About Gordon Smith

By day I’m a mild-mannered manager of Critical Accounts at a large Enterprise Resource Planning company. By night I use my cat-like reflexes and Ninja skills to fight crime. No – wait, I’m exercising poetic license here. I don’t actually fight crime. Truth-be-told, I never had cat-like reflexes and no Ninja skills either. What I do have is a passion for all things airgun related. Over the past several years I have been dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming, but now it is time to expand my comfort zone and jump into this whole blogging/social media business. My plan is to inform in an entertaining and enlightening way while adding to the general body of knowledge involving airgunning. A little background: My older brother had a Daisy model 25 that was well broken-in and he was an excellent shot. He taught me the basics and I coveted that rifle of his. My folks finally thought that I was mature enough to have my own air rifle by my 13th Christmas and so I became the proud owner of a Daisy model 1894 “Spittin Image”. Those were the beginnings of my life-long love affair with contraptions that sling projectiles downrange. I’ve now logged over 60 years on the planet and still have that Daisy. Actually, I believe it is in better shape than me, although it is 13 years younger… I enjoy the technical aspects of the airgunning game and tend to write from that prospective. I’ve competed in organized events a few times; however, the chance to attend formal matches is limited in my neck of the woods so competition will never become a forte of mine. Long ago and far away I taught Industrial Arts – yep, a shop teacher. I left the education game with all 10 digits intact and with my mechanical aptitude/curiosity alive-and-well and that is where my penchant for the technically oriented writing comes from. It has served me well as it led to a position as the Field Editor for Airgun Hobbyist magazine, currently the only hard copy and color format airgun magazine of U.S. origin. My articles have also appeared in a few other national publications in recent years. I appreciate the opportunity that Airguns of Arizona is entrusting me with and hope that you enjoy my humble contributions. Until next time, get out there and exercise that 2nd Amendment right! Regards, -Gordon

Posts by Gordon Smith

Fine European firearms and airguns have a long tradition going back hundreds of years.  Created at the hands of guild craftsmen who spent years perfecting their skills, their finest guns were masterpieces fit for royalty.  Today, the guild system is gone but fine craftsmanship still exists and it can be seen in the products turned out by the 40-year old Daystate Company of Staffordshire, England.

What makes me wax nostalgic like this is the loan from Airguns of Arizona of a Huma Regulated Huntsman Regal XL in .177 to review.  The latest iteration of the classic Daystate Huntsman, the Regal doesn’t disappoint.  Collaborating with Dutch pneumatic specialist company, Huma, Daystate incorporates their well-known regulator into the Huntsman.  It metes out an exact measure of air for each shot, giving shot-to-shot consistency and efficiently utilizing the available high-pressure air.  Daystate indicates it helps increase shots per fill by as much as 70 percent.  An additional gauge embedded in the stock shows the regulator pressure. 

Daystate Huntsman Regal is a classic

The XL designation refers to the high-power version above 12fpe only sold outside the UK (or to UK owners having a firearms license for it).  We Americans tend to subscribe to the “more power” theory and the XL meets our criteria by cranking out 18fpe in .177 caliber.  With Huma regulation, a shooter can expect 60 full-power shots from a 230 Bar (3300 psi) charge in its 162cc air reservoir.

Fitted to a beautiful, oiled walnut right-handed sporter stock with a monte-carlo style cheekpiece, it will provide the lover of classically styled airguns much to admire.  A contrasting black grip cap and traditional style rubber buttpad that harkens back to an earlier age provide additional style points.  Nicely done checkering on the pistol grip and fore-end area adds further elegance and excellent gripping surface.  The action sits lower in this stock to more closely mimic a traditional hunting firearm and the fit and finish are superb, as would be expected on an airgun in this price range.  Daystate offers an option for left-handed shooters as well.  Lest I sound like a totally infatuated fanboy, my only negative comment regards the polymer trigger guard.  My view is it diminishes a top-quality high-end air rifle. 

