Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 5
What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun
By Dennis Adler
Once again a very interesting pairing of guns, both polymer frames, one a DA/SA hammer-fired pistol with a safety/decocker, the other a DAO striker-fired design with an integral trigger safety. Both blowback action pistols are almost 100 percent accurately matched to their centerfire counterparts. Only one has a solid chance of becoming this year’s Top Gun.
This pairing is another ideal match, two polymer frame semi-autos, the Umarex Heckler & Koch USP and Umarex Glock 17, and while they both take different approaches to the same end, one is vastly superior, both as a centerfire pistol and as a CO2 model. But superiority, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder!
Both blowback action designs have slides that lock back on an empty magazine but the Umarex HK USP and Umarex Glock 17 take two very different approaches to their internal designs, the USP follows the centerfire pistol as closely as possible with a short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design like the actual 9mm model, while the G17 employs a closed system that is designed to optimize CO2 by using a shorter blowback stroke while increasing velocity.
We begin with the H&K USP, a centerfire pistol design that has been in use since 1993 but only this year has become available as a blowback action CO2 model. Waiting a quarter of a century for a gun to be developed into a CO2 model is not unusual (the Mauser Model 712 Broomhandle was developed in 1932, so we waited more than 80 years for that one). Over the decades since WWII, Heckler & Koch has not introduced as many pistols as some of their competitors, but when they do, the design and design variants generally stay around for a long time. H&K moves at its own pace, seldom influenced by trends, but also has a penchant for surprising the firearms world with innovative designs, and that is why the USP makes a good match for the Glock 17. To Gaston Glock’s chagrin, the Glock 17 was not the first polymer-framed semiautomatic pistol; the first was developed in 1970 by Heckler & Koch, the VP70.