Echo 1 SOG-68 (CAR-15) AEG Review by Booligan
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Basic Gun Information
In their ongoing quest to fill the market with unique AEGs, Echo 1 has produced this model, which they've dubbed the SOG-68. Modeled after one of the early prototypes of the CAR-15, this compact AEG is something that would be a decent option for a Vietnam era re-enactor, or just for someone who likes the AR platform but doesn't want the normal M4/16. Combining a compact overall size with a perfectly skirmishable performance, it should be considered as an option for anyone who's in the market for a unique AEG. It has a few really cool features, as well as some small concerns that I'll go over in this review!
I ordered this gun through Airsplat, who has it available HERE priced currently at $185. This more than qualifies it for Airsplat's free shipping promotion for all orders over $89. The gun shipped out the day after I ordered it, and got to me a few days later using UPS Ground. The gun arrived safe and sound without any shipping damage. I want to thank Airsplat for their continued support of Airsoft Retreat and Booligan Airsoft's review program!
Basic Gun Information:
The SOG-68 is a polymer bodied AEG with a fixed carry handle, adjustable stock, and shortened triangular foregrip. The battery is stored in the foregrip, which somewhat limits your power options, however, I'll go over a few options that I've found that work really well. It's a pretty damn accurate replica of the earliest CAR-15 prototypes, which were basically "kitbash" guns, using whatever parts they had that they could make work into a more compact version of the M16. The gun features the proper "slabside" receiver, period correct pistol grip, and fixed carry handle adding to the unique look. Like damn near all AR AEGs, it had a V2 gearbox which is stuffed full of some Echo 1 goodies to make it run like a dream!
The SOG-68 comes in a small cardboard box with a flexible foam inner liner that is custom cut to fit the gun. When you pull the box open and pull the foam cover off of the gun, you're greeted by the gorgeous polymer body and mildly textured finish on the furniture. Pulling the gun out, you'll notice that the weight balance is great, with the center of gravity coming in right around the pistol grip, right where it should be!
Along with the AEG itself, Echo 1 includes two hi-cap magazines, including one of the cooler ones that I've seen for AR replicas, an 8.4v nunchuk battery, a trickle charger, a small bag of tools, warranty card and a cleaning/unjamming rod. It's really a complete package, only requiring you to add some additional ammo and you're good to go. Surprisingly, the included battery is usable in the gun, however, if you really want to hose some ammo downrange, an upgraded battery will go a long way.
Click on the individual thumbnails to see the full size photos
Weight: 5.4 lbs
Length: 27" – 29.25"
Width: 2.75" (at handguard)
Height: 8.75" (carry handle to pistol grip)
Sight Radius: 14.6"
The externals of this gun have caused a pretty divisive split between people who love it and people who hate it. Most of the people who indicate that they don't like it have expressed that it's a cheap caricaturized version of the M16A1, almost like a mini scale replica. Few people realize that this gun is in fact based on a real, early variant of the CAR-15. In the early life of the M16, they elected to start development on a more compact version for special purposes. One of the things they did was to chop down the barrel, shorten the gas system, and modify the M16's triangular handguard by cutting it in half for the new shortened gas system. They also developed a 3 position adjustable "full" stock to further shrink the gun down to a more compact size. This gun replicates this early variant, with the shortened triangular handguard and adjustable full stock.
Photo of the real CAR-15
So, as you can see, the SOG-68 does a damn fine job of replicating this early progenitor to the compact M4s that we all know and love. It has a polymer receiver, however, one using a special attachment system that I'll go over in the internal section. The matte black finish on the receiver blends well with the mildly textured finish on the furniture, and the whole gun reeks of "black gun" goodness.
Overview, left side
Overview, right side
That funky three position adjustable stock is one of my favorite features on this gun, so it's as good as any place to start with my external details. It is adjusted using the rear mounted lever which unlocks the locking mechanism allowing the stock to extend and retract. It is spring compressed, so when you flip that lever, the stock will extend on its own, and you have to push against the spring tension to retract it. There is a small amount of front and back freeplay with the stock in the extended positions, and the rear sling mount is quite noisy if there's not a sling attached to it.
