ASG STI Duty One

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.

Shooting  30/40

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.

Conclusion

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.

Pros

Nice looking and handling replica

Feels solid and well made

Finish seems to be more durable than average

Strong blowback

Cons

Trigger action

Accuracy and power aren’t all that great

Non-working grip safety

Not lefty friendly

Total score: 75.5/100

Related posts

ASG CZ75 review

ASG CZ P-09 Duty review

Classic Handguns; The Colt Single Action Army Revolver

The Colt Single Action Army is indelibly associated with the romance and adventure of the Wild West.  Sitting through countless cowboy themed television shows and Saturday afternoon matinees in the 1950s and 60s meant that every small boy (and even some discerning small girls) became familiar with the SAA, even if most of us didn’t know what it actually was.  Whether we called it a “Peacemaker”, “Colt 45” or just a “six-shooter”, for a whole generation, the SAA was simply the “cowboy gun”.  It somehow looked right and the evocative and distinctive click, clack, click, clack of the hammer being cocked became a kind of aural shorthand for manliness, excitement and danger.  Sadly, the idea that every cowboy carried a Colt SAA is not historically accurate – S&W top-break revolvers for example, were more numerous on the frontiers of America in the late 1800s.  However, in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, when many cowboy movies and television programmes were being made, Colt SAAs were more readily and cheaply available than most other guns of the frontier period and so were most often used as props. For this reason the Colt SAA will always be the pistol most people associate with the Wild West.

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The cast of the Maverick television show demonstrate their Colt SAAs, circa 1957

However, in addition to fuelling adolescent cowboy fantasies, the Colt SAA was also an important handgun.  It may not have been the first revolver or even the first handgun to use a self-contained cartridge but it combined these things in a simple, rugged and enduring design which provided reliable firepower to very large numbers of people.  Few would argue that this handgun, which has remained in production almost continuously for over 140 years, is worthy of the title “classic“.

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Who was that masked stranger?  It was Clayton Moore actually, wearing unfeasibly tight trousers and dual-wielding a pair of 7½” Colt SAAs in the 1955 Lone Ranger television show.

Development

Up to the late 1700s and early 1800s, most handguns were single-shot, muzzle loading designs which used sparks from a piece of flint to ignite black powder.  There were multi-barrel pistols, but on most, pulling the trigger fired all the barrels simultaneously.  Reloading was slow and cumbersome and even a light shower of rain could render a pistol incapable of firing.  However, in 1807 a patent was accepted for the percussion cap.  This was a small copper cap filled with percussion sensitive material such as mercury fulminate or potassium chlorate.  If the percussion cap was struck by the hammer of a pistol, it produced a small explosion which was then used to fire the main charge.  Percussion caps were reliable and less prone to failure due to damp than the flint/black powder system.  A number of muzzle loading pistols were produced which used percussion caps, but most were still single-shot designs.

In 1830, a young American, Samuel Colt, was sent to spend some time as begin a seafarer.  The 16-year-old lad was interested in firearms and pyrotechnics (one of his most prized possessions was his Grandfather’s flintlock pistol).  His ability to produce spectacular explosions and fireworks had made him very popular with his friends at school, until one of his experiments led to a fire which resulted in his expulsion.  Looking for a suitable career for his son (and presumably one which would keep him as far as possible for explosives), Samuel’s father decided that seafaring might provide a safe outlet for his son’s interests and enthusiasm.  Samuel joined the small brig Corvo, sailing between the US and Calcutta.  Legend has it that Colt spent time during the voyage examining the ratchet and pawl mechanism used to control the ship’s steering gear and pondering whether a similar mechanism could be used to index multiple barrels in a handgun?  He later claimed that he whittled a prototype pistol with revolving barrels from wood while on the ship to confirm that this was possible.

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Colt Paterson revolver

Colt returned to the US in 1832 and began refining his design.  In 1836 he registered a patent for a “revolving gun”.  This incorporated a revolving cylinder (rather than the rotating barrels of his first prototype) and used percussion caps to ignite the powder charge in each chamber of the cylinder.  In 1836 Colt formed the Patent Arms Manufacturing company in Paterson, New Jersey and began manufacture and sale of the five-shot Colt Paterson pistol, which is claimed to be the first practical revolver.  Initially the Colt Paterson was offered in .28″ calibre though it was later upgraded to .36″.  Sadly, it didn’t prove very popular in any calibre.  Each pistol was hand-made, which meant it was expensive compared to other contemporary handguns and it proved to be fragile and unreliable in use.  Colt was forced to sell the company and abandon manufacture of this revolver in 1842.

