A beginner’s guide to replica guns

I know from messages I receive and from chatting with folk that there are people out there who are interested in replica guns but are confused about what this hobby involves. That’s what this article is about: it’s a beginner’s guide to the world of replica guns.

I know that one of the problems for beginners is that they are not sure about what the different types of replica are suitable for, which type(s) of replica is legal where they live and what would suit the type of shooting they want to do. They’re also not sure about how to be safe when shooting replicas. If that’s you, if you think that blowback is something you get after eating a particularly hot curry and you aren’t sure of the difference between an AEG and ABS, this may be a good place to start.

Why would you want a replica?

Replica guns are popular for lots of reasons, but mostly because they allow you to experience shooting without the cost, legal issues and potential risk of owning and using firearms. You can shoot replicas safely just about anywhere: in your backyard, basement or even your bedroom.  For these reasons, replica shooting is becoming more and more popular, but before you dive in, there are a few things you need to know.  

Lots of movies use replica guns – this image from the Walking Dead features an airsoft M9.  

What do we mean by a replica anyway?

A replica gun is just what the name suggests: it’s something that looks like a firearm. However, there are several different forms of replica: inert replicas, PFC replicas and shooting replicas. Inert replicas look like guns and are usually made of metal, they have some level of functionality but they are not capable of shooting. These are really intended as wall decorations or props for costumes. Spanish company Denix are probably the largest single producer of inert guns and their products are sold around the world. Some other (mainly Japanese) companies produce PFC (Plug Fire Cap) replicas. These are functional replicas that use special caps to replicate the action of firearms, but they don’t actually fire anything out of the barrel.

This is a Denix replica of the Mauser C96 pistol from the late 19th century. It looks a lot like the original, but it doesn’t shoot so it isn’t covered on this site.

This site isn’t about inert or PFC replicas, it’s about replica guns that use a spring, compressed air, gas or electric power to shoot pellets or BBs. All the replicas covered on this site are suitable for target shooting.

None of the replicas covered on this site are suitable for hunting. For humane hunting, you need a specialist air pistol or rifle. These are powerful and accurate, but most aren’t replicas of firearms. If hunting is your thing, you’ll find lots of sites and books on this subject, but these aren’t covered here.   

Legal stuff

Before we talk about anything else, we need to talk about the law. You really don’t want to find yourself breaking the law, even inadvertently. Every country (and many states in the US) has its own laws regarding replicas. In some countries, these are very complicated. In the UK, for example, buying a particular type of replica that was previously sold legally can land you in jail for up to five years! You’ll find a link at the end of this article to one specifically about the arcane replica laws in the UK.

Don’t end up here – know the laws about replicas where you live!

In some countries, replicas are not allowed at all. In others, replicas have to be identified by having, for example, a bright orange tip that makes them instantly recognizable as replicas. In some countries, the laws applying to pellet and steel BB shooting replicas are different to those that apply to 6mm airsoft replicas. In many countries there are upper limits on the power of any replica. In some places there are even laws about how and where to store your replicas. There is no way here that I can provide details of all the relevant laws in all countries. So, here’s an essential piece of advice for anyone considering becoming involved in this hobby:

If you’re thinking about buying a replica, check that this is permitted under the laws that apply to your area.

How can you do that? If you’re lucky enough to have a local shop that sells replicas, go in and ask them for advice. If not, find an on-line store in your area and drop them an e-mail. Most people who sell replicas will be very happy to give you advice – after all, you might be a potential customer. If you’re still not sure, contact your local police and ask for guidance. Don’t even think about buying a replica until you’re certain that you understand the legal requirements where you live and you are sure that the replica you’re considering purchasing will comply.


The replica guns featured on this site are not toys. Those that shoot pellets and steel BBs can cause serious injury and even the plastic BBs from airsoft guns can cause injury if they hit a person or animal in the eye. You need to follow basic safety procedures when you’re shooting with replica guns. Here are eight safety rules that you should follow at all times:

Always wear eye protection. No excuses, no exceptions. Getting hit in the eye by a projectile, even a ricochet, from any replica can cause serious injury. Your normal glasses won’t provide adequate protection, especially from steel BBs and pellets, so even if you wear these while shooting, you also need additional eye protection designed for shooting. How much should you pay? That depends on how much you think your eyesight is worth!

These are Crosman airgun safety shooting glasses, but there are lots of other brands to choose from.

Never point a loaded gun at anything you don’t want to shoot. Always think about where the muzzle is pointing when you’re handling a loaded gun.

Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. Don’t carry or handle a loaded gun with your finger on the trigger – keep your finger outside the trigger-guard until you are facing the target with the gun pointed where you want to shoot.

Always treat every replica as if it’s loaded. I’m sure there aren’t many replica owners who haven’t accidentally fired a replica they were sure wasn’t loaded. Treat every replica as if it’s loaded and follow the two rules above at all times.

