Airsoft Elite MP5A5 ver 3.5
Merritt "Whistler" Gold
Airsoft Elite, an Airsoft company in California, could be considered the only “manufacturer” of AEGs in the United States. Airsoft Elite imports ICS brand guns, upgrades them, and ships them back out to customers in the United States.
My Tokyo Marui SR16 was purchased from War Game Club in Hong Kong. The shipping for my gun, plus magazines and bbs, was about $80. Then, about a month after my gun arrived, I was slammed with a $40 customs fee. As you can imagine, I was quite shocked and upset. The Customs fee almost totally negated my reason for going to Hong Kong in the first place: saving money.
When I became an almost permanent Airsoft “medic” at my area of play, I noticed that I did much more running and crawling than I did shooting. Previous experience with the compact P90 has taught me that smaller weapons are easier to move with. Although the SR16 is not the largest rifle, all that extra weight, length, and range wasn’t doing me any good while in the “medic” role.
This is where Airsoft Elite and AirSplat come into play. When shopping for an AEG, I kept remembering that customs fee, and decided to only go over seas as a last option. I looked at AirSplat’s inventory, and was surprised to see that Airsoft Elite guns from AirSplat came with a 45-day warrantee, as well as metal body and tons of internal upgrades pre installed. These upgrades include a reinforced gearbox, motor heatsink, metal bushings, aluminum piston, 320 fps spring, and an upgraded spring bearing.
I then jumped onto Google, and looking for a review of the AE Version 3.5 MP5a5. Unfortunately, all I found was a year old review of the MP5a4. I got in touch with AirSplat, and they provided me with this AE MP5a5 to review.
First Impressions and Appearance
When the man in the big UPS truck visited my house, I was shaking with excitement. The package the man in Brown carried was much larger than I was expecting, and heavier than I had anticipated.
After cutting away the packing tape, I opened the box, and all that was visible was a sea of packing peanuts. I was somewhat surprised, due to the fact that my SR16 came all the way from CHINA without being entombed in protective foam. Under the peanuts was a nondescript brown box whose corner simply read “A5”.
Inside the box there was a 200 round high capacity magazine, a cleaning rod, a manual, and naturally, an Airsoft Elite MP5a5. The MP5 was attached to the box by zip ties around the stock arms and the front sight. With the exception of the narrow band of red at the edge of the flash hider, the gun looked incredibly realistic. The MP5’s metal receiver was cool to the touch, and felt very nice. The fire selector switch is very sharp, with red and white proclaiming the fire modes. The selector dial is on both sides of the receiver, complete with red and white markings. The ambidextrous fire selector means a great bonus for left-handed operators.
The manual is easy to read and understand, but not as thick as the Marui manuals. You get the very basics and a full diagram of the internals and how the gun is put together. Granted, most of the things missing from the ICS manual are common sense, but useful information on care and lubrication are also missing, as is a guide to field striping the MP5. The cleaning rod is the same as the Marui, but the barrel plug actually goes into the inner barrel, as opposed to just covering it. While the gun was not transported in a Styrofoam mold, AirSplat’s excellent packing insured the MP5’s safety during its trip.
When I picked up the high cap, there was a fairly loud rattle. Frankly, I do not like high caps. The winding and the rattle of the gears and bbs in the magazine are a real turn off for me. I plan on getting G&P MP5 mid capacity magazines in the near future, so for now, the high cap should work nicely. With the magazine loaded into the gun, I noticed that the MP5a5 has two magazine release mechanisms. One is a button on the right side of the receiver and looks exactly like the magazine release found on Armalite rifles. The second mechanism is a paddle that hangs down from the receiver, between the magazine and the trigger guard. Having two methods of magazine release guarantees that both right handed operators and southpaws can reload the MP5 with ease.
One thing I could not resist for long was performing the famous “H&K Slap”. The H&K slap is done by locking back the bolt and slapping the handle. This allows the handle to race foreword and produce a very satisfying metal ‘clank’. On the real-steel MP5’s, the “H&K Slap” is used to chamber a new round after loading a fresh magazine. Airsoft Elite has reinforced the cocking handle, allowing for the operator to perform the “H&K Slap”. I wouldn’t recommend constant use of the slap, as you still run the risk of breaking the handle.
