Gun Heaven Webley MkVI Service Revolver

The first batch of Webley revolvers, also known as “Self-Extracting” or “Top-Break” revolvers, arrived in Thailand at the end of last year. Proving to be quite popular, I unfortunately missed out and so had to wait until completion of both the Chinese New Year and Songkran festivities to take possession of my very own Webley MkVI. The wait was definitely worth it!

This is the 6mm smoothbore version is marketed in Asia, under licence, by Gun Heaven of Hong Kong and Taiwan. As far as I am aware, it is identical to the 4.5mm version except for the calibre and the fact that it does not have a safety switch fitted to the right-hand side (I note some models have such a safety fitted just above the trigger; although unobtrusive, I am of the opinion that it is unnecessary: if you are ready to shoot and then change your mind, you simply lower the hammer, remove the “cartridges” and place the pistol safely in a holster or otherwise out of harm’s way).

Real Steel Background

Webley & Son of Great Britain, who would later become known as Webley & Scott following a merger in 1897, started development of their famous “Top-Break” revolvers in the 1870s for both military and civilian markets. All were chambered for the substantial .455 inch calibre cartridge with heavy 265 grain bullets travelling at a little over 600 fps. Black-powder cartridges were used in the MkI which appeared in 1887 and replaced the Enfield revolver as standard issue to the British Army. Black powder continued to be used until the MkV in 1894 when smokeless cordite ammunition was introduced (source: world.guns.ru).

The MkVI was the pinnacle of the Webley Top-Break design featuring a six-inch barrel (previous versions had either four or five inch barrels), squared instead of more rounded “bird’s beak” grips and a removeable front post (although this is cast as part of the barrel on the replica). Whilst the earlier MkIV was known for being used extensively during the Boer War, the MkVI became synonymous with The Great War, entering service with British and Commonwealth troops in 1915. Although production of the MkVI by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield ceased in 1932 (Webley & Scott had stopped production in 1921), this powerful revolver was still to be relied upon by soldiers in World War Two alongside its replacement, the Enfield No.2 MkI (source: Wikipedia).

Gun Heaven Webley MKVI

Packaging and Presentation 4.5 / 5

The gun is held securely in place using bubble-wrap inside an attractive cardboard box. Six “cartridges” are provided along with a detailed user manual that covers operation, field-stripping, a specification comparison between the CO2 replica and the “real steel” … and film and game credits! This last one is a rather novel idea, but hardly surprising seeing as how this pistol has featured in so many films over the years.

Excerpts from the User Manual (2014 – far left) … and Small Arms Training Pamphlet, Vol.I, No.11 (1937)

This movie list is repeated on the back of the box along with a brief history of the original firearm. From “The Lost Patrol” to “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (have not seen that one… yet!) and from “Doctor Who” to “Dad’s Army” (two of my favourite shows as a boy… and ones which I am revisiting in middle age!) the Webley Mk VI Revolver has featured in so many productions (even when it should not have, owing to the fact it did not yet exist!) that it is extremely difficult – nigh impossible! – to know which to illustrate here. However, it would be ridiculous not to give at least a couple of examples; so courtesy of that fountain of knowledge the “IMFDB”…

Col. Durnford (Burt Lancaster) taking aim (both eyes open) in “Zulu Dawn” …

… and she’s got two! Anna Barnes-Leatherwood (Charlize Theron) in “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (… and who said shooting is just for boys!)

… and finally a shot (excuse the pun!) from a film set in this part of the world — Captain Hornsby (Denholm Elliott) traipsing through the jungle in “Too Late the Hero”

Another excellent idea – and one which I have not seen before – is the inclusion of the facsimile Small Arms Training Pamphlet (Vol. I, No.11) dated 1937, specific to the Webley MkVI. However, the only reason I have not given full marks (and I am being very “fussy” here!) is I would love to see an imitation cartridge box provided with replicas of such historically important guns. Admittedly, I have only ever seen this with the Tokyo Marui 1911A1, but it struck me as being another rather enterprising idea.

Visual Accuracy 8.5 / 10

This replica is, at first glance, identical to the original firearm. My first thoughts were, should you be the curator of a museum wishing to save a little money, then you need look no further than the Webley MkVI replica!

However, there are some very minor differences which I will highlight here. I should like to stress that none of these were at all immediately apparent. The photos with the blue background are part of a larger collection of immaculate British revolvers I found at the “TIR et COLLECTION Armes Règlementaires” forum, a link to which is given at the end of this review.

