"Well y'know if I recall correctly the last couple of dead bad guys belonged to you..."
For some time I'd been managing to convince myself that I didn't need a backup pistol. That the guys I saw carrying them around were essentially posers and the pistols more for show than anything. Then came the realization that I too was a hugely egotistical poser and I might as well have a gun with which to do it. After this, I felt much better.
The usual reading of reviews followed. I liked the look of some of the Western Arms models, and the power they put out, but the price tag was a little high for me. After all, why spend almost as much on a backup as an AEG? How little I knew. The Desert Eagle is always an attraction too, but it's a cannon and I didn't fancy having to lug it around all day. I've already got an excessively heavy main gun, why make life harder? And then I saw the KSC Glock 18c. One of the few pistols that will go full auto and exactly the same size as the Glock 17, so no need to worry about holsters, etc.
I purchased mine from Airsoft Supplies (Fish) for £110, including delivery. It took a little longer than anticipated to arrive, but when it did I was like a kid at Christmas. Ripping open the box and grabbing the gun, initially the Glock felt very light when I picked it up, but this was before I put the magazine in. With that in place it made a lot more sense, as the bulk of the gun's weight consists of this. The slide is not noticeably plastic, but the copyright and trademark etchings on it are a little on the light side. Still, they're all there as they should be. White painted sights look the business, but aren't adjustable and aren't really viable for aiming. It's the traditional "follow my tracer" approach here.
A quick check of the box showed some bb's, a hopup adjustment tool, another tool thing, an Allen key, spare sights, a replacement orange outer barrel (for you Americans) and two manuals. One for the Glock 17, and one (more of a leaflet really) for the 18c. Needless to say, I couldn't read any of the instructions, and the pictures seemed mainly to represent "Don't eat this gun" and other suitably ludicrous things. Throwing this aside, I decided to get shooting as soon as possible.
As with most GBB's, the gas is stored in the magazine. With the 18c, you have to pull the base release catch down and slide off the base to expose the gas feed nozzle. The BB's are loaded by pulling down the loading spring until it locks into place. I then feed the bb's in by hand, although I suspect one of the tools can be used here if you know what you're doing. I'm fine with fingers though.
It's important that you release the loading spring when you're done so that the bb's are pushed to the top (see pic right). I didn't and it took me 5 minutes to work out why it wasn't feeding past the first shot.
With the mag loaded full of 23 rounds and gassed, it's time to slap it in. Rack the slide to cock the hammer and chamber a round and you're all ready to go. Well, almost. There are three settings on the 18c, top for single shot, middle for safe and down for full auto. The gun comes out of the box on safe, and I'd understood the other positions, but changing it was a different story. The selector did not want to move, and I didn't fancy forcing it. Another check of the manual reveals that you have to have the slide back, at least part way, to move the selector. Once this was done it changed as it should. The easiest way around this is to set it before you put a mag in and then just leave it on that setting. There's also an a trigger safety, shown here on the safe setting and it's well worth spending a few minutes setting the hop-up
On the left, the single shot setting.
To the right the insane
ammo and gas eating setting.
Firing the gun was as it should be. The slide kicked back with reasonable force and the bb flew the short distance across my room before denting the door and ricocheting wildly. Excellent! Somewhere in the back of my mind I could hear Leia saying "Put that thing away before you get us all killed!". I continued firing until all 23 rounds were expended, but the slide was a little reluctant to lock back. It seems to be that way. Reloading the magazine, I adjourned to the garden where the only likely victims were the neighbours and hey, they knew the risks when they moved in. A quick flip of the selector and it was time to Glock and roll.
Firing this on full auto is great fun and empties the magazine in a few seconds. It was slower than I had anticipated though. When you give a small squeeze, you invariably get three rounds off at least. Full auto doesn't seem to keep that initial pace. Again, the slide wouldn't lock back when the bb's had been expended, and continued cycling until it gave up with a psssshhhhh of the rest of the gas escaping. I retired to my room and spent the rest of the day shooting holes in boxes and the like.
After doing this for a while, I formed the opinion that what was clearly need was upgrades. So, thanks to a piggy-back order on Tepe's stuff (which he drove around to my house, top man!) Den sent me some goodies. These consisted of a metal slide, metal outer barrel, TN tight bore barrel, high flow valve and spring set. This is where the trouble started.
It's a little known fact that I'm a demon with a screwdriver. Well, not so much a demon, more a gremlin I guess. My dad has left me all his power tools in his will because he knows I can't use the things, and that attempting to do so will probably destroy whatever house I'm living in. I'm convinced he's going to leave a clause in there saying I have to build a shelf before I get any money, just to cause trouble. Anyway, ignoring all that I decided that the upgrade surely couldn't be that hard...
