WE NG3 SMG-8 Review by Booligan
Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
The SMG-8 is a gas blowback SMG that is visually similar to the H&K MP7, but with a few key differences. It was designed by WE, and frankly, there are a few things that I like on it better than a normal MP7, especially the ability to accessories to the rail instead of using the flimsy folding grip. Early adopters of the first models reported issues with the stock collapsing while firing, poor materials used at the rear of the receiver, and lousy performance. WE has continued to evolve the model to address these concerns, and this is their latest, the NG3 model. Have they fixed all of the issues? Read on to find out!
I was sent this model through Evike, who has it available HERE, currently priced at $151.70. Spare magazines are available HERE, priced at $24.60. This price qualifies it for Evike's free shipping promotion using UPS ground, which got it to me in 2 days! My understanding is that Evike is one of the only US based retailers who has the newest version of this gun, so if you want the latest and greatest version, you know where to shop!
Basic Gun Information:
The WE SMG-8 is a gas blowback SMG that features a magazine inserted into the pistol grip, much like an Uzi, MP7, or MAC10. This gives it an overall compact size but with a decent barrel length for its overall size. It also gives the gun a distinctively vertical grip which is actually quite comfortable when shouldering the stock. It utilizes an internal gas blowback bolt to recock and reload the gun, and offers semi and fully automatic firing. With a largely polymer external construction, the overall weight is low, however, metal components are used where necessary for strength and durability. The price on this thing is pretty impressively low in my opinion, and you get a lot of gun for your $150.
The WE SMG-8 comes in a box that would make Neil deGrasse Tyson proud. Inside this cosmic themed box, you'll find a foam inner liner to keep everything safe during transit, however, it does tend to flake off onto the gun.
Click on the individual thumbnails to see the full size photos
Box art. It's full of stars...
Along with the gun itself, WE includes a single 44 round magazine, loading tool, cleaning/unjamming rod, 14mm- threaded barrel adapter, and a few spare parts, including a spare stock locking piece. You'll need your own gas and BBs to run this gun, so plan on picking up some green gas or running a propane adapter.
Weight: 4.89 lbs (2220g)
Length: 16" – 25.5"
Width: 2.1"(at front rails)
Height: 12" (sight to mag)
Sight Radius: 10.5"
Length of Pull: 0"- 16.75"
The SMG-8 owes much of its light weight to its polymer external construction. Thankfully, this isn't cheap plastic, it feels extremely nice in your hands and has a great matte finish, making it look very realistic. Internally, it's made almost entirely out of metal, so durability isn't a big concern. This SMG has the capability of being ran as a very large pistol or with the stock, making it a great PDW for secondary use.
Overview, right side, stock fully retracted
Left side, stock fully extended
The stock has a polymer butt pad with dual sling mounts and metal arms keeping it solid and secure. The stock is removable to run it as a pistol by fully extending it and pulling up on the small lever on the left side. You can adjust it to several positions, either fully retracted or to the three different positions. One of the issues is that the locking lever would break, causing the stock to retract while firing. Unfortunately, I still have that rarely happen, twice total in my testing of several hundred rounds, so honestly, I don't think it's a huge issue, but I'm still looking at options to fix it.
Stock removed completely
The receiver is made of a high strength polymer to serve as a stable backbone for the rest of the gun. It houses the controls, bolt mechanism, magwell, and pretty much everything else. There's really not much to this gun externally. The charging handle is located above the stock and requires you to squeeze the little tabs in and pull it back, releasing it against spring pressure (if the magazine is loaded). If the magazine is empty, it will lock back, and you'll have to push the bolt handle forward.
Receiver, right side
Receiver, left side
Bolt locked back
The pistol grip has finger grooves and aggressive texturing on the sides and back to help you keep a firm grip. The controls are fully ambidextrous with selector switches, magazine release, and bolt catch levers located on both sides of the gun. The fire modes are safe-semi-full auto, no fancy burst features here. The trigger pull is a bit of a conundrum. On full auto, it's pretty nice and crisp, but it's pretty spongy in semi auto.
Left side controls
Right side controls
Unlike the MP7, there is no folding foregrip here, instead, a very useful 20mm rail can be found. There are also two removable side rails for mounting even more accessories. Plenty of real estate for tricking this gun out.
The outer barrel gives me a headache. It's terminated in MP7 standard 12mm- threads, and a properly designed tiny birdcage style flashhider that's painted orange. They also included a 14mm- threaded adapter to mount airsoft industry standard muzzle devices, but in order to remove the flashhider, you have to entirely remove the whole inner mechanism and put vice grip pliers on the barrel to hold it in place, scratching it in the process. You'll then need to hit the flashhider with a blow torch to soften the glue before you unscrew it. It's entirely too secure, but once removed, it'll go on and off with ease.
