UHC Super X-9 Double Bolt System

Side View

When the guys at Airsplat asked me to take a look at this gun my first feeling was apprehension. At the same time, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a bolt-action and this looked like the perfect opportunity. I’ve also been considering a gas-powered bolt-action but have heard horrible problems about their performance in cool weather. This I felt was a great time to give a bolt-action a shot, and this one comes with both gas and spring bolts too!

First Impressions
The box art work is great and the box itself is well designed.  If you’re planning on storing the gun in the box when it’s not in use, then the box seems up to the task.

AccessoriesFor this price,  you seem to be getting a lot of gun.  The package includes 2 bolts (a gas and a spring bolt), 10 cartridges, a spring-loaded tripod with rails, hop up adjustment tool, a pack of bbs , rail for mounting a scope, 1 mag for use with the cartridges, and a second 25 round mag for use without the cartridge system.

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Materials And Construction
Head OnThe tripod is metal and has springs to assist flipping the legs down, as well as extending the legs.  It includes two rails on either side for mounting accessories and is secured to the gun via a short piece of rail and a screw.  It seems pretty solid with only a slight bit of wobble.

The cartridges are made from plastic with a rubber o-ring inside to retain the bb.  They are not very realistic in size or material, but they do look like they would be fun for playing with.  The plastic they are made from seems durable as it doesn’t flex or crack under moderate impact with a small brass hammer.  The o-rings do appear a bit loose inside the cartridges although I do not believe they would fall out.  We will test retention in a bit.

The magazine for the cartridges is a rotary design much like you’d see with a real steel Ruger 10/22.  The whole housing is plastic and while fairly sturdy it might not handle a lot of abuse well.  Some flexing was noticed when tapping the mag with a brass hammer.

Spring BoltThe spring bolt cylinder is metal with a metal cocking handle and a plastic bolt face.  The air seal nozzle at the front end is rubber to provide a good seal between the bolt and the hop chamber.  The piston assembly inside the bolt is plastic and uses a very basic plastic cup design for the piston head (similar to department store Airsoft guns). The spring guide is also plastic.

Gas BoltHolding the gas cylinder reveals that it is surprisingly hefty.  The face of the bolt is metal and features a metal air nozzle instead of a rubber one.  The bolt handle wiggles a bit, as the tolerances are a bit loose.  I also noticed they did not put an o-ring on the fill valve which might cause it to spill propane while filling.  I did note that the packaging said the gun is compatible with green gas and CO2 as well. Taking apart the bolt reveals a somewhat crude metal spring guide and a brass gas cylinder.  The cylinder appears well sealed from leaks from the outside.  Taking it apart shows that the valve inside has 4 large holes and is made of brass with a rubber o-ring.  Given the size of the holes I expect the efficiency to be fairly high, but  wonder if a full mag can be cycled with one fill of gas.  If so, then I wonder if the holes can be tapped a bit bigger to allow even more flow and increase the FPS of the system.  The cylinder itself is separated into a gas chamber and an expansion chamber.  The expansion chamber is not very well sealed from the main chamber in that it just uses a rubber o-ring and a metal plate with a hole in it.  I would have rather seen a solid plate machined into the cylinder, but that level of machining would have influenced the cost of the gun as well.  We’ll see if there is considerable cool down due to this design later.

The hop unit is buried in the gun and is very hard to access.  With it removed I can see the barrel is not designed like an AEG or any other Airsoft inner barrel.  It is actually two pieces at the hop unit and an odd diameter.  The hop rubber is not a standard length.  This might make upgrading difficult.

The trigger housing and much of the trigger system is plastic.  The sear itself does appear to be metal; though I cannot account as to how strong it is.

Construction of the scope rail seems to be on par with most Airsoft guns in this price range with no complaints.

Front and rear swing swivels are attached to the faux wood stock via the short underside rail in the front and a plastic retainer in the back.  Given the fairly light weight of the gun, this should be adequate.  The faux wood finish is not very convincing, and I think it would have been better to have just made it in black.  The stock itself is weighted for realism and made from what appears to be fiber reinforced resin.  It seems pretty durable although I suspect a very sharp-pointed blow would crack it.

Features
You wouldn’t expect a lot of features in a gun in this price range, but surprisingly there are quite a few.  First off is the ability to use cartridges that eject when actuating the bolt.  That’s pretty slick.  I know there are other guns out there that do this, but not in this price range.  The catch is that the shells are only compatible with the spring bolt, as the gas bolt is slightly longer and lacks the extractor and ejector needed to eject the cartridges.

Next is the quick change bolt system.  If you run out of gas in the field, or maybe want to change your FPS levels, then you just need a swap of the bolt.  Releasing a lever and the trigger guard under the gun allows the shooter to slide the bolt out and swap it with another. UHC claims it can be done in 30 seconds, and that seems plausible.

Stick MagFor the back yard plinkers, the mag and shell ejecting system are fine, but for skirmishing you need a larger mag and no shells. This gun has a creative mag that snaps onto the side to allow 25 rounds of ammo to be fed directly into the gun without the cartridges or cartridge mag.  This mag is compatible with both the gas and spring system.

