Special thanks to Harwood W. Loomis at The M1911 Pistols Organization (www.M1911.org).
The new Colt/Umarex Commander 1911 model is a CO2-powered, (simulated) blowback version of the M1911A1. This is the most accurate reproduction of an M1911A1 I have ever seen in a BB gun. It looks and feels real, and it acts real. The experience of shooting this pistol is amazing – and I shot 1911s when I was in the Army.
The level of authenticity is astonishing. One of my pet peeves is fake 1911 air pistols that have swinging triggers. In this one, the trigger slides straight back, just like it should. The slide stop works. It not only swings up and down, it also locks the slide back after the last shot has been fired. The grip safety not only moves, it also functions as it should.
The thumb safety is functional. Like on a real 1911, it can’t be raised unless the hammer is cocked. As is common on air guns, it has markings for “SAFE” and “FIRE” positions. I can live with that if it gets us a properly functional thumb safety.
The barrel is smooth-bore. A smooth-bore barrel simply can’t produce the accuracy of a rifled barrel. But this is a plinking handgun, so accuracy isn’t critical. The advantage is that it shoots readily-available, steel BBs.
The specifications list the barrel length as 4.50 inches, yet the pistol is the size of a 5-inch M1911A1. This is because the muzzle of the .177-inch barrel is set back a half inch from the apparent muzzle at the front of the slide, for a .45 caliber barrel effect. The “muzzle” even has six ribs on the inside to look like the rifling in a real gun barrel.
What makes the new Colt/Umarex Commander an excellent training aid is that so much of the real 1911 manual of arms remains the same on this reproduction. The Commander is loaded using a magazine that occupies the full magazine well in the frame. The CO2 cartridge is loaded into the magazine, with the BBs, and the pistol is loaded by inserting the magazine and racking the slide. Just like in real life.
The pistol is made of metal, so its weight and balance are very close to those of a real 1911.
The trigger was light, with a bit of creep. The Commander uses some of the gas energy to cycle the slide, resulting in a CO2 air pistol that feels more like shooting a .22 caliber rimfire pistol than it does an air gun.
Looking to have a great time outdoors with your kids (or anyone for that matter)? Then pull out the airguns because that’s exactly what Tim from Airgun Hobbyist did. Tim threw quite the birthday party for his 14 year-old son, Ben, at their North Carolina home. The party lasted over four hours and saw 1000 pellets and BBs fired downrange with 30 different airguns and hundreds of different targets to choose from.
They started by preparing their home made range with some painted targets consisting of over 200 empty CO2 cartridges, 50 vegetable cans, dozens of soda cans, 80 water balloons, ice targets and a few rotten eggs. They also set up a few commercial targets including the center piece, the Right Now Range that held Shatter Blast targets, soda cans and some large bulls eye targets.
The targets were placed a minimum of 30 feet away from the firing line and each guest was given safety glasses to wear in case of a ricochet and were of course instructed on safety rules. Backstops were also used behind the targets to protect any wildlife they may have been wandering through.
There were many Umarex airguns at this little party including the Colt Peacemaker, Colt Commander, Colt Python, Walther PPQ, Walther PPS, Walther CP88, a S&W 586 and a Makarov. The Umarex Fusion took down quite a few long range targets and was fired for a fairly long time without needing to replace the CO2.
The Umarex Steel Force and the M712 weren’t as lucky though. The CO2 was constantly being replaced because everyone wanted to shoot them! The M712 was the favorite in full auto mode, and the Steel Force was another favorite with its six round burst mode.
The biggest hit was the Walther Lever Action western style rifle, which felt right at home in this shooting gallery style range. The Umarex Morph 3X was another favorite with its ability to “morph”. It made a great choice for shooters of all sizes.
Everyone left with a smile on their face and comments such as “We should do this more often!” The family also got to enjoy some private shooting time knocking down the remaining targets the next day before clean up.
FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS – (January 19, 2010) Umarex innovation has lead to one of the fastest BB pistols that incorporates slide-recoil action, the HPP. Marketed under the Umarex brand, the new “High Power Pistol” sends BBs speeding out of its muzzle from its all-metal frame at 410 feet per second.
The HPP uses Umarex’s advanced CO2 system to simulate firearm recoil. The release of CO2 through the pistol’s valve propels a BB and simultaneously causes the slide to blow back creating a realism that’s sought after by most airgun shooters. It also features a drop out magazine, an integrated accessory rail, and utilizes a double action system.
“The HPP is an excellent pistol for the price.” Said Richard Turner, VP of Sales and Marketing for Umarex USA, “It combines an all-metal frame, blowback action, and a very high velocity into one fast-shooting CO2 pistol.”
The Umarex HPP holds 15 BBs in its drop out magazine and weighs under two pounds.
For additional information visit UmarexUSA.com.