Photo (top) courtesy of tircollection.com

On the left-hand side everything would appear to be exactly the same, except for the hammer which, when at rest on the replica, sits slightly proud of the firing pin. Mine comes in what is known as a “weathered” finish and, in my opinion, adds significantly to the authenticity of the gun. The original usually featured a selection of proofing marks and stamps – for example, on the cylinder cam as given above – which are not on the replica. Furthermore, the rear sight appears to be slightly higher, but that may well be intentional as it shoots using a perfectly balanced sight picture.

Three well-defined stamps/ engravings may be found on the left-hand side of the frame. Both the “Mark VI” stamped above the cylinder and the “Webley” patent stamp, correctly identified as 1915, below the cylinder are exactly as would be found on the cartridge firing original; having the calibre stamped on the barrel is something I have not seen, at least on the images I have found, but in my opinion does not look at all out of place.

After all, it could be to distinguish it from the MkIV, reintroduced in 1942 in .38 inch calibre and which bears more than a passing resemblance to a scaled-down MkVI — if one of those is in the pipeline, perhaps with an alternative grip style featuring either the “Webley” logo or “bird’s beak” grips — than I for one would certainly like to have the pair.

Photo (top) courtesy of tircollection.com

A few other minor discrepancies are also noticeable on the right-hand side; namely a screw instead of a pin on which the barrel catch pivots and a pin missing to the rear of the cylinder near the top of the grips. The grips on the replica are of black plastic; I assume Bakelite would have been used on the original. Also, as mentioned previously, the front post is cast as part of the barrel whereas it is held in place by a screw on the original.

The serial number is stamped on the frame above and to the rear of the trigger guard. It actually took me some time to find out exactly where they were placed on the original. My search culminated with the Imperial War Museum website and the Webley MkVI used by author J.R.R Tolkien during World War One (a link to the IWM website is given at the end of this review):

Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London: © IWM (FIR 11492)

As can be seen, the serial number was stamped on the edge of the cylinder (photo above) as well as underneath the gun, forward of the trigger guard (photo below):

Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London: © IWM (FIR 11492)

N.B.: The screw for the trigger guard is not included on the replica

The shells, whilst marked “Webley .455” are nearly the same size as those of the “.38 inch” WinGun “7-Series” with an outside shell casing diameter of 9.6 +/- 0.05 mm for the Webley as against to 9.4 mm for the WinGun. However, the lead-coloured rubber “bullet” into which the BB is fitted is slightly shorter than that of the 7-Series “.38” (I believe the “7-Series” is what the Dan Wesson replicas are based upon).

Left to right: WinGun .177, WinGun 6mm, Webley 6mm and Nagant M1895 6mm

Please note that some Webley 6mm shells (not shown) have a smaller diameter hole which will reduce muzzle velocity

It certainly looks the part… and performs, too

Operational and Functional Accuracy 15 / 15

Apart from using CO2 as a propellant, operation is exactly the same as that of the original. A CO2 capsule is inserted by removing the right-hand side grip. There is a notch in the base for this purpose. The lanyard swivel, which doubles as a piercing screw, is then gently tightened without piercing the capsule. I then like to replace the grip before tightening the screw further in order to pierce the CO2. Capsules are pierced cleanly and efficiently and it holds its charge well.

BBs are pushed into the front of each “cartridge” and held firmly in place by the rubber “bullet”. Pressing on the barrel catch allows the barrel and cylinder to swivel forward. Cartridges are then loaded – if dropped into place there is a faint metallic “ring” – and the barrel/ cylinder swung back into place with a positive, metallic “click”. You really could be forgiven for forgetting this replica is made of alloy as against steel!

The Webley MkVI, as per the original, may be fired in both single and double action. Once firing has been completed, the cylinder is again swung open and the cartridges raised automatically by the extractor. If the barrel is pushed fully forward, then the extractor will return to its closed position.

A shell being extracted. Although marked “.455” it is in fact more akin to a .38”

Inset: BBs are held firmly in place by the rubber “bullet”

Field-stripping instructions are provided in the user manual. This is much more straightforward than I imagined it would be. With the shells removed, the bottom screw below the cylinder cam assembly is removed and the cam rotated in a clockwise direction. The cylinder then “pops-up” when the barrel is fully opened and can be removed.

