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Thread: Colt M1911A1 (1943 USGI) by Tokyo Marui

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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Colt M1911A1 (1943 USGI) by Tokyo Marui

    Almost after two years from the time we started the Airsoft Project (an effort to see if the airsoft 1911s can be used for training in the use of the real firearm) I decided that I needed to add a new 1911 pistol in my collection. As most of you know, the Greek laws are not exactly flexible, so owing a WWII 1911 A1 pistol would be rather difficult for me, so the airsoft alternative seemed a good solution. Especially when I noticed the Tokyo Marui 1911A1 in a European store (Safara Softair, in Italy), which meant no customs hassles etc. The price was very attractive, so the credit card suffered and soon a small parcel was delivered to my front door.

    I have heard good words about the Tokyo Marui 1911A1 from my friend Andrew at Airsoft Extreme, who thought very highly of it. So it was with great anxiousness that I opened the parcel from Italy.



    I was pleasently surprised from the TM box, instead of the usually uninspiring Western Arms grey box, here was a very military-looking olive drab box with wording reminding of that era. Opening the box revealed an even bigger surprise.



    The inside of the box consists of pieces of cardboard one on top of the other, cut for the pistol, a spare magazine and a small box (which externally immitates the ammo boxes of that era and which contains a small bag of BBs, a red plug for the barrel and a ... bushing wrench). The cardboard pieces however are covered with a ... luxurius silk-like cloth giving the impression of an expensive pistol box!! Congrats TM, presentation-wise this pistol is a winner.






    I started examining the new pistol. The first impression is that of ... lightness. If you had ever used a Western Arms 1911, the Tokyo Marui one will surprise you by being light. While my Western Arms MEU Early Model tips the scale at 900 gr., and the Wilson Combat SDS at 920 gr, the TM is about 760 gr, all pistols weighted with their magazine in place. TM has included some weights under the grip panels, but these are not enough to give the correct feeling and the pistol still feels very light.

    After getting used to the light feeling, further examination of the pistol reveals a very authentic-looking WWII 1911A1. All the right wording is there.



    The serial number inscribed on the pistol makes it a 1943 Colt one. Please note that the UNITED STATES PROPERTY marking has been replaced with the marking of the airsoft manufacturer. A nice touch, since it saves the pistol from an additional marking, somewhere else, which would destroy its authenic looks. It also eliminates the possibility of some idiot charging the owner of the replica for stealing Government property.



    The Ordnance Acceptance mark is again correct for the gun.



    The left side features the usual Colt inscription on the slide and the various inspection marks on the frame.



    The trigger is a milled, checkered, short one, which is appropriate for the era.



    and so is the mainspring housing. The grips are plastic ones, again they are correct for the period this pistol was made, featuring the wide rings around the screw holes. The sights are typical military ones (i.e. short and useless for my eyes). The hammer is the wide, spure one, correct for the period this pistol is supposed to represent. Finally the pistol is painted in a scheme which immitates the parkerizing of the WWII period, but the controls (thumb safety, slide stop etc) appear to be like blued parts.





    The orange paint on the front sight was applied by me, in an effort to make those tiny sights visible to my aging eyes.


    The only things which are potentially not correct for that period are the sights and the barrel. The gun features the square notch rear sight and the slightly angled front one, which were not typically used until after serial number 893,000. However it is not unheard of to find a pistol in the range of the replica with the newer sights. These Colt pistols were not completed in the exact same order they were serial numbered. The specific small parts were not produced and installed in exactly the same order the slides and frames were numbered. As for the barrel, the pistol has a P and H barrel, which is correct for serial numbers in the 85,000 to 450,000. According to its serial number, this pistol should have a "Colt 45 Auto" barrel instead of the P&H one.

    Overall, the pistol looks very very nice and authentic. If it was not for the extra-light feeling, it would be a perfect airsoft rendition of a military 1911A1.


    Operation

    The pistol operates just like a 1911 or to be more precise just like any other Gas Blow-Back 1911 airsoft pistol. In other words, you load the magazine with some BBs (the maximum is 23 I believe) and you also charge it with gas from the valve at the bottom of the magazine. You then insert the magazine in the pistol, rack the extra-light plastic slide and you are ready to shoot. The blow-back action is quite strong and perfectly satisfactory.

