Date product posted
Mon March 9, 2009
D-Boys SCAR-L Review
Discuss this review here
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Real Steel History
With the market flooded with Chinese clones and companies releasing new products what seems like every few days, it is becoming more and more difficult to decide between the multitude of models and brands on the market. However, the SCAR model had yet to be successfully cloned; the only models on the market consisted of a craptastic excuse for a gun made by JLS, and high end models made by Classic Army, STAR, and VFC. Enter D-Boys with the first properly manufactured SCAR clone, a replica of the Classic Army L-version in both black and tan.
After coming out of my 6-month airsofting slumber, I was amazed by how little things had changed. As I left the airsofting community, the market seemed to be moving at a thousand miles an hour. I was disappointed to return only to find a couple more JG clones and some metal-bodied AKs. But lurking on the pages of RSOV and Gunnerairsoft was something I had been waiting for: a cheap, well-made clone of the SCAR. D-Boys had a reputation for above average external quality but sketch internals (like the CA of Chinese clones); eh, I’d rip out the internals anyway. My previous experiences with D-Boys had been with a lot of their first-gen guns, including their original plastic-bodied M4 and their metal-bodied SOCOM. I had the pleasure of upgrading both, so I really wanted to see how D-Boys had upped their game.
REAL STEEL HISTORY
And so comes the part I’m sure nobody reads, but it’s just oh so easy to copy and paste from world.guns.ru…
The US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) issued a solicitation for the procurement of SOF Combat Assault Rifles (SCAR) on October 15th, 2003. This solicitation requested a new combat rifle, specially tailored for the current and proposed future needs of the US Special Forces, which are somewhat different from latest generic US Army requirements, which are being fulfilled by the newest Heckler-Koch XM8 assault rifle. The key difference in basic requirements between XM8 and SCAR is that, while XM8 is a single-caliber weapon system, tailored for 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition, the SCAR should be available in various different calibers. Initial SOF requirements included two basic versions of SCAR system - the SCAR Light (SCAR-L), available in 5.56mm NATO, and the SCAR heavy (SCAR-H), which should be initially available in significantly more powerful 7.62x51 NATO chambering, and should be easily adaptable in the field to other chamberings. These other chamberings initially include the well-spread 7.62x39 M43 ammunition of the Soviet / Russian origins, and probably some others (like the proposed 6.8x43 Remington SPC cartridge, especially developed for US Special Forces). The key idea of SCAR rifle system is that it will provide the Special Forces operators with wide variety of options, from short-barreled 5.56mm SCAR-L CQC variation, tailored for urban close combat, and up to long range 7.62x51 SCAR-H Sniper variant, as well as 7.62x39 SCAR-H, which will accept "battlefield pickup" AK-47/AKM magazines with 7.62 M43 ammunition, available during the operations behind the enemy lines. Both SCAR-L and SCAR-H shall be initially available in three versions, Standard (S), Close Quarters Combat (CQC) and Sniper Variant (SV; now it is dubbed Long Barrel - LB). All these variants, regardless the caliber and exact configuration, will provide the operator with the same controls layout, same handling and maintenance procedures, and same optional equipment, such as sights, scopes, and other current and future attachments.
Late in 2004 US SOCOM announced, that the winner for the initial SCAR contracts is the FN USA, an US-based subsidiary of the famous Belgian company Fabrique Nationale Herstal. prototype rifles were manufactured by FN Manufacturing Inc, US-based subsidiary to FN Herstal; This company will also handle series production of rifles. Starting mid-2005, first SCAR rifles went to end users in US Special Operation Forces. Since US SOCOM uses Navy-type "mark" designations, SCAR rifles were officially designated as 5.56mm Rifle Mark 16 (SCAR-L / Light) and 7.62mm Rifle Mark 17 (SCAR-H / Heavy). It is believed that Mk.16 and Mk.17 rifles will gradually replace most rifle systems now in service with US SOCOM forces, such as M4 carbines, M16 rifles, M14 rifles and Mk. 25 sniper rifles.
