Many airsoft replicas are replications of weapons used today by militarized forces, regardless how old the design may be. In this series of articles, we'll be having a gander at a few modern weapons.
In this article, we'll be taking a quick look at handguns being used today that hold a strong presence on the airsoft field.
First, on the list, today, we have the M1911. The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge, which served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985. It was first used in later stages of the Philippine-American War, and was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The M1911 is still carried by some U.S. forces. In total, the United States procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life. The M1911 was replaced by the 9mm Beretta M9 pistol as the standard U.S. sidearm in the early 1990s, but due to its popularity among users, it has not been completely phased out. Modernized derivative variants of the M1911 are still in use by some units of the U.S. Army Special Forces, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The most popular version in airsoft is the Hi-Capa, while not officially based on the 1911, it bears a strong resemblance. Tactical versions and versions designed to resemble the WWII versions are also very popular. Many companies make an M1911, mainly in gas form, but there is an AEP version sold by CYMA if you'd rather go that route.
Next up for discussion is the M1911's successor, the Beretta M9. The Beretta M9, officially the Pistol, Semiautomatic, 9mm, M9, is a 9-19mm Parabellum pistol adopted by the United States Armed Forces in 1985. It is essentially a military specification Beretta 92F, later known as the 92FS. The M9 won a competition in the 1980s to replace the M1911A1 as the primary sidearm of the U.S. military, beating many other contenders, and only narrowly defeating the SIG P226 for cost reasons. It officially entered service in 1990. Some other models have been adopted to a lesser extent, namely the M11 pistol, and other models remain in use in certain niches. Technically, the 93R is not a variant of the M92, but in airsoft, both see use. The M92 is manufactured in a few variants by multiple manufacturers while the 93R is primarily made by KWA and Tokyo Marui.
Coming up next, the FN Five-seveN. The Five-seveN pistol was developed in conjunction with the FN P90 personal defense weapon and the FN 5.7-28mm cartridge. The P90 was introduced in 1990, and the Five-seveN was introduced in 1998 as a pistol using the same 5.7-28mm ammunition. Developed as a companion pistol to the P90, the Five-seveN shares many of its design features: it is a lightweight polymer-based weapon with a large magazine capacity, ambidextrous controls, low recoil, and the ability to penetrate body armor when using certain cartridge types. The Five-seveN is currently in service with military and police forces in over 40 nations, including Canada, France, Greece, India, Poland, Spain, and the United States. In the United States, the Five-seveN is in use with numerous law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service. In the years since the pistol's introduction to the civilian market in the United States, it has also become increasingly popular with civilian shooters. The Five-seveN has also been popularized in media, mainly video games such as Call of Duty: MW3 and Black Ops 2, but it also saw use in Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror. The Five-seveN is offered only in its MK2 configuration in airsoft, being offered in gas form by both Tokyo Marui and Marushin.
Next featured, the SIG Sauer P226 is a full-sized, service-type pistol made by SIG Sauer. It is chambered for the 9-19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and .22 Long Rifle. It is essentially the same basic design of the SIG P220, but developed to use higher capacity, staggered-column magazines in place of the single-column magazines of the P220. The P226 itself has spawned further sub-variants; the P228 and P229 are both compact versions of the staggered-column P226 design. The SIG Sauer P226 and its variants are in service with numerous law enforcement and military organizations worldwide. In 1998, the P226 began seeing use with the US Navy SEALs, along with its sub-variant, the P228. The most popular variant is the P226R, the railed version. The P226 is made by a few people, one of the most popular airsoft models is made by KJW.
And the last handgun covered today, the Heckler and Koch USP, USP standing for Universale Selbstladepistole or "universal self-loading pistol". Design work on a new family of pistols commenced in September 1989 focused primarily on the U.S. commercial and law enforcement markets. In 1991, USP prototypes participated in rigorous testing alongside H&K's entry in the Offensive Handgun Weapon System program requested by the U.S. Special Operations Command and which would later result in the Mk 23 Mod 0. The USP prototypes were then refined in 1992, based on input from the OHWS trials, and the design was finalized in December of the same year. The USP was formally introduced in January 1993 with the USP40 model (the base version) chambered for the increasingly popular .40 S&W cartridge, followed soon by the USP9 (using the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge), and in May 1995, the USP45 (caliber .45 ACP) was introduced. The USP family is a large one, with seven official variants to choose from such as the USP Compact, the USP Tactical, the USP Expert, and the USP Match. In airsoft, the USP45/40 design is very popular, but the Match, the Compact, and the Tactical versions all see widespread use as well.
There are many more handguns seeing use in airsoft not stated here, including but not limited to the:
Glock, a versatile handgun seeing use by many US Government agencies.
Revolver, a series of handguns firing six or seven shots out of a cylinder.
Desert Eagle, a high-caliber rifle known for its bulky and intimidating appearance.
CZ75, a Czech firearm with worldwide distribution.
and the P99, a German handgun used by police forces worldwide, and by one James Bond in the media.
With all these short-range backup replicas to choose from, how does one decide which is right for them? This part is up to you. With all these replicas being used against them, how does one protect themselves? This one is simple, ALWAYS wear eye protection when handling any airsoft replicas, and never treat one like it's a simple toy. Airsoft replicas can and will hurt people, so be courteous, be careful, and be safe with them all.
Please join me next time, when we dive into a more laid-back role using marksman weapons. And, as always, stay frosty.