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Introduction

Working in the airsoft industry brings with it a certain level of passiveness. It’s a cognitive overload of metal and polymer – after looking at piles of 1911 pistols, they all start looking the same. It’s even worse with Glocks – the polymer construction and common parts make them the Toyota Camry of the airsoft world (Nothing against Toyota Camrys, I swear). So it takes something special to really snap you out of your fatigue. So it was a surprise that I found a red and black box waiting for me one day at work.

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Turns out I had a new gun from the higher-ups to review. The Armorer Works HX1102 from Taiwan, to be specific. Initial impressions were good. Opening the box, I was greeted to a pistol wrapped in plastic, a red dot mount, a couple of pins, and a colourful and well designed manual… directing me to go online to their website to download their manual. I recognize that most manuals are poorly written, but it surprises me that in a premium model, they didn’t even include the full manual. A plus, however: The online manual is very well written and I encourage you to take a look at it for yourself. I would have preferred a foam insert in the box, rather than the pressed cardboard used in this case. After all, premium products don’t just sell based on their merits, but on the experience of owning one… I sound like a car reviewer, don’t I?

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Initial Impressions

Pulling the pistol out of its packaging, I was immediately struck by the heft of the gun. It’s not an anchor, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like its going to fall apart on me. Solid would be an appropriate way to describe it. Racking the slide to check the chamber, I was puzzled by how smooth it felt. Normally with new airsoft pistols, there is a bit of grit that works its way out after breaking in. With this gun, complete smoothness – it’s like they paid attention to the details, and the further I looked at the gun, the more this came to be true.

The finish is an evenly laid layer of matte paint covering some crisply cut serrations, and the slide fit to frame is superb. More manufacturers could learn from the texturing on the grip of the pistol, though I am not a fan of the finish on the trigger. The rest of the silver components are covered in a uniform paint, where the trigger is machined down on the sides to show off its metal construction. Not a functional problem, but at the same time, for a gun that has such great attention to detail, the mismatch is a missed opportunity. Thankfully it’s not a functional issue, and the gun itself overall is a high quality item.

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Shooting Impressions

Shooting the Armorer Works HX1102 was an interesting experience. The trigger is buttery smooth, featuring a light takeup and a noticeable break. Those of you seeking a loud and clear reset will be disappointed, but there’s no overtravel and the length of pull is one of the shortest I’ve seen in airsoft. The safeties engage with a loud click, though they are lighter than I’d prefer in a pistol such as this. The slide stop is standard 1911 through and through, and will not drop should you wish to rack the slide to unlock it after a reload. This may be a deal killer for some, but for most it should be perfectly fine.

The gun itself sits well in the hand, and the action is snappy, though those looking for something snappier should look at the HX1002, with its partial slide and fixed barrel. The HX1102 is no slouch, however. I was able to hit a 2″ by 6″ steel plate from 30 feet, and at 15 feet had no problem performing double taps on the target. Unfortunately our facilities for testing hop performance are limited, so that answer remains a question for now.

I love how the slide stop pin is rebated on the opposite side – normally, a 1911 pin can be pushed out by the trigger finger, meaning you have to be careful about where you place your finger. The HX1102 has a shorter pin in a machined pocket on the frame, resolving this issue.

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Favourite Feature

On the topic of handling the gun, I’m dedicating a specific paragraph to the sights on this pistol. Tokyo Marui – pay attention. Armorer Works has perhaps the best stock sights installed on their HX1102. Fiberoptic rods provide excellent illumination for target acquisition, and the green front sight contrasts with the orange rear sights with ease. This is how you do sight illumination. I personally have a Glock 22 with GunsModify Tritium sights. They’re great, but they’re all green glow – which makes it harder to line up. I want these sights on my gun. Making them even better is the use of a U-Notch for the rear sight, rather than the square notch used on most sights. I was puzzled by this early on, so I went to my friend Google to do some research. Turns out that by turning the square notch into a u-notch, the rear sight removes two right angles that draw attention from the critical right angles – namely, the top of the front sight and the top of the rear sight notch. This should make it easier to line up, though I didn’t have much time to test out that theory.

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Available Accessories

Cytac’s HCP holster fits this gun without an issue – though this gun is much heavier than a Glock or M&P, so you will want to invest in a good belt. I personally love the fact that there’s a locking Kydex holster for the Hi-Capa series of pistols now, and I look forward to seeing more models come out down the line. The HX1102’s full length dust cover accepts 20 mm accessories, and I can confirm that a Streamlight TLR-1 weaponlight fits without issue. Armorer Works has indicated that these pistols will have parts support from their company, and if not available from them, most parts in this pistol should be compatable with Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa pistols. KJW Magazines will not fit, however, Tokyo Marui Hi-Capa magazines should fit once the magwell is removed. Perhaps most excitingly, Armorer Works includes a RMR mount that works with the majority of Red Dots out there. Exciting is an understatement.

