Date product posted
Wed December 19, 2007
Review: G&G SOC 16 V4 Review
Discuss this review in the Forums.
Table of Contents
Before the review, here's a bit of history about the M14 SOC 16. It of course spawned from its older and larger brother, the Springfield Armory M14. The M14 was adopted by the U.S. military in 1957, spawned from the older M1 Garand, and saw combat use in South East Asia, most extensively in Vietnam. Production of the M14 was ceased by the U.S. military in 1964 due to its limitations in the combat it served in and was replaced by the lighter, better suited Colt M16. The gun was too long for use in the harsh jungles in which U.S. soldiers were occupied in, the 7.62 round the M14 fired was too large a caliber and limited the amount of ammunition a soldier could carry, and the gun was too heavy to carry around for long periods of time. The gun came with both semi-automatic and full-automatic functions, but the guns were quite often locked in semi-automatic due to the excessive muzzle climb and waste of ammunition when the gun was used in full-automatic. Although production of the M14 ceased, it has seen active military use to this day due to its farther range, accuracy, and power compared to its 5.56 Colt brethren.
The M14 was turned into the M1A by Springfield Armory as a civilian version of the classic gun, and variations of the gun were also produced. The most current variation of the M1A is the SOCOM 16, the SOCOM for Special Operations Command and the 16 meaning that it has just over a 16 inch barrel (just over the legal limit for a rifle of its type in the United States). It differs from the M14 in a few critical ways: the body is made from fiberglass as opposed to wood, making the weight drop to just under 10 pounds, it has been shortened to provide a more ergonomic shooting platform, and the recoil has been drastically reduced through the use of advanced recoil springs and a new generation flash hider. It retains the excellent accuracy, range, and power of the M14, while bringing the outdated M14 design into the 21st century.
First, a brief history about the company that makes this gun, G&G. G&G, or Guay Guay, is a Taiwanese company who has made a reputation over the years for making decent guns at high prices which have a tendency to break down unless worked on. Their older guns were plagued with problems which persisted even in some of the second and third versions, such as their UMP which had a very annoying tendency to consistently double feed on semi automatic or their RK-103/104 series, whose magnesium bodies liked to crack. Some of their gearboxes were so bad that they ordered an entire recall of the gearboxes to fix the problems. They focus quite a bit on realism and are actually a really innovative company, pioneering new body and gearbox designs unlike other companies who do the same thing over and over again and stick to existing designs. Guay Guay as a company never really took off due to faulty internals and high prices. However, with the release of their new versions of their entire product line with very reasonable prices and higher quality internals, G&G may yet become a very big contender in the AEG scene.
Now there's my story. Ever since Marui released their M14 and the subsequent SOC 16 I have been in love with M14s. However I could not justify buying one at the $350 price tag + hi-cap, so I watched and waited as my friends picked up some clone M14s and even the TM SOC 16, my dream gun, while all I could do was drool. However, after being in the market for a new gun I found the new G&G SOC 16, originally retailed at over $450 and now at Airsoftgi.com at the absolutely ridiculous price of $255 shipped for the latest version (version 4). After reading a very promising review on Arniesairsoft.co.uk I decided to ditch the G&P M16A2 I was planning on buying from WGC and pick up the new G&G instead.
A list of what G&G "fixed" in the v4:
-Longer tappet plate track to prevent premature breakage
-7 and 8mm bearing bushings to replace standard 7mm metal bushings
-Shorter trigger pull
-New steel gears
-Better QC (shimming and the such)
I bought the G&G SOC 16 v4 on Monday, the 10th of September, from Airsoftgi.com, seeing as my numerous past orders from them had all gone quite well. I needed this gun for a game on the coming weekend, so I at around 5 o'clock PM (California time) on the 10th I call ASGI and ask them if I order that night if they can make sure I get the gun by the weekend. The man I talked to asked if I was about to place the order right then, and when I said yes he asked me to call him back right after I placed the order. So I bought the gun with a spare hi-cap from G&G for a grand total of $290.86 shipped. I call the man back and tell him I placed the order, and he all he says is OK, thank you, bye. I hung up the phone baffled that he would end the conversation in such an abrupt manner. However, none of that mattered when I saw an hour later that my package had been shipped out! This is the best experience I've ever had with a retailer besides Trinityairsoft, and I highly recommend Airsoftgi.com.
On Thursday the 14th of that week I come home from school to see a brown package sitting up against the wall as I walk in the door. And of course your typical review style account of what happened thereafter: in a matter of minutes I had the package open and was staring at a beautiful box with a big picture of my dream gun on the front.
