First look: Hatsan’s new 1911-A1 Model Part 2

First look: Hatsan’s new 1911-A1 Model Part 2

What makes this airgun tick?

By Denis Adler

The Hatsan H-1911 looks like more gun than it is, a bit confusing but also satisfying if you like authentic details in an entry-level CO2 powered pellet pistol that looks like a hard chromed Government Model 1911.

After the initial first look at this 1911-style pellet-firing air pistol, the big question has been “Why?” It all comes down to how it fires 4.5mm pellets. There were only two ways to fire pellets from a semi-auto style air pistol. The first was using an 8-shot rotary magazine, as originated by Walther and Umarex over 20 years ago with the first CP-88, a non-blowback action semi-auto introduced in 1996. It was, and remains, one of the most authentic looking CO2 air pistols on the market.

Semi-auto style CO2 pellet pistols go all the way back to 1996 when Walther and Umarex introduced the CP-88 and its cast alloy 8-shot rotary magazines. Internally, the gun operated like a revolver rotating the magazine like a cylinder to bring each pellet into line with the barrel. This is still one of the best and most accurate semi-auto style pellet pistols on the market after more than two decades.

It was followed by the equally authentic looking Beretta 92 FS pellet-firing model in 2000. Both are still manufactured today and have yet to be surpassed, even by Walther and Umarex. They are non-blowback action by virtue of the firing mechanism; internally they function like revolvers with the action rotating the magazine for each shot. The slide release is used to open the action (by allowing the slide to move forward and expose the breech), and a new rotary magazine to be inserted. The second design, also by Umarex, is the reversible stick magazine that loads into the pistol grip. It holds a total of 16 pellets using an 8-shot rotary magazine on either end. It was introduced with the Beretta PX4 Storm in 2007 and the magazine design is used today on a number of pellet-firing semi-autos, including the new Sig Sauer P226 and P250 ASP.

Umarex and Beretta developed a blowback action semi-auto pellet pistol in 2007, the PX4 Storm which introduced a dual 8-shot rotary stick magazine. The same design is used in the recent Sig Sauer P226 and P250 ASP (pictured) models with blowback action. As with the others they use a DAO trigger system as the trigger pull must still rotate the rotary magazine.

The best feature with the rotary stick pellet magazines is the advantage of blowback action for greater shooting authenticity.

The advantage with the dual rotary magazine is that it allows blowback action with a pellet-firing pistol. And that was about as good as it got until Sig Sauer introduced the blowback action P320 ASP with a 30-round belt-fed magazine. Still, they all use some form of a stick-type magazine and a separate CO2 channel in the grip frame. And none of them are as authentic in total handling as many of their CO2 BB-firing counterparts that have full operating controls, blowback action, and full-sized, self contained CO2 BB magazines.

It was Sig Sauer that took the next step in CO2 powered, pellet-firing semi-autos with the P320 introduced last year. It features blowback action and a high capacity magazine.

The Sig Sauer P320 raised the bar with a single 30-round capacity rotary stick magazine. Still a heavy trigger pull and separate CO2 channel in the pistol grip. How do you improve on this?

If you are expecting the Hatsan H-1911 to revolutionize the pellet-firing semi-auto market, you’re not going to be overly thrilled because it already has one strike against it by not having a blowback action. What it does have is a working thumb safety, solid construction, and a drop free self-contained CO2 pellet magazine. I know, you’re saying, “But Umarex beat them to it with the SA-10A.” But they didn’t. And that’s the good news about the Hatsan design, they have breeched the gap and made a one-piece 1911-sized pellet magazine that you can pull from a mag pouch and load just like a centerfire pistol. The last trick up Hatsan’s sleeve then, is how the pellets load and this is, for lack of any greater enthusiasm on my behalf, the cool part of the H-1911.

The Hatsan uses a totally self contained CO2 pellet magazine with an innovative 6+6 shot rotary pellet magazine. Mounted at the top third of the magazine column it has a release lock below it which when pulled down allows the dual rotary magazines to flip 180 degrees.

With the CO2 loaded the magazine looks pretty much like those used with blowback action BB models. The top of the rotary mag puts the pellets in line with the chamber. But there is much more to this design. Pull the release lever down and rotate the independent rotary magazine module 90 degrees and it is ready to load. Also note that the valve for the CO2 is part of the magazine and is exposed when the rotary mags are rotated.

Loading from the back, each chamber of the 6-round rotary mag is moved into place by hand, a pellet inserted and when full, rotated around to allow the other rotary mag to be loaded. This is no faster or slower than earlier rotary stick mags but note the shape of the rotary mags, they’re completely different from 8-round designs.

