Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 with Recoil Engine

Okay, so I got that G&P Defender running like a top.  Super fine, super reliable, thing shoots lasers.  Love it.  But after doing a little research online and speaking with the guys at Players First, holy cow the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 with recoil engine is just the absolute must-have AEG right now. 

It has several features that are neat, and several features that are absolutely amazing for an electric AEG… features that until know where the realm of the gas blow-back M4.  First and foremost, it has recoil.  Seriously.  Not just ‘blow-back’ like some other airsoft guns out there, but actual recoil.  And it’s pretty significant too.  I expected some goofy jittering or something equally ineffective, but I gotta say: it’s not too far off from the recoil of a real M4.  I had the pleasure of firing an AR-15 at the range fairly recently, and while the recoil isn’t quite the same, the fact that it’s there and pretty close to reality is something to smile about.

It stops shooting when you’re out of ammo.  That may not seem like a big deal, but for anyone trying to get a touch more realism out of their airsoft experience, or anyone whose airsoft gun fires so clean that the difference between dry-firing and bb’s shooting out is so minimal as to be unnoticeable, this is A Good Thing.  Heck, I’ve played in night games where I couldn’t tell if I was shooting or not, so I just reloaded.  This feature is due to a sweet new magazine design (yep, it uses proprietary mags) that has several cool features, aside from the ability to stop the AEG once it’s out of ammo.  It can switch from midcap to lo-cap.  That’s right, a switch in the magazine changes it from mid to low.  Also, it’s the right size… many people don’t know this, but airsoft M4 mags are actually about an inch smaller than real magazines.  That’s not a tremendously huge deal, obviously, but again: for those players out there looking for just a little more realism (and gear that requires full-size mags, LOL) this is A Good Thing.

The hop-up unit has been redesigned and seems to perform well.  Once I’ve had a chance to roll out into a combat situation I can determine just how well that hopup unit really does.  It seems to be barrel-style, much like the SA-58 or the Classic Army SCAR-L, which is arguably a superior design to the circular knob on the average M4.

It has a bolt-release, by the way.  So after reloading, don’t forget to hit it or the gun won’t fire.  Again, it’s the little details that set this gun apart from the standard AEG.  Full-metal, extremely well-finished externals featuring actual Colt trademarks and markings are all part of the package.  It looks great, inside and out.

Did I mention the recoil engine?  Tokyo Marui calls it the shoot-and-recoil engine, and they’ve really outdone themselves.  The single-fire recoil is interesting and adds a touch of realism, but on full-auto is where it really shines.  I’ve had AEGs that were shimmed roughly and have hammered like they were recoiling, and I’ve used AEGs with blowback that also kind-of sort-of felt like recoil, but the TM SOPMOD M4 actually really feels like it’s recoiling with every shot.  It is an experience.  You really need to shoot it to see for yourself, and once you do, you really will want one. 

In my opinion, the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 sits between the super-high-end and ultra-realistic Systema M4s and the high-end ‘standard’ AEGs.  At the pricepoint it sits at (roughly $500USD) it is more expensive than all but the most high-end AEGs, but completely blows them out of the water in every way.  At the same time, that pricepoint puts it well below the least expensive gas-blow-back airsoft guns, and well below the Systemas and the Deep Fires, and frankly, it seems to outperform all of those as well.  The gas-blow-back airsoft guns have great ‘feel’, but they have a host of issues that simply makes their extremely high price tag untenable, and Systema is struggling to keep up, performance-wise, with the rest of the airsoft market.  Systema hasn’t been worth the price-tag for a long, long time.

Lots of folks are picking up the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 – retailers can’t seem to hold on to them for any amount of time – so you should get a chance to play with one at your local field when some lucky player gets his (or hers.)  See for yourself… Tokyo Marui has really brought a new dimension to airsoft, and has really defined the term AAEG (Advanced AEG) for the market.  I can’t wait to see what kind of aftermarket accessories will start cropping up, and you can bet Players First will have each and every one of them.

