Review: AGM Sharp Shooter MP001
I know you've all been waiting for a while to get another review of the new VSR-10 GSPEC clone from China, so I've been busy field testing, skirmish testing, and trying to find a digital camera so I could upload pics. After much ado, here's my thoughts on this amazingly good Chinese clone:
I just got the new AGM MP001 from nachosdesign, and upon opening up the box, I'm pleasantly surprised. It cost 92 USD shipped to the central US, so its nice and cheap, and like many of you, I was expecting the imitation wood stock to look like crap, and the craftsmanship to be shoddy. Simply put, it isn't. The fake wood stock actually looks GREAT, although it’s really light, and the barrel assembly is full metal and feels very solid. It has no trademarks whatsoever, which doesn't really bother me. Well, let’s look at the magazine. It holds 30 rounds, and is made from transparent black plastic. It only comes with 1 magazine, but Airsoft GI offers a package deal which includes two magazines.
I haven't owned a GSPEC before, so I don't know if the magazines are usually transparent, but I really like the feature. It will be SO much easier to tell if I'm out. Nothing worse than having a target in your sights, firing, and then discovering that you're out of ammo. It also comes with a barrel clearing rod, clip-on sling in olive drab (which also looks really good with the wood stock), and speed loader. Sadly, it doesn't come with a scope, so I'll need to put one of my own on...
Well, so far so good, let’s see how easy it is to put together.
Assembling the gun is really easy, although as this is my fourth sniper rifle, I'm pretty familiar with putting them together. Everything fits together nice and snugly, and there's no flex problems. The barrel assembly screws into the stock with two screws, one on either side of the magazine well, which require a 4mm Allen wrench (provided with the gun). Here's a picture of the assembled gun.
It looks really good from a distance. I really like the look of the wood stock, although it would also look good in matte black. The gun looks similar to the Remington Model 700 Police version (M700P):
As you can see, neither the Remington M700P nor the AGM MP001 have iron sights, and they also have similar paddle style handles. It looks very good, even with the included orange cap (mine broke off shortly after I received it because I was clumsy, so I'll have to put it back on, but the gun took no damage).
However, the finish on the breech is a bit sloppy; the paint is a bit lumpy from up close, but it still looks quite good. So, how does it feel?
Unfortunately, the gun is really light, and doesn't feel at all like the real deal, since the plastic stock is really light. That's not really a problem for me, since I'm in this mostly for the skirmishing, and if it’s light, it will be easier to move, but if you're really into realistic weight, this gun probably won't make you happy. Most of the weight comes from the barrel assembly (but it feels a lot better once you toss on a scope). The rubber recoil pad is really nice and ergonomic (I'll mention this later).
As far as handling goes, the fact that it IS so light means that it’s really easy to move around. While it feels pretty toy-like without a scope, it feels pretty solid and hefty when you put a scope on, and its balance is solid. It’s still heavy enough to be fairly easy to aim, although I think it would benefit from adding a small weight in the butt of the stock. From the feel of it, I think I'll be able to get the rubber pad off and glue a small weight in there (probably pull a couple weights out of my old CYMA spring pistols), and that will give it a much better feel. Although it is light and maneuverable, the one problem I have is that if you're carrying it slung, it’s going to swing around more when you run than a heavier gun would. Still, it’s got solid skirmish ability.
I'll start from the muzzle and move backwards. The barrel cap screws in and out of the gun (14mm threads, screws in clockwise), so it should be easy to add a mock silencer, since unlike the GSPEC, it doesn't come stock with a silencer. I've said enough about the stock and its various attachments, but in taking apart so far I haven't had much trouble with the magazine catch falling out, so hopefully that won't be a problem when you're trying to upgrade the gun. The sling clips have a disturbing tendency to come unclipped, so I'd recommend getting another sling, although the loops they clip on are solidly connected and don't make any squeaking noises, and the rubber recoil pad on the stock feels really comfortable, and appears to be of good quality. The hop up adjusts via a little lever on the left side, just like on the VSR-10. Here's a picture of the hop up switch:
The hop up is a little bit finicky; I'm not sure whether I got grease on it while I was dismantling the gun, but I'd say you should probably replace it with a high quality one. It’s not necessary, since the gun is quite functional without it, but it still would probably be a good upgrade. It’s easy to adjust, but not too easy; it stays where you put it, for the most part.
