Dennis’ Top New Airguns for 2017

Dennis’ Top New Airguns for 2017

And the winner is… Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

This year saw a number of new CO2 models, many based on guns from previous years, and a few that were first time models like the Umarex MP40 German submachine gun. The special John Wayne Edition Model 1911A1 was the first semi-auto in the John Wayne signature series, the odd but alluring Umarex Legends “Ace in the Hole” gave movie buffs a real taste of not being Expendable, ASG gave us a new 2-1/2 inch Dan Wesson Model 715, and Webley & Scott delivered its best MK VI CO2 model yet, the weathered and rugged Battlefield Finish.

Among the best CO2 models introduced in 2017 these five soared to the top of my “Best New Air Pistol or CO2-powered rifle” list. It is a fairly diversified group by gun types, but there is a dominant theme among the choices, vintage military arms with battle worn finishes. For arms collectors, condition is paramount but when condition becomes secondary to rarity, you look for a gun that has the most acceptable “patina” or as it is described in the Blue Book of Gun Values “…a good example of an older, used revolver in above average condition.” This is 70% condition which can show areas of wear, some discoloration and pitting. This also falls into the NRA Modern Good condition, which ranges from 60% to 80%. This is what most airgun makers are shooting for (pardon the pun) when weathering their CO2 military models. The weathering on the John Wayne 1911A1 is a bit more severe, closer to 60% condition, and the Webley MK VI is closer to 70%, while the “Ace in the Hole” falls somewhere in between, the MP40 is also around 70 percent finish in most areas. All four look very authentic, but the Webley and MP40 are just a little more realistic looking overall.

Cutting down this list from five to three bid goodbye to the JW 1911A1 (a fine but not truly new CO2 model) and the “Ace in the Hole” which was surely a favorite with the Single Action crowd, but not quite up to the remaining three for design authenticity and best handling features. The MP40 is in a class by itself and the Dan Wesson Model 715 with 2-1/2 inch rifled barrel vs. the 5-inch Webley MK VI rifled barrel model are divided by nearly half a century in design. It’s an interesting face off between two superior CO2 powered, pellet-cartridge firing revolvers.

Making the first cut

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If all things were equal, BBs and pellets would rank the same, but they don’t and in this lineup of top models the one BB-firing pistol, the John Wayne 1911A1 has to bow out to the superior firepower of the 4.5mm Dan Wesson, “Ace in the Hole” and Webley MK VI Battlefield Finish pellet-firing models. The MP40, while also a BB gun, continues to hold its own by having selective fire full auto operation, and being based upon one of the preeminent submachine guns of its time.

The “Ace in the Hole” for all its coolness is the next to step out of the picture since it is based on a movie gun and not an actual Colt model. Had Umarex built it as a Sheriffs Model it would most likely have won the year’s top award, at least among western gun enthusiasts. It is still one of the top five but not the top gun.

This was a tough choice. Both guns have excellent accuracy, great double action/single action triggers and rifled steel barrels. Both have exceptional attention to detail in recreating the original firearms as CO2 models, but the edge finally went to the Webley MK VI for its historic significance.

Wheels of Fortune

In this battle of pistols, wheelguns have prevailed over the 1911A1 blowback action semi-auto (will someone please make a blowback action, pellet-firing Browning Hi-Power!), and it is down to the Webley MK VI and Dan Wesson 2-1/2 inch Model 715 for handguns. The Dan Wesson has excelled for authenticity and accuracy (for its barrel length) and ranks as one of the very best new CO2 models of the year hands down. The Webley & Scott MK VI Battlefield Finish pellet-firing model has also excelled for accuracy at 10 meters and has the added advantage (for military arms enthusiasts) of having an extremely long history dating back to the pre-WWI era. The MK VI is the most authentic military CO2 revolver currently available, a four star triumph, and the better of the two wheelguns up for the year’s top honor.

And then there were two…and two about as different from one another as possible, a WWII era German submachine gun and a WWI and WWII veteran of the British Empire, the c.1915 Webley & Scott MK VI. What finally separates these two is what they fire. The MP40 is a selective fire model with a high capacity BB magazine, while the Webley is a tried-and-true military sidearm, a six-shot double action/single action revolver. Both have exceptional finishes that look almost identical to the original 20th century firearms.

Germany and Great Britain     

The MP40 is without doubt the best CO2 powered blowback action, selective fire BB Subgun there is, and even with the Uzi as a counterpoint, the MP40 still can’t be touched. It has greater capacity, higher velocity, equal accuracy, performance handling, and unrivaled authenticity for an airgun based on a real WWII model.

The arbiter of victory is longevity, and like the British Empire, the Webley MK VI endured through two World Wars. It remained in service from 1915 to 1945 and for decades after, the MK VI was still being carried in the far flung corners of the world.

The Webley MK VI is its absolute equal in a military handgun also based on an original design. Choosing between these two is akin to the argument between Mustangs and Camaros (and please let’s not get into that off topic discussion, even though I know some of you just gritted your teeth), the choice has to be based on total authenticity to the original gun and both the MP40 and Webley MK VI are dead even on every point, and where they lack authenticity (manual safeties) again both have equal gigs for the thumb switches. The slightest edge goes to the Webley MK VI for the most consistently accurate working features and the greater overall accuracy as a pellet firing pistol vs. a BB firing subgun, albeit a selective fire one. The top honor for best new airgun of 2017 goes to the Webley & Scott MK VI Battlefield Finish model.

This year’s Airgun Experience Top Airgun Award goes to the gun that looks as real as it gets, the Webley & Scott MK VI Battlefield Finish Model. Here, here!

This has been a great year for new CO2 models. I’ll be back in January, until then keep getting Airgun Experience. My best wishes to all for a great Holiday Season and a Happy New Years.

Dennis Adler

3 thoughts on “Dennis’ Top New Airguns for 2017”

  1. Tough decision. I probably would have weasled out with best bb co2 going to the MP 40 and best pellet co2 going to the Webley . Can’t help but think that Webley would look even better next to a S&W 1917.Happy New Year and an even better next year! Thanks for all the interesting and informative articles Dennis.

  2. I already stated that I have the Webley MKVI BF Finish as my choice – so I can’t but applaud your choice of it; as well!

    I always look forward to your detailed and personal reviews of the many many air guns that you have reviewed this year and am looking forward to a new year of reviews from you.

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and yours; Dennis.

  3. For anyone like me, who couldn’t wait for the Battlefield finish Webley and jumped the gun with the nickel version, and was disappointed with the accuracy, here is what I found out . I shot the Exhibition version and was disappointed at how low it shot and how wide the groups were. I used the excellent Meisterkugeln 7 gr wadcutter that are excellent in my other revolvers. Consistently low . Added red paint to the front sight with little differrrnce. Tried heavier7-7.5 gr pellets with groupsmoving up but still not tight. After looking at the pictures of the Battlefield sights
    I realized that there was a mirage effect from the ramp below the blade . Iblackebed the back of the rampwith aSharpe. The sight picture sharpened up , appearing identical to the Battlefield version and my older smoothboreWebley. The groups were now centered and shrunk to around 1-1.5 inches sa. If nothing interesting shows up in early 2018,I may add Battlefield version to the collection to hold me over.

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