Smith & Wesson Performance Center M945 Black - KSC
When the Silver 945 had been released I'd been taken with it instantly and, for a short while, owned one.
When a black one appeared on the forum for a good price, I decided to buy it and see how they compared.
Interestingly, about the same time, the Hong Kong shops started listing a, much more reasonably priced, Taiwanese version of the silver gun and no sooner had that happened than a BLACK, fish scaled, Japanese Version appeared!
In the Box
Inside the neat little box (very similar to the latest KSC M93R style) is the gun, 1 magazine, a new style KSC Hop-Up adjuster, a few BBs and a manual (all in Japanese, as usual).
The Japanese version of the black gun (there has been a Taiwanese version from the outset - more later), bears a unique serial number on a sticker on the outside of the box, which is repeated on the gun.
The first impression is of how plain this gun seems. To an extent that's due to my experience with the silver gun, but the markings (although quite clear in these pictures) are notably dependant upon the direction the light strikes them and, head on, are very indistinct, leaving you thinking the gun is almost entirely black.
The most notable relief to the blackness is the breech, where the silver contrasts well with the flat black slide.
The magazine isn't fitted in the gun in the box (in fact, without minor mods to the liner, it won't fit), because it, too, is a work of art. This isn't a KSC Glock magazine. It's polished and highly detailed with engravings.
It's almost too nice to put in the gun, but, as I got a spare with mine, I relieved the polystyrene a bit to allow the gun to fit in the box with a mag fitted.
The gun is a fair bit lighter than a SV Infinity, but it's also much, much slimmer (being a single stacker - just 15 BBs in each mag - but it's even slimmer than a Colt 1911), which is definitely a good point in my book, so it doesn't feel overly light in the hand. The black gun feels lighter than I remember the silver one doing so.
Personally, I can live without the 1911's trademark grip safety, but it's not intrusive (less so, I feel, than that on the WA Infinity) in feel on the 945 and is less visually intrusive on the black framed gun than the silver.
Exterior metal parts include the trigger, hammer, slide lock, magazine, ambidextrous safety, grip safety and front and rear sights.
The gun looks plain, but there's no lack of detail on it. The slide is marked Performance Center (but no 945) on the left side, with the unique, XJ prefixed, serial number on the frame just above the trigger.
On the right hand side, the slide reads "SMITH & WESSON", with "SPRINGFIELD, MA U.S.A." beneath it. The frame bears the number 945-1 and the S&W Performance Center logo, above the trigger.
The rear site is a Novak replica (unlike the silver gun's adjustable Bo-Mar) and there's a blade front sight held in a SVI like dovetail (It's narrower front to back than an SV, though.) which have a three dot 'tactical' setup, like the Infinity Prokiller range.
DumboRAT observed how poor the finish was on the metal parts on his gun, including the sites, and it is true to say the black finish is not great. However, the finish on my gun doesn't look as bad as the photographs suggest his is, so maybe it varies.
Downsides? Well, DumboRAT has reported that this gun doesn't like Green Gas, although his findings were a little inconclusive. Safer to run it on 134a, though, or Abbey Ultra at most.
As with the silver gun, the silver outer barrel is plastic, but seems less out of place on this gun than the gorgeous silver one. There is an affordable, but hard to find, metal slide/barrel set for the black gun, unlike the silver, for which only very expensive frame/slide combos exist.
If you read DumboRAT's review on Arnies Airsoft (and I urge that you do), you'll note his comments on how to spot the differences between Japanese and Taiwanese versions. The Silver gun bears an XK serial number, whereas the Japanese black versions bears an XJ number and the Taiwanese, an XP number.
The grips are plastic (real wood ones are available from Hong Kong suppliers), but look very realistic (on a par with the WA Colt 1911 ones) and are secured with hex bolts.
The trigger is quite broad, and has three holes drilled through it. This is a very nice trigger, in lots of ways. As the 945 is a single action automatic, the ambidextrous thumb safety is a welcome feature for lefties, like me.
I'd forgotten how good the 945 is to shoot. It must have the lightest, fastest production trigger of any airsoft pistol I have ever fired.
A few test emptyings of magazines (in 11 degree C conditions) produced fast, sharp recoil and impressive groupings. The white dot sights (the foresight has a slightly larger dot to make them seem the same size, clever, eh?) making aiming very easy.
One of my magazines was fussy about loading BBs and produced a few stoppages, but they were all in the magazine feed and it seems to have a small burr at the mouth, which I shall file down. The actual operation of the gun was flawless, with no failures to lock back on empty (WA Berettas take note!), but also no false lock backs when the magazine still had BBs in, but was failing to feed.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
I ran two sets of 6 shots through for my formal test. The first 6 were carefully aimed, but still quite quickly rattled off (it's hard not to fire off all 15 shots with the 945, just for the fun of it) and are shown as the squares on the target above. The whole set are 2.75 inches (7.2 CM) across, with the low outlier probably due to the gas beginning to run out. The remaining 5 are all in the centre area and just 1.75 inches (4.5 CM) across.
The second set, shown as circles, were fired off just as fast as I could pull the trigger and count the shots and I suspect the counting was what slowed me down.
These are slightly offset to the left (probably due to me snapping the trigger at speed, being left handed), but are still just 2.5 inches (6 CM) in diameter, with the best 5 within 2.25 inches (5.5 CM).
For shooting, the 945 must rate as one of the most enjoyable airsoft pistols I've fired and is impressively accurate, too.
Over 10 shots, the 945 averaged 255fps (using 134a gas) indoors (around 19C).
Disassembly of the M945 is similar to most 1911 based guns.
After removing the magazine, slide the slide back until the front of the slide lock cutout on the left side of the slide is aligned with the front of the slide lock.
Push the slide lock through the frame from the other side (you might need to get a finger nail under the slide lock and pull it through), completely removing it from the frame. The slide, barrel and recoil rod can be slid forward off the frame at this point.
The recoil rod can be removed by pushing it gently forward and down and then back. The barrel should be slid forward and down, once clear of the nozzle.
There is a small rod in the rear of the recoil rod, which can spring out, this only fits properly one way, so if the recoil rod will not seat on reassembly, try reversing this part.
Overall, the black M945 is another very good gun from KSC.
It lacks the sheer visual extravagance of the silver model, but, like that gun, feels very good in the hand. Shooting is impressive (although some will find the kick a little soft) and the accuracy is, I'd say, very good.
The more tactical look will appeal to many and you could take this gun skirmishing without worrying about scratching it.
At the great prices the Taiwanese M945s (basically the same) are available, they make an excellent alternative for someone considering a WA 1911.
The finish on the black gun is very good, even if it is not as immediately apparent as the silver gun, and the trigger is a gem, being (as I'd found with the silver gun) very light and quick, but the overall shooting experience falls short of that offered by the latest WA 1911.
Personally, I would pay the little extra and get the silver gun, but for a skirmish sidearm, there's little doubt that the black is more practical and the availability of an affordable metal slide and barrel is another advantage to this version.
Weight : 800g
Realism : ****
Quality : ****
Power : ****
Accuracy : ****
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