Dboys SCAR-L

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I’ve been dying to get my hands a SCAR-L almost since they came out.  I figured, I love my M4, this uses the same style mags… it’s not that expensive of an investment… why not?  The choice came down to where to buy it from and what color to get, and who’s version to buy?  From the start, the tan version was the most appealing, but there are quite a few differences between the different manufacturers in the way they handled the paint on the upper receiver.  At the same time there was a huge difference in prices (ranging from $150-600).  Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, you know that I love to see what can be done with “clones”.  I mean why not?  We all know I’m going to tear this apart and build a beast out of it… so why start expensive?  That, and reports and reviews from others saying the internals were good, lead me to go the route of the Dboys SCAR-L in tan.  Did I make the right decision?  Only time will tell.

First Impressions

First, let me say the box could have arrived in better condition, as the internal packaging was quite manhandled and it looked like a gorilla packed it.  That being the case it did arrive in once piece.  Pulling the gun out, it felt heavier than I expected (considering the lower is plastic); it also seems to be more front heavy than I thought it’d be.  All in all, it’s not far off from an M4 in balance and heft.  The BUIS seem secure and firmly in place.  Overall, anyone who likes the way a M4 fits their hands will like this gun.  The forgrip that comes with it was a nice addition (not authentic but nice), and the trademarks are close to the real deal.  Now I was intrigued by the painting of the upper.  The paint seemed like it might be delicate, and it was a very bronzish / greenish color (not quite like the real steel… but nice all the same).  We’ll just have to see how well that paint holds up.  The stock did seem a bit wobbly and this worried me a bit but it turns out that the top screw that secures the stock had backed out a bit.  A few turns of an allen screw and it was nice and snug.  The battery that comes with it is an anemic mini 8.4v 1100mAh battery.  That has me a bit concerned given the advertised 400fps, as the longevity of the battery might be a bit shorter than we’d like.

Materials and Construction

Overall the construction is pretty nice.  No creaks or wobbles (once I tightened up the stock), and the selector engages all positions with a telling click.  The rifle feels like a singularly solid piece of kit.  Metal parts consist of the flash hider, gas block, front sight, rear sight, upper, barrel extension, trigger, bolt cover, and RIS.  I will say that the finish on the barrel extension is not as nice as the rest of the gun given its dull finish that just doesn’t fit the rest of the AEG.  The grip is poorly made though as you can see imperfections near the top of it caused by the fiber resin that was used to make it.  This leads to an inconsistent finish on that part.  Aside from that, the finish on this gun is amazing.  The grip plate is actually quite nice.  Mimicking the CA grip plate adjustment screw and with ventilation cut into it to prevent heat build up around the motor… the grip plate is quite nice.  After a day of skirmishing with it, the paint held up incredibly.  I was only able to find a slight scratch on it which is amazing considering the way I treated it all day long.

Okay, so we know the externals are nice… but how are the internals?  Well, I saw some things I liked, and some things I didn’t care for.  The motor appeared to be your average clone motor.  The concerning thing here was all the lube on the motor around the pinion gear and down the shaft of it.  That’s just going to attract dust and dirt, while possibly reducing the efficiency of it the motor.   Delving a bit deeper reveals the side of the cylinder (outside) being coated with a thick layer of lube.  Isn’t that stuff supposed to be on the inside of the gearbox?  The bushings are definitely nylon, which is unfortunate in a gearbox supposedly shooting 400 fps.  I did notice a sticker that said QC 01.  Maybe that means there are now quality control personnel checking these things before they ship?  I did also note that one of the phillips head screws had the phillips head cuts off center.  While that’s not a real problem, it does show a lack of quality or quality control.

