The new gun I enjoyed shooting most this year

The new gun I enjoyed shooting most this year

…and you’re going to be surprised!

By Dennis Adler

When you write 144 articles a year just on air pistols, you shoot a lot of air pistols and you do it every week. As much as I like shooting (air pistols, air rifles, and centerfire guns), it is a job and you approach each new test gun as a blank sheet of paper. Some new models this year practically wrote their own story; others were not so much disappointing as they were not what I had expected. You start with un-boxing a new gun, going over the instruction book, looking at the gun and all its features, and the occasional lack of features, and go forth with objectivity. This was essential for 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year and the set of categories and points system established to rate each gun as fairly as possible. You do the test, take the pictures, write the article and move on. That’s just the hard truth of writing a column three days a week. Most of the test guns go back to the manufacturer, some are inventoried for follow-up articles and comparisons that eventually lead to picking the best examples to evaluate for the year’s top honor. The boxes either sit all nicely stacked waiting for their second turn, or when they have no chance of a second review they go back after the article is done. I’d like to say I enjoy shooting every air pistol I test, I’d really like to say that, but some I’d just as soon never shoot again; I have a low threshold for inadequate designs. But every year there are a few new guns that even after the article is done and I have moved on to the next, that still sit out on a special table waiting for a free hour so I can shoot them again, just for fun.

This year there were two guns that I kept around just to shoot for the pleasure of shooting them, finding matching holsters and accessories to put together with each, and getting shot a lot. You all may recall my favorite from a couple of years ago, the Umarex Broomhandle Mauser Model 712. It is still sitting out! This year’s irresistible air pistol was actually two, one very obvious; the other even surprised me.

I know some of you are not fond of customized guns, air pistols pretending to be their target pistol counterparts, but ASG has done such a fine job of making the SP-01 Shadow a virtual twin to its expensive Shadow Black & Blue competition pistol (and CZ pistols win a lot of shooting competitions every year), that I was hopelessly drawn to the anodized blue grips, mag funnel and magazine base pad. Some of these pieces you can get from Pyramyd Air, others you will have to search Stampede Airsoft, because the Airsoft guys are still having a lot more fun than us hard steel and lead shooters when it comes to, shall we say, more exotic looking guns. This isn’t even the exotic version of the SP-01.

Build a Custom Airgun

I have a penchant for embellishments on guns; that’s why I was so interested in the Adams & Adams hand-engraved Umarex Colt Peacemakers over the last two years, and the hand-engraved Schofields. They are works of functional fine art. And I’ll give you a little hint, there are more engraved Western airguns coming in 2019. But engraving isn’t the only way to embellish an air pistol, if the manufacturer has a little insight into the gun or guns that inspired the CO2 version. ASG launched the CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow this year, a fine looking pistol (as all CZ guns are) but they also, very quietly, launched a series of accessories for the Shadow which were not highly publicized because they were (are) comparatively expensive for a blowback action CO2 pistol. Of course, you know I am talking about the Shadow Blue, one of two guns I kept going back to this year, the Shadow because it could be so handsomely upgraded, not only for appearance sake, but also to make it a more a accurate pistol. It is everything that makes a CO2 pistol desirable.

This is the exotic version, the version that can punch .177 caliber BBs into tiny groups. The Blue accessories and quality red dot (or green dot) optics like the high end Styrka S3 Series scope, all cost more than the ASG SP-01 Shadow. This is truly the definition of a gun being more than the sum of its parts, or the cost of those parts. All of the SP-01 Shadow Airsoft anodized aluminum parts, based on the 9mm CZ Shadow competition models, fit the CO2 models. This is the air pistol you can upgrade to your heart’s content.
With the Styrka sight mounted on the Shadow Blue optics bridge you not only have a distinctive looking pistol but a darn accurate one. The duality of purpose, target pistol, or tactical pistol, makes the ASG SP-01 Shadow one of the best buys of the year for me.

And if blue isn’t your color, look around, you’ll find the same accessories in CZ Shadow Red and Shadow Yellow; alloy grips, mag funnel, magazine base pad and rail mount optics bridge. And for the mechanically adept, there is even a matching SAO trigger conversion for the Shadow.

The Shadow Blue and the pricey Styrka green dot team delivered a best 10 round total from 21 feet measuring 0.81 inches with a best 5-shot group at 0.56 inches during the article tests of the Shadow Blue earlier this year.

But I said you would be surprised, and that is the second gun I have adopted as a personal favorite shooter. And I sadly have to admit it is one none of you have had a chance to shoot yet, because even though it is new for 2018, it won’t be available for sale until this coming month, at best.

