Matrix (Apple Airsoft) RPG-7 40mm Launcher review by Booligan
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Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
The Matrix RPG, manufactured by Apple Airsoft, is a 40mm grenade shell powered launcher, modeled after the ubiquitous RPG-7 (with some design characteristics of the RPG-7D paratrooper model). Made of CNC machined aluminum and steel with a faux wood heatshield, this launcher looks simply gorgeous as a prop, but it is actually a usable weapon for the airsoft field. It's the most affordable, properly designed RPG replica on the market, coming in at $230 currently. I'll be discussing this details of this launcher, as well as my thoughts on it in this review, so keep reading for more information!
I requested this launcher through Evike, who has it available HERE, priced at $230. This is a great price, considering the other alternatives, including the Zeta Labs and Smokey's models, are $400-$1000 , if you can even find one in stock. This price qualifies it for Evike's free shipping offer, and it is eligible for their multitude of coupon codes, meaning you can get a pretty screaming deal on this thing if you check for coupons first.
Basic Gun Information:
The RPG comes as a “challenge kit”, which means you're going to have to do some construction on it before you can use it. Thankfully, it's very mild construction, only requiring you to screw a few things together with nothing else too crazy involved. The launcher is big, coming in over four feet long with the dummy warhead installed, however, it doesn't weigh TOO much, and it's very well balanced. It uses a muzzle loading system to load the 40mm gas charged shell, which is included. You can launch a few different things out of it, from the included plastic dummy warhead, to BBs out of the shell, or even a variety of foam projectiles like Milsim Labs rounds. One thing to note is that this replica of the RPG-7 uses iron sights, and it's not set up to mount an optic without some modifications. A replica like this is obviously a specialized weapon, for use with specific scenarios, and I'll talk about my recommendations with using it on the field a little later on.
The RPG comes in a large cardboard box with a flexible foam inner liner. As mentioned before, this comes as a "challenge kit", so it must be assembled before use. It only took me a few minutes to put everything together once I pulled it out of the box, and once I did, I couldn't stop grinning like an idiot. This is one of the most ridiculous airsoft replicas I've ever seen, and I mean that as a huge compliment. The thing is just plain awesome, and once you have it all together in front of you, you'll feel the same way.
Along with the launcher itself, you get a single 40mm gas powered shell, and a single plastic warhead. It's a pretty sparse package, but really, aside from a sling, there's not much else that you would need.
Weight: 6.4 lbs (surprisingly light, considering it's so big and full metal)
Length: 51.5" (with warhead) 37.5" (without warhead)
Sight Radius: 13"
As mentioned before, the Matrix RPG-7 is a full metal replica that is fitted with faux wood furniture. The main body is comprised of aluminum with steel bits scattered throughout for strength and durability. The overall finish looks quite good, with a matte black finish on the metal components and decent looking faux wood on the heatshield and grips. Aside from a few small wobbly portions, which I'll discuss in a bit, it's very solidly put together with no major structural concerns.
From this point on, click on the thumbnails to view full size photos
Overview, left side
Overview, right side
I'll start at the rear and work my way forward with the external details. At the very rear, you'll find a large steel ring which is attached to an aluminum back blast cone. This is a cosmetic piece, and accurately resembles the real weapon it is replicating. The threading is all very nicely machined throughout, allowing the whole thing to screw together very smoothly when you build it.
Moving forward, you'll hit the faux wood heatshield, which is fitted over an aluminum inner tube. The wood finish is a little bright, but I think it will weather up nicely with a little paint and dremel love. There is a seam line on both sides of the heatshield, but it's not too noticeable. The faux wood finish actually looks pretty nice. The heatshield can rotate even with everything tightened up, so I put a small amount of electrical tape on the inner metal tube to close the gap and tighten everything up. At the rear of the heatshield, you can install the steel rear sling mount, which works with the front mount for installing a sling.
Faux wood finish
Rear sling mount
Moving forward still, you'll hit the main receiver, which houses the grips, fire controls, and rear sight. The receiver is made up of several different sizes of tubing all machined to be basically one solid chunk. On the left side, you'll find the rear grip, which is for your non dominant hand, if my research into the proper way to hold an RPG is correct. Above the rear grip, you'll find the rear sight, which I'll discuss in detail in a bit. The trigger unit is installed from below and slides into a rear notch and is secured with a C-clip equipped pin at the front. The trigger unit has some wobble, so I'd recommend adding some tape or other space filler both at the rear notch and the pin hole.
