WE G-17

This is a review of the WE-Tech G-17. Now, I don’t know about you, but although the G-17 has no markings or trades, it looks to me an awful lot like a certain type of handgun that also has a “G” and the number 17 in its name. Clearly this isn’t a licensed replica and we all know that the company that make that handgun beginning with “G” are very unhappy about unlicensed replicas of their guns. So, just to be clear, this isn’t sold as a replica of the Generation 3 Glock 17. Even though that’s what it appears to be, OK?

I have been playing around with airsoft pistols for a number of years now, and I recall WE replicas that came out a few years back which had various problems. The WE Luger, for example, was a great looking replica, but mine had a tendency to unexpectedly enter full-auto mode. My WE Browning High-Power was also great to look at, but not so great as a shooter. But back then, WE was a budget manufacturer and I was willing to accept less than stellar quality in exchange for a cheap purchase price. Now, WE seem to have repositioned themselves at the upper end of the market, with prices of some models close to those of TM, but are their new replicas actually any good?  Whatever the G-17 happens to look like, is it fun to shoot? Let’s take a look.

Real steel background

As noted, WE don’t claim that this is a replica of a Glock. But, possibly by an odd coincidence, it looks very similar to the Gen 3 Glock 17. So that’s what I’m going to talk about here. Now, I have already written an article about the development of the Glock (you’ll find a link at the end of this article) so I won’t go into massive detail here.

Original Glock 17 (1982 – 1988)

The Glock 17 was the first handgun designed by Gaston Glock. It was given that name because it was apparently the seventeenth thing that Glock (who had never designed a handgun before) invented and not, as some people supposed, because the original version held seventeen 9mm rounds in its magazine. When it first appeared in 1982, the Glock 17 was a revelation. A handgun that held 17+1 rounds was pretty startling back then, as was the fact that the Glock’s frame and grip were made of reinforced polymer. However, when it was tested by the Austrian army the same year, it also turned out to be as reliable as if it were carved from a block of granite. They purchased 20,000 and suddenly, the whole world seemed to go Glock mad.

Glock 17 Gen 3 (1995 – 2010)

Nearly forty years later, the Glock 17 is still being manufactured and it still looks a lot like the original. Sure, the stippling on the grip has changed over the years, later versions have an accessory rail under the barrel and there are finger grooves on the front of the grip, but the current version is recognizably the same gun. Now, there are so many Glocks in different sizes and calibres that it’s difficult to keep track, but this is where it all started.

The WE G-17

The G-17 is part of the WE G series of airsoft pistols which includes the G-18, G-19, G-26 and so on (there are currently nine different models in this series) which all look a lot like Glocks of the same number. The version reviewed is the G-17 Gen 3, which by an odd coincidence, looks very like the Glock 17 Gen 3. WE also offer the G-17 in Gen 4 and Gen 5 versions. This is a 6mm, blowback airsoft pistol powered by green gas. It has a metal slide, magazine and internal parts and a polymer grip and frame. It has adjustable hop-up and a working trigger safety and, unlike the original, a manual safety which is disguised as a serial number plate under the frame.

Spec:

Calibre: 6mm

Magazine capacity: 24 BBs

Propellant: Green Gas

Barrel length: 110mm (4.33″)

Weight: 770g (1.70lbs)

Overall length: 186mm (7.32″)

Sights: Notch and post, non-adjustable.

Packaging and presentation (2.5/5)

The WE G-17 comes in a card box with an eggbox-style interior. All you get here is the pistol, a single magazine and a brief and not terribly helpful user manual.

Visual accuracy 7/10

This is a very good visual replica of the Gen 3 Glock 17, other than for the absence of appropriate markings. Overall size and shape is correct, all controls are in the appropriate places and the complex shape and stippling on the grip is precisely as it is on the original. Every pin on the original is replicated here and the only noticeable visual difference is that the moulding seam on the centre of the grip and frame is more prominent here and especially noticeable on the front and underside of the trigger guard.

Markings here are very simple and follow the layout of markings on the original. So, on the left side of the slide, for example, this has “17,” “Tactical” and “9×19” where on the original you would see “Glock 17,” “Austria” and “9×19.” On the lower side of the grip this replica has a small WE logo where the original has the Glock logo in the same position. In every place that the original has a marking, you’ll find a marking here but the markings on the G-17 use different text.

Functional accuracy 14/15

The slide and magazine releases and the trigger safety work here as they do on the original and the slide locks back when the last BB is fired.

Disassembly is done as on the original – drop the magazine, pull down the two takedown latches on the front of the frame, move the slide back slightly and then release it forward and it can be removed from the frame.

Once the slide is off, the  captive guide-rod/spring assembly can be compressed to remove it after which the inner/outer barrel assembly can be removed from the slide. The spring guide-rod and the outer barrel are black-painted metal.

Even the trigger action is very close to the original. When the pistol is uncocked, the trigger sits close to the rear of the guard and the trigger safety is almost flush with the trigger. When cocked, the trigger moves forward and the trigger safety projects to the front. The pull has a short, very light initial take-up until it reaches the release point where it takes less than two and a half pounds of pull to fire. The only thing which doesn’t work on this replica is the extractor, which projects slightly when a round is in the chamber on the original.

Shooting 35/45

You can squeeze up to 24 BBs into the fat magazine in the G-17, though I generally go for a couple less to minimise the chances of jamming. You have to hold the follower down as you load the BBs through the wider part of the opening at the bottom of the magazine. Filling with gas happens without drama and virtually without leaks.

Sights are good and accurate to the original, with a thick white “U” shape on the rear sight and a large white dot on the front. The first part of the trigger pull is virtually without resistance until you reach the break point. Then there is virtually no take-up until the striker releases. This is a very light trigger with a pull-weight of less than 2.5lbs to release. The trigger safety works – you cannot pull the trigger until the blade in the centre has been depressed until it’s flush with the main part of the trigger. Should you wish, there is also a manual safety on this replica – it’s the serial number plate under the front of the frame. It’s a little fiddly to use being recessed into the frame and sliding this to the rear applies the safety, but this can only be done when the replica is cocked and it completely locks the trigger.

Power is average with most shots at around 280 – 290 fps using 0.2g BBs. Recoil effect from the metal slide is strong and this is a fairly quiet replica – it shoots with a “crack” rather than a bang. Gas usage is average and I was able to shoot two magazines worth of BBs (around 50 shots) on a single fill before power started to drop. The slide (usually) locks back when the last BB is fired and it releases with a satisfying “clack.”  I did have a few instances where the slide failed to lock back after the last BB, but this was fairly rare.

Accuracy is OK though nothing spectacular. For me, the sights were perfectly aligned for windage at 6m though it does do one thing that I really hate – at 6m, it shoots about 1½” low. That’s with 0.2g BBs and with the hop adjusted as far as possible. It’s not a disaster, and it is consistent, but it is kind of irritating. Groups were generally of the order of 1½” lateral spread and up to 2” vertical spread.

Ten shots, 6m, freestanding with 0.2g BBs.

Overall, this is a perfectly pleasant replica to shoot, though it’s neither spectacularly good nor bad. It does seem to work consistently and reliably even after being left unused for long periods, and that’s something I do appreciate. When I fancy half an hour of airsoft therapy, pointlessly punching holes through card, I don’t want to have to spend time fiddling with the replica first.

Quality and reliability 13/15

I have now shot around 500 BBs through my G-17, and so far it is showing few signs of wear. There is a small loss on paint on the front edge of the upper part of the outer barrel where it engages with the slide, but it’s barely noticeable. Internally, I can’t see any signs of wear even on the slide where it rubs against the frame.

In terms of function, it hasn’t given me any problems at all and the magazine retains gas for weeks at a time. Occasionally, I have noticed that the slide does not lock back after the last BB is fired, but generally it does. This is one of those replicas that you just don’t seem to have to worry about in terms of function – just fill it with gas, stick in a load of BBs and it is good to go, even when it hasn’t been used for (literally) months.

Overall Impression 9/10

This replica has good weight; at 770g, it actually weighs more than an (unloaded) Glock 17. I like that – a replica that is too light is just never going to be convincing, but this one feels weighty and solid. The polymer grip is very robust with no flex or give at all and the slide fits the frame tightly with no rattle if you shake it. The feeling you get when you first pick up a replica is important, and this one just feels good.

It looks good too; the finish is showing virtually no signs of wear or distress and there is a good match between the painted finish on the slide and the polymer frame.

Conclusion

For me, this makes an interesting contrast with some of the earlier WE products I first owned almost twenty years ago. Some of those were decent visual and functional replicas, but they were also rather fragile and not always reliable. In 2008, WE Tactical Training International launched the Advanced Weaponry Simulator System (A.W.S.S.), basically a range of airsoft weapons sufficiently like firearms that they can be used as training tools by military and law enforcement personnel. Given that Glocks are currently the most widely used law enforcement firearms in the world, it’s no surprise that the G series replicas are part of that range and the intention to make something suitable for firearms training really shows.