Of all the fine blowback action models of 2018, the Sig Sauer M17 was anticipated to be a groundbreaking gun, the Glock 17, on the other hand, was an unknown, and to all of you it still is except for my reports, since Umarex has still not delivered inventory. This will end up being the first “in your hands” new gun of 2019 even though it is a 2018 model. I have been deeply impressed with what Umarex and Glock did in designing a CO2 version of the Austrian armsmaker’s legendary G17, and if you get your hands on one you will be, too. That fact that it cannot fieldstrip cost it a serious shot at Airgun of the Year, but it remains a top gun in my book regardless, and I’m not even a big Glock fan…
…but that doesn’t mean I don’t own one, and Glock accessories like the superb GTL 24 tactical light and red laser. I was sold on the Umarex Glock model the second I slipped the GTL off my .45 ACP Glock 21 and it fit right on to the G17 CO2 model’s rail like it had always been there. This is what a training gun is all about. Seriously, if you own a centerfire Glock, are thinking about getting a centerfire Glock, you have to have the CO2 version.

I can say with certainty that had Umarex and Glock gone a little further with the G17’s construction by using a short-recoil, locked-breech design that could be field stripped, the Glock would have given me a four-way tie for Replica Airgun of the Year. The Sig M17 would still have won, but the Glock 17 would have been number two instead of the HK USP.

Like I said, I was impressed with the Umarex Glock 17 as soon as the test gun arrived. I got a Blackhawk Level 2 Serpa holster and the CO2 model fit the holster as perfectly as my GTL 24 had fit the air pistol. This is a 100 percent fit gun for every aspect of training with an air pistol.

How many times have I gone back to the G17 and shot it just for fun, for its accuracy and ability to shoot decent groups at pellet pistol distances, for its perfect fit in a Level 2 injection molded Serpa holster? More than any other air pistol this year and I have only had it for a couple of months. And while I am not a really big fan of Glock pistols, what Umarex and Glock achieved with the G17 could make a lot of people come around to Austrian thinking. Remember, Sig Sauer’s early benchmark designs, the P226 ASP and P320 ASP couldn’t be field stripped either and were less authentic in design than the Glock, which, aside from field stripping, is a nearly perfect CO2 version of the Third Model G17.

I set up a large Birchwood Casey silhouette target and fired a series of combat drills similar to what I did with the Sig Sauer P320 M17, drawing from the holster and firing double taps at 15 feet to 21 feet, single weak hand shooting at 21 feet, dropping and kneeling shots, rolling sideways and firing from floor level shots, 10 meter shots two-handed, drawing and rapid firing while moving toward the target from 21 feet to 15 feet, and two barricade shots single handed right and left hands. Everything hit inside the 9, 10 and X rings with multiple overlapping hits. This proved that the Umarex Glock could work for basic training drills with immediate feedback from the Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C target to gauge accuracy from different shooting positions. This is also when I began shooting it for fun and realizing this is what a good CO2 pistol should be.

This is the one gun, that when it becomes available, you will want to own and shoot, and shoot a lot. It is that good. It wasn’t good enough to be Replica Air Pistol of the Year, but it’s good enough to earn a place on my table of favorite air pistols.

Have a great and safe New Year’s celebration. The Airgun Experience will be on a brief hiatus and return in early January. Thanks for sharing the experience for another year!

23 thoughts on “The new gun I enjoyed shooting most this year”

  1. Dennis,

    Thank you for all you do to produce Airgun Experience articles. I’ve learned a lot from your articles. I sometimes think I may want to do what you do, but then I remember these few words, “It’s a job.” I don’t want my recreational hobby turning into a “job” with schedules, deadlines, and production quotas. I’m looking forward to your articles for 2019.

    The cowboy lever action order has shipped from Pyramyd Air, and I’m eagerly waiting for the Glock 17 to become available. As you said, that Sig We The Peoples is a good shooter even for me shooting two handed standing.

    Shot Show 2019 will be here soon. Have you heard any advance news regarding airguns?

    Happy New Year.

    • I really do enjoy writing the Airgun Experience, even if it is a job, as I say. Some jobs can be work and fun, too. This is one of them. By now you should have received your Lever Action and you will really enjoy shooting it. As for 2019 I know Sig Sauer has big plans. Not sure what Umarex and ASG have until Shot Show. I am hoping that January will see the first of the new Springfield Armory models. Should be an interesting year.


