Last best semi-auto showdown Part 1

Last best semi-auto showdown Part 1

Three blowback action models that wowed us

By Dennis Adler

There are a lot of choices in blowback action CO2 models, but this trio represents air pistols that have raised the bar. The Smith & Wesson licensed Umarex S&W M&P40 helped establish the standard against which most other blowback action models are judged. The 2018 (well…2019) Umarex Glock 17 has delivered on as much practical authenticity as possible given the limitations imposed by its design; not quite up to the M&P40 across the board but a new standard bearer in its own right. The Umarex HK USP blowback is really the first gun to rival the M&P40 in every way and do so as the only hammer fired model of the three.

Now that the Umarex Glock 17 is available and ready to ship, (so get your gun before they end up on backorder), it is fair to make some hard comparisons between a trio of blowback action models that simply leave you asking, “If they can get all this right, why can’t they get other things right?” Perhaps they do and we fail to recognize it. Let’s start a few years back with what I consider the one semi-auto CO2 air pistol everyone who likes modern pistols should own, the Umarex S&W M&P40. It just doesn’t get any more authentic than this. Or does it? read more


Postscripts Part 3

Postscripts Part 3

Air err and the Cowboy Lever Action

By Dennis Adler

A very good gun with more potential than almost any new model from 2018. Inadvertently, the Umarex Legends Cowboy can occasionally pierce only one of the two CO2 cartridges loaded when the piercing screw is turned down. This happened once for me, but has happened to several readers who tried out their new guns this past week. What I discovered is that even on one CO2 it will still send rounds downrange at better than 650 fps (and we’re talking alloy pellets from the Peacemaker pellet-firing cartridges, not steel BBs!) This means a special version like a Wanted Dead or Alive Mare’s Laig with cut down stock, 9-inch barrel and magazine would be possible and still shoot like the dickens!

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” I’ve lifted this famous line from Cool hand Luke with the emphasis on cool because the air chamber in the new Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action is very cool, and in fact it needs to be re-explained and better understood. Traditional CO2 pistols and rifles use a single 12 gr. CO2 cartridge that fits in nozzle up (or horizontal on designs like the Diana Chaser and Cowboy Lever Action), but it is usually one CO2 to power the gun. When the seating screw is turned down, the CO2 nozzle pushes into the valve with its piercing pin and O-ring and the seal is complete. read more


Postscripts Part 2

Postscripts Part 2

Finishing up at 45 feet

By Dennis Adler

You know the old saying, practice makes perfect, well I had to do a shoot for Guns of the Old West, hence the real Remington Cartridge Conversion in my holster, and I decided to grab the Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action on the way out the door. After the live ammo tests with the Remington I set up targets at 45 feet and began a test with the Lever Action.

The question with the Legends Cowboy Lever Action is how well it will perform now that it is sending steel BBs downrange at velocities of 645 fps and H&N Sport 5.25 gr. alloy pellets at a gong ringing 664 fps. But as we always have to ask, does increased velocity mean increased accuracy? Given the accuracy of the original test gun which was shooting in the high 450 fps range, and grouping 10 rounds at 10 meters into 1.25 inches, with a best five measuring 0.5 inches edge to edge, you have to wonder what an extra 200 fps is going to give this lever action rifle. I had originally planned on doing a test at 45 feet, but bad weather forced me to shoot indoors at 40 feet, and the gun shot well. Now with the higher velocity from the new off-the-shelf-production gun, the 45 foot test is what I’m after for this postscript to 2018. read more


Postscripts Part 1

Postscripts Part 1

Updating some of the most interesting airguns of 2018

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action was a good shooter at 452 fps and now with a factory rating of 600 fps it fills the bill for every possible Cowboy Action CO2 match need.

