Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 6
The gun you didn’t expect: Select-Fire Barra 009
By Dennis Adler
This was the least anticipated blowback action CO2 model of 2020 because absolutely no one expected it,oreven anticipated that Umarex and Glock would build a G18 select-fire pistol. And they would have been right, because they didn’t. This cinematic spy gun, (about the only time you ever see a G18 is in movies), comes from a company that was also “living in the shadows” to borrow a line from James Bond films, and appeared more focused on Old West guns, particularly the S&W Schofield. But Barra was (and still is) also driving headlong into not only modern handguns, but unusual ones at that. They came in out of left field late this year with their version of a Glock 18, a gun that was barely on anyone’s radar until the opening scenes in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall. Before that, no one had seen a G18 in a movie since The Matrix Reloaded in 2003, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, also in 2003. Glock rarely sells them to anyone outside military, law enforcement, and government agencies. It’s not even on the Glock USA website, but it was a gun that air pistol enthusiasts really wanted. More about that later…
Destined for more
The origins of the Barra design come from the Third Generation Glock 18, which is the less modified version of the G18C, the same gun but with compensated slots in the barrel and slide to reduce muzzle lift on full auto fire. The G18C is a little more exotic looking but the plain G18 with its very obvious selector lever on the left side of the slide is exotic enough for an air pistol, and one of the very few semi-auto/full auto airguns that is actually copied from an actual select-fire handgun. Obviously, I am taking a shot at the Umarex Beretta M9A3 (92A1) models with full auto operation, which the centerfire pistols do not have. The 009 is copied from the real deal and that makes it not only one of the newest CO2 models for 2020, but the sixth and final contender for Replica Air Pistol of the Year.
There are a number of distinct features about the 009 to consider that tie back to the Glock 18, a design which has been in the Glock lineup since around 1987. This all adds up to the G18 being an obvious gun for Umarex to build and it has, but only as a G18C Airsoft model (yes, once again the spitball boys get all the cool toys first).
While it took Glock a very long time to come around to the idea of putting their name on a CO2 pistol (working in cooperation with Umarex) the manufacturing of CO2 Glock models is not altogether exclusive to Umarex, just the Glock name and Glock markings. The patent for the G18 (and G17 among other models) expired years ago and there have, in fact, been Glock-style (looks like a Glock) CO2 BB pistols for awhile now, but nothing quite like the Barra 009.
One of the interesting aspects of most 9mm G18/G18C field tests that have been published or shown in videos (videos firing full auto weapons abound on the internet) has been the distance from the target, which is usually 10 yards (7, 10 and 15 yards are used in a traditional tactical test with the full auto Glock). That makes the Barra 009 version of the Glock 18 very capable at the 7 to 10 yard target range.
As a potential top gun for 2020, the general appearance of the 009 is Glock but with a few interesting and practical alterations to the original design. The Glocks have a curved grip silhouette with a finger grooved frontstrap, (as copied on the Umarex CO2 models), and this is changed to a straight grip with horizontal frontstrap grooves, and a backstrap that is more akin to a 1911 with the flat mainspring housing; the grip angle, however, remains the same as a Glock 17/18/18C. There are also unmistakable elements of the Glock 17 Gen4 in the various components of the 009 CO2 pistol, such as the larger magazine release used on the Gen4 and later series guns, and the larger slide release. The 009 cleverly uses the same dustcover serial number plate to hide the requisite manual safety as the Glock air pistols, and the Glock Safe Action-style triggers are also the same, as is the accessory rail which fits Glock tactical lights and light/laser combinations. The 009 also has a Gen4 type slide (with longer slide lock channel) and forward slide serrations, something that Glock added as an option on Gen5 and selected Glock centerfire models. While different in overall appearance, the 009 and Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 share the same CO2/BB magazines, so this is a real “parts-is-parts” situation, with the exception that the 009’s slide and frame are not interchangeable with the Umarex Glock models! The 009 is, in the end, its own gun done in a Glock style, and this is not unusual in the centerfire gun world either. A handful of companies that started out a few years ago making custom accessories and design modifications for Glock pistols have graduated to building complete customized Glocks that are not Glocks. As for CO2 pistols, like the new Barra 009, it may not be the first airgun to look like a Glock without bearing the Glock name, but it is most certainly the best.