As it turned out, FN SCAR rifles are not based on any previous weapons but designed from the scratch. In all variants FN SCAR rifles feature gas operated, short stroke piston action with rotating bolt locking. Bolt system appears to be somewhat similar to that of FN Minimi / M249 SAW machine gun. This system apparently is less sensitive to fine sand, dust and any other fouling inside the receiver, than any system with M16-type multi-lug bolt and plunger-type ejector.
Receiver is made from two parts, upper and lower, connected with two cross-pins. Upper part is made from extruded aluminium, lower part is made from polymer. SCAR-L and SCAR-H use similar upper receivers that differ only in the size of ejection port. Other different parts include caliber-specific bolt, barrel, and lower receiver with integral magazine housing. Parts commonality between SCAR-L and SCAR-H is astonishing 90%. Barrels are quick-detachable, and held in the upper receiver with two cross-bolts. Barrel change procedure requires minimum amount of tools, takes just several minutes and there is no need to adjust the headspace after the change.
The trigger unit with ambidextrous safety-fire mode selector switch allows for single shots and full automatic fire, with no provisions for limited-length bursts mode. The charging handle could be easily installed on either side of the weapon, so the upper receiver has respective cuts on both sides. Top of the upper receiver is covered by the full-length integral Picatinny rail (MIL-STD 1913); additional Picatinny rails are mounted on both sides and under the free-floating handguards. Side-folding polymer buttstock is adjustable for length of pull, and is shaped to provide positive cheek rest with adjustable cheek support. SCAR rifles are fitted with removable, adjustable iron sights, with folding diopter-type rear sight on the receiver rail, and folding front sight on the gas block. Any additional type of sighting equipment, necessary for current tasks, including telescope and night sights, can be installed using MIL-STD 1913 compatible mounts.
Mk.16 SCAR-L rifle will use improved M16-type magazines, made of steel; Mk.17 SCAR-H will use proprietary 20-round magazines in 7.62x51 NATO chambering, or standard AK-type magazines in proposed 7.62x39 M43 chambering. Current prototypes of SCAR rifles do not have bayonet mounts, and, probably, will never have one.
I purchased this gun from RSOV.com on the 14th of June for a grand total of $185.83 (shipping from China is no good… the gun should retail in the $150-range once it hits the States). Nine days later on the 23rd, the gun arrived, a day after my girlfriend left. Not bad for shipping from China. The gun came in its original box with the lid flipped inside out to reveal only brown, and attached came a multitude of papers from shipping and customs. Once I flipped the box lid back to its proper state I began snapping shots.
D-Boys sure is doing a good job with their box art
What you get when you open the box. I was apparently supposed to get some 6mm bbs and tools…liars.
And finally all the crap in the box. First thoughts: looks pretty damn good for a clone. Unfortunately, everything in the box was covered in little bits of the Styrofoam casing, and annoyingly made their way into the mag well, hop-up unit, and even the gearbox! After a quick vacuum, I got to all the fun accessories.
Included with the D-Boys SCAR are the following fun little toys:
-300-round hi-cap magazine
-1100 mAh ni-mh battery
-Charger (output of 450 mAh)
The battery, which surprisingly doesn't perform all that bad. Charged to its 1100 mAh capacity nicely and is currently outputting 9.6v after limited use. Amperage isn't the best, which is why (as you will see later) it doesn't perform as well as aftermarket packs, but it is a perfectly usable stock battery and is at least as good as the Shuang Ba batteries that are currently supplied with Jing Gong rifles.
Since the output of the trickle charger is 450 mAh, 1100/450 = 2.44 hours, or approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes for a full charge.
The barrel extender and forward grip. The extender is made out of aluminum and has 14mm negative threads, and the grip is made out of a nylon fiber.
When I finally picked the gun up, I was surprised by the feel of it: it was a bit lighter than I expected, and it felt like a high end gun. The quality of the plastic and the finish on the aluminum upper receiver were amazing, and I felt like this was something that could have been released by Classic Army or Tokyo Marui. The thing felt rock solid in my hands and looked gorgeous, but I had to put away my loving first thoughts and start looking for the inevitable flaws that come with all airsoft guns.
