Ryan from the US owns a number of firearms. However, he also has a large collection of replicas. Here he explains why…
I have been a firearms enthusiast for as long as I can remember. My Grandfather was a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, and he indoctrinated me on the finer points of the Colt 1911A1. I was also exposed to firearms at a young age in the Boy Scouts of America, and was an avid Trap (clay target) Shooter in high school. However, I’ve always been most fascinated with pistols and revolvers. Coming of age as a boy in the 1980’s, I had a Crosman 357, and in the 1990’s, a Daisy 45. However, at the onset of adulthood, I moved away from airguns and focused on shooting and collecting rimfire and centerfire handguns. Several factors have brought me back to the wonderful hobby of shooting and collecting Replica CO2 Pistols in both 4.5mm and 6mm.
Here in the United States, the Sandyhook Elementary School shooting tragedy occurred in December of 2012. New gun control measures were proposed, but not adopted. Ammunition promptly disappeared from shelves due to panic buying. Now, more than a year later, centerfire ammunition can sometimes be found at stores, but the supply is spotty. .22 Rimfire ammunition is generally nowhere to be found. Supply cannot keep up with demand. Ammo prices in general have also doubled in the last ten years or so. Much like other commodities, such as gasoline, it costs a lot more than it did just a few years ago. Also, there have been many new people that have become firearms owners due to the media attention, increasing demand. Simultaneously, there has been a rekindling of the Survivalist Movement of the 1970’s and 1980s, now called “Prepping,” which advocates stockpiling of ammo.
As an avid shooter and member of a gun club, I have turned back to my roots and am now shooting and collecting Replica CO2 Air Pistols. I’d like to briefly compare and contrast four firearm types along with their 4.5 and 6mm replica counterparts. A few of my favorite firearms include the Beretta 92FS, the 1911, the Russian Makarov and Smith & Wesson Double Action Revolvers chambered in .38 Special. These won’t be full reviews, but rather my thoughts on the efficacy of each replica as it compares to the “Real Steel” firearms that it mimics.
From the top: 4.5mm Daisy Powerline 617, 9mm Beretta 92FS, 6mm KJ Works M9 Government
The Beretta 92FS is the standard sidearm for the United States Military. Growing up, I saw it prominently used in films such as the “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon” series. I have owned a U.S. Made Beretta 92FS since 2006; it came with two 15 round magazines. The U.S. Made Beretta 92FS’s are not as nicely made as the Italian Made 92F’s that were imported in the 1980’s. The Italian pistols had chrome lined barrels, all metal parts, and were generally more accurate than my specimen. Some of my favorite Replica CO2 Air Pistols happen to be modeled after the Beretta 92FS. The Daisy 617x actually has a six shot revolver mechanism housed within its Beretta inspired chassis. While it shoots either 4.5mm BB’s or Pellets, I shoot it with wadcutter pellets to maximize its rifled steel barrel. It is not blowback, but can be manually cocked much like a double action revolver. I tend to shoot it double action only, and it’s accuracy is phenomenal. The only downside is that it only holds six pellets compared to the higher priced Umarex Beretta 92FS which holds eight. My 6mm Airsoft version of the Beretta 92FS is a KJ Works M9 Government. This model is probably the best replica of a “real steel” firearm, that I own. If it wasn’t for the Blaze Orange Barrel Tip, which is mandated by U.S. Federal Law, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from the real thing. It is a Blowback Airsoft Pistol that is available with both a CO2 and a Green Gas Magazine. This also happens to be my most accurate 6mm pistol.
From the top: 4.5mm Winchester (Daisy) Model 11, 9mm Taurus PT-1911, 6mm KJ Works Hi-Capa 1911
Moving onto the 1911 pattern of pistol, I personally own a Stainless Steel Taurus PT-1911. Mine happens to be chambered in 9mm Luger. My grandfather would roll over in his grave, as it is sacrilegious to have a 1911 that is not a .45. However, the Taurus has a lower recoil impulse, and 9mm ammo is lower priced than .45 ACP. My analog 4.5mm airgun is the Winchester (Daisy) M-11 Blowback. I am really impressed with the airguns that are made in Japan, and this pistol is no exception. It’s recoil impulse is similar to a .22 Rimfire, and the attention to detail is pretty decent. The engineers really did a good job with it. My 6mm Airsoft 1911 is a KJ Works Hi Capa. I have both a CO2 and a Green Gas Magazine for this Hi Capa. It is a good shooter, but shoots a little high to the point of aim.
