Tanaka M629 .44 Magnum 6.5 inch review

(click
for a larger image)

Tanaka
M629 .44 Magnum 6.5 inch Review
review
and imagery by Arnie
“You
don’t assign him to reviews, You just turn him loose.”

Stock
Specifications
FPS

~450 fps 0.2g/HFC22
Length:
305 mm
Inner
barrel:
6.5
inch
Weight:
770 g

Ammo
capacity:

14 Rounds

Click here to buy this replica from WGC
Kindly provided for review by WGC


Click here to read the full Tanaka  M29 manual.
There it is in all it’s glory. Click on this image to view the
full manual

Introduction
Well it’s about time I set my fingers to this now ever-so-shiny keyboard
to rattle off another review, and to pull out my trusty digicam. This
time I’ve pulled the M629 .44 Magnum off the shelf for a gander. Now
again, I’ve always said that everyone should have a new Tanaka revolver,
hopefully by the end of this review you should see why… either that
or died of starvation (do feel free to take a break for a drink or hot-dog
about halfway through). Welcome to the ‘El
Cid
‘ of my current reviews (for those of you
that don’t know that Charlton Heston film is erm.. long)
.

Many
moons ago I remember Herman bantering on about revolvers, and we were
lamenting at the time as to how there we plenty of choices out there,
but none that quite fit the bill as a viable skirmish piece.

The TM revolvers
were nice looking, but woefully underpowered, the same went for the
Marushin replicas, Tanaka made some at that point, but we took little
interest in them. The only other choices were the Smokey’s PPC kit’s
for the TM M19 revolvers, well short of selling a kidney on eBay these
were well out the question.

I would like to
mention here (to keep Herman happy) that there are Kokusai revolvers
out there, that are actually quite good. Sadly I haven’t seen a Kokusai
in the flesh myself.

Now Tanaka? Well
up until then the mere word ‘Tanaka’ sent shivers down my spine. The
general feeling I had was that they were ‘orrible, having personally
seen firsthand an original Tanaka Luger pouring gas out of every available
orifice, and also a certain UK retailer 10 failed attempts to make a
friend’s Tanaka SIG retain gas. So my general consensus was that Tanaka
replicas looked good, performed even better when they worked, but leaked
gas out of the mags worse than the Falcon leaks oil out the engine.
(The Falcon is my car‘s nickname btw.)

Then
at the end of 2001 Tanaka launched their new PEGASUS range of revolvers,
again I thought of keeping back, but then it hit me… these Tanaka
revolvers don’t have magazines to leak from – problem solved!

Tanaka call this
replica the ‘M629 .44 Magnum‘ on the box, and in the manual refer
to it as the ‘S&W M29’. Just to resolve any confusion, the
M629 is simply the chrome version of the M29. But first….

“I know
what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell
you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself.
But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the
world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself
one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?”
– ‘Dirty
Harry’ 1971

…sorry I had to
say it somewhere. ^_^

Mechanism
The new Tanaka revolvers utilise a system known as PEGASUS, which is the catchy
acronym for
the
weird and strangely difficult to remember phrase: Progress, Effective GAS
Universal System
. So what does it mean Jim? Sorry I’m a webmaster not
a ‘Japlish‘ instructor, so it means as little to me as it does to you.

In lamen’s
terms this PEGASUS system is another fiendishly clever but hugely simple idea
– the gas and the BBs are stored in the cylinder. The cylinder contains a
simple spring loaded low-cap magazine affair and stores the gas. There are
actually two cylinders, one that spins around the other – the replica cylinder
(looks like the real steel), and a PEGASUS cylinder, that contains all the
‘worky bits’ inside that.

The
PEGASUS cylinder is fixed in place never moving, and the replica cylinder
revolves around this. As the external cylinder moves, the PEGASUS cylinder
feeds 1 BB into each shell space, as it revolves around with the trigger action.
When the BB reaches the top, a gas spurt moves the top loaded BB down the
barrel off into the real world for a short but happy life in search of some
poor sod on the opposing team. For a clearer view, I would highly recommend
checking out the full manual that I have scanned in for this review that you
can find
here.

The
features
So what do you get with this puppy?
Well there’s more than meets the eye to a simple revolver. No honest,
there is!

