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Thread: Browning Hi-Power by Tanaka

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  1. #1
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    Browning Hi-Power by Tanaka

    With over 15 M1911s in my airsoft collection, you would imagine that my appetite for more would be satisfied, and you would probably be right. The airsoft manufacturers seem to be producing the same 1911 pistols again and again, I have so far collected all the 1911s I want to have in my display shelf. Anyway, having satisfy my appetite for airsoft 1911s, I thought it was about time to add some different models which I always wanted to have and which I am sure I'll never have in real form, due to our crazy laws.

    Among the pistols I always wanted, is the famous Browning Hi-Power. Unfortunately there aren't too many airsoft copies of this model, an Internet search revealed only one company making these actually, Tanaka Works. They make three models (or have made them, I am not sure if all of them are currently in production), which are shown below:


    This is the M1935 Heavy Weight model as it is called by Tanaka.


    This is the MK-III Heavy Weight in "stainless".


    And this is the MK-III Heavy Weight in black.

    Unfortunately, none of them had the features I liked. The M1935 has the round hammer and wooden grips, which I prefer, but it also has the tiny original 1935 sights, which are useless for my aging eyes, and the tiny thumb safety which I do not care for. I didn't want
    the "stainless" model, the paint, according to some reviews is easily peeling off, while the MK-III black model had the sights and the thumb safety I wanted but the spur hammer I didn't like and those plastic thumbnail grips, which I hated.

    After some discussion with Mike Cripps of
    Elite Shooting Center, I decided to buy the black MK-III with some extras, so that I could turn it into a Hi-Power I like. The extras were a round hammer and a set of wooden grips which unfortunately took longer than expected to get, that's why they are not shown here.


    These are the grips I've ordered.

    No problem though, my friend Chris Lynch of Alumagrips had send me two sets of his Hi-Power grips some time ago, to check them out before he started their production. So I could use these, provided that the real pistol grips fitted the replica, which was a big questionmark.

    Very soon, a parcel was dispatched from UK and amazingly enough it was delivered at my door the next morning. This new courier service that Mike is using is exceptionally quick (TNT). Any way, I opened the parcel and this uninspiring box contained the Tanaka Hi-Power of my dreams.



    Upon opening the box, I noticed that Mike had already installed the round hammer, for me (thanks Mike).



    As soon as I removed the pistol from the box, I changed the plastic, thumb-rest grips with my Alumagrips (checkered, black!!). They fit the pistol perfectly, so they stayed on it. Here is the pistol.


    Left side view.


    Right side view.


    The lovely checkered Alumagrips on the pistol, and the plastic ones that they replaced.

    Examining the pistol revealed that Tanaka has done a good work replicating Mr. Browning's second famous pistol (we all, of course know, which one is the first). There are no seams or anything to show that the pistol is not real. The inscriptions on the slide are correct (as far as I can tell) even though a little shallow, so shallow actually that on my sample some letters are not quite visible from every angle (not good Tanaka).


    You can see the uneven lettering here.

    The thumb safety is huge improvement over the original one, but still it can't be compared with either the tear-drop safety of the 1911 nor the extended after-market safeties for that pistol. It works OK, and moves up and down with authority, at least.


    Correct thumb safety for an MK-III.

    It was then that I discovered two strange things. Tanaka had done such a nice work replicating the features of this model, that they went one step further than they should have. The pistol features the same, stupid, magazine safety of the real one. And while on the real one, some can say that it serves a purpose, on an airsoft pistol it's a nuissance. You either have to leave your pistol with its hammer cocked all the time (and airsoft springs are not exactly as good as the real ones) or you have to use a screw driver to press the magazine safety inside the magwell to lower the hammer. I made a mental note that this should be fixed.

    The second interesting thing was that Tanaka has also replicated the fact that the Hi-Power mags do not fall free, when the magazine release is pressed. There is a flat piece of metal, at the rear of the magwell that doesn't allow the magazine to fall, it has to be pried from the pistol. Another mental note was made, to have that metal piece removed.


    You can see the metal spring at the rear of the magwell.

    Finally, the last thing that draw my attention, was the front sight. While it had a decent white rectangle (instead of a dot, this pistol's sights use three small white rectangles to aid in aligning the sights in poor lighting conditions), its base was not contoured to match the curvature of the upper side of the slide.


    Rectangles instead of dots!!! Does the real MK-III has rectangles on the sights?