Time to open the gearbox.  Immediately I’m surprised by the lack of self tapping screws, and grateful to see that they tapped each hole and use the appropriate screw with lock washers!  That’s a good sign.  Less chances of over tightening the screws and stripping out the threads, as well as smoother threading of the screws when closing the shell.  Opening the gearbox I’m greeted with a thick layer of what looks like elephant snot.  I’ve seen less green sludge coming out of the nose of a preschooler during allergy season!  Every square inch of every gear was coated and then some.  There was also a large deposit of it all over the gearbox shell.  The goo (or lube if you prefer), had settled in corners where it had flung off.  The piston looked as if it were dipped in it.  When it comes down to it, I’d rather have an over lubed gearbox than an under lubed gearbox, as you can always wipe off the extra, and it’ll be longer before you start to see damage due to particulate build up in the lube than you would from friction in an under lubed scenario.

Wiping off the excessive goo, I began to inspect the parts.  One thing that jumped out at me quickly was a malformed bushing.  Now, it’s just the flange that was malformed (see the picture below), but one side of the flange was definitely cut off.  I checked fitment (to see if it was improperly installed) and that is not the problem, it was just malformed during the manufacturing process (not the assembly process).  These should be replaced.

Looking over the spring guide I was pleased to see that it was made with a metal base and what appears to be a polycarbonate shaft.  Overall it seems pretty durable.  Instead of ball bearings Dboys fitted it with two washers.  While this has a similar effect to ball bearings, it’s not the same.  I am considering that these could be polished a bit, coated with some lube or Molykote and then they would actually be quite nice.  I might just have to do that.  In the end, I don’t think that this is a part worth replacing as the stock build quality looks good.

The spring itself is pretty short for a 400 fps spring.  On top of that, it’s quite stiff. It seems to be decently made although it is is not an irregular pitch spring.

The piston assembly is surprising.  Keep in mind that I played almost a full day with this SCAR before opening it up.  I wanted to see what kind of wear and tear I could expect in the long run.  Looking at the piston (after scraping as much snot off it as I could), it was in remarkable condition.  Don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t expect it to be broken in half or anything.  I did expect to see wear marks on the teeth.  Truth be told, if there were any, I didn’t notice them in my inspection of the piston teeth. The piston seems to be made of a material very similar to the Classic Army pistons, but not the same design.  Overall the strength seemed very nice, and for someone looking to leave their gun stock it would probably last quite some time.  The piston head is made of the same materials as the piston body.  It features 6 ports in it, which should be more than adequate to do the job at hand in providing a good air seal.  A quick compression check.  There is none.  Yes, you heard right.  The system showed zero, none, nill, nada compression.  That’s disappointing.  I wonder what FPS it’s shooting with no compression.  Hum… we’ll have to check that out when we look at the performance ratings.  I will say this though.  The piston head is decent, but I personally fear that this material is more brittle than an aftermarket polycarb material.  I would consider replacing it.

On to the cylinder assembly!  Okay, it’s a 0 cylinder.  Nothing fancy.  It’s covered in green snotty goo… but what were you expecting after seeing the rest of the internals?  The cylinder itself is nothing to write home about, but then again, most arn’t.  It’s round, it’s the right length, it does its job.  The cylinder head on the other hand, that’s a bit different.  First of all it’s plastic with a metal nozzle and a rubberish pad.  Now, I’m not a big fan of plastic cylinder heads with metal nozzles.  It just never seems to fail that the nozzle works its way loose after a while and becomes a point where efficiency and power are lost.  The rubber o-ring on it is marginally better than the one on the piston head and it does provide a decent seal.  When testing the compression, all compression was lost at the 0-ring on the piston head.  Even after changing the o-ring on the piston head I couldn’t find a loss at the cylinder head.  The interesting thing about the cylinder head is that Dboys might have actually tried to fix the angle of engagement at the piston!  This has been a hot topic for a bit.  People are realizing that the piston is picked up at a bad angle by the sector gear.  This causes stripped teeth, broken first teeth, and prematurely worn out pistons.  The rubber buffer on the cylinder head is thicker than normal.  This would set the piston back a bit, possibly correcting the angle of engagement.  Unfortunately this was an afterthought on my part, and so it went untested.

