My new favourite handgun sport of Iron Plate Action Shooting (IPAS) is shot with CO2 powered replicas of fullbore pistols from around the world.
These pistols fire .177 lead pellets which splatter when they hit the plates, ensuring no danger of rebounding ammunition hurting anybody. Some people have asked if we could accept airsoft guns that fire 6mm plastic balls and the IPAS organisation is having discussions to see if there is a workable solution that would welcome and include all the folks who own such pistols. This aroused my interest in trying a 6mm pistol just at the time Highland Outdoors showed me some new guns from KWC, a Taiwanese giant that makes guns for some very famous brands. Highland’s sister company in South Africa has been selling these for some time and reported just how amazingly reliable they are. They sell around 4000 a month, and seldom, if ever, see one returned. This gave the UK operation all the encouragement they needed to add them to their catalogue. They selected two models, the 2022 and the 24/7, both of which can be supplied in 4.5mm steel BB or 6mm plastic ball firing options. The steel BB version is set at 2.5 Joules and the 6mm at 1.6 Joules, meaning plenty of power for paper punching or plinking.
Straight from the box, the pistols have a nice heft as they have metal slides and magazines, so have a realistic feel and balance in the hand. On the 2022, the mag release and safety work like the real thing but all the other controls are just for show. It’s not a blow-back action as this option gives many more shots per capsule which is always a positive in my book. In fact, the box claims you’ll get 250 shots per capsule, which is impressive to say the least. The capsule fits into the removable magazine on both guns. To do this, you first unscrew the large hex screw cap from the bottom, drop in a capsule, and finally refit and tighten the cap. This forces the capsule’s neck up into the valve assembly, which pierces it, allowing the gas to flow. Once this is done, the gas has to be used up, because if you remove the capsule the gas will vent away and be lost anyway, just as it is on any CO2 gun. Don’t worry if it sounds complicated – once you’ve done it a couple of times, it’s a piece of cake.
While you have the magazine out, you can load the ammunition. This is done by compressing the spring and follower in the front of the mag and dropping the balls in one at a time, although the BB firing models have a gadget included that makes this process easier and quicker. This is a good thing, as you’ll be getting through lots of BBs. The magazine holds 15 shots in 6mm or 23 in 4.5mm BBs.
To have some fun, oh sorry, I mean ‘to test these pistols seriously’, I took the 6mm 2022, filled and gassed it, and then set a target card at the end of the longest room in my house, which just about gives me a 10-yard range. Here, I placed a big pile of loose rags and pinned a target to the front. It was a real novelty for me to shoot in the house but safety comes first, as always when shooting, so the dogs were shut away and the doors all locked, so nobody could walk in. The noise is quite low, being not at all uncomfortable and the rags did a nice job of stopping and trapping the 6mm plastic balls. With the power set this low, they didn’t penetrate the cloth, just dented it and rolled down on to the carpet. This also made them easy to collect for reuse. If you do this, I don’t think you’d want your vacuum cleaner eating them, so make sure you collect them all up.
The trigger was impressive, being lighter and cleaner than pistols I’ve shot that cost twice as much as this, and I’m sure that that it’s a major part of why these pistols are so accurate and easy to use. I could easily hit IPAS size targets every time, even in very rapid fire. The groups on paper targets were around the three-inch mark, which impressed the hell out of me. I always thought that air soft guns would be horribly inaccurate, but the KWC proved me wrong.
The sights are also good with well-sized elements and a bright white dot on the front sight, making aiming well a realistic possibility. Poor quality sights work against you but despite these ones being fixed, they did shoot to point of aim with a single-handed hold. Interestingly, my much practised two-handed competition hold made the gun shoot high and right and I don’t know why. It’s simple enough though, to aim off to compensate. To push the gun to its limits, I shot whole magazines of balls just as fast as I could go from five yards and was rewarded with neat groups. This again speaks volumes about the quality of the trigger and sights. I didn’t suffer a single jam or malfunction now matter how fast I shot. Perhaps this is a sign of the reliability that we’d be told about by the South Africans.
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The grip is like many modern pistols being smoothly sculptured to make it comfortable and offer good support. It’s reasonably wide and fills your fist, allowing the classic two- handed combat hold to work well. It delivered my trigger finger precisely where it was needed to operate the double-action mechanism very well indeed.
As you can tell, I was impressed with the pistol and looked for any excuse to shoot it, which is a certain sign of a good gun. I’ll confess that I didn’t check the claim of 250 shots per cartridge but I’d fired stacks and stacks of shots before it ran out of gas, so I believe the claim is true. The trigger and accuracy are worthy of guns costing a lot more and the handling is first class too, but the biggest surprise is that they will be on sale in your local gun shop for under �80. When I was told that, I assumed it was a mistake, but no, �75.99 will get you one of these and all the fun and pleasure of ownership that comes with it.