by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Want something new and different? Here it is. The Cometa Indian, offered by AirForce International, is a spring-piston air pistol with great power and a low cocking effort. They advertise the velocity at 492 f.p.s., which, of course, we’ll check. But the cocking effort I can tell you right now is just 7 lbs.! That’s right — seven pounds!
The Indian is not a new gun. I tested one for The Airgun Letter many years ago, so it’s been around for over 10 years. But Cometa has never been represented well in the U.S., so we’re not familiar with it. For most of us, this is a new gun.
This is a very strange-looking air pistol, because the cocking lever that actually swings up, over and around the muzzle to cock the mainspring appears at first to be a sidelever. You have to see it function before you comprehend how it works. And it’s the enormous arc of the lever — more than 270 degrees — that allows the effort to be so low.
Let me talk you through the cocking and loading procedure, so the photos that follow will make sense.
Cocking and loading the Cometa Indian
1. Put the safety on safe by sliding the safety button forward. Most people will use the button on the left side of the receiver, but there’s also one on the right that works just as well.
2. Lift the cocking lever up. The breech will pop out to the rear under spring pressure.
3. Rotate the cocking lever up and around the muzzle and back down under the gun until it stops. There won’t be any audible clicking of a sear as this is done, but the sear will engage. The lever will spring back a little under its own tension and then hesitate, showing the piston has been trapped by the sear. At this point the cocking lever is free-swinging.
4. Put a pellet in the loading trough and shut the breech so the bolt probe pushes the pellet into the breech. The breech will not stay closed at this point.
5. Swing the cocking lever back around to the closed position as you press in on the breech. Release the breech with the cocking lever down and the lever will hold the breech in position. The pistol is now cocked, loaded and the safety is on. Take the safety off and the gun is ready to fire.
Does this sound complex? It is the first couple times you do it. Then, you get used to the procedure and it becomes easier and faster. You’ll be so astounded at the light cocking (if you’ve cocked other magnum spring air pistols) that you’ll delight in this gun.
The Indian comes in .177 caliber, only. There are two versions of the gun. The one I’m testing is all black and the other one has a generous amount of satin nickel plating. I like black or blue guns over silver guns for their non-reflective properties, so this is the one I would have selected. This is serial number 1237-12.
This is a large pistol — approximately equivalent to a 1911A1 in size. The grips are made for right-handed shooters on the test pistol because it has a raised thumbrest on the left grip panel. I don’t see a left-hand model listed, but the grip panels don’t look too complex. It’s possible to make a set of neutral or left-hand grips with average woodworking skills.
The grip angle makes the pistol a natural pointer, and that’s always good! I would say the grip is a large size, as my medium-sized hands still have a lot of room around them.
The rear sight adjusts for windage. Loosen a locking screw and slide the sight to either side in a dovetail. The front sight is a squared ramp that fits the square rear notch perfectly. You can see light around the front blade and should have no difficulty holding this pistol on target.
This pistol is constructed of steel, aluminum and engineering plastic. Unless you look at each part and sample it, you won’t know what it is made of. I get the impression that some real engineers designed the gun and they used exactly the right material for each job. Most of you know that I do not care for the concept of plastic guns, and I’m telling you that the Indian both looks and feels right to me.
The test pistol weighs 2 lbs., 10.5 oz., which is a handful. It’s decidedly muzzle-heavy, which makes it hang stable for me.
All the parts are finished a uniform matte black. And I notice the same is true of the silver pistol — all parts are matched, except for a few that remain black.
The trigger-pull is single-stage, very long and somewhat creepy. It feels like the kind of trigger that will break in to become smoother, but I’m not making any promises because I haven’t tested one of these pistols long enough to know. There are no provisions for adjustments. I’ll report the pull weight in Part 2. The trigger blade is a stamped steel, rolled metal blade that’s fairly straight against your trigger finger. It has a thin, positive feel, like a target blade.
The only way to know anything about this air pistol is to test it. So that’s what I’m going to do, straight away. With the power of the Indian, it’s one more attractive choice for those wanting powerful spring-piston air pistols. I don’t want to make any direct comparisons, but this gun is challenging the Beeman P1 and the Diana RWS LP8. My job is to document its performance so you can make an informed choice.