When good guns go away

When good guns go away

Losing the Tanfoglio Limited & Gold Custom

By Dennis Adler

When it comes to accuracy with a .177 caliber blowback action BB pistol, there were always two guns you could count on to provide sub 1-inch groups almost every time, the Tanfoglio Limited Custom and Gold Custom, two airguns that almost no one ever had a bad word to say. I certainly didn’t and always used the Gold Custom as my baseline for 21 foot accuracy with a BB pistol. The Limited Custom was always the close second. The CZ-75 based designs were just about flawless with precision triggers and consistent velocity in the 300 to 320 fps range.

I have been sitting on this for awhile. I have certain favorite air pistols that I bring into articles from time to time because they are worth a second or even third mention, because someone might not have read the original articles, or might be new to airguns and are looking for a really great pistol. These were really great air pistols. There are, in fact, a lot of really impressive air pistols today, some introduced just this year, that are almost game changers for blowback action CO2 models. But over the past half dozen years there have been several equally impressive blowback action models, and now two of them are conspicuously gone. I was hoping that the Limited Custom would come back as models sometimes do, but I don’t think it will, especially since the Gold Custom is gone as well. The Limited Custom was, in my opinion and that of individuals who own them, one of the most accurate and best built blowback action CO2 pistols since blowback action air pistols were introduced 19 years ago. And there is a certain irony in that, as the first blowback action CO2 pistol, the Umarex Walther PPK/S, is still being manufactured almost two decades later, while the Tanfoglio Limited Custom, introduced in 2012, is nowhere to be found. Every online retailer that still has a listing, shows it as “out of stock” or “no longer available” and that pretty much spells “out of production.”

The Limited Custom could be used as a practice gun with actual competition rings like this Safariland, so all that changed was the recoil and noise level when you drew and fired.

The Safariland rig was set up for the Gold Custom and could also be adjusted for the shorter Limited Custom. I used it for both. The magazine pouches also worked with the superb Tanfoglio CO2 BB magazines.

Why are we missing this one so much?

If you look at some of the very latest CO2 models, like the Umarex Glock 17 Third Gen, one of a handful of new air pistol designs based on an actual firearm, or the Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and 3.8, you have new, innovative designs that haven’t been previously built as CO2 models; they are not the same old 1911 rehash (not that I don’t love 1911s, but you really have to go some to reinvent that wheel, like Sig Sauer did with the We The People), but in 2012 the Tanfoglio was the “new gun” based on an existing centerfire pistol. It was followed a year later by the Tanfoglio Gold Custom based on the 9mm competition model. So why are the Limited Custom and Gold Custom gone?

With the Gold Custom I was able to practice speed drawing, target acquisition, rapid firing, and magazine changes with the same precision as the centerfire model and for just comparative pennies to firing 9mm.

The Gold Custom was a totally dedicated competition pistol, while the Limited Custom was straddling the line between target pistol and competition gun, much the same as its 9mm counterpart, though it depends upon what level and classification of competition you are interested in! While Tanfoglio firearms are manufactured in Italy, the air pistols are (were) made under license to KWC in Taiwan. The centerfire models are imported for the US market by European American Armory (EAA), which sells the latest centerfire version of the Limited Custom, as well as the Extreme Limited, which happens to look a lot like the CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow Blue 9mm and CO2 series models, (and well they should, since Tanfoglios are all based on the CZ 75 design). Tanfoglio also still sells the Gold Custom, which remains one of the most successful competition pistols in the world.

The 9mm Limited Custom from Tanfoglio was distinguished by having the same silver alloy grips and controls as the Gold Custom. I often wished the airgun had matched the 9mm this way as well. The centerfire pistol also has a ported barrel and slide, which were unnecessary for the CO2 model. The slide would have been another nice touch, though.

As much as I liked the Gold Custom, the Limited always held more appeal for me as a target shooter who prefers open sights. It was as close to the 9mm model as you could get.

I liked the CO2 version of the Limited Custom because it had a very close relation to the centerfire model with a Bomar-style adjustable rear sight that allowed you to dial in POA accuracy. At 21 feet, the Limited Custom could only be out shot by the Gold Custom fitted with a reflex sight.