Think about your backstop. What’s behind the target you are shooting at? Do you have a box or other container that will catch pellets or BBs after they have hit the target? What will happen to the pellet or BB if you entirely miss the target and the box? Pellets and BBs can travel a long distance. In some places, there are laws that you will break if any pellet or BB ends up outside the boundary of your property. Be certain that can’t happen to you and think  about what’s behind the target you are shooting at. Also think about ricochets. Steel BBs are particularly prone to bouncing back off hard surfaces. If your backstop is a wall or other hard surface, you may want to think about putting a large, softwood board behind the target to lessen the chance of ricochets.

Keep pets and spectators safe. If other people are in the area or watching you shoot, they too must wear eye protection. It’s very unlikely that you can persuade your pets to wear eye protection, so keep them safely out of the way when you’re shooting.

OK, I know, some dogs can be trained to wear goggles or safety glasses. But most can’t and my cat thinks they look silly. So please, just keep pets out of the way while you’re shooting.

Never let anyone shoot a replica who can’t understand and abide by these rules. If you want to use replicas to teach your kids to shoot, that’s fine. Just make sure they’re old enough and responsible enough to follow these rules, even if you are supervising.

If you follow these simple rules, shooting replicas can be safe and fun. If you don’t, you can cause injury to yourself or others. There is one other important safety issue to consider: most replica guns look like firearms, even those with orange tips. So there is one more important rule:

Never openly carry a replica in a public place. Hopefully, you know that anyway. Carrying what appears to be a firearm in a public place will cause concern to members of the public and provoke a pro-active and potentially lethal response from the police. Always use your replica responsibly, in your back-yard, basement or at the local shooting range. If you must transport a replica, do so in a box or bag and keep it out of sight. Never leave a replica in a vehicle in plain sight. Lock it out of sight in the boot and in a bag or box. 

Sorry to bang on about legal issues and safety, but they’re both very important. Don’t think of these replicas as pretend guns – think of them as real guns that happen to use compressed air or electrical power rather than gunpowder. I don’t mean to put anyone off, but if you can’t be legal, safe and responsible with your replica then personally, I’d rather you didn’t bother. Every time someone is injured by a replica or arrested for brandishing one in public, it simply increases pressure on the rest of us.

OK, now that you’re sure you’re following all local and national laws and you understand how to stay safe, it’s time to think about what kind of replica you want. And this is where things can get a little bewildering for the beginner.  

Pellets or BBs?

Three basic types of projectile are fired by almost all replica guns: pellets, 4.5mm steel BBs or plastic BBs in either 6mm or 8mm. Each type has its own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.

An airsoft 6mm plastic BB (left), a steel 4.5mm BB and a .177 pellet (right).

Most modern pellet-shooting replicas are designed to use .177” (the size denotes the outside diameter of the pellet) soft metal pellets. These are widely available and come in two basic types: flat fronted target pellets (sometimes called “wad cutter” pellets) and pointed hunting pellets. No replica pistol is suitable for hunting, and some replicas won’t load or shoot properly with pointed hunting pellets, so always use flat fronted pellets in your replica pistol. Some older replicas use larger .22” pellets. With these, you should also use flat-fronted target-type pellets.

These are Gamo Match .177 flat-fronted pellets suitable for target shooting. Almost all pellet manufacturers produce similar pellets

Replicas designed for shooting pellets always have rifled barrels. This simply means that inside the barrel, there is an engraved, spiral pattern. The soft pellet deforms to tightly fit inside the barrel and the rifling causes it to spin, increasing consistency. In general, replicas designed for use with pellets will give the greatest accuracy and consistency at target-shooting ranges of 6 – 25m. Some pellet shooting replicas are also claimed to be capable of shooting 4.5mm steel BBs. That’s technically true, because the steel BBs are slightly smaller than .177” pellets and fit into the barrel without engaging with the rifling. However, accuracy using steel BBs in a rifled barrel is generally poor and some people claim that the steel BBs can actually damage the rifling over time. My advice is: never shoot steel BBs through a rifled barrel.

The Umarex Beretta PX-4 Storm. A pellet-shooting CO2 powered replica with blowback.

Pellet-shooting replicas are generally more accurate out to longer range than BBs shooters. If you want to shoot at longer range (25m, for example) you are probably going to want a pellet shooter. The main disadvantage of pellet-firing replicas is that they can’t fully replicate the function of semi-automatic handguns. The soft pellets have to be loaded into a rotary magazine of some type and that means limited function. For example, no current pellet-shooting semi-auto replica, even those with blowback, will lock the slide back after the last round is fired. Pellets work just fine in revolver replicas and particularly those with removable shells where the function of the original is accurately replicated in all respects.

If you want something that fully mimics the function of a semi-auto pistol, you’re going to want a BB shooter. These come in two forms: those that shoot 4.5mm diameter steel BBs and those that shoot larger, plastic 6mm or 8mm airsoft BBs. What’s the difference? Steel BB replicas shoot with more power, typically up to 3 Joules (the power of replicas is measured in Joules, a function of the weight of the projectile multiplied by the speed at which it leaves the barrel) compared to around 1 Joule for 6 and 8mm BBs. Steel BBs have the capacity to cause more injury than the lighter plastic BBs and you do have to be very careful about ricochets. That doesn’t mean that plastic BBs are harmless – you must still use eye protection, but a ricochet from a plastic BB will not have the power to break the skin where a steel BB may.

