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Review

Tokyo Marui Thompson M1A1
  • Manufacturer 
     Tokyo Marui
  • Model 
     Thompson M1A1
  • Capacity 
     60 / 190 / 420
  • Weight 
     3400
  • Power 
     275
  • Motor 
     EG700
  • Hop-up 
     Adjustable
  • Battery 
     Large
  • Shooting Mode 
     Semi, Full Auto
  • Construction 
     ABS Plastic, Metal

Pros

- Highly rigid construction with classic styling.
- Extremely smooth Version 6 gearbox
 

Cons

- Lacks ability to take accessories like scopes and silencers
 

Verdict

Overall the M1A1 is a very solid AEG with lots of weight and texture to deliver a very realistic experience. The typical AEG "pop-pop" report is a little disappointing considering how real the gun feels - but I guess we just have to remember it's an AEG no matter how real it looks and smells!

 

World War II re-enactment anyone? Or how about a little Chicago gangster style alley shoot-out. The first self-loading rifle to see widespread military use, the robust M1A1 survived the tests of battle in both World War II and Chicago! The Thompson was a superb weapon thanks to its devastating .45 caliber slug. It was capable of up to 800 rounds per minute could still operate quite well when exposed to large quantities of dirt, mud and rain. The only drawbacks to the Thompson were its cost and weight, although these were far outweighed by the benefits in firepower given to the average infantry squad. The Thompson was used extensively throughout the 1944 European campaign but was gradually phased out by the cheaper "grease gun" in 1945.

While serving as the weapon of choice to US military men during World War II and the early phases of the Vietnam conflict, the civilian variant of the M1A1; affectionately called the Tommy Gun, was what really propelled this rifle to fame (or infamy).

Prompted by the popularity of the Hollywood movie "Saving Private Ryan", Tokyo Marui decided to add the Thompson M1A1 (as used by star Tom Hanks in the movie) to it's line of Automatic Electric Weapons.

Design of the M1A1 started in early 1999 with a target release date in the late part of that year. Design problems coupled with Marui's own operational relocation to a new factory, as well as questionable market response all led to numerous delays. With the movie having been "out" so long, many wondered whether the M1A1 could take a place on airsofter's racks.

The dilemma centered around how many people would actually shell out extra cash for WWII military uniforms and gear, when so many folks had already invested heavily in modern SWAT and military equipment. I for one wasn't about to dress up in my BTUs, swat vest with night vision and all - toting a Thompson!

M1A1 as used by Tom Hanks in the movie "Saving Private Ryan"
Impressive fake wood is convincingly real with fine grain patterns
Gun metal shine gives the metal receiver away

Ever since it's release several weeks ago, we think Marui should no longer be worried. The M1A1 has proved it's worth both as a skirmish gun as well as a collectors item in many ways. As the reader can easily see from these photos which we've taken, the finish is incredibly real with lots of metallic shine and deep colored "wood" to give it a very classic and authentic look. The imitation wood grips are really all plastic but the color and grain of the grips creates a very convincing texture that's hard to differentiate from the real thing (especially the front grip - see photo above). A visible seam running down the spine of the butt does give it away though on closer inspection!

Looking at the rest, most of the M1A1 is constructed of metal. Parts include the barrel and sights, upper receiver, trigger, selector switch, safety switch, front & rear sling mounts, magazine release lever, magazine, and stock butt plate.

This makes the gun extremely heavy at 3,400g, and very realistic to hold. And unlike other AEGs with plastic parts up front, the M1A1 is quite well balanced in its weight distribution. The only major component on the M1A1 made of plastic is the lower receiver which compared to the rest of the gun is actually quite a small portion (not counting the grips and stock). The next thing you then ask yourself is: "Where's the gearbox?". If not for anything else, we give acclaim to Marui's engineering excellence in squeezing a full gearbox into the M1A1's uncompromisingly small receiver. Deemed as version 6, the gearbox is an all-new design which doesn't carry the psuedo-blowback design of the version 5 gearbox used in the Uzi.

The motor resides in the grip and is attached to the gearbox in a similar fashion as Marui's own AK47 via a bracket within the grip. The "ergonomic" plastic grip itself is affixed to the gun via a single bolt on the butt; just like the AK47. Having mentioned the AK47, I might also add that the imitation wood on the M1A1 does look a little more convincing.

