KJW 1911A1 Single Stack Full Metal Gas Blow Back Airsoft Review. – March 11th, 2005
Introduction The Colt 1911 (and the gazillion variants of it) is one of the most popular and respectable handguns ever made. Naturally, the airsoft makers wouldn’t miss the opportunity of making one of the variants (or, in the case of Western Arms, all of the gazillion variants of 1911). I have been fancying for a GBB version of 1911 for a long long time, but I’d like one that’s tough enough to take green gas out of the box, and cheap enough that I don’t have to rob a bank to pay for it. Finally, KJW came out with its full metal 1911 Para Ordnance 14.45, and it was well received by the airsoft communities. It almost full filled all my criterions except that I’m not Canadian, and I didn’t like double stack variants of the 1911, so it was still not the right time to purchase my first 1911 GBB until I saw the single stack version KJW 1911A1 full metal GBB. A week later, I’m a proud owner of the KJW single stack 1911A1 full metal GBB.
As in any review, I’ll start off by describing the build quality of the gun, and how the gun functions, followed by the performance of the gun. And end with some concluding remarks.
Inside the box, the gun sits loosely in a gun shaped styrofoam cut-out. The box is probably used for some other models as well since the cut-out is not made specifically in the shape of the 1911. The gun has an orange outer barrel installed, and there’s a black replacement barrel, a dissembling tool, a small box of BB (possibly .2g, but the box only says 6mm BBs without any mentioning of the weight). Couple manuals, both in English, and some paper targets. One of the operating manual is apparently made for the Para 14.45 because the pictures in there show the Para only, but the operation of both of the Para and the 1911A1 are pretty much the same, so the manual is also suited for the 1911A1. The manual shows how to correctly charge the gas, how to dissemble the gun, some safety instructions, and the exploded drawing for the Para. The other manual shows the exploded drawing for the single stack 1911A1.
Ok, onto the gun, the manual says it’s a 1911A1, but it seems to be a mixture of 1911A1 and the original 1911. While it has curved spring housing below the grip safety, simplified checkering on the grip panels, and index finger reliefs behind the trigger like those features on a 1911A1, but the hammer and trigger lengths are more like those on a 1911. The gun is all black except the grip panels which are dark brown and clearly plastic. Picking up the gun, it has some heft to it. Weighs more than either my KSC G17 with metal slide, or my KSC USP Compact. Without a proper scale, I can not verify the claimed weight of 2 lbs (= 907 g), but it feels about right. The gun is supposed to be “full metal”, but the frame doesn’t feel as cold as the slide or the grip safety. It may be because I’m hold the frame. The outer barrel and the ejection port cover feels like plastic, and I’m not sure how I can confirm their chemical composition without damaging the parts.
The black finish is decent. Having never owned or held a WA 1911, I can not say how much worse or different the KJW finish is, but the black is fairly even, but there’s certainly room for improvements. The paint on the front of the slide (especially on the recoil spring housing), the hammer, and the sides of the trigger have some slight un-even parts. There are also some tiny tiny needle dents on the slide, but none of these is really noticeable. Overall, the paint finish is good. Shake the gun a little bit, the front of the slide rattles from side to side just a bit. A perfectionist might find this annoying. I don’t know if the real 1911 have this rattle or not, but my KSC USP Compact doesn’t rattle at all.
Markings What markings? Unlike the WA guns, there’s minimum of markings on this gun. No Colt trademarks whatsoever. The slide is plain black on both sides. Nothing on the ejection port cover. No white dot or dove tail marks on either of the sights.
The front sight is fixed, but the rear sight can be taken off, but not adjustable. On the right side of the frame right below the slide and above the grip panel, there’s tiny text that says “MADE IN TAIWAN KJWORKS”.
And on the buttom of the magazine, there’s small text says “KJWORKS”. This is certainly meant to be used in the field rather than to sit in a display case.
The magazine is single stack like the original Colt 1911. It looks slim, and feels slick and solid.
On the left side of the mag, you can see the spring and how many BBs are in the mag. All in all, my first impression of the gun is quite favorable.
Functions The grip safety functions like it’s supposed to. When not depressed, the trigger can not be pulled. The thumb safety, on the left side only, does not function exactly like the real steel counterpart. It can not be put on “safe” when the gun is not cocked, but when the gun is cocked, the thumb safety can be pushed up to lock the slide and the hammer. Only when the thumb safety is off and the grip safety is depressed, can the trigger be pulled back. Trigger action is single. Nice and short. Hammer must be cocked either by hand or by slide action before the gun can be fired. There is no decocking lever, and the hammer can be decocked either by shooting the gun without magazine in, or hold the hammer back with your thumb while pulling the trigger, and while holding the trigger pulled back, release the hammer slowly to the uncocked position.
When pulling the slide back, the slide moves smoothly, cocks the hammer, and locks back when an empty mag is in the mag well. The slide release lever is a bit too forward (at least for me), and I need to either use my off hand, or shift my grip to reach it, but this is not a problem since the only times you need to use it is when you are reloading, and your grip is shifted during reload anyways. Pushing down the slide release lever to let the slide return to the normal position with a nice metallic clank.
When the mag release button, which is on the left side of the frame only, is pushed, the mag falls freely. There’s a loading tool for loading the mag, but one can also easily hold down the spring in the mag by a little latch on the left side of the mag with his/her thumb, and just drop the BB in from the top one by one.
Performance Finally, my favorite part of the review. As for any GBB, I charged the mag by holding the mag upside down, and holding the gas canister also upsidedown on top of the mag, pressing the gas can nozzle vertically down on the mag gas valve, so the compressed gas would flow into the mag. I was expecting the gas to spill out after the mag is full as my other KSC GBBs do, but this one does not spill gas when the mag is full. There’s simply no indication when the mag is full unless you listen to the gas can carefully, and you can hear the gas stop flowing after 3 seconds or so. Thus, I charge the mag for about 3 seconds each time. I used HFC green gas mixed with silicone oil at room temperature through out this review.
The mag holds at most 12 BBs. Load the BBs either by hand or with the loading tool. Push the charged and loaded mag back in the mag well, and it clicks in place. The mag also rattles slightly when you shake the gun, but doesn’t really annoy me. Rack the slide once with a satisfying clank. Line up the sights with the paper target I set at 15 feet (= 4.5 m) away, pull the trigger. “Bam!” Right on target. I wasn’t expecting much for accuracy since the gun does not have adjustable hop up (it does have hop up), and I was pleasantly surprised to find the BB (0.2g) right on target. Now I’m excited, emptying the whole mag, and find a really nice grouping right at the point of aim. There’s no standard way to gauge airsoft accuracy (one person may achieve a certain grouping while someone else may achieve a different grouping with the same gun under the same conditions unless the gun is mounted on some kind of mechanical shooting device, so numbers probably don’t mean much). What I can say is at 15 to 25 feet (= 4.5 m to 7.6 m), this gun is just as accurate as, if not more accurate than, my KSC G17 and KSC USP Compact. The longer barrel may have contributed to the good accuracy.
Without a proper chronograph, or even a coke can, I can not gauge the power of the gun. I did shoot the packaging box at close range, and the BB easily penetrated both sides of the cardboard box.
My KSC USP Compact, running on green gas, however, can only penetrate one side of the same box, and puts a dent on the other side. My KSC G17, also running on green gas, has trouble penetrating both sides of the same box as well although it makes a hole on either side, but the BB does not go through the back side. And my KSC G17 can easily penetrate both sides of a coke can. So, I also expect the 1911A1 to penetrate both sides of a coke can easily at close range.
The blowback action is not spectacular, on par with my KSC G17, less than my KSC USP Compact (which has excellent blowback action), certainly no match for the recoil of a real .45. The mag becomes cold after shooting the gun rapidly for several rounds, but the BBs still flies straight. The blowback action only slows down, or disappears for the last two shots before the gas ran out.
I’m not sure how to measure gas efficiency, but on one charge of the mag (around 3 seconds), the gun can barely get off two dozens shots (two mags of BBs) at room temperature with a second pause between shots. Compare to either my KSC G17 and KSC USP Compact, this is pretty miserable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the “efficiency” is bad since the single stack mag probably holds less gas than double stack mag, but I was expecting 3 mags of BB per charge like either of my KSC GBBs. I was somewhat disappointed in this respect, but it seems the power nicely compensated for this as in the case of real .45.
After charging the mag, if you put your ear really close to the valve, and listen very carefully, you can hear a very very slight noise, less than a hiss, but it may indicate some kind of leak. So I charged my mag full of gas, and let the gun sit over night. The next day I shot the gun, again, I got off two mags of BBs before the gas ran out, so the mag does not really leak, at least not in the short term. No long term test’s been carried out yet, but if the mag doesn’t leak over night, it’ll be just fine for any games.
One problem is that sometimes, the BB will roll out of the barrel. I’m not sure what causes this. Some people say the hop up is weak. But this happens not too often, about one in a twenty shots. It could also be I have too much lubricant on the hop up rubber.
Take Down The take down is pretty easy. If you’ve stripped any 1911s before, it should be a walk in the park for you, but if you haven’t, just follow the couple pages of instructions in the manual, and in less than a minute, you can get the recoil spring, recoil spring guide, slide, and barrel off, so cleaning and lubricating can be easily applied.
Conclusion The KJW single stack 1911A1 is certainly a great GBB, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a cheap alternative to WA’s 1911. I have yet to bring this piece to a game (mostly because I haven’t got time to play any), so I can not say how well it will hold up in action, and I don’t plan to put it through the “real steel USP test”. Overall, the build and finish are decent, and the accuracy and power are excellent. Some small rattles, low capacity (both in BBs and gas, and this may prevent this piece from being actually used in the field), and lack of trademarks make it less than perfect. There are also rumors that KJW’s 1911 designs are copies of WA’s designs, so after market parts for the WA guns will also fit on KJW guns, if this is indeed true, one doesn’t need to worry about having trouble finding replacement/upgrade parts should any of the original fail.
External links: Links to external sites of interest.