However, some people saw the possibilities inherent in the concept of a revolver.  Captain Samuel Walker of the Texas Rangers was one of these.  He contacted Colt to discuss ways of improving the Colt Paterson design (one of his suggestions was that a larger projectile would make the pistol capable of killing not just people, but horses too, an important consideration for the Rangers who often found themselves fighting mounted opponents).  In 1846, the Walker Colt appeared.  This massive (it weighed four and a half pounds) six-shot pistol was a clear improvement on the first revolver.  The design of the internal mechanism was simplified to make it more reliable and the new pistol was chambered for a .454″ (11.5mm) bullet. This was still a percussion cap design where black powder, a percussion cap and a bullet had to be separately loaded into each cylinder. When it appeared, the Walker Colt was the most powerful handgun available, and it would remain so until the introduction of the .357 round in the 1930s.  The Walker Colt also used a number of machine-made parts (an innovation in 1846) which meant that parts were more uniform and could safely be interchanged between pistols.  The Walker Colt proved to be much more reliable and its use by the Texas Rangers provided positive publicity.  Commercial success followed and Colt was able to build his own firearms manufacturing plant.

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Clint Eastwood as The Outlaw Josey Wales with a pair of Walker Colt revolvers

Colt continued to evolve and refine his designs, supervising the production of a number of percussion cap revolvers up to his death in 1862.  However, another important innovation appeared in the early 1860s: the centre-fire cartridge.  This was a self-contained cartridge where a charge of gunpowder and a bullet were mounted in a brass casing which also incorporated a percussion cap in its base.  The centre-fire cartridge allowed much faster reloading and was virtually impervious to rain and damp.  Unfortunately for the Colt company, Smith & Wesson held the patent for the bored-through revolver cylinders required to use this new cartridge, and Colt wasn’t willing to pay royalties to a competitor.  However, the S&W patent expired in 1869 and the Colt company immediately began work on the design of a new revolver using the .45″ centre-fire cartridge which could be offered to the US Army.

Like all previous Colt revolvers, the new design was single action only but it allowed the loading of up to six centre-fire cartridges via a loading gate on the right side of the frame.  It also incorporated an ejector under the 7½” barrel to remove spent cartridge casings (early cartridge cases were prone to distort on firing, often jamming them in the chamber).  For the first time on a Colt revolver, the SAA included a top-strap on the frame to provide additional strength to deal with the power of the .45″ round (the new pistol was originally to be called the “Colt Strap Pistol“).  Colt entered the new design into the US Army trials in 1873 and it was adopted as the M1873 and used as the main US military sidearm until its replacement in 1891 by a Colt double-action revolver.

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7½” Colt SAA from 1875

The Colt Single Action Army revolver also proved massively popular as a civilian weapon.  It was rugged, reliable, easy to repair if it did fail and its machine-made internal parts could be interchanged between weapons.  Best of all, Colt’s hi-tech manufacturing process meant that it was also cheap: the SAA cost just $17 when it was launched on the civilian market.  This compared very favourably to the $40 – $50 asked for the Colt Paterson pistol in 1836, though the US Army paid just $13.50 for each of their first batch of SAAs.

Other versions followed including the Flat-top Target with a decent notch rear sight and the Bisley Target Model with a longer grip, wider hammer and trigger and a rear sight which was adjustable for windage.  However, although these later developments were in many ways more practical, especially as target shooters, none could match the rugged simplicity of the original SAA.

Use

Between 1873 and 1941 (when production of what became known as the “first generation” SAA finally ended) more than 350,000 Colt SAAs were produced in more than thirty different calibres, though .45″ was the most popular.  In addition to the 7½” “Cavalry” version, two other barrel lengths were commonly offered: The 4¾” “Civilian” and the 5½” “Artillery”, though numbers of SAAs with different barrel lengths were also produced including a compact version (known as the Banker, or Storekeeper) with a 4″ barrel and without the under-barrel ejector rod.  A number of finishes were offered including blued and colour case hardened though limited numbers with nickel, gold or silver plating or other unusual finishes were also produced.  Standard grips were either black hard rubber or walnut though other exotic woods, ivory, mother of pearl and staghorn were also used for grips on special models.  The huge interest in the Wild West promoted by movies and television led to Colt re-introducing the SAA in 1956 (the “second generation”).  In 1975 the third generation SAA was introduced, and this version remains in production to the present day.

