The guys at Vanaras sent us a few of their new POM/Metal M203 shells for testing. We were excited to give them a go and see how they performed. The previous generation of POM shells they offered up for review were good, but we did find some faults in the design over long term testing, and hope to see that they have improved.
Looking over the shell we were quite excited at what we found. They appear to have designed the shell with a similar push button to the EGO / Aquila shells that I’ve used in the past. The EGO shells were great performers and I expect great things out out of these Vanaras shells. They came wrapped in nothing more than bubble wrap, no fancy packaging or such… but that’s fine by me. The machining looked clean and the o-rings appear to be good quality. Hopefully by the end of the review I’ll feel the same way.
Materials and Construction
Unlike the previous “POM” shells I reviewed from Vanaras, these are more of a hybrid design. By that I mean the top half of the shell is made of “POM” or what is more commonly referred to as Delrin, and the bottom half is made of aluminum. The valve and push button appear to be steel.
The o-ring that retains the bbs appears to be well made and does not exhibit any flashing or obvious imperfections. They were also attentive enough to include an o-ring around the fill valve to ensure that you would not spray gas everywhere while filling the shell. The top half of the gas fill valve appears to be made of chromed brass with the bottom half being brass. The valve is your usual fill valve design with a stopper and an o-ring that sit on top of a spring. The threads on the valve are decent and the threads on the shell seem well made.
The piston valve inside the upper half of the shell is very well machined and makes a very tight seal with the gas chamber through the use of a green o-ring. The o-ring itself has a slight ridge that goes about the circumfrence of the o-ring, but it still seems to seal well. It’s the design of both this coupled with the trigger system that make this design one that should be reliable, and self resetting. A feature of the valve to note is the holes drilled around the edge of the piston valve. I’m guessing that this helps direct the gas and aids in turning the liquid propane into gas during the firing of the shell.
Looking at the bottom half of the shell we find the metal seat. The threads at first glance appear decently made, but looking a bit closer I find some defects in the threads where the threads themselves are damaged. This could have happened between the time of manufacturer and assembly. We found similar damage on 2 of the 3 samples sent to us. The trigger assembly consists of push button, 4 chromed steel ball bearings, and a chromed steel spring. The only nit picky complaint is that they did not finish the spring with a flat wind, but rather just cut it to length. The outside of the shell features the Vanaras website address engraved near the base.
The grenade shell weighs in about 170g when empty. Filled with propane at an ambient temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the shell weighs 172 grams. The previous design only held about 1g of propane, so I would expect a bit better performance here.
The shell itself holds 60 rounds. With everything loaded up with .2g bbs the shell weighs in at 182g (which makes it lighter than most empty shells on the market).
Firing with the shell between a 5-10 degree angle the range measured just over a 100 feet to the farthest bb, and a width of about 20 feet at maximum spread. This is better than the 80ft x 17.5ft results of the previous shell design.
After firing the shell we were able to immediately refill the gas into the shell without any need to reset it. After repeated firings we found that it did not need to be reset even one time. One thing I did notice is that it takes quite a bit of pressure if you’re going to fire these by hand. I know some of you guys out there just use the shells alone (without a launcher), and with the amount of force needed to set off the shell, you might be best off using a launcher.
Overall the construction of this shell seems to be above average and absolutely excellent for the price. The ease of use in this self resetting design is excellent. The range is decent given the size of the shell and the amount of gas that it is able to hold. The one thing I would really like to see is a similar design done with 8mm bbs, and a longer shell with a larger gas chamber to allow for greater velocity and range. After a skirmish and some testing at the shop, the shell seems pretty durable and only time will tell if there is anything to the contrary.
Construction: 9/10 The threads on the aluminum base are imperfect. We found similar damage on 2 of the 3 samples sent to us.
Features: 7/10 I would like to see a bit more gas capacity and a larger bb capacity… basically a bigger shell.
Durability: 8/10 Given that these are designed like the Aquila/EGO shells, they should be durable but only time will tell.
Performance: 8/10 Again, with more gas capacity and larger bb capacity the performance score would have been higher (or if it was an 8mm version).