TSD/SRC Tracer Unit
SRC Tracer Unit review by Booligan
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Ever since I got rid of my 1st generation TM tracer unit, Iâ€™ve been looking for a suitable replacement for my night operation usage. I have used the G&P â€œIlluminatorâ€ mags, with less than stellar results. Iâ€™ve looked into the 2nd generation TM unit, but with no primary US based importer, prices run high and availability is scarce at best. The AMP unit isnâ€™t worth the time or money in my opinion. That leaves us with the SRC tracer unit, which is imported and sold by Team Specialized Distribution, better known as TSD. It offers some great features that the others donâ€™t have, but with a few drawbacks that may affect some users. Iâ€™ll cover all of these things in the coming sections.
I obtained this tracer unit directly from TSD in order to give it my normal unbiased review for you ASR readers from around the world. It is priced at retailers like Evike and AirsoftGI at about $99, compared to $110-$130+ for the TM 2nd generation unit. It is also readily available since TSD imports it regularly, when you could end up waiting months for a TM to come in stock at most stores due to the unstable supply system.
Basically, if you havenâ€™t used a tracer unit before, you donâ€™t know what youâ€™re missing. Combined with â€œglowâ€ BBs, you have a very realistic tracer system for night game usage that allows you to track your shots when firing. Since so much of airsoft shooting is based on reacting to where your shot is actually flying as opposed to purely aiming through the sights, this can be a very valuable tool for shooting at night. Technically, itâ€™s a muzzle mounted device with an IR photogate sensor which is powered by an internal rechargeable battery unit that triggers a strobe light to flash, instantly charging the UV reactive BB as it flies through it. All you need to know is that itâ€™s fun!
SRC designed a nice package to hold the unit complete with pictures of various SRC AEGs with the unit mounted on (albeit with the unit photoshopped on in most of the pics). Everything is secured nice and firmly inside the foam lower piece of the box to protect it from the knocks that it will likely take in shipping.
From here on, click all pictures to enlarge
Safe and sound
The unit comes as a complete package, with the tracer unit itself, an internal 4.8v 700 mAh NiMH battery pack (w/ charge computer), 12v 500 mAh charger, a bag of 500 .20g â€œFireflyâ€ tracer BBs, and a few instruction/warning papers.
Everything all together
Details of the charger
Follow these if you want to live
Length: 160mm (6.29â€)
Width: 36mm (1.41â€)
The SRC tracer unit is constructed entirely out of metal for a sturdy, if not surprisingly lightweight feel.
Starting at the back, the first piece would best be called the base, as itâ€™s the part that houses the 14mm- threaded adapter that screws onto the muzzle of your airsoft gun. It unscrews clockwise to allow you to charge the internal battery pack.
Moving forwards, you can see the side mounted on-off switch which is a nice feature to prevent draining your batteries when not in use.
There is a checkered finish to help you grip the unit firmly when screwing or unscrewing it on.
Moving forwards, youâ€™ll hit the laser engraved trademarks, including the patent number for SRCâ€™s design. They didnâ€™t put any real caliber markings on the gun which is a nice touch if youâ€™re using it on multiple guns.
The muzzle is relatively plain but looks good and serves its purpose well. It measures about 9mm in diameter.
Muzzle, battery seen inside
Overall, externally, itâ€™s a solid build. Itâ€™s not too big, so it looks good on most guns, but itâ€™s not too small at the same time. The laser engraved trademarks and checkering make it look and feel good. The side mounted on-off switch looks a little wonky and could possible catch on your gear, but it is close at hand so you can quickly turn the unit on and off.
Using the unit is a pretty simple process.
First off, you need to charge the internal battery pack using the included charger. You need to unscrew the base cap and set the external power switch halfway between on and off.
Then, after plugging in the charger to the wall outlet, you need to plug the other end into the unit, which is only possible when the switch is halfway between on and off. Youâ€™ll know itâ€™s charging when the red LED turns on.
The unit will now charge until it is full and will stop automatically. The battery capacity is listed as 700 mAh, and the charger is listed as 500 mAh, so it should take a bit over an hour to charge it fully. It appears that the auto-cutoff device is in the tracer unit itself instead of in the charger. When itâ€™s done the red LED will turn off, signaling you to unplug the charging plug. At this point screw the base back onto the main unit and turn the unit off until youâ€™re ready to use it. You can now mount it to the 14mm- threaded muzzle of your airsoft gun. If your airsoft gun doesnâ€™t have a 14mm- threaded muzzle, get the proper adapter to make it work.
Now, load up your magazine with your choice of tracer BBs. Iâ€™ve used both the included Firefly brand BBs as well as Airsplat brand tracer BBs with great results. The next step is simple, just turn it on and start firing, and the unit will do the rest, sending a stream of glowing projectiles downrange and towards your target!
Now, some things to note. The battery life isnâ€™t terribly great, only offering 2-3 hours of constant use in my testing (ambient temps about 65 degrees) before needing to be recharged. As with all rechargeable batteries, they will likely die one day and no longer hold a full charge, especially if you donâ€˜t keep it charged. This can be offset by putting it on the charger every two months when not in use. This will keep the batteries relatively full and should postpone battery failure for quite some time. If, however, you do have your batteries die out on you, you can contact TSD for help. If you canâ€™t get any support, Evike sells a replacement battery pack for about $15.
Also, TSD has acknowledged the stock battery shortcomings, and is releasing a replacement pack using Intellect battery cells!
Affordable and easily found tracer unit
Full metal externals
Rechargeable internal battery included
Fits practically all 14mm- threaded airsoft guns
Power switch is easily accessible
Not able to change batteries in the field
If the batteries die for good, they are not easily replaced
Battery life may be too short if you do all night games
Power switch can be accidentally switched on or off
Having come from the 1st generation TM tracer unit, I expect my tracer to work well in all conditions. The SRC unit does just that, while offering some marked improvements over the 1st gen TM unit. The 2nd generation TM unit does have the edge over the SRC in some regards, namely the easy battery replacement, but it does suffer from a higher price and limited availability. Overall, the SRC is certainly a great option if youâ€™re in need of a tracer unit!
Many thanks again to TSD, Deadrag Airsoft Radio and of course, AirsoftRetreat!