The Five Best Gun Movies

My wife is surprisingly ungrateful when I provide helpful comments on firearm inaccuracies and anachronisms during movies. In fact, she has made it clear that unless I cease and desist, we’re likely to be watching movies separately from now on. So I thought instead I’d share with you a list of the five movies which I think should have received Oscar nominations for “Best use of firearms in a movie“. If there was such a thing. In no particular order these are movies which feature an interesting selection of guns and gunplay. They’re also movies which I have enjoyed because, let’s face it, no-one wants to sit though a dull and dreary movie just because it has a few guns in it.

The Mummy (1999)

Remember those wonderful old Hammer horror movies from the 1960s? Well, this is a sort of modern update. And it’s great. The plot…, OK, look, the plot is a bit silly. It’s some nonsense about a mummified Egyptian priest returning to bring his dead love back to life. And destroy the world. Or something. But it doesn’t really matter because the hero is played with gusto by the underrated Brendan Fraser, ably supported by Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Kevin J. O’Connor, the special effects are reasonable, it never takes itself too seriously and the whole thing rollicks along for just over two hours without pausing to draw breath. Your wife will enjoy it. Hell, your mum would probably love it. Even your kids will enjoy it too (provided they aren’t too young – some of the scary bits are, well, quite scary). And the guns…

800px-tm_chamelot-delvigneAfter a short prelude in ancient Egypt, the bulk of the movie takes place in 1923 and 1926. Whoever was responsible for choosing the guns really knew what they were doing, and there is some great period stuff on display. Rick (Bredan Fraser) dual-wields a pair of seriously chunky French Chamelot-Delvigne Model 1873 revolvers throughout (he plays an ex-French Foreign legionnaire, so a lot of the hardware on display is French) with a Colt M1911 as back-up and a Winchester Model 1897 shotgun for when those pesky mummies are particularly thick on the ground. In an early part of the film he also uses a French Lebel M1886 rifle. The tube magazine on the eight-shot M1886 was a notoriously finicky feeder, and it was obviously impossible to get it to load properly with blanks because all the characters using this particular rifle in the movie reload after each shot (but, trust me on this, your spouse and kids won’t appreciate your pointing this out during the film).

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In addition, you’ll see the Mauser C96, Lee-Enfield MkIII rifle, Mauser 98K rifle, a Lewis Gun and even a Colt Single Action Army. Every weapon in the movie is historically appropriate. Even the 1911s are M1911s, not the later and more common M1911A1, which would have been impossible in the 1923 part of the movie. I was disappointed to note in the sequel, The Mummy Returns (2001), a Browning Hi-Power. The second movie was set in 1933, and the Hi-Power wasn’t introduced until 1935. Oh dear. But this one gets the guns spot-on and there’s some unusual and interesting stuff on display. The movie’s fun too, so this one is highly recommended.

The Raid (2011)

I don’t generally like action movies. Mainly because most of them are dull, dreary and feature very little in the way of actual action. But I make an exception for The Raid from 2011 (also known as The Raid: Redemption in some parts of the world). It’s a movie made on a shoestring budget in Indonesia, featuring a largely unknown Indonesian cast and made by a Welsh director (I have no idea why). It has a basic plot and relatively little dialogue but it does feature more gun and fighting action than you’ll find in any five standard Hollywood blockbusters.

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The plot, such as it is, involves a team of Indonesian SWAT type police who are sent to arrest a crime boss in a crumbling apartment block. They get in, quickly find that they have been set up for an ambush by lots of heavily armed gangsters and the rest of the movie is about their attempts to fight their way back out again. That’s it. You’re not going to lose the thread during this movie.

The police and criminals are heavily armed with a variety of weapons and most of the first half of the movie is a running gun battle. All the guns used are airsoft replicas with slow-mo bullets, muzzle flashes and ejecting shells added later using CGI. It’s kind of fun playing spot the replica – look out for a Tanaka Smith & Wesson M37 later in the film. Despite things like airsoft brass inner barrels occasionally being very obvious, the gun stuff is well done and as exciting as anything produced in Hollywood. But things really hot up when the police squad start to run low on ammo and are forced to fall back on their fighting skills.

