Here we have the third forthcoming Umarex 4.5mm/.177” replica of a historic firearm. This time, it is the M3A1 submachine gun which joins the existing Legends submachine gun range of the M1A1 Thompson and the German MP40.
The M3 was one of the longest-serving US machine guns, being first introduced in 1942 and remaining in service in some places until the mid-1990s. It is a relatively simple stamped and welded metal design that was much cheaper and faster to produce than the M1A1. In US service it quickly gained the nickname “grease gun” because of its visual similarity to the stamped metal grease guns then widely used in auto shops.
The Umarex version is mostly metal and features both full auto and semi modes (unlike the original which was full auto only), a collapsible wire stock and iron peep sights. It weighs in at a meaty 7.65lbs and features a detachable magazine that holds two 12g CO2 cartridges and up to 30 steel, 4.5mm BBs.
It is claimed to fire at an astounding 1,000 rpm (the original could barely manage 400rpm) which means you’ll be able to shoot a whole magazine worth of BBs in under 2 seconds! Claimed power is over 400fps. This replica looks like another great addition to the growing Legends range. I don’t have release information on this one, but it certainly seems possible that it will also be available from early 2022.
I have no information on precisely what it will cost outside the US. Until I know more, here’s a link to the M3A1 on the Umarex USA website where it’s listed at $219.99:
Another rather nice-looking new CO2 replica from Umarex. This time, it’s a replica of the Smith and Wesson Model 29 from 1957, made famous by a certain “Dirty” Harry Callahan as “the most powerful handgun in the world.”
This replica is available in three barrel lengths: 83/8”, 6½” and 3”. At least, I think it is: The Umarex USA site claims 83/8”, 5” and 3.” Whatever, this looks rather nice. It appears to be a good visual replica of the Model 29 and it has a fully revolving, swing-out cylinder so functionality looks good too.
This version shoots 4.5mm BBs only, but I would guess that perhaps we’ll see a pellet shooting version soon. Finish look very good indeed on both polished alloy and black, and the black version in particular looks like a convincing representation of blued steel.
These are weighty, all-metal replicas – the longest version weighs a wrist-trembling 2.63lbs (1193g). The only thing I’m not so sure about are those hollow plastic grips. Will these look like wood? Will they make this revolver feel unbalanced? We’ll have to wait to find out.
For a time it seemed that the only new replicas coming out of Umarex were additional Glocks, so it’s great to see some new replicas of historic handguns. I’m certainly looking forward to this one!
I have no information about when this will be available outside the US or what it will cost. Here’s a link to the Model 29 replica on the Umarex.com website
Nice replica, shame about the trigger… The ASG STI Duty One is a fairly typical product from Danish distributor ASG – it’s well made, well finished and a good replica of the original pistol. However, it does have a couple of idiosyncrasies which you need to bear in mind if you’re thinking of buying one.
ASG produce two replicas based on the STI Duty One – one has blowback and one doesn’t. Apart from blowback, the two appear to be identical (though the non-blowback version is a little cheaper to buy). The ASG STI Duty One is also available in both 6mm and 4.5mm form. I have owned three examples of this replica and all were 4.5mm, blowback versions, so that’s what I’ll mainly be talking about here though I believe that the other versions are similar in function.
Real steel background
In the early 1990s, Texan gunsmith Virgil Tripp started building custom 1911 pistols for the growing IPSC market. His attention to detail and the quality of his products quickly brought commercial success and in 1993 a young engineer and Computer Aided Design (CAD) specialist called Sandy Strayer joined Tripp Research Inc. With Tripp’s pistol knowledge and Stayer’s engineering skills, the two revolutionised the 1911 market when they introduced their 2011 range in 1994. This provided a modular frame using fiber-reinforced plastic for the trigger guard, grip, and magazine well which was attached to the metal upper portion of the frame. The STI 2011 frame was strong and reliable but less than half the weight of a conventional all-metal 1911 frame.
