It was 2008 and having re-discovered my passion for shooting as a sport, as well as having made a number of visits to my local shooting range in Thailand, I was on the lookout for a 1911-style replica to shoot when not at the range. I already had a Tokyo Marui catalogue which I pored over every day and so, encouraged by the review offered by Snowman at “Just Pistols”, I decided on the Tokyo Marui M1911A1… and was very glad I did!
Tokyo Marui M1911A1 “Colt Government”
A full description and history of John Browning’s legendary Model 1911 can be found as part of Steve’s review of the Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness in the 4.5mm section.
The 6mm Tokyo Marui “Gas Blow Back (GBB)” version was introduced sometime around 2005 (it is listed in my catalogue as being a “new model” along with their Glock 17 which was already available in 2007). I think it would be unfair to say this pistol is similar to other replicas; let’s just say some others are similar to it!
Whilst having a plastic (I assume ABS) frame and slide, both are reinforced in all the important places using (a resilient) metal alloy. It features a full-size “drop-out” magazine and authentic “parkerized” finish.
Magazine capacity: 24
Propellant: HFC-134a (recommended) / HFC-22 (aka green gas or propane, but at the discretion of the user)
Barrel length: 122mm / 4 ¾ inches (approx. inner barrel from breech)
Weight: 800g (pistol = 600g, magazine = 200g)
Overall length: 220mm (measured)
Sights: Front post and rear notch (Patridge sights), non-adjustable (the yellow dot has been added by me!)
Action: Single action gas blow back
Packaging and presentation 5/5
I’ve always considered this to be one of the best presented airsoft replicas available; the lid itself is a work of art with authentic “Colt” trademarks (this is Tokyo Marui, after all!) and full specifications covering the cartridge firing pistol on which it is based. Inside, the gun is set in a dark green cloth with cut-outs for the pistol, magazine and a rather smart “box of shells”.
There is also a manual with parts listing (in Japanese), some targets (again, a nice touch) and a cleaning rod (useful). The box of shells contains a small bag of 6mm BBs, a bushing wrench and muzzle cap. Whilst the manual is mainly in Japanese, there are two very interesting sections which have been left in English.
The first is a diagram on the inside of the front cover explaining the differences between a 1911 and a 1911A1:
The second is at the back and details the various stamps to be found on the gun (full marks, there!).
Visual accuracy 9.5/10
As to visual accuracy, it’s difficult to know where to start since it’s “the spittin image”! The colour chosen is meant to represent a “parkerized” finish and I think it does so very well indeed. Various patent, inspection, proofing and other marking stamps along with a (fake) serial number may be found as indicated in the previous diagram (when I say “fake” serial number, I mean it is copied on all versions and is not unique to this pistol; according to the manual, this s/n would have been found on a pistol made by the Ithaca Gun Company in 1943). All stamps are positioned correctly using the correct fonts. Comparison photographs are given below (photo courtesy of “Icollector.com”):
Please note that a few years ago I dropped the magazine thereby breaking the protruding lip at the bottom of the magazine and have repaired this using an epoxy adhesive, strengthening the join using a small coin (25 satang!).
The grips are made of brown plastic and are of the correct design for an M1911A1. They are weighted and held securely in place. The outer barrel is made of black plastic. Bearing in mind the plastic slide and frame, the pistol still has quite a realistic “heft” to it with the magazine inserted. The only seam I can find – and that’s only if you look very carefully – is on the back of the hammer.
One slight difference (hence 9.5/10!) – and something that I don’t suppose could be avoided – is that on the right hand side of the frame it reads “ASGK Tokyo Marui Made in Japan” instead of “United States Property” where ASGK refers to “Air Soft Gun Kyōkai” which is the manufacturers’ association in Japan (photo courtesy of “ColtAutos.com”).
Again, the attention to detail is amazing. For example, the stamp on the left hand side of the grip in the photo above is the “Ordnance Bomb” – pretty darn close, I’d say!
Functional accuracy 14/15
The pistol is loaded by either “pouring” BBs into the base of the magazine or by loading via the “lip” at the top. Coincidentally, and although varying to some degree, I’ve found that about eight balls may be fired in quick succession without a significant reduction in muzzle velocity – this would equate to a full “real-steel” magazine of seven rounds plus one “in the spout”! The magazine has a solid feel to it and fits securely in place; pressing the release button will allow the magazine to fall under its own weight.
The sights are non-adjustable although the rear “notch” is not moulded as part of the slide. The pistol is single-action only and both the grip and trigger safeties are identical to the original. However, unlike the original (if I remember rightly?), the hammer cannot be fully de-cocked – only moved to a “half-cocked” position. The slide locks-back after the last round is fired and may be released by either pressing down on the slide stop or by pulling back further on the slide thereby causing the stop to fall. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a jam or misfire with this pistol and there is no indication of any fatigue where the (metal) slide stop interfaces with the (ABS) slide.
The Tokyo Marui M1911A1 may be field stripped in a similar fashion to the cartridge firing original, the only real difference being that if the barrel bushing is rotated with the spring assembly in place the plug will not slide out. Instead, to disassemble the airsoft version, you first remove the magazine, then align the slide stop with the notch in the slide, remove the slide stop, separate the slide and frame, remove the spring and guide rod followed by the plug, rotate the bushing (a tool is provided, but finger strength is all that is required) and finally slide the barrel assembly out the front (I should like to note that should you wish to proceed further – for example in removing the blowback assembly – then a much more detailed link courtesy of “OhioAirsoft” is given at the end of this review).