Time to look at the barrel assembly. The bolt is nicely built, and despite the 400 fps spring, it’s really easy to cock, which is a big plus, especially because I'm left-handed. If I want to know more, I have to open this thing up. I'm going to go ahead and break it down again to the barrel assembly and stock. Here's a pic of them separated, with the two screws and Allen wrench.
Now I'll remove the single screw that connects the barrel to the bolt assembly. You'll need a standard Phillips head screwdriver. I'm sure you have a bunch sitting around that came with your various airsoft purchases. Here's the bolt assembly separated from the barrel:
As you can see, it’s pretty solidly constructed, and the seal is excellent, so a Teflon mod isn't really necessary, although I'm going to do it anyway. Let’s look at the barrel and hop up. Here's a picture of those separated from the bolt assembly:
To remove the inner barrel and hop up, we'll have to remove a couple things, the magazine well and the hop up selector switch. Here's the magazine well removed (requires two Phillips head screws to be removed):
And here's the selector switch (requires one small Phillips head screw to be removed (don't lose it!):
Now you can pull the inner barrel out. As you can see, its brass, and appears to be much longer than the usual GSPEC inner barrel, which is a bummer, because I ordered one that was too short. Looks to be ~420mm long. Here's a pic of the whole hop-up inner barrel assembly next to a ruler, which is 300mm long:
The barrel spacer is plastic, not rubber like most of the others, but the inner barrel does fit snugly into the barrel end cap, so there's not going to be any wobble. Here's a close-up of the hop-up.
It's constructed a lot more solidly than on my UTG, which is really nice. This part is clearly the same as the VSR, so you can refer to Xavier’s VSR-10 disassembly guide if you want to take it apart further. I don't want to lose any springs, so I'm not going to bother for the purposes of this review. To reassemble, just follow these steps in reverse.
Okay, now let’s look inside the bolt assembly. Taking this apart works just the same as with a VSR-10. I'll take out the single screw holding on the trigger guard, then the two small screws holding the trigger assembly onto the cylinder. Finally, I'll use a flat screwdriver to pop out the piece that goes into the spring guard.
Here's a picture of these parts taken apart:
A close-up of the trigger guard:
And a close-up of the trigger assembly, which I'm not going to take apart--don't want to lose springs:
Finally, I'll slide out the cylinder. Here's a picture of the removed cylinder:
And a close-up of the end, where you would normally be able to access the spring:
Yep, sadly, it’s sealed. If you want to shoot faster than 400 fps with .2's, you're going to have to buy a Teflon cylinder. Oh wait, you should do that anyway if you want to upgrade past 400 fps. I guess it’s not such a loss after all. I'll get a zero trigger and Teflon cylinder on this bad boy eventually... But alas, not now. Anyway, now that I've taken it apart this far, I might as well put it back together again. Fortunately, didn't lose any screws.
Now that I've put my gun back together, its time to see how it works. Like any bolt-action rifle, you have to lift the bolt handle and pull back (very light bolt pull for the FPS), and then return it to its original position. You then push the safety forward to the firing position. The safety is on the right side, and it's plastic, so I'm a bit worried about its durability. It’s all pretty straightforward, so let’s move to the firing test.