Sights
The revolver features a very nice adjustable backsight,
which was actually very accurately setup when I took it first out of
the box. The backsight is naturally adjustable in both directions. Turn
either the top or right hand side backsight screw clockwise to move
the shots positive in either direction, i.e. turning both screws clockwise
will move your grouping up and right (^ & >).

Safety
As with all equipment manufactured by an ASGK member
the replica features a functional safety. In this case you simply pull
the cylinder release button towards the grip. With the safety engaged
it is impossible to move the trigger, and hence release the hammer.
To disable the safety, you simply push the release button back. Don’t
push the button too far forward as you’ll release the cylinder – don’t
worry it’s actually simpler than it sounds.

Double-action?
So what is ‘double-action’? Well by definition it is
“A handgun mechanism where pulling the trigger retracts and
releases the hammer or firing pin to initiate discharge.
“,
as opposed to ‘single action’ : “A gun mechanism activated by
manual operation of a horizontally sliding handle almost always located
under the barrel. ‘pump-action’ and ‘trombone’ are synonyms for ‘slide-action’
. What does it all mean? Well basically you can either pull
the trigger back to squeeze off a shot, or you can latch the hammer
back, then pull the trigger.

The advantages of
this are that with you can lock the trigger back, and take a shot –
because little pressure/pull is required, your shot will be much more
accurate. The alternative is that you can let loose as many shots as
you like quickly simply by pulling the trigger repeatedly.

Decent
trigger
Quite a simple point, but the Magnum .44 version
features a rather nice and comfy trigger. The trigger is wide, and carefully
ribbed, perfect for use with either gloved fingers (like tac gloves).
Or, if like me, you just have big hands you’ll find it easy to use.
The same can be said for the cylinder release button, and the hammer,
both are large and easy to use and could happily be used by your average
yeti, sadly no yetis were available at the time of this photo shoot.

How
it works
So how does it all come together? Well there
are two main operations that you’ll need Airsoft pixie fingers to perfect.

BB
loading
You
will have to get used to both charging the cylinder with gas, and loading
BBs with the speed-loader tool. Now I don’t know how funny the manufacturer
thought it was coming up with a catchy name such as ‘speedloader’, but the
tool is anything but speedy to use.

Gas
Loading
Sadly because of the placing of the gas inlet valve
there isn’t quite enough room to get a standard gas cylinder near it. Tanaka
have therefore included a gas nozzle adapter, which you can see in the inset
photo. Now again, this thing requires great dexterity not to use, that’s the
easy part – he difficult thing is not to loose the tiny thing, this can be
cured by attaching the brass adapter to some sort of lanyard. Trust me, it’s
round small and you’re sure to loose it if you don’t keep it in the box all
the time, and as it’s the only one you get, you’ll need to look after it,
as your gorgeous M629 revolver is useless without it.

Movie files
It really seemed
only fair to make a couple of movies, to show you this piece in action, I
mean video speaks louder than both words and pictures doesn’t it? The first
video is a demonstration of the trigger mechanism and the first part of the
‘double action’, and the second movie shows the functioning of the safety
mechanism and the second part of the ‘double action’.


Video’s are in WindowsMedia .avi format

Action movie (to the left) and safety demonstration (to the right)

Performance
Sadly my chrono is out on loan as I write this review, but then again my Chrombro
chrono really doesn’t like timing gas replicas (the gas discharge seems to
adversely affect the IR timing circuit). With a lack of technical equipment
to hand I had a look to see what I could find to hand. Handily a housemate
of mine is heavily into recycling, so there are plenty of spare drink cans
lying around. For this test I have chosen a can of ‘RedRooster‘ – some
sort of weird energy drink I gather… erm all I can say is that it’s not
mine.

Welcome
to the improvised cokecan test. :) Placing the barrel of the 629 up
against the can, with a fresh 0.2gBB and loaded with HFC22 gas I let off a
round. You can see what was left of the can in the image here. For the record
a shotgun of the TM variety at point blank range will not break the can. The
M629 went clean through one side, and just through the other, but in a separate
test was unable to pierce the bottom of the can (which is a good thing).

We can therefore put the
power of the 6.5 inch M629 down to around 450fps with a 0.2g BB with HFC22
gas at room temperature (20degC). I have found that I can get about 2-3 BB
loads shot off without having to top up the gas. Please do note that the more
tweaked the performance, the less shots you’ll get per refill.

