I wasn't able to get a good picture of the trades as they blend in and are almost invisible. They're located in the normal G36 spot -a square on the left side of the receiver right in front of the selector. The trades are mostly authentic and read
Kal. .223 Rem
Heackler & Kach GmhH'
Yes, you read that right. It says Hea
ckler and Ka
ch. I'm not really sure what to think of this. Again, trades are not something that bother me too much, and I'd rather something there than nothing, but for a company to license the trades and then screw them up seems a little careless. From what I've read this was a problem on the STAR SL8s as well.
The gun also features a metal serial number plate on both sides of the receiver. Not sure if it's unique or not. There is no bright orange 'H&K' on the stock, which I personally prefer. It looks good on the black SL9 body but I think it would be out of place on the grey.
The Ares SL8 comes with a 20-round shorty G36 mag. It clicks into the receiver well and feeds without issue. I have to say I'm rather impressed with the build quality of the magazine. It's very solid and has a matte finish -no shiny-ness of other black G36 magazines.
The only disadvantage to the magazine is that you still lose the standard 3 BB's, meaning you'll get 17 rounds out of this mag. Even in semi you blow through that pretty quick.
I tried a standard Classic Army 50-round G36 magazine as well. It clicks into place with no issue and feeds flawlessly (and honestly looks pretty bad-ass).
Ares mag vs. CA mag
Performance, Firing, and Internals
It was time to head down to the sex dungeon and test fire my new acquisition.
Ares recommends an 8.4v battery for this gun, and under normal circumstances I'm inclined to believe that would be sufficient. However.. Ares guns imported into Canada ship with a more powerful spring. According to the little Ares test tag on the trigger guard this SL8 is shooting above 430 FPS. I don't have a chronie handy unfortunately. My roommate offered to do the “squeal test” instead. Upon receipt of my confused look he said that's when he shoots me at close range and tells the velocity based on the volume of my girlish squeal. I said that was a great idea but I'd first have to judge the accuracy of his readings by seeing how close he was to estimating the velocity of my foot hoofing him in the ballsack. He didn't like that idea for some reason and we were unable to reach a compromise. Oh well. As such, I'm going to stick with the ~430 estimate, and the information on Canadian retailer websites seem to support this.
Frankly the spring is too damned powerful for this gun. Even on a 9.6v battery the gun cycled with a mechanical 'whir SNAP whir SNAP
' instead of the 'pop pop pop
' of a normal stock gun or a 'zip zip zip
' of a well tuned one. Trigger response is slow enough that its use as a semi-only marksman platform is degraded with this spring. It will be one of the first things I change. The vibration was actually so bad the selector switch kept moving and jamming the mechbox (since it's missing the bearing to lock it).
The SL8 requires a straight stick battery made of 2/3A cells. Sub-C cells will not fit, neither will a standard double-stick mini. I only had an 8.4v stick to test with, and while I suspect a 9.6v one will fit one would do well to remove some of the excess wire available. If you're familiar at all with getting a battery in the normal CA36 foregrip there will be no surprises here. Side note: The threads the outer barrel screw into are counter-clockwise, so righty-loosy lefty-tighty... like most suppressors.
I put up a fresh target at one end of my dunge, er, basement about 35' away from my firing point. Loaded the included mag, click it into place, and fired off 5 rounds. None of them even hit the BB catch.
50-some-odd rounds and 3 targets later I discover the gun shooting VERY low for the sights and finally get it adjusted better. I adjusted the sights as much as possible and it's still shooting about 2” low at 35'. With hop-up dialed in I suspect this would be acceptable for field use as the arc of the BB would pass above the sightline. If you put a scope on it it doesn't matter anyway.
Below is a picture of 5 braced shots in fairly quick succession (the two lower uncircled ones were for sighting). I haven't cleaned the barrel yet either -this is straight out of the box. BBs are Guarder 0.28g (which I think are crap). Overall I think that's a fair grouping for a stock gun.
Performance Update -10 December 2011
Swapped in a Modify S120 spring, and a much better Elite 9.6v, 1600 Mah stick battery.
Performance is MUCH improved. Trigger response is much faster and more in line with what I'd expect out of a stock gun running a 9.6v. Full auto is likewise improved. I'd have no issues gaming this gun now.
Performance Update -28 January 2012
Chronied the gun on a Xcortech x3200 Chronograph using 0.28 BB and a Modify S120 spring:
Average 359.2, Variance 4.7.
