Perchance to Dream

Perchance to Dream

If we had our way

By Dennis Adler

You can do the same thing with a Colt licensed CO2-powered Peacemaker as was done with the original guns in the Old West; in other words, make them more than the sum of their parts through engraving. The real 3rd generation Colt Nimschke New York engraved model at top, engraved by Adams & Adams, was the inspiration for the current hand engraved CO2 model (bottom) available from Pyramyd Air.

If we were to interpret the meaning of this line from Hamlet in the context of “to have versus to want,” then the question is, “is it better to give up than face the troubles?” Not our troubles, but those of airgun manufacturers with a global market. A lot of us are expecting a renaissance in airgun design for the American market, but the Renaissance took place in Europe the first time, and that is where it is happening again, at least for airguns that have the greatest appeal to readers of the Airgun Experience. We covet what we cannot have, it is human nature, and more so the nature of collectors and enthusiasts. What many of us envision as the “next logical step” is, in fact, logical, but it is not always practical, “…ay, there’s the rub.”

Airguns that look like hand engraved models costing thousands of dollars are not mainstream, they are in the custom classification and exclusive to Pyramyd Air, but they are still Umarex CO2 models underneath, affordable, accurate, pellet-cartridge firing models that have changed the game for airgun and western gun enthusiasts forever. (Custom holster by John Bianchi)

Next month in Nuremburg, Germany, is the annual IWA Outdoor Classics show. IWA is Europe’s Shot Show, and as we have all discovered by now, this year’s Shot Show did not offer as exciting a variety of new airguns as we had hoped for, but rather the promise of some exciting things to come, mostly in the summer and fall of 2018 headlined by the much anticipated Umarex Glock 19 pistols, (an entry level, non-blowback, stick magazine version to be followed by a blowback action model with its final features as yet undisclosed). Umarex will also have some updates to a couple of existing airguns, but the bellwether for Airgun Experience readers, is a Winchester lever action rifle with BB-loading (and perhaps pellet-loading) cartridges, that load into the receiver the same way as a centerfire model and eject accordingly as the lever is worked after each shot. For western gun enthusiasts, this is nothing short of groundbreaking. Pair this up with an Umarex Colt Peacemaker and, like in the days of the Old West, you have two guns chambered to use the same cartridges. What is missing is a CO2-powered, mule ear side-by-side shotgun that loads two multi BB (or pellet) firing cartridges. Think of larger sized shells with multiple BBs that get a hefty air charge from an 88 gram CO2 cartridge in the stock sending the load down cylinder bore barrels with an effective paper target range of 21 feet to 10 meters. That’s a dream worth thinking about. With a shotgun to round out the necessary trio, Three Gun CO2 Cowboy Action Shooting could be a reality, and the technology to make the shotgun already exists within the Air Soft market.

That we are finally going to get a lever action rifle that works like a real lever action rifle, loads like a real lever action rifle and uses the same BB cartridges as the Peacemaker pistols, is the biggest step forward in Western airguns since the Peacemaker.

There are countless European CO2 models that never see our shores, some are actually variations of the airguns that do. Why is this? I asked. Importers and manufacturers like Umarex are at capacity with the number of models they now import to the U.S. Those marketing decisions are driven both by consumer demand and the number of retailers (i.e. will Walmart sell it). High dollar CO2 models, custom versions, and other airguns like PCP rifles and target pistols, are for a more dedicated consumer market, and if you are reading this, that’s you. That market, however, is 10 fold in size across the pond. That’s why there are variations of the Peacemaker we don’t have here. Even still, Umarex has not yet expanded the line to include a legitimate Sheriff’s Model or a 4-3/4 inch barrel, or better still, a 12-inch Buntline. Not even in Europe, at least not yet.

Here are three centerfire handguns of varying age that all of you have suggested as CO2 models. Two are essentially simple to do, the 12-inch barrel lengtht Buntline Special and 3-inch barrel length Sheriff’s Model. The Buntline is actually the easier of the two since the frames for the 5-1/2 inch and 7-1/2 inch models, including the ejector housing, are the same on a 12-inch barrel model. All they need to do is make the barrel 4-1/2 inches longer. A proper Sheriff’s Model does not have an ejector housing, and this is more problematic to manufacture since the Umarex models have the ejector and barrel cast together. Making a 3-inch model without an ejector is an entirely new casting process for the barrel and frame. But wouldn’t it be nice? Now take a moment and look at the grip length and frame depth of the .32 Auto Colt Model 1903 Hammerless in the middle. It is clearly large enough to be made as a CO2 model. Might have to settle for a stick magazine, but to have a 1903 blowback action Colt CO2 model would be worth it. But maybe it’s too narrow?