As you can see, the gun is essentially both a standard and CQC SCAR-L, although the stock barrel length is that of the CQC. Four colors are used on the gun: the basic tan used for most of the lower receiver and stock, gold for the upper anodized aluminum receiver, a yellow-tan used for the grip and magazine, and black for various bits and pieces. Something interesting about the upper receiver is the finish, which strangely changes color in different lights and angles. One moment it will look amost tan, the next bronze, and even black at times!
The stock has four different positions accessed by pushing the big black button on the side of the stock: all the way in, and 1 through 3. The entire assembly is made out of a very tough nylon-fiber material that is more pleasing to the touch than ABS, with the only metal parts being the huge position-holding bar running throughout the lower stock and the connection to the receiver.
The cheekpad can be adjusted one notch higher than normal and also opens completely to reveal the battery housing.
Here you can see the stock battery installed with the stock fully extended. As you can see, there is plenty extra space for more cells: a 9.6v mini is most certainly possible with the stock extended one or two positions, as is possibly a 10.8v with the stock fully extended and some slight modification with the wiring. Just to note that anything larger than an 8.4v battery will require some disassembly of the stock to fit (9.6v nun-chuck packs and some other custom packs with loose cells will fit just fine, but the solid 9.6v pack is just too large to slip in).
This is one of the most unique and best features of the SCAR: not only does the stock telescope, but also folds to the right. The entire mechanism, both folding and telescoping, is rock solid, and makes the gun very pleasing to shoulder.
However, since this is a clone of the Classic Army SCAR and not the VFC, there is the problem of the wiring being pinched if one doesn’t carefully tuck the wiring back before slamming the stock back into its fully extended position. There have also been reports of the plastic slot where the stock catches breaking off. Because of this, I am treating the stock delicately.
EDIT: First skirmish I took the gun to, look what happened:
Fortunately the piece that contains the slot for the stock to lock into is only a skinny piece of plastic and replacements are currently available on Gunnerairsoft.com and RSOV.com for $4 a pop (+$16 shipping...). Being the cheap bastard that I am, I created my own fix that works but unfortunately does not allow the stock to fold. All it required was the drilling of a hole and a screw. I'll pick up a replacement one eventually.
A view of the receiver; metal parts include the entire upper receiver, ambidextrous mag catch and selector switches, non-functional bolt catch, trigger, and receiver pins, all of which are pot metal. The mag catch can be activated by either a button on the right side of the gun, or by pressing the end of the catch on the left side. The selector switches click very nicely into their safe, semi, and auto stages.
Here’s something new: un-altered and accurate trademarks on a Chinese gun! They are the same as on the Classic Army version, with the exception being the upper trades which read FN Herstal Belgium and a production number instead of "Classic Army".
The metal rear sight flips up and down for compatibility with any aftermarket optics. It is a peep-hole type, similar to that of an M16 or M4, and has adjustments for windage and elevation without the use of tools.
On top of the receiver runs an aluminum 20mm rail numbered from 1 to 39, and allows the attachment of basically any optic out there.
The grip is a standard M4-type and is made out of the same material as the lower receiver. Here you can see the D-Boys' main external flaw: visible seam lines and molding marks.
On the bottom of the grip is a vented motor plate with a huge motor adjustment screw that puts the traditional small-metal-plate + tiny hex screw to shame.
The left side of the receiver, where the ejection port and hop-up adjustment reside.
Pulling back the bolt reveals the plastic hop-up unit and part of the black gearbox. The entire mechanism pulls surprisingly far back and makes a very satisfying metal-on-metal thwack when released. Note that the charging handle can be unscrewed and moved to the left side of the gun, part of SCAR’s goal in being completely ambidextrous.
Metal 20mm rails are located on both the right and left side of the front of the gun, as well as underneath, allowing for the attachment of whatever accessories you have laying around.
And finally we come to the very front of the rifle, which is of all metal construction. The threads, as I have mentioned previously, are 14mm negative for the flash hider (which is bird cage and not the proper SCAR one…), allowing most aftermarket barrel extension pieces.