One of the STI International 2011 range
The company changed its name to Strayer-Tripp, Inc. (STI) in 1994 and focused on two distinct lines of pistol – the 1911 range which provided pistols with a conventional frame based on the 1911 design and the 2011 range which used the new modular frame. In 1997 the company was bought over by the owners of electronics company Tessco, Inc., and was re-named STI International. The STI 1911 and 2011 ranges continued to be popular and by 2007 STI International was the third largest exporter of guns in the USA.
The STI International Duty One
The Duty One is one of the most popular pistols in the STI International 1911 range. However, unlike many STI pistols, this isn’t primarily intended as a target shooter. It’s a practical carry gun with fixed sights which is available with 3″, 4″ and 5″ barrels and chambered either for the .45 ACP round or the 9x19mm. The Duty One features a patented STI International lightweight trigger and a commander style hammer and is supplied with a distinctive matte blued finish. An ambidextrous thumb safety is provided in addition to the grip safety. The Duty One is available in standard and “lite” form, which incorporates a lightweight aluminium frame. The Duty One was redesigned in 2014 and current versions feature distinctive “grid” pattern slide grip serrations and a revised grip.
The ASG STI Duty One
The ASG STI Duty One is a CO2-powered licensed replica of mostly metal construction with a stick type drop-out magazine and a short under-barrel accessory rail. CO2 is retained inside the grip and accessed by removing the backstrap and grip base. This replica is manufactured in Taiwan on behalf of ASG and is available in 4.5mm and 6mm. ASG produce two versions of the STI Duty One – one with blowback and one without. The figures below and the information in this article is based on my experience with the blowback version. The non-blowback version looks very similar, but I haven’t tried it. I believe that the 4.5mm version is available in matte black finish only though there is a two-tone version of the non-blowback and the 6mm blowback versions with a polished slide. All versions include full STI markings.
Two-tone 6mm version
The slide moves through less than the full range of travel during blowback and locks back when the last round is fired. The thumb safety, magazine and slide release work as per the original but the grip safety is moulded in place and has no function. The ASG STI Duty One cannot be field stripped. ASG also produce CO2 powered replicas of several other STI handguns including the Lawman, Tac Master, Combat Master and the tiny Off Duty.
Packaging and presentation 2.5/5
The ASG STI Duty One is provided in a card box with a single magazine and a short user manual.
Visual accuracy 8/10
STI Duty One (left), ASG STI Duty One (right)
The ASG STI Duty One is generally a good visual replica of the pre-2014 STI Duty One. Grips, markings, finish and overall shape and profile are very good indeed and all controls are a good visual match for the original. The main visual difference is the trigger – the ASG replica uses a pivoting style trigger rather than the sliding 1911 style trigger seen on the original.
Functional accuracy 11/15
The version tested is a blowback replica with a drop-out, stick-type magazine. The trigger operates in single action only and the slide locks back after the last round is fired. The slide catch, magazine release and thumb safety work as per the original weapon. The slide moves through restricted travel compared to the cartridge version. The grip safety is moulded in place and has no function.
The slide release catch on the cartridge version can be extracted to the left side to allow the slide to be removed. On this version the slide release cannot be extracted and the slide cannot be easily removed.
The CO2 chamber is accessed by pressing a button in the base of the grip, which allows the plastic panel which forms the base and rear of the grip to be removed. CO2 can then be inserted and tightened and pierced using the plastic tab at the base of the grip. The tightening tab is a little small and quite fiddly for use with large man-fingers, but with a bit of practise this can be done without too much drama. It can sometimes be difficult to remove the used CO2 cartridge. Even with the cover plate removed and the tab loosened as much as possible, it can take a fair bit of shaking to get the used CO2 to drop out. Re-fitting the cover panel can also be a little fiddly, though it’s nice to see that this completely conceals the loading tab once it’s in place.
Loading the stick type magazine reveals the first of this replicas’ idiosyncrasies. The follower locks down, which makes it easy to load BBs in to the port at the top of the magazine. However, if you then release the follower, the BBs will spray back out of top of the magazine. To prevent this, you must cover the holes at the front and rear of the top of the magazine with your fingers as you release the follower.
