Props Product Review: Airsoft Halo MA-5B Assault Rifle (Evike CB-88 Chrono Blaster)

Redshirt

Well-Known Member
Evike CB-88 Chrono Blaster (Halo MA-5C Assault Rifle) review by Redshirt


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Table of Contents:
Introduction
Description/Basic Information
First impressions
Gun Specifications
Externals
Internals
Performance
Accesories/Modifications
Upgrades
Skirmish Results
Conclusion

One of the most bizarre and controversial airsoft releases in the past year has been Evike Manufacturing Group’s (EMG) CB-88 Chrono Blaster. It was announced in 2014 and available for pre-order at $500 that was quickly dropped to $400. Airsofters are used to sliding release dates and the CB-88 was no exception. Clearly a nod to the MA-5 series of assault rifles in the Halo video game series, the overt similarities to were not lost on Microsoft, the license owner, and their legal team. Ultimately, Evike was unable to reach a licensing agreement to sell their airsoft version of the Halo assault rifle and all pre-order payments were abruptly returned.

The initial announcement of the CB-88 met with great excitement and no small amount of criticism. Airsofting Halo fans were thrilled at the prospect of finally being able to take to the field with a worthy replica. Cosplayers alike were excited by the availability of a prop that did not require assembly or painting. The prototype gun looked great in the photos, but not everyone was excited by the specifications.



Basic Information

The specs showed that the CB-88 did not use a magazine in the stock like the game model does. Die-hard fans decried the fact that Evike’s design was not a bullpup (magazine in the stock) but had the magazine instead fitted into the fore grip. The $400 price tag also drew scrutiny coming in at more than double the price of a quality mainstream airsoft gun. Remembering that this was never advertised as a Halo replica, it was amusing to see complaints of this gun not being perfect in scale or detail.

Any airsofter truly familiar with the current state of gearbox development quickly realized that the desire for this replica to be of bullpup construction was unrealistic. Halo’s game designers had rendered a gun with the magazine so far aft that there was no room to position any modern gearbox behind the BB feed. If you look at an AUG, TAVOR or FS2000 you will see that the magazine well is far enough forward to hide the gearbox in the stock. Not so with the Halo assault rifle. With a planned release of only 200 guns, the $400 price tag could not be viewed as anything short of a bargain up against what had to be enormous development costs. As you will see, the only off the shelf parts in this gun are the gears, spring, piston and the mag release button!

The final cause for criticism surrounded an Evike video that showcased the pre-release prototype. While the video showed the electronic ammo counter and digital full and semi-auto fire selection to good effect, the shooting sequences appeared to show very low muzzle velocities. Although Evike assured performance of production guns to be around a respectable 375 feet per second, many fans were reticent to pay so much for a gun perceived to perform like a discount store toy after viewing the prototype in the video. I heard that the prototype lacked a working hop-up system and that this was the reason for the BB drop seen in the video.

Ultimately, Evike was prohibited from directly selling their new rifles to customers. A handful of rifles have made it to the United Kingdom for sale with a retail price of $800. Evike is slowly liquidating the remaining stock in the United States through their periodic Box of Awesomeness promotional where a buyer typically has a 1 in 60 chance of receiving a CB-88. Anyone looking to secure a Chrono Blaster will need to get lucky with the Box of Awesomeness or trade or purchase their CB-88 from one of the lucky few.



Product Description/First Impressions:

Through all of the intrigues and controversy, this is a rare rifle surrounded with lots of questions and few facts. This takes us to a review of the Chrono Blaster in the flesh. The CB-88 comes in an unmarked sturdy black box with custom-cut foam. In addition to the gun, you get one ~200 round magazine and a set of photocopied instructions that are actually pretty thorough. No BBs, battery, charger or clearing rod are included. As delivered, the gun is fitted with a small Tamiya connector and will only accommodate a small-size battery that could not hope to keep up with this gun’s performance.


