Hi Capa 5.1 - Armotech/WE
Not long after Tokyo Marui launched their Hi-Capa Government 5.1, Armotech announced an all metal gun, which looked virtually identical.
Coming out of Taiwan (Metal airsoft guns are illegal in Japan), it was, initially branded Armotech, who appear to be a paintball marker manufacturer.
However, a WE version followed not long after and this website seems to suggest it is actually manufactured by Ho Feng (otherwise knows as HFC, and makers of the rather good, HFC M9 190 all-metal Beretta, which is a technical copy of the TM Beretta.
Later, though I received a mail from James Tai from MONDA International - the official agent of Wei-E pistol.
He wrote "This pistol is manufactured by Wei-E(aka. WE, WE-Tech). The first lots are use "Armotech" as logo. But it get replace on later lots. The HFC is one of ours customer who sell products for Wei-E. This products are not manufacture by HFC."
'Hissing Sid' on Arnies dropped me a mail to say he had ordered one of these on a whim and asking if I would like to review it. That was a no-brainer and good fortune meant I had it at the same time as the Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa, so I was able to compare them directly.
In the Box
This particular gun arrived with me in a very basic box, simply a one-piece, plain cardboard box, with "HI KICK HI GROUPING"/"HI CAPA 5.1"/"GOVERNMENT MODEL" on the lid and sides.
There was nothing in the box, except the Hi-Capa and a sheet of egg-crate foam for protection.
One look suggests this is from the same stable as the HFC M9 190.
The gun metal paint is identical in colour and finish and is also, it must be said, very evenly applied. I could not find any pooling or thin patches.
The metal Hi-Capa certainly doesn't suffer from the odd balance of the Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa, being just plain heavy from top to bottom.
Everything on this gun is metal, except the grip. Oddly, on this example, there are no badges on the grip at all, just a space where, presumably, the licensee fits their own logo! I did read there was some problem over the use of the Armotech logo, so perhaps this gun has simply had the badges removed by the supplier.
The only significant difference between this and the TM gun, at first sight, is the integrated rail groove in the dust cover of this gun, looking very like those on WA's latest SVI ranges.
The gun kicks much harder than the TM, but still seems capable of a high rate of fire, thanks to an impresively fast cycle action, on Abbey Ultra gas, at least.
Any doubt that this is a direct copy of the TM gun were alleviated by swapping top and bottom ends over and interchanging magazines.
Both guns worked just fine with the top end and magazine from the other gun (Note to self - When does a gun become another gun if you swap enough parts from one to the other?).
Having disliked the TM's magazine heavy bias, the Armotech/HFC gun is a pleasure with a hefty slide/barrel assembly and frame more than offsetting the magazine weight. Interestingly, the magazine in this gun is lighter than TM's suggesting there are weights in the TM magazine.
On the other hand, the Armotech/HFC is devoid of cast in trademarks, with just some transfers, or painted markings, on the left side of the slide proclaiming this as an "OPS-M.R.P CAL.45" and on the right, just "MRP CAL.45". That is it, there are no other markings on the gun, at all. They are not bad and the paintwork, as already observed, is very good and attractive. Of course, the TM Hi-Capa isn't a replica of any real gun, either, so most people will not worry too much about this.
Update August 2005 - The gun's owner, HissingSid on Arnies, has been in touch to say that the markings are actually etched into the slide, rather than painted or decals. This makes sense and Sid says that they finish is identical to that on a ICS Armalite, which uses an etching method for markings.
When I tested the HFC Beretta, I noted that some of the moulding looked a little soft. There is less of that here, but putting the TM and Armotech side-by-side, the TM does look a fraction sharper, with a few narrower gaps in the moving parts. However, in isolation, it is hard to single out areas of particular issue, except for the slide/frame interface, where the movement causes a notable rattle.
On this particular pistol, the grip safety doesn't work. Some say it only increases the force needed to pull the trigger when it does and some report that it is not very reliable on the TM version either, suggesting this is an area of weakness in the design. I have to report, though, that the TM Hi-Capa that I had had no problems with the grip safety not working.
THe finish on the hammer, too, is better than TM's nasty chrome painted on, being a flat silver, like the one-piece barrel/chamber unit.
The trigger is metal on this gun, too, unlike the TM's and has a nice action, almost devoid of free play. However, this could be an issue for some, especially with the unreliable grip safety design.
The rail groove is worth looking at. Initially this looks a nice feature, but it lack the securing groove (side to side) underneath the frame, meaning anything you fit will only be push tight. Someone on a forum also reported that it didn't properly fit either of the rail mount accessories he had, suggesting it may not be accuractely sized. The TM, with its add-on rail, might well be the better choice if you are keen on accessories, although it would be trivial to fit a piece of rail to the underneath of the Armotech's dustcover. The rail, however, also means the dustcover is a different shape, externally, to the TM's meaning that the numerous accessory front ends for the TM will not fit seamlessly to the metal Hi-Capa.