    OK, that was the first thing I had to fix, and it took me about half an hour with the dremel and the files to make it perfect. Some Birchwood Aluminum Black and the sight was done.


    Front sight contoured to match the curvature of the slide top.

    Next morning, after I took the kids to school, I attacked the magazine safety issue. Tanaka's Hi-Power uses a small thing, at the rear of its trigger, to detect if there is a magazine in place or not. If there is a magazine in place, that little thing is pushed in and allows the trigger plunger to move up, activate the trigger bar (which is in the slide) and release the sear.





    My initial thought was that I could remove that part and see how everything goes. Indeed, with that part removed, the pistol's hammer could be released without a magazine in place. OK, firing test then. Which was a huge disappointment, because it looks as if that part is used in this pistol, to hold the magazine against the impact of the firing pin (in an airsoft pistol, the firing pin hits a valve at the rear of the magazine, which releases the gas necessary to propel the BB down the barrel and to recycle the slide).

    So that little thing had to be in the pistol, if I wanted it to fire any BBs. After some studying of the particular part, I figured how to alter it in order to keep it in the pistol but at the same time disable the magazine safety. A few minutes with a file were all it took to alter the part in a way that would defeat the magazine safety, while still holding the magazine in place.



    This is how the mag safety looks from the side. All you have to do is to file the red area shown in the drawing above. File only as much as necessary to allow the plunger to move up (instead of forward and up) with no magazine in place.

    With this out of the way, the next thing to take care of, was the issue of mags not dropping freely. Unfortunately, that is a little more complicated, since in this particular case the flat metallic piece at the rear of the magazine well, also acts as the sear spring, so removing it makes the pistol inoperable. Too bad, I'll have to live with it.

    Disassembly

    Very easy. You just remove the magazine from the pistol and pull the slide back until the thumb safety catch notch is aligned with the thumb safety. Push the safety up to lock the slide back and pop the slide stop out by pressing it from the right side of the pistol. A little help to keep the slide stop up will make it come out very, very easily.

    From then on, all you have to do is press the guide rod a little forward to disengage it from the legs of the barrel (make sure you notice the way the guide rod fits at the bottom of the barre) and remove it. Then you remove the barrel from inside the slide. Pretty straight forward, very much like you do on a real HP.

    Reassembly is in reverse order.

    Shooting

    First time I shot the HP I was surprised. The pistol shot almost 1/2 a meter over the point of aim. This pistol is marked as "strictly HFC134a gas" and it appears that the propane I am using had a very adverse effect on it (too strong). I tried to play with the hop-up adjustment, with not a lot of success. I have to do some more experiments with this gun (and the KSC CZ-75 I got at the same time and which is also a hfc134a gas pistol).

    Overall

    Well, I am not too satisfied with this pistol, however Mike Cripps had warned me about its short-comings (hfc134a only, not as strong as the Western Arms pistols etc), so I can't complain. I wanted that pistol just because I know I'll never be able to have one, so I should satisfy myself with its airsoft version. The Hi-Power is now proudly displayed in my airsoft collection display shelf, if only because of its looks. I do plan to shoot it a little, but only after I find some 134A gas here.

    Rating of the pistol is withheld until I can work out its bugs and make it fire somewhat close to Point of Aim.

    Update on shooting

    I just received some .35 gr BBs from Mike, and this seems to solve my issue with the POI being too higher than the POA. At my shooting range (about 10 m), the POI is now on the A4 paper targets I use. Some adjustment of the hop-up brought the POI to coincide with the POA, so all is well, as long as I remember to load the HP with the .35 gr BBs.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 22nd December 2008 at 06:02.


  2. #2
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    wa 1911

    is this the ones that WA recently re produce in a new carbon finish?..if it is, i just saw ones stated " in stock " at UNcompany airsoft http://www.uncompany.com/

    enjoy..
    Last edited by residu; 18th November 2008 at 03:14.


  3. #3
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    Well, I didn't see an M1911 (not an M1911A1) in that site. Can you please give me the model number?
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  4. #4
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    WA m1911

    http://www.uncompany.com/pageproduct...&rc=100&fr=101

    this link might help...just scroll down its between scw silver colt gunsite and a gold cup national match and i also mail you the pics from their website

  5. #5
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    Got it, thanks!!!!

    I have already notified my supplier to keep his eyes open for one.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

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