KSC M945 Review

KSC
Smith&Wesson Performance Center M945 GBB

Taiwanese
and Japanese versions.

review
by

Allen Lee
(aka DumboRAT)

Stock
Specifications
FPS
230
to 250 fps (HFC134a)
295 to 300 fps (HFC22)
Length: 221mm
Barrel
Length:
?
Weight: 800g

Ammo
capacity:

15
round


Section
I, Physical Description

A.
General Assessment:
Typical of KSC fit and finish, both the
Taiwanese and Japanese versions of this replica are superbly constructed

As
reflected by the comparison of KSC STI double-stacker 2011s to
Western Arms SVI 2011-type double-stackers, both versions of the
M945 are fully up-to-par with comparable Western Arms 1911 single-stackers
in every respect of cosmetic refinement. The plastic has a very
nice matte surface overall, and molding of the checkering on everything
from the faux-wood of the grip panels to the frontstrap and the
mainspring housing to the finely inscribed trademark symbols and
trademark lettering (all over, including the gorgeous magazine)
are again on-par with the best that anyone has to offer.

Perhaps
the most subjectively pleasing aspect of this piece, aside from
the finely executed details, is the intricate slide profiling
which is much more pleasant than the rather slab-sided profiles
of the traditional 1911 and 2011-type replicas from Western Arms.
Certainly, although KSC did not make true to their pre-production
photos from the late 2002 BlackHole show in Japan
, which used
a Performance Center proprietary “fish-scale” slide cocking serrations
as well as a target-type adjustable rear-sight assembly, the slide
is still pleasantly handsome and masculine in a tactical fashion,
and pairs well with the Novak’s-type rear sight.


Another
nice touch is the external extractor, which, as pictured above,
has been molded into the slide in an “up” position to indicate
a chambered round. This pairs well with the metal loading nozzle
of this replica (available standard on both the Taiwanese and
Japanese variants), which can be seen through the “loaded chamber”
indicator holes/gaps at the rear of the outer barrel assembly
– making it look as if this pistol is indeed “ready to rock” at
a moment’s notice.


Note: typical WA 1911 single-stacker on right uses a plastic nozzle.
assembly.

No
molding seams are anywhere to be seen, as reflective of the superior
level of final finish that’s achieved by the top makes. There
is, however, a minor casting and paint defect at the end of the
guide rod assembly, at the muzzle. This seems to be something
within the mold, as it was present on both the Taiwanese and Japanese
versions. Unfortunately, this defect was not able to be photographed.


The
lightweight aluminum outer barrel assembly shows the typical faux
straight-line rifling that is seen with all of the WA 1911/2011
replicas. However, as you can see in the above picture, as the
inner barrel is not as deeply recessed into the bore of the faux
outer barrel as the WAs’ and since the faux bore rifling of the
KSC is also not as deep as that seen with comparable WAs’, the
overall final result also is not quite as pleasing.

If
there are any cosmetic disappointments, strangely, it can be blamed
on the metal parts.

Looking
at the Novak’s-type rear sight unit (unlike the KSC STI-series,
the M945s do not carry the Novak’s trademark) beavertail grip
safety, ambidextrous wide/target-type slide/thumb safeties, as
well as the S&W-type slide stop, one can easily see upon anything
more than just a cursory inspection that there are many blemishes
in the material. The uneven finish and often pot-marked surface
is most obvious with the rear sight unit – thankfully, the beavertail
is nicely smooth (if not altogether evenly finished) to-the-touch
– such problems are typically seen only on much larger spans of
metal on WA replicas, such as with the forward frame sections
on their double-stackers or underslung Picatinny rails as on the
single-stacker “Striker” (Springfield TRP Operator replica, trademarked
Wilson Combat by WA), with the smaller parts usually showing excellent
finish. This is a further disappointment not only in light of
such cross-comparisons with WA pieces, but is rather very surprising
in light of the typically excellent levels of metalwork on the
KSC STI double-stackers. The flash-highlighted picture below illustrates
this point clearly.


And
yes, both the Japanese and Taiwanese versions of the M945 unfortunately
share these faults.

Also
disappointing is KSC’s decision to apparently not use their excellent
proprietary “Cool-Touch” heavyweight slide material on this piece,
which so nicely rendered the heavyweight version of the KSC Sig
Sauer SigPro SP2009 to be convincingly “metallic.”

The
singular non-cosmetic, general-aspect disappointment is the lack
of heft of this item.

