ASG CZ P-09 Duty

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Danish group Action Sport Games A/S (ASG) produce a range of 4.5mm and 6mm BB shooting semi-auto and revolver replicas. I have owned several ASG pistols including a couple of Dan Wesson revolvers, a blowback CZ P-07 Duty and an STI Duty One. They were all pretty good, seeming to have above average build and finish quality for mid-range replicas. However, at the start of 2014, ASG introduced a new range of pellet shooting pistols including a blowback semi-auto replica. Now, I like semi-auto replicas, and I like blowback guns, but when I heard this I had mixed feelings. The theory of a pellet shooter with blowback is good – you should get the realistic recoil effect of blowback plus the power and accuracy of a pellet shooter, but somehow products from other manufacturers who have attempted this have fallen short. I was therefore delighted when I was recently provided with a new ASG CZ P-09 Duty blowback pellet shooter, so I could find out whether it’s actually any good…

Real steel background

Česká Zbrojovka (Czech Arms Factory – CZ) has been producing a range of sporting and military firearms since 1936. In the period between the first and second World Wars, Czechoslovakian companies exported weapons round the world (the Bren machine gun used by British forces, for example, was produced in Czechoslovakia). Following the end of World War two, CZ continued to produce weapons such as the Model 58 assault rifle and the Scorpion machine pistol for Czech forces and their Soviet bloc allies. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Czech Republic, CZ became a private company in 1992. In 2005, CZ bought the US Dan Wesson firearm company. Today, still operating from the small Moravian town of Uherský Brod, CZ employs over 2000 staff, making it one of the largest firearms manufacturers in the world.

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CZ 75

In 1975, CZ introduced the CZ 75, a 9mm, short recoil operated, locked breech pistol using the Browning linkless cam system (as seen on the Browning Hi-Power, which it somewhat resembles). The design of the slide on the CZ 75 is notable in that it rides on rails inside the frame, rather than sitting outside and over the frame as on 1911 style pistols. This allows the slide to be slimmer and more compact.   The CZ 75 is a full-size, military and police sidearm and it quickly gained a reputation for rugged reliability and good accuracy and is still being manufactured today.

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CZ P-09 Duty

In 2012 CZ introduced the P-09 Duty, basically an updated CZ75 featuring a glass-fibre reinforced polymer frame and an improved trigger system. The P-09 Duty is able to hold 19, 9mm rounds in its large magazine whilst retaining good ergonomic qualities. Like the CZ 75, the P-09 has quickly gained a reputation for reliability and accuracy at a very reasonable cost. The P-09 is popular both as a law enforcement and military sidearm, and as a sporting pistol (especially in the Czech Republic where shooting is the third most popular sport, after football and ice hockey).

The ASG CZ P-09 Duty

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ASG have a licensing agreement with CZ and many of their CO2 powered semi-auto replicas are based on CZ pistols such as the CZ 75 Compact and the CZ P-07 Duty. Most ASG replicas are available in 4.5 and 6mm forms. However, for the first time in early 2014, ASG launched a range of pistols with rifled barrels which were capable of shooting .177 pellets. These included updated versions of the Dan Wesson revolvers and a pellet shooting, blowback version of the CZ P-09 Duty.

The ASG CZ P-09 features a polymer frame and grip and a metal slide, hammer, trigger, slide release and safety. The inner barrel is deeply recessed and the outer barrel includes a removable end-cap, allowing the fitment of a moderator. An under-barrel accessory rail is provided and each pistol has a unique serial number. The ambidextrous manual safety/de-cocker is fully functional.

cz7The P-09 is able to shoot both .177 pellets and 4.5mm steel BBs.  Both types of ammo are loaded in a double-ended magazine which incorporates two, eight shot rotary carriers, giving a total capacity of 16 shots. The magazine is very similar to those found in the Umarex PX-4 and the Gamo PT-85 (actually, it appears to be identical to the PT-85 mag). Both front and rear sights feature white dots. CO2 is retained inside the grip and this licensed replica features accurate CZ markings. Unlike many other ASG replicas which are made in Taiwan, the CZ P-09 Duty is manufactured in Japan.

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ASG provide a number of accessories for the P-09 including spare magazines, a hard case, a barrel extension, a tactical light and a laser sight.

Spec;

Calibre: .177 pellet/4.5mm BB

Magazine capacity: 16 pellets or BBs

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 3.8″, rifled

Weight: 702g

Overall length: 205mm

Sights: Fixed, white dots

Action: SA/DA

Claimed power: 492fps (using .33g pellets)

Packaging and presentation 2.5/5

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The ASG CZ P-09 comes in a simple a cardboard box with shaped card inserts to locate the pistol. It’s a perfectly serviceable box, though not something you’d use to display the pistol. The P-09 is supplied with a single magazine and a short user manual.

cz21Visual accuracy 9/10

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CZ P-09 Duty (above), ASG CZ P-09 Duty (below)

ASG claim that the original CZ drawings were used to create this replica, and I see no reason to doubt that – this is about as good as it gets in terms of a visual replica. Every line, pin and contour or the original is replicated, down to the complex whorls and curls of the anti-slip grip finish. Even the base of the grip and magazine replicate the look of the original (something many replicas fail to do). All controls are accurately replicated and markings are as per the original. Even the obligatory safety markings are discreetly engraved rather than painted in bright, white text.