Dual rotary design

If you can imagine what an advance to pellet-firing semi-autos the Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm was in 2007 with its 8+8 reversible pellet magazine, you can get some idea what it is like to see the Hatsan design for the first time. Same basic idea only you don’t need to flip the magazine over, it’s not a stick magazine, and if you want to switch from an empty to a full 6-shot rotary clip in the same magazine all you do is drop the mag, hit the release on the front of the housing, rotate the clip 180 degrees with your finger and reload. Is it faster than turning over a stick magazine, not much, but it is the entire magazine with all of the critical components, including the CO2 valve.

Once rotated back into place, the top rotary pellet magazine is ready to fire; after it is empty, you hit the magazine release and remove the magazine as you would on any other self contained CO2 pistol, then pull down on the rotary lock and flip the magazines over so the loaded one is at the top. It’s really fast, probably quicker than changing out magazines or flipping over a double ended stick magazine.

If this gun had a blowback action, a working grip safety and a single action trigger it would have been the achievement of the year. This is still a big step forward, a different step than Sig Sauer’s approach with the P320, but a step in the right direction nevertheless. And for its suggested retail of under $90 it certainly qualifies as an entry level pellet-firing CO2 semi-auto. Now, how does it shoot?

Going hot on the firing line

One positive feature of the Hatsan’s DAO trigger is that it can stage the hammer for every shot once you get a feel for it. Like any DAO trigger though, it is a heavy pull because it has to cock the hammer. Average resistance measured 9 pounds, 8.5 ounces with a short take up of 0.44 inches. The trigger stacks heavy all the way up until the hammer is staged and then pulls cleanly the rest of the way. If you stage the hammer for every shot the heavy trigger pull really isn’t that much of an issue. The H-1911 is a full-sized Government Model, so it’s big enough to get a solid two-handed hold and keep on target.

The Hatsan is built like a blowback action pistol using a slide with an ejection port independent of the barrel. Other CO2 semi-auto pellet models using rotary mags have a slide with a molded-in ejection port, even the new Sig Sauer P320 (one of the few exceptions is the Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm). The H-1911 looks like the slide should rack, but it doesn’t. Is this a grand gesture to authentic looks or a step in preparation for a later blowback action model?

To get the most out of this CO2 model Hatsan recommends using H&N Sport Match Green pellets which have a weight of 5.25 grains. The German-made alloy pellets are factory rated in the H-1911 at a smoking 425 fps. Through the screens on our ProChrono chronograph the Hatsan clocked a high of 398 fps and an average of 380 fps so not quite as high a velocity at the factory specs but 380 fps is still fast for a CO2 pellet pistol. Switching to heavier 7.0 grain Meisterkugeln lead wadcutters velocity dropped to a high of 344 fps and an average of 328 fps. For the 10 meter test I stayed with higher velocity H&N alloy pellets.

The self-contained magazine loads the CO2 just like a blowback action BB model. Of course, Hatsan being Hatsan, the H-1911 magazine uses a smaller-size hex head seating screw and comes with a special hex head tool.

At 10-meters the H-1911 sent its best six shots into a group measuring 0.81 inches. No records broken here but the original-style Government Model sights are about as hard to see on the CO2 slide as they were on a .45 ACP. I have one, so I know for sure. It is not a target pistol, and neither is the Hatsan, but it does a respectable job of keeping its shots grouped fairly tight at 10 meters. I’m not sure if that qualifies it as the pony in the room, but it doesn’t take too much horse sense to see that Hatsan likes to build atypical air pistols. This one qualifies.

At 10 meters the matte silver finished Government Model-style sights are as hard to acquire as those on an old military issue 1911. This is no target pistol but the gun aligns well on target at 10 meters, and with a little accuracy you can get six shots under an inch. You have to hold under about 2 inches at 10 meters with the higher velocity alloy pellets.

Overall, it is a nice pellet pistol for the money. Does it have a future? At its low price point most likely but an even greater one if Hatsan can get all those separate parts they have used to work together and send that slide back with each pull of the trigger. As for the DAO, I’d change the trigger shape to resemble the LDA trigger on the old Para Ordnance DA/SA 1911. At least it would look better.

13 thoughts on “First look: Hatsan’s new 1911-A1 Model Part 2

  1. This will probably live on as a trivia question for Air pistol fans . If this were a sa blowback pistol velocity would be maybe300 fps with 7 gr pellets . The big breakthrough will have to be a blowback semiauto pellet pistol with co2 mag feeding pellets from a slim column in front of the co2 like a cartridge feeding pistol


    • Agreed. Nevertheless, this magazine design got me thinking about a modification to it.

      Full size BB/CO2 magazines use a follower that includes a small post that sticks up into the slide when the magazine is empty. That post sticking up is what makes the slide lock back.

