The Umarex TR50 (and HDR 50)

Umarex TR50

Umarex has a line of paintball-type guns they call “T4E” or “Training for Engagement.” The line includes .43, .50, and .68 caliber CO2 guns intended for law enforcement and military training, firing rubber balls, chalk-filled “dust balls,” and paintballs. Two are also available in higher power versions for use as non-lethal defensive weapons in countries that prohibit the use of weapons for that purpose.

Not long ago I purchased their TR50, a CO2 powered revolver that uses 12gram CO2 cartridges and replaceable cassettes, each of which can hold 6 rounds. It has a nominal muzzle energy of 7 joules, which translates to about 6 foot pounds. The HDR is the self-defense version, which produces 11 joules, or around 8 foot-pounds, of muzzle energy. It’s not available in the US but, curiously, can be purchased in the UK and some European countries. I’m not particularly interested in the TR50 as a self-defense weapon, although loaded with rubber or pepper balls I think it would be a good defense against aggressive dogs while bicycling or hiking.

One interesting feature of the TR50 is how the CO2 loads. 12gram cylinders are loaded in the grip, after which a plug is screwed in, but this doesn’t pierce the cartridge. To do that, the user has to give the plug a sharp rap with the palm or a nearby firm surface, the idea being that the gun can be loaded and ready for use with the risk of gas leaking out. (An Allen wrench is provided to help seat the plug, though after a few loading cycles it becomes easier to tighten the plug by hand.) Once pressurized, a metal peg pops up above the grip, giving both a visual and tactile indication that the gun is ready to shoot.

TR50 cylinder loaded with rubber balls

The TR50 and HDR are much more popular in Europe than in the US, largely because there aren’t very many legal self-defense options available in many countries. The result is a number of products designed to improve the terminal effectiveness of the gun- better projectiles, longer barrels, and molds for making your own projectiles. The simplest way to improve power downrange is via heavier projectiles, which do a better job of extracting the energy available in each shot. You can buy hard plastic balls with a steel center, balls made from rubber mixes with powdered iron, and molds to make your own projectiles. It was this last option that most interested me, but high shipping costs make this an unattractive option, as they almost double the price from around $40-50 to $80-90.

What I’ve decided to do instead is to make my own molds, either from a chunk of aluminum or from a piece of UHMW polyethylene I have on hand. European experimenters typically make their projectiles from hot melt glue, which has several advantages: It’s hard enough to hold its shape when fired, soft enough to not damage the gun and barrel, and cools and hardens rapidly, which speeds up the production of multiple rounds. I do intend to try that, but I’m also considering paraffin wax, silicone caulk, and other materials. More on that after I get around to making the molds.

While I’m not planning on using this as a defensive weapon, I did install a rail-mounted flashlight I received for review:

Looks totally tacticool, doesn’t it? This inexpensive light uses CR123A lithium batteries and produces a very bright and wide illuminated region. It might actually be a good tool for investigating noises in the backyard after dark- especially when loaded with a full cylinder of pepper balls.