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The black finish on the metal slide closely matches the finish of the plastic frame and grip, making the various parts of the pistol look as though they belong together. A particularly nice touch is that the inner barrel is deeply recessed, leaving a large visible barrel opening. If you put this replica next to a P-09 firearm, I suspect you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The only visual clues are that the ejection port is recessed rather than cut-out (though the port and ejector pin are crisply moulded) and the small actuating button in the centre of the left side manual safety/de-cocker which isn’t present on the original.

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Functional accuracy 12/15

The ASG CZ P-09 Duty has good weight – it’s around 100g lighter than the original firearm, but it does provide convincing heft. The hammer, trigger, ambidextrous safety/de-cocker and magazine release all function as per the original. The slide release on the left of the frame does not move and has no function (the slide on this replica does not lock back). The plastic magazine is of reduced size. What looks like the base of the magazine is part of the removable section of the grip which gives access to the CO2 chamber.

The slide moves under blowback action though it cannot be locked back. There is no simple way of removing the slide and the P-09 cannot be easily stripped for lubrication or cleaning.

Shooting 37/40

cz4Preparing the ASG CZ P-09 for shooting is simple. The lower part of the grip and the backstrap are removed to reveal the CO2 chamber. CO2 is inserted, and the metal tab tightened to pierce the CO2, which it does with almost no loss of gas. The first time I loaded CO2, I came close to over-tightening the tab, as I was waiting for the tell-tale hiss of escaping gas which didn’t happen.

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Pellets or BBs are then loaded into the double ended magazine. ASG recommend using flat-fronted pellets only, to avoid jamming issues. Two chambers are visible at a time on each rotary carrier, so there is no way to use any form of speed loader and loading takes a little time and requires careful placement, especially of pellets. At least when you’re done you have 16 shots before re-loading is required. The magazine clicks positively into place, though it is quite deeply recessed in the grip.

cz14With the manual safety on, the trigger and hammer are locked. To move the safety from “safe” to “fire”, the small button in the centre of the safety on the left of the frame must first be depressed. It’s a slightly fiddly process, and difficult to achieve with one hand (especially if you’re left-handed). However, I rarely use the safety catch on most of my replicas so this wasn’t a major problem.

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With the safety off, the first shot can be fired in double action or the hammer can be manually cocked for single action. There is no need to rack the slide before shooting. In both double and single action the trigger pull is fairly long, and there is a distinct catch as the rotary pellet carrier is indexed. The actual release point comes almost at the extreme rear point of trigger travel and there is distinct additional pressure as this point is reached. However, the release point is consistent and clear. If you pull the trigger almost to the point of shooting and then release it, the pellet carrier will index again when you pull the trigger a second time, leaving an unfired pellet behind. The non-adjustable white dot sights are clear and easy to align.

cz9The pistol fires with a distinct crack rather than a loud bang, and blowback is strong and rapid. The blowback action only cocks the hammer, it does not index the next pellet for shooting. The slide does not lock back on empty (a function of loading pellets via a rotary carrier), so you do need to count your shots.

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Six shots, six yards, semi-rested. RWS CO2 Target pellets, 0.45g (7.0gr)

The good news is, this is a very fine shooter. A six yards, mine shoots slightly to the left of the point of aim and around ½” low when using .45g (7.0gr) pellets. A lighter pellet would probably allow it to shoot very close to the point of aim. Rested, it will group at about 1″ at six yards. Freestanding, this increases to 1½” – 2″, but that’s probably down to my ageing eyesight and wobbly limbs rather than any fault of the pistol. In my experience, that’s about as good as it gets for a pellet pistol shooting over open sights, and certainly almost as good as any multi-shot pellet pistol I have tried.

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Six shots, six yards, freestanding. RWS CO2 Target pellets, 0.45g (7.0gr)

CO2 consumption is reasonable for a blowback pistol: at 24°C, I got around 50 – 60 full power shots from a single CO2. Accuracy is maintained until power starts to drop noticeably. I don’t currently have access to a chronograph, so I can’t comment on the claimed power of 492fps using .33g pellets. Most user reports suggest power somewhere in the 350 – 400fps range with heavier pellets, but the P-09 certainly shoots with pleasing authority and knocked large chunks out of my wooden backstop, so it has more than adequate power for target shooting.

