I own a variety of center-fire handguns. More than I’d care to admit (and a lot more than my wife knows about). Not one of them is modified. I will occasionally swap out factory sights, but that is the extent of the manipulations that I tend to make to my pistols. So when I gripped the SA10, Umarex’s new “customized” airgun, it felt like an entirely new beast.
When I picked up the SA10 at the factory, I spent some time playing with it. The weight, the way the controls work, everything is ideal and very well matched for many of the centerfire full-size handguns on the market today. The SA10 provides you with opportunities to train effectively without the cost of centerfire ammunition, but it is also a fun airgun.
The very essence of the SA10 is its sense of style. There are multiple modifications (or rather emulations of modifications). This in no way feels like a stock handgun. The SA10 feels more like the guns that some guys spend buckets of money getting moded up to their custom specs.
The breechblock is a shiny gold. The slide cuts expose gold plating on the barrel (neither are real gold, of course). The slide itself is serrated at the front and the rear, which provides numerous places for a positive grip. The top of the slide has an arrow motif that runs the entire length. Cuts like this are sometimes made to break up glare, but they look sharp, too.
The barrel is threaded (and capped with gold, too). If you are one that wants to put a silencer on a pistol like this, you can (provided you and Uncle Sam have negotiated all of the paperwork and taxes). Or if you want to continue with the custom aesthetic and put a faux can on the SA10, that would work also.
One of my favorite features about the SA10 is its magazine. It’s made of metal and has a substantial amount of weight to it. It weighs almost as much as a fully loaded magazine would for centerfire pistol.
If you were using this gun to simulate live-fire training for a centerfire handgun, having the heavy magazine will be an advantage. It shifts the balance of the gun in a way that replicates a fully loaded pistol. The disadvantage comes when you want to drop the magazine. Because it weighs so much, the magazine wants to leap free from the bottom so it’s not exactly like ejecting an empty magazine.
There are some other nice features to this magazine that really set it apart. The first is that the rotary clip loads directly onto the magazine. These wheels will hold either .177 pellets or BBs. They are eight shot wheels. The magazine will hold four of them (the gun ships with four—three with a metal gear and one with a polymer gear).
The CO2 cartridge loads directly into the magazine and there is a hand crank on the bottom that allows you to tighten it in place. There’s no need for an extra key to lock down the cartridges. With multiple magazines, you could very easily replicate mag changes with the SA10. Shoot eight, drop the magazine and load the next in as fast and accurately as you can.
One cartridge of CO2 should get you somewhere around 60 shots. The SA10 isn’t the fastest air gun on the market, but it wasn’t meant to be. Pellets are advertised to average 420 fps. These speeds make this a good option for indoor shooting, though I’d still recommend you take precautions. Pellets tend to flatten on impact. Steel BBs at slower speeds tend to bounce back from some targets.
The controls of the SA10 are different from those on the centerfire handgun. What would normally be the slide lock is actually the safety. It is so well camouflaged, in fact, that it had to be pointed out to me.
Other controls are more typical. The magazine release is a big textured Square that is easy to find. And there is a takedown lever in front of the safety that actually functions to takedown the gun.
As for the shooting, you won’t be disappointed there either. The sights on the SA10 are ideal. The rear sight has two yellow dots. The front sight is a flat black blade. The sights are accurate enough to replicate what you would find from a centerfire handgun at self-defense distances. The barrel on the SA10 is rifled. I found that pellets provided predictable accuracy, but even BBs fired as fast as I could pull the trigger stayed on the target.
Your speed with the SA10 will be determined by how well you manage the blowback feature that cycles the slide. When you insert the magazine and rack to slide you’re ready to fire. As you pull the trigger, the SA10 cycles very quickly. The recoil impulse is not as jumpy as it would be on a .45 ACP or a 9mm. I’d say it moves like a full-sized rimfire. The recoil will provide you with enough jump that you will get to practice controlled target acquisition between shots.
One thing that will be challenging for those who own an SA10 will be finding the perfect holster. Because this is a handgun that you will want to work out at the range, having a holster is a necessity. If you happen to have a relationship with someone who makes custom Kydex holsters, it won’t be an issue. If not I would highly suggest taking it with you to your local FFL (stored safely, mind you) and asking to try it on for size.
The SA10 should sell for under $90.
David Higginbotham is a writer and educator who lives in Arkansas. After years of writing and consulting in the firearms industry, he's coming back to his roots with air guns.