FIRST Factory Shadow AUG

FIRST
Factory Shadow AUG
by
Permian

Stock
Specifications
FPS
 
Length:  
Weight:  


Capacity:

330
rounds


Introduction
In early 2002 I decided I wanted a ShadowAUG, a custom built
AEG based on the Tokyo Marui (TM) Steyr AUG. This was after
I first saw pictures of both the Killer Studios CyberAUG and
Shadow AUG on the internet. Built by FIRST
Factory
in Japan it is essentials a standard AUG with the
folding grip and original outer barrel replaced with a silencer.
After checking out the ONLY other review on the internet of
the ShadowAUG it became clear to me that getting hold of one
would be expensive and difficult.

Airsoft
Dynamics
(AD),
Airsoft Retailer of the year 2001, started selling FIRST
Factory
customs in 2001. Ordered direct from Japan I was
told it would take 4-6 weeks to get to me, and cost £450
in stock form. The AD
website offers more clues on the ShadowAUG’s features, namely;

1.
An Integrated Suppressor
2. An Integrated RIS
3. Integrated Sound Deadening material
4. A Tuned Trigger
5. An AUG Hicap magazine

AD
claims that the ShadowAUG:

a)
Is barely audible at 5 meters
b) Is an impressive Sniping weapon

For
£450 you would hope it was more than a standard AEG with
a silencer on the end of it.

Real
Steel
The ShadowAUG is a fantasy weapon; it has no real
steel counterpart. The Steyr AUG on which it is based is famed
around the world as a highly accurate, reliable and robust weapon.
Designed to fire standard NATO 5.56mm ammunition it is primarily
made from polymers. It used clear magazines, designed to allow
the firer to monitor their ammunition usage. A bullpup weapon
the trigger group is located in front of the magazine. This
in turn means the AUG has an exceptionally long barrel for its
overall length.

The
word typically used to describe the AUG’s look is futuristic.
When it was first drawn up in the 70’s, it looked like a space
age gun. But here and now it just looks plain ugly with its
thick receiver and thin barrel. Fully ambidextrous, the weapon
is equally usable by righties and lefties.

The
original AUG has spawned several different variants; an LMG,
SMG and a 9mm SMG version. Used by the Austrian and Australian
armies in the military form (Olive Green furniture with a 20mm
scope). The SR (Special Receiver – black furniture with a weaver
mount for a scope) version is used by several Special Forces
and special police units.

Shopping
Experience
You can read the full write up of my shopping
experience with AD
and the ShadowAUG elsewhere, but the advertised 4-6 week delivery
time in my case was hugely unrealistic. I ordered the AEG on
the 24th of October 2002, and it finally arrived with me on
the 20th of December 8 weeks latter. During which time only
2 out of my 4 phone calls, and 6 out of my 12 emails to AD
were responded to. I was kept almost totally in the dark about
how the build was proceeding, and it was only through my constant
harassment that I was told it would be delayed due to a part
shortage. When it supposedly finally arrived in the UK it took
nearly a week to get to my front door – and in my opinion AD
lied to me about when the couriers were given the package to
delivery it to me.

Considering
I was ordering a £450 AEG this is a massive concern. The
prevailing theory is that by using a UK based retailer there
less hassle and more reliablility than the overseas (HK) boys.
With AD
this is blatantly NOT the case, you would be better buying your
kit from WGC
or DEN
and reaping the cost and time savings.

For
my troubles I was begrudgingly offered compensation – a £10
G3 Muzzle adapter free of charge. Even then they sent me the
wrong one!

For
the record I will NEVER be shopping with AD
again, I would not recommend anyone use them, it is a cowboy
outfit. Save the money and hassle and go with Zero One or WGC.

If
you want a FIRST
custom gun you can now get them DIRECT from FIRST
Factor
, through their website – at almost ¾ of the
cost of the AD
one (that’s including shipping & tax).

Overview
The ShadowAUG arrived in a standard looking AUG box. I went
for the SR version as the Military version is hindered by the
20mm Tasco scope – which is practically useless. Plus the silencer
and RIS rails would look very odd matched to the OG furniture
of the military version



Included with the box were 2 interesting documents; the first
was AD’s
warranty document and the second a FIRST
Factory
certificate of authenticity and warranty document.
No loading rods are included since it does not come with a standard
magazine. It’s a full 25mm shorter than the TM AUG.

What
immediately strikes you when you pickup the ShadowAUG is how
solid it is. There is none hollowness or creaking that is evident
with new TM AUG’s. The ShadowAUG’s silencer is constructed of
metal, most likely aluminium, as are the RIS Rails. The Rails
themselves are fixed to the silencer by 3 screws per rail. The
rail covers are fairly standard; except that they have been
cut down to fit the shorter rails on the silencer.

The
trigger unit has 3 stages – safe, semi and full auto (FA), whereas
the standard AUG’s only have a 2 stage trigger.


One
other feature that strikes you with the ShadowAUG is that both
shell ejection ports are covered.

In
the rush to take the digital photo’s of the ShadowAUG I knelt
on the receiver punching the rear sling pin through the receiver
breaking some of the plastic. After 30 minutes with some Araldite
most of the damage was rectified.

Overall
I was very impressed.

Testing
– Features & Claims
The
next logical place to continue the review was to look at the
individual features and advertised benefits of the weapon and
see if they measure up in real life. With an 8.4V battery charged
and several thousand rounds of 0.25g ammo ready it is time to
get to work.

1.
The Integrated Suppressor
Directly fitted
to the front barrel grouping, very solid I detected
no movement in it. I am not sure how its attached
but I have read it is directly pressed onto the
barrel grouping. Filled with solid foam lining
it breaks down some noise from the AEG.

This
one item makes the ShadowAUG look as good as it
does.

The
way it is attached means that adding an high accuracy
barrel is impossible without that aid of a Dremel
– to remove material around the 2 fixing screws
on the HOP unit that are covered by the metal barrel
shroud. I had to, but you have to be VERY careful
not to damage the HOP and feed unit.

2.
Integrated RIS
4 short rails attached directly to
the silencer with 3 screws. Standard 20mm weaver rails,
they include custom length rail covers.

3.
Integrated Sound Deadening material
The receiver is filled with
glass fibre material (not cotton wool as others have reported) –
the same material that is used in fish tank water filters. The gearbox
end of the receiver is full of this, add to this the removable top
section of the receiver also has a thin layer to pad out the gap
between the upper and lower receivers. On first inspection it looks
as though it has just been stuffed in…but more on that later.
4.
Tuned Trigger
An extra stage has been added; Safe, Semi and
FA. First Factory have made physical changes to the selector and
trigger unit – and have done some further modifications
5.
Includes an AUG Hicap magazine
Not much to say – saves you some
money on Hicaps, although if you exclusively play using low caps
this is not much use to you!

AD
claims that the ShadowAUG:

a)
Is barely audible at 5 meters – Plain wrong I’m afraid, it appears
AD
were a little economical with their estimate. Stock the ShadowAUG
is very quiet I will grant it that, but it could still easily be
heard 10 metres away.
b)
Is an impressive Sniping weapon – With a barrel length of 400mm,
much shorter than that of the standard AUG I can’t believe that
this weapon would be very capable of being any more of a sniping
weapon that that of the original AUG.

It
is disappointing that AD
feel they have to falsely advertise the features of the ShadowAUG
to sell it especially when it is such a high quality weapon.
Stock this AEG fired at 292fps, about bang on from what I would
expect from a stock AEG.

However
I never intended on using this AEG in its stock form. I bought
a Systema M100 FTK for the AUG, and 4 12V 600mAh batteries,
before I ordered the gun from AD.

At
the time I did not buy a high accuracy barrel for the Shadow
because AD
could not confirm to me that a high accuracy barrel designed
for the AUG would fit in the shortened ShadowAUG.

Upgrades
Upgrading this AEG was a nightmare!! Plain and simple. It
took over 7 hours of blood, sweat and tears (literally) to fit
the FTK and barrel. To compare it took me 20 minutes to upgrade
a standard AUG to the same specification. So why did it take
so much longer?? Well I have to hand in to FIRST,
the £450 price tag soon become very justifiable.

I
removed one of the ejection port covers, the upper receiver
assembly and the butt plate to expose the core of the lower
receiver. I then removed the gearbox retaining plate and what
I found was very surprising. The back of the gearbox appeared
to be hand wrapped in foam, and then sealed with clear tape.
On top of this the motor was covered by a rubber sock. Along
with this there was an electrical switch on the top right hand
side of the gearbox compartment. Trying to remove the gearbox
was an absolute nightmare.

When
I tried to pull the gearbox out it just would not move, it was
solidly packed in there – and would not leave by the hole at
the end of the receiver.

Here’s
where the ‘customness’ of the weapon becomes apparent. Since
the lower receiver is a clamshell design (2 halves) by my reckoning
the only way to get the wrapped gearbox into the receiver was
to have the 2 separate halves of the lower receiver, put the
gearbox in one and glue the other one on. When you also consider
the gearbox itself has been hand wrapped in the foam insulation
and then sealed you begin to see where your money has gone.



Of
course this was no great lift for me because I had to get the
gearbox out – and the only way of doing this was by removing
all the lovely foam and sealing tape! Once I had removed a sufficient
amount of foam the gearbox did come out. What I noticed was
that the electric switch was attached to the wiring loom on
the gearbox, and had come out with the gearbox.

To
open up the gearbox I had to remove all the remaining foam,
the rubber sock, and a sheet of adhesive metal mesh that covered
the cylinder. On top of these covering I noted that all holes
on the gearbox had been sealed with electrical tape – rendering
the gearbox airtight as possible. I then noticed a further addition
to the gearbox on the wiring loom. So I attached a battery and
played with the gearbox. The long electric switch that was in
the receiver well fired the mechanism at FA. The further modification
at the front of the gearbox was the semi-automatic fire control
circuit.

Fitting
the upgrades was straight forward, Systema provided a
comprehensive upgrade guide with the FTK. Plus the Version
3 gearbox is a dream to work with.

I
was given a Systema high accuracy barrel by my team mate
Mike, which proved to be an AK barrel. I wanted to fit
this along with a Guarder HOP membrane. The problem was
that the silencer on the front of the AEG rendered the
quick takedown function for the barrel assembly useless,
and getting access to remove the existing barrel was impossible
because the metal barrel shroud obscured the screws that
held the assembly in place.

Out
came my Dremel, and very carefully I milled away the metal sections
above the screws. Once this was done I undid the screws and
was able to upgrade the barrel and HOP quite easily.

With
the upgrades in place the ShadowAUG chronoed at 345 fps with
0.2g ammo. With the 12V packs RoF was insane – seriously fast,
probably twice as fast as the stock fps with an 8.4V pack. Noise
increased noticeably but it was still very quiet considering.

Conclusion
The Shadow is a hand assembled AEG, with several unique
custom features and additions. It is unlike anything I
have come across, the Phantom AUG kit (also by FIRST)
comes close but only changes the looks of the AUG, and
it has none of the gearbox silencing capabilities and
trigger adjustments of the Shadow. Is it worth £450?
Perhaps not, but it’s an incredibly high quality AEG,
that solves several of the AUG’s intrinsic flaws. It’s
high accuracy, with long range and a very high RoF – in
a package smaller than my M4.

The
one thing I would have changed, if I had a limitless pot
of cash, would have been to have the upgrades fitted by
FIRST eliminating the need for me to shred the gearbox
foam. But this probably would have increased costs by
half (AD charge £60 for the barrel and almost £130
for an FTK), not something I would have been able to live
with – especially given their service.

One
other point that comes to mind is that if you are intending
on purchasing one and running it stock is the question
of what happens if it goes wrong. I doubt AD have the
expertise to service the gearbox, and retain the silencing
foam. So would it have to be shipped back to Japan incurring
a 1-2 week wait? I don’t know, but that the only solution
I can foresee.

Overall
it’s a great AEG, with a very unique look, that through
the engineering of FIRST
feels very solid and durable – more so than the TM AUG.
It’s a bit like putting your Focus in to Cosworth to have
them up rate it. The result costs a bomb, but in terms
of performance and look it’s second to none. Not a newbie
weapon by any stretch of the imagination.

UPDATE:
9th February 2003
After skirmishing with the Shadow
AUG at 4 skirmishes at Combat South I can say that it
has been worth the substantial investment. My own configuration
has been to use a G&P Vertical Foregrip on the bottom
RIS rail and the Mojji Multi-dot scope on the scope rail
– and it has been a winning combination. With the massive
RoF attributed to the 12V batteries it is a substantial
force multiplier. Accuracy is second to none – even with
the shorter AK barrel.

I
have yet to use the Shadow in a CQB environment, but I
have no doubt it would be equally at home in a cramped
building as it is in a woodland environment. The RIS rails
mean I can add my Surefire 6P tactical light to the right
side Rail, and a laser if I so chose.

The
only draw back I have encountered has been the life of
the 12V 600mAH batteries, they only fire 4 Hicaps worth
of ammo before failing. So for a full day skirmish I have
to carry a minimum of 4 of them – and 2 backup 9.6V 1700mAh
packs.

I
have yet to encounter any feed problems, but I estimate
I have fired 8000 rounds worth of ammunition through the
AEG, and feed problems tend to start at 10,000 rounds.
I will be looking to buy one of Tom Andrews Ezi-feed nozzles
and another 2 – 4 12V batteries in the near future.

 

Quick
Summary

Advantages:

1.
Very light
2. Very quiet – but still audible out to 10 metres
3. Even shorter than the standard AUG, with the same length barrel
4. Excellent for both CQB and Woodland combat
5. RIS Rails open up massive accessory options (Surefire tactical
lights, lasers etc)
6. 2-stage trigger has been replaced with a more ‘classic’ fire
selector
7. Very accurate
8. Includes a 330 rd AUG hicap magazine
9. 1 Year Warranty as standard, from both AD and FIRST (only applicable
for Japan residents)


Disadvantages:

1. Not as
quiet as promised
2. Expensive – over £700 in total (inc. batteries, Hicaps,
upgrades & AUG)
3. If it goes wrong it’s got to go back to Japan!
4. To keep the warranty intact you have to get upgrades when you
order the AEG, making it even more expensive!
5. Still susceptible to the dreaded AUG feed problems
6. Civilian version requires a sight = more money
7. Both versions require a vertical foregrip = more money (if
you want a vertical grip that is)
8. Small battery compartment

by
Permian

External
Links:
FirstFactory
, AirsoftDynamics

Site
links:
TBA

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last
modified:
Sunday, March 9, 2003 7:02 PM
Copyright 2003 ArniesAirsoft




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