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The P-09 can also shoot steel 4.5mm BBs. These are slightly easier to load in the magazine than pellets, and locate positively into the magnetised chambers. However, I haven’t tried shooting it with BBs. I’m concerned that steel BBs may erode the lands in the rifled barrel, and I don’t want to risk compromising its accuracy with pellets. I’d assume it would shoot the lighter BBs with more power, but I doubt it would be any more accurate. Other than that BBs are a little cheaper than pellets, I can’t think of any reason you’d want to shoot BBs with this pistol.

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This is a very nice shooter indeed. It is more than accurate enough for my level of shooting ability, and I imagine that it’s good enough to provide satisfactory target shooting fun for most people. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it at ranges longer than six yards, but I suspect that it may also have the power and accuracy to be used at ten yards and more. One small disappointment is that it doesn’t have adjustable rear sights. On a pistol this accurate, I’d have liked to be able to adjust the point of impact to precisely align with the point of aim, though mine shoots close enough out of the box that this is a fairly minor niggle.

Quality and reliability 14/15

Given that the CZ P-09 was released less than six months ago, it’s difficult to say anything definitive abut long term reliability, though I can say that mine has performed without any problems at all. Some owners have reported that the strong blowback can shake the front sight loose, and even cause it to fall off. Mine has remained firmly affixed, but it’s something that may be worth checking if you own a P-09.

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The overall fit and finish of the P-09 are very good indeed. The slide has no rattles or side-to-side movement and cycles smoothly. The trigger and hammer have no looseness or rattles, the magazine locks and unlocks crisply and the rear and bottom part of the slide which give access to the CO2 chamber fit neatly with no movement or give. Even the CO2 tightening/piercing tab is metal rather than the more common plastic. The paint on the slide seems thick and chip resistant, and mine is showing no signs of wear. The plastic grip and frame are robust and nicely textured, replicating the complex anti-slip finish of the original.

I have read other reviews which suggest that the P-09 isn’t up to usual build quality of ASG products, and I don’t really understand this. I can’t fault the P-09 in terms of fit or finish and it shoots very nicely indeed. The removable grip base/backstrap can be a little fiddly to replace, but once it’s in place, it fits neatly and without any movement or give. For what it’s worth, in my opinion this is as good as anything else produced by ASG.

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Overall (and like most ASG replicas) this seems well made and well finished and I’m not aware of any major issues.

Overall Impression 13/15

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It’s difficult not to compare this to the other blowback pellet shooters currently available. It certainly feels as if it has better fit and finish than the Umarex PX-4, and is a better shooter than both that pistol and the similar Gamo PT-85. In terms of accuracy, it’s close to the Umarex Desert Eagle, though it has better CO2 consumption and (for me) much better ergonomics than that pistol. I also prefer the metal slide of the P-09 to the all plastic construction of the Desert Eagle and I feel that this helps to give more convincing blowback.

This is the first time I have come across a blowback replica which combines good accuracy, reasonable CO2 consumption and easy handling and consequently it’s a replica I really enjoy shooting.

Conclusion

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The ASG CZ P-09 Duty is rapidly becoming one of my favourite replicas. I like the understated, functional look of the original and this is a spot-on visual replica. I also like blowback pistols and I appreciate the power and accuracy that only comes from shooting pellets though a rifled barrel. However, the other blowback pellet shooters I have owned have disappointed for various reasons. This one doesn’t. It has good weight and heft, great ergonomics, it appears to be well made and finished and it’s available at a reasonable price. Most importantly, it’s a cracking shooter – powerful, accurate and with the convincing simulated recoil effect that only blowback can provide. Of course, it isn’t perfect – I’d have preferred an open ejection port and adjustable rear sights for example – but it’s pretty close.

Only time will tell whether it’s reliable in the long term, but if like me you have always fancied a powerful pellet shooter with blowback that’s also a decent shooter, this could finally be the one.

Many thanks to Action Sport Games for providing the CZ P-09 Duty for review.

Total score: 87.5/100

Update

OK, it has been over three months since I initially posted the review of the ASG CZ P-09 Duty (where did the time go?). And I thought I’d do an update. First impressions can be deceiving. When you get a pistol, it’s new and unfamiliar and it can be different to pick out its strengths and weaknesses accurately. But after a few weeks or months, you get to know it better and it’s easier to set it in context compared to other replicas. So, I thought I’d update this review with my thoughts on the CZ P-09 after three months.

Looking back at the review, I don’t think I said enough about the accuracy of the P-09 Duty. The three dot sights are clear and easy to use and I can place a pellet reliably at six yards, every time and on the point of aim. Of all the replicas I currently own, this is the most consistently accurate. It’s powerful too, punching holes through backstops that are adequate for other replicas.

