Browning Hi-Power Mk3 (Silver) - Tanaka Works

I have owned 3 airsoft Hi-Powers in the past (a Hsu Wei and 2 JACs), none of which were great by modern standards, but they all had a certain 'rightness' to their feel, despite being quite lightweight.

Great looking gun - Standard sidearm of British Army for years.

Only Tanaka Works make a modern Hi-Power and I had often wondered what it was like. When a 'heavyweight' silver Mk3 model came available on a forum, I snapped it up to see whether it had the virtues of the old ones matched to modern GBB performance.

In the Box

The lid looks like most Tanaka guns, with a glossy photograph (of the black Mk3 on a black background).

Glossy box lid photo typical of Tanaka Works guns

Inside the Hi-Power is securely fitted in a polystyrene base, with a few manuals and a bag of BBs (the black ones shown in the photo are not the standard BBs provided with the gun).

First Impressions

Like other Tanaka Works guns I have seen, the Hi-Power looks good in the box.

The finish is of WA quality (that is, extremely high), with smart markings and a blemish free paint job, although it is clearly painted rather than looking plated. The silver finish is similar to WA's silver SVIs and Berettas, rather than TM's Desert Eagle.

Overall build quality is WA like. In other words, excellent.

Picking up the gun, it displays the excellent balance I recall from the Hsu Wei and JACs, with a comfortable, but large grip and a butt heavy, but not unhappily so (as with TM Hi-Capa, for instance), feel.

Even with 'heavyweight material', though, the overall weight, especially with the magazine removed, is on the low side for a quality GBB, but it is fair to say that the real Hi-Power (at around 900g) is a lightweight full metal semi-automatic pistol.

The only airsoft Hi-Power with an open ejection port.

External metal parts include front and rear sights, magazine release, slide lock, hammer, trigger and safeties.

Closer Look

The silver finish on this gun looks good currently (it is still quite new), but there are already signs on the underside of the slide where the silver has worn through to the bare black slide at the points where it comes in contact with the frame. I have my doubts as to how well this finish would fare being frequently holstered and unholstered on the skirmish field.

Silver finish already wearing where slide contacts frame.

That said, the overall casting and finish of the Tanaka is excellent. The frame, slide and all metal parts are cast to a level equal to Western Arms best, which is as good as airsoft generally gets. Certainly there is no hint of a seam on the underside of the frame or on the grip.

Overall finsish quality is extremely good - No seams...

Up at the front of the Hi-Power, there is a dovetailed in front sight, which features a white rear face (not a dot, more a vertical bar, which aligns with thin vertical bars on the rear sight).

There is a bushing built into the slide (not a separate unit like the 1911's), which keeps the one piece outer barrel and chamber aligned. The chrome finish looks ok at first sight, but there is a prominent seam on the barrel (not that apparent until you strip the gun down) and the barrel itself feels very light and cheap, although the markings on the chamber look good.

Dovetailed in foresight.

The slide is marked "BROWNING ARMS COMPANY MORGAN UTAH & MONTREAL P.Q." on the left side, with the frame bare that side. The right side of the slide is unmarked, with just a discrete "MFG. TANAKA WORKS ASGK" on the frame. The chamber is marked "Cal. 9mm LUGER".

The long Hi-Power slide lock is replicated accurately and seems to work reliably as a slide lock when the magazine empties.

Metal parts nicely cast and finished.

There are ambidextrous thumb safeties on the frame, which allow the gun to be 'cocked-and-locked'. The trigger and hammer are both metal and polished.

Being a single action automatic (like the 1911), the Hi-Power must be cocked (by racking the slide or pulling back the hammer) before the first shot. Obviously, subsequent shots are readied by the blowback action.

Chromed chamber - Note finely detailed extractor

Interestingly, Tanaka replicated the 'magazine safety', which makes it impossible to fire the gun without a magazine in. This is very authentic, but is a pain when storing the gun (as the hammer is always cocked back). Unlike recent WA guns, it is not possible to effectively lower the hammer without venting gas from the magazine.

Chamber and outer barrel one piece and chromed

The magazine holds 20 rounds, but I found the magazine for this gun lived down to Tanaka's dreadful reputation for magazines. It was fine when I received it, but a few days later I gassed it up and all the gas immediately vented from the seal between the base and the magazine walls. I soaked the seal in Power Assisted Steering fluid and it revived, but I now notice that there is a small leak from the top valve...

John Browning's last design has an undeniable 'rightness' in the hand.

The black plastic grips are nothing to get excited about, but exactly what you would expect of a Mk3 Browning Hi-Power, so beyond criticism in that respect. They are reasonably comfortable to hold, too, with a thumb rest on both grips.

Shooting Impressions

With a WA licenced Magna R gas system, I expected fairly decent performance from the Hi-Power.

Firstly I tested the accuracy.

Click on image for bigger version in separate window.

Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, I was initially impressed with the sights, with their fine vertical white line markings.

However, the results on the target did not reflect the ease of target acquisition. From my initial 6 shots, the best 5 were 55mm apart, but in a long straggly line from bottom to top, with the first shots in the target centre, but subsequent shots creeping up.

I did, however, have a few problems with the gun failing to cycle in this set of shots, which required me to re-aim the gun a number of times, so I took the second 6 shots (on a freshly gassed magazine, which gave no cycling problems).

4 shots were grouped more tightly and right in and above the target centre (40mm across), but two others fell lower, giving a 5 from 6 grouping of 55mm.

Over 10 shots, the Tanaka Browning Hi-Power averaged 218 fps (using duster gas) indoors (at 23C). Experience suggests this would equate to around 270 fps with green gas at 20C, but I would not recommend using strong gasses like this in the Browning, due mainly to the unavailability of parts (like replacement or upgrade slides) for the Tanaka GBBs.

Shot      FPS
1 222.6
2 222.8
3 221.3
4 220.3
5 221.3
6 206.3
7 218.9
8 216.9
9 219.5
10 216.4

Trigger pull was an excessively heavy 2,240g (79 Oz), which is by far the heaviest GBB pull I've ever recorded, although, to be fair, the pull doesn't feel that bad. It might, too, explain the walking vertical line of hits in the accuracy tests. However, this is probably due to Tanaka's decision to replicate the magazine safety. For this test, therefore, I had to fit the magazine.

Take Down

Unlike the old, and unrealistic, JAC design, the Tanaka Hi-Power strips like the real thing.

With the magazine out, push the slide back until the rear of the slide lock is aligned with the notch on the slide.

The only airsoft Hi-Power that strips like the real thing.

The slide lock can than be lifted up at the rear and pushed (from the opposite side to the lever) out of the frame and the slide and barrel slid forward off the frame.

The recoil spring and guide can then be removed and the barrel pushed forward and down and back out of the slide.


Overall, much as I wanted to rave about the Tanaka Hi-Power, I can't.

It is an OK, no more, shooter. It looks good, but I have concerns about the longevity of the silver finish (obviously not a problem if you buy a black one).

The magazines seem highly unreliable, worthy of the bile I have often heard addressed to Tanaka magazines in general (In contrast, my Luger, touch wood, continues to plug on leak free).

High quality replication let down by some technical issues, but it looks lovely!

If your requirement is a holster (or collection) filler for an authentic British Army look with the ability to blat off a few rounds now and then, I would have no qualms about recommending the Tanaka over the older and even less capable JACs and Hsu Weis, but if you need a rock solid, skirmish or target shooting airsoft pistol, there is still a Hi-Power shaped gap in the market.

My advice would be to, if possible, search out a black HW gun and buy as many magazines as you can!

Weight : 705g (285g magazine)

Realism : ***
Quality : ****
Power : ***
Accuracy : ***

Real Steel link at World Guns

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