Making the Gletcher PM 1951 shoot to the point of aim

If you have read my original review of the Gletcher PM1951, you’ll know that, while it wasn’t a bad shooter, it consistently hit around 2” below the point of aim. In my recent COVID Backyard Shootout (you’ll find a link at the end of this article) it shot much better. Some people have asked what I did to it, so, here’s the answer…

I really hate replicas that shoot low. I don’t know why; I can just about tolerate something that shoots a bit high, but not low. On a replica such as this which has fixed front and rear sights, I can’t simply adjust the sights to take care of the problem. If this was a 6mm replica, I’d switch to using a lighter BB and/or adjust the hop-up. But on a 4.5mm replica, I don’t have either option. So, is there anything you can do about it if your 4.5mm replica shoots low?

Happily, the answer is yes. Sort of. Let me explain. If the point of impact is below the point of aim, you have two options: you can raise the point of impact by raising the barrel or you can lower the point of aim by modifying the sights. On the Gletcher PM1951, the barrel is rigidly fixed to the frame, just as it is on the Makarov pistol this replica is based on. That means that there isn’t a quick or simple way to change the angle of the barrel so the only option is to reduce the height of the front sight by filing it down. Luckily, that’s pretty easy.

Before you start anything like this, make sure that you first do plenty of reference shooting. You want to establish a known baseline before you start making any alterations. When you’re doing this, use the same steel BBs all the time to ensure consistency. I have shot a few hundred rounds through the PM and I am confident that the centre of typical groups is always around 2” below the point of aim. You can see a typical target below.

10 shots, Umarex Steel BBs, 6m, semi-rested. Point of aim is the centre of the black circle. The group is very respectable but its centre is approximately 2” below the point of aim. And yes, I know the target’s upside down…

So, we need to lower the front sight to raise the point of impact. On a replica where the sight is a non-removable part of the slide, the only option is to file the sight down. There are two things to consider here: the first is that a small change in the height of the front sight makes a large difference to the point of aim and the zinc alloy from which replicas are made is relatively soft so, don’t try to take too much off in one go. File off small amounts each time and then shoot to check how things are progressing.

The second thing is that, given the generally thin and fragile finishes applied to our replicas, it’s horribly easy to inadvertently put a large scrape or scratch on the finish of the top of the slide when you’re filing down the sight. Guess how I know that? That’s right, because I tried filing down the front sight of my Cybergun P226 X5 and I put a large scratch right along the top of the slide. So, you need to make a simple mask that will allow you to file the sight without risking damaging the slide.

On the PM, I removed the slide and then used a piece of card to make a mask which I taped in place. This left only the sight projecting and stopped me from inadvertently scraping the top of the slide. Then, it was just a case of filing a little at a time and testing by shooting.

Having said that you should take off a little at a time, I had to file the PM sight down more than I expected to get the point of aim and the point of impact to coincide. However, when I was done, I had a PM that shoots precisely where it’s aimed.

After filing, 10 shots, Umarex steel BBs, 6m, semi-rested. Aim point was again the centre of the black circle. The group isn’t as tight this time, probably because I shot fairly quickly, but at least it’s vertically centred on the black circle and six out of the ten shots are inside the inner circle. And yes, the target’s still upside down…

So, that wasn’t too difficult. In less than an hour I went from a replica that was hitting two inches below the point of aim at 6m to one that shoots pretty well where it’s aimed. The front sight has ended up smaller than I would have liked, but I’m willing to put up with that in return for a better shooting experience.

A quick dab with a black permanent marker pen and it’s good to go. Another job can be ticked off the list and I can start to really enjoy shooting this replica. You can see how well it did after this mod in my COVID Backyard Shootout.

Happy shooting

Related posts:

Gletcher PM 1951 review

COVID Backyard Shootout

Gletcher PM 1951

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The Makarov is a classic pistol which has been represented by a number of 4.5mm replicas. However, none of them have been entirely satisfactory for a number of reasons. So, when I saw that Gletcher have produced a CO2 powered, 4.5mm Makarov replica, I was excited. Is this the Mak replica we have been waiting for? Let’s take a look…

The Makarov

I have already covered the history of the Makarov PM (Пистолет Макарова or Pistolet Makarova) in my review of the Baikal MP-654K (you can find a link at the end of this article) so I won’t repeat that here. Instead, I offer an interesting fact. Can you guess what is the only handgun to have been regularly taken into space? That’s right, that would be the Makarov.

You see, on board every Soyuz spacecraft was a Granat-6 survival kit. Along with the usual stuff like a first aid kit, there was also other survival gear in case the capsule came down in an uninhabited area. This included a compass, machete, fishing gear and a Makarov pistol and ammunition.

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A Soyuz survival kit complete with Makarov pistol.