Flashhider removed, note all the glue
Adapter and flashhider compared
Able to fit pretty much any can or other muzzle device
The SMG-8 is fitted with iron sights that are very similar to G36 units, with the rear being fully adjustable for windage and elevation and the front being easily removed by tapping out a single pin. You also have plenty of rail space for mount optics if so desired.
There are no trademarks on the gun whatsoever. The only markings that are on the gun at all are the painted pictogram style selector switch markings.
The included magazine is made of metal and holds 44 rounds as well as the gas needed to operate the gun. It is inserted into the pistol grip of the gun and has an open front, which might possibly let dirt into the BB chamber. In addition, I had a slight mis-feeding issue at first that required me to remove the magazine follower and sand the right edge of it slightly to allow it to smoothly get over a small hump that's located inside the BB track. If you have feeding issues, I would absolutely recommend this simple mod. For information on gas economy, read the performance section of this review!
Base plate with exposed fill hole
Feeding end and gas port
I don't believe this is compatible with any of the other GBB MP7 magazines on the market, so if you want a short mag, I believe you'll need to go with the KWA gun.
Performance after a 400 round break-in, using propane and Matrix .20g ammo, tested in 85 degree F temps is as follows:
High FPS: 401.2 FPS
Low FPS: 385.5 FPS
Average FPS: 391.7 FPS
Rate of fire, tested in 85 degree F temps using propane, and recorded using Audacity is 22 RPS, however, don't plan on doing long mag dumps with this. The cool-down effect with this gun is kind of severe, and you can hear the ROF drop after 1 second of continued firing. This will effect your FPS as well as your ROF.
Gas economy in general isn't the SMG-8's strong suit. Firing in short 3-4 round bursts, you'll likely be able to complete a single magazine's load of BBs before the gas runs out, but juuuuuuust barely. If you're heavy on the full auto and don't allow the mag to warm up between shots, you'll run out of gas before you run out of BBs.
Range and accuracy weren't bad, hitting a torso sized target consistently at 140', but I did notice a tendency for my shots to break to the left more often than not. It looked like my inner barrel/hop-up was slightly canted to the left, so after disassembling the gun fully and correcting this, my shots were much more consistent, and I found an extra 5' of usable range.
The insides of this wee beast aren't terribly complicated. It's a large gas blowback system that kicks back the heavy bolt, giving you hefty recoil for a small little gun. The metal inner bolt rides along the inner frame, and there are a few points that need to be regularly lubricated.
To disassemble the gun, you have to pop out the two pins at the rear and pull the entire stock assembly out of the back of the gun. To remove the pins, you may need to rotate them slightly to align the notch in the pin with the little notch in the receiver. You can then store the pins in the holes in the stock to keep them from getting lost.
Internal hammer unit
Shot into the guts of the gun, showing the hop-up unit
Hop-up adjuster is this tiny little hex screw just above the barrel, strangely enough.
Internally, there aren't many mods out there currently, however, I believe there are magazine valve upgrades out there, as well as inner barrel and hop-up components. Externally, you've got plenty of rail space to mount whatever accessories tickle your fancy. I've done a few different setups with mine, one with a can, and the other with the Incentive Designs Venom MFG, as seen below.
With the Venom Muzzle Flash Generator. This thing's got a nice effect with the flash and muzzle smoke.
Very affordable - $150 or so
Compact setup, as small as 16" with the stock removed
Includes 14mm- thread adapter
Plenty of rail space for accessories
Very easy to disassemble for cleaning and maintenance
Realistic operating modes
Fully ambidextrous controls
Charging "handle" can be hard to manipulate
Flash hider is damn near impossible to remove without fully disassembling the gun
Gas economy is kind of miserable
Even with the upgrades, the stock still can slip while firing
The WE SMG-8, even in its latest version, isn't perfect. The charging handle is tricky to use, you barely can get out a magazine's load of BBs from a gas load, and the stock might still slip while firing, but seriously, this thing is an absolute blast to use. It points and shoots extremely well, looks awesome, and has a ton of kick which makes it very fun to shoot. Unfortunately, it does shoot a little hot for CQB use, and the range is a little lacking for really effective outdoor use, putting it in kind of a funky limbo. It's certainly usable for outdoor games, don't get me wrong, especially when firing in short bursts to minimize magazine cool down, but don't plan on really reaching out and touching someone at long ranges without doing some hop-up upgrades. But, overall, the gun is a very fun starting project, and at $150, it's not a huge investment.
Many thanks again to Evike, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!