Posts Tagged ‘CO2 guns’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Gamo P-25 air pistol, and something interesting that happened. Normally, I report on the velocity of 3 or 4 pellets and leave it at that, but a strange thing happened with the first CO2 cartridge in the test pistol.
I didn’t screw the piercing screw deep enough into the CO2 cartridge, resulting in the gas flow being hindered. I’ve experienced this a few times in the past, but this time it was very pronounced. After each shot, there was a period of time that ranged from 5 to 10 seconds, during which the gas flowed audibly from the cartridge into the gun’s valve. It sounded like a leak in the gun, but I noticed it only lasted a few seconds before stopping, so it wasn’t venting to the outside. It was the gas flowing from the cartridge into the gun’s valve, where it would be used for the next shot.
Shooting the pistol in the rapid-fire mode proved impossible with this first cartridge. The first shot went out at the normal velocity, and shot 2…fired immediately after the first shot…clocked 88 f.p.s. through the chronograph.
It was my fault
So, I screwed the piercing screw much deeper into the next cartridge. Problem solved! Don’t be tentative when piercing a cartridge in this pistol. Do it like you mean it. After I pierced the second cartridge correctly, the pistol performed exactly as expected. Rapid-fire worked as you would expect, and the gun kept up with my trigger finger.
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. Weighing 7 grains, the all-lead Hobby pellet tells me so much about an airgun’s powerplant. For starters, it tells me what needs to be done to get the 425 f.p.s. velocity that’s claimed for the gun.
Hobbys averaged 353 f.p.s. in the P-25. They ranged from a low of 333 to a high of 379 f.p.s., and some of that large variance may be due to the gas flow problem I mentioned. At the average velocity, Hobbys were generating 1.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The Hobbys told me what I wanted to know. This pistol wasn’t going to get its rated velocity with a lead pellet. So, I needed to try it with a lead-free pellet; and since this is a Gamo gun, the Gamo Raptor PBA sounded like a good selection.
The Raptor PBA pellet is made from metal that’s harder than lead. It weighs 5.4 grains and will generally boost the velocity of an airgun above what a lead pellet will, though the hardness of the metal actually slows it down sometimes. But in the P-25, the Raptor PBAs worked just fine. They averaged 412 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 395 to a high of 432 f.p.s. So, the ads are right on the money. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 2.04 foot-pounds of energy.
Next up were the lead Gamo Match wadcutters. They weigh 7.56 grains and are sometimes quite accurate in some guns. In the P-25, they averaged 348 f.p.s. with a spread from 329 to 357 f.p.s. The average energy was 2.03 foot-pounds. This will be a pellet to try in the accuracy test.
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain lites
The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. They fit in the circular clips of the magazine rather easily, which caused some concern they might fall out; but the way the magazine is designed, only 2 pellets at a time are exposed in its clip. So the worry was for nothing.
Premiers averaged 344 f.p.s. in the P-25, with a spread from 330 to 360 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generate 2.08 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
The double-action trigger-pull broke at exactly 8-1/2 lbs., which is light for a DA pull. On single-action, it broke under 4 lbs., with a huge creep at 2-1/2 lbs. That creep is consistent and lets you know when the gun is ready to fire.
While I got just 50 shots on the first cartridge, I got more with the second one. Besides the velocity testing, I did another test with an entire cartridge, just to see how the pistol operates in the rapid-fire mode. So, the correct piercing is very important. I fired an entire cartridge, just to see how the pistol handled. Everything worked smoothly until shot 48, when the blowback failed for the first time. After that, the blowback would work if I waited long enough between shots, but not if I shot rapidly. However, if you allow time for the gun to warm up, it keeps right on shooting.
There are certainly 75 or more powerful shots in the gun if you allow the gun to rest between shots. The blowback will work reliably past shot 50, as long as time is taken between shots. Shoot fast, however, and the gun cools too much and wastes gas.
Impressions so far
So far, I like the P-25. I like its simplicity and the light single-action trigger. If it’s also accurate, this might be a best buy.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Okay, now for something a little different. The Gamo P-25 air pistol is a 16-shot pellet pistol with blowback and a rifled barrel. This pistol operates on CO2, and the 12-gram cartridge is hidden inside the grip.