Here is the package in its entirety. I could barely stand having to go get the camera to take this picture when I hadn't even gotten a chance to hold my new gun yet.
After removing the plethora of papers and miscellaneous crap blocking the view of my baby, I finally saw it. But *******it there was still one more step; G&G's standard packaging is better than any company I have yet witnessed, and to protect the gun during shipping not only is the gun immersed in styrofoam and the styrofoam inserted into a box, but supporting the gun on top are three styrofoam blobs that prevent any movement of the gun whatsoever during transport.
Along with the gun, the package also contained:
-1x 470-rd hi-cap magazine
-Yellow bbs (not too great)
Airsoftgi also tested the gun before shipping and it chronoed at 380 FPS w/ Airsoft Elite .2g bbs.
Now I finally get to hold the gun I just spent over $250 on. And onto the next section...
I finally picked up my new gun and was immediately awed by the external quality, partly because I have been very used to TM and MPEG quality externals. This gun is in a whole other league externally and most definitely feels like G&G put some time into developing this gun. One very nice thing I noticed about the gun was that it was in absolutely pristine condition when it arrived, without a scratch, mark, or chip to be found.
Here is the gun removed from it's packaging. It's beautiful and you know it.
One of the first things you notice when you pick up the gun is the weight. The gun itself (without battery or mag) weighs just under 8 pounds. With magazine and battery it comes to almost 9, which is about what the real gun weighs. However, although the gun is fairly heavy compared to most airsoft guns, it shoulders so easily and is so comfortable to use that (unless you have the arms of a 10-year-old) it will not be a problem. The weight is evenly distributed throughout the gun, with battery it is slightly back-heavy.
As you would expect with a high end AEG (and yes, G&G is now high end), there is absolutely zero body flex or creaking to be found. The ABS plastic that makes up the lower receiver is thick and reinforced with metal in some places. The flat black finish is very high quality with nice texture all around.
Here is the stock of the gun. Not much to say here except that it holds the battery and has a metal sling mount.
Here is the battery compartment opened up. The butt plate is made out of metal with a nice checkered pattern that rests up against your shoulder and flips open to reveal another metal plate with a plastic battery door. Flipping open the door allows access to the massive battery compartment inside, capable of holding a 9.6v SC pack. The stock connector is a large Tamiya, as it should be.
The grip of the gun is a much rougher texture than the rest of the finish. Doesn't do much except make handling the gun a bit better and making the receiver look cooler.
Now moving on to the main receiver of the gun. The upper portion is made out of anodized aluminum and is very nicely painted.
The main trademarks of the gun engraved into the rear of the upper receiver. They read:
The rear sight has only one peephole and is adjustable not only up and down, but also side to side, all without tools. The rear sight doesn't actually move straight up and down, it's on a ramp that moves farther upward and backward the more you adjust it.
Looking down the sights.
And here is one of the worst features of all M14s: the selector switch. To switch from semi-auto to full-auto, one must push in the bar that functions as a selector switch and turn it 180 degrees, where an engraved "A" will tell you that you are now shooting on full-auto. Definitely not the quickest or most effective ways to switch firing functions. The entire switch system wobbles a bit and detracts from the overall quality feel of the gun, although this is the case with every M14.
The safety is not part of the selector switch but is instead located in front of the trigger guard as a little switch that is flicked away for shooting and toward the trigger for safe.
This is a picture of the receiver right in front of the rear sight and the end of the bolt cover. There is a block of metal with a set screw that slides into position either covering the trademarks below and flush with the top of the receiver *or* can be slid out of position and slid in in a vertical position, creating two posts to aim through while looking down the iron sights. The only problem I have found with this is that the set screw used is extremely small and of the some 50 hex tools I own the only ones small enough to fit into the head are the ones included with some AEPs.
More trademarks are located underneath the block. They read:
A view of the bolt cover.
And here is the bolt locked back into position, revealing even more trademarks and the hop-up.
The bolt catch, one of the defining features of the G&G SOC 16.
This entire bolt system is, without a doubt, one of the best features of any airsoft gun I have ever used. racking the bolt makes an unbelievably satisfying *CHUNK CHUNK* that is seconded by none, not even the TM M14. When the bolt is pulled, the bolt cover rotates slightly and is pulled back, where it can then be locked back by just pushing the bolt catch. The hop-up can then be adjusted without having to hold the bolt back, and when you're finished the bolt catch can be pushed upward to release the bolt with a satisfying and very loud *CLINK*. There is only one flaw in this system, and that is that the bolt cover does not move as far back as the real one would.
