Marushin XM177E2 Plug-Fire Review

Marushin PFC firingMarushin XM177E2
Plug-Fire Review
(Factory version)

by
Will
(aka R22Master)
Stock
Specifications

FPS

0 (No Projectile Fired)

Length:
770mm
Barrel
Length:
380mm

Weight:
2.2
Kg (unloaded)

Ammo
capacity:

30*
/ 20
 *
= Included with gun


NOTE:
You can click on any of the
photographs below for a
larger image.


Marushin “Colt
XM177E2” Factory Set Plug-Fire Cartridge Blank Firing Replica

As many of you may
already know, I have been interested in shooting
sports for over 20 years now and during that time
have enjoyed air rifles, airsoft, real-steel, blank
firers, shotguns, and various bits of military kit I
have been allowed to play with because I said I’d be
good.

My favourite has
always been real-steel for three main reasons.

1. The pure fun
of firing (noise, recoil, mechanical action,
etc…),
2. The variety of different guns and the varying
ways they all operate,
3. The incredible application of clever and
functional engineering.


With the current (and in my view, rather draconian)
firearm laws in the UK, options are limited to say
the least.  I have been interested in Airsoft
since the late 1980’s, but ultimately the “whizz-phut-whizz-phut”
of an AEG just doesn’t satisfy in the same way
real-steel firearms do.  So obviously I started
jumping up and down with joy when I first saw some
videos of PFC guns firing.

PFC ModelGuns PFC stands for “Plug-Fire Cartridge”, and PFC Guns are also known
as “ModelGuns”.  They operate using caps to
pressurise a cartridge, which forces the mechanism
to ‘blow-back’ in a way similar to real-steel guns.

They have been around
since long before the explosion in Airsoft’s
popularity, and it was Airsoft’s success that
seriously reduced the ModelGun market.  This is
why you don’t see many ‘modern’ designs in the
ModelGun market (like the MP5, G36, P90, etc…). 
Most guns sold today have had several previous
owners and there are precious few still in
production.

CMC make some of the
best replicas and Hudson make some nice full metal
models, but the Hudson cartridges are of a slightly
different design to most that is in some ways, not
as good as the competition.  Marushin and MGC
also have some excellent guns in their collection.

Different calibre
guns have different calibre cartridges, just like
their real-steel counterparts.  The Colt .45
replicas have .45ACP sized cartridges, where the .44
Magnum revolvers use .44 cartridges.  One other
thing worth noting is that different brands of PFC
gun have different cartridges that are not always
compatible.  For example, The Marushin 5.56mm
cartridges I own will NOT work in a 5.56mm MGC M4A1,
and vice-versa.

Just like the adverts
say, they look, function, fire and strip just like
the real-steel originals, with the exception that no
projectile (bullet) is launched out of the front
end.  They are similar to blank firers, but
much more quiet and a lot cheaper to shoot (100 9mm
blanks = £25 vs 100 PFC caps = £7).  The other
difference is that PFC guns actually emit smoke (and
a flash if the barrel is short enough) out of the
front end.  Blank firers in the UK cannot do
this, as it would legally turn the blank firer in to
a firearm.

So, I looked around
the various PFC gun web sites and found a few models
that appealed.  After much deliberation, I
decided to get the Marushin XM177E2 Factory Boxed
Set PFC Rifle from


ModelGunCollector.co.uk
.

I chose the ‘Factory
Boxed Set’ version of the Marushin XM177E2 as it is
full-metal, ready-built at the factory, and comes
with a heavyweight bolt for increased recoil. 
It was £355 for the rifle, 5 cartridges,
stripper-clips, the loading tool, and a couple of
hundred caps.

The
package arrives
I ordered the gun,
1,000 caps, and 30 cartridges from

MGCollector
just before Christmas 2004, and was very pleased
when it turned up.

Unfortunately, due to
delays in the system of sending them payment, I
didn’t receive the gun until after the holiday, but
it was here now, so no worries.  I opened the
package and here’s what I got.