The blowback is also very strong and very sharp. Strong enough to jar your wrist, and a pretty good facsimile of firearm recoil. In fact, it has the strongest recoil effect of any of my current blowback replicas. I don’t know how it does this though – it doesn’t seem to have a large or heavy slide and it seems to be fairly good in terms of CO2 usage. I also now recognise that it’s also very loud – firing it back-to-back with other replicas shows that this is the loudest by a fair margin. This combined with the recoil effect make it feel more like shooting a .22 rimfire pistol than a CO2 powered replica.

I have had no mechanical issues with the P-09 at all. Not even a single jam or misfire. It still pierces and loads CO2 eerily quietly. And the finish seems to be holding up well with no areas of wear or chipping. I’m still not entirely convinced by the single-action trigger though. I dismantled the magazine and lubricated it, which helped. But there is still a lot of travel before you get to the release point. It’s not terrible, but it’s not a true single action trigger either. The manual safety is still fiddly to operate, but then I hardly ever use it, so it’s not a huge issue.  I’m not as bothered by the lack of an open ejection port as I was, and I still like the understated look of the P-09.

So, have I changed my mind about the ASG CZ P-09 Duty after three months of use? Not really. If anything, I’m more aware of its positive points now than I was then. Overall, I still feel that this is a powerful, loud, accurate replica with very strong blowback and it seems to be well made and finished and reliable. Still recommended.

Related pages:

Umarex Beretta PX-4 Storm review

Umarex Desert Eagle review

Links:

ASG website  

CZ (USA) website  

Buy

You can purchase the ASG CZ P-09 Duty from Pyramid Air here.

Video review:

Luger replicas

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The Luger is probably one of the best known handguns ever made. Instantly recognisable even to people who know nothing about firearms, no wonder it has been the subject of a number of replicas over the years. Sadly, most of the available replicas up to now have had some drawbacks. But with the release of the KWC CO2 powered blowback Luger, it looks as if we may finally have a replica worthy of this incredibly iconic handgun. To celebrate the release of the KWC Luger, I thought I’d take a brief look back at some of the Luger replicas produced since World War Two and consider how they stack up as shooters and visual and functional replicas.

Real Steel background

First thing to mention is that what we’re looking at here isn’t officially called a Luger at all. It’s actually called the Pistole Parabellum 1908, or P.08. It’s known as the Luger because it was designed and patented by German engineer Georg Luger in 1898. I’ll refer to it as the Luger in this article for the sake of simplicity. Manufacture began in 1900 with German firearms company DWM (Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken). The Luger was later manufactured under license in a number of other locations in Germany, and even at one time by Vickers in the UK.

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German Navy P.08

The Luger was an early attempt to produce a self-loading pistol, a handgun which could be fired and reloaded more quickly than a revolver. Most later designs used some form of moving slide to extract the spent shell casing and load a new cartridge, but the Luger employed a unique toggle mechanism. Venting gases cause the barrel and toggle to move backward until hitting a cam, which hinges the toggle knee-joint, unlocking the breech and extracting the spent cartridge. A spring then forces the toggle closed, pushing the next round into place. It’s a neat technical solution which causes relatively little recoil, though it does have disadvantages. The toggle operates to very tight tolerances which made manufacturing costly and expensive and the mechanism is also prone to jamming if dirt, dust or debris are present. The Luger wasn’t a completely new design, being partly based on the existing Borchardt C/93 self-loading pistol, though it was a neater and much more compact design than the earlier pistol. The Luger was available in 4″, 6″ and 8″ (Artillery) form. The artillery version featured adjustable sights, a wooden holster which doubled as a stock and an optional 50 round, drum magazine.

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Well used Artillery version

The Luger used a seven round, drop-out magazine in the grip, which was more steeply angled than most pistols (145° between the barrel and grip, compared to 120° on the Colt 1911, for example). The base of the magazine on most early Lugers is made of wood, something no replica has yet attempted to recreate. Early versions were chambered for a new cartridge, the 7.65mm Parabellum (also called the .30 Luger in the US) and the Luger was adapted by Swiss armed forces in 1900. Concerns that the Luger lacked stopping power led to the design of another new cartridge, the 9 x 19mm, which became known as the 9mm Luger and has been used in a range of handguns since. The Luger was updated in 1904 to take the 9mm cartridge, and at this time a safety on the right side of the frame was added. The Luger was adopted initially by the German Navy and then by the German Army in 1908 (at which time it gained the P.08 designation). Thereafter, sales to German military forces accounted for the vast majority of Lugers produced.

Replicas

Below is a list of the Luger replicas I’m aware of, in approximate chronological order according to when they were released. I haven’t included any of the spring powered Luger replicas because they are, without exception, crap.

Schimel GP-22

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The Schimel GP-22 is a pretty good CO2 powered replica of the Luger, produced In California by brothers Orville and Clifford Schimel. Both were machinists and Orville was also a die maker. The brothers were fascinated by the Luger, and soon after the end of World War Two they set out to make an air pistol replica. Early work was done in Orville’s garage before a plant was set up in North Hollywood and manufacturing begin in 1946. The Schimel uses an 8g CO2 cartridge (commonly available in the 1940s as soda siphon bulbs) to shoot a single .22 pellet. Up to 580 fps was claimed when the pistol was first sold.