First off, all statistics mentioned here are for the gun in stock form. The gun chronographs at about 399 fps with .2 g bb's on average over 10 shots, so I'd say the 400 fps claim is pretty accurate. How accurate is the gun itself? I usually engage at 100-150 feet, so I thought I'd test it at range. Because I don't have any idea what kind of conditions the rest of you play in, I'll do my test under as ideal conditions as possible. I'm going to shoot 10 rounds indoors with as much air current control as possible, and I'll use a sand sock (a.k.a. sand bag, gun rest) since I can't use a bipod. Anyway, here are the results. I fired 10 .2 g rounds from the prone position from 100 feet, and as you can see, I'm going to have to re-zero my scope. However, the grouping is pretty good (3/8"), especially considering that I wasn't able to use a bipod, since it doesn't come with a bipod or a weaver rail bipod attachment. Here's the picture of the target:
I also compared the accuracy to my M324 with Teflon mod (I put the stock barrel back in my M324, however). Here's a picture of 10 .2 g rounds from the prone position, 100 feet, with bipod. Again, I need to re-zero my scope. Sigh. The grouping is about 1", so the MP001 is considerably more accurate in stock form than the UTG. I still love my UTG however, because of the silent bolt.
Since most snipers prefer to use heavier bb's, I also chronographed the MP001's performance with .23's, .25's, .28's, and .3's. Here are the results:
.20 g bb's: ~399.2 fps
.23 g bb's: ~389.5 fps
.25 g bb's: ~384.2 fps
.28 g bb's: ~367.1 fps
.30 g bb's: ~350.8 fps
The maximum range with .2's is 208 feet, with an effective range of 160-200 feet.
So far, I'm really pleased with how this gun is turning out. The only thing I don't really like is that it’s about 80% louder than my UTG M324, which is the quietest gun that I own (it comes stock with a silent bolt, which is really nice), so I'm worried that it’s going to give away my position when I fire. It is much quieter than the AtoZ SVD, however (no surprise there), and the bolt makes some nice realistic clicks when you cock it, so it sounds really good.
How well does it hold together? I went outside in the rain and fired the gun, and it didn't affect its performance (I'm still able to hit pop cans from 175 feet), and I dropped it onto the ground, and it didn't suffer any damages. I've also submerged the gun in water, and then fired it, and dropped it from a 2nd story balcony onto grass. No damages, happily enough. It’s been two months since I purchased it, and I've put about 12000 rounds through it, and its still in fine condition. While I've been good about maintenance (I field strip, clean, and lube it every time after I use it), I'm still pleased with how it’s turned out. While I wouldn't recommend doing any of the above damaging things, it’s built pretty well. That part being done, I'll need to skirmish test the gun. I'm going to go ahead and put on a scope, which doesn't come with the gun, but its going to be necessary because there aren't any iron sights. I'll attach my Leapers 3x9x50 Red-Green Mil-Dot.
Here's a picture of the rifle with scope attached:
And another of the rifle next to my UTG M324 and KWC M92FS GBB:
The MP001 turned out really well in the skirmish. I used .28g BBs, and zeroed my scope at 150 feet. It’s got a nice ROF because it’s so easy to cock, but it’s powerful enough and accurate enough to engage at long range. I got a couple kills from approximately 210 feet, both center chest hits, and I took a cigarette out of a guy's mouth from 75 feet before he could light it (pretty sure that was just a lucky shot, but it did go where I aimed it!) Although the rifle is definitely louder than my UTG, it’s not as bad as I had worried. I'll probably use this gun fairly often in skirmishes from now on. The two problems that I've noticed are that the sling clips tend to come off, and every now and then the magazine doesn't load a bb when you cock it, which is easily addressed by cocking the rifle and pushing up on the magazine before you return the bolt to firing position.
You'll need to get a scope and weaver rings to mount the scope, since it doesn't have iron sights, but it comes with top mount weaver rail installed. The rail is shorter than the rail on the UTG M324, at just under 5.5" long, which is something to keep in mind. You'll probably want to get a barrel mount for a bipod (I'll have to pick up another Harris bipod), but the barrel threading is not compatible with aftermarket silencer adaptors. The internals are not clones of the VSR-10, excepting the trigger mechanism, but you can install the VSR trigger and piston sears. The gun comes with a single magazine, speed loader (not the tube kind), olive drab sling, 4mm Allen wrench, and barrel cleaning rod. I'm pretty sure that VSR-10 magazines will work in it as well. I can't think of any other accessories that you'd need, so I'll leave this section at that.