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The first thing you notice upon picking this gun up is that it is heavy. It weighs around ten pounds despite the barrel being the only exterior part that is made of metal—more mystery. The weapon is big and has a very solid feel to it. It is very tactile as almost every surface is rubber coated. The gun most closely resembles an MA-5C from Halo 3. I’m starting a collaborative project with Justinian from the 405th and had the opportunity to use a cast of his exact-scale MA-5C for comparison. By itself, the CB-88 looks like an outstanding replica of the MA-5B, but up against the Justinian’s gold standard, the CB-88 is actually shorter throughout the weapon, but correct in height. It reminds me of the Halo: CE assault rifle, but with HD detailing of the Halo 3 MA-5C.

Batteries:

The Chrono Blaster actually requires three batteries to operate. It uses a 9 volt battery to run the electronics and a single AAA to power the built in tac light in addition to the main battery.



Gun Specifications:
Weight: 10.05 lbs
Length: 30.25"
Width: 2.75”
Height: 9.75"
Sight Radius: N/A
Length of Pull: 11.0"



Externals

What would be the magazine in the game model is actually the main battery holder. The makers infuriatingly shaped the ‘magazine’ to only accept a Ni-Cd or NiMH small battery. The rounded corners even prevent the use of small Li-Po batteries. Happily (or unhappily) this gun shoots hot enough that a small battery really can’t do it justice. Within a week, I had ground out the corners and installed a Deans connector.


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A simple latch secures the false magazine.


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The single AAA installs easily within the barrel of the tactical light. The built-in light is a cool feature and is surprisingly bright for only having a single AAA powering it. Unsurprisingly, battery life is not very long.


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Behind the rubber cap of the stock is a space for a 9 volt battery. It secures nice and rattle free. This battery powers the trigger unit, ammo counter and LEDs.


Controls:


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The square to the left is an ambidextrous safety that physically blocks the trigger movement. The trigger itself is positioned well and gives good feedback. To the right is the magazine release. This non-standard location is due to the forward magazine placement. Actuation of the magazine release is mushy at best and does not kick the magazine out of position positively. This is a significant irritant because the magazine fits flush with the fore grip, making manual removal needlessly time consuming.


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The magazine winding mechanism is where you would expect it, but is fairly well recessed. This helps the winder remain unobtrusive but because very little of the thumb wheel is exposed, it takes a lot of actuation to get a full wind.


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The tac light is controlled by a push button switch integrated into the right forward side of the gun. It is a click on/click off switch that is well-positioned for easy activation.


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I love the hop-up system. It is right on the outside of the gun, but well-protected for accidental adjustment. This gun, following the in-game example, has no iron sights. The easily adjustable hop-up enables fast adaptability to different BB weights and engagement ranges. Just look down the top of the gun and slide the lever until the stream of BBs lines up. Well done!


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On the right rear of the gun a button is integrated into what would be the ejection port. Press the button once and the gun turns on. Hold the button down and the gun powers down.



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Press the button normally while the gun is on and the gun digitally switches between full auto (-F) and single fire (SF).



Internals

There has been a great deal of discussion about where exactly this thing came from and what makes it tick. The short answer to the first question is China. The answer to the second question is nothing short of fascinating because everything about this weapon is custom made.


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I’ll start with the removable parts. The battery-holding ‘magazine’ is well-built and well fitting. I don’t see why the designers limited it to a small battery only other than a desire to cut down on rattles. After opening up the corners and fitting a Deans connector I was able to fit a small 11.1 volt Li-Po. Unfortunately, I left a battery in and discovered the hard way that there is some kind on voltage drain even when the gun is turned off. I don’t yet know if that is a defect or a design flaw, but I am kind of ticked off to lose a new Li-Po to a full-discharge incident. Not cool.


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The forward magazine fits well but is perhaps a bit too snug for easy change outs. I’ve already talked about the slow winding and loss of 2-3 BBs whenever the mag is dropped. That is nothing unusual for any AEG. The magazine holds about 190-200 BBs and is easy to load. I haven’t suffered any feed errors yet. Yes, this is not the correct position for the magazine on a Halo assault rifle, but it works and works well. When you see inside the gun, there is no way any current gearbox could have been configured to make this gun into a bullpup. Haters gonna hate, but I’m a realist and so were the designers. A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan for tomorrow. I say this was a prudent, if not well-loved, compromise to get this gun to market (except that it never actually made it to market). For cosplayers taking this thing to a CON, you wouldn’t install the main battery, so you can always pop the rear battery holder mag and slap it back in just like in the game.