  • The Marushin XM177E2 Factory
    version
  • 30 round magazine

  • 30 Marushin .223 Plug-Fire
    Cartridges

  • 600 CP 7mm caps

  • 300 Marushin 7mm caps

  • 100 CP 5mm caps

  • Instruction Manual

  • 2 x Stripper Clips

  • Stripper Clip to Magazine adapter

  • Immitation 5.56mm NATO bullet

  • Cartridge loading tool

  • The Box

Basically, exactly
what I had ordered, plus a few bonus bits I wasn’t
expecting.



First impressions of the replica It’s
good.  Very good.  It’s a little lighter
than the real one, but not much.  The
metal/plastic ratio is identical to the real-steel,
and the ABS plastic used on the grips and stock are
excellent – far better than anything I have seen on
an Airsoft model to date.

There is no creak or
wobble to it, except a little creak in the foregrip,
but that is to be expected (two hollow ABS plastic
halves touching).  The body and most metal
parts are made from pot-metal rather than pressed
steel, but again, it doesn’t
detract from the quality of the replica.

The sights are easy
to use (although ultimately pointless as there is no
need for accuracy with no projectile being fired),
and the rear sight has the traditional small / large
aperture switchable mechanism (pictured
here
).


The magazine is
essentially a real one – a real-steel M16 style 30
round magazine!  Goodie.  It even holds
real-steel ammunition (pictured
right, holding 5.56mm NATO Blank cartridges – NOT to
be used in the gun itself though – just for
illustration purposes
).

The slightly lighter
weight of the model did catch my attention when I
first picked it up, but luckily a loaded magazine
(with the PFC cartridges supplied) remedies this
instantly.  It is by no means a heavy gun, but
it would fool most people with it’s loaded weight.

The working parts all
work.  By this I mean that the cocking lever
cocks the gun, the slide-release releases the slide
and the forward assist assists forward motion of the
bolt.  The trigger guard even opens up to allow
the use of thick winter gloves (photo
here
).

As a nice touch, the
date of manufacture makes up part of the serial
number.  Mine was made in September 1981.



To
finish off the package are the ‘Stripper-Clips’. 
These are the strips that hold 10 rounds ready to be
easily and rapidly inserted in to the magazine. 
Widely used in the military for their real-steel
small arms, they allow the shooter to carry a lot of
extra rounds, without the bulk, weight, or cost of
excessive extra magazines.  Shown on the left (and
a close up photo available here
), they
are attached to the magazine via the included
adapter, and allow you to load 10 rounds in to the
magazine within a second.  Very impressive and
it really hammers home the fact that this replica is
as real as you can get without incurring the wrath
of your local Police Armed Response Unit.

All in all, I was
very impressed, and I hadn’t even fired it yet.

The
vital statistics for this replica are:

Calibre:

.223 Marushin
9.5 x 45mm Cartridge

Length: 770mm
Barrel Length: 380mm
Weight (unloaded): 2.2Kg
Ammunition: 1 x 7mm and 1 x 5mm cap per
cartridge
Magazine capacity: 30 (20 round ‘Vietnam’
style magazines are also available)
Firing Mode: Safe, Semi-Automatic,
Fully-Automatic
Metal Component Construction: Zinc Alloy
Plastic Component Construction: ABS
Year of Manufacture: 1981

Firing – Part 1 – “The first shots…” Right, now the reason
I got the gun.  5 cartridges came ready loaded.  I took one of them apart so that I could see how the
experts did it, and confident I had grasped the
reloading technique, I let loose with 5 rounds.



They
went off ok, but my first problem immediately
presented itself.  The cartridges didn’t eject
properly.  As each one fired, it stayed in
front of the bolt, causing the bolt to try to ram 2
cartridges in to the breech upon its forward return. 
Obviously this wasn’t going to happen, so the end
result was a feed-jam.  After pulling back the
bolt and removing the spent cartridge, I tried
again.  Another jam.  Then another, then
another.  Ever get that sinking feeling? 
Well at this point I was sinking faster than a
fishing weight in the Atlantic Ocean.

I double-checked the
handy diagram that came with the gun, showing
exactly how to reload the cartridges, and reloaded a
few more (all 30 to be precise).  I loaded the
magazine and started firing again.  More
feed-jams – almost every single round.  The gun
did reload a couple correctly, but a burst of two
was the most it would fire in succession.  At
this point, I was definitely not impressed, so I sent
an e-mail off to

MGCollector

detailing the problem.

