Introduction It was only recently that I came to own a proper airsoft pistol, having previously used a cheap EBB as a sidearm. After buying a KWA G19, and being very happy with it, I decided it was time to get myself something a bit bigger. Much bigger, in fact.
The Airsoft pistol is sold bundled with a silencer and a replica laser aiming module (LAM) all presented in a rather nifty plastic carrying case.
First Impressions Sometimes, in airsoft, the presentation of a product can let it down even before you use the item. With the SOCOM this is definitely not the case. The hard plastic carrying case arrives wrapped in a cardboard sleeve showing the pistol on the front and with a stylised blueprint of the gun on the rear. You really get the impression you are in possession of something special. Upon opening the box you are presented with the pistol and its accessories which are worth examining separately.
The pistol, itself, is solidly constructed although it feels rather light for its large size, at least until you insert the magazine. It is finished in a matt texture which replicates the special rustproof finish applied to the real pistol. Although the pistol is mostly plastic, the outer barrel, trigger, take-down lever, safety catch, mag release and hammer (as well as the magazine) are metal and this helps impart a feeling of solidness to the piece. The only real let-down about the Mk23 is that the de-cocking lever is a non-functional dummy.
The silencer is similar to that produced by Tokyo Marui for other guns, however the Mk23 barrel has a non standard 16mm thread for attaching the silencer rather than the usual 14mm one. It is made of a lightweight alloy filled with foam and finished in a rather inappropriate high-gloss black and marked with some official looking text. If desired, the alloy muzzle adaptor can be unscrewed from the silencer and fitted to another TM silencer with a more appropriate paint scheme.
The LAM unit is the subject of much controversy. Its overall construction is of acceptable quality however the standard item is almost useless in operation. The light is poor and the laser is nothing more than a red LED situated behind a frosted Perspex window. Despite the poor performance of this item it is much sought after with even real-steel collectors using them to complete display pieces.
Aside from the main items in the case there are also a cleaning rod, instructions for the gun and LAM and, finally, a small pack of BBs.
Shooting The first hurdle to overcome is loading BBs into the magazine. There is a tab at the front of the magazine which must be pulled down to compress the spring before BBs can be loaded. The tab does not latch so its up to the user to hold the spring compressed while loading the BBs. The method by which BBs are loaded is slightly unusual. With the magazine inverted, the BBs are dropped into a wider portion of the slot at the front of the magazine. I found that it could be quite fiddly to load the magazines and a user with larger hands might struggle to complete the task easily.
I set up a target at 10m range and fired off the entire magazine in order to get a feel for the pistol.
The first thing I noticed was that the trigger pull is very long and you can hear the BB moving into the breech as the trigger pull operates the loading and cocking mechanisms. After the first few shots I began to get comfortable with the action and the accuracy of the shots improved as a result. Accuracy is, of course, aided by the fact that there is no recoil on this gun. By the time Id emptied the magazine of all 26 shots I was quite surprised to find that majority of the shots were falling within a 3 group at the centre of the target.
With the pistol stripped I removed the outer barrel from the slide and, out of curiosity, attached the silencer to it. I slid an accurately sized rod through the barrel and was surprised to see that the rod emerged from the silencer in almost the exact centre of the hole. The silencer is, obviously, very well constructed and fits very accurately.
The hop-up adjuster, by the way, is located on a tiny wheel underneath the breech. Its not exactly convenient to adjust but it seems a fairly robust system.
With the slide and take-down lever replaced I began to experiment with the gun. I found that cocking the hammer loads a BB into the breech, as does racking the slide, as does pulling the trigger. The result of this, of course, is that its quite easy to double-feed BBs into the breech. Related to this, it should be noted that, as well as the actual safety catch, the take-down lever can be moved up and down and works as a safety-catch. I imagine that this has been done since (as with the real-steel) the safety-catch cannot be applied with the hammer down. This means that, in theory, the trigger could accidentally be pulled and a BB fired, hence the need for a backup safety-catch.
Finally, the LAM unit was the subject of some alteration. I purchased a small laser pointer from Maplin along with a 3 position switch and an IR emitter. The LAM unit was dismantled by removing 3 hex-screws and I removed all the internal components. I fitted the emitter from the laser pointer and fitted it into the LAM along with the 3 position switch and a large IR emitter. The LAM unit was re-assembled with a halogen bulb from a bike light in place of the original LED bulb.
Conclusion The TM SOCOM is great value for money and a high quality pistol. Its almost as if the original purpose of the real-steel pistol, as an offensive weapons system, has been carried through to the airsoft version. This is not a pistol that should be restricted use as a back-up when your AEG is out of ammo. This is a gun which can be used by snipers to carry out covert attacks at long ranges.
External links: Links to external sites of interest.
By Hissing Sid (aka Simon Crewe)