BE Howa Type 89 review by Booligan
Discuss this review HERE
Real Steel History
Basic Gun Information
I've always had an interest in the "odd" guns out on the market. Be it the AUG, UMP, FN2000, or other relatively unloved guns, I've always found myself strangely attracted to them. Enter the Howa Type 89. This is a gun that is only used by one military force in the world, and in the airsoft world, is only manufactured by two companies, making it relatively rare. Boasting a laundry list of attractive features, I knew that I needed one, and being that there are basically no reviews of the current production model, I decided to obtain one and write a review of it here at Airsoft Retreat!
Real Steel History:
Type 89 rifle is a select-fire, gas-operated, rotating bolt firearm, which was developed by HOWA Machinery Co., Japan, for National Defense Forces of Japan.. The gas action and bolt group is somewhat similar to USA-designed AR-18 rifle, previously manufactured by HOWA under license from Armalite Co (USA). Type 89 rifle has receiver made from stamped steel, forged aluminum, and features polymer furniture and flip-up aperture rear sights. It also has a detachable lightweight folding bipod.
(Info taken from world.guns.ru)
JGSDF soldiers training with the Type 89
I was able to obtain this AEG from Evike for the purpose of reviewing it here on Airsoft Retreat. It is available here priced at $150, meaning that it qualifies for Evike's free shipping promotion. Evike offers a 14 day warranty covering manufacturer defects for this gun, giving you a bit of security against a faulty gun. The gun arrived at my doorstep two days after it was ordered, with no damage to the box or the gun inside.
Basic Gun Information
The BE Type 89 is a clone of the TM Type 89, with a few minor changes (and improvements!) It packs a few interesting features, such as the included bipod and mechanical three round burst firing mode. It has a full metal receiver and rubber coated plastic furniture, whereas the TM model only has basic plastic furniture.
The Type 89 came packaged in a reinforced cardboard box with a form fitted foam lower insert. The insert was covered in cardboard, making for a very nice presentation. Everything was nice and secure inside their own little foam cutouts, which certainly must have helped everything survive the shipping process.
From here on, click all pictures to enlarge
Everything nice and secure
The package includes gun itself, one hi-cap magazine with winding tool, detachable metal bipod, 8.4v 1100 mAh stick battery, trickle charger, one hex wrench, a cleaning/unjamming rod, front sight adjustment tool, and a small bag of cheap BBs. Aside from the nice bipod, it's pretty much a basic ACM accessory package.
Weight: 8.1 lbs
Width: 2" (at handguard)
Height: 8" (sight to grip)
Sight Radius: 17.25"
LOP: 12.75" (relatively compact)
This can be considered a "full metal" replica, as most everything that is metal on the real gun is metal on this replica. I'll start at the rear and work my way forward, highlighting each section as I go.
The T89 features a rubber coated plastic fixed stock, with a rubber butt pad. The butt pad is unique in that it is attached with a single spring loaded screw, allowing you to pull the pad off slightly and rotate it, exposing the storage area inside the stock. It's not a large storage area, but is actually designed to hold a spare stick battery. With some custom work, you could fit a battery into the stock, but it would require a good bit of customization to make it work. There is a sling mount located on the left side of the stock.
Storage area, spare battery can be stored inside
Moving forwards, you will hit the cold, smooth feel of the full metal receiver. It is a two piece receiver design, with the upper housing the rear sight and mock bolt, and the lower housing the selector switch, magazine release, and integrated magwell. The pistol grip and trigger guard are a separate plastic piece, which is rubber coated.
The upper receiver is pretty narrow, almost like a Sig or HK, but is a totally unique design. The mock bolt is located on the right side, and it locks back when pulled back, in order to access the hop-up. It is returned to the closed position by pushing it forwards slightly until the spring slams it forward. There is no rail to mount optics, but one is available from TM.
Mock bolt pulled back
The lower receiver is a very slender design, barely 1"' wide. It is a very different layout than most users will be used to, with the selector switch located on the right side of the gun. It takes some getting used to, but with practice, you can easily change firing modes with your trigger finger. The left side has a dial that rotates when the selector is turned to indicate the selected firing mode. The firing modes are, in rotational order, safe, auto, 3 shot burst, and semi. The modes are marked with their correct katakana markings. The magazine release is a push button design, and is located on the right side of the gun. It's not caged design, meaning that there is nothing on the receiver blocking the button from accidental activation, but in my skirmish use, I haven't accidentally dropped a mag. The magwell is not beveled, and takes a little practice to get a mag in there quickly.
The pistol grip is made of plastic and features the same rubberized coating as the stock and handguard. The trigger is metal and is a relatively straight design. The integrated trigger guard has a magazine guide to help guide the magazine into the magwell. The trigger pull is a little notchy, and occasionally it will not reset as its supposed to. This is corrected by "snapping" the trigger, by pulling it back and letting it snap back forwards. I will be delving into the gearbox to see what the cause of this is. The grip has a bit of a thumb rest on the left side, but not too large as to turn away left handed shooters.
Moving forward still, you will encounter the plastic handguard, which has the same rubberized coating as the rest of the furniture. The handguard is relatively slim, but has ribs on the sides to ensure you keep hold of this replica. The handguard is made in two halves, to allow easy removal for battery installation. Installation is accomplished by pushing the pin at the front of the handguard out, but not totally removing it. You can now slide the left handguard forward to clear the locking points, and remove it from the gun. Once removed, you can install the battery as shown. You are limited to an 8.4v stick battery due to space inside the handguard.
