Mark Camoccio considers some notable imposters, as he looks at airguns that are maybe not quite what they seem
There’s no one reason why many of us are drawn to airguns, but we all come under the general umbrella of the sport. Whether beginner, or semi-professional competition shooter, plinker, or FT specialist, there’s immense pleasure and satisfaction to be had from this equipment, regardless of type. And it’s that wide spectrum of interest and appeal that should never be underestimated, or for that matter discounted, just because they’re not all singing, all dancing PCPs or similar.
A prime example is replica-style airguns and there’s now a large band of enthusiasts who get a real buzz from owning something that can not only be used and shot, but also has a close resemblance to a famous firearm. This month, I’m highlighting a random selection of equipment, that loosely fall into this category; and all the models on show come packed with features, that make them fascinating additions to anyone’s collection.
WEBLEY MKVI SERVICE REVOLVER
The Webley Service Revolver is a faithful reproduction of the 6-shot, .455”, break-action wheelgun used by the British army before being replaced by a smaller .38” calibre version. The only modern addition being the safety catch on the side of the action. Six, lookalike cartridges hold a BB round in the nose, are all part of the package, and these are filled and then loaded as normal into the chambers. Power comes from a standard 12g CO2 capsule, that sits inside the pistol grip, accessed by a variety of finishes too - Battlefield, Black, or Silver. It even gets supplied with a copy of the original training manual from 1937, which is a really nice touch.
For: Visually authentic
Against: Relies on CO2 capsules
Verdict: A modern classic
RRP: £180- £218 (black or silver accordingly)
Contact: Highland Outdoors; www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
Accuracy: 1” at 10 yards from rifled barrel
Avid James Bond fans will be keen to get their hands on this neat little Walther PPK/S and, with the usual Umarex German build quality, this model really looks and feels the part. All metal construction (bar the plastic grip plates), always helps and that equates to satisfying weight in the hand. On the negative side, this model only shoots steel BBs and not pellets. To access the loading bay for the 12g CO2 capsule, just edge up the left side of the grip, use the small tool to tighten or slacken off the tension, and replace the capsule as necessary. Apparently, this is a much slicker procedure than the old model and it all works well in practise. BBs are loaded into a thin, spring-loaded stick magazine, recessed into the front of the grip, and here, 15-shots are possible. Expect around 45-shots from the CO2 capsule. However, this Walther’s real ace up the sleeve is the superb blowback action, which offers a realistic and recoiling action that makes it jump in the hand as it fires. There’s a real sensation as the action cycles the next shot and the mechanism slides as it does so. Admittedly, that kick comes at a price, and this model isn’t among the most accurate available. That said, the fun factor is huge!
For: Iconic model with realistic action
Against: Fixed sights and BB only
Verdict: Compact, well made and great fun to shoot
RRP: £95 Guide
Contact: John rothery (wholesale); www.bisley-uk.com
Accuracy: 4” at 10 yards
MAUSER K98 (DIANA)
Marked up as a Mauser K98, this spring/piston powered model is manufactured by the Diana brand, based in Germany; and whilst it’s not quite a true reproduction, it closely follows the profile of the famous war time model, adopted as the standard issue rifle of the German Army in 1935. The ‘K’ stands for Karabiner (short rifl e), yet curiously it’s is still 44” with an 18” barrel and weighs a hefty 9.5 lbs. OK, we’re missing the full bolt action assembly, but there’s still plenty of authentic features, such as that full-length hardwood stock, complete with top handguard, fully adjustable open sights, and the under-lever under the muzzle; which passes for the barrel cleaning rod on the original. Just pull down the lever to cock the action, chamber a pellet into the barrel, close the action, and a single shot is ready. It’s available in .22 or .177 and also has their renowned T06 trigger unit, so plenty of quality as well as repro credentials. Bolt a scope in place, and fixed barrel accuracy is on the cards; so, all told, a collector’s piece that shoots as good as it looks, and a classic to add to any collection.
For: Fairly accurate in this line-up
Against: Big and heavy
Verdict: Solid Diana build quality
Contact: Edgar Brothers; www.edgarbrothers.com
Accuracy: 5/8” at 30 yards
Time for a bold statement: the Sheridan Cowboy has to be seen as one of the best products to leave the Crosman factory in years. Yes, the packaging is deceptively crude, but get past that along with the overly bland grips, and this pistol is a real head turner. Based on the Remington 1875 firearm, (Remington’s attempt to compete with Colt’s highly successful Single Action Revolver), this Sheridan has more than enough feel and class, capturing the look and feel of that original classic. Firstly, the weight, then the sharp machining work, takes you by surprise. The nickel finish is excellent, and the sheer precision of the revolving chamber can’t fail to impress. Crosman describe those grips as faux ivory and, whilst they do the job, frankly this pistol deserves better. Action wise, this is a repeating revolver, capable of 60-80 shots, powered by a 12g CO2 capsule, and it can fire either .177 pellets or 4.5mm BBs. Dummy bullets hold the pellet, and there’s a functional hammer, smooth bore barrel, loading gate and extractor. Cocking the hammer to set the trigger makes all the right clicks, and the sweet firing cycle and creditable accuracy all add to the satisfying experience. In short, it just feels right in the hand, is super slick to shoot, and comes highly recommended.
