More Childhood Approved Airguns

More Childhood Approved Airguns

’Tis the Season

By Dennis Adler

Only Jean Shepherd could turn a kid’s BB gun mania into one of the most beloved Christmas movies ever. It’s an annual event in our house, we even have an early Christmas Story Daisy Red Ryder that sits on the fireplace mantle every Holiday Season. Our own BB gun mania.

I must admit that when I was a teenager I didn’t expect, nor did I want an “official Red Rider carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle.” (Of course, in truth I would have had to want a Red Ryder Model 94 Carbine back in the 1960s; the Red Ryder in A Christmas Storey was based on the Number 111 Model 40 Red Ryder Variation1 made in 1940 and 1941). The movie wasn’t released until 1983 and the gun didn’t even exist as it was written in Jean Shepherd’s Christmas classic until after the film. So what did I want? Well, as I mentioned in Thursday’s Airgun Experience I wanted a real Colt Model 1911. But there were other guns with which I had become equally absorbed. None of which existed as air pistols back then. Today, I would be in absolute airgun bliss. The guns I wanted back then were mostly all WWII models and earlier (I have always been a step out of time), and looking at this week’s Pyramyd Air emailing of “12 Airguns you wanted as a kid but never got” I decided to wrap up the week with my old Christmas list and why I wanted them (even though they didn’t exist as airguns back then.)

Of all the Umarex Colt Peacemaker models, I would have to say that owning one of the John Wayne The Shootist special editions is number one in my book. It was Wayne’s last film and he used his own personal engraved Single Actions in the movie. The hand engraved models sold by Pyramyd Air, as a limited edition, are based on those very guns.

The Shootist CO2 model has deep hand engraving, custom yellowed ivory finish grips (something Wayne preferred on his guns) and a John Wayne medallion set into each grip panel. This is one that you might find under your Christmas tree this year if you order now.

I have always liked the Colt Peacemaker; it was the gun of TV western lore and in all of John Wayne’s westerns. Now days you can have a BB or pellet cartridge loading CO2 model, including John Wayne editions like The Shootist and models in different barrel lengths, weathered or nickel finishes, and even hand engraved like so many of the original 19th century models. Back in the 1960s it would have been the most popular airgun in America! Can you imagine? But we old buckaroos get to have them now, and young guns who still like the Old West can get them and fulfill a dream none of us could have had back then.

The most elegant of the Umarex models is the custom Adams & Adams L.D. Nimschke-style hand engraved 7-1/2 inch Peacemakers. Again a very limited edition model, these are all special order but about as close to a much more expensive hand engraved Colt as you can get for a fraction of the price. (Holster courtesy John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather)

Detective stories; really got into those back in the 1950s and 1960s, too. Would I have loved a BB or pellet cartridge loading double action like the ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 with the 2-1/2 inch barrel back in the day? You bet. I had a real Dan Wesson back in the 1980s and this is really a great CO2 replica, in fact, I would have to call it the best CO2 DA/SA pellet cartridge revolver on the market, unless you’re a diehard Webley fan, then the Battlefield Finish MK VI takes the day.

Good guys and bad guys in TV and movie dramas have been pulling snub nose revolvers for decades and none comes closer to the actual look, feel, and handling of a real snub nose .38 than the latest ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 rifled barrel pellet cartridge loading model. It is another top choice for my airgun Christmas list.

And then there is the classic WWI and WWII era Webley MK VI, one of the very few CO2 models that is actually manufactured for and sold by the original company. For British readers of Airgun Experience this has got to rank high on your list. It is another of my personal picks for Christmas, something old and yet very new. The MK VI Battlefield Finish is one of the best looking and best shooting of the CO2 DA/SA pistols around.

Having a 1911A1 goes without saying (and in WWII films it was another favorite of John Wayne’s), but I had yet another passion that I picked up first hand, well second hand, through a neighbor who collected Broomhandle Mausers. I was allowed to look at, handle and admire the classic Mauser models, including a real Model 712. I never got to shoot them but I knew I wanted one someday and I actually ended up owning several original guns, but never the Model 712, the holy grail of Broomhandles. They’re about $50,000 these days!