This looks and feels like a firearm and it functions in precisely the same way as the original even down to the trigger action and pull. Although I have only owned this for just over a year and I haven’t put a vast number of BBs through it, it has always worked flawlessly and I’d guess that this is also due to the AWSS approach. After all, there would be no point in selling something as a training tool if it wasn’t reliable. Most airsofters and collectors won’t be using this for training, but we all benefit from an approach that gives us something that replicates the firearm experience reliably. Overall, I was impressed by this replica. On the basis of my experience with the G-17, it does seem that WE have made the transition from cheap and cheerful towards the quality end of the market.

Of course, I’d like to have seen this as a licensed replica with full markings and you can debate the ethos of using an unlicensed replica. That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself but I can otherwise heartily recommend this in terms of quality and reliability and as a fun shooter.

Total score: 80.5/100

Pros and cons

Pros

Seems well-made and finished

Good weight and feels solid

Good visual and functional replica

Reliable

Cons

Unlicensed replica lacking trades

Fairly expensive

Just an average shooter

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Classic Handguns: The Glock 17

WE Browning “Hi-Power” Model 1935

My review of the WE TT-33 ended by stating, “This pistol has made quite an impression on me …. and has definitely rekindled my interest in 6mm gas-blowback airsoft guns.” — and it had, so much so that a couple of days later I decided upon another of their range of classic pistols… the Browning M1935 or, as it is more commonly known, the Browning High Power…

01 WE Browning M1935-Take3 063 - Copy

Those words were written a couple of months ago, but as soon as I had “put pen to paper” (or rather “fingers to keyboard”!) things went wrong! On collecting my new GBB pistol, I knew something was awry in that the slide did not feel quite right and had a tendency to “jam” if pulled back manually without the magazine in place.

Being rather keen to get home and start the review – along with the fact that I didn’t wish to put my good friend and local airsoft shop owner, K.Don, to any trouble – I convinced myself this would be remedied with a little lubrication and use and so instead of requesting a replacement I took it home. The upshot is that I was unable to get the slide working properly and that, coupled with perhaps some “overzealous” racking and releasing of the slide, I managed to exacerbate the problem causing one of the smaller parts of the hammer assembly to break.

Disappointment reigned, but having tried K.Don’s display gun in the shop I was convinced I had just been unlucky, that this was still a good pistol and one I would like to have in my collection. Last week was the first chance I had had to again pay a visit to his shop. Being the excellent chap that he is he insisted we swap pistols and that he would look into repairing/ replacing the hammer assembly at a later date.

I am a firm believer in the saying “every cloud has a silver lining” and there is an upside to this in that I am now able to comment on a “used” pistol which is at least a couple of years old, albeit with a new magazine. In the process of writing this review I have put over three hundred rounds through it on top of goodness knows how many in the past… and so far, so good!

02 WE Browning M1935-Take3 048 - Copy

Real Steel Background

John Moses Browning designed his legendary “High Power” 9mm semi-automatic in 1925, a year before his death, but it wasn’t until ten years later following some refinements by his understudy, Dieudonne Saive (who later went on to design the FN FAL rifle), that it finally went into service with the Belgian Army as the Model 35 (also known as the Browning HP 35 or GP 35, “GP” standing for “Grande Puissance”).

The pistol was manufactured by Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Belgium and went on to become one of the most widely used pistols of the 20th Century with over one million being produced. A notable exception was the United States Army, but then they already had another of Browning’s famous designs… the 1911A1.

A point worthy of note is that whilst the operation of the Model 1935 is based on Browning’s famous “short recoil” design where the barrel and slide move backwards until the barrel drops away from the slide, it is achieved by means of a downward sloping slot under the barrel interfacing with a stud in the frame as opposed to the swinging link used in the venerable 1911.

03a slide and barrel-bottom03b slide and barrel locking diagram-top

Diagram courtesy of worldguns.ru

British Commonwealth countries were quick to realise the value of this pistol. With the onset of World War 2 and the subsequent German occupation of Belgium,  production was moved to John Inglis and Company in Toronto where two variants were produced.

One had a “tangent leaf” rear sight which could be fitted with (and stored in) a detachable shoulder stock whilst the other (more familiar version) came with fixed sights. These were identified as the “Browning FN HP No1 Mk1” and “No2 Mk1” respectively, the former being intended for domestic use and the Nationalist Chinese (some remarkable photographs of a rare Browning No1, made under contract for the Chinese, may be found at the Carolina Shooters Club – a link is given at the end of this review).

04 no1 mk1 right hand side

Inglis Browning FN No1 Mk1* (courtesy of carolinashootersclub.com).

04a no1 mk1 field slide close-up

Close-up of the left-hand side of the slide. The asterix represented minor modifications not deemed to warrant an increase in the designation mark.