The trigger switch is next to go under the microscope so to say.  The soldering of the wires to the contacts is okay.  Nothing to write home about, but I didn’t see any cold solder joints or excessive solder.  What I did see was a lot of charring.  That was surprising given the fact that the gun had been run on the stock 8.4v 1100mAh NiMH battery.  That just continues to attest to the poor quality trigger contacts that are seen throughout the airsoft world from clones to big names.

Okay okay, I’ll get to it.  The gears.  First the anti-reversal latch.  I was quite surprised by the heft of this bugger.  It was well formed and very heavy for its size.  I decided to give it the old neodymium magnet test.  Whack! Yep.  Steel.  Now on to the gears themselves.  After wiping all the lube off I checked each one.  Each one appeared to be steel as well as the magnet stuck firmly to each one.  Of course, this alone does not determine the quality of the materials or the strength of the gears, just the composition.   I noticed as well that the gears are XYT gears.  Now in the past (2 years ago), these were known to be a bit brittle under high torque loads.  Of course, they used to be made of left over cheese or some such junk.  My understanding from other reviews, and by examining these for any wear, these should be just fine under the stock load for a considerable amount of time.  One thing that I must bring up is that I found a small bit of foam from the packaging INSIDE the gearbox under the sector gear.  Now, given the softness of the material and small amount, I don’t think it could harm anything, but it is a bit alarming that it managed to find its way in there.

That brings us to another thing: shimming.  The shimming definitely leaves something to be desired.  The sector gear looks like it could use a .5 shim, and the bevel could possibly use a .2.  The spur gear was pretty close to what it needed to be at.  I must say, given the very loose shimming, the gears are in great shape after throwing almost 3,000 rounds through it.

Sorry to note that I forgot to take a picture of the air seal nozzle.  It seems pretty sturdy, but does leak a bit of air during a compression test.  I don’t know if that’s a fault of a cylinder nozzle that’s too thin, or a poorly made air nozzle.  Unfortunately, here we are almost a year after the birth of the Dboys SCAR and there is no replacement air seal nozzle for it yet.

The tappet plate seemed to be a copy of the CA tappet plate and durable enough.

The wiring is a bit anemic.  Seriously, this is some stiff thin wire.  That means low strand count, which means low conductivity and high resistance.  If you’re looking for a cheap upgrade, this is probably where we’ll find it.

The hop up unit is simple enough.  The front half looks like what you would see on an m4 one piece hop up, mated to an almost g36 style adjustment dial that surrounds the air nozzle.  This is actually pretty effective of a design.  The whole hop unit is plastic but it seems durable.  More on that in the performance phase.

Features

First we have the flip up sights.  While the AEG did not come with the adjustment tool to adjust the point of impact for the front sight, it does function.  The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation as well.  The rear sight is detachable as well.

The stock is adjustable to 3 positions, with a two position cheek rest which also functions as a door though which to install the battery.  This was excellent thinking on DBOYS part, as the VFC is a pain to put a battery into being that it installs from the buttplate. The stock also folds to the right side of the gun like the real steel.  It seems to clip in firmly, but isn’t too difficult to unclip when needed.  I did notice that the wiring is exposed, but a bit of heat shrink tubing would fix that up.

The cocking handle is smooth and ambidextrous, and pulling it back reveals the hop unit behind the bolt cover.  It would have been nice if the bolt locked back to make adjustment easier.

Like the real steel, the magazine release and the selector switch is ambidextrous.  I did find it took a bit of getting used to when switching from my M4 to the SCAR, to make sure I was in the correct position on the selector.  Often I’d be in full auto thinking I was in semi-auto (given the differences between the two guns).  This is in no way a fault of the SCAR, but just my instinct.

Also replicated are the attachment points for a a sling.