The box for this gun claims "Hi Kick, Hi Grouping", like the TM, but it certainly delivers on the former more convincingly than the TM, if you take that to mean 'hard kicking'. With a much heaver slide, the gun really kicks hard and sounds great as it does. What is most impressive, though, is that the gun still cycles impressively quickly - It is not as fast as the TM I have tested, but its not dramatically slower, either. By any standards, you can deliver an impressive rate of fire with this gun.
I feel the trigger, too, is nicer on this gun than the TM. It is heavier, but has a shorter travel and feels much more precise in its action because of it.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the Armotech/HFC placed the best 5 shots in a 3.0CM (1.2inch) diameter. This was a CM better than the TM, but that's small enough to be due to differences in specific examples of the gun. Suffice to say, either are accurate, at these ranges, enough for most uses and with the same Hop-Up system, you'd expect the Armotech to be a match for the TM at range, too.
Over 10 shots, the metal Hi-Capa averaged 279 fps (using Abbey Ultra gas and Excel .2g BBs) indoors (at 20C).
This is very close to the TM Hi-Capa, but you'll notice that the performance tailed off quite quickly, which the TM did not.
Trigger pull was 860g (30 Oz), which is a medium weight pull for a GBB, but it feels lighter with a very short and precise travel.
Take down is just like the TM version, unsurprisingly.
With the magazine removed, the slide is pushed back until the slide lock can be pushed through the frame. With that done, the slide, barrel and recoil rod & spring can be slid forward off the frame as unit.
With the recoil spring removed, by withdrawing the bushing from the front of the slide, the barrel unit, with it's fixed chamber, can be pushed forward out of the slide.
Overall, I liked the Armotech/HFC Hi-Capa more than the TM gun.
It looks good and feels extremely substantial for the price it sells at (Under $100 on Hong Kong retailers sites, under £90 at the one UK supplier I have seen it at, so far.) and performs as well as the TM gun, although only time will tell if it can be as reliable. However, being such a close copy of the TM, it should not prove difficult to obtain parts for it.
There are some compromises, no engraved markings, a slightly less crisp look to the whole gun, some slightly wider gaps and a dodgy grip safety on this one, but for a no-frills skirmish gun or a cheap, all metal plinker, it shows that HFC have made big strides in the quality of the guns, from their old springers.
Weight : 1130g (360g magazine)
Realism : ***
Quality : ****
Power : ****
Accuracy : ****
Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa 5.1 which this gun is a copy of.
Hissing Sid's comments
HissingSid posted the following observations, on Arnies, about his gun, after I returned it to him.
Got my HFC/WE/Armotech HiCapa last week. Got home last night and finally got around to looking at it. The box is a totally unbranded brown cardboard box which is kinda convenient for anybody who's considering flogging these for themselves. Anyway, Snowman said (quite rightly) that the grip safety wasn't working which did disappoint me slightly. I shot off a couple of mags with it. It DOES have a nice enough kick but the recoil spring is pretty soft. The slide wallops back pretty fast (on green) but the return cycle is slow enough that you can actually watch the slide move forward again. It's not hideously slow but it's the slowest return of any gun I have. The slide locks back very solidly so it seems like the gun might benefit from a harder recoil spring. I suppose if you were running the gun on CO2 then a much stronger recoil spring could be fitted which would make the cycling much faster. I'd guess that the current spring is in so that the gun DOES lock-back reliably on gas. The other thing is that it's damned fiddly to get the recoil spring out so you might struggle to actually fit a stronger recoil spring. I removed the hammer spring housing and found that moving the grip safety an extra 1mm (if that) backwards allowed it to engage. I filed a bit off the tab which holds the grip safety in place behind the hammer spring housing, reassembled the gun and found that the grip safety now works perfectly. 5 minute fix. Next, a couple of observations and questions... Firstly, if you cock the hammer with your thumb the gun does NOT fire. The hammer drops but no gas is discharged. You need to actually rack the slide before the gun will fire. On the one hand, this is a bit of a PITA. I often cock my M190 then drop the mag, lower the hammer, reinsert the mag and then holster the gun. This means the gun is loaded but with the hammer down. Safe. The Hicapa seems to require that you either leave the gun totally unloaded OR that you leave it loaded and cocked. I dunno. For some reason this doesn't bother me with a glock but, with a gun that has a hammer I like to be able to decock it if I want. On the other hand, it's kind of interesting to think that there must be some rather clever engineering going on inside the gun so that it only discharges gas after the slide has been racked. You'll never find yourself firing on an empty chamber as long as there's BBs in the mag. Beyond that, it is a very nice gun. Bit rattley but nothing major. Quite impressive. Especially since it's the cheapest gun I've ever bought.
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