A bolt-action repeater, it is fed by a 10-round rotary magazine; a single-shot tray also comes with the rifle.  Both use neodymium magnets to hold them in place while in use.  The receiver houses the patented Harper Slingshot hammer system to operate the valve.  A self-adjusting system, it compensates for declining pressure in the reservoir to prevent wasting of air.  The receiver is mated with a 17-inch match-grade barrel that sports an Airstream carbon fiber moderator on its threaded muzzle giving an overall length to the gun of 36.5 inches.  Weight without optics is almost 6.5 pounds making for a light but powerful platform. 

The two-stage curved metal trigger has a smooth face and is adjustable for both weight and length of pull as well as angle of the trigger blade.  The safety is a manual type at the back of the receiver with a large red disk that is rotated away from the red dot to place it “on safe” and block the trigger from moving.  It is easily manipulated without the shooter having to shift hand position.

Rear of receiver showing safety switch

Daystate recently upgraded their warranty from 3-years to 5 years and it is transferable to a new owner. The full color instruction booklet is easy to follow plus includes an exploded view diagram of all parts.  Also included with the rifle is a completed Test Sheet showing velocity and power results plus a Quality Control checklist.  MSRP is listed at:  $1299 and AofA carries the full line of Daystate airguns.  Details on how well it performed in Part II.

If you read Part I you know that the M17 semi-auto CO2 pellet pistol is one awesome replica of the SIG SAUER sidearm adopted by the U.S. Army in 2017. This is the follow up as to how it performed.

SIG Air’s M17 CO2 pistol — exact copy of the Army’s new sidearm

First, the pistol is substantial at 2 pounds. The fit and finish are excellent with stippling on the grip replicating the firearm. The controls and trigger are metal and there is a short M1913 accessory rail on the dust cover.  An ambidextrous safety disengages the hammer and while it was stiff to engage, it was easy to disengage. The front sight appears as if it is drift adjustable, but upon field-stripping the pistol and looking on the underside of the slide the front sight is actually pinned in place. The rear sight is also not adjustable.

As with many replica pistols, the CO2 cartridge and ammunition are contained in the drop-free magazine. Differences between the M17 and other replicas are the Rapid Pellet Magazine (RPM) belt-feed system, the cam lever piercing system and the valve not being part of the magazine assembly. Replicas I’m familiar with have the valve assembly included in the drop-free magazine and no gas is lost each time you drop the magazine. However, the M17 has the valve assembly attached to the frame and the magazine incorporates a self-sealing valve where a tiny amount of gas escapes each time the magazine is released. The system works well and I experienced no leaks. The cam lever piercing system worked flawlessly. No guesswork on how tight to turn a thumbscrew or hex wrench is a welcome advancement in technology. (A caveat: the manual suggests wearing gloves when installing cartridges due to the frostbite hazard. I concur because of an experience when the cam lever slipped from my grip after piercing the tip but before the lever was completely closed. All the gas escaped at once and luckily no harm was done.) The RPM system worked well and other than wishing for younger, more nimble fingers to aid in loading .177 pellets into the belt, reloading goes pretty smoothly.  At a mile above sea level I was getting between 4 and 5 full magazines of twenty pellets from one cartridge. That equates to around 90 shots before velocity drops off significantly.

M17 showing cam lever piercing system

The trigger has a long double-action-only pull at a pleasant 6 pounds, 11 ounces. Also, the trigger does not have a short reset. If this model was incorporated to augment skills of the firearm user, that limitation would have to be taken into account. Keeping in mind this is a modestly priced CO2 replica, some accommodations would necessarily be required.