Stock all the way out
Stock all the way in
The receiver may look like a standard fixed handle unit, but upon closer inspection you will find a few major differences. First off, this is what is commonly referred to as a "slab side" receiver, as there is no forward assist or shell deflector on the right side of the upper receiver. This is a great replica of the earliest M16 era guns, which this real gun would have been based on. You'll also notice the lack of "fencing" around the magazine release button. They added this feature later on to prevent accidental mag drops due to the unprotected magazine release button. Hey, it's not the best, but it is accurate to what the real gun would have.
Slab sided goodness
No fencing here
My new desktop background, this is a very photogenic gun
The controls are otherwise identical to what you would normally have on an M16/ M4 replica. You'll find a standard three position selector switch on the left side, as well as a non-functioning bolt catch and charging handle that pops open the dust cover on the upper receiver. The pistol grip is a very comfortable and period correct replica of the real CAR-15 unit. It features texturing on the sides and no finger groove, and is one of my favorite original equipment AR grips.
No faux bolt under the dust cover
Small hex screw adjustment
Moving forward from the receiver, you'll notice the shortened triangular handguard which doubles as the battery compartment on this front wired AEG. The handguard is made of a great feeling polymer and has a slight textured finish, like the stock. Pushing down on the angled delta ring (a small cosmetic foible, as this should have the cylindrical delta ring) will allow you to remove the handguard into two pieces to install the battery. You're going to want to use a nunchuck or small LiPo pack in this gun, as space is at a premium. I was pleased with the fact that there was very little wobble with the handguard, only a mm or so in each direction.
The outer barrel is a "one piece" metal unit with no perceptible wobble where it meets the receiver. It is terminated in an orange plastic birdcage type flashhider, which I promptly removed upon receiving the gun. It's the wrong flashhider for the gun and looks just plain bad, however, Echo 1 does sell the correct flashhider on their site, which I have mounted on this gun. The SOG really needs this flashhider to look right. That being said, under the orange plastic abomination, you will find standard 14mm- threading so you can go nuts and mount whatever you want.
Outer barrel and front sight
The correct, optional flashhider
In order to aim this gun, you can use the correctly replicated adjustable iron sights. The front sight is a standard gas block integrated unit and is adjustable for elevation. The rear sight is built into the non-removable carry handle and is adjustable for windage. It has dual apertures for close and long range, but it's damn stiff and I haven't been able to flip it up to the long range setting. The short range is just fine for airsoft use, so I'm not too worried about it.
Echo 1 has applied a few simple trademarks on the left side of the receiver. There is nothing "real steel" on the gun, but the markings are simple, cleanly applied, and tasteful for the overall look. Better than the Zombie Killer trademarks that you'll find on the G&P CAR-15 replica in my opinion.
Echo 1 includes two full metal hi-caps with the SOG-68, and unlike most gun packages, the magazines are different from each other. The first is a standard "VN" 180 round short magazine which is period correct for the design of the gun. This mag is boring so I won't be gushing over it. The second mag is incredibly simple in its design, but I'm absolutely in love with the look of it. It's a long, uncurved straight style mag that holds about 300 rounds. This thing looked awesome in every AR that I've thrown it in so far, and I really hope that Echo 1 makes them available separately.
That's just plain sexy
QPS? The plot thickens...
Due to the standard lower receiver design, the gun will fit pretty much any mag you throw at it, and I didn't have any issues with a wide variety of hi, low, and mid-cap magazines from several manufacturers.
Performance after a 500 round break-in, using Airsplat .20g ammo is as follows:
High FPS: 369.2 FPS
Low FPS: 362.3 FPS
Average FPS: 365.6 FPS
Rate of fire with the stock 8.4v battery came in around 14-15 with a fresh charge, and closer to 12-13 after a break-in period. For optimum performance, you're really going to want to run a higher voltage battery. To test the "LiPo Ready" claim (which is all marketing BS, regardless of which company is saying it, as all AEGs can theoretically run a LiPo), I tossed in my new 11.1v Tenergy 20C 1000 mAh pack. Using this battery, which just barely fit in one side of the handguard, I was able to hum along at 21 RPS, which is my sweet spot for all around AEG usage.
Range and accuracy surprised the hell out of me. This gun has a moderate power output and a short barrel, only 280mm long, but I was able to sling heavier weight (Airsplat .25g) ammo downrange onto a torso sized target at 155' pretty comfortably. I'd recommend sub-150' engagement distances with this gun most of the time, but don't feel bad taking a long shot with this thing, the range might just surprise you. I know it surprised me!