So why is it so powerful?
Well it’s simple, being of a simple non blowback design, with the gas feed
right behind the BB, all of the energy from the expanding gas is diverted
to moving the BB out the barrel. There is no obvious cool down, even when
testing the M629 in the British winter the performance is more than admirable.

Holy flying bungs Batman!
Another somewhat unintentional additional test of performance was that
when testing the M629 for review, I accidentally managed to shoot the red
‘safety bung’ out of the end of the barrel. Now that’s quite impressive, for
any replica. (NOTE you’re now half way through, time for that aforementioned
hot-dog and drink. Just make sure no-one’s parked outside the bank opposite
first.)

Maintenance
The 629 is a doddle to service, simply make sure you spray the O-rings in
the cylinder with plenty of silicon spray, as well as the rubber that meshes
between the cylinder and the barrel. I would highly recommend stripping the
629 down to it’s component parts about once or twice a year for a thorough
clean (more if you skirmish lots with it). I only say this as with the use
of HFC22 gas, better servicing leads to a longer service lifetime, it is by
no means a criticism of the replica itself.

Skirmish
use
The Tanaka revolvers are designed to be used with a fixed
hop-up and 134a gas with 0.2g BBs. Here in the UK HFC134a is somewhat rare,
and because of low temperatures most people forfeit the disadvantages and
go for HFC22. Now this is where things get interesting. If you decide to use
HFC22, please do bear in mind that the added power of 22 means that you will
have to use a heavier BB. I would recommend anything from 0.2g-0.45g in weight,
without this added weight your shots will hook wildly with the excess hop
spin.

One advantage is that
with the fixed hop, your shots are more accurate, and more reliable. With
the use of 0.35-0.4g BBs and the fact that this replica comes with a 6.5inch
barrel and you have a very reliable and accurate backup pistol.

Looks
Well what can I say? I should think that the pictures speak for themselves,
in this matter. In terms of looks this is one of the best silver/inox replicas
I have seen that isn’t actually 100% metal.

Build
quality:
What’s it built of? Well parts of the frame are metal,
as is the trigger, and other working parts, the cylinder and the backsight
is metal too. So what’s left? The outer barrel, and parts of the receiver
are made of an ABS composite material.

Decals/Stamping
(barrel/grip/receiver)
The grip itself has the gold S&W
logo inset into it on both sides, and the right hand side of the body has
the S&W engraved into it, with ‘Tanaka works‘ marked below it.
On the frame itself just in front of the trigger you will also notice ‘Made
in Japan, Marcas Registradas, Smith & Wesson, Tanaka ASGK
‘. On the
left hand side of the barrel plain an simply marked on it you’ll find ‘Smith
and Wesson
‘.

The quality of all the
marking is very good, and the Tanaka specific marks are barely noticeable.
Sadly I don’t have a real M29 to compare this replica to, but I think I wouldn’t
be out of order saying that this replica is almost indistinguishable from
the real steel. The only dead give away that it’s an Airsoft pistol is when
you look in the muzzle and find a 6mm barrel inset into it.

Dirty Halley?
I can’t do a M29 review without mentioning “Dirty
Halley
” (FYI for phonetic reasons in the translation from English
to Japanese Harry always seems to come out as ‘Halley’). I’m rather hoping
that most people have seen this film, as this 1971 Clint Eastwood classic
is often revered as a turning point in Clint’s career marking a ‘chasmic leap’
from such WW2 films as “Kelly’s
Heroes
“, and spaghetti westerns like “Buono,
il brutto, il cattivo, Il
“. For 1001 reasons this film went down
a hit in Japan, and for that reason there has always been a huge demand for
M29 revolvers, I suppose for much the same reasons that MP5’s and Stargate
SG-1 do here in the west. Anyway, enough banter from me, here’s a few screen
caps for you from my copy of the film.


Erm just to nitpick a bit here, the barrel length
of Harry’s M29 changes several times in the film for ‘effect’ purposes. In
some shot’s he has a 6.5 inch, in some it’s longer.