Now we come to the gun itself. Beautiful and heavy, yet it is almost entirely plastic on the outside. The external barrel is strong metal and incorporates a permanent orange tip.


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The hex bolts along the upper shroud are a prominent feature of the game model and are represented on the CB-88 in beautiful brass pieces. It is too bad they couldn’t have made more exterior parts from metal.


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All of the black parts have a rubber film. This coating looks and feels good, but is not resilient. Even the act of installing and removing the gun from the foam in its shipping box will wear some edges. Now it is time to take a look inside and see who built it and how this unique gun came together.


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Disassembly begins with removing the rubber butt stock and by pushing the safety bar all the way through one side or the other.


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The spring that locates the safety will cause trouble later if not fished out.


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The stock/trigger group removes fairly easily. The fore grip is also easy to remove once you’ve taken out the mag release assembly. The LED indicators will need to be carefully pulled from their press fittings.


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The upper shroud is also easy to remove.


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A handy connector to the ammo counter display is easy to disconnect in order to avoid damaging the wiring.


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Once all of that is done, you are left with the core gun assembly and it is still heavy.


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After removing several screws, the left side cover pops loose to reveal that this weapon was built by Snow Wolf. Oh dear! These guys are not known for their quality work.


At first I was disappointed because of their reputation. However, with each screw I removed after this point, I discovered that the Snow Wolf guys were on a mission to turn around their reputation. At least the guy who screwed this gun together was. The innards of this gun are well-designed, and well-assembled. I won’t promise that the motor or gears were made of superior materials, but they were put together with skill.


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Here is the whole internal layout.


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At the heart of the gun is this massive single-piece cast metal frame tying together the gearbox, mag well and barrel. I’d finally discovered why this thing was so heavy and solid. Everything anchors into this solid frame in one way or another.


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Toward the front is the circuitry for the ammo counter and tac light. The ammo counter system has two sensors. One in the barrel senses the actual passage of each BB while a sensor on the mag well detects correct insertion of the magazine. The Chrono Blaster will not fire without a magazine inserted. Clearly, lots of work went into designing this gun.


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At the rear of the gun is the LED and mode selector driver circuit as well as the fuse and main battery connector. Even with the forward magazine compromise, this is how far back in the gun the gearbox sets. I am eager to see this gearbox because it looks looong.


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It was not easy to get the gearbox to part ways with that one-piece metal frame. On quick glance, it looks like a Version 6 gearbox, but it isn’t. A Version 6 gearbox is considerably taller. The Snow Wolf designers have succeeded in building the lowest vertical profile gearbox on the market by placing all three gears in a row under the cylinder and aligning the motor directly behind the gears. The result is about an inch to an inch and a half longer than a Version 6 box, but of a much shallower profile. Nicely done boys.


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Better still to open it up and discover that all of the internals are standard making repairs or upgrades a no-hassle option. The gears are steel and stamped JG. I guess Jing-Gong got in on this deal too. Back to Snow Wolf’s improving reputation. I was very happy with what I found. The gearbox was well-lubed, expertly shimmed and had the AOE of the pinion perfectly set. It even had a ported piston head and ported cylinder. The spring guide had a bearing (not the spring guide in this picture). In the end, I slapped it back together with all of its original components and just a little more lube to replace what I lost in handling it. There was nothing I had to do to improve the reliability of this gearbox other than add a piston with full metal teeth. Anyone wanting to alter the spring, gears or motor should have no issues using standard-dimension parts. Only the case itself was custom-made and it appeared to be very tough.



Performance Characteristics:

This gun shoots around 395 FPS out of the box using .20g BBs. BB flight path is extremely consistent (unlike in the prototype video). This, plus the 917 BBs/min rate of fire with a 1300 MaH 20C 11.1 volt Li-Po, goes far in overcoming the lack of iron sights.