While
most of the full-sized (i.e. 5” barrel/slide length, “Government”-sized)
WA single-stacker replicas weighing-in between 925 to well over
1-kilogram, the KSC M945’s 800-gram weight (again, shared between
both the Taiwanese and Japanese versions in an identical manner)
is definitely a detriment when handing off this piece to a friend
with the traditional Aliens “Feel the weight.” The difference
is apparent despite the aluminum outer barrel and the metal guide
rod (both well-painted with highly scratch-resistant surface matte
finishes), even without having a back-to-back comparison. Unlike
the difference in weight between, say, the KWC “high-grade” M92FS
“Super” heavyweight (at 860+ grams) versus the some 100+ gram
heavier WA Beretta M92FS Perfect Version black heavyweight version
– which is only apparent under stringent examination – the difference
between the KSC M945 versus, say, a WA Wilson Combat Service Grade
CQB, is instantaneously obvious.

With
that said, however, the M945 still remains nicely balanced in
one’s hands with its center-biased weight distribution; a trait
that almost all airsoft GBB replicas owe to their metal magazines.

Physically,
the M945 is nearly identical in every measure to a standard single-stacker
1911. Put a WA next to the KSC, and there’s very few measures
setting the two apart. The grip is a major area of difference,
which I will cover in-detail in Part C., but the most obvious
difference externally that the M945 is just ever so slightly longer
than the standard 1911s. Measuring from the end of the slide,
at the muzzle, the M945 is about 5/16-th of an inch longer. Taking
into account the protrusion of the barrel of either a bull/cone/”corn”
barrel fitted WA 1911 or the same item’s barrel bushing section,
we get a difference of about 1/8-th inch only. The sighting radius
should prove to be relatively consistent between the two, however,
as although the M945’s front sight post is set more forward on
the slide, its rear sight is also more forward displaced, thus
effectively canceling out any such differences. As a matter of
fact, aligned side-by-side, the BoMar set on typical WAs actually
has a slight advantage.


Note: Aligned at rear, the M945 is longer.


Note: Aligning the front sights, the BoMar fitted WA 1911
shows a longer overall sight radius.

B.
Loading and magazine capacity:
Gas loading with this replica’s
magazine is no different than with any other GBB – invert the
mag and fill bottle, and press down hard enough to actuate both
valves. A typical HFC134a fill takes about 5 seconds, with higher-pressure
Taiwanese “Green Gas” fills typically taking 3 seconds before
“spit back” full-load sign is seen. Both Taiwanese and Japanese
M945 magazines show the same approximate gas reservoir capacity.
Both are capable of discharging their full mag BB load before
requiring refill, using either gas.

As
with most KSC replicas, the M945 utilizes a special notched detent
at the bottom-most compression of its BB-follower travel to lock
the spring and followers in-place during BB loading. Since most
hobbyists prefer to “hand load” their GBB magazines with BBs instead
of using a loading rod (which is something that most KSC pieces
do not use, and simply are not supplied with – this is true of
the M945, no such accessories are included), this lock-down feature
is much appreciated.


Note: top magazine has its follower “locked” at lowest fill position.

Once
this single-stack magazine is fully gassed and loaded to-capacity
(15x 6mm BBs, identical to the WA single-stackers), typical 1911/2011
loading and chambering procedures do as well for the KSC as it
does for the WA replicas of these fine firearms. Rack and lock
back the slide. Inspect chamber. Lower the slide and engage the
thumb safety. This procedure assures that you will not initially
double-feed nor bang the internal hammer/valve-striker/firing
pin assembly on the rear main magazine rear valve piston protrusion.
Loading a “live” BB is as easy as tripping off the wide thumb
safety and racking the slide back smartly and letting it fall
back to battery under the tension of its recoil spring.

Ironically,
easing the slide forward into battery is not recommended with
the KSC replica as the recoil spring seems to be somewhat deficient
in its ability to push forward the slide, and can cause a misfeed
– this will be addressed in Section III. Also not recommended
is the 1911/2011-user preference of holding back the trigger while
allowing the slide to come forward into battery. Although the
WA replicas show excellent hammer-to-sear engagement, the KSC
M945 shows a distinct tendency of the hammer to “follow.” Although
I have not been able to cause a discharge of the gas-valve from
this unsafe following of the hammer, which is a huge concern with
real-steel 1911’s/2011’s and aftermarket “trigger jobs,” this
shortcoming can and should still be of concern to the airsoft
shooter. Extra safe handling should be noted – finger off the
trigger!


C. Fire Control and Operational Characteristics:
As a true single-action replica, little can be said for fire
control. As long as the hammer is cocked and the safeties disengaged,
discharging a BB is as simple as pulling the short-travel trigger.

