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Skin Deep/At a Glance: FPS: Circa 280 w/0.20g BB, depending on weather WEIGHT: A reasonable 0.73kg ACCURACY: Equal to Marui 1911/Hi-Capa/PX4 CONSISTENCY: Provided you don't shoot too fast, it's perfect RELIABILITY: Pull this from your holster and this will do the job, everytime! ECONOMY: By the time it lands you're looking at €200. Running costs are negligible, and considering how long this will last it's money well spent. In-Depth: The M9A1 is one of the latest pistols released from Tokyo Marui, and is easily one of the most anticipated - it marks a seminal moment in their history; they updated one of their designs, using everything they've learned since they released their first M9 pistol, quite a ways back. Being a huge fan of the Beretta M9, I for one couldn't believe it and so the moment it was released I'd put in my order from WGC Shop. So what's the fuss about? Well, as I've said already I've had this pistol from pretty much the moment it came out, and have held off doing a review until such a time as I had sufficiently put it through its paces - what's the point in merely giving initial impressions? I figured I'd wait until I could tell you what it's like to use it Some basic history for those who aren't aware - the original Marui M9, is one of the oldest pistol designs around. It had a fixed hop up which lent itself perfectly to shooting straight for circa 20 meters, and then dropping dead all of a sudden. TM's original offering for the M9 was a light-weight plastic gun that relied solely on the magazine to add weight and substance to the pistol, giving it a rather hollow feeling. Of course the clones offered metal bodies for more substance, as well as using a small grub screw to create an adjustable hop up, which in a rather rare situation made them more attractive to some people. The problem was of course that green gas + metal slides doesn't really get on too well, especially in the cold. With the advent of KJW's Co2 M9, pretty much all others became obsolete - you got proper feedback for the first time, as well as an unmerciful bang. Of course KSC had already come out with their own M9, which was vastly superior to all other green gas versions featuring a functioning decocker, as well as far more accurate weight distribution and better balance. Its downfall was simply that the magazines were stupidly expensive (€50 each), as well as the not-so-good ball-bearing hop up. It was in drastic need of a redesign. Many speculated that it would happen, though when TM released a 15th Anniversary Biohazard Samurai Edge (Chris Redfield edition), it seemed like that day had come. It had been rumoured to have adjustable hop up...it didn't. All hope seemed lost. Then all of a sudden Tokyo Marui redesigned their website, announced a GBB MP7 and released a revised M9A1. Godzilla was smiling, apparently (Sorry...couldn't resist )! So what's changed since then? The M9A1 is still plastic; that hasn't changed. What has changed however is that TM have taken what they've learned from the PX-4 and put in a functioning ambidextrous de-cocker; when you flick the gun onto safe, the hammer drops. For any fans of the M9 this is an important feature to replicate, as well as being far more practical. On top of that they've had a go at fixing the weight distribution and balance of the pistol, using the same technique they use with their 1911's i.e. via the addition of weights in the grips, however they have also added a weight on the inner barrel. It works, exceedingly well. The gun feels as good with the magazine out as it does with the mag in. It also now has the lower picatinny rial indicative of the M9A1, which enables you to add any lasers or torches etc if you are so inclined. The plastic rail is durable, so no problems there. Marui M9A1 seen with White-Dot front & rear sights, adjustable hop up (requires partial disassembly) and the pistol field stripped (note grey weight added around inner barrel) So it's now better balanced, better functioning, and if you're a fan of the M9A1 over the traditional M9, then it is better looking as well (especially given the markings engraved into the plastic - this pistol looks very good), but all of that is purely an ancillary bonus; it is only when you strip the pistol do you really see it. You now have the impressive Tokyo Marui adjustable-wheel hop up in the body of an M9A1. It might sound like hokum, but it means that this pistol will now be more accurate than your rifle. You point, you shoot, and you hit...that's all there is to it. There is no skill involved...this pistol does all of the work for you, and it is a work horse. It is important to remember that Tokyo Marui are a Japanese company, and are forced to design their guns with the 1 joule limit in mind. Since they are working under restrictions, they innovate like no other. They invented the hop up system, and no one does it quite like they do. The quality of materials they use is what sets TM apart from the rest; high quality brass barrels for range, soft hop up rubbers sourced exclusively for performance at one joule. For sidearms in Ireland, you really shouldn't look any further than TM. Note Marui's realistic imitation trademarks They're a nice touch, look realistic and are completely inoffensive It all sounds fantastic, right? Well it is, but don't get me wrong it is not all roses. Thanks to the plastic slide it is economic on the green gas magazines, but it does still suffer from the fatal flaw of the M9-style green gas magazines; shallow gas reservoir. Rapid shots cause the pressure to drop pretty quickly, rendering your gun useless unless you have another magazine to slap in. Even though the plastic is a necessary evil, it is still an evil aspect - try as you might, plastic does not feel like metal, and it can be a large obstacle to overcome. KSC's M9 feels infinitely better than TM's, although there is no doubting that the Tokyo Marui M9A1 beats it around the park every day of the week in performance...sometimes it's not all about how it shoots. Propellant-wise, TM's are only rated for 134a. However I've been running it off of green gas without a single issue. Remember it's designed for 134a in Japan, where 15* C is considered cool, and 35* C is a summers day...we're in Ireland where 15* C causes everyone to strip into summer clothes and go to the beach. Green gas is fine, though when it gets in to the teens (temperature) use with caution, as the pressure is greater which causes more stress on the gun, and at the time of writing there are no aftermarket parts. Due to the plastic slide you get excellent performance from the gas, easily emptying the full load of BB's (especially when using the TM mags). When it is colder, you need to be a little more conservative - rapid shots drop the pressure quickly, so if you're fast on the trigger make sure you have spare magazines to compensate for cool down. Which brings me beautifully onto another excellent point of the TM M9A1 - it uses the same magazines as previous TM-system M9's (e.g. WE, HK3P, KJW, HFC etc) which are very easy to come by. I have personally used this gun on TM magazines, KJW magazines, HK3P mags, WE mags and HFC mags. TM perform the best, then KJW, followed by WE/HK3P. HFC sucked, but I've never liked those anyway. If you have the spare monies go straight for the TM variants; better quality valves straight from the box. KJW do the job nicely, but can do with some TLC out of the box. Now, with the above in mind comes the contradiction. One of the more disappointing things about this gun is the lack of a magazine redesign. Yes it's great that it is backwards compatible, especially considering I already had 11 M9 mags...but with the improvements they made to the P226 magazine, I kind of expected more. The thing to remember is that the magazines are smaller than a hi-capa which means they're more susceptible to cool down, so rapid-fire performance is not going to be as good, but it will still be better than the single stack 1911. Accuracy is no surprise for any of those familiar with TM; this gun is a laser beam - it's on par with the PX4, but not as good as the Five SeveN (which still has my vote on most accurate). It is extremely consistent, though due to being green gas it does suffer cool down thus affecting consistency in rapid fire situations (pressure drop drastically reduces FPS, which can negatively impact on accuracy). In perfect circumstances this pistol is extremely consistent, but does take some getting used to for those coming from Co2, or larger capacity green gas guns (such as glock extended magazines etc). Ergonomics of the gun are nice - if you're a fan of single-stack 1911's, then this will feel a little obese to you, but once you're used to it, it's a dream to hold and shoot. Weight balance and distribution is excellent, and thankfully it doesn't feel like plastic while holding it. Recoil is nonexistent - sure the slide moves, but you don't feel it at all. It looks great, but if you're a fan of the KJW Co2 M9 (which I am), you can't help but feel a little disappointed...though that fades immediately as you realise that this gun is a force to be reckoned with; the shots you can make are incredibly impressive. So in summary - do you like the M9? Do you skirmish? Do you use a pistol? If yes, then buy the TM M9A1 and you will not regret it. If you don't skirmish, pick yourself up a KSC M9 as you'll not need to worry about its shortcomings, and can instead enjoy the enhanced feel of the metal body.