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Rating (Out of 5 Stars)

The HX1102 surprised me with how it defied my expectations. I enjoyed shooting it, and while it’s a tad heavy to carry, I could see this being the ideal sidearm for the kind of player that either runs only their sidearm, or relies heavily on it. Some say the HX1102 is a competition gun, while others liken it more to a duty gun. I choose to say that it belongs in the middle as a hybrid of those concepts, taking the best from each.

The accuracy out of the box was impressive, the ergonomics traditional yet evolved, and firing it was a pleasure with the innovative sights mounted on the gun. Armorer Works could improve on the presentation and the small details, but overall this is a solid package. Thus, I think we can easily give this one 4 stars out of 5.

Update 8/4/2016

Thanks to this evaluation, looks like we went full in here at Mach 1 Airsoft and decided to stock some of these Armorer Works pistols. You can see them at the following link:

Armorer Works HX Pistols

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Holsters 101

Posted in Pistol Posts on 23 Feb 2015 by

Holsters 101

Holsters. It goes without saying that a universal holster is a poor choice. Nothing can ruin your day more than coming to the sudden realization that your gun is unloaded when trying to fire it or more distressingly, the realization that your sidearm is just simply not there. Hardly the news you want to get when trying to return fire with what is often your last line of defence.

On the Sidearm and the Role

Here at the Mach 1 team, we all have a variety of differing tastes when it comes to our sidearms. Our retail manager prefers the M1911, where my coworker prefers the compact third generation Glock 26. Myself? I prefer the fourth generation Glock 22. Each of these guns represents a different methodology at work. One views his sidearm as the ultimate last resort for when his main weapon goes down. The other views it as a compliment to his primary weapon, and for me, my sidearm is often the only gun I run.

Universal Holsters and a Universal Lack of Retention

Now, I know you’re thinking- what does this have to do with losing your sidearm? Well, just count the number of guns there. Between the three of us, there are five sidearms. The logical solution is to use a universal holster, but as we’ve mentioned above, it’s not an option. The nylon construction isn’t tailored to the specific gun, and the retention is passable at best. By this point, thumb break straps are very 90s and outdated. If I remember correctly, the only major user of them at this moment in Canada is the RCMP. However, what sets the RCMP holster apart from the typical universal holster is how it’s molded specifically for their gun with a variety of retention mechanisms. The result? A secure weapon for their operating environment.

Proprietary Holsters

The idea is we always want to have a hard holster designed for our gun in particular. Having the holster molded for your gun reduces the chances that it will shift around and decide to liberate itself in the middle of a field. However, there is still a chance your gun can come loose, it’s simple physics at work. In order to remove your gun from the holster, there is a path for it to go. This path does not magically stop existing when you stop thinking about your sidearm. This is where the levels of retention come into play.

What is a Level 1 Holster?

        A Level 1 holster is the most basic molded holster. It’s a simple friction fit holster that trades retention for speed of draw. Rich likes to use these holsters, in particular a KAOS holster, in close quarters battle for their quickdraw capabilities. The downside is the lack of retention.

What is a Level 2 Holster?

A Level 2 holster is slightly more complex. It adds in a locking mechanism for the pistol, preventing it from moving without manipulation. Popular holsters in this category are the 5.11 Thumbdrive, the Safariland SLS and ALS, and the Blackhawk Serpa holster. Ken runs one of these, as he’s content with leaving his gun in his holster, only to be used in emergency. In other words, he wants it to be there when he needs it.

What is a Level 3 Holster?

A Level 3 holster adds an additional mechanism or defense against unintentional release. In the case of the Blackhawk SERPA, a hood is added to the top of the holster that folds over the rear of the gun’s slide. In addition to the SERPA’s standard push button release, this provides a secure fit. Safariland’s version for the SLS is a tab that is used to lock the hood release button. Normally, the thumb is used to push down and forward on the hood that holds the gun in place. This tab locks that motion. I carry these holsters as retention is the most important aspect of carry to me. After all, if I lose my sidearm when it’s my primary, I’m in trouble. If I get disarmed of said sidearm, I’m in even more trouble.