Accessories/Modifications
At around ten pounds, airsofters and cosplayers alike will eventually grow tired of carting this around for extended outings. As with the in-game model, there is no provision for slings or the addition of any aftermarket sights or tactical accessories. Honestly, if this bothers you, you are probably missing the point of this weapon.



Upgrades:

Despite the custom nature of the gearbox, only the shell itself is unique. The gears, spring, piston, cylinder guide and motor are all standard-specification items and should present no issues for upgrade. A switch to a Deans connector and the use of a Li-Po battery caused no issues. This gun has very encompassing electronics controlling single and auto fire selection as well as the ammo counter feature. As such the addition of a mosfet would be redundant as fire control operates through the nine volt system rather than via main battery power. Anyone fairly handy with electronics should be able to replace the low-output tac light or add a dimming feature to the external LEDs.



Skirmish Results

Field Operations:

I really like this gun in the field, but it is not without its challenges. This gun represents a nice compact package that lends itself well to both field and CQB work. The lack of iron sights really doesn’t represent a large problem. Two factors mitigate this minor issue. The easy to adjust hop up lets you set the stream of BBs to align with the top of the weapon. Substitution of a decent Li-Po ups the rate of fire to aid in bringing fire accurately on target.

The Chrono Blaster shoulders well and all the controls fall easily to hand. The tall shroud at the front of the gun actually works well for airsoft when wearing a mask or goggles. It is easy to rest your cheek on the stock and naturally sight down the top while wearing approved protective gear. This gun also sounds good. The act of pumping out BBs at 395 FPS makes a decent pop.

It is easy to change between single fire and full auto. The easy to read ammo counter is a great aid to situational awareness. The magazine holds around 200 BBs, but the counter starts at 95 rounds and counts down to zero with complete accuracy. At zero, the gun ceases firing until either the power is cycled or the magazine is swapped. This feature is cool and annoying as well. You will lose three BBs by pulling out the partially-filled magazine. You can’t have the gun sideways when you remove the magazine or simply unseat the magazine and replace it because the stray BBs will interfere with reseating the magazine. Evike now sells spare magazines quite reasonably. The magazines are completely proprietary so get a spare while you can! As I said earlier, magazine ejection should be more forceful. Winding the magazine takes a while as well.

You would think that this gun was made for night ops since it has a built in tactical light. The LEDs along the side are so incredibly bright that everyone will see you from miles away. I would expect the same result during daytime ops in an indoor CQB arena as well. The up side is that you will have plenty of time to talk about your cool new gun while you wait in the respawn area. In the future I will look at adding a means of dimming these markers as a worthwhile mod. For cosplay, the LEDs and tac light are an awesome feature. For daytime outdoor ops, the LEDs are not a liability at all, just a welcome addition to the cool factor of this gun.


Cosplay Operations:

Is this a perfect representation of an MA-5C? No. Is it really close to all but the trained observer armed with a measuring tape? Yes. Can you buy a kit from one of the quality prop makers for less? Yes. Will yours look as sharp after you have assembled and painted it? Odds are, probably not. If you add electronics to one of the outstanding resin kits available, you’ll be approaching $400 and still need to finish and paint it. I am not saying that the Chrono Blaster is a better choice. The price and availability of the CB-88 varies wildly. You do need to make an honest appraisal of what you want from a prop, your skills and what you want to do with it to answer that question. If you are on the fence, remember that no other prop option lets you plink grunts in your backyard after you get back from patrolling the local CON.



