ve been lucky with magazines but there have been a few fails. I usually have at least two, some times as many as four (same for centerfire guns). As for going through CO2, that is one area in which I have been very remiss in reviewing because I look more for the quality of shots than the number of total shots. I don’t make the shots per CO2 an important part of my reviews. I’ll try to do better on that in the future but it has always been a secondary consideration given the cost for a 12 count box of CO2 cartridges. I think this comes from shooting so many gun tests and having so many CO2 cartridges on hand; same for BBs and pellets. Just about all blowback action pistols burn up CO2 pretty fast, and don’t get me started on select fire guns!

      • A pistol without at least one spare mag is like a car without a spare tire. Prices will probably come down over time, but that doesn’t help know. I agree about Shot count. Quality over quantity. The most important factors are realistic blowback , accuracy and for me velocity. More shots with a dribbling velocity is not a wow factor.

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