The Beeman P1 in 20 Caliber

Monday, February 16, 2009

I’ve had the grumps lately. Evil Queen Winter has seized Upstate New York in her cruel grip. The other morning, it was minus six degrees. One of the guys who checks into the Commuter Assistance Network I run workday mornings on Ham radio reported that it was -28F at his house 40 miles north. Criminy!

Icicles are hanging from the gutters. The oil furnace has been beavering away ceaselessly in the basement, and whenever I notice its labors (which is often), I picture an OPEC prince smiling blissfully as he cruises in the new Rolls Royce that I personally helped to purchase for him. A week ago, I took a spectacular pratfall while blowing snow. Fortunately, I was able to use my secret Aikido shout: Awwwwwwwwwww, nuts! (Hey, I don’t go to the dojo twice a week for nothing.)

Even worse, there has been very little airgun shooting going on here at El Rancho Elliott. I’ve thought about putting on every piece of clothing I own, strapping on my field target harness and going out to shoot some groups, but my Better Half, who is very supportive of my airgunning, has indicated in no uncertain terms that she does not want to find me “froze to a tree.” Just to get to the spot where I usually hang my pellet trap would probably take a dogsled and team, and I’m pretty sure our two dachshunds aren’t up to it.

Maybe 'There ain't no cure for the summertime blues,' but the P1 in .20 cal will cure the winter grumps.

So I’ve been cranky, at least, until a couple of days ago. A package showed up from Airguns of Arizona, and in it was a Beeman P1 pistol in .20 caliber. Now, for some time I owned a P1 in .177, and I have shot the P11 in .22, but I had never tried a P1 in .20. Over the years I’ve been messing with airguns, I’ve learned that a change in caliber can make a substantial difference in how an airgun feels when it is fired, so my curiosity was definitely piqued.

The Beeman P1 looks like a Colt 45 automatic on steroids. A spring-piston air pistol, it measures 11 inches from end to end and weighs 2.5 pounds. Except for the grips and the sights (we’ll get to them in just a bit), the whole thing is solidly built of metal. It’s like plastic was some sort of dirty word when it came to designing the P1. The grips are made of wood and are checkered to provide a very secure grip, and it’s my understanding that the grip frame on the P1 is designed so that any after market grips designed for the Colt 45 auto will also fit the P1.

I'll admit this isn't a great photo, but it shows pretty well how visible the new P1 sights are.

One major change to the P1 in the sample Airguns of Arizona sent me – small in dimensions but big in impact – is the redesign of the sights. Previously, the P1 had a black metal blade front sight and a black metal notch rear sight, and sometimes they were difficult to see. But now the front sight has been enhanced with a red fiber optic dot and the rear sight has been improved with two yellow fiber optic dots – one on either side of the rear notch. In my view, this is a Big Deal. The sight picture has been greatly improved; just put the red dot between the two yellow dots, put the combo on the target, and you’re good to go. This is an excellent improvement, and I give it a big Thumbs Up.

Finally, one day when the temperatures darted above 32F, I dashed outside with the .20 cal. P1 and put a few shots down range. I didn’t attempt to do critical accuracy testing, but I simply wanted to see how the shot cycle felt. Bottom line: it feels really good. My sense is that the shot cycle of the .20 P1 is very similar to the .22 P11, which is the younger brother of the P1. It feels smoother and less harsh than the .177 P1, and I really enjoyed shooting it. The .20 cal P1 launches 14.3 gr. Crosman Premiers at 396 fps average and Dynamic SPC5 12.0 gr pellets at 449 fps average.

One thing is for sure – the P1 in .20 will cure the wintertime grumps, and I think that any P1 shooter will agree that the new sights are a big improvement.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

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