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Education / Training Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol: Part 1

Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gletcher Stetckin APS BB pistol
Gletcher’s Stechkin blowback BB pistol.

This report covers:

  • Stechkin firearm
  • BB pistol is not full-auto!
  • This handgun is BIG!
  • Loading
  • Sights
  • Heavy
  • Finish
  • Summary

Today we start looking at the Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol. Let’s define up front what this is and what it is not. This BB pistol is an all-metal full-sized BB pistol that operates on CO2. It is both double and single action, so the slide blowing back cocks the hammer for the next shot. This is a true semiautomatic BB pistol with a two-stage single action trigger that’s reasonably crisp.

Stechkin firearm

The Stechkin was a sidearm of the Soviet military in the early 1950s, but proved too heavy and cumbersome (not to mention too expensive to produce) to be issued to regular combat troops. It was resurrected to be issued to elite forces when I was in the Army in the 1970s. Then it was issued to special troops like Spetsnaz commandos. It is a select-fire (both semiautomatic and fully automatic) pistol, chambered for the 9mm Makarov cartridge. That cartridge is considered adequate in Europe and the former Soviet Union, but being roughly equivalent to the Western .380 ACP, it is weak side in the eyes of the U.S. military and law enforcement communities.

Gletcher Stechkin
The Soviet Stechkin firearm seems strange and exotic to Americans.

Most full-auto handguns are uncontrollable and therefore a joke in practical terms. The Stechkin may be an exception, since it fires such a relatively low-powered cartridge, plus it is issued with a wooden shoulder stock. The handgun is also very large, heavy and hand-filling because of the 20-round double stacked magazine. I have watched You Tube videos of these guns being shot in bursts, and as long as you keep the bursts to three shots, the pistol doesn’t climb in recoil. Just watch out for the slide, because it comes back three times the length of the cartridge, for greater recoil reduction. If you choke up on the shoulder stock too much, you will get the slide in your eye!

The BB pistol slide doesn’t come back nearly as far as the firearm slide. Still, the Gletcher Stechkin BB pistol does not have a select-fire capability.

BB pistol is not full-auto!

The Gletcher BB pistol I am testing is not full-auto. That is not obvious to some folks who buy the gun for just that reason and are then disappointed. The selector switch on the left side of the slide goes forward for safe and down for semiautomatic fire, but it does not rotate back and up to the ABT marking that is for full-auto. You need to know that before you buy the pistol.

Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol selector
The selector switch goes to safe and fire, which is semiauto, but it does not turn to full auto (ABT).

Probably the reason it isn’t obvious to many folks is because this is a Stechkin. It’s known for being a full-auto handgun. It would be like a Thompson submachinegun that isn’t full-auto. Come to think of it, though, those do exist in .45 ACP. I used to own one!

Ex-military guys my age who were in combat arms remember the Stechkin as being full-auto. At the time we had no idea that a full-auto pistol wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. We just thought it was cool, so naturally we all wanted one. I think that latent desire is what causes the confusion now.

This handgun is BIG!

When you look at the pictures the Stechkin looks like a pocket pistol. Maybe it’s a little long, but it still looks small. Hold one in your hand though, and you quickly discover this is a large handgun. Not as large as the big Desert Eagle pellet pistol that used to be available from Umarex, perhaps, but it dwarfs a standard M1911/1911A1.

Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol with 1911
My 1911 (top) is smaller than the Stechkin.

Gletchwer Stechkin APS BB pistol rear grip
This view from the back shows the real difference in size. The Stechkin’s wide grip is what makes the difference, plus the whole pistol is taller. Notice the Stechkin grip is cut for a buttstock iron.

The rear of the Stechkin grip frame appears to be cut for a buttstock iron. Of course the metal in this pistol is too soft for such a feature to be practical, so this is just for decoration I think. I did find a picture online of a Gletcher APS pistol with a buttstock, but I think the picture was actually the firearm.

The pistol is made in Taiwan and does bear a strong resemblance to an airsoft version that’s also marketed by Gletcher. This seems to be a trend, where airsoft guns are turned into BB guns. Some of them, like this Stechkin, are very realistic.


The 22-shot BB stick magazine fits inside the pistol grip and has the clumsy European-designed mag release that’s located at the bottom rear of the pistol grip. This release is different, in that it’s a button that you press in to drop the mag, but it still takes two hands to remove the magazine. The 1911-style release button on the left of the frame is much faster, though admittedly a problem for lefties.

