Avratech Retro 7 Unboxing and Review
<<<<<update in green 6/19/2012 new 2nd test video at test section (or click here) for the video and here for the new chart !!!>>>>>
i have found out that barrel length makes a great difference. using the same paint, same internals, and same brand of 12g, a 0.681 bore 2 piece with no front attached chrono'd around 260, it had an effective barrel lenght of 6 inches which is comparable to the stock 5.25 inch 0.675 barrel. at the field where i forgot to bring my barrel kit, festa was kind enough to lend me his 1 piece full length barrel which happened to also be of 0.681 bore. it chronoed 30fps higher at around 300+-5. potential buyers may want to keep this in mind: the stock barrel may be visually appealing but an additional longer barrel may be desirable in case you need to absolutely maximize air usage.
speaking of which, i have confirmed russc's statement that matched bore is better than underboring on a retro 7. i have performed an additional test (video below) to confirm it.
also, i am sad to say that i too have experienced the loosening of the 12g knob so often complained by other owners of the gun. however, the leak only happened after 29 shots (or only became noticable). a quick retightening fixed the problem but nontheless precious co2 was lost. i highly suggest the user retighten the knob after every stick feed reload because they are 10 rounds each, which i believe can entirely eliminate the problem, or at least until the new knobs are ready.
threads of this kind usually start with a mouth-watering photograph of the product, so here you go:
wiped that water from your mouth yet? or was it foam? ok, let's move on.
contents (or you can just ignore all the words and just look at pictures):
the unboxing (everyone's doing it)
the 12 gram knob
the top tube
the lower tube
the grip frame (it's good)
the test (efficiency test video)
vs the original (nelspot comparison)
on the old and new pre-order systems
retro 7 conclusion
the packaging is an unassuming plain box except for an awesome sticker and stencil. the serial number is written on a corner.
inside of the box are 2 products that were arranged, the retro 7 itself and an avratech zero barrel. free swag came in the form of stickers!
the products are all very safely packed individually. the retro 7 itself is fully assembled inside the bubble wrap.
4 avratech stickers finish up the list of arrivals, but "where is the pickle?"
"that's the surprise!"
anyway, once you get the few specs of dust from the factory and packaging off, the gun is in pristine condition and thinly lubed.
the zero barrel fits nicely on the retro 7. the diameter doesn't exactly match the gun's, but that's par for the course with most guns, aftermarket barrels often don't have a perfect cosmetