Picked up a new toy recently… a gas blowback airsoft Beretta M9A1 (pictured top). It compares very well up against a real Beretta Model 96 in .40 caliber in terms of realistic weight, size, and function. I was able to interchange the Hogue wrap-around grips from the Model 96 to the M9A1. It was a perfect fit. The only real difference in appearance between the two weapons, aside from the color, is the safety orange barrel tip and the accessory rail on the underside of the M9A1.
A side by side comparison of a Model 96 and a M9A1 magazine.
The single shot fire mode is pictured below. Pushing the mode select all the way down, renders the airsoft firearm safe. Interestingly, if you place the mode select partially between the single shot and the safety position, there is a discernible ‘click’, which in reality… is the full auto mode.
The magazine has a stackable 26 round capacity, holding 6mm BBs. The BBs can range in weight from 12 grams up to 40 grams, with the 20 or 28 grams being the most widely used. The lighter weight BBs shoot much faster but lack the ‘punch’ a heavier round would deliver. The lighter rounds also tend to decelerate more quickly and swirl while in flight, making for less accurate shots.
This M9A1 was manufactured by WE and uses ‘green gas’ as its power source. Green gas is nothing more than propane gas mixed with a little silicone lubricant and lightly scented to mask the propane odor. Green gas costs about $11 – $14 dollars per 8 oz can. Green gas powered airsoft weapons are expensive to operate, and not easy to use. They require recharging constantly. That’s especially true if you’re using the weapons on full auto.
I experimented using CO2 cartridges in place of the typical green gas with some success. The cost for CO2 cartridges is more affordable than green gas but they still require constant recharging. The only upside to using CO2 is that the cost is more affordable. The downside in using CO2 is that the pressure placed upon the air reservoir built within the magazine is not controllable. That can lead to the magazine rupturing its seals and damaging your weapon.
The solution? Use the same type of air cylinders that paintballers use. The one I purchased has a 3,000psi rating and can… utilizing a quick-disconnect fitting that replaces the normal green gas charging port… be attached to the magazine reservoir. The pressure is dialed down to approximately 110psi from the tank, through the regulator, so as to not rupture the magazine.
The rig below can be purchased from either your local paintball or airsoft store. The tank runs about $65 and the regulator gage assembly, with hose, is about $85.
You’ll still need to build an air linkage from the quick-disconnect hose assembly to your weapon’s magazine or charging port. Mine is pictured below with the green gas port changed out to a quick-disconnect fitting…
One advantage you gain by converting the green gas system to an air tank system is that you can switch your weapons out from sidearms, to assault weapons, to sniper rifles, simply and more efficiently than relying on green gas based systems. You’re able to carry less equipment because you’re not having to haul around a lot of 8 oz green gas cans, or handfuls of CO2 cartridges. This frees up valuable space in your tactical pack for ammo, medical kits, etc. And in the long run, it’ll save you a ton of money.
Here’s my M9A1 in action using the paintball air tank… Full auto Beretta M9A1 airsoft pistol