Heckler & Koch USP Tactical - Tanio Koba
Tanio Kobayashi is an airsoft legend.
He was the man who developed the early GBBs for MGC, the airsoft Ruger Mini-14 GBB rifle and, more recently, helped to develop the new gas system for Tokyo Marui.
My only prior experience with Tanio Koba products, however, were a 'kick booster' piston head for a Maruzen P99 (seemed a bit better) and falling for the pre-release hype surrounding their airsoft H&K VP70M.
That was not a terrible gun, but it had some major issues with the finish and the detailing.
By TK's own admission, it was more of a 'homage' than a replica, but the cheap looking slide, with prominent moulding seams was not so easy to explain away.
So, when Tanio Koba announced the release of an upgrade to their well-regarded USP Tactical, I was skeptical.
Airsoft International magazine, however, asked me if I would like to review one for them and I was intrigued to see how good it was (as well as being a fan of the USP Tactical design).
With its mini-MK23 styling the TK USP Tactical seemed to promise a great deal (especially as KSC have, so far, left this model absent from their USP range), but would it be a disappointment like the VP70?
In the Box
The box is very modest.
As for the VP70M, all the packaging is plain brown cardboard (with simple monochromatic graphics on the lid), with no polystyrene to secure the gun, but it seems to work well and the box is smaller than that for most GBBs, much like the Maruzen P99’s.
Inside, the USP Tactical shares the box with some manuals, a rod and tube type speed-loader (missing in the photos) and the usual small bag of BBs.
First impressions of the TK USP Tactical are very good.
It looks solid and the frame has a flat black look to it, which offers the mattness and weight of KSC's heavyweight material, without the slightly green hue that often accompanies that.
All the metal parts look well cast and finished and the slide has a parkerised finish to it, rather than a shiney blackness.
There is, sadly, a visible sean along the centre of the top of the slide, but nowhere near as bad as on the VP70 and the markings are all well rendered and accurate looking.
Metal parts include the trigger, safeties, slide lock, hammer and front and rear sights.
Starting at the front of the TK USP Tactical and moving back, the first point of interest is the barrelm correctly features a clockwise threaded end, made of metal for longevity. It has a 14mm thread diameter, making the fitting of any number of airsoft silencers a breeze, and a red O-ring on the barrel.
Atop the slide there is a high front sight (designed to clear a suppressor) with a large white dot. The sight is metal and fitted in a dovetail.
Despite that faint seam, the material of the slide feels very heavy and solid, much better than the VP70’s, but not quite like the heavyweight material often found on Western Arms and KSC slides. However, it seems to pick up scratches quite easily.
H&K rails (for mounting torches, etc) are a special size and most aftermarket units (popular with airsofters for CQB) fit the standard, Glock-sized rail. To help with this (whilst retaining the correct, H&K sized rail), Tanio Koba includes an adaptor.
Sadly, this is quite prominently marked “For USP FULL-SIZE FLAME” (rather than FRAME).Removing it, by withdrawing two Allen bolts, is easy, revealing the H&K dimensioned rail, but there are a row of small round indentations on the left side, which slightly spoil the effect.
Fortunately, the other markings are much better.
The left side of the slide is marked with an H&K logo and “USP TACTICAL .40 S&W”. The right side is unmarked. On the left side, the frame is marked with a very subtle Tanio Koba logo over the trigger guard and there is a HK logo and USP marking on the grip on both sides.
The right side of the frame bears a low key “This soft airgun is not product of Hk, but the duplicate to extract the attractiveness of USP”. On the underside of the trigger guard, there is a “WARNING/REFER TO OWNER’S MANUAL” marking and on the front of the frame’s underside a serial number with “DESIGN & PRODUCED by” and “TANIO-KOBA/Japan” arranged above and below it.
The chamber is marked with an H&K logo, “.40 S&W” and a serial number. All of the markings are deep and sharply rendered and look highly realistic compared to the real USP.
The rear sights are adjustable and feature white dots. Like the front post the unit is fitted in a dovetail and made of metal.
The trigger has a relatively long travel and heavy pull, even in single action, although it does not feel unpleasant in action. It, and the ambidextrous magazine release (in the rear of the trigger guard), are made of metal and look strong.
There is only a safety (metal) on the left side (for a right hander), which doubles as a decocker (this example has a habit of sticking down, but that may just be because it is new). The slide lock is also metal.
Inside, the blowback unit looks sturdy and there is one of Tanio Koba’s ‘hardkick’ seals in there (recognisable from the distinctive blue colour).
The hop-up, oddly, is adjusted via a cross headed screw under the rear of the outer barrel, which contains one of Tanio Koba’s trademark rifled inner barrels, although I remain to be convinced they really offer anything in terms of improved accuracy.
The magazine holds 20 BBs in a double stacked arrangement and features a flat base plate with the HK logo.
I would say this is one of the best made airsoft pistols I have ever seen. Aside from the dodgy wording on the rail adaptor and the faint seam on the slide, the gun looks as though it was made to a standard rather than to a price.
So, it looks and feels pretty good, but how would it shoot?
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the USP Tactical had no problem putting all 6 rounds into the centre of the target, with the best 5 grouped just 35mm across.
A second set of 6 shots (the squares) produced another tight grouping.
Over 10 shots, the Tanio Koba USP Tactical averaged 214 fps (using 134a gas and .2g BBs) indoors (at 25C). I also achieved around 286fps with Propane, although such powerful gasses are not recommended by TK.
This is not powerful, with 134a it lagged behind TM's 1911 (tested at the same time) by around 20fps, although it had the advantage using Propane, by a few fps.
Trigger pull was over 2,000g (70 Oz), which is a remarkably heavy weight pull for a GBB, although it did not feel unpleasant to use and (as you can see) did not pose any particular problems with accuracy.
Take down is very simple and will be familiar to anyone who has stripped any other H&K, Colt or similar airsoft GBB.
With the magazine out, push the slide back until the notch in the left side of the slide aligns with the front of the slide lock.
The slide lock can then be pushed out of the frame and the slide, barrel and recoil spring pushed forward off of the frame.
The recoil spring and rod can be removed from the unit and the barrel/blowback assembly pushed forward and then down and back, to remove it from the slide.
Overall, I was impressed by the Tanio Koba USP Tactical.
It has some faults, but the overriding impression is of quality. The gun looks and feels extremely well made and it performs as well as most other modern GBBs, even if the fps figures are not quite equal to the current benchmark guns.
With the other Japanese manufacturers oddly failing to produce a high sight Tactical USP variant, the Tanio Koba model should be able to carve out its own niche and, assuming it is as reliable as its build quality suggests, would make an unusual (without being quirky) sidearm or worthy addition to any collection.
Skirmishers, though, will want to know that there is a supply of spare magazines, I have yet to see any for sale.
I must admit that I came to the Tanio Koba USP Tactical full of pessimism, such was my disappointment with the VP70, but the USP has made a Tanio Koba fan of me.
Weight : 915g (310g magazine)
Realism : ****
Quality : ****
Power : ***
Accuracy : ****
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