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Maruzen APS-3

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When Maruzen released their APS-3 in 2007, the response from the U.S. and U.K. was minimal, and it's not surprising. At $250 in Hong Kong stores, the gun is expensive for a pistol, and fills a target competition niche that isn't to be found outside of Asia. As such, little has been heard about this unusual handgun on airsoft discussion forums.


I had been mildly curious about the APS-3 when it began appearing in stores. The compressed air power method was interesting, and I wondered what sort of accuracy the pistol was really capable of. But I never seriously considered purchasing one until doing a comparative review[/img] of two tightbores, which piqued my interest in airsoft pistol accuracy. At this point the APS-3 seemed right up my alley, and I ordered it from Redwolf Airsoft. Let's take a look at how it stacks up.


Packaging and accessories:


The item is packaged in a relatively plain box, with English text at the bottom of the cover stating, "More accuracy, more comfortable. Construction of a new concept, a completely new APS handgun! APS-3 appears in your sphere of life, please keep using this mode!":




The opposite side of the box is similar, but features a different view of the pistol:




On the top, next to the carrying handle, there are a number of JASG markings and a window showing the serial number:




Removing the cardboard reveals the plastic carrying case that the APS-3 is packaged in. As you can see, Maruzen have molded "APS" onto both sides of the case, a subtle touch:




The latches have "Maruzen" molded onto them, and a sticker indicates the serial number:




On the back of the case there are two hinges, each with raised ribs to allow the case to sit upright without falling over:




Enough about the outside, let's open it up! The pistol sits inside, alone. This might be surprising, since most retailers state that the APS-3 includes some small accessories:




But, pulling out the foam insert in the top half of the case reveals much:



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From left to right, this pictures shows a 4.8mm wide front sight (interchangeable with the stock 4.5mm one), a package of BBs, and a set of four allen wrenches. The BB supply provided seems somewhat measly - mine included 52 BBs instead of the usual 100 or so expected with a new gun:




There's also plenty of paper included - from the looks of it, two targets, two instructional sheets, one instruction booklet, and two warranty-related papers:




I left those behind the foam and moved the accessories to the front. The pockets are sized well, and the smaller one is idea for little tools like the allen wrenches and the front sight, while the larger one would fit a small bag of BBs - perhaps 700 rounds. The small, thin areas are for spare magazines, which can be bought in packs of two:




The pistol in detail - externals:


Now we'll examine the externals of the handgun. It might seem odd to do so, since the APS-3 isn't a replica of a specific firearm (though it has much in common with 50m target pistols). However, externals are still important from both a visual and practical point of view, since things like barrel stability, comfortable grips, and good sights are a must for a target pistol. First, an overall view of the left and right sides of the gun:





We'll start a more detailed look with the grip. It appears to be constructed of a hard, fiber-reinforced plastic, with a distinct appearance to its smooth surfaces. This grip is designed to fit the hand in every way, so that there is minimal variation in how it is gripped each time it's picked up. As such, it's hand-specific - lefties are out of luck. Much of its surface is covered with this texture, which, while it looks much like a hand-stippled surface, is molded into the grip. It's not particularly abrasive, and if this were a normal grip would probably do little to prevent sweaty hands from slipping on the grip. However, since the shape of the grip results in a firm fit, the texture is mainly there for comfort and it fulfills this role adequately:





There is a bulge on the right side to fill the gap between the index and middle fingers, and while it does this well, I find it a bit large on its underside:




The left side of the grip is largely flat with the exception of the thumbrest and prominent APS logo. This thumbrest seemed a little high to me in pictures, and it puts my thumb high enough to just touch one of the rear sight knobs. Someone with larger thumbs might be bothered by this:




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A large palm rest is present, and can be adjusted by loosening the two allen screws on the right side (the largest included wrench is the correct size) then sliding to change the height and angle. These screws thread to a metal bracket inside the grip:




This rest has a light, pebbled texture on its surface which is comfortable. I would not want anything too abrasive on this:




The shape of the grip can be seen most clearly from the back:




Moving forward along the bottom of the gun, the next item of discussion is the trigger. This is very important for a target pistol or rifle, as a trigger that is too heavy or suffers from excessive creep could throw off an otherwise good shot. The trigger on the APS-3 is serrated vertically, with a horizontal notch at its center. I found the notch a little unusual at first, but it does help guide the trigger finger into the appropriate place for consistent shooting. Notice that there is an allen screw on the left side of the trigger:




On the right, it can be seen that the trigger is composed of two separate pieces. These allow the position of the trigger to be adjusted:




When the screw is loosened, which can be done with the second-largest included allen wrench, the trigger can be slid forward or backward along this track. It's marked with notches so that you can return to a previous setting if you don't like an adjustment you've just made:





Another allen screw, which can be seen just in front of the trigger in the previous set of pictures, adjusts the total length of the trigger pull itself. You can set it to require a long takeup, or a slight touch. Unfortunately, the trigger pressure is not adjustable, nor the overtravel. Fortunately, the overtravel is set at or near zero to begin with so almost everyone will find it's right where they would have adjusted it.


Next is one of the most prominent features of the gun, the compressor lever. This large lever appears to be a polished aluminum casting, and features the serial number of the individual gun on the left side, which of course matches that on the case:




Also on the left is a protrusion with a serrated surface to aid in gripping the lever for operation:




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My only real complaints with this part are regarding the casting marks. There are two very visible circular marks on the right side from the casting process. I'd rather these marks than a large seam line, but they're still a little annoying:





A spring-loaded catch extends from the front of the trigger guard (which also has a few casting marks) to interface with the lever, holding it in its normal position. It's not designed to lock in place, just give a positive indication that the lever is closed and offer some resistance to opening it:






When the lever is pulled down and forward, away from the trigger guard, a metal bar pulls the plastic piston to the front of the cylinder, from which point it will compress the air when the lever is closed. You can see the rubber cup seal on this piston which does its job very well:





Above the cylinder is the outer barrel, and the most notable feature of this is the stabilizer at the muzzle. This is made from the same material as the grip, and displays another APS-3 logo and a grub screw on each side. Atop it is the front sight, which slides into a dovetail then is locked in place by yet another grub screw - this one quite small. The front sight screw matches the smallest allen key included, but for those on the sides (which are loosened as part of the disassembly process) you'll need a size not included with the gun:





Both the outer barrel and cylinder are evenly finished in matte black, but sadly it doesn't seem to be anodizing:





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The magazine is a small plastic assembly which mounts to the right side of the gun. Attaching it is a little like inserting an AK magazine backwards - it's first notched into place at the back of the gun, then clicks in at the front. The spring-loaded latch, however, is on the magazine rather than the frame of the gun, which gives the right side of the APS-3 a neater appearance when used as a single-shot pistol:




Here's what the magazine looks like detached. The black, BB-shaped protrusion is actually the follower. The magazine features a catch like that on an AEG magazine to hold the BBs inside it when carried around. When attached to the gun, the catch is released and the BBs can flow into the pistol. This follower shape allows the magazine to feed every last BB, unlike most AEG magazines:





Much like a KWC spring pistol magazine, the follower locks back by rotating into a notch. At this point BBs can be inserted through the circular opening just in front of the follower:




Notice that on the side of the handgun, there is a hole for the BBs to feed through. The magazine can be reloaded while attached to the gun just as easily, if not more so, than when it is removed. When this is done, an extra BB can fit into the feed tube, raising the capacity from 5 to 6 rounds. If one is then chambered and the magazine topped off, as is often done with GBB pistols, the total number of BBs carried in chamber and magazine is seven, so while most retailers describe the capacity of the gun as 5+1, it is actually 5+1+1 if loaded with the magazine attached. Of course, reloading by spare magazine will still only yield 5-round capacities.