Post-war, the 9mm FN Browning was adopted throughout NATO and it is only very recently that the British Army has decided to replace this iconic sidearm with the Glock 17 (Generation 4).

The term “High Power” (or “Hi-Power” as it is often written) refers to the (then revolutionary) high capacity of the magazine with 13 rounds of 9mm Luger (or 10 rounds of .40 calibre S&W) stored in a double stack magazine. With a muzzle velocity of around 335 m/s its effective range was approximately 50m. However, the adjustable rear sight  was graduated at 50m intervals for distances of up to 500m.

The WE-Tech (WE) “Hi-Power” Browning (Model 1935)

Spec;

Calibre: 6mm

Capacity: 20 round, double stack drop-out magazine

Propellant: Green Gas (propane)/ HFC-22

Barrel length: 110mm (measured)

Overall length: 200mm (measured)

Weight: 810g (listed)

Sights: Adjustable rear for elevation only; fixed front post

Action: Single-action

Hop-up: Not on mine!

Packaging and Presentation 2 / 5

05 WE Browning M1935-Take3 001

Whilst the box is more than adequate for safe transportation, it is a little lacking in imagination… especially for such a classic gun! That said, it is made of robust cardboard with polystyrene cut-outs to hold the gun and magazine. The manual is also rather basic, although it does describe the main parts to the pistol, its basic operation and how to conduct a field-strip (although two salient points are missing which are described later on). A very useful exploded diagram is included, but the parts listing is only given in Chinese (fair enough, I suppose, as it’s made in Taiwan… but English would be handy as well!).

Visual Accuracy 8 / 10

This replica is similar to the Canadian (Inglis) made “Browning FN HP No1 Mk1” with adjustable rear sights and a slot in the rear of the grip intended for the attachment of a combined wooden stock/ holster.

06 Browning_HP_Inglis-2 - Copy

Browning FN HP No1 Mk1, fitted with a detachable stock, made by the Inglis Company for the Chinese Nationalist Army (courtesy of adamsguns.com).

The graduations on the rear sight are identical to those of the original and the pistol has an unserrated “ring” hammer in keeping with a High Power of this period.

07 WE Browning M1935-Take3 052 - Copy

(NB. A “Capitan” version of the Browning Mk III, visually similar to the No1 Mk1, was reintroduced in 1993).

The only reason I haven’t given full marks is that no markings are included and I’m a sucker for the odd proof stamp or date somewhere on the gun (after all, lots of different models and variations have been produced). That said, it could well be that WE don’t wish to place any markings and are erring on the side of caution; similarly, it could be argued that no markings are better than the wrong ones… so there we are!

08 browning - left face - 13749113_1 (1) - Copy

Rare pre-war Belgian FN High Power made for the Estonian Home Guard (courtesy of icollector.com)

Apart from that, I’d say that visual accuracy is spot on! There are no seam lines and the plastic grip panels could easily be mistaken for real wood (although I still intend on purchasing some wooden ones for a reasonable sum; something I like to do for my more collectible replicas).

09 WE Browning M1935-Take3 072 - Copy

If you’re feeling particularly pedantic, then on field-stripping the gun you may notice that the outer barrel and slide do not quite feature the same “barrel-locking” detail as the original. Also, the grooves on either side of the base of the magazine are not quite right – as seen in the photo – but in all fairness the position of one of the locking pins prevents these grooves from extending to the bottom.

10 no1 mk1 field stripped

Field-stripped Inglis Browning FN No1 Mk1* (courtesy of carolinashootersclub.com). NB. the spring guide is shown upside down.

The finish on the WE model is very shiny and I prefer the slightly more “matt” colour of their TT-33. However, it is certainly very durable. In fact, when I asked K.Don for the exchange, he indicated some minor blemishes on the surface, but following a little polish with a cotton cloth (the one I use for all my guns, it having a slight impregnation of Ballistol) only one remains and that is barely noticeable unless you really search for it (in front of the ejection port on the right hand side of the frame).

A lanyard ring was sometimes attached, but none is given on this replica.

11 WE Browning M1935-Take3 025 - Copy

Comparison with the WE TT-33

Functional Accuracy 13 / 15

Again, difficult to find fault. It is single-action only – as was the original – meaning the hammer needs to be cocked prior to being fired. Once cocked, it may then be locked in place by the thumb safety located on the left-hand side of the frame (described by the late Jeff Cooper as “Condition One”). The thumb safety mechanism is sound and works as it should.

12 WE Browning M1935-Take3 078 - Copy

WE Browning “Hi-Power” at “Condition 1”. Note the “ring” hammer and thumb safety set “on”.

