Specna Arms SA-V21
The Specna Arms replicas exist on the market for a quite a while and they are one of the nowadays most popular AR15 replicas. Literally every airsofter called for his associations to “Specna” can tell something about them. One may say, that this is the Holy Grail for its price, and other one may say that it’s just another chinese m4 clone, that is not worth any further attention. In this review, I’ll tell you something about the externals, internals, overall quality of the SA-V21 and I’ll compare it to the I class model (the G&P 072 model), which I presume is the protoplast of the tested replica :).
The replica is sent in an elegant, black cardboard box with a white graphic that presents the manufacturer logo, QR code and the pictogram information about the Enter & Convert and SAEC systems (regardless of the purchased model – be aware!). The inside is filled with the gray sponge, that keeps inside tightly:
– the SA-V21 replica
– a hi-cap magazine
– a simple charger
– a 9,6V NiMh battery
– a pack of bb’s
– a cleaning rod
– a quite big bundle of SA stickers
– a poster with a beautiful lady ( 😉 ) and the Specna Arms product catalogue on the reverse side
– a Specna Arms keys sling
– the SA quality certificate with the muzzle velocity values in steps of 0,1fps, where usually everyone stick to the steps of 1fps
I’ll start with the first impressions, after taking the replica out from the box – it is really nice! I owned a Specna once, when their manufacture just have started and I can say, that the quality of made of their product went up.
The body of the replica is made of anodized aluminum, which is later powder coated with the black matte color. After the process on the lower receiver, the “Marine ENV.M-4” markings and the fire selector descriptions are laser engraved.
This particular replica is very tightly fitted – rock solid, I could say. There are no wobbles or any visible space between the upper and lower receivers.
The long keymod type handguard is also made out of aluminum and its quality doesn’t give any doubts. The keymod holes are cut properly and their edges are pretty smooth, which makes the handguard very comfortable for the shooter, even without any additional accessories – it is literally made for the well known and loved C-Clamp type of rifle grip.
The handguard is screwed to the upper receiver with the proper force (a lot of chinese replicas need all the nuts to be tightened before the actual use), which makes it usable without having any doubts about loosening the grip or any rotation of it. But nothing is ideal – there is a small gap between the upper receiver and the handguard itself, that measures about 0,5mm. There is also a small difference of height between the handguard and upper receiver, but it’s just the cosmetics – it doesn’t have any affect on the usage of the gun (but can drive some of the purists crazy).
The upper and lower receivers are connected with pins, that are secured with the hexagon screw.
The fire selector works like a charm – it needs a proper force to be moved and every change of mode is signalized with a characteristic click. To be honest, it’s not that obvious even in the 1st class replicas.
SA-V21 replica has the functional bolt catch button, which greatly increases the comfort of regulating the hop up.
The SA-V21 also has the dummy forward assist, that works like a button. There can be seen two stickers at the right side of the lower receiver.
One of it presents the Specna hologram with the unique replica number (same as the one from the certificate). Unfortunately, it’s location is pretty unfortunate (it’s placed exactly at the trigger pin), which makes its aesthetics worse – mine Was unglued a little, probably because of the service check-up.
The second sticker is the black QR code sticker with the serial number – it can be noticed easily, that it is pretty familiar to the currently used method in the military magazines for the identification of one’s guns. That’s a really nice feature of this replica.
The pistol grip is made in the pattern of the old HK416 pistol grip. It has the characteristic texture, which makes it comfortable for the user and offers a steady grip. Its polymer is thick and solid, but there can be a few flaws from the molding process noticed – especially in the lower part of the grip.
The Vltor type stock is properly fitted for the AR15 type replica – it has the delicate, obvious play, but it doesn’t affect the usage or annoy the user. The visor for the stock position number is cut messily – there are a lot of sharp plastic pieces and egdes, that should be sanded.
The flip up sights are made of metal and powder covered. They are the copy of the Troy Industries product – they even have the 2/3 of the protoplast markings. The sights have a smooth regulation and every change of their position is signalized with hearable click. The popped up sights can be diffracted with fingers, but thanks to the strong springs they go back to the zeroed position. For the enemies of aiming with the bb’s trajectory I have a good message – it is possible to zero the sights ideally for the point of hit (which isn’t that obvious in the airsoft world, a lot of replicas shoot pretty well, but completely different from their sights).