Experimenting with lightweight alloy pellets the highest velocity achieved was 377fps using SIG Match Ballistic Alloy (5.25grs.) and Predator GTO’s (5.5grs.). Accuracy was lacking so moving to lead pellets helped somewhat. H&N Excites Plinking and Econ pellets weighing 7.3 and 7.45 grains respectively, gave velocities in the 300fps range. Crosman pointed pellets at 7.5grs. shot well as did Rifle Brand Premium Series flatheads at 8.18grs. but this sample gun tended to shoot low. Not that you’d go after prey with these replica pistols, but long pellets such as Predator Polymags will not fit the RPM magazines.

This pistol will sell internationally so the manual contains instructions in 5 languages. I also mistakenly referred to black & white photos in Part I when all the photos are actually color.

The M17 was fun, easy to shoot and quiet so for a one-to-one replica of a new U.S. military sidearm it doesn’t get much better for plinkers and collectors. Oh wait; maybe it does. I understand a SIG ROMEO1 reflex optic mounting plate is coming in the near future! I want to thank SIG Air for providing the M17 gratis. To get your hands on one reach out to my friends at www.airgunsofarizona.com.

In 2017 the U.S. Army adopted a special adaptation of the SIG SAUER P320 pistol as the new sidearm to replace the Beretta M9.  The Beretta had served in that role since the mid-1980s and the military was looking for a Modular Handgun System to replace it.  Trials were held and when the smoke cleared (literally!) the SIG came out on top.  Obviously, a huge coup for SIG SAUER of New Hampshire, the U.S. arm of the Swiss-German parent company.  Being a large multi-national corporation has its perks and one of those is the ability to form divisions that make products which compliment your core business.  SIG did just that several years ago to license and sell branded airguns and accessories known as the SIG Advanced Sport Pellet line.  It’s really nice when your parent company owns all the rights to a design because they can copy that design into a new airgun in a very short turnaround time.  By SHOT Show 2018, a 3-D printed prototype M17 was on display.  As of SHOT 2019 it was a production reality that was already shipping to retailers. [Side note: in 2018 SIG SAUER also increased their commitment to the world of airgunning by becoming a charter member of the Airgun Sporting Association, an industry association promoting all aspects of airguns and airgun hunting. (Airguns of Arizona is also a charter member by the way.) Along with that they began to pull all airgun manufacturing back to the U.S. and re-branded as SIG AIR.]

The M17 is a cool .177 replica with even cooler bells & whistles such as an all-metal slide with blowback feature, ambidextrous safety, dust cover rail for mounting accessories, field-stripping capability and the Rapid Pellet Magazine.  For those unfamiliar with RPM, it is the SIG AIR patented belt-feed system.  Holding 20 pellets, the belt rides inside a plastic stick magazine which, in turn, is inserted into the drop-free extended magazine.  The RPM only fits one way in its channel so all the user has to do is avoid loading the pellets backwards by paying attention to the wording molded into the plastic RPM housing.  The CO2 cartridge, along with a clever cam lever piercing mechanism is also housed in the magazine.  Open the lever, drop in a cartridge, close the lever and the magazine is charged.  No hex wrenches to misplace and no exposed wing nuts to fiddle with or spoil the lines of this replica. 

The only operator control that is non-functional is the ambidextrous slide lock release lever.  It is there just to add to the realism as the slide does not lock back.  The take-down lever, however, is operational and the owner’s manual shows black & white photos with text on how to remove the slide and barrel housing to clear a jammed pellet.  The steel barrel is 4.6 inches long and SIG AIR claims a velocity up to 430fps.  The color is called “Coyote” tan and the pistol weighs in at slightly over two pounds. The MSRP is $140 and a one-year warranty is provided. My sample is marked “Made in Japan”, but as mentioned earlier, eventually all airgun production will be in-house in New Hampshire.

Being the windbag that I am, I’ve run out of my allotted space so details on how it performed will have to be in a separate blog.  Airguns of Arizona does not yet have this model listed on their webpage, but if you are a replica collector and can’t wait to get your mitts on one of these beauties, reach out to them and they’ll help you out.