Right next to the magazine, atop the frame, is another polished lever. This is the loading and cocking lever:




It easily flips up to this position with only very light spring pressure as resistance, retracting the nozzle back:




Pulling it back until vertical cocks the hammer and also pulls the nozzle back far enough to allow a BB into the chamber. This is the time to load through the top port if using the gun as a single shot, while if you're using the magazine you'll see a BB pop in automatically from the side:




Judging by the pictorial instructions in the manual, this is when Maruzen expects one to use the compression lever, then flip the cocking lever shut to set the BB in place for firing. However, you can do these two steps in the reverse order (which is more intuitive) without negative affects. The lever is easy to operate and the APS lettering is a nice touch, so my only bother with it is once again the casting. There's flashing left inside the holes on the left side of it, and while it's easy to remove it's a minor annoyance that the gun ships from the factory with it there:




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The safety is a simple crossbolt type which is pressed in from the right to ready for firing. The gun cannot be cocked with the safety on, so I don't apply it at all unless I am not going to fire for a significant period of time.





Finally, one very important feature for a target pistol: the adjustable rear sight. This sight is adjustable for windage and elevation by two knobs which click every quarter turn. Two indicators show how the sight is adjusted so it's easy to return it to its zero-adjustment position. This one shows the elevation - I've adjusted mine by a significant amount. One click is much less than one notch on the indicator scale so the adjustments are fairly fine:





And up against the rear sight blade is an indicator for the windage adjustment:




The back of the blade is not serrated, which I would like, but does have a step right at the bottom of the square notch which I find helps distinguish the notch's outline:




The sight picture is very distinctive against a light background like that of a target but would be less than ideal for skirmishing, where dark backgrounds and camouflaged opponents often necessitate the white sight markings familiar on more common pistols:



Closer view


The pistol in detail - internals and disassembly guide:


Of course, the internals are very important especially with regards to upgrade potential, and to get at them you'll have to take the gun apart. We'll examine them as we go. PDI offers a guide to APS-3 disassembly, but I found that a slight change to the step order made things much easier. Here's how I did it.


The first step is to loosen the grub screws on either side of the barrel stabilizer and slide it off of the front of the outer barrel.




Next, use a large Phillips head screwdriver to remove the grip, which attaches by one screw through the bottom. You can also unscrew the cap from the front of the outer barrel (seen top right).




Remove the front trigger guard with a Phillips head screwdriver:




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Now look at the left side of the gun. Tap out the pin that secures the loading lever, then remove the two brass flathead screws, being careful not to lose the small bushings on the opposite side. Finally, unscrew the black Phillips head screw from both sides (near the bottom of the frame by the back of the trigger guard.




At this point you can remove the sideplates of the receiver and set them aside. There is no need to remove the spring from the right sideplate; you can just leave it there and leave the small bushings in their respective places in the left sideplate.




Now, remove the pin from the front of the receiver that is located above and to the left of the "A" in "APS-3" (this step is not pictured). Then remove the allen screw from atop the rear sight, and knock out the pins from the holes circled in red. Set these pins aside in separate places because they are of different dimensions:




This will allow you to remove the rear sight, and separate the upper and lower receivers. When this is done, you'll find that the striker, striker spring, and safety fall away from between the two, as well as a black plastic plate. This plastic plate is simply a backer for the spring and sits behind it in the receiver, arranged as in the picture below:




At this point my reason for changing the order of disassembly may be apparent. The outer barrel is threaded onto the gun. To remove it, you need a good grip on both receiver and barrel. The problem with doing this in the usual order is that it's difficult to get a grip on the barrel with the compression cylinder so close below it. By separating upper and lower receivers first, you should find that the tight fit on the threads can be easily loosened by hand without marring the finish of either part. Wrapping one or both parts in a rag for best grip may be helpful.




