First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3

“Everything you want in a blowback action pistol”

By Dennis Adler

Rarely can you look at the right side of a blowback action CO2 pistol and not know that it is an airgun due to the white letter safety warnings and manufacturer’s marks. With the centerfire Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 models having a black polymer frame and flat black finish slide, correctly duplicating it for the Air Venturi .177 caliber models guaranteed an air pistol with totally authentic looking fit and finish. Even with the small details.

I have said those words so many times in the past, “everything you want…” and every time it was true within the context of when it was said. But even the best of the lot in .177 caliber blowback action pistols with self-contained CO2 BB magazines, have suffered minor imperfections, and in the overall scheme of things CO2, they were nothing more than minor irritants, almost entirely limited to mandatory warnings in white letters marring otherwise pristinely authentic frames and slides. The first gun to break the mold, the Umarex Glock 17, suffered instead from being a design that could not be field stripped (and Umarex may correct that with the forthcoming Glock 17 Gen4). read more


First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 2

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 2

A new level of authenticity

By Dennis Adler

No tricks this time, this was my XDM from 2010. You can imagine how incredible it would have been nine years ago to have been able to lay a matching CO2 pistol next to it. Now you can.

We are by nature a people who want what they cannot have. This is not a bad thing; it is what inspires us to reach for higher goals. For Springfield Armory, those goals continue to extend the armsmaker’s reach across the spectrum of innovative semi-auto pistols, and now into the world of blowback action CO2 pistols. Originally (and still) known for its excellent line of Model 1911-A1 pistols, Springfield Armory broke its own mold in 2002 with the introduction of the polymer-framed XD (X-Treme Duty) models. In the subsequent 17 years the company has continued to expand the XD Series and make improvements, including the XDM models introduced in 2008. Yes, it took almost a decade for Springfield to develop its first CO2 powered, blowback action model in 2018, but like everything this company has done, it is done right the first time. Understanding the design of the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions, is the key to understanding the CO2 pistols. In purpose, they are one and the same. read more


First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 1

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 1

A line in the sand

By Dennis Adler

The new Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 blowback action CO2 model is shown with an early .40 S&W XDM with the complete case and accessories. The CO2 model will not have such a lavish presentation but it will fit the XD Gear holster and the CO2 BB magazines will fit the XD Gear dual magazine pouch. Care to venture a guess which one is the air pistol?

I can remember how impressed I was with the Umarex S&W M&P40, which became the first truly purposeful CO2 training gun, one so accurate in details that a few law enforcement departments that carried 9mm and .40 S&W M&P pistols used the CO2 models for indoor training exercises. The guns proved useful both for recruits and remedial training exercises where live fire (in this case with .177 caliber steel BBs at distances of three to seven yards) could yield a realistic training scenario against targets, while using all other duty gear and accessories in conjunction with the Umarex in place of the centerfire gun. This success as both training gun and as a popular brand name blowback action CO2 pistol for recreational shooting had few equals. In fact, for absolute equality, there was nothing as perfectly matched in all aspects of handling and operation until the Umarex HK USP late in 2018. There are other CO2 models that approach the level of the M&P40 and USP, but none that can equal it. And even the M&P40 has a very obvious air pistol tell with its white lettering on the left side of the slide and right side plastered with white letter warning and manufacturer’s marks. The HK USP followed suit, though far less noticeably. The Glock 17 finally cleared that hurdle with an almost perfect fit and finish and absence of any white lettering or warnings to detract from its authentic Glock appearance. But in building the G17, Umarex designed a gun that could not be field stripped, eliminating one of the essential components of a true CO2 training gun. Even the superb Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911, a virtual 1:1 match with its .45 ACP counterpart, had to succumb to white letter warnings on the right side of the slide. Perfection was close for all of these CO2 models, a perfection that would cross the line that visually blurs the CO2 pistol, with some modicum of time for scrutiny, from being anything but a CO2 pistol to the trained eye. Today, I submit for your consideration a blowback action air pistol that has drawn a line in the sand, the Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 semi-auto pistol. read more


First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

First Look: Umarex Beretta M9A3 Part 3

The civilian market wins when the military takes a pass

By Dennis Adler

The Umarex Beretta models are accurate in size and fit the same holsters as the centerfire pistols; however, the different triggerguard designs dictate different holsters. The new M9A3 with the squared off triggerguard requires holsters for that contour such as the minimalist design Galco Yaqui Slide Belt Holster. This allows most effective concealed carry for the full-sized pistol (outside of an IWB rig) but much less retention than a full size holster or one with a thumb break safety strap.

The differences between the 92A1 and M9A3 as discussed in Part 2 can be categorized in one of two ways, first, exterior changes to duplicate improvements in the 9mm model’s design and operation, and secondly those made to the CO2 pistol either as improvements or changes in manufacturing. The latter is seldom the goal as retaining as many parts of the original mechanical design as possible is the most cost effective when upgrading an existing pistol. With the Umarex Beretta models there is one mechanical or manufacturing change that is quite evident, the new barrel breech on the M9A3. This is actually more than just the interface of the barrel breech with the CO2 firing mechanism. That part is also different on the M9A3. From a purely functional aspect the 92A1 firing CO2 delivery system is a plunger that comes forward and with a lug on the underside strips the next BB in the magazine and chambers it as the plunger extends into the back of the barrel breech. The face of the plunger sits flush with the barrel breech. Secondly, when the slide retracts, either manually or recoiling from being fired, the plunger snaps back into the firing mechanism under the slide, and then extends forward as the slide closes. This is something you can see by simply looking down on the top of the slide and pulling it back an inch. The plunger will snap back. read more


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