7MM Airsoft Springers - Masudaya Buffalo SS2 & Yonezawa Browning Hi Power
So; you know about airsoft, right?
Ammunition - BBs, 6mm, round. Ah! Clever, a few are 8mm...
Well what about 7mm pellet shaped ammo? Never heard of it? Well, that's probably not that surprising, but back in the late 1970s and early 1980s these two springers represented the state of the art, airsoft wise.
The pellets were quite common, with even the mighty (now, if not then) Tokyo Marui making 7mm pellet firing airsoft guns and the ones I have (which came with the Yonezawa Browning) weigh around 0.25g.
Famous airsoft gunsmith, Clarence Lai, even has a Masudaya Buffalo in his personal collection.
So, what has 25 years of development given us? Like Japanese cars, airsoft pistols have moved on a lot!
In the Box
The Masudaya, made in 1979, is a great toy. The inside of the box lid shows how to attach the numerous options to the basic gun.
Oddly, the box is not big enough for all the parts I have and there are a number shown on the lid which are not present in my box.
The Yonezawa, from 1982, is much more straightforward with just the gun, a bag of 7mm pellets and a mock silencer inside the box.
The Masudaya Buffalo may not be the very first airsoft pistol, but I have yet to find earlier examples described as such.
Design wise it is much more like a target air pistol than a modern replica. The gun is cocked with a cocking handle which protrudes from the right side of the body and there is a manually advanced, 8 shot cylinder to hold the pellets.
This example has been in the wars a bit, but the plastic is of a reasonably solid construction and the gun feels quite well put together.
The Yonezawa is quite far removed from the Buffalo in concept. Already, it is a replica (albeit more of a charicature) of a real Browning Hi Power and the gun's operation would be familiar to anyone who has used a 21st century airsoft springer, with pellets being fed from a separate magazine, which fits in the grip and being cocked by pulling back the slide.
Masudaya Buffalo SS-2 Junior Model - c.1979
The Masudaya Bufallo SS-2 feels quite good in the hand and it is great fun to swap barrels, add forestocks, etc. Sadly, none of the options make much difference to the operation of the gun, the barrels being simply tubes through which the pellets pass, rather than helping with accuracy or velocity - no brass 7.05mm tubing here!
Cleverly, the Buffalo takes 8 pellets in a revolver style cylinder. Each is loaded via a slot on the right side, much like one would load a real steel Colt SAA. The cylinder must then be advanced after each shot, simply by turning it by hand.
The gun is cocked by pulling back a handle on the right side of the body. The spring feels quite strong, even by modern standards, but the gun doesn't feel fragile (and has clearly lasted 20+ years without breaking, not sure how many modern GBBs will fare so well...).
The airgun styling makes the gun quite comfortable to hold, but the trigger pull is quite heavy, causing the gun to wave around considerably when you fire.
I have taken the Masudaya apart and the system is pretty much like a modern springer, with the spring forcing a piston through a cylinder with a rudimentary nozzle on the end which fires the pellet from the cylinder. Obviously, there are lots of leak points, not least the wide plastic barrel, which must allow lots of air to escape around the pellet.
Ronald Kain got in touch to say he has an SS-4 set, the picture belows shows all the accessories that came with it.
Yonezawa Browning Hi Power - c.1982
By contrast with the 1979 Buffalo, the Yonezawa Browning seems surprisingly familiar. None of the quirkiness of the Yonezawa is present, with a Hi Power look-alike design, slide pull back cocking, although none of the open ejection realism you would expect today, and a removable, butt mounted magazine into which the pellets are fed, real-steel style and loaded when the slide is racked.
This was probably a significant step forward in 1982 (the copyright date on the gun's slide), but it is hard not to judge the brittle feeling, shiny platic, pastiche styling, weedy spring, stick magazine and general Christmas cracker toy weight against modern guns because of it. On all those points it seems appalling and would shame even the cheapest of Chinese spring pistols.
On the plus sides, the actual build quality seems pretty good, with a smooth racking slide and a tight, but smooth, fitting magazine. Even with the pellets, I didn't encounter any misfeeds.
The included 'silencer' is nothing more than a tube which pushes on the front of the barrel and does nothing functional whatsoever.
I have not disassembled the Yonezawa.
There are no accuracy tests for these guns because a)ammunition is scarce and b) frankly I couldn't get these guns to hit a target 3ft x 3ft at 5m. The accuracy is dreadful, I could achieve more, simply by throwing the BBs in a dark room.
Some of this might be down to the age of the guns (especially the Buffalo which does seem to have been well used over the years), but things have certainly progressed in the last 25 year or so...
I was however, able to get some fps readings. Again the actual number of rounds fired had to be limited, but the Bufallo, as I suspected, proved the more powerful of the two with an average over 3 shots of just 77fps. I suspect there MAY be a more powerful version in existence as this one is labelled the Junior model and the Japanese writing has a 10 in amongst it, suggesting the gun is, as some modern Tokyo Maruis are, designed for an under 10 year olds market.
The Yonezawa Browning feels to have a very weak spring when you cock the slide and its average over 3 shots was a pitiful 58fps.
Obviously the 7mm pellets are not the same as 6mm BBs, but however you cut it, the performance is poor.
Even if you, like me, have a soft spot for spring pistols, you would not want to go back to the 1980s.
Power and accuracy of these guns, even allowing for their age is terrible compared to modern springers.
The Masudaya has a certain quirky charm with its air-gun apeing design, revolver chamber, cocking handle and multitude of interchangable parts, but the Yonezawa suffers from familiarity, with it's slide cocking and magazine loading mechanism, by feeling too much like a current, but very cheap, springer.
As a piece of airsoft history, both these guns are fascinating, but it's good to know that progress has been strong over the last 25 years.
Masudaya Buffalo SS2
Weight : 310g (with standard barrel)
Realism : **
Quality : **
Power : **
Accuracy : n/a
Yonezawa Browning Hi Power
Weight : 200g
Realism : **
Quality : **
Power : *
Accuracy : n/a
Seth Klinehoffer got in touch to let me know more about the 7mms, which he collects.
Seth writes :
"Here are pics of most of the Masudaya guns.
The Thunderbolt, SS3 and Luger and Falcon-077 are all personally owned by me, the rest are pictures I've found.
Each version of Detachable came in two versions, regular, and complete. The complete versions came in a case with cloth lining. I own the complete SS3.
For reference, that History list is innaccurate. The Deatachable series was:
- SS-3 Complete Set
- SS-4 Complete Set
- SS-5 Complete Set
Although these were part of the Buffalo 'family', they are NOT the same as the Buffalo. That was a rifle made by Masudaya. They also made:
- SWAT Gun
And there may be a few more.
All these 7mms are from Masudaya except the Luger.
It is made by TradeMark and is seen on that "History of Airsoft as the "Unknown Luger MS-1"
All the guns on that list titled "Unknown" are made by TradeMark, including the Falcon 077."
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