Umarex was established in 1972 as “Uma Mayer Ussfeller GmbH” and served the market for tear gas and signal pistols followed by air rifles. After acquiring Reck Sportwaffen Fabrick Karl Arndt, they reorganized ultimately under Umarex. The company’s Reck PK 800 enjoys worldwide acclaim and appears on the market as the perfect replica of the Walther PPK. Umarex has now become the largest maker of replicas by offering numerous German-made air guns, tear gas, signal pistols and now replica firearms. Umarex USA is North America’s fastest growing airgun and replica tactical rimfire gun company. Umarex USA markets their airguns, airsoft, paintball and tactical rimfire products under famous brands such as Walther, RWS, Smith & Wesson, Browning, Heckler & Koch, Ruger®, Beretta, Colt, Magnum Research and others. For additional information regarding Umarex USA visit www.UmarexUSA.com.
The Colt Defender stands out in quality and performance. It’s light compared to the actual Colt Defender Lightweight without any ammo. This Umarex replica does not look exactly like the real Colt Defender, but instead looks like a compact variant of the real Colt 1911A1 with a Picatinny rail in front of the trigger.
On the package of the Defender, the icons on the front and back give a full description of the construction, capabilities, features, ammo, power and expected velocity. Inside the package, you will find the manual of the Defender. Please read the manual before use and be sure to adhere to all safety information listed in the packaging.
When loading 12g CO2 capsules into the Defender, the chamber is accessed by pushing in the magazine release on the left side of the grip. The grips slide back revealing access on the left side. A spring tensioned folding half disk head screw extends from the bottom of the frame. You open it as indicated and rotate it counter clockwise to lower the dished head and insert a CO2 cartridge. Umarex brand CO2 capsules are recommended because they seal better and are “food” grade, presuming to be a cleaner CO2 source. (for why differences in CO2 quality make such a big difference in gun performance, see this CO2 quality article) Use RWS Chamber Lube as indicated. You tighten the screw by rotating clockwise until the CO2 capsule is pierced and seals.
If you flip the air pistol over you will see a follower on the right side. It slides down to a locking notch, allowing you to load 16 BB’s in the beveled area. Release the follower to apply tension for loading then slide the grips forward until they latch. The air gun is in a loaded condition with CO2 power available.
On Page three of the included manual, checking to see if the air gun is unloaded is mentioned. While you can verify the air pistol is loaded with the grips closed, with a short segment of the feed slot being visible above the right grip, you cannot be sure it is not loaded if even no BB’s are visible in the area. The follower is visible, but there may be one or more BB’s above. DO NOT assume the air pistol is unloaded just because you do not see a BB in the feed slot! After it is first loaded, presume a BB is there but not visible, even when it stops releasing BB’s during firing. One may be hung up and fire the next time you squeeze the trigger. After the first time it is loaded, this air gun should be treated as always loaded.
I found the premium BB’s worked best for consistent feeds and velocities. At a rated 440 fps, which I exceeded at 447 fps through the Chrony, this air pistol shoots faster than many BB air rifles. Keep this and the 325 yard rated range in mind, using a safe back stop and a clear area behind the target. Follow the directions in the manual. They are very good about backstops and range safety. As the manual states; BB’s are also prone to ricochet, always have everyone with you wear adequate eye protection and be aware of anything to the sides or behind you that might be damaged, as well as what is in front of you or beyond the target.
The safety is on the right side just above the forward part of the trigger guard. Note the “Press”, you push in to release and slide back to remove the safety. A white “safe” dot is covered and the red “fire” dot is revealed as the safety is slid. The air gun is now ready to fire. It is double action only. The hammer is molded on and does not move. The barrel actually moves forward as you squeeze the trigger. At sear release it falls back against the valve venting the CO2 and firing a BB. Push in and move the safety slide forward to re-activate the safety. Parts sometimes fail. Even with the air gun on “Safe” do not point it at anyone or anything you do not intend to shoot!
The molded screws make the rear sight seem adjustable. It is not, nor can the sight be “drifted”, the dovetail mount is a solid molding. The front sight is also fixed. The sights were not a problem—the Defender I received was accurate right out of the package.
You can mount an adjustable laser sight using the Picatinny mount forward of the trigger guard. I installed the Walther FLR 650 light-laser combination to provide a laser for shooting without bringing up the sights and the light for shooting in low light or dark conditions. This laser light system works well out to the effective 10 meter range of the Colt Defender. The system has the laser in the center of six LED’s. There are three functions accessible by sequentially pressing the activation button on the right; laser, laser with lights and lights only. Pressing the button a fourth time turns the system off. Do not store on with the right side down. I have found the system will activate with movement in a case and you will run down the batteries without knowing it. You also reduce the life of the laser and can remove the air gun from a case with the laser on. This can be a problem since the laser is dangerous when focused on human eyes. The FLR 650 does make the air pistol muzzle heavy, but is no real deterrent to accurate shooting.