Knowing it would take
a while for them to get back to me (it was Friday
evening, e-mails are only answered once a week-day,
and they provided no other means of contact), my
gun-smithing experience kicked in.  I was going
to figure out what was causing the reloading
problems myself.  After a fair bit of testing,
I realised that the extractor arm (that holds the
cartridges tight against the front of the bolt,
pulling the used cartridge out of the breech) was
sunk too deep in to the bolt, and was unable to
latch on to any of the cartridges.

Before I received a
reply though, something pretty nasty happened. 
During some more diagnostic testing, a part came
loose inside the gun and pushed by the bolt’s forward
motion, snapped the rear holding-lug clean off the
back of the upper-receiver.  The gun swung open
as if field-stripping (even though the rear body-pin
was still in place, holding on to what was left of
the lug) and the gun wouldn’t go back together.

At that point, I hit
the bottom of the Atlantic.

The gun was hardly
cheap and here I was with a physically broken gun,
that wouldn’t even work correctly when it first
arrived.  I sent off another more urgent e-mail
to

MGCollector

describing what had happened and spent the rest of
the weekend with a gun that couldn’t even be picked
up without the bolt falling out on to the floor.

Monday afternoon, and
two e-mails appeared in my Inbox.  The first
was in response to the gun’s failure to cycle
cartridges through it correctly, and stated that
they would happily take a look at the gun if I sent
it back to them.  The second one acknowledged
that the ‘major development’ that saw the upper
receiver’s rear lug snap off was a rare, if not
unique problem.  After a few e-mails back and
forth, they sent me out a replacement upper-receiver
(new) and a new extractor arm, free of charge. 
I fitted them both, loaded up some cartridges and
let rip.  Jam.  The same problem as before
was still evident.

After stripping the
bolt down entirely, I could see what the problem
was.  An internal piece of the inner bolt had
warped by the continuous hits to the extractor arm
caused by the jamming cartridges.  This jamming
problem had obviously been happening long before I
ever got my hands on the gun.  I sent a photo
back to

MGCollector

showing clearly what the problem was (photo). 
I also decided to strip down the entire gun and find
a few answers to some of my other questions (i.e.
why were the cartridges getting so badly damaged at
the back when fired, where there any other age/use
related failures I should know about now, and why
did the

firing arm just
snap in half during testing
?).  I
found additional faults with the igniter pin
(corroded through a prior lack of cleaning), the
selector switch (a worn edge caused it to
automatically switch from full to semi-auto on a
trigger-pull) the

firing arm
return spring
and the

outer bolt
.

The e-mail was sent
detailing all my findings, and waited for the reply. 
MGCollector asked that I return the faulty items and
they would replace them free of charge.  I
packaged up the entire bolt assembly (containing
most of the faulty items) as well as the selector
switch, and sent it off by next-day Special
Delivery.  They replaced every part for me and
sent the new bits back within the week, along with a
free black sling, 100 free caps, a new loading tool
(the old one was too short), and a 10% discount on
my next order by way of an apology for the problems
I had experienced.  This was very nice of them
and turned what was a very bad experience in to a
minor inconvenience.  Overall I was happy
again.

I assembled the
parts, loaded up more cartridges and hoped for the
best (although by this time I wasn’t expecting a
miracle).

Firing – Part 2 – “After the health-check…” Bang.  The first
shot fired and the cartridge ejected as it was
supposed to.  Bang.  Another worked fine. 
Bang.  The third shot did what it was supposed
to as well.  The grin grew across my face.  Dare I try full-auto now?



Ba-ba-ba-ba-bam! 
Wow!  A burst!  The cartridges were
ejecting, the gun was working, and the selector
switch wasn’t resetting to semi-auto by itself. 
As I fired the rest of the 30 cartridges, there were
a few jams, but nothing like the number of problems
I had been having previously.

‘Full-Auto Joy’ had
me gripped now as I reloaded the cartridges
repeatedly, firing away and laughing manically
(well, maybe not in the way a James Bond Bad-Guy
would, but I sure was one happy camper).

Before long (after a
few hours), I realised I had used up about 500 caps. 
Well, they had made me happy, but I quickly added
more PFC caps to my shopping list.  Now it was
most definitely time to give the gun a good clean.

