KJ Works M9

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Coming of age as an American boy in the 1980’s, there was no more iconic handgun than the Beretta 9mm.  It was a co-star of many films for my generation.  During that same decade, it became the standard sidearm for the U.S. Military.  As an adult, one of the must have firearms in my collection is a Beretta 92FS that I purchased new in 2006.  I have been delighted with an Airsoft Pistol that closely duplicates the real pistol in both form and function.  The KJ Works M9 is a satisfying replica of the Beretta M9/92FS 9mm that captures the look and handling qualities of the genuine article.

Real steel background

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The Beretta 92 Series is derived from the lineage of the Beretta 1934 and Beretta 1951 models.  It inherited a unique, open-top slide design that is intended to reduce “stove-pipe” jams where spent cartridge cases get hung up in the ejection port of conventional pistols.  The Beretta 92 sports a double column magazine that holds 15 rounds of 9mm Luger.  The Beretta 92’s double/single action trigger mechanism was modeled after Germany’s Walther P-38.  It is a “safe” method of carrying a round in the chamber with the hammer down in a relaxed position.  The first round is discharged by pulling a long, double action first shot.

Subsequent shots are fired single action after the hammer is cocked by the reciprocating slide.  When the shooting has finished, the pistol’s hammer may be decocked by manipulating a slide-mounted safety lever downward.  The weapon may be carried with the manual safety on or off depending on the circumstances.

The Beretta 92 Series was introduced in 1975 and owes its creation to multiple Italian designers.  It became the standard pistol for the U.S. Military in 1985 after controversial pistol trials.  It later was stigmatized by stories of cracked slides that caused facial injuries to U.S. Soldiers.    The cracked slides were later attributed to high-pressure lots of 9mm ball ammunition.  Beretta added a slide retaining device to the 92FS models to keep the slide on the frame if it suffers a fracture.

The Model 92 is the flagship pistol of the Beretta range.  Many variations have been introduced over the years.  The Stainless Steel version is called the “Inox.”  The other common caliber offered is the .40 S & W which is known as the Beretta Model 96.  There have also been slightly more compact models produced, such as the Centurion and the Model 92 Compact.  There are models available with beefed-up slides, such as the Elite II and the Brigadier.  The Beretta M9A1 and the Beretta Elite have “tactical” rails incorporated to their frames for attaching accessories.

The KJ Works M9

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The KJ Works M9 is a full-metal gas blowback pistol, made in Taiwan, that is said to use a Toyko Marui inspired design.  Unlike TM Pistols, which have ABS Plastic Slides, this replica is built to withstand propane, CO2, red, or green gas.  A CO2 magazine is available as an accessory or sold with some guns.  The KJ Works M9 is the latest incarnation from KJW, which was redesigned in 2008.  It is part of the “PTP” series, which is intended for realistic training by military and police units.  KJ Works offers other variants that have frame accessory rails to emulate the Beretta Elite and Beretta M9A1 Pistols.

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Packaging and presentation  3/5

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The Pistol is shipped with one magazine housed in styrofoam within a cardboard box with graphics.  It is supplied with a small quantity of high quality 0.2 BB’s, a small Allen Wrench, and a tubular BB loading device.  It is a sufficient means of storing the pistol when not in use, but not really useful for display purposes.  I sometimes discard shipping cartons, but I have retained this one to store the pistol when not in use.

Visual accuracy  8/10

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Visually, this is a very good replica of the Beretta 92.  It’s finish is a subdued, flat black that looks a lot like Beretta’s proprietary “Bruniton” coating.  However, this pistol does lack Beretta Trademarks.  It is my understanding, by looking at discontinued models on Airsoft Vendor websites, that it used to be offered with Beretta “Trades.”  This would have completed the look down to the last detail.  The three white dot sights are indistinguishable from the sight picture of the real pistol.  Here in the U.S., it is mandated that Airsoft guns be sold with orange barrel tips to readily identify them as non-firearms.  This certainly takes away from the realism, but the manufacturer has done a good job of minimizing the presence by just coloring the barrel protuberance that emanates from the slide.  There is some debate about the legality of removing the orange tip by the end user, so as long as the pistol is not to be resold.  However, I don’t want to find out the hard way and have to wear an orange jumpsuit as a guest of Uncle Sam for ten years!  The virtue of the orange tip is that it readily distinguished the pistol from a real firearm.  This is important for training scenarios which is the intent of the KJ Works “PTP” line.