When it first appeared, the L.A. Police department tried unsuccessfully to have the Schimel banned, claiming it looked too much like the real firearm. However, despite its visual appeal, power and claims of extreme accuracy, the Schimel didn’t sell particularly well. There were a number of good reasons for this. The materials used in the Schimel weren’t always sensibly utilised – die cast, pot metal parts were used in stressed areas and were prone to cracking, a steel barrel was press-fitted into a die-cast outer shell, and electrolysis quickly welded the barrel in place. The O rings were made of gas-permeable material, and were prone to expand up to 50% in use, causing the pistol to leak catastrophically. The grips were made of an early form of plastic which shrank on exposure to UV light – some owners claim shrinkage of up to ½”, which makes the grips impossible to remove. The cocking and charging procedure is complicated and parts break if the pistol is roughly handled. Finally, the paint tended to quickly flake off the die-cast body. No surprise then that within ten years, manufacture of the Schimel ceased and the company went bust. Despite this, a good Schimel is still a powerful, accurate and loud replica. The problem is finding a good one. Schimels regularly turn up on gun auction sites, though they tend to be rather expensive and are now even more fragile than they were sixty years ago.

American Luger

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The manufacturing plant from the bankrupt Schimel company was bought up by Californian engineering works A.C. Swanson in 1956. Swanson developed the Schimel design and produced the American Luger from 1956 – 1958. This is generally similar to the Schimel, but it’s an eight shot repeater which shoots .22 lead balls. Sadly, the American Luger was just as fragile as the Schimel, and sales were never particularly strong. Production ended when Stoeger, the US firearms company which became the owner of the “Luger” trademark, threatened legal action. Relatively small numbers of American Lugers were produced, and these command even higher prices than Schimels when they do appear for sale.

Wham-O Kruger

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In the late 1950s yet another Californian company, this time toymaker Wham-O, produced the Kruger 98, a replica of the Luger which used a similar sounding name, presumably to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit from Stoeger. The Kruger 98 wasn’t really an air pistol at all – it used the explosive power of a standard “cap” to propel a .12 birdshot. As can be imagined, there isn’t actually much power in a cap intended for toy guns, and despite advertising claims for extreme accuracy, the .12 lead shot barely achieved enough power to leave the end of the barrel. A later version which fired standard .177 BBs was even less powerful, though Wham-O advertising gleefully claimed that the Kruger could also shoot “peas, beans and even tapioca!“. The Kruger was produced in large numbers and these regularly turn up for sale, but unless you have a particular desire to use tapioca as ammo, there really doesn’t seem much reason to own one.

Tanaka Luger

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Japanese manufacturer Tanaka Works were the first to produce a fully functional Luger replica. Their green gas powered, 6mm, blowback Luger features an operational toggle, full size drop-out magazine, working safety catch and is available in 4″, 6″ and 8″ versions. Tanaka also produced a wooden stock/holster, wood grips and a drum magazine for this replica. This is a very nice, well made replica which field strips accurately and is marred only by the fact that it’s entirely made of plastic (even the “heavyweight” version is rather light). Like many Tanaka pistols, it’s also not especially powerful (250 – 300 fps) or accurate and the firing pin is a little fragile – pushing the magazine in with the firing pin extended or even repeated dry firing can cause the pin to snap. This apart, the Tanaka Luger is a nice replica and well engineered, but like all Tanaka products it’s very expensive. However, for me, the main problem is that it’s plastic – I don’t feel that a plastic replica can ever provide convincing weight and heft.

WE Luger

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WE Luger, 6″

Taiwanese manufacturer WE were next to produce a 6mm , green-gas powered blowback Luger, and functionally this is almost identical to the Tanaka version. However, the WE Luger is all metal, and does feel much more convincing. The WE version is available in black or polished metal finish and in 4″, 6″ and 8″ form, and WE also offer a 50 round drum magazine. Overall, the WE Luger is a very nice replica, though it doesn’t have a great reputation for longevity. On many older WE Lugers, the trigger sear wears until pulling the trigger causes the pistol to fire on full auto until all the gas in the magazine is exhausted. Which is sort of exciting if you’re not expecting it. Accuracy and power are similar to the Tanaka Luger. Overall, the WE Luger is a pretty reasonable replica and like most WE pistols, it’s fairly low cost. Just don’t expect it to last forever.