This pistol can be field stripped easily

The Crosman brand of Velocity Outdoors Corporation released this licensed copy of the iconic Remington 1875 a couple of years back. Officially titled: “Remington 1875/Sheridan Cowboy CO2 Powered, Single Action Revolver”, and listed under the SKU of: “RR 1875”.

The 1875 uses replica cartridges to hold BBs or pellets

I wanted one as soon as I laid eyes on it at the SHOT Show and although it took a little while, it is now in my possession. An all-metal replica in a bright nickel finish with faux ivory grip stocks it has all the classic lines and heft of the original. In deference to modern requirements and lawyers, there is a slide safety switch on the underside in front of the trigger guard and the hammer doesn’t sit flush when at rest. My understanding is that’s related to drop safety.
The hammer must be placed at half-cock to load and unload as on the original. At half-cock the cylinder can manually be rotated to align the replica cartridges with the loading gate on the right side of the gun. An ejector rod is also on the right side and although it functions like the original, the cartridges easily slide out of the chambers when the revolver is tipped up for unloading. A dual ammo gun, it comes with 12 brass colored cartridges; six hold regular BBs and six hold .177 pellets. Ammo is loaded into the back of the cartridge where soft rubber holds it. Make certain the ammo is flush with the back of the cartridge so cylinder movement isn’t hampered. Faster reloads are accomplished by simply placing the ammo into the cartridge without even removing it.
Made in Taiwan for Crosman, the fit and finish are top notch. The plastic grip stocks have a slight yellow caste to resemble aged ivory. They nicely fit the frame with tight joints that don’t belie the fact that the left grip panel pops off for inserting the 12-gram CO2 capsule. Conveniently clipped inside the grip panel is a small hex wrench used to turn the piercing screw.

The 1875 is a dual ammo CO2 revolver

Holding the gun upside down reveals the nail nick and allen screw. The metal was also nicely done all over in a bright nickel finish that makes this a great display piece when not being used to defend the homestead from tin can desperados.
Another touch of realism is the cylinder pin (called “base” pin in the instructions provided) can be released by pressing the black “base” pin screw on the right side, then withdrawing the pin as far as it will go. Caution: it locks when fully withdrawn and the screw is released, but is under spring pressure and will snap back if the screw is pressed. Doing so could possibly damage the pin. While it won’t need much in the way of maintenance requiring cylinder removal, the instructions do cover this in case of a jam. Cocking the action is also authoritative and makes the satisfying three distinct “clicks” like the old Remington revolver.
As it has been extremely cold for some time where I am located and I don’t have an indoor range, the 1875 has not been shot yet. Since I acquired it more for a wall hanger and collectable, I’m in no real hurry. It is not expected this gun will be highly accurate, just a fun plinker for lazy afternoons. Besides, it displays beautifully next to my nickel finish Peacemaker CO2 replica.
Specs: This hogleg weighs 2.3 pounds and is 13.25-inches long. The smooth bore steel inner barrel is 6½ inches long and the advertised velocity is up to 450fps. The gun comes with a one-year limited warranty and has an MSRP of $149.99. My friends at AofA don’t list this particular model on their website, but they do handle Crosman products and I’m sure could order ya one pardner, in case you have the same hankerin I did when I saw this shootin iron. www.airgunsofarizona.com