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You see, the Police (and many of the gangsters) are experts at Silat, a little-known Indonesian martial art which uses fists, feet and knives. The fight scenes are fast and breathtakingly violent. The people taking part in the movie may not be fantastic actors, but they really know how to throw a punch. Or a knife. Or a chair. They frequently appear to make full-force contact with each other, and I suspect that some scenes simply degenerated into real fights, with the camera continuing to follow the action. There are some superbly choreographed scenes, but most of the second half of the movie is raw and bloody.

If you like action, you’ll love The Raid. I never thought I’d see a movie which made Jackie Chan look like a wuss – but this one does. It is very violent though, so it may be best not to watch it with your Mum. And then you can admire all those lovely replicas…

The Wild Bunch (1969)

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Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch is loosely set during the period of the Mexican revolution from 1908 – 1916, though the actual date isn’t explicitly noted. The movie is often cited as Peckinpah’s masterpiece and features a wonderful cast including William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan and Warren Oates. It’s a movie that features guns and shooting heavily. To give some idea of the scale of gunfire here, more (blank) rounds were fired during the making of the film (over 90,000) than in the actual Mexican revolution. With a total body count of almost 150 and a final, apocalyptic shoot-out which incorporates over one hundred deaths and three hundred edits in just over five minutes of action, there’s a lot of shooting going on. And yet, strangely, this is also a thoughtful, reflective movie with long periods when the elderly protagonists do little more than ruminate on the absurdity of their situation.

You see, the Wild Bunch isn’t really about guns or shooting at all and to call it a Western is to miss the point – it’s really about the death of the old West and the philosophy and attitudes of that period. There are lots of guns in it but the Wild Bunch themselves know that they are anachronisms and probably doomed, but they simply don’t know how to adapt to live in the modern world. It’s also a violent film – Peckinpah wanted to show what it really looked like when someone got shot as opposed to the bloodless deaths seen in most earlier cowboy films, though the film was heavily criticised for excessive violence on release.

And the guns? The Wild Bunch and their protagonists use the Colt 1911 and the Single Action Army and a variety of shotguns and rifles. For the most part the guns used are appropriate, though it’s occasionally obvious that Spanish Star Model B pistols are used in place of 1911s. The 1911 doesn’t work reliably with blanks, and the 9mm Star is often used as a movie stand-in. The Model B is visually similar to the 1911, though it doesn’t have a grip safety and has a large, external extractor on the right of the slide. The only real firearm anachronism in the movie is the Browning M1917 machine gun which features during the latter part of the film. This obviously wouldn’t have been around in the period covered by the movie though it’s close enough not to jar too much. The sheer volume of gunfire and the graphic depiction of its effects make this essential viewing for anyone interested in the old West and/or the firearms of this period.

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The Wild Bunch is a film about doomed men who accept their fate but are determined not to go quietly. It’s not an action movie in any sense – it’s a thoughtful, slow, melancholy rumination on getting old and finding that you no longer have a place in the world in which you find yourself. Though it is punctuated by short bursts of extreme violence. So, it’s short on laughs, but at least the opening credits should make you smile. Peckinpah allegedly became exasperated with Robert Ryan’s incessant demands for top billing (which he didn’t get – top billing went to William Holden). In the opening credits, the scene freezes on the faces of William Holden and then Ernest Borgnine as their names appear on screen. As Ryan’s name appears, the screen freezes on a shot of several horse’s rear-ends.

Winchester 73 (1950)

As you may have guessed from the title, this black and white western follows the rifle of the title as it is first won in a shooting contest by cowboy Lin McAdam (played by the ever reliable James Stewart) and then, after being stolen from him, passes through the hands of several interesting characters. The story also follows McAdam as he pursues a parallel story featuring that most cliched of western quests – a search for the man who killed his father.

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Action shooting contest, circa 1870.

Other than the Winchester of the title, the movie features Martini-Henry repeating rifles, Springfield carbines and of course, lots of Colt Single Action Army pistols. The use of firearms in the movie suggests that whoever was involved in the selection process knew a great deal about their history and use.   At one point there is a discussion of the deficiencies of the US army’s Springfield Carbine and how these may have contributed to the massacre of Custer and his men. The shooting action is pretty good too and the final shootout is still regarded as a classic. They obviously didn’t worry too much about damage to stars then either – you’ll see Jimmy Stewart take several facefulls of dust and stone chips from “near misses”.

