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

 

Replicas vs. firearms

Ryan from the US owns a number of firearms. However, he also has a large collection of replicas. Here he explains why…

I have been a firearms enthusiast for as long as I can remember. My Grandfather was a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, and he indoctrinated me on the finer points of the Colt 1911A1. I was also exposed to firearms at a young age in the Boy Scouts of America, and was an avid Trap (clay target) Shooter in high school. However, I’ve always been most fascinated with pistols and revolvers. Coming of age as a boy in the 1980’s, I had a Crosman 357, and in the 1990’s, a Daisy 45. However, at the onset of adulthood, I moved away from airguns and focused on shooting and collecting rimfire and centerfire handguns. Several factors have brought me back to the wonderful hobby of shooting and collecting Replica CO2 Pistols in both 4.5mm and 6mm.

Here in the United States, the Sandyhook Elementary School shooting tragedy occurred in December of 2012. New gun control measures were proposed, but not adopted. Ammunition promptly disappeared from shelves due to panic buying. Now, more than a year later, centerfire ammunition can sometimes be found at stores, but the supply is spotty. .22 Rimfire ammunition is generally nowhere to be found. Supply cannot keep up with demand. Ammo prices in general have also doubled in the last ten years or so. Much like other commodities, such as gasoline, it costs a lot more than it did just a few years ago. Also, there have been many new people that have become firearms owners due to the media attention, increasing demand. Simultaneously, there has been a rekindling of the Survivalist Movement of the 1970’s and 1980s, now called “Prepping,” which advocates stockpiling of ammo.

As an avid shooter and member of a gun club, I have turned back to my roots and am now shooting and collecting Replica CO2 Air Pistols. I’d like to briefly compare and contrast four firearm types along with their 4.5 and 6mm replica counterparts. A few of my favorite firearms include the Beretta 92FS, the 1911, the Russian Makarov and Smith & Wesson Double Action Revolvers chambered in .38 Special. These won’t be full reviews, but rather my thoughts on the efficacy of each replica as it compares to the “Real Steel” firearms that it mimics.

real1

From the top: 4.5mm Daisy Powerline 617, 9mm Beretta 92FS, 6mm KJ Works M9 Government

The Beretta 92FS is the standard sidearm for the United States Military. Growing up, I saw it prominently used in films such as the “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon” series. I have owned a U.S. Made Beretta 92FS since 2006; it came with two 15 round magazines. The U.S. Made Beretta 92FS’s are not as nicely made as the Italian Made 92F’s that were imported in the 1980’s. The Italian pistols had chrome lined barrels, all metal parts, and were generally more accurate than my specimen. Some of my favorite Replica CO2 Air Pistols happen to be modeled after the Beretta 92FS. The Daisy 617x actually has a six shot revolver mechanism housed within its Beretta inspired chassis. While it shoots either 4.5mm BB’s or Pellets, I shoot it with wadcutter pellets to maximize its rifled steel barrel. It is not blowback, but can be manually cocked much like a double action revolver. I tend to shoot it double action only, and it’s accuracy is phenomenal. The only downside is that it only holds six pellets compared to the higher priced Umarex Beretta 92FS which holds eight. My 6mm Airsoft version of the Beretta 92FS is a KJ Works M9 Government. This model is probably the best replica of a “real steel” firearm, that I own. If it wasn’t for the Blaze Orange Barrel Tip, which is mandated by U.S. Federal Law, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from the real thing. It is a Blowback Airsoft Pistol that is available with both a CO2 and a Green Gas Magazine. This also happens to be my most accurate 6mm pistol.

real2

From the top: 4.5mm Winchester (Daisy) Model 11, 9mm Taurus PT-1911, 6mm KJ Works Hi-Capa 1911

