Smith & Wesson M29 .44 Magnum 6.5" Midnight Blue - Tanaka
I actually think revolvers are great. Some years ago, on a trip to the US, I had the chance to fire a .38 special Smith & Wesson and a 44 Magnum Smith & Wesson.
The '44' is the gun made famous as "the most powerful handgun in the world" by Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry character in the film of that name. The fact that I was staying in a property on the very site of the quarry where that film ends, gives the Model 29 an added cachet for me.
I'd admired the reputation of the Tanaka revolvers for a long time having read the reviews at Arnies Airsoft, but their very high prices had always put me off.
Having sold my UZI and a few springers, I'd set aside some money for a KSC Beretta M93R, but Guns N Guys were dragging their heels a bit in sending me a quote and getting Paypal payment sorted out and then I spotted a midnight blue Tanaka S&W M29 6.5" barrel version on Tokyo Model's site for "just" $130, which wasn't much more than the KSC Beretta. I ummmed and ahhed for a few days, but when they give me a good price for a TM S&W PC356 springer, I bit and placed the order.
In the Box
The guns arrived promptly (two days, pretty much like any other Hong Kong delivery) and I opened up the package to find a plain grey box alongside the TM one. I opened it up and there was the most beautiful airsoft gun I've ever seen.
I like wood grips on a revolver and, although these are actually plastic (Real steel grips are a straight swap, unlike on the UHC and Marushin revolvers), they look and feel great. Some parts of the gun are metal (lower grip, trigger, hammer cylinder and spindle, I'm told) and others are ABS, but it all looks and feels like metal, due to the 'midnight blue' finish (really a shiny black) and has an impressive weight for its size.
Before I gassed the gun up I examined it and was generally very impressed, except for one issue. Firstly, the grey box turned out to be a very nicely printed box, turned inside out (easily resolved and a sensible shipping policy, which I now recall someone else did once). The mechanism is very sweet and the grips don't suffer the 'empty' feeling that the rubber grips on the Marushin Raging Bull do.
However, the midnight blue finish, which I'd heard was 'easy to scratch' is IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO!
Just working the cylinder release or firing the gun causes metal parts of the gun to scratch away the finish and I'd have been VERY annoyed if I'd paid a premium (which most suppliers demand) for the finish - It strikes me that the finish can only stay pristine if you NEVER fire the gun, which really would be a shame. There was even a small scratch on the barrel which (due to its position) looks like it was caused when the gun was assembled - so much for Japanese quality control...)
I have no doubt the finish makes the gun look much more realistic than a typical black ABS airsoft gun, but stick with the black model if you are worried about scratches on your guns. I'll live with it, real guns get scratched too and if it gets too bad I'll respray the whole thing.
Gassing the gun up was fairly easy, although it requires feeding gas through a special adapter (provided) into the cylinder, which (unlike my other revolvers) has fake rounds concealing a 14 round magazine and the gas cylinder and valve . I just pushed 6 rounds into the open cylinder holes (from the barrel end, not terribly realistic) and took aim.
BLAM! - This is the noisiest BB gun I've EVER heard. It's retort is quite like a .22 pistol, but nothing (thank goodness!) like a real 44! I was also astounded by the power - I was expecting powerful, but this gun punches through a Coke can (BOTH sides) at 5 feet! My NBB Mauser can do it too, but my SOCOM can't, and I suspect the Tanaka can do two cans as easily as one! This was using American Eagle Winter gas, which is a bit more powerful than HFC 134a.
I've read reports on poor accuracy (due, it seems, to poor aligned barrels causing the Hop Up to Hop Right! - This is fixable), but mine placed BBs exactly where I aimed them.
I carried out the 5m test. As probably the highest quality airsoft gun in my collection (at any time), I had quite high expectations of this gun.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
I wasn't disappointed. 5 of the 6 shots fell within a 7cm (3 inch) diameter (the sixth being wide to the right - My fault, no doubt). 3 of the 5 were within a 3.5cm (1.5 inch) diameter and dead centre on the target.
All of the 5 'on target' shots, hit within the centre of the target, which was pretty impressive. The sights on this gun are very sharp (certainly not true of most of the other NBB guns) and that helped no end. The double action mechanism didn't seem to cause any noticeable problems, so I didn't bother trying a set of single action shots, beyond the first shot.
Over 10 shots, the 6.5" M29 averaged 411 fps (using Cybergun Winter gas) outdoors (around 20C).
The trigger pull weight test produced a figure of 1,550g (54.7 ounces), which is a heavy weight trigger pull and approaching twice the weight of the PC 629, which seems, techincally, similar.
Overall, this gun NEARLY lives up to Tanaka's reputation. The quality of build and finish IS incredible and the power is astounding, but the midnight blue finish's fragility makes you wonder if the price for that realistic appearance is too high. On the whole though this is the replica of that 44 I fired that I wanted. It feels good in the hand and is very powerful, all it lacks is the fearsome kick of the real thing.
"What you're wondering is did I fire 13 shots or 14? Well you know, in all the excitement I kind of forgot myself. What you've got to ask yourself is 'Do I feel lucky'..."
Addendum : Well, if this revolver looked wonderful before, it really is the business now that I've added some real steel oversize Cocobolo wood grips.
They look fantastic (picked them up on eBay), add weight and have that lovely tactile feel that only really wood has. A tiny amount of Dremeling (God bless Dremel!) was required and I had to source a grip screw (God bless old-style hardware stores!), but they were pretty much a perfect fit.
After a while, I decided I really preferred the original look and spent another pittance on eBay to get some original wood grips.
I now have the choice of Plastic grips (why would I?), Oversize wood grips, original wood grips or Hogue rubber grips from the 8" M29.
Weight : 780g
Realism : *****
Quality : **** - only let down by the fragile finish
Power : ***** - 6 or 7 really!
Accuracy : ****
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