When you have CO2 and BBs loaded, the ASG STI Duty One feels good. The chunky, deeply serrated rubberised grips and angular frame allow a firm and consistent grip. STI International obviously knows a great deal about how to make a handgun that handles well, and the ASG version replicates this nicely. This feeling is reinforced when you pull the trigger – a loud bang and strong blowback make this feel like a powerful and purposeful shooter.
However, pulling the trigger also reveals the second odd issue with this pistol. Like many blowback replicas, the blowback action cocks the hammer, but it doesn’t queue the next BB for shooting. This is done during the long first part of the trigger pull and the movement of the BB can clearly be felt. The problem here is that if you pull the trigger fairly slowly towards the release point, the BB can roll out of the front of the barrel if the pistol is pointed level or slightly down. The solution is to pull the trigger firmly and fairly quickly (the manual actually warns that the trigger should be pulled “in one swift motion“), but this doesn’t help with accuracy. This issue does seem to be variable – on one of my Duty Ones, BBs regularly fell out of the end of the barrel before I was ready to shoot, but the other two seemed less prone to this. And if for any reason you pull the trigger halfway back and then release it without firing, when you next pull the trigger you will load a second BB into the breech and you’ll then fire both at once. The trigger action on this pistol is a problem and it’s notably worse than, for example, the ASG CZ75 (though it’s identical to the trigger on the ASG CZ P-07 Duty, which has the same fault). You really must develop a style where you pull the trigger quickly and confidently every time if you are to avoid issues. Being tentative will lead to double loading or losing the BB before you shoot.
The loud bang and strong blowback make the Duty One feel powerful, but the numbers don’t really back this up. I have owned three 4.5mm examples of the ASG STI Duty One and all chronoed at around 325 – 350 fps dependent on temperature. Perfectly respectable figures, but well short of the 436fps claimed by ASG. Accuracy was also average without being great. Even though they lack white dots, the sights are clear and easy to read but grouping with two of my Duty Ones was around 1½” – 2″ at six yards – fair but not great. The third example was notably worse, grouping at 2″ – 3″ at six yards. These aren’t terrible figures, so perhaps it’s just because the ASG Duty One feels like it’s so powerful that they seem a little disappointing?
CO2 consumption is fair for a blowback replica with three magazines (60 shots) of full-power shots available from a single CO2. If you continue to a fourth magazine, you’ll gradually run out of puff until the CO2 is completely exhausted somewhere around the 70th shot.
Other than the issues noted, the ASG STI Duty One appears to be reliable. The slide locks back every time and I had no mechanical problems or failures with any of the examples I owned. Because the slide and magazine releases and the thumb safety are on the left side only, this isn’t a particularly great pistol if you’re left-handed.
Quality and reliability 13/15
The overall fit and finish of the ASG STI Duty One are very good indeed. Everything fits well without rattles or movement and seams are well concealed. The rubberised grips are a particularly nice touch and the matte black finish seems more durable than the finish on many replicas (which sadly isn’t difficult). I have heard of owners who have had the front sight come loose on this model, though I didn’t experience this on any of mine.
The operational issues noted in the Shooting section seem to be design flaws rather than manufacturing defects, and this does seem to be generally a high-quality replica which is available at a very reasonable price.
Overall Impression 11/15
This is a great looking, well made and well finished replica but for me, trigger action is at the heart of how much I enjoy shooting a pistol. On the ASG Duty One, the trigger action is flawed, which I found very frustrating. This replica looks good and feels great, but for me at least, the shooting experience just doesn’t deliver what is promised. I ended up buying three different Duty Ones, in the hope that I’d find one which shot as well as it looked and handled. I failed, and I’m not sure that I’d buy another.
I’m a big fan of the 1911 platform and I generally like updated 1911s. There is a lot to like here and in most ways this is a great replica of a modernised 1911. It’s certainly a good looking and well-made pistol and it’s relatively inexpensive. However, I found its shooting ability to be fairly poor and the trigger action rather disappointing. And after all, the ability to shoot is the reason we buy this type of replica rather than a non-shooting wall ornament.
If you can find one that shoots well, or if you’re willing and able to modify your shooting technique to overcome its inherent issues, you may enjoy the ASG STI Duty One. If not, there are probably better ASG products and better modernised 1911 replicas to add to your collection.