Normally, a gun like this is a BB gun, but this time there’s a rifled barrel — and the chance to shoot many different lead pellets, plus a trigger that’s both single-action and double action. Because of the blowback action, you’re going to shoot this gun single-action most of the time.
The P-25 is a 21st century handgun is every respect. It’s nearly all synthetic, entirely black and the grip is fat, as though enclosing a double-stacked magazine. The fixed sights feature three white dots — like night sights, but without tritium inserts. Align the three dots and put the center dot over your target…and I assume you’ll have minute-of-soda-can accuracy at 25 feet. We’ll find out more about that when we test the pistol for accuracy.
I like the fact that this pistol comes with blowback. That gives a realistic feel to each shot, which makes this a good trainer for maintaining firearms proficiency. When we get to the accuracy test, I’ll let Edith shoot the pistol and give her assessment, too. The gun I’m testing is serial number 12F31301.
The P-25 is a large pistol. Maybe it looks like a pocket pistol in the photograph above, but in person it’s larger than an M1911A1 in all ways, save length.
The trigger is very strange. Usually a single-stage trigger is crisper and lighter than a 2-stage trigger, but this one isn’t. While the pull weight isn’t that heavy, there’s a country mile of takeup even in the single-stage mode — i.e., when the hammer is already cocked. Once the takeup is done, though, the trigger breaks cleanly enough. It isn’t exactly crisp, but it is light and very predictable. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble with it.
The double-action pull is relatively light, though you’ll only feel it on the first shot after installing the magazine. Once the gun fires, the slide blows back, cocking the hammer for every successive shot.
The trigger blade is very wide. I find that gives a nice feel to the pull when I’m trying to control the let-off or point at which the trigger breaks.
The safety is another matter. It’s one of those Euro-lawyer safeties that have a center switch that’s pulled back before the lever can be moved. There’s no way to operate this kind of safety with one hand. It blocks the trigger when its on.
The magazine is a stick type with two circular pellet clips — one on either end. It’s a drop-free design, and the release button is on the left front of the grip frame, where a right-handed shooter expects it to be. The mag has to be ejected and turned around for the second 8 shots.
This gun runs on CO2. The manufacturer says it gets up to 425 f.p.s. with pellets, and we will test that for you in Part 2. The cartridge is hidden in the grip, and this time the enclosure is different. The bottom rear of the grip is pulled away from the rest of the grip, and two-thirds of the CO2 compartment is exposed. When the cartridge is installed, a conventional piercing screw tensions and pierces the cartridge. Don’t forget to put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each new cartridge as it’s installed. That will keep your gun sealed for many years.
The P-25 is moderately heavy, at 29 oz., so the blowback action causes a fair amount of bounce. It feels not much different than a medium-weight .22 rimfire pistol shooting standard-speed long rifle rounds.
The barrel is rifled steel. That gives me some hope that this pistol will also be accurate. If the blowback feature doesn’t use too much gas, the P-25 could turn out to be a very nice plinking air pistol.
All things considered, at this point the Gamo P-25 air pistol looks like a good one. I hope it delivers on that promise.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Let’s begin testing the effects of oiling pellets. There are numerous ways to approach this issue, and I have to pick one at a time and limit the test to just that. But I think as long as I’m testing one aspect, I ought to test it thoroughly so someone can’t come back and second-guess me later in the report.
So, today I’ll test with one rifle, and the next time I’ll test with another. What I won’t do is test with each different brand of airgun, just to see what will happen. If a powerful gas spring rifle performs in a certain way, I’ll assume that all powerful gas spring rifles are going to do the same. If the difference between dry pellets and oiled pellets is close, I may do additional testing; but if there’s clear separation, I’ll accept that as the way it works.
What am I testing?
The question that started this experiment was, “How much faster will oiled pellets shoot than those that are not oiled?” One reader has asked me to also test this downrange because he wonders if a thin coat of oil changes the laminar flow of air around a pellet. I may get to that at some point, but for the present I’m just concerned with muzzle velocity because all pellets slow down after they exit the muzzle — oiled or not.
I suppose this needs to be tested in all three powerplant types, but today I’m testing it in a spring-piston powerplant. Today’s gun is a weak powerplant, so next time I’ll test it in a more powerful gun.