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All versions of the SAA are single action only and all have a delightfully light (around 3lbs) pull and a crisp and consistent release.  When you compare the profile of the SAA to any modern handgun, it looks kind of odd.  The grip has an elegant if rather unusual curve.  Sit it beside almost any modern semi-auto pistol and it just doesn’t look as if it will fit your hand.  And yet it does.  Perfectly.  The SAA will comfortably fit most hand sizes and it’s a natural pointer with great balance.  Hold an SAA, look at the target and you’ll find that the pistol just naturally follows.  Which is lucky, because the sights (especially on first generation models) are rudimentary.  The tall foresight is lined up with a V shaped groove in the top of the frame.  Windage adjustment is done by bending the foresight in the required direction.  Elevation adjustment is done by either filing down the foresight, or squeezing it in a vice to make it taller.  Not that the lack of accurate sights was a major issue – this isn’t a target pistol, it’s a hard-working, blue-collar gun designed to hurl a large bullet in the approximate direction in which it’s pointed.  The SAA is also lefty-friendly.  Because there is no manual safety or cylinder release on the left side of the pistol, it can be used comfortably in either hand.  And the loading gate on the right is especially easy to use for lefties.

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But though it may not have provided pinpoint accuracy, if you did hit something with a Colt SAA you were going to do some serious damage.  Those soft, .45″ bullets travelling at over 900fps caused horrific injuries.  Remember all those movies and television shows where the good guy would get shot in the left arm?  And he would either ignore this or perhaps pause briefly while he or his adoring girlfriend tied a handkerchief round the wound before he continued to battle the bad guys?  Well, I’m afraid you can forget about that.  Getting hit in the arm with a round from a Colt SAA might tear the arm off altogether or at least shatter the bone so comprehensively that you’d be left permanently disabled.  If you got hit in the body or chest, you’d be left with a baseball-sized exit wound and very little time to explain that you’d come for the man who shot your Pa.  This gun had stopping power long before that term was invented.

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Of course the SAA wasn’t perfect.  The sights were basically useless and accuracy (especially with early cartridges) was poor.  Adequate if you were trying to shoot the hombre with aces up his sleeve on the other side of a poker table, less so if you were trying to hit a man-sized target at anything over 20 feet.  One story, apparently true, describes two cowboys, both armed with Colt SAA’s who got into a heated argument while standing on opposite sides of a double bed. Both emptied their revolvers at each other from a range of a few feet. When the smoke cleared, it became clear that both had missed with all their shots so they went for a drink instead.

Distorted cartridge cases were difficult to remove, even using the ejector rod; you might wonder about that given that cowboys in movies and television shows from the 50s and 60s never had any trouble emptying out their used cartridge cases – this was because the reduced charge used in blank shells didn’t tend to distort the cases.  The SAA had no manual safety and no drop safety, but it was provided with a half-cock position for the trigger, which allowed the gun to be carried safely.  Sort of.  After a number of US Cavalry troopers and civilians shot themselves or their horses while galloping with a half-cocked SAA, it was decided that it was safer to load with just five cartridges and keep an empty cylinder under the hammer.

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Jessie James’ Colt SAA

The Colt SAA has become one of the most collectible handguns from the Wild West period.  Very large sums indeed are paid for examples with well-documented provenance.  A Colt SAA with the serial number 1 was sold at auction in 2009 for $862,500 (at the time this was the highest price ever paid for a historic handgun).  Another SAA which belonged to outlaw Jessie James went to auction in 2013 with a starting price of $400,000.  Even first-generation SAAs in only fair condition and with no particular history sell for $3000 – $5000.  So, for many people, replicas are the only way to enjoy the SAA experience without spending a great deal of money.

Colt SAA Replicas

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Marushin removable shell 6mm SAA

There have been a number CO2 and gas-powered replicas of the Colt SAA over the years (there have also been several spring powered versions, but really?  Don’t bother!), but none have been ideal both as replicas and as shooters.  Hahn/Crosman produced a range of CO2 powered SAA replicas from the 1950s to the 1980s.  All shot pretty well, but they looked slightly odd due to the CO2 cartridge being located under the barrel.  Tanaka produced a beautiful gas-powered SAA replica using their Cassiopeia system in the early 2000s where compressed gas was stored in the removable shells. Unfortunately, these proved to be unreliable and shot with all the power and authority of a gnat breaking wind.  They were also discontinued fairly quickly due to concerns in Japan that they could be converted to fire real cartridges.  Tanaka responded with a redesigned SAA using their Pegasus system and Marushin have also produced a removable shell SAA replica. These are beautiful-looking replicas, though neither are particularly satisfactory shooters.

