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KWA - M1911A1 (New Structure / Full)

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KWA 1911 (New Structure/Full)






Up for review this time is the KWA 1911, here for the second time, this time with both full metal construction and an improved magazine. I used up most of my prose introducing the original version (which you can read here) but in the world of semi-automatic firearms, and thus in the world of airsoft GBBs, there is one classic and that is the 1911. In continuous use around the world for over 100 years, the 1911 has been released by almost every airsoft manufacturer that dabbles in gas blowbacks.


On the market today there are Marushin 8mm models; Tokyo Marui has a fantastic example, and the king of all things 1911, Western Arms. KWA (choosing to ignore the somewhat muddled connection to KSC entirely) has two currently available options. One comes with an aluminum slide and abs frame, and one (the subject of this review) comes equipped from the factory with an aluminum slide and frame. Yes I have chosen to ignore the plethora of clone 1911s that are on the market right now, the examples I have chosen have actually spent money on R&D and support for their own engineering.


While the metal slide and abs frame models are readily available at any KWA dealer, the full metal version is a little rarer, in fact I couldn’t find one available for sale right now at the usual suspects. MSRP for this model is $150 (roughly $20-30 more than the abs frame version), I find the price to be more than decent (KSC Full Metal guns are going for $220+ in Hong Kong) and if you read on you will find that you get a whole lot of gun for the price.




Top – Full Metal; Bottom – abs frame version


The Packaging


The packaging for the 1911 looks the same as the previous version, which is a nice departure from the rather shiny, toy-like packaging that KWA Glock’s arrive in. With thick cardboard walls, surrounding a dense Styrofoam core, the KWA will arrive at it’s destination safe and sound.


The only obvious indication of the diferring models is the little gold tags on the bottom left of the lid. The abs frame version has a single Gold tag with “M1911A1 – 2” emblazoned on it. The new full metal version shares this tag, but also has a second tag proudly noting that the contents are “New Structure – Full”.




The gun is held firmly in place by a thick, solid Styrofoam bed. The box has room for a spare magazine (one can be kept in the gun itself) with a spare slot for the usual bits and pieces that come with a new KWA.




Like all KWA’s the 1911 comes with a small bag of BBs, a small container of light weight lubricant, a hop up adjustment tool, and a bushing wrench. This particular example, on loan from a friend, did not come with an instruction manual. My roommates abs frame version did.





The Gun


At first glance the KWA is a rather menacing looking gun. Finished in black rather than the parkerized finish that TM and WE usually come in, the KWA has a certain purposefulness that the lack of trademarks reinforces. In a standard A1 configuration, fixed sights, curved back strap, and standard grip safety, the KWA is a good rendition of the classic 1911 form, and in truth is nothing particularly special. One thing that has probably not translated in the picture very well is the slight difference in color between the slide and the frame. The slide is a more glossy black than the frame, which due to construction or finish is a more matte black. Under certain lights this difference is much more obvious.


Where the KWA really stands apart from the rest is when you pick it up. Heavy in the hand is an understatement. At 970 grams (2lbs, 2.5oz) the KWA in full metal trim is almost 200 grams heavier than a TM and is right up there with a full house Western Arms heavy weight model, and much stronger than both. The all metal magazine comes in at 200 grams, so even with no mag; the KWA has a solid weight to it. As stated this gun has both an aluminum slide as well as an aluminum frame, which greatly adds to the weight of the piece. Metal parts abound, so much so that it is easier to tell you what is made out of plastic. The recoil guide plug is plastic; the grips are plastic, and the outer barrel. Everything else, including all the controls and the sights are crafted from metal.


Slide to frame fit is good, with little to no rattling with a magazine inserted. There is a little side to side play, but nothing to be concerned with. The controls are all well fit to the frame and move positively. All in all this is a very well built gun. Maybe not up to the standards of a full house WA, but then again the price differential is about $100.


Like all KWA guns, the gun comes all but unmarked with a true blaze orange muzzle. While the collector is going to be turned off by this, there is not much that can be done since these are required by law, and are in fact the way all airsoft replicas should arrive. Unfortunately this example has a bit of overspray from applying the orange muzzle. A shame, but nothing to be too upset about, I would prefer the WE method of attaching a plastic barrel extension in orange but KWA has certainly chosen a more legally safe, permanent method (certainly a prudent decision).






The Trademarks


Like I mentioned previously the KWA 1911 comes almost completely devoid of trademarks. The slide is completely blank, with the frame and barrel having the barest hint of proofing marks and other identifying marks. The right side of the frame comes blank without even a KWA trademark.


What the gun does come with are two discreet KSC markings. I will leave it up to the reader to discern the meaning, but they are there. One is underneath the slide stop, and the other is on the bushing wrench.






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KWA has chosen to replicate the classic A1 styled WWII 1911, and the controls fit to the gun match this. The trigger is a short checkered example with a matching checkered mag catch.




The thumb safety is a single side affair, with a standard grip safety and military hammer, no fancy-schmancy ambi-safeties and beavertail grip safeties. The KWA is a no frills model.




