When I was younger I watched the man mountain that is The Governator; Arnold Schwarzenegger, play the role that was to make him famous; The Terminator. Sent back through time, the mighty Austrian killing machine was naked on arrival and forced to procure his weapons local to his target; waitress Sarah Connor. As a kid I was mesmerized by each and every scene of this movie and especially the famous moment when The Terminator is in the gun shop. For what does he choose as his fire-irons to lay the smack-down on the poor Miss Connor?
He chooses the AMT Hard Baller .45 longslide! (Well, the shop was fresh out of Phased Plasma Pulse-Lasers in the forty watt range). Ever since that moment, this mighty pistol has taken a near mythic status as the ultimate killing machine’s sidearm of choice. In airsoft terms, the closest thing this side of a 1000 GBP custom pistol to “The Terminator Pistol” was a springer Automag III made by Tokyo Marui. For whilst it was not the exact model of the great .45, it was made by the same company: AMT. This was my very first airsoft gun, one I fondly miss and many a resounding cry of “Sarah Connor?” could be heard around my mothers house as I would Terminate my little brother whenever he became too annoying. Roughly every 8-10 seconds. AMT have not exactly set the world on fire with their guns. Starting off as a Colt knock-off company, their early models were famous for only one thing; jamming and even the rifle-round shooting Automag III was not recommended for self defense. Except perhaps when employed as a 8 inch truncheon. So the dream of actually owning a gas blow back version of the Hardballer remained in the minds of thousands of airsofters. That is until Western Arms brought it startlingly to life… and here it is!
My online airsoft shop of choice was the ever reliable UNCOMPANY in Hong Kong who were offering the pistol at an amazing $229 or around 114 GBP! Considering the cost of importing ($53) and the expected bill from the customs man (30 GBP), I was looking at a total ownership cost of 160 GBP, which for my owning my dream is none too shabby. The Hardballer, as well as stretching the wallet, famously stretches the holster. Here are the basic specifications of the model: Weight 912 g, length 267 mm (!!), capacity 21+1 rnd’s, power 300.0 fps. With spec’s like that you would expect it to be difficult to holster, however in my testing I have had no problems holstering it in anything that takes a standard Colt 1911, with the proviso that it needs to be able to take the extra length. In other words, Warrior gear, Guarder Tornado’s and Colt holsters are fine. Whereas your 1911 Safariland won’t and nor will many of the Blackhawk CQB/CQC holsters. Something to keep in mind if ordering blind off the web. One thing that stands out with all Colt 1911 models is how slim they are. Essentially this is a very slim and easy to hold gun, lacking the magazine bulges of the Para-Ordinance range or the SVI pistols as well as the grip killing Tokyo Marui Desert Eagle, which often resulted in cramps even with my monster hands.
It does however have that nice heaviness that many airsoft variations of classic pistols lacks. This is a WA trademark. Looking around the replica, I can see that all the knowledge and experience that has gone into producing so many 1911 variants has not been wasted here.
The trigger is the upgraded and adjustable type for want of the correct Allen Key. The stock pull is very light indeed, and if you take it off safe, you should be ready to shoot. The top of the replica features a Bomar-style sight and a grooved rail top that runs the whole length of the gun.
The hammer action is very smooth and the fit of the slide is up to the standard WA quality. That is to say; top quality. Notice the extra length on the safety latch. Being a Colt copy the replica has only a left side safety. The trademarks all all present and correct. The right side trades are the words “STAINLESS – MADE IN USA” in the slide and the serial number, AMT logo and “EL MONTE. CA.” on the frame. The etching on the frame is not the greatest in the world, but it is clear to read at least.
On the right side you have “HARDBALLER AUTOMATIC”, the logo again and “LONG SLIDE CALIBER .45”. These are very clear. One of the first things I did was swap out the basic grips, which are plastic, for my Pachmayr?s American Legend set, which correct a lot of my personal aiming problems and also lend a very nice assassin look to the piece.
I must say that it looks the serious business with these grips on and I have received many comments and “oooohs and ahhhhs” from my friends and the crowd at my local ground. So, enough of the looks, what’s this replica like to shoot and how’s it play at a skirmish? Shooting this monster involved firstly holstering it to my Warrior PLB Belt rig and setting up my shooting gallery. My range here is around 20ft and well lit. I tested three types of shooting. Firstly, I gassed up a mag with ICS Green Gas and fired 5 aimed shots. Secondly, I gassed up a mag with Abbey Predator 134a and fired 5 aimed shots. Finally I setup a hostage target, gassed up with green and did a back-to-the-target, turn, draw & snap-shot. The results speak for themselves:
It is accurate as the mathematics calculations of Milliard Gargantubrain! Luckily for me, the very day I received it I was able to take it to my home ground of Electrowerkz and play a few games with it. The first game was a straight pistols only game; my favorite. Usually I use two handguns for maximum firepower and targeting, but for the review I left my TM 1911 in the safezone and went out with the handcannon. It has been quite a while since I have used a Western Arms pistol in a skirmish. About half way through the game, and a good 15 kills to credit, I realised that I had REALLY been missing it! The weight and solid feel is amazingly convincing. All that extra cash is well placed in the build quality.
The old question of skirmishing effectively with Western Arms is over. In a pistol game I will now probably not use anything else. Not since I first skirmished a Tokyo Marui Desert Eagle Hard kick or perhaps some of the best games with my old Tokyo Marui M93R have I been so in the zone. People take their hits form this gun and I was able to make some very nice shots.
Moreover, in the second game I was up against AEG’s armed only with the pistol and I was able to match their range over the 40ft of the Electrowerkz ground floor with ease. Using the balance of the piece to my advantage, my one shot snap shots hit home and enabled me to pull back into cover before their burst fire hit back. So, what is wrong with it? Well, a little. Firstly, Western Arms silver paint rubs off. Mine already has done so after 20/30 or so draws. If you are going to skirmish this piece expect it to show it on the edges at least. Secondly, gas. This gun, when shot on green, ran out of gas before running out of BB’s. A skirmisher will have a life lost at one point to this happening before he realises to count the number of BB’s in to the mag. Also the fps on 134a is not amazing. Thirdly, and perhaps most damningly, for all that extra barrel length, and this is a gun you can pump the barrel like a shotgun, the inner barrel is no longer than a standard 1911.
As you can see here, the inner barrel is way down the pipe. This is obviously something to be upgraded, but annoying that it is missing from the stock gun. Quite what the range will be after that upgrade… Finally, the facts of life: The candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long. This replica burns very very brightly. I personally am not a betting man, but I don’t expect this gun to last 2 years. I am going to use this as a base gun and upgrade it to the max. For a collector dive in. This gun is great. For a normal, AEG using straight skirmisher looking for ultimate reliability, stay with your Glock. This is a pistoleer’s gun, a Terminators gun. Single kills and headshots to die for. It is, in the end, for those of us who demand that little bit more accuracy from their shooting-irons. And a lot more style!
9.5 out of 10.