This is, as far as I’m aware, the fourth CO2 powered Makarov replica in 4.5mm, though all the previous versions had issues. The first was the Baikal MP-654K which was introduced in 1998. Not so much a replica as a CO2 version of the firearm, this is produced in the same factory as the original pistol. It’s a heavyweight replica, but it lacks blowback and all versions are designed to shoot steel BBs through a rifled barrel, which means that none are especially accurate.

In 2009 Umarex launched their Legends range with a Makarov replica. This was a CO2 powered, 4.5mm pistol and it’s a pretty decent shooter. Unfortunately, it lacks blowback and parts like the slide release are moulded in place. In 2014 another CO2 powered Makarov replica joined the Umarex Legends range, the PM Ultra. This version had blowback, but it also had an unsightly CO2 loading tab which projected below the grip and it used a moving barrel system to fire which meant that it lacked a true single-action trigger.

The Gletcher PM 1951

Gletcher is a brand owned by US company SMG (Sports Manufacturing Group, Inc.). Under the Gletcher brand, SMG sell a number of 4.5mm replicas of historic handguns. Generally these are rebranded versions based on Taiwanese 6mm replicas.

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The Gletcher PM 1951 appears to be a 4.5mm version of the Taiwanese KWC Makarov PM airsoft replica. It’s pretty much all metal with only the grips and some internal parts being made of plastic. This is a blowback replica and the slide operates through a full range of movement and locks back on empty. There is a slide mounted manual safety and a slide release, both on the left side, and a magazine release in the heel of the grip.

Up to 16 BBs can be loaded into a full-size, drop-out magazine which also holds the CO2 cartridge. Unlike the original (which is both double and single action) this replica is single action only. The inner barrel is brass and has a fixed hop-up rubber.

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Packaging and presentation (2/5)

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This replica comes in a simple card box with a single magazine and a hex key for tightening and piercing the CO2. No manual is provided but inside the lid of the box there is an exploded view of this replica.

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The box states “18 Month Warranty” but there are no clues as to what this means or how one would go about making a warranty claim.

Visual accuracy 6/10

At first glance, the Gletcher PM looks fairly much like a Makarov. However, when you look a little more closely, there are several discrepancies. First and most obvious is that the grip frame is too long. On the original, the overall height from the top of the slide to the base of the grip is 125mm. On this replica it’s 140mm. I assume the extra length is to accommodate the CO2 cartridge, but, just like the Umarex Walther PPK/S, this looks a little odd because of the extended grip frame.

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Makarov PM (left) and Gletcher PM 1951 (right)

Next there’s the trigger guard – this is much too thick and I don’t know why. Just as on the original, the trigger guard on this replica is hinged at the rear and must be swung down to allow the slide to be removed. Some people have suggested that the trigger guard on this replica is thick because a hinged zinc alloy trigger guard of the correct dimensions would be too fragile. However, both the earlier Umarex 4.5mm versions have hinged zinc alloy trigger guards of the right size, and I’m not aware of problems with these breaking. Whatever the reason for it, the trigger guard on this replica does look odd and not at all like the original.

Then there’s the hammer. In the fully forward position, it looks sort of OK, but when it’s cocked, you can see that it’s a very strange and unrealistic shape.

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You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned the magazine base extension which projects below and in front of the grip base. This makes the already long grip look even longer and I assume that this is also done to accommodate the CO2 cartridge, but it does look a little strange – most Makarovs have a magazine base that’s flush with the base of the grip. However, some versions, especially export versions for the US market, do have this type of magazine extension, so I’m not going to mark it down for that.

This replica also lacks any accurate markings. The only markings here are PM 1951 on the left side and some Gletcher markings on the right. All markings are laser-etched in fairly obtrusive white text.

Functional accuracy 13/15

Functionally, this is pretty good. It has blowback over a full range of movement, a full-size magazine and the magazine and slide release are located and work just as they would on the original. One small discrepancy is that this replica is single action only whereas the original shoots in both double and single action. This replica can be stripped in the same way as the original with the hinged trigger-guard acting as the takedown control. There is a sleeve which fits over the outer barrel. Initially, I initially thought this was plastic, but I believe it’s actually some form of light alloy.

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This replica weighs almost precisely the same as the (unloaded) original, which is always nice to see.

Shooting 30/40

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Loading the magazine with BBs on this replica is a little fiddly if you have large man-fingers like me. You have to hold the follower down with a thumbnail and then drop BBs in one at a time into the wider opening at the bottom front of the magazine. CO2 loads cleanly and without leaks using the hex key provided. When you re-insert the magazine, you have to use a fair amount of force – the spring on the magazine catch is very strong. When I first started shooting this replica, the magazine dropped out of the grip a couple of times because I hadn’t pushed it in firmly enough to get it to engage properly. Getting it back out again is also a bit of a chore – the deeper and extended magazine base makes using the release in the heel of the grip a little awkward and this is definitely a two-handed job, but then that’s true of the original Makarov too.

