Deep Fire AT4 40mm Launcher review by Booligan
Discuss this review HERE
Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
Anti-armor weapons have a limited role on the airsoft field, but in certain scenarios or game types, they can be hugely important and really add to the game dynamic. Most airsoft anti-armor weapons are home built designs, sometimes modeled after real weapon systems, but frequently based in fantasy. I've built a few 40mm powered mortars using PVC and various rubber couplers, but lately, I've been longing for something more realistic. Thankfully, Deep Fire answered that call and made an incredibly realistic replica of the AT4 launcher. Keep reading for more information on this awesome weapon system!
I'd been working with Deep Fire for almost a year on obtaining this replica, back during the development process. They finally finished it up, and working through Evike, I was able to get one to review! It's available HERE, priced currently at $600. Yes, it's expensive, but this is no flimsy home brew launcher. This thing is impressively close to the real AT4, and has some really interesting features that I'll go over in this review!
Basic Gun Information:
The Deep Fire AT4 is a 40mm powered launcher with a 57mm inner bore for launching large projectiles. It is based on the real AT4, built by Swedish Saab Bofors Dynamics. The real launcher is a single use, non reloadable, recoilless weapon designed for anti-tank/emplacement use. In my use, I'll be using the Milsim Labs 60mm foam round, as it's a perfect fit in the 57mm barrel. The launcher is made of a fiberglass outer tube with a metal inner barrel and firing mechanism. It comes with a really high quality sling, rubber end pieces, metal and plastic external components, and realistic stickers to make it look just like the real thing. It's a large weapon, designed to be thrown on your back and brought onto the field for specific scenarios.
The AT4 came in a large cardboard box without any markings indicating the gun held within. Oddly enough, packaged inside the box, there were stickers for the box itself, they just weren't put on it. This would just be the start of the do-it-yourself sticker experience with this gun. My first impression on pulling this massive thing out of the box was surprise with how big and heavy it really was. I've handled training AT4 launchers, as well as inert AT4 tubes before, and I was surprised at how well they pulled off the look and feel of it.
Along with the launcher itself, Deep Fire includes a pre-mounted sling, a page of stickers to be applied to the launcher, a thorough manual, and a spare cocking handle rod in case the one on the gun breaks.
From this point on, click on the thumbnails to view full size photos
Weight: 12 lbs
Sight Radius: 13.6"
This is going to be kind of a hard gun to do my normal external review breakdown, as it doesn't have the traditional gun layout, but I think I'll be able to break it down for you guys. The main body of the launcher is made of a fiberglass tube, finished in a matte OD paint job. It has rubber bumpers front and rear, with the front one being painted orange with really crappy flakey paint. On the outside of the tube, you'll find plastic and metal controls, which are attached to the main tube with a high strength tape, very similar to how the real one is built.
External overview, right side
The rear of the launcher has a rubber replica of the real launcher's venturi assembly. This allows you to access the inner loading mechanism. It has a octagonal shape to keep it from rolling if you set it down, which is a handy feature for transportation and storage.
Rear venturi assembly
Moving forward, you'll see the transportation safety pin, which must be removed before firing. If it's in place, it will prevent the firing rod from actuating the 40mm shell inside. It's secured to the launcher using a rubber cord so that it doesn't get lost when removed from the gun.
The gun does have a stock of sorts, which is a metal rectangular loop that folds down, and is attached to the gun with a nylon strip of fabric. When extended, it acts as a place to shoulder the launcher securely. There is also a plastic cheek rest to help you keep the gun comfortably shouldered. It is secured in the folded position with a metal snap.
The launcher has a somewhat complicated set of controls, consisting of a cocking lever, safety lever, and firing button. The cocking lever has two settings, safe and fire, and when you fire the launcher, the lever snaps back, replicating the real launcher's action. With the launcher cocked, firing is accomplished by holding the safety lever down and pushing the firing button. I'll go over the proper firing procedure in the Performance section of this review.
Cocking lever in the safe position
Cocked and ready to fire
Safety lever and firing button
In front of the controls, you can find the iron sights, which are secured under plastic covers. You slide the covers forward and backward, depending on the sight, and the sights will flip up. I had an issue with the rear sight cover, as you can slide it too far forward, and the retaining spring will pop out. Prevent this by only sliding the cover forward far enough for the rear sight to flip up. The sights are adjustable for range, and the rear has two different apertures for different accuracy requirements and ranges. The front sight has special aiming point for moving or stationary targets, and the proper aiming procedure is highlighted on a sticker on the side.
Sights covered up
Rear sight flipped up
Front flipped up
The front of the launcher has another rubber bumper which is painted orange. There is a rubber fire-through cover, but I'd recommend removing it so that it doesn't interfere with the firing of your projectile. It's not very well secured anyways, so if you want to keep it on, you would probably need to glue it into place. If you remove the bumper, you'll find that the front of the launcher tube itself is painted orange as well.
On the body of the launcher, you'll find a really high quality fabric sling which is adjustable for length. It's riveted in place, and can't be easily removed. I guess with the real launcher, if you hit your target in combat, it's tradition to cut off the sling and use it as a belt.