The ‘Good the Bad
and the Ugly’ features

Fixed
hop
Now there are good and bad parts to this, and it depends
entirely on which ethos you believe in (or which interpretation of the ‘Holy
BB Book
‘ you read). With a ‘fixed hop’, you have a fixed hopup rubber.
This means that you need to adjust your BB weights to gain the range that
you want. Now as mentioned Tanaka designed this for use with HFC 134a and
0.2g BBs. If you increase the power using HFC22 you will need to increase
the BB weight or your shots will hook wildly.

Now not all of this is
bad news, the advantage of this fixed rubber though, is that your shots are
much more consistent simply because there’s less play in the system. Now to
be honest I much prefer upping the gas and the BB weight than messing with
tiny little hopup keys. Tanaka have put in a fixed hopup, most probably for
ease of design and to keep the price down, whatever their reasons I think
it was a wise choice. Don’t just buy a Tanaka and go skirmishing with it,
give it some loving care and practice with the weights so that you know what
to expect. Or to put it another way “…mans got to know his limitations”
(why thank you Harry!).

Grip
Now
this is the ONLY disappointment with this replica. Now first a small
explanation – you have to remember that Tanaka are a lot like TOP
in a lot of respects, in that up until recently they didn’t intentionally
design their replicas for skirmishing and were mainly aimed for the collector’s
market. With the release of the new PEGASUS range, and specifically the M629
NATO, Tanaka would seem to have spotted a very obvious niche producing the
best Airsoft revolvers in town.

This is where the grip
harks back to the earlier days of Tanaka. The grip looks great, and holds
well, but the problem is that it’s hollow plastic, so feels a little weird
and makes an awful creak in my hands when held tightly that my TM SG1 foregrip
would be proud of.

Now again this problem
has a couple of easy solutions. You can either get hold of a Tanaka
Hogue Monogrip (as found on the M629 NATO), or you can
fit a real-steel grip. Handily Tanaka have kept the actual metal frame, and
hence the handle itself almost identical in construction to the original,
so real steel grips will fit (slight modifications may need to be made though..
but that’s why you own a Dremel don’t you?). This is great for anyone
in the US, but sadly for us bods in the UK we have to hunt high and low for
grips, as pistol firearms have been banned here since 1997. If anyone in the
UK finds a retailer with a hidden stash of M29 grips please do let me know.

Update 01/03/02:
Scott has sent in some information that MasterChief’s
in the UK now sell the grips for the M629! Here’s what they have and
can get (including RRP):

Amerian Legend (for round
butt) – SNR 00412 – £38.10
contoured wood grip with fingermould rubber insert (one piece – front and
sides)

Presentation – SN-L 03294 – £28.50
Rubber grip in classic shape (same shape as the ‘wood’ grips on Marui 6″
python)

Gripper – SN-G 03292 – £33.90
Rubber fingermould grip (like on the Marui 4″ python)
Gripper Professional – SN-GP 03265 – £33.90
As above but bigger and chunkier
Compac (for round but) – SN-C 03297 – £31.50
little grips for concealment

You can find photos of
their catalog

here
and
here .
If
you are in the US, or are looking for another supplier, there’s one in the
US by the name of Gun
Accessory Supply, Inc
. can also supply real Hogue grips, and will
ship internationally.

A cheap remedy that I
may try is to fill the insides of the hollow grips with some sort of hardening
putty. I haven’t tried it myself (yet), but it’s cheaper than buying a new
grip. The list weight of this replica is around 800grams, now I seem to remember
that the real item weighs in at around one and a half kilos with a 6.5 inch
barrel, so adding mass to the grip will definitely bring bring it closer to
the weight of the real steel.

Scratches?
Now as we know this replica isn’t full metal, so sadly the silver
colour is achieved through various coatings of paint. The actual structure
is made of a heavy black plastic, so any scratches on the main body
parts that aren’t metal look quite bad. The fitting between the cylinder
and the body is quite tight so the cylinder has a habit of scratching
the body when you load an upload the cylinder. For this reason I’d highly
recommend keeping the meshing parts of this replica well lubed.

Adjustable
power

It is actually possible to manually adjust the power of your Tanaka.
As with similarly functioning replicas such as the Digicon Contender,
the bulk of the power can be tweaked by adjusting the trigger spring.