6mm-Spec (six-mil-spec), an airsoft resource

I recently discovered a relatively new and little-known blog about airsoft called 6mm-Spec (pronounced six-mil-spec).  The website, in fact, is www.6milspec.com, and it’s an interesting mix of reviews, information, tips, industry news, and lots more.  There’s info about new airsoft guns and accessories, tips for airsmithing, upgrading and repairing an AEG, announcements for new sites and retailers, and even game info.  Color me impressed.

There seems to be several guys running it, each one specializing in a few different things.  The interesting thing is that they don’t seem to mind overlap… for example, there are several reviews of the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4, since several of the 6milspec guys own one.  That’s neat in that you can get several perspectives from different people, and I know it helped me when I chose to pick one of those TM SOPMODs up.

An interesting airsoft blog with interesting information, worth taking a look at, maybe even subscribing to the RSS feeds. There’s not a ton of websites out there that really cover the airsoft community (airsoft being relatively small) and this one seems to have the potential to be both interesting and informative.

G&P Defender

G&P makes some of the sweetest-looking airsoft products out there, and that’s a fact.  Pretty much all of their airsoft guns are full-metal freakin’ works of art.  The best part is that they have some pretty original pieces, and they have some nicely futuretastic pieces too.  I like their products.

I’ve been holding out for an M4 that fit the bill for a few months now, especially since Players 1st Airsoft announced that I could preorder the new G&P Defender that was coming out at the beginning of November.  I checked out the specs and thought “Hello, nurse!”  Everything but the kitchen sink was included, all for about $325USD.  Can’t beat it with a spoon.  8mm bearing mechbox, full Daniel Defense replica rail system, G&P’s replica of the Aimpoint CompM2, even a front grip included.  That’s a lot of bang for the buck.

So I nabbed it.  And it looked great.  It even performed great.  For about an hour, before I stripped the first piston.  Several pistons later, and the fine folks at PFA finally reached a solution.  Granted, it was a bit radical and involved extending and drilling into the piston to lighten it, but it’s finally rock-solid.  Turns out the piston was literally unable to keep up with the speed of the gears in their 8mm bearings and thus getting chewed all to hell.  Yeah, pretty nasty stuff, but you can only imagine how fast this thing actually is.

Thing is, this isn’t the only G&P this is happening to.  Be aware of this if you’re looking at a G&P airsoft product, and you don’t have talent like PFA to turn to when you’re literally going through a piston every week.  The high-speed frictionless mechboxes are just crazy fast.

Fast forward about a month, and we’ve changed quite a bit internally, and even a few things externally.  Internally, we’ve swapped out for a King Arms hop-up chamber and Element V-hop, pushing bb’s through a PDI barrel.  The gears are stock (and decent quality), but the piston has been modified significantly to keep up and the spring downgraded to keep to our local 350fps limits.  I’ve installed a Cheetah MOSFET unit to get 3-round burst and just increase the overall performance of the carbine, and it’s been an extremely effective upgrade.

Externally I’ve changed the RIS to the shorter Daniel Defense Omega 7 rail system.  The full-size SOPMOD Block 2 rail system was just too long and heavy for my tastes – switching to the Omega really lightened the load a significant amount.  Plus I really just had no reason to have that much rail… it felt awkward and a bit wierd.  The crane stock has given way to a stubby 416 fixed stock (more room for the MOSFET and battery, plus it just feels more solid).  I also replaced the G&P red-dot for a replica Aimpoint T1 Micro – significant improvements both in weight *and* in effectiveness.  The T1 is fast to acquire and extremely compact.  Very acceptable.  The overall weight of the weapon was reduced by whole pounds… and that feels great after 4 or 5 hours of lugging it around the jungles of South Florida.

All this is just personal preference, of course – and there’s not much left that makes the “Defender” what it is.  But it’s a great platform to start on and after some modification is rock solid with ultra high performance.  Definitely a “high-potential” platform.  At this point, I think I’m shooting (accurate 3 rnd bursts) out to about 120 feet, at 30rps and 345fps.  All this on a low-output (1100 mAH) 9.6v battery.  It’s a great and extremely reliable gun once it’s been tended to, albeit a touch high-maintenance in terms of how much work was required to get it to where it is.  Thanks definitely go to Players First Airsoft for their help and expertise in making it fly.