ICS G33 review by XavierMace
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The ICS G33 is a replica of the H&K G36C with a unique ICS flavor to it. Will these changes improve the G36 design or degrade it and at what cost? Let's find out.
The ICS G33 is the newest addition to ICS's lineup of AEG's. The gun is clearly based on the H&K G36 with some aesthetic changes by ICS, most notably the stock and pistol grip. ICS first did this on their MX-5 Pro series to mixed reviews, we'll see if the same happens here. The gun is available from Airsplat.com in Black and Tan for the price of $249.99 which is in line with the majority of ICS's Proline offerings.
With the gun you get one Thermold style M4 magazine, a small bag of ICS .20g BB's, a small manual, an instructions/catalog CD, and a cleaning rod. The gun is packaged in a surprisingly small box with the gun sitting in a plastic tray to keep everything in place.
Product Description/First Impressions:
As somebody who has owned at least one of every single G36 on the market, I was immediately impressed with the quality and finish of the materials on the receiver. The finish doesn't look quite as good as the older Classic Army G36's or Army Code receivers but it's leaps and bounds above Ares/Star/Umarex and JG/Echo1 G36's.
The first change ICS made that we will be looking at is the mag well. ICS designed the gun to take M4 magazines right out of the box, rather than G36 magazines. The nice thing about that is it does a far better job of using M4 mags than the Private Parts (and similar) adapters out there but the downside is you can't use G36 mags with it at all if you already have some. The mag release allows you to eject the magazine using either the lever on the bottom like a normal G36 or the button on the side like an M4.
Next up we have the selector switch. As you can see, ICS decided to run a larger screw right through the top rather than a little screw on the side of the selector. Initially I felt that give the selector a bit of a cheap look, like they couldn't be bothered to make it the "right" way. However, I will say it's far an away the best G36 selector I've used. It locks into position far more firmly than any of the other replicas and has no play at all. It's up to you if you prefer function or form on that one, but I'm happy with the change.
Now we are to the pistol grip. I'll be the first to admit, when I first saw the ICS MX-5 Pro with the ICS stylization, I wasn't impressed. It looked tacky to me and didn't seem to give you anything in return. While their changes to the MX-5 Pro's pistol grip didn't appeal to me visually, the rubber sleeve did feel a lot better. On the G33 I think they tried to make the aesthetic changes a bit less drastic. It's not a rubber sleeve however so you have no choice to use it. I'm on the fence about the looks of the pistol grip, but I can't argue with the handling of it. The grip feels slightly rubbery and gives you far greater grip when wet than the original design. I'll take it over the regular G36 grip any day. It also has a ventilated bottom motor plate.
Moving to the front of the gun, we come to the hand guard. As you can see, once again ICS has made some changes to it. I'm probably most on the fence about this change. Looks wise, it does nothing for me. However, it does make a very key change. The bottom rail spans the full length of the hand guard and is one molded piece. I've seen more than one G36 with a split hand guard but you don't have to worry about that here. They've also added the rail to the top, so you are basically getting a G36c RIS unit (albeit polymer) at no additional cost. That's certainly worth keeping in mind.
The changes continue with the top rail although these are much more slight. As you can see they've added a little lip that extends down to the charging handle. They've also slightly changed the sight design. The fit and finish of the carry handle is again top notch however it's all polymer rather than metal.
Now we get to the most drastic change, the stock. We've seen the stock before on the ICS MX-5 Pro's. My complaint then was the stock simply didn't fit the gun. That hasn't changed here. ICS calls it the S.F.S. stock, which stands for Sniper Folding Stock. Why would you want a sniper stock on a G36c? On a full length G36, maybe, but it just looks out of place here. Admittedly, that's just my opinion. Some people like making snipers out of CQB guns. That said, the stock itself is great. It's adjustable for length and the cheek rest is adjustable as well. Both adjustments lock fully in place when extended. In addition, the stock has a mount for a QD sling attachment near the front as well (not included) and still folds to the side. If the looks appeal to you, it's a far more versatile stock design.