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Sneering bad guy. Note hat.

The movie tells a complex, episodic story in just 92 minutes – I imagine if it were to be re-made today we’d be treated to hours of angsty introspection, but in the typical style of the 1950s this gallops along with barely a pause in the action. It’s a good cast too. Surprisingly, this was Stewart’s first leading role in a straight Western (though he had starred in the spoof Destry rides again in 1939) and he went on to make many, many more. The rest are pretty good too, with Stephen McNally as snarling bad guy Dutch Henry Brown, Millard Mitchell as McAdam’s sidekick and Will Geer as Wyatt Earp. Best of all though is Dan Duryea as the giggling and psychotic Waco Johnny Dean. It’s also worth watching to spot a couple of young and relatively unknown actors who would go on to bigger things – Rock Hudson (in an unlikely piece of casting) plays an Indian Chief who leads his warband against a small group of US cavalry whose ranks include a very young Tony Curtis.

This has everything you could want from a Western – a nasty bad guy (who wears a black hat), morally upstanding good guys, Indian attacks, the US Cavalry, shooting and lots of historically accurate firearms. There just isn’t a better way to spend a wet afternoon.

Equilibrium (2002)

The previous four movies are notable for their use of realistic and historically accurate firearms. This one is pure sci-fi fantasy, but it does feature lots of guns. The plot is fairly standard sci-fi stuff: It’s 2072, and following a catastrophic third world war, the Tetragrammaton, the ruling body in the country of Libria, has decided to avoid the possibility of any future conflict by forcing the population to take daily doses of Prozium, a mood altering drug which leaves them docile and free of troublesome emotions. Some people object and try to avoid taking the drugs. These sense criminals are ruthlessly hunted down by Grammaton Clerics, a quasi-religious group of highly trained enforcers who use Gun Kata, a combination of martial arts and handguns to deadly effect. OK, so it’s actually a completely rubbish plot which sounds as if it was scribbled on the back of an envelope by a fourteen year old with ADHD. Yet somehow, this manages to be an entertaining little movie.

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Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Emily Watson, Taye Diggs and David Hemmings all do their best to look as though they’re taking it seriously and Gun Kata is simply an excuse for lots of cool gunplay mixed in with dramatic martial-arts style poses. Though there is some sort of lame attempt to justify it all:

“Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically-predictable element. The Gun Kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents, while keeping the defender clear of the statistically-traditional trajectories of return fire.

DuPont, Vice Councillor of the Tetragrammaton

In this movie, guns have changed surprisingly little in 2072. The Cleric use a modified Beretta 92FS (with some cool additional features) and their henchmen use H&K G36 assault rifles and MP5 machine pistols. Though for no readily apparent reason, the Cleric also use Samurai swords on occasion. And it’s notable that, like the war films of the 60s and 70s, the goodies here appear to use live rounds while the baddies seem to have been issued mainly with blanks. With its mix of balletic martial arts moves and guns, it’s difficult not to draw comparisons with the Matrix, but there is one small but important difference: Christian Bale and Sean Bean manage to convincingly portray men with no emotions. Kenau Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss and the rest of the Matrix cast appear to be unable to convincingly portray any emotions at all.

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The handgun of the future. Apparently.

It would have been nice to see a little more imagination in the design of guns from the future. By 2072, the Beretta 92 design will be more than 100 years old – surely we could expect the Cleric to have something a little more cutting-edge? And don’t expect anything deep in terms of a story – it’s all gloriously silly, but also kind of fun and glossy and cool and the cast do their best to give it all some gravitas. Just don’t try those Gun Kata moves with your replicas – you’ll almost certainly end up shooting a BB up your nose!

Happy viewing!

Related pages:

Replica guns in movies and television

 

Which is the best replica pistol? Part 2

KWC

KWC is a Taiwanese manufacturer of airsoft and air replicas which has been in operation since the early 1980s. KWC were the first manufacturer to produce blowback replicas. The company produce a range of blowback semi-auto replicas in 6mm and 4.5mm formats and a number of revolver, rifle and SMG replicas. KWC also act as OEM to a number of well-known distributors including Cybergun and Umarex. Recently KWC have introduced replicas of several weapons to their range and the 2014 catalogue includes blowback replicas of the P.08 Luger, Mauser M712 Broomhandle and Makarov pistol.

