Conceptual Evolution

Conceptual Evolution

Looking back and looking forward

By Dennis Adler

Every so often you watch a movie trailer and it looks like it is going to be the best new film of the year, but it turns out that all the best scenes were used in the trailer and the movie as a whole falls flat on its face. That’s kind of where we are looking forward to new air pistols this year. Tom Gaylord gave us a thorough look at what new airguns are coming in 2019 direct from the Shot Show floor. And there are a lot of new airguns coming, but in the area of CO2 models, the offerings are impressive but few, as they apply to Airgun Experience readers. We are a picky lot and expect every year to be a banner year with an abundance of new and exciting CO2 pistols and rifles. But the reality is not always as exciting and many months go by between debuts and availability. Case in point, Umarex has announced a second Glock 17 with an enhanced blowback action for even more realistic handling. As a training gun this will be a benchmark, at least for those who want to train for carrying a 9mm Glock. And even just as a CO2 pistol on its own, it will likely rise to the top as one of the, if not the most realistic CO2 pistols built to date. But exhale; we won’t see them until late this summer. This is about the same waiting period as last year’s Shot Show announcement of the Legends Cowboy Lever Action Rifle (before it was pushed back to December). But it has proven well worth the wait. The question is, “What are we waiting for next?”

For 2019 Umarex only has three new models we haven’t already seen, the Glock 17 Gen4, Beretta M9A3, and Ruger 10/22 but they also count the late 2018 introductions of the Glock 19, Glock 17 Gen3, HK VP9, and Legends Cowboy Lever Action as new models for 2019. Considering their timeline in 2018, they certainly qualify, giving Umarex quite a lineup of new CO2 models for this year.
Very little has been released on the G17 Gen4 other than that it has an enhanced blowback action and Gen4 styling cues. It is unlikely we will see the gun for sale before this summer.
The Gen4 will be the third Umarex and Glock collaboration.

Umarex has plans

Umarex is the bellwether of new guns, though it is being challenged quite effectively by Sig Sauer, and, as will be revealed this year, by Air Venturi and its alliance with American armsmaker Springfield Armory. Umarex remains the world’s leading manufacturer but that is just the point, we are not the world, we are the United States, and when it comes to new airguns, not the largest market, second largest perhaps. Umarex functions on a global level, and has a highly diversified product line that fulfills the needs of European airgun enthusiasts, and an ever increasing range of Airsoft models that vastly outnumber CO2 pistols and rifles. On the other hand, what we have available from Umarex in the U.S., just since 2014 is, well, in a word, remarkable. This is where we count our blessings as the market that more than any other relishes authenticity and realism in our CO2 pistols and rifles. In five years time we have gone from almost zero to an abundance of choices in revolvers, semi-autos with blowback action, semi-auto longarms, and recreations of historic American and European pistols. And this is just Umarex.

It is hard to imagine that Umarex and Ruger could team up to produce a more universally revered CO2 version of a cartridge-firing rifle than the 10/22. As a rifled barrel model for 4.5mm pellets, this could be the most popular Umarex model in years. I know I’ll want one. My very first rifle back in the late 1960s was a Ruger 10/22. Talk about recapturing your youth!

The additions to that number for 2019 are not great, but let’s look at what they are, and I am only addressing pistols and rifles that run on CO2. An obvious frontrunner for anyone who grew up in this country from the 1960’s on is the Ruger 10/22, the all around American .22 LR rifle. I had one, you probably had one (may still have one) and adding a CO2 version with a rifled steel barrel that loads 10 pellets in a 10/22 style magazine is going to be on everyone’s list. That is likely to be another summer release (possibly late May according to Umarex), just like the release of summer movies, only I don’t think the trailer for this one will lead to a disappointment! The technology for the gun is based on the dual CO2 system in the Cowboy Lever Action, so we can expect impressive velocity numbers, especially with alloy wadcutters. We may not have ended up with a rifled barrel Model 1894 lever action (yet) but the Ruger will not disappoint.

If looks can make or break a CO2 model, the new Beretta M9A3 will sell itself. Using the same platform as the M92 A1, the modernized M9A3 was intended to replace the M9 as the Army’s standard issue sidearm, but was never considered and Sig Sauer won the bid with the M17.

Evolution of designs

I am an odd bird when to comes to updating existing designs; I’m keen on upgrades, like what ASG has been able to supply for the CZ75 SP-01 Shadow, and Umarex has an impressive upgrade for 2019 with a revised Beretta 92 version of the military M9A3. This is the M92 A1 in full military dress with Desert Tan slide and grips, FDE frame and barrel, updated sights, and a threaded barrel that hints at some future accessory faux suppressor or compensator. Even if you have an M92 A1, you will want this upgraded model for its outstanding looks, and it also retains the select-fire operating system from the M92 A1. We can expect this one within a month according to Umarex.

The M9A3 is nevertheless the end result of decades of Beretta 92 design evolution and offered today to the civilian market. As a CO2 model, it certainly sets itself apart from the M92 A1. We could see this one available within a month.