And
here’s where this replica truly shines.

Unlike
the WA 1911/2011-type replicas, the KSC M945 – both Taiwanese
and Japanese versions – has nothing short of a phenomenal trigger
feel. Nominal trigger pull is just at 1/16-th inch, with a very
light overall pull that is likely within the 2 to 3-pound range.
This is not a GBB to hand off to your new-to-GBB pistols friends
with a loaded magazine. Just as any real-steel competition firearm
with a proverbial “hair-trigger,” even experienced shooters should
use caution. With such a light and positive trigger (which at
the same time is also unbelievably smooth and crisp), cycle time,
especially when paired with the lightweight slide that KSC chose
to use on this piece, double-taps are as easy as pie. Sure, it
doesn’t cycle really fast enough, even with the above considerations,
to be a true “fire as fast as you can pull the trigger” 1911/2011-type
replica – but honestly, that is typically reserved for either
a WA factory-tuned piece (such as the SVI Championship .45, which
is essentially a Mercedes or a BMW loaded full of AMG or Moterwerks
OEM aftermarket parts) or a well-tuned/customized airsoft 1911/2011-type
replica.

Truly,
outside of such framework, this GBB, again both the Taiwanese
as well as the Japanese versions, stands alone as having undoubtedly
one of the best trigger feels in the 1911/2011-type replica genre.

Once
you’ve expended the magazine, the slide is “tactically” locked-back
on the empty chamber. Dropping the spent mag is a simple matter
of just slipping the frame around a bit, as with all 1911/2011s,
and tripping the large, extended magazine release button; allowing
the magazine to drop free. Thanks to the rather unique frame size
as well as the ultra-thin grip panels fitted to this piece, those
of you with larger paws should actually be able to trip the mag
release with your shooting-hand thumb without even the need to
shift the frame. Instead of the usual single-stacker 1911’s 5
and ½ to 5 and ¾ inch taper circumference, the M945
remains a consistent 5 and ½ inch top-to-bottom – with
the actual “width” decreasing from a nominal 1 and 1/4 to a thin
1 and 1/16-th.


Note: how much wider the “typical” 1911 grip looks on the
right as compared with the M945 on the left.

But
let’s revisit the magazine release button for a bit…..

What
is strange here is that although fixed Novak’s rear sight assembly
would seem to definitively point to a “tactical/carry” use of
this item – pegging it for the skirmish field – KSCs decision
to fit such an obtrusive magazine release suggest to all the world’s
1911/2011-enthusiasts to signify a distinctly “target” or competitive
sporting use of this piece.


Note: The true “tactical/carry”-use controls on the WA Wilson
Combat on the right, versus the enlarged/extended mag release
on the M945 (left), which also uses a large “target”-type
slide safety.

To
say the least, we have a conflict here.

Want
to carry this piece “tactically” and use it in a skirmish? I would
not even hesitate a second to say that you should remove the extended
mag release button. Regardless of which type of grip you favor,
left or right handed, your fingers or hand will variously interact
with or otherwise come within extreme proximity of the larger
button – none of which can be said to be ideal during a skirmish
situation. And furthermore, the enlarged and extended button also
will increase the chances of it being actuated accidentally by
a holster lip or by interactions between your holster rig and
your body, leading to magazine loss.

But
even after you’ve removed the enlarged button head, a big concern
still remains.

The
M945’s lightweight slide has a strong tendency towards blowback
shock damage (to be addressed later, see Section IV) – which essentially
limits the use of this piece to only true HFC134a and thus makes
for extremely low muzzle energy output (also to be addressed later,
see Section III). This unfortunately would definitely also make
me shy away from such recommendations of skirmish-gaming use to
any of my friends…..

Ergonomically,
I’ve already addressed the nature of the grip panels, mag release,
and wide ambidextrous slide safeties (Ed Brown/Wilson #423-type)
– much of the rest simply conforms to “normal” 1911/2011-type
replicas. The rear high-ride (Wilson Combat-type) beavertail shows
a recess for the hammer as well as a thenar swell to both aid
in getting the highest ride possible on the backstrap as well
as insure positive engagement of the safety mechanism by the shooter’s
hand. Meanwhile, up front, a large, traditionally considered “Combat
Plus” sized slide release insures proper actuation of that lever
as well.