Performance

Let’s start with chronograph results.  Ten shots were taken with .2g bbs.  The highest was 411fps, the lowest was 389fps with a standard deviation of 6.84fps and a mean of 400fps.  The stated fps of this AEG is 400 fps, so we’re right there.  I am not too excited about the large deviation of results.  After fixing the compression issue with a new o-ring the highest fps was clocked at 408fps and the lowest at 402 with a standard deviation of 2.71fps and an average of 404 fps.  Much much better.  After replacing the stock o-ring the fps became extremely consistent.

Next up is the rate of fire test.  Now listening to this on the stock 8.4v 1100mAh NiMH battery is kind of a let down.  I wasn’t expecting this to be very high, and it didn’t disappoint that assumption at a whopping 11.5 rps.  Ugh.  This thing is a pig out of the box.  Being less than pleased I decided I would hook up my 7.4v 2200mAh 30C lipoly battery.  This think kicks like a 9.6v NiMH battery.  After a blast through the chrono I couldn’t believe the results so I did it again.  Amazing.  The gain was exactly 0, yes ZERO!  Evidently the torque motor used in this AEG is just that… all torque and no speed.  Now I must say, with the 7.4v lipoly the trigger response was pretty impressive, but the ROF was still pretty lame.  So I tossed in an EG1000 that I had laying around and managed to push it up to 14.7 rps with the lipoly.  Not bad, not great, but not bad given the 404 fps we’re getting out of it and nothing being optimal in it.

Now for a close look at accuracy.  When it comes down to it, accuracy is largely determined by the quality of the ammo, barrel, and foremost the hop unit as a whole.  Given the relatively high fps of this AEG we opted to test this with .3g bbs.  Taking 10 shots at 30 feet led to a nickle size grouping.  Excellent.  Now onto 60 feet.  Well, ten shots later and I’m realizing that there is a definite problem.  While left to right the gun is very consistent, vertically there is almost no consistency.  I’m all over the paper.  Now going for a man size target at 110+ feet I realize that the hop up unit is just not consistent.  As soon as you think you have it dialed in, it seems to change.  At first I thought the hop unit was dialing itself down (or up), but after checking it I realized that was not the case.  Taking the barrel out I realized that the air seal nozzle was coated in lube (as was the side of the gearbox), so I wiped out all the extra lube and cleaned the barrel and hop rubber.  After that the hop unit seemed to be consistent…. for about 5 shots.  The hop unit itself seems fine so I’m going to blame a bad quality bucking and nub on this one.  It just doesn’t seem to hold its shape very well.  Normally I post pictures of the targets I test with, but it just wasn’t even worth it.  The hop rubber is a definite piece of garbage on this AEG. I will say that the range is pretty impressive when the hop unit is working correctly as I could just hit a target about 180 feet away (not accurately).  That says something.

The battery, surprisingly enough, wasn’t bad.  I skirmished most of a day before switching to a 7.4v lipoly just for better trigger response.  Overall the stock battery held up just fine, and under the abuse of faster trigger response with a 7.4v lipoly, the AEG held up well.  Even after a day of really rough play, the finish is near mint and nothing loosened up.  One thing I did notice is that my STAR M4 mags are a bit finicky to get to latch into the magwell.  The stock highcap works just fine though and seems to be decently built.  Honestly I didn’t mess with it too much as I don’t play with high caps.

Upgrade Path

Upgrades on the cheap.  (Things that must be done to make it reliable.)

  • 7mm Metal Bushings
  • Shims (reshimming)
  • O-ring replacement (#116 o-ring from a hardware store)
  • Hop Up Rubber (Guarder)

Recommended (Mid level) upgrades.