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With the magazine inserted, you must rack the slide for the first shot. This also cocks the hammer. If the manual safety is engaged, you can’t rack the slide. There is no decocker – the only way to safely de-cock is to remove the magazine and pull the trigger. With the slide racked and the first BB in the breech, you’re ready to shoot. The sights are simple – just a notch and post arrangement with no white dots, but they’re clear and easy to read.

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The trigger is reasonably light and short and true single action – all pulling the trigger does is to release the sear and allow the hammer to drop. The Gletcher PM is moderately loud and the blowback action provides fairly strong recoil effect. Balance is good, but I didn’t especially care for the feel of the grip. The rear of the grip has a pronounced corner or edge at each side. This isn’t particularly uncomfortable, but it is noticeable and I’m sure that other Makarov replicas I have owned didn’t have such pronounced corners on the grip.

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I ran a number of shots from the Gletcher PM over my chronograph and, in fairly warm temperatures, I saw readings of between 265 – 280 fps. Perfectly reasonable, but well down on the 328 fps claimed by Gletcher. I found that I was able to get 50 – 60 full power shots before power started to drop off. Faster shooting uses CO2 more quickly. Like some other KWC replicas I have owned, cooldown is an issue if you’re shooting quickly. You can actually feel the cold permeating the grip if you shoot several times in quick succession.

In terms of accuracy, this is adequate. Groups are around 1.5 – 2” at 6m, but it does do one thing that I particularly hate – it shoots low. At 6m, it hits around 2” below the point of aim. Now, there are a number of things that you can do about that (and I may look at this in another article) but looking at other reviews of this replica, it does seem that out of the box, it’s likely to shoot low. I find that very frustrating. Obviously, I prefer a replica that shoots to the point of aim, but I can just about tolerate one that shoots high. What I definitely don’t like is a replica that shoots low. There is a hop-up rubber here, but it is non-adjustable. This replica’s airsoft roots can be seen in that there is a slot for a hop-up adjustment wheel in the outer barrel, but the wheel itself is not provided.

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There is one other slightly odd thing about this replica. The slide locks back, but generally not when you fire the last shot. Instead, it locks back when you fire the next shot after the last BB is fired. So, if you have 10 BBs loaded, you shoot all ten, but it isn’t until you pull the trigger for the eleventh time when the pistol is empty that the slide locks back. This happens most of the time on my example. It’s not a major issue, but it is odd and in the course of shooting around 500 BBs through this replica, it has been completely consistent.

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Below you can see a short video showing a shooting test for the PM 1951. The aim point was the centre of the target. You’ll note that the first shot was so low that it completely missed the target – I don’t know why and this isn’t usual with this replica. You’ll also note that the slide locks back after the last shot is fired, which is also unusual.

Overall, the Gletcher PM is a perfectly pleasant shooter, but not an outstanding one.

Quality and reliability 13/15

Overall, quality and finish look reasonable. The semi-matt finish seems to be fairly hard wearing and is showing no signs of wear though, like every Mak replica I have seen, there is a scratch on the slide where the bearing for the manual safety moves. It was notable that, out of the box, my Gletcher PM was completely devoid of lubrication.

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Other than the issue with the slide usually failing to lock back until the shot after the last BB, I haven’t seen any faults with my PM and it shoots reliably and without misfeeds or misfires.

Overall impression 11/15

I like compact replicas and I like classic handguns, so I should really love this replica. The fact that I don’t is down to a combination of several minor factors which separately don’t amount to much, but which combine to be a little frustrating. I don’t care for the extended grip or the sharp corners on the rear of the grip. I don’t like look of the oversized trigger guard or the oddly shaped hammer. And I am disappointed that it lacks a double action trigger and I hate that it always shoots low.

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None of these are show-stopping issues and they are partly offset by decent finish, good weight and the fact that it’s a reliable shooter. But overall, if I’m looking in the gun cupboard for something to provide half an hour of shooting satisfaction, this  isn’t the first one I’ll be reaching for.

Conclusion

It looks as though we’ll have to wait a little longer for the definitive 4.5mm Makarov replica. This is close to being a good visual and functional replica, but it’s not quite there. However, it is relatively cheap and it seems to be reliable and fairly frugal with CO2 usage.

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If you want something that looks and handles like a Makarov, you’ll probably still be wanting a Baikal MP-654K. If you want something that looks like a Makarov, has blowback and shoots well, I’m afraid you’ll most likely be looking at one of the 6mm versions.

Total score

75/100

Cons

Not the best visual replica.

Shoots low and lacks a double action trigger.

Pros

Reasonable shooter.

Seems well made and finished.

Inexpensive.

Related posts

Baikal MP-654 review

Type 59 (Chinese version of the Makarov) 6mm 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