Time for something a little different; a long term test report and a direct comparison between two replicas. In some ways, these are very similar. Both are gas-powered replicas of compact handguns and both shoot 6mm BBs through barrels less than 3” long. In other ways, they’re very different. One is an all metal replica with good weight that provides strong recoil effect through blowback. The other is mostly plastic, very quiet and with much less oomph from the blowback.
The manufacturers are very different too. Tokyo Marui is one of the most respected manufacturers of high-quality airsoft replicas while Army Armament is, let’s be honest here, a Chinese manufacturer that is generally regarded as belonging to the cheap and cheerful end of the market. That’s reflected in the price; the TM Glock costs around three times as much as the Army Armament R45. But, after owning and shooting both replicas for more than two years, how are they holding up and how do they compare? Is this TM replica three times as good as its Chinese counterpart? Let’s take a look…
Tokyo Marui Glock 26
This TM replica features full Glock markings and visually, it’s a very accurate replica of the original. However, other than the magazine, it’s mostly of plastic construction including the slide. In some ways that’s good; there is no paint here to wear off so even after extended use, it still looks almost as good as it did the day I received it more than two years ago. But this plastic construction also means that this is a light replica at 575g including the metal magazine and the recoil effect from the blowback of the plastic slide is minimal.
Like most TM replicas, this uses HFC 134a gas and it shoots 0.2g BBs at around 200 – 210fps. That’s enough power for target shooting at 6m, but this is quiet, the blowback effect is not strong and overall, it just doesn’t feel very powerful. It has however been completely reliable in the two years I have owned it. It has never once failed to lock back on empty, I don’t think I have had a single failure to shoot and it holds gas indefinitely without any leaks.
After two years, there is simply no sign of wear, internally or externally. This appears to be as good as it was when I first opened the box. Impressive!
If I have one minor issue, it’s with the trigger. Right at the end of the pull, just before the release point, it suddenly gets a little heavier. It isn’t a major problem, and it’s only really noticeable when you shoot it back-to-back with something like the R45 which has a short pull with a clean, sharp break. Despite that, this is a decent shooter and I can still generally get groups close to 1” at 6m using 0.25g BBs.
Ten shots, 0.25g BBs, 6m, semi-rested. The group is just a whisker over 1”.
Army Armament R45
This is a pretty decent blowback replica of the classic Detonics Combat Master though it has no markings at all. It’s of mainly metal construction with an overall weight of 700g. It uses Green Gas, shoots 0.2g BBs at a respectable 230-240fps and has strong blowback.
However, when I bought My R45 back in the summer of 2020, it had some problems right out of the box (you’ll find a link to my original review at the end of this article) with gas leaks and generally erratic shooting. I dismantled it a couple of times, but I couldn’t find any problems. It seemed to work OK after that, but I was always concerned about its long-term reliability. As it turned out, this hasn’t been a problem. Externally, it is showing no signs of wear at all. Internally, some paint has worn off the slide and frame where they rub during blowback, but otherwise, it’s absolutely fine.
I still don’t know what caused those initial problems, but since then it has been completely reliable. The magazine holds gas even when its left unused for months and it now shoots reliably and better than it did in terms of accuracy. I have no idea why, but If I shoot carefully, I can generally now get groups of about 1” at 6m using 0.2g BBs. When I first got it, groups were more usually 1½ – 2” but it now shoots as well or better than most of my 6mm replicas even though it has a barrel less than 3” long. It remains the only gas-powered replica I own (or that I have owned) that fills without any leakage around the nozzle at all and one fill still gives me around 32 shots.
Ten shots, 0.2g BBs, 6m, semi-rested. Group is 1.5” vertically and 1” horizontally.
It shoots around 1” above the point of aim at 6m, and it seems to be notably more accurate and consistent using G&G Armament Competition Grade 0.2g BBs. The trigger is superb: a short, light pull and a clean, sharp break. Once the initial problems disappeared, the slide has never failed to lock back when the magazine is empty and I haven’t had any other leaks, problems or issues.
I didn’t really expect much from this replica when I first bought it; you just don’t get much for around €40 and the initial reliability issues made me think that it wouldn’t last long. I was wrong and this has turned out to be one of my favourite replicas for shooting. It’s accurate enough to be challenging, reliable and the recoil effect is strong. I still don’t know what caused those initial problems but they have never reoccurred. In my initial review, I said that I wasn’t sure that this would prove to be reliable but now, two years on, I would be much more positive about recommending this as a budget buy.
How Do They Compare?
When I first bought these two replicas, I would probably have chosen the TM Glock as my favourite, mostly because it was reliable and consistent right out of the box. Two years on, I’m not so sure…
The TM Glock 26 is still accurate, consistent and as reliable as if it were chiselled out of a block of solid granite. But now, the R45 also seems to be reliable and more accurate than it was so that the only meaningful comparison is about other features of these replicas.
And surprisingly, the R45 comes out on top more often than you’d think. It has a better trigger, more convincing weight, stronger blowback and it shoots with notably more power. It’s louder too, though whether that’s a plus or a minus depends on where and when you shoot.
In fact, if you were to directly compare these replicas without considering where they’re made, the R45 is better in most ways, and that’s not something I expected to be writing. When you add in the fact that it’s just one-third of the price of the TM Glock, well, logically, there’s only one winner here…
When I bought the Army Armament R45, I wasn’t expecting much, and when it had problems right out of the box, my negative expectations seemed to have been confirmed; cheap Chinese rubbish, etc. But long term, that’s not how it worked out at all.
Over two years, the R45 has confounded my initial impressions. It has proved to be reliable and it’s accurate and consistent enough to be fun as a shooter. It also has good weight, fairly strong blowback and sufficient power for fun target shooting at 6m. The TM Glock on the other hand, has done precisely what I expected. It has been totally reliable and it’s consistent and more accurate than you might expect at 6m.
However, the TM Glock is quiet, light and the blowback effect is minimal. Partly because of this, of these two replicas, the R45 is the one I prefer to shoot with. Does that mean it’s better than the TM Glock? Of course not, it’s just my personal preference. I like them both, but I do feel that the R45 provides a more enjoyable shooting experience. And it does that for not a lot of cash…
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.
Magazine capacity: Up to 400 BBs
Propellant: Electric (or mechanical)
Barrel length: 9.72″ (247mm)
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.
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.
This is a review of the Umarex Legends Parabellum-Pistole P.08, a full metal, blowback, 4.5mm BB shooting replica of the altogether iconic Luger pistol. However, while it may say “Umarex” on the box, this replica isn’t manufactured in Germany or by Umarex. I believe that this replica is made in Taiwan by KWC and Umarex, like several other manufacturers, distribute and market these KWC replicas under their own brand.
I previously owned a KWC version of this replica in 6mm form (you’ll find a link to review of that version at the end of this article). So this will be both a comparison between the 4.5mm Umarex offering and KWC 6mm version as well as a stand-alone review.
Given that the Luger must be one of the most recognizable and best-known handguns ever produced, it’s perhaps surprising that there haven’t been more replicas. Japanese manufacturer Tanaka were, as far as I know, the first to produce a fully-functional blowback replica of the Luger, but their offering was all-plastic, very light and not a great shooter. WE Tech followed with what was basically a metal copy of the Tanaka Luger. However, though it had better weight, the WE Luger wasn’t especially reliable – I owned one many years ago and it had a worrying tendency to fire off a whole magazine on full auto!
In 2013, Umarex added a Luger to their Legends range, but this was non-blowback and it had a very heavy, double-action only trigger (you’ll find a link at the end of this article to a review of that version). If you’re buying an Umarex Legends Luger, do make sure you’re getting the version you want – the packaging for this version and the earlier non-blowback version is very similar.