Umarex “Legends” Luger

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In 2013 Umarex announced the addition of a P.08 Luger to the growing “Legends” collection. This is a .177 BB shooting, CO2 powered, non-blowback replica and appears to be identical to the KWC non-blowback Luger (KMB-41DHN) and the ASG P.08. It’s all metal and has good weight, but is only available in 4″ form and the lack of blowback is an issue – the trigger operates only in double action and the pull is long and heavy. The drop-out magazine is reduced size and although the pistol has good power (at around 400fps), the heavy trigger pull affects accuracy. A nice looking, well made, low cost metal replica with good weight and a fair shooter, but without the toggle mechanism that is the defining characteristic of the Luger. You can find a link to a review of the Umarex P.08 at the end of this article.

Gletcher P.08

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Gletcher is the trademark of the New York based Sport Manufacturing Group, Inc. The Gletcher P.08 is a CO2 powered, 4″, .177 BB shooting, blowback Luger replica. CO2 is stored inside the grip and the drop-out magazine is reduced size. The appearance of this replica is somewhat spoiled by prominent white “Gletcher” markings and trademarks, though otherwise it’s a good visual replica of the Luger. Despite having blowback, early reports suggest that it has a very heavy trigger action and an appetite for CO2 (some owners report no more than 35-40 shots per CO2). Accuracy and power are also reported as no more than average. This is getting closer, but the lack of a full sized magazine and the reportedly heavy trigger mean that this still isn’t the perfect Luger replica. It’s also expensive in comparison to other Luger replicas.

KWC Luger

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At last! A CO2 powered, blowback Luger with a full sized drop-out magazine. Taiwanese manufacturer KWC have recently released a full metal, blowback Luger and even better, they have somehow managed to shoehorn a CO2 cartridge into the slim magazine. KWC make some pretty good replicas (they are the OEM manufacturer for, amongst others, the Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness and some Umarex replicas) so I’m very hopeful about this one. It’s available only as a 4″ version but in both 4.5mm (KMB-41DHN) and 6mm (KCB-41DHN) form and KWC claim “incredible accuracy“. Don’t know about that, but if it’s as good as some of the KWC 1911s, this could finally be a decent Luger replica.

Related pages

Umarex Legends P08 review

Best replica Part 2

Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm

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Launched in 2008, the Beretta PX4 Storm was the second Umarex blowback pellet shooter (following the Desert Eagle).  In addition to .177 pellets, the PX4 also shoots steel 4.5mm BBs.  It’s a popular pistol with action shooters and plinkers alike and it’s easy to see why – it’s reasonably priced, compact and pointable with strong blowback and decent power.  I have owned two Umarex PX4s, and though both had many good features, I had shooting issues which meant that these were never amongst my most used pistols.

Real steel background

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Beretta PX4 Storm

For more information on Beretta and the PX4, please see the WE Bulldog review (link at the bottom of this article).

The Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm

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The Umarex PX4 Storm is a licensed, blowback replica featuring accurate Beretta markings.  The slide, hammer and trigger are metal and the frame and grip are plastic composite.  CO2 is stored in the rear part of the grip and up to 16 pellets or steel BBs are retained in a unique double-ended drop-out magazine.  The pellet/BB loading areas of the magazine are magnetised to retain BBs.  There is no slide lock or release and the slide does not lock back on empty.

A short Weaver style accessory rail is provided below the barrel and a combined safety catch/decocker is located on the right of the frame.  The slide mounted safety and frame mounted slide release catch are moulded in place and have no function.  The PX4 is only available in all-black finish and is manufactured in Japan on behalf of Umarex (unlike the Desert eagle which is manufactured in Germany).

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Umarex PX4 Storm Recon

Although it’s no longer listed as a current product, Umarex also offered this pistol as the PX4 Recon.  In this configuration the pistol featured an olive coloured frame and grip, suppressor (non-functioning), tactical bridge mount (to provide an additional over-barrel mount), red-dot sight and tactical light.  In terms of shooting and function the PX4 Storm Recon is identical to the original.

Spec;

Calibre: 4.5mm/.177″

Magazine capacity: Sixteen .177″ pellets or 4.5mm steel BBs

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 4″, rifled

Weight: 1.7 pounds

Overall length: 7½”

Sights: Fixed front and rear with white dots

Action: SA/DA

Packaging and presentation  2.5/5

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Both my PX4s came in typical Umarex sturdy cardboard boxes and included a single magazine and a brief user manual.  However, I have also seen the PX4 sold in a rather less attractive plastic bubble pack.

Visual accuracy  6/10

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Beretta PX4 Storm (left) and Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm (right)

The overall profile of the Umarex PX4 is very close to the original.  Only the angled and slightly extended grip base and pronounced step at the front bottom of the grip look notably different.  Otherwise from the left side, it’s a close visual match, replicating the shape and design of the original frame, slide and grip very well and including identical markings.  The only minor visual differences  are the lack of takedown catches (though the oblong recess is included), different positioning of some pins on the frame and a slide notch cast well to the rear of the original location.