In my view (and I know that many people will disagree) power is largely irrelevant for enjoyable target shooting at up to 10m. It doesn’t really matter if your BB is hitting the target at 250, 350 or even 450 FPS (feet per second). What matters is how accurately and consistently it hits the target. For this reason, I tend to favour replicas that shoot 6mm plastic airsoft BBs. IMHO, these are just as much fun to shoot, there are fewer safety concerns and, if your replica is shooting high or low, these 6mm BBs are available in a range of weights (all 4.5mm BBs weigh pretty much the same). Whether you decide to go for 4.5mm or 6mm BBs, these BB shooters are about as close as you can get to the experience of shooting a semi-auto handgun without the smell of gunpowder.


A few replica pistols are powered by springs: these are sometimes known as mechanical airguns. However, many are very low power replicas of semi-auto pistols that use the racking of the slide to compress the main spring. I have tried a few of these, but none were really satisfactory. The exceptions are a small number of replicas that use some form of break-barrel action to compress the main spring for a single shot. Most of these are pellet-shooting, accurate and of course, you don’t have to worry about gas, CO2 or keeping the batteries charged, but these don’t replicate the function of the originals.

The Umarex Browning Buck Mark URX is a single shot, mechanical airgun that shoots pellets. It looks a lot like the original, but doesn’t function in the same way.

If you want to be able to shoot more than once without reloading, you are going to want a replica powered by CO2, gas or electric power. CO2 comes in the form of 12g capsules that must be placed into the replica and pierced. CO2 powered replicas generally have more power and are the loudest of all. Most gas-powered replicas use green gas, basically odour-free propane. A few use less powerful HFC134a (also known as Duster Gas), which is basically just compressed air. Some replicas (for example, many produced by Japanese manufacturer Tokyo Marui) are designed only to use HFC134a and can be damaged by the use of Green Gas, so make certain you know what type of gas your replica uses. In general, gas-powered replica shoot with less power and noise than CO2 powered versions.

The CO2 powered Umarex replica of the Luger. It has blowback and it’s just about as close as you can get to the look, weight and function of the original. A 12g CO2 cartridge is shown beside the replica.

Both forms of gas come in aerosol cans that you use to pressurize the magazine in the replica before shooting. You can buy gas or CO2 from stockists who sell replicas. A few replica pistols (and most semi-auto submachine gun and assault rifle replicas) are powered by rechargeable battery packs. These AEGs (Automatic Electric Guns) can be fired in both semi and full auto modes. Electric pistols don’t generally have great power, but they are much quieter than other forms of replica. They’re also less susceptible to the effects of cold weather – both gas and CO2 powered replicas get notably less powerful as the temperature drops.

HFC134a (left) and Green Gas (right)

It all depends what you want. If you want a replica that gets as close as possible to the experience of shooting a firearm, perhaps you want CO2 power? If you want something relatively quiet that won’t startle your neighbours, perhaps a Duster Gas or electric replica may be best? Think about the type of shooting you intend to do and where you’ll be doing it and choose a replica that suits.

How close a replica do you want?

The reviews on this site asses all replica pistols in terms of how well they replicate the original both visually and in terms of functionality. Visually, I assess whether the replica the same size and proportions as the original, whether all the controls are replicated and whether it has authentic markings. For functionality I look at how closely a replica compares with the original for shooting, loading and disassembly – yes, I know that you don’t need to field strip a replica, but the way this can be done without tools is intrinsic to the way in which many handguns are made and I do like it when this is replicated. 

The Tokyo Marui Glock 26. Looks good, it’s a great functional replica, it has blowback and it’s a nice shooter too, but it’s quite light and not particularly powerful. It uses HFC134a.

The weight of the replica is also important. Some all-plastic replicas are great visual and functional replicas, but they are so light that they can feel a little toy-like. Metal replicas (these are usually made from zinc alloy, by the way, so very few are as heavy as the original) are much heavier. It all depends what you’re looking for. Do you want a powerful and accurate pellet shooter that perhaps isn’t such a great functional replica of a semi-auto pistol? Or are you willing to sacrifice some power and accuracy for a BB shooter that is more functionally accurate?

One of the terms you will see often in relation to replicas is blowback. But just what is this? In a semi-auto handgun, part of the energy of the cartridge is used to make the slide or bolt move rapidly rearward. When it reaches the end of its travel, a spring pushes it forward again. This movement is used to extract the spent shell casing and load a new round in the breech. Many replicas use gas or CO2 to replicate this action, moving the slide or bolt to the rear and loading a new BB in the breech ready for the next shot. This idea was pioneered in replicas in the early 1990s by German manufacturer Umarex. Now, many, many replica pistols (as well as some replica submachine guns and assault rifles) incorporate blowback.