Continuing with the theme, KWA has fitted this gun with curved main spring housing with a light checkering. The original 1911 came with a flat MSH, but true to A1 form, the KWA makes do with the military issue curved unit, with integral lanyard loop.






The KWA comes equipped with fixed sights. Both are actually cast into the slide, and are completely devoid of markings. Simple post front sight (which thanks to the orange paint is actually easy to pick up) and a notched rear sight, these are as bare bones as the rest of the gun.





Outer Barrel


Unlike most KWA guns equipped with metal slides, the 1911 comes with a plastic outer barrel. Fixed to the hop up unit with two screws, it is similar to the Western Arms method of fixing the outer barrel to the inner barrel unit through a pivot point; possibly due to this design the outer barrel doesn’t seem to gather the same wear and tear as a TM outer barrel. It might have to do with a number of other factors, but my roommate’s gun has a few thousand rounds through it on green gas and it has not come close to breaking.




Recoil Guide Plug


Made out of plastic, KWA has chosen to replicate exactly the real steel design, unlike WA and TM who have added a flange to the rear of their guide plugs. While this is closer to the real thing, I would feel a bit more comfortable if KWA had chosen to add a flange which more evenly distributes the force through the front of the gun. I guess it doesn’t matter as much since they all come with metal slides, but I do think the TM and WA design is a bit safer. One plus is that the KWA can be field stripped almost exactly like the real thing, since the plug can be removed through the front of the slide.




The Magazine


The magazine is another no frills design. Produced completely from metal (except for the rubber gas routing), including the feed lips, the KWA magazine is a hefty, solid design which holds 14 rounds. Efficiency is good for a single stack, averaging out to two full magazines per fill (roughly 28 shots).


My only complaint would be the silent fill valve. While this does not seem to affect the gas capacity like it does with some inferior clone guns, it does make it very hard to identify when the mag is completely full. I manage to get around this by giving the mag a long initial fill, followed by a few quick spurts to be sure. Their Glock series all make do without these fill valves; I personally do not find them to be a step forward.




Like most KWA magazines, the follower can be locked at the bottom for easier loading. Unlike the Marui, BBs must be loaded through the feed lips.




Hop Up


The KWA comes equipped with an adjustable hop up, which unlike all of it’s competitors, can be adjusted without field stripping the gun. Adjustment is not easy at first, but with practice and the supplied tool, on the fly adjustments can be made with relative ease.


Just lock the slide open, and insert the tool with the toothed edge towards the muzzle of the gun. Located between the outer and inner barrels is a toothed collar that controls the hop up. Turn counter clockwise to increase and clockwise to dial down, the mechanism is easy to use and does stay in place once set.





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Field Stripping


As mentioned before, the KWA can be field stripped almost exactly like a real steel 1911. As always, first remove the magazine and be sure no “rounds” are chambered.


Then pull the slide back until the right edge of the slide stop meets up with the second notch to the rear in the slide (half moon shaped).




Once you have that lined up, push the slide stop out gently, by applying pressure to the post through the frame. If everything is lined up, the slide stop will pop out, and you can gently push the entire slide assembly off of the frame.




Moving beyond the simple field strip, the slide can be broken down further without the need for any tools. To remove the recoil guide assembly first gently compress the spring by pushing the guide rod post off of the hop up unit (the guide rod sits on top of a post on the front of the hop up unit, this is one change they made from the first version which was never sold here in the US). Once you have the guide rod off the post the recoil spring and guide can be removed from the slide. Then push the guide rod bushing out of the frame. This example’s fits very tightly so you might want to use some sort of rod to push it out (something plastic or wood, wouldn’t want to scratch it up would you). Turn the barrel bushing about a quarter turn counter clockwise (using the supplied wrench if it is tight) and then pull it out the front of the slide. Once the barrel bushing has been removed, the barrel assembly can be removed by pushing it forward in the slide about halfway, and then pulling it up and out from the inside of the slide.




Shooting Impressions


Up until this point, the only real difference between the two versions was more weight in the hand. Externally and internally they have been almost exactly the same gun. They function the same and without touching the gun, you would be hard pressed to tell them apart, but that is all about to change.


The new version seems to come equipped with a little heavier recoil spring (something I would have liked changed on the original version), and the magazine is very obviously pushing out more power. Kick is increased, with a heavier trigger pull. The increased recoil spring has certainly given the gun a good snap when fired. While still not the heaviest recoil on earth, the KWA will makes itself known. Alas I still think that TM has it beat in terms of recoil, the TM still has that heavy push into the hand, where the KWA is more like a hard slap.


The slide locks reliably, and the action is completely smooth, with no jerkiness at all. The heavy frame helps keep the gun on target, and it still rewards long strings of rapid fire, falling back on target naturally. I do think the changes that have been made have increased the feel, accuracy, and over all fun of shooting.


Chrono Results


Results are from a full magazine at room temperature (67 degrees). Green gas, .20 Toytec BBs, through a XCortech 3200.