Field-Stripping In order to clean the
gun (essential with PFC guns), I had to take it
apart.  This is where PFC guns have a BIG
advantage over Airsoft guns.  They field-strip,
just like the real-steel versions.

I pushed out the rear
body-pin, swung open the receiver and removed the
bolt (as shown in the following photos)…


1.


2.


3.

The gun can be
stripped down to this extent in a few seconds with
no tools and goes back together just as easily. 
The gun can be stripped down a lot further if
required, separating it in to individual components,
but this is not always necessary.



Upon
opening the gun for the first time, I was hard
pressed to tell the difference between the PFC
XM177E2 and the real-steel one.  Sure, the
walls of the gun are a bit thicker, but the internals
are pretty much identical inside the lower receiver. 
Obviously their construction is not of the same
strength, so any attempt to convert one of these to
a real firearm would most likely result in the
shooter being blown up within the first shot, but
the realism of the mechanical components was exactly
what I had been looking for (due to my love of
firearm mechanics).

The manual that comes
with the gun also features a very useful

‘exploded
diagram’ of parts
.

Comparing the
PFC XM177E2 to the Airsoft XM177E2 AEG
To give
Airsofters a good idea of how this replica
stacks up against the Airsoft equivalent (and
just because I had one knocking around), here is
how the Marushin XM177E2 Factory Rifle compares
to the Tokyo Marui XM177E2 First Edition AEG
(1992 model).  In the following photos, the
upper model is the Airsoft one, the lower is the
PFC gun.





The size of the
two models is pretty much the same.  The
PFC gun is slightly longer (only about 1cm), but
the height and length scale is identical.


The
width of the models though is different. 
The Airsoft AEG is noticeably wider (shown
right).  This is because the Airsoft gun
has to house a gearbox, piston, motor and
battery, whereas the PFC gun does not. 
Basically, the result is that the PFC gun is
identical
to the real-steel in all
dimensions, whereas the Airsoft version is not.




The foregrips are
also different.  Again, the PFC model has
MUCH more realistic foregrips than the Airsoft
version, both in size and texture.

The airsoft
foregrip is larger, as it has to hold a
battery.


 

 

The triggers are
different too.  Most notably, the trigger
in the PFC gun (pictured below, closest to the camera)
is set further back than the Airsoft one.  The real-steel gun’s trigger
placement is closer to that of the Airsoft gun
in this case.



Looking inside the
mag-well shows instantly the differences
between the two models.  The
Airsoft gun contains the front of the
gearbox and the BB feed tube. 
Looking in to the PFC gun’s mag-well
reveals the underside of the bolt.

You can
also see the difference in the width of
the two guns fairly easily in this
photo.

The
magazines themselves are radically
different.  As you can see, the AEG
magazine is wider, shorter and has the
BB feeding system mounted on the top.

The PFC
gun’s magazine is taller, open at the
top and geared up for a totally
different type of ammunition.

The hole
that the mag-latch sits in when inserted
to the gun is also in a different place
on each magazine, due to the different
depths they can be seated to in each
model (the PFC gun seats its magazine
deeper than the AEG).



Finally,
the rear surface of the butt-plate has a
very different texture on each gun.

The PFC
gun (on the left) has a fairly flat,
smooth, diamond shaped pattern moulded
in to the plate which does not work very
well in a non-slip capacity, but would
be more comfortable to absorb recoil
through.

The AEG
(on the right) has a far more
pronounced stippling on its butt-plate
which grips clothing nicely and stops
the stock from sliding around (not that
that is a problem anyway with an Airsoft
gun).  The finish is reminiscent of
the business end of a steak-tenderizer.

The only other
noticeable cosmetic differences are…

1. The PFC gun
does not have the bayonet-lug on the under-side
of the front-sight assembly.

2. The Airsoft
gun has an imitation gas feed tube running
through the upper side of the foregrip and in to
the upper receiver, where the PFC model does
not.  This took me several weeks to notice
though, so it’s not a big deal.

The Caps PFC guns work
using caps.  These are impact-sensitive
explosive devices made of a rubberized plastic
compound with the explosive charge seated in the
centre.  The charge itself is not
particularly powerful, but could be dangerous if
detonated outside the gun near a person’s eyes.  Basically, be sensible with them and they are
very safe.  Do NOT
poke or prod the charge inside the cap, as it
could easily go off.


