Lookalike airguns: Part One

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

What is a lookalike?
A typical lookalike
Colt held back
They got better
Military or civilian?
I could go on

Today we begin a series on lookalike airguns. I don’t know exactly how long this could be, but I suspect it could be large. I also know that this subject is a favorite for many of you.

What is a lookalike?

A lookalike airgun is one that resembles an iconic firearm. It gives the owner the chance to experience the feeling of ownership and operation while remaining in the safer, less litigious world of airguns.

A typical lookalike

In a moment I will discuss the difference between a military lookalike and a purely civilian one, but let’s begin with a look at a gun that exists in both camps — the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver! The SAA, as it is called, was brought out by Colt as the next step in revolvers from their famous black powder cap and ball handguns. While it wasn’t the last in the line, the Colt 1860 Army is perhaps the best example of an evolved single-action cap and ball revolver. It certainly is the best example of a Colt revolver from that time.

1860 Army
Colt’s 1860 Army revolver was highly advanced for a cap and ball black powder handgun.

When Smith & Wesson patented the revolver cylinder that was through-bored (open all the way through the cylinder) in the 1850s, they allowed the use of cartridge ammunition for the first time. Their first firearm on that patent was the model 1 that was initially chambered for .22 rimfire. It came to market in 1857 — just in time for the American Civil War. The cartridge it was chambered for was just called a .22 rimfire, but as that cartridge line evolved in the latter 1800s, it became known as the .22 short.

S&W mod 1
Smith & Wesson’s model 1 came out in 1857 and lasted until 1882. It was chambered for what we now call the .22 short cartridge.

The model 1 was very popular as a backup gun by Northern troops in the Civil War. It didn’t have much power — perhaps 25 foot-pounds or so, but it was better than nothing.

Colt held back

The bored-through cylinder was patented by a former Colt employee, Rollin White. Why he didn’t try to sell the idea to Colt first we may never know, and maybe he did. Smith & Wesson pounced on it and paid White a royalty of 25 cents per gun, which was a huge sum for the day. But they also agreed he would defend the patent and doing that eventually ruined him, financially.

Colt couldn’t make cartridge revolvers as a result of the S&W patent, so they made variations on their 1860 model until the patent on the bored-through cylinder ran out in 1872. Then they brought out their ubiquitous 1873 SAA that is still in production by many manufacturers today.

Colt SAA
Colt Single Action Army. This one was a gift to BB from the readers of this blog, following his 3.5-month hospital stay in 2010. It was not made by Colt, but it is a very accurate copy of that firearm and is chambered in .45 Colt. Reader Kevin was the focal point for this gift!

If you grew up in the 1950s and the early ’60s like BB, you watched westerns on television. Two of my cats were named Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, after two western stars of the time. Their real names were Leonard Franklin Slye and Frances Octavia Smith.

I idolized all things cowboy and so when Crosman brought out the .22-caliber  SA-6 (single action six) pellet revolver in 1959, I bought one with my paper route money. 

Crosman SA-6
Crosman-SA-6.

I didn’t have a holster for that revolver and, since holsters cost money, I carried the SA-6 in my right front pants pocket — a practice that was common in my day and also one that I do not recommend. I loved that .22 caliber pellet pistol. One day while “hunting” in the woods around the Cuyahoga River in Stow, Ohio, a rabbit jumped out of the weeds and frightened me. When my “cool” returned several seconds later I calmly drew my pellet pistol and fanned off 6 quick shots into the weeds where the rabbit had gone 5 seconds before, earning the nickname, “Fanner 50” from my friend who was with me. For readers less than 60 years old, a Fanner 50 was a very popular cap gun of the day.

They got better

So the SA-6 was an early attempt at a lookalike SAA. The CO2 cartridge hid beneath the barrel, covered by a black plastic sheath that camouflaged it very well. But things would get better.

In the late 1990s I was at the home of Wulf Pflaumer’s sister in Maryland. Wulf is one of the two founders of Umarex. We were discussing the lever action rifle he was about to bring out and I told him that a realistic SAA would also be a hit. He told me they wanted to make one but the revolver’s grip frame was too short to allow a 12-gram CO2 cartridge to fit inside. I told him to try the Colt 1860 Army grip frame. It is 1/2-inch longer and the outlaw, Dakota, at Frontier Village amusement park where I worked in college had put one on his SAA because the SAA grip was too short for him. The 1860 grip frame fit a 12-gram cartridge perfectly and almost no one notices the difference. The rest is history.

A couple years later Umarex brought out the Colt SAA in both pellet and BB gun versions and they have now produced almost every variation of that firearm except for some reason the 4-3/4-inch barrel version that many shooters have asked for. Bat Masterson carried a 4-3/4-inch SAA, as did many gunfighters, because it cleared the holster quicker and was therefore faster to draw.

Umarex SAA
The first Umarex SAA was very realistic, as have been all that followed.

Military or civilian?

I said I would return to this topic. The Colt SAA we have been discussing is both. It was first purchased by the military, but civilian sales soon surged past what the military bought. The SAA is so ergonomic that, until the German P08 Luger pistol came around, it was the long pole in the tent. And it’s still one of the most desired, and most recognized handguns of all time.

