Tanaka P226 Rail Frame

Tanaka
P226 Rail Frame

by Arnie

Stock
Specifications
FPS
280-300m/s
(134a/0.2g)
Length:
???mm
Barrel
Length:
?
Weight: 720g
with mag (mag 300g)


Capacity:

21
rounds

RRP £140
(£35 for mags)


This
piece was kindly supplied for review by AirsoftDynamics.
The Tanaka P226 was selected for review by you, our readers
in our last poll. ^_^

*Small
side bar here: A lot of manufacturers ‘drop’ certain lines
and models. These reports really can be taken with a pinch
of salt, as almost all Japanese manufacturers have limited
floor space, so whilst they produce a new product something
has to be shelved the new production is going ahead.

It’s
fairly common for manufacturers to produce a ‘glut’ of the
product they are about to temporarily shelve before they
drop that line for the time being. This stock then sites
with their dealers who even the flow of product sales.

The
net result is that even though a specific item may not be
made at any one time, it’s almost certainly going to be available
somewhere.

Tanaka’s
history:
Tanaka’s GBB range has not exactly been something
to write home about; in fact up until Tanaka brought out their
new Pegasus revolver range (about 2 years back now) Tanaka were
strictly a paperweight production company. Sure the products
looked good, but they were anything but skirmish proof. Spares
were a complete nightmare to get hold of, and you were truly
fortunate if you had a GBB magazine from Tanaka that could retain
gas.

The
original P226 from Tanaka was not hugely powerful; although
it was the best looking and built P226 copy you could get hold
of at the time.

So
(as mentioned above) in a nutshell Tanaka went from producing
realistic and functional paperweights to producing the likes
of the Kar98k
and M629. I can offer
no explanation for this ‘sudden’ change, perhaps their R&D
fellow fell and hit his head on the bathroom rink whist changing
a light bulb and had a revelation? Well we’ll never know really.
^_^

The
Tanaka P226 rail-frame is Tanaka’s latest GBB release a faithful
replica of SIG’s own latest P226 variant, and should build upon
their previous releases. Taking into account Tanaka’s recent
history the new release promises more than just an average GBB.
All of their recent releases (bar a couple of minor glitches…
RedHawk anyone?) have been powerful, accurate and good looking
pieces of kit, combine that with their past quality in their
SIG line, the licensed gas/valve system from WesternArms and
the straight assumption is that they have a winner on their
hands.

The
straight truth is that it’s not that simple, then again what
is in the Airsoft industry?


Out the box:
The SIG comes in a good-looking
box, much like the M629 there’s a colourful photo on the box
and the reassuring Tanaka logo. Hey it’s not much but it beats
the boring gray boxes you get some things in.

Breaking
open the box you find the pistol itself, a little bag of BBs,
two little Allen keys, the manual (with insert) and the spare
barrel. Strangely you get no mag loading gear in the box – but
read on and you’ll see why.

You
get no handy red barrel plug with this item I’m afraid. It’s
not essential but I quite like keeping my GBBs with the plug
firmly in place whilst they are stored away – it just feels
safer that’s all.

I’m
used to finding the mag seated detached from the pistol, but
I found this GBB with the mag in, and I was also pleasantly
surprised to find the mag was pressurized and all working parts
were nicely lubed. AD had kindly checked the pistol out and
test fired/cleaned it before shipping which was a very nice
touch.

Boris
the Blade (Snatch) always says, “Weight is good, weight
is a sign of reliability. If it does not work you can always
hit them with it.”

Well
the P226 doesn’t disappoint, it is a fairly hefty item. The
Tanaka Airsoft version weighs in (according to online specs)
at 1kg with mag, whereas the real steel is 900g unloaded (mag
is only 68g). Erm.. well that’s what I had read, the
P226 I have here is actually 720g, 300g of that being the mag,
so is actually somewhat lighter than real thing, which is slightly
disappointing.

Okay..
well it’s a faithful rendition of a SIG, but there’s a downside.
Why so plasticy?

Looks:
The SIG is an almost perfect physical copy of the real SIG,
but for some reason they have used fairly standard ABS plastic
for the frame, grips and slide.

On
the original P226 metal parts included the groove lined trigger,
magazine release button, hammer, decocking lever, disassembly
lever, slide release lever, and front/rear sights.

On
this release the same parts are metal, but Tanaka have opted
to coat control levers in a very plastic looking and feeling
paint. I had to look really closely to spot that they were metal.
Believe me they are metal! The control surface for the trigger
is no longer ribbed in this version, instead it is smooth.

Thankfully
the price is lower than that of the previous P226 from Tanaka,
the Rail-Frame coming in at roughly 20% less.

I’m
afraid the word plastic is one that is going to haunt this review.
The outer barrel is sadly plastic, so I’m afraid that the threading
will not last that long if you aren’t careful with it (that
said I do gather that there are some fairly decent lightweight
silencers available that complement the SIG nicely).

That’s
not to say that the barrels don’t look good (remember you do
get two of them), the plastic is actually very matt and dull,
and could easily be confused for metal until you pick it up.
No… my problem with the plastic is not with the barrels, it’s
with the frame. Sadly the lower frame and slide are rather more
plasticy than I’d like. To be fair the real things looks very
fairly plasticy (ref
SIG
promo shots
), but I’m afraid that the mould seam that runs
down the middle of the lower frame is a rather poor show from
Tanaka. It’s one of those things that could easily be solved
if you have some basic modelling skills – or that alternative
choice is to fit a lamp to the front so that you’ll never spot
the seam.

Markings:
The markings are nicely carved into the right places, the
only real giveaway is the Tanaka/ASGK logo on the RHS next to
the trigger.

The
grip:
The grip may look a bit plasticy but it is very comfortable
to hold, and the markings certainly look the part. As you’d
expect the lettering is clearly cut with precision moulding.
On the left side of the grip you’ll find the lettering ‘P226’
and on the right hand side ‘SIG SAUER’.

Comparison
to the real steel:

Jeremy (aka
LoneWolf)
was kind enough to send in some photos of his real SIG P226
for comparison sake. Please note that the serial number has
been edited out (blurred) for obvious reasons. Jeremy’s SIG
has Hogue grips fitted to it – the real SIG grips aren’t up
to much either!

You
can find more of Jeremy’s photos on this
page
.

Behold
the footplate!
You can tell a whole heap has changed from
reading the two parts diagrams – handily Tanaka ship this model
with the original manual, and an insert for the RailFrame, which
allows you to compare the part schematics. Whereas the old SIG
had a mag that looked akin to the WA design, with the gas locking
slide behind the mag valve, the mags on the new RailFrame are
more like what you’ll find on a KSC Beretta.

So
if you decide to buy a replacement Tanaka mag be sure that
you are buying a new mag, and not one of the older mags. Check
that the new mags that you buy come with the thicker footplate
found with the newer model rail-frame P226.

The
previous SIG 226 was a single stack 15 round affair, that is
not the case here – remember this is a complete remake. Here
you’ll find that the capacity has increased and the mag is now
a doublestacker sporting a 21 round capacity.

“These
are not the SIGs you are looking for”:
Having had a
look at the schematics for both the old P226 and the newer rail-frame
and it would appear that there are several major differences
between the two models:

  • The
    pistol’s gas system has been reworked – to be honest it was the
    one real complaint about the old P226, so it’s nice to see it
    addressed.
  • The
    blowback mech has been redesigned. The entire blowback mech has
    been reworked. Looking at the schematics, a lot of the parts that
    were possible weak points (built form two parts, or joins in awkward
    places)
  • The
    safety has been removed – the old P226 had a horrible little safety
    latch next to the hammer. This was not a copy form the real thing,
    rather an addition from Tanaka. It was fairly useless so it’s
    nice to see it go

One
good point is that the recoil spring guide rod is metal, which
always nice to see. To cut it short – this is a compeltely
reworked SIG
, and has nothing in common with the previous
Tanaka SIG release looks, internals and gas systems are entirely
new. For anyone still not believing me I shall wave my hand
in a Jedi fashion and say again – “This is a brand new
SIG design”
. ^_^

Tanaka
have opted for a ‘Nitron’ look. Nitron is SIG’s own coating
treated for strength and wear resistance… okay so it’s just
black plastic. ^_^

The
real SIG is available in Black (Nitron), Two-tone, blued and
stainless. The two-tone will probably be most familiar to you
as Travolta’s pistol in John Woo’s ‘
Face-Off’.

Usability:
The real P226 is very comfortable to hold and use, being
a faithful replica the Tanaka copy is true to the original.
All controls are easy to use from a standard grip/stance.

What’s
it like to use and fire? Well I’ve mentioned that the trigger
is somewhat gritty, but lets get into more detail.

The
pistol is double action, so you can either pull the trigger,
or cock the hammer and then pull the trigger, the latter resulting
in a shorter, lighter trigger pull. The blowback action is swift
and a pleasant experience. There’s plenty of kick in this for
a low weighted GBB, and when rattling through a loaded mag the
slide very nicely catches and locks open on the last shot.

On
this you will notice is that as you pull the trigger back to
fire a shot (without the hammer locked back) the slide will
lift slightly at the rear, not by much, it can only be 0.5-1mm
but it is noticeable. This is because the mechanism that pulls
the trigger back is braced against the slide, thus pushing it
upwards as the hammer rolls back. As the slide is perhaps not
as finely milled as say a KSC or a WA pistol the slack in the
slide runners shows up. This really isn’t a huge issue – it
doesn’t affect the usability of the piece but it’s one worth
mentioning.

Magazines
slide in nice and tightly into the grip, and the mag catch snaps
in very tightly with a reassuring click. I can’t stress how
pleasing it was to find a nice secure mag system. Anyone that’s
owned a WA double stacker can attest to the rather annoying
rattling of the mag in the magwell, and M93r owners will tell
you how annoying the weak mag catch is on them – often leading
to loosing mags whilst holstered. The minor downside with such
a snug fit is that the mag gets longitudinal scratches on it
quite quickly.

Trigger:
The trigger is double action – you can either pull/rack
it back (with the slide) or simply pull the trigger back. The
trigger is rather.. well it’s difficult to put into words but
it is not smooth. I think the best word to describe it is gritty.
Pulling the hammer back without the hammer being pre-cocked
requires a fair amount of pressure.

The
pistol is designed for people with large hands though I’m afraid,
so the fact that the trigger is heavy will not be of much concern
to the average yeti handed purchaser. To anyone that has been
brought up on WesternArm pistols you’ll be shocked with the
SIG’s trigger action.

Functionality:

Safety:
On the real SIG the hammer release lever is reversible –
I’m afraid that the SIG is again a no-lefty item here, as the
catches are most certainly nonreversible. One strange point
of note is that there is no Airsoft safety. My understanding
was that all Airsoft pistols made by ASGK members were required
to have an active safety – even if it was hidden.

SIG
designed the P226 to be easy to use, and in their eyes a safety
will reduce the time it takes to draw the pistol and get the
first shot off. I can understand the idea, but the lack of an
active safety does have obvious disadvantages.

So
this is a truly faithful copy of the real item, and in place
of a safety you have a decocking mechanism (just like the real
thing) that works very nicely, dropping the hammer and making
the weapon safe. Do NOT – I repeat DO NOT be tempted
to pull the trigger and drop the hammer down slowly with your
thumb in an effort to ‘decock’ the SIG unless you really don’t
want a thumb. Dropping the hammer slowly will still result in
the action being fired, and the slide going backwards, and into
your thumb.

Grip:
The grip is made from a clamshell style plastic arrangement.
Both halves of the grip bolt on either side and join at the
back. They have had the foresight to add a lanyard attachment
to the lower corner of the grip, sadly as there’s a split down
the middle (half of the pin being from each half of the grip)
the functionality is somewhat lost as I really won’t trust this
plastic pin to support the weight of the pistol on a lanyard
cord.

One
good point of note is that Pachmayr’s replacement SIG grips
should fit the Tanaka SIG will little or no work. More on this
after I try it myself. ^_^

Sights:
The P226 rail-frame features, Novak style sights, with embedded
white dots, on on the foresight, and two at the rear. There’s
no elevation adjustment, only adjustment for drift/windage.

Mags:
As I’ve mentioned the real steel would only take 10 rounds (15
for law enforcement), this was the same number as the old Tanaka
SIG copy. Here with the newly designed P226 you can get 21 in
a mag.

The
mag features a lovely filling mechanism, and a nice easy to
thumb follower. Remember I said that there was no loading rod
in the box? Well you don’t need one (hooray!.. I have thousands
of the blighters hanging around anyway). Here you simply pull
the follower down with your thumb and drop BBs into the hole
towards the foot of the mag – tilting the mag towards the floor
as you do so. The BBs will naturally stack themselves tidily
in the loading run.

Field
stripping:
For reference I have scanned in the P226RF
manual for you. Slide removal is much like that of any other
GBB, simply remove the magazine, lock the slide back (engage
the slide lock lever) and then rotate the slide release lever
downwards to the 6 o’clock position.