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Umarex Colt SAA

It wasn’t until 2015 that we finally got a decent Colt SAA replica which was also a reasonable shooter. Umarex released a CO2 powered Colt SAA with removable shells and a 5½” barrel. It’s generally a decent visual replica of the original and is now available in 4.5mm, 6mm and .177” pellet shooting versions and in a range of barrel lengths (though not, strangely, the popular 4¾”). If you want an SAA replica that you can also enjoy shooting, this is currently the only option.

Conclusion

For me, the Colt SAA is one of those replicas which no collection should be without.  Whether you are interested in the history of this iconic handgun or you just want to practice your quick-draw technique, the Colt SAA does it all. It’s surprising and perhaps a little disappointing that there is only one current SAA replica that both looks reasonably like the original and shoots well, but at least we do now have the Umarex Colt SAA. It’s not the perfect replica, but at least it does give those of us who are interested in handguns the opportunity to experience a little of that SAA magic.

Related Posts

Umarex Single Action Army revolver review

Links

Colt SAA on the Umarex website

Umarex Walther PPQ M2 update

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I promised at the end of the Umarex Walther PPQ M2 review that I’d post an update, and here it is. Has my opinion of this replica changed since the first review? Well, let’s have a look…

Reading back over the original review, it’s interesting to see how my initial reaction has modified after around four months of ownership and after having had a chance to compare the PPQ M2 to other 6mm replicas such as the Cybergun S&W M&P 9c and the KSC H&K P10.

However, before I talk about what the Walther PPQ M2 does, it may be worth mentioning something it doesn’t do. After the initial review was posted, a couple of people have asked why I didn’t mention that the PPQ M2 can be set to fire in full-auto mode. The reason is that it can’t – the Umarex PPQ M2 is semi-auto only. If you look at the rear underside of the slide, the PPQ M2 appears to have the same switch that is used on the Cybergun S&W M&P 9c to swap between semi and full auto modes. However, the switch is non-functional on the PPQ M2. Good thing too if you ask me. Full auto on a short-barrelled pistol is fairly pointless for target shooting and accelerates wear on all components. It may be useful if you want to use it for CQB skirmishing, but otherwise I can’t see much point.

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Cybergun S&W M&P 9c (left) with fire mode selector switch (arrowed). The Umarex Walther PPQ M2 (right) appears to have a similar switch, but it is non-functional. You can also see the adjustment screw for the PPQ rear sight.

Quality and Reliability

Build and finish quality on the PPQ M2 seem very good indeed. Other than the issue with the slide failing to lock back (now fixed thanks to the Umarex repair service), I haven’t had any issues with this replica. There are no obvious signs of wear on any internal components and only slight wear to the paint on the top of the inner barrel. Otherwise the finish is holding up well. Looking at the PPQ M2 next to, for example, another VFC replica, the Cybergun S&W M&P 9c, the PPQ seems to be better made. Internal parts like the trigger system and the slide release are more robust on the PPQ and work more precisely. I also note that I failed to mention in the original review that the PPQ has a metal outer barrel and a brass inner barrel, both of which seem to very precisely made with good fit and movement. The slide and magazine releases are also metal, but the trigger is plastic, though robust and heavy-duty plastic.

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Good fit of inner barrel/outer barrel/slide probably contributes to accuracy

Since posting the initial review, I have read a couple of other on-line pieces suggesting that the PPQ M2 has reliability issues. In particular, it has been suggested that the metal slide can split at the front edge of the ejection port. The alloy is certainly thin in this area, but so far, mine has not shown any tendency to split. My example is still fairly new (I have fired somewhere under 1000 BBs with the PPQ M2 to date), so I suppose this could be an issue which only affects well-used versions. However, I am aware of a knowledgeable and experienced owner who has fired more than 12,000 BBs with his PPQ M2 with only minor issues (a small internal spring came loose and the slide occasionally fails to lock back on empty). So, overall, I see no reason to change my initial claim that the PPQ M2 seems to be well made and finished and reliable.