Unlike similar pistols, the Browning High Power also features a “magazine-disconnect” safety and this has been replicated here. Ie. the pistol cannot be fired, nor the hammer lowered, unless a magazine is in place. Generally considered to be a bad idea, it was initiated as part of the original design specifications provided by the French Army in 1935 (source: Wikipedia).

In fact, the hammer does not drop completely if slowly released with the magazine in place; it only comes fully to rest once the magazine is removed. At first, I thought this might be a potential source of damage to the firing pin, but as this “pin” is in fact a high tensile spring then I’m not unduly worried.

13 WE Browning M1935-Take3 007 - Copy

To release the hammer without a magazine inserted (or with the slide removed), you need to depress the bottom of the metal plate surrounding the firing “pin” (spring).

Field stripping is quite straightforward and as far as I am aware identical to that of the cartridge firing pistol on which it is based. However, as previously mentioned, a couple of steps in the field-stripping procedure have been omitted from the manual.

The slide is first moved back untill it may be locked in position by raising the thumb safety into the notch just forward of the serrations on the slide. The slide stop is then raised in its cut-out so that it may be properly removed.

There is an indent on the right-hand side of the frame in order to facilitate the extraction of the stop (as there was on the original Model 1935). The thumb safety may then be lowered and the slide removed (carefully as the recoil spring is still under tension!).

14 WE Browning M1935-Take3 030 - Copy

Apart from the slight difference in the shape of the outer barrel and the lack of one “locking lug” the internals are well replicated to those of the cartridge firing original. There is no recoil spring plug in a Browning Hi-Power; the outer and inner barrels are simply moved down and out of the slide once the spring and guide rod have been removed (care must be taken so that the inner barrel does not fall out of the outer as they are not joined together).

There is even a groove offset in the “hop-up chamber” (on the replica) identical to that of the original. This is to ensure the recoil spring guide isn’t put in upside down (comparison courtesy of alpharubicon.com).

15 spring guide comparison

Shooting  25 / 40

I purchased this gun with the intention of using it more as a collector’s piece than for shooting. However, I was pleasantly surprised, especially as mine does not have a grub screw in place to adjust hop-up (point “B” in the photo in the following section). In fact, I am not altogether sure adjustment is possible. However, the breech is fitted with a piece of circular rubber and this holds a loaded 6mm ball firmly in place.

16 WE Browning M1935-Take3 029 - Copy

Gas is loaded by inverting the magazine and filling from a gas cannister via the valve in the base of the magazine. Up to twenty 6mm rounds may be loaded by holding the follower down and loading them from the top (the follower protrudes nicely and is easy to keep in place with your thumb). The magazine sits firmly inside the grip and the release button is under the right amount of tension.

Racking and releasing the slide has a satisfactory “ring” to it and the recoil spring is just strong enough for this kind of gun. Whilst not being particularly loud or feeling particularly powerful, muzzle velocity is not too shabby for a gas-operated blow-back pistol with a metal slide and I obtained velocities in the region of 86 +/- 3m/s using “Bombe” brand gas (HFC-22?) and 87 +/- 2m/s using “Puff Dino” brand “Green Gas” from Taiwan, in the shade at approx. 30°C (for some reason, the first shot is often slightly slower by approximately 5m/s and these were not included in the data sets).

Measurements were initially taken using both TK (white) and FireFly (black) 0.25g ammunition and I was achieving groups of about three inches at six yards using a free-standing, double-handed stance. At longer ranges, you can expect deliberately aimed shots to connect with an 8” target at 12m, about 90% at 15m and with balls flying straight and true towards a man-sized target approximately 20-25m away.

Switching to heavier 0.36g ammunition (FireFly, green) increased the muzzle energy with 77 +/- 1m/s being recorded over ten rounds using green gas. Similarly, 0.30g and 0.40g balls resulted in 83 m/s  and 75 m/s respectively, each over ten rounds at approx. 30°C. These values tend to be reasonably consistent throughout the duration of a charged magazine. Groupings also tightened by about half an inch.

16 WE Browning M1935-Take3 042 - Copy

The bulls-eye targets were shot at the end of the session using .36g ammunition and “green gas”.

Depending on your shooting speed and weight of ammunition, at least 25 good shots should be had from a single three second charge of gas; if shooting quickly then some cooling-down of the magazine will be noticed. I have experienced neither a “double-feed” nor a jam, except when the piston return spring became unhooked.