There are two
different sizes of cap that are required for the
successful operation of this gun.  A 7mm
and a 5mm (diameter) cap is required for each
loaded cartridge.  The 5mm cap sits inside
the 7mm cap, boosting the power output to a
level that will successfully cycle the gun. 
A 7mm cap alone will not provide enough power to
successfully operate the gun’s blowback action.

There are also
two different brands of 7mm caps that are easily
available.  The MG Caps (pictured above)
are the standard and most widely used caps. 
They produce a decent amount of power and a nice
cloud of smoke when fired.  They don’t
produce much in the way of a flash though,
although any muzzle-flash is more noticeable in
short barrelled pistols than in rifles such as
the XM177E2.  The other brand is “Marushin”
7mm caps.  These produce slightly less
smoke, but produce a very nice flash which
occasionally look like sparks.  The
animated image of me firing the rifle at the top
of this page shows the Marushin 7mm caps in
action.



Loading the Cartridges The
cartridges are relatively easy to load, but can
be quite time consuming if you are loading a lot
of them. 
They take less time than reloading real-steel
cartridges and they need no press or die set.  The only tool needed is the reloading tool
supplied with the gun, although I find a .38
Special bullet-block to be a very helpful
gadget, keeping all of the cartridges together
during the reloading process (see photo on the
left).

NOTE: Cartridges
should be cleaned thoroughly after they are used
– as soon afterwards as possible, before
corrosion begins or the residues get too firmly
stuck to the metal.  If you neglect the
cleaning, your cartridges will not work as they
were meant to.

To reload, first
you take the cartridge apart to separate its
three components – the base-cap, the piston and
the main casing (shown
here
).  Then…


Firstly, insert the piston (the small
circular ‘floating valve’ with one side flat and
the other side cone-shaped).  The
piston is inserted ‘cone-side’ first. 
This should drop down to the bottom (the
front) of the main casing.  If it
doesn’t, the cartridge needs cleaning.


Secondly, the 7mm cap needs to be
inserted.  This gets pushed in to
the back of the main casing, rounded end
first with the red coloured explosive chemical still
visible from the cartridges opening (the
Marushin brand 7mm caps have a black
coloured explosive compound).


Press the cap in firmly with your
finger.


Take the supplied reloading tool and
align the wide end directly over the
back of the cap.  It should fit on
top of the cap nicely.


Push the reloading tool down on to the
cap, so that the cap is pushed in to the
main casing to the correct depth.

Now
take a 5mm cap and drop it in to the
casing.  It should be facing the
same way as the 7mm cap (rounded end
down), and should fit inside the 7mm
cap’s cavity.


This does NOT need to be pressed down
with the loading tool – just make sure
it is in the right place and facing the
right way.


You
can see (just about) the green 5mm cap
sitting inside the bronze coloured 7mm
cap.  The red part you can see is
the explosive compound in the centre of
the 5mm cap.


Take the base cap and screw it on to the
back of the main casing.


Once this is screwed on tight, you have
your fully reloaded Plug-Fire Cartridge!

 

Frequently
Asked Questions
Below I will try
to pre-empt the various questions I can see
coming my way…

Q: How loud is
this gun?
A:
Not very.  It is no-where near as
loud as blank firers, and is quieter even than a
.22 short (6mm) blank firing starter-gun. 
It does make a satisfying bang though which is
still louder than the cap guns we all used to
play with as kids.

Q: Will the
noise disturb my neighbours?
A:
Not unless you live in a tent.

Q: If these
guns produce muzzle-flash, aren’t they legally
classified as Firearms in the UK?
A:
No.  The Plug-Fire Cartridge does
NOT vent its gas directly through the barrel
upon firing.  The exhaust gasses, flame and
smoke are only released down the barrel once the
cartridge has left the breech, so they have no
‘back-pressure’ capable of launching a
projectile.  The main difference in the
eyes of the law is that the Plug Fire Cartridges
are ignited from the FRONT, rather than from a
firing pin and percussion cap at the rear of the
cartridge, like a blank firer.

Q: But I can
see the percussion cap on the back of each
cartridge in your photos.
A:
Not really a question, but the
‘percussion cap’ you see there is only an
imitation for the purposes of realism.