One of the minor disadvantages of doing Airgun Experience is that I occasionally get a test gun that is not from the production line; it’s not a prototype, but one of the first of a new model that is reserved for photography and evaluation before the product is actually available. The advantage is that you get to see them first, and read a review before the gun is even on the shelves. This happens quite often with centerfire guns that I review for Guns of the Old West and Combat Handguns, and usually those guns are not for sale until months after the article comes out. Sometimes all the stars align and a magazine hits the newsstands the same month or even week that the new model comes out. Lead time for print publications is measured in weeks and months, for the internet, its days and hours and it is rare that you get to read about something that isn’t available. But that happened with my test of the new Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action. I had one more than a month before it was to be released and you all had the benefit of that early review to know if you wanted to add one to your collection. read more


The new gun I enjoyed shooting most this year

The new gun I enjoyed shooting most this year

…and you’re going to be surprised!

By Dennis Adler

When you write 144 articles a year just on air pistols, you shoot a lot of air pistols and you do it every week. As much as I like shooting (air pistols, air rifles, and centerfire guns), it is a job and you approach each new test gun as a blank sheet of paper. Some new models this year practically wrote their own story; others were not so much disappointing as they were not what I had expected. You start with un-boxing a new gun, going over the instruction book, looking at the gun and all its features, and the occasional lack of features, and go forth with objectivity. This was essential for 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year and the set of categories and points system established to rate each gun as fairly as possible. You do the test, take the pictures, write the article and move on. That’s just the hard truth of writing a column three days a week. Most of the test guns go back to the manufacturer, some are inventoried for follow-up articles and comparisons that eventually lead to picking the best examples to evaluate for the year’s top honor. The boxes either sit all nicely stacked waiting for their second turn, or when they have no chance of a second review they go back after the article is done. I’d like to say I enjoy shooting every air pistol I test, I’d really like to say that, but some I’d just as soon never shoot again; I have a low threshold for inadequate designs. But every year there are a few new guns that even after the article is done and I have moved on to the next, that still sit out on a special table waiting for a free hour so I can shoot them again, just for fun. read more


Why the Sig Sauer M17 ASP Won

Why the Sig Sauer M17 ASP Won

M17 4.5mm vs. M17 9mm – The Real World Test

By Dennis Adler

Yes, the final choice was mine, but it was the best choice among a field of excellent competitors and one of the rare instances where the CO2 model could actually go up against its centerfire counterpart. For a comparison test with the 9mm Sig Sauer M17, I wore a UTG tactical vest to carry one of the guns. Here I have the centerfire pistol in my right hand and the CO2 model in my left. A spare CO2 pellet magazine is also in the holster’s mag pouch. This is currently the only way to securely carry a spare CO2 pellet magazine for the M17.

Of all the new CO2 models introduced this year, why did the Sig Sauer M17 ASP rise to the top to be chosen as 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year? The five distinct categories of comparison and the points system used left it tied with the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 and Umarex Heckler & Koch USP, a solid three-way that was broken by the extra one point given to the M17 for Technology of Design. But there is more to the technology side than just a CO2 pellet magazine, which is definitely a game changer for blowback action pellet firing pistols; there is also the capability of the M17 to be an honest real world training substitute for the 9mm centerfire pistol. read more


Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

What it takes to become 2018’s Top Gun

By Dennis Adler

If you don’t think this was a good year for new CO2 pistols, (and I know some of you have been disappointed by guns that didn’t come out or did and are not yet available), but this trio makes 2018 a pretty good year for new blowback action CO2 models that meet up to the standard of training guns. The Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE, Sig Sauer P320 M17 and Umarex HK USP deliver everything you expect and some things you didn’t. All three are winners in my book.

We find ourselves with three CO2 models tied for the title of Replica Air Pistol of the Year and it is as diverse and well defined a representation of three distinctly different types of blowback action semi-auto pistols as possible, spanning more than a century of firearms design. First, a very traditional SAO (single action only) Colt-style Model 1911, with a few modern improvements such as white dot combat sights, ambidextrous thumb safeties, and a custom finish. But the Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE is also the most authentic 1911 CO2 model made, an exact copy of Sig Sauer’s .45 ACP WE THE PEOPLE 1911. It is our standard bearer for design integrity. read more