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Beretta PX4 Storm (left) and Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm (right)

From the right, things aren’t quite so good.  The addition of the odd, frame mounted safety catch/decocker is very evident, as is the lack of an ejector pin and cutaway on the slide.  The barrel visible though the slide cut-out is a plain cylinder rather than the distinctive stepped, two-piece original. The moulded-in slide mounted safety catch looks out of place on the right – on the left the recessed area of the slide which allows the catch to move on the original is included.  For some reason this is omitted on the right, making the catch look a little odd on this side.  Markings on the right and the distinctive grip contours and markings are well replicated.  There is safety text on the slide, but thankfully this is fairly discreetly engraved rather than the white text seen on some Umarex replicas.  It’s probably unsurprising that the majority of publicity pictures of the PX4 show it from the left side.

Something that isn’t particularly noticeable in pictures is the difference in finish between the slide and frame.  On both my PX4s, the slide was noticeably more matt finish and a different colour to the frame – more of a very dark grey compared to the black frame.  I can’t say I liked this aspect of the finish, though perhaps I was unlucky and not all Umarex PX4s are the same in this respect?  Also, some photos of the real PX4 seem to show a similar mis-match between frame and slide finish, so perhaps this is an accurate replication of the original.

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It’s difficult to show in photos, but at the rear of the slide in the picture above you can just about see the difference in colour between frame and slide.

The sights are a good match to the real pistol, though with painted white dots rather than the luminous “Superluminova” dots on the original.  The PX4 feels solid and hefty and with CO2 in place it weighs almost precisely the same as the original, always a nice touch in a replica.  However, this weight is carried high and forward and it doesn’t feel well balanced.

Functional accuracy  11/15

This is a blowback replica and the slide moves during firing.  However, it moves noticeably less than on the original (around 1″) and the slide can’t be locked back and doesn’t lock on empty.  The slide release catch is moulded in place and has no function.  The magazine release catch works as per the original, though the drop-out magazine is quite small and made of plastic.  The ambidextrous slide mounted safety catches are moulded in place and have no function and a combined safety/decocker is provided on the right of the frame.  Moving this from “F” to “S” safely drops the cocked hammer.  The single action trigger pull is long and heavy compared to the original as it also rotates the magazine.

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Takedown catches are not included and the Umarex PX4 cannot be easily stripped for lubrication or cleaning.  There is no way of removing the slide without some fairly major disassembly.  If you are confident in your technical ability, there is an excellent pictorial guide to disassembling the PX4 on the Magic Nine Design website: http://www.magic9designltd.com/umarex-px-4-strip-down.

Shooting  28/40

Preparing the PX4 for shooting is fairly straightforward.  CO2 is loaded by removing the lower rear of the grip and twisting the base of the grip clockwise.  The CO2 is inserted and the thumbscrew tightened.  Then the grip base is twisted anticlockwise to pierce.  CO2 loads without leaks or drama.

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Pellets are loaded into the two rotary holders at either end of the magazine.  This is slightly fiddly to do if you have large man fingers, and is certainly slower than loading the eight shot rotary holders found in many other Umarex pellet shooters.  I also found it remarkably easy to load pellets facing the wrong way.  Probably because I’m stupid.  Or old.  Or some combination of the two.  Whatever the reason, more than once I found that I had painstakingly loaded some or all of the sixteen pellets facing the wrong way.  I then had to poke them out with a matchstick and start again.

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The magazine has to be pushed deeply into the grip to lock.  Once it’s in there, you’re ready to go.  The first shot can be fired in double action and there is no need to rack the slide.  In double action, the trigger pull is predictably long, heavy and not very precise.  Blowback ensures that subsequent shots are fired in single action.  However, even in single action the trigger pull isn’t especially pleasant.  Just as in the Desert Eagle, the moving slide only cocks the hammer.  Cueing up the next pellet is done during the first part of the trigger pull.  In the first stage of the SA trigger pull, this can be clearly felt as resistance and a graunchy feel before moving to the much lighter second stage.  It requires a fairly heavy pull in the first stage, and this one of the few replicas I have fired inadvertently when the pressure used to overcome the heavy first stage in single action led me to move through the second stage and fire before I was ready.  The second stage release point is also a little vague.  The slide doesn’t lock back on empty, so you do need to count your shots.

It fires with a satisfying bang and the blow back is crisp and very strong.  Grouping is reasonable – I generally saw 1¼” – 1½” groups at six yards freestanding.  However, both my PX4s fired high and to the left.  On my first example this was most marked – at six yards the point of impact was typically around three inches above and to the left of the point of aim.  I was later offered another used PX4 and I bought this mainly to see if it shot any better.  This one hit around two inches high and left at six yards – better, but still not great.  The non-adjustable sights mean that there isn’t a great deal you can do about this.  I tried several different pellet types and weights, but nothing made a significant difference.  I have read other accounts from PX4 owners reporting similar issues, so I do wonder if this is a general fault of the PX4?