Q: What sort
of cleaning and maintenance do these guns need?
A:
The cartridges and gun will need regular
cleaning, depending on how often you shoot the
gun.  The caps burn ‘dirty’, meaning they
leave a thick residue on the inside of the
cartridges and the mechanism of the gun from the
breech forwards.  Cartridges will need a
quick clean after each use, and a thorough clean
after every 3 or 4 uses.  The cartridges
are best cleaned with pipe-cleaners, brass wire
brushes and for a thorough clean, hot soapy
water.  The gun can be taken apart and
cleaned in much the same way.  Neglect your
cleaning duties and it will soon stop working
properly.  ALWAYS clean the cartridges and
gun thoroughly before storing for a long period,
or the residues will corrode the components over
time.

Q: How long do
these guns and their parts last?
A:
My personal experiences might lead the
casual observer to think that these guns break
easily, but I don’t believe that is the case. 
The parts are of good enough quality to last
many years, but if you abuse the gun or don’t
look after it, things will go wrong.  As a
careful owner, I don’t expect many more problems
with my ModelGun.

Q: Are
replacement parts available if things do go
wrong?
A:
For this gun, yes.  Lots of them. 
Ask your vendor about the parts they stock, and
they should be able to fulfil your needs. 
Some other models are much harder to get spare
parts for though, so ask before you buy.

Q: Can I put
real bullets / blanks through this gun?
A:
No.  They won’t fit in the breech,
as the igniter-pin is there.  This is the
pin that ignites the caps from the front of the
cartridge.

Q: Can I take
out the igniter pin and put real bullets /
blanks through the gun?
A:
No.  The breech is not deep enough.

Q: If I deepen
the breech, can I fire live bullets / blanks in
this gun?
A:
See a doctor mate!  You’d need
special tools to do this, and even then, you’d
need to accurately and precisely reshape the
breech.  If you did this, you still have to
get round the problem of the gun having no
firing pin.  Even if you redesigned the
entire bolt so that it did, the gun would
explode in your face the moment you pulled the
trigger!  The breech, barrel and body of
the gun are made from relatively weak
‘monkey-metal’ and could not possibly withstand
the pressures caused by either a live blank or
bullet. 

See this
photograph which shows (for comparison only) the
different amounts of power that PFC guns and
Real-Steel guns put out (shown as amounts of
gun-powder for easy comprehension)

This is a model, a replica, a toy – NOT a
firearm.

Q: What
upgrades and accessories are available for this
gun?
A:
Read on…

Upgrades,
Accessories and Bolt-ons
The
ModelGuns don’t have all that much in the way of
accessories or upgrades, but they don’t really
need them.  Many Airsoft accessories such
as the M203 Grenade Launcher and various Scope
Mounts will fit this PFC gun quite happily.

Speak to your
ModelGun stockist to find out exactly what
accessories will fit.  Many stockists carry
Airsoft and Real-Steel accessories that will fit
this, and many other PFC guns.

Upgrades aren’t
really required for PFC guns.  After all,
they’re never going to be made more ‘powerful’
as they don’t shoot a projectile, and there is
little market for altering the rate of fire as they
fire pretty realistically out of the box.



Filming & Collecting These
are probably the two main uses for PFC guns. 
Due to their realism of operation, they are
excellent for filming purposes.  They shoot
a cloud of smoke, operate just like their
real-steel counterparts, and eject cases in a
very realistic manner.  Many a low-budget
blockbuster has its gun-play firmly supported by
ModelGuns, and I know they have crept in to a
few higher budget flicks too.

One movie of note
that has used quite a few MGC M16A1 ModelGuns
was Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 movie “Full
Metal Jacket
“.  These were
mainly used by troops in non firing roles but if
you know what to look for, you can identify
which actors are carrying them.

If you are
looking for a cheap way to simulate realistic
firearm use in a country where real firearms
are prohibited, look no further.

The other main
market is collectors.  As these guns are so
realistic in appearance, they make ideal
candidates for wall-hanging and amazing fellow
enthusiasts.  They look, feel, operate and
strip just like the real thing and in a country
like the UK, you are unlikely to find anything
with all these qualities within the legal
spectrum.  It is just a shame that more
modern firearms are not replicated in this
format (such as the P90, the MP5, the MP7 and
others).

