Target Pistols and Target Shooters Part 5

Target Pistols and Target Shooters Part 5

Part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Match Pistols – Shooting the Beeman P3

By Dennis Adler

There is both a sense of age and longevity in Dr. Beeman’s P3, which is one year older than the First Edition Blue Book of Airguns, (now in its 12th Edition). The P3 is one of those finely crafted German airguns that have withstood the test of time, while others have been discontinued over the same period. As a single shot Match Pistol it is also one of the more affordable at $230 ($40 less than the Air Venturi V10 and ten bucks shy of being half the price of the Weihrauch HW 75).

I know that over the last 18 months we have focused on blowback action air pistols and rifles, training guns matched to their centerfire counterparts, and classic single action revolvers, which is the primary objective of the Airgun Experience, but this little sidestep into single stroke pneumatics and 10-Meter pistols is also an integral part of handgun (and rifle) training. This is an approach established more than four decades ago by Dr. Robert D. Beeman with his first “Adult Airguns” imported from Germany. Thus the P3 plays a very important role in this story of improving one’s shooting abilities. The P3 breaks down the basics of target shooting by providing simple operation, exemplary accuracy at 10 meters, and the benefits of modern fiber optic sights (also used on many compact and full-size cartridge firing handguns). Like the Air Venturi V10 for 10-Meter training, this is also a short course compared to getting into comparable centerfire handgun and blowback action understudies, like the S&W M&P40. With single shot pneumatics the greater emphasis is placed on sighting accuracy and trigger control than on learning all of the handling skills such as slide and safety operation, magazine changes, tactical reloads, holstering, drawing, etc. The singular focus with models like the Beeman P3 is on learning to hit the bullseye with repeatable accuracy. No rushing from shot to shot; just timing and consistency.

It’s a long sight radius with the P3’s overall length of 9.6 inches and 6.69 inch rifled steel barrel.

Cocking, Loading, and Shooting

The P3 is a big gun, somewhere between a Government size Colt Model 1911 and a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle in overall dimensions. The P3 is, however, light, and weighs in at 1.72 pounds. With a height of 5.8 inches (base of grip to top of rear sight), width of 1.3 inches and an overall length of 9.6 inches, the P3 provides a long sight radius of 7.3 inches. Trigger pull on the test gun averaged 1.47 pounds with 0.25 inches of take up, and a crisp target trigger break.

The barrel assembly is quickly released by cocking the hammer (actually pulling it back, it doesn’t really cock; it is the release lever).

After the barrel assembly is fully extended you can load your pellet.

It’s a tight squeeze around the barrel breech, but the more you load the faster you become.

With the P3, the action is opened by simply half cocking the hammer, which releases the barrel assembly to lift up and pull forward. The Beeman has a 6.69 inch rifled steel barrel which can be loaded after fully extending the barrel assembly. Then close the assembly. This demands around 25 pounds of force (a little heavier than the Air Venturi V10 10-Meter pistol), and again you should use the palm of your support hand to close the action.

The P3 takes from 25 to 27 pounds of pressure to close and I had to rest the frame across my leg to do it. Pressing down with the palm of your hand exerts the most leverage. Even though the safety is automatically set when you open the action, note that I keep my trigger finger pressed against the side of the frame. No matter what type of pistol you are handling this is just a good practice until you are on target and ready to shoot.

The safety, located on the left side of the frame, automatically engages when the barrel assembly is first opened. This is a good feature. Unfortunately, because of the gun’s design the safety is too far forward on the frame to release with your shooting hand thumb when you are ready to shoot, but a quick push forward with the support hand thumb easily disengages it. If you are shooting one-handed, you still have to use the off hand thumb to release the safety. But, since Match Pistols do not have 10-Meter protocols a two-handed hold is permissible and the P3 is otherwise ambidextrous, so left-handed shooters can not only rejoice in that, but an extra advantage; they can release the safety with their trigger finger!

Pellets and the P3

For the shooting test I used the same two brands of pellets as the Air Venturi V10 test, Meisterkugeln lead wadcutters and Sig Sauer cast alloy wadcutters. The Beeman has a heavier piston and it takes more effort to close the barrel assembly. Again, I used my leg as a rest for the frame and was able to put more body weight behind the palm of my left hand to close the action. This is much safer with the Beeman since the safety automatically engages when you open the barrel assembly. Still, in the photos you will note that my trigger finger is firmly pressed against the side of the frame and well away from the trigger.

With the safety lever so far forward on the frame you can’t release it with your shooting hand thumb. If you are right handed you need to use the support hand thumb…

When I was ready to shoot I released the safety with my support hand thumb. For the next test shot I switched to a left-handed hold and was able to release the safety with my trigger finger. What the P3 needs is an ambidextrous safety for right-handed shooters!

…but if you are left handed you’re not only rewarded with an ambidextrous grip but a safety you can release with your trigger finger.

The Beeman is a single pump pneumatic and chronographed at an average velocity of 380 fps with the Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead pellets. With the lighter weight 5.25 gr. Sig Match Ballistic alloy wadcutters average velocity increased to 430 fps with a high of 434 fps, and a low of 428 fps. For the 10-meter shooting test I decided to get the most out of the P3 and shot the Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutters.

The bright fiber optic sights are easy to pick up and get on target. I wasn’t as consistently accurate with the Beeman as I was with the Air Venturi V10 and its 10-Meter pistol grip design but my best 5-shot group was actually tighter than with the V10.

The bi-tone (yellow rear and red front) fiber optic sights on the P3 are very easy to get on target and with the pistol’s zero recoil design and light trigger it proved to be very accurate. The test was shot using a two-handed hold and the same Federal 10 Meter Pistol Targets as before, and once again I managed to preserve the bullseye hitting everywhere around it and blowing out one section of the target. My best 10-shot group measured 1.24 inches, with a best 5-shot group, all overlapping and stringing along a 0.375 inch line. Compared to the Air Venturi V10 the Beeman P3 isn’t quite as easy to shoot consistently and requires more effort to cock, but it is still a great understudy for 10 meter Match Pistol shooting, and at a very reasonable price.

Another bullseye spared! My best 10 rounds went around the red dot on the National 10 Meter Target with a total of 10 shots measuring 1.24 inches (not as good as the V10) and my best 5-shots grouping at 0.375 inches, beating the Air Venturi 10-Meter pistol’s 0.5 inches.

Next up, the King of the Hill in single shot pneumatic Match Pistols; the legendary Weihrauch HW 75.

7 thoughts on “Target Pistols and Target Shooters Part 5

  1. Thank you for the report Dennis, Very good shooting as usual . So for what I gathered, the V10 is easier to cock and load then the P3 . The P3 handles more like a conventional pistol , so it could be a plus for regular pistol shooting.
    Thanks again
    Harvey


    • Harvey, that about sums it up. The P3 is more of a general use design that is combat pistol oriented, the V10 solely for 10-Meter training (though outside of competition one could use a two-handed hold. I tried it and the gun is very easy to handle with the flat left side profile). The Weihrauch HW 75 is actually somewhere in between with a competition style grip design.


      • Very good on all . I will be interested in seeing how the Weihrauch HW 75 cocking effort is compared to the P3 . The 75 is the stuff dreams are made of, so will be nice to see how it performs downrange
        Best wishes
        Harvey



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