Inside this gun you'll find a pretty standard V2 gearbox, however getting to that gearbox is not a simple affair. Now, with most AR AEGs, either polymer or metal bodied, you can simple pop out a pin or two and either pivot or slide the upper receiver off of the lower receiver, with the gearbox remaining inside the lower. Not so with this gun, as it uses a different receiver set-up that requires you to totally dismantle the lower receiver before pulling it off the gearbox, which then slides out of the back of the upper receiver.
There are a few reasons for going with this assembly method, and the main one is that the upper receiver is held closely onto the gearbox shell for a sturdier feel. The other benefit is that this system uses tabs at the rear of the upper receiver that lock into slots in the lower receiver, basically eliminating the concern of a floppy broken receiver if you happen to break off the pin retention tabs, which is a somewhat common issue with polymer bodied AR AEGs. For full disassembly directions, I recommend watching Brian's tech video on the Echo 1 Youtube page, as he has one that explains the proper procedures to follow.
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about what the hell is powering this thing. As mentioned before, you'll find a standard V2 gearbox inside the SOG, albeit one fitted with high quality 8mm ball bearings for smooth firing. You'll also find a contact-less selector switch, which is my preferred set-up for electrical reliability.
Hey! A gearbox!
It's got another side. IT'S LIKE IT'S IN 3D!
I've got my bearings straight, how about you?
Inside the gearbox you'll find steel standard torque/speed gears, a fancy orange polymer piston with shaved first teeth, a ported piston head and a solid brass spring guide. The cylinder is a ported type 1 unit fitted with a nylon cylinder head and flexible tappet plate. The air-nozzle doesn't have an O-ring fitted inside, but the airseal was surprisingly good for a stock AEG. Shimming wasn't bad at all, and the lube was a perfectly acceptable amount, something I've come to appreciate with the latest Echo 1 guns that I've had my hands on.
Mmmmm. Dem gears...
Boring spring guide, but hey, it's metal!
Cylinder head and air nozzle
The SOG is fitted with a 280mm inner barrel which is reported as having a 6.06mm inner bore. The barrel is mounted in a clear plastic hop-up unit and fitted with an orange Madbull bucking. Another perk of buying an Echo 1 gun. Fit on the hop-up components were quite good, with no discernible looseness or spots where you would see an air leak.
Hop-up and barrel
The motor is a standard medium torque/speed unit. Again, nothing really groundbreaking, but for the desired stock performance levels of this gun, it works just fine. If you want something with more oomph, it's a standard long type motor and upgrades are available.
Plain Jane motor
Even though this gun is really unique as it sits, you can certainly modify it easily, since it's an AR platform at heart. I do recommend getting rid of the plastic birdcage flashhider and going with the proper one pictured throughout this review, which you can purchase through Echo 1.
Other than that, externally at least, there isn't a damn thing you should do to it. MAYBE adding a period correct carry handle mounted low magnification optic, but that's it. This design pre-dates rail mounted nonsense, and if you want an M4, buy an M4, leave this poor thing alone.
An affordable and realistic replica of the CAR-15
Adjustable stock for different sized shooters
Comfortable and period correct pistol grip
Comes with two hi-caps, including the awesome extended one
Gorgeous slab-sided receiver
Skirmishable performance out of the box
Great weight balance and relatively light weight
Stock has a bit of front and back movement when locked
The included flashhider looks pretty bad, but the correct one is available
The disassembly procedure is a pain in the butt
Limited battery space
Rear sling mount is quite noisy if a sling isn't attached
I'm always a fan of unique airsoft replicas, even if that replica is based on the ubiquitous AR platform. The SOG-68 replicates one of my absolute favorite gun models, and it does it at an affordable price and with fantastic build quality. Since it's an Echo 1, you have the benefit of the 30 day warranty as well as US based support in case something goes wrong. I haven't seen a company get as involved with the end customers as Echo 1, so feel free to check out their Facebook page if you ever have a question on their products.
As for me and this gun, I was planning on this thing being a wallhanger more than anything else. This changed once I really started playing around with it, and was really impressed with the build quality and performance, and I'd have absolutely running this gun in a primary role in either a CQB or outdoor environment. It's really an awesome gun with very few shortcomings, and I'm glad to add it to my collection!
Many thanks again to Airsplat for providing the gun to review, and for their continued support of our review programs, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!