I’m using an HW55 SF target rifle to test three pellets. This rifle is a variation of the old HW50 rifle, so it shoots in the 600-650 f.p.s. region with lead pellets.
Since oiled pellets will leave a film in the bore, I tested all pellets dry first, and then tested the oiled pellets afterwards. Before the first test shot with oiled pellets, I fired two pellets to condition the bore. That turned out not to be enough, but I’ll come to that later.
I’ll test the three major pellet shapes in this test. They’re the wadcutter, dome and pointed head. There are other shapes, like hollowpoints, but they’re based on one of these three main shapes, so this is all I’m testing.
How I oil pellets
I oil pellets in the following manner. A foam liner is placed in the bottom of a pellet tin, and 20 drops of Whiscombe Honey are dropped onto the foam. Then, a single layer of pellets is spread on the foam, and the tin is rolled around. I shake the tin lightly to move the pellets around…but not enough to damage them. Whatever oil transfers to the pellet is all the oil it gets. I’ve been doing this for many years and it works well.
The pellets end up with a very light and uniform coat of oil. When I handle them the tips of my fingers become oily, but I can’t see any oil on the pellets. Other people use more oil than I do, but this is what I am testing.
Whiscombe Honey is a mixture of two-thirds Hoppes Gun Oil (not Number 9 bore cleaner!) and one-third STP Engine Treatment, by volume. Shake the mixture until is takes on a light yellow color. It will look like thin honey, hence the name. This mixture should not detonate easily in a spring gun.
Test one — dry pellets
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets were the domes I tested. The average velocity for dry Premiers was 606 f.p.s., with a low of 577 and a high of 616. So, the spread was 39 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.44 foot-pounds.
For wadcutters, I tested Gamo Match pellets. The average for dry pellets was 652 f.p.s., with a low of 640 and a high of 663 f.p.s. The spread was 17 f.p.s. The average energy was 7.14 foot-pounds.
H&N Neue Spitzkugel
The pointed pellet I selected was the H&N Neue Spitzgugel. When shot dry, they averaged 601 f.p.s., with a low of 585 and a high of 620 f.p.s. The spread was 34 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.81 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
Now, I shot two oiled pellets through the bore to condition it and began the test.
Oiled Crosman Premiers
Oiled 7.9-grain Premiers averaged 591 f.p.s., but the spread went from a low of 545 to a high of 612 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 67 .p.s. The average energy for oiled pellets was 6.13 foot-pounds. I did notice the pellets were going faster at the end of the shot string, so I thought I might come back to them after testing the other pellets.
Oiled Gamo Match pellets
The oiled wadcutters averaged 658 f.p.s. — a slight gain over the dry pellets. But the real news was the spread, which went from a low of 651 to a high of 663 f.p.s. Instead of a 17 f.p.s. for the dry pellets, the oiled pellets gave a spread of just 12 f.p.s. That’s too close to draw any conclusions, but it’s interesting. The average energy with the oiled pellets was 7.27 foot-pounds. So, with the oiled pellets, the velocity went up — along with the energy — and the shot-to-shot variance went down.
Oiled H&N Neue Spitzkugel
Oiled Spitzkugels averaged 609 f.p.s. — which was a small increase over the same pellet when dry. The average energy was 6.99 foot-pounds. The spread went from 585 to 620 f.p.s, which was identical for the same pellet dry. Velocity and energy were both up slightly from dry pellets, and the shot-to-shot variance remained the same.
By now, it’s obvious that the bore needed more than two shots to condition it, so I retested the oiled Crosman Premiers. The second time the oiled pellets averaged 604 f.p.s., which is just 2 f.p.s. slower than the same pellets dry. But the spread that was 67 f.p.s. on the first test of oiled pellets and 39 f.p.s. with dry Premiers now went from a low of 594 to a high of 613 f.p.s. — a much tighter 19 f.p.s. total. The average energy was 6.40 foot-pounds.
From this test, I observed that these three pellets either remained at the same velocity or increased very slightly from the light oiling I gave them. In two of the three cases, the velocity spread got tighter when the pellets were oiled.
I further observed that it’s necessary to condition a bore with oiled pellets before doing any testing. As a minimum, I would say that 20 oiled pellets should be fired before testing.
