With a retail price of $114.20, this is a fully licensed Colt product and accurate down to the smallest detail. It operates with the power of a single 12-gram CO2 capsule, contained within the removable magazine. This allows for extra magazines to be purchased and used for practicing reloads. The mag also contains a channel for 18 precision steel .177-caliber BB rounds. This pistol’s all-metal construction provides great feel (34 ounces, loaded), approximating the balance of a Colt Government Model 1911. The gun features a skeletonized trigger and Commander-style hammer, checkered mainspring housing, diamond-checkered plastic grips as well as a fully operating beavertail safety, thumb safety and slide release. This is extreme air at its finest. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.umarexusa.com/Colt-Commander.html#.VEAF7BY7fRo">umarexusa.com</a>; 479-646-4210)
At $119.99, the Umarex Beretta Px4 Storm air pistol is not only a BB gun, but a pellet gun as well. It will shoot either projectile from its revolutionary dual-ended magazine. The design uses an eight-shot rotary clip on both ends of the stick magazine, and it only takes a few seconds to hit the magazine release, flip it over and start shooting again. Since it shoots BBs or pellets, there is also more flexibility with ammo choice and the degree of accuracy that can be achieved with target-grade pellets. A 12-gram CO2 cylinder is loaded into the grip and seated with a folding key that stores in the base of the grip frame. The Umarex Px4 Storm has a blowback action, so it functions like the real 9mm pistol, and there is even a Recon version that comes with full tactical accessories, a mock suppressor, an accessory rail side mount to fit optics on top and a Walther tactical light on the left side. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.umarexusa.com/Beretta-Px4-Storm-Pellet-BB-Pistol.html#.VEAIphY7fRo">umarexusa.com</a>; 479-646-4210)
One of the oldest names in air pistols, Crosman also has a 1911 model called the GI 1911BBb with a working blowback action. The pistol’s BB reservoir holds twenty .177-caliber BBs and delivers them downrange at an average velocity of 450 fps. Based on the early 1911 GI issue models, the 1911BBb has a fixed rear sight and a small fixed blade front sight. Not quite as accurate in overall details, but Crosman’s 20-rounder, 1911BBb is a giant leap forward from the single-shot, pneumatic 1911-style air pistols I remember as a kid. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.crosman.com/airguns/pistols/40021">crosman.com</a>; 800-724-7486)
On a trip to the Umarex factory in 2013, I had the opportunity to test the company’s latest PPS (Police Pistol Slim) model air pistol. This gun looks and feels exactly like the subcompact 9mm Walther PPS. Priced at a very reasonable $76.15, the PPS is an officially licensed version BB pistol with realistic blowback action and functioning slide release. It has a metal slide and polymer frame combination to give it a weight within ounces of the real Walther model. True to the Walther PPS, the semi-auto airgun has a working slide, low profile tactical sights, an integrated dust cover rail and the authentic Walther paddle magazine release in the triggerguard. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.umarexusa.com/Walther-PPS-C02-177-Pistol.html#.VEAI9BY7fRo">umarexusa.com</a>; 479-646-4210)
The original Walther CP99 was one of the first truly modern air pistols from Umarex, and it was actually used for training purposes by German police carrying the 9mm P99. The Compact is the second generation of Umarex’s Walther CP99 air pistols. It not only duplicates the feel and handling, but also the functions of the real 9mm and .40 S&W models. Earlier styles used an eight-round rotary magazine loaded into the opened slide, which was then locked closed. The new models load 18 BBs into a trim magazine that inserts into the grip, and the blowback action cycles the slide and chambers the next BB like a true semi-auto pistol. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.umarexusa.com/Walther-CP99-Compact-Black.html#.VEAJGxY7fRo">umarexusa.com</a>; 479-646-4210)
The Umarex High Power Pistol (HPP) is the company’s own design and features a large, rugged, all-metal slide and frame, double-action (DA) hammer-fired design along with a removable 15-shot BB magazine and CO2 capsule in the grip. Weighing in at 30 ounces, the HPP is reminiscent of numerous modern semi-autos with an overall length of 7 inches, a 3.8-inch barrel, height of 5.5 inches, and the balance and feel of a real 9mm. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.umarexusa.com/Umarex-HPP.html">umarexusa.com</a>; 479-646-4210)