The Selection Process

Now you may ask, well, why doesn’t everybody carry a Level 3 holster? Well, it’s a tradeoff. Level 3s are slower to draw than Level 2s, and Level 2s slower than Level 1s. Practice will help cut the draw time- about 200 repetitions should do it. With that said, a Level 3 in the majority of cases still will draw slower than a Level 2. As well, Level 3 holsters are bulky and get in the way. You will not find a Level 3 holster that is not a duty holster (meaning it’s supposed to be worn as part of a uniform kit) where on the other hand, it is very easy to find a Level 1 in a low profile load out.

Conclusion

The last thing I want to talk about are accessories on your gun. To have a molded holster means you can’t exactly swap things up on the go. You have to commit to a method of action before purchasing your holster. For example, swapping to a KAOS from my current Safariland SLS 6280 means I’d have to ditch my TLR-1 light. Most holsters are custom made for many different light, laser, and gun combos, but it’s up to you to ensure your variation exists when you’re choosing.

For Holsters, click HERE

For more information on Kaos Concealment Holsters, click HERE

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The Tokyo Marui XDM – Diamond in the Rough

        I often get asked by the many customers that come into Mach 1 about the gun that everybody overlooks. A gun that may be unassuming, but when put in the right hands is quite the standout. While everybody’s drawn to the latest M9 or Glock or M&P, not enough people know about the Springfield XDM by Tokyo Marui.

What makes a great pistol?

        My mantra on pistols is simple. Make it idiot proof and you’ll have a great pistol. Too many guns tout the newest features and options, but overlook the training required to ensure someone is proficient with said gun. The XDM is one of those pistols where it’s extremely easy to pick up and develop one’s skills with.

XDM Safety

        For starters, the XDM doesn’t have any manual safeties. That’s one less thing to train someone on. What it does have are two passive safeties – a grip safety and a trigger safety. Proper handling of the gun will deactivate the safeties making it ready for use without having to manipulate any additional controls. Furthermore, a pin on the back of the slide protrudes letting the user know when the gun is cocked and ready to fire. With some pistols like the M&P, it is difficult to ascertain that the gun is cocked without cycling it again. Now, obviously the ideal situation is for one to know if their gun is cocked and locked, but for a beginner it is great for peace of mind.

Where the XDM’s ergonomics meet practicality

        The XDM delivers beyond this focus on safety. It’s designed with ergonomics in mind. Perhaps, a little too much in the way of ergonomics, as the looks are pretty polarizing. It could be a modern art masterpiece. Sharp and angled, it’s definitely military art taken to an extreme. However, out of this bold styling comes many benefits. The slide serrations are sharp and big, allowing for easy grasp both at the front and rear of the slide. The slide release is nice and big to ensure adequate manipulation. The grip has three interchangeable back straps to fit one’s hand and the magazine catch is ambidextrous for the use of our southpaw friends.

Conclusion

        Our particular XDM is made by TM and is made with quality in mind. the 4.5” model points well, and has the heft to match. While it may look like the result of a 1911 and Glock having a one night stand, it’s a damn good pistol at a damn good price point.

For the Tokyo Marui XDM, click HERE

For more information about the Springfield Armory XD(M), click HERE

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How to Choose an Airsoft Pistol Sidearm

        At Mach 1, we have a pretty diverse set of sidearms in our armoury. Personally, I own a Glock 17 Generation 4, built off a Tokyo Marui Glock 17 Custom. This would be my third Glock and 5th sidearm in the last 4 years.

– WE Hi Capa 5.1

– KSC Glock 17 Generation 3

– KWA M9A1 Professional Training Pistol

– KSC Glock 17 Generation 3

– TM Glock 17 Generation 4

        Now you may be thinking, that’s expensive. You know what, you’re right. It was expensive and a couple of mistakes were made along the way. So in this article, we’re going to talk about what to look for when purchasing a firearm and how to ensure that you’re going to enjoy it for years and not just toss it aside for the next trend that comes along.

What is the purpose of your sidearm?

        First question you should always ask yourself is what do you want out of your gun? It seems very open ended, but it’s a good and honest question you should ask yourself. Why are you obtaining this gun? Is it because you want an all-around secondary? A backup gun? Or is this your primary gun? You’ll note that all the guns I’ve listed above are full sized pistols. That’s because the purpose of my sidearm is to be my main weapon. Ken, my fellow associate at Mach 1, carries a Glock 26 instead of the full sized Glock 17 I carry. His logic is that it is truly a backup weapon to his rifle and thus, he is willing to make the tradeoff in firepower for weight and compactness. Now, if you swap pistols between the two of us, he ends up with a gun heavier and bulkier than he needs on his rig. For me, I’ll end up with a gun with half the capacity and half the barrel, which in other words, unworkable.