The trigger assembly is made of metal with steel inner components. The trigger is a direct link to the hammer, which in turn is a direct link to the firing pin. This makes the trigger pull quite heavy, as it's directly pushing on the button at the rear of the shell. Sometimes, I can't get the trigger alone to trigger the shell, and I have to push on the hammer to fire the shell. Luckily, this is easy to do, as you can just push the hammer with your thumb. The hammer also acts at the shell release button, as pushing it down will lower the sear holding the shell in place, allowing it to slide out the front of the barrel after firing. As mentioned before, the trigger unit has some wobble that is easily rectified with a small amount of tape as filler.
Grip and trigger assembly
Right side of trigger assembly
Moving forward still, you'll hit the barrel, which only extends a few inches in front of the trigger assembly. On the right side, you'll find the sling mount which has a really wide gap between the two ends. This concerns me a bit, as it can hang up and bend the sling mount if you had a sling mounted to it. I'll be fabbing up a different sling mount with a smaller gap to rectify this. The front sight is located on the left side of the barrel, and like the rear unit, it flips up when in use. The short barrel does cause some performance issues, which I'll go over in the magazine and performance sections. Inside the barrel, where two of the sections meet, there was some glue securing it in place, however, there was an excess amount that had formed a blob which blocked the shell from being inserted. A few minutes with a dremel tool cleared it up and made it functional.
Front sling mount
Shot inside the barrel
The dummy warhead is hollow plastic, and is made up of several parts. I ended up gluing the parts together to keep them from coming apart, especially the very base portion that fits in the barrel. The warhead can be launched, but it's not the most effective projectile, as I'll discuss a little later on. When fitted in the barrel, it's pretty snug, but if you're intending to use this as a non-firing prop, you may want to add screw or something to keep it secured in there.
Removed from barrel
Aiming this launcher is accomplished using the steel flip up iron sights which are located on the left side of the launcher. They are designed for right handed shooters, and specifically, by placing the launcher on your right shoulder to fire. The rear sight is adjustable for range, and has a pretty shallow notch which makes aiming a bit tricky. The front sight is a bit of a conundrum. It flips up and can move from side to side a bit, but the actual sight itself is a copy of the Zeta Labs, which is a botched design. Normally, the front sight is a post with a protective hoop, but on this, they left a huge chunk of metal in the hoop, making it almost impossible to aim with. I used a dremel tool to cut off that metal piece, opening up the hoop, making it possible to aim.
Rear sight flipped up
Front sight flipped up, note the big chunk of metal blocking the sight picture
Seriously, how are you supposed to aim with this chunk here?
There are a few markings on the left side of the trigger unit which add to the realistic look of the whole thing.
Trigger unit markings
Being that this is a 40mm launcher, it doesn't use a magazine, instead using a single 40mm gas charged shell per shot. The kit comes with a single 120 round shell which is actually really nicely made, with good O-rings and a nicely anodized finish.
The included shell
12 loading holes, and an O-ring on the fill valve
This is where I ran into the biggest issue with this launcher, as they made the "barrel" tolerances so tight, it won't work with most 40mm shells out there. Since the shell is muzzle loaded, unlike most 40mm launchers which are breach loaded, the size of the base of the shell is absolutely critical to whether it'll fit or not.
My measurements of the inner diameter of the barrel show that it's about 42.5mm, however, most of the shells I tested were between 42.6 and 42.8mm. After testing shells from KA, S-Thunder, and Madbull, I was unable to fit any of them. The included shell's base measured 41.6mm, the smallest of any in my collection, and the only one that fit inside the barrel.
Inner barrel diameter
Included shell base diameter
S-Thunder shell base diameter
Madbull shell base diameter
So, this leaves you with a few options as far as shells go. The easiest option is to only buy shells with a base diameter less than 42mm, which are a little bit rare. Evike has indicated that their Matrix branded shells should work, but I'd measure that base before you commit to them. The second option would be to modify your shells to fit the launcher. There are a few methods for this, with the easiest being to simply use some sandpaper to remove a small amount of material from the base of the shell. The cleaner and more consistent method would be to clamp the shell in a lathe and use that to get a consistent amount of material removed from the base of the shell. The nice part about modifying them this way is that they'll still work fine in your other launchers, as the size of the base doesn't really affect their fitment into breach loaded launchers.