There’s approximately a quarter of an inch of initial “first stage” to the trigger and some may describe it as being a little “spongy”, but the let off point is still reasonably easy to predict. As previously explained, the rear sights are adjustable in elevation but not for windage and the “dovetail” front post is triangular in shape (similar to, but smaller than, that found on the “Navy” Luger P08). The sight picture has the apex of the front post sitting about one and a half inches below the centre of the target using 0.25g balls and pretty much at the intended point of impact with heavier ammunition.

The slide locks back when the last round is fired and may be released by either pressing down on the slide-stop or by further retracting and releasing the slide. There is no sign of wear to the cut-out in the slide where it connects with the slide stop.

Quality and Reliability 12 / 15

I feel it would be unfair to score this section based on my initial experience, especially as the gun I now have has, if anything, exceeded my expectations and is already over two years old.

It has a fair “heft” to it, especially with the magazine in place. Whilst being made of metal alloy, this alloy is quite substantial and certainly looks and feels as if it could withstand a few knocks. All parts of the gun fit together well, both in the slide and frame, giving an impression of quality and reliability… including the hammer assembly which reinforces my view that I was extremely unlucky with the first gun I bought.

The magazine is interesting in that it has a metal lip and like the gun feels solid and durable. Mine has so far been leak-free, holding its charge of gas for up to weeks at a time.

The field-stripped parts appear to be of good quality with a brass inner and (aluminium?) outer barrel. A screw at the front of the spring guide serves to keep a spring-loaded bearing ball in place which in turn prevents the slide-stop from coming out. I have found that this screw can work itself loose and have applied a drop of low-strength “thread lock” to mine (“A” in the photo below).

17 WE Browning M1935-Take3 022 - Copy

“A” indicates the screw requiring a little low-strength thread-lock; “B” the missing adjustment screw and “C” the lack of one locking lug.

I’ve twice had to re-connect the piston return spring to its pin located on top of the piston. Thankfully, this is a simple operation! It is accessed under the rear sight and all that needs to be done is to remove the slide, raise the rear sight and hook the end of the spring  back over the pin using a watchmaker’s screwdriver or needle (as shown in the photo). I would like to point out that this spring has not become unhooked again (I more than likely did not place it securely over the pin the first time it came off).

18 WE Browning M1935-Take3 009 - Copy

Overall Impression 13 / 15

Having now had the chance to properly inspect and handle the Browning Hi-Power (Model 1935) from Wei-Tech, I’m of the opinion that my initial troubles were an exception, not the rule.

However, it would be extremely helpful if WE was to make available – as fellow Taiwanese firm KJWorks has done – a procedure whereby spare parts may be sourced, at a reasonable price, directly from the parent company (it would also be useful if the parts listing was given in English as well as Chinese).

19 WE Browning M1935-Take3 094 - Copy

To summarise, I am now extremely satisfied with this gun and am pleased to have what I hope will continue to be a reliable, fully functioning replica of the famous WW2 era 9mm FN Browning “High Power” to shoot occasionally and put on display. IMHO, it represents a highly collectible pistol which faithfully replicates the cartridge firing original in both operation and appearance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to echo the comments of others in that a few minor design changes would result in a “Browning FN HP No2 Mk1”… and I would like to have that one in black.

Total Score 73 / 100

Guest review by Adrian-BP

Buy:

You can buy this replica at Pyramid Air here.

Links:

http://www.carolinashootersclub.com/threads/175361-VERY-Rare!-WW2-Inglis-Canadian-FN-Browning-Hi-Power-No-1-Mk-I*-Chinese-Con

Related Pages

WE Tokarev TT-33 review

Gun Heaven Model 59 (Makarov) review

WE PX4 review

 

Luger replicas

DWM-1900-Swiss-Commercial-Contract-Luger-Pistol-with-Holster-gun

The Luger is probably one of the best known handguns ever made. Instantly recognisable even to people who know nothing about firearms, no wonder it has been the subject of a number of replicas over the years. Sadly, most of the available replicas up to now have had some drawbacks. But with the release of the KWC CO2 powered blowback Luger, it looks as if we may finally have a replica worthy of this incredibly iconic handgun. To celebrate the release of the KWC Luger, I thought I’d take a brief look back at some of the Luger replicas produced since World War Two and consider how they stack up as shooters and visual and functional replicas.

Real Steel background

First thing to mention is that what we’re looking at here isn’t officially called a Luger at all. It’s actually called the Pistole Parabellum 1908, or P.08. It’s known as the Luger because it was designed and patented by German engineer Georg Luger in 1898. I’ll refer to it as the Luger in this article for the sake of simplicity. Manufacture began in 1900 with German firearms company DWM (Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken). The Luger was later manufactured under license in a number of other locations in Germany, and even at one time by Vickers in the UK.

