I've been waiting with much anticipation for this new rifle to hit the shelves in airsoft stores for quite some time. Being a huge fan of the Tokyo Marui M733, this was the next progression in my airsoft arsenal. The rifles release date was today (7-20-05) and I knew someone had to have it. I gave my local airsoft supplier (atacguns.com) a call and sure enough they had two fresh in the box! I wasn't able to make it to their store in time before they closed, but they graciously offered to deliver the rifle to me (30 minute drive) if I wanted to pay for it over the phone, and offer which I couldn't refuse.
A few hours later, in walks my new rifle in a shiny very colorful box. Of course the first thing I did was open it quickly as possible to get the first look at my new BB spitter. Boy was I not disappointed. There say a beautiful short barreled M16 variant with all the goodies promised. The packing for these rifles is on par with most other AEGs and it consists of a foam block molded for the rifle to fit down inside with a cardboard sleeve that slides down over top. Nothing fancy, but it keeps the AEG well protected.
Picking the rifle up, you immediately notice there is no lack in the weight department. Weighing in at just over 6.5 pounds unloaded with no battery, it has no "toy" feeling to it. When you inspect the rifle, you understand why it's so heavy. Every part on this rifle inside and out is metal, with the exceptions of the pistol grip, vertical fore grip, sliding crane stock and two included rail covers.
The receiver is an A4 style flattop. The charging handle does move, but is not functional in any way. Normally pulling the charging handle will release the dust cover exposing the hop-up adjustment, but in this case Classic Army decided to hold the dust cover shut with a magnet. The magnet is strong enough to keep the dust cover shut, but if you pull it slightly open a spring swing it open and keep it that way for easy adjustment of the hop-up. Classic Army has included very nice, laser engraved Armalite Inc. trademarks and each rifle has unique serial number. On the top of the rifle you'll find a new style rear sight. This sight is modeled after sights the special forces originally custom made for certain rifles by cutting the front portions of a carry handle off. This allowed them to have an adjustable rear sight but still use it in conjunction with a holographic sight such as an EOtech or Aimpoint without the need for rail systems that often came loose with normal carry handle setups. The only gripe I have about the receiver section of the rifle is the upper rail is not T-marked like most high-end real counterparts of this rifle would be.
The new crane-style stock is the only part of the rifle that feels like a "toy". The buffer tube is very ridged, made of aluminum and allows for 5 positions. The stock itself though is very light weight and loosely fits the buffer tube. The texture of the plastic stock feels like very fine grit sand paper, and not very comforting. There is a very noticeable seam line along the top center of the stock where classic army did not sand down or de-burr in any way. I fixed this problem by lightly shaving the seam lines with the edge of my pocket knife. Now for the nice things about the crane stock. The stock adjusts in length with ease and stays on the setting you place it on without problem. If you're not familiar with crane-style stocks for airsoft rifles, they offer an adjustable stock with the bonus of being able to store a high capacity battery in it, while keeping any wires completely internal, unlike the use of battery bags. They also greatly improve the feel of the rifle when shouldered and aiming. They provide a lot of cheek weld area and offer you more control over the rifle. This stock is no exception to that. It easily fits a custom 9.6v 3300mah battery designed for it, and still offers all the pluses.
The CQB comes standard with a Classic Army 300 round high cap. The overall build quality of Classic Army magazines is decent, but not comparable to a Tokyo Marui magazine in function or durability. The color of the magazine does not match the rifles finish and looks out of place when placed in the rifle.
The CQB comes standard with a R.I.S. or Rail Integration System that is made of sturdy aluminum. Inside the R.I.S. you will see a metal replica heat shield in the lower half, and a metal 'gas tube' that runs all the way from the front sight assembly to the front of the upper receiver. You will also notice each rail is numbered accordingly known as "T-marked" which is handy for getting your accessories in the same spot each time you install them. The barrel length is right at 10" long and has a new-style M4 flash hider on the end. The flash hider screws on and has a small set screw on the bottom to keep it from loosening. Unlike Classic Army's past rifles, they have painted the end of this flash hider instead of shipping the rifle with a blaze orange plastic flash hider and the original metal one inside the box. Therefore the paint would need to be removed or the flash hider will need to be painted if you wish to not have an orange tip on the rifle. The front sight is a standard adjustable M16-style sight with bayonette lug and sling attachment on the bottom. Classic Army has also included a vertical fore grip and two full length rail covers with the rifle. The vertical fore grip is nothing special, but it's a nice addition and it gets the job done. It fits to the bottom rail with no wiggle or wobbles. The rail covers are nice, and a welcome addition, but the clips that hold them I place have a minor flaw. The clips are supposed to catch in the notches on the R.I.S to hold the cover in place. Unfortunately because they rounded the corners of the clips, they simply slide right past the notches. I fixed this by taking a dremel with a sanding attachment and ground the clips until they came to a nice crisp corner. Now the clips catch the notches perfect and the rails don't move.
Not having a battery, I cannot at this time give any review on the operation of the rifle.
Classic Army states "Easy Disassembly Metal Body" on the front of their boxes, but I was curious how easy they actually made it. Taking the rifle apart for the first time was a breeze. The rifle has two metal pins that hold the upper and lower receivers together, but what makes these pins different from Tokyo Marui's pins is they have screws holding them in place on one side. It takes an Allen wrench to take these screws out, and you simply slide the pin right out. This is a great improvement because I can't remember all the people not only missing a pin, but having broken guns from playing with a missing pin. Once these two pins are out of the rifle the upper half of the rifle simply slides forward and off. (Note: You will need to pull the charging handle to the rear while sliding the upper half off because it catches on a small nub on the top of the gearbox.) Once the upper half of the rifle is pulled forward and off you have access to the barrel and metal hop-up. To further take the rifle apart you simply disassemble the lower receiver like any other M16-style AEG.
My examination of this rifle leaves me very satisfied. This is probably one of the most rock solid M16 variants I've held to date, and it's very pleasing to the eyes. Once my battery has arrived and I can shoot this rifle I will update this review and complete it as much as possible.