What is a classic replica air pistol?

Just what is a classic replica air pistol? There is, as far as I’m aware, no commonly agreed definition of this term. For this site, I am using the term “classic” to mean any replica air pistol which was first manufactured before 1990.

Why should we even care about these old replicas? Well, there are still lots of used examples around and many people collect and shoot these pistols. In addition, some people believe that these older pistols, especially those from the “Golden Age” of American air pistols from 1950 – 1970, are amongst the best replica air pistols ever made. Others believe that technology has moved on and these old pistols are nothing more than interesting anachronisms. I think there is some truth to both points of view and I believe that it helps to understand this hobby if we have some knowledge of what has gone before.

For example, if you were asked when the first CO2 powered replica air pistol went on sale, what would you guess? 1980? 1990? The answer is actually 1948 when the Schimel air pistol (a replica of the Luger) was first offered for sale in California. Just think about that for a moment. This means that the launch of the first modern replica air pistol is closer in time to the surrender of Apache Indian Chief Geronimo than it is to the present day. Or ask yourself when the first CO2 powered, pellet shooting replica with blowback was launched? That would be the Crosman Model 451 in  1969.

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The Schimel from 1948

All of which means that this hobby probably has a much longer history and heritage than you might think. The purpose of the articles in this section is to introduce some of the more notable classic replica air pistols, to describe their development and introduction (where known – it’s very difficult to get inside information about some of these old designs) and to describe how they shoot including highlighting faults and potential problems.

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Crosman Model 451 from 1969

Like everything else here, this section is a work in progress. I’ll be adding more articles as and when real life and other commitments allow. If there’s a classic replica air pistol which you’d like to see included here, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Or if you have something to say about these classics, why not write an article yourself?

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