The MP5a5’s sights consist of an open ring front sight and a rotating rear sight. The front sight is a stationary halo sight, consisting of a metal ring and a metal post to form the aim point. The rear sight is very different from Armalite series weapons, consisting of a trio of ‘peep’ sights, as well as a single ‘wide gap’ sight. When the operator twists the cylinder, the sight moves up and down, stopping at each hole for a lineup with the front sight. The three small peep sights are for precision shooting, while the wide gap sight is used for quicker target acquisition or low-light targeting.
The stock is, like the rest of the MP5a5, metal. The arms that connect with the receiver have a very slight wobble, but there is no problem when planted in your shoulder. On the rear of the receiver is a metal tab, that when pushed to the right, allows the stock to move. With the stock extended, the MP5a5 has a length of twenty-six inches, but when you pull the stock into the receiver, the gun shrinks to a length of nineteen inches. With the stock retracted, you can’t shoulder the weapon and use the sights. However, the operator can still fire the MP5 and use the bbs being fired as tracers for shot adjustment. For me, the MP5’s stock will only be retracted while running or crawling under fences, rather than during a firefight.
Overall, the MP5a5s appearance is stunning. The gun is almost entirely made up of metal, which is reflected in its weight and feel. The front and rear sights, the cocking handle, and the receiver are metal. The MP5’s only trademark is a caliber description, reading “Kal. 9mm x 19”. Best of all, this trademark was not puttied over or destroyed, leaving the receiver flawless. The red and white on the fire selector stands out quite nicely, and offers a lovely contrast between the selector and the receiver. The MP5 has lines and features that give it a very tactical look. In addition, the guns length can be dramatically cut to make movement easier.
After picking the MP5 up, I extended the stock and shouldered the weapon. My personal preference for holding the gun is the same as the way I hold my SR16: right hand on the grip and trigger, with the left hand on the magazine and magazine well. As I moved the gun into position, I noticed that there was a bit of noise coming from the magazine. The offender was the high cap, whose wheel was rattling. The magazine also had a bit of free room in the magazine well, but my grip prevented it from making any further sound. A strip of electrical tape inside the magazine well now prevents the magazine from rattling in the well.
Next, I thumbed the selector switch into automatic mode, and ran into a slight problem. I am 6’3, and have exceptionally large hands, but I was not expecting the selector switch to come down into the top of my hand. After a few minutes, the selector became more than annoying, so I tried putting my gloves on. Unfortunately, the improvement was slight, forcing me to readjust my hand. I have since learned how to hold the gun properly, but the selector switch prevents my grip from being as comfortable as other guns I have owned.
The MP5’s sights are very easy to adjust, and offer a nice tight gap for precision shooting. The three peep sights are of varying heights for easy range adjustment, with a fourth larger diameter gap sight quick target acquisition and low-light shooting. One thing I did notice: the MP5’s sights are very low to the receiver. While this is not a problem for players like myself who use tactical goggles, players who wear a full-face mask will have some difficulty aiming with the iron sights. Although I would recommend a red dot to anyone, a red dot on a high claw mount will be necessary for efficient targeting in a facemask.
I found the stock to be very comfortable, with the curve of the butt fitting perfectly into my shoulder. The textured butt didn’t slip on my Battle Dress Uniform (BDU for short), and I am not worried about the stock. The MP5’s grip is not textured, but my hand did not slip. The grip is nice and wide, and I found it to be very comfortable. The stock moves fairly easily, but only when you press on the tab. I experienced no movement when the stock was locked into position.
Without the battery, the gun is surprisingly well balanced and very stable. For operators with the traditional hand guard grip, the MP5 is very comfortable. The hand guard has a very fine textured feel, and is nice and wide for a solid grip. When the battery is placed in the hand guard, the MP5 is slightly front heavy, but still very comfortable to hold.
The MP5 has three sling hookups: one large bar hookup at the end of the receiver, a ring hookup on the magazine well, and another ring on the sight assembly. All the hookups are on the left side of the gun.
All right, enough talk, lets test this baby out! After loading and winding my high cap, I set up a cardboard box in my back yard. The box was filed with packing peanuts, so I was sure that the box would trap any rounds that went through the cardboard, as well as make it harder for the bbs to pass through the cardboard.
For this test, .2g TM bbs were used in conjunction with a 9.6V NiMH battery. Shoot-N-C targets were then applied to the box. These outstanding targets are made by Birchwood Casey, and can be purchased by most anyone at Wal-Mart. The targets are duel layer, so when a bb strikes the target, a florescent green halo appears around the impact point. The Shoot-N-C targets show just how accurate and effective the AE MP5a5 can be in the hands of a semi-skilled operator.