The front sight flips up and down with the push of a button and has just a little post to line up with the rear sight. (my little button fell out during the first skirmish, which had essentially no negative effect on the gun)
The hi-cap magazine holds 300 rounds and feeds well. D-Boys decided to inscribe their name and logo on the bottom. The stock mag feeds flawlessly, but I found my little brother's M733 mag to be a bit difficult to insert (although it fed perfectly), and found the only JG hi-cap I own to be nearly impossible to get fully latched in. The problem lies in the design of the spring-loaded bb stopper at the top of the mags (that fit into the hop-up chamber). The ones on normal M4 mags have a flat spot exposed before angeling down, whereas the D-Boys does not. To fix the problem, I just filed down the flat spot to create one large angle and the mag fed as it should.
Top to bottom: D-Boys, TM, JG. The original flat spot on the JG was even larger than the TM, but after filing the mag fits into the gun as it should.
After reviewing the external pieces, I was intrigued with the upper receiver and how it was assembled and decided to take it down as far as I felt comfortable. What I found was pretty amazing.
This is what the upper receiver essentially breaks down into. Everything is metal (pot metal, perhaps, but still metal) and requires the removal of only 4 hex screws and the charging handle to get to this point. I also had a chance to inspect the entire one-piece upper aluminum shell that had previously been labeled "thin". I can say that this is certainly not the case; it is thick and rock solid.
So that’s it for the externals. They are by far the best I have seen in a Chinese clone, both in the quality of the materials used and how they were assembled (they blow Jing Gong out of the water). Certain things such as the anodized aluminum give the gun the feel and appearance of something twice the price. There were a couple of flaws, mainly with mold marks and seam lines that bring the appearance back a notch or two, but the overall package is an astounding bargain. I have never found an ACM that I enjoyed holding more than this.
Now for my favorite part: tearing into the gearbox of a new, perfectly operational airsoft gun and unnecessarily upgrading it.
Basic takedown of the SCAR is a breeze and requires the removal of only a single pin and three hex screws.
STEP 1: Remove hex screws closest to the stock on both the left, right, and top of the gun. This will allow the stock and spring/rod for the charging handle to come free from the receiver.
STEP 2: Remove the forwardmost pin and slide the receivers apart (note that in the pic I removed another pin, the one by the selector switch; this is not necessary for this step, but will be needed to isolate the gearbox later).
Here is what you should end up with (with the exception of the pin). Simple, eh? From here you can inspect the gearbox and remove the hop-up unit and barrel.
Disassembly to the bare gearbox is a bit more difficult, but anyone who has ever taken apart your standard Armalite should be right at home. First, push out the two pins in the lower receiver; the one right of the selector switch, and the small one to the left and below it. Next, remove the grip by taking out the two screws holding the motor plate on, removing the motor, and taking out the two screws deep inside that attach the grip to the gearbox. However, there's a bit more; since the gun is ambidextrous, the selector switches get in the way of the gearbox, and there is a system of prying apart the plastic receiver and moving the selector switches that is explained in the manual.
Here is the bare gearbox. The 7mm plastic bushings are immediately visible. Just from the weight of the thing I could immediately tell it was reinforced.
And here are the guts. The gearbox was slightly over-lubed with a translucent brownish-green crap that I removed almost immediately, but was applied very evenly and stayed where it should (on the moving parts). Wiring is thin and a bit stiff, but if you don't have any crazy plans for the gearbox it should be good enough.
It's cool that the gearbox is black on the outside, but I'm not too sure how good it is that it's black on the inside too. The casting seems decent, but the whole "reinforced" crap doesn't really mean much. V2 gearboxes very rarely crack in the body of the gearbox, where this one is reinforced, but instead at the very front, where the cylinder head resides. But whatever, it looks cool.
All the compression parts together. Cylinder is ported correctly, unlike the original D-Boys M4s, which came with Type-0s. The cylidner head is black polycarbonate and seemed pretty good until I noticed that the rubber pad for the piston head was warped slightly, which took some work to get back into its proper position. Stock spring is equivilant to that of about an M110 but is surprisingly short and very stiff. Tappet plate is fairly standard and the air nozzle is clear but seals well (note that the air nozzle is unique to the SCAR).
D-Boys is using a new light-colored polycarb piston as opposed to their old black one. It looks fairly decent and should hold up for a while. The piston head is ported and the stock O-ring makes a very good seal with the cylinder.