      • I saw that the January, February, March 2019 issue of Airgun Hobbyist will have articles about new airguns coming out in 2019. I don’t have my copy yet so I went to the Airgun Hobbyist website to get a peak at the new issue’s table of contents. There was a picture of what appears to be a new model of the Beretta 92 in a desert tan color with a reference to an article about new Umarex airguns.

          • I received the new Airgun Hobbyist today. It actually doesn’t say all that much about the Air Venturi – Springfield Armory M1 Carbine BB rifle. The brief column does say there will be two variants: one with an imitation wood stock and one with a real wood stock. Power is supplied by a single 12 g CO2. Semi-automatic with blowback action. 15 round BB magazine. Maybe about 435 fps with Dust Devils and 400 fps with steel BBs. The Airgun Hobbyist says the release date is not set.

            With regard to the new products from Umarex, the article says one is another full auto Beretta, the M9A3 in a desert tan finish. The other most notable news in the article is the 2019 release of 2 new blowback Glock BB pistols: Glock 17 Gen 3 and Glock 17 Gen 4.

            So that’s the currently available news via Airgun Hobbyist magazine. Good stuff coming!

        • Received my copy today. Most interesting besides photo of the M1Carbine were the Ruger 10/22 air rifle , 10 round rotary mag in 177 pellets with advertised velocity of 650 fps. Also a new underlever repeating rifle from Umarex. As an aside the box in my Umarex 1894 lists the velocity at 610 fps , and after shooting it I believe it. The bbs are hitting hard and grouping tight.

          • I just pulled my cowboy lever action out of the box today. I have loved this rifle from the first moment I picked it up out of the box. Even though the stock is imitation wood, the quality is excellent! I haven’t shot it yet because I wanted to take some photographs today in the short time before the football games begin. The operation of the lever action and the cartridge ejection is just awesome!

            Is that Dennis Adler’s picture on the box?

          • We are all going to have to start comparing gun boxes. I opened up the production gun today (my other one used in the 1894 article was a sample gun with no box),and this box states velocity at 600 fps.

  2. Doesn’t sound like much innovation fromUmarex. Would be nice to have some more barrel length and finishes on the Peacemakers, some actually new review revolvers, and semiautos in the Legends Series, maybe a historically significant select fire sub gun. Doesn’t sound like it

  3. Your question about the velocity printed on the box is an interesting one. My box says 600 fps as well as you can see in the photo below. Pyramyd Air reports 600 fps in their specifications list on the product listing.

    • Initially the rifle was advertised as 565 fps then lowered to 410 . I am betting the rifle sent to Dennis was an interim rifle. I had seen a British review where the rifle , in weathered finish, was chronographed at 600 fps plus. I am betting that initial feedback from cowboy matches showed the 410 fps to be inadequate for reactive targets. I had spoken to Umarex USA and got no real answer, but I am bettering that is what happened . Once he has time , it sounds like another wringing out of the current rifle will be coming to the Experience in 2019

      • Although the Cowboy Lever Action is not advertised as a dual ammo, BB and pellet, rifle, alloy pellets could probably be safely shot with this rifle. Dennis may have already done so in his previous report.

        The next steps for this Cowboy Lever Action would be a dedicated pellet version with a rifled barrel. I would also suggest making that pellet version capable of using both 88/90 g CO2 and 12 g CO2 using a removable 2x12g adapter like Umarex did with the Walther Lever Action rifle. Next time though, Umarex absolutely must package the removable 2x12g adapter with the rifle. Umarex never marketed the Walther Lever Action 2x12g adapter in the U.S. I managed to get one a few years ago because Tim Smith (Airgun Hobbyist publisher) tipped me about calling Umarex Tech Support in Arkansas which happened to have a few adapters in stock at the time.

        • It functions fine using the pellet shells, usinalloy ir lead. I was not expecting such excellent accuracy. A rifle barrel option would be better but not essential . I would stick with the dual co2 power , itcworks finevus cheap , and a larger 88/90 gym would spoil the lines by needing a larger butt plate likecthe Walther rifle. No thanks on that

  4. A word of caution in shooting pellets in your 1894 or bb Peacemaker. Use the nickel pellet shells , not the bb shells. The pellets will fit but they will stretch the rubber grommets, resulting in a loose fit eventually for the bbs.

    • Derek:

      You could try my way and have someone follow you with a drop cloth…

      I have only had one ejection problem when the shell got caught in the bolt. If you work the lever gently that will cause the shells to roll over the receiver and even tumble back in before you can load the next round. Work the lever smartly and send then flying out; just have to shoot on level ground, pavement or blacktop, wood floor, carpet, anything but grass. Lost one in the grass already. I’m amazed you found 30 shells in the sand!

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