From here, grabbing the threaded mounting component with cloth-wrapped pliers lets you unscrew it from the receiver and pull the inner barrel away:




As you can see the inner barrel does feature a rubber sleeve for air seal purposes and to keep the BB from rolling out of the barrel, but for maximum short-range accuracy there is no hop-up:




To disassemble the lower receiver, which houses the trigger assembly, you must remove four pins. I suggest removing them from right-to-left, i.e. trigger pin first, because the pin second from right should not be removed before the trigger as doing so would bend the trigger spring and makes disassembly more difficult.




Once this is done you should have these parts. I like the design of the trigger unit; it's simple but works very well and is really setup for that zero-overtravel pull. The sears appear as though they will hold up well, but the upgrade options offered by PDI are better finished and likely made of stronger stuff:



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Your APS-3 is now, for the most part, detail-stripped. The cylinder can also be disassembled and removed from the lower receiver, but this is fairly time consuming as the allen screws that hold it to the receiver are recessed into the sides of the gun and so can only be turned about 1/2 turn at a time. I would not recommend doing this unless you have an upgraded piston to install (there are none available at the time of this writing) or need to fix a compression issue.




Reassembly is disassembly in reverse. If you have trouble with the trigger unit, here is a top-down view of what it should look like when fully reassembled (second sear flipped up to show first sear assembly):




Performance - testing the accuracy of Maruzen's APS-3:


As this is a target pistol, accuracy is paramount. So, I was looking forward to testing this. I fired two ten shot groups with KSC .20g BBs from a measured distance of 20 feet, with the pistol supported by resting its grip on a table for stability. Firing the pistol makes about the same amount of noise as firing a gas sniper rifle like the KJW or Tanaka M700 series. Trigger pull is good and is in two stages, with a light takeup then a heavier, short pull to 'break' the shot. Here are the results on the two targets (1" squares):





Both targets showed one or two holes shared by multiple BBs. The first grouping measured 27mm while the second measured 25mm. This accuracy is slightly better than that achieved by an upgraded TM Glock 17 of mine at the same range, so I am impressed by these results from a stock pistol, though not blown away.


However, it should be noted that when fired under normal conditions, the long sight radius and close-fitting grip of the Maruzen make it easier to fire precisely. For example, this group was shot with the APS-3 at the same distance with 30 rounds - five loads of a magazine. This time, rather than firing for a precise group, I simply shot as soon as I acquired an acceptable sight picture on the target, which resulted in about five seconds between each shot (not counting reloading the magazine, but including operating the loading and compressing levers):




Every BB fell within a 45mm diameter, with the majority going inside a 25-30mm area.


At the other extreme, this 5-shot group had four BBs in the same hole - although this is more likely luck than anything else:



Conclusion - the verdict on the APS-3:


All in all, the gun is well designed, fun to shoot, and comfortable. I like the sights very much, and while I'd prefer more adjustments available on the trigger it is smooth and conducive to good shooting. The quality of construction is good - a step above the usual TM GBB - but cosmetically some areas are unimpressively cast. Considering the very standard nature of the stock barrel (it's not a tightbore), accuracy is good and this is probably a reflection of the consistency of compressed air. I think that with upgrades, the pistol could be quite impressive, but quality parts will add much to the gun's $250 price tag. Without hop-up, it definitely fills a niche market, being unsuitable for both skirmishing and speed-shooting.


I hope you've enjoyed my review of the APS-3 and are now more informed about its operation, quality, and accuracy. If you have any questions that were not covered, or want more detailed information on a specific area, feel free to post here or PM me.



And we're finally done.

Edited by RSP1
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Seems to be in line what I shot with one before. I was getting about 30 mm groupings (center to center) with five shots from 10 meters off-hand.


I'm really torn what to think about it, because as impressive as it is for an airsoft pistol, it's not accurate enough for me to use in any serious practice. If they did the precision shooting thing in Hong Kong, I'd definitely get one of these.



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