There are things about military firearms that make them attractive to shooters. Strength, design and robustness are all main factors, but history trumps everything. No one who has ever held and fired an M1 Garand would think of it as an attractive weapon, but Japan, who was an enemy of the US during WW II, thought enough of it to create 250 close copies for study. Called the Type 4 rifle (and sometimes the type 5), it was homage to the American rifle that so dominated our military campaigns in the latter half of the war.

That addresses why we have military lookalike airguns, though I probably have more than one more report to do on just them, but what about civilian firearm lookalikes? Are there any of them? There certainly are. I won’t get into them deeply this late in today’s report, but for starters, don’t forget the Crosman 38C and 38T revolvers.

And this I will also say, though I call them civilian firearms, the military buys oneseys and twoseys of just about anything. Just because Sergeant So-And-So carried one on the flight line at Da Nang doesn’t make it a military firearm. I’m talking about firearms the military officially adopted — not something Private Ryan carried in his combat boot.

38-T
Crosman’s 38-T from the 1970s was a replica of S&W’s purely civilian (and law enforcement) revolvers.

I could go on

And I plan to. The world of airgun lookalike/replica guns is both a hot topic at any time and red-hot today. Even though this report is in the history section, we are still living in the heyday of lookalike airguns.


Springfield Armory XD-M compact blowback BB pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Springfield-XD-M
The XD-M BB pistol from Springfield Armory.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The test
  • The magazine extension
  • Daisy BBs
  • Dust Devils
  • Smart Shot
  • Trigger pull
  • Blowback
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the XD-M compact blowback BB pistol from Springfield Armory. As I told you last week, I had cross-threaded the end cap of the magazine and stripped the threads, so Pyramyd Air had to send a replacement. I received it last Friday, so I loaded a cartridge in preparation for today’s test. Naturally I used a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the CO2 cartridge when it was installed.

Alas, the cartridge was empty this morning when I started the test. So I installed a second cartridge, and this time I lubed it with ATF stop leak. In 12 hours I will test the gun to see if the cartridge is still holding. {Note: No such luck! This cartridge leaked down in 3.5 hours!}

The test

I shot seated from 5 meters (16 feet 5 inches) and used the UTG monopod for a rest. I shot with a 6 o’clock hold until discovering that didn’t work.

The XD-M sights are perfect for bullseye shooting. The front fiberoptic doesn’t even show up when the target is illuminated brightly. The rear notch is wide and fits the wide front sight perfectly.

The magazine extension

I discovered why the BB pistol has the magazine extension that was shown and discussed in Part 2. The firearm has a removable magazine well to make loading the mags easier and faster. The mag extension on the BB pistol takes the place of that.

Daisy BBs

First to be tested were Daisy Premium grade BBs. The first shot told me there was a problem when it landed an inch below and to the left of the aim point. The group wasn’t too bad, with 10 Daisy BBs going into 1.427-inches at 5 meters. But to hit a soda can at the same distance I would have to hold on the upper right corner of the can.


The XD-M pistol put 10 Daisy BBs in this 1.427-inch group at 5 meters.  I backed the camera off so you can see how low it is.

Dust Devils

Next to be tested were the new Dust Devil Mark II frangible BBs. For this target I held the top of the front sight above the top of the rear sight. That is a way of elevation the sight picture when the sights don’t adjust, as these don’t.

As I was shooting this group it looked pretty good. The final 4 shots all went into the same hole. I thought I had a good one to show you. But when I collected the target I saw that one or two shots had landed low.

This group measures 3.775-inches between centers, with eight or nine shots in 1.704-inches. Given that I was holding over when I shot it, it isn’t too bad.

prinmgfield XD-M Dust Devil group
The XD-M put 8-9 out of 10 Dust Devil BBs in 1.704 inches at 5 meters, despite having to hold the front sight high in the rear notch to get the elevation.

Kruger targets

The Kruger BB-gun targets I used were ideal for this test. The BBs tore good holes in them because they are printed on stiff paper.

Smart Shot

The last BB I tested was the Air Venturi Smart Shot lead BB. These are much heavier than steel BBs, so I knew they would impact low on the paper. I used the same holdover sight picture as for the Dust Devils, but Smart Shot impacted two inches below and to the left of the aim point, nevertheless. They did group well though. Ten went into 1.625-inches at 5 meters with the holdover sight picture.

Springfield Armory XD-M Smart Shot group[
All 10 of the Smart Shot went intro 1.625-inches at 5 meters.

Trigger pull

There aren’t many BB pistols with trigger pulls as light, crisp and nice as the one on the XD-M I am testing. The two-stage trigger stops at stage two and breaks crisply with 2 lbs. 14 oz. of effort. It only the pistol shot to the point of aim!

Blowback

The blowback is extremely realistic! It kicks like a lightweight .22 rimfire pistol. However, when I tried this for this report while writing about it the gun was out of gas — After just 3.5 hours!

Summary

In my opinion the Springfield Armory XD-M has little to recommend it. It is realistic and the blowback is very snappy, but there were problems with both magazines and the gun doesn’t shoot to the aim point at 16 feet.

If you own the 9mm XD-M Elite firearm then perhaps the BB pistol would be a good companion. Otherwise there are plenty of other lookalike pistols that do much better.


Be glad you’re an airgunner

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • We had fun
  • Ammo shortage?
  • Prepper
  • Why am I telling you this?
  • An historical aside
  • The point
  • What’s more
  • One last remark

A week ago Friday and again last Friday I took my neighbor Denny to the range to shoot his new 9mm carry pistol. I took seveal of my own 9mm pistols too, just for fun. 

We had fun!

I have not been to my gun range in 18 months! I was so rusty and out of practice at shooting a firearm that it was good to get back in the saddle. But while we were at the range Denny told me he had to go to the sporting goods store the minute they opened and he stood in a line to get his 9MM ammo. He was limited to just 300 rounds of 9mm and it cost him nearly $60!!!

I was flabbergasted. You see — I don’t listen to the news. Never have. I don’t like being lied to, and 40 years ago I discovered that was all they were doing, so I quit watching. Whenever I catch a snippet of a broadcast these days I can see that they run nothing else but grossly slanted lies.

I am aware of the riots in our big cities — the ones that have ironically talked about defunding their police departments (ha ha), but I was unaware that most of the rest of the population has finally figured it out. If you want to be protected, it’s up to you and nobody else!

Ammo shortage?

So I went online to see for myself. Sure enough the bulk ammunition sellers are all out of stock and even MidwayUSA has nothing. They have plenty of 9mm ammo listed on their website but they have none to sell. They had to invent terms to describe the fact that none of it is available — temporarily unavailable, out of stock, out of stock no backorder, out of stock, backorder okay, etc.

Okay, default to Gun Broker. This is where the guys who bought up all the toilet paper back in March reside.  One guy wants $145 for 50 rounds of 9mm! There are bids as high as $665.00 for 750 rounds with three days left on the clock! Ain’t no way!

Prepper

My late wife, Edith, was a prepper. As a result we bought hundreds of rounds (thousands?) of 9mm loaded ammo when the price was low. I remember when $185 would get you 1,000 rounds of Winchester 9mm ammunition.

I didn’t buy .45 ACP ammo back then because I have a Dillon Square Deal B progressive reloading press that can make 250-300 rounds an hour. I have a half-ton of lead, tin and Linotype metal that I have collected over the years. And I have two lead pots and plenty of 6-gang bullet molds that can turn out bullets by the thousands.

I have several 8-pound containers of the correct gunpowder and thousands of primers. Can’t get most of that anymore, either.

When I got the Square Deal B progressive press I only wanted it for .45 ACP because that was what Edith and I shot by the thousands. But for a small investment I can convert it to load 9mm Luger ammo, as well. And the conversion kit is backordered two weeks, so even the reloaders in this nation are starting to wake up. But I have a single-stage press and dies for 9mm, so I can do it one at a time the old-fashioned way until my new stuff arrives.

Why am I telling you this?

Because we are airgunners! I hadn’t busted a cap in many, many months and I was rusty when first at the range, but because I shoot airguns all the time I quickly remembered how to do it. I started shooting the center out of the 50-foot bull at 15 yards, once my airgunning skills took over. I had been flinching and pulling the trigger quickly, which you can always spot when a right-hander starts throwing bullets low and to the left. But when I began squeezing the trigger correctly my Sig P365 tore the 10-ring out of the bull, followed closely by the P320 M17.

An historical aside

I had visited Otho Henderson, my gun buddy, the day before going to the range last Friday and he asked if I would like to shoot the 9mm P38 pistol his wife’s father had brought back from World War II. I agreed and he gave it to me.

His wife’s father was a Major in the Army Air Corps in WW II and one of his last duties was to fly the war correspondents to the Nazi prison camps as the allies liberated them. General Eisenhower wanted full documentation of the horrors of each camp, so people could never say that it didn’t happen. Even so, and with all the Army films of each camp’s liberation, I have met younger people who say just that!

I’ve even read a snippet of a letter he wrote about going into the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and what he saw. It tore him apart and it left me in tears! After seeing thast he said the loss of so many lives was well worth it, to stop that from happening.

While he was in the camp he went into commandant Josef Kramer’s office and liberated a nickel-plated Walther P38 from the desk. I got to shoot that pistol, along with Denny and reader Cloud Nine. The gun is heavily buffed and poorly plated — an obvious showy job that would appeal only to a non-shooter. But the pistol still functions as it did when new and it’s pretty accurate, too. Cloud Nine did particularly well with it.

P38
A Walther P38 taken from the desk of the commandant of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April of 1945.

The point

The point of today’s report is twofold. First, I do things beside shoot airguns. And second, and most importantly, I shoot more as an airgunner than I ever did as a firearm shooter. And shooting of any kind keeps me sharp. We talk about this all the time, but here is the proof of the pudding.