Interesting how XYT gears have stuck around for so long, since the second versions of the UTG MP5 all the way to now. But the gears have evolved with the increasing quality of these clones as well, and the newest ones are all steel and look quite durable. Although the gears themselves are tough, I question how long they would have lasted with the stock shim job, which was complete and utter crap. At least Jing Gong shims their gears to almost what they should be; D-Boys decided that almost .7mm of slack on both the spur and bevel gears would be fine. This is some of the worst shimming I've seen since the very beginning of ACMs, although they at least used .2, .3, and .5mm shims. I tightened up the shimming, which required more .5mm shims than I think I've ever used in a gearbox (point being that you need a lot of shims to get this thing running smooth) and the XYT gearset can now run like it should.
I would also like to mention that the anti-reversal latch is of XYT origin as well, and comes with an infuriatingly stiff spring that makes closing the gearbox a considerable pain. If you don't like up the reinforced parts of the shells perfectly right, the latch tends to abandon its little hole and make its way to the top of the spur gear. At least everything else stays in place.
And finally we come to the spring guide. D-Boys is genious in this respect: instead of spending a bunch of cash on a ball bearing version, they just decided to place two slick washers on top of each other. And it works. Go figure. I was going to swap it out for a Systema, but figured it was good enough. The base is metal and the actual shaft is plastic.
Here is the hop-up unit disassembled. The D-Boys' is plastic instead of metal like the CA but is the same design (kind of a hybrid between an AUG and an M4 hop-up). It does its job and is very well constructed, but I did find wobble between the barrel and hop-up unit at the junction between the brass ring and the unit (the ring needs to be slightly thicker). A rubber O-ring creates friction between the dial and the rest of the unit, making it harder to adjust than most, but at least whatever setting you choose will stay put. The stock hop-up rubber is good but not great, like every other Chinese rubber, and very stiff. Stock barrel length is 274mm +/- a couple mm, constructed of brass, and is your standard 6.08mm in diameter, but has a slightly wider cut-out for the hop-up rubber that causes a few compatibility issues. The VFC version comes with different barrels for both the CQC and standard length, but you're stuck with the CQC length for the D-Boys unless you purchase aftermarket.
I tried multiple different barrel, hop-up rubber, and bucking combinations in the SCAR, and came to a couple of conclusions. First, Firefly soft hop-up rubbers tend to double-feed about once every ten shots on both the stock barrel and a stock TM G36C barrel. Second, BO H-nubs are slightly too fat to fit into the hop-up without modification. Third, Systema rubbers work very well with the stock barrel, although they need a thinner bucking or they over-hop even on the lowest setting and don't give much improvement over the stock rubber at the stock FPS. Finally, the hop-up assembly is a bit tighter than most, meaning that barrels with a wide outer diameter may not fit properly (and Guarder clear rubbers are out of the question). I highly suggest buying thinner barrels, such as Mad Bull, if you plan to upgrade the barrel assembly.
So what's the verdict? I like the new Jing Gong internals more. Sure the 7mm gearbox is good for upgrades, but that's where the D-Boys' advantage ends. Both have steel gears, both have decent spring guides, but the compression parts, shimming, and motor from Jing Gong are all superior. I don't feel like one could skirmish a stock D-Boys rifle with the same reliability you can find with CYMA and JG nowadays. Not to say that the gearbox is bad; on the contrary, it has a lot of potential, especially with a little bit of tinkering. But D-Boys seems to be stuck in last year while the competition is adding things like metal bushings and tightbore barrels, and I don't feel like the internals are up to par with other ACMs in its price range.
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: 360.2 FPS
HIGH: 365.4 FPS
LOW: 355.9 FPS
STANDARD DEVIATION: 3.00
This isn't too bad from D-Boys: at least one Chinese company has some sanity when Jing Gong and CYMA seem to want their weapons to be used to hunt small game as well as play airsoft. Just a note that some shots reached as high as 370 while I was messing around, but none came up while doing the 10-shot test. The standard deviation is a bit high, but this can probably be solved by some tighter seals in the compression parts of the gearbox and possibly a more consistent hop-up rubber.
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.
