by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

NOTE: While I’ve been calling this a 16-shot gun, the owner’s manual and Pyramyd Air’s website state that it’s a 15-shot BB gun. I could easily get 16 shots into the mag. Edith informs me that it’s not uncommon for more shots to be loaded in airgun mags and that manufacturers sometimes understate the max rounds you can load.

Part 1

Winchester 16-shot semiautomatic BB pistol
The Winchester semiautomatic BB pistol is an attractive M1911A1-style BB pistol.

Today is the day we look at the velocity of this Winchester 16-shot semiautomatic BB pistol. In Part 1, I looked at the design and noted that this is a realistic BB pistol with some of the controls of the firerarm it copies, but there are differences, as well. The two-hand requirement for the safety was a concern, as were the large number of words printed on both sides of the gun. But the heft and feel were about right. As I told you in Part 1, this gun has blowback, which means that on each shot the slide is blown to the rear by the force of CO2 gas. That cocks the hammer and readies the pistol for the next shot. The inertia of the slide imparts a feeling of recoil than many shooters like, including me.

Blowback allows the slide to cock the hammer automatically, making this BB pistol function like a true semiautomatic handgun. Since the slide cocks the hammer, every shot is single-action, which allows the trigger to be as light and crisp as possible. The cost is that some of the CO2 gas must be used to move the slide, and that subtracts from what is available to shoot BBs. But clever designers can offset this by lowering the velocity of the gun and by minimizing the amount of gas needed to move the slide.

Today’s test will focus on two performance variables — velocity and the number of shots that are available from a 12-gram CO2 cartridge. I’ll make an observation here. Do you remember that I showed you the unique way this pistol pierces its CO2 cartridge? I noticed that there was no hiss of gas when the cartridge was pierced. It may be that this pistol pierces its cartridges more efficiently than most other gas guns and therefore conserves some gas. We shall see in today’s test.

Winchester rates the pistol at 410 f.p.s. That’s on the high side for a BB pistol, so it’ll be interesting to see how many shots I can get from one CO2 cartridge. I tested with Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs, which testing has shown to be the most accurate and most uniform BBs available, short of buying the special Avanti Precision Ground shot. In a semiautomatic BB pistol like this one, the extra precision of that shot would be lost, so the standard Daisy BBs are the best.

Ten shots from a fresh CO2 cartridge averaged 388 f.p.s. I allowed a minimum of 10 seconds between shots to let the pistol recover from the cold CO2. The first shot was 395, and the velocity trailed off with each new shot until shot 5, where I waited 75 seconds after shot 4. Then the velocity rebounded from 384 (for shot 4) to 393 for shot 5. When I resumed shooting with 10-second intervals, the velocity again began to decline until shot 10. Shot 9 was 381 f.p.s., and shot 10 was 383, with about 10 seconds between. That tells me that this (the low 380s) is about where the gun wants to be.

The blowback is very powerful. It certainly feels like a .22 rimfire cartridge being fired in a medium-weight semiauto rimfire pistol, and that’s very good for a CO2 pistol.

Next, I loaded the magazine again and fired 15 quick shots. I waited a couple minutes to let the gun recover from the cold and fired the last shot through the chronograph — hoping to record it. Alas, the shot didn’t register, so I reloaded the magazine and started shooting again. On the third shot into the third magazine, I finally got a velocity reading that was 385 f.p.s. at shot 35, so my guess about where the velocity will be after the gun stabilizes seems to be correct. I finished that magazine and loaded another. The gun had now fired 48 shots on the CO2 cartridge. I reloaded and continued firing.

Shot 60 went 385 f.p.s. Shot 70 went 339 f.p.s. and was definitely falling off the pressure curve. That said, there are 4 good magazines of 16 shots each on a CO2 cartridge. Considering the power the gun delivers and the energetic blowback, I would say this is a very conservative gas pistol!

You can continue to shoot after this, of course, but at some point the velocity will be so low that you risk sticking a BB in the barrel, and that’s what I want to avoid. I also want to note that if you fire the pistol as fast as you can, the velocity drops in a pronounced way that can be discerned without the use of a chronograph. You can actually hear the shots getting weaker.

This pistol has something I haven’t experienced in more than 30 years. The trigger is a M1911A1 trigger instead of a longer 1911 trigger. The difference is in the reach of the trigger finger to the center of the blade. The M1911A1 trigger was developed for soldiers with smaller hands, who would have a more difficult time reaching the trigger when the arched mainspring housing was installed. Today, most 1911s have gone back to the flat mainspring housing and the longer trigger of the earlier model. I find the earlier design points more naturally, although the arched mainspring housing of the 1911A1 was developed especially to resolve the pointing problem.

The trigger-pull is two-stage, and please don’t get that confused with single-action. Stage one is very short and stage two is pleasant, but I can feel it move through the stage. There is no roughness to the pull and the trigger breaks at 4 lbs. on the nose.

The magazine has a large loading hole on the reverse side of the follower slot. It loads one BB at a time but loads very fast that way. I found it quick and easy, and the follower stayed put until I released it.

Winchester 16-shot semiautomatic BB pistol magazine
The back side of the magazine has a large loading hole that makes it easy to load, even if it’s just one BB at a time.

The CO2 cartridge that goes in without a hiss turns out to be a problem to remove on the test pistol. The clearance is just too small, and it takes a lot of fiddling to get out the old one. The new cartridge goes in very easily by comparison.

Evaluation so far
I keep finding things to like and things not to like. This is certainly a different BB pistol. I like how it handles, its power, the good blowback and nice trigger. But I dislike all the words on the gun, the difficulty of removing the CO2 cartridge, the two-handed safety and the fact that not all the controls work like the firearm. I guess it all comes down to accuracy.