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Six shots, six yards freestanding with my first PX4.  Aim point was the centre of the black inner circle.  Outer circle diameter is 6″.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to resolve this problem and I did notice an odd feature.  Shooting at six yards, rested, the first eight shots were often in a fairly tight group somewhere above and to the left of the point of aim.  Turning the magazine round often resulted in an equally tight group but either closer to or further from the point of aim, though this wasn’t consistent (i.e. using one end of the magazine didn’t necessarily always result in hitting closer to the point of aim).  I really can’t explain how turning the magazine round could affect accuracy, but it certainly appeared to.  The magazine is also retained by a fairly strong spring – it twangs briskly out of the grip when you press the release.  It’s very easy to have it bouncing across the floor unless you keep a hand under the grip.

I fitted my second PX4 with a small laser sight.  With this, tight groupings right on the point of aim were possible.  Personally, I prefer shooting over open sights, but if you’re happy to use a laser sight, it is possible to overcome the tendency to shoot high and left.  Or you could go for the Storm Recon with its bridge mount and red-dot sight.   I haven’t shot the recon version and it didn’t appeal.  Umarex haven’t used the suppressor to hide a longer barrel (as done on the similar Gamo PT-85 Tactical, for example).  So what you get is something as unwieldy as the Desert Eagle, but with no more power or accuracy than the basic PX4.  Though you can adjust the red-dot of course, so it should be capable of hitting the point of aim.

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My second PX4, with laser sight

The PX4 seems very sensitive to pellet choice.  During my attempts to cure the tendency to shoot high, I tried a range of pellets.  Air Arms Ultimate CO2 Pistol Pellets and Dynamix Triple P1 pellets were consistently problem free, but RWS Superdomes jammed so often that using them was pointless.  If you’re having jamming problems, try different pellets.  Because of the risk of eroding the rifled barrel, I didn’t try either of my PX4s with steel BBs.

Umarex claim 380fps for the PX4.  Which sounds about right – my second version shot around 330-340 fps in fairly chilly conditions (I wasn’t able to chrono the first version).  Perfectly reasonable for target shooting, but not close to the power of the Umarex Desert Eagle.  However, for a blowback pistol the PX4 is very frugal with CO2 – I was regularly able to get more than 60 full power shots.

Overall a powerful shooter capable of producing tight groups, but on both my examples this was marred by the lack of adjustable sights and the tendency to shoot high and left.

Quality and reliability  11/15

Overall, this feels like a reasonably well made and finished replica.  The paint on the slide seems thick and resistant to scuffing (even if it isn’t a particularly good match for the finish on the frame and grip).  The plastic used for the frame and grip seems robust and well finished.

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However, the slide on both my PX4s didn’t seem to be well fitted and both rattled annoyingly.  I also didn’t like the long and crunchy trigger pull, the lack of adjustability in the sights or the twangy plastic magazine.  Overall, this just didn’t feel quite as well made as (for example) the similar blowback Umarex Walther CP99 Compact.  Is this because the PX4 is made in Japan, compared to German manufacture for the Compact?  I don’t know, and although it’s better made and finished than many replicas, I didn’t feel that the PX4 matched the quality of the best Umarex replicas.

Other than a tendency to jam when using some types of pellet, I’m not aware of any particular operational or reliability problems with the PX4.

Overall Impression  10/15

For almost every positive with this replica, there seems to be an equivalent negative.  It’s compact and has good weight, but it feels unbalanced.  The finish is good, but the slide and frame don’t look as if they belong together.  It has good power and accuracy, but neither of the examples I owned were capable of hitting the point of aim over open sights.  It’s blowback, so you can do most of your shooting in single action, but the SA trigger pull is long, crunchy and unpleasant.  You get sixteen shots without reloading, but reloading is fiddly.  It looks reasonably like the original, but has a cheap and nasty safety catch/decocker which seems to have been lifted straight from the Walther CP99 Compact.

This feels as if it could have been something very special indeed, but just misses out in several important areas.

Conclusion

On paper, the Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm sounds great – a handily sized blowback pellet shooter with good power and reasonable accuracy.  For me at least, the reality just didn’t live up to the promise.  Most important was the inability to hit even close to the point of aim, but as noted above, there were several other niggling things I didn’t care for.  As a result, both my PX4s spent more time gathering dust at the back of the gun cabinet than being used.

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Of course, it’s possible that the shooting faults in my examples weren’t typical and certainly a PX4 that shot straight would be much better.  Overall it’s a fun and inexpensive action shooter, but you might want to try a shooting test before buying.

Total score: 68.5/100

Related Pages:

Umarex Beretta PX4 Redux

What can I say? I bought yet another PX4, just to see if I could make it shoot better…

WE Bulldog (Beretta PX4) Review

Anics Beretta 9000S review

Umarex Desert Eagle Review

Umarex Walther CP99 Compact review

How to hit what you’re aiming at

Links

Umarex web site