From the top: 6mm KWC Makarov PM, .380 acp Baikal IJ-70, 4.5mm Umarex Legends Makarov
In recent years, I have become enamored with the Russian Makarov pistol. Mine is a Baikal IJ-70 chambered in .380 ACP (9x17mm) as opposed to the usual 9mm Makarov (9x18mm) caliber. I purchased this model used, as it was imported into the U.S. during the 1990’s. The 8-shot single stack magazines are interchangeable between the two calibers. The Makarov is a robust design that points well, is very accurate, and has low recoil. My 4.5mm “Mak” replica is a Umarex Legends BB Pistol. It is not to be confused with the Makarov Ultra Blowback model recently introduced. The non-blowback version is very accurate and has great attention to detail. It’s paint finish is a little glossy, but it looks very close to my Baikal. It is a pleasure to shoot. It can be cocked, but I choose to shoot it double action only. Its sights are fixed compared to the adjustable sights on my Baikal IJ-70 .380ACP. My 6mm version is a KWC Makarov PM CO2 replica. Like the 4.5mm, it is also a non-blowback model. In fact, the trigger action of these two Makarov replicas are very similar even though they are of different Taiwanese manufacturers. I feel that they both replicate the handling qualities and pointability of a real Makarov.
From the top: 4.5mm Umarex S&W M&P R8, .38 spl S&W Model 10, 6mm TSD/WG 708
Lastly, I am a big fan of Smith & Wesson Double Action Revolvers chambered in .38 Special. These were the standard for American police forces for decades. I like the low maintenance qualities of a double action revolver. I own a Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 Special with a 4” Heavy Barrel. It was purchased used, and has some honest holster wear. It was likely a police trade-in. They are great firearms that are under appreciated in today’s era of semi-automatics. My 4.5mm version is a Umarex Smith & Wesson M&P R8 CO2 BB Revolver. This is an impressive eight shot replica by Wingun. While it is rendered in high grade plastic, it feels and functions like a genuine Smith & Wesson “Hand Ejector.” The accuracy is quite good, and the grip just feels right to me. My 6mm Airsoft Revolver is a TSD (Dan Wesson) 2.5” Snubby which is also made by Wingun. While not very accurate, they’ve certainly captured the essence of how a revolver works with the use of actual brass shell casings and included speedloader. I’d go with a little longer barrel if I had to do it all over again. However, given it is a revolver, it is not picky about its 6mm fodder and I often recycle previously fired BB’s which may account for its accuracy issues.
I find that Replica CO2 Air Pistols are a good “under study” for the firearms that inspired them. If I had to pick a favorite genre, I’d pick the pellet shooters which allow the use of Crosman Lead Free Pellets for shooting in the garage of one’s home. Here in the U.S., Airsoft skirmishing has increased in popularity with young men. I find that Airsoft Gas Pistols lend themselves to shooting in the basement, if there is proper ventilation. The 4.5mm BB Pistol category has benefited from designs that started out as Airsoft Pistols. Here in the U.S., the benefit of the 4.5mm versions is that they don’t have the pesky orange barrel tip like their 6mm brethren. These 4.5mm pistols, as typified by the Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness Blowback, can be the epitome of realism in both form and function. I don’t feel that shooting Replica CO2 Air Pistols replaces actual firearms training, but that it augments it. I think that gun owners should still practice quarterly or a semi-annually with their firearms if they are to remain proficient with them. However, shooting Replica CO2 Air Pistols is just plain fun, whether one owns firearms or not, and I would encourage anyone to share this hobby with others, and to get out there and enjoy it!