The Umarex Colt Defender seems to be a composite of similar Colt’s or an issue I have not seen. The biggest differences between it and the actual firearm seem to be the flat rear adjustable sights, the lack of an extended beaver tail grip safety and the tang versus solid trigger and the Umarex has a Picatinny rail mount under the muzzle. I do not have a problem with these differences and found the Umarex Colt Defender well worth the money. The differences in this gun are more than the Umarex Beretta M92 pellet pistol, which is almost perfect, but it is still a great gun to own and easy to shoot. Overall, I feel that you are getting a great value for your money.
The Umarex Colt Defender CO2 BB Repeater is a joy to shoot and very well constructed. I find it easy to load new 12g CO2 capsules and BB’s. It is a nice solid replica air pistol that I would recommend you buy to start or add to your collection.
Umarex air pistols, like this realistic looking Colt Defender are meant to enhance your replica collection and provide a reasonably accurate BB pistol for target shooting and plinking.
Find out more about the items mentioned in this article:
- Colt Defender BB Air Pistol
- Premium BB’s
- RWS Chamber Lube
- 12g CO2 capsules
- Walther FLR 650 LED Light Laser Combination
- Umarex Beretta M92 pellet pistol
by: Dennis Brooks
It seems with rising ammo costs that air pistols have become the shooting enthusiasts new friend because the cost is only a couple of pennies per shot. There has also been a report of law enforcement agencies using replica airguns for target practice for the same reason. So, let’s take a look at one of the replica Umarex air pistols, the Beretta Px4 Storm. At first glance the Px4 Storm air pistol looks like its Beretta firearm counterpart, but there are some differences, the most notable being in the frame and slide’s ejection port.
Starting at the bottom of the frame’s grip, the Px4 CO2 pistol has a rotating CO2 charging knob that’s positioned to the rear of the grip as opposed to the firearm’s magazine that is positioned toward the front. As you travel up the grip, there are some serrations on the backstrap that don’t exist on the firearm. The backstrap on the air pistol is actually the CO2 compartment cover and the serrations provide a gripping point for ease of removal. Although the actual firearm’s pins don’t exist on the air pistol at the top-rear of the grip, circles have been molded in to represent their size and shape. There’s a third pin, a split design, that holds the valve assembly and frame together, which is not on the firearm.
At first, the slide catch seems the same as the firearm version of the pistol, but it does not function—it is molded into the frame. Continuing up the frame the magazine release button is slightly different. I was hopeful that it could be reversed for left-hand thumb release, but when I did so, the magazine would not click into place, because the notches that catch on the release when the magazine is inserted are not duplicated for left-hand release. A crafty shooter could indeed handle this slight modification to the magazine and have an ambidextrous Px4 Storm air pistol, although you may want to have a couple of extra Px4 Storm CO2 gun magazines on-hand for practice. The last two noticeable differences on the frame is the lack of a disassembly latch, which instead has a couple of pins inside the indention where it is normally located and an additional lever at the top-right side of the frame, which is the safety mechanism.
The serrations on the slide are exact by naked eye, 15 at front, 7 at rear on either side. The lever that would be the safety on the slide of the Px4 sidearm is present, but molded in and non-functioning. The red dot, which indicates the pistol is “On Fire”, is not located by this molded-in lever, but has been appropriately placed by the air pistol’s actual safety lever. The sights look the same—3-dot sight system, but are not adjustable or coated with Superluminova®. There is a screw centered on top of the slide just in front of the rear sight as opposed to an offset “nipple”. I don’t recommend removing this screw as the Px4 Storm airgun manual states that disassembly will void your warranty. The biggest difference in the slide of the Px4 airgun and the Px4 firearm is in the area of the ejection port. While the shape and opening start out the same, the air pistol’s slide does not have the extractor area molded into the frame.
The frame is plastic, as is the magazine. The slide, trigger, hammer, and internal working parts are made of metal. Unloaded and without airgun ammunition in its magazine or a 12 gram CO2 cylinder installed, the Beretta Px4 Storm air pistol weighs 25.4 ounces while an unloaded Px4 Storm firearm with an empty magazine weighs 27.7 ounces. Add an un-punctured 12g CO2 cylinder and the Px4 Storm airgun comes in at 26.81 ounces, hardly a noticeable difference in weight.
From appearances, the Beretta Px4 Storm air pistol isn’t exact, but at first glance it’s so close that you’ll hardly know the difference.
The Px4 Storm Airgun Replica—In Action
The function of the Px4 Storm airgun is different as is the sound it generates, but the most exciting feature is its blow back action or “recoil”. It is the kick that gives this pistol that added touch of realism and a higher level of attraction for Px4 firearm owners that want to target practice economically.