There
is some resistance to the rotation of the lever, as unlike the
Beretta there is no switch to release it, so you’ll need to
apply slightly more force than usual to move it.

With
the lever rotated, simply release the slide catch and pull the
slide off towards the muzzle. As the guiderod is captive you
don’t have to worry about things falling or flying out (which
is very nice).


With
the slide off you’ll see that almost all the internals are metal,
apart form a few pieces such as the nozzle and blowback piston.
This is again nice to see. The reason for the somewhat ‘gritty’
trigger action is also apparent with the slide off, as there
are just so many springs inside. Unlike the Western Arms leaf
spring system, a lot of the mechanism for the trigger is comprised
of rotational springs. This is not necessarily a bad thing it’s
just a different way of doing things really.

Barrel
swapping:
Swapping the barrels around isn’t as easy as you
might think it would be. You’ll notice that if you try to remove
the threaded barrel with the blowback unit in place that there’s
not enough room to get the barrel out.

To
swap barrels first strip the pistol (as shown above) remove
the recoil spring and guiderod and then unscrew the two screws
in the blowback unit – the blowback unit being bolted to the
rear sight. You’ll see that the guiderod is captive, and held
in place by a small metal pin at the rear – simply pull the
rod backwards to remove it.

Now
carefully slide the barrel section away from the blowback mechanism
-you need to do this to remove the metal block. You will notice
that the mechanism latches onto the barrel so carefully pull
the barrel towards the muzzle until it detaches.

Once
you have the two screws undone all the way remove the blowback
unit and carefully extract the barrel. With the barrel set extracted
you need to remove the inner barrel from the outer barrel.

Remove
the pin through the side of the barrel and carefully pull the
inner barrel out. Do this with the barrel upright (i.e. at the
same angle as if you were pointing the pistol away form yourself).
I recommend you do this as there is a tiny metal ball bearing
(#17) in the top of the innerbarrel/hopunit that will fall out
if you are not careful.

Now
simply replace the outer barrel with the one that you wish to
swap it for and rebuild. To reassemble simply go through these
steps backwards.

Hopup
adjustment:

Adjusting the hopup is done via the small Allen key bolt
above the barrel inlet. Simply lock the slide back to
locate the nut. An Allen key of the right size is provided
with the P226, and can be found the in the box.

The
Allen key is quite long and affords you a lot of leverage,
so be careful not to over tighten things when adjusting
the hopup.

Turn
the nut clockwise to wind hopup on, and anticlockwise
to turn it off. If you tighten up the nut ,by turning
it clockwise until you feel it get noticeably tighter,
you’ll find that 4 complete turns is all you need to wind
the hopup completely off. The hopup nut is relatively
loose, it hasn’t undone itself in my tests, but it’s worth
keeping an eye on for the future.

Maintenance:
Keeping the Sig is good nick is relatively easy. Ensure
that before storage the pistol is stripped and cleaned inside,
then apply a coating of silicon spray to the internals, the
upper face of the mag and the gas system. The moving parts of
the barrel set will benefit from a small coating of silicon
lube (not spray). For long term storage (over 2 months) I would
recommend keeping it cleaned and lubed inside a sealed ziplock
freezer bag. This guidance not really specific to this model
and applies to most GBB pistols.

Grouping:
I will be testing the ranged accuracy at around about 20 feet,
but I’m waiting to take it out to the next urban skirmish for
some proper endurance field tests – results to follow.

Power:
Tanaka recommend that you use HFC134a. I would recommend
the same – and have exclusively used HFC134a (
Abbey
Predator 134a Gas
) in all my tests here. The pistol may
well hold up to the higher power gases, but unlike Tanaka’s
PEGASUS revolvers this is a GBB, so there’s plenty to go wrong
inside. With the lack of aftermarket parts at the moment, a
broken slide or critical internal part will effectively turn
your P226 into nothing more than a paperweight or a spare mag
for a new P226. With my chrono done a runner on me I’m unable
to perform a measured test, but the blowback and power is much
the same as the MSC M9, so is in the region of 280-300fps (134a/0,2g).

Upgrades
and accessories:
There’s not a great deal available in terms
of body replacements for the P226. I have heard of a metal slide,
but it does not seem to be available from the majority of places.

You
can get replacement O-Ring sets made by TGS for the P226. KM
also make a new and stronger recoil hammer spring set for P226.
The big problem at the moment is deciphering what is for this
new model, and what’s for the old P226. Please do be sure that
your retailer knows what you are after and the differences if
you order anything.

Silencer:
Tanaka do not sell a silencer for the P226, at least I’ve
not seen any for export in HK shops. Whilst there’s a 14mm thread
on the supplied and fitted barrel, it is only suitable for light
weighted silencers. If you fit a heavy silencer (such as a metal
SOCOM copy) you will find that the piece will fire, blowback
and then lock with the slide 5-10mm back from the muzzle. The
extra muzzle weight hampers the floating barrel system. This
is actually a problem with nearly all blowbacks with floating
barrels. Silencers are more suited to the fixed barrels as found
on the higher quality NBB pistols.

On
the subject of silencers I have heard rumblings of a forthcoming
Tanaka RailFrame ‘tactical’ which comes with accessories in
the box, including a silencer.

Lamp
units:
As anyone will tell you 20mm is anything but 20mm
these days, and one accessory will fit to one manufacturer’s
rail, whereas another will not. I have the Guay-Guay M3 LAM
copy here, and this is a nice tight fit, and it secures itself
happily onto the first ridge underneath the muzzle. The look
isn’t quite as good as that of the KSC IA Vertec with the same
lamp, but it certainly looks the part.

Unlike
the KSC Beretta Vertec the trigger guard is not cut away as
much so the rear of the GG M3 will butt up against the guard
and lever the entire unit upwards slightly, causing the lamp
beam to aim slightly upwards. This isn’t a huge problem, and
I believe it’s down to the GuayGuay unit being longer than its
real-steel counterpart.

Conclusion:
Well to be honest this is the best SIG GBB you can get at the
moment. It’s not perfect out the box, but then again it doesn’t
cost the earth, and does come with two outer barrels.

Disappointing
points:

  • The
    plastic feeling controls. Fit to this a set of metal reinforced
    Pachmayr grips and you’ve got a rather nice pistol.
  • Mould seams
    – The mould seam that runs between the two halves of the lower half
    of the pistol is very obvious.
  • Lack
    of upgrades – there’s just nothing out there at the moment, which
    is a real shame, I can see metal slides and uprated internals
    being popular for this piece if they were available.
  • Lightweight
    build – the replica is somewhat lighter than expected, which may
    disappoint real-steel owners/users out there.
  • Very plastic
    grips – Not a huge problem really – the real thing has very poor
    grips, which most users drop for Hogue or Pachmayr replacements
    anyway.
  • No safety –
    again not a huge issue, but may surprise a few people. Remember
    the real thing has no active safety either.

Good
points:

  • Best
    SIG out there. This is the best GBB SIG pistol you can buy at
    the moment.
  • Good
    looking internals – the internals all look to be of a very good
    quality, and were much better than expected
  • Holds
    gas well – a gassed mag remained pressurized for over 2 weeks,
    there’s no leaks like the old P226 here.
  • Comfortable,
    ergonomic grips and controls
  • Two barrels
    supplied, giving two very contrasting looks.
  • Nice blowback
    action
  • Secure magazine
    fitment

The
P226 was a best seller in Japan when it came out, and flew off
the shelves. With the imminent release of the P220 from Tanaka
and the ‘tactical’ P226 rail-frame both around the end of May
Tanaka’s new blowback is proving to be very popular.

The P226
is not perfect yet and clearly more effort has gone into it’s
usability and performance than the looks. The mould seam issue
can easily be remedied with a little handwork, and the lack
of mass is not a huge problem.

Hopefully
we’ll see some new metal slides coming out in the future,
but in the meantime this SIG looks just lovely with the LAM
on it, and I’ll source some new real-steel grips to fit to
it shortly.

AirsoftDynamics
did have reservations over this piece before they sent it
out in respect to it’s ‘plasticy’ nature, and true the external
look isn’t as good as that of a KSC or WA piece, but I believe
that this replica can hold it’s own and has a place in the
toy cupboard.

It is
true that TM have a P226 rail-frame of their own in the works,
and it’ll be nice to see their attempt (when/if TM release
it), but for the moment the Tanaka P226 is way up front.

Upgrade
Potential

5/10
Sig grips can be changed and 20mm rail units can be
added

Build
Quality

7/10
It may be plasticy on the outside, but it’s built
well on the inside

Value
for Money

8/10
Only that mould seam got on my nerves

Overall
Potential

7/10
There’s still room for improvement, but it’s still
a nice piece to own.

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last
modified:
Wednesday, April 16, 2003 4:09 PM
Copyright 2003 ArniesAirsoft




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