by B.B. Pelletier

The pistol we know today as the Marksman 1010 has been around in some form since I was a little boy back in the 1950s. In those days, it was made by Morton H. Harris, Inc. of Beverly Hills, California (!!!!). The company moved several times in the early years and ended up in Torrence as the Marksman company. The first gun they made (model MP in 1955) was all metal and looked keen (the 1950s version of “way cool”), so we all wanted one. It was heavy, which translated to power in our minds. It looked like a .45 automatic, so a semiautomatic operation was inferred, as well. In fact, the gun of those early days was a single-shot and not very powerful at all.

I truly lusted after that early $6.95 black beauty ($8.95 for chrome), but it wasn’t until the 1970s that I bought my first one. By then the price had escalated to $9.95. I was an adult, but I just had to satisfy that itch that started two decades earlier. The gun was still all metal, but it had been turned into a repeater for BBs, while still shooting pellets and darts single-shot. It was called the model MPR (Marksman Pistol Repeater, 1958-1977), and it was now made in Los Angeles.

My old Marksman MPR was the direct ancestor of the 1010. Made until 1977, is was all metal on the outside.

I was also shooting a lot of .45 ACP and .45 Long Colt at this time, so you can imagine my surprise to discover the low velocity this pistol produced. Of course, I had previously owned a Whamo Kruger that was lucky just to get the BB out the barrel, so the 150-200 f.p.s. (or so) of the Marksman was an improvement. I say “or so” because chronographs weren’t affordable in the ’70s. Until I did the research for this piece, I never really knew how fast things were going.

That early Marksman of mine was so weak that lead pellets simply bounced off target paper; sometimes when I didn’t seat them deeply enough they didn’t even leave the bore! BBs and darts were the only usable ammo. I found darts to be the best because they stick in a dartboard with the slightest provocation, which is about all they’re going to get. I disliked the clumsy BB repeating function, which is really problematic until you develop the knack for it.

For some reason, I hung on to that pistol all this time and still have it today. It no longer works, having stopped about 15 years ago, but I could never bring myself to throw it away – sort of like the spare set of keys in your junk drawer that fits your last car.

Dawn of the 1010
The 1010 was the next logical step, and manufacturing technology began to creep in – in the form of plastic parts. I have avoided testing one until now. My experience with the earlier gun wasn’t good, and I really didn’t want to have anything more to do with one until one of our readers asked for it. Since times and airguns both change, here we are.

The first 1010 was nearly identical to the MPR, except it has some plastic parts. The front sight and grips appear slightly different, too.

I obtained an older version of the 1010 that is mostly metal with a little bit of plastic (barrel shroud, trigger, slide release and safety), and for this test I just bought a new Marksman 2000, which is a 1010 with a silver frame, separate black plastic grip panels and a black plastic slide. In many ways, it’s the same as the 1010, but apparently the new 1010 is all plastic. I wasn’t able to buy one of those, so the 2000 will have to stand in for it. The firing mechanisms are identical.

This Marksman 2000 is the same physical structure as the 1010, except that it still has some metal parts on the outside. A real 1010 is all black.

Well, that’s a little bit of the history; tomorrow, we’ll look at the design and some of the performance.