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Thread: Smith & Wesson Model 13 FBI .357 Magnum by Tanaka

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  1. #1
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    Smith & Wesson Model 13 FBI .357 Magnum by Tanaka

    Back in October 2005, we had tested the Tanaka S&W Model 19 2.5" revolver.



    This gun has left me with mixed feelings. First of all, the revolver was the most inaccurate airsoft gun we've ever tried. Plus, it didn't have the 3" barrel I like. My dream at that time was the S&W Model 65 shown below:



    But it was impossible to find that revolver at that time. So I had to satisfy my thirst for an airsoft revolver with the 2.5" Model 19.

    Fast forward to today. While doing an Internet search for some magazines I need for my Western Arms pistols (some of them have developed a leak), I located two interesting airsoft guns in Safara Airsoft (Safara Airsoft is located in San Marino, Italy, so I like shopping from them, no customs get involved). The first was the Tokyo Marui 1911 A1 (I had heard good things about this 1911 and since I wanted a WWII era 1911A1 for my airsoft collection and the price of the TM pistol was more than competitive out came the plastic card and the oder was placed ) and the second was the object of this test, the Tanaka S&W Model 13 .357 Magnum 3" revolver. This revolver is similar to the one I wanted to get two years ago, only it comes in blue instead of stainless. I like blue guns, so I decided to order these two airsofts, just for the heck of it.

    Here is the Tanaka box that I received.



    Inside I found this.



    The revolver, a small bag with some BBs, the hop-up adjustment hex wrench, and a loader (more later). Of course, the usual Japanese leaflet with the childish instruction was also in the package.

    The revolver looks are (to say the least) impressive.



    It features a 3" barrel, which is the barrel length I prefer in revolvers.



    The grips are very nice, looking like some expensive, cocobolo grips we see for the K-frames. They even feature the silverish Smith & Wesson medallions. Actually the Tanaka frame is an exact duplicate of the real one, so you can fit on this pistol any grips you have for the K-frames.



    Inscriptions on the frame include the S&W logo



    but also the Smith & Wesson lettering at the right front of the frame, the only difference being that they include a "Made in Japan" in addition to the Smith & Wesson and Tanaka reference.




    The revolver's cylinder opens up in the traditional S&W manner, by pressing the release forward, and it reveals six very real-looking cartridges (which can also be seen with the cylinder closed, from the side of the revolver). As in the M19, one of them has a hole which allow you to fill the gas tank of the revolver, which is located in the cylinder. Due to the position of the filing valve, a typical gas can nozzle will not allow you to reach it, so thoughtfully enough an extension tube is included in the package, which will allow you to extend the gas can nozzle to reach the valve.

    The sights on this revolver are fixed (contrary to the adjustables found on the M19), which is fine by me. The front is a serrated ramp while the rear is the usual notch machined on the top of the frame.



    I painted the front one orange, since under some lighting conditions it is very difficult to see it.





    Overall, the replication of the real gun is immaculate, so much so that it's virtually impossible to distinguish the airsoft version from the real one. An issue that was present in the M19 was that the external finish was not homogenous, for example the plate covering the right side of the frame was of a different color than the rest of the gun. On this model there are no such complains, even though the pictures show some difference which do not appear to the naked eye. Overall the quality is quite high.

    Operation-wise, the gun had a problem. When cocking the hammer manually, the cylinder didn't always lock in place correctly, sometimes you had to manually turn it a tiny bit more for the cylinder lock to snap in its recesses. This never happened when firing the gun in double-action mode.

    Proceed to the second page to read how this revolver performed in our shooting tests.

    [BREAK]

    Shooting

    One of the issues we have faced with the Model 19 we tested two years ago, was the lack of accuracy as well as the lack of power. It was impossible to obtain any sort of grouping at my usual 10m testing distance, so I had to move my target stand (a cardboard box) to 6m.

    Upon firing the Model 13, the lack of power problem was noticed again. The sound of the revolver is very faint compared to what I am used to, when firing Gas Blow Back pistols and the BBs were not even causing a dent on the target's paper at 10m. Again, I had to move the target box to 6m to see any marks on the target. I still couldn't see any holes on the paper, so I was really dissappointed, until I noticed how far down the target the BBs were hitting. Doh, this revolver has a hop-up adjustment, so after tightening the hop-up screw quite a bit, I had the BBs landing at the general vicinity of my bullseye.



    The picture above is from the Model 19, but the hop-up adjustment is at the same place, so you get the idea. What is interesting though, is that the M13 does not have the sealing cone found on the M19. Obviously Tanaka didn't see any improvement with the sealing cone and decided not to bother with it in this model.

    So how did the M13 performed accuracy-wise?

    Nothing to write home about, is the answer. It was not as bad as its 2.5" brother but it also was not up to par with the various 1911 models we have tested here. It appears that the additional .5" of barrel compared to the M19 provides a little better accuracy (average group size, about 3.5" compared to 4" that was the case for the M19) but not enough to satisfy me. Especially when you consider that this accuracy was obtained at almost half my usual shooting distance.



    Poor Man's Chrono test

    The coke can test proved my theory behind this model's power or rather the lack of it.



    The first BB fired at the can didn't even penetrate the first wall, indicating a very low power. I couldn't believe my eyes! Subsequent BBs fired at the can showed either the same performance (not penetrating at all) or a little better (some penetrated the one side of the can but didn't even dent the other).

    Overall

    I can't say I was expecting anything better from this revolver. My experience from the Model 19 we tested in 2005 was bad enough to not allow me to be optimistic. So I was not ... terribly disappointed with the Model 13. Performance-wise, it can barely be used for CQB practicing, if distances are kept real close (less than 6 meters). If what you are interested is to improve your skills at handling a K-frame revolver at close distances, this is a fine tool to use, in the privacy of your ... living room. But do not count on this model for accuracy work or for long distances, it just doesn't cut it. This is a pity because the revolver feels good in my hand, the grips being of very nice shape and proportions. The looks of the revolver are also very impressive. It's one sweet-looking little gun, but it scores low in the performance and accuracy departments.

    Rating

    Accuracy: 1
    Upgradeability: 1
    Training Capability: 3
    Realism: 5
    Quality: 4
    Power: 1

    Overall: 15
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 13th September 2008 at 03:41.


  2. #2
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    That is the exact gun I have been looking for in Hong Kong for awhile, you are lucky to have found it. In the end I bought a 3+1" M500 which has proven to be a decent decision. Now I just need to order some finger grooved rosewood grips, and voila a M65 on steroids.

    In terms of power, many of the S&W framed revolvers have a hammer spring adjustment screw inside the grip. I had to tighten mine down a lot in both of mine. While it won't really up the fps on the top end, it seems to help smooth out the shot to shot consistency.

    Also every single one of my Tanaka revovlers (4 now) have all shot low of the point of aim stock. Some of the later ones (Ruger Super Red Hawk, M500, Detachable Cylinder SAA) do shoot a bit straighter, but they still throw fliers.

  3. #3
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    I agree, these revolvers are not the most consistent performers I've seen.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  4. #4
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    I finally got the grips I wanted. I fixed my consistency issue by tightening the trigger spring screw all the way. Here is what she looks like now:




  5. #5
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    Which screw is that? Show me a picture if you can. And those grips are fantastic.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  6. #6
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    Sorry about the lag time. Here is the screw, located on the front of the frame, you need to remove the grips first.


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