First Look: Umarex SA 10 semi-auto Part 2

First Look: Umarex SA 10 semi-auto Part 2

If this looks like a very expensive competition pistol, it’s no coincidence

Build a Custom Airgun

By Dennis Adler

Standard nylon tactical holsters that can be belt or vest mounted will fit the Umarex SA 10. The rig also holds a spare magazine. The holster is being worn on a Bigfoot Gunbelts tactical belt which has a steel liner to support the weight of most tactical handguns in a belt holster.

The Umarex SA 10 has more going for it than against it. Building to a price point requires compromises but they are not always as disappointing as one expects. The fact that the airgun does not have a slide that looks back on an empty magazine is not so much a cost savings measure but rather the nature of the 8-shot rotary pellet magazine design. So you can’t really call that a cost cutting move, and since the slide release is repurposed as the manual safety to keep the lines of the gun clean, it is really making the most of this gun’s limitations. Remember, internally, this blowback action semi-auto still works like a revolver, turning the rotary magazine with each semi-auto shot just like the trigger pull rotates the cylinder on a six-shooter. The fact that Umarex now has a rotary pellet magazine that holds the pellets and CO2 is this gun’s most important achievement. One can only suppose how this new design could be used to update existing non-blowback pellet models like the Colt 1911, Walther CP99 and Beretta 92FS, by redesigning them as blowback action models with self-contained CO2 and rotary pellet magazines. But for now, we have the SA 10 and its promise of higher velocities and better accuracy from a 5.0 inch rifled steel barrel.

The Umarex SA 10 Picatinny rail will support a variety of tactical lights and lasers, like this Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro. However, it will not fit in the holster with the Rail Master attached.

Key operating features

The blade safety trigger is an interesting design since the blade safety serves no purpose other than as a visual styling cue. It is spring loaded and offers the resistance of a Glock-type trigger safety but does not have any effect on the trigger firing mechanism. Good practice but no lessons learned. Trigger pull on the SA 10 averages 7 pounds, 6 ounces for the first double action shot (after which the slide cocks the hammer and every subsequent shot is single action. The trigger pull drops to 3 pounds, 10 ounces average. You can, of course, cock the hammer by racking the slide for the first shot and never shoot double action. Trigger take up is a full 0.93 inches in double action with heavy stacking and a sharp release. You can watch the hammer come back as you pull through like so many DA/SA hammer fired semi-auto handguns. Fired single action, the trigger travels the same 0.93 inches, only there is zero resistance for the first 0.75 inches, then light stacking. It is not a great trigger, but with 3 pounds, 10 ounces of effort and only 0.25 inches of trigger press left, you can keep the SA 10 steady from shot to shot.

The Umarex SA 10 magazines use 8-shot rotary magazines. The gun comes with three, plus a plastic magazine (below Meisterkugeln pellet tin) but this one does not work as smoothly in the gun. The rotary mags are easy to load and store in the main CO2 pistol magazine.

The slide release lever, in its special role as manual safety, is another well functioning control that is easily set and released with the shooting hand thumb or support hand thumb. The magazine release takes a firm push which is good since the heavy drop free magazine (11.5 ounces fully loaded) comes out fast. With two to three extra rotary magazines attached, this in not one you want to let hit the ground. The switch out time to replace an empty rotary magazine is just a few seconds but be sure to have that main magazine laying back in your hand, tilting it forward can allow one or all of the spare rotary magazines to fall out of their retainers. If you are going to shoot with multiple magazines, simply leave the spare rotary mags off and change the entire magazine. Eight shots is average for a 1911, so you really can have a realistic reloading experience with this gun.

One of the smartest moves in design for a blowback action CO2 pistol with a slide that does not lock back is to repurpose the slide release as a manual safety. This very unobtrusive safety lever pushes forward to lock the trigger (as shown) and can be easily released with the thumb by puling it back. Also note the large, square magazine release behind he triggerguard.

Steel BB and lead pellets downrange

Once again you have the old conundrum; steel BBs down a rifled steel barrel (which causes excessive wear to the rifling over time) and lead wadcutter pellets, which work better with a rifled barrel. Should you even bother to shoot BBs? From one perspective, BBs are much cheaper, but a rifled barrel CO2 pistol with blowback action is where pellet accuracy lives for guns of this type, and with a self contained CO2 pellet magazine the SA 10 is all but in a class of its own. For the sake of argument, I’m going to test the gun with pellets and Smart Shot plated lead BBs.

Using the tactical holster on a belt, the author releases the safety clasp in preparation to draw and fire.