These are very small differences from oiling; and although I can’t draw any conclusions yet, I would think that such a small change is not enough to matter. It hardly seems worth doing at this point. However, there’s still a test to be done in a powerful airgun. Until we see those results, I think it’s too soon to say anything for sure.
Although the question that drove this test was how much faster oiling pellets makes them shoot, I think we still have to take accuracy into account before forming any opinions.
And now for something completely different
Pyramyd Air is looking for a manager for their tech department. If you’re interested in the position, below is the job info and where to send your resume.
Directs and coordinates activities of the department in providing customers technical services and support; directly supervises employees. Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
Coordinates technical support services between management, tech support staff, sales department, and customers.
Establishes and documents department procedures and objectives.
Accomplishes department objectives by selecting, orienting, training, assigning, coaching, counseling, and disciplining employees; communicating job expectations; and monitoring performance.
Maintains and improves support operations by monitoring staff and system performance, identifying and resolving problems, and preparing and completing action plans
Provides technical assistance to customers and labor quotes. Handles escalated calls or provides assistance requiring more complex issues.
Installs common accessories and kits in accordance with customer orders.
Performs tests on guns to determine advertised performance specifications.
Required experience, skills and background:
Bachelor’s degree and 3 years managerial experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience required. Previous industry experience required.
Must be detail-oriented with good mechanical aptitude.
Ability to prioritize and multi-task.
Good communication and customer service skills.
Good computer skills.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9am until 5:30pm; longer hours and some Saturdays are expected, especially during our busy peak periods.
Preferred experience, skills and background:
Previous experience in airgun repair or troubleshooting desired.
Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report will be lengthy because I want to test several aspects of oiling pellets. For starters, I want to test it with spring guns, PCPs and CO2 guns just to get a complete picture of what, if anything, oiling pellets is doing in each of those powerplants. I’m interested in velocity because of the question that spawned this blog, but accuracy might also be interesting to test.
We received this question in the following form. I will paraphrase, but this is the gist of it, “How much faster do pellets go when they are oiled?” That question came in on one of our social networks and was referred to me for an answer. Well, you know me! Give me a topic and I turn it into a week’s worth of blogs. But this question really begged for the full treatment because there’s so much to cover.
When I got interested in shooting airguns as an adult in the middle 1970s, the question of oiling pellets wasn’t around (as far as I know). In talking with the late Rodney Boyce, I learned that the oiling question really came to a head when PCPs first started being used in the early 1980s. A PCP shoots very dry air, and their barrels are made from steel; so, at the higher velocities, they tend to get leaded bores. Some shooters were also oiling pellets for their spring guns; but a lot of the time they did it because they washed the pellets, thinking the black compound on them was dirt. In fact, it was anti-oxidant to keep the pellets from turning to white dust. Had they just left the pellets alone, they wouldn’t have oxidized.
In defense of the spring-gun guys who washed their pellets, though, some brands did have a lot of lead swarf (flakes of lead from the manufacturing process) inside some of the pellets, and vigorous washing did remove it. But then the pellets needed to be oiled again, or they would quickly oxidize.
Why we oil pellets
We oil pellets for two reasons. The first is to prevent the oxidation of the lead after washing. The second is to reduce the leading of the bore, though this is principally a PCP problem. Other pneumatics either shoot too slowly or they have brass or bronze barrels that do not allow the lead to attach itself, so they do not lead up.
Do oiled pellets shoot faster?
That was the question that started this report. I’ve tested this in the past and found that with a PCP shooting .177 pellets at 850-900 f.p.s., oiled pellets went slower, not faster. But that was just one test, and I don’t want to say what oiling will do for other guns until I do some more testing.
I’ll tell you this — oiling pellets became such a hot topic in the late ’90s that people were swapping their favorite secret formulas on the internet. And I know one UK company that sells an oil for pellets that they still claim gives increased velocity. Well, that’s too good to pass up, so I’ll test some of their oil in this test.
Not just oil
Don’t think that oil is the only thing people put on pellets. I remember lengthy discussions of how to apply a thin even coat of wax on pellets. Then, the topic shifted to what kind of wax to use! One guy went so far as to specify a high-tech boat hull compound called Bo-Shield for his pellets. When he talked about it his eyes got that faraway stare, as though he was transcending the real world and entering the spirit world.