What’s more

The current ammo shortage isn’t just affecting handgun shooters. Almost every round of firearm ammunition I can think of is in short supply. Even .22 rimfire is getting hard to find and is severely rationed when available. Younger shooters whose principal weapon is the AR-15 are really in a fix, because almost none of them reload. They couldn’t be bothered before the ammo shortage and now there is no way to start — all the tools and supplies are either in short supply or gone.

But airgunners have no shortage of pellets. Sometimes the most popular brands and calibers are sold out, but more arrive promptly to replace them. There ain’t no shortage caused by a general population running amuck.

One last remark

Today’s report was supposed to be an accuracy test of the Springfield Armory XD-M BB pistol. When I tried to install a fresh CO2 cartridge in the test pistol the end cap stripped out the aluminum threads of the magazine. It was my fault because I allowed the end cap to cross-thread. But Pyramyd Air is sending me a fresh magazine and I will test the pistol when I get it.


What is the attraction of replica airguns?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Today’s report
  • HOWEVER
  • Taste
  • Replicas used for training
  • And, there is more!
  • Engraved Colt Single Action
  • And then…
  • One more reason
  • Summary

Before I begin let me tell you that I won a Slavia 618 in an Ebay auction and it is on it’s way to me now. I bought it because so many readers have talked about that model over the years and I have never even shot one. In my youth I owned a Slavia 621 (622?) breakbarrel for a short time. I found nothing outstanding about it and it eventually got away from me.

Many years later I acquired a Slavia 631 that I did like and shoot a lot. But it had a hinky automatic safety that turned me off so much that I — well, the truth be told, I don’t know what happened to that rifle. For all I know I may still have it laying around somewhere. You can read about it in a 2011 two-part report than was supposed to have a part 3 that never got written.

But many readers have written about their love of the Slavia 618. Every time I drone on about the Diana 27 they respond with the Slavia 618. So, I broke down and found one on Ebay. It wasn’t expensive and the seller says it’s shooting well, so we shall see. If it needs attention, the parts are also available on Ebay, so we will have even more fun!

Today’s report

Reader Yogi prompted today’s report with his comment to yesterday’s post.

“I do not understand the fascination with realistic replica airguns?  In the 60’s they would put fiberglass bodies on VW chassis.  The cars looked like junk and drove like junk!  Anybody remember Fiberfab?  Replica airguns remind me of Fiberfab.”

That remark got my creative juices flowing. I didn’t want to try to change Yogi’s opinion, because he is entitled to think any way he wants. I just wanted to give my thoughts about what people see in replica airguns.

HOWEVER

But reader Chris USA responded to Yogi’s remark with this,

“I was not old enough to drive until the mid 70’s,…. but I remember the “dune buggies” with fiberglass bodies over a VW platform. Pretty cool I thought and still do. There is a couple on nice ones running around in the local town. One is painted tangerine metal flake and the other peril-ized purple. I could overlook performance and handling issues just to have one.”

To that remark Yogi went one step too far when he responded,

“Chris,Watch the “Thomas Crown Affair”! A well fabricated Meyer Manx is a completely different animal.”

So, Yogi, your statement proves that you do understand why people like certain replicas. You just don’t happen to care for replica airguns.

Taste

What we are talking about today is the subjective topic of personal taste. Ain’t no accounting for it — that’s for sure! As the Grinch would say,

“One man’s toxic waste is another man’s potpourri” 

which he told his dog, Max, was some kind of soup.

Replicas used for training

I have written a lot about the Hakim replica pellet rifle that was made by Anschütz in 1954 for the Egyptian army.

Hakim trainer
Anschütz made the .22-caliber air rifle trainer for the 8mm Egyptian army Hakim battle rifle. This one has a gorgeous replacement walnut stock and handguard.

Well, instead of going from the firearm to the airgun replica, I went the other way. I owned many Hakim airgun trainers and so I bought a Hakim firearm.

The Hakim battle rifle was a semiautomatic  rifle that was chambered for the 8mm Mauser. The Egyptians built that rifle based on the Swedish 6.5mm Ljungman semiautomatic rifle whose design and tooling they purchased after WW II. Something like 70,000 Hakims were made and it is referred to as the “poor man’s Garand,” because it was the Garand that inspired the armies of the world to want semiautomatic battle rifles following WW II. The airgun trainer was a way for the Egyptian troops to practice with a rifle of similar size and shape without expending the costly 8mm firearm ammunition.

Hakim rifle
My 8mm Egyptian Hakim battle rifle.

Hakims have risen to very high levels of value in the past several years — especially if their bores are not corroded from firing military ammunition, as so many were. I stumbled onto one in pristine condition years ago at a gun show and the seller had no idea of what he had. I got it for a very reasonable price. However, owning it gave me the opportunity to shoot it and I can tell you with authority that it is NOT like the M1 Garand in any way! It’s not that accurate, it’s parts are too finely machined to withstand any sort of dirt and it ruins the brass cartridge case when it is ejected after firing. BUT — I am still fascinated by it because it is such a rare and wondrous thing! Yogi, that isn’t meant to change your mind, but it does explain my fascination for the Hakim air rifle.

And, there is more!

It doesn’t end there, either. Because the Egyptians didn’t stop with just an air rifle trainer for their Hakim. No — they also purchased a 10-shot .22 rimfire Hakim trainer from Beretta!

Hakin Beretta
Beretta made this 10-shot semiautomatic trainer for the Hakim battle rifle.

The .22 rimfire Beretta trainer is quite rare. I have no idea of how many were produced, but as an interested collector I have only seen two. The last one sold on Gun Broker recently for just under $1,700! 

So, what we have with the Hakim is a precision-made battle rifle that lacks real-world reliability for combat (it cannot take the dirt and sand that field use creates), and its two trainers that are very much desired by collectors! Yogi, I don’t know what to make of that, but there is an attraction.

Engraved Colt Single Action

I grew up in the cowboy era. My heroes were the Long Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. And they all carried Colt single action revolvers. So I was interested in Colt single actions.

I read Guns & Ammo as teenager and poured over pictures of single actions in the articles. And the prettiest ones were those that were engraved. I learned the names of the 19th century engravers and also the names of the top gun engravers of my own time — the 1960s. Alvin A. White was probably the best-known of all 20th century gun engravers, but I also knew of Heidimarie Hiptmayer and others of her ilk. Ironically, a man I now call my friend was and still is one of America’s finest gun engravers — Scott Pilkington. But I digress.

As beautiful as engraved single actions are, I never could afford one. Today a new Colt single action retails for more than $2,000. An engraved one will easily top $4,000, and, if the work was done by an engraver with a world-class reputation, you can double that again. If the gun of interest was engraved by A.A. White, add a zero at the right. There is no way I can afford to own a gun like that, and even if I had that kind of money there is no way I would spend that much for one! But, Yogi, that doesn’t quench my desire.

And then…

And then Pyramyd Air, in their infinite wisdom, decided to have a few of their Colt Single Action airguns engraved! I think Edith and I may have had something to do with their decision, because I remember us talking about the possibility. And, when Edie saw the stars in my eyes as I related my childhood fascination with engraved single actions, she made certain that one came my way.

Are they hand engraved by world-class craftsmen? Certainly not! There is no way you could get one of them to touch a piece of work for as little as these engraved airguns retail for! Are they as good as an Alvin White engraving? Again no. No more than the pace car of an Indianapolis 500 race is as fast as the race cars on the track. No doubt the engraving is somehow done mechanically though they do say it is done by hand, so there is some uniqueness and pride of ownership. But automated tools are the only way it could be done and keep the cost as low as it is. The fact that the outer shells of such airguns are made of metal that’s softer than steel no doubt helps a lot.

Engraved SAA
My engraved Colt SAA BB pistol is very attractive.

My neighbor, Denny, who has made walnut display plaques for several of my guns told me he thought the Single Action Army was the most beautiful handgun that existed. When I showed him this engraved model, I saw the same excitement in his eyes that I had as a youngster. So it wasn’t just me. It was a matter of taste, and Denny and I share a similar tastes for this handgun.

One more reason

We have now looked at two good reasons why replica airguns are attractive to some people. The first was their historical use, such as the story of the Hakim trainers. The second was a matter of personal taste — such as engraved Colt single actions. Or, in Yogi’s case, a Meyers Manx over all other dune buggies in the world.

But there is one more big reason to have a replica. Either you cannot get the gun that it copies — such as living in a restrictive community, or the gun it copies is simply too rare to allow for handling and even operation. Such is the case with the FP45 Liberator pistol of World War II. Made by the Guide Lamp Division of General Motors at a delivered price of $2.10 per unit, the Liberator was an unrifled “zip” gun that was designed to be dropped to resistance fighters — for their use in capturing their own firearms from enemy military forces.

Liberator
One million FP45 Liberator pistols were made for $2.10 apiece by the Guide Lamp Division of General Motors in World War II.

I once owned a genuine Liberator, but I never fired a round from it. Good thing, too, because the crude weldings would quickly give way, and the pistol would be destroyed. About a million were produced, but not so many remain. Only a few were ever distributed; most were unused and destroyed after the war.

So many collectors were interested in the Liberator that, instead of the real thing at $2,500-5,000, a working replica is available from Vintage Ordinance in the box with instructions for just over $650. This one is made from better steel and has a serial number and a rifled barrel to comply with U.S. law. It looks quite similar to the original but is made far better and is actually intended for limited use.

Yogi, you buy this replica because you don’t want to damage an original and because this one is legal to own and safe(er) to fire. No, it’s not an airgun, but about 20 years ago I told Wolf Pflaumer, the founder of Umarex, that this would be a great pistol for what was to become his “Legends” line.

Summary

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!


