Smith & Wesson M4506 - Maruzen
Ever since I bought my KWC Spring M4505, I've been a big fan of the Smith & Wesson steel framed automatics. The 945 didn't quite scratch the itch as, nice though it was, it was really a 1911 style pistol.
One day I strayed across a Maruzen M4506 on the Guns N Guys website. I quickly contacted Peter and he explained that this was a Non-Blowback gun of some vintage. I decided at that point not to buy it, but a few months later I was feeling the need for a S&W Automatic (having experimented with the 945 and seeing Vince Mackie carry one in the TV series, The Shield) and, having pretty much decided that no-one ever made a GBB version (Turns out that Tanaka DID, but my attempts to acquire one of these, so far, have been fruitless. If YOU have one e-mail me), I sent the money to Guns N Guys and received the gun a couple of days later.
In the Box
As with many NBBs there isn't much in the box. Just the gun, some manuals (all in Japanese), a few BBs and a stainless steel rod for clearing jams from the barrel.
The box itself is quite unlike the Maruzens I've seen before, having a glossy front with a photo of the gun, rather than the pseudo WA style brown box.
First impressions were very favourable. The stainless finish is very good and the overall shape of the gun looks excellent.
Although, like most NBBs, the gun isn't terribly heavy, it has a good balance and feels solid in the hand.
The magazine is an all stainless steel affair, but rather unusual in design, having no obvious gas release valve (more later). At least, unlike the JAC Hi Powers, the fill valve is in the now traditional place on the bottom of the magazine.
Metal parts include the safeties, magazine, hammer, trigger, front and rear sights, slide lock and recoil rod.
Unlike some modern NBBs there appears to be no way to field strip the M4506.
The first thing that strikes you on closer examination of the gun is the 'trademarks'. Whilst the gun overall looks very realistic there are NO S&W markings on the gun at all! The slide is marked with Maruzen trades and the, rather nasty looking when you get closer, pale grey grips is totally devoid of markings.
The slide is, aside from the markings, particularly good. A number of times I touched it to see if maybe it was metal, as the appearance really is metallic, although I'm 99% convinced it is just ABS.
The frame is good too, with only the faintest of seam marks. There's what looks like a metal recoil rod poking from the front of the frame, but that's all I could see of it.
I've not been able to work out any way of stripping this gun down. Although the slide lock is removable as it would be to disassemble the real gun, the slide doesn't move at all, so the process grinds to a halt there.
Strangely, the magazine, although having a fill valve on the bottom, has a release valve vertically inside the magazine, which means the gun presses the release by pressing DOWN on it. I don't know why or how this works, but the effect is the lightest NBB trigger pull I've ever experienced. The pressure really is no heavier than a typical GBB - clever design, pity it's not copied elsewhere. The magazine is also strange, to those used to modern gas pistols, in that it is fabricated from sheets of stainless steel and whilst looking lovely, it adds little to the weight of the gun and looks distinctly fragile. One negative about the magazine system, though, is that releasing the magazine from the gun ALWAYS releases gas (you get a little hiss, not gallons of the stuff).
The sights are good, with an adjustable rear (for windage and elevation) and a removable front blade. All have white dots to give a 3 dot sighting system and they are easy to use.
For information, the slide is marked (on the left)MARUZEN ASS (seems to stand for "Air Semi Sports" system...) with a smaller font used for "MADE IN JAPAN","BEFORE USING","READ MANUAL.","CAL 5.95mmBB" one under the other above the disassembly lever/safety. On the left side of the frame, just above the trigger is Mod 4506 RANGE UP (which signifies the Hop Up version of this gun). On the right hand side is a serial number, MC094579, under the ejection port and JASG on the rear of the frame.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test with .25g BBs and 134a gas, the fearsomely strong Hop-Up is apparent. The gun groups quite tightly (4 of the 6 are grouped in a rectangle 1.5 x .5 inch (3.5 CM x 1 CM) with the other two extending the diameter to 3" (8 CM) and I was quite lax in my shooting as I'd seen the violent upward swing in my first test shots), but most of the shots are around 4 inches above the aim point (the 5 in the centre of the target).
Taking the gun out into the garden shows that this effect gets more dramatic at range.
On the box Maruzen recommend using .34g BBs (as they produce for their sniper rifles) and suspect even heavier BBs would not be out of place.
UPDATE May 2004 : When I purchased a chrono, I worked my way through the guns I had retained. The Maruzen was one of those and it averaged a strong 315 fps, over 10 shots with .2g BBs and 134a gas at around 20C. Reinforcing the impression that it would make an excellent all-weather skirmish sidearm.
I also discovered that this gun was first released back in 1989, which makes it all the more impressive. This predates the JAC Hi-Power by 3 years and yet feels considerably more modern and, despite being an NBB, has a superior trigger action.
UPDATE - January 2005
I had liked this NBB from the moment I received it and bought a real steel grip for it from eBay. I was slightly surprised to find that the real grip was also hard plastic, but it bore the S&W logos and was black, so looked a lot better than the light grey Maruzen grips.
It took quite a lot of time (and an abortive attempt to grind down the hammer spring guide inside the grip, which was too large to fit the real steel grip) before I finally got the grip fitted and the mechanism working.
However, it is done now and I believe it was well worth the effort for the improved appearance.
UPDATE - July 2005
Derek Calder dropped me a mail to say he knew how to strip the 4506.
1) Look at RIGHT HAND side of safety catch - you'll notice a small pinhole 2) insert a dart like object into pinhole to press down small metal stud 3) while holding in / down stud, slide the safety bar forward over stud 4) push through safety catch barrel to left hand side (the safety catch barrel has a spring loaded stud on it, watch this while reassembling) 5) Push slide forward (will only move about an inch or so, then pull rear of slide UP then push forward again, once clear of mechanism. Minor point of interest, there is a spacer tube over the recoil rod - this can be removed and replaced by a small spring allowing the slide to be pulled back far enough to cock the hammer (okay, doesn't do anything else - just good for show)
Overall, this Maruzen is an interesting piece.
Not as old fashioned as the JAC Hi Power blow back, but with some unusual quirks. The quality of finish is high, like the JACs, although the Maruzen allegiance of all the trademarks is bizarre (One benefit, though, would be that this gun is tailor made for the US market!) and the trigger pull a delight for a NBB.
Just stock up on VERY heavy BBs!
Weight : 700g
Realism : ***
Quality : *****
Power : ****
Accuracy : ***
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