    One area that this pistol differs from the real ones, is that even though it has a half-cock notch, the hammer can not be released from it, even if the trigger is pulled and the hammer slightly pulled back. In other words, this is a ... very captive half-cock notch, from where you can not lower the hammer to the at rest position. You need to fully cock it and release it by pressing the trigger. If you use your thumb to slowly lower the trigger, the hammer doesn't go all the way down, but it is stopped at the half cock notch. A minor discrepancy from the real 1911 operation, but still something which experienced users will notice.

    Another remark about this TM airsoft 1911A1 pistol is the fact that it has what is called a "rolling trigger". In other words, the sear does not release the hammer instantly and crisply like in the Western Arms pistols I've tried, but you can feel the sear dragging against the hammer hooks for a very very short distance, before the hammer is released. Not unacceptable, some people like their 1911 triggers that way, and surely not contrary to what one expects from a military pistol.

    Finally, contrary to most Western Arms 1911 pistols we have tried, which were a tight fit in leather holsters due to their slightly wider slides, the Tokyo Marui 1911A1 was a perfect fit.

    Proceed to the second page to continue reading our review.

    [BREAK]

    Disassembly

    The TM 1911A1 breaks down to its components in the traditional, airsoft 1911 way. Remove the magazine, move the slide back until the disassembly notch is aligned with the rear of the slide stop and pop the slide stop out by pressing on the right side of its shaft. The TM slide stop comes out much easier than the Western Arms one, thank God. Ease the slide forward and remove it from the frame. The guide rod doesn't pop out, it is secured on the barrel by a pin so you do not have to worry about it flying away.



    From then on, the procedure differs a bit, since the guide rod and spring have to be removed from the rear of the slide, as does the recoil spring cap, which has a ridge along its length to help positioning the barrel inside the frame. Then you can remove the bushing and the barrel from the slide.

    Reassembly is in reverse order.


    Shooting

    Shooting the pistol is a nice experience. The blow back is strong, at least as strong as the Western Arms blow back is (with propane used as a gas in both pistols).

    The Tokyo Marui is also an accurate pistol as can be seen by the target below.



    This is a 3" group, which I am sure one can improve upon, if you can see those tiny sights. My aging eyes do not get along very well with such minute sights, so it was hard for me to aim properly. The intrinsic accuracy of this pistol is better, I had several 3 or 4-shot groups in less than 1", which opened up with the fifth shot, because my eyes could not see the sights very well.

    Overall, accuracy-wise the TM 1911A1 is on par with other airsoft pistols we have tried.

    Poor Man's Chrono test



    As you can see from the picture above, the Tokyo Marui 1911A1 gave nice results in the power department. The .25 gr BB penetrated both sides of the coke can, and did break the bottom of the can, but didn't penetrate it. So I would say the velocity is in the area of 370 fps. That was on a relatively warm October day, 28 degrees Celsius (about 83 Fahrenheit) using .25 gr BBs.

    Using a chronograph, one of our members here got the following results from the TM 1911A1, using green gas and .20 Excel BBs over 10 shots at 70 degrees F:

    Avg: 304.40 fps

    1 304
    2 311
    3 310
    4 308
    5 305
    6 304
    7 303
    8 302
    9 295
    10 298

    Overall

    I can't say I liked the TM pistol. The feeling of lightness makes me always think that this is a fake gun (I know it is one, but you do not want to be reminded about this, every time you grasp the pistol in your hands, do you?). If you can live with this problem, the TM 1911A1 is a very authentic-looking 1911, which would look fine inside a glass case, hanged on the wall. Of course, if you are living in countries with less strange laws, you can always order a metal frame and slide kit and upgrade your pistol, but such kits cost in excess of 200$, which is somewhat steep and for Greece, well, let's just say it can get you into lots of troubles if stopped by the customs.

    The pistol can definitely be used for in-house training, operation-wise and shooting-wise, but the user will always know that this is not the real thing.

