I’ve been seeing a lot of replica air pistols lately. By replica, I mean air pistols that look and feel like their firearms counterparts.
This week’s example is the Colt Government 1911 A1 pellet pistol from Umarex. It stretches 9 inches from end to end and weighs 2 pounds 6 ounces. Everything except the checkered grips (plastic) is made of metal in a handsome blued steel finish. Powered by a 12-gram CO2 cartridge, it features a slide release latch, a manual safety on the left side, a functioning grip safety at the back of the pistol grip, non-adjustable front and rear sights, a lanyard loop, and a working hammer.
It looks like a semi-automatic, but in actuality the 1911 A1 is a double-action revolver that houses a small rotary magazine inside what looks like the 1911’s slide.
To ready the 1911 for shooting, first press the slide release lever just above the trigger assembly on the left side of the pistol. This will allow the front section of the slide to move forward, opening a gap to reveal the rotary magazine. Remove the rotary magazine. Next, press the magazine release button on the left side of the receiver between the trigger guard and the pistol grip. This releases the grip panel on the right side of the pistol which you must finish removing with your fingers. Beneath the grip panel is a chamber to hold the 12-gram CO2 pistol.
Pull the cartridge lock lever at the bottom of the pistol grip down as far as it will go. Loosen the gold-colored cylinder screw by turning it clockwise. Insert a new CO2 cartridge into the chamber with the small end point toward the top of the pistol. Tighten the cylinder screw by rotating it gently counterclockwise until snug. Return the cartridge lock lever to its original position by pushing it upward. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, flip the safety to FIRE, push in the grip safety, and squeeze the trigger. You should be rewarded with a “pop.”
If you don’t hear a pop, swing the cylinder lock downward, tighten the cylinder screw a bit more, and try again. Once you are sure that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine by inserting pellets headfirst into the eight pellet bays. The back of the magazine has a small eight-point star-shaped assembly at the center. Once the magazine is loaded, drop it into the slot between the front and rear sections of the slide with the front of the magazine facing the muzzle and close the slide by pulling the front section of the slide back until it locks.
You can chose to shoot the 1911 A1 in one of two ways. In double action mode, you pull the trigger back, back, back, driving the hammer backward until the shot fires. In single action mode, you pull the hammer back until it locks and then you pull the trigger to discharge the shot.
Theoretically, double action mode is faster because you don’t have to pause between shots to cock the hammer. I found, however, that the effort to pull the trigger in double action mode is high . . . very high . . . 8 pounds 12 ounces, in fact. That’s high enough to be no-fun-at-all, in my view.
However, if you shoot in single action mode and cock the hammer first, the effort to trigger the shot is much more reasonable: only 2 pounds, 13.5 ounces. As a result, I highly recommend shooting this pistol in single action mode.
On a 75-degree day (velocities from CO2-powered airguns can vary considerably with temperature), the 1911 1A launched its first 7.9 grain pellet at around 400 feet per second. I shot slowly, taking a few seconds to align the pistol over the chronograph sensors, and every subsequent shot was slower, until the last shot registered around 353 fps. This is typical of CO2 powered airguns unless you give them sufficient time to recover CO2 pressure between shots.
I tried a few shots at a soup can at a distance of about 10 feet and found the 1911 A1 didn’t have enough oomph to punch holes in the can. It would dent the can and bounce around, but no holes.
In the end, I found the 1911 A1 is well made and fun to shoot. What this air pistol really needs is a fun game to play with it, and we’ll get into that a little bit next week when I take a look at Beretta 92FS pellet air pistol.
Til then, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott