First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 2

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 2

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

Generally, a new gun replaces an older version, but this has not been the case with Glock which still produces five different generations of pistols separated by features and pricing. Walther has done the same with the PPS and PPS M2, as both models remain in production, and Beretta will continue selling the 92FS, 92A1 and new M9A3. It is fitting then, that Umarex has done the same with the PPS and PPS M2 CO2 models, perhaps setting the precedent for keeping both the 92A1 and M9A3 in the lineup. The M9A3 should be available by spring.

Glock tried to win the MHS trials with an upgraded G19, the G19X, Beretta had upgraded the M9A1 to the M9A3 before the trials began and was out of the competition almost before it started. The M9A3, as a civilian gun, is in all aspects a better, stronger latter generation Model 92FS. Translating everything Beretta designed into the improved 9mm semi-auto to a CO2-powered blowback action air pistol is actually more than different colors, it is, for the most part, a new gun that looks a lot like the old one, but is much more. The closest example to this kind of design change is the Walther PPS and PPS M2. The 9mm guns have their CO2 counterparts as well, and as I pointed out in reviewing the PPS M2 in Airgun Experience, the gun may have been the same platform but a totally different gun in most respects. This is true of the 92A1 vs. the new M9A3 CO2 models. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 1

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 1

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

Beretta is not known for making frequent model changes (some unusual guns, perhaps, like the Nano and Pico), but the upgrades to the 92 Series have always been to improve the gun either for the military or civilian market. The Model 92 platform dates back to 1976 and the latest models, now in CO2, are the 92A1 and M9A3. While similar, the centerfire and blowback action models have a number of different design features, aside from the FDE finish.

In 2017, after 32 years providing this nation’s standard issue military sidearm, Beretta lost its contract after failing to win the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition. Back in 2012, Beretta was awarded a secondary contract to improve the M9 (Beretta 92) in use by the U.S. military since 1985 and the result was the M9A1, an upgraded 92FS for the military that also found its way into the civilian market. When the Army’s XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition was announced in September 2015 to find a replacement for the M9A1, Beretta again worked to upgrade the Model 92 to meet the new standards established for the MHS trials. The significantly upgraded M9A3, however, only met 86 percent of the Request for Proposals (RFP) outlined in the MHS program requirements. The most noteworthy issue for the MHS was not being a modular handgun design, of course, neither were most of the guns developed for submission to the MHS trials, including Glock and S&W, leaving Sig Sauer with a clear avenue given its already established and proven modular designed P320. read more


Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 3

Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 3

From perfection to perfection

By Dennis Adler

Take 10 paces, turn and fire. The very modern Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP brings the highest level of blowback action CO2 pellet-firing pistol technology to the table, while the Umarex Beretta 92FS retains the look and feel of a classic pistol.

In the end, this review comes down to technology either improving an operating system or simply technology creating something newer and more appealing, but with the old, established platform of the Umarex Beretta 92FS against the outwardly advanced design of the Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP, the truth of the comparison is, that outside of shooting accuracy, there is no comparison. For handling and authentic to the centerfire pistol design, the M17 cannot be touched by any other “pellet-firing” CO2 pistol. I have to unapologetically emphasize “pellet-firing” because even Sig Sauer’s own BB-firing Model 1911 WE THE PEOPLE blows the doors off the M17 for true authentic operation, construction and field-stripping capability. It is closer to the real centerfire gun because there are limits to what a pellet-firing semi-auto design CO2 pistol can do, and how it can do it. In that single respect, the 92FS and M17, though almost two decades apart in design and manufacturing technologies, are on common ground. With these pellet pistols, trigger pull, sighting, and accuracy are the only things that count from this point forward. read more


Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 2

Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution Part 2

From perfection to perfection

By Dennis Adler

Top guns in their own right and in their own time, the Umarex Beretta 92FS has been manufactured for just shy of 20 years, the Sig Sauer by comparison has been around about 20 minutes. It has the advantage of the very latest air pistol technology while the Umarex Beretta is where multi-shot, semi-auto pellet pistol design began.

