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Alright first off, I wanna say that my intent for this review is not to be a fanboy but to answer the same questions I had to justify buying a rather pricy airsoft gun (pricier still in Canada!). This is my first review (wich I first posted on my main Canadian forum) so be gentle...
I went through every airsoft forum out there and read every review of the Tavor and most are similar and fair. A well balanced one I found is the YouTube Ares TAR 21 Airsoft Tavor review by Moondog and the very usefull one by RedWolf Airsoft. The internals are average for an high-end gun, not below, not above, with the exception of the air nozzle wich is a bit leaky. The gearbox is not really a version 6 but it's still well made and is not that hard to find replacement parts for (gears, piston and such). Some people complain about the metal rods fixed to the gearbox going to the fire selector and trigger, mentioning how they should've done it like the L85 (wires from the trigger going to the gearbox) for ease of removal. Of course if you study the design carefully, that would not have been possible, the Tavor's body being mostly one molded piece. So the only real way to get the gearbox out has to be sliding it out the back (like the RS) wich would make wires going to the trigger a real pain. It's only a good option when you can open up the body in 2 pieces like the L85. Where it could have been better is that instead of fixing the metal rods to the gearbox, fixing it to the body and trigger assembly instead might have made it easier when you take the gearbox out.
Yes the MARS sight is a bit disapointing although externally it is amazing. But still, it's quite workable for airsoft in my opinion since mine doesn't have any of the problems some mention in their reviews (weak blurry dot, distortion in the glass). Having said that, I have now replaced mine with the rails and an ACOG (and sold the MARS to a collector). Because of this tho, almost all reviews say that the poor optics of the MARS sight makes it not worth the price. This is where I disagree. The polymer material this gun is made of is simply amazing. All my previous airsoft guns have been fiber-nylon/glass composite (CA G36, G&G UMG) and they got nothin' on the Tavor! Of all the airsoft guns I've handled before the Tavor, in my opinion the sturdiest would have been the folded steel made L85 (G&G, ICS or Ares). The Ares Tavor beats it hands down. The amount of force you would need to slightly bend the magwell of the Tavor could seriously warp the metal magwell of the L85. It's that strong. I remember reading an article on the Ares Tavor way back in the prototype stage (might've just been a rumour) that IWI not only had sold the rights to Ares for the trades but also helped with the composition of the polymer material used (albeit a more cost effective version of what's used on the RS). Sadly I haven't kept the link to it but I have no problem believing that it could be true. To me who's a fan of sate-of-the-art composite-made modern firearms, this more than justifies the high cost. + you have to add on top of that the cost of the official trades wich is always pricy AND in this case is for the first airsoft version of an highly anticipated model.
Now for the CONS... I've talk to Ares concerning the one I bought about the missing metal flash-hider wich is supposed to be included (even tho the plastic orange one is glued on) and the answer is simply that if it was bought from the U.S. through Cybergun, it will not be included (Cybergun get's rid of it). The usual cleaning rod would've been nice too. The spring of the magazine catch is a bit weak and could use some reinforcement. You can very easily add a spring in the hole behind the mag catch for added strenght, a popular mod around the forums uses a cut down AEG spring, I've used a hop up chamber tension spring of an old G36 and it fitted perfectly, having the perfect width, length and tension. The piston does look a bit cheap because it's transparent but a transludent plastic is not necessarily weaker or in this case, not up to the task. Since I haven't seen any forums mentioning it breaking yet, I'm a firm believer that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" so we'll see how good it holds up. Same thing for the short motor wich does the job but doesn't look like it's on par with the best out there. I've also asked Ares about adding a fuse and their answer was:
"After reviewed with our engineer, his advice is you donít need add any fuse on there because it use DC battery voltage that less risk than AC power."
The PROS are all about the body.... In my opinion, in airsoft, it's more important to have a gun with great externals and, if needed, upgradable internals than one with great internals and poor externals that you can't do much about. I also don't think there's an airsoft gun out there that has perfect internals...
The overall length (flash-hider to buttplate) of the Ares Tavor CTAR-21 is 685mm (wich is 45mm longer than the real steel: Wikipedia - IWI Website PDF) AND NOT 725mm like it's mentioned on the Ares website and pretty much everywhere else. As for a replacement flash-hider, I've tried a regular G&P M4 birdcage with CW +14mm thread and it fitted perfectly! I also tried the Classic Army 130R M4/M16 Metal Magazines and they fed great + are the exact same grey color as the original one in the box.
Now it's up to you to decide if all of this is worth the 500 USD$ price tag (700 to 800 CAD$ in Canada!).
[EDIT] Chronied it yesterday: 390fps - 385fps - 395fps
It didn't seem that powerfull at first so I did a thourough cleaning job with the inner barrel before the chrony, it was full of oily gunk. That's gotta help!