Conclusion:

This is a very good airsoft gun. I am absolutely happy with it. Evike and Snow Wolf made no compromises in performance to deliver this replica. It’s disappearance from the mainstream market is very unfortunate. From a pure skirmishing standpoint there are some minor areas for improvement. I would make some adjustments to the magazine fit and winding setup as well as add an option to tone down the LEDs. I would also upgrade the tac light to something with a bazillion lumens if I was serious about using it for a night game. The bottom line is that it is a serious airsoft gun that is built well enough to withstand being dropped or fallen upon. The rubber coating is fragile. If you are getting it as a collector’s piece, you won’t be able to skirmish it because the rubber surface will rapidly accumulate patina. This gun looks the business. No one who has ever played Halo will mistake this for anything other than an MA-5C. It draws a crowd and stands out in a sea of M4s and AKs. No, it isn’t a bullpup, but you can pretend it is with the removable rear magazine. Cosmetically, it isn’t perfect at about 7/8ths actual size. However, because it is commercially produced it has a crispness to its execution that is only met by the highest-quality static replicas. The real downside is price and availability. Most airsofters and cosplayers won’t find this is worth the money that e-Bay scalpers and UK sellers are asking, but there are honest owners out there asking for fair prices and trades. This was supposed to be a $400 gun. It IS every bit of that.


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Until I can build the perfect airsoft Halo MA-5C assault rifle, the CB-88 makes a fine companion to my Spartan Laser


Redshirt
 

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Sword Breaker

Jr Member
Looks amazing.
Very good and detailed review! I was thinking of getting this when i started airsofting but apparently, i couldnt order one.
A question though, how did you get yours if the pre-orders were cancelled?
Oh and, what kind of mags does it take?
Cheers mate!
 

RobotChicken

Well-Known Member
Really thorough review and looks like a nice replica, considering its intent - airsoft weapon versus actual Halo replica. I question "MA-5B from Halo 3" however. Halo Nation and Halopedia describe a MA5C as the assault rifle in Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST, and MA5B as the assault rifle in Halo: Combat Evolved. Not so?
 

Redshirt

Well-Known Member
Looks amazing.
Very good and detailed review! I was thinking of getting this when i started airsofting but apparently, i couldn't order one.
A question though, how did you get yours if the pre-orders were cancelled?
Oh and, what kind of mags does it take?
Cheers mate!
Thank you! I got a Box of Awesomeness from Evike. I didn't get the Chrono Blaster, but I did get a very good gun that I used as a part trade with a guy who did get the CB-88 but couldn't use it in his style of play. Good guy and a fair trade. Mags are short and totally proprietary. They look like some of the short sniper mags, but they are unique to the CB-88. I'll update the review to clarify better. Thanks.



I've seen these on eBay and wondered about them.
There are always a couple out there with high asking prices. I'd keep making offers not too far beyond $400 until one sticks. They are good guns and very rare, but I wouldn't give $800 or more for an AR unless it had a metal receiver and was a perfect-scale replica.



Really thorough review and looks like a nice replica, considering its intent - airsoft weapon versus actual Halo replica. I question "MA-5B from Halo 3" however. Halo Nation and Halopedia describe a MA5C as the assault rifle in Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST, and MA5B as the assault rifle in Halo: Combat Evolved. Not so?
I appreciate the constructive criticism as there is no substitute for being right. You are quite correct as to MA-5B vs MA-5C. I've updated the review, but unfortunately I cannot edit the title. It looks like an MA-5C, but is stubbier like an MA-5B. Thanks for the kudos on the review.


Thanks for following everyone. Hopefully a couple of other 405thers will be able to scare up their own copies of this cool gun.

Redshirt
 

Jacgren

Member
Excellent review, I've been looking to pick one up but could never find one for a decent price. Might try the Evike store while I'm in California to see if they'd sell one at all
 

Redshirt

Well-Known Member
Excellent review, I've been looking to pick one up but could never find one for a decent price. Might try the Evike store while I'm in California to see if they'd sell one at all
I have heard that it may be possible to purchase one directly in that fashion, but can't confirm that.

Redshirt
 

Redshirt

Well-Known Member
Ive checked the Evike webstore, no MA-5C there... :unsure


The only one ive been able to find is here:
http://www.landwarriorairsoft.com/airsoft-weapons-c38/electric-rifles-c45/assault-rifle-p4199
$700 US :cry
Their actual retail store has a few, I didn't buy one though. Also eHobbyAsia has some in stock for slightly less money.
Spartan117GW on YouTube has a great video review of the CB-88, but he never opened it up. He got his from Land Warrior. $700 is a lot of money for an airsoft gun that is not a perfect replica, can't hold tacticool accessories, etc. The fact is, you couldn't build it for that. If you just have to have one and don't want to jack around with private sellers, its going to cost you $700.