NOTE: The little external silver "L" on the bolt popped loose upon racking the bolt especially hard one day. It is held on by glue and can be easily re-attached.
The full metal hop-up unit and trademarks that are revealed when the bolt is pulled back. Part of the markings underneath tells you which way to turn the hop-up for more/less hop, the other says "Capital of Greedy Island".
Chaoswithinthed elaborated on what he believes to be the meaning of "Greedy Island":
"This is just an idea, but I think I know what "Capital of Greedy Island" might mean. I know that when NAM reviewed their first run of M14 they gave G&G the nickname of Greedy and Garbage. Another store reviewed the G&G M14 and used the same nickname and gave the M14 a horrible rating. G&G saw the article, and threatened to stop selling to them unless they raised the rating. Maybe this is G&Gs way of being funny?"
Made in Taiwan and proud of it. The S.O.C. 16 white markings are the most visible and last of the external markings on the G&G. Also note the use of more of the same rough texture used on the grip of the gun.
And now we move on to the front section of the gun.
The CNC-machined aluminum rail is extremely solid and will accepts a wide variety of mounts. If you want to mount a high powered scope to your gun, sorry, but you purchased the wrong M14. This mount is meant almost exclusively for red dot sights, reflex sights, holosights, or any other optic that has extremely good eye relief. Sorry for whoever was looking forward to using magnified optics on this gun, you should have bought the standard M14.
Here is, without doubt, the worst external feature of the G&G SOC 16: the heat shield. It is made out of nicely textured but very flimsy plastic that is even flimsier on the SOC 16 due to the space in the middle needed for the rail to fit through (note that the rail and the heat shield are completely separate pieces). It flexes, wobbles, and just detracts from the overall high quality feel of the gun. Fortunately the G&G accepts real M14 heat shields that can be bought for relatively cheap and modified to fit the scope mount.
The front sling mount. It is securely mounted to the receiver by two screws and is made out of metal, and definitely likes to flop around. In front of the sling mount is a hole that I can only presume functions as a way to mount an optional bi-pod of sorts.
Finally we come to the end of the gun, with the gas tube, flash hider, and front sight, all of which are metal. The front sight can be adjusted from left to right and is mounted to the bright orange flash hider assembly. Speaking of the flash hider, it is non-removable, although the entire section painted in orange can be removed.
The magazines of the G&G SOC 16 are another problem: the only magazines compatible with the gun are G&G 470 round metal hi-caps, CA mags, or the hard-to-find and pricey G&G 80 round standard-caps.
Both hi-caps I received fed flawlessly, are metal with a very nice gray sparkly finish, and are very easy to load due to the massive feed door.
Another problem I found with this gun is that the magazines are unnecessarily difficult to mount into the mag well at first. They must be caught at a certain place and then locked back into position, and when the gun is brand new it takes two to three tries before it finally clicks in correctly. After a little while though the system gets broken in and mag changes become as they should be.
There finishes the external portion of this review. Long enough for you? I thought so...
Overall, the externals were near perfect, with the selector switch, heat shield, and weird "greedy island" trades being the only flaws I could find.
Disassembly of the gun is extremely easy and is even partially explained in the M14 manual. It is also the same way the real M14 disassembles.
First, just yank down on the rear of the trigger guard, popping it loose.
Then the entire trigger mechanism will just slide out
And you can just remove the upper receiver from the lower receiver.
Here is a better look of how the lower ABS receiver is constructed and why it's so durable.
The first shot of the gearbox. Yes, it is an absolute beast, larger than any other gearbox I have seen save pictures of the CA M249 gearbox. The trigger mechanism is on the left side of the gearbox, which is far easier to deal with than the TM design. Just a simple metal plate that is pushed in and out with each pull of the trigger and connects the contacts located on the inside of the gearbox. This is most definitely no v7 gearbox, but actually a patented new version gearbox made specifically by G&G for their M14 series.
The small-type motor is a 25000 RPM small type wrapped in shrink wrap to make sure it hugs the wiring. Not sure if I feel comfortable having the wiring right up against the motor which can get really hot, but I don't plan to use this gun on really long bursts anyway.
Another nice little addition by G&G on their newer guns, the inclusion of a fuse. This also shows the wiring, which is very thin but flexible. I would prefer a lower gauge of wire but the flexibility of it shows that it is of at least decent quality.
Here is a most excellent take-down guide by Ochronic on AirsoftForums
It shows you step by step how to take apart the G&G SOC 16. About half the steps of taking apart the TM are required. To remove the entire front assembly, including the hop-up and barrel all that is required is the removal of two big hex screws. A few other steps are needed to get to the gearbox but nothing too difficult.