1 – 344.9

2 – 342.4

3 – 340.8

4 – 340.9

5 – 340.0

6 – 340.2

7 – 342.4

8 – 337.9

9 – 342.2

10 – 338.8


Avg: 341.05


This is from a bone stock gun, on a decently cool day! 341.05 is an amazing number. It is a full 20 fps higher than I recorded for the abs version I tested at the same time. Now in the past I have recorded the same numbers for the abs version, but that was when it was much warmer and I know this gun’s magazine shoots hotter, because I tested it. Whichever gun you place this redesigned mag into (abs or full metal) it will shoot hotter than the abs versions magazine. There is more going on, but the magazine is a real reason to find this model.


Now I could be wrong, and my buddies gun is slowly dying, but I don’t think so.




Accuracy testing was done indoors, at 5 meters. 6 shots on an 8 ½ x 11” AAPS standard target using KSC .25 bbs and green gas. The green dot represents the point of aim.




Now on first glance a few things are obvious. One is that the gun naturally shoots a bit below the point of aim. I have shot multiple targets with this gun, and it does in fact (at this range) shoot below the point of aim. My previous example shot significantly lower, which leads me to believe that the extra power has increased the effectiveness of the hop up or they have made other less easily seen changes to the design.


Also this test target shows a fairly obvious flier. I really put this down to my poor shooting, rather than a flier thrown by the hop up, but even with the flier the grouping is a decent 1 3/4 “. If we throw the flier out, the 5 shot grouping drops to ¾”! An amazing grouping from any gas gun, but especially nice for a stock pistol with tiny, fixed sights.


Everyone who has shot the gun, including 40 foot tunnel shots at Pinnacle Airsoft, has commented on the inherent accuracy of the gun. This gun’s accuracy will give the TM a run for it’s money out to 40 feet. For longer ranges, I do think the TM has the edge due to the far superior hop up, like most KWAs, the 1911 tends to start wandering at range.




KWA’s first version just didn’t really make the cut; it just wasn’t good enough to displace the tried and true WA and TM. There was plenty of power and pricing was good, but it just wasn’t that much better at anything to really be more worthwhile than other makes. With the release of the PTP M9, KWA has been actively striving to provide US market items that are better than their competition, and I do think this “New Structure” 1911 is another good step forward for the company.


The power is amazing, more than any other readily available single stack on the market. The fit and finish is up there and with full metal construction out of the box, this thing beats everything else out there in terms of strength and durability. The accuracy has increased, and while still hampered by the dodgy hop up (please KWA, work on that next) the gun shoots better than it’s predecessor and better than many others.


On top of all of that, this gun has full manufacturer support here in the USA. That means, if it does break on you, they will cover your warranty and you will always have access to replacement parts. Try finding a replacement spring for a TM disconnector here in the US, try finding one anyplace outside of Japan. I don’t think we make a big enough deal about the fact that out of all the big airsoft manufacturers, KWA is one of the only ones to be here in the US, supporting sales here in the US.


I do think that in terms of over all fit and finish, it is still a step behind TM and certainly WA. Another sore point for the collectors is the complete lack of trademarks and the rather large, permanent, orange muzzle. But for the skirmisher who wants an accurate, reliable, powerful, 1911 they can bring to the field and run with…I have a new recommendation.




Power, Power, Power

True Full Metal Construction

Great Build Quality

Great Accuracy

Green Gas Safe

Full Manufacturer Support here in the US




Price is a little steep (but I personally feel worth it)

No Trademarks

Hideous Orange Tip

Limited Magazine Capacity

Dodgy Hop Up

Limited Upgrade Availability (but there are good ones)








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Blimmin heck.

Now, I remember my M945 KSC.. and that (with Abs slide/frame etc) was not even CLOSE to that power output.

How the heck did that get increased/improved?

Is the BBU more like their Glock than their M945/USP/SIGPRO series?


Det- have you heard of this model being offered via HK or TW at all?

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The blowback nozzle and floating valve are much closer to the design of the Glock. No more metal loading thingee and idiot valve system. Now the piston in the BBU is the upgraded green unit from the M9 PTP (both series of 1911 do have this bbu design).


The mag has some black magic, voodoo spirit in it. I tested the old version and this one back to back, and wherever the new mag went, 20 fps came with it.


In terms of releases outside the US, I can't honestly say. I assume the full metal KSC versions include this upgrade (the full metal KSC M9s are the PTP), but the price on them...crazy talk. The cheapest I have seen one listed was still over $200. I don't know if the gun is worth that much...but it could be.

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  • 1 year later...

Thank you for a great review!

I've been planing to get a 1911 for quite some time, and I've always had a good eye towards the KSC & Co. models, and this article finally convinced me that it's a wise choice. :)


Again, this gun is NOT developed by KSC, it's developed by KWA. Even though lots of people think it's same. It really is not.

So, if the two are not the same, what's the difference?

Their magazines are interchangeable and they are completely compatible. Also, if there is no link between KSC and KWA, how come there's a KSC trademark behind the slide stop? :huh:

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