Real steel background
What is there to say about the Luger? Everyone had heard of it and even non-gun people recognise it’s angular lines. However, there are a number of myths and misperceptions about this pistol. Despite what many movies and television shows suggest, it wasn’t principally an officer’s pistol – most German officers preferred smaller and less bulky sidearms and, especially during World War Two, the Luger was issued mainly to NCOs.
Nasty Nazi officer with Luger. Wrong, but iconic.
It was accurate for its day, and not particularly powerful or reliable, but it was fiendishly complex and expensive to manufacture. Each part of the toggle mechanism had to be carefully matched and assembled to ensure that it would work correctly. This was done by inspectors and part numbers were then stamped on each part before blueing to ensure that matching parts of the mechanism would be reassembled to produce a working finished weapon. However, tight tolerances meant that parts weren’t interchangeable between Lugers and that made it difficult to replace damaged parts in the field.
The 7.65mm Borchardt C93. Ugly old thing, isn’t it? I would quite like a replica though…
When the Luger was replaced by the Walther P-38, the new pistol wasn’t particularly better, but it was much easier and cheaper to manufacture and to repair. Another thing worth mentioning is that this pistol was never officially known as the “Luger,” though that is how it was generally known. Even this name may be misleading. The toggle mechanism used on the Luger was originally devised by a German designer, Hugo Borchardt, and used on the C93, the very first successful locked-breech semi-automatic pistol which was released in 1893. However, the C93 was very bulky (it was over 350mm/13.7” long!) and sales were poor. When Borchardt refused to redesign the pistol, Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), who had acquired the rights to the C93, ordered an Austrian engineer who was working for the company as a salesman, Georg Luger, to redesign the pistol.
The Borchardt-Luger. Still 7.65mm and it has a different toggle and a grip safety, but it’s getting close to the final version.
Luger first produced the “Improved Borchardt” and then in 1898 the “Borchardt-Luger.” By the time that this pistol had become the Parabellum-Pistole, and was given the designation P.08 when it was adopted for use by the German armed forces, Borchardt’s name had been dropped and it became universally known as the “Luger Pistol”. So, although it’s almost always called a “Luger,” Georg Luger didn’t really design this pistol at all, he simply refined and tinkered with an existing design.
The 9mm Parabellum-Pistole P.08. The basic design of the Luger didn’t really change much after this, though you’ll see that the magazine base on this 1916 DWM example is made of wood.
The Umarex Legends Parabellum Pistole P.08
This is a CO2-powered, 4.5mm, blowback replica of a Parabellum-Pistole P.08 with a 10cm barrel (the Luger was also sold with 12cm, 15cm and 20cm barrels). It’s pretty much all metal other than the grips and some internal parts. CO2 is contained in a full-size, drop-out magazine and the toggle mechanism, manual safety, magazine release and the takedown procedure from the original are all functional and accurately replicated.
Although it’s branded as an Umarex product, I believe this is made by Kein Well Toy Industrial Co. Ltd. (KWC), a Taiwanese manufacturer of 4.5mm and 6mm replica guns who act as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for a number of distributors.
Magazine capacity: 21 4.5mm BBs
Barrel length: 3.54″ (90mm)
Weight: 1.85lbs (834g) is claimed, but mine weighs in at 1.91 lbs (865g) without CO2 or BBs.
Overall length: 8.7″ (220mm)
Sights: Front: Post, fixed. Rear: V-notch, fixed.
Action: SA only.
Claimed power: 295 fps (90 m/s), 1.4 Joule
Packaging and presentation (2.5/5)
The Umarex Legends Parabellum Pistole P.08is supplied in a card box with a polystyrene insert shaped to fit the pistol, a single magazine, a hex key for tightening the CO2 screw and a short user manual. The manual includes an insert that reads: “CAUTION: DO NOT OPERATE WITHOUT A MAGAZINE.” I’m not sure what that’s about, and there was no similar warning in the KWC 6mm version I previously tested.