KWC produce replicas which have very good functional and visual accuracy – their Colt 1911 range for example, are amongst the best replicas of this pistol (KWC also manufacture the Tanfoglio Witness on behalf of Cybergun). They can be decent shooters too, though I have found some variability between examples of the same model – some are very good indeed, some less so. Finish varies, with some models having good and hard wearing finish and some being very prone to wear and scratching. Reliability also seems to be an issue with some owners reporting no problems after extended use and others noting a range of problems. However, KWC replicas tend to be relatively low cost and all have good weight and feel.

Best things about KWC replicas: Good visual and functional accuracy, good weight and feel, can be good shooters, reasonable cost.

Worst things about KWC replicas: Finish isn’t always durable, some variability in power and accuracy between examples, long-term reliability not always the best.

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My favourite KWC replica: Is the new P.08 Luger. Full blowback, a working toggle, drop-out magazine, CO2 powered and available in both 4.5 and 6mm versions, this ticks all the Luger boxes. Early reports suggest that this is a pretty good shooter too – this is definitely one I’ll be looking to add to the collection.

Related pages:

Tanfoglio Witness review

Website: http://www.kwcgun.com/

Tanaka

Tanaka Works is a Japanese manufacturer of 6mm replica rifles and pistols, though they’re best known for their revolver replicas. Tanaka tend to make replicas in small batches featuring different finishes so that numbers of each model are fairly small. Most Tanaka revolvers feature a milled aluminium frame, ABS outer barrel and brass inner barrel.

All current and recent Tanaka models use the patented Pegaseus system which utilises a fixed gas reservoir within the revolving cylinder. This system allows replicas to be very functionally accurate and grips and other parts intended for real weapons can often be fitted to Tanaka revolvers. Previously, Tanaka used the Cassiopeia system, where individual shells were charged with gas. This gave extreme functional accuracy, but was discontinued when the Japanese Government claimed that these replicas could be too easily converted to fire live rounds. Tanaka replicas using the Cassiopeia system are now rare and sought by collectors.

Despite the use of ABS on outer barrels, Tanaka replicas handle and feel just like real firearms. A range of finishes are used including Midnight Gold, which is an extremely close match for the blued finish on some revolvers. Visually, these are as close as it gets – every pin, screw and contour of the original is perfectly modelled. However, in my experience (I have owned three Tanaka revolvers), they aren’t great shooters. My Tanaka replicas shot at just 250fps, and grouped at around 3-4″ at six yards. Worst of all, they fired with a weedy “phut”, very disappointing for something that looks so real.

So, a Tanaka is a great replica, though you may have to sell a kidney or a child to fund the purchase of one. But you shouldn’t expect an equally great shooting experience. And if you can find a good Cassiopea SAA, buy it immediately and keep it as a legacy for your unsold children – in a few years, it’ll probably be worth more than your pension.

Best things about Tanaka replicas: The best looking finish in the business, very high quality, extreme visual accuracy.

Worst things about Tanaka replicas: Very high cost, not the most durable finish, average shooters.

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My favourite Tanaka replica: Is any of the range of Colt SAAs.They’re all things of great beauty, but the heavyweight, removable cylinder model in Midnight Gold finish is one of the most impressive replicas I have ever seen or handled. Just don’t expect it to shoot with much authority and be very careful not to scratch the finish.

Website: http://www.tanaka-works.com/

Tokyo Marui

Tokyo Marui is a Japanese manufacturer of gas, electric and spring powered airsoft rifles, pistols and SMGs. I have always been dubious about TM pistols, mainly because other than for brass inner barrels and metal magazines, they’re made entirely of plastic and feel very light indeed (for example, the TM Smith & Wesson M19, 6″ weighs just 580 grams, compared to 1250 grams for the Umarex S&W 586, 6″). Racking the slide on a Tokyo Marui semi-auto replica gives a toylike “click-clack” sound rather than the satisfying “ker-chunk” that you get on metal slide guns. Finish is also variable – some are very good but some less so, with prominent moulding seams and heavily engraved markings.