Before charging the pistol with CO2, the first thing you’ll notice (after making sure your pistol is on safe) is that when you drop the magazine free of the grip it has a rotary magazine at either end. Each mag holds 8 projectiles so the magazine will hold a total of 16. Only a pellet is engraved on the magazine’s side, but worthy of a knowing is that the Px4 Storm will also hold and fire 4.5 mm steel BBs. Be careful when pushing the magazine release button—the mag “springs” out, so you’ll want to hold your free hand below the grip to catch it so that it doesn’t hit the ground and break or collect debris. Just remember to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
The CO2 capsule is inserted in the rear of the grip.
The Px4 Storm Tactical version (drop down menu on right of link) sports several tactical accessories.
A feature I like about this pistol’s safety is that it is so easy to push on safe, but a bit more difficult to put on Fire. It’s made in such a way that to move the lever to the Fire position, you have to pull back on the serrated tensioner. This and its location make putting the Px4 Storm air pistol on Fire an intentional movement. To put it back on Safe you simply have to push the lever down all the way so that the red dot is completely covered. There’s no need to pull back on the safety tensioner. Plus, when you put the pistol on safe, it blocks the trigger movement and if the hammer is cocked, it automatically de-cocks it.
The backstrap comes off easily and the piercing knob at the bottom of the grip is clearly marked so you know which way to turn for “open” before inserting the CO2 capsule. There’s a platform screw inside that you can lower by turning clockwise. The CO2 cylinder sits on this platform and lowering it will allow more clearance thus making it easier to insert the capsule. Because CO2 guns use a valve and o-rings, it’s recommended that you put a drop of airgun lube, like RWS Chamber Lube, on the tip of the CO2 capsule before inserting it tip up into the Px4. If you turn the gun upside down (with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction of course—not at yourself or anything else you don’t want to get shot) you can easily snug the platform screw against the capsule. Now snap your backstrap back on and turn the piercing knob toward “power” until it stops. You should hear a faint hiss when the knob pierces the capsule. Make sure to turn the knob until it stops hissing.
Before loading the magazine, I like to make sure the CO2 valve system is working properly and there’s a good seat against the o-ring by pulling the trigger 3 or 4 times with the pistol pointed in a safe direction. Be mindful though, it’s easy to get excited and pull the trigger a few more times after you feel that realistic kick! It’s fun, but save the CO2 for propelling pellets or BBs at your target.
Take a close look at the magazine, there are arrows pointing in the direction that pellets should be loaded. Inserting in the direction of the arrow with the head of the pellet going in first is the correct direction. The skirt of the pellet should be to the rear of the arrow. Whether loading pellets or BBs, make certain that they’re pushed below the surface of the projectile’s chamber in the rear and not sticking out past the surface of the chamber a the front. Any part of the projectile breaking the surface of the magazine can cause the pistol and/or the magazine to jam. Once the magazine is loaded, insert it into the grip frame with the arrows on the sides pointing toward the muzzle of the pistol.
I got a little excited when making sure the CO2 capsule was punctured, so my first shot through the chrono was already lacking the pressure it would have had with a full capsule and it achieved 360.7 fps with an average of five shots at 354.8 using 7.0 grain RWS Hobby pellets. I then immediately followed it with five RWS Premium Gold BBs. The average of five shots with BBs was 343.3 fps. Out of curiosity I wanted to try RWS’s new Hyper Max pellet. Claims are it’s faster than lead pellets when shot out of air rifles. I put a new CO2 capsule in and the HyperMax pellet flew out of the barrel at 392.7 fps while a 7.0 grain Hobby achieved 372.2 fps. The Px4 Storm air pistol package states 380 fps.
Video of the Px4 Storm in Action:
A popular configuration of the Px4 Storm is the tactical version of the gun. The difference between the regular and tactical versions is the addition of a Walther Shot Dot Point Sight, a Tactical Bridge Mount, a Tactical Flashlight w/Grip Switch, and a Removable Compensator. These additions give the tactical look that many crave. It also provides some functionality that the regular version does not have.
As for the number of shots you can get out of a 12 gram CO2 capsule, a Walther CO2 capsule in particular, I was able to get 5-1/2 magazines worth of shots firing at a rate of one round per second, although the last 16 rounds were down around the 215 to 225 fps mark and the slide recoil was noticeably slower. If you consider UmarexUSA.com’s retail cost of a Walther 12g cylinder, which is a litter pricier than some (but cleaner and better for your airgun) and add that to the cost of an RWS Hobby pellet, we’re still only talking about 2.4 cents per shot fired based on 5-1/2 magazines or 88 shots compared to about 21 cents a round and up depending on the type, brand, and amount of ammo bought at one time. Definitely a bargain!