This is one you have to see to believe that it is an air pistol. The Umarex Uzi is a well-built, all-metal BB pistol with a blowback action. It features a 28-round magazine. This remarkable Uzi BB gun, licensed by Israeli Weapon Industries, even has a folding shoulder stock, a functional grip safety, a Picatinny rail under the forearm cover and an adjustable rear sight. The semi-auto air pistol weighs an appropriate 2.45 pounds with a 5-inch barrel and an OAL (stock extended) of 24 inches.(<a target="blank" href="http://www.umarexusa.com/UZI-BB-Carbine.html#.VEAQXBY7fRo">umarexusa.com</a>; 479-646-4210)
While not a fully functional copy of the legendary IWI Desert Eagle, the air pistol version is a big, weighty, .177-caliber pellet gun designed in the likeness of the real Desert Eagle by Magnum Research, Inc. Usable by both left- and right-handers, this air gun has built-in Picatinny rails for mounting various accessories such as tactical lights and electronic sights. The Desert Eagle air pistol is powered by one 12-gram CO2 cylinder that inserts in the bottom of the grip. The slide opens at the push of a lever to reveal an eight-shot rotary magazine, thus the internal operation is like a revolver. However, unlike most models with rotary magazines, the action on the Desert Eagle functions to provide a realistic effect when shooting. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.umarexusa.com/Magnum-Research-Desert-Eagle.html#.VEAJjhY7fRo">umarexusa.com</a>; 479-646-4210)
The Gamo MP-9 is an authentic replica of the B&T MP-9 9mm submachine gun. The MP-9 is a lightweight, small airgun with realistic tactical features, including a folding, self-locking stock and adjustable rear sight. The MP-9 is powered by one 12-gram CO2 capsule and can fire 16 shots (either .177 target-grade pellets or precision steel BBs in an 8×2 double mag) in only 2.4 seconds at an average velocity of 450 fps! The MP-9’s semi-auto blowback action and DA trigger make this airgun an excellent choice for tactical practice and plinking. Weighing a solid 3 pounds, the Gamo MP-9 measures 21 inches with the stock extended and 12 inches with it folded. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.gamousa.com/product.aspx?productID=468">gamousa.com</a>; 954-581-5822)
Similar to the Umarex Px4 Storm, the Gamo PT-85 Blowback also uses a reversible 8×2 double magazine to carry up to 16 rounds of .177 target-grade pellets. The SA/DA pistol features a rifled steel barrel, a working manual safety mechanism, a blowback-action slide, fixed white-dot sights and a velocity of up to 450 fps. Overall length is 7.8 inches, and its weight is 24 ounces. (<a target="blank" href="http://www.gamousa.com/family.aspx?familyID=91">gamousa.com</a>; 954-581-5822)
I know it’s an old cliché that practice makes perfect, but it really does, especially if you carry a handgun daily, or have one at home for personal protection. But with the cost of ammunition, practice can be expensive. Even law enforcement has to be conscientious these days about training costs. And that is where air pistols come into play.
These are not your father’s (or grandfather’s) Daisy Red Ryder or single-shot, pneumatic BB pistols. They’re live-action air pistols that look, feel and operate just like the real thing right up to the moment you pull the trigger, and even afterward, because the slide cycles, cocks the hammer and loads the next BB into the chamber. All that is missing is recoil and, of course, the cost of ammunition.
Good shooting practice begins with proper carry methods, familiarity with drawing the firearm, learning how to release and load the magazine, operating the slide and any safeties, and getting a perfect sight picture. All of these training regimens can be practiced with a full-feature, live-action (blowback) air pistol right down to pulling the trigger. Gaining familiarity with a cartridge-firing pistol and its operation by using a perfectly matched air pistol is both an affordable and efficient method. This is ideal for youth training, remedial training, and you might even just do it for fun! Most top-quality models retail for a little over $100.
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This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of COMBAT HANDGUNS. Subscription is available in print and digital editions below.
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