Monday, November 15, 2004

Airsoft Elite MP5

With all the hype and discussions floating about on the Airsoft Elite MP5s, a lot of which I have taken part in (usually on the negative side), the topic is still quite heated and brought up constantly. What better way to get to the bottom of it then to take a first hand look at the newest release from Airsoft Elite.

In this review I will take an in depth look at the Version 3 BPAG and compare it to an earlier Version 2 model. It is no secret that I have been a pretty loud critic of the AE series (bad experiences tend to do that to a person). I accepted the offer to review this gun because of that reason and give it one more shot.

First off, let’s take a look at the Version 3 MP5 that is being reviewed. The specific model in this review is the A4 (solid stock and navy style trigger grouping). And yes – of course – I prefer the solid stock considerably more so then the retractable stock (large battery, larger size, and more stable stock).

The first thing we’ll do is take a look at the external features of the gun.

This may be a little repetitive to those of you familiar to the Version 2 as the Version 3 has very little cosmetic changes. The most and only visible difference is the rear site, which now sports a large V-shape cutout and three identical size holes (see picture). The body (metal, with a reinforced front cocking tube), stock, foregrip, and receiver have not changed. For a more detailed look at these parts check out the Version 2 review.

Rear Site (HK33/53 Style)Side shot showing one of the 3 holes.

As promised the Version 3 guns do come with some upgraded internals that not only increase durability but also provide a good boost in FPS. The following results were received using my ProChrono Digital Chronograph using AE .2s in an outdoor environment:

With HopUp Off (.2s)

With HopUp On (.2s)

FPS with .25s averaged 355 FPS.

Personal Note: I have to admit I was very pleased with these readings and after a few shots the readings were quite consistent.

About a dozen mags worth of ammo have been passed through the gun with no problems (save a dryfire every now and then). Others have reported some problems with the fire selector (semi quits working – to fix you have to switch to full auto and back to semi), but I didn’t experience any problems with changing between semi and full auto.

Now that we know that the gun works and fires well, let’s get into the mechbox and take a deeper look at the Version 3. Along the way I will show several pictures and show the differences between my current version 2 and the new version 3.

Take Down:
The Version 3 sports the same quick takedown feature of the previous versions; however I’m going to take the time to go through the entire procedure.

Start out by removing the stock pin that holds the stock to the receiver. Pull the stock back and disconnect the battery wire and set the stock aside. Once removed, take out the lower receiver pin (located in behind the magazine well) as well. At the rear of the gun where you have removed the stock, you will also need to remove the rear cap. This can be removed after taking the lower receiver out as well but since we are here we might as well do it now.

Old (V2)on left and New (V3) on right

The rear cap has been changed slightly from the version 2. If you look at the front of the cap (the side towards the mechbox) you will notice a plastic ring on the new version 3 cap while the old version 2 cap has a rectangular cutout. It is my understanding that this was done to help slightly nudge the mechbox forward to reduce a small gap that existed between the air nozzle and the hopup unit (which resulted in lower FPS readings and upgrade problems in the version 2s). This gap could also explain the difficulty associated with changing out the stock air nozzle for other after market nozzles.

Continuing with these two pins removed pull the lower receiver straight backwards and the entire lower receiver will slide out. We now have our first look at the mechbox for the version 3. Two differences stand out just from looking at it but we’ll look at those in just a moment.

Once you have removed the lower receiver you then need to remove it from the mechbox. To do this, flip it over and remove the two screws on the bottom of the grip. There is no need to adjust the hex screw in the center of the grip as this is for motor height adjustments (which you shouldn’t have to make).

Once you have removed the metal cap on the grip you will expose the motor. Disconnect the wires and remove the motor and the little metal disk (don’t lose it!). It’s not over yet though, as you also have to remove two screws that are set inside in the grip.

After removing these two screws your last step is to remove the selector switch. To do this, simply remove the small screw located on the left side of the switch and then slide the selector switch out. After all this is done just slide the mechbox up and out of the plastic receiver.

Version 3 Mechbox:

As mentioned the mechbox in the version 3 has been changed a bit from the version 2. The version 3 is still equipped with a reinforced mechbox, but while the version 2 had a hole in the rear of the mechbox and the version 3 is now solid all the way to the back.

Version 2 (upper left) and Version 3 (lower right)
(the ver2 in this picture has had the cylinder changed – the stock cylinder can be seen in the next picture)

Another noticeable change is the cylinder type. The version 2 cylinder was a Type 0 (no hole) and the version 3 is a Type 2 (tear drop hole towards the rear – this is the cylinder used in the TM MP5). As per Airsoft Elite the following upgrades have been done:
  • Reinforced Gear Box,
  • Reinforced Gears,
  • Metal Bushings,
  • Aluminum Piston,
  • Upgraded Spring (curious to know PDI/System equivalence?),
  • Metal Spring Guide w/ Bearings
  • Turbo 2000 Motor

Version 2 (upper left), Version 3 (lower right)
Note the stock cylinder

Close up of gears

Of particular interest inside the mechbox is the upgrade of the tappet plate that has been replaced with a newer / better part. This specific part was the root of several complaints of the version 2. The new tappet plate doesn’t seem as brittle as the old one, however performance over time will need to be verified over time to make sure of it’s improvement. This new one seems to have a good bit more flexibility than the old one (and yes – I did take it out and bend it along with my old version 2).