  • 7mm bearings
  • Reshim
  • Cylinder Head (Area 1000 or equivalent)
  • Piston Head (Area 1000 or equivalent)
  • Piston (Guarder)
  • Motor (Tokyo Marui EG1000)
  • Hop Up Rubber (Firefly Hard Bucking)

Performance upgrades (high reliability & increased performance)

  • 7mm Bearings
  • Reshim
  • Cylinder Head (Guarder)
  • Piston Head (Prometheus POM)
  • Piston (Prometheus Hard Piston)
  • Motor (G&P M120 for high ROF or G&P M160 for high torque)
  • Wiring (18 gauge silicone wire with a high strand count)
  • Deans Connectors to replace the stock Tamiya connectors
  • Hop Up Rubber (Firefly Hard Bucking)
  • Mosfet with braking

You might noticed that I didn’t mention gears.  Honestly the stock gears seem pretty strong.  Unless you’re going to increase the FPS, then there really isn’t a reason to change the gears as long as they are shimmed properly.

Conclusion

I’ve been dying to get this gun for sometime now.  Let me say that if you love an M4 in your hands, you’ll love this.  Sure it’s not 100% authentic, but it’s still nice.  For the money you can’t beat it.  It’s got a stronger body than the STAR, and while the gears are not quite as nice as what you find in the VFC (though I despise self shiming gears) it does have a higher fps than all of it’s competitors, and is only about $150!  The accuracy is nothing to write home about, and there is the issue of the plastic bushings and poor shim job, but you’re buying a $150 AEG.  I do these reviews so that you can find out what to expect when buying an AEG, and decide if you’re willing to work out the inherent problems or if it’s a better deal for you to get a “higher quality” AEG.  Given the cost, this isn’t a bad AEG to be someone’s first project gun.  While there’s not too much to do externally on it, it’s not terribly hard to work on the internals (given the v2 gearbox), and if you screw something up, v2 parts are cheap.  Sure, to make this thing more reliable you need to replace the bushings, reshim, replace the hop rubber, and the piston head o-ring, as well as wipe out the excessive lube; but that’s all pretty cheap and once you’ve done that you’re pulling ahead of the competition.

The Numbers

Construction 8/10 The grip could have been better made and the paint more like the real deal.  The tapped screw holes in the gearbox were a nice touch though.

Features 8/10 Replicates the real deal pretty well except without a locking bolt cover.  The adjustable cheek rest and ease of installing the battery are much appreciated too.

Durability 8/10 The gearbox has some issues that need to be addressed, but the externals are rock solid.  Given the low expense in fixing the internals I’m not docking it too much.

Performance 7/10 The accuracy needs some serious tuning.  That defiantly affected this score.  Also the very low rpm motor is a bummer.  I appreciate the trigger response, but a bit more rpm would have been nice.  The stock FPS is very nice, and once the seal issue is sorted out the AEG is very very consistent.


4 responses

6 12 2008
greenhornet95

Something Ive been checking in clone guns lately is the bore size of the stock barrels. I’ve measured CA’s and been getting consistant 6.08 barrels. I DID measure a E1 Vector Arms AK and was surprised to find a 6.04 bore sized barrel. Check that SCAR and see if it has a TB barrel which might account to its high stock FPS.

-Carlo

17 12 2008
CA vs G&G!!! - Airsoft Forum & MILSIM - AirsoftSociety.com

[...] Version 2 gearbox mate,,so the sky is the limit. Here is a good review on the Dboys Scar,,,,for $150 with full trades you cant go wrong, Dboys SCAR-L The Festering Wound of the Airsoft World [...]

18 02 2012
Tong Yang

where can I get a Wiring (18 gauge silicone wire with a high strand count)?

22 06 2012
Nicholas Autry

I was wondering what was inside of my dboys scar haha. The reason being because my dboys scar shoots better than my stock kwa sr10. No joke. Apparently I got an AMAZING deal with my scar. The range is unbelievable as well. I didnt touch the hop up on it either. 100 feet no biggy hitting a cup. Its insane and frekin awesome. Im sorry to everyone else that got a cruddy deal out of it :/

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