The windage and elevation adjustable sight made the Limited Custom one of the most accurate blowback action CO2 pistols on the market.

It was a fully accurate, short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design, so it was again, as close to a centerfire gun as an air pistol can come.

While Tanfoglio and EAA still see the virtue of offering a greater variety of models, it seems airgun retailers and importers don’t have that option. I will never find fault with either of these air pistols. They are still the gold standard for blowback action CO2 pistol accuracy. Practical pistols like the Glock 17 Third Gen and Springfield Armory’s XDM models may be the biggest and brightest stars this year, but the guns that are gone, the Tanfoglio Limited Custom and Gold Custom, would still be in a class of their own. They are air pistols that, if you own them, are keepers and near perfection in blowback action CO2 pistol design, one that deserved a longer history.

When I first tested the Limited Custom a couple of years ago I had some of the best targets I’ve ever shot with a blowback action air pistol, and the gun worked flawlessly throughout.

While not as accurate as the Gold Custom with a reflex sight, I never had 10-shot groups wider than an inch with the Limited Custom from 21 feet.

The Gold Custom was always the gun to beat for overall accuracy at 21 feet when it came to blowback action air pistols. Both the Gold and Limited Custom models will be missed.

The lessons here are that the bottom line and the bullseye are not always on the same page, and when an airgun comes along that you like, you would do well to buy it.

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.

24 thoughts on “When good guns go away

  1. I’m glad I bought my Tanfoglio Gold Custom when I did. Although I haven’t yet managed to get 10 shot groups less than 1″, I’ve gotten close. Shooting Black Diamond BBs bench rested at 18 feet, 10 shots made a 1.313 inch (1 5/16″) group with 9 of 10 in 0.938 inch (15/16″). The Safariland competition holster is a bit awkward to use, but unless there is a leather belt clip holster with a slit side to accommodate the red dot sight mounted on the slide, the Safariland competition holster may be all that is available for this pistol setup.


  2. O.k. I have to ask you this one; Sig X5 or the Limited Custom? You stated that Sig also printed sub one inch groups with pellets. Both with adjustable sights, my preference too. Please don’t make me buy both of them, since they are available in the old world…



      • One small thing. By old world I really mean it; my country is Greece. And it seems that in Europe, although oplophobic, we can still find airguns that are not available in the States like both Tanfoglios and the Baikals.


        • Bill

          Greece is one of those wonderful places I didn’t get to visit when I was traveling around the world as an automotive journalist. I have been to Italy numerous times and that remains my favorite place, but like I said, I never got to Greece. Might have changed my mind! As to the greater availability of air pistols throughout Europe, it is a much larger market than the U.S. and with a greater demand, for the obvious reasons. Still have to go with the Tanfoglio. Might be interesting if you wanted to list the most popular guns available there that are no longer available or were never offered in the U.S. Would make a good article.

          Dennis


          • Homework accepted. Just give me some time to prepare it. Regarding popularity I will use the Pyramydair site history as the best source I know or can think of. Of course any help will be welcomed.




  3. Hi Jacking the Thread for a Vey Good Reason…
    I’m reducing my collection by 3 guns… 1/2 the price of Pyramyd Air or 1/2 of what I have in the gun…….
    A CZ09 Duty, Semi Auto….
    A Sig Sauer 1911 We The People Semi Auto….
    A Diana Chaser Single shot bolt action…
    All three guns are like new with fewer than 100 shots fired….
    Email me if interested [email protected]
    Chuck


    • Chuck:

      Looks like you’re changing directions with your air pistols.Going more with target pistols and single shot pneumatics? This really isn’t a forum for selling guns (kind of like parking your car in front of a new car dealership with a For Sale sign in the window), but since you’ve already done it, this would be the right crowd.

      Dennis



    • Chuckles,

      Navigate to hardairmagazine.com. Hard Air Magazine just posted an article about a new single stroke pneumatic target pistol from Sig Sauer that you might be interested in.