Indicating the screw which unlocks the cylinder cam

Shooting 35 / 40

Most of my shooting to date – nearly 600 rounds through six CO2 capsules – has been done in single-action using both a one and two handed grip (the targets shown have all been using two hands). Double-action was a little stiff at first, but is improving with use and practice. The pistol has a real “heft” to it, although with a tendency to fall forward if not held with a firm grip; just like the original, I should imagine. I weighed mine using digital scales and, correcting for spent CO2, this came to 1062 grams (loaded) which equates to 2.34 lbs (an original would be 2.4 lbs, unloaded).

The fixed sights provide a good, clear sight picture; even in low light and without my specs on! As mentioned previously, the rear sight is slightly higher on the replica, but I should imagine this is intentional as it results in a point of aim equaling point of impact.

When target shooting, then the front post should be in focus, not the rear sight.

A clear sight picture with POA (top of post) = POI

I initially shot using .25g (FireFly) BBs. Although obtaining reasonably good results at six yards with a grouping of about 1.5 to 2 inches and mean score of 37 based on sets of five shots at the standard Umarex Boys Club target, which is scaled for use at this distance, I soon discovered that heavier .40g (FireFly) balls resulted in a marked improvement as shown in the following photo:

.40g 6mm BBs at six yards using a two-handed grip.

The grouping on target four is ⅝ inch centre to centre. The inset shows the chrono reading from shot #41

Although muzzle velocity was rather inconsistent for the first few shots, it soon settled to approximately 370 +/- 20 fps using .40g 6mm BBs in a relatively cool (for Thailand!) 27°C. In fact, by about half-way through the capsule of CO2, readings were even more consistent at around 385 +/- 5 fps. At least 90 goods shots may be had from a capsule of CO2. However, it had been a few days prior to this that I first decided to swap to the heavier ammunition… just after I had shot my 10m UBC competition!

All shot at 10m. The targets on the left using .25g, the rest using .40g.

The target in the centre, whilst not being a high score, has groupings of 1 ⅜ inch and ¾ inch (not counting the flier) top and bottom respectively

Whether it is a little less powerful than the 4.5mm version, I am not sure. It is certainly perfectly adequate for my needs, being just right for my “Biscuit Tin” range with shots easily connecting with the single lid which presents an eight inch diameter target at twenty yards. What is also worthy of note is that, thanks to the slightly higher power than is usually associated with 6mm replica guns, on pulling the trigger you immediately hear the impact against the tin lid in the distance, making it much more suitable (and fun!) for plinking in the garden (neighbours permitting).

There is even a puff of “smoke”, noticeable at night, from the  rear of the cylinder and barrel. Whether this might indicate an imperfect seal between the CO2 valve and cartridge, I would not like to say as the pistol is remarkably efficient in its consumption of CO2 and the marriage between the two with the cylinder closed appears to be fine; anyway, it looks kind of cool. The pistol is not particularly loud.

Quality and Reliability 14 / 15

It is really too soon to form a proper opinion, but to date the pistol has operated flawlessly. What has to be remembered is that, although no doubt made of a very good quality and durable alloy, it is still made of alloy and not steel. The only thing I could mention is that there is a very slight lateral movement in the barrel where it pivots with the frame, but this is not worsening with use and disappears when the barrel is snapped shut. Furthermore, I would be very surprised if the original did not have some minor movement at this point, too — these guns were built to operate in the worst conditions possible; reliability as opposed to fine tolerance was the order of the day.

The cylinder comes lightly greased and there are no signs of wear to the pawl teeth.

Right – view through the smooth bore barrel

The wide indexing pawl, cylinder stop and valve gasket.

Right – Please note the steel insert in the hammer where it strikes the “firing pin” (this reinforcing pin is to be found on all the WinGun/ Gun Heaven replicas I own)

Overall Impression 15 / 15

I have decided on full marks for this section since, if anything, this pistol has surpassed my expectations — and they were high. Having been so impressed by this smoothbore version of the Webley MkVI, I must admit that I am more than a little keen to see the .177 pellet version one day. Also, as mentioned above, should the manufacturers decide to modify things somewhat to produce a MkIV to accompany the MkVI, then in my opinion they would definitely make a great pair!

Introduced in 1915, this gun was issued to men who were expected to endure the unimaginable horrors of World War One. Most of these men were not professional soldiers, but ordinary people from all walks of life who when called upon, did their duty, many of them never to return home. Terrible sacrifices were made on both sides; not only must this never be forgotten, we must ensure that it never happens again.