To do this, remove
the grips there is a bolt (part numbers 2,3,4) through both halves of
the wood grip that you undo to remove them, and you’ll then find a leaf
spring (part number 10) with a screw (part number 27) around about where
your little finger normally goes on the grip. You can find all these
parts listed in the parts
diagram
on the right.

Tightening this
screw up (i.e. moving it clockwise) will increase the power of the hammer
action, and release more gas per shot, and hence produce more power.
The reverse is also true, such that if you are on a power limited skirmish
site, you may tweak the fps to below the set limits. It’s worth noting
that the more you increase the power the less shots you’ll get per refill.

Accessories
So what can you get to perfect the perfect revolver? Not a great deal
really, but here’s what’s on offer:

Wood
and hogue grips
An mentioned you can get wood grips for
the Tanaka range, I believe that even Tanaka themselves make some. You
can also fit real-steel and Hogue ‘MonoGrips‘. The M29 is based
on the S&W ‘N’ frame, so you will want Hogue’s grip model number
H29000 (S&W N, Square Butt w/finger grooves). (Image to the
right courtesy of Hogue)

Metal
parts
ZEKE offer a a selection of replacement full-metal
frames for the M29 range. Beware though, metal frames will cost as much
as the revolver itself (~200USD), and do take a bit of work to fit,
but that’s why God invented the Dremel.

Sight
mounts

Tanaka make a rather nice replacement scope mounts (19USD) for the M29,
taking seconds to fit they will allow you to fit just about any standard
scope to it. Just don’t let me catch you taking the mickey with a 4-9
x 50 attached to yours. ^_^

Conclusion
Well if you hadn’t guessed already I lurve
this pistol. There’s very little wrong with it, and these small faults
mentioned through this review have easy remedies. Some worthy points
of note though. You are effectively unable to unload this pistol easily
to
‘make
it safe’ for a safe zone at a skirmish site (you can’t just drop the
magazine out), although the safety is almost foolproof. I believe that
the Tanaka M29 isn’t as heavy as it’s real steel counterpart, not a
huge issue, but one for collectors to take note of.

Cloven mit’s
ahoy
– With the big cylinder release button, huge hammer, and large
trigger and trigger guard you can use this pistol no matter how poor
your dexterity, it’s also hugely easy to use whilst wearing gloves.

The only two main
issues I would say is that in a future release Tanaka might wish to
consider setting the gas valve at an angle away from the frame so that
we don’t have to use the rather silly gas adapter. The BB loading tool
also appears to be a bit of an afterthought, I personally prefer to
use a standard TM lo-cap filler – just be careful not to damage the
rubber O-rings that hold the BBs in (turn the feed tube round if you
like).

Click here to visit WGCThis
replica is the pride of my collection, it’s completely different from
all the Glock and 1911 variants out there, it features a longer range
and is more powerful all but the most expensive pistols.

The M629 in this
review was kindly donated to me for review by Henry Tse of WarGamer’sShop
(WGC), who I would highly recommend purchasing from if the Tanaka
range tempts you. At the time of writing this review the Tanaka
M629 .44 Magnum retails for around 200USD.

“I know
what you’re thinking. Did he fire fourteen BBs or only thirteen? Well,
to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track
myself. But being as this is a Tanaka .44 Magnum, the most powerful
revolver in the Airsoft world, and would cause a very nasty bruise,
you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Why don’t you own one? Well,
why not punk?”

Appearance

4/5
– It looks perfect

Build
Quality

4/5

The grip could do with some improvement

Performance

4/5

Non-adjustable hop-up may not be to everyone’s tastes

Value
for Money

5/5

For around ~200USD it’s the most powerful pistol you can get for
your money.

Overall
Potential

5/5

The minor problems with this replica can be solved quite easily.

Internal
Links:
M29 manual page
by Arnie
M629
short review page
by Nautilus

M629 review page by
Ken/888

External
Links:
http://www.smith-wesson.com/
http://www.impactguns.com/store/smith_m629.html
888’s
review page
– full of Tanaka goodness, including
fine tuning and some useful power-up tweaks!

RedWolf’s
Magnum 44 8inch review
– As ever it’s a wonderful review
from RedWolf, putting the true Dirty Harry spin on it!

Comment
on this review in the forums

Click here to visit WGC


Last modified:
Wednesday, May 9, 2001 9:37 AM Copyright 2001 ArniesAirsoft




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