Sig Sauer P365 air pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig P365
Sig Sauer P365 BB pistol.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Gun returned in February
  • Oiled the gun
  • Installed the cartridge
  • Sig BBs
  • Blowback
  • Daisy Premium Grade BBs
  • Dust Devil Mark 2 BBs
  • Shot count
  • Average for the first string of Dust Devils
  • Fresh CO2 cartridge
  • Trigger pull
  • Realism
  • Summary

A lot of time has passed since Part 2 of this report. The Sig P365 BB pistol I was testing back in early September of 2019 failed after the velocity test, so I never got to perform the accuracy test. I sent it back to Sig at their request. I then had several conversations with Ed Schultz, who was still working at Sig at that time, and I learned a few things. Most significantly, the valve in this pistol is very small because of the pistol’s overall small size. That makes this valve more sensitive than most CO2 pistol valves. There isn’t as much room for the gas to flow so it tends to flow directly out of the cartridge and through the gun, rather than through a longer gas channel inside the valve. There is a channel but it is very short. That means things either have to work right or perhaps not at all.

Sig dived into the pistol I sent back right away. I got the impression that mine wasn’t the only one that was returned. Sales were suspended for several months.

This pistol is extremely small, yet offers full blowback. There have been other CO2 pistols that were even smaller than this one, but they didn’t have blowback. The P365 is something of an engineering triumph. But that triumph came at the cost of some initial hiccups.

Gun returned in February

Sig sent me another P365 last month and that is the one I’m testing today. I will do the velocity test again, because this is a different airgun.

Oiled the gun

In Part 2 I told you that Ed Schultz advised me to oil the slide of the pistol. The owner’s manual that came with this new pistol says nothing about this oiling, but I know my Sig P365 firearm needs to be oiled, too, so I went ahead and oiled the slide of this BB pistol. I used Crosman Pellgunoil.

P365 oil
This is the photo Ed Schultz sent me, showing where to oil the slide.

Installed the cartridge

I first installed a fresh CO2 cartridge. I remembered that the Allen wrench that’s used to pierce the cartridge has to be turned far to seal the cartridge as it pierces, so I put both hands in a position to be able to turn it far very quickly. Because I did that it sealed immediately.

Sig BBs

Sig doesn’t have their own brand of BBs yet, but they do send a small package of BBs with the pistol, so they were the first I tried. They loaded easily into the stick magazine, whose spring-loaded follower stays down under a slot that’s on the side of the BB column to hold it. Just don’t let that follower slam up when you release it or BBs will fly out the top of the mag.

Ten Sig BBs averaged 277 f.p.s. The low was 255 and the high was 314 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 59 f.p.s. That’s a large spread for a CO2 pistol and probably has something to do with the smallness of the gun and valve. I will also note that the 314 f.p.s. velocity that I saw on the first shot was the only time the pistol got over 300 f.p.s. with this BB. The next-fastest shot went 285 f.p.s. which was a spread of just 30 f.p.s.

Blowback

The P365 has full blowback, meaning the slide travels all the way to the rear on every shot. The gun does not bounce in your hand because the line of the P365 bore is so close to the web of your shooting hand. In other words the pistol sits low in the hand. The P365 firearm also does not bounce when shooting 9mm cartridges for the same reason! The BB pistol just fires with a strong pulse in your shooting hand. You definitely feel it, but the gun remains level and stable. 

Daisy Premium Grade BBs

Next to be tried were Daisy Premium Grade BBs. Ten of them averaged 272 f.p.s. The low was 265 f.p.s. and the high was 280 f.p.s. That’s a spread of just 15 f.p.s. It could be that when the CO2 cartridge is fresh some liquid CO2 escapes through the valve to expand in the barrel, which results in those higher velocities. Maybe the next BB test will tell us.

Dust Devil Mark 2 BBs

I purposely did not test the old Dust Devils for velocity. I may test them for accuracy, but since they are no longer available and they are lighter than conventional steel BBs I thought there was no benefit in seeing how fast they go.

The new Dust Devils are a different story. We know that, at 4.6-grains, they are a little heavier than the old Dust Devils (4.3 to 4.4-grains) but still a little lighter than conventional steel BBs that are about 5.1-grains. It will be very interesting to see how they do. This time I will show you the entire shot string so I can talk about it.

Shot……Vel.
1……….278
2……….296
3……….275
4……….did not register
5……….DNR
6……….279
7……….DNR
8……….275
9……….274
10………DNR
11………276
12………268
13………261
14………253

Okay, that is the 10 shots that were recorded, plus four more that didn’t register. The average for those 10 shots was 273 f.p.s., but I have a problem with that average. Looking at this string, I believe the CO2 ran out at shot 12, which was the 41st shot fired since the cartridge was fresh. There were also several times in the previous two shot strings when the shot did not register through the chronograph, which is why the total shot count is so high at this point.

To show you what I mean about the CO2 being exhausted, I continued shooting with the same Dust Devil 2 BB. For this string I will show the actual shot count since the cartridge was new.

Shot……Vel.
44………DNR
45………245
46………243
47………DNR
48………226
49………224

Shot count

Shot 49 is where I stopped shooting. It should be pretty clear that the gas is running out. You would not have to stop at that point but the end would come within 5-6 more shots. That’s because all the liquid CO2 has evaporated into gas and that gas pressure is falling with every shot. So let’s say the P365 gets 50 good shots per CO2 cartridge. That is a reasonable number for a pistol that has full blowback, and this one was still cocking itself each time until the end. This is another good reason to own a chronograph!

