TM Tactical Launcher

TM
‘Tactical Launcher’

images
and review by Arnie

Stock
Specifications
FPS
250-280
fps (stock fps may vary)
Length: 480/720
mm
Barrel
Length:
121mm
x 3
Weight: 1270
g

Ammo
capacity:

30 Rounds

3 shots
x 10 repeating

Tac
Launcher manual


Click here to visit ADHistory:
This
is somewhat of a nostalgic review for me, as almost a year ago to
the day we posted one of our first articles about a product first
seen at the Tokyo Marui 2000 expo, this prototype was listed somewhat
cryptically as a ‘Grenade Pistol’. The images and information we
found at that time became one of our first news articles that we
hosted here.


(Image
of the prototype from the Tokyo Marui 2000 expo)

Not
a great deal was known at the time, and the only information read
then was a report hosted by our friends at BBGunLand
(http://bbgunland.bizland.com/NEWS/Makuhari2000.htm).
Sadly in the ‘Internet ether’ the original article has long since
disappeared. This ‘Grenade Pistol’ came to be what everyone now
knows as the TokyoMarui Tactical Launcher, or TacLauncher
for short. (or TL for shorter still ^_^ )

On
14/10/2001 the Tactical Launcher (TL) was announced by Marui, and
our good friend Darren sent some images to us of TM’s
promotional poster
. Shortly afterwards we were again honoured
to receive the first UK images of one
of the first TacLaunchers in Japan
, thanks to Darren.

A
heck of a lot has happened here, both on and off the website, but
it’s nice to keep some constants going. It seemed only appropriate
that we complete the story of the TacLauncher, and write
out own in-house review of the finished product.

With
the help of AirsoftDynamics
/ AD
(who kindly donated this piece for review) we are now able to do
this, and for that we are grateful to our colleagues at AD.

 

Click here to visit ADReal-Steel
history:

The M203 is a 40 mm under-rifle grenade launcher that was designed for
use by the US Military with the M-16 rifle. This new grenade launcher
was designed to replace the M79 grenade launcher of the Vietnam Era. The
Grenade Launcher is manufactured by (to name a few) Bushmaster, Colt,
and Knight Manufacturing in the US.

The M203PI
is the ‘Product-Improved‘ version of the original M203 that is
designed to be rapidly mounted or removed from a rifle. Previously the
M203 could only be fitted to a limited range of weapons. Now with the
production of interbars for any type of rifle, the M203PI launcher can
be mounted on every assault rifle in use today. For situations where only
the launcher itself is needed, the M203PI can be quickly attached to a
pistol grip with a folding stock. Both of these versions are in service
with a number of countries, and the M203PI has been adopted by some US
law enforcement agencies.

The TM
Tactical Launcher
is modelled after the M203PI, which was originally
designed by RM-Equipment.

Mechanism:
The TL is (externally)
a replica of the stand alone M203PI unit. Although the real-steel M203
is designed to utilise 40mm grenades (explosive/signal/flare), the TM
version is actually closer to a shotgun, both in design and function.
The reason for this is that Marui have based the TL on their M203 unit
for their own Armalite range.

This
is where a few inaccuracies lie.

  • To
    expel BB’s the TL must be loaded with a TM shotgun cartridge, and the
    the black grip on the M203 must be pumped towards the handle to prime
    the mechanism. At this point the trigger may be pulled to ‘fire’ the rounds
    off.


  • The TL features three RIS rails, one along it’s top and two on either side.

  • In the ‘real world only a complete moron would mount either a laser sight,
    or a reddot scope on a grenade launcher, as precision deployment of a 40mm
    grenade isn’t that necessary. :o)

This
may be a problem for some folks as the design isn’t 100% true to the original,
but to me it’s not an issue, the TM shotty mechanism is tried and tested,
and both it’s flaws and advantages are well known. Anyway, let’s face
it 500 round magazines with winding ‘knobs’ on them aren’t exactly 100%
true to the real-steel items anyway are they?

To my
mind, Airsoft is meant to be fun more than anything, and the TL certainly
proves to be fun, so I consider it a worthy Airsoft accessory. The TL
has been designed by TM as their entry level shotgun product, being markedly
cheaper than both the SPAS and M3Super90 range. If you’re on a budget,
or just looking to get into Airsoft cheaply then this could be your answer.

So what
have TM done? Well like all financially adept companies they’re good at
reworking their current ideas and designs into new products. In this case,
all TM have actually done is designed a new grip and mount (with rails
on it), and then bolted their current M203-shotgun mech to it.

If you’re
familiar with the TM’s shotgun mechanism you can skip this next part,
if you really want to, but if you’re curious about my insights into TM’s
shotty mech, you may want to read on.

So
how does it work?
Well the theory is an easy one, but in
practice, it’s not that simple. Imagine three spring pistols in one mechanism,
all fed off the same magazine, and all cocked by the pull of one slide,
and that’s basically it. The complexities arise around the feed mechanism
for these three barrels.

Safety:
The trigger has a well designed safety mechanism (admittedly the same
as the real steel), simply pull the front lever back towards the trigger
to lock the rifle as ‘safe’.


In the photo to the left the replica is
‘safe’, whereas the image to the right shows the replica ready to fire.

First
load the shell:
Well
rather than try to take photos of me loading a shell with BBs whilst
holding the camera with one hand I thought it’s be easier to show
you a couple of diagrams that came in the TL’s manual. Trust me
I’ve tried taking photos like that on my own and I’d end up with
another hundred BBs hiding somewhere on the living room floor –
the little buggers then creep out at night so that I can step on
them (barefoot I might add) when I try to get a quiet snack from
the fridge in the early hours of the morning. I seem to remember
this coming under “Sod’s law of Airsoft, rule #23b”
or something over at Rich’s Airsoft. ^_^

Anyway
I’m rambling now (like when do I not?), now where was I.. yes that
was it, loading shot shells. Don’t worry we’ll get there shortly
DumboRAT I’m sure I caught this Airsoft waffling bug from
you :o). To see how to load the shell, click the image
to the right
, to view the relevant Tac
Launcher manual
page.

Lock
and load?
So how do you use the thing? Well first
the shell must be loaded in place behind the M203’s grip.

To
load the shell you must release the grip by depressing the button
shown in the image (middle left).

Roll
this button forward towards the barrel end and the grip will slide
forward freely revealing the place to locate the shot shell.


Now that you
can see where to place the shotshell, poke the shell in nose first
(as shown), then lever the shell backwards so that it clicks into
place (as shown in the image inset to the left (top right).

Now with the
shell in place pull the grip slide backwards towards the grip until
it lightly ‘clicks’ into place. You’re now ready to rumble!

If you wish
to remove the shell, such as when it’s empty, you follow exactly
the same steps as above, except that to get the shell out you have
to depress the small black button just behind the shell. Push this
black button away from the shell, and you’ll find the shell drops
out.

Pumping?
So you’ve followed the above instruction to the letter, you carefully
take aim for your first test shot, and nothing happens. doh!

Well now you’ve
loaded the brute, it won’t do a great deal unless you prime the
action. Don’t forget we said above that this is actually a shotgun
of sorts.

To prime everything
you simply grip the black ribbed lower grip and pull it firmly towards
the grip/stock. The grip will move back with some mild resistance
until you hear a noticeable click. When you hear this click, just
slide the grip forward again. You can now point aim and pull the
trigger and let off a volley of 3 BBs.

Also mentioned
in the manual you’ll see something mentioned called “slam-firing”.
This is a fairly easy process really, you cock and prime the replica
as normal, but you do it whilst keeping the trigger depressed with
your finger. You’ll find that when you pull the slide all the way
back that the TL will fire automatically (instead of a click, the
mechanism fires rather than locking in place waiting for a trigger
pull). Basically with the process you can pump and fire as quick
as you arms pump the slide.

A word of warning
though, well two actually..

  • Limited
    rounds
    – You only get 10 shots (3BBs x 10), so slamfiring
    will empty a shotshell quicker than you think! I highly recommend
    counting your shots (no.. the trigger pulls not the BBs ^_^) to
    avoid blank firing.
  • Excess
    wear
    – Now there’s no real proof that slam fire will damage
    your TM replica, but it’s a fairly safe assumption that excess
    use will reduce your replica’s overall skirmishable lifetime.

So
what’s in the box?
The
box features logos, and details portraying the TacLauncher as an
‘entry weapon’. The box actually says “Delta Force ‘The
special forces breaker’s weapon operation dynamic entry’

which is one hell of a mouthful. I can’t imagine anyone in real
life storming a building with an 40mm grenade launcher, no matter
how nuts they are, there simply wouldn’t be much building left to
storm if someone did fire one. As far as Airsoft goes, ‘entry weapon’
is actually a fairly accurate description.

The
TL is also listed as number 5 of the series, coming after the SPAS12
(it’s great great granddaddy), SPAS12 folding stock,
Benelli M3, and Benelli M3 shorty

Hows
the performance?
Well point blank you can
see that the TL is unable to penetrate one side of a Red Rooster
can, so the fps is below 290fps (around 250-280 is a reasonable
guess). The reason for this lower fps is the fact that the barrel
length is short at 121mm, and much shorter than a TM M3 Benelli.
For reference I would recommend reading RedWolf
‘s
Bite The Bullet issue Feb 2000

which contains a decent documented ‘cokecan test’ article.

