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Specna Arms Three-Gun Combo Review

Specna Arms Three-Gun Review

In Europe, Specna Arms first introduced themselves at this year's IWA & Outdoor Classics 2014 in Nurnberg at the Gunfire booth. For now, their offering cover AR15 variants and if you're in need of an M4 of some sort then most likely you will find something in their lineup, their offering covers most barrel lengths and styles.

Specna Arms replicas are priced smartly. If you live in Europe and you are looking for an entry level gun then you have the option (in some countries) to order from Asia because it seems cheaper at first glance but then you realize you need to pay for shipping and customs. Some online stores charge extra if you want them to disassemble a replica and ship without the original box to make your package smaller and lighter. If you add up all these charges you probably end up paying well over $200 for a decent entry-level replica.

Gunfire sent us three versions to look at: the SA-A01, the SA-A06 and the SA-G01. Internally they are not different except for the lengths of their inner barrels. All Specna Arms replicas come in a plain cardboard box with a large brand sticker and the contents are similar as well. Each box has a replica, Hi-Cap magazine, cleaning rod, Specna Arms lanyard, 1100mAh NiMh battery with charger, and an extra M90 spring. For some people the battery and charger doesn't mean too big of a deal, but let's not forget those who purchase one of these as their first ever airsoft gun or only to try the sport.

SPECNA ARMS SA-A06 CARBINE REPLICA

Let's take a look at the SA-A06 first. This replica is aimed for those who mainly play CQB since the barrel is pretty short. Some Specna Arms models, like this one, are available as "Half-Tan" (soe would call it 2-Tone) which means the magazine, the pistol grip and the stock are colored tan. On top of the standard accessories this model comes with two rail protector "ladders" also in tan color. The color of the tan accessories is very close to what Magpul calls FDE. You can see the minor difference in color on the image below. The colors of Magpul are closer to each other on different pieces but not too far apart on the Specna Arms replica.

Probably the first thing you'll notice on this gun is the tank-like compensator/gas block on the front which gives the replica a mean look and at the same time we don't have to worry about bending the front end when climbing over walls because it is pretty rigid.  This unit comes with two flip-up sights in Knight's Armament style. Their quality is OK and the only problem here is the too small aperture on the rear sight. If you ask me I would use the bigger aperture top piece for CQB.

All the collapsible stock SA guns like this SA-A06 come with ambidextrous receiver end-plate sling mounts which is a big plus in my eyes especially if we're talking about a CQB gun that will most likely be carried by people around using single-point slings.

The receiver quality is above its price range and it sports a USMC logo on the left and the Specna Arms Industries markings on the right side of the lower receiver. I don't want to go into the subject of receiver markings too much since this is purely down to that person who will own the replica. I prefer plain receivers over military branch logos if I have to choose. At least there is no wobble between the upper and lower receiver and the same goes for the free float handguard. All SA relicas feature a "working" bolt catch. What that means on an AEG is the bolt imitation under the ejection port cover stops at the rear when using the charging handle (ejection port cover opens at the same time) giving us enough room to access the Hop-Up dial. Pushing the bolt catch releases the bolt imitation which slides back to the front covering the whole ejection port.

Extending the inner barrel under a mock silencer is quite common these days and if we do so we still have a continous look because the outer barrel stops at the end of the handguard with only the thread (14mm regular) sticking out. Here you can see how the gun would look with different muzzle devices.

I like this little thing with its short barrel, lightweight and mean compensator. I will look into the gearbox at the end of the article since all three guns have the same internals. As far as externals, stock wobble is a little above average but that can be easilly addressed with some adhesive loop-velcro on the buffer tube. If this was my personal gun then I would install a low profile reflex sight for quick target acquisition and a magwell grip for a firm hold on the gun but I am sure the gun does well on a CQB game without these accessories as well.

SPECNA ARMS SA-A01 CARBINE REPLICA

Our next replica is the SA-A01 with a Gunfire twist. This model is vailable in A-TACS FG color. All parts except the buffer tube, trigger, charging handle, fire selector, bolt catch, mag release and the barrel are covered with water transfer camo goodness. The material is applied in Poland and licensed from A-TACS. The water transfer material was applied on top of a thin layer of light-tan paint. You think this would ruin the rail dimensions but a Magpul AFG slides on the rail just as easy as it would slide on the other models without the water transfer camo.

Color, pattern and texture are all OK only with very minor errors --- you have to look at the rifle real hard and up close to notice them. Only time will tell how durable this coat is as I did not notice any wear after taking it apart and putting it back together (several times) or while mounting and taking off accessories.

