Date product posted
Tue June 26, 2012
Echo 1 CSR (SVD) AEG review by Booligan
Discuss this review HERE
Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
Echo 1 has long made a variety of AK type rifles since their beginning, but the SVD has been a model that we haven't seen from them before. Happily, they surprised everyone and snuck one out just a few weeks ago! Dubbed the Red Star CSR, this is basically a DMR or semi-auto sniper rifle ready to go out of the box. I haven't seen anything like this from Echo 1 before, and it kept surprising me as I dug deeper and deeper into it. Keep reading and maybe you'll be surprised as well!
I've prepared a quick video showing some of this gun's features and functions, which you can see here: http://youtu.be/vq1AzbOoiHM
I was sent a review sample of this gun directly through Echo 1's distributor, Jag Precision. It is slowly trickling its way into retail stores, with a price of around $260-$270 or so. What you get for that price is a 4 foot long, full metal, semi-automatic, 500 FPS DMR ready to compete on the field. It even comes with a warranty!
Basic Gun Information:
As mentioned before, the Echo 1 CSR is a full metal replica of the SVD, utilizing a Real Sword type gearbox, black polymer furniture, and a unique hop-up design. Coming from Echo 1, it comes equipped with a Madbull orange hop-up bucking for improved accuracy. The gearbox is a special design based on the Real Sword SVD unit that comes with four gears in order to fit the gearbox inside the receiver while utilizing a motor grip.
The CSR comes packaged in a huge cardboard box, as it comes fully assembled. Inside the box, everything is secured in high density black foam to keep it safe during shipping. When I pulled it out of the box, I was really surprised with how easily you could point and shoot the gun even though it had a massively long barrel. It's fairly well balanced, which surprised the hell out of me.
Along with the gun itself, Echo 1 included two hi-cap magazines, an 8.4v battery that surprisingly can actually be used with this gun, and a trickle charger. There was no manual included with the gun, but it's pretty damn easy to use without one. The battery is a simple unmarked 8.4v 1200 mAh unit that will actually pull back the huge spring that gives this thing its 500 FPS rating. A better battery will give you better trigger response, but the stock battery is absolutely skirmishable.
Weight: 7.8 lbs
Sight Radius: 23.25"
LOP: 12.25" (Very short)
The CSR is a massive, matte black, all metal rifle that has some very nice external features. The finish on the metal components is quite nice, however, my polymer components had a few scuffs. It gives me an excuse to track down some real wood furniture though! The paint finish on the metal is fairly sturdy, however I did get some scratches on the mount from mounting my side scope rail.
From this point on, click on the thumbnails to view full size photos
Overview, right side
Overview, left side
The stock is a fixed thumbhole design with a really short length of pull, something indicative of Warsaw Pact weaponry. The stock has a removable cheek rest that makes it easy to use with an optic, but damn near impossible to use with the iron sights.
The grip is fairly short but is still pretty damn comfortable. The thumbhole design of the grip puts your finger in a perfect position on the trigger, but users with small hands may find it a bit uncomfortable.
The controls are fairly basic, only really consisting of a trigger, safety lever, magazine release, and locking lever for the top cover. The trigger pull is short and sweet, better than most AEGs I've used in the past. The trigger guard is large and accommodating for shooters wearing gloves. The safety lever is stiff and pretty far forward, making it trick to operate without taking your hand off of the grip.
Top cover locking lever
The receiver is metal and serves as the backbone for the whole gun. It houses all of the controls, as well as housing the faux bolt and the side mount for an optic. The bolt can be pulled back exposing the hop-up adjuster, and released giving you a satisfying metallic thwack.
Receiver, right side
Receiver, left side
The top cover is secured by a locking lever located on the right side of the receiver. Rotating this lever clockwise allows you to pull off the top cover to access the top of the gearbox as well as the hop-up unit. When locked in place, it's absolutely rock solid with no wobble.
Top cover removed
Moving forward from the receiver, you'll hit the long, narrow handguard which serves as the battery compartment. You're limited to stick type batteries, and small ones at that, only 8.4v from what I can tell. You can fit a stick type LiPo in there if you feel you need more juice. The handguard itself is quite comfortable to hold, and allows you to do a thumb break hold, but only if you're using an optic.
Handguard locking lever
A lot of this gun's length comes from its outer barrel which is 27” long, much longer than even an M16 or most other sniper rifles. The barrel, surprisingly given its long length, has zero wobble, due to its secure mounting system in the receiver. The faux gas block can be rotated making you feel uber 1337, even though it does nothing. The barrel is terminated in a one piece front sight assembly with fixed flashhider. An orange plastic ring is secured to the flashhider using glue and a pin. There is no threading to attach accessories.
Aiming this replica can be accomplished using the adjustable AK type iron sights, however you can't see them at all if you're using the cheek rest. A rail on the left side of the receiver can be used with AK side mount optics, which I'd recommend especially given the power of this gun.