    With the TM costing about 140$ (compared to about 225$ for similar Western Arms pistols), this is a hard-to-beat deal, for anyone interested in an authentic-looking airsoft replica.

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

    Overall: 25

    Upgrades

    Well, I am not exactly known for accepting things the way they are. The feeling of lightness that this pistol has was bothering me from the first day I took it in my hands. It's a pity that such an authentic reproduction of a USGI pistol lacks the weight of the real thing. Tokyo Marui would have a real winner if it was not for the weight of their M1911 A1 model.

    During the period I receive the TM 1911A1, I was also trying to find a shop in Europe, which could provide me with some Wilson Combat magazines, for my Western Arms pistols (some of them have developed a leak around their bottom seal, so I badly needed some replacements). During that search I got to talk with Mike Cripps of Elite Shooting Center in UK.

    Mike and I exchanged several emails discussing various issues, and in one of them he mentionned that he was building custom 1911s for Airsoft IDPA and IPSC competition. That triggered my attention and I asked him if he had any aluminum frame/slide kits for the TM 1911A1 pistol. Indeed Mike had two of them, one was from Guarder and the other from Pro Win. Unfortunatelly, the Pro Win kit, even though it is of better overall quality than the Guarder one, didn't had the proper markings to maintain the authenticity of the pistol as a 1943 USGI Colt. They had kits with Springfield markings and with contemporary Colt Series 80 markings, but not the USGI ones.

    After serious consideration (the Pro Win kits come with taller, 3-dot sights, which I would love to have, but I was not ready to forget the USGI markings and in general the USGI looks) I decided to order a Guarder frame/slide kit and a Tanio Koba metallic outer barrel from Mike. Since this shop is located in the European Comminity there should be no customs checks etc, which is very convenient.

    Here are some pictures of the kit I ordered.



    Very soon Mike Fedexed me a package with my order. I was so eager to fit this frame/slide kit, that I didn't pause to take any pictures of the process. However, the end result is gratifying to say the least.



    The pistol is now even more authentic than before. First of all, the weight went from the uninspiring 760 gr to 940 gr, which gives you the feel of the real pistol. Very good so far.





    Second, the inscriptions on the frame and slide are more deep and better done than on the plastic parts that were replaced. Also, on the right side of the frame, the Tokyo Marui inscription is now gone, replaced by the proper "United States Property" marking and a serial number "Nο 870474" in the proper font.



    Finally, the color of the frame and slide are now very much like the real parkerizing that was used to finish those pistols.

    Overall, the Guarder frame/slide kit, makes this pistol much more authentic and desirable.

    Technically speaking, the installation of the TM internals in the Guarder frame and slide are relatively easy. Two things you should know:
    • When disassembling the original pistol, make sure that you have studied the parts diagram which came with it. There are some springs which will just fly away, if you are not careful. One is located at the top of the blow-back chamber, but that's relatively easy to find (it's quite lengthy). The next one is on the left lever which protrudes from the frame. That's a small spring and it will definitely pop-out when you remove the mechanism from the frame. Make sure you do not loose it, I spend about 1/2 an hour on my knees looking for it. Luckily, it has been attracted to the magnetized tip of a small screw driver I was using, to my relief.
    • Inside the original slide, there is a lengthy piece of the slide rails. It's held in place by a thin but long screw. That piece gave me a lot of headache when assembling the slide, because (a) the screw will not go all the way in its hole, in the aluminum slide and (b) with that piece installed in the slide, the movement of the slide becomes very difficult, causing the pistol to bind. That piece is NOT necessary and it can safely be omitted.
    he rest of the procedure is straight-forward and shouldn't give you any trouble, if you are the least mechanically inclined.

    Acknowledgements

    As a final note, I would like to thank our member Scott Gahimer, for spending some time evaluating for me the authenticity of the pistol's looks. Scott is an avid collector and he was kind enough to walk me through each and every feature of this replica, comparing them to the original and explaining to me the (very few and minor) differences. Thanks Scott, much appreciated.

    I also want to thank our member hkssr20det, for providing me with the chrono results he got from this pistol. Thanks Ben for allowing me to use your chrono results.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 21st September 2010 at 06:40.


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