One of the best features of the G&G SOC 16:
A 6.035mm brass tightbore STOCK
This, coupled with a metal hop-up and excellent hop-up rubber, give the gun phenomenal stock performance which will be covered later in the review. The barrel length is 407mm, just a tad short of the barrel length of the Marui SOC 16.
This shows the hop-up unit disassembled. Anyone recognize it? That's right, it's the same one used in the AUG. Having upgraded my TM AUG's barrel and hop-up many many times before I was right at home with this one, and it also means that the G&G is 100% compatible with aftermarket hop-up rubbers and barrels.
A few things I noticed: the metal used on the hop-up unit itself is very high quality, better than aftermarket CA metal hop-up units I have installed. It comes with a quite long barrel spacer that stabilizes the barrel in the chamber, as well as a rubber O-ring that fits on the end. The rubber seems hard, fit for a gun that shoots at ~400 FPS out of the box. All of these parts fit together very well, staying put when you want them to and sliding out quite nicely when you want them out. The adjustment wheel feels very loose when the assembly is removed from the rest of the upper receiver but tight when it is assembled, so I can only presume that the gearbox/hop-up seal is very good if they are being pressed against each other.
After disassembly of the barrel/hop-up I cleaned the barrel with a lint-free cloth and removed the traditional grudge out of it. I also washed off the hop-up rubber to get any grease off that could affect performance.
Now onto the gearbox. After following the disassembly guide, this is what you should be left with.
The top of the gearbox, where you can see the spring and spring guide.
After removing the three screws holding the two shells together, the four screws securing the motor to the gearbox, and a pin in front, you can separate the two shells.
The gearbox in all its glory!
Here is the spring and spring guide. The spring is non-linear and feels and performs like an M115. The spring guide is a standard v3 has a metal base and a very thick washer that acts kind of like a bearing spring guide. It flew out and hit my wall when I took the gearbox apart. I was thinking of adding a spare ball bearing v3 spring guide I had lying around but decided that the stock one was more than good enough.
Here is a good view of the gears. They have definitely been revised since the v3 of the SOC 16 and looked flawless and very well greased upon inspection. They are a standard steel v2/v3 gearset with the black sector gear standing out among the rest.
Stock shimming was decent. The bevel had a bit of movement, fixed by adding about .15mm of shimmage on the right side, and the same was true with the spur gear. The sector was shimmed perfectly but was a bit too close to the spur gear, fixed after swapping just a few shims.
Note that every gear had a shim and different sized shims were used.
Another cool feature about the G&G gearbox is that it can be de-compressed before opening. The anti-reversal latch can be moved through a little silver bar on the right side of the gearbox shell, making the days of de-compression through taking a spring guide in the face a thing of the past.
Here is the cylinder/cylinder head. The cylinder looks to be made of stainless steel and is sealed very well with the stock cylinder head, neither of which are compatible with aftermarket parts. The cylinder is just slightly thinner than most, making aftermarket cylinders unable to fit in the gearbox shell, and the cylinder head is meant to fit in the cylinder, so it is also not compatible. The air nozzle is an AUG type that slides on the cylinder head has an internal O-ring that creates a nearly perfect seal all around. The tappet plate also looks to be very nice and I can only imagine that with the inclusion of a farther track for it to move that it won't suffer breakage anytime soon. You can see the tappet plate move through the side of the gearbox so if it breaks or has any sort of problem you can diagnose it without having to open up the gearbox.
Here is the piston, looks and feels like polycarbonate. First impressions are that it looks really nice and should hold up for quite a while.
The piston head is like nothing I've ever seen before. The ports in the head are tear-drop shaped and if nothing else look really cool. The stock O-ring smaller than most provided for poor compression (at least at the velocities I could get the piston going at, it is ported after all) so I swapped it out for a new one which will not deteriorate under heat or when used with petroleum products. It was a tight fit with the thinner cylinder but provided a very nice seal.
A look at the gearbox shell and 7/8mm ball bearing bushings used. The gearbox casting is very nice, easily TM quality, but much thicker, especially in front where it matters. Hell, even the feed tube to the hop-up chamber is part of the gearbox and encased in metal! If this gearbox shell ever snaps I will lose all faith in airsoft internal parts. The ball bearing bushings sit very nicely and almost completely flush in the shell and serve their purpose nicely. The inclusion of the 8mm bushing on the sector gear is especially nice. Ball bearing bushings serve to reduce friction on the gear shafts contacting the gearbox shell and are used primarily in high RoF setups.