The pellets for this test are my standard Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. Average velocity was 392 fps, which is below the 420 fps factory rating. Switching to the Smart Shot average velocity was 322 fps. With a rifled barrel I stepped back to 10 meters (33 feet) instead of the usual 21 feet for blowback action air pistols. The gun shot just slightly high and left (making one wish for an adjustable rear sight) but by correcting with a 2-inch hold under I was able to get a best 8-shot group measuring 0.875 inches. I do have to admit to one small cheat, I taped the front sight so it was easier to see. Between the very bright orange dot rear sights, the low profile black blade front sight is less than wonderful. A little piece of masking tape did the trick for me as always, and most everyone who gets this gun will likely settle on a way to highlight the front sight with white nail polish or a color close to the orange rear sights. I tried it both ways and without taping the front sight my groups at 10 meters opened up to 1.2 inches and my shooting speed dropped as well.

The Umarex SA 10 is a hand-filling semi-auto that is easy to shoot.
With a 5-inch rifled steel barrel, I shot the test from 10 meters with the Umarex SA 10 and Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. The 8-shot group measured 0.875 inches. The gun shot a little high above POA and slightly left.

For the Smart shot test I moved back to 21 feet and the best 8-shot group measured just a fraction over 1 inch from center-to-center with three almost overlapping. Although the SA 10 can shoot BBs, it is a far better pellet gun. For the $100 price category (average retail price $89.95 and the MSRP is $129.95), the SA 10 is a unique pellet firing blowback action pistol with its self-contained CO2 pellet magazine. It is not perfect, but it is one noteworthy step forward in blowback action models.


11 thoughts on “First Look: Umarex SA 10 semi-auto Part 2”

  1. It will probably find an audience despite some shortcomings . First it should be compatible with older rotarymags, but it isn’t. Always wonder why you offer a rifled barrel air gun with bb mags , unless you also offer replacement barrels. Steelbbs will wear out rifled barrels. , Smartshot bbs are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist . They are more expensive than pellets and shoot slower.

    • It is a very good general training gun while not directly duplicating any one specific model, so you can learn fundamentals without being tied to a certain handgun design. As a pellet gun, I think it excels compared to some others of equal or even higher prices. It would have been nice if the older alloy rotary magazines from the CP88, CP99 and 92FS would have been interchangeable but this is a new magazine design and the 8-shot rotary mags are just a little smaller in diameter. They are also made from alloy, which comprises the center rotary section only, and plastic, which is used for the pellet chambers. The earlier rotary magazines are all alloy construction.

  2. would be interesting to se what the alloy 5.5 gr pellets would chrony at out of the 5 inch barrel. The next bigadvance in action air pistols would have to be a conventional 1911 style pistol feeding pellets from a co2 containing mag , with a straight up feed system like a cartridge pistol

    • I will run some Sig Sauer alloy pellets through the SA 10 and review that option a little later. I think you are right on the money, the next self-contained CO2 and pellet model using the SA 10 system should be a Colt Model 1911, and if I had my way, it would be based on the National Match pistol. One can dream!

  3. A blow back semi auto that gets sub 1″ groups at 10 yards for less then $100.00 sounds like a great deal to me. I notice now that Pyramyd Air is not listing the Magnum Research Desert Eagle pellet pistol. I was going to compare it’s accuracy to this pistol. I have the Umarex Colt 1911A which I doubt will shoot any more accurate ,is non blowback and costs over twice as much. This may be a pistol that a lot of folks will be interested in.
    Great shooting as usual Dennis

  4. Is the Umarex SA 10 pistol shipped in a blister pack or a cardboard box?

    You mentioned the rotary magazines will fall off the CO2 magazine if you tip the magazine forward while holding it. Umarex may need to modify the magazine with some knob detents on the posts for the rotary magazine.

    I think you have already answered this question, but I will ask it anyway. Are you sure that the rotary magazine is advanced by the trigger mechanism? Is it possible that the slide mechanism rotates the rotary magazine as in the Desert Eagle pellet pistol?

  5. If you reload the gun and the hammer is cocked it is ready to fire. If you start with the hammer down, there is no way to manually cock it. The trigger pull cocks the hammer for the first shot and fires the gun; the slide advances the magazine during its blowback cycle. Unlike earlier designs, like the Beretta 92FS pellet model, which required the trigger pull to rotate the rotary magazine like a revolver, the trigger pull on the SA10 operates the firing mechanism, while the slide handles the rest of the job. Also someone asked about the Desert Eagle. It has been discontinued.

  6. Hi Dennis and the group.
    I just ordered one of these. I will share my impressions of it after shooting it for awhile . Two pistols are no longer available that were on my list. The Webley MK VI and the Magnum Research Desert Eagle. Just a reminder that some of your pistols you are pining for may not always be available.
    Happy 4th of July everyone !

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