What I will test
The first thing I want to do — have to do, in my mind — is test what the application of oil does to the velocity of pellets. Okay, that opens about 10 worm cans, right there:
What constitutes “an application of oil”? (I have seen paragraphs of instructions telling you how to know if the application of oil has been enough or if you need more.)
Am I testing this on lightweight pellets? Heavy pellets?
Do I test a powerful springer as well as a lower-powered springer?
Do I also test this on a precharged pneumatic?
A powerful PCP and a lower-powered PCP?
What about testing on a CO2 gun?
And on and on….
I think the best approach is to ask the question: Why do we oil pellets and who does it? We know that people who wash pellets also oil them, and we know that PCP users oil them; so that includes all the categories above. I don’t see a need to go to the extremes with this test. I’m not HP White Labs, and this isn’t a burning consumer question. If the findings suggest further testing, I could decide at that point?
What about the possible side effects?
Will oiling a pellet cause extra dieseling? Maybe. Is that what’s behind those flimflam salesmen who claim that oiled pellets go faster than dry pellets? I don’t know for certain; but as long as I’m going down the path, this is something I want to look at. Obviously, we’re talking only about powerful spring guns.
Does oiling affect accuracy?
I don’t know, but it seems we ought to find out. This gives me another excuse to unlimber my R8…so, hurrah!
Have I forgotten anything?
You tell me if I’ve overlooked any test that ought to be conducted. This isn’t a guessing game or a creativity contest, so please tell me only things that really matter to you.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I put this report of the Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol ahead of some others because one of our readers did a bad thing and got himself into trouble with his gun. I want to address that today before I get to the accuracy test.
I mentioned in Part 2 that while it’s possible to remove the slide from this pistol, it isn’t recommended. Well, blog reader Gregory did so anyway, and now he can’t get his pistol back together. I tried to help him by taking my slide off, and I lost the spring that powers the slide altogether.
Umarex USA couldn’t help
Since Gregory lives outside the U.S., I called Umarex USA for him so they could advise me how the spring goes back in the gun. Gregory has his spring, so all he needs to know is how to get it back in the gun. But Andrew at Umarex USA told me they do not support this gun, aside from exchanging it. So, they have no parts on hand, nor do they have any technical data relating to it. And, if you take the slide off, that’s not authorized, and they will not fix it under warranty.
Pyramyd Air steps in
Next, I called Pyramyd Air because this will become their problem sooner or later. I spoke with Gene Salvino, the service manager, who is also a firearms gunsmith and familiar with the disassembly of the firearm P38. I walked him through the problem and, sure enough, the spring popped out when he removed the slide. But he didn’t give up. Several guns later, he was able to reinstall the spring and get the gun working again.
Gene says he’ll try to get Umarex USA to stock the spring because, like me, he sees it as something people are going to need. He went through four guns before he was able to get a good spring back in and get the gun working again, so this is definitely a design problem.
Assembling the gun
Now we know beyond a doubt that you should not attempt to take the slide off the frame of this gun. But for Gregory’s sake, I want to show where the spring goes. I’m doing this without having seen the spring — just the place where it goes. But Gene confirmed that I was right about that.
The slide has been taken off this gun. That long slot in the right side of the frame is where the slide return spring goes. It’s held in the gun by the fit of the slide to the frame. You can see two cutouts at the top of the long slot in this photo. When the spring is installed, it must be compressed enough to allow the slide projection to enter the frame through the rear slot (the one on the left).
The slide is slipped over the front of the frame and pulled to the rear. A projection on the inside of the slide passes through a slot cut in the frame for this purpose. The long spring has to be compressed behind (to the left of) the place where the projection enters the frame.
The slide has a projection on the right side that slips through a cutout in the frame when assembling the gun. Getting the slide back on is simple once you understand how it fits. First, the front of the slide is put over the front of the frame, where it aligns very easily. Then, pull the slide all the way to the rear of the frame as far as it will go. At that point, the projection on the inside of the slide is aligned with the cutout in the frame, so it’s ready to be installed. You just push down on the top of the slide to get the hammer out of the way, while pushing the slide forward and it goes back into position very smoothly. After that, the barrel inserts into the front of the slide and the barrel latch is swung closed, locking the gun together.