I decided to use three different battery packs in this test: the stock D-Boys 1100 mAh ni-mh pack, an Elite 8.4v 1500 mAh ni-mh pack, and an Elite 9.6v 1500 mAh pack. All three batteries were charged on the same day and let to rest for a day, so they were near peak charge when used.
STOCK D-BOYS: 12.5 RPS
8.4v ELITE: 14.5 RPS
9.6v ELITE: 17 RPS
Decent results for a gun shooting 360 FPS and a Chinese motor. Their motor is Chaoli or something like that, which I have most definitely seen in a couple of other ACMs I've worked on (CYMA and the older JG models I believe). It has good torque, but auto fire sounds strained and is fairly whiney. I prefer the new JG motors. Once I swapped the spring for a stock TM the RoF shot up to around 18 RPS but has a distinct whine in full auto that the Marui lacks.
Accuracy and Range
Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to perform any legitimate accuracy tests before my desire to rip into the internals and mess around took hold of me, but I can comment from my experiences in shooting the SCAR in its stock form.
In regards to accuracy, the SCAR falls into the category of "average". I didn't expect anything amazing from a stock Chinese hop-up rubber and 6.08mm CQC-length barrel. The initial shots were wild; one would go right where I pointed, the other would take a dive bomb after 60 feet, and another would curve left or right sporadically. After cleaning out the barrel of any gunk and soaking the hop-up rubber in hot soapy water, performance increased dramatically. Shots would generally tend to go where I aimed, although some tended to curve left or right a bit, and others would drop sooner than I expected, but hitting a man-sized target at 100 feet consistenly was no problem.
Effective range I would say to be 120 feet, and max range around 150 feet. 360 FPS is nothing to scoff at, and that kind of power sent the bbs flying out quite a ways, although not always accurately. Hitting anything beyond 120 feet or so I deemed to be more luck than skill, although the bbs would keep going. The hop-up rubber performs about the same as a Jing Gong, with less right-to-left flyers but far less consistent up-and-down (maybe it just has to be broken in more). A replacement hop-up rubber would do wonders for this gun, and although it may be shooting a bit hot for Systema to be all that great, Prometheus or a hard-type Firefly would be fantastic.
I chose not to re-haul the internals of this gun and instead use a low powered Marui spring on re-tuned stock internals and replace the hop-up rubber with a Systema I had laying around, as I'm saving my Fireflys for something special. All you FPS noobs pay attention: shooting only 280 FPS with new hop-up rubber, the gun still has an effective range of 120 feet easy and superior accuracy.
Externally, the gun is very durable and should be able to handle the abuse most high-end guns can take, minus the weak stock perhaps. However, I cannot say the same about the internal durability; the stock shimming was horrid, and although the internal components were well made, I'm not sure how long the gears would have lasted being so loose side-to-side. The gun is still functioning after 2,000 rounds on the crappy shim job with no noticable internal damage, but just don't expect the gun to last as long as your friend's Marui. So far I have put approximatelty 5k rounds through the gearbox and everything seems to be working just fine.
I have officially been converted from Jing Gong to D-Boys when it comes to ACMs. The internal quality of D-Boys may be a bit sketchier, but for anyone who knows how to do basic maintenance on a gearbox, the external quality of the D-Boys is so vastly superior that the choice is obvious. With so many metal parts, including an incredibly nice anodized aluminum upper receiver, and nylon fiber for everything else, the D-Boys looks and feels $100 more than it costs. Finally, the airsofting world has a cheap SCAR that delievers the quality its price commands.
And to sum up, I give you a pros/cons list.
Anodized aluminum upper receiver
Many metal parts
Nylon fiber used instead of ABS
Folding and telescoping stock
Can be both CQC and standard length
Trademarks...on an ACM!
Lots of rails
"Reinforced" 7mm gearbox
Gearbox components of good quality
It's a SCAR...and therefore awesome
Seam lines and mold marks visible
Weak stock latch-slot
Wiring can be pinched by the stock
Limited to mini batteries
Magazine compatibility issues
Whiny, lower-performance motor (low RoF)
Getting the gearbox out of the lower receiver is a *****
Stock shimming is crap
Average accuracy and range
Not a SCAR-H
Hope you enjoyed the review