Given all that, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about TM at all in an article about the best replica? Well, here’s the thing – TM pistols are great shooters. They throw BBs a long distance on a very flat trajectory, they’re accurate, consistent and supremely reliable. For these reasons TM pistols are one of the most popular choices for skirmishers, but they also make great target shooting pistols. If your priority is shooting accuracy and reliability rather than finish and heft, a TM may be a good choice.

Best things about Tokyo Marui replicas: Great shooters, good reliability, reasonable cost.

Worst things about Tokyo Marui replicas: Very light weight, all plastic construction, not the best finish.

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My favourite Tokyo Marui replica: Is the Glock 17. It’s a licensed replica with accurate markings and captures the look of the chunky original very well. At 720 grams, it has a more convincing weight that some other TM replicas and it’s just a great shooter. These can group at 1″ at six yards and will send a BB more than 70ft to reliably hit a person sized target.

Related pages:

Tokyo Marui Colt 1911A1 review

Website: http://www.tokyo-marui.co.jp/

Umarex

Umarex Sportwaffen GmbH & Co is a German manufacturer and distributor of replica pistols, rifles and SMGs. In 1993 Umarex merged with firearm manufacturer Carl Walther Sportwaffen to become part of the PW group of companies (which now also includes Hammerli and Rohm). Umarex own license agreements with Heckler and Koch, Colt, Smith & Wesson and many others. Umarex produced their first replica air pistol (the Walther CP88) in 1996 and now offer a huge range of replicas in .177 pellet and 4.5mm and 6mm BB versions. Some replicas are designed and manufactured in Germany, others come from Taiwanese OEM companies such as KWC.

The Umarex range of pellet shooting replicas include the Walther CP88 and CP99, the Colt 1911 and the Smith & Wesson 586/586. All are characterised by high quality construction and finish and good power and accuracy, but none are especially good functional replicas. Some Umarex 4.5mm revolver replicas are very good indeed (the Smith & Wesson TRR8, for example), as are some of the 4.5mm, blowback semi-auto replicas (the Walther CP99 Compact, for example). In general (and there are notable exceptions), Umarex produce good quality, well finished and designed replicas. Some are also powerful and accurate shooters.

Best things about Umarex replicas: Good power and accuracy (mainly for pellet shooters),high quality of construction and durable finish, reliability, longevity.

Worst things about Umarex replicas: High cost (mainly for pellet shooters), not the most functionally accurate replicas.

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My favourite Umarex replica: Is the Smith & Wesson 586/686 range. I don’t especially care for the nickel finish on the 686, and I wish the whole cylinder revolved, but overall this is a beautifully made and finished replica which shoots extremely well. Best one for me is the 6″, but I don’t think you’d be disappointed with a 4″ or 8″ version.

Related pages:

Walther CP88 Review

Walther CP99 Review

Walther CP99 Compact Review

Walther PPK/S Review

Smith and Wesson 586/686 Review

Smith and Wesson TRR8 review

Website: http://www.umarex.de/

 

And if I was forced to choose a best replica, it would be… The Tanaka SAA. No, wait a minute, I really enjoy shooting my Umarex S&W 586. Hold on though, the chunky, blowback ASG CZ75D is pretty good. And the Cybergun Mini Uzi is just so much fun… Nah, it’s no good. I can’t choose just one.   The answer is that there probably isn’t a single best replica pistol. What’s best for you depends on what you’re looking for – do you want an accurate and powerful shooter, a good visual and functional replica or something that offers a compromise between the two? What we really want of course, is a replica that has the finish and functional accuracy of a Tanaka, the power and accuracy of an Umarex and the cost of a Cybergun. I’d buy one of those. But until then, the best replica pistol will be the one that ticks most boxes for you.

Happy shooting.

Which is the best replica pistol? Part 1

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One of the most common questions I’m asked is “What’s the best replica pistol?”. Problem is, there isn’t really a single “best” replica. There will always be a trade-off between performance and functionality. Some replicas are good shooters, some are good functional replicas and some look and handle well. None (as far as I’m aware) excel at all three. The best replica for you will depend on what you’re looking for. So, having answered my own question in the second sentence, the rest of this article will be a meander through products from some well-known manufacturers, assessing which particular boxes each tick and whether any could be considered the best replica. The list is in alphabetical rather than in order of preference and it isn’t intended to be comprehensive or encyclopaedic, it’s just based on my own experiences. Having said all this, I’ll do my best at the end of Part 2 to select my candidate for the best replica. Probably.