My personal favorite anytime of the year and every year since it was introduced is the Umarex Legends Mauser Broomhandle Model 712 select-fire pistol.

Over the last 20 years I have photographed dozens of Broomhandles from private collections for use in magazine articles for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, even Guns of the Old West (there was a Broomhandle in the Clint Eastwood western Joe Kidd), but I have to admit that the most exciting Broomhandle I have ever written about is the Umarex Model 712 with detachable CO2 BB magazines. This one is for me and with the weathered finish the keeper of all keepers in air pistols, and while it is no longer a new model, it will always be the CO2 pistol of all classic replica air pistols, with all due respect to my much beloved 1911A1.

John Wayne made another Colt famous in films, the Model 1911A1, yet another great example of creating a special edition with air pistols that would be so much more expensive as a centerfire model. Using the same tooling as the Swiss Arms and Tanfoglio 1911A1 CO2 pistols, the weathered finish John Wayne signature edition 1911A1 would look good under any firearms enthusiast’s tree this Christmas.

And there is one other must have gun that always ran a close second to the 1911A1, but not because of its WWII ties as you might expect. As a kid who grew up in the golden age of television, I was drawn from the cowboy and detective shows to what became by favorite series of the late 1960s, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  And this is one passion that the airgun industry has not yet quite fulfilled; a snub nose Walther P.38 like Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin carried. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. P.38 actually “inspired” Walther to build a similar snub nose variation with a 2.8 inch barrel. Known as the P.38K it was produced from 1974 to 1981. For a CO2 version of the standard P.38, Umarex has come close, but with a stick magazine and separate CO2 it needs updating and if they ever do, hopefully they will check the last box on this kid’s old Christmas list.

The best Walther BB model Umarex makes is the P.38 which even with its stick magazine and CO2 in the grip frame looks remarkable, shoots accurately and fits all original and reproduction P.38 holsters. The gun below is an actual 9mm P.38K the next iteration Umarex should make if they ever plan to update the CO2 model. The TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. guns actually predated the P.38K design by almost a decade!

Next week we begin the reviews and countdown to 2018’s “Replica Air Pistol of the Year.” We have reclassified my annual Air Pistol of the Year to “Replica Air Pistol” because there are other modern air pistols, like the new Diana Chaser, worthy of special acknowledgement, but greatly outgunned by replicas of actual guns that have come out this year.

8 thoughts on “More Childhood Approved Airguns

  1. Growing up as a kid in the sixties with magazines and movies where the heroes lived in a place called Far West and then with the TV serials like Combat, what is to be expected?
    SAA and Winchester at the top, then the 1911 along with the Thompson and the Luger. Detective snub nosed .38s came later to stay. Fast forward to the M16 era and the New Age with M92 and THE GLOCK. Some of them,replicas Co2, are already in the house, some maybe in the future but I think this Christmas is the Mauser era.
    As you can imagine this comment goes for the two blogs, presenting also what drives me to this “hobby” or way of life as I prefer to put it.
    P.S.
    One Katana is always keeping watch…


  2. Bill , consider a Wakizashi or Daito for home defense, as did most Samuri. Katana is overly long for most indoor use , doorways and ceilings, unless you have all cathedral ceilings. Thecustom was to leave long Katanas at the door and keep a short sword and tanto knife on your person. I usually keep one of the short swords handy. Spent a fair number of years using them. Back to the subject at hand numero uno is the short barrel P 38 k, with co2 mag. Remember Robert Culp carrying a custom short barrel p38 as Kelly Robinson on I Spy. Umarex should really think about a line of TV Legends. Many possibilities. If they need advice email me , or Wire Paladin,San Francisco