To install a CO2 cartridge the left grip panel is removed. A separate large Allen wrench is needed to twist the tensioning screw, and it is supplied with the gun. Don’t misplace it.

Gletchwer Stechkin APS BB pistol grip off
The CO2 cartridge goes in the left side of the grip.


The front sight is a modified Patridge post that appears to be mounted on a dovetail, but that’s just cast into the metal. It doesn’t move.

The rear sight is the strange one. Windage is fixed, but elevation adjusts to 4 positions — 25, 50, 100 and 200 meters. That’s a copy of the firearm sight of course, and 200-meter shooting with a cartridge this weak is a pipe dream, but at least the BB pistol stays real to the firearm it copies. And, it gives you some elevation options.

Those knurled wheels rotate the rear sight notch to 4 different elevations.


The gun is also on the heavy side. It weighs 2 lbs. 4 oz. empty.


The pistol is finished matte black over all the metal. The grip panels are a reddish brown that appears very close to the grip color on Soviet-bloc Makarov pistol grips.


That’s all for now. Velocity testing will be next and this pistol is advertised to get about 360 f.p.s. with what I assume are steel BBs. Until then.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

44 thoughts on “Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol: Part 1”

  1. BB,

    I remember the Skorpion pistol. It used 32 ACP.

    Selective fire pistols keep popping up on occasion. Beretta and Glock have one. I guess some people just have to have it. Most people do not realize how difficult it is to control full auto weapons. They are mostly just a waste of expensive ammunition.

    • Pretty much! To me full auto is fun every now and then, for a short time. I just got one of the Umarex MP-40’s for that reason (the only way now to own a full auto firearm here in Canada is to have grandfathered by having already owned one back in the early 90’s and I’m not in that category). It’s a bit of silly fun for a little while and then I’m back to trying to improve my 10 meter marksmanship. That said, I found the MP40 well worth the money.

      Looking at the 1911 comparison pictures the Stechkin is pretty big, isn’t it? I even find the Beretta 92 a bit of a handful! Regarding the 1911, is anyone else just amazed at how right it is, considering how long ago and how early in the history of the automatic pistol it came out? To me the 1911 (either the real thing or some of the airgun replicas) is just about perfect.

      • Nowhere,

        The 1911 and the 1911A1 are battle proven designs. They are among the most reliable semi-automatic pistols in the world. John Browning was a genius. He also designed the Browning pistol that was used in Europe. Many of his firearm designs are still in use today.

        • RidgeRunner,

          The battle proven part of the design impresses me too. My only experience with 1911’s has been low stress, informal, fun target shooting and I love how well the pistols fit my hand, how the recoil feels, and how accurate they can be. The fact that something so nice to shoot in that sort of situation is also so rugged, reliable and effective in the severe test of combat just amazes me. I agree – John Browning was a genius.

  2. B.B.,

    Reading your report and looking at your photos I find myself considering what a departure the Stechkin was for the Soviets. I think of their pistols as slender and compact a la the Tokarev and Makarov. And the Russian-adopted Nagant was tiny compared to many revolvers from the U.S. and Western Europe.

    I’ll bet the Soviet military elite who were issued them considered them hand-cannons, despite the 9×18 cartridge. I presume the Stechkin was actually less powerful than the smaller and lighter Tokarev. The Stechkin kinda reminds me of the Beretta M9, less bite than the size of the dog would suggest.

    Still, I’ll bet they are very low recoil pistols.


  3. BB,

    Are the Weihrauch HW90 and the Beeman RX-2 (both sold at Pyramyd Air) essentially the same gun? They look very different, and the RX-2 is more expensive. Would you pick one over the other?

    Thank you,

      • BB,

        I’m not sure what you mean by a look at the trigger will tell me. Neither has the Rekord trigger. The HW80 does, but neither the HW90 nor the Beeman RX-2 do.


        • DougFNC,

          As you know the HW90 and RX-2 are the same guns. On the PA site they both come with the same brown beech stock now. Once upon a time the RX-2 came in a nice laminated stock.

          The only difference I can see on the PA site is that the RX-2 comes with a muzzle brake and no sights but the HW90 comes with front and rear open sights and includes 3 inserts for the front sight.

          It’s a mystery to me why the RX-2 is listed for $200 more than the HW90 in .22 caliber on the PA site. Maybe that’s why all HW90’s are out of stock? Maybe the pricing on the RX-2 is leftover from when it came in a laminated stock? I don’t know the answers but it is curious.