      • Or…you can begin reading my review tomorrow in Airgun Experience. hardairmagazin.com has the press release from Sig and a really good photo. My three part series will cover the evolution of the design and the first 10 meter test. I think everyone who likes single shot pneumatic target pistols is going to like this one! Sig has done it again.

        Dennis


      • A seriously nice Target Pistol but no where to put a Red Dot or CO2….
        I think its a very good Entry Level 10 Meter Pistol, very well priced for serious shooters…
        Thanks for the Heads Up…
        Lookin forward to Dennis article on it….
        Sig has really upppped their Air Gun Game…
        Custom Hard Wood Grips…
        Negrini Carry & Storage case…
        Adjustable Trigger…
        And made in Italy, OMG….
        I may buy this Sig for its Collector Value…


  4. Hi Denis – seems to be working OK now!
    The gist of the comment I lost yesterday is that the Tanfoglio Limited Custom is still available as the unbranded KWC Model 75 TAC C02 Blowback Steel Pistol.
    Although not carried by PA places like replicaairguns (.us or .ca) still have the KWC’s in stock. They are identical to the Tanfoglio’s but without the trades.
    The rest of the comment dealt with the accuracy due to the ‘Hop Up’ called SpinUp on the box and BaxS by other manufacturers.
    If you feel gently down the barrel with a cleaning rod you can feel the hard rubber Hop Up nub on the top of the barrel just in front of the breech. You can also field strip and see the nub easily through the breech end of the barrel. Just remember the gun comes apart and goes together easier if you hold the gun upside down!
    If you have to clean use a pull through patch and a bit of lighter fluid. Don’t use anything that will abrade the little rubber nub or your accuracy will go down the drain.
    Because of the Hop Up the trajectory is a combination of normal Physics (gravity) and the Magnus Effect. (rotating sphere in air ie: curve ball ). You can see the resulting very strange trajectory at the ATP – Airsoft Trajectory Project pages. Just google it.
    Due to weight and size the steel BB trajectory seems to be about 30% shorter than the airsoft one. If you take that into account you can easily develope hold over tables for ranges up to 40 yards.
    High quality design, precision parts, construction and assembly mostly account for the extreme accuracy.
    You can see the theoretical accuracy of the gun by using the Tan Function – 1 inch at 21 feet = 5 inches at 35 yards or just under 6 inches at 40 yards and this in conjunction with the strange flat trajectory with the whoop de do at the end makes this gun very accurate at long range. Mine seems to like 35 to 40 yards (the second down range crosover) – I aim normally with the POI on top of the front sight and every shot is a hit!
    The gun is a thoroughbred! I have three with varying shot counts and they all shoot the same.
    Cheers
    Red


    • Red

      Thanks for that information. I think everyone will want to follow up on that. I used a similar approach when testing the Sig Sauer M17 ASP against the 9mm model, and the pellet pistol kept pace with the 9mm out to 45 feet. Might go back in the spring (weather here is getting cold!) and use your approach to test the M17 ASP out to greater distances.

      Dennis


  5. Denis
    It’s worth a try. Some of the other BB guns I have do very well at long ranges, notably the Gletcher M1944 Mosin Nagant rifle. Capable of sub 2 inch groups at 35 yards with Daisy Avanti Ground shot. No Hop Up or back spin though and by 45 yards accuracy is toast.
    The Blow back ASG STI with the ASG Fake Compensator that I reworked into a true working compensator does pretty good out to 30 yards but that’s it as the STI has no Hop Up. Noticeable difference with very poor accuracy without the compensator. Just shows ta go ya that good performance can be had from well made BB guns. You just have to think out of the box.
    As for trying the M17 for long range shooting you might want to chrony the pellet you will be using and then plug the numbers into Chair Gun. Sight height will be the height of the front sight or the center of the dot scope you have mounted on a bridge mount which is what I would recommend over just using the iron sights. Also use a heavier pellet for better accuracy – 7 to 8 grains should do well. Chair Gun will then give you a pretty good idea of drop and maximum range. I think you should get close to 30 yards before the pellet starts circling the drain!
    Cheers
    Red


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