Tis the season to discuss all things SHOT – the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Sports trade show held in Las Vegas. A gigantic celebration of all things related to guns of all manner as well as anything else related to hunting and the outdoors lifestyle. This year’s show was another amazing spectacle of what’s in store for the consumer in the coming months.
Highlights include: modestly priced “entry level” PCPs are continuing to enter the market with Beeman bringing out a rotary magazine fed repeater version of their “Chief” model that was introduced last year. Umarex is releasing the Gauntlet in .25 caliber and Diana will offer a PCP version of their vintage military styled Mauser K98 air rifle, which was introduced last year as an underlever cocking design. The SIG Advanced Sport Pellet line, recently re-branded as SIG Air, will have a semi-auto PCP copy of their Virtus firearm. Higher end models include the Crosman semi-auto version of their popular Marauder line and Hatsan USA is introducing a lever action PCP repeater called the Vectis. Brocock America is expanding their Bantam Sniper line and introduced a copy of the rifle that was modified by competitor Claudio Flores, who used it to take top honors at the 2018 Extreme Benchrest competition in Arizona. Airforce Airguns now has Rapid Air Weapons coming off the assembly lines in Texas to begin meeting the demand. The RAW H1000 now sports a carbon fiber shroud and moderator to go with the very sleek laminated wood stocks. While not an “entry level” PCP airgun, after overcoming the issues that have delayed the .50 caliber Umarex Hammer, it will be entering production in their Arkansas plant this quarter.
Multi-shot break-barrel air rifles continue to roll out as well with Benjamin now entering that arena. Gamo showed off their new Swarm Fusion Gen.2 which has literally turned the multi-shot break-barrel world on its side! By laying the rotary magazine horizontally, the platform is more scope and iron sight friendly. Upon breaking the barrel, the Gen.2 pivots the magazine so pellets are in the proper alignment for feeding. It appears to be quite a slick system.
To go along with the K98 Mauser firearm replica mentioned above, Air Venturi has the first replica models coming out from their license deal with Springfield Armory. An M1 carbine .177 caliber BB CO2 repeater will be followed later in the year by the XD(M) CO2 BB pistol. SIG Air launched the pellet firing replica of the U.S. Army’s new sidearm, the M17 in the last half of 2018. For 2019 they followed up with a replica of their very successful P365. Both pistols have blowback action, the “Rapid Pellet Magazine” belt feeding system and are field strippable. Not to be outdone, Umarex is releasing the Ruger 10/22 air rifle. This .177 CO2 powered pellet repeater uses a rotary 10-shot magazine that then fits into a carrier the size and shape of a real 10/22 magazine. This unit then installs into the polymer stock just like on the firearm. I predict this one will be a big seller for Umarex.
A new kid on the block was exhibiting in the temporary area called the “Next” section. Exhibitors here will have a booth on the regular show floor next year. APS Limited is not a new company, having made airsoft and paint marking guns for almost two decades, however, they are new to producing BB and pellet guns. They showed off a nice looking CO2 BB firing replica along the lines of a 9mm striker-fired polymer pistol. Called the “S. Shark”, the twist with this pistol is the “happy switch” on the side that lets the shooter go full auto. Additionally, they showed their RAR, or “Real Action Rifle”, which resembled a high power, bolt action, magazine fed rifle. It uses 5 pre-charged HPA cartridges with .22 caliber pellets loaded into the nose of the cartridge. The metal box magazine holds the 5 cartridges and cycling the bolt feeds and ejects the cartridges.
This was just a taste of the many interesting and exciting things seen at SHOT that are scheduled to arrive in 2019. To keep abreast of the latest news, keep checking back here on the AofA blog.

One of the Daystate displays at 2019 SHOT Show

New to the Benjamin line up of break-barrel rifles this year is the Vaporizer from Crosman, now part of Velocity Outdoor.  Fitted in an ambidextrous black polymer pistol grip stock, it offers clean lines with grey soft touch stock inserts at various grip points for good purchase and control.  Molded into the stock is a raised cheekpiece and a thick, dense rubber buttpad plus two sling attachment points.  Topping it off is a set of barrel mounted sights with the rear being adjustable, and a picatinny rail for attaching the included Center Point 3-9x40mm AO scope.  Crosman also included their market leading sound suppression SBD/Gold unit to the 15-inch barrel which, as a bonus, gives additional leverage when cocking.  The report was relatively mild, so the SBD was doing a good job.  The Vaporizer weighs 8 pounds 9.5 ounces with the included scope and is 46.5 inches long; balancing well in the hands so the weight is not an issue.