On a less serious note, I feel immense credit is due to Gun Heaven/ Toubo/ WinGun and Webley for deciding to work together in order to revisit the original design and thence develop what can only be described as a thoroughly authentic, fully functioning replica of the Webley MkVI Service Revolver; one which should appeal not only to shooters and collectors of replica firearms like myself, but also to those who may otherwise not be particularly interested in replica pistols such as full-bore and other shooting enthusiasts, military historians, readers of classic late 19th and early 20th Century fiction and, last but not least, avid television and movie fans!

Total 92 / 100

Review by Adrian. Adrian is also a moderator for the Umarex Boys Club Forums.                   

Related posts

Nagant M1895 Revolver review

Umarex Colt Single Action Army revolver review

Links

http://www.tircollection.com/t7678-revolvers-british

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30034679

Gun Heaven Model 59 Update

07 Nagant and Mak 023 - Copy

A year ago today I wrote a brief review to post on the Makarov Pistol Association (http://makarovpistol.myfineforum.org/about572.html&highlight=) of my Makarov Model 59 (6mm, CO2, blowback) made by Toubo/ GunHeaven in Taiwan (also available in calibre 4.5mm).

The story continues…

I was delighted when Steve asked me to compile another review, using his template, for “The Pistol Place” ( http://pistolplace.com/2014/01/15/gun-heaven-toubo-makarov-pistolet-makarova-model-59/ ) particularly as I was so pleased to have found a “Makarov” in Thailand… but it wasn’t long before disaster struck!

Basically, what I did was to break a fundamental rule of “amateur replica gunsmithing” – or anything else for that matter! – which is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!

I had loaded a CO2 capsule only to have it leak. I think this was either due to me leaving capsules in for long periods of time and damaging the seals or (more likely) because I managed to knock the capsule out of alignment as it was being pierced. A second capsule appeared to be fine, but never the less I thought it might be a good idea to open the valve assembly and have a look; after all, a chap with my experience should have no problem at all (doh!).

I carefully unscrewed the valve cover and brass cap… only to let the various parts fall onto the desk! Instead of leaving it to fix later on when I was a little less “excited” (“jai yen yen” as they would say in Thailand), I was impatient to ensure all was well and in putting it back together must have replaced something incorrectly (possibly part 7-12 the wrong way around?). This resulted in stripped threads of the valve housing when the CO2 exited in one fell swoop!

Talk about an unhappy bunny! I contacted Toubo in Taiwan receiving a reply that very same day, but although they kindly offered to send a replacement seal set informed me that spare magazines were not available at that time.

01 Makarov magazine - Copy

How I think the bits are supposed to go according to the parts diagram inside the box lid… obviously did something wrong first time around!

What to do? Should I attempt a re-build (which I might still do at one point) or go the whole hog and get another gun (of which my local shop had none). I was happy with option two, for a reasonable price, as I thought it may be rather nice to have the silver Model 59 making a pair.

Lo and behold, a couple of days ago I was ordering some BBs (well, Gung mainly!) from another shop when, on the off-chance, I asked her to see if they had any Makarov blowback pistols… “Certainly, we’ve got plenty – which colour would you like!!?”. Not only that, but the price was significantly better than I expected and so yesterday a box arrived bearing not “Manna from Heaven”… but rather “Makarov from GunHeaven” 🙂

02 Mak&Mak 049 - Copy02

Silver Makarov Blowback with “Parkerised” version in an army/ police surplus Makarov holster (East German?)

Both pistols are identical except that the “Model 59” stencilling is missing from the silver version (I was pleased about that; I don’t mind it on the “parkerised” version, but think it would look out of place on the “chrome” model). Both feature proper serial numbers which in my opinion tend to give them more credibility, making them that little bit more authentic and more akin to a real firearm.

03 Nagant and Mak 043 - Copy

Complete with “proof” stamp and serial number

 On first inspecting the gun, I noticed a small blemish where the serial number had been stamped, but that seems to have all but disappeared with use. There is also a slightly rough finish on the inside of the upper part of the “ejection” port in the slide, but again you’ve got to be really looking for it (neither of these “blemishes” are visible on the photo above!). Both have minor scuff marks on the slide stop where the slide rides over.