Echo 1 included Red Star trademarks on the right side of the receiver, and a molded in "Made in China" can be found right in front of the magwell on the bottom of the receiver.
The included magazines are full metal hi-caps holding about 220 rounds each, giving you plenty of BBs for use on the field. I believe the gun will use Real Sword spare magazines, and I'm willing to bet that Echo 1 will have spares available as well.
Performance after a 200 round break-in period, using Airsplat .20g BBs, shot through a Madbull Chronograph is as follows:
High FPS: 508.2 FPS
Low FPS: 501.3 FPS
Average FPS: 505.0 FPS
I was REALLY surprised to see both how high the FPS was, but mainly with how consistent it was. I never saw a shot dip below 500 FPS in the 20 rounds I put through it at the chrono station, which is really quite consistent.
Rate of fire is a bit moot, as the gun fires semi-automatic only, however, trigger response with the stock 8.4v battery wasn't half bad at all. With an 11.1v LiPo, it was very snappy, but not really a game changer to be honest.
Range and accuracy are the things that you should be concerned about, given that this gun is basically designed as a DMR out of the box. Unsurprisingly, the gun shoots far. Really far. 185' is EASILY attainable with Echo 1 .28g ammo, and after tweaking the hop-up (both hop-effect and side to side adjustment) I was able to hit a torso sized target at 195' from a bench rested position. My shooting conditions were pretty much perfect, so your mileage may vary, so to speak, but I think that it's quite easy to get 175-190' accurate shots in normal game use.
Inside this gun, you'll find the aforementioned Real Sword type gearbox that uses the special 4 gear firing system. It utilizes a short motor with incredibly strong magnets, indicating that it's a very high torque unit. Getting to the gearbox isn't too tricky, but does require a bit more effort than your normal AK model. I used a video that Brian over at Echo 1 produced to help me take this thing apart:
Once the gearbox is out of the gun, you'll see that it comes equipped with ball bearings for smooth firing, and you can see the metal ball bearing spring guide through a small hole in the shell. Follow the video above for additional directions on how to open it up.
Gearbox, right side
Left trigger assembly
Right trigger unit
One big thing to note, the motor is reverse wired due to the fourth gear in the gearbox. Plug the black wire into the red colored terminal on the motor.
Motor and wiring
Inside the gearbox, you'll find buckets of grease slathered on everything, which I'd strongly recommend cleaning out a bit and possibly regreasing it. Shimming is pretty good, and the steel gears are high quality. The piston is a nylon 19 tooth, half tooth unit which is designed to work with the infinite torque type gears. The gun is also equipped with a standard AEG length spring, so upgrades are a piece of cake. The air-seal with the ported piston head and nylon cylinder head is pretty good, but was improved with an X-ring on the piston head, giving me an extra 5 or so FPS, up to 510 consistently.
Gears and goop
Spring and spring guide
Loads of green grease
Funky cylinder head with plenty of reinforcing ribs
Air nozzle and tappet plate
The inner barrel is longer than anything I've ever used, 685mm or so. The hop-up unit is full metal, and has a unique top adjustment dial. One of the perks of this design is that it is secured to the outer barrel with two thumb screws. These thumb screws can actually be tweaked to adjust the vertical alignment of the hop-up unit, giving you the ability to really dial in accuracy on this thing.
Hop-up and barrel
Top adjustment dial
In all honesty, the only mod I would do to this is to source out a proper SVD optic and MAYBE some real wood furniture. Otherwise, the thing is pretty damn perfect as it sits.
Relatively affordable – Around $270 or so
Full metal construction
Surprisingly well balanced
Great performance – 500 FPS
Great build quality, no creaks or wobbles
Hop-up is adjustable for both hop-effect and for side to side centering
Shoots semi only, just like the real gun
Includes removable cheek rest
4 feet long, about 27" of that is the outer barrel
Only able to use short stick batteries
Safety switch is difficult to access
Short length of pull might be hard for long armed shooters to use
Just a few months ago, if you wanted an AEG SVD replica, you pretty much needed to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on the Real Sword or Classic Army models. Now, there are a few ACM models out there, including the Echo 1 CSR, which is built at the CYMA factory. For the money, you get a lot of gun, both literally and figuratively. You get a full metal replica with a well built gearbox, good weight balance, and really impressive performance. The icing on the cake is the warranty which will cover you for any manufacturer defects, and is handled through Echo 1's US based service department. This thing really is a ready to roll DMR out of the box, even using the included battery, and the spare mag means you won't need to spend an extra 20 or so bucks for a spare before you hit the field. Overall, I'm really pleased with how this gun turned out, and I continue to look forward to more new guns from Echo 1!
Many thanks again to Echo 1, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!