Benjamin’s new Vaporizer

Definitely an adult air rifle, the cocking force on this rifle is stout.  Although it has become easier to cock after an initial break-in period, it can still be a workout for the average adult.  Of course, that strong, proprietary Nitro Piston Elite gas ram you are cocking translates to adult power as well.  My location is above 6000 feet and the average velocity of 14.66 grain pellets was a respectable 700 fps, yielding almost 16-foot pounds of energy.  Plenty of power for pest control or small game hunting at air rifle range.  Crosman rates the Vaporizer as capable of 950fps and 29fpe.

The 2-stage “Clean Break Trigger” was heavy at approximately 6.5 pounds out of the box with a long first stage take-up.  The trigger is adjustable via a small hole in the trigger guard, but even with that, I found I could not adjust it lower than 5 pounds without approaching what I felt was a danger threshold.  It wasn’t a bad trigger, but there is room for improvement on a gun in this price range.  The manual safety is a lever located directly in front of the trigger and it does not automatically engage upon cocking.  Unusual to my thinking in this age of rampant lawsuits, yet the lack of an auto safety engagement will no doubt be lauded by some.

The Center Point scope appears to be of good quality with a clean image from edge-to-edge and the parallax adjustability from 5 yards to infinity via the Adjustable Objective bell.  Elevation and windage adjustment turrets are calibrated in ¼ MOA.  Most shooters should find this included scope adequate for the capabilities of this air rifle.  Accuracy-wise the Vaporizer did well after it settled down from running the first 100 or so pellets.  Taking time out to tighten all screws occasionally is always good practice as well as using Tom Gaylord’s recommended “Artillery Hold” when shooting break-barrels.  At 20 yards the shot groups with H&N and SIG pellets could be covered by a U.S. quarter.

I experienced dieseling for the first 40 or 50 shots before the manufacturing oils/solvents worked their way out.  That is a concern, but Crosman’s new 5-year limited warranty on materials and workmanship should have you covered.  MSRP on the Vaporizer is $259.99 and if you have questions or desire to obtain the Vaporizer or any of Crosman’s other fine products, reach out to our friends at Airguns of Arizona.

On a side note and in the spirit of the season, to help prevent someone from “shooting their eye out” check with AofA regarding new shooting glasses from Howard Leight Shooting Sports.  Named Genesis, these are lightweight, extremely comfortable, and have adjustable temples for ease of fitting the adult face.  You forget you are wearing them – always a plus when out shooting for any length of time – and when coming from the cold outside to a warm room, you still won’t think about them because they won’t fog up!  Their Extreme Anti-Fog treated lenses eliminate that annoying problem.  They also provide 99.9% UV protection and for an MSRP of $18.99, they are a bargain.

Happy Holidays to all and remember:  Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out!!!

Springer air rifles can be very accurate and versatile for uses ranging from plinking to hunting.  However, loading pellets singly for each shot can be a bit of a fumble-finger exercise, especially when needing to make a follow-up shot on a wounded animal.  The Turkish company of Hatsan offers their solution as the new SpeedFire Vortex, a multi-shot break-barrel utilizing a 12-shot rotary magazine in .177 caliber. The mechanism used to automatically load a pellet during the cocking cycle is called the EZ-Load Action System.  It sits above the barrel/receiver joint, adding enough extra height to force the use of a high front sight.  The front sight consists of a U-shaped saddle with a bright orange TruGlo fiber optic rod in the center.  When optics are used, or to protect the front sight when it is not in use, it folds down into a protective channel.  The rear sight has green TruGlo fiber optics to help with obtaining a quick sight picture and it is micro adjustable for both windage and elevation.  The SpeedFire also comes equipped with a picatinny rail, which interestingly incorporates an 11mm rail running along the top.  The rail features a dampener technology designed to absorb some of the shock generated by springers, helping to protect optics mounted to the rifle.  Additionally, the SpeedFire ships with an Optima 3-9x40mm scope and rings.