We have been fortunate however, that ASG has brought us the best new CO2 revolvers with its 2017 Dan Wesson line and that Sig Sauer is about to eclipse everyone (again by summer) with a self-contained CO2 pellet magazine and new Sig Sauer models of the P320 and P226 that will have this column humming along all through the middle of the year with tests, comparisons and reviews. That will satisfy many of us, but there are still dreamers among us, myself included, who see an even greater potential without sending airgun manufacturers totally back to the drawing board. Some of the ideas are so basic that it is almost ridiculous, except from the manufacturer’s marketing standpoint; that being “can they sell enough to justify another product to manufacture, inventory, and ship?” Can they build it, yes; can they sell enough within a very vertical market segment to justify it? That’s the hurdle that every new idea must first clear. That we are finally going to get a lever action rifle that works like a real lever action rifle, loads like a real lever action rifle and uses the same BB cartridges as the Peacemaker pistols, is what clearing that hurdle looks like.

The Gletcher TT CO2 model (custom weathered finish shown) is a little taller and a little longer, but no wider than the real Colt Model 1903 shown, and thus the TT could be the manufacturing platform for a Model 1903. None of this is too far fetched. All it takes is enough consumer demand and a manufacturer willing to step up. The fundamental tooling used to make the TT could be adapted to make a Colt 1903, one of the most famous semi-auto pistols in Colt’s history.

What comes out of the IWA Show next month is a not a preview of what we may see here in 2018 or even by 2019, but rather technology that could make some of our “dreams” realities in the years ahead. It is only a little over three years since the first BB cartridge-firing Peacemakers were introduced and look how far we have come. Can we really carp about models sold in Europe that we can’t get here? You bet! Speak louder, there are people listening. Air Venturi will have some groundbreaking new models through their partnership with American armsmaker Springfield Armory that will thrill every Airgun Experience reader. And that will begin to happen this year.

Starting with a clean sheet of paper, a manufacturer could make an S&W or Colt Model of 1917, a large double action, single action handgun that would fill an immense gap in the CO2 pistol line available today. And there is actually nothing internally different in making this gun in CO2 than a Colt Python or Dan Wesson Model 715. As a pellet cartridge firing model this would be a best seller. If a pistol like this was offered in CO2, wouldn’t you want one?

And here is the one that should leave all of you scratching your heads, the Walther P.38K, a snub nose version of the WWII P.38…

…It already exists as a CO2 model by Umarex (top). And the blowback action air pistol has a removable barrel. Add a front sight to the top of the slide, shorten the barrel, use black grips and the job is done. Here is a custom model just waiting to happen.

I know I have never used this column as an editorial platform before and I’m not actually going to do that now. All of the ideas that you have shared with me about new models, models that pique your interest as enthusiasts and collectors are possible. Some so simple that I can’t begin to accept the manufacturer’s excuses for not doing them other than there simply isn’t enough demand to do so, that even comes down to importing existing variations of guns they already import! But to wrap up, here are five real centerfire models that many of you have been clamoring for as CO2 versions, some that could be done with very little effort on the part of manufacturers, and a couple that are almost clean sheet of paper projects. But, so was every new CO2 model out there today, the Webley MK VI, Colt Peacemaker, Mauser Model 712 Broomhandle, even the Model 1911. Here are five that could be done if manufacturers are willing to take these same bold steps once again.

2 thoughts on “Perchance to Dream

  1. Make it so. Not Shakespeare, Star Trek, Captain Picard. The1917 , the P38 k and the 1903 are screaming for production.If the 1917 doesn’t make it ,I might have to buy a 45


  2. The airgun manufacturers are making the same mistake as certain firearms companies. They either think they can rest on their reputation or ignore what shooters want . Two examples areColt , a once great giant that is now a sad remnant of a once great giant , and Remington , now in what appears to be a fatal bankruptcy. Some airgun manufacturers are making the same mistakes. The would do wellto participate in blogs , or st least read them. The company that gets anA for listening is Ruger. For a year I , and others wrote to the CEO online. My suggestion was a pistol caliber Carbine , with takedown in 9 mm and 45 acp , with interchangeable mag wells to fitpopular brands other than Ruger. The PC9 with those features is out in 9 mm and I expect 45 acp to follow. The pistols and revolvers above should be a give to companies with their finger on their customer’s pulse.


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