Visual accuracy 8/10
In terms of the overall outline of the Luger, this very well done. The shape of the grip, receiver, toggle, ejector pin, barrel and sights are all very close to the original. However, I’m not so sure about the finish – most Lugers were blued, which gives a very shiny finish, but this uses a painted semi-matt black finish. It looks thick and well-applied, but some sort of more shiny finish would, IMHO, have looked much better. On many Lugers, the trigger, manual safety and the button at the base of the magazine were also given different heat-treatment that gave a straw-coloured finish, but everything here is black.
To me, the black grips look wrong too (though some Lugers did come with black Bakelite grips), and brown, wood-effect grips would have been much more appropriate. Overall, this is a close visual replica of a Luger, though it’s not perfect.
Markings are sparse. Real Lugers have lots of serial numbers and proof marks on most components. There are a few engraved markings here : Under the manual safety the text “Gesichert” (Secured) appears and the number 15 is engraved on the cover plate, takedown lever and manual safety blade. One thing I do appreciate on this Umarex version is the absence of lots of nasty white text. “P.08” appears on the left side of the receiver and “ac” and “42” on top of the toggle.
There is white text showing the “F” mark and calibre, but this is positioned under the barrel where it isn’t visible in most circumstances. I’d like to have seen more realistic markings, but at least the look of this replica isn’t spoiled by the use of lots of visible white text.
Functional accuracy 14/15
Functionally, this is outstanding. The toggle mechanism works as it should and locks back when the mag is empty (there is no equivalent of a slide release on the Luger – the only way to unlock the toggle is to re-rack it with a round in the magazine or with the magazine removed). The manual safety works as it should, as does the magazine release. Takedown works as on the original and even the complex and convoluted trigger mechanism is accurately modelled here.
The only very minor thing that doesn’t work on the Umarex P.08 (and to be fair, this hasn’t yet been modelled on any Luger replica) is the loaded chamber indicator – on the cartridge version the ejector pin on top of the toggle stands proud of the toggle and the word “Geladen” (Loaded) is visible when there is a round in the chamber. But that’s being very picky – this basically functions in precisely the same way as an original Luger.
Mine had a minor fault that I wanted to address before shooting. Before I shot it for the first time, I noticed a small scratch on the barrel on the left side, just in front of the trigger plate.
I don’t think the scratch was there when it arrived, so it must have happened the few times that I racked the toggle. Taking the trigger plate off, I can see that there is a rough area on the forward edge of the trigger transfer bar (arrowed below). I think that’s scraping against the barrel and has caused the scratch.
I’m concerned that if I shoot it like this, the scratching will quickly get much worse. So, I carefully sand down the tip of the plate to remove the rough area. You don’t want to remove much material, here or the trigger may not function properly – the point is just to get a smooth surface that won’t leave scratches on the barrel. Here’s the result.
The trigger still works as it should, so I guess I haven’t removed too much material. The last step before I begin shooting is lubrication. I can see some light oil on the gun as supplied, but I disassemble and add silicon grease to the parts of the toggle and where the receiver moves in the frame. I also grease the thread on the hex plug in the base of the magazine – I know from previous experience with KWC replicas that it’s very easy to cross-thread this plug if it’s completely removed, and a little grease helps to prevent that. Finally, I spray a little silicone oil onto the top of the magazine, underside of the loading nozzle and the CO2 seal in the magazine to ensure good sealing. With these jobs done, I’m ready to start shooting.
Loading CO2 is simple – just loosen the hex plug in the base of the magazine using the hex key provided, put the CO2 cartridge in place from the left side of the magazine and then tighten the hex plug until it seals. There is a short puff of gas as it pierces, but nothing dramatic. Then, you load up to 21 BBs in the magazine, one at a time through the opening in the front (arrowed above). The magazine follower doesn’t lock down, but the spring isn’t especially heavy and the follower knob is rounded, so this isn’t a fingernail-removing job. Again from previous experience of KWC replicas, I don’t load the magazine to full capacity. If you do, it can occasionally cause problems with the first shot.