Almost two decades separate the technology between the Umarex Beretta 92FS pellet model and the Sig Sauer P320 M17 ASP. For air pistols it is a big difference, for the actual guns, the Sig replaced the Beretta as the primary U.S. military sidearm, but the M17 only succeeded the Beretta M9 (military designation for the 92FS) because it provided specific features that the Beretta could not, regardless of how the gun was updated as the M9A3. The improved military model failed to give Beretta the competitive edge it needed to retain the government contract it had enjoyed since 1985. In a way, this is like the advanced technology between the two pellet-firing CO2 models. It is also fair to say, that both the Beretta 92 series (and latest M9A3 pistols) and the Umarex 92FS CO2 model remain in production, so the advances in technology over two decades have not made either of them undesirable. They’re just not state-of-the-art handguns. read more


Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution

Semi-auto pellet pistol evolution

From perfection to perfection

By Dennis Adler

Sig Sauer designed the M17 CO2 pistol and it is an actual Sig Sauer product, not a licensed design for another company to build and sell, but, unlike the Beretta 92FS, which is still made in Germany, the M17 is built for Sig Sauer in Japan. That, combined with a less expensive to produce polymer frame and integrated grips, as opposed to a cast alloy frame with wood grips, makes the 92FS more expensive to build no matter where it is manufactured.

It was just 23 years ago that Umarex introduced the first semi-auto style pellet pistol, the Walther CP-88. It is still manufactured. In 1999, Umarex developed its second semi-auto style pellet pistol, the Beretta 92FS, which was introduced at the turn of the new century, becoming what remains, 19 years later, the best built CO2 pistol of its kind, still handcrafted and manufactured in Germany. Two remarkable guns that launched a generation of rotary magazine semiautomatic pellet pistols, but were they true semi-autos? The answer then and now is no. The Umarex Beretta 92FS looks, feels, and handles like its centerfire Beretta counterpart but its internal operation is that of a revolver with the cast alloy 8-round rotary magazine turned from chamber to chamber by pulling the trigger. It was a beautiful deception. read more


Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 3

Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 3

From the Old West, to Prohibition, to the battlefield

By Dennis Adler

The cut down Mosin-Nagant was a handy gun in its time, the rifles were plentiful having been made for over a quarter of a century by the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and easily modified. Some have the front sight remounted on the end of the shortened barrel, most had both sights removed. The Gletcher CO2 version favors the guns that were done by gunsmiths rather than revolutionaries with a hacksaw.

In the realm of military arms the Mosin-Nagant is a classic rifle, the Obrez on the other hand, is almost more of an historical curiosity because they were not made at any arsenal but simply modified individually in the field, much like cut down weapons used during the American Civil War. So, there was no absolute consistency from one to another, unless a revolutionary group with a decent gunsmith among them built a small quantity at one time, otherwise it was a pattern copied by individuals with surplus Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifles. In the Russian Revolution they served as a kind of rebel pistol in a rifle caliber. Some Obrez Mosin-Nagant pistols appeared during the Spanish Civil War and others were either resurrected or made new by resistance fighters during WWII, but still they were a rare gun to find in any numbers. This fact led Gletcher to the Obrez while looking at famous Russian military guns when they started their Russian Legends series of CO2 models some years ago. And while the rifle made most sense, the Obrez was almost irresistible as a unique CO2 model. And I don’t think anyone will disagree with that, even after Gletcher introduced the M1944 Mosin-Nagant WWII era rifle. The little sawed off M1891 had a look that any military weapons collector or arms enthusiast couldn’t shy away from. Many existing Obrez remain only because of the attachment their original owners had for them during the revolution. Those who survived, some maybe even as a result of using the gun, held on to them as wartime momentos. Other rifles throughout world wars and conflicts have been cut down in similar fashion; Obrez roughly translates to cut down, so it is not necessarily exclusive to the Mosin-Nagant. But it is to the Gletcher model. read more


Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 2

Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 2

From the Old West, to Prohibition, to the battlefield

By Dennis Adler

The Gletcher Obrez version of the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 is nothing if not interesting looking. The removable box magazine allows the combining of CO2 and BBs in one, and with spare magazines, quick reloads. The bolt action is impressively quick to work.

If necessity is the mother of invention, than war and crime is the mother of necessity. Most of the firearms developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries were built for offensive or defensive use in war; certainly many were also designed and built as target and hunting rifles, and even target pistols. There is, however, a fine line that separates that distinction, and everything needs to be viewed in the context of the times; we simply cannot subject 19th century thinking to 21st century interpretation. read more