Umarex Colt Special Combat Classic Part 2 Part 1
Choosing performance over authenticity
By Dennis Adler
The Umarex Colt Special Combat Classic, with its unusual DA/SA trigger design, actually has some basis in Colt history, although not as an actual production gun, but rather one originally developed back in the 1960s and later used for the U.S. military trials in the 1970s and early 1980s (the Joint Service Small Arms Program or JSSAP), when a replacement for the Model 1911A1 was being considered. It was called the Colt SSP, a 1911-style 9mm pistol intended to update the John M. Browning design. It was more of a hybrid combining design elements of the 1911, Browning Hi-Power and Sig P210, to create a 1911-style semi-auto with a higher capacity and double action/single action trigger system; essentially what Beretta had with the Model 92FS, which was eventually chosen to replace the M1911 in 1985. Unlike today when almost every unsuccessful military trial gun becomes a new, high-tech civilian model, back in 1985 when the Colt SSP failed to win the military contract, the design was shelved and never put into production. In that respect, the Special Combat Classic offers a small part of that design with its DA/SA trigger. But even as a CO2 model, the idea is not fully executed.
The gun is a DA/SA only in the academic sense; it has an external hammer that can be cocked to fire the gun single action (or when cycling the slide after loading the magazine), but since it is a non-blowback action pistol, there is no slide to re-cock the hammer after the first shot is fired, thus the gun is functionally a DAO unless you manually cock the hammer for each shot.
Facts on the ground
The Special Combat Classic has a look that no other Colt licensed 1911 can boast; this is a visually dazzling 1911 copy and though it does not have ambidextrous safeties, it does have the accessory rail, excellent adjustable target sights, and a very good trigger. All pluses to offset its two big deficiencies, its non-blowback action slide and CO2 BB magazine with exposed seating screw. What make the good outweigh the bad are the trigger, sights, higher velocity, and accuracy. These are features you want in a CO2-powered .177 caliber air pistol. If these compromises are viewed in light of other designs, they become less important if the Colt Special Combat Classic can deliver on the features that count most, beginning with ease of loading.
The self-contained CO2 BB magazine has a follower that locks in place for loading and a decent sized loading port that works well with speed loaders. The CO2 loads quickly, albeit with that annoying exposed seating screw (a simple rubber extended base pad that could slide over the screw handle would make that visual quickly vanish), and the drop free magazine design works well with the chromed release button. This pistol is a smooth operator.
The LPA-type rear sight allows for minor elevation corrections and click stop windage adjustments, making it possible to fine tune the sights for individual users. The white dot front is large enough to be easily acquired indoors or out and aligns in the rear notch with target pistol speed.
Last is the DA/SA trigger design. Similar to the Para LDA 1911 trigger and larger in size than the experimental trigger Colt used decades ago on the SSP prototypes, it has a wide shoe and a deep crescent shape that is easy to engage. Since it functions as a DAO (unless you manually cock the hammer) DA trigger pull is critical. The trigger also has to cock the hammer for each shot, so there is fairly firm resistance as it comes back with 0.94 inches of travel. There is zero over travel and even but firm stacking all the way through. Double Action trigger pull on the test gun averaged 8 pounds, 8 ounces (with a low of 8 pounds 2 ounces), which is heavy but not excessive. If you want to take slow fire aimed shots and thumb cock the hammer after each round, (a fairly easy move with the support hand thumb), the trigger stages 0.56 inches back, leaving just 0.38 inches to release, and a pull of only 3 pounds, 11.5 ounces average. That puts it very close to the SA trigger pull on the Umarex Colt Commander. But again, this is a non-blowback design so you have to manually cock the hammer to achieve that short, smooth trigger pull. If you are looking for accuracy, this is the way to go with the Special Compact Classic.
Initial downrange tests
For the velocity test I selected Umarex .177 steel BBs. With a factory rating of 412 fps, the Umarex steel rounds cleared the ProChrono traps at an average of 405 fps with a high of 416 fps, a low of 402 fps and a standard deviation of 12 fps for 10 consecutive shots. The range test was done indoors at 21 feet using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold, and all shots were fired single action (manually cocking the hammer). A second test was shot firing double action, and a third head-to-head test was done against the blowback action Umarex Colt Commander.
At the standard 21 foot range the Umarex Special Combat Classic delivered 10 shots at 1.25 inches, with a best 5-shots measuring 0.5 inches. The gun was hitting a little low and right, and after making a slight adjustment to the rear sight, all shots were in the 10 and X ring. I did shoot a little wider on the second target with 10 rounds spread across 1.5 inches, but again a best 5 rounds at 0.5 inches. My double action test put 10 shots at 1.9 inches, and 5 rounds 1.0 inches.
The Umarex Colt Commander clocked an average velocity of 302 fps and delivered a best 10 rounds at 1.44 inches with a best 5 shots measuring 0.74 inches. The non-blowback Umarex fired single action cleanly out shot the Commander by 0.24 inches. Both are accurate BB-firing pistols at 21 feet. The tradeoff is a hair better accuracy with the adjustable rear sight and much higher velocity with the non-blowback action, vs. the Commander’s blowback action, non-adjustable white dot sights, and not nearly as attractive finish. In a perfect world I would take the slide, grips, hammer, and thumb safety from the Special Combat and put them on the Commander frame to have a blowback action pistol with a correctly styled CO2 BB magazine. Unfortunately, even if you buy both guns and try and make one perfect gun, none of the parts or operating features are compatible. Only Umarex can make the perfect 1911 CO2 model out of these two guns. Until then you certainly can’t go wrong by owning both the Commander and Special Combat Classic; two very different approaches to the same end, accuracy.
A Word About Safety
Colt 1911 CO2 models provide the look, feel and basic operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. All airguns, in general, look like guns, but those based on real cartridge-firing models like the 1911 even more so. 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.