            • RidgeRunner,

              You may pay extra for the Beeman name but both the HW90 and Beeman RX-2 that PA is selling have brown beech stocks. Not a laminated stock on the RX-2. One of the reasons I stated that the price difference is curious.


  4. I had one and it was a leaker from the get go . A good idea poorly executed It should have been select fire using a co2 containing mag not the stickmag . Back to the drawing board

  5. Hi BB and the group. Thank you for the great history lesson of this weapon. It looks good, to my knowledge, authentic . Whether I ever buy one is questionable. There are so many pistols out there I would like to add to
    my collection. I am sure many of your European readers would love one of these, as they were probably used in their lands. Thanks for remembering us pistol shooters with this test.

  6. BB,

    The reason for the long recoil of the slide of the Stechkin is to slow done the rate of fire. Machine pistols have a notoriously high rate of fire and most incorporate various methods to help slow them down some. This is one of the simpler methods involved.

    • RR,

      Interesting. Something B.B. may do as part of a report is to compare the blowback travel to the actual firearm,… or at least measure what the blowback travel is on the air gun. Another scenario would be if the Co2 takes/makes full use of the travel that is available. Just some ideas…..

      • Chris U
        Or the way quote “we think”.

        Restrict the stroke on the slide and see how fast it would shoot before it destructs. Or should I say jam on the firearm version.

        But I’m sure it would change the air pistol version too. How much. Only one way to find out. 🙂

  7. B.B.
    Back in “checking the RWS 34P Part 2”, you chronographed the JSB RS 13.43gr pellet and found it to be approximately 60 fps slower than the Superdome 14.5gr. I am curious as to why a lighter pellet was so much slower than the heavier pellet. Also, I read somewhere that shooting heavy pellets over 16gr in a .22 spring airgun could be harmful to the powerplant. Is there any truth to this? I don’t recall that you shot any JSB Jumbo 18.1gr through the chronograph but it seems that they would be very slow and have a large trajectory in an airgun of this power. What’s the story?

      • GF1,

        As I remember,… ALL HN’s fit tight in my air guns. Not sure of the head sizes without looking, but from what I have tried, it was a guarantee that they would fit tighter than other pellets. As a side note,… all of my airguns do the best with JSB’s.

          • GF1,

            I was (only) referring to that different pellets will react differently. I do not pay attention to the brand,… rather what does the best. All of the HN’s have fit tighter in my air guns, just as an FYI to anyone interested.

            I will go “anal” on a new airgun 1X and after that, I do not give it too much thought. I have wrung it through the wringer once,…. and the way I do it,… that is enough.

      • Don’t know about the JSB RS 13.43gr but I do know that the JSB 15.89gr were noticeably smaller than the Superdome 14.5gr but about .0008″. They even felt smaller in the breech and barrel. Strange.

    • Geo
      Oh and on the heavier pellets. I have not figured out what it tears up in a gun.

      I like heavier pellets in air guns. And sure haven’t had any problems from it that I know of.

    • Geo,

      Pellets can be funny things. Here is some results of a (pre-tune) TX200,…… in .22

      AA brand, 13.43 grains, 655 fps
      RWS 14.5 686
      HN 14.66 691
      JSB 15.89 631
      AA 16.0 603
      Predator Metal Mags 17.0 602
      JSB 18.13 611
      HN 21.14 584

      Things are not always as “linier” as you may think. As for the grain limit on a .22,… I have never heard of that. It WILL affect the shot cycle and how the gun reacts to the different weight pellets. Beyond that,… I think that there is no issue.

      • Chris
        Thanks for that information. Looks like your TX-200 was shooting about the same fps as my RWS 34. You said that all of your airguns shoot best with the JSBs. Do the JSB 18.1gr shoot well? Which of the JSBs do you normally shoot? Maybe the JSB 18.1gr have a larger diameter? The tin of JSB 15.89gr I have are stickered to be 5.52mm but are actually 5.49mm (.0008″) smaller.

        • Geo,

          The TX likes the 18.13’s the best and the LGU likes the 15.89’s the best. The Maximus likes the 15.89’s the best. Beyond that,… I can not give you more detailed records without looking back at my records. The TX does shoot higher in fps than the LGU,… but how much I can not tell you without looking at records.

          On .0000 or .000 or .00 or .0,…. I am drawing the line at .00. I do have a .25 pellet gage and digital and dial calipers, and yes, you can not trust what the tin says. Like you,… after some time,.. I had to ask myself how much time I wanted to spend measuring things and how much time I wanted to spend shooting. (Believe me),… I understand what you are going through,…. as they say,… been there,… done that.

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