The Future of
PFC Guns
Here’s where I
will take an educated guess.  ModelGuns
were much more popular before the popularity of
Airsoft exploded in the East in the last 10
years.  They almost disappeared altogether,
and could easily have done if it weren’t for
their ardent fan-base.

Now though, with
firearm laws being tightened up around the
world, the future is looking brighter for
ModelGuns.  The way they operate is so
similar, yet so different from real-steel guns,
they are still legal in pretty much any country
that has not banned all firearm replicas.

About
ModelGunCollector
I must admit,
what drew me to


ModelGunCollector
in the first place
was their prices.  That and the fact that
they were the first people to get back to me
regarding my original enquiry by quite a long
way.  I took this as a good sign.



MGCollector

have been in business since late 2002, and is
run entirely by enthusiasts.  They have
many classic models of their own and their aim
is to help fellow collectors source the guns and
parts they need.  They have recently been
looking at acquiring a showroom for the
ModelGuns, but due to recent increases in the
number of web based customers, they have decided
to shelve these plans for the immediate future
so that they can keep their current level of
service up for existing buyers.

First, the two
bad points about MGCollector.

1. I wasn’t a fan of
their web site as it just left too many
questions unanswered.  For example,
both the Marushin XM177E2 and the MGC M4A1
are listed as constructed from ABS plastic
and Metal.  Correct of course, but it
doesn’t let on to the fact that the Marushin
model has a metal body and the MGC model has
a plastic body.  This is a big deciding
factor for anyone looking for a good
replica, so the lack of information could
really put some people off, delay other
potential buyers, and ultimately cost the
company a lot of time answering the same
questions via e-mail over and over again. 
It could also lead some customers in to
buying something they aren’t happy with.

2. The only contact
method for this company is their e-mail
address.  This means that it is
impossible to get quick answers to quick
questions, and you will have to wait until
the following day to get your answer, and
then more days go by as you follow up and
get all of the information you want. 
Now I can see why they work this way – after
all, they don’t have a massive show-room and
staff members standing idle.  But a
phone number you could call for those quick
questions would really help, and it would
inspire customer confidence in their
company.  Maybe they will get a
cordless phone & headset so that someone can
answer incoming calls while packaging orders
in the future, but for now it’s e-mail only.

Both of the above
points are also traits of the other UK internet
resellers as well, but if

MGCollector

were to fix these, they would undoubtedly be by
far the best ModelGun reseller in the UK. 
Here’s hoping.  For now, just allow several
days to ask your questions and finalize your
order.

Now, the good
points.

1. This company is run
by enthusiasts.  This means that the
advice they give is accurate, helpful, and
they take a pride in the service they offer.

2. They are honest and
trustworthy in my experience.  Despite
the severe problems I had, they did
everything they could have been expected to
do to get things fixed.  Most of the
problems I have experienced were down to a
lack of care by a previous owner. 
Normally this would have been detected by
the folks at


MGCollector
, but due to their
Christmas rush, and my hurry to get the
replica, they didn’t have chance to check
the model for problems before dispatching
it.  Normally, every model is checked
and tested (except for brand new models)
before they are sent out.

3. Their web site has
some very good photos of the models on it. 
Great eye candy that also gives you a good
idea of what the different models look like.

4. Their prices are
good – better than anywhere else I have
found in the UK.

5. They carry spare
parts in stock for many ModelGuns (although
not all, subject to stock availability). 
Ask them about part availability for your
model.

6. From all the
e-mails I have sent to the various PFC
ModelGun sellers in the UK,


MGCollector
have been the fastest
to reply with the information.  It may
take a day to get the info you need, but
that is a lot better than waiting the best
part of a week for a simple answer to a
simple question.

So, overall I
would recommend them to anyone wanting to buy a
PFC gun in the UK.

Summary As
mentioned in my ICS MP5-A4 review on this site, I
am by nature extremely fussy and will never settle for
second best – ask anyone who knows me – Life is just
too short to put up with “almost good enough”.  This gun is
a great replica and if you, like me, are after
something that looks like a real gun, works like a
real gun, but doesn’t break the law, cost too much
or annoy the neighbours, I would seriously advise
you to look at the range of PFC guns.