I found the SpeedFire to be a soft shooter for a springer, no doubt partially because of the proprietary SaS, or Shock Absorber System, built into the gun.  However, the cocking force is such that this would not be a rifle for a youngster.  Having twelve pellets at the ready is a great feature but can be a workout when firing all twelve pellets quickly from the Rapid Performance Magazine (RPM).  An automatic safety/anti bear-trap mechanism activates each time you cock the SpeedFire, but unfortunately this multi-shot technology does not protect from double loading pellets if there is an attempt to cock the gun a second time.  If you experience this condition, then you must remove the magazine and gently push both pellets out with a cleaning rod.  The Owner’s Manual does not go into any detail on how to safely remove pellets from the barrel, which would be helpful, since the multi-shot mechanism covers the breech during the cocking cycle in its process of automatically loading a pellet.

Hatsan technologies such as the Quattro adjustable match trigger, Vortex Gas Piston, and SaS are all built in to this rifle.  It also sports some suppression, although it is not the “Quiet Energy” suppression found on other Hatsan guns.  It is lightweight at almost 6 ½ pounds without a scope, but it is a long gun at 47 inches.  Trigger pull out of the box was about 5 ½ pounds and is fully adjustable with the included allen wrenches.  My sample rifle shipped without a scope and I haven’t had it long enough to fully break it in.  It still produced good groups out of the box even though I was using open sights with aged eyes.

Hatsan rates the velocity of the SpeedFire out of its 14.5-inch barrel at 1000fps and it lists at an MSRP of $199.99.  The warranty on the SpeedFire is a one year limited.   It is also available in .22 caliber and if you’d like more information, please contact our friends at Airguns of Arizona.

The SIG Sauer Advanced Sport Pellet (ASP) line was launched in early 2015 and has now been rebranded as SIG Air in a move to better reflect Sig Sauer’s commitment to become a major player in the airgunning arena.  SIG Air released this .177 blowback version of their P320 in early 2017.  This is the pistol selected as the new sidearm of the U.S Army (as the M17).  Available in black or Coyote Tan, this 1-to-1 replica will not only appeal to collectors, but shooters wanting an inexpensive training companion to the actual firearm.

SIG Air P320 with 30 round belt magazine

Manufactured in Japan to exacting SIG Air standards, it is designed to be close to the weight of the original and have a similar trigger pull weight (about 6.75 pounds on the trigger pull and overall weight of 2.2 pounds).  The realism and build quality of this pistol is very good with a nice, wide polymer trigger, non-adjustable white dot sights and 2 ½ inch picatinny rail section on the underside suitable for adding flashlights, etc.  It lends itself as a training tool for breath and trigger control as well as re-holstering drills, etc.  The drawbacks would be the non-functioning slide lock and take-down lever and this model is not field-strippable.  Also, the actual P320 provides interchangeable grip panels for adjusting the pistol’s width to fit the owner’s hand.  Not so with the SIG Air P320.

The stick magazine rides in the front of the grip ahead of the CO2 cartridge chamber.  It springs out smartly with a press on the magazine release found in the same location as the firearm.   The unique thing about this magazine is that it is belt-fed and holds 30 rounds of either pellets or BBs.  The Double Action Only trigger exhibits a definite “stacking” feel through the firing cycle due to the process of advancing the belt-feed mechanism, but this subsided slightly as the pistol and magazine went through the break-in period.  The P320 sports a rifled 4.75-inch barrel and I prefer not to shoot BBs through rifled barrels, but this is a dual ammo pistol if you prefer to shoot both.  BBs would definitely be easier and faster to load, but at least you have 30 rounds available before you have to think about reloading.  I put both flat-nosed wad cutters as well as pointed pellets through the P320 and other than leaving a couple of “failures to launch” behind in the magazine, it fed well.  Testing on a 75 degree day at 6200 feet in altitude, I was getting around 80 shots per CO2 capsule.  A big cautionary note here: the all metal slide blows back with authority, however, by using a portion of the CO2 to cycle the action it lowers the shot count per CO2 cartridge.  As with any CO2 powered airgun, too low a pressure will cause a pellet to lodge in the barrel leading to a condition that could prevent removal of the magazine.  Since this gun is not field-strippable, a serious jam could require the pistol to be shipped back to SIG Air for repair.

