Phill Price is exploring a Cold War era, Soviet service arm replica from a new brand

credit: Archant

Until very recently, I knew little of the Gletcher brand of CO2-powered guns. I’d seen their stands at various international shows, but because they had no UK importer I didn’t pay much attention. They specialise in military replicas with an emphasis on realism and solid build quality. The good news is that Birmingham-based airgun specialists, Armex, has recently been awarded the UK distribution rights, so a whole new world of excellent replicas is heading our way. For now, they’ve selected just a few models, but I’m sure many more will follow.

On test is their PM 1951, clearly based on the Makarov semi-automatic pistol used by the Russian military during the Cold War. The frame and slide are metal with plastic grips, and the replica appearance looks very accurate compared to photos I saw on line. I’ve never handled an original, so I only have photos with which to judge.

The functionality is superb, with a sweet blow-back action cocking the hammer on each shot, and the slide-mounted safety being correctly positioned. Interestingly, when the safety is on, the slide is locked. The original was double- and single-action, but the Gletcher is single-action only, which is fine by me. In rapid-fire shooting the hammer is cocked by the slide, and I have no need for a rapid, double-action first shot anyway.

credit: Archant

Hand strength

Although it’s quite a compact pistol, it feels weighty and solid in the hand, helping to steady the aim. The sights are typical of the era, being quite small and featuring no white dots or other enhancements. They’re also cast into the frame, so no adjustment is possible. The notch-to-post ratio worked for me well enough to allow for accurate, slow-fire work, but if you’re used to modern competition sights, you’ll find them basic.

Because the frame is small, Gletcher chose to put both the 12-gramme CO2 capsule and the 16-shot BB carrier into the metal magazine. The valving system is also in the mag’ so is easily accessible for servicing. Getting the magazine out of the frame is different to many pistols in that the release catch is in the base of the grip. This ridged lever is held by a very stiff spring and is a challenge to hold back with one hand whilst you prise the magazine free with the other. Once it’s released, fitting a capsule is easy through a generous aperture, and then by tightening the large grub screw in the base with the hex drive tool supplied. Filling the column that holds the 16 BBs is also challenging. A long spring must be fully compressed to open the aperture that the BBs drop into, and I have to say I found it difficult to hold it down whilst inserting the BBs. Practice helped, but some hand strength is definitely required.

credit: Archant

Fine trigger

However, once loaded the fun can begin and I was very impressed with the trigger. Fine triggers are not a common feature on CO2 pistols, but this one was sweet and clean, with only a short travel. Perhaps this why Gletcher chose to make it single-action, and if that’s the case, then I applaud their decision. Good triggers mean a lot to me and this is one of the best I’ve tried in a long time.

Even though they use up gas more quickly, the pleasure of shooting blow-back actions is easily worth the cost, both in terms of money for the extra CO2, and the more frequent reloading of capsules. The action of this pistol was smooth and sweet, with a snappy, yet easily controlled movement that spoke of good engineering. I was impressed.

Top echelon

Blatting 16 shots down range as fast as your trigger finger can go is huge fun, and I believe, much of the appeal of such guns. However, I feel this pistol stands out in the crowd with superb feel and control and gives me great optimism about the Gletcher brand overall. Last month, Phil Whiteman reviewed their Nagant revolver and was deeply impressed, so I’m not alone in my appreciation of this brand’s offerings.

The combination of excellent realism of the replica details and the shooting performance of the Gletcher pistols places them in the top echelon of CO2-powered gunmakers, and I for one am happy to see them on sale in the UK at last. I’m also looking forward to what comes next as Armex brings in more models for us to enjoy. For now, though, I’ll enjoy the PM1951 at the range, loaded with copper-coated lead BBs – which cycled perfectly, by the way. My clubmates enjoyed it too, which I’m sure means that we’ll be hearing a lot more of this brand very soon.


Manufacturer: Gletcher Guns

Importer: Armex


Model: PM 1951

Type: CO2

Pellet: BB

Number of shots: 16

Length: 6 1/2” (165mm)

Weight: 1.6lbs (735 grammes)

Trigger: Single-action

Tel: 0121 643 4900

RRP: £109.99