Would I recommend
this particular gun to you?  It depends. 
The Marushin range includes kits, standard guns and
Factory sets.  The kits are just that – kits. 
They arrive in pieces and you have to put them
together.  The standard guns are great. 
They are often full metal in construction and work
nicely.  The Factory set is not available for
all models, but on this model, it indicates that the
gun has a heavier bolt, comes with a 30 round curved
magazine, and has a steel flash-hider.  The
Factory guns were also manufactured as a limited run
in the early 1980’s, so you won’t find a new one. 
These factory improvements are great, but the
heavier bolt can cause problems if the gun is not in
tip-top condition.  As the bolt is heavier, any
resistance to the bolt will stop the bolt from
moving back in the manner it should, and this can
lead to jams.



If
you want an easier life, avoid the Factory set. 
If you want the ultimate, are relatively
mechanically minded, and are happy to get
your hands dirty (or are an avid collector), the
Factory set might well be the one for you.

This gun is great,
but does have its downsides.  It MUST be taken
care of and has to be kept clean (like most
ModelGuns).  If you’re
after a toy to play with and then leave in a closet,
don’t get a ModelGun – get a cheap Airsoft gun
instead.  If you want realism though, PFC guns
are great fun.

I also found quite a
few loose pins and parts that can fall out without
notice.  I recommend to any new user that they
put at least 100 shots through their new PFC gun
somewhere where they will easily be able to find
those small objects that may drop from the gun. 
After the 100 shots, make sure everything is nice
and secure, and you’re good to go.

I let an ex-SAS
friend of mine have a play with my PFC XM177E2 the
other day, and while he did notice that it was a
little light (although he is used to the MUCH
heavier SA80), he was impressed with the operation
of this gun.

Conclusion I like my new PFC
ModelGun.  It took me a lot of time and effort
to get to this stage, but I am now a happy owner.  To me it represents the long lost days of firearm
ownership, without the legal hassles of licensing,
inspections and expensive gun club membership.

I love the recoil,
but don’t like the feed-jams.  I appreciate the
realism, but am not too keen on the ‘monkey-metal’
construction.  I enjoy the cheap caps, but
don’t like the pricey cartridges.

There is good and bad
in most things, but the balance tips in favour of
the good with this model.  If you can live with
the niggles, I would highly recommend it.  If
you can’t, there are plenty of other things on the
market that might tickle your fancy.  My
ModelGun has suffered FAR more problems than most and I would
be very surprised to hear of another user having a
worse experience than I have had, but then I am famously
unlucky with replica guns.  I am the man who
destroyed 8 Tokyo Marui MP5s within 2 months, just
by shooting them normally (and about another 5 that
died within seconds at the shop, in front of a
bemused shopkeeper).  If it can survive or
impress me, it is a recommendation indeed.  Many
have failed, but this gun gets the R22 Seal of
Approval
.  I can’t say fairer than that.

Build
and Performance

+
It feels VERY solid.
+ It is VERY solid.
+ No body creak.
+ Full-Metal construction.
+ Better plastic work than you get with
Airsoft models.
+ Exceptionally realistic operation.
+ Ideal for filming.
+ This gun is FUN to shoot.

– Initial MAJOR problems and failures.
– Regular cleaning required.
– A little light, but still pretty
realistic.

8
/ 10

Value
for Money

A
full metal XM177E2, one of the most realistic
replicas I have ever seen, great for filming
and collecting, they can be used at home
without annoying the neighbours, and they
hold their resale value nicely if taken care
of.

They are
expensive to buy though (about £450 in total
for the gun, accessories, caps and
cartridges I ordered).  Caps are cheaper than
blanks, but when using 2 caps per shot, you
don’t save all that much.

7
/ 10

Overall
Potential

If you want
this gun for filming, collecting or just to
use something with a high level of realism
in a locale that doesn’t allow real-steel,
this is great.

I
haven’t been able to put it down for more than
10 minutes since I bought it, and have used
a horrendous number of caps.  I have
also spent a lot of time cleaning and
reloading the cartridges, as well as
repairing and modifying various parts on the
gun, but I actually got a lot of enjoyment
out of doing it.

I’m happy.

8
/ 10

by
Will (aka R22Master)

Comment on this review in the forums

 

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