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Old April 7th, 2009, 00:08   #23
Marlowe's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Dartmouth, NS
P90 Review. Brutal and Blunt.

OK. I've always wanted a P90 as a fun gun (longtime Stargate fan), for CQB and I just plain love the design. When I saw that the new Classic Army CA90 would be available soon, I managed to get one from a Halifax seller who shall remain nameless. It ain't Bob The Angry Potato.

On Friday, my shiny new CA90 arrived in Halifax. Imagine my joy! I bought with confidence, having seen the quality of a friend's CA M14. Yes, I knew it was a Sportline, but I figured it would be at least decent quality.

Out of the box, it looks great. Crappy orange Armalite flash-hider stuck on the front, but a nice "real" P90 style one packed in the box. Sweet. The Orange 'hider was glued on, but I "persuaded" it to part company from the gun via a pair of pliers. The orange hider was damaged - like I cared - but the 14mm counter-clockwise threaded outer barrel was intact. Screwed on the nice black 'hider and sat back to admire my new toy while the battery charged up.

The entire gun body is plastic, except for the red-dot sight housing, the stubby little outer barrel and flash-hider and a few assorted small bits. I was hoping for more metal for my $$$, but it looks the part. The lower is better quality than the Echo 1. The upper, not so much.

I loaded the mag full of BB's, cranked it like crazy until it went "click!", slid it home and stood back to enjoy some BB slinging joy.

No joy.

No joy whatsoever. I can say, truly and without reservation that, right out of the box, the Classic Army CA90 is junk. For those of you who are thinking that I am being harsh, no, I'm sugarcoating it. If I typed that many four-letter words, the moderators would ban me.

At 35 feet I set the dot in the middle of a 9" x 12" target and pulled the trigger. The BB hit "something", bounced back and hit ME. WTF?
Time to try adjusting my aim...

I held the dot (more about that later) on the bottom left corner of the target and it hit near the upper right corner, over 1 foot high and 6 inches right. Turns out that when I was aiming at the center the BB's were hitting the wall beside the target box! OK, that's a bit more off than I expected out of the box...

I attempted to adjust the sight to compensate, but it was physically impossible to adjust the sight enough to hit any lower than 6-12 inches above the center of the target.


In a fit of stubbornness, and because I spent all that money, I have been doing mortal combat in an attempt to polish this turd.

Issues so far:

Magazine: Jammed every 10-20 rds. Spring would unwind spontaneously, had to take it out and rewind. Mag broke after less than 1 mag fired: the plastic post holding the ratchet spring snapped off. Rebuilt the broken magazine; it is a Frankenstein job, but it works better than before it broke. Still jams, but not nearly as often, doesn't unwind spontaneously. On the good side I can probably get 100 shots or more out of a single winding. How long will it last? Who the fuck knows...

Outer Barrel: What little outer barrel this thing has, wobbled. Yes, a gun with a 2" barrel had barrel wobble. The two halves of the receiver are not glued tightly together and do not trap the stub barrel tightly enough. I dismantled the upper receiver and packed the area around the stub barrel with JB Weld. This eliminated the barrel wobble. Glued the entire upper back together. Tightly.

Sight: Worse than useless. Fuzzy dot. Dirt inside the housing. On its lowest setting, the dot fully covered a 6-inch target at 35 feet. Cleaned the dirt out of the inside of the red-dot sight. Resoldered the power lead to the LED which snapped off while I was cleaning it out. Tried in vain to sharpen the blurry dot; it's more like a large fuzzy egg. Hacked about 2 mm off the bottom of the rear tab of the sight housing so it would depress low enough to get the dot close to the target. It was shooting approximately 1 foot high at 35 feet. Now it's only shooting 2-3" high with frequent random flyers up to 1 foot off target in any direction. The sight is insanely fussy: if you move your eye even slightly off dead center of the sight, you will have an aiming error of nearly a foot in some random direction.

Firing: Each time I pulled the trigger I never knew how many BB's would come out: 0?, 1?, 2?, more than 2??? Many multiple feeds. I did a bit of investigation and saw that the nozzle is staying in the retracted position at least 30% of the time, allowing multiple BB's into the chamber. That would be fine if the P90 was a fucking shotgun...

It's impossible to predict exactly where the BB's will strike on any shot. High? Low? Left? Right? This gun was designed for a carnival shooting gallery.

My frustration nearly got the better of me and the CA90 came very close to meeting a solid wall at significant veocity. Once I calmed down, I settled in to do some remedial repairs:

Totally dismantled the mechbox and reassembled it in the hope of stopping the nozzle from staying in the retracted position. Yes, I have done my first mechbox surgery; I figured I had nothing to lose because the fucking thing didn't work worth a fuck anyway. The gears looked to be decent quality (for the price) and it was shimmed reasonably well, to my inexperienced eye. The anti-reversal latch has four positions on the main gear. Plastic or nylon bushings. No excess lubrication. Piston is blue plastic with one metal tooth. Piston head and cylinder head are total crap. Very poor quality castings with minimal part cleanup before installation. I'm surprised they work at all.

I made sure to adjust the timing (can't hurt, right?) It may work *slightly* better than before, but not by much, the nozzle still does not always return forward.

Replaced the crappy coated aluminum barrel (nope, we don't even get brass for our $$$) with a stainless steel tightbore I had lying around and installed a new Guarder hop-up rubber and bucking.

Prior to further testing, I removed the guts of the red-dot sight (I kept the sight housing) and smashed them with a hammer to prevent me from EVER being foolish enough to try using them again. Trust me, the world is a better place for it and I felt SO much better afterwards. The iron sights were used from then on and the aiming consistency was MUCH improved, but the multiple feed problem was MUCH worse. I was talking with Bob The Angry Potato and his crew and they suggested checking the hop-up again. I took their advice and replaced the Guarder bucking with a smaller, softer one and the multiple feeds are only happening occasionally now and are probably due to the nozzle because the hop-up is definitely fully off.


Out of the box, the primary aiming system is useless, the shot pattern is random, the accuraccy is minimal and reliability is poor. But the CA90 will still *look* good while the other team caps your ass because you shot some trees, the mag jammed or the gun mis-fed. In order to make this thing even remotely usable, you will need to install a rail mount (there are several add-ons designed to replace the stock red-dot) so you can use a real red-dot sight and it will need a cylinder kit at the very least.

As a general comment on P90's, DO NOT buy a red-dot P90, get the TR because you can install a sight that you know will work for you.

All in all, the CA90 has been The Gun From Hell. Absolutely nothing worked properly out of the box. Save yourself the agony and get an Echo 1. The CA90 is not, I repeat, NOT worth the misery it will cause you and the extra money it WILL cost you. This was my bitter experience. Your mileage may vary...

CA90: ...Dissatisfaction guaranteed.
CA90: ...Don't get frustrated without it.
CA90: ...Even your dog won't like it.
CA90: ...Flaky and built to stay that way.
CA90: ...Flawed beyond belief.
CA90: ...Garbage at your fingertips.
CA90: ...It could be worse, but it'll take time.
CA90: ...It could happen to you.
CA90: ...Let it get in *your* way.
CA90: ...Live the nightmare.
CA90: ...More than enough rope.
CA90: ...Nobody is safe.
CA90: ...Putting new limits on performance.
CA90: ...The cutting edge of obsolescence.
CA90: ...The defacto substandard.
CA90: ...The joke that kills.
CA90: ...The problem for your problem.
CA90: ...There's got to be a better way.
CA90: ...Warn your friends about it.
CA90: ...You'd better sit down.
CA90: ...You'll envy the dead.
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