      My idea is this. Add a narrow “follower stick” in the magazine, maybe just behind the 6 shot pellet disk and to the side. Build in a ratchet mechanism on the follower stick so that when the magazine is rotated, the follower stick gets locked down. Then as the shots are fired, the ratchet mechanism lets the follower stick move up one position so that at the end of 6 shots the follower stick will stick up into the slide to trigger the lock back of a blowback slide.



        • I had a similar idea based on the Sig P320 belt magazine. The idea was a hybrid of the P320 magazine and a CO2 magazine. There would only be about 10 to 12 pellet loops on one side of the belt depending on the height of the magazine. A metal follower would be mounted below the last pellet to be shot. The belt would not rotate a full 360 because the follower would have to move in a vertical channel on only one side of the magazine. As pellets are loaded in the loops, the follower is pushed down until it reaches the bottom leaving the first pellet to be shot at the top of the magazine. The follower would then move up as pellets are shot until the follower activated the slide lock when the last pellet was shot.

          Are you going to be posting reviews next week? Or will you be on hiatus while attending the Shot Show?


    • That’s the trick no has been able to figure out. Pellets can’t stack they would deform from the pressure on the rims. The best idea so far has been the Sig Sauer 30-shot rotary mag. If they could build that into a self-contained CO2 magazine that would certainly be the breakthrough.


      • I would think if they were placed into a small protective case that would eject as the pellet leaves it , that would work . As to the Sig type 320 mag , that would be perfect for a pellet firing M2 Carbine or Thompson


  2. Umarex pellet-shooting Desert Eagle uses the eight-shot clips (clip, not magazine), but the pistol also has blow-back. The trigger pull is very light and crisp, among the best pulls of my many CO2 powered handguns.

    Bolt-operating semi-autos such as Hatsan’s 250xt and “Broomhandle” C96 could have circular pellet clips, blowback and light trigger pull a la the Umarex Desert Eagle, provided their dimensions would allow for such a clip. My Daisy 617x and 622x have 6 shot circular clips that are smaller in diameter than the Umarex clip.

    However, ricochet-resistant BBs are a development that might prompt makers to stick with round ball shooters. I expect blowback pellet airguns to remain a small niche. Actually, non-blowback repeating CO2 pistols seem to be gradually but inexorably trotting off into the sunset.

    The action-shooter desires easy loading and large capacities. That ain’t pellet guns.

    Michael

    Michael

    Michael


    • Michel, you are correct in your opinions. Pellet firing technology for semiautomatic pistols has not advanced very far in almost 20 years except for the new Sig Sauer P320, wile BB firing semiautomatic pistols, revolvers and rifles have advanced in leaps and bounds. I believe pellet firing technology has some significant hurdle to clear, but as i have said for years, consumer demand drives the market. You can be sure manufacturers are developing new technolgies. The biggest problem is the magazines and the issue of stacking pellets. So far nothing has come along that can match the designs used with BB firing models.


      • Dennis,

        Yep. Diabolo pellets, especially in soft lead, just refuse to stack!

        The one exception that occurred to me last night was the Daisy Model 2003 35 round helical pellet/BB magazine. It has a reputation for jamming, but mine never has. As long as only wadcutter pellets are used, it is a dependable mechanism. And the pistol has internal blowback to operate at least some of the machine.

        That is the Daisy that can be modified to full-auto, so it was discontinued long ago.

        Michael


        • The Daisy was an interesting looking semi-auto, like the offspring of a Glock 17 and a Luger. I’d say you are lucky to have one and especially in good working order. I imagine there are airgun designers still working on a way to feed pellets in a vertical magazine. It will happen, but probably still a couple of years away.


          • So I’m going to suggest a solution that seems painfully obvious to me, and maybe you can point out why it’s a bad idea; Lead balls. I believe this would be a good solution because the reason you’re not supposed to use BBs is because steel will wear out your rifling, however lead shot, or balls, would be soft enough to avoid the wear and tear, but even as a sphere it would benefit from the internal twist making the pistol more accurate (maybe not Olympic level accurate, but surely by a margin that would be worth the effort). With this the manufacturers wouldn’t have to resigned the wheel, and they’d be able to utilize the strides in advancement they’ve made with the auto BB pistols and their magazines.

            So what am I missing here? Why wouldn’t this work?


          • Very good question. I am going to address this in a future Airgun Experience article, but to quickly reply; with the exception of air rifles with rifled .177 caliber barrels that shoot .177 caliber lead balls (Gamo makes them), there are no rifled barrel blowback action BB models. There are several like the Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm (with rifled steel barrels) that use rotary magazines which can load either 4.5mm lead pellets or .177 caliber BBs. The closest you can come to a lead BB for a CO2 pistol is Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs. But the answer to your exact question is too long for a reply here. Watch for the article.



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