Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Airsoft Review: ICS MP5

ICS Electric MP5A63 (DYT-ICS-63)
The ICS MP5 has long been a pretty iconic gun in the airsoft community. It is an attractive gun for beginners with its reliable performance and metal body. Until some years ago it was one of the few choices for those who didn’t want to spend Classic Army or Tokyo Marui money but still wanted a high quality gun. Nowadays the Chinese companies have stepped up their quality and many of the guns from companies like CYMA and Jing Gong are quite reliable. Companies like Classic Army and G&G have also started making cheaper models of their guns for the entry level market. So, with all these new options, does the ICS MP5 still stack up?
ICS Electric MP5A2 (DYT-ICS-03)
ICS offers a wide variety of MP5 models. The main differences are in the lower receiver and the stock. The SD models are the same as their corresponding numbered model but include a silencer. So an MP5 SD5 will be the same as an MP5 A5 but have a silencer. The silencers don’t do anything, but they look really cool and down the road you can extend the barrel into the silencer for improved accuracy. Stock choice is personal preference and should be an easy choice to make. The only options are retractable and full. I prefer full stocks but it’s all about what feels best. Retractable stocks are more versatile as you get the option between a couple of different lengths.
Electric ICS MP515 (HT-ICS-15)
The final difference between models is in the lower receiver, of which there are two kinds. One option is the “SEF” receiver, named for the letters that designate different firing modes (in German). The other option is the “Navy” receiver. The Navy receiver is completely ambidextrous whereas the SEF receiver is only designed for use by right handed people. For this reason, lefties should probably choose the Navy receiver. Those who are right handed should take the SEF receiver, because the fire selector switch on the Navy receiver models is places slightly awkwardly and those with bigger hands will find it actually touches their hand while holding the gun, and this can be fairly annoying.
ICS Electric MP5A64 (DYT-ICS-64)
The externals are pretty excellent on the ICS MP5 range, and this is one of the big draws to the guns. The metal is fairly high quality, not top of the line but not pot metal by any means either. You don’t get any official trademarks although they are stamped with 9mmX19 instead of having the 6mm BB stamp. They come with metal clips as well that are excellent. The externals are hardy and things like the sling attachment points aren’t going to break off. I’ve known a ton of people with this gun and none of them have ever managed to break it. I did find one unfortunate soul who managed to break one in half at the front grip, so it is possible to break them and they aren’t indestructible. But other than this one person (who apparently fell directly on the gun with its barrel pointed down), I’ve never known anyone to break any external parts of this gun.

Performance is good and reliable on the ICS MP5 line. They tend to come badly shimmed from the factory but if this is taken care of and regular maintenance is performed then these will run for years. They shoot around 320FPS stock with .2g BBs and shoot pretty consistently – within 10 FPS. The gearbox and internal components are capable of withstanding stronger springs than the one they come with, anything up to an M110 spring should be no problem and it is easy to get these guns shooting over 400FPS simply by dropping a new spring in. Rate of fire is respectable although not blisteringly fast. Obviously this can be upgraded as well with larger batteries or by downgrading the spring. Inside the V2 gearbox is very standard, ICS doesn’t use funny gears or pistons or anything. The wiring is excellent and should hold up for a good long while.
Many of the new ICS MP5 models feature the ICS split gearbox. This is a new style gearbox that allows for the easy switching of springs. Say your gun shoots 450FPS and you want to play a field with a 350FPS limit, you can easily switch out the springs. As any experienced airsofter knows, switching a gearbox’s spring can be very annoying. It requires a screwdriver long and skinny enough to hold the spring in place and is really a big hassle. With the ICS split gearbox it can be accomplished easily in 10 minutes. It is also possible to just have two gearbox tops with different springs, and then switching can be accomplished in seconds. There are a few compatibility issues with the split gearbox and non-ICS parts. But they have proved reliable and are very useful.

Overall, the ICS MP5 line makes an excellent choice for beginners or experts. I personally think they are worth the extra $50 or so over the cheaper Chinese brands as they are made from good materials and known to be reliable. I think they are a better option than “Sportline” guns from the big companies as well, as these tend to have plastic bodies and sometimes even downgraded internals. Another great thing is that with so many new options for beginning players, ICS are kind of out of style right now. Used to be you would walk into an airsoft field and see ICS everywhere, sometimes including the field’s rental guns. Now they are a little bit rarer which means you won’t have the same gun as everyone else (everyone else will have an M16 variant anyway).

Head over to www.hobbytron.com to check out some of the ICS MP5 models currently in stock and we’ll see you on the field.

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