In some cases, you’ll find virtually identical replicas, one version featuring blowback and one without. There is no doubt that blowback is a great way of replicating the feel of a semi auto pistol, but it does have drawbacks. Replicas with blowback are generally more expensive and this action uses more CO2 or gas, so you’ll get more shots from non-blowback replicas. Some non-blowback replicas are also more powerful, as all the energy of the gas or CO2 is used to push the pellet or BB down the barrel. Do you want blowback? Well, this provides an experience much closer to the original, with the moving slide replicating recoil. Generally, I prefer replicas that incorporate blowback, but, if you’re on a budget, you may want to go for a non-blowback replica.

Share your new interest

There are a number of websites and forums where you can discuss replicas. However, there is one that I discovered when I began shooting replicas and I still regularly visit: the Umarex Boys Club (UBC) forum (you’ll find a link at the end of this article). Despite its name, this doesn’t only cover products from German replica manufacturer Umarex, it isn’t just for boys and it isn’t even really a club. It is a forum where you’ll find a wealth of information about replicas and shooting and a great many helpful, welcoming and experienced people who may be able to help you if you’re stuck. This forum also has some great competitions where you can download targets, shoot them with your replicas and compare your scores with those of other members.

If you are starting (or just thinking about starting) getting involved in this hobby, I heartily recommend visiting this forum. 


So there you have it, the four steps to replica joy:

  1. Make sure you understand and comply with the laws where you live.
  2. Follow the safety rules at all times.
  3. Choose a replica that fits how you want to shoot – do you want accurate target shooting at longer range? Perhaps go for a pellet shooting replica. Do you want something that’s as close as possible to the experience of using a firearm? Maybe you want a CO2 or green gas powered BB shooting replica? Do you want something that’s quiet? Maybe an electric or Duster Gas powered replica?
  4. Join a forum such as the UBC and share your new interest.

Here are four recommendations for your first replica covering a range of prices, four different sources of power and pellets, 4.5mm steel BBs and 6mm plastic airsoft BBs. Clicking on the link will take you to a full review of each on this site.

Umarex Browning Buck Mark URX. This a relatively low-cost (around €50), single shot, break-barrel, spring powered, pellet shooting replica. It’s an inexpensive way to find out whether you enjoy shooting replicas and it’s also powerful and accurate, though it doesn’t have blowback and it doesn’t really replicate the function of the semi-auto original.

Umarex Parabellum P.08. This is a heavy, metal, CO2 powered replica with blowback that functions in almost precisely the same way as the iconic Luger and looks just like it too. It’s also loud, powerful and reasonably accurate but it shoots steel 4.5mm BBs, so you do need to be careful about ricochets. Available for around €100.

Tokyo Marui Glock 26. This is an excellent visual and functional blowback replica as well as a great shooter of 6mm airsoft BBs. However, like most products from this high-quality Japanese manufacturer, it’s all-plastic and therefore quite light. It also uses Duster Gas, so it’s fairly quiet and not especially powerful. Cost around €150.

Umarex H&K G36C IDZ. Although this site mainly covers handgun replicas, I do occasionally look at replicas of other types of firearm. This is a relatively inexpensive AEG with blowback that shoots 6mm airsoft BBs. It’s a good visual replica of the original compact assault rifle, though it is a little light, but the full auto capability is great fun and this is adequately powerful and accurate for enjoyable back-yard target shooting. Available from around €85.

Whether you decide to begin with one of these or something entirely different is, of course, up to you. I have suggested these four simply because I own examples of all of them and I know how they handle and shoot. If you’re not sure or you’d like some advice, you can always drop me an email by using the “Contact” form on this site.

Whatever you decide to go for, get out there, get shooting and have fun!

Related Posts

Airgun law in the UK

What makes a great replica pistol?

Which is the best replica, Part 1

Which is the best replica, Part 2

How to hit what you’re aiming at

How to make your BB shooting replica more accurate


Umarex Boys Club Forum

Umarex H&K G36 C IDZ

OK, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s a funny-looking pistol…” And you’re right, this is something a little different, a review of a 6mm Automatic Electric Gun (AEG) by Umarex. I have owned a couple of AEGs in the past and I didn’t particularly like them. They were nice enough replicas, but I didn’t care for the way they shot. When you pulled the trigger in semi-auto mode, they went “whizz.” In full auto they went “whizz, whizz, whizz…” I found the experience of shooting unsatisfying.

Using them for target shooting did not replicate in any way the experience of shooting a firearm because they were virtually silent and had nothing to replicate recoil effect. That’s not surprizing because most AEGs are designed for skirmishing where reliability and long range accuracy are more important. However, there are now Electric Blowback (EBB) replicas available, and I have been considering one of these for back-yard plinking for a while. I spotted this replica the website of a German distributor recently for not much money at all: considerably less than the price of any CO2 powered blowback pistol. So, I thought I’d give it a try.

I am by no means an expert on AEGs. This review is really intended for other people who, like me, may be considering dipping their toes in the world of AEGs but don’t know what to expect. Does EBB make them more fun to shoot? Is an AEG as cheap as this worth having? Does an AEG have a place in your replica collection if you aren’t interested in skirmishing? Let’s try to answer those and other questions…

What is an AEG anyway?