Your best bet to get one for realistic money is to stalk the comments at the bottom of each Box of Awesomeness as they start shipping. The second successful buyers get tracking numbers and shipping weights, a lively discussion ensues trying to guess what everyone got. The moment packages arrive, trading ensues. Often the CB-88 winners are harder core milsim guys looking for a different class gun. Message those guys and work a sale or trade. That is how I got mine. Much better than the e-Bay scalpers. I'm still in contact with the guy I traded with. We both came away happy.


I did find a way to get a little tacticool. I added a small rail section without modifying the gun so I can run my new GoPro the next time I go out.

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This thing has massive parasitic draw when shutdown. Shame on me, but I've lost two Li-Po batteries to this thing because i didn't disconnect it after coming off the field for the day.

Thanks for following.

Redshirt
 

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Yortstorm

Jr Member
Redshirt, thanks, but that is what i was referring to... but i dont feel like wasting $700 right now... mabye near christmas, or next sale...
 

foxleader

Well-Known Member
so hows the back plate magnet coming along for the laser?

plus I think its time for either a M6D or a careless sub machine gun. you know so you down have to carry the laser on both days.
 

Redshirt

Well-Known Member
so hows the back plate magnet coming along for the laser?

plus I think its time for either a M6D or a careless sub machine gun. you know so you down have to carry the laser on both days.
I'm not doing any magnets for the Spartan Laser. I've considered a QD sling mounting for it, but no magnets. I've determined that the magnets required to securely hold a 22 pound gun in place would just as likely pull all of the hemoglobin out of my blood.

I have plans to do a Magnum, but it is on the back burner. I would likely build this around the frame of an airsoft HK USP as that gun has the most similar control placement and slide to grip angle. I do rather like the H5 SMG too.

Up now though is a collaborative work with Justinian117. I'm doing a CNC conversion to a small milling machine. Once that's done and I can turn metal with precision, we'll start the thread. The CNC will also let me do the Magnum in metal like I want.

Redshirt
 

foxleader

Well-Known Member
man if I ever head down near Jacksonville I might stop by and look at your set up, but that might be some time before that happens and all this rain is killing time to paint anything. I mean yeah I got like a small stack of work to do, but the rain is killing it. plus if things work out the way they should I might have a project all southern reg members are going to love and I can put it in one word. film.
 

Tmfreak

New Member
interesting gearbox design. at least theres a decent poly piston with the second tooth shaved, a ball bearing spring guide and decent jg gears.. im not sure about that motor as it looks to be a cheaply made chinese motor.. time to turn to systema for a new one.. microswitch trigger is nice, had one in my elite tavor. i wonder how this thing shoulders and fires now
 

Redshirt

Well-Known Member
interesting gearbox design. at least theres a decent poly piston with the second tooth shaved, a ball bearing spring guide and decent jg gears.. im not sure about that motor as it looks to be a cheaply made chinese motor.. time to turn to systema for a new one.. microswitch trigger is nice, had one in my elite tavor. i wonder how this thing shoulders and fires now
It is an interesting gearbox. I really like how it has a lower height than any mainstream gearbox. If I had three of these available for my Spartan laser project, it would have made things fit together much easier. As it was, the three V6 gearboxes took every bit of the space available. The motor is probably fine. I won't say it is cheap just because it has no markings--won't say it's quality either. Right now it is quiet and does the job, so I will not fix it until it is broken.

It shoulders and fires pretty well, though a longer stock (shoulder to trigger distance) would be an improvement to scale and functionality. I run with full-face protection so the raised front shroud actually works very well to sight down. On some guns it is hard to line your eye up with the sights or a scope if the mask prevents you from getting your cheek on the stock. This gun works well with a full mask.

Did anyone here get the latest Box of Awesomeness from Evike?


Redshirt
 
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