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    Mar 2013
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    Default Airsoft pistols as a training tool

    BLUF: Overall I think gas blow back (GBB) airsoft pistols are an excellent and economical way to enhance your training regimen, though you will need to tinker to optimize. They have near-feature parity, can take optics, and are powered by propane gas. BBs are cheap and can be captured and reused. Cost of entry is about $200 including everything but propane.

    As we entered the new year I made some firearm-related resolutions: to begin a regiment of dry fire and regular range time; to obtain my TN CWP; and to attend at least two other courses throughout the year. Due to the ammo situation we are all in, range time is increasingly expensive and while I will do some, I won't be shooting as much as I want, preferring instead to prioritize ammo to courses.

    That fact, plus the limitations inherent to range training, prompted me to start exploring alternatives. My primary criteria was "inexpensive to shoot" so I can do it a lot. While there are a number of alternatives available, I settled on a gas blow back airsoft gun.

    Buyer beware: these are almost universally manufactured in China. In the world of airsoft that is basically unavoidable.

    Optic-ready Airsoft Glock Replicas

    Airsoft equipment has advanced by leaps and bounds since the first guns that came out in my teens. I was frankly astonished at the options I saw online at retailers like anssgear.com or evike.com. There are replicas of almost every make and model of firearm out there and the one I ultimately ordered was as impressive in person as online.

    A number of companies make GBB Glock replicas, but I think WE takes the cake for the breadth of their offerings. They have replicas of Gen 3/4/5 models 17,19,23,26,27,33,34,35 including G19X, and including the MOS, which is what I bought.


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    The Package

    The G19MOS came with 1 G19 magazine and I purchased two additional G17 magazines (yep, same principle applies here - they fit) since that's what I usually carry. I expected to just receive the pistol, but to my surprise it came with a bunch of extras.

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    Pictured:

    - G19MOS
    - Stock iron sights (installed)
    - fake RMR - no battery, just painted dot (installed)
    - 1x G19 mag (included)
    - Fiber Optic suppressor height sights
    - 1 cover and 3 adapter plates + screws for other sights (1 installed)
    - Allen Keys

    Takedown

    Again, I was surprised at the detail and attempt to mimic the design of of the Glock 19 firearm.

    Frame: rails, slide catch, trigger components, firing components, and the design of the trigger all mimic the firearm, but in every case springs are weaker. This is the case throughout the gun.

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    Slide: slide and interior components are made of metal though clearly not high quality and I am careful about tightening down screws - I can see the possibility for stretching and / or eventual stripping of threads if I'm not careful. I'm still a little concerned about this from a standpoint of racking the slide using the optic since it's attached only by two screws. slide assembles just like a Glock 19. The recoil spring is weaker and WE added a black plastic guide of sorts at the front of the slide. This slides out for access to the front sight screw.

    The barrel is actually a sleeve that goes over a 6mm brass barrel connected to something that is called (I think) a "hop up unit" where the blocky chamber of the barrel would be located on a real G19. This device is adjustable by a gear on the bottom of the "chamber". It applies backspin to the bb by means of a rubber foot that protrudes from the top of the barrel to stabilize the bb, increasing accuracy and extending range.

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    Operation / Feature Parity / Functionality

    Aside from the previously-mentioned spring strength difference, there is significant feature parity between this and a real firearm.

    Loading, chambering, and cycling - full parity, including slide lock.
    trigger - partial parity: the trigger is significantly lighter than on a real firearm. It does have a trigger safety.
    Recoil - partial parity: this absolutely does recoil, but obviously not exactly like a real firearm.
    Sighting - full parity out to 20 yds thus far, limited by accuracy.
    Holster - partial parity: the suppressor sights for some reason don't fit in my holsters, but with standard sights they did.

    Optic

    The fake optic on it lasted about 2 days; the plastic window broke while I was racking it, so I ordered an RMR clone on ebay, something I had planned to do anyways.

    Once again, the quality of this was surprising to me. No way I'd use it for serious use, it was absolutely perfect for this. It came in a box:

    20210130_153541_HDR.jpg

    And once again I was surprised by what it included.

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    - Fake RMR (expected, duh)
    - Thick rubber cover
    - mounting plate
    - Glock mount (non-MOS: this inserts into rear sight dovetail)
    - Adjustment tool + Allen Keys
    - Picatinny mount

    I see little weight difference, if any between this and my real RMR.

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    The dot is definitely not as bright as on my real RMR (not turned on in pic that follows), and I think the window is more tinted.

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    Modifications / Enhancement / Fixes

    This did require some work to get right. The replica functioned fine, but the sights left something to be desired.

    With suppressor sights, point of impact was a good 4-5 inches low at 8 yds, and groups were about 6 inches in diameter. The following contributed to this:

    - Loose sights: even with screws bottomed out the sights were loose. I shimmed them with electrical tape and groups were cut in half at all ranges.
    - Front sight too high: I assume that has to do with the projectile and velocity, as I don't have this problem with my real firearm. I shaved off at least 1/8 inch from the top of the sight and got on target.

    With the red dot installed I found that I couldn't adjust the sight low enough to intersect with POA with POI at 8 yds. Again, I shimmed the rear of the sight with electrical tape and that allowed me to sight in. I'm still a little left at 8 yds so I might have some work to do.

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    Performance / Range / Accuracy

    Most of my shooting has been at 3 yds and 8 yds though I have done some shooting outside at longer distances. This is my experience so far:

    3 yds : 1.5-2 inch group
    8 yds: 2-3 inch group
    25 yds: 6 inch group
    50 yds: 12 inch - 18 inch group (base of a tree)

    Limitations

    There are obviously limitations to airsoft as a training aid. As with all training tools to include static range time or even force on force we have to take what applies and leave the rest.

    - temperature has a significant affect on gas, especially propane. When gas pressure drops so does projectile velocity. Translation: cold temps mean you either have to shoot less or shoot slower.
    - recoil is present but not the same. I think this could lead to false confidence.
    - trigger is not the same. I think that this could lead to hesitation or anticipation.
    - mags are not robust enough to be dropping on the ground and may need maintenance as they have numerous seals.
    - failure drills don't apply the same here (there's no functioning extractor so if you have a failure to extract and find yourself rack-rack-racking then slapping in a new mag, you'll just chamber 2 bbs).
    - spring weight all around, including slide lock lever, recoil spring, and trigger spring weight are all much lighter than on a real Glock. This could lead to bad habits as well.

    Addressing limitations

    The gas problem will exist regardless of propellant used, but you can also power these things with MAP (a welding gas that has higher pressure) or CO2 (maybe - much higher pressure and potentially not good for mags / gun - they do make CO2 specific mags). Your best bet is to just keep mags warm in between uses.

    For the rest of the issues, I think the best way around is to not neglect other forms of practice (dry fire and range time). I've only had one "practice session" with my airsoft pistol, but I've decided that I will start and end each with dry fire.

    Costs

    My whole set up is as follows:

    1x WE G19MOS @ $96 ea - $96
    2x G17MOS mags @ $29 ea - $58
    1x fake RMR @ $35 ea - $35
    1x bag .25 gram bbs @ $9 ea - $9
    1x propane adapter @ $23 ea - $23

    You will additionally need a camping propane tank or if you want to fill off of a bulk tank, one of these hoses for $20.

    TOTAL $221

    I fashioned a target out of a silhouette I cut myself with an 8.5x11 hole in the chest, over which I put a piece of paper. That is attached to a cardboard box with old sleeping bag inside. I shoot the target, the bbs are stopped by the sleeping bag, I recapture them, and can re-use them later.
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    Last edited by apamburn; 02-01-2021 at 12:28 PM.

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