And as ever, feel free to disagree.   Or even better, send me an article explaining your own ideas on the perfect replica…

ASG (Action Sport Games)

Action Sport Games A/S (ASG) is a Danish distributor of air and airsoft weapons and accessories. Most products are manufactured by OEM companies in Taiwan. ASG have license agreements with several well-known firearms manufacturers including Dan Wesson, STI International and Ceska Zbrojovka ( CZ) though they also provide unlicensed replicas of Glocks and Berettas. ASG market a range of spring, CO2 and green gas powered replicas including automatic rifles, sniper rifles and SMGs in addition to a range of semi auto pistols and revolvers.   Most ASG pistols are available in 6mm and 4.5mm versions, though I only have experience of the 4.5mm, CO2 range.

The Dan Wesson revolvers are well-known but ASG also produce a very nice range of CO2 powered blowback semi-auto pistols including the CZ75D Compact and the STI International Duty One. These are very nicely made and finished replicas, and pretty fair shooters too. The trigger action on the semi-auto replicas is a bit quirky though – the blowback action just cocks the hammer – it doesn’t queue up the next BB. So the first part of the long single action trigger pull pushes the BB into the chamber. Squeezing the trigger slowly or tentatively can lead to a BB falling out of the barrel or, if you pull the trigger back without firing and release, can lead to more than one BB being fired. That apart, these are very nice mid-priced replicas, and ASG recently announced the release of a pellet-shooting version of the Dan Wesson revolvers with a rifled barrel, which could be very nice indeed.

Best things about ASG replicas: Reasonable cost, blowback versions are good replicas, fair shooters.

Worst things about ASG replicas: Single action trigger action on blowback replicas, some questions about quality control/long-term reliability.

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My favourite ASG replica: Would probably be the 4.5mm, CO2, CZ 75D Compact blowback. Good replica, nice weight, well finished and as far as I know, the only 4.5mm licensed version of this chunky and attractive handgun. Nice shooter too – powerful, consistent and reasonably accurate.

Related pages:

Dan Wesson revolvers review

Website: http://www.actionsportgames.com/products-210.aspx

Crosman

Crosman Corporation is a US manufacturer and retailer of air pistols and rifles. The current range includes a number of (generally unlicensed) replicas of real world handguns. These are mostly fairly low cost replicas, and I can’t say that I find many of them (with the possible exception of the 357 revolver) very exciting. However, in the sixties and seventies, Crosman sold a range of replicas based on the iconic Colt Single Action Army, and it’s those I want to include here. Prompted by rising interest in all things cowboy, in 1959 Crosman introduced their first pellet firing, CO2 powered SAA replica – the Single Action 6 (SA6) which sold from 1959 – 1969.  In 1970 it was superseded by the Peacemaker 44.  Both the SA6 and the Peacemaker 44 were available in .22 calibre only and were all metal replicas, though from 1976 – 1981 a Peacemaker 44 in .177 calibre with a plastic outer cylinder was also produced. All production of Crosman SAA replicas had ended by 1982.

Very large numbers of both the SA6 and the Peacemaker 44 were produced, and these replicas are readily available in used condition. These are basic, crude, loud, fiddly to load, not terribly accurate and they gobble CO2. And I absolutely love them. If you have any interest in replica guns, you need to try shooting one of these SAA replicas. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with one of the later plastic cylinder models (or the Crosman Shiloh – a replica of the 1861 Remington revolver) as the build quality of these doesn’t seem quite so good. But if you can find a decent SA6 with its imitation stag-horn grips or a good original Peacemaker 44, grab it with both hands and don’t let go.

Best things about Crosman replicas: Low cost, Colt SAA replicas from the 60s and 70s are great fun.

Worst things about Crosman replicas: Just about everything else they currently make is of low quality with limited functionality and most are indifferent shooters.

