Classic Army CA36C AEG
Well I should think that this is going to be one of the longest reviews that I've written to date by the time I've got it all finished. To cater for folks that have differing levels of familiarity with the CA36C the review is broken down into handy sections to allow you to easily find what you're looking for. As a bonus if you get bored of me wittering on at any point you can also skip entire chapters. Remember there's still time to grab refreshments before you sit down for the review...
CA36C? It seems like ages since Classic Army announced their intention to release their own copy of the HK G36C. The first images appeared of a prototype on Classic Army Italia about a year ago.
Henrik over at ActionSportGames A/S really kindly offered to send over one of the latest prototypes for the new ClassicArmy for me to have a look at which arrived this morning by courier (ParcelForce.. more on that later).
It should be pointed out that as this is a prototype and still not a production sample that a series of issues that are apparent with it are listed to be fixed/improved before release. As at this time (14/10/04) the CA36C has not been officially released yet.
We expect the new CA36C to be released in November (next month) or at the latest December '04. As we all know plans can be delayed, and just about any release date in the Airsoft scene is prone to slippage.
In the box The CA36C arrived promptly this morning delivered by ParcelForce. Taking the parcel back to the office I set about removing the decent amounts of wrapping that the guys at ActionSportGames A/S had wrapped the box in. With the wrapping removed the box could be opened. As the lid was removed the carpet was covered in a positive shower of white polystyrene snow. My heart sank thinking the worst.. the rifle was at an angle inside the box with the rifle itself, magazine and cleaning rod loose.
In transit the box had been smashed around so much that with every impact chunks of the polystyrene packing had been chewed from the packaging. The floor was now covered with all of these chunks. I'd personally like to thank ParcelForce UK for quite literally drop kicking the box all the way from Heathrow to my door.
Please do note that it was not ActionSportGames A/S
fault that the parcel was abused, the parcel was damaged in transit.
My main worry was that the rifle had become damaged in transport, and given the amount of damage to the box I was expecting to find some cracks and broken parts. Given the obvious damage to the box I was actually very impressed, as despite being obviously slung around so much there was no visible damage to the AEG itself. I think the fact that the rifle wasn't rendered a sack of broken parts is somewhat of a testimony to the build quality of the ClassicArmy's new AEG.
In the box supplied there's a hicap magazine, cleaning rod and the rifle itself. As this is a prototype there are no BBs manuals or paperwork in the box to refer to.
So, it survived the rather traumatic trip through the post. How does it fair after all the polystyrene balls had been cleaned out of every AEG orifice?
A little CA history ClassicArmy's new AEG is a replica of the Heckler and Koch G36C. Tokyo Marui of course produced the first mainstream production G36C AEG not so long ago (December 2002). I think it's worth mentioning some of the history when it comes to TM and CA designs.
Marui's AEGs are made (primarily) for the Japanese market from inside Japan, so whilst they don't produce copies that are specifically authorised or intended for distribution outside Japan itself, the products still find their way outside of Japan though some TM distributors to the western world. Reportedly Japanese manufacturers do seek licensing for their replicas, but these licenses (when approved) are only valid inside Japan and the target market, hence these licensed markings are normally removed or obscured before import into the US and EU for example. I'm pretty sure that HK and Glock don't officially license any replicas at all. Someone please correct me on that if you know otherwise.
Heckler and Koch are more than a little tetchy when it comes to the protection of their good name - they do not allow any unauthorised replication of their designs. Most recently Asia Paintball ran into some legal issues over their RAM pistol with Glock (who are equally as tetchy as H&K) taking legal action against their distributors in the US. This led to a sudden change in the design of the pistol and further dilution to an already flawed design.
Now Classic Army AEGs are made in Hong Kong with the bulk of their production going for export to the EU and US. Imports into most countries which are inspected by customs can be impounded if the trademarks on them are improperly licensed. With this in mind CA are careful when it comes to their designs and trademark infringement.
After what seemed like a bit of a scare the first release of the CA M4s were quickly rebranded from their original Colt markings shortly after launch of the v2 model to "Classic Army" for the v3 model. ActionSportGames A/S first signed a worldwide exclusive
agreement with ArmaLite Inc, USA, regarding using their design and
trademarks in relation to Airsoft guns.
From this point Classic Army and ActionSportGames A/S started to work closely
together in order to upgrade the existing M4 versions to what then became
the very popular ArmaLite M15 series (v4 onwards) from Classic Army. The trademark used by Classic Army is
licensed through ActionSportGames A/S.
Several original parts - like the receiver, carrying handle, sights, stocks,
grips and more - are designed from the M15 rifle and drawings made by
ArmaLite. These specification were used in the design stage in order to enable the most accurate
The rifles were first shown to the public in the USA at Shot Show 2003 in
January '03 in Orlando at the ArmaLite booth as they were initially appointed as
the US distributor. (thanks go out to Henrik for clarifying those details with me)
CA's own MP5 replica line does not sport any H&K markings or logos, and the new CA36C is even more careful in it's design. Whilst looking like an H&K G36C in almost every respect all H&K specific markings are lacking, both on the box and the AEG itself.
I don't think it would be unfair to say that ClassicArmy took more than a little inspiration from Marui's design to produce their own replica, nor do I think it's unfair to say that basically they reverse engineered TM's product. CA's design is almost identical to that of Tokyo Marui's own copy but with some minor differences. The two main design flaws originally pointed out in the TM design were the leaky hopup unit which allowed unregulated gas expulsion and thus power drop offs, and the sometimes dodgy buttstock hinge/catch - it'll be interesting to see if these flaws have been fixed.
I'll be careful to word this right, as I don't want to come across as bashing CA, because I'm not (no really I'm not). Anyone that remembers the MP5 range, and the Colt/M15 range when they were launched by CA will remember how bad some of the first versions were, and the time it took for faults to be fixed in the production cycle. The CA33 seems to be the break from this trend of effective prototyping and gradual improvement through public sales. Instead we are seeing good reports and feedback from the outset. Hopefully the CA36C will continue in the new pattern of dependable replicas right from the word go, so lets see how they're doing so far.
Naturally with the TM model being available, the CA model will be looked at both in its own right and in comparison.
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