Echo 1 Igor VSS Vintorez AEG Review by Booligan
Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
Lately, it seems like Echo 1 has been specializing in Eastern European Bloc weapons, as some of their most recent guns have been AK variants, Russian support and sniper rifles, and more. In keeping with this theme, their latest gun is the Echo 1 Red Star Igor, a replica of the VSS Vintorez. This gun is quite rare in the airsoft world, and the Echo 1 is pretty much one of the first ones to hit the market. Today, we'll be looking at a pre-production model that is pretty damn close to hitting shelves, so if you're interested in this unique AEG, keep reading for more info!
I was sent this gun directly through Echo 1, who will be distributing it to all of the major airsoft retailers and will have it available for sale directly through their own website. It's not currently for sale, but the website lists it at $220-$230, depending on if you want black or fake wood for the stock. This price includes a battery and charger, as well as Echo 1's 30 day warranty as well as after-sale support once that warranty runs out.
Basic Gun Information:
The Echo 1 Igor is a replica of the VSS Vintorez, a specially designed covert sniper rifle used by Spetsnaz and other units. The gun doesn't have much of an outer barrel, instead, the entire front end is a large mock silencer on the airsoft version. Constructed with a mix of metal and high strength polymers, the Igor is sturdy while remaining fairly light weight. Its design makes it a great option for either counter sniper or DMR type use, especially after performing some gearbox upgrades.
The Igor arrived in a standard Echo 1 type box with a few labels indicating the gun held within and some of its specs and features. Inside the box, I was pleased to find that everything was held in place using black high density foam, which kept everything safe during shipping. I was surprised with the overall size of the gun, because it really looks like it should be bigger than it is. It's certainly not a tiny gun, but it is smaller than you think it would be.
Click on the individual thumbnails to see the full size photos
Along with the gun itself, Echo 1 includes two polymer hi-cap magazines, a 9.6v 1200 mAh battery, trickle charger, and warranty card. The battery is decent quality, but for peak performance, you will want to upgrade this first.
Weight: 5.6 lbs
Sight Radius: 12.3"
Length of Pull: 15"
The Echo 1 Igor could be considered a "Full Metal" replica, as everything that is metal on the real gun is metal on the replica. Along with the metal body and outer barrel/mock silencer, Echo 1 installed a polymer handguard and stock. This polymer stock is the biggest point of contention with many of this gun's detractors, because the real gun comes with a wood stock of a similar design. Echo 1 also has a faux wood version available for a few more bucks, and I'm sure a real wood conversion kit will be produced by someone down the line.
External overview, right side
External overview, left side
The aforementioned stock is a polymer thumbhole design with a pretty length of pull, coming in at 15". Players with very short arms may have issues with this gun. The distance from the trigger to the back of the grip will also negatively affect smaller players, however, for me, it's pretty much perfect. The stock has a rubber butt pad which is secured with two screws which must be removed in order to access the battery compartment. Don't expect quick battery changes with this gun. Otherwise, the stock is more comfortable than most other thumbhole designs that I've encountered. A sling mount is located on the left side and is used in conjunction with a small sling mount on the left side of the receiver.
Plenty of room on the grip
The receiver is immediately reminiscent of an AK pattern rifle, with a left sided scope mount and a right sided selector switch, as well as a rock-in type magazine. The selector switch is much shorter than an AK unit, making it very easy to manipulate with your right finger, and it is in the familiar safe-auto-semi AK type pattern. The pivot screw on the selector switch does tend to get loose after a while, so a small amount of loctite would be a good idea here.
Receiver, right side
Receiver, left side
Removing the top cover is very simple, only requiring you to push the small button located at the rear and lifting it off of the lower receiver. This will expose the charging handle assembly as well as the top of the receiver. Unfortunately, on my example, one of the slide-on gearbox clips is quite loose, and it will occasionally jam up the mock bolt, prohibiting it from returning fully forward. You can normally access the hop-up adjuster by pulling back the charging handle, and allowing it to slap forward does have a nice sound.
Top cover removed
Hop-up adjuster exposed
The handguard really is as simple of a design as you could ask for without any rails or other complications mucking up the design. There is a small sling mount located on the left side and that's pretty much it. It's not terribly comfortable due to its squared off bottom design, but it does get the job done.
There's really not much of an outer barrel to speak of with the Igor as it is pretty much entirely comprised of a mock silencer. This silencer fits very securely onto the receiver with no wobbles or free play that I noticed. The front end has a nicely knurled finish and the whole thing is terminated in a large plastic orange muzzle.