The outer barrel is made of metal, as is the mock gas regulator/front sight assembly. The included flashhider is an orange plastic, but accurately designed unit, which can be removed exposing 14mm- threads underneath. There is a bayonet attachment point on the barrel which I believe will work with US M9 bayonets.
The included bipod is attached by clamping it on the barrel and flipping the little locking latch. It tends to rotate and scratch up the barrel, plus it has a bit of a narrow/tall stance for my liking, so I don't use it too much. When folded in, it locks into the little holes in the handguard, keeping it secure.
The sights are both full metal, and both are adjustable. The rear is adjustable for windage and elevation using the large knobs on the sides of the body, and it can be dropped entirely for clearance with a scope. The front is adjustable for elevation using the included tool. The sight picture is pretty similar to the M4/16 design.
Overall, I am very drawn to the externals of this gun, both in look and in feel. It's unique, and will set you apart from the hordes of M4s and AKs on the field. The negatives about the externals are few and far between, with the biggest one being the somewhat easily scratched paint finish on the metal parts. A respray may be in order soon. Otherwise, it takes a little bit to get used to the somewhat funky controls, but once you do, it's very easy to use. It's also a surprisingly compact gun, even though it looks quite large.
Comparison shot between a Cyma SOC16 and the T89
None, zip, nada. Totally blank receiver, aside from the correct katakana markings on the selector switch.
The Type 89 is interesting with its magazine usage. It includes a special T89 metal hi-cap, with holes in the side to see how much ammo you have left. It's a special design that has a flat top, and it fits perfectly into the gun, but it will not work with ARs. Now, the gun will use pretty much any regular AR magazine, and they will lock in securely, but there is a little gap visible in the window on the side of the receiver. I am especially surprised with how well MAG midcaps fit into this gun, with not even 1mm of wobble in any direction. Funny how AR mags work better in the T89 than they do in ARs.
Top of the magazine
Baseline performance after a 500 round break in period is as follows:
FPS (Recorded using TSD .20g BBs shot through a Madbull V1 chrono):
Average over 10 shots: 400.25
Range and accuracy were quite pleasing, with kills out to 160' in actual game usage. I find that 3 shot burst is the best way to use this gun, especially when combined with mid weight ammo, namely .23-.25g. The hop-up puts enough spin on the ammo to keep it lofted out pretty far, but an upgraded bucking and tightbore barrel would likely yield wonders with this gun.
Rate of fire came in at 14 RPS, recorded using Audacity, and using the stock 8.4v battery. A switch over to an Intellect 8.4v battery yielded 15.5 RPS, so an upgraded battery would be a good idea.
Disassembling this gun is not as simple as your average M4 or AK47, but is still relatively simple and straightforward. First you must remove the handguard, exposing 8 phillips head screws that must be removed. Remove those screws, and tap out the pin in the lower receiver. You can now slide the outer and inner barrel assemblies off of the gun. The next step is to remove the stock by unscrewing the screw located inside. Once the stock is removed, you will see a large silver mounting bracket, which has a few screws in it to be removed. Now to the pistol grip. Unscrew the screw at the rear, and the hex screw at the front, and take off the grip base. The motor can now be removed, allowing access to the four screws that secure the gearbox to the grip. You will notice a large metal spine at the top of the gearbox, secured by several screws. Unscrew these, and remove the spine. Lastly, unscrew both the selector switch as well as the indicator on the left side. You are now free to pull the gearbox straight up, out of the gun.
This gun features a Version 8 metal gearbox, just like the TM. A V8 is very similar to a V2, except with a mechanical 3 round burst system built into the gearbox itself. The burst system uses a little notched rod that clicks off when it is fired in burst mode, engaging the cut-off lever after 3 shots. The rest of the gearbox appears to be standard ACM style stuff. It has plastic bushings, but very nice wiring. The motor is a basic standard long motor.
Version 8 Gearbox
Selector switch gears, little notch ensures they are aligned properly
Plastic 6mm bushings
Plastic air nozzle
Three shot burst system
Quality control sticker
The hop-up is made of plastic, and the gun features a 433mm long brass barrel. My barrel and hop-up were quite greasy (a common issue with BE guns), so a thorough cleaning is a good idea. The hop-up is a rotary dial type unit, similar to the one in G36 models.
Barrel and hop-up
There isn't too much support out there in the aftermarket industry for this gun, with only a few items available, most of which are from TM. They have a scope mount, left side selector switch, and spare magazines, and a few companies make small rails for it as well. The holes in the sides of the handguard make it simple to install rails for lights or lasers, as I've done on mine. Overall, it's a gun you basically leave stock, but it is still pretty damn unique.
Inexpensive - $150
Full metal construction
Mechanical 3 shot burst
Good performance - 400 FPS/160' accuracy
Trigger issue on mine - working on a fix
Easily scratched paint finish on metal parts
Right side selector is a pain at first
No rails for accessories
Magwell isn't beveled, takes some practice for fast mag changes
I think that people need to reconsider BE's status as a "joke" manufacturer. With their recent guns (this, HK33, 6/8mm gas shotguns) they are definitely on the rise in the obscure gun market, and I think that once they find more models to make, they will be a force to be reckoned with. This gun is a perfect example of that; mostly great characteristics, with a few relatively minor issues that can be tweaked and eliminated. Overall, I am totally in love with this gun, and can't wait to see what else BE has up their sleeves!
Many thanks again to Evike, Deadrag Airsoft Radio and of course, Airsoft Retreat!