Select Fire Beretta Pistols Part 5
Crosman P1 stands alone
By Dennis Adler
In most instances, full auto is for suppressive fire to pin down an enemy. It is not precision shooting. This is sometimes essential in a military or law enforcement situation against multiple shooters or even superior numbers, and almost always executed with carbines and rifles that can fire on full auto; seldom is it with a pistol. At close range, a full auto handgun can be effective, but as distance increases, accuracy begins to decline, one reason why the 1932 Mauser Broomhandle Model 712 could be fitted with a shoulder stock holster, why the Beretta 93R had a metal shoulder stock that could be attached, and the H&K VP70M (the first pistol to use a plastic frame) could not fire in bursts (like the Beretta 93R) without the shoulder stock holster being attached (part of the burst fire mechanism was tied to shoulder stock). Stocks increased the potential accuracy, but turned the pistols into short carbines. This goes all the way back to the Civil War with shoulder stocks for Colt’s 1851 to 1848 Dragoons, the 1851 Navy and 1860 Army revolvers, which used by Union and Confederate Cavalry.
The practicality of selective fire with semiautomatic weapons was originally intended for rifles and machine guns, and again mainly for suppressive (saturation) firing with the intent of hitting a target in the process. At closer ranges, Tommy guns, the German MP40, and various select-fire H&K models, the Uzi carbine, and M16-based carbines have been proven more successful in the field than machine pistols, which also have more limited magazine capacities, (the Glock 18 with a small drum magazine being the one exception).
Into this clash of select fire designs that have been developed for centerfire handguns over the decades, select fire CO2 pistols have either been copied from the original guns, like the Uzi and Mauser, or have been given the added feature, like the Umarex Beretta 92A1, M9A3, and Crosman (et al.) models, the latter of which come closer to the Beretta 93R than the Umarex models.
We have shown that the Crosman Full Auto P1 comes up a close third on full auto against the Umarex Beretta models, but the question then arises, “can the P1 stand on its own as a semi-auto, blowback action air pistol?” It is the exact same price as the Umarex Beretta 92A1, which has out-shot the Crosman in full auto, and $10 more than the Umarex Beretta M9A3, which has outperformed both the 92A1 and Crosman. For the same money as the 92A1, Crosman ups the ante with a nice cardboard box (instead of a blister pack like the PFAM9B version), and for extra measure, throws in a trim, red laser with a sliding ON/OFF switch. While the laser that comes with the Crosman P1 bears no manufacturer’s marks, it is very similar to the NcSTAR Tactical Red Laser for Aluminum Rail, which uses an aluminum housing with a black anodized finish, and sliding ON/OFF switch. It sells for an average of $30 and is one of the most affordable red lasers for small caliber pistols and air pistols. The NcStar has two rail attachment point screw holes, while the Crosman is a dedicated design for the P1, which only has a single rail attachment point. Bottom line, Crosman is throwing in a roughly $30 value, Class 3a 633-655nm wavelength red laser with the gun. Not a bad deal if you are thinking about having a semi-auto air pistol with a laser sight.
One last velocity check
I have been bugged by the performance of the P1, despite it being exactly where it should be for a typical blowback action pistol, in the 300 to 320 fps range. So, I loaded a fresh CO2 and used the .177 caliber steel Crosman BBs that come with the gun. It may be foolish to use the exact same weight steel BBs and expect a different result but Crosman pulled that “up to 400 fps” out of somewhere. And that is still a mystery.
Trigger pull on the P1 is a modest 4 pounds, 10.4 ounces single action, and if you want to pull the first shot off with the double action trigger that averages 8 pounds, 9 .0 ounces. The P1 shoots low (not a big surprise) and POA requires a 3-inch holdover. It also does not shoot much faster with Crosman steel BBs, averaging 328 fps for 10 shots.
It took about 20 shots shooting off hand to dial in the laser, which, at the beginning, was hitting a little right but very low. The adjustment screws for elevation and windage are not the most intricate, but I finally got it dialed in. I ended up still hitting a little low (I can attribute some of that to shooting off hand) but the group was tight. My best target gave me 10 shots inside of 1.0 inches, with the best 5-rounds tightly packed into an overlapping 0.62 inches. The laser is a good adjunct to the P1, making this model worth the price for everything you get.
A word about safety
Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.