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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review - Echo1 Platinum M4 AEG Part I

Today, it rained.


Yet I still managed to get my fill of Airsoft in.

I shall now proceed to tell you the very heartwarming tale of the Echo1 Platinum M4

ORDERING INFO:

As per usual, ordering from Pyramyd was a breeze and, of course, you better believe I opted for the free shipping! You can check out the product page for the Echo1 Platinum M4 by clicking this link:

http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Echo_1_Platinum_Edition_Model_4/2031

or by clicking the image just below:



THE GUN:

You might ask the question, "Well, what is so special about this particular M4 over the bazillion (not a real number) other M4 AEGs out on the market?"

First off, it comes with a case.  A hard case, at that.  (You may click on each of the following 9 images for a larger view in uber-resolution (that's the resolution just above "awesome").  Mad props to my wife and soon-to-be-mother-of-our-first-born-son for the legitimate Airsoft glam shots.  




Now for some sexy body shots.

You'll notice a few things, one being the large and very adjustable rear sight.  You've also got plenty of room on the rail left to throw your favorite red dot sight on there as well.  If you hate the rear sight or just simply have no use for it, you can remove it by turning that large knob you see to the left of the charging handle (righty tighty, lefty "loosy").  My spell-checker is going berserk with that phrase. 


Another item to note in the image above:

The gun comes with a sling mount, that you can see mounted at the base of the buffer tube, just behind the upper/lower receivers. It is actually ambidextrous, as you will see in the very next photo.  However, nothing else on the gun is "ambi."



Here's a body shot of the left side.  Note the ambi-mount for the sling I just mentioned.  The forward assist button is non-functioning.


However, the charging handle IS functional, and when pulled, releases the dust cover and pulls back the bolt cover to expose the hop-up dial.  While the hop-up system is still pretty much the same traditional design that I have come to despise, it does appear that Echo1 has reinforced the plastic gears that are viewable below so that they turn a bit more easily without bending or breaking like others I've had in the past. 



The bolt-release is also functional in that when pressed, it releases the bolt cover (compare the pic above to the one below and see if you can detect the differences). Bet you didn't see that coming.



Here's a shot below of some engravings on the left-side of the rifle.  Also viewable at the top/center is the bolt-release button I was just discussing.


Selector Switch gives you the standard options in "Safe," "Semi" & "Full-Auto."  Nothing new here.


Just to show off their attention to detail, Echo1 has included a gas tube for added realism, inside the hand guard. 


Since I haven't seen this kind of effort put into any other manual, I felt it pertinent to include in this review.  I'm rather impressed with the detail Echo1 has included in their manual.  The one thing I don't get is that they went through all that trouble to produce it, yet they don't actually include it with the rifle.  You have to download it, which can be done by clicking the following link, courtesy of Pyramyd Air:

http://www.pyramydair.com/site/manuals/Echo_1_Platinum_Edition_Model_4_Manual.pdf










Here's a helpful little diagram of the various parts and controls I've mentioned above, just in case I wasn't clear enough. Click on the pic for a more readable view. 

Just a little note regarding the velocity out of the box:  It's not 390-400 FPS.  It's more like 430-420 FPS, but I'll get to that in the next entry. 

Here, again, they've gone and provided some useful intel for the first-time user.  HOWEVER, I will tell you that the crane stock that comes with the rifle is not the standard size crane stock we're all used to.  It's a smidge on the smaller side, which flusters me just a tad, because it's just slightly too small to even fit my tiny Li-Po stick batteries in the tubes.  It's wired to the back through the buffer tube, including a fuse, which I find cumbersome and lame.  So I swapped out the Echo1 crane stock for the larger, more standard-size Classic Army crane stock that I had lying around and all was well in my world again.  Balance has been restored.  I should clarify though.  You can run one small battery (in this case, I used an 11.1V 1200 mAh 20C Li-Po stick battery) in the buffer tube, which is the wide metal tube attached the body of the rifle that the stock slides back and forth on when collapsing or extending it.  When using rifles with crane stocks, however, I prefer running two of those Li-Po stick batteries (one in each storage tube) in parallel to each other, which gives me twice the run time.  Thus why I switched out the crane stocks. 


For those of you that are unfamiliar with the intended effect of the hop-up on a BB, Echo1 has drawn up a pretty good diagram below, as well as pretty clear cut instructions on how to adjust your hop-up for optimum BB Flight.  The goal is the adjust the hop-up to the point where the BB flights on a flat plain for as long as possible before dropping to the ground.  If the BB is dropping off at a short distance, increase the hop.  Conversely, if the BB is rising too much, decrease the amount of hop being placed on the BB.  You do this by turning the hop-up wheel/dial towards the front of the gun for more hop and towards the back of the gun for less hop.  See below for the illustration.  

The second half of the page gives tips on proper maintenance.  And by proper maintenance, I mean Echo1's idea of proper maintenance.  I would have to strongly disagree with the first tip, listed as number one: "Spray silicone oil into the hop-up chamber from the mag well for 1 sec and fire 20-30 BBs to oil inner barrel and hop-up parts."

This is counter productive to the way a hop-up works.  The hop-up system uses a piece of rubber, called a "bucking," to place backspin on the BB, which keeps it in flight longer as I said earlier.  It is the friction between the rubber and the BB that is essential for this to work effectively.  If you apply a lubricant (e.g. silicone oil) to that rubber, you then reduce the friction needed to properly hop the BB.  There is absolutely no need to oil the hop-up or the inner barrel.  In fact, as one of my Airsoft mentors has always said, "keep your barrel clean and dry."  Do NOT use lubricants on the hop-up or the inner barrel.  You're welcome.

Other than that, the other tips listed are legit. 

The last page includes some pretty good troubleshooting tips that can be applied to most AEGs.
So that wraps up Part I. Part II will include my results with the chronograph as well as a groupings test at 30 meters as seen in the WE Mk16 GBB Review.

Airsoft.

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