There are no trademarks on the AT4, however, there are extensive markings on the stickers that must be applied to the gun. Honestly, the stickers were one of the low points of the AT4 for me, as they didn't have a great adhesive applied to them, and tended to peel off the launcher after a few minutes. I resolved this by using a glue stick on the back of the sticker to help it stick. Since then, I haven't had any peeling issues.
Example of sticker
The AT4 doesn't use magazines, instead using a single 40mm shell of your choice to launch whatever you stick inside the 57mm inner barrel. It does not include a shell, so you'll need to get your own. The barrel is quite long, so you're going to want to get a shell with good gas capacity, preferably one that can use CO2. For my testing, I'll be using a variety of shells, from King Arms, Classic Army, Madbull, and S-Thunder. My main testing projectile will be the Milsim Labs 60mm foam mortar round, because it's the only thing I have that has a perfect fit in the barrel. They're coming out with a new 60mm round soon that should work well. Otherwise, you can use a few different projectiles, including foam footballs, BBs fired from the shells, foam stress balls, etc. Just make sure it's not too heavy, and that it's about 2.75" in diameter.
Performance of this launcher will vary wildly between your choice of shell, gas choice, and projectile being used. With a CO2 shell and foam 60mm round or Nerf football, you can easily get 200' range with some degree of accuracy. Obviously, if you're using just BBs out of a normal shell, with plenty of arcing, you'll get 100' range with a cloud rounds firing on your target, but honestly, I think that using this thing to shoot BBs is quite a waste of potential.
The gun has a fairly complex firing procedure, which is actually really well highlighted on the stickers placed on the gun. This was designed to hand to a relatively untrained grunt and have them use it effectively, and the stickers back that up.
Your first step in firing the launcher is to first load it. Pull the inner assembly out (instructions in the next section), load your projectile and shell, and slide it back into the gun. At that point, you can start following the firing directions on the stickers.
Remove the transportation safety pin
Cock the gun by sliding the cocking lever to the cocked position. Grab it at the base to prevent breaking the cocking lever.
Flip up the sights and aim. This is assuming you've already pulled down the shoulder stock
Aim the gun, hold down the safety lever when you're ready to fire
Push the fire button. The cocking handle will pop back violently and trigger the 40mm shell held within
The reloading procedure is pretty basic. First, you must return the cocking lever from fire back to safe, which will reset the firing rod. You can then pull out the internal assembly using the instructions in the next section and reload it.
Here is a quick video of the launcher in use:
EDIT: Here's a video I made after modifying it to shoot 40mm projectiles instead of 60mm ones.
To be honest, the majority of this launcher serves as a cosmetic covering for the relatively simple internal firing mechanism. Inside the launcher is a metal inner barrel with an aluminum breech loading system. The breech system and barrel can be pulled out of the rear of the launcher by pulling in the two locking rods and sliding it out the back of the main body. Once pulled out, you can push the lever to open the shell holder to reload the 40mm shell powering this thing.
Rear of the launcher, pull the two metal rods inward to unlock the inner unit
Inner barrel and breech loading system
Breech loading unit
Opened up to allow insertion of shell
40mm breech loaded shell holder specs
Inner barrel specs
Firing pin pivot, the firing rod pushes this down, activating the shell
To load up a foam round in the inner barrel, you'll need to push the two small metal buttons that allow separation between the breech loading system and inner barrel. You can then remove the shell holder and shove in your desired round.
Foam round inserted partially
To reinstall the inner assembly, slide it back in the rear of the main body, aligning it with the firing rod. When it's almost all the way in, you can push the locking rods in, and slide it all the way in, releasing the rods and ensuring that it locks in place.
Locking rods pushed in
There really aren't too many modifications to be done with this thing. If you so desired, you could throw a rail to mount an optic on it, but it would require drilling and tapping some screws to mount it up, as well as fabbing up a custom riser mount. The only mods I really recommend are to lube up the locking rods at the rear of the launcher, as they tend to get a little sticky, as well as adding glue to the stickers so they actually stick to the launcher itself.
Incredibly realistic replica of the real AT4
Correct firing system including proper firing order
Includes high quality sling
Durable metal internal firing system
Adjustable and accurate iron sights
Long inner barrel for getting relatively heavy rounds up to speed
Able to use pretty much any 40mm round
Expensive piece of equipment - $600 currently
Heavy and massive, it's really a pain to lug around
Retainer spring on rear sight can easily pop out if you pull the cover too far off
Stickers don't have a good adhesive, I had to add glue to get them to stick
The entire rubber front ring is painted orange, much more than necessary
If I'm being totally honest, this thing is absolutely not for every airsoft player. It's a specialized gun for specific scenarios, and it comes with a price to match. Yes, you can build a 40mm powered launcher for $10 in PVC pipes and rubber reducers, but it won't be nearly as gorgeous as this thing, nor will it have the realistic look needed for some OPs. This is Deep Fire's new halo gun, basically their top of the line, absolutely peak product in their product line, and I think it fits that role extremely well. If you find yourself needing a modern anti-armor replica, and have the budget to allow for the purchasing one of the highest quality ones on the market, this should absolutely be on your shopping list. It combines durable construction, realistic appearance, great performance, and pure intimidation into one awesome package.
Many thanks again to Evike, Deep Fire and of course, Airsoft Retreat!