Let me tell you that this thing is an absolute monster, providing much more power than I expected. The MP5 really showed its stuff against a thick plastic planter, easily penetrating the synthetic wall. The AE simply ate up the box, having thrown 150 bbs at the targets. I was primarily aiming at the center column, but I still managed to spread the plastic pretty well. The box was riddled with holes. I would estimate that fifty percent of the rounds fully penetrated the box, while another forty five percent were deflected. The deflected shots left a very noticeable dent in the box. The final five percent of the rounds were wedged into the surface of the box, almost fully penetrating the cardboard structure.
Quite honestly, it’s hard to get a perfect idea of the MP5a5’s accuracy because I had no way of keeping it perfectly stable while shooting. To counteract the inevitable human error, I went to great pains to properly set my hop-up, in addition to correctly aligning my sights.
The first target was engaged in single fire mode at a range of fifty feet, firing thirty rounds at the target. I took about five seconds to reorient myself after each shot to get a good idea of the AE’s accuracy. With the exception of a few stray shots, mainly do wind gusts and unsteady hands, the MP5a5 was able to keep a two inch grouping! When you get the hop-up properly set, this gun will hit whatever you shoot at.
Keeping the MP5 in single fire mode, I pivoted and took aim at the second target, In the field, you will never get time to stop and aim in between shots during a firefight, so I adjusted my aim and fired forty shots in rapid succession (maximum stop time between shots was one second). The gun really does recoil, and it really did effect accuracy more than anything else. All of my shots (save three that were totally my fault) were inside the 14mm target.
The third target was engaged with bursts of fully automatic fire. As you can see, the entire target is saturated, with a handful of rounds hitting outside the target. The AE’s recoil wasn’t bad, but it did play a factor into the target accuracy. When firing on automatic, I was amazed at the rate of fire, even from a NiMH battery. I really believe that pinpoint automatic accuracy is not a factor with this gun. In fact, the minor spread added to the rate of fire gives a bit of a shotgun effect.
In my opinion, this AEG is one of the best I have ever shot. It is defiantly the most powerful ‘stock’ gun I have ever used. Technically, the Airsoft Elite MP5’s are not stock guns. They are ICS weapons that have been seriously upgraded. However, because I did not buy and install the upgrades myself, I consider this gun to be ‘upgraded stock’. A slightly contradicting name, perhaps? That may be so, but it perfectly describes my experience with the Airsoft Elite line of AEGs.
I can’t say enough good things about the Airsoft Elite MP5a5. My only gripes stem from my affinity for Armalite weapons, mainly because of how well those weapons fit my body shape. However, with a few simple grip and neck adjustments, almost any operator will feel comfortable with the MP5a5.
This is probably as close to a real MP5 as most of us are going to get. It’s practically all metal, and its dimensions are about as close as can be. No matter how devout one can be to a particular manufacturer or gun, there is no denying that the AE MP5a5 is an extremely attractive replica. From its rock solid stock to the perfectly colored fire selector, this AEG simply oozes out that tactical look and feel that we all love.
Not only does it look great, this gun’s performance is off the charts. I have never used a from the factory gun with so much power, or such perfectly upgraded internals. When she shoots, you feel the recoil; yes that’s right, recoil. If you run into a barrier that requires you to run, jump, climb, or crawl under, you can cut your gun in half, then bring the stock out in about two seconds. The guns versatility is simply amazing.
I think this gun is perfect for the ‘experienced novice’, another perfect, albeit semi contradictory team. This would be an excellent AEG for an operator who has used an AEG, or various airsoft weapons. If ICS had made a beefier manual, I would suggest this gun to anyone. An AE gun would also be right for anyone who participates in large scrimmages, but is reluctant to open their gearbox to make upgrades.
Overall, I feel that the Airsoft Elite MP5’s are THE guns to get if you want an MP5. I can think of no reason to get a plastic bodied, non upgraded Tokyo Marui from overseas when it is easier to get a fully upgraded, metal bodied MP5 here in the states. If you have interest in acquiring an AE weapon, I would suggest going to see the good folks at AirSplat. My experience with them has been most excellent; they always replied quickly to my many email, sent my gun out on time, and protected my gun with their excellent packaging.
So go check out what may prove to be the best AEG you ever buy. If you want a great looking wall hanger and backyard shooter, pick one up. If you need to be mobile during large-scale firefights, grab one. If you want something that can fill both roles (like myself), this gun will not disappoint, and it may even surpass your expectations.