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German Navy P.08

The Luger was an early attempt to produce a self-loading pistol, a handgun which could be fired and reloaded more quickly than a revolver. Most later designs used some form of moving slide to extract the spent shell casing and load a new cartridge, but the Luger employed a unique toggle mechanism. Venting gases cause the barrel and toggle to move backward until hitting a cam, which hinges the toggle knee-joint, unlocking the breech and extracting the spent cartridge. A spring then forces the toggle closed, pushing the next round into place. It’s a neat technical solution which causes relatively little recoil, though it does have disadvantages. The toggle operates to very tight tolerances which made manufacturing costly and expensive and the mechanism is also prone to jamming if dirt, dust or debris are present. The Luger wasn’t a completely new design, being partly based on the existing Borchardt C/93 self-loading pistol, though it was a neater and much more compact design than the earlier pistol. The Luger was available in 4″, 6″ and 8″ (Artillery) form. The artillery version featured adjustable sights, a wooden holster which doubled as a stock and an optional 50 round, drum magazine.

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Well used Artillery version

The Luger used a seven round, drop-out magazine in the grip, which was more steeply angled than most pistols (145° between the barrel and grip, compared to 120° on the Colt 1911, for example). The base of the magazine on most early Lugers is made of wood, something no replica has yet attempted to recreate. Early versions were chambered for a new cartridge, the 7.65mm Parabellum (also called the .30 Luger in the US) and the Luger was adapted by Swiss armed forces in 1900. Concerns that the Luger lacked stopping power led to the design of another new cartridge, the 9 x 19mm, which became known as the 9mm Luger and has been used in a range of handguns since. The Luger was updated in 1904 to take the 9mm cartridge, and at this time a safety on the right side of the frame was added. The Luger was adopted initially by the German Navy and then by the German Army in 1908 (at which time it gained the P.08 designation). Thereafter, sales to German military forces accounted for the vast majority of Lugers produced.

Replicas

Below is a list of the Luger replicas I’m aware of, in approximate chronological order according to when they were released. I haven’t included any of the spring powered Luger replicas because they are, without exception, crap.

Schimel GP-22

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The Schimel GP-22 is a pretty good CO2 powered replica of the Luger, produced In California by brothers Orville and Clifford Schimel. Both were machinists and Orville was also a die maker. The brothers were fascinated by the Luger, and soon after the end of World War Two they set out to make an air pistol replica. Early work was done in Orville’s garage before a plant was set up in North Hollywood and manufacturing begin in 1946. The Schimel uses an 8g CO2 cartridge (commonly available in the 1940s as soda siphon bulbs) to shoot a single .22 pellet. Up to 580 fps was claimed when the pistol was first sold.

When it first appeared, the L.A. Police department tried unsuccessfully to have the Schimel banned, claiming it looked too much like the real firearm. However, despite its visual appeal, power and claims of extreme accuracy, the Schimel didn’t sell particularly well. There were a number of good reasons for this. The materials used in the Schimel weren’t always sensibly utilised – die cast, pot metal parts were used in stressed areas and were prone to cracking, a steel barrel was press-fitted into a die-cast outer shell, and electrolysis quickly welded the barrel in place. The O rings were made of gas-permeable material, and were prone to expand up to 50% in use, causing the pistol to leak catastrophically. The grips were made of an early form of plastic which shrank on exposure to UV light – some owners claim shrinkage of up to ½”, which makes the grips impossible to remove. The cocking and charging procedure is complicated and parts break if the pistol is roughly handled. Finally, the paint tended to quickly flake off the die-cast body. No surprise then that within ten years, manufacture of the Schimel ceased and the company went bust. Despite this, a good Schimel is still a powerful, accurate and loud replica. The problem is finding a good one. Schimels regularly turn up on gun auction sites, though they tend to be rather expensive and are now even more fragile than they were sixty years ago.

American Luger

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The manufacturing plant from the bankrupt Schimel company was bought up by Californian engineering works A.C. Swanson in 1956. Swanson developed the Schimel design and produced the American Luger from 1956 – 1958. This is generally similar to the Schimel, but it’s an eight shot repeater which shoots .22 lead balls. Sadly, the American Luger was just as fragile as the Schimel, and sales were never particularly strong. Production ended when Stoeger, the US firearms company which became the owner of the “Luger” trademark, threatened legal action. Relatively small numbers of American Lugers were produced, and these command even higher prices than Schimels when they do appear for sale.