Overall the internals of the G&G SOC 16 are the best I have ever seen in a stock gun. It comes installed with basically everything you would ever want to install in a gearbox to increase its longevity and performance. The only flaw I found in the entire gearbox was the shimming, which was good but not perfect. Guay Guay has really stepped it up when it comes to internal parts, and I would definitely feel comfortable dropping in up to an M130 or more on the stock parts. There is also the issue of compatibility. The following G&G internal parts are not compatible with aftermarket parts:
If one of those parts breaks they must be ordered directly from G&G. Everything else is 100% compatible.
FPS tests were done using my Alpha Chronograph which is just one step up from a standard F1 Chronograph. FPS stats are recorded with the hop-up properly set for that weight of bb. These tests are the results of 10 shots fired consecutively and all stats are calculated by the chronograph.
Airsoft Elite .2g bbs:
AVERAGE: 391.5 FPS
HIGH: 397 FPS
LOW: 389 FPS
STANDARD DEVIATION: 2.64 FPS
Airsoft Elite .25g bbs:
AVERAGE: 336 FPS
HIGH: 338 FPS
LOW: 335 FPS
STANDARD DEVIATION: 1.00 FPS
These equate into 1.41 joules and 1.3 joules respectively. I can only assume that the extra hop-up needed to give the .25g bbs the range they require is the reason why the power decreased, but why the spread is so much I don't know.
Rate of Fire
Rate of fire was measured using Audacity, a free sound program off the internet, and a microphone. To measure rate of fire you record a burst of full auto fire and count the number of spikes in the period of one second. Each spike represents a shot fired.
The G&G SOC 16 measured in at 1110 RPM, or 18.5 RPS, using an Elite 9.6v 1500 mAh ni-mh pack. The battery pack was not straight off the charger but not heavily used either, so it was discharging about what you should expect most of the time.
This was using a 2/3A cell mini battery pack as well. I do not own any high quality large battery packs due to the fact that all of my guns excluding the SOC 16 use mini battery packs. Using a high quality 8.4v Sub-C pack one should expect about the performance of the mini 9.6v pack. Using a high quality 9.6v Sub-C pack should produce performance in the range of well over 22 RPS.
Accuracy & Range
Accuracy tests were done at 50 feet exactly, using only the iron sights and with the gun supported on a beanbag rest while sitting in a chair. They were done outside, but wind was very light and shouldn't have affected the tests too much. The bbs used were Airsoft Elite .25g and shot in groups of 5.
TEST 1: 3.0 inches
TEST 2: 3.25 inches
TEST 3: 2.8 inches
TEST 4: 3.2 inches
All the tests average out to just under 3.1 inch groupings. I took ZERO outliers, all shots were accounted for, and only the four tests above were done (I did not remove any "practice tests" or "bad tests").
As for range, skirmishing showed that the gun's effective range is within about 200 feet. Hitting anything beyond that range turns more into luck than the gun's performance or personal ability, but is definitely do-able.
The new G&G SOC 16 received its first combat test less than 3 days after I got it. It was a light skirmish of eight people total up at my grandfather's cabin here in Colorado, with lots of rocks and light cover to hide behind. Range and accuracy matters here more than anything else.
The G&G had more power and more range than any other gun there besides my other skirmish rifle, my highly upgraded Tokyo Marui AUG. After the hop-up was properly adjusted the bbs soared out to over 200 feet with ease with incredible accuracy and although I was forced to use an 8.4v mini battery pack the trigger response was still quite decent.
The G&G went though roughly 1,200-1,500 rounds that skirmish without a hitch or drop in battery performance, and got better as the day went on as the hop-up finally started to settle and the silicon oil I put on it started to come off.
After more than 5,000 rounds had been put through the rifle I decided to open the gun up to see if I could notice any premature wear. Everything in the gearbox looked the same as it had been the day I got it. There were no signs of wear on any of the gears or the pinion gear on the motor and the piston looked brand new. I am very confident that this gun will last me a very long time.
Overall I would say that G&G has really outdone themselves with their new line of guns. The SOC 16 offers not only fantastic externals but highly upgraded internals as well and all at a very reasonable price and is a great choice for both newbies looking for their first AEG and long time players as well.
And to sum up, I give you a pros/cons list.
Very solid externals
Racking the bolt is amazing
Working bolt catch
Comes with metal hop-up/tightbore stock
Stock gearbox pre-upgraded and very durable
Can take a huge battery
Very good stock performance
Wobbly selector switch
Heat shield just plain sucks
Numerous non-compatible parts in the gearbox
Bolt doesn't move all the way back
Hop-up system not as good as TM
Hope you enjoyed the review, I'm out.