Nobody does it better
Getting it right the first time is what we want all airgun makers to do. Few succeed at this right out of the chute because they often start with a lesser version of the gun and then add an improved model down the road. Umarex has done this many times in order to cater to different retailers and entry level price points, the first non-blowback Glock 19 CO2 model being a perfect example, which was followed by three increasingly more sophisticated and expensive Glock CO2 models. Barra skipped right to the end game with the 009, a gun that lacks only one feature, the extended capacity magazine that allows full auto fire to be more practical. I am assured; however, that the long, extra capacity mag will be available early in 2021 to complete the package, and Barra may even have a few more surprises. In the “authenticity of design” category the 009 is as real as it gets except for Glock markings. Plus it has a few improvements the real G18/G18C models could use! Not bad for an air pistol.
Blowback action CO2 pistol velocities are generally in the 310 to 320 fps range except for those that do not have filed stripping capabilities, like the Umarex Glock 17 and G19X, which both push BBs downrange at an impressive 370 plus fps average. The 009 is built the same as the G17 Gen4 CO2 model, and has the same average velocity in the 317 to 320 fps range.
Handling the 009 is a little different than the Glock CO2 models because of the Barra’s different grip contours which feel more like holding a 1911 with a flat mainspring housing. The second of three alterations is the deeply undercut triggerguard, and I mean deeply undercut so that the middle finger is not only tucked up higher but your entire grip is raised to lower the bore axis over a regular Glock. The last alteration is a second triggerguard undercut that allows the same relief for the support hand index finger to create a tighter two-handed hold. There is also a slight rest for the support hand thumb tip right behind the slide lock (slide release) that a Glock does not have. This all has a positive effect on how well the gun handles and shoots.
The downside is that the 009’s triggerguard design is different enough that the gun will not fit any Glock 17 injection molded or Kydex molded holsters like the Umarex Glock CO2 models, but the 009 slips into the same molded paddle holster as the Springfield Armory XDM 3.8. So, there’s no actual problem with having a holster for the 009.
The design for the CO2/BB magazine for the Barra is also excellent with an easily threaded seating screw (the seating tool comes with the magazines) and the locking follower sits well below the perfectly-sized BB loading port so you can easily pour your rounds into the magazine channel. This magazine is the same as the Glock Gen4’s except for not having to remove the base pad to access the seating screw. But if you have the Gen4 and extra magazines, you can use them with the 009. As CO2 BB mags go the Barra design is about as good as you can get. Another points plus for the 009.
Seems like this is going to be the year’s top gun, but the Barra 009 does have one minor flaw; it shoots accurately but hits well below POA, requiring as much as a 4-inch hold over the bullseye (on the Birchwood-Casey Shoot-N-C targets), and that’s a little extreme for any air pistol, though it shoots pretty much dead center for windage.
Since the sights are fixed there isn’t much you can do about the elevation issue with the 009 except correct your aim, and when you have a POA and POI solution (I aimed top center of the target over the 7 ring), the gun hits very close to the same place each time. I have shot several targets with the 009 this way in the last month.
For this final review, my best 10-shot group with the 009 measured 1.375 inches, just a little wider spread than a couple of my earlier targets, but with eight of 10 shots clustered in the 10 ring and bullseye at 0.93 inches, and a best five shots, all overlapping, at 0.50 inches fired semi-auto. Once you get a handle on POA/POI, the 009 shoots better than most blowback action CO2 pistols. As for full auto testing this time, there really isn’t any reason to do that since none of the other pistols in the running have that feature. Just consider it a bonus.
The issue with the 009 certainly isn’t accuracy, it’s the sights. A lot of blowback action CO2 pistols don’t shoot to POA, but even the one’s that do, rarely can group tighter than the 009, still with the gun consistently shooting low and having to hold over almost to an uncomfortable degree, its a problem that has got to cost the Barra one point from a total that otherwise would have given it a lock on the title.
Authenticity 1 to 10 9 (based on G18)
Ingenuity of the design 1 to 10 10 (select-fire feature)
Ease of use 1 to 10 10 (easy CO2 and BB loading)
Performance 1 to 10 10 (good velocity, light, consistent trigger pull)
Accuracy 1 to 10 9 (shoots low, best 5-shots 0.50 inches)
Field stripping capability bonus 1 1 (full authentic field stripping)
Adjustable Sights bonus 1
Total points 49
So, after six guns we have a three-way tie for Replica Air Pistol of the Year at 49 points each for the Sig Sauer M17 ASP with Sig Air reflex sight, ASG Shadow 2 with adjustable rear sight, and the select-fire Barra 009 (Glock 18-style) pistol. On Christmas Eve we’ll have this sorted out and name a 2020 Replica Air Pistol of the Year. In the meantime, let’s hear from readers on which gun out of the three they would pick.