Echo 1 AR57 AEG Review by Booligan
Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
The AR57 is a "real steel" upper receiver for AR pattern rifles allowing you to use FN P90 top loading magazines and the 5.7x28 round with a bottom-ejecting design using your lower receiver's now-empty magwell. It's a unique design that allows shooters to get into the 5.7x28 round for a lower investment than jumping into a whole new rifle. It also allows control familiarity, easy accessorization and customization, and the ability to swap calibers on the fly using a different 5.56 upper receiver. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of the design and I've been working on getting an airsoft version made for a few years, and finally, Echo 1 has released their version complete with full legally licensed trademarks. Let's go through this unique AEG and talk about all of it's pros and cons!
I was sent this AEG directly through Echo 1, who has it available HERE, priced at $240.00 at the time of this review. This price includes Echo 1's 30 day warranty against manufacturer defects as well as their after-sale support even when the warranty expires. Echo 1 will be stocking parts and accessories for the AR57 through their parts shop, so if you need a replacement piece, you'll easily be able to find it.
Basic Gun Information:
The Echo 1 AR57 is a faithful replica of the "real-steel" AR57 featuring a relatively standard M4 lower receiver with the specialized upper unit. Featuring full metal construction including a one-piece, monolithic upper receiver, a V2 gearbox, and rear-wiring with a crane stock battery compartment, the AR57 has a sturdy build and skirmish ready features. Like most Echo 1 guns, it comes with everything you need to get out and start playing aside from BBs to feed it. It's a unique design and you should plan on having to explain to other players why it looks like you don't have a magazine in your gun when you hit the field.
The AR57 comes in a standard Echo 1 box with a high density foam inner liner to keep the gun and its accessories safe during shipping. Don't expect any fancy box art here, it's just the standard Echo 1 logo with a sticker on the side identifying the gun held inside. When I first pulled the gun out of the box, I was impressed with the way it felt in my hands. It had a good heft, the metal and finish looked good, and the trademarks looked fantastic.
Along with the rifle itself, Echo 1 includes two polymer 68 round capacity magazines, 9.6v 1200 mAh nunchuck style NiMH battery, trickle charger, Echo 1 patch, two deadrags, and a warranty card. Add in some BBs and you're ready to hit the field.
Click on the individual thumbnails to see the full size photos
Weight: 6.75 lbs
Length: 29.25" - 33"
Sight Radius: 15.5"
Length of Pull: 11.5" - 15.25"
The Echo 1 AR57 is a full metal replica, as everything that would be metal on the real gun is metal on this replica. Pretty much the only polymer portions of this gun are the pistol grip and the crane stock. Everything else is made of metal and features a high quality matte black pain finish adding to the realistic look of the gun.
Overview, left side
Overview, right side
The AR57 comes equipped with a crane stock fitted onto a metal buffer tube. The crane stock acts as your battery compartment and is easily accessed by popping off the rubber butt pad and pulling out the plastic filler piece that covers the battery compartments. The included 9.6v battery fits well in the compartment, but the fuse compartment takes up a fair amount of space in the buffer tube, so you'll need to remove it if you want to fit a buffer tube LiPo in there.
The lower receiver is a standard M4 unit and is made of metal. It allows shooters familiar with the AR platform to pick up the AR57 and immediately start shooting with very little changes needed. The controls are fairly straightforward, consisting of a left sided selector switch, standard AEG trigger, and a charging handle and magazine release levers which are located on the upper receiver.
Receiver, left side
Receiver, right side
Shot looking into the magwell
The pistol grip is chunkier than a normal M4 grip and feels very comfortable in your hand. It has a metal baseplate with a flat head screwdriver adjustable motor height screw. The AR57 is fitted with a KAC style trigger guard for easy use while wearing gloves.
The upper receiver and front end are one solid piece giving it a very solid feel and durability. It does make the gun a little front heavy, but it's certainly manageable. When you pull back the charging handle located on the right side, you can see a bit of the gearbox, but the hop-up isn't visible unless you remove the magazine. The magazine release is located just below the rail and is easily accessibly from either side.
Charging handle pulled back
Magazine removed, hop-up adjuster visible
The front end is covered in plenty of rail space for mounting your accessories, lights, grips, grenade launchers, or pretty much anything else capable of mounting up to a 20mm rail. Since the front end and upper receiver are all one piece, there is zero free play between the upper receiver and rails. The metal quality has a few slight defects which are cosmetic and shouldn't be cause to worry.
Some slight defects in the metal is visible
The outer barrel is made of metal and is terminated in a 14mm- threaded muzzle. An orange plastic flashhider is glued in place and secured with a grub screw. Removing it will allow you to mount other flashhiders or muzzle devices if desired.
Outer barrel and flashhider
Aiming the AR57 is a simple affair thanks to the included flip-up iron sights which are mounted on the upper rails located at the front and rear of the upper receiver. The short upper rail space does limit your optic options, however, the higher than normal rail height means you can use compact optics like the T1 without a riser.
Front iron sight
Echo 1 did this gun the right way, obtaining licensing rights through the company that produces the real AR57. As such, it has legal trademarks located on the left side of both the upper and lower receivers. There is a serial number that is not unique to each gun, and a holographic sticker can be found on the upper receiver showing you that this is an official Echo 1 gun.