04 Mak&Mak 055 - Copy

Identical except for the colour and the lack of “Model 59” on the chrome/ nickel version

 Having given it the “once over”, I decided to follow suit and replace the recoil spring with a slightly stronger one as I did on my first gun. I prefer the stronger spring and feel it adds to the realism when racking the slide. As before, I must stress that you should be very careful when doing this because if the spring is the wrong size you may be able to replace the slide, but not remove it again!

05a Mak&Mak 011 - Copy

Fitted with a slightly stronger recoil spring – the one issued is shown above the slide

It was then time to tighten a CO2 capsule in the magazine and shoot a few targets! Shooting was how I remember it… a crisp, strong blowback and a loud report (for a CO2 pistol). It only took a few shots to get used to the long trigger pull (which also serves to load a ball into the breech) and I was more than pleased with the results.

06 Makarov and Garden 016 - Copy

Muzzle velocity settles at around 115 to 120 m/s using 0.25g balls; targets shot left to right

Once settled, I measured about 115 to 120 m/s using 0.25g “FireFly” (black) 6mm balls (the same as with the previous magazine). POI (Point of Impact) pretty much equated to POA (Point of Aim). The pistol may be shot as quick as you like and since it is CO2 suffers little from the “cooldown effect”. I managed about 50 good shots from a single capsule (slightly less than before); temperature was 34° Celsius in the shade and humid.

Mak&Mak 009 - Copy

Mix n’ Match gives the two-tone look

All in all, I consider myself to be luckier than I deserve; not only have I managed to replace my damaged magazine, I have also been able to add a rather attractive pistol to my collection, not only to pair with my other Model 59, but also to accompany another favourite of mine… the Nagant M1895.

08 Nagant and Mak 053 - Copy

Pictured with another iconic pistol originating from Russia (and GunHeaven/ Toubo/ WinGun)… a Nagant M1895

 Guest review by Adrian-BP

Related pages:

Gun Heaven Model 59 review

WE Tokarev TT-33 review

Gun Heaven Nagant M1895 review

 

Gun Heaven/ Toubo Makarov (Pistolet Makarova) Model 59

intro

I bought a CO2 powered Baikal Makarov MP654-K in 2005 and was instantly taken with it (a link to a detailed description and review of that gun is provided at the end of this review). I was therefore delighted to learn that Gun Heaven, a company based in Taiwan, had decided to make a blowback version; even more so since I already had their M1895 and was keen to see whether a semi-auto would come up to the same standard.

Background

The Model 59 (aka Type 59) was adopted by the Chinese in 1959 (source: Wikipedia) and imported into the United States as the Norinco Model 59 (source: Makarov.com). The cartridge firing version is chambered for a special 9x18mm Makarov round.

Gun Heaven Model 59 Spec.

Calibre: 6mm (4.5mm versions are also available)

Magazine capacity: Twelve 6mm balls

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 3.5 inches (90mm) – smooth bore

Weight: Approx. 660g (with CO2 capsule in the magazine)

Overall length: 162mm (measured)

Sights: Non-adjustable rear with fixed front blade

Action: Semi-automatic with “blowback” function

Packaging and Presentation  3.5/5

The pistol was purchased new about three months ago and comes well packaged in a robust cardboard box containing the pistol, one CO2 magazine, a small bag of unmarked 6mm balls and a canvas pistol bag with pockets for the gun and magazine. The bag is made to look authentic with various stencilled markings.

M59 in the bag - Copy

The box includes a canvas carrying bag (please note the exploded diagram inside the lid)

The outside of the box indicates some of the countries which adopted this pistol for use by their military and police services; the left-hand side indicates the calibre and colour whilst the right-hand side gives contact information for Gun Heaven in Hong Kong and Toubo in Taiwan. Although a manual is not included an exploded diagram is given on the inside of the lid.

In my opinion the pistol is well-presented and the inclusion of the carrying bag is a very nice touch. However, a 6mm cleaning rod would be useful and if 6mm balls are going to be provided then some indication as to the weight/ quality/ manufacturer would be good. Similarly, a manual would be useful although printing the parts diagram inside the lid is an excellent idea.

Visual Accuracy  7/10

The pistol comes in either a silver/ chrome or black colour; I chose the latter based on personal preference only. The “black” version is actually a durable dark grey paint which successful repels fingermarks and there have been no external marks on the frame due to the movement of the slide. The colour would appear to be closer to that of parkerization rather than the blued-steel finish as found on my Baikal MP654-K.