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Functional accuracy  11/15

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The KJ Works M9 has impressed me with its functional accuracy as I compare it to my real Beretta 9mm.  Unloaded, it weighs 907 grams as compared to 925 grams of the unloaded real pistol, as measured on my postal scale.  This is less than an ounce differential between the two.  I measured the trigger pulls on a Wheeler Trigger Pull Scale which only goes up to 8lbs.  The “real steel” Beretta’s double action trigger pull exceeded the 8lb limit and wasn’t measurable beyond that.  However, its single action pull checked in consistently at 5.5lbs.  The KJ Works Replica had an average double action pull of 5lbs and 2.5lbs for single action.  However, both replica trigger pulls are very smooth and consistent.  I surmise that most shooting will be done single action, and a light trigger pull is very conducive to accurate shooting.  The KJ Works Green Gas magazine supplied with the gun holds 25 balls.  It’s nice that it holds this many and one could certainly load only 15 or 16 to match the capacity of the firearm.  This replica can be fully field-stripped with one caveat.  I find that it is a chore to remove or replace the recoil spring guide.  I do remove the slide assembly for lubrication purposes, but I usually leave the recoil spring guide in place.  When shooting, this replica never fails to lock open on an empty magazine just like the real gun.  This replica has a manual safety that works like the original with the exception that it does not decock the pistol.

Shooting  35/40

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I am a shooter first and foremost.  A pistol’s appearance, while important, is secondary for me.  This replica does not disappoint.  Its fixed sights shoot to point of aim with Umarex 0.2 BB’s.  I choose to wear foam ear plugs when shooting any airgun inside or outdoors.  The gun is sufficiently loud that bystanders plug their ears when in close proximity indoors.  This gun has good mechanical accuracy.  I was able to keep six shots inside a inch and a half bulls-eye at 6 yards while rested.  Groups opened up a bit when fired “off hand.”  However, this gun is one of the most accurate Airsoft pistols that I own.  It is only equaled by my KWC Sig Sauer X-Five in the accuracy department.  The gun includes a small allen wrench for adjusting the hop up which I have not had to do.  Why mess with a good thing?  While I don’t have access to a chronograph, this gun is rated in the lower 300fps range.  Plastic balls break apart when shot at my metal bullet trap.  Its recoil is smart; it is similar to shooting a .22 rimfire pistol.  Others who possess the CO2 magazine claim that it has an even sharper recoil at the expense of increased wear and tear on the internals.  My Gas Magazine is able to discharge an average of 20 shots of its rated capacity of 25 per Green Gas fill.  I use King Arms Green Gas and only fill a magazine with a 4 second count.  I am satisfied that it is able to get through at least the 15-16 shot count of the analog firearm.  All in all, this is a very pleasurable pistol to shoot.

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Quality and reliability  12/15

KJ Works has a good reputation for producing reliable products that don’t have many issues.  Products coming out of Taiwan have really improved in quality in the last decade or so.  It reminds me of the old cigarette commercial, “you’ve come a long way, baby!”  The only report of a problem that I was able to find was a member of a forum reported an issue with a safety spring getting dislodged on a similar KJ Works model.  He attributed the problem to his over-manipulating the safety catch during use. He promptly resolved the issue by replacing it with a spring from a ball point pen!  I am not one to use safety catches on air guns, so I don’t foresee any issues with it.

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The pistol’s finish has held up quite well, and still looks new.  It seems to generally be well made.  Am I expecting to pass this one onto the grandchildren?  Probably not, but I expect to get a very good service life out of it, and it represents a good overall value.

Overall Impression  13/15

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I own several 6mm Airsoft Pistols.  This one is such a joy to shoot and behold that it sees more use than the others.  I have a significant pride in ownership when it comes to this pistol.  I would argue that it is not a toy, but an action air pistol and training tool.  It is also a good conversation piece to show visitors how close Airsoft Pistols are to the real deal.  The amount of money that I have saved in shooting this 6mm pistol over using actual 9mm ammunition through my Beretta 92FS has easily paid for the replica many times over.

Conclusion

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I think that the KJ Works M9 would be a wonderful addition to anyone’s collection.  If you are a recreational shooter, history buff, or collector, I would have no reservations about recommending this pistol for its intended purpose.  Are there better, higher priced replicas of the Beretta 92 out there?  I am certain there are, but this one checks many boxes, and does so at a mid-tier price point.  The fact that it is a delightful shooter makes me forget that it doesn’t say Beretta on the slide, and leaves a smile on my face.

Total score: 82/100

This is a World of Replica Air Pistols reader review.

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