Perhaps
the most outstanding consideration to modern ergonomics is the
rather enlarged and undercut trigger guard. This allows for both
a very nicely extended, drilled aluminum trigger (patterned after
the popular Wilson Combat/Videki) designed to minimize inappropriate
trigger interactions as well as allows for even the large-handed
among us to wear rather bulky gloves and still engage the trigger
in a positive manner, without interference from the forward edge
of the trigger guard. At the same time, you’ll the smooth undercut
allows one’s middle finger to nicely snug-up high on the grip
frame.

However,
as I’ve cited above, it’s rather hard to get a good, positive
grip on this piece using either a “tactical” “thumbs-down” grip
(right handed, here both your shooting hand middle finger – ironically
thanks to the high-ride of the undercut trigger guard as well
as your support hand thumb are both in danger of tripping the
large mag release button), a left-handed grip (where both your
trigger and middle fingers are in danger), or even a “competition
grip” (right handed, support thumb pointed forward along side
of frame, shooting hand thumb locked over the slide safety’s wide
rest, those of you with “fatter” hands can cause the pad/webbing
between your support hand’s index finger to thumb can also endanger
mag drop) – all thanks to the pesky enlarged mag release button.

Another
item of worry, for me is seen with the slide/thumb safety.

Although
positive and sure in its engagement, it nonetheless does not engage
“all the way up” into the slide detent cut-out (look above above
at the second picture in this review, see the difference?). Is
this a concern for competitive sporting use? Not likely. But it
does present a slight worry in my mind for skirmish-use “Condition
One” carry. Honestly, the Western Arms replicas do this much,
much better, and their thumb safety engagement is also much slicker
and more positive than that seen with this KSC. Again, this is
something that is present on both of the M945 versions, Taiwanese
or Japanese.

Both
sides of the ambidextrous safety, however, engage with equal ease
– that is if the slide is properly back at-battery/lock….. This
is another item which I will address later, in
Section
III
.

Section
II, History


A. The real steel: I’ll make no
lies – as I’ve confessed many times, I’m a real-steel idiot. Ignorant
by choice.

My
wife doesn’t allow me to collect real-steel firearms, so, I’ve
avoided them in order to just plain avoid temptation.

The
following information comes directly from posts made on the
AirsoftZone.com
informational discussion forums by fellow enthusiast Matt Hoffman
( contact: mchoffma@uiuc.edu
) of Champaign, IL, USA. My deepest thanks go out to him for supplying
this information, which I had not been able to dig up in my feeble
attempts at research, and to his permission in letting me directly
quote from his posts.

Matt
wrote:

I’ll
give you a quick heads up on the real steel. Retailing (street
value) around $1600, it is a full-house custom pistol. Featuring
all the good things about the 1911 but with some product
improved features (external extractor [also seen on the
new Smith 1911 I shot], scalloped checkering pattern) the
gun really is a fantastic piece with the BEST trigger I
have ever seen, in my 5 years working in a gun store. The
gun is tighter than a drum, and the mag is just top notch.
Overall, the gun is a great custom piece, but the niche
just isn’t there. Doesn’t give you the flexibility of a
1911 (for comp, carry, whatever) and was prohibit[ive]ly
expensive. The carry version, at the same price but sporting
a shorter grip and a 4″ barrel, had edges so damn sharp
it cut me the first time. From what I can see from the photos
on the web, KSC has done a bang up job copying this masterpiece.
I have a feeling it could hit big, despite its failure in
the real steel.

I
have more info, if you require it. I misspoke, too — the
Smith and Wesson 845 Model of 1998 had the best trigger
— the 945 was second to that. Another note — The Performance
Center Guns are coming out with ****ty triggers and decent
actions these days. Smith lowered its quality just like
Colt (The Colt Custom Shop produces all the Python’s made
[called the elite] and they have worse triggers than a few
stock ones I shot that were 70’s era).

From
the looks of the 945, it seems like a Bren-Ten like job.
My guess is it is a cannibalized 645 slide that has been
reworked extensively and machined (more likely taken from
a blank (look at where the slide-mounted safety is on the
regular Smith 3rd Generations — there is the hole that
usually is only on the right side of the gun for the left
side safety, which is ommitted [sp.] on some earlier guns)).
The scalloping is laser cut, and very sharp. The sights
are Novak[‘]s, of course, and [T]ritium is available. The
trigger seems propriet[a]ry in that it has the slight curve
at the top and bottome [sp], unlike a Videcki [sp.]. It
is adjustable for overtravel.

Beavertail
is 1911 style, but obviously custom due to the frame shape.
The gun looks like an Israeli BUL in its frame, but in a
single stack format. While the BUL feels like a plastic
Hi-Power, the 945 feels much like a 1911 bred with a 3rd
Gen Smith [a]uto — exactly what it is. The grips, which
look laminated on the stainless and rosewood or [C]ocobolo
on the blued, are nicely rounded and thin, with deep checkering.
The [m]ainspring housing is flat and longer than on a 1911.
The trigger guard is undercut.