Looks?
Looks are rather a personal view, to me it looks intriguing, if
a little ugly, but the design rather grows on you in time. It’s
kinda like a volvo.. “Boxy, but good”.

Features:
The main features that TM banter on about are the 3 RIS rails, the
handy storing place for shells in the grip, and the sliding stock.
Features they may be.. but afterthoughts is what they come across
as. I’ll explain my reasoning.

Rails:
Okeydokey, well these are the most useful ‘feature’. Love em or
hate em, RIS is handy for bolting all kinds of kit together, and
with the TL featuring two side rails and a long top rail there’s
plenty to bolt to. Although they look like they’re metal, they aren’t
(These RIS rails are plastic/ABS, so don’t go swinging on hefty
weights off them).

Now
this is where the issue lies.. what on earth are you going to bolt
to all three rails? Having played around with the TL, the best ideas
I can come up with are an Armalite carry handle (see Hustler’s
Airsoft
for an image of this) and a laser. “Why
a laser?”
you ask.. well read on.

Extendable
stock:
The extendable stock just really isn’t of much use,
well it wasn’t to me, and it won’t be to anybody about 6 foot tall.
The stock just isn’t long enough to be effective. If you are small
in stature or have short arms then you’ll find it useful, although
to my mind it’s still about 6 inches too short. Basically if you’re
big it’ll be too small to use, and you won’t need the aid of the
stock to pump the foregrip, but if you’re small (around 5 foot)
then you be ‘happy as larry‘. :)

To
use the stock, simply depress the button located near the sling
loop, and pull the stock out. The stock has two positions.. short
and far too short.

Grip
shell holder:
Ah, TM have included a handy hole in the grip
where you can store a spare shell. Cunning idea eh? Well not really
actually, as it doesn’t hold the shells that well. If you leave
a shell in the grip and then sling the TL on your back you won’t
find the shell where you left it if you go for a run or a long walk.

On
the bright side the shells are bright red and dead easy to find
in shortish grass. The grip will be fine for use in CQB if you really
need shells close to hand, but the slow process is not that of finding
a shell, but removing the old (empty) one and fitting the new one.
With a bit of practice you could get the shell change-over period
to about 10 seconds.

What
a bung!
I was actually amused by the safety bung that
came with the TL, now forgive me as I’ve never owned or used the
Armalite TM M203, but the safety bung was just impressive in design.
Okay well… simple things please simple minds don’t they. ^_^

Sights:
The stock sights on the TL aren’t exactly the most expensive or
adjustable things on the planet. We’re not talking WesternArms
Bomar
sights here… Nope what we have here is full on Japanese
technical wizardry, erm the foresight is a lump of plastic, and
the backsight is a notch in the back. Cheap, but surprisingly
effective for what they are. The real problem is without a decent
stock you can’t get you eye down to line up the sights. Anyway
as we said who ‘fine-aims’ a 40mm grenade launcher? Ah, but this
is shotgun isn’t it? So if you’re large in build, or just lazy
(and assuming your site allows it) you sound fit a cheap laser
for ease of aiming – handily ClassicArmy make a bunch of
these that are cheap and will fit in seconds.

Sling
point:
I almost forget (blame it on my rather over used
brain) – the TL features a rather decent and practical sling point.
Originally I thought the sling was reversable, sadly this isn’t
the case; Marui have seen fit to make the two bolt ends of differing
diameter, meaning the bolt cannot be reversed.

Build
quality

As mentioned the TL is made on a budget, so don’t expect large
amounts of metal parts. The metal parts that you’ll find on it
include:

Sliding
stock (excluding the shoulder pad)
Trigger,
safety and trigger guard
Outer
barrel shroud

The
rest of the rifle (including the RIS mounts) is constructed
of the normal high quality TM ABS plastic that we have all
become used to.

‘Skirmishability’
The
big problem with the TL is that it just doesn’t seem to know if it’s a
grenade launcher, or a shotgun. The sights are practical, but not easy
to use, the stock is handy but not long enough, and the shell storage
is cunning, yet not sensible.

Range
isn’t great, with the short barrels (half that of the M3) the effective
range is about 3/4 of that of the M3 shorty/full-stock.

So as
we’ve said with the TL’s poor range, and combined with the awkward way
you have to use the replica CQB is its only viable use. Now the TL isn’t
all bad, so forgive me if I seem a bit critical about it. I don’t want
to miss a few of it’s good points.