To start with it wasn't. The slide takedown worked as advertised and the gun was soon in two bits. Bits which could at this stage be put back together. Even better. Changing outer barrel and inner barrel was fairly straightforward. I was a little bit nervous about trashing the hop-up, but this proved to be unfounded.
The rest of the slide assembly proved more difficult, and I spent an hour or so trying to figure out how it was supposed to come apart. Eventually the mystery secret was discovered. Sliding off the back sights reveals a microscopically small Allen key screw, which can be undone with the supplied Allen key. Do not lose this, as I've never seen one that small anywhere else, ever. The rest of the slide was soon apart and the new metal one put together.
At this stage I still had a gun that could be put back together again. Oh, I should have done it then, but flushed with my success and lack of any significant damage, I decided to press on and tackle the rest of it. The valve upgrade wasn't too bad. I'd thought that this would be a one shot deal, but you need a valve for every magazine you buy. The upgrade lets more gas out of it you see. You also want a special tool for it. I was able to bodge with a pair of screwdrivers, but it's not recommended. Still, I got it done, and went for the spring upgrade. This rapidly turned into one of the nightmare scenarios that you always dread. Tiny springs that fall off their mounts, bits that come apart without any apparent way to put them back together again, hugely wedged in retaining pins. You name it, it went wrong. I spent 6 hours attempting to set this right and eventually gave up and went to bed, despondent.
In the morning, bright and alert (or at least insofar as I can be) I had another crack at it. This resulted in the entire gun going back together, apparently successfully, but without the ability to move the slide. At this stage I smashed my head repeatedly against the desk and mailed Airsoft Dynamics. After repeating myself a few times, and enclosing a covering letter, I sent my gun off registered mail to them to fix and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. Then, several weeks later it was time for Firefly2. AD assured me they'd do their best to get it fixed for then. This didn't seem like it'd be too much of a problem, as they were going to have a stall there. So, I turned up on the Friday (non-AEG day) only to be informed that AD weren't showing up as planned and would be arriving the next day. Arse. Thanks to the WASPS lending me various guns, I managed to play anyway.
Next day came, and AD arrived. Hurrah! I went and was informed that yes, my Glock was fixed. Handing over the outstanding £15, I happily bounced away to fire my now working gun. Except it wasn't. It fired in full auto regardless of what the selector was set to. So I took it back again. They assured me they'd have it fixed by lunch. Come lunchtime, I went back again. They offered their apologies, and explained they couldn't adjust it to work, as they didn't have the right size Allen key. For an outfit that specializes in custom work, I find this surprising. Still, luckily I had mine, so I lent it to them. Further promises of it's imminent repair were forthcoming. Returning later, I was told that there had been damage to the frame, so they replaced it with one of theirs. Finally, it was all working. Oh, except they didn't know what one of the upgrade parts that came with it was for.
I also don't know if they did fit the up-rated hammer spring in their frame. I don't think they had time, but I have to assume they did as I have no inclination to take it apart again. The moral of this story? Buy your gun from Den already fully upgraded. It's cheaper, and it saves you a lot of hassle.
But enough of that, what's it like with the metal? Well, the weight is a lot more evenly balanced between the magazine and the gun, whereas previously it was all in the mag. I don't have a real Glock to compare it to, but I wouldn't be surprised if it weighs about the same as an unloaded one. The engravings on the metal are a lot deeper than those on the plastic and it's cold to the touch. Racking the slide back and releasing it gives a very satisfying and realistic clunk, which always puts a smile on my face. When firing, you really need to load up with HFC22 or it lacks the power to really work the slide properly, leading to a lack of locking back. With HFC22 and high flow valves it seems to work fine. Full auto firing gives a lovely metallic chacka-chacka noise (yeah, well *you* try describing it), even more so when using the extended 50 round magazine. WASP team have a lovely video of me doing just that.
In conclusion then. I've had a lot of trials and tribulations with this gun, and I'm not sure it's entirely out of the woods yet. It has a definite reluctance to store well, and you'd be well advised to re-gas it and put a couple of rounds through prior to each days gaming. Failure to do so seems to result in more jams and difficulties, in my experience at least. All that aside, it's a nice gun; the metal really improves matters and the power output with HFC22 is probably coming in at around 1j on a warm day. If I had to make the choice again, I'd buy another, but pre-upgraded. Of course, I'd want to check out the new Full Auto 3.9 Infinity from Western Arms too... If you can live without the full auto option, the standard Glock 17's are about £70 from Den, and well worth the look as an affordable backup.