The
magazine is interchang[e]able with the other full size 645/4500
series guns, from my memory. It holds 8 rounds, with a plastic
follower, and is as nice or nicer than the [W]ilson Combat
mag the FBI demands. Magazine disconnect — I really don[‘]t
remember, but I don[‘]t think so. Smith sometimes leaves
these off custom pistols, especially if they affect trigger
pull.

Ambi
safety, but sticky on the right side (I am a southpaw).
Secured by the grip plate, it was like anything you would
pick up from Wilson or Brown.

I
didn[‘]t get inside it — that same day I had to explain
to my boss why got a 10mm snap cap stuck in a custom Novak
.40 Hi-Power that just come back with $2500 worth of work,
so [I] was banned from playing.

The
gun is a nice piece of work.


Note, of course, that the above quote is strictly applicable to
the real-steel, and also contains quite a bit of Matt’s “personal-takes.”

Other
real-steel info. is presented in the following two pages:

Official
S&W press-release
-and-
http://www.m1911.org/mod_sw.htm
– From the M1911.org website

For
a second presentation with more “lineage” information of the M945,
I will again reference the Arnie’s UK hobbyist article, which
contains information from the late
2002 BlackHole show in Japan
, and is written by well-known
airsoft-gunsmith Clarence Lai.

The
differences between the real-steel and the airsoft versions, which
I’ve addressed, should be apparent if you’ve carefully read my
review thus far. This can also be said to be true of the differences
between the pre-production version that Clarence handled above,
as compared to the current-production versions that I’ve addressed
in this review.

One
item that I’d like to specifically point out is the use of the
much touted spherical barrel bushing that has been so highly advertised
by both KSC as well as was so highly anticipated by the hobbyist
community.

The
real-steel uses the legendary Briley proprietary Titanium-plated
spherical muzzle bushing to insure consistent lock up of the real-deal
M945’s match-grade barrel. With the airsoft, the bushing is not
made out of any such exotic material, but is instead a simple
brass loop.

Certainly,
the airsoft version is quite “neato” and very well made, but in
execution, it barely improves over even the traditional full “solid”
barrel-bushing system that is favored by Western Arms for its
various replicas.

And
actually, even in the real-steel world, as you can well search
out on enthusiast discussion-boards and Forums such as that on
the Brian Enos page, the spherical bushing hasn’t been all that
it’s cracked up to be. While it can definitely offer a measurable
improvement in lock up as compared to most factory-OEM/stock barrel
bushings as typically seen on 1911s and 2011s, it has been pointed
out by many enthusiasts that such improvements can easily be exceeded
through an expert-level custom fitment of a traditional full solid
barrel bushing.

This
is definitely something that’s confirmed by an examination of
the airsoft replicas as well. Like I said above, yes, the spherical
bushing system seen with either the Japanese or Taiwanese M945s
really do offer a slightly better lock-up at the muzzle than what
is seen by the traditional full solid bushings used by WA on their
1911s. But at the same time, moving to a true custom-build piece,
such as that seen with my Clarence Lai AirsoftSurgeon “Twins,”
Dexter and Sinister, you can actually see that the custom fitted
traditional barrel bushings will literally offer, as with their
real-steel counterparts, no slop.

That
kind of precision fit is unfortunately not able to be achieved
regardless of how well-made a mass-production item may be or how
sound its theory in execution. It’s simply a matter of a precision
unique fit that can only be hand-made.

Regardless,
this is again a case of “if it works so well, then all of the
top shooters would be using it.” And conversely, as it hasn’t
truly proved to offer its theoretical advantages in actual practice,
most of the top shooters still favors a hand-crafted, detail-mated
full traditional barrel bushing made by the hands of an experienced
gunsmith.

B.
Manufacturer Information:
As I’ve already addressed above
in
Section I, KSC has had a long history of making
excellent airsoft replicas of all types. From their legendary
Ingram/Cobray M11A1, Glock 17, 18C, and 19 pieces to the wonderful
SigPro-series, HK Mk23 Mod0 SOCOM, STI-series, and M93R replicas,
this marque has made a wonderful reputation for itself in both
terms of functional durability/reliability and performance, as
well as in the area of cosmetic build and aesthetic refinement.

Overall,
the M945s are just as on-par with their main competition – the
WA single-stacker 1911s – as any of the above GBBs are with their
own respective competitors.

