Review text and images by Mark "Victor" Watkins.

I am an avid revolver fan. In truth I really like the idea of loading individual shells and then having to control my fire in order to get the best results, it's just so much more civilised than hosing down an opponent with a full auto AEG. Now the Tanaka range are not shell loaders but with all the hype last year about the performance of their revolver range I decided that I needed to have a look. I deliberately purchased the cheapest of the range the little M36 to see how they work.

Historically airsoft revolvers have always been regarded as low powered and generally quite uninspiring. In just about every manufacturer's revolvers you pump gas into the grip of the gun and then load either shells containing bb's or individual bb's into the cylinder. Then away you go for anywhere between five and usually about 24 shots depending upon gun type and make. With Tanaka they thought differently. The more established designs all had to contend with a need to transport gas from a gas cylinder in the grip to the cartridge in the main body of the gun. This usually led to plastic piping of one type or another covering the inch or so distance. O-rings were required all over the place, the gas would of course expand in the plumbing reducing it's energy on the BB and gas was lost between the exit from the gas system and the BB located either at the front or back of the shell. The Pegasus design from Tanaka is revolutionary. Here the gas cylinder is located in the revolver'ss cylinder, right next to a spring loaded BB internal magazine. The rotation of the cylinder releases a BB into the outer cylinder. The rotation continues until the BB sits in front of the barrel. At this point the BB is sitting in front of the gas outlet releasing the hammer opens the valve and the gas is immediately able to exert energy upon the BB. This is a very efficient design and leads to a high velocity shot.

The Tanaka M36 is still not a very powerful gun when contrasted to gas blow backs or even it's bigger brothers and sisters in the Tanaka range. Compared to the Marushin 6mm M36 (a traditional design) it is a very effective tool. It is both more accurate, has a higher velocity shot and is overall much more reliable.

Due to the magazine system the M36 takes ten rounds. The cylinder takes enough gas for at least twenty rounds. In the short and medium term it will take HFC22, but note that long term effects have still to be checked. I have tested the velocity with a 0.2gm bb and obtained 190fps at room temperature, this is very low compared to other airsoft guns but remember that the M36 only has a one inch barrel. The barrel length also makes accuracy suffer and it is a challenge to obtain accurate groupings at more than 15 feet. All of the Tanaka range have a fixed hop-up. This is too high for a 0.2gm BB, 0.25gm is better but I opted for 0.36gm to be sure. These are a little heavy and I'm sure that 0.29's would be better but I have none in stock. I did notice that the occasional shot went wide and am certain that this is a combination of cylinder rotation and excessive hop-up. As an alternative tactic I took the M36 apart and removed the hop-up. I then reloaded with 0.2gm bb's. The results were much better, and the effective accurate range was doubled.

Performance verses Western Arms side arms was still poor but the M36 was a reliable close range back up for some time. It has however since been superseded by a Maruzen PPK for various reasons, including better BB capacity and a better rate of fire (I also happen to love PPK's).

Overall Tanaka's Pegasus System lends to the most efficient production revolver available on today's market. The larger models, and I have had the opportunity use an M629 Performance Centre are reliable contenders against many of the gas blow back pistols in circulation. Capacity of course suffers but accuracy with the longer barrelled Tanaka's is very impressive.

I like the design so much that a Colt SAA has just been added to my shopping list…

Mark "Victor" Watkins.

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