The new blood seems to be coming not from Germany (where Umarex is based, as well as Umarex USA in Ft. Smith, Arkansas), but from Illinois and Ohio, with the combined efforts of Springfield Armory and Air Venturi introducing an entirely new line of CO2 pistols based on Springfield’s XD series of polymer-framed semi-autos, and Springfield’s modern recreation of the legendary M1A carbine (the civilian semi-auto version of the M14). This authentic replica will be offered in two versions, one with a wood grain synthetic stock, and for $100 more, with a genuine hardwood stock, making it one of the most true-to-the-original centerfire model air rifles on the market.

One of the most famous rifles in American history the M14 and its semi-auto M1 version is a long awaited addition to the world of CO2-powered rifles. The centerfire Springfield Armory models have been in production since the 1990s and current versions sell for $1,685. The CO2 model built by Air Venturi looks the same but costs considerably less at $199.
The M1 CO2 model is a semi-auto with blowback action and a 15 round drop free magazine. The guns are built to meet Springfield Armory’s standards, so they will be exceptional air rifles. The standard model comes with a wood grained synthetic stock.
For an additional $100 you can get the M1 with a real hardwood stock like the centerfire Springfield Armory models.

The new Springfield Armory/Air Venturi XDM pistols break new ground by getting everything right from the start. Two versions of the 9mm XDM series pistols will be offered, the full size 4.5 and compact 3.8 models. Both operate exactly like the centerfire models; have interchangeable backstraps to adjust to individual hand sizes, fully functional controls, and full field stripping capability. And those pesky white warning are gone, replaced by molded in warning information unobtrusively placed on the left side of the slide along with the proof marks.

A gun I am quite familiar with is the Springfield Armory XDM. I have owned them and tested XDM models for Combat Handguns for over a decade. Judging from the photos this is going to be one of the most authentic blowback action CO2 models ever. Like the M1, Springfield Armory has approved the design and operation of the gun to meet their stringent standards. This is the XDM 4.5 which is the standard duty size model with a 4.5 inch barrel. The XDM design incorporates a blade trigger safety combined with a grip safety (like a 1911). The CO2 models will be fully field-strippable and handle exactly like centerfire guns, except, of course, for what they shoot. The guns use 20-round self contained CO2 BB magazines.
This is a .45 ACP version of the XDM 4.5 that I tested (and later purchased) about 10 years ago. It doesn’t take much to see how accurate the CO2 models are.
In 2010 I ran a full series of range tests on the XDM for Combat Handguns testing both the 4.5 and 3.8 models. So, when I get the CO2 models to review I literally have firsthand experience with the actual Springfield models for comparison.

All of the markings on the guns are true to their centerfire counterparts, putting these two new blowback action pistols head-to-head with the forthcoming Glock 17 Gen4 and new HK USP models, as well as the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE.

The XDM 3.8 with extended capacity magazine is the basis for the second CO2 model with the 3.8 inch barrel, the same operating design, interchangeable backstrap panels, and sights.
The XDM series CO2 models will be among the most authentic training guns you can own. This is going to be a very good year for airguns.

If that is not enough new for 2019, Sig Sauer has more in store for the year than the P226 Super Target pneumatic pellet model. But Sig is keeping a lot of what is coming under wraps like they did in 2018.

Looking back at how many impressive new models from major manufacturers have been introduced since 2014, when the only new blowback action gun was the Umarex Colt Commander, the field is expanding at an astonishing rate for revolvers (lest we forget what ASG has done with the Dan Wesson brand), semi-autos with truly authentic designs and operating features, and a handful of new rifles that provide firsts for the American CO2 market.

If you look back at what has been introduced, and how designs have been improved upon every single year, the look ahead is more impressive than ever.

7 thoughts on “Conceptual Evolution”

  1. The first Springfield rifle will be the M1Carbine, in its early military semiauto version. I would like to see a30 round select fireM2, as well as the Folding stock paratrooper model known as theM1A. Springfield is rumored to be working on the semiauto M1Areplica of the M14, the 308 select fire military rifle. Confusing. They also may offer the shorty SOCOM version.

  2. Although all the reports say that there will be a real wood stock M1 for shooting steel BBs, the only real wood version I saw in any of the Shot Show videos was an airsoft version. I really do want the M1, and I hope you are right about the real wood stock steel BB shooting version.

    I may indeed get the new Beretta M9A3 and one of the XD pistols. I like the two tone XD I saw in some pictures.

    Although it is not CO2 powered, I rather like the bolt action Diana Mauser K98 PCP. If the accuracy is there with a reasonable price, I may get it along with one of the new affordable compressors.

  3. The dimensions should be the same as the airsoft M1 Carbine$100 for the stock and forend is quite reasonable. They should bundle Carbine with sling, Oiler, butt stock mag pouch. I would prefer a cartridge based co2 98.

    • I agree a cartridge based CO2 powered K98 would be preferable, but how long am I willing to wait for something that may never make it to market? Not long any more. There’s some potential airguns I’m tired of waiting for, e.g. the Thompson airgun (not airsoft) replica.

  4. Can’t argue with that strategy. Had hoped for a lot more from Umarex in the Heritage, Replica lines , but they seem to have other priorities. Still can’t understand the interest in orange tip impotent plastic projectile airguns

  5. The upcoming M9A3 appears to be a polymer hybrid if it is the same model that is currently in the European market albeit they added the select fire option for the NA market. I’m pretty curious how it will compare with the already excellent 92A1

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