Certainly,
they’re not without faults – in many cases, as with the subject
of this particular review, these different factors of cosmetics-vs.-durability-vs.-durability
can be self-contradictory. Making a durable item doesn’t necessarily
equate to having an item that is cosmetically refined. And having
a pretty exterior doesn’t necessarily mean that performance will
match.

I
will address these issues in Section IV.

Section
III, Performance Test Results
At a standard range of 5 meters
(appx. 18 ft.) distance that’s typical for such performance judgments,
we see an average 2-inch grouping. Shots at appx. 10 to 12 meters
(between 35 to 40 ft.) show that staying within a 5 inch diameter
circular target can be consistently expected.

Both
the Taiwanese and Japanese versions showed nearly identical results.

This
performance is on-par with that seen from a comparable inner-barrel
length, Hop inner-barrel equipped Western Arms traditional 1911
single-stacker, which usually groups within 1 and ½ to
2 inches at 5 meters.

By
these objective measures, this can easily be said to be skirmish-viable
performance and should also be suitable for stock/unmodified class
BB-IPSC use.

The
front sight bead, larger than the rear dots, is an excellent touch
which helps in low-light shooting and in acquisition of the front
sight against a dark background. Factory alignment of the front
to rear dots is excellent, with precise top-edge alignment of
the sight post within the rear notch also precisely aligning the
three dots horizontally in-plane and in-line. Subjectively, accuracy
was no doubt improved by this factor.


Notice that even though the perspective of the picture shows
the dots to be of the same size, the front dot is farther
away. This is the optical illusion that such differential
dot-sizes present.

With
HFC134a and 0.20 gram BBs, an average muzzle velocity of around
215 fps. at normal room temperature (68-72 deg. F.) is achieved
with skirmish-optimized Hop setting. This is disappointingly low,
considering that a comparable WA single-stacker should easily
achieve 230 to 250 fps. with a similar setup.

With
use of Taiwanese “Green Gas,” velocity is boosted to 295 to 300
fps. under the same conditions. This more falls in-line with what
can be expected of typical WA single-stackers with similar gas-pressure
boost.

All
velocities were chronograph verified.

This
is again similar between both the Japanese and Taiwanese versions
of the M945.

Cyclic
rate is good with HFC134a, which, with the KSC M945’s lightweight
slide, easily cycles faster than a comparable WA fitted with its
heavyweight slide, using the same gas. Drop the WA slide weight
to a lightweight model, however, the cyclic rate is seen to equalize.
This same ratio of cyclic rate can be seen with high-powered Taiwanese
“Green Gas” use.

Slide
action is very smooth – but it is no more or less so than a lightweight
slide equipped WA 1911/2011-type GBB replica. Unfortunately, however,
due to the rather “lazy” recoil spring on the KSC M945, there’s
a troubling tendency for the replica to not return the slide fully
back to forward battery/lock during manual cycling. The slide
on neither version of the M945, however, binds or sticks during
normal use, including when dropping the slide on a reloaded magazine
with the slide stop. But like I said back above at the end of
Section I, this deficit in achieving lock with certain manual
manipulation techniques should not be overlooked by either the
skirmish shooter or the sporting shooter. Make sure that your
slide goes back fully into battery/lock by smartly racking or
by using the slide lock release lever during reloads. Combine
this tendency to not fully return to battery during manual manipulation
of the slide with the hammer-following and the rather shallow
slide safety detent lock (on a WA, to wit, you can see that the
thumb/slide safety will engage FULLY into the detent, no questions,
no doubts), and one is left to wonder about the absolute safety
with which this item may be carried, as with all single-action
1911/2011s, in “Condition One.”

Blowback
feel is crisp – however, due to the lack of slide weight with
the M945, felt “recoil” is low. Even the WA lightweight 1911/2011-type
slides will easily overpower the M945s in this subjective measure.

Section
IV. Final Observations:
And here’s where I’ll first remark
on the oft cited durability concerns that I consistently alluded
to throughout the above passages.

With
the above cited power deficit on HFC134a, any red-blooded airsoft
hobbyist would be tempted to use higher-powered Taiwanese “Green
Gasses” with this piece. Right?


Wrong.
Just don’t do it.
Trust me on this.

Look
at the damage incurred on the Taiwanese version that I have pictured
below. See that split along the muzzle?


That’s
the exact same pattern that was seen many years ago with the first
of the KSC Glock 18C replicas and was later also reported to have
stemmed from the twin barrel porting cut-outs on the KSC Sig Sauer
SigPro SP2009 GSG9 Limited Edition version.