It’s
light:
We’re not all Rambo, so the fact that the TL is very light
will be good news to a lot of people out there that hate rattling like
a box of cornflakes when they flop across the skirmish field under the
weight of kit they are carrying.

It’s
short:
The TL is literally half the length of the M3’Shorty’,
so is much more viable as a close quarters piece of equipment – in fact
it’s so short you could almost fit it in a leg holster (but that’s
another story…).


You
don’t watch that series do you?
Now I’d never seen
the TL (or anything close to it) used in any film or TV show.. until
last week. In the rather well know TV series (that I may or may
not have painstakingly watched from the first episode to the end
of the current series) by the name of Stargate SG1 I caught
a glimpse of something very familiar.

With the wondrous
nature of the Internet – 5 search engines, 54 emails and 4 jugs
of coffee later I managed to track down someone in western Elbonia
*
with some handy screencaps of the scene that was stuck
in my head. In the scene below Jack takes out an enemy glider (manned
by the fiendishly untypeable) Goa’uld with a stand alone M203. Sadly
it has no RIS rails.. and the stock looks a hell of a lot more useable
that the TM version. A big, and very serious, thanks go out to Tamy
Pooh
and their website
for the generous use of their own screen captures of the SG1 episode.


A
kind fellow SG1 fan (who prefered to remain anonymous) sent me these
high res caps from the episode that I mentioned above.







Technical
diagrams:
Niall Orr

was kind enough to take the take to produce and send in this technical
diagram of the ‘M203PI’, which is the real-steel designation for
the stand alone M203 launcher as produced by R/M Equipment.
You can find a larger version of the image to the right by clicking
on it. Here’s what Nial had to say:

“…I
attach a bitmap drawing of the real stand alone M203 made by R/M
Equipment(Florida).

As
noted on the drawing this was prepared by “tracing” over
a scanned photocopy and should be regarded as accurate. I also cannot
prepare a plan or end on view as I do not own an M203 replica.

I
have also seen a photo of yet another version which uses the M16/M203
foregrip with an M16 pistol grip and butt stock…”

Thanks
for the update Nial!

Click here to see a larger image

TM Promotional ImageryConclusion
If you’re of a light build, the TL will be useable for you,
possibly as a primary. If you’re of a medium or large
build, what you effectively have is a ‘shotgun pistol‘.

Out
the box, what you have is a viable backup that wouldn’t look
out of place if you’re an Armalite or NATO fan, but given that
the range isn’t as good as an AEG, and also that it is a bit
small to use it’s not quite viable for anything other than a
CQB backup.

If
you’re on a budget add an Armalite carry handle (as on Hustler’s
page) to get some decent sights, if you’ve got a bit more spare
cash, then add a laser to it. Don’t forget that one shell just
isn’t enough for skirmish use, but as the spare shells come
in packs of three (fairly cheaply I might add), I’d recommend
at least 2 spare shell packs.

So
what have you got.. Well this really is a Ronseal job. It says
“breaker’s weapon operation dynamic entry
on the box, roughly translated they mean ‘CQB dynamic entry
weapon’, and that’s what it is… kinda.

Advantages:

  • It’s light
    – Bung a sling on it and chuck it on your back and you could easily
    forget it’s there (just don’t leave a shell in the grip or you
    will loose/forget it).
  • It’s very
    short – The TL is very cornerable, which makes it very suitable
    for cramped spaces.
  • Hop Up –
    This makes the TL much better than the DonSang Ithacas of this
    world.
  • Cheap – as
    the cheapest TM shotgun, if you want a shotty and are on a budget
    then look no further.

Disadvantages:

  • Range
    is poor – unlike most other TM shotties, this isn’t a sniping
    replica

  • What is it?
    There is a distinct duality issue here, it just doesn’t know if
    it’s a shotgun or a grenade launcher, and ends up having the disadvantages
    of both
  • Looks.. Well
    it could be described as “butt ugly”, but looks are very
    subjective

Upgrade
Potential

1/5
– well you can
stick RIS kit to it, that’s it

Build
Quality

4/5

– cheap cheerful, but rather robust

Value
for Money

4/5

As an entry level shotgun it’s cheap, but there’s not a huge
price jump between this and the M3 shorty.

Overall
Potential

3/5

the TL is not an all round skirmish replica, it’s really suitable
for CQB only.

External
Links:
http://faxworldcom.com/lgweap/ad_sheets/37mm.htm
– Information about the TL’s real-steel counterpart
http://t2shustler.homestead.com/TacLau.html
– Hustler’s (of Team2Sexy) review of the TL
http://www.airsoftplayers.com/m203/index.asp
– AirsoftPlayer’s review of the TacLauncher, written by Janus

Site
links:
Tac
Launcher manual






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