Colt 1911A1 Military (Magna Tech) - Western Arms
Although the 1911 dates back to before WW1, it earned its fame in the Second World War, in 1911A1 form.
I have reviewed the high end SCW2 version of the WA 1911A1 before, but this example is a departure for the traditionally expensive, but top quality brand. Magna Tech is a fixed hop, ABS range of guns, designed to take brands like Tokyo Marui head on in the battle for the less well-heeled, but still lucrative, skirmish market, rather than the traditional target-shooting/collector niche that WA have dominated.
Thanks to BigAl from Arnies Airsoft forum and Mike Cripps at Elite Airsoft, I was able to review this Military model which also features WA's latest SCW3 gas system.
In the Box
The box is a bit different for WA, first off. It looks most like a modern KSC box, with a glossy (green in this case) finish all over and white logos on the lid. There is no artwork of the gun, at all.
Inside the gun is held, firmly, in the most secure looking polystyrene bed I have seen from WA.
With the gun is the usual array of accessories; a 1911 bushing wrench, some BBs and the usual collection of paperwork (including a standard WA 1911 manual, which refers to hop-up adjustment, although the Magna Tech's have fixed hop-up, so there's no allen key to adjust it.
Could the box design give a clue to how WA are suddenly able to produce a range of guns at a low price?
These guns sell for $112 vs $185 for the high-end WA 1911A1 model, so something has to be sacrificed.
When these guns were first released, there were cries of 'looks like a cheap springer' from some quarters, but this is harsh.
Certainly the guns are not as high a quality as the dearer models, but, although the ABS is undeniably plastic looking (an impression that is highlighted by the 'parkerised' grey finish of this gun - even the full price parkerised finish guns tend to look plastic), the quality of the moulding is to WA's usual standard.
I get ridiculed on the forums (by TM fans, mainly) for criticising TM guns for having visible mould lines, but, as I often say, KSC can make guns for the same price without them. Now, it seems, so can WA, as there is not a single visible mould line anywhere on this gun.
Even more impressive is that everything (with the exception of the hop-up) inside seems to be WA quality. On 134a, this gun kicks and shoots as hard as a high-end WA (which is to say, as good or better than anything else, let alone at this price) and most of the controls, like the slide lock, safeties, etc, seem to be exactly the same as the high-end models.
In many respects the Magna Tech 1911A1 is just like the costlier SCW2 model.
Up front there is the standard 1911 style bushing and a straight, black painted metal outer barrel. The inner barrel is said to be a 6.03mm tightbore unit.
The slide and frame are undoubtedly made of inferior plastic to the dearer model and grey in colour to replicate the Parkerised finish of the real gun (These pictures make the gun look more blue in hue than it is in reality), but both are commendably free of seam line or any other blemishes (TM take note!) and belie the accusations of a springer like appearance. No spring pistol anywhere looks half this good.
The downside is that the gun feels a fair bit lighter than a high end WA 1911 (It is around 20% lighter), although it is not an unpleasantly light gun to handle.
The slide is pretty strong feeling, but it is a little worrying that the slide notch, often a point of wear on the dearer guns, has no backing to it. You can see right into the workings of the gun, a possible dust trap and something that might wear faster than you would want it to.
Markings are extensive, as you would expect of a WA, with the left side of the slide marked "PATENTED APR.20.1897.SEPT.9.1902"/ "DEC.19.1905.FEB.14.1911.AUG.19.1913" with a Colt rampant horse logo, followed by "COLT'S PT.F.A.MFG.CO."/"HARTSFORD.CT.U.S.A.". The left of the frame has a P near the mag release, a proofing mark on the front of the trigger guard and "G.H.D" below the slide lock.
The right side of the slide is unmarked, whilst the frame is marked with an ASGK mark above the grip and "UNITED STATES PROPERTY M1911A1 U.S.ARMY" above the trigger guard.
However, all the markings are disappointingly thin and shallow. They (like the box) remind me of KSC, although the markings on the slide are so shallow that I initially thought they may be transfers or etched, but, as you can see, they are not.
Controls like the hammer, slide lock and thumb (right hand only) and grip safety appear to be lifted directly from the dearer model and both the hammer and trigger feature the aggressive checkering seen on the real 1911A1.
The Magna Tech features the SCW3 gas system, although quite what that offers over SCW2 (which had a different striker and the 23 round magazines), I am hard pressed to identify (even the usual forum experts seem to struggle to spot anything significant).
Inside, the barrel unit looks very much like the usual WA 1911 unit, but, obviously, there is no hop-up adjustment grub screw.
The grips are plastic (to replicate Bakelite originals) and look pretty good, although some may find them (like the frame and slide) a little shinier than they would prefer - Easily solved by fitting real steel grips.
Oddly, both the front and rear sights are plastic and moulded into the slide. This is not a problem for usage, as the 1911A1 features rudimentary fixed sights, but means metal upgrade slides will need these parts to be included.
One question I hoped to answer was whether it was possible to fit the Magna Tech/SCW3 blowback chamber into other SCW slides, but I had to leave that for another day as, although BigAl was happy for me to strip the gun down, I felt unhappy about using the degree of force necessary to get the slide prised far enough apart to remove the blowback unit. I have yet (as I write this) to find any definitive statements on whether SCW slides (notably metal ones) will fit the Magna Tech guns.
What I can say is that the top end of the Magna Tech did not fit on my WA Wilson Combat CQB SCW model, although the opposite way around (SCW top end on the Magna Tech frame) did work, suggesting the top end of the Magna Tech is different to the SCW model in some way.
So, how would a bargain WA 1911 shoot?
Pretty well, as it turns out...
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the best 5 of 6 shots at 5m, fell in a 35mm diameter (under 1.5") and all 6 were neatly grouped, albeit a little high of the aim point.
It is worth mentioning that it was a bitter 10C when I carried out these tests and I had to use Propane to hit the target with decent force, so it's possible that in warmer conditions, the accuracy would tighten even more. Even so, these figures were on a par with Magna 1911s I've tested before, even if the latest SCW2 guns have been astonishingly accurate.
Over 10 shots, the 1911A1 Military averaged 198 fps (using 134a gas) indoors (at a chilly 11C), which would suggest a figure of around 300 fps with Propane or Abbey Ultra gas at 20C, exactly where the SCW 1911s perform.
Trigger pull was a remarkably heavy 1,870g (65 Oz), which is a very heavy pull for a modern GBB. Whether this is typical of all the Magna Techs or just restricted to this gun, I can't say. It might explain, somewhat, why the, although good, accuracy lagged behind the latest SCW guns. The pull also feels a little gritty and I am not 100% convinced the trigger is not plastic, rather than metal, although as it was someone else's gun I was loathe to scratch away at the paint to investigate.
Take down of this gun will be familiar to anyone who has field stripped a 1911, real or airsoft.
With the magazine out, the slide should be moved back until the slide lock can be pushed out of the frame. The slide and barrel can then be slid off of the front of the frame.
The barrel bushing should be rotated 45 degrees anti-clockwise, it can then be removed. The recoil plug and spring must be removed from the barrel/slide and then the barrel and chamber can be drawn out through the front of the slide.
Overall, the Magna Tech 1911A1 is a pretty impressive bit of kit for the money.
Whilst it lacks the cosmetic excellence of the higher priced guns, it's excellently moulded (with the exception of the disappointing trade marks) and performs like any other WA.
There are a few details that will disappoint those familiar with full-price WAs, but they probably won't bother those accepting of TM's quality of finish.
Those obsessed with power might want to wait a while until people have run these on Green gas for a while, but if they stand up well, there will be no reason to consider an alternative if you want a budget 1911.
A big thanks to BigAl for the loan of this gun for review.
Weight : 720g (220g magazine)
Realism : ****
Quality : *** (**** considering the price)
Power : ****
Accuracy : ****
Wege's view on the Magnatech
Sometime contributor to this site, Wege, sent me, unprompted, his views on the very same gun as I was writing this review.
Well, it felt solid. Good sign. Fires nice and crisply, but the trigger can definately do with some work, at least on this example. It was really rough just as you were about to fire it, so it would be a bit of a jerk if you are trying for an aiming squeeze: smoothness would be needed. Perhaps some work on the trigger-bar ala the guide on arnies? The magazine release felt a bit sticky at times, but not a 'hit the button a fraction and you will loose your magazine'. Sights are normal M1911 style. Hammer is a very very nice 'click, click' from rest, to 'ready' The markings, while present, are very shallow. They remind me of just an etching/engraving style as I have seen on the KSC USP Compact taiwan version, and the KSC Glock 17 I reviewed. The markings one the right side frame (above the right side grip) are very indistinct. Probably one of the many reasons for the cheapness. The hammer rests almost flush with the back of the slide - no obvious valve-hammer pin to look at. Good range on HFC134 (at least 25m to the middle of a doorway sized target area), and combined with the kick from it too, I don't know that it is really worth it for the people who want to run it on propane or ET1000. Unsure of magazine swappability - very few people here have WA gbbs. I will see if I can get an earlier WA Magna M1911 model to look at the swapping. Felt nice and balanced, didn't feel 'fragile'
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