As I have mentioned before, the SA-V21 comes in the package with the hi-cap magazine. It is made from steel and powder covered in a gray color. The magazine sits in the magwell properly and doesn’t have any feeding issues, but it has a noticeable play between the surface of the lower receiver. Thanks to that, it falls of easily after pressing the magazine release button and doesn’t need a hand of shooter to pull it from the replica.
Specna Arms SA-V21 vs G&P AEG072 – side by side comparision
Thanks to Scharf, I’ve got my hand on the G&P 072 model, which is probably a model that “inspired” Specna to their SA-V21.
The front handguards have the equal lengths and the same characteristic cut for the flash hider. Talking about the quality of made, the G&P takes the podium – their keymod handguard has even smoother surface than Specna, also the painting seems to be a bit more aesthetic. The G&P also has additional MOTS markings.
Another difference can be spotted in the placement of screws that hold up the handguards. The G&P model also has one more screw than Specna.
Apart from the slight differences, both upper receivers are practically equal. The G&P has some additional markings.
You can spot way more differences between the lower receivers. They are present in: the marking (but be aware that both replicas doesn’t have anything familiar with the real steel markings), the presence of ambidextrous magazine release(G&P) and a more complicated edges (G&P). Specna has the one advantage – a working bolt-catch latch.
The pistol grips of both replicas are the same. The only discrepancy is between the fire selector markings – G&P 072 has pictograms, and Specna SA-V21 – standard SAFE SEMI AUTO descriptions. When it comes to the triggers – the one from G&P works much smoother and has shorter cycle than the Specna one, which makes G&P product better for quick shooting at the semi auto mode.
The buffer tubes are also different – in the G&P you can spot the QD sling mount hole. The stocks are not equal either – Specna has the Troy product copy.
The G&P has a custom made trigger guard, when the SA-V21 has the classic AR15 type one.
The SA replica has the stickers with serial number of the gun, when G&P doesn’t have any. There are also slight differences in the built of forward assist button. The G&P has additional “Skullfrog” symbol engraved.
Instead of the QR code, the G&P has MOTS markings engravered.
The accessories compatibility
The SA-V21 is practically covered with RIS for the whole length, which allows the user to mount a lot of useful accessories. What is important, the QD mounts work properly with this replica – you can use a lot of optics mounted that way without any worries for not “holding the zero”.
The sling QD mount holes are made properly and doesn’t give any doubts of keeping our replica safe on the sling.
The SA-V21 magwell is compatible with the most of aftermarket magazines. In case of PTS PMAGs – they fit very tight and they don’t fall of when the magazine release is pressed. It is also better to tap the magazine in replica to be sure that it sits well. When it comes to other manufacturers like A&K, BOYI, G&P, CYMA or obviously – Specna, everything fits correctly and feeds the bb’s.
Hop up chamber with barrel
The hop up chamber is made of the zinc alloy pot. The barrel sits inside properly and doesn’t rotate, nor pop out of the chamber. It is also secured with the loctite.
The hop up rubber is made clearly better than in the “old gen” Specnas. It is quite soft and elastic, for a stock part. The strange adjusting spot inside the bucking from the old gen was replaced with something more standard. It is not obviously the level of the Systema Energy, but it’s quite easy to notice that Specna doesn’t stand in one place with their quality standards. Unfortunately, the inside of the bucking is a little dirty from some grease and needs to be cleaned. The bucking adjustment is quite soft and made properly. The hop up chamber has regulation that requires a good amount of force in order to change the adjustment level – it is not possible to loosen it during the shooting.
The barrel is a standard part, it is not the precise one. The finish of it looks quite strange, because of the scabrous surface at the end.
Typical for most of the chinese replicas model. It is not the neodymium model – you can rotate the gear very easy. The only difference between this particular model and the older one is the fact, that it has the magic sticker that says “M130”.
The heart of the SA is obviously a V2 type gearbox. In the new models, it’s shell is painted in black color (which unfortunately can be easily seen also inside the shell).
It is also quite easy to spot a lot of blue parts, instead of the white ones. When it comes to the wiring – well, they’re thin and not really elastic, so I would recommend to replace them with something better (but it’s the issue of almost every existing replica in the world).
The gearbox shell is reinforced in the weakest parts.
What makes the SA replicas special on the market is the Enter&Convert system, which makes the spring change process quicker and easier to do (you don’t need to open the gearbox).
The bearings are steel ball 8mm – it is a quite nice feature of the replica. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to rate their durability, because it requires a great amount of time and bb’s.
After opening the gearbox you can be quite surprised, because the inside of it is literally dry. The gears doesn’t have any grease on them, you can only spot a little of silicone grease on the piston teeth. As I have mentioned before – it is really blue in there. In my opinion, only the color of parts have changed, not their quality, expect from the tappet plate which appears to be reinforced in comparison to the old gen part (I’ve managed to broke this part in my old Specna while opening the gearbox!).
It is polymer made and has one steel tooth. It is worth to mention that the piston head is poorly made with a lot of sharp edges – I had the same issue with my old Specna and it destroyed 3 piston head o-rings before I’ve discovered the genesis of this problem. It also scratches the surface of cylinder. I would recommend to replace the piston head or to sand its surface with the fine-grained emery paper – it will definitely extend the lifetime of the replica.
Spring and spring guide
The spring guide is made of steel and doesn’t have any additional bushing (but you can buy the one with bushings separately and replace it). Unfortunately, it’s not the non-liner spring, so I would recommend to replace it with the Guarder SP120, in order to improve the whole mechanism culture of work.
Cylinder and cylinder head
The Specna Arms product has the brass type 2 cylinder, which is properly matched to length of the replica barrel. The internal surface of it is a little scratchy and should be polished. The cylinder head is made of the thick, blue polymer. The o-ring on it guarantees the “syringe effect” between the piston head and the cylinder head.
It is made of the blue, reinforced polymer. It works properly.
It is also polymer made. It has two cons: there is no inside sealing and it has a lot of outside sharp edges, which can cause the hop up rubber to wear off faster. It is also covered with some grease inside. Because of the lack of sealing, the nozzle looses a lot of air – we don’t have the “syringe effect” anymore. I recommend to replace this part with the SHS nozzle.
These are the standard 18:1 type gears, made of steel. There is a lack of any grease on them – I would recommend to use the teflon grease on them. There are also no bushings on the gears – only the motor gear has one bushing, which is obviously not enough. I totally recommend you to do a proper bushing by yourself or to give the replica to someone who knows how to do this professionally – the Specna doesn’t sound good, because of the lack of bushings.
Overall performance and my experiences
To test the replica I’ve decided to use it on the provisory dynamic shooting track. Completing it can check things like the accuracy of the replica, the trigger response and its overall work (but obviously not in the way like the real firearm ;)), or the efficiency of the stock iron sights.
The results were satisfying – on the short and medium range it was easy to hit the point of aiming at the human torso sized targets. Despite the good amount of shots, the hop up chamber kept its position. All bb’s were fed perfectly, there were no malfunctions. The Specna trigger is quite hard – after a lot of shooting in the single fire mode I could feel the tiredness of my index finger. The trigger response on the 7,4V LiPo is also not that satisfying as it could be (but it’s better on the 11,1). After a while, I was also a little annoyed by the low culture of work of the gearbox (the sound was quite scretchy).
The maximum effective range equals about 40-45 meters. From that distance I was able to sporadically hit the Jim Beam bottle sized target in the single fire mode, so the human-sized target would be any problem for the Specna at that range.
After all the test of this replica, I can say that Specna Arms listens to their users and slowly attempt to improve the overall quality of their products. Taking into the account the fact, that it’s a II class chinese replica, it is very nicely made. The externals, besides the gap between upper receiver and the handguard and a few sharp edges are pretty good. The internals are well… a little worse. I recommend you to replace the air nozzle, shim the gears properly, replace/sand the piston head and polish the inside of cylinder. After this your Specna should be working properly for a long period of time ;).
The thing I really like about this particular replica is its weight – you can operate with it for a long without feeling any tiredness in your hands, especially in the more dynamic situations. When it comes to the performance – for the stock replica it is okay. In my airsoft career I have shot from worse performing I class replicas ;). Because of the reasonably good price (especially during the frequent discounts) I recommend SA-V21 to people fresh in the airsoft, who want to have the holy, capitalistic, famous M4, but be aware that it will need a few corrections and adjustments (but not really pricy ones) before use.
+ a very good fitting of the external parts
+ the price/quality ratio
+ a lot of free accessories in the box
+ great bolt catch design
+ magazine compatibility
– needs some adjustments straight from the box
– poor quality wiring