The trick in all of this is to insert the spring into the slot on the right side of the frame, and to compress it so it’s behind the slide projection once it slips into the frame. You’ll need a thin tool for this; and, according to Gene, it’s a skill that takes some time to master. I don’t have a spring to show you, but I’m presently working on finding or making a replacement.
What the spring does
The spring really isn’t that powerful. Think of a long ballpoint pen spring that is also very thin. It holds the slide in the forward position.
You can use the gun without the spring, which is what I’m going to do today. You just have to keep the muzzle pointed slightly down when shooting and you have to make certain that the slide is all the way forward before you pull the trigger. The slide moves extremely easily on the frame when the spring isn’t installed, and you can operate the pistol without it if you just pay attention to the slide’s position.
I function-fired the pistol many times, and the pistol operates as it should without the spring. Even the blowback works perfectly, as long as there’s a slight downward angle to the gun. Sometimes, the slide will not go all the way forward, so you have to push it the last quarter-inch; but you can do that with the thumb of your shooting hand. It isn’t a perfect solution by any means, but it beats cursing the darkness and being without your gun!
I mentioned in Part 2 that you load the magazine one BB at a time. I said it wasn’t a problem as long as you kept the magazine oriented up so the BB could fall down inside after it entered the mag. Well, during this test I encountered one additional thing. You should hold your finger on the opposite side of the mag when loading; if you don’t, some BBs will pass straight through the top of the mag and fall out the other side.
Shooting for accuracy
The P38 is a blowback BB pistol — not traditionally the most accurate of air pistols. Where those pistols without blowback can have closer tolerances and a tighter barrel, these blowbacks have to leave a little room for the reliable operation of the slide and for the BBs that get blown into the barrel. So, they’re more for the shooting experience and less for precision.
Knowing that, I stepped off 12 feet from the Winchester Airgun Target Cube that I now use as a backstop and trap for all BB-gun tests. Of course, I had the cube positioned lower than my hand so the gun could be positioned downward. For targets, I decided to use Shoot-N-C bullseyes that were just applied to the front of the Target Cube. That made changing targets fast and easy.
I want to comment on the trigger-pull now. You never appreciate it until shooting for accuracy, and I was able to evaluate this one very well in today’s test. As I said earlier, the P38 has a trigger-pull that feels like a light double-action pull. That became very evident when I was shooting for accuracy. But the trigger also stacks at the end of the pull, just like a vintage Colt. The pull weight increases exponentially right before the gun fires, and that lets you control this trigger with precision. It takes some getting used to, but I’ve shot enough vintage Colts that I recognized it right away.
The first target revealed two things. First, the sights were hard to see against the target. I was using a center hold, and the black sights of the gun disappeared against the black bull. Second, the gun shoots a little low. I confirmed that with the second target and was able to raise the rounds by holding more of the front sight up above the rear sight.
The Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol is a realistic action pistol that delivers on performance. It should not be disassembled, as I have explained here; but if you just want a realistic action shooter, I think this is a gun to consider.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Falke stock restoration update
Before we begin looking at the Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol, I have an announcement. I feel like a kid who knows he is about to get his first BB gun! Doug Phillips, the man who is restoring the stock of my Falke 90 rifle (which I’m in the middle of testing), has been updating me weekly on the status of the project. He had to completely rebuild the section of the stock where the trigger is located, which on this gun is a very thin and complex wooden shelf that has holes for the front and rear triggerguard bolts, plus an enlarged hole for the trigger. Because this shelf was more than half missing, he had to completely redo it, including redrilling all the holes. It took him three attempts to get things in the right place, but he now tells me that they’re finally right.
But the real news is something that he didn’t tell me, but he showed me in a very small photo. The initials in the checkering on the left forearm panel are now gone. I was unable to tell they’d ever been there, though I’ll need to see the gun close up to know that for sure. And the grain in the walnut now stands out instead of being hidden by a cheap-looking layer of shellac.
All of the dents and scratches are gone as well. I’ll be writing a blog about this work when I get the gun back, but I wanted to share the progress with you now. I’m so grateful to blog reader Kevin for recommending Doug in the first place. I took plenty of before pictures, and Doug has taken pictures all through the restoration process, so you’ll get to see the project from start to finish. But, now, let’s get to today’s report.
Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol
One question that blog reader John asked after the first report: Can the gun be disassembled in the same way as the P38 firearm? The answer is a qualified “yes.” I should have showed that in Part 1, but since I didn’t, we’ll look at it now. There’s another lever on the left side of the gun that I didn’t mention last time. It’s at the forward edge of the frame, above and in front of the triggerguard. It’s the disassembly lever or what the owner’s manual calls the barrel catch lever. To disassemble the gun, rotate the rear of the catch down and forward until it stops. The barrel can then be pulled straight off the frame. As I recall, that’s exactly how the firearm came apart, as well.
It’s possible to also take the slide off the gun, but it doesn’t serve any useful purpose, so I recommend against it. The barrel comes off to clear a jammed BB, but removing the slide doesn’t give you access to anything that you need on the gun.
This gun has blowback! Although the slide is a smaller mass than on other pistols, it still comes back with a jolt — creating the simulation of recoil. The impulse is quick and sharp, unlike some other blowback guns that have bulkier slides.
The trigger is two-stage (non-adjustable). Stage one has more resistance than usual, making it almost feel like a single-stage trigger, but you’ll feel the start of the second stage if you persist. Stage one takes almost exactly 3 lbs. of pull and stage two breaks at between 7 lbs., 5 oz. and 8 lbs., 5 oz. I know that sounds heavy; but since this trigger feels more like a double-action pull than a single-action pull, it doesn’t seem that bad. Very few double-action guns have an 8-lb. trigger pull.
The stick magazine is set up to receive just one BB at a time. Once the BB enters the mag, the mag must be oriented nearly straight up and down or the BB will stay at the top of the mag and block other BBs from being loaded. That makes this a more troublesome magazine to load than the average stick mag.
However, the BBs do go into the mag opening easily enough. As I mentioned in Part 1, the place the BBs enter the magazine is funnel-shaped, plus there’s a small groove that leads to it. If you hold the mag nearly vertical, each BB that enters will fall to the bottom, making room for the next. The way this magazine is designed, I don’t think it will be possible to fit it to a speedloader.
I tested the velocity with Daisy zinc-plated BBs, which have proven themselves to be the best general-purpose BB on the market. The velocity of the test gun averaged 385 f.p.s. with a fresh CO2 cartridge. At the average velocity, this pistol generates 1.68 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The range was from 374 to 404 f.p.s., so the total variation was 30 f.p.s. I did notice the gun cools down a lot as it’s shot, so waiting longer between shots gives you higher velocity.
There are between 50 and 60 shots in one CO2 cartridge. All 60 won’t be powerful, but they should all shoot out of the gun. So plan on shooting three full magazines before changing cartridges.
Thus far, the Walther P38 seems to be everything they advertised. Let’s hope it’s also reasonably accurate; and if it is, this will be one very authentic and nice BB pistol!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Am I a gun collector? Not in the strictest sense. I do have a lot of guns, but I run through them fast — getting rid of the ones I’m no longer interested in and getting others that I’ve never had before. A couple guns, like the M1 Carbine, do fascinate me to the point that I’m attracted to every one of them. Even with that model, I’ve pared down the number I own to just one.
And I’ve always been this way. If you met me 40 years ago, I would just be a younger version of myself, and the guns I owned then were different from those I have today. I’m sentimental to a point, but my curiosity overcomes nostalgia when it comes to owning guns. And, because I have limited means, I have to own them sequentially rather than all at once.
Back in the salad years, I was questing after the guns that everyone wants — the Lugers, Colt SAAs and Winchester lever actions. And among all those wonderful guns I once owned, there was a Walther P38. The P38, which is short for Pistole (19)38 was designed in 1938 to use modern (at the time) production methods to build a sidearm that replaced the more complex and manufacturing-intensive P08 (Luger). The P38 was adopted by the German army in 9×19mm caliber, which is more commonly called the 9mm Luger.
I knew when I bought the gun that it wasn’t built the same as a Luger (which I would have to wait a few more years to acquire), and the actual pistol I could afford at the time had lots of wear on it. The accuracy wasn’t the absolute best — and that was at a time when I was shooting handguns all the time, so accuracy mattered a lot.
My impressions of the gun were that it was made differently than I’d expected. It was made of stamped parts, and the tolerances were on the loose side. Of course, my well-used gun was probably even looser than the norm, but I do remember being surprised at the rattle it made when shaken.
At the time, it was one of a very few semiautomatic pistols that were both single-action and double-action. So, you could carry it with a round in the chamber and just pull the trigger to start shooting. The Browning High Power (P35) was another one, but in those days I couldn’t come close to affording one of those. Over the years, they’ve come down in price as my purchasing power has risen, but I’ve still never owned one!
I was prepared for a horrible double-action trigger-pull from my weary P38, but even that well-worn example surprised me by being light and smooth. And the single-action pull was reasonable, if just a bit creepy. After all, this was a wartime sidearm that had seen a lifetime of field use and it was in about the same operating condition as any arms-room M1911A1, so a creepy trigger is to be expected.
This was my very first 9mm handgun, and the light recoil really came as a shock. After a childhood spent listening to stories of Lugers that shot through several people with a single bullet, I was expecting a real cannon; but as anyone who has shot the round knows, that simply is not the case. It has very little recoil for the power and is absolutely delightful to shoot.
The other thing that surprised me was how natural this pistol felt. It was replacing the Luger, which is the poster-child for an ergonomic handgun, yet the P38 did not disappoint when I brought it up to shoot.
The Walther P38 BB pistol
Now that I’ve told you my own backstory of P38 experience, let’s look at this Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol! For starters, this one is finished beautifully! Umarex has really gotten the finish of these replica guns down to a fine science, and this one is darkly blued. The metal is smooth and shiny and so good-looking that only the owner will know it isn’t a firearm.
The grips are brown plastic, designed to resemble wood, but they don’t quite make it. They are a little too reflective, though an effort has been made to dull them.
This is a BB pistol with a 20-shot drop-free stick magazine. It’s released by a lever located at the bottom rear of the grip frame, and the mag must be removed to pop off the left grip panel so you can install a CO2 cartridge. The tensioning screw for the cartridge is completely hidden within the grip so the gun’s profile is entirely authentic. In fact, there’s even a cleat at the bottom of the left grip panel for a lanyard hook — just like on the firearm!
The safety is a switch on the upper left rear of the slide. Up makes the gun ready to fire and down makes it safe, but you need to push the lever all the way down until a click is felt. If you don’t, the gun is not on safe and will fire when the trigger is pulled. The safety looks like the kind that also de-cocks the hammer, but this one doesn’t do that.
The one thing I wish was different is that this P38 doesn’t have a double-action trigger. The hammer must be manually cocked to prepare the gun for firing the first shot. After that, blowback cocks the hammer for each successive shot, so you have a true semiautomatic pistol. The blowback is brisk, though the mass of the slide is low, and you can definitely feel the shot going off. After the last BB has left the muzzle, the slide stays back so you know it’s time to reload.
The slide is held in place by the slide release, which is a working lever on the left side of the gun, just above the trigger. Reload the magazine, slip it back in the gun and push the lever down to let the slide go forward.
When the last BB’s fired, the slide stays open like this, alerting the shooter that the pistol needs to be reloaded. The slide release is a lever just above the trigger that’s pushed down to release the slide.
The magazine could be easier to load. To load it, you retract the spring-loaded follower and lock it in position, then feed each BB through the same hole they are fired from at the top of the magazine. Most stick magazines have a enlarged cutout in the follower channel that assists the loading of BBs, but this one doesn’t have that.
On the other hand, there is a loading groove where the BBs enter the mag, and the hole they drop into is slightly funnel-shaped. I guess I should reserve my comments on loading until after I’ve done it a few times.
The sights are fixed, both front and rear. They’re sharp and easy to see, and we’ll learn how close the gun shoots to the point of aim in the accuracy test.
The test pistol weighs 2 lbs. with a CO2 cartridge installed but no BBs in the magazine. That’s slightly heavier than the most common P38 firearm that has an aluminum frame and even heavier than the steel-frame early gun. But it isn’t a heavy handgun. It feels just right to me. The grip is neither too wide nor too narrow for me. Since the firearm has a single-stack 8-round mag, the width of the grip can be controlled by the thickness of the grip panels.
This will be a fun test for us. I just hope it’s as accurate as it looks!