Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 6

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 6

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

The Sig experience is an emersion in technology as much as it is one of authenticity, accuracy, and performance. Sig Sauer’s up-and-coming Airgun Division has devoted several years to evolving their designs to arrive at two superb pellet-firing, blowback action CO2 models that are designed for different purposes, target pistol accuracy and training pistol superiority. The 2018 X-Five ASP delivers on 10 meter accuracy and high 20-round capacity for a pellet-firing model, while the P320 M17 ASP delivers not only the same high capacity but groundbreaking new features in the 4.5mm semi-auto pellet pistol market. 

We have come down to the two guns that some readers have predicted would be this year’s winner. But we have learned from the preceding eight guns that the point system allows very little latitude. Some favorites have fallen by the wayside on the simple fact that they cannot be field stripped. If you are looking at authenticity as a guideline for the best overall model, it needs to be capable of duplicating as many features of its centerfire counterpart as possible, field stripping is one of them, it is among the most basic of skills learned in handgun training. Even though it is not an essential part of a quality CO2 blowback action pistol (which can be cleared of a stuck BB or pellet without full disassembly) it is a feature that says “this gun has been built to the highest standards of authenticity.” Only a handful of the 10 guns for 2018 meet that standard, but it is not the sole defining quality for being chosen as Replica Air Pistol of the Year. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 5

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. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 4

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 4

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

The mettle of their metal, the alloy construction of both the new Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 (left) and ASG CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow makes them a little lighter than their centerfire counterparts, but the accuracy of design, fit and finish (particularly with the unique weathered finish on the Sig Sauer), and authentic short-recoil, locked-breech designs make them two of the most authentic CO2 blowback action models on the market.

This has been an impressive year for new blowback action models and this is where the toughest competition for Replica Air Pistol of the Year emerges with guns like the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 and ASG’s CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow; air pistols that not only visually correspond to their centerfire counterparts but match handling, operation and ability to be field stripped. These are two examples (but not the only two this year) where manufacturers went the distance to get everything as accurate as possible. Why do this for a CO2 BB pistol? Like the highly regarded Umarex S&W M&P40, the new Shadow SP-01 and Sig Sauer 1911 are more than great air pistols, they are so well matched to their centerfire counterparts that they are perfect training guns that allow total familiarization with the firearm right up to pulling the trigger. And there, all that is lacking is heavy recoil from the velocity of a centerfire cartridge, the high dB rating of a live round vs. the low dB rating of a CO2 pistol, and accuracy beyond the optimal 21 to 25 foot range of a .177 caliber steel BB. Thus the CZ Shadow (and competition-style Shadow Blue) and Sig’s custom 1911 WE THE PEOPLE are the first to square off against each other. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 3

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 3

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

Two entry-level CO2 models with great features, authentic designs and shared handicaps based on retail price point (actually selling for just $69.95), the new Umarex Glock 19 and updated Umarex Walther PPS M2, have the looks down pat, good performance, and make the issue of separate CO2 and stick magazines much easier to live with. Note that the stick mags in both pistols have full size base pads so the guns look right from the top down!

It’s the best new non-blowback action BB model vs. the latest update to an unseated champion in entry-level blowback action semi-autos, the Umarex Glock 19 against the Umarex Walther PPS M2. No two CO2 models could be better pitted against each other despite the fact that the Glock is a non-blowback pistol…it’s just that good!

It is a masterpiece of external design that does the best job of looking like its centerfire counterpart of any air pistol on the market. The Umarex Glock 19 is almost indistinguishable from the 9mm model, and Glock being aware of that subtly made one obvious change to the gun by eliminating the caliber markings on the slide. There is also the equally subtle crossbolt safety at the top rear of the trigger, even though the air pistol has a working Safe Action style blade trigger. Attention to details in the grip panel pattern, front strap grooves, checkering and every functional feature, such as the slide release are perfect, even though it is a non-blowback action pistol.

What Umarex and Glock have delivered with an entry-level model of the G19 is about as much fine detail as it is possible to get into a CO2 pistol’s exterior design. And you can say the same for the Walther PPS M2. Both the new Glock and updated Walther look like their centerfire counterparts in almost every important detail. Neither has a self-contained CO2 BB magazine, both use separate CO2 chambers in their grip frames and easy to load stick magazines. Overall, they are pretty much equals in the air and BB loading department and are priced the same selling discounted for $69.95. They are very affordable entry-level pistols with exceptional performance and design. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 2

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 2

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Ruger Superhawk while based on the Umarex S&W 327 TRR8 is pretty much its own gun with Ruger trademarks, different barrel design and different sights. With the optics rail removed from the top of the barrel the gun takes on a more practical look and with pellet loading shells is a pretty accurate shooter. The shells are more efficient to load into the cylinder using Bianchi Speed Strips. The speed loader hits the side of the grips making it a little awkward to use, i.e., not as much “speed” in speed loader, which is a moot point with pellet shells since they don’t fit the speed loader.

As might be expected, a revolver up against nine semi-autos of varying design would have little chance of prevailing, unless it was a 4-3/4 inch, rifled barrel Umarex Colt Peacemaker, (just a hint to Umarex about the standards and expectations we have here at Airgun Experience), so the first of the 10 to go is the Ruger Superhawk, but not without a good run at the title. While it is a blatant re-branding of the S&W 327 TRR8, the Ruger name, logo in the grips and shorter bull barrel are neat touches that set it apart from the S&W DA/SA model. The real surprise for me came with the improved trigger having a smoother 6 pound, 7.0 ounce DA and 5 pound, 11.0 ounce SA average pull and a solid staging of the hammer firing double action. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 1

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

Each year since I began writing the Airgun Experience I have selected one new model as my Air Pistol of the Year. For 2018, given the variety of new air pistols and satisfying, though not overwhelming number of models introduced, the focus has specifically turned to CO2 air pistols that are based on actual centerfire handgun models, whether new (like the Sig Sauer M17) or older (like the HK USP) so long as the air pistol is new. I am also establishing an updated point system based on five comparative categories with values from 1 to 10 points for each. This is going to separate out a number of guns simply because of their various features, or lack thereof. The gun chosen as Replica Air Pistol of the Year will be based solely on total points earned. read more


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.) read more