What are your “Must Haves”?

        The second question you should ask yourself is what features do I need out of this gun? In other words, what must this gun have (or lack) in order to make it a good fit to how I would use it? My boss, Rich, carries a M1911. It’s a great pistol, but the lack of ammunition capacity kills me. As well, I feel that the presence of a safety is acronistic on a duty gun. In other words, these are features he values, where I do not. So ask yourself, what do you need out of your gun’s performance? In the case of my Glock, I wanted one consistent trigger pull. My M9 was an excellent sidearm, but it had two things going against it: a DA/SA trigger and the weight. The Glock is at most ¾ the mass of the M9, which is important for me because I wear a police officer’s duty belt as my rig. Out of a sidearm, I desire a light, consistent, and simple to use gun. However, here’s the other thing – there is no free lunch. I can’t have everything I want. The Glock is a striker fired pistol, meaning that if it doesn’t go off the first time, I need to cycle it. With the M9, being a DA/SA pistol, I could pull the trigger again and get the second strike to fire the gun. You have to determine which features you can trade off and which features are essential to you.

What are your “Nice to Haves”?

        In the engineering world, “Nice to Have” indicates features we desire in a product, but aren’t deal breakers if we can’t get them in the end. Often, these features are creature comforts. An example would be my Glock 17’s frame. The majority of Glocks are the Generation 3 version, which is a decent grip. However, I desired a better grip. Such as the Generation 4 with enhanced texture and interchangeable back straps. This comfort makes me more confident in my pistol, but isn’t a deal breaker if I can’t get it. You will find similar in your search. Maybe you’re looking for a gun you can just leave and forget. Maybe you want a modular gun you can take apart and reconfigure every few months. Heck, maybe you just want a gun with a particular grip. It can be anything, but the key theme is it’s satisfactory if you can’t get it.

A Reminder…

        You must remember that chief among all of these questions are two considerations: Are there parts for my gun and is my gun reliable? In my case, I was pretty sure my Hi-Capa 5.1 was more useful as a paperweight than a sidearm. In the opposite case, I have the utmost confidence in my current sidearm. The perfect fitting firearm means nothing when it won’t work reliably. Yet you have to remember, guns are mechanical. They will break with use. They require maintenance. Despite all of this, time and time again I see airsofters neglect this in their purchasing decisions. They are buying guns, which to their shock later, have no aftermarket parts and in some cases, no parts available, period. If you have no parts support, then congratulations, you now own a ticking time bomb of poor financial decisions.

The Final Word

        So, when you’re making your next purchase, I want you to do this: sit down, maybe with a friend, and think over your purchase. What is your gun’s purpose? In order to accomplish this purchase, what features must your gun have? Lastly, what would be nice to have in your gun? Once you know this, then you can start looking at the guns that fit your criteria, keeping in mind reliability and support. Once you find one that fits, then you’re good to go.

For Green Gas Pistols, click HERE

For CO2 Pistols, click HERE

For more information about Handguns, click HERE

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L85 – Great Airsoft Alternative to M4 Rifles

        My background is in Aerospace Engineering. That means, we get a fair bit of cross training with mechanical engineers and we get to see some of the things they do. Most of them produce simple, effective devices, but there are other options: The L85 – Great Airsoft Alternative to M4 Rifles.

The L85 Drawbacks

        I’m still not quite sure what the premise was for this gun. They took a tried and proven design, the AR-18, and turned it into an overly complex assault rifle that in the end, had to be fixed. It’s heavy, it looks ugly, and it was the solution to a question nobody asked. The trigger has the sensitivity of a Sylvester Stallone movie and the left handed firing ability will knock out your teeth.

The L85 Advantages

        Yet, it has some redeeming properties. Properties I’m reluctant to admit because of how much this gun goes against good design. It’s a bullpup, while awkward to use, puts in a longer barrel in a shorter package. The gun balances well and is easy to carry for long periods of time. When you throw on the Daniel Defense rail that the British Army is replacing their hand guards with, the gun goes from awkward wall flower to aggressive monster.

Conclusion

        I guess in the end, it’s one of those guns that reminds me of the fondest times of my life. A time where good sense went out the window and positivity was found in unexpected places. The SA80/L85/L86 is a gun that took a hell of a long time getting here in a world where there was no reason for it to exist… but now that it’s here, it’s not that bad.

For AEG Bullpup Rifles, click HERE

For Gas Blowback Bullpup Rifles, click HERE

For more information on the SA80/L85, click HERE

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