Wham-O Kruger

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In the late 1950s yet another Californian company, this time toymaker Wham-O, produced the Kruger 98, a replica of the Luger which used a similar sounding name, presumably to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit from Stoeger. The Kruger 98 wasn’t really an air pistol at all – it used the explosive power of a standard “cap” to propel a .12 birdshot. As can be imagined, there isn’t actually much power in a cap intended for toy guns, and despite advertising claims for extreme accuracy, the .12 lead shot barely achieved enough power to leave the end of the barrel. A later version which fired standard .177 BBs was even less powerful, though Wham-O advertising gleefully claimed that the Kruger could also shoot “peas, beans and even tapioca!“. The Kruger was produced in large numbers and these regularly turn up for sale, but unless you have a particular desire to use tapioca as ammo, there really doesn’t seem much reason to own one.

Tanaka Luger

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Japanese manufacturer Tanaka Works were the first to produce a fully functional Luger replica. Their green gas powered, 6mm, blowback Luger features an operational toggle, full size drop-out magazine, working safety catch and is available in 4″, 6″ and 8″ versions. Tanaka also produced a wooden stock/holster, wood grips and a drum magazine for this replica. This is a very nice, well made replica which field strips accurately and is marred only by the fact that it’s entirely made of plastic (even the “heavyweight” version is rather light). Like many Tanaka pistols, it’s also not especially powerful (250 – 300 fps) or accurate and the firing pin is a little fragile – pushing the magazine in with the firing pin extended or even repeated dry firing can cause the pin to snap. This apart, the Tanaka Luger is a nice replica and well engineered, but like all Tanaka products it’s very expensive. However, for me, the main problem is that it’s plastic – I don’t feel that a plastic replica can ever provide convincing weight and heft.

WE Luger

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WE Luger, 6″

Taiwanese manufacturer WE were next to produce a 6mm , green-gas powered blowback Luger, and functionally this is almost identical to the Tanaka version. However, the WE Luger is all metal, and does feel much more convincing. The WE version is available in black or polished metal finish and in 4″, 6″ and 8″ form, and WE also offer a 50 round drum magazine. Overall, the WE Luger is a very nice replica, though it doesn’t have a great reputation for longevity. On many older WE Lugers, the trigger sear wears until pulling the trigger causes the pistol to fire on full auto until all the gas in the magazine is exhausted. Which is sort of exciting if you’re not expecting it. Accuracy and power are similar to the Tanaka Luger. Overall, the WE Luger is a pretty reasonable replica and like most WE pistols, it’s fairly low cost. Just don’t expect it to last forever.

Umarex “Legends” Luger

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In 2013 Umarex announced the addition of a P.08 Luger to the growing “Legends” collection. This is a .177 BB shooting, CO2 powered, non-blowback replica and appears to be identical to the KWC non-blowback Luger (KMB-41DHN) and the ASG P.08. It’s all metal and has good weight, but is only available in 4″ form and the lack of blowback is an issue – the trigger operates only in double action and the pull is long and heavy. The drop-out magazine is reduced size and although the pistol has good power (at around 400fps), the heavy trigger pull affects accuracy. A nice looking, well made, low cost metal replica with good weight and a fair shooter, but without the toggle mechanism that is the defining characteristic of the Luger. You can find a link to a review of the Umarex P.08 at the end of this article.

Gletcher P.08

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Gletcher is the trademark of the New York based Sport Manufacturing Group, Inc. The Gletcher P.08 is a CO2 powered, 4″, .177 BB shooting, blowback Luger replica. CO2 is stored inside the grip and the drop-out magazine is reduced size. The appearance of this replica is somewhat spoiled by prominent white “Gletcher” markings and trademarks, though otherwise it’s a good visual replica of the Luger. Despite having blowback, early reports suggest that it has a very heavy trigger action and an appetite for CO2 (some owners report no more than 35-40 shots per CO2). Accuracy and power are also reported as no more than average. This is getting closer, but the lack of a full sized magazine and the reportedly heavy trigger mean that this still isn’t the perfect Luger replica. It’s also expensive in comparison to other Luger replicas.

KWC Luger

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At last! A CO2 powered, blowback Luger with a full sized drop-out magazine. Taiwanese manufacturer KWC have recently released a full metal, blowback Luger and even better, they have somehow managed to shoehorn a CO2 cartridge into the slim magazine. KWC make some pretty good replicas (they are the OEM manufacturer for, amongst others, the Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness and some Umarex replicas) so I’m very hopeful about this one. It’s available only as a 4″ version but in both 4.5mm (KMB-41DHN) and 6mm (KCB-41DHN) form and KWC claim “incredible accuracy“. Don’t know about that, but if it’s as good as some of the KWC 1911s, this could finally be a decent Luger replica.

Related pages

Umarex Legends P08 review

Best replica Part 2