Average for the first string of Dust Devils

If we take the last string of 10 Dust Devils, which are shots 30 through 43 on the first CO2 cartridge, the average velocity is 273 f.p.s. The low was 253 on the last shot (shot number 43) and the high was 296 f.p.s. which was shot 2 (shot 31 since the cartridge was installed). That’s a spread of 43 f.p.s., but as I said, it is not representative.

Fresh CO2 cartridge

To get a velocity that is representative for the Dust Devil 2 BBs I installed a fresh cartridge. I will show the whole string, since this one begins with the first shot on the cartridge.

Shot……Vel.
1……….305
2……….285
3……….292
4……….297
5……….294
6……….288
7……….295
8……….DNR
9……….DNR
10………DNR
11………281
12………280
13………DNR
14………284

This string is more representative for the new Dust Devil. The average is 290. That first shot is the only one over 300 f.p.s., which is also what I wanted you to see. This string allows you to see not only how the P365 BB pistol does with Dust Devils but also how all BBs do when the cartridge is new. The spread for this string runs from a low of 280 to a high of 305, which is 25 f.p.s. Throw that first shot out and the high becomes 297, making the spread 17 f.p.s. — which is close to what we saw with the Daisy BBs, above. That spread of 15 – 17 f.p.s. is probably representative of what the gun gets and the average velocity with Dust Devil 2 BBs is probably 2 or 3 f.p.s. slower than the 290 f.p.s. shown here. They are somewhat faster than standard steel BBs, but still close.

Sig rates the P365 at 295 f.p.s. and that seems to be a maximum velocity. I believe the numbers I have obtained in this test are representative.

Trigger pull

The trigger pull measured 5 lbs. 12 oz. on my electronic scale, but there is more to tell. Several times the trigger seemed much lighter than that and the gun fired before I was ready. And two times in the 63 total shots in this test the trigger was impossible to pull. At first I thought the gun was not cocked, but it was. I guess the trigger linkage has some slop and you have to allow for it from time to time. What you do when this happens is squeeze and relax the trigger blade several times until the gun fires. That may smooth out as the gun breaks in. If I see signs of that happening I will report it.

Realism

This is the most realistic airgun replica I have ever seen! Here is why I say that. At one point in my testing I picked up the P365 and pulled the slide back to get it ready for the next velocity test and, what to my wondering eyes should appear — a 9mm cartridge! Earlier in the morning I had taken a photo of both pistols for this report and had not holstered my firearm again. It is always loaded and cocked, since it is my carry pistol that I use for security duty at church twice each week and any other time I carry. I had picked it up by mistake! That mistake was corrected on the spot by putting that gun back into the holster.

P365 two pistols
You are looking at the most realistic BB pistol replica I have every seen. This one is so good it’s scary! I have to handle the P365 with extra care because I cannot afford to make mistakes! The one at the bottom is the BB gun. The BB gun has a safety the firearm doesn’t have.

Summary

If you fully appreciate what I am saying today you will recognize that the Sig P365 BB pistol is a landmark in realistic airgun replicas. Maybe the sofa engineers will wave their hands at the technical difficulties I have mentioned and wonder why Sig didn’t just get them all right the first time, but I am amazed they have been able to do what they have done! Designing a breakthrough pistol like this is not the same as re-skinning a proven design and calling it something else. Sig has stepped into an airgun design realm that has never before been explored. And Sig is a firearm company! Firearms are not the same as airguns, yet with both the ASP20 rifle and this P365 pistol they have innovated in a big way.

We still have to test accuracy and I have some concerns there, as well. Can BB Pelletier hold this small pistol steady enough to keep all his shots on the target at 5 meters? Because what I want is what the rest of the shooting world wants — a realistic BB pistol that can be used as a trainer for my carry pistol — for $80!!! If this airgun can do that, it is a world-beater!


Springfield Armory M1 Carbine CO2 Blowback Airsoft gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Springfield Armory M1 Carbine airsoft
Springfield Armory M1 Carbine Airsoft gun.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

Part 2 testing
Today’s test
0.20-gram TSD Tactical BBs
0.25-gram Valken Accelerate BBs
0.30-gram ASG Blaster Devil BBs
0.36-gram ASG BBs
No lag time!
Continue?
0.40-gram ASG BBs
0.43-gram ASG BBs
Discussion
Summary

Today’s test will be interesting to me because I have no clue how the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine airsoft gun shoots. Usually I have some idea going into a test and can select the right ammo to suit how I think the gun is going to perform. This time I have almost nothing. The only things I do know is the gun is powered by CO2 and also the same gun shooting BBs did very well.

Part 2 testing

We learned in Part 2 how fast the test gun shoots. It’s on the high end for the recommended 0.20-gram BBs. It seems to slow down to a useful velocity with 0.30-0.36-gram BBs (407-387 f.p.s.). I am curious to see what they look like on paper.

Today’s test

I shot off a sandbag rest at 10 yards for this test. Five BBs were shot at each target, unless the results seemed to warrant shooting 10. That did happen in a couple instances, as you will see.