Gas is filled via the valve in the base of the magazine. Although Tokyo Marui recommend HFC-134a (aka Freon), I’ve found the metal reinforcements in the slide and frame allow for the use of HFC-22 (aka green gas or propane). Having said that, I have in the past generally used what is labelled “Freon” (or, in fact, “FLON GAS” under the company name “Bombe” Power-Up 500), but since conducting this review have found there to be little difference between the two (due to the tropical climate, no doubt). However, please don’t “do as I do” and if at all uncertain I would always suggest keeping with what is recommended by the manufacturer. There is a burst of gas from the valve when the magazine is full.
The magazine holds its charge well (for weeks at a time!), although recently I’ve found it to leak occasionally when filling; I think this is due to the filling valve getting stuck because it is an intermittent occurrence and soon rights itself following a quick spray of silicon oil and a fresh charge. Still, not at all bad for a well-used gas blowback pistol purchased over six years ago!
The targets shown (designed by “Vin0114”, a fellow member of the Umarex Boys Club and based on the “Police Pistol” targets used in our competitions) have been shot using both gases; I would suggest that propane gives a louder report and has a slightly stronger recoil (but that could just be my imagination). Either way, the pistol is good fun to shoot with a more than satisfactory “blowback” action bearing in mind the plastic construction and that it’s “powered by gas”!
Unfortunately, on “racking” and releasing the slide there is a lack of “metallic” realism in the sound produced (it’s for this reason, plus the fact that more powerful full-metal CO2 blowback pistols are now available, that I’ve decided upon 32.5/40… but then it wouldn’t do to have full marks all round!). The trigger is excellent and the gun feels comfortable when shooting one-handed as well as with a two-handed grip.
Accuracy is good and using an unsupported, two-handed stance at 6yds it should be possible to obtain a grouping in the region of 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches with outliers at two inches using good quality ammunition (remember, this is using the low-profile sights associated with an M1911A1 of this era).
Using a selection of different brands of 6mm BBs (FireFly, “TK” and GoldenBall) and an Xcortech X3200 chronograph I’ve observed muzzle velocity readings in the region of 90m/s +/- 2m/s over eight shots in relatively quick succession using a propane/ silicon mix at 30° Celsius. Using 0.36g (green) FireFly BBs in 36° Celsius I’ve recorded 77m/s +/- 3m/s over eleven shots with six shots fired at target as if shooting a UBC Police Competition (this was using the “Bombe” Power-Up 500 gas).
The magazine will hold up to twenty-four 6mm balls, but as I use this pistol for target shooting as against to skirmishing, I very rarely do this. As to the number of shots per “full tank of gas”, I have managed approximately 15 good ones, but generally for my paper-punching would restrict this to eight as the muzzle velocity tends to fall-off after this (obviously the effect of the magazine cooling-down after rapid shooting will come into play here so these figures should very much be considered “ball-park”).
I should also like to point-out that the hits on the pair of targets in the middle may well have been using 0.40g FireFly BBs (I had a bit of a mix-up at one point as FireFly produce both weights in black, only realising this because of surprisingly different velocity measurements) and that I tend to get slightly better results (at 6yds) using heavier ammunition. However, the last target was definitely shot using 0.25g BBs with none scoring less than an “eight” and nearly 75% scoring a “nine” or better 🙂
At longer ranges the hop-up comes into its own and a 20cm diameter target can be hit easily most of the time shooting 0.25g BBs from 20m with the balls flying straight and true for probably twice that distance.
Quality and reliability 14/15
Having had this pistol for over six years, and several (a few thousand?) rounds later, I would say it is both a reliable and well made pistol. It is extremely well finished and I feel that Tokyo Marui have done a remarkable job in reinforcing the plastic slide and frame (no doubt forced upon them by Japanese legislation) in order that people purchasing this gun will have something that stands the test of time.
Metal parts include the sear and trigger assembly, spring housing, the hop-up and inner barrel, the slide stop, spring guide, plug, bushing and piston housing. The plastic parts are made of a thick, durable plastic (ABS?) which appears to be especially robust where the plug fits into the slide (what is particularly important is that the rear of the plug comes into contact with metal in the frame when the pistol is fired, thus protecting the plastic from the shock of the blowback action, indicated by the arrows in the following photo).
I assume the metal parts are made of some kind of alloy since they are not attracted to a magnet. Over time, they have become slightly discoloured, but still remain perfectly smooth and have proved to be very hard wearing (I think at some point I must have applied a small amount of Moly-lube to the metal rails).
A minor comment – and something the sharp-eyed may have noticed – is that the little “knob” on the slide-stop which protrudes from the right-hand side of the frame is not quite right; in fact, it is the head of a small nail which I had to use to replace the original which came loose and fell out (would you believe it, but of all the “interchangeable” parts between the Marui 1911 and the rest, this isn’t one of them… I think there’s a law beginning with “S” which accounts for this!).
Overall Impression 13/15
As to my overall impression, I think the total score speaks for itself! The pistol is marketed as being “Hi-Kick and Hi-Grouping” and it is both of these (bearing in mind the predominantly plastic frame and slide)…. and this is without any of the upgrades which are readily available for so popular a gun. It is a pleasant pistol to shoot and one which stands alone when it comes to visual authenticity.
Total score: 88/100
Guest review by Adrian-BP
Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness review