Received my UK-spec Masada last week, with 1 free Pmag kindly thrown in from Dingodogs.
I'm extremely impressed with the material and build quality. The polymer is gorgeous stuff, seemingly better quality than the Pmags with a slightly more shiny or 'waxy' appearance, and a more complex, deeper texture. The polymer seems very tough and has a nice, dense feel to it. Yes there are mold lines visible, but they're not excessive or ugly and don't detract from the quality at all in my opinion.
The CNC upper is one very solid piece of metal. It's clearly been made to tight tolarances. I think the fact that it's been painted slightly reduces the precise appearance of the upper, but only when you look very closely. It's a very nice part of the gun and gives the whole thing a beautifully solid structure. The outer barrel is a beautiful part too. Very solid, very high quality work. Not sure what process has been used to colour the outer barrel and gas tube, but it has a gorgeous satin finish.
Some people have said the gun is light, but personally I think the weight is perfect. It's light enough that I'm be able to skirmish it all day, but heavy enough to make it feel solid and sturdy. Certainly lighter than some other guns, but this is also due to the way the weight is petfectly balanced. It's very ergonomic and feels completely natural to shoulder. Lucky for me the fixed stock is the perfect length, and feels very solid. Mine came with a sling point already attached, although the design is different to the separately sold Mapgul PTS sling point.
As a showpiece it's stunning, but I bought this gun as an upgrade platform so the crucial test for me is whether it can be elevated to high performance. There's room for an internal tracer unit, as well as the electronics I've designed to run the tracer on any battery. I found that the barrel lever is removable, so there's actually plenty of room in the handguard for electronics.
Upon disassembly, it becomes clear that a lot of work is needed to gain serious performance from this gun.
I have no interest in running a stock gun, and wanted to take out the motor brushes to put into my own motor, so I never fired it in it's stock form. Even though I can't comment on the performance out of the box, visually inspecting the internals is very revealing.
The soldering was ok, but not great. Tamiya connector is disappointing but not surprising. The gearbox has been designed so that the wires run through the gearbox shell itself. This makes the installation of a mosfet quite tricky, as there isn't much room for extra wires. The major obstacle that the wires must avoid is the magazine release. I ended up making some plastic blocks to glue onto each side of the gearbox to keep the wires out of the way, allowing the mag release to function normally.
Another obstacle to overcome when installing extra wires is the fact that the gearbox is held into the lower receiver via ONE screw only. This means that the gearbox is not held firmly in place and can therefore be pushed out of alignment by the extra wires. So, before perfecting the reassembly process, the ejection port cover would bind on the top of the gearbox.
The microswitch says it's rated for only 15A which is quite low, so it wouldn't last long if used with a high performance battery and motor combination without a mosfet. So while the microswitch is a nice idea, it's a half-baked one and something of a liability when upgrading. It doesn't provide much physical resistance, so you can't feel a nice, crisp click (although you can hear it). In fact, the design of the trigger is such that a trigger pull actually releases the switch, so installing a stronger microswitch wouldn't improve it. The trigger itself is let down hugely by the fire selector design becasue when reassembling the gun, it's very difficult to correctly align the selector gears with the lower receiver. This is a part which actually requires some 'tuning' to get right, which could have been so easily avoided with a better design. The trigger does seem to be very sensitive to slight fire-selector movement, bizzarely requiring a stronger trigger pull in certain positions. Definitely needs some learning to get right.
The motor doesn't use the strong neodymium magnets found in high performance motors, so this would be one of the first things to replace. The best motors can be bought for around $20, so it's a disappointment that the gun doesn't include one.
I had problems with the stock ARL. I'm not sure exactly what was wrong with it, as it didn't appear to be binding on anything, but there was audible backspin until I replaced it.
I reaplaced the stock gears immediately, so I can't comment on their performance or durability. It was disappointing to see that the bevel gear only has 4 ARL teeth.
The gun did not feed at first. Not at all. When manually inserting a BB into the barrel, the power was awful. It turned out to be a malformed tappet plate not allowing the nozzle to make contact with the bucking. I had to shave off a little material from the tappet plate. Feeding improved slightly, but I had to install a sector clip to allow the gun to feed reliably.
The air nozzle has no o-ring, meaning it does not form a proper air seal with the cylinder head nozzle. This affects power and consistency, which is disappointing for such an expensive gun. It wouldn't be a problem if the nozzle itself was a standard part, but as far as I know it's a unique design. At 3cm long it's enormous. If anyone knows of an air seal nozzle which works in this gun, please let me know!
I haven't tested it, but there's an air bubble visible inside the pickup tooth so I wouldn't want to put any strain on the piston. The piston came with a huge metal weight inside it (which is of course the opposite of what we want), and of course the angle of engagement hadn't been corrected. The O-ring was too big, causing excess friction on the back stroke so it had to be replaced.
The cylinder isn't ported, but power is good enough so I haven't spent money on perfecting the barrel/cylinder volume yet. The cylinder itself seems great, and forms a perfect air seal.
This part is another major disappointment along with the air nozzle. It has no bearing, just a simple metal washer. Again this would be fine if it weren't a unique design. And again, if anyone knows of an aftermarket bearing spring guide which will fit please let me know. The quick spring change feature itself is very nice. Quickly changing springs isn't something I plan on doing, but it makes assembly and disassembly much easier, as you never have to fight against the main spring tension. For this reason, installing a high power spring would be trivial.
Everything in the gearbox was severley overlubed with some sort of very thick gunge, as with most stock AEGs. I forgot to check the shimming so I can't comment on it. I immediately replaced the bushings/bearings so I can't comment on them either. I haven't done extensive range testing so I can't yet tell if the hopup design or stock barrel are good enough, but the integrated nub does concern me.
Self-retaining body pins
A small detail, but the little clips holding in the body pins makes working on this gun an absolute pleasure. They snap into position with a really satisfying click, and having 4 less things to keep track of is awesome. Although the clips can come loose so be careful!
The integrated front sight is strange, as it eats into the paintwork if allowed to spring into position. Otherwise it's a nice, solid sight which is adjustable. The rear sight is really beautiful.
The multitude of sling mount points is a very nice feature. The gun comes with 3 quick detach mount points, which can all be mounted on one side of the gun if you choose.
As an upgrade platform this guns is fine, but the proprietary spring guide and air nozzle are the 2 major problems. The ability to use most other standard parts makes it good enough, and if a decent air nozzle and spring guide are made available then nothing inside the gearbox could hold it back.
There's a lot to be desired from the gearbox in it's stock form, and there are a couple of irritating design choices, but overall I'm really happy with the gun. I haven't been able to put it down since I got it, it just feels so nice and solid.