One thing to remember about this airsoft gun is there is no adjustment for elevation. Windage yes, but the elevation is fixed. That will play into the test results, as you will see.

I’m using the sights that come on the gun. It really isn’t suited for mounting any other sights, but these are fine.

0.20-gram TSD Tactical BBs

The first to be tested were 0.20-gram TSD Tactical BBs. This is the recommended BB weight for this airgun. The first BB hit in the 10-ring, so I shot the other four without looking again. Three of the remaining four BBs hit at the top of the target paper but the last BB was lost. The four BBs that hit made a group that measured 3.103-inches between centers. I can’t recommend this weight BB for this airgun because the BBs do not correspond to the sights and they spread out too fast. Yes, downrange they will drop a little, but this isn’t the level of accuracy I want in a skirmishing airgun.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.20-gram group
The 0.20-gram BBs did not group well. The four that hit the paper are in 3.103-inches between centers at 10 meters.

0.25-gram Valken Accelerate BBs

Next up were some 0.25-gram Valken Accelerate BBs. These were quite a bit better than the 0.20-gram BBs. In fact, after 5 shots the group was so good I photographed it in the target trap and returned to shoot 5 more.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.25-gram group
The first five 0.25-gram Valken Accelerate BBs made a very small group. I didn’t measure it, but it’s just over an inch between centers.

The second five opened the group a little, but nine of the ten BBs are still in a small area. All 10 are in 2.416-inches at 10 meters.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.25-gram group 10
All ten 0.25-gram BBs went into 2.416-inches at 10 meters with nine in 1.148-inches.

0.30-gram ASG Blaster Devil BBs

Next to be tested were five 0.30-gram ASG Blaster Devil BBs. Would they group even better than the 0.25-gram BBs? The only way to know is to try them.

The first BB hit inside the 10 ring, but all five BBs went into a group measuring 2.293-inches between centers. With the way that the 0.25-gram BBs shot, I felt this BB was not right for the airgun.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.30-gram group
The 0.30-gram Blaster Devils did not do so well. Five are in 2.293-inches at 10 meters.

0.36-gram ASG BBs

Bob Li of ASG sent me three additional heavy BBs to test in airsoft guns. The 0.36-gram one will be tested next. The first 5 BBs scored 49 points with 3 Xs on the 10-meter target. So I took another picture of the first five shots.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.36-gram group first 5
The first five of the 0.36-gram BBs gave such good results that I photographed them in the target trap.

I decided to continue this group as well, and this time it really paid off. Ten shots scored 99 points, with at least 7 Xs! 

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.36-gram group 10
Ten BBs are in a group measuring 1.342-inches between centers at 10 meters! The score is a solid 99. This group did not enlarge with the final five shots.

No lag time!

This is the sort of accuracy I have seen with some sniper long guns in the past. And the good thing is I noticed no lag time between the shot and the impact on target. This BB would be a good choice for skirmishing with this M1 Carbine.

Continue?

At this point in the test I felt I had found the best BB. But I had others that were even heavier. Should I continue? Well, since this is my last test of this airsoft gun I figured why not?

0.40-gram ASG BBs


None of these ASG heavy BBs have a name, so I’m just identifying them by their brand and weight. This 0.40-gram BB is a weight I have never tested before. And the first five went into another nice-looking group.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.40-gram group first 5
Here we go, again. The first five 0.40-gram ASG BBs made a perfect score of 50 with 4 Xs!

When I completed the group there were 10 BBs in 1.493-inches at 10 meters, with a score of either 98 or 99.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.40-gram group 10
All 10 BBs went into a group measuring 1.493-inches between centers at 10 meters.

There was no audible lag time between the shot and impact on target with this BB, either. At this point I felt the best BB weight had been found, and it is 0.36-grams. But I also had a 0.43-gram BB on hand, so why not test it?

0.43-gram ASG BBs

This is the first BB that had an audible lag between the shot and impact on the target. The first BB went into the X-ring, so I wondered if this would be another hyper-accurate one. But as I shot I could see the other BBs hitting above the bull. In the end five BBs went into a group that measures 2.886-inches between centers. Clearly this BB is too heavy for the Carbine’s powerplant.

M1 Carbine airsoft 0.43-gram group
The group of five 0.43-gram BBs measures 2.886-inches between centers at 10 meters. Too heavy for this airgun!

Discussion

The lack of an adjustment for elevation makes selecting the right ammunition more important for this Carbine. Remember I shot at 10 meters, which is 33 feet. But in a skirmish the Carbine might be used out to 75 or even 100 feet.

This test does not establish the final accuracy of the Carbine, but it points out that the gun is accurate. I did not adjust the Hop-Up because I didn’t have to.

Summary

The Springfield Armory M1 Carbine is an accurate airsoft gun that performs quite well. It mimics very closely the BB gun from the same people. 

I do think Pyramyd Air should consider recommending a 0.36-gram BB for this gun. The performance is so much better!

Higher-end airsoft guns are not Pyramyd Air’s mainstay products, to be sure, but there are probably many airgunners around the nation who have a use for an accurate airsoft gun like this. If so — here it is!