For: A surprisingly authentic feel
Against: It deserves better grips
Verdict: One of the best Crosman products in years
RRP: £169 Guide
Contact: Range Right; www.range-right.co.uk
Accuracy: 3/4” at 10 yards
Something of a stalwart within Weihrauch’s illustrious product line-up, it’s fair to say that the spring- powered HW45 has proved hugely successful for the German brand. A combination of solid, dependable engineering and ‘replica’ looks, (based loosely on the Colt 1911 pistol) has played a big part, but the clever design of the ‘45 also means that the action can be half or fully cocked, effectively giving two power levels. Pull back the dummy hammer to open the action, grip the top barrel assembly and pull through 90º (to the first stage), chamber a pellet, and the action is ready to go. Shot like this, on half power, this model really shines, with minimal recoil and less kick. Serious accuracy is also on the cards, enhanced with the inclusion of an excellent and adjustable 2-stage trigger. Fully cocked, the HW45 becomes one of the most powerful, spring-powered air pistols available, generating around 5.5ft/lbs with selected pellets, and whilst the increased kick is more diffi cult to control, the felt recoil will appeal to many, who prefer ‘feedback’ from their airguns. Either way, this is an excellent, and highly versatile pistol.
For: Versatile, attractive and accurate air pistol
Against: Recoil on high power
Verdict: A classic Weihrauch workhorse
Contact: Hull Cartridge Company www.hullcartridge.co.uk
Accuracy: ½” at 10 yards
HECKLER & KOCH P30
The smart little Heckler & Koch P30 is made under licence by Umarex, the first ever company to be legally licensed to make CO2 versions of H&K firearms. It’s very well made, as we would expect from this brand, and is again reassuringly weighty in the hand. The faithfully reproduced exterior gives the P30 the look and feel of the real, semi-auto pistol it’s based on too, with the slickly moulded polymer frame and metal slide, all coming together nicely, although technically it’s a revolver mechanism. However, whilst this particular model can take both pellets and steel BBs, I would personally stick to the former, since as mentioned, BBs can be a liability in terms of ricochets, and are never as accurate. An 8-shot rotary magazine is contained within the action body, and a standard 12g CO2 capsule is neatly concealed within the grip to provide the power. There is also the welcome option of a single-action trigger, which offers a much lighter and easier, and more precise let-off, albeit still a little creepy. Overall then, the P30 is impressive in the hand, and with over 100-shots from a single 12g capsule possible, performance is well above average.
For: Authentic looking yet functional replica
Against: Reliant on CO2 capsules
Verdict: Well made & fun to shoot
Contact: John Rothery (wholesale); www.bisley-uk.com
Accuracy: 3/4” AT 10 yards (pellets)
WINCHESTER 4.5 SPECIAL
OK; this model isn’t strictly a close replica of any actual firearm, but it’s profile and solid feel, give it an air of quality that’s hard to fault. The all-metal action is nicely machined in what appears to be stainless steel, and there’s sufficient weight and precisely made parts to impress from the off, Admittedly, the plastic grips are a bit hollow sounding, but their practical function, as a sliding door to the CO2 chamber within, makes the use of synthetics ideal. 2.25lbs in the hand means this model does have an authentic heft as mentioned, but there are several other features that stand out, so it’s worth confirming just what we get for the asking price. An 8-shot cylinder for a start, complete with ejector action, adjustable open sights, a rifled barrel, double action trigger, and the potential for between 60-80 shots from a capsule.
For: Solid and well machined
Against: Uses BBs, which are prone to ricochet
Verdict: An impressive replica style air pistol
Contact: BSA Guns; www.bsaguns.co.uk
Accuracy On test: 2” at 10 yards
UMAREX GLOCK 17 GEN 4
The Gen 4 is a beauty as this iconic, post war semi-auto pistol is a near exact replica of the original. The action is gas (CO2) blow back with a fully functioning slide and automatic last round hold open. Nice is the full-sized magazine that holds not only the 18-shot (BBs only) payload, but also the capsule. It is an ‘Officially Licenced Product of Glock’. Slide markings, finish, sights and that strange trigger are 100% visually correct, although this being the Gen 4 versions it shows the railed forward frame for a tactical light or laser, enlarged magazine release and the 360º dimpled pistol grip with fi nger grooves at the front with vestigial, ambidextrous thumb shelves above. It comes with two replacements back straps, to adjust for hand size. At 8 yards, it was shooting 3-4” not great, but that’s not what it’s all about. The sights are non-adjustable, so you will need to work out your fall of shot and aim off. One 12-gram was returning around 40-shots, with an average velocity of 302 fps and about 2 joules of energy, so low legal. A couple of spare magazines will really up the fun factor, as will a holster and mag pouches.
For: Near perfect reproduction
Against: Accuracy not amazing
Verdict: Nearest thing you’re going to get to the real thing!
Spare magazines: £49.95
Contact: John Rothery (wholesale); www.bisley-uk.com
Accuracy: 3-4” AT 8 yards
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