Just like the SA-A06, this one features a receiver end plate with sling attach points on both sides, a crane stock and two fli- up iron sights. The barrel ends at the end of the 9-inch rail with a 14mm negative thread. Inside of the outer barrel we have a brass 280mm inner barrel. A nice touch is a QD sling point at the beginning of the rail which is made of steel. The flash hider again looks mean as it could be and I wouldn't change it unless I don't plan to extend the barrel under a mock supressor, but then I'd buy the SA-A02 which has a standard carbine length barrel.

Sights are the Troy-type folding sights with acceptable finish and quality. On the image you can see that I mounted a G&P sight right in front of the SA sight and there is not that much difference between the two except the G&P sight has steel parts. I like the sight selected for this model because of the low profile front and the variable aperture on the rear sight. Too bad they're not painted FDE to better match the A-TACS pattern.

The stock wobble is the same that I've experienced with the SA-A06, nothing too annoying but I've seen lot better within this price range.

I took the liberty and put an SA logo on the receiver using my photo editing software. I know that in real life it's not that easy to apply markings after the water transfer is done, but I think this suits this gun better than a USMC logo would.

SPECNA ARMS SA-G01 CARBINE REPLICA

Our next gun is the SA-G01 which is the closest one to a standard M4 with its 360mm barrel, handguard, carry handle and front sight, but it has an M203 launcher installed under the barrel. This replica comes with the same accessories (charger, battery, spring lanyard) plus the lower half of the handguard and a detachable carry handle are there as well.

Its High-Cap magazine is painted slightly metallic grey which I like to be honest, which on the image you can see it next to a Classic Army grey/green and a Star black magazine.  I've installed a Magpul MOE handguard without problems and it had very little wobble even without the lower part, although the spring inside the delta ring could be a bit stronger.

The receiver is high quality with a nice finish as you can see on the close-up images, normally entry level replicas have thick paint layer to cover the rough finish of their potmetal receiver. The only thing I've noticed here is that the upper receiver is a little more matte than the lower but I needed these close-up photos and "studio" lighting to notice it.

Again there is no wobble on the receiver, only the M203 gives a little sound when you rattle it. The M203 is a nice addition on this gun, works perfect, without any issues. Its quality matches Classic Army or G&P launchers, at least these are the two brands I have access to. I expected a lot heavier gun but with 3.6kg including launcher I might re-think my opinion about launchers. The finish on the stock differs from the rest of the plastic parts, as it looks more scratch resistant. I think I've covered all the external features of SA guns.

INTERNALS

Now let's look at the internals. The motor height adjusting screw is fixed with some kind of glue so we don't have to worry about motor height if we decide to take our gun apart for maintenance or spring change. 

The SA M4 replicas come apart as any other Marui-based replicas with the exception of the bolt catch. Here, we need to remove the bolt catch in order to access our gearbox because the bolt catch extends into the receiver and reaches over to the right side of the gun. To remove it we need to get rid of that pin that holds it in place and pull it out while pushing the fake bolt-catch mechanism on the left side. A bit tricky at first but the whole process is easy to understand if we look through the magwell and inspect the parts of this fake bolt-catch.

All plastic parts share the same material on this gearbox with the exception of the piston. The plastic parts are very similar to the ones in a Dboys gearbox. But before we dig into the gearbox any further let's take a look what else we can see from the outside. For starters we have the fake bolt catch mechanism which is clearly in the way of the gearbox screw, so that's the second extra thing we need to remove (compared to a standard Marui V2) if we want to fully open the gearbox.

We have 8mm ball bearings on the side, shimming is good, gear axles don't move much from left to right. The gearbox is held together by Torx screws. There is an opening on the lower left side of the gearbox right above the anti reversal latch. This hole can help us in releasing the reversal latch if the last firing cycle was not complete and we would like to change the spring. WE Airsoft AEGs do this with the fire selector switch and Modify-Tech uses a slot on the axle of the reversal latch (so the latch can be released with a flathead screwdriver and no opening needed on the gearbox wall).

The motor doesn't have any markings on it, its magnet barely holds its own weight but it yanks the 120 spring quite all right (800rpm at full charge). No need to upgrade it until it gives up. Connectors nicely sleeved, wiring layout/length is good. Some people like to see thicker cables in a gearbox saying these will heat up, but using 7.4V batteries the heat issue is minimal. The gearbox draws only 10A current at full auto (once the motor reached its top rpm) and the hotleg has a 25A/250V fuse.

Thanks to the "Enter & Convert" Gearbox we can remove the spring without taking the screws out of our gearbox. For the removal process we need a beefy flat head screwdriver and all we have to do is push in on the screwdriver, turn 45 degrees either way and let the spring tension do the rest. Now that the spring is out we can see that it is a quite short spring, judging by the wire diameter it is a shortened 130. After removing it, the re-insertion doesn't take too much force. I was actually surprised that this gun does 430 fps.