This works out to 425 FPS
on 0.2g BBs according to Arnie's BB calculator (energy of 1.67 Joules). Hopefully the spring settles down a bit because that's a little hot for an AEG.
On a 9.6v battery ROF was (in rounds-per-second):
Given the real G36 has an ROF of 12 RPS, and given that this is more of a DMR than an assault rifle, I think this is more than adequate.
I may swap the stock spring back in and update this with stock spring readings, though I've already thrown in a T/N barrel. Either way this is with an MS120 and the stock spring is harder than that.
I placed an order with Jugglez earlier this week for some parts to swap into the SL8. The SL8 is disassembled much like the G36, with the only difference being the removal of the bolt (using a hex key) above and behind the fire selector. Remove outer barrel and foregrip -> Remove magwell -> Remove stock bolt -> rotate stock out of upper receiver -> Remove screw in bottom of pistol grip -> set the fire selector to 'semi' and carefully work the mechbox out.
Here's a picture of the mechbox. There's a little window behind the bevel gear that lets you trip the AV latch before opening the mechbox. Cool feature, I wish more mechboxes had them. The motor is also shrink wrapped which helps keep the wires out of the way when reseating the mechbox in the grip.
Getting the mechbox open was a bit of a chore. The rail across the top DID NOT want to come off. It took a moderate amount of percussive persuasion to remove it. Not the way I like to do things but pliers weren't working -they were just warping the metal. The screws were firm but not over torqued.
The interior is pretty standard fare. 'XYT' gears that were not overly greased, a clear piston (with metal first tooth) with red single O-ring piston head. Shimming is acceptable -not 100% perfect, but not terrible either.
Note the trigger switch at the lower front of the mechbox. This mechbox features another sprung piece right between the trigger and the tappet plate that complicates getting the mechbox back together a bit.
I forget to get a bearing spring guide for it.. oh well, next time. I do not like the way the spring guide sits. Instead of having dedicated holes in the side of the mechbox it rests against the back of the mechbox (which is open). This allows an amount of vertical play of the spring guide when the mechbox is closed.
You do not actually have to open the mechbox to change springs. The spring guide can be removed from the back of the mechbox by inserting an appropriately sized hex key, pressing inward, and rotating the spring guide 90 degrees so it fits through the cutouts in the back of the mechbox.
Compression was likewise very, very good. Actually I was rather impressed in this regard.
Also discovered there is, in fact, no operating bolt catch on this gun.
The SL8 is based on the G36, so anything you can stick on the forward
part of a G36 should go on here. As I said the rail is a standard G36 rail so you can swap it out with your choice of G36 rails and optics, or mount your own optics to it with little difficulty. Since the foregrip is pre-threaded installing a rail under it would be a simple matter (I suspect that's what some of the spare hardware it came with is for).
Two notes I'd like to make for those who don't know as these questions are asked a lot about the SL8/9. First, the SL8 receiver and stock is different than the G36 receiver. You can NOT swap the stock on the SL8 for any other G36 stock, and the SL8 stock will NOT fit on a normal G36 receiver. Second, there is NOT room in the stock to install a battery. While the rear spacers are hollow, the back of the stock passes through them and is held into place by the hex-bolts in front of the spacers. You'd also be hard pressed to get anything in there ahead of them. Even if you could removing the battery would become a colossal pain in the ass.
Overall Pros and Cons
-Good, solid construction
-Decent stock groupings
-Now cheap enough to actually bother buying in Canada
-Magwell pin is spring, not threaded (if you've never owned a G36 you can't understand how awesome this is).
-Unique. Don't see a lot of SL8's on the field. Looks bad-ass with a G36 mag.
-With minor upgrades this will be a wicked DMR/counter-sniper platform
-Feeds fine with CA magazines
-Stock mechbox isn't perfect, but definitely good enough to game with just a spring swap.
-Spring is WAY too powerful
-At least on the one I have the selectors were loose and missing the bearing. Needs to be replaced in order to game (unless I tape the selector).
-Ares managed to fuckup the trades.
-Bolt catch doesn't function -Gun in fact has no operating bolt catch
-No room for a battery larger than a 9.6v mini stick.. limits upgrade potential.
Initially I'm very happy with this gun. Especially for the price. These used to be expensive as hell in Canada. I'd recommend this gun to anyone looking for a unique long gun using a standard v3 mechbox.
Using Kokanee's rating method, I rate this gun eight bullets out of ten