The
combination of the apparently lightweight slide with the increased
blowback shock forces – combined with the M945’s lack of any form
of a shock buffer mechanism – is likely to fault for this damage.

However,
unfortunately, I cannot verify with 100% certainty, that the above
damage was indeed caused by such recoil forces.

Why?
Well, take a look at this following photo.


This
shows the Taiwanese replica (we’ll get to how to tell the replicas
apart in just a minute) with what appears to be a paint defect
on the slide. Upon removal of that paint, as seen with the previous
two pictures above, you saw that it is actually the slide that’s
cracked, which is what caused the apparent paint defect. On closer
inspection, you can actually tell that the paint is INSIDE the
crack fissures – evidence that whatever damage happened BEFORE
the item was shipped; before even the US-import required muzzle
orange paint was even put on.

So
had the item been dropped or otherwise mishandled?

Did
the pre-shipment testing from the import source cause the damage?

No
one can tell for sure – all that can be said is that the damage
is consistent in patter configuration and physical presentation
in terms of high-powered gas-use induced damage. And regardless
of how the damage happened, it nevertheless remains a point of
great worry.

This
worry, of course, is only magnified in that as of the writing
of this article in March, 2003, there has yet to be any aftermarket
replacement/upgrade slide on-market for this piece – Taiwanese
or Japanese.

And
speaking of which, this has also been a topic that I’ve received
many e-mails and questions about – how to tell which replica is
truly Japanese, and which is Taiwanese.

At
first this may seem impossible, but it’s actually quite easy.

There’s
usually a sticker on the Japanese-made KSC M945s, on the left
hand side of the frame, at the edge of the dust cover, that says
“MANUFACTURED (linebreak) BY KSC JAPAN” – you’ll see this on the
first photo way up at the beginning of my reivew. At the same
time look on the outside of the box. See how the Japanese model
has that red JASG sticker and a serial-number sticker – and how
the Taiwanese piece doesn’t?


Note: Taiwanese box on left/Japanese box on right, note
the serial number on the rightmost sticker.

Of
course, this is all rather easy to fake…….

But
what cannot be faked is that the serial number on the sticker
should match the UNIQUE serial number on your replica. Left side
of the frame, just under the slide lock, should be a serial number
that begins with an “XJ” prefix. My number is XJ802060, as depicted
both on the box and on my replica. Look at the picture I’ve taken
before, which showed you how the magazine follower locked down.
Right underneath the slide lock lever, you can clearly see my
unique serial number. Note here, on this Japanese
enthusiast’s website
, the second to last photo clearly shows
his piece to also begin with an “XJ” prefix, but that his serial
number is distinctly different from mine in at least one digit,
clearly and obviously (we’ll even discount all the other digits
as they can be mistaken, but that “1” in the middle clearly is
not).

Meanwhile,
the Taiwanese pieces all share the same serial number – XPX0247.

Also,
look at the serial number inscription….and flip the GBB over to
the other side and look at the trademark inscriptions on its right
side, both the lettering and the S&W crest.


Japanese model above (with orange tip). Taiwanese model
below.

What
do you notice in the comparison photo above?

The
Taiwanese model’s serial number and the S&W crest logo are
quite “dark,” aren’t they?

This
is opposed to the Japanese model’s, which are clearly and well
highlighted in contrasting color.

Sure,
that can be faked by application of some enamel or paint, but
what cannot be denied in looking at the right side trademarks
are the different ways in which the Taiwanese and Japanese models
carry out the “SMITH & WESSON” inscriptions on the slide.
Look back at the previous picture, carefully, again at the Taiwanese
model (lower, no barrel orange) that I photographed in comparison
to the Japanese model above it – the Japanese bears barrel orange,
just to make it easier for distinction.

See
how the Japanese model’s “SMITH & WESSON” lettering is a sharp,
single-line script, while the Taiwanese is a softly curved double-line
outline? That’s tale-tale.

Now
look below at the place-of-manufacture lettering.

See
how again the Japanese model’s is sharper and narrower, while
the Taiwanese model’s has more rounded edges? That’s also definitive.

Look
also at the comma and period marks. This time, the Japanese model
has an outline shape and is sharply defined. Meanwhile, the Taiwanese
has filled in those same holes. Again, undeniable proof between
the two.

While
we’re on lettering, let’s flip back to the left of the GBB. Look
at the “C” of the “Performance Center” script.


The
Japanese model (above, with barrel orange) has a “C” that drops
BELOW the line of the script. The Taiwanese (below, no barrel
orange) has a “C” that rides on the line of the script. Again,
this is uncontestable proof of make/origin.