The chrome plated spring guide is pictured next to a standard V2 spring guide for size and shape comparison. Note that there is no washer on the spring guide (only the front end of the spring has a washer/bearings). The end of the spring wire isn't grinded off at all (both 120 and 90) so a thin washer placed between the spring / spring guide can only do good. The spring is pictured next to the Tornado springs available for this gearbox, courtesy of Gunfire of course. I will use these springs to test how the gearbox scales between springs.

Opening the gearbox with no spring is a piece of cake and we only need to watch out for the small washers (copper and steel mixed) used to shim our gears. Generic blue gear grease covers everything so extra lubing is not required. As I mentioned before the plastic parts have the same material: piston head with six large holes; tappet plate; ported nozzle 20.5mm long and no O-ring; single O-ring cylinder head with brass nozzle and rubberized backside; and the firing switch. A different, softer plastic was used for the piston which has one metal tooth, the very last one. AOE is good, no need to file down the second tooth if you only use 7.4V or 9.6V batteries. The Type 2 cylinder is made out of brass.

VELOCITY AND ACCURACY TESTS

Let's see some numbers (measured with 0.20g BB unless other weight noted, using an UFC chrono with Hop-up fully opened):

  • SA-G01 425fps
  • SA-A06 360fps
  • SA-A01 410fps

Not too many times that I get the chance to test three replicas of the same brand at a given time so now I've played around for a bit. In order to see how consistent these guns are I've interchanged the upper and lower receivers.

  • SA-A06 lower / SA-A01 upper 410fps
  • SA-A06 lower / SA-G01 upper 422fps
  • SA-A01 lower / SA-A06 upper 358fps
  • SA-A01 lower / SA-G01 upper 420fps
  • SA-G01 lower / SA-A01 upper 412fps
  • SA-G01 lower / SA-A06 upper 361fps

The inner barrel of the SA-G01 performed slightly better than the advertised 410fps so I tried other barrels and Hop-Up chambers in that replica to see if I can tune it any further. I used Maple leaf  6.01, Systema 6.04 and a KM 6.04mm inner barrels of the same length with Airsoft Systems, Guarder and X High Tech chambers but never got above 415fps.

Now let's see how the gearbox performs with different springs using GFC Tornado springs:

  • M120 412fps
  • M110 381fps
  • M100 347fps
  • M85 304fps
  • SA90 315fps (this is the spring that comes with all Specna Arms guns)

The above numbers are the average of ten shots with each spring.

While I was doing the chrono tests I figured I could do some stress / temperature tests as well so I connected my multimeter's heat sensor to the fuse and to the brush inside the pistol grip. For two whole minutes, I shot long bursts (5-10rds). Ambient temperature was 19C and both conductors measured 20C when the sensor was first attached. At the fuse I've only measured a 10C raise but at the motor this number was a nice 30C. This test was completed with the M100 spring.

How accurate are these replicas? Here are some images of shot up cardboard for you to decide. I do not have a long indoor range so I decided to place my target at 15 meters, use heavier 0.25g BBs and to further improve accuracy, I've put the SA-G01 on a mount. Just out of curiosity I've tried two different BBs and as expected got different results, probably this is why I don't like accuracy tests for an airsoft gun too much. With the premium BB (if you can call Blaster Devils premium) I was able to achieve tighter groupings. 

I've took all three guns for a semi-only CQB game. I've used the AS-G01 but with a 110 spring and no grenade launcher. I used Magpul, CAA, STAR and its own magazine without a single feeding issue. It did what I asked the whole time and shots went where the dot was. The power came from a WE 1450mAh 7.4 LiPo battery and there was still juice left in it after 800 shots. The other two replica I've loaned out (with the SA NiMh battery) to other players and I got two big smiles in return at the end of the day when I asked how they performed. The crane stock can easily house the supplied Nimh battery but LiPo batteries will fit depending on size. I know it's not recommended to use 11.1V but on the image I've included one just to show you what you could possibly fit in those compartments. The space in the buffer tube is quite limited because of the fuse but any two cell battery up to 1500mAh can be housed in these crane stocks but if the cells are separated this number can go up to 2 or 3 Ah.

CONCLUSION

I don't prefer Pros/Cons but since we had three guns of the same brand I can make an exception.

Cons:

  • Thread is negative on one model and positive on the other
  • Stock wobble
  • Receiver markings

Pros:

  • Consistent, even with interchanged uppers
  • Charger and battery included
  • Likes any magazine
  • No need for 11.1V battery, works great on 7.4V
  • Low power draw
  • Extra spring included
  • Nice receiver quality

I did not know the brand Specna Arms so I had no expectations, but now I can recmomend these as  entry level guns or base guns for ugrade projects for anybody. You can grab one to your liking at Gunfire.





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