With a working cocking lever, the M1A1 is fun to rack up - but the flimsy sound of the light alloy cocking lever striking the metal receiver as you release it forward doesn't add a whole lot to the experience. The best AEG "cocking" experiences are better left to the AUGs and G3's! Pulling the cocking lever back on the M1A1 actually exposes the gearbox cylinder and has absolutely no effect on the operation of the rifle.

The selector switches are finely crafted on the left side of the gun and operate with a very smooth and tactile action. Your eyes are also drawn to the ear-shaped magazine release lever which you push upwards with your thumb to actuate. We found that you can't really push the lever up without changing your grip though - making quick magazine changes difficult. Apart from that, having two separate switches for safety and firing mode (single/auto) takes getting used to but no fault to Marui on this of course!

Classic style selector switches are very tactile and refined
Beautiful arching magazine release lever is metal
Magazine guided by rail in lower receiver

Pulling the magazine out (which is quite a tight fit and takes a yank to detach from the receiver), you'll notice that a rail on the receiver guides and keeps the magazine in place. Another interesting detail is the hop-up dial is also clearly visible from here. Putting the magazine back in takes a firm push to overcome the force of the magazine release latch but a quick tap puts the magazine firmly in place with a nice "clack". Overall, the fit and finish is perfect and the metal magazine experiences no jiggles whatsoever. Power source comes in the form of a large 8.4v battery stored in the fixed stock. Access is easy; simply peel up the round metal tab (see photo on right), stick your finger in the hole and pull the metal spring-loaded stock-plate away from the stock, swiveling it out to reveal the battery bay.

Once you're loaded up with BB's and connect with a fully charged battery, you're ready to go. Simply level the M1A1 and peer through the rear pinhole/front blade sights to take aim. Trigger pull is quite crisp and the M1A1 emits a rapid "pop-pop-pop" in auto mode. While we have no way of measuring exactly the rate of fire, the M1A1 shoots just as fast as Marui's own AK47 (approx 13 to 15 rounds per second). Hop up is one of the easiest to adjust of all Marui's AEGs. No flipping or peeling flaps to access the hop-up adjuster but simply turn the hop-up adjuster knob located at where the ejector port would be on the real gun. Turn it up (or anti-clockwise as you're aiming the gun) to increase hop-up.

In our tests, the M1A1 faired on par with any other standard Marui mid-length AEGs; effective range of approx 70 feet with accuracy of +/- 3 inches at that range. Power was chrono'ed at an average of 282 feet per second using 0.2g BBs. Power upgrades were not available at the time of this writing and it's not clear whether aftermarket manufacturers like Systema will release performance gears for the Version 6 box. Hopefully with the future release of other WWII replica guns currently planned by Marui, the Version 6 box will become more common and justify Systema in designing appropriate upgrade components. The only add-on accessory currently available for the M1A1 is the Marui Tracer System. The M1A1 comes with an adapter to install this unit but in our opinion, an M1A1 with a tracer installed would look a little out of place.

Large battery in stock behind pivoting butt plate
Stamping in upper metal receiver is stunning
Hop-up adjuster accessed through metal upper receiver

For those who want more rounds, an optional 190 round magazine from Marui is available. A 450 round magazine is rumored to be in the works from Marui (same size and shape as the 190 round magazine). I for one would be eager to slap a drum magazine on (including barrel and front grip modification) to turn mine into a Tommy gun. Expect parts like these from come from manufacturers like TOP and CARROT. Keep your fingers crossed!

Overall the M1A1 is a very solid AEG with lots of weight and texture to deliver a very realistic experience. The typical AEG "pop-pop" report is a little disappointing considering how real the gun feels - but I guess we just have to remember it's an AEG no matter how real it looks and smells!

If you want a gun with lot's of accessory options and upgrade potential, DON'T get the M1A1. However if you want an AEG that feels like the real thing and with looks that are truly classic, then the M1A1 is your ticket!

A 190 round and a 420 round magazine is available
The M1A1 comes with a tracer adapter
The M1A1 comes in classic packaging

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