Of course we can’t overlook the scope and bipod rails on the gun.

Performance
Okay, before we get started let’s look at the price point:  $134.95 at Airsplat.com as of the time of this article being written.  That’s pretty cheap.  It claims to be 450-500 fps and have a range of 150-170 feet. Let’s get started testing.

First the chronograph testing.  Testing was performed using .20g bbs and an Xcortech 3200 chronograph.  With the gas bolt installed and the bolt at about 85 degrees Fahrenheit, we achieved 532 fps!  Wow.  Swapping over to the spring bolt took just a few seconds.  Firing through the chronograph yielded 349.5 FPS.  That’s a might bit short of the estimated 450 fps.  I will say that the gun was considerably quieter using the spring system over the gas system.

Gas ChronoSpring Chrono

Next up, test the gas system capabilities.  Now we know the FPS, but is it consistent and is it efficient?  We fired a full mag though the gun on a single fill of propane with an ambient temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and still had enough gas to fire off 10 more bbs .  The efficiency seems good and the gun was consistent as the variance in FPS was only +/-2 through until the last shot.  Given the cool temps I expected there to be noticeable cool down creating a serious drop in FPS, but it stayed steady.  Tapping the holes in the valve might be a worth while venture to increase FPS (if you feel you need it), given the fact that the gun is efficient down to 65 degrees.

Looking back at the gas bolt we had issues with FPS.  Testing consistency yielded a drop in FPS from an initial shot of 360 fps, down to 340 FPS with the last test shot (each shot declining in fps). Taking the bolt apart showed that the piston head cup is the culprit.  The edges are a bit ragged and it does not seal well against the side of the cylinder.  Had an o-ring been used with a more traditional piston head, I think the system would yield more fps.  We cleaned and relubricated the cylinder with some silicone grease (not oil), and reassembled it.  Testing the gun again on the chronograph returned 375 FPS with a variance of +/- 5 fps.

Range testing was done with both the gas and spring bolts.  The gas bolt was tested using .36g Madbull bbs.  The pull on the bolt was fairly light and short. The gun tossed them about 165 feet on the first few shots with a flat trajectory before it began to drop sharply to the ground.  Continued testing showed that the hop unit was erratic.  Often the shot was very straight and flat, but there was a bizarre flier or no hop effect every 3-4 shots.  Taking the hop unit apart did not reveal any defect in the hop rubber.  I do suspect that if you could fit an aftermarket inner barrel and a new hop rubber that it would become more consistent.  Testing with the spring bolt and .25g bbs yielded a range of about 160 feet with the same anomalies.  I continue to suspect the hop rubber or hop unit as the source of the problem.  The pull on the spring bolt was a bit stiffer but still easy.

Accuracy testing was not done due to increasing poor weather conditions as it has been raining day after day.  What I have seen from early testing is that when the hop unit is cooperating, hitting a man sized target at 160 feet is no problem.

Upgrade Paths
This gun uses nonstandard parts.  This makes upgrading difficult, and future repairs possibly difficult.  I have found a few forum postings on home-brew upgrades.  I’ve tried a few with little to no change in performance.  The slight improvements were often temporary too.  The one home-brew upgrade that caught my eye, was using an M16 length AEG inner barrel, some tape and a new hop rubber to upgrade the hop and barrel system.  This I have not had a chance to test, but I feel would make this gun much more consistent than the current two piece barrel that is in it.

Conclusion
This gun packs a lot of value in a very low price point.  The gas system performs very well in cool weather, and the spring system is very quiet.  Overall range is on par with most guns, as is the accuracy most of the time.  Add in the shell ejecting system and you’ve got a great backyard plinker and a great first gun for someone new to Airsoft.

With the bipod that is included and the scope rail, the gun seems to be a decent entry skirmish gun.  My reservations would be the impact strength of the stock and the inconsistent hop unit.  I do feel that this is a good first gun to get your feet wet in the Airsoft world of sniping before dumping large sums of money into higher end systems like the Marui VSR-10.

The Numbers:
Construction 6/10 The piston system should have been better designed. Parts are not compatible with other brands / makes of bolt-action Airsoft guns.
Features: 9/10 It ejects shells… how much cooler can it get?
Durability: 7/10 While testing nothing failed, I do question how it would work as a long-term skirmish gun.  For backyard use it is robust enough, but I would have liked to see a bit more solid construction in a skirmish ready gun.
Performance:7/10 FPS and range were on par with many other guns.  The only real flaw is the inconsistent hop unit.
Value: 8/10 Even given the inconsistencies and the lack up upgrade options, for the beginning Airsoft player this is a great value.  More veteran players might want to look at some of the higher end bolt actions however.
Price: $134.95 at Airsplat.com at the time of this article being written.

Links
Airsplat

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One response

22 12 2009
UHC Super X-9 Double Bolt Rifle « The Festering Wound of the Airsoft World

[…] Review of the UHC Super X-9 Double Bolt Rifle […]

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