The iron sights are actually installed on this mock silencer and are very similar to AK type units that you might already be used to. The rear sight features an adjustment slider for elevation changes and the front appears to be adjustable for windage and elevation with the proper tools. Keep in mind, these sights are basically designed to be last-ditch options on the real gun, but they certainly are usable in the field. The left sided scope mount allows installation of a wide range of side mounted optics, so fitting a scope on this thing will be a simple affair.
Simple sight picture
There are a few trademarks on the gun, both of which are located on the magazine well. On the left side, underneath the scope mount, you'll find "Echo 1 Igor" and on the right side, a Red Star marking can be found. The markings are somewhat discrete and unobtrusive, which I consider a plus.
Echo 1 markings
Red Star marking
The included magazines hold 150 rounds each and are hi-cap designs with a bottom mounted winding wheel. They are proprietary in design to the Igor, and I do not know if they will be compatible with any of the other VSS/AS VAL AEGs coming out soon. The winding wheel is fairly recessed into the bottom of the magazine, and as such, is difficult to wind when wearing gloves.
Performance after a 500 round break-in, using ASGI G4 .20g ammo is as follows:
High FPS: 365.1 FPS
Low FPS: 352.3 FPS
Average FPS: 361.8 FPS
The velocity fell right into my sweet spot of 360 FPS, which is my personal preferred velocity for general use AEGs. Consistency wasn't terrific, with a 13 FPS swing from lowest to highest, showing that there is room for improvement in the air-seal.
Range and accuracy were quite good once I fed it some slightly heavier ammo, specifically Echo 1 .25g BBs. The Madbull bucking puts plenty of spin on the BB, allowing it to work very well with heavier weight ammo. At this velocity, .25g BBs are just about perfect, and after spending a few minutes adjusting the hopup, I was consistently putting rounds on my standard torso sized target out to 160' with 90% consistency.
Rate of fire with the included 9.6v is right around 15 RPS, and when I installed my Tenergy 11.1v LiPo, I saw an improvement up to 18 RPS. The gun sounds pretty smooth when firing, without any gear/motor screeching or anything like that.
The Igor is fitted with a metal V3 gearbox with a few slight modifications to work with the gun's layout. It features steel gears, a nylon piston with steel teeth, 7mm steel bearings, and plastic spring guide. The cylinder head, tappet plate, and air nozzle are specific in design to the Igor, and Echo 1 should have spares available. A sector chip helps ensure smooth feeding even at high rates of fire.
For detailed info on the internals, I'd recommend watching this video by Brian at Echo 1.
The Igor comes with a clear polymer one-piece hop-up unit which is fitted with an orange Madbull bucking. It is easily adjusted using the slider located underneath the faux bolt. The inner barrel is 428mm long and is listed as being a 6.04mm inner bore.
Electrically, you'll find a short type motor installed with high strand count wiring. An inline fuse is located in the stock, near the mini Tamiya type connector for easy changing in case it burns out. Battery space is limited to stick type units, as it is located in the lower portion of the skeletonized stock. You have plenty of depth though, so 10.8v standard chemistry packs or stick/buffer tube type LiPos will be good to go.
Externally, your modification options will initially be limited, as there really aren't any parts or many accessories available at this point. The side mount will allow you to install optics if desired, helping you turn it more into an AEG Sniper Rifle/DMR, after plenty of internal upgrades. For the most part, the Igor utilizes V3 gearbox components, with the cylinder head, tappet plate, and air nozzle being the standout oddball pieces, so internal upgrades are a piece of cake.
One of the first affordable VSS Vintorez replicas
Includes two magazines
Full metal construction
Sturdy build, no creaks or wobbles to be found
Skirmishable performance out of the box
Comes with very high end internal components
Madbull bucking gives you great range and accuracy
30 day limited US based warranty
After-sale support with parts and service through Echo 1
On my example, the slide-on clamp on the top of the gearbox is loose, occasionally jamming up the fake bolt (pre-production example, so the final model might not have this issue)
Some slight appearance differences from the real gun and other replicas on the market
Real wood furniture would be a nice touch, but at least a faux wood version is available
Occasionally, I will get double cycles on semi-auto
Selector switch tends to loosen itself, you'll want to loctite it in place
Right now, if you're in the market for a VSS Vintorez, you will soon have a few options to choose from. Some have better internals, some have better externals, but I personally think that this is a good option for your run-of-the-mill airsofter. Combining decent externals, great internals, a warranty and US based after-sale support, all for a price currently predicted to be lower than the other options that are coming out, the Echo 1 Igor shouldn't be dismissed when you're shopping for your VSS Vintorez.
Many thanks again to Echo 1, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!