Accuracy of the P320 was reasonable for a gun in this price range.  I would call it “plinking accuracy” and totally suitable for keeping rogue soda cans from becoming a threat.  Rated by SIG Air for 430 fps, my results were more sedate at 340 fps using 8.5 grain H&N Excite Spike pointed pellets.  Still it was a great little plinker and appeals to the collector in me.

The MSRP on the P320 is $119.99 and it comes with a one-year warranty from SIG Air.  For more information on the P320  check out this page on the Airguns of Arizona website.

 

If you have an aversion to snakes I’m going to ask you to buck up and read on so I can relay info on one of the MTC scopes named after vipers.  MTC Optics is a British scope maker around for about a dozen years now and part of the corporate group that owns Breda shotguns and Daystate airguns.  It is a company that was started by shooters to provide optics for shooters by a man named Gary Cooper.  The model I’ve worked with is the Mamba-Lite in a 4-16x42mm configuration with a low-profile side turret for parallax adjustment from 10 yards to infinity.  The body is a 1-inch aluminum tube sporting a matte black finish and the scope weighs in at 20 ounces.  The Mamba-Lite offers multi-coated optic glass for brighter edge-to-edge viewing and a red illuminated reticle. The scopes are made to MTC’s exacting quality standards and designed for use with any caliber.  Normal scope care is all that is required for maintenance; such as cleaning the outside with a soft cloth and using high quality lens cleaning products.

The reticle design is called the SCB2 (mil) and stands for: Small Caliber Ballistic Reticle (type 2) but can certainly be used with larger calibers and is especially appropriate for long range applications as the reticle is in the second focal plane so the mil spacings remain “true” at the highest magnification.  Additionally, ½ mil aiming points have also been incorporated into the reticle.  Only the center of the reticle is illuminated and operated by a microswitch on the parallax turret under a waterproof rubber button.  Minor pressure on the button for 2 seconds turns on the power and there are 6 illumination levels that get brighter with each press of the switch.  Turning off the power is accomplished by pressing the button and holding for 2 seconds, retaining the illumination setting for the next time it is powered up.  Something they appear to have left out, however, is an auto-shutoff so remember to check illumination is off before you store your rifle back in the safe.

A feature I particularly liked were the Patent Pending spring loaded, rotatable flip-up lens covers.  Sometimes fumbling with lens covers that close by snap fit or friction fit can be frustrating and even require two hands to open in order not to pull the covers completely off the scope.  Not so with these covers.  They also stay open at your choice of 90 or 180 degrees and can be locked down in the position you choose.  Why this is important involves the other nifty feature incorporated into the rear cover – a magnifying lens.  When flipped to the 180-degree position, it provides an easy to read heads-up display of whichever turret markings you have it aligned with.  Of course, if using it on a center fire rifle you would be well-advised not to leave the rear cover open to the 90-degree setting as heavy recoil may lead to an unwanted scope bite.

Pricing from www.airgunsofarizona.com is $399.00 and the scope comes standard with a 1-year warranty.  That can be extended to Lifetime, per the U.S. website, by registering it with the manufacturer within 30 days of purchase.  AofA also carries the Sportsmatch scope rings recommended by MTC.  Sportsmatch U.K has been making scope rings for over 45 years and these aluminum rings retail at $37.00.

The Mamba Lite is a quality scope made by MTC Optics