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My favourite Crosman replica: Would be my very own Crosman Peacemaker 44. It’s super loud and I’m lucky to get 30 full power shots per CO2 but it’s nevertheless one of my favourite replicas to shoot. Weighty but with good balance and one of the best single-action triggers I have come across, it never fails to put a smile on my face. Why, oh why doesn’t someone introduce a new Colt SAA replica?

Related pages:

Refurbishing a Crosman Peacemaker 44

Website: http://www.crosman.com/

Cybergun

Cybergun is a French distribution company which markets a range of branded CO2 and green gas powered replicas including automatic rifles, sniper rifles and SMGs in addition to a range of semi auto pistols. Most are from Taiwanese OEM companies including KWC.   Cybergun pistols are available in 6mm and 4.5mm versions, though I only have experience of the 4.5mm, CO2 range.

Many Cybergun replicas have odd licensing agreements – their Taurus PT92B replica is branded as a GSG92/Swiss Arms P92, their Colt 1911 is the Tanfoglio Witness and the Mini Uzi sometimes appears as the Swiss Arms Protector. If markings are important to you, this may be an issue, but these are generally very good replicas indeed. Heavy and fully functional, they really are close to the feel of operating the real weapon. However, finish isn’t always the best: some Cybergun replicas seem to have a very thin coat of paint indeed which wears quickly and some folk report rapid wear of internal components. As shooters, they do seem to vary – I have owned three Cybergun Tanfoglio Witnesses and one was very accurate indeed while the other two weren’t quite so good. I also owned a GSG92 which had relatively poor accuracy and power and a Sig X5 which was very good indeed in both respects. Buy with fingers crossed.

Best things about Cybergun replicas: Low cost, good functionality and weight, good visual replicas.

Worst things about Cybergun replicas: Finish isn’t always of the best quality, some questions about long-term reliability, variable shooters.

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My favourite Cybergun replica: Is the 4.5mm, CO2, Mini Uzi blowback. I’m not sure this qualifies as a pistol at all, but it’s a very good functional replica with nice weight (it’s pretty much all-metal). The bolt is heavy, which gives a strong recoil. Not particularly accurate and it gobbles CO2, but in full auto mode (not available in the UK) it’s as subtle as a baseball bat with nails in it, but pure mad fun. It’s unlike any other replica I have owned – You really need to try one of these.

Related pages:

Cybergun GSG92/Swiss Arms P92 review

Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness review

Website: http://www.cybergun.com/en/home/

KWA/KSC

KWA and KSC are separate companies (KWA is a Taiwanese manufacturer and KSC is a Japanese R&D company). However, though both companies are very coy about explaining, there is obviously a close relationship between the two. Products branded KSC and KWA appear to be identical, though KWA products are generally a little cheaper. Both companies provide a range of electric and green gas powered rifles, SMGs and pistols in 6mm. All recent KWA/KSC replicas are high quality and visually and functionally very accurate: some are sold as PTP (Practical Training Pistol) training weapons. Some KSC/KWA replicas are licensed, but many are unlicensed but accurate replicas of real weapons – the KWA KZ75 for example, is a very good replica of the CZ75 but includes no CZ markings.

The KWA pistols I have owned have also been very accurate and consistent shooters, especially those featuring System 7/NS2 internals. Unfortunately, many airgun enthusiasts still regard airsoft pistols as toys. I’d recommend anyone who feels this way to try a KSC/KWA pistol – these are not only well made, well finished and accurate replicas, they’re satisfactory target-shooting air pistols too.

Best things about KWA/KSC replicas: Extremely accurate visual and functional replicas, good finish and overall quality, fair shooters.

Worst things about KWA/KSC replicas: High cost (especially KSC versions).

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My favourite KWA replica: Is the M226 PTP.It may not feature Sig Sauer licensing or markings, but you simply won’t find a better replica of the Sig P226. It has good weight at 1.8 pounds and every aspect of the function of the original, including field stripping, is replicated. It’s a handy shooter too, using the NS2 shooting system, and has a reputation for quality and reliability.

Related pages:

KWA HK45 review

Website: http://www.kwausa.com/

Coming soon: Part 2 – Tanaka, Tokyo Marui, Umarex and others. And possibly even a decision on the best replica…