Both
models, unfortunately, carry the JASG marking under the dust cover
forward of the trigger guard, and both also have a KSC corporation
marking buried under the slide lock lever.


Note: Similar JASG logo on both models at the bottom
of the dust cover, in front of trigger guard.


Similar KSC corporate logo on both models under the
slide lock lever.

Finally,
with the magazines……


Note: Excellent script details on the magazines.

They’re
almost completely identical, with the exception of a very, very
small “S&W” trademark WITHIN the very front portion of the
baseplate, underneath, in the semi-crescent cut-out at its forward
edge, on the true Japanese model (unfortunately not able to be
photographed). A blue JASG sticker will accompany the box for
this spare magazine. The true Japanese magazine will also be fitted
to the true Japanese model GBB.

No
materials differences are noted, no cosmetic finish differences
outside of those mentioned above.

Pricing
for the Taiwanese version is around $105 overseas. The Japanese
version around $150. Add about $25 for shipping if you live in
the US. Competitive stateside prices should reflect that addition.
Mine was purchased for $226 Stateside (including a spare mag,
which usually commands around $40 HK, before shipping, $50 Stateside),
including shipping, from the well-reputed Olympus
Airsoft
high-end
broker/re-seller. Very fair price.
And I have to add here that it is a good thing I chose to go through Olympus
Airsoft
, too….

Deunan/GugesMk3
(Chris), the head of Olympus
Airsoft
, which is an authorized representative
of Wargamer’s Club Shop here in the US, was not only extremely
receptive and prompt in his initial shipping of the item, but
was also absolutely up-front and totally helpful when I started
running into problems.

The
first issue was that I had confirmed through him that I was paying
for a true Japanese version. Once the item arrived, this did not
hold up to inspection – but to Deunan/Olympus
Airsoft
’s credit, he/they also did not know of the differences
between the Japanese and Taiwanese versions at the time of disbursement
to me, and had been told by their supplier, WGCS,
that they’d been shipped a Japanese version (which, of course
Olympus paid
for).

When
I alerted Deunan/Olympus
of this issue and submitted the above proof (I used a combination
of commercial sites, official KSC
press-releases, as well as hobbyist sources such as the Japanese
hobbyist site I cited), he immediately offered compensation.

At
that point, I had decided on an “additional mag” compensation,
as that would have neutralized the cost differences between the
two versions, but upon recovery of the muzzle orange, I ran into
the pre-existing muzzle damage that was apparently covered-up
by the supplier. And here, Deunan/Olympus brokered a fast and
complete settlement with Wargamer’s Club Shop, and immediately
sent my replacement Japanese version (which also ironically made
this review so complete).

Honestly,
had it not been for Deunan/Olympus
Airsoft
’s help, I do not know how long this return process
would have drawn out, nor how much extra I would have had to spend
in return shipping! Deunan/GugesMk3/Olympus
Airsoft
deserves special mention for a job well-done and excellent
customer-service, even post-sale!

=)

Conclusion:
In conclusion, I honestly believe that the KSC M945, while a most
interesting concept and certainly capable of skirmish or competitive
sporting use, remains just that – an interesting concept.

Despite
refined cosmetics and an excellent trigger, the apparently problematic
lack of durability as well as a complete lack of any aftermarket
upgrade/replacement parts for the critically damaged slide rules
out any kind of serious use of this piece. HFC134a delivers sub-par
power; and Taiwanese “Green Gas” makes that damage all too likely.

That’s
not practical at all for any type of use.

Certainly,
at its relatively low cost and with its unique features, it will
be a nice addition to the collection of anyone who is a GBB 1911/2011-genre
fan, but aside from that, I find it hard to for me to recommend
this piece to anyone.

Again,
I’m left to the old standard of recommending only true Western
Arms 1911/2011-type GBBs to those who wish to either skirmish
with a 1911/2011, or those who desire using such pieces as bases
for competitive sports shooting.

Allen

aka DumboRAT

PS:
A final item of distinction. The Taiwanese model will arrive with
literally only the KSC operator’s manual for this piece. Meanwhile,
the Japanese model will arrive with the manual, a 2002 KSC product
line complete catalog, as well as all of the documentation and
registraion material seen below.


A
Hop adjustment tool should be included with either model. The
tools are cross-compatible.

External
Links:
TBA

Site
links:
TBA

Comment
on this article in the forums


Last
modified:
Sunday, March 30, 2003 5:39 PM
Copyright ArniesAirsoft




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