AEGs use electrical power from a rechargeable battery pack to drive a mechanical gearbox which in turn operates a pneumatic piston that fires the BB down the barrel. Just as on other Airsoft replicas, a hop-up system is used to adjust the flight and trajectory of the BB. It’s a fairly complex system first developed by Japanese company Tokyo Marui in the early 1990s – TM also had experience of producing electrically powered, radio-controlled toys and used similar technology in their early AEGs.

Tokyo Marui FAMAS 556F1 AEG from 1991. One of the very first AEGs.

AEGs quickly became very popular with Airsoft skirmishers. mainly because they had some significant advantages over spring and gas -powered replicas. AEGs are affected much less by temperature changes than either gas or CO2 replicas and they are capable of full-auto fire, unlike spring versions. They also tend to be reliable and consistent in terms of power and accuracy and they are cheap to use. Some AEGs are also very powerful indeed – a few have claimed power of over 5 Joules (over 700fps) though most operate around 250 – 400 fps.

Now, virtually all major Airsoft manufacturers produce AEG replicas of submachine guns, assault rifles and machine guns. There are also AEG pistols, though I have never tried one. Somewhere around 15 years ago, some AEGs were offered for the first time with Electric Blowback (EBB), which uses a mechanical or pneumatic system to operate the bolt and/or charging handle each time the replica is fired. Opinions seem to be divided about this. It uses additional electrical power, so you get fewer shots per charge. The recoil effect is also generally weak compared to, for example, a gas or CO2 blowback replica and there still isn’t much sound when you pull the trigger. But at least an AEG with EBB doesn’t just go “whizz” when you pull the trigger…

The Systema PTW Evolution M4A1 Max CQBR AEG. Nice, but it will cost you more than €1,300! I hope it comes with batteries and a charger at that price…

AEGs range from expensive, powerful, full-metal replicas (the Systema PTW Professional Training Weapon range, for example, are very nice indeed, but will set you back up to €2,000) to lightweight mainly plastic replicas that cost less than €50. The cheapest AEGs with EBB cost from around €80. Most come with a battery pack and charger, i.e., all you need to get you started shooting.

The Heckler and Koch G36

The Heckler & Koch G36 was first produced in 1996. It is an assault rifle which was based on the existing H&K G3 but which was chambered for the NATO standard 5.56mm round. While the G3 was mostly metal, the G36 made extensive use of polymer to reduce weight. It allows both semi and full automatic modes via an ambidextrous fire select switch on the receiver. The G36 was adopted by the German army and as the main battle weapon of the armies of more than 40 countries around the world.

A Latvian Army soldier using a G36KV in Iraq, 2007

Image: US Department of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons

A distinctive feature of the G36 is a transparent magazine that allows the user to see how many rounds remain. A shortened version of the G36, the G36K (Kurtz – short) was introduced soon after launch and this was followed by the even more compact G36C which has a shortened barrel and fore-end and a folding plastic stock and is intended for use by special operation forces and airborne troops.

Officers of the French National Police Intervention Group (GIPN), a tactical unit of the French National Police, with a G36C fitted with a dual sight setup.

As part of the Infanterist der Zukunft (IDZ – Infantry of the future) project, an improvement program for the German army, the G36 has been upgraded slightly to an IDZ version that includes an adjustable, folding plastic stock 

The Umarex H&K G36C IDZ

As with many of their Airsoft replicas, this isn’t made by Umarex. Instead, it appears to be produced by Ares, an airsoft manufacturer with a good reputation for producing high quality, reliable replicas. It’s distributed by Umarex, and because they have a licensing deal with H&K, it carries full markings. One thing that I found a little confusing is that Umarex offer several different AEGs based on the G36C. Each is a little different, but if you’re an AEG newbie like me, you do need to know what you’re looking at.

This is the cheapest and lightest Umarex G36, but as you can see, it comes with some useful extras.

All versions feature selectable semi and full auto modes. The G36C is the most basic version. It’s mostly plastic construction but comes with some nice extras including a red-dot sight, forward hand-grip and mock silencer. It’s fairly light at 1.7kg but it includes a nice representation of the transparent magazine on the G36. This is available from around €50, but don’t be put off by the low price. If you’re interested in getting into AEGs, this may a good way to start. Next is the G36C IDZ. This is a little weightier at 1.9kg and it does have EBB, but it doesn’t come with any accessories and it has a generic, Hi-Cap magazine. It does have the adjustable IDZ stock and an “improved gearbox for increased performance” and it’s available from around €80. Both these replicas have relatively low power at under 0.5 Joules and both shoot at around 230 fps.

This is the heavier Umarex G36C Sportline. Nice, but no accessories, battery or charger.

The more upmarket version of the Umarex G36 has a metal gearbox and weighs in at 2.85 kg, close to the weight of the original. The G36C Sportline doesn’t come with any accessories, but shoots at a power of 1.25 Joules (350+ fps) and retails for around €150. Some versions such as the G36C Blowback come with EBB and some such as the G36C don’t and these cost anything up to €300. So, it depends what you’re looking for. If you want a weighty, powerful replica, go for one of the heavier models. If you’re less sure about an AEG, go for one of the cheaper models to see if you like it. Here, I’m reviewing the middle of the range, the 1.9kg G36C IDZ.