Ambidextrousness (is that a word?)

In the original review, I praised the PPQ M2 because it can be configured for left-hand operation. This involves swapping the magazine release from the left to the right side. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the photographs here show the pistol with the mag release back on the left. I’m embarrassed to admit that I found it hard to deal with a left-hand mag release. Although I soot mainly with my left hand, I guess that I’m so conditioned to swapping pistols to my right hand to drop out the magazine, that I can’t get used to doing it with my left. Time after time with the PPQ I’d automatically swap the pistol to my right hand to release the mag, only to realise that I needed to swap it back to my left hand. Finally, I gave up and reverted to a left hand mag release. If the PPQ was my only pistol, I’d probably get used to it in time. As it is, most other replicas need to be swapped to my right hand to release the mag, and I just can’t seem to get used to doing it the other way round on the PPQ. So, full marks to Umarex and VFC for providing a fully ambidextrous replica, and zero marks to me for failing to re-learn my pistol handling to take advantage of this.

Shooting

I gave the PPQ M2 reasonable marks for its accuracy at 6 yards in the original review, but I don’t think I emphasised enough that it shoots to the point of aim out of the box. This is so uncommon with replicas that it bears repeating. Fine-tuning with the hop-up (which incorporates a “v-notch” nub, claimed to give more stable spin to the BB) means that I can reliably place 0.2g and 0.25g BBs precisely where I’m aiming. This is very satisfying and is a massive help in any kind of action shooting. The fit of the brass inner barrel within the metal barrel and the fit of the outer barrel in the slide are very good indeed, which probably helps here. On many replicas, the opening in the front of the slide is oval, allowing the outer barrel to droop and the inner barrel can be a loose fit within the outer barrel, both of which can cause a replica to shoot low. Neither apply to the PPQ.

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The only slight issue with shooting is that the notch in the rear sight is rather wide. The foreshortening effect of a photograph doesn’t show this clearly, but with the PPQ held at arm’s length, the front post looks rather small within the wide rear notch. It’s not a major issue: the sight picture is still clear in all conditions and this does accurately replica the sights on the original.

Blowback is notably strong and snappy (see the video review below). Shooting the PPQ M2 side-by-side with a KSC System 7 equipped H&K P10 (System 7 is claimed to have enhanced blowback), the PPQ seems to have the stronger blowback and the slide on the PPQ appears to move faster and more freely than on the KSC replica. The trigger on the PPQ is very good indeed when compared to other replicas. The single action only trigger pull is short, light, consistent and with no discernible creep. I’m still not entirely comfortable with the fact that I can’t de-cock this replica, nor apply a manual safety before storing it. Putting it in its box cocked and ready to fire feels wrong somehow, and there isn’t room in the box to store it with the magazine removed. But that’s how the original works, and it would be possible to de-cock by pulling the trigger with the magazine removed.

Accuracy seems to have improved with use. There are now fewer flyers and these are generally closer to the main grouping. At six yards, freestanding, it’s possible to consistently put 90% of shots in or touching the 1½” centre circle on the target. Best accuracy and consistency seem to be achieved when using 0.25g BBs. Gas consumption is good with 50+ shots from a single fill and I have experienced no leaks or loss of gas when filling.

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The ergonomics of the Walther PPQ M2 are excellent. The grip has a pronounced hump at the rear, which looks a little odd, but this locks in to the base of the thumb, providing a comfortable, precise and firm grip. The slide and magazine releases are easily operated while gripping the pistol and the slide incorporates both front and rear cocking serrations.

Conclusion

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So, four months on, how do I feel about the Umarex Walther PPQ M2? I still think it’s an absolute cracker. A combination of good ergonomics, good build quality and finish and excellent shooting ability at a reasonable price make this a winner. There aren’t many Walther replicas available (Umarex and Walther belong to the same group of companies and so Umarex has an exclusive license to produce Walther replicas) and it also makes a nice change to shoot something other than the ubiquitous 1911/Sig/Beretta 92 clones. Overall, the Umarex Walther PPQ M2 is as good as any 6mm replica I have tried and better than most. You really need to try one of these.

Video update

Related pages

Umarex Walther PPQ M2 original review

Cybergun S&W M&P 9c review

KSC H&K P10 review

Buy

You can buy the Umarex Walther PPQ M2 at Pyramid Air here.