Under one hundred dollars and gas powered: These are two things that usually do not equal a great airsoft gun. We've reviewed some oddities here at Airsoft Rifle since our inception, and we couldn't resist the urge to try out what some people have called a hidden gem for our first handgun review. Does this gun make the grade or is it hampered by it's attempt to be a budget friendly gun? Well, it's the Fourth of July weekend here in the United States, so we're diving headfirst into the handgun that won two world wars, or at least the airsoft equivalent with the Army Armament R31 1911!
This gun's aesthetics are the definition of basic. While lacks the pizazz of more modern pistols on the market like the unreleased KLI Baba Yaga, this pistol at least wins in ergonomics. The 1911 has been a workhorse of a pistol in the military world for over a century for good reason; because it fits the hands of most shooters in the world. It features a comfortable black frame, with faux wood grip panels and a brushed nickel style slide. It features some serrations in the rear to make racking the slide easier, and features standard notch and post sights.
The feel of the R31 as you handle it is average by most standards but when you consider the price point, it stands out as noteworthy. A standard 1911 trigger breaks cleanly without too much slop or grit, but it's never going to match the feel of the real thing. The slide locks back positively, doesn't feel like it's going to break when you rough house with it, and has a satisfying click when you send it back forward via the slide stop. Overall, the feel of the gun is on point with guns nearly double it's price point, even if visually, it lacks a little bit of flair.
While it lacks in visual flair, it slays in the shooting test. Our unit chronographed at a pretty consistent 300 FPS with a .20g BB, with a deviation on the high side of +3 and a deviation of -2 on the low side, until the end of the magazine when cooldown dropped us to a peak low point of 260FPS. This kind of cool down is to be expected with a gas pistol however. We did have some issues with getting a full magazine out the gas reservoir at first, however a couple of quick magazine purges to remove any unpressurized air helped significantly, and we didn't have any issues afterward once it had returned to temperature sitting out in the summer heat.
Response was expected when we took it to the testing range, and it didn't have any problems running and keeping up with faster strings of shots making it great as an "oh no" gun when you get surprised on the field. Testing it in draw and fire tests, it broke the safety cleanly, and allowed us to shoot it fast and accurately. Shots went where they should have up to distances of fifty feet with the expected airsoft gun deviation. This gun did struggle to hit accurately past that point, as the hop up just couldn't carry BB's as far as we would have liked for a very standout performance, however this is a stress test and not a practical application for the R31.
The great feel and performance of the R31 is likely due to the quality of the internal parts. Build quality and manufacturing were top notch when we disassembled the pistol, with no obvious burrs or flahsing on the plastic components. Metal components were chunky and rugged where needed, and even after putting a ton of rounds through it, none of it seemed to show any obvious signs of wear. It took down fairly easily, with a little bit of a struggle removing the barrel bushing because of a tight fit, but we were able to remove it without the assistance of any tools at the end of the day.
Is this gun worth the asking price? Yes. This gun lives in a price point way lower than what you're getting out of the box. If this gun were more expensive, we may have had a different opinion, but for under a Benjamin, it's hard to pass this guy up.
Airsoft GI currently has it listed at $85 and what we saw during testing is that this is a fantastic option for budget minded airsofters. What it is not is the highest quality 1911 you can get your hands on. What it is, however, is a gun focused around performance and doing the job for which it was designed. Army Armament offers a whole suite of 1911 style pistols at other price points with other aesthetic features if the visuals here left you as unimpressed as we were, but this gun can shoot. At the end of the day, that's the ultimate decider. It knows it's not the best most modern pistol on the block, but it is more than capable of hanging with the younger models and showing them why the 1911 is the most ubiquitous hand gun on the market! Want to get one of your own? Snag one from Airsoft GI HERE