Moving onto the 1911 pattern of pistol, I personally own a Stainless Steel Taurus PT-1911. Mine happens to be chambered in 9mm Luger. My grandfather would roll over in his grave, as it is sacrilegious to have a 1911 that is not a .45. However, the Taurus has a lower recoil impulse, and 9mm ammo is lower priced than .45 ACP.   My analog 4.5mm airgun is the Winchester (Daisy) M-11 Blowback. I am really impressed with the airguns that are made in Japan, and this pistol is no exception. It’s recoil impulse is similar to a .22 Rimfire, and the attention to detail is pretty decent. The engineers really did a good job with it. My 6mm Airsoft 1911 is a KJ Works Hi Capa. I have both a CO2 and a Green Gas Magazine for this Hi Capa. It is a good shooter, but shoots a little high to the point of aim.

real3

From the top: 6mm KWC Makarov PM, .380 acp Baikal IJ-70, 4.5mm Umarex Legends Makarov

In recent years, I have become enamored with the Russian Makarov pistol. Mine is a Baikal IJ-70 chambered in .380 ACP (9x17mm) as opposed to the usual 9mm Makarov (9x18mm) caliber. I purchased this model used, as it was imported into the U.S. during the 1990’s. The 8-shot single stack magazines are interchangeable between the two calibers. The Makarov is a robust design that points well, is very accurate, and has low recoil. My 4.5mm “Mak” replica is a Umarex Legends BB Pistol. It is not to be confused with the Makarov Ultra Blowback model recently introduced. The non-blowback version is very accurate and has great attention to detail. It’s paint finish is a little glossy, but it looks very close to my Baikal. It is a pleasure to shoot. It can be cocked, but I choose to shoot it double action only. Its sights are fixed compared to the adjustable sights on my Baikal IJ-70 .380ACP. My 6mm version is a KWC Makarov PM CO2 replica. Like the 4.5mm, it is also a non-blowback model. In fact, the trigger action of these two Makarov replicas are very similar even though they are of different Taiwanese manufacturers. I feel that they both replicate the handling qualities and pointability of a real Makarov.

real4

From the top: 4.5mm Umarex S&W M&P R8, .38 spl S&W Model 10, 6mm TSD/WG 708

Lastly, I am a big fan of Smith & Wesson Double Action Revolvers chambered in .38 Special. These were the standard for American police forces for decades. I like the low maintenance qualities of a double action revolver. I own a Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 Special with a 4” Heavy Barrel. It was purchased used, and has some honest holster wear. It was likely a police trade-in. They are great firearms that are under appreciated in today’s era of semi-automatics. My 4.5mm version is a Umarex Smith & Wesson M&P R8 CO2 BB Revolver. This is an impressive eight shot replica by Wingun. While it is rendered in high grade plastic, it feels and functions like a genuine Smith & Wesson “Hand Ejector.” The accuracy is quite good, and the grip just feels right to me. My 6mm Airsoft Revolver is a TSD (Dan Wesson) 2.5” Snubby which is also made by Wingun. While not very accurate, they’ve certainly captured the essence of how a revolver works with the use of actual brass shell casings and included speedloader. I’d go with a little longer barrel if I had to do it all over again. However, given it is a revolver, it is not picky about its 6mm fodder and I often recycle previously fired BB’s which may account for its accuracy issues.

I find that Replica CO2 Air Pistols are a good “under study” for the firearms that inspired them. If I had to pick a favorite genre, I’d pick the pellet shooters which allow the use of Crosman Lead Free Pellets for shooting in the garage of one’s home. Here in the U.S., Airsoft skirmishing has increased in popularity with young men. I find that Airsoft Gas Pistols lend themselves to shooting in the basement, if there is proper ventilation. The 4.5mm BB Pistol category has benefited from designs that started out as Airsoft Pistols. Here in the U.S., the benefit of the 4.5mm versions is that they don’t have the pesky orange barrel tip like their 6mm brethren. These 4.5mm pistols, as typified by the Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness Blowback, can be the epitome of realism in both form and function. I don’t feel that shooting Replica CO2 Air Pistols replaces actual firearms training, but that it augments it. I think that gun owners should still practice quarterly or a semi-annually with their firearms if they are to remain proficient with them. However, shooting Replica CO2 Air Pistols is just plain fun, whether one owns firearms or not, and I would encourage anyone to share this hobby with others, and to get out there and enjoy it!

Ryan

Related pages:

Baikal MP654K review

Tanfoglio Witness review

Dan Wesson revolvers 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