Lower receiver trademarks
Upper and lower markings
Echo 1 holographic sticker
The included magazines are P90 type units, obviously, and have a 68 round capacity. They are gorgeous to look at due to the fake 5.7x28 rounds visible through the translucent plastic shell. They fit well into the receiver by inserting the square end first and clicking the round end down firmly onto the receiver. There is some slight free play once inserted, but it won't be popping out on its own. Spare magazines are available, and if you're looking for hi-caps, I'd stick with the newer versions of the TM units, as they are the best feeding P90 hicaps available. The ability to use them is one of the key perks to this AEG, as they will feed reliably at extremely high rates of fire (50-60+), where most M4 mags won't be able to keep up.
Magazine, note the fake rounds inside
Great detail work on the rounds
Performance after a 500 round break-in, using ASGI G4 .20g ammo is as follows:
High FPS: 421.8 FPS
Low FPS: 406.9 FPS
Average FPS: 411.1 FPS
Using Echo 1 .25g BBs, velocity readings are as follows:
High FPS: 369.2 FPS
Low FPS: 360.2 FPS
Average FPS: 365.7 FPS
Rate of fire using the included 9.6v NiMH battery comes in at 12 RPS. Certainly not a blistering rate of fire, but for an included battery, it's not bad. With a Tenergy 11.1v 1000 mAh 20C LiPo battery, I saw the rate of fire raise to 17 RPS, and the gun doesn't seem to have any ill effects using this battery.
Range and accuracy using the Echo 1 .25g BBs was quite good for a stock gun with a relatively short barrel. Using my standard torso sized target, I was comfortably able to hit it out to 170' with 90% consistency. At ranges further than that, my shots tended to just lose out of steam as opposed to veering off course from side to side. The Madbull bucking does a great job applying consistent hop-up effect, especially after putting 100 or so rounds through it. For those first 100 rounds, the hop-up effect seamed a little weak, which I attribute to some excess lubrication from the factory. Once you wear that down and really dial the gun in, you'll be pleased with the accuracy and range.
Accessing the gearbox is slightly more difficult than your standard M4, as you need to basically disassemble the lower receiver components before sliding everything out of the upper. Reassembly isn't too bad, but you may need to slightly bend the thin metal at the rear of the upper receiver to fit the lower receiver if it gets bent out of shape. Once you take it all apart, you'll see that it's powered by basically a standard V2 albeit with a very long air nozzle and special shell design to work with the P90 magazine.
Other side of the gearbox
That's a loooooong air nozzle
Inside this modified V2, you'll find steel gears with a pre-fitted sector chip, well shimmed albeit overly lubricated internals, 8mm ball bearings, and a stainless, ported cylinder. The piston is fitted with steel teeth and a ported head. The air-seal isn't great stock, so I'd invest in a #14 o-ring for improved consistency. The rest of the components seem to be standard V2, including the metal spring guide, M120 spring, and polymer cylinder head with an air nozzle that looks slightly longer than normal. That long air nozzle is fitted with an internal O-ring to help seal things up.
All opened up
Gears, not the sector ship
Steel rack on the piston
Ported piston head
The AR57 is fitted with a standard torque long-length motor which has a few Echo 1 stickers affixed to it. The wiring is all decent and it is terminated in a mini Tamiya plug located in the buffer tube.
The inner barrel is 300mm long and the AR57 has a proprietary hop-up unit to allow use with the P90 top feeding magazines. Echo 1 installed a Madbull yellow bucking for improved performance and consistency. The large rotary adjuster is stiff to turn, however, it holds its selected position very well.
Hop-up and barrel
That's one funky hop-up unit
With an abundance of rail space and a relatively standard M4 lower receiver, you can upgrade and accessorize this gun to your heart's content. Replacement pistol grips and stocks can easily be fitted, helping your unique rifle stand out even more. For different performance, you can fill the V2 gearbox with your choice of components for whatever your performance goals might be. The only major limitation you have when accessorizing the AR57 is with optics, as the magazine pretty much has to be inserted from above, instead of from either side like is possible with the real rifle, so you may have issues with long optics.
Very unique design while still having M4 familiarity
Affordably priced at $240 at the time of writing
Includes two magazines
9.6v battery and trickle charger included
Legal licensed trademarks
Skirmishable performance out of the box
High quality flip-up iron sights included
Plenty of rail space for mounting accessories
Slightly modified V2 gearbox for easy upgrades
Some slight upper receiver wobble
Magazine does have a small bit of free play
Reloading will take some practice
Some slight cosmetic defects are visible in the metal construction
Hop-up adjustments require you to remove the magazine
To say that I've been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Echo 1 AR57 is a gross understatement. This is a gun that I lusted after for so long, that I actually had started working on producing my own custom version. Thankfully, Echo 1 got theirs done quickly and they did a damn good job with it. The overall build quality is quite good, aside from a few slight casting defects on the upper receiver. Performance is quite skirmishable out of the box, in fact, I'll likely be downgrading the spring to get it a little bit more CQB friendly. The P90 magazine system generally works very well for extremely high ROF builds, so I've been entertaining the idea of going with a DSG system in the fully upgradeable modified V2 gearbox.
Many thanks again to Echo 1, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!