The next question is, what should you launch out of this thing? You've got a few options, with the easiest being to just launch the plastic warhead that this comes with. It doesn't fly very far, due to its less than ideal weight balance, construction, and the fact that it only sits about an inch or so into the barrel. It pops out and tumbles after 20 or so feet, making it a cosmetic option at best. In my testing, I tried out three different Milsim labs foam rounds, the 40mm slug, a prototype of their 2" round, and a 60mm mortar round. The slug fits well into the barrel, but has a little room around it, so it didn't have the best gas seal. A few wraps of electrical tape closed it up a bit and gave me the best range of the bunch, out to 60 or so feet with some degree of accuracy. This range and accuracy is due to the fact that it fit down in the barrel right against the shell, so it had the most time in the barrel to get up to speed.
EDIT: Check the 2nd video for my updated testing with Milsim Labs' M385 foam round, which gives me at least 100' of "vehicle accurate" firing capabilities.
Barrel length to the front of the stock shell
40mm Milsim Labs slug
Tucked down right against the shell
The other two shells looked a little better, as they actually stuck out the front of the barrel a bit, but they only flew slightly better than the plastic warhead. They are better balanced, but since they don't have enough barrel to ride in after firing, they don't have the speed and stability needed for stable flight.
2" round shoved down against the shell
So, this leaves you in a bit of a pickle as far as what to launch out of this thing. As I noted, the best performance came from the 40mm slug round, but without that sexy warhead hanging out the front, it doesn't really look like an RPG-7. I know, this is mainly me being a perfectionist, but I'd like a more ballistically sound round to fire out of it. If nothing else, this launches a cloud of BBs out of the shell VERY well, and for close range use, that can be absolutely devastating.
Performance will vary depending on the shell and projectile, but see my notes above for my testing information.
Like most 40mm launchers, this thing has extremely simple internals. The trigger mechanism is made entirely out of metal, and is quite robust. The trigger is connected to the external hammer, which doubles as the shell release mechanism. The trigger pull is quite heavy with the included shell, and sometimes, to get the shell to fire, you must push on the hammer while pulling the trigger, due to the direct connection with the button on the back of the shell. Other than that, this gun has a full metal backbone that is nicely screwed together making it extremely solid.
Trigger pulled, firing rod extended
There are a few mods that you can and should do to the RPG before using it too much. First off, the wobbly trigger unit drove me crazy, so I used a small amount of electrical tape to close the gap and get rid of the wobble. Second, the poorly replicated front sight made it basically unusable, so I dremeled the extra material off, opening up the hood and making it usable, as pictured before. Other than that, I'm in the process of mounting up a side rail and procuring a real RPG optic, which should add to the look of this thing, if not adding a nice ability to estimate ranges on the field.
An affordable RPG-7 replica! ($230 at time of writing)
Full metal construction
Faux wood finish on grips and heatshield look quite nice
CNC aluminum and steel used throughout
Comes with 40mm shell
Able to launch the included plastic warhead (albeit not very far or accurate)
Sling mounts at the front and rear
Relatively lightweight, only a little over 6 lbs
The included warhead doesn't fly well, and the only ones that do don't look right with the launcher
Wobbly trigger unit, which is easily fixed
Mine had excess glue inside the barrel, required some sanding before it would even fit a shell
Shell usage is quite picky, see magazine section for details
No optic mount, but one can be modified to fit
If you look at my review history, you'll see that I've tested out quite a few 40mm launcher platforms, from a simple XM203 to the incredible complicated, but beautiful, Deep Fire AT4, and this fits somewhere in between, with a very simple firing and loading mechanism, but an incredible cosmetic look. If you were using this simply as a prop, it would be absolutely perfect, and be priced far less than other prop RPGs on the market. But this has the added benefit of being a functional replica, able to fire 40mm shells either using BBs or another projectile. Unfortunately, the RPG design itself doesn't allow for the most effective use of large projectiles, due to the short barrel system, keeping this from being an absolute game changer. If this used a system with the 40mm shell mounted in the rear, and using the entire inner assembly as a barrel, this would be very hard to beat. For now, it's a beautiful replica that is functional and able to be used in a skirmish, albeit with some limitations in its current form. It's a replica that I'm thrilled to add to my collection, and I look forward to using it as an anti-armor/material weapon on the field!
Many thanks again to Evike, and of course, Airsoft Retreat! Also, be sure to watch the shelves for Airsoft Insider's inaugural issue on July 9th, 2013!