    • Absolutely right you are about the use of the swords. It was my mistake not to mention that the phrase was indicating one more of the life long beloved items, although not a firearm


  3. I would have to agree that the Webley Battlefield finish is a must have and I am awaiting one to complete the trio. Not mentioned is the excellent, and available again Nagant pellet revolver, The blue version would make for a nice custom Battlefield finish , Dennis. The ASG 715 in all barrel lengths is the most accurate rendering by an airgun , of a Da modern revolver. I use the short barrel one to practice with. Deadly fast and accurate. Wish there were more revolvers of this quality, like a S&W 19. , or Colt Diamondback. A nice airgun would be a version of the new Colt Cobra. With the Hogue grips it could be done as a airgun. Colt is rumored to be offering a 3 inch barrel version in357 for 2019 named the Kings Cobra. I had suggested to them a resurrection of the Diamondback using the new Cobra frame, in 3,4 and 6 inch 357 versions as well as a 22 lr.


  4. I too would like to see an update on the Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol. I like the one I have with the stick magazine, but like you I would like to see one with the full size BB / CO2 magazine. I would also suggest that Umarex update the P38 as a pistol kit with different length barrels. Umarex hasn’t to date taken advantage of the current P38’s removable barrel feature, and I would like to see them do that.

    Like many others, at the top of my airgun Christmas wish list is a CO2 powered (perhaps a 90g cylinder in the grip) Thompson submachine gun shooting either 0.177 caliber pellets or BBs. I think pellets would work better with the drum magazine design utilizing a belt.

    As for what drives my passion for airguns, it’s just that I can now own these very near authentic replicas at a fraction of the price of the original firearms. I’ve never owned a firearm. I may have shot a 0.22 caliber rifle a couple of times in my life, once at the Indiana State Fair at a carnival booth, and another time at summer camp. I started collecting airguns to teach myself a what I can about safe shooting and gun handling thinking one day I might buy the firearm pistol version of one of the airgun pistols. I never imagined how passionate about airguns I would become. The size of my collection far exceeds what I ever thought it would be. To use an expression from my childhood back in the 60s and 70s, these replica airguns are just so “neato” and “cool”. I get a thrill every time I can take one out of the box or pistol case and shoot some targets with it.

    Here’s another replica I would like to see Umarex update. I think I’ve mentioned this here before. The Smith & Wesson 586 pellet revolver. I would very much like to see it updated to use the pellet loading shells.

    By the way, I still don’t own a firearm and am not convinced I want the responsibility of owning one.


    • You hit the nail on the head about replica airguns giving you a chance to own many historical firearms in airgun form. They are also a gateway to safely becoming familiar with firearms as a learning tool. Ditto the updated P38 . Umarex should also offer options of the P08,,Naval,Artillery models. I recently picked up a 4 inch S&W 686, so I would like to see an updated pellet cartridge version of the S&W 586/686. There are several full auto replicas that should be offered. M3Grease gun, M2 Carbine, and the holy grail, the Thompson.


  5. “Like many others, at the top of my airgun Christmas wish list is a CO2 powered (perhaps a 90g cylinder in the grip) Thompson submachine gun shooting either 0.177 caliber pellets or BBs.”

    I want to correct this previous comment. I meant to say put the 90 g CO2 in the stock of the Thompson.

    Speaking of the P38 persuaded me to pull mine out and shoot it again. My first full magazine (20 shots) of Hornady Black Diamond shot from 18 feet distance to target produced a 1.75″ group measured center to center. 14 of the 20 produced a 1.25″ group measured center to center. The World War Supply P38 holster works very well. I like this pistol. Everyone who likes WWII era firearms and airgun replicas should have one! Yes, it could be improved, but until that improved version comes out, this P38 is the one to have.


  6. Nice groups. The P 38 could use upgrades but it still is accurate and has over 400 fps velocity. Looking at your groups, if you are shooting right handed put less of your trigger finger over the trigger, less than reaching first joint and your ground will move to dead on center


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