by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


Colt’s 1911 Special Combat BB pistol is a knockout for looks!

Wow! Today’s test is as different as any I’ve done! This air pistol surprised me completely, with results I’ve never before seen from any airgun.

The Colt 1911 Special Combat pistol shoots BBs, so a velocity test is going to be pretty humdrum. There are a limited number of different BBs to try, and they aren’t going to give fantastically different results like lead pellets do. So, usually a velocity test with a BB gun is a no-brainer for me. Shoot and record the numbers — plain and simple. But not today.

Both single-action and double-action
This pistol fires in both the single-action and double-action modes. For you newcomers, single-action is where the trigger performs the single functon of releasing the hammer to fire the gun. You have to manually cock the hammer before each shot — the trigger doesn’t do it.

Double-action, in contrast, is where the trigger both cocks the hammer and releases it, all in one smooth pull. So you just keep on pulling the trigger. As long as there’s ammunition, the gun keeps on firing.

Because the trigger is doing more for double-action, it’s always harder to pull in that mode than it is for single-action. So a semiautomatic pistol that has single-action operation will normally have the very best trigger possible. If a gun functions in either single- or double-action like most revolvers, the single-action mode will give the best trigger-pull. The double-action mode is reserved for when you want to fire a lot of rounds very fast.

There’s more to it than that, of course. Some semiautomatic pistols such as the Beretta M92/M9 fire either single- or double-action; but when they fire, the slide comes back and cocks the gun for the next shot. These guns are quick to fire the first shot, since you can carry them with a round chambered and just pull the trigger to get them started. They also have the advantage of switching over to single-action once they begin firing.

At any rate, when I have a CO2 pistol that’s both single- and double-action, I test it for velocity both ways. That often gives results that favor the velocity on one or the other of the two modes. But this gun was vastly different. It varies by about 100 feet per second greater velocity in the single-action mode. And there’s even more to report, so read my results carefully.

Single-action
I started out shooting the pistol with Daisy zinc-plated BBs in the single-action mode. The gun is rated to shoot at 400 f.p.s., so I expected something in that neighborhood; with BBs, there isn’t much variation between brands. So, I was surprised to see the first shot on a fresh CO2 cartridge register only 205 f.p.s. But sometimes pneumatics and CO2 guns need to “wake up” when they first start shooting after a rest, so I kept on shooting and watching the chronograph. The next shot went 203 f.p.s., but the one after that went 334, then 345, then 366 f.p.s. That last shot was as high as the pistol wanted to go.

My first good string of shots on single-action averaged 363 f.p.s., with a low of 360 and a high of 375 f.p.s. That’s good consistency, after the valve had woken up. I figured shooting the gun on double-action would give similar numbers. Guess again!

On double-action with the same Daisy zinc-plated BBs, the velocity averaged 252 f.p.s. The low was 224 and the high was 280 f.p.s. What a spread, and what a difference from single-action. Next, I shot two more shots single-action to see what had happened, if anything. They went 337 and 321 f.p.s., respectively. The gun was shooting slower, but it was still much faster in the single-action mode.

I then tried the RWS Match BBs that Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry. I’ve found them as accurate and precise as Daisy BBs, and sometimes they give slightly different results. This time in single-action, they averaged 319 f.p.s. with a spread from 280 to 344 f.p.s. In double-action, they averaged 240 f.p.s. with a spread from 227 to 250 f.p.s. And shooting single-action immediately following the double-action string gave me two shots at 324 and 302 f.p.s., respectively.

I was concerned that the pistol seemed to be running out of CO2, so I fired it 20 more shots double-action with no BBs in the magazine, then I fired another shot single-action (with the RWS BBs) that went 321 f.p.s. So, it wasn’t out of gas just yet!

How many shots per cartridge?
At this point in the test there were 63 shots on the cartridge. I fired another 10 blank (no BB) shots double-action and then fired an RWS BB single-action that registered 335 f.p.s. At 84 shots, the gun is still going strong.

I next shot a single Daisy BB on single-action to see if there was still such a difference between the two brands. This one went 327 f.p.s., so both BBs are going about the same speed. The initial string of Daisys was just a little faster for some reason.

I shot another 10 blank shots double-action and then an RWS BB at 327 f.p.s. So, at 96 shots, the CO2 cartridge is still going strong. Then another 10 blank shots, followed by a Daisy BB at 323 f.p.s. That was shot number 107 on the cartridge.

Another 10 blanks shots were fired double-action and then an RWS BB went 331 f.p.s. That was shot 118. Then another 10 blanks, followed by a Daisy BB that failed to register. Then a second Daisy BB went 325 f.p.s. for shot 130. Then another 10 blank shots were followed by shot 141 — an RWS BB at 321 f.p.s.

My gosh — this pistol is starting to remind me of the AirForce Talon SS using the Micro-Meter tank! Another 6 blanks were fired and then the remaining gas spontaneously released from the cartridge. All gas was exhausted, and it was all over. This cartridge had maintained its velocity down to almost the end of the CO2 charge — something I’ve not seen in a long time. For the record, I got a good 140 shots from a single cartridge.

What about the large velocity variation at the beginning of the test? I think we can chalk that up to the gun breaking in. After several hundred shots have been fired, I think the gun will perform more consistently; but I’ll come back in a special test, after we look at accuracy, and rerun the velocity test again.

Trigger-pull
The double-action trigger-pull broke at an average 10 lbs., 6 oz. of effort. The range went from 9 lbs., 6 oz. to 11 lbs., 5 oz. The faster the trigger was pulled, the lighter it became. The pull effort increases rapidly (stacks) the further back the trigger is pulled.

The single-action pull was a very consistent 3 lbs., 7 oz. The second stage is very apparent (I mean there’s a definite hesitation of the trigger blade at the start of stage two), and there’s just a hint of creep in the second stage.

So far, this ranks as a very interesting BB pistol. The test pistol fell short of the advertised velocity, but delivered a huge number of good shots from a cartridge. I think the way it turned out was better than if the velocity had been higher and the shot count less, because high-velocity in a BB gun is about the worst thing you can have. Given the tendency for BBs to rebound with great speed, you really don’t want them going too fast.

Accuracy testing is next.