I've installed a 303mm GSPEC tight bore barrel, and so far it’s worked beautifully. One slight problem--the inner barrels are not exactly the same, so you can't push the hop up on all the way. I can get the same kind of groupings from my test at 100 feet at 175 feet now, and I haven't seen any new problems appear. It seems to be holding together pretty well, although I've only had it for about a month. I don't really intend to put in too many internal upgrades at the moment since its firing about 456 fps with .2's with the tight bore, but I don't see there being any problems. The cylinder is factory sealed and CANNOT be opened, so if you want to upgrade to 500 fps or faster, you'll need to buy a Teflon cylinder (which you should do anyway for that kind of upgrade), and probably a zero trigger.
I do want to mention that the 303 mm tight bore is too short. The inner barrel is 430 mm long, and you could get an even longer one if you wanted to pop on a silencer. Can you say MAD accuracy...? Here's a picture of the 303 PSS10 6.03 mm inner barrel next to the stock barrel. I'm happy that the stock barrel is brass though, that's very nice.
I finally settled on taking the 6.01 mm UTG M324 tight bore from Dees customs and modifying it a tad to get it to fit in my MP001. I used a small saw to cut the circular indentation so that it would fit as it is supposed to (this barrel fits much better than the GSPEC ones, post modification), and at this point I've wrapped some foam tape and olive drab duct-tape around the end to make an end cap (since about an inch sticks out--its two inches roughly too long). You could also cut and bevel the end to make it the same length, but I eventually want to get a silencer, and I also want to keep the possibility of putting it in my UTG again, so this is just a temporary fix. End result, I now has a 6.01 mm tight bore for a GSPEC clone. Take that Tokyo Marui! I tested it by firing 200 rounds through it, and I'm quite satisfied.
Here's a link to the guide on how to modify the tight bore: http://www.airsoftretreat.com/forums/index.php?topic=22791.0
I also put some extra weights in the gun--the rubber recoil pad DOES come off, just pull firmly until you get the rubber to come off a little, and then pry it off the rest of the way. Here's a shot of the rubber butt pad removed:
And my personal favorite part, the space is just big enough to fit a pocket pistol. I stuffed in some newspaper to make it fit like a glove, but as you can see, I now have space to store a little pistol INSIDE my rifle. I have no idea WHY that might be useful, but I thought it was funny, so now my gun has another gun inside of it. Here's a shot of the hidden gun:
And here's a picture of the pocket pistol--it’s a cheapo gas NBB from Taiwan that I got free when I purchased my KWC Beretta's.
Yeah, I know, I'm a lunatic, but I still think it’s funny. While this feature is of dubious relevance to the gun, it’s still a surprisingly handy storage place for various things (energy bars, perhaps), and allows an easy fix to the weight problem.
The appearance is surprisingly good, and it has good durability. Very accurate and hard-hitting in its stock form, and the bolt is really easy to cock. Finish is solid, and it's quite an ergonomic gun. Price, of course, is a major pro.
Its louder than the UTG M324, the stock is really light, so the gun does not have a realistic heft (easily fixed), the magazine is not completely reliable, and the sling clips cannot take hard jolts.
So far, this gun is available from nachosdesign and www.gunnerairsoft.com. It cost about 92 with shipping to the US from nachos, and I received the gun about 2 weeks after ordering it. Nachosdesign has great customer service too, by the way. You can order a gun by PMing him, or buy off of www.gunnerairsoft.com. Both use Pay pal for payment, so it's nice and easy. I'm told that the black version is also available, for those of you that prefer the matte black look. For stateside ordering, it’s also available at www.airsoftgi.com, for about 82 shipped, or on eBay from airsoftmall.
After fairly extensive testing of this gun, I'd say that its going to restore the good name of airsoft guns made in China. Like the UTG and CYMA guns that have been released recently, it's surprisingly good, and a reasonably good quality copy of the Tokyo Marui VSR-10 GSPEC. I give this gun two thumbs up (and a big toe as well), and am looking forward to testing out the new L96A1 clone (more on that in a few months after it arrives and gets tested). PM me if you have any questions that have gone unanswered in this review.