Metal (Brass?) Bushings
Unsure of exactly what other brands are made from,
but am not quite sure about brass bushings and long term performance and durability

Metal bushings have been installed as well, and seem to made of brass instead of the metal used by other manufacturers. As noted by the picture, I’m not quite sure what to think about brass bushings, as I’m not sure how brass bushings will perform and wear after time. I may be worrying too much on this one, but until I know for sure I felt I should mention it.

An upgraded spring is installed and generates the FPS values reported previously in this review (approx. 380 – 390 w/ .2s and 350-360 w/ .25s).

Ver. 2 (top) / Ver. 3 (bottom)

Top: PDI 140 Spring / Bottom: Ver. 3 Spring?

An aluminum piston is also installed. Having little exposure to the use of aluminum pistons, I can’t comment too much on it except to note that fact that it is there. Of interest to me is the amount of rubbing of the piston, which of course leads to wear. In just the short amount of time that I used the gun and the amount of rounds passed through it I did notice a bit of wear at the rear of the piston and of course the silver noticeable in the picture below shows where the rubbing occurs.

The piston head itself while not claimed to be modified, does seem at least slightly different. Maybe it’s just a bigger o-ring to compensate for air compression problems reported with the version 2s. Then again maybe it’s just me. :)

Ver. 2 (top) / Ver. 3 (bottom)
Top: plastic piston (original piston head above it)
Bottom: Aluminum Piston

Other Important Notes:
The Version 3 now sports a 180 day warranty on “Internal Parts” from manufacturer defects and doesn’t cover external or cosmetic parts. This is slightly different (more restrictive) then the 90 day warranty that was offered on the version 2 guns. Another stipulation to this warranty is the catch that you must use “AE Certified” BBs. As many people have complained about this some clarification is needed in regards to what is considered to be AE Certified. Obviously all AE BBs are but so are Excel, Tokyo Marui, Maruzen, and KSC brands. The concept of this caveat was to try and eliminate and stress that cheap quality BBs should not be used in AE BPAGs. I personally don’t feel this is a viable solutions as there is no way that one can prove which BBs were used except by claiming they used “Brand X”. And also give the company a way to claim otherwise and not cover any damage. I’m not saying that it will happen, but merely stating my concerns (which is why I’m writing this review isn’t it?).

The warranty is void if any cosmetic changes have been done to the gun including removing the orange from the flash hider. Yes – You read that correctly – Removing the orange from your flash hider will VOID your warranty! It is also void if the seal of the mechbox is broken this is noticeable by the AE Sticker which is still prevalent on the under side of the mechbox which is viewable through the magazine well. Lack of an AE sticker is proof that the gun is not an Airsoft Elite version and is instead is an ICS version.

Instead of stopping here with just looking at the mechbox and breakdown of the gun to get this far, why not continue with breaking the gun down to reveal the location and offer some pictures of the rest of the gun.

Complete Takedown:
To completely disassemble the MP5 to get access to the inner barrel and hopup units remove the rubber o-ring from the back (right side) of the hopup lever and slide the hopup lever out.

Then remove the screw (left arrow below). Once removed you will be able to slide the front cocking tube forward. To open the main body you will need to remove two screws: (1) behind the magazine well (visible once the lower receiver has been removed), and (2) body screw located on the top of the gun behind the rear sights. After these have been removed you will be able to split the two halves of the body. Take care as there is a long spring running through the cocking tube and into the metal body.

left arrow: screw / right arrow: hopup adjustment lever

Main body after taking two halves apart

Front of main body:
Note the long spring and access to the hopup

Close up of Hopup

Rear sight
Held in place via a large screw in the rear of the assembly

Overall "Opinion":
While I still have a good bit of resentment (disgust, or whatever you want to call it) in regards to the version 2 series (mainly because mine is still in pieces), I can honestly say that I am pleased with version 3.
I am impressed by the improvements of the gun and have a much better regard for the version 3.

Would I recommend them to new players? Not at this time or at the very least not without warning.

I will qualify that by saying that time and experience have to play a role in my decision before I will say that I “fully” endorse and recommend these guns especially in regards to new / first time AEG buyers. Time and performance will show the true strength and durability of the new series.

One gun that has been fired like this one is a good thing, but there are several people that swear by the version 2 as they managed to get a “good quality” gun. But more over, the number of reports of “bad” version 2s outweighed the good (in my opinion). And since the Version 3 is extremely new on the market, the amount of them in circulation and the longevity of the gun is still a bit unknown.

Would I recommend this gun to “educated / experienced” players? Yes.

More experienced players may find more satisfaction with these guns and be able to spot and guard against signs of problems (not claiming any will appear). More experienced users will also be able to better gauge the guns use in skirmishes as I still think that the power of the gun is too high to be used in CQB environments (based on several CQB field FPS regulations). This is strictly a personal opinion, but one I feel strongly about as I have a few scars from getting shot with an upgraded gun at extreme close range.

In closing: As it stands with me right now – Yes – I do like the Version 3. And – Yes - I wouldn’t mind owning one.

Special thanks go out to Airsoft Elite for providing the gun for review. If you want to purchase them please visit AirSplat for the Airsoft Elite MP5 A4 and MP5 A5 for ONLY $249.95 or the MP5 SD5 or MP5 SD6


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