The toggle must be pulled fully back and released to load the first BB into the breech and to cock the pistol. With that done, and the manual safety released, you’re ready to shoot. And the first thing you’ll notice are the sights. There is a deep V in the top rear of the toggle and a tall, thin post on the front. The sight picture is rather vague compared to replicas of more modern handguns, but that’s all part of the Luger experience. When you do shoot, you may be distracted by the toggle momentarily flipping up to obscure your view of the target, but surprisingly quickly, you get used to it. When you fire the last shot, the toggle locks up, leaving you in no doubt that it’s time to reload.
Trigger action is light and more precise than on the 6mm version I tested previously. This is a little odd – the Luger trigger mechanism is complex, but somehow, here that translates into a clearly defined and predictable break. Accuracy is pretty reasonable too. I could generally get 1½” groups at 6m. Occasionally, I could even get a 1” group. The sights are pretty much spot-on for elevation, but mine shoots about 1” right of the point of aim at 6m. Unusually, this replica did seem a little finicky about BBs. I have tried three different kinds of BB in this replica: Umarex steel BBs, ASG Blaster steel BBs and Heckler & Koch black coated steel BBs. I was consistently able to get smaller groups using the Umarex Steel BBs – Using the H&K BBs gave groups of around 2½”. I don’t know why that would be and most BB shooting replicas do pretty much the same whatever type of steel BB you use, but this one does seem to prefer a particular type.
This is my best effort so far. 6m, semi-rested using Umarex Steel BBs. The overall group is about 1”. To get this, I had to aim about 1” left of the centre of the target.
There isn’t much felt recoil effect due to the lack of a moving slide, but there is enough going on to make this feel convincing to shoot. CO2 consumption is disappointing though consistent. I would get 40 full-power shots. Then, around shot 41/42 you could hear power dropping. By shot 45/46, there wasn’t enough puff left to re-set the toggle. That was while shooting ten-shot strings fairly slowly and with pauses for reloading. The temperature while I was shooting was 26-28˚C. In cooler conditions or if you were shooting rapidly, I think you might be lucky to be able shoot two complete magazines of BBs before you have to change the CO2. That’s pretty poor and notably worse than lots of other CO2 blowback replicas. There doesn’t seem to be a fault here and there is no obvious loss of gas as you shoot, so I guess that’s just how it is for this replica.
This isn’t a particularly loud replica. It’s noticeably quieter than, for example, the Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm, so you won’t startle your cat, spouse or neighbours. My chrony is playing up at the moment so I wasn’t able to test the power of this replica, but I have no reason to doubt Umarex’ claim of 295fps.
Quality and reliability 12/15
I had the initial problem with the scratch on the barrel caused by the defect on the trigger transfer bar, but other than that problem, the finish on this replica has held up well. Everything worked out of the box and has continued to work since. I simply haven’t had any problems at all with this replica. And that’s a good thing. If you just want half an hour of shooting therapy, there’s nothing worse than a replica that won’t work reliably.
Everything about this replica feels solid and well made. The toggle action is commendably precise and even the trigger action is good, not something you normally associate with Lugers!
Overall Impression 8/10
The fact that this replica has a very similar weight to the original really helps. It feels solid and nothing rattles or is loose. The toggle mechanism has a nice, tight, precise feel. The overall first impression when you pick this up is very good indeed and it feels much less toy-like than some replicas. If it only had grips that looked more like wood and a more convincing finish, it would be close to a perfect visual and functional replica of the iconic Luger.
In terms of Luger replicas, it doesn’t get much better than this. Visually and functionally, this is very close and it’s a decent shooter too. CO2 consumption is a little disappointing, but not disastrous. In terms of longevity, it’s just too early to say. I have put more than 500 shots through mine with no problems at all and everything still works as it should. In my previous experience of KWC replicas, if you keep them lubricated and look after them, they last surprisingly well.
The issue with the defect on the trigger transfer bar scratching the barrel before I had even started shooting was disappointing, but I guess is that’s is a problem specific to my example. Other than that, the finish seems thick and well applied and mine isn’t showing any undue signs of wear or distress. Overall, if you want a Luger in your replica collection, this is probably the one to go for.