As with all G36's, the gun is wired to the front with a small Tamaya connector. Like ICS's other recent models, the gun uses a small blade fuse rather the older tube fuses. If you've looked at the G36's, you know battery space is minimal, and this is no different. Personally, I would recommend wiring it for an external PEQ battery box. Magazine wise, as previously mentioned is the major functional change. The gun takes M4 magazines rather than G36 magazines. Personally, I'm happy with that as there's very few good G36 mags out there. Plus, G36 magazines are bulky. To be fair, ICS has included a Thermold style magazine as they do with their M4's which is my least favorite style of M4 magazine. Fortunately, there's no shortage of alternative magazines out there. If you are a low cap guy, Airsplat has ICS's new 45rd C7 magazines for $15.99 each. Personally, I default to my trusty MAG brand midcap magazines which fit perfectly with minimal amount of wobble.
Performance was probably the biggest shocker in my book. I'm a long time ICS user and I'm used to pulling an ICS out of the box, chronoing it at 330fps or so and then going down to the CQB field to try it out. So, imagine my surprise when I see this...
Yes, that's 397fps with a .25g Airsplat BIO BB. That puts it above most national field limits on a gun designed for CQB usage. I don't see the purpose in that, but the gun handles it with ease cranking out a healthy 1100rpm on a Firefox 11.1v 1300mah 20C LiPo battery. Accuracy I am happy to report was better than expected at 30 yards. From a standing, un-braced shooting position, it had no trouble putting all 10 rounds on target.
The hopup is ICS's own design, similar to their M4's. Each adjustment firmly clicks into place ensuring your hopup stays adjusted like you want. More importantly it provides a nice consistent hop. It definitely performs better than their M4 hopups in that regards.
If you're like me and prefer the looks of the classic G36, you've probably been waiting for this section. The bad news is you can tell right off the bat that you cannot replace the stock with a traditional G36 stock. The back portion of the gun is designed completely differently. If for some reason you prefer to use G36 magazines, you will be disappointed to know that you cannot swap out the magwell for a standard G36 magwell. The top portion of the magwell is cut differently than the standard G36 magwell. However, it mounts in exactly the same manner as a standard G36 magwell, so if you are willing to do some dremel work, you may be able to make it work.
I am thrilled to report that the hand guard and carry handle are 100% TM compatible. While the screws are a little different, all screw/pin holes match up properly. You can use TM compatible hand guards with the factory ICS pin or an aftermarket pin. If you are swapping out the carry handle, you may have to use the screws for that carry handle. The outer barrel assembly appears to be a TM compatible design as well, but I will confirm later. Fortunately it is metal rather than the plastic you find on Echo1/JG G36's. It also doesn't exhibit any of the wobble I've seen on other G36's of that design.
As stated previously, you can't swap out the stock so you don't have any options there. But the other body components are TM compatible so you've got options there. I pulled off the externals from my CA based MG36 setup which I think much better fit the looks of the SFS folding stock. In fact I might even go so far as to say I prefer the looks of the SFS stock on this setup.
All the rails on the gun are too spec and presented zero issues mounting any of my existing accessories. The magwell fits
*Internal Upgrades Info Coming Soon*
The looks of the gun seem to be a love/hate sort of thing. The changes are certainly functional and really do benefit the gun overall. Some people just want the classic looks. I have to question the spring choice given the size of the gun, but it certainly has no issues running with it. At $80 less than the KWA, I have no qualms calling this the best overall G36 on the market. It doesn't have some of the features of the similarily priced Ares G36's but it's a much better build quality. The Echo1/JG and Ares Sportline models are certainly cheaper but don't tough the finish of the ICS. If you were looking at getting a magwell adapter and/or RIS anyways, that makes it almost a steal. The only downside is at this time, ICS doesn't offer standard or K length variants so if you want the longer gun you'll have to make your own.
Many thanks to Airsplat for their continuing support!
Written by XavierMace, 4/6/13