This version is sold as a “dual power” AEG, which simply means that it’s primarily intended for use as an AEG, but you can also use the charging handle to cock it and fire, in effect turning it into a spring-powered replica. External construction is mostly plastic, though the three forward accessory rails and some parts such as the trigger are metal. This is available in both black and tan colours.


Calibre: 6mm

Magazine capacity: Up to 400 BBs

Propellant: Electric (or mechanical)

Barrel length: 9.72″ (247mm)

Hop-Up: Adjustable

Weight: 1.85lbs (1.9kg) is claimed, but mine weighs in at just over 2kg with batteries and an empty magazine.

Overall length: 29.3″ (745mm) with stock unfolded.

Sights: Front: circular “peep” sight, fixed. Rear: flip-up V-notch and circular, adjustable for elevation.

Action: Semi and full auto.

Claimed power: 230 fps (70 m/s)  with 0.2g BBs, which equates to a whisker under 0.5 Joule

Packaging and presentation (2.5/5)

This replica  comes in a large, sturdy card box liberally provided with H&K branding and the H&K “No Compromise“ slogan. A plastic insert holds the replica and other bits and pieces in place.

The box contains the replica, a single Hi-Cap magazine, a charger and battery pack, a sheet of brief user instructions and a box of H & K branded 6mm, 0.2g BBs. This replica has front and rear sling mounts which are plastic, but they look robust and easily capable of supporting the weight of this replica.

This replica also comes with a charger and a pair of 7.2v, 700MaH, NiMH rechargeable batteries with a Mini-Tamiya connector. That’s  fairly low spec. but personally, I don’t care too much and I’m just happy to have batteries and a charger that I know will fit this replica and won’t damage it. If you were planning using this for skirmishing, where you might want to use your replica for several hours at a time, this might be an important limitation. For occasional bouts of target shooting, I’m hoping that the provided batteries will be up to the job.

Visual accuracy 8/10

As far as I can tell, the Umarex G36C IDZ is visually and dimensionally pretty much identical to the original weapon. All fittings and even fixing screws are identical to the original and everything is where it should be. This has H&K markings and the only non-original white text is on the left side of the receiver and reads “cal, 6mm BB, Energy <0.5J.” On the right side of the receiver you have “Licensed trademark of Heckler and Koch GmbH”, but this is small, unobtrusive and moulded into the plastic rather than painted.

Otherwise, you’d be hard-pressed to tell this from the original. The only exception to that is the magazine. The original comes with a transparent magazine that shows rounds remaining. Here, you get a solid, black M4 style Hi-Cap magazine. However, several manufacturers do make replacement magazines for the G36C that are similar, so this doesn’t entirely spoil the look of this replica.

Functional accuracy 10/15

The magazine release and fire select switch operate as per the original, though only the select switch on the left side is functional. The ambidextrous charging handle also works as per the original, though it moves only through a limited range as does the ejector port cover.

The sights and accessory rails also seem to be similar to the original and the IDZ stock extends, folds and adjusts as it should.

There is no way to strip down this replica other than by disassembly. The trigger, obviously has no feel at all – it’s simply an electrical on/off switch which means that the pull is short and very light. Putting the fire select in the “safe” position simply blocks the trigger from moving. Within the constraints of the fact that this is an AEG that doesn’t mimic the function of a firearm in the same way as, for example, a gas or CO2 powered replica, this isn’t a bad functional replica of the G36C.

Shooting 38/45

Preparing this (or any other AEG) for shooting is a little different to a gas or CO2 powered replica. The first thing you have to do is to charge the battery pack. And the user manual provides no clues about this at all. I plugged the battery pack into the charger and then plugged the charger into the mains.

At that point, a red light illuminated on the charger, which I assume means that the battery pack needs to be charged. After around 45 minutes, the light on the charger turned green which I presume means that it has completed charging. Now, you have to install the battery pack in the replica. First, you remove the outer shell of the fore-end by removing a single plastic split-pin (arrowed below).

This doesn’t require tools – just squeeze the end of the split-pin with your fingers and remove to the left side. Then, the entire outer cover of the fore end can be removed.

This reveals the connector for the battery pack. You must now connect the battery pack and hold it in place under the flat area behind the connector and then slide the fore end cover back into place, being careful not to trap or pinch the wires. Happily the wires do seem fairly heavy-duty and I think it would probably be difficult to damage them unless you were to really force the fore-end back into place.

Now, it’s time to load the magazine, and that’s a bit different too. You load BBs through a small flap on the top of the magazine.

No speed loader is needed as the opening in the top of the mag is large enough to allow BBs to be poured in. Then, the instructions note that you need to “Turn the click wheel to tension the spring.” This wheel is located in the base of the magazine, arrowed below. Turning this wheels also moves BBs from the main storage area into the loading chute and towards the feed nozzle.

However, there are a couple of things you need to know about the magazine that the instructions don’t mention. First, there is no point in turning the wheel to tension the spring until the magazine is inserted in the replica. That’s what I did and, to my surprise, the magazine spring unwound with a loud whirr as I inserted the mag. Apparently that’s normal – you must insert the mag first and only then use the wheel to tension the spring.

When I first tried shooting, I had multiple feed problems and sometimes turning the wheel in the base of the magazine failed to tension the spring at all. I would get one or two shots, then the replica would fire but no BB would come out of the barrel. After some browsing on Airsoft forums, I discovered that these Hi-Cap mags work best if they are well-filled with BBs. Being more used to replica pistols, I had tentatively loaded only a dozen or so BBs, just to try it out. When instead I poured a generous measure of BBs into the mag, the feed problems disappeared. This is the first time I have used an Airsoft Hi-Cap mag, and one thing I don’t care for at all is the fact that the BBs rattle around in it every time you move the replica.

When you’re ready to start shooting, the first thing you’ll notice are the sights. These comprise a flip-up rear sight where you can choose between a circular or V notch aperture and a peep front sight. The rear is adjustable for elevation and I found the V-notch rear sight more useful for target shooting. To prepare to shoot, you simply place the selector switch in the semi or full auto position. The trigger pull is light, short and has almost no feel, not surprising given that it’s really just an electrical on/off switch.

When you pull the trigger, the electric blowback rapidly opens and closes the ejection port and the replica fires. This doesn’t really go “bang,” it’s more a moderately loud clatter, but IMHO, it’s a great deal better than the subdued whirr when you pull the trigger on a non-blowback AEG. There is really no felt recoil effect, but at least there is a direct audible response to pulling the trigger.

Given that this is a low power replica, shooting is way more fun than I had expected. The first shots, were all over the place, but it quickly settled down. On many Airsoft replicas it takes time for the hop-up to break-in and some people claim that the motor on AEGs also takes time and use to achieve optimum efficiency. After 50 shots or so, this had achieved perfectly respectable accuracy at the ranges at which I tried it. It may be my imagination, but it also seems to be gradually improving in terms of accuracy. The more I soot, the fewer flyers there seem to be and the tighter groups get.

Umarex recommend 0.12 – 0.2g BBs for this replica. I wasn’t able to try it with 0.12g BBs, so almost all my shooting was done with 0.2g. I did also try 0.25, just out of interest, and it seems to shoot these with no problems, but with no more accuracy than 0.2g. And when you’re ready to dial the fun-factor up to 11, you can simply move the fire select switch to full auto. This has a very rapid rate of fire – Umarex claim 1,000 rpm and I have no reason to doubt that. At that point, the blowback effect is much more notable and a stream of BBs is sprayed towards the target.  

Mine was shooting about 3” high initially, but you can adjust the rear sight using the single crosshead screw or adjust the Hop-Up unit to change the trajectory of the BBs. To do this, you use the charging handle to cock the replica, which also locks the ejection port open. The Hop-Up adjustment wheel (arrowed above) is then visible. I found it possible to get the point of aim and point of impact to coincide forelevation at between 6 and 10m, though I must confess that I have never been particularly good using the peep-type iron sights on this type of replica.

Around 40 0.2g BBs, fairly rapid semi-auto shooting, freestanding at 8m.

Accuracy seems fair with the majority of BBs grouping at 2-2½” at 10m, though there are occasional flyers that hit anything up to 1½” above or below the main group. Mine shoots about 1½” to the right of the point of aim at this range and it isn’t possible to adjust the sights for windage. At my usual replica pistol shooting range of 6m, it’s possible to see groupings of 1 – 1½”, though there are still occasional vertical flyers.

OK, I know, 6-10m isn’t really a fair test of the accuracy of any AEG, but that’s all the range I have available in my back-yard. And at that range, it’s just fine for shooting targets or hunting stray soda cans though I can’t say how it performs at longer range where the lack of power may become an issue. Accuracy seems notably worse in full auto, though perhaps that’s to be expected? 230-240fps is claimed for this replica with 0.2g BBs. My chrony is now officially dead, so I wasn’t able to test that. All I can say is that at 10m, BBs are hitting the target with a satisfactory whap and easily punching holes in the fairly thick card targets I use.

How long do the batteries last? I don’t really know! Despite using this for several extended shooting sessions, I have never run out of charge while shooting and I tend to charge the batteries before each new session. I did use the ability to fire without electrical power a couple of times, just to test it. If you use the charging handle to cock, you get a single shot. There is no blowback, so it’s very quiet in this mode but seems to fire with the same power and accuracy. This dual function might be useful if you are skirmishing and run out of battery power, but for target shooting the mechanical fire ability probably isn’t something you will use much.      

Quality and reliability 12/15

This is a relatively low-cost replica, but this is only apparent in a couple of ways. It’s a little light and the fire select switch on the right side is fixed in place and has no function, which may be an irritation for left-handed shooters. There are some fairly obvious moulding seams on the top and bottom. The plastic upper rail in particular has a very noticeable seam running along it.