Comp with TM1911 - Copy“Parkerized” colour comparison against a Tokyo Marui 1911A1

Baikal Mak 4.5mm comparison

Comparison between the Baikal MP654-K (4.5mm CO2 – left) and Model 59 (6mm blowback)

 The grips on the “black” version are made of a brown plastic, but despite this quite closely resemble those fitted to the original cartridge firing pistol (which is hardly surprising as many of the Chinese Model 59s were fitted with plastic grips!). They are secured in place by means of a single screw in the backstrap; however, this single screw does allow for some very slight movement between the grips and the frame when the pistol is gripped tightly and aftermarket ones could well be worth considering.

The left-hand side of the slide is marked “MODEL 59”; the right-hand side has a serial number etched into the slide and a capital “F” stamped inside a pentagon on the frame under the hammer (to signify it complies with German legislation as having a muzzle energy of less than 7.5J). The hammer, safety selector, slide stop and trigger are slightly darker in colour to that of the frame and slide and in my opinion this adds to the overall appearance of the gun.

Both the slide and frame are constructed of a metal alloy. The gun is well balanced and weighs approximately 660g with the magazine and a CO2 capsule inserted (the cartridge firing version is a little heavier at 730g unloaded – source: World Guns).

The following pictures are a comparison with a Chinese Model 59 (source: Gunboards.com). As you can see, a lanyard loop is not fitted at the base of the grip on the left-hand side. The grips are ambidextrous, but of a different design to those shown. The CO2 capsule tightener in the base of the magazine, whilst folding-up to make it is less conspicuous, is still visible (but works well).

Due to the internal mechanism of the pistol (see below), the trigger does not move to a second stage when the slide is racked or the hammer cocked (see previous comparison with the Baikal model). The safety selector “dots” are coloured (red and white – as on the original shown), but are also marked with a discreet “F” and “S” respectively. The serial number is on the right-hand side of the slide and there is none on the frame.

Model 59 6mm combined6mm CO2 Model 59 – note serial number on opposite side (and none on the frame)

makarov_rs_combined

Chinese Model 59 (courtesy of Gunboards.com)

m59 6mm combined

The 6mm version again, this time without flash

Operation and Functional Accuracy  12/15

The CO2 capsule fits into the side of the magazine and is tightened via the thumb screw mentioned in the previous section. Capsules are pierced cleanly and efficiently and the magazine holds its charge well with no leaks, even over a period of some days. Two seals/ O-rings are visible, one acting as a piercing seal in the magazine and the other surrounding the firing pin in the rear of the slide. Both appear to be made of a durable (polyurethane?) material. I have seen spare O-ring seal sets available from WinGun, but I’d be surprised if they were ever needed.

o-rings combined

Views of the magazine and rear of the slide indicating the two visible seals and firing mechanism

The magazine is made of some sort of durable synthetic material (nylon/ ABS plastic?) in which sits the CO2 capsule; on top of this is a metal/ alloy housing which contains the valve and loading mechanism. This is of a different design to what I have seen previously. The 6mm balls (or BBs in the case of the 4.5mm version) are loaded by either locking the follower in place and pouring them in or by keeping the follower pressed down with a thumbnail and loading from the top. Twelve 6mm balls may be loaded, the top one holding the little “loading bar” (for want of a better term!) in place.

mags combined

The top of the magazine viewed from both sides

This pistol is in fact single-action only although the trigger, when pulled, does two things. First, it moves the “loading bar” forward which in turn seats a 6mm ball/ bb in the breech; then, continuing with the pull releases the hammer, the ball is fired and the blowback mechanism activated. One must therefore remember that if the slide is racked a ball/ bb is not loaded into the breech; only pulling the trigger will do this.

Even though this additional “work” by the trigger is unnoticeable, it does result in a rather long trigger pull. The hammer itself is reinforced where it strikes the firing pin.

trigger operation combined

Loading mechanism with the slide removed

This also means that if you wish to decock the pistol using the trigger then you will have to remove the magazine first otherwise a ball/ BB will be loaded into the breech.

Field-stripping is easy and is achieved by removing the magazine, lowering the trigger guard and moving it to rest against the frame (it stays in this position if it is moved to the right). The slide may then be taken off by moving it to the rear, lifting and then carefully sliding it forward over the barrel (as with a Walther PPK). Care must be taken since the (steel) firing pin and assembly is housed at the rear of the slide. There are no unpleasant surprises with springs going “boing” or bits falling out!

As with the original pistol, the slide is held in place by the recoil spring which sits around the barrel. There was about a quarter of an inch of “play” in the slide when it was forward and I therefore decided to replace the original spring with a slightly stronger one. The spring I chose – by good fortune – fits the barrel like a glove and the slide now moves forward with a stronger, more positive action (photo below, right… please note care must be taken to ensure that any replacement spring is not too long otherwise it may not be possible to remove the slide and that any decision to replace the spring rests entirely with the owner).

field stripped combined showing new recoil spring

Images of the pistol field-stripped – on the left is the original recoil spring

The only thing that doesn’t work so well on my model is the safety catch in that, although it moves correctly, it does not decock the hammer and is easily overridden by pulling back on the hammer. It also quickly became loose, but this may be corrected by replacing a worn rubber O-ring with something more suitable (I placed a dental rubber band, as used for braces, between the selector switch and the frame and that holds it in place).

Bearing these comments regarding the recoil spring and safety in mind, I still feel this pistol deserves a good score for operational and functional accuracy in that, even though there are some differences in operation with the “real steel”, in my opinion these are justified and result in a solid, well made pistol and magazine. I also like the fact that with the magazine removed the pistol will not fire and no ball is left in the breech.

Shooting  27.5/40

Once fitted with a magazine, the Model 59 may either be cocked by racking the slide (which simply cocks the hammer, it does not chamber a ball) or by pulling back on the hammer. Once loaded, the ball is held in place by a rubber washer or O-ring/ seal. I can’t see any kind of “hop-up” fitted which, IMHO, is a shame and something which could be addressed in the future.

There is a long, albeit smooth, trigger pull which at first had me pulling the gun down and hitting low on the target. There is quite a loud report and the gun really does “kick” in your hand! The slide locks back when the last round has been fired and may be released by either pulling back further on the slide or pushing down on the slide stop. The sights replicate the original; they are fixed and I have added a small “dot” of yellow paint to the front blade.

Two sets of targets are given. The gun was held using a two-handed grip with 0.25g FireFly ammunition at 6 yds. The first was shot last September with chronograph measurements indicating a muzzle velocity which quickly settled at around 115 +/- 5 m/s (about 1.65 J). Condensation was evident on the capsule after rapid shooting, but that is hardly surprising as it was 29 Celsius in the shade.

WinGun Mak Model 59 Fedora“Man in a Fedora” target courtesy of Jim’s Police Pistol Competition on the UBC.

Model 59 052 - Copy

The second was shot more recently (January 2014) with much the same results, but this time the velocity was recorded in feet per second settling at around 370 +/- 15 fps (about 1.6J). About 60 good shots can be expected from a single capsule of CO2.

Model 59 054 - Copy

Based on these targets an average shot like myself should be able to achieve something in the region of 2 to 2 ½ inch groups at 6yds with the occasional “flier” at 3 inches; perfectly good for informal target shooting/ plinking in the back garden with the added excitement of the (quite realistic!) blowback experience to boot.

Quality and Reliability  12/15

The pistol appears to be both well made and well finished. I consider the replacement of the recoil spring to be an improvement (I did the same to my Umarex Walther PPK/S) and both the slight movement in the grips and looseness of the safety selector to be relatively minor points when compared against the general robustness of the pistol as a whole. I am particularly impressed with the quality and integrity of the CO2 magazine, although in my experience this is the norm with WinGun/ Toubo guns (I have owned a Series 7 revolver for about three years and their Nagant M1895 for nearly twelve months). 6mm balls are easy to load and I have not experienced any misfires or jams.

Overall Impression  12/15

I am very impressed with this gun and find that it has grown on me; it is reliable, has a realistic blowback operation and I am pleased to have added it to my collection. I certainly think credit is due to Gun Heaven/ Toubo/ WinGun in that not only have they decided to take the initiative and produce yet another “classic” pistol, as they did with the Nagant M1895, they have chosen to adopt a different loading/ firing mechanism to the norm; the result being a pistol that should appeal to both collectors and casual target shooters/ plinkers alike.

M59 pair on table

Total score: 74/100

Guest review by Adrian-BP

Links:

Man in fedora target downloaded from Umarex Boys Club forum:

Makarov Pistol Association for more information about the Makarov pistol.

Related pages:

Gun Heaven Model 59 Update 

WE Tokarev TT-33 review

Baikal MP654K review

Umarex Walther PPK/S review

Gun Heaven Nagant M1895 revolver review