The more expensive Umarex versions of the G36C are up to 0.8kg heavier than this, so I guess they have more robust construction. However, they are also anything up to three times the price of this one. It all depends what you want and what you’re willing and able to pay. At least the plastic external construction here looks sturdy, matches the original and means that there is no paint or other finish to wear, scratch or flake off.

Overall Impression 7/10

This feels solid and well put-together. It’s mostly plastic, but nothing flexes, rattles or appears to be loose. The IDZ stock is fairly sturdy and the ability to adjust it is a nice touch. This does feel a little light, but it has just about enough weight not to feel toy-like.

Downsides? I’d have liked to see a fire select switch that was operational on both sides, I don’t care for the way that BBs rattle in the Hi-Cap magazine and I have never particularly liked peep sights. That’s it really. Otherwise this seems very easy to use for an AEG newbie and it has been reliable so far, once I understood that it’s best to pour a generous measure of BBs into the magazine. 


This is simply lots of fun at a cost below that of virtually any gas or CO2 powered blowback replica pistol. It’s also a very different experience from shooting with a replica pistol. It isn’t very powerful, but I didn’t find that a problem for target shooting at up to 10m and I enjoyed this replica much more than I expected. The lack of power and low-spec battery pack might be an issue if you plan using one of these for skirmishing, but for back-yard plinking, it’s really a joy to play with.

I just don’t have sufficient experience of AEGs to say how this compares to others, so all I can do is to give you my impressions. For what it’s worth and in my opinion, if you have been considering an AEG but you don’t want to spend a great deal of money, you could do a great deal worse than the Umarex G36C IDZ.

It’s fairly quiet, which can be a good thing if you don’t want to perturb your neighbours, and it seems nicely built and finished. Any problems? Well, you’re going to need more BBs! I’m used to relatively leisurely sessions with replica pistols where I shoot perhaps 60 – 100 BBs at a time. This shoots 100 BBs in 6 seconds in full auto, and even in semi-auto you’ll be squeezing off far more shots than you might expect. I went through my entire stock of 0.2g BBs in my first bout of shooting and had to wait impatiently for a new consignment to arrive in order to continue.

There are some changes I would  like to make. In particular, I would like to change the magazine for a Mid-Cap or Lo-Cap that won’t rattle like a maraca whenever I move, but I’m not sure that’s going to be possible because the magazines in this replica seem to be of a design that’s unique to the Umarex dual-power G36C. Replacements are available, but these all seem to be the same Hi-Cap design. I found the power and accuracy of this replica to be perfectly adequate for my needs, so I won’t be attempting any internal upgrades (and I’m not even sure that’s possible on this replica) but that upper rail is just crying out for some sort of optical sight. A vertical foregrip might be nice and perhaps a sling too? And there is plenty of space on those rails for other accessories… I can feel a whole new obsession coming on!

You do have to be careful with AEGs that the whole accessory thing doesn’t get out of hand…

I like the fact that AEGs can be used in any temperature. I tend not to shoot my gas-powered replicas in chilly weather because their power drops notably. However, this just doesn’t apply to AEGs so I should be able to shoot this one all year round. This is also relatively cheap for an AEG with EBB (you’ll find a link below to a German site where it’s available for just €85) and it’s better-made and more fun than you might expect for such a low price. If you have been considering adding a low cost, reliable and fun AEG to your replica collection, this might be the very one to tempt you.

Total score: 77.5/100


Seems well-made

Good visual replica

Easy to use for an AEG newbie

Decent shooter

Low cost


A little light

Mainly plastic construction

Relatively low power

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Umarex G36C IDZ on the Versandhaus-Schneider website

New Umarex Legends M3A1 “Grease Gun”

Here we have the third forthcoming Umarex 4.5mm/.177” replica of a historic firearm. This time, it is the M3A1 submachine gun which joins the existing Legends submachine gun range of the M1A1 Thompson and the German MP40.

The M3 was one of the longest-serving US machine guns, being first introduced in 1942 and remaining in service in some places until the mid-1990s. It is a relatively simple stamped and welded metal design that was much cheaper and faster to produce than the M1A1. In US service it quickly gained the nickname “grease gun” because of its visual similarity to the stamped metal grease guns then widely used in auto shops.

The Umarex version is mostly metal and features both full auto and semi modes (unlike the original which was full auto only), a collapsible wire stock and iron peep sights. It weighs in at a meaty 7.65lbs and features a detachable magazine that holds two 12g CO2 cartridges and up to 30 steel, 4.5mm BBs.

It is claimed to fire at an astounding 1,000 rpm (the original could barely manage 400rpm) which means you’ll be able to shoot a whole magazine worth of BBs in under 2 seconds! Claimed power is over 400fps. This replica looks like another great addition to the growing Legends range. I don’t have release information on this one, but it certainly seems possible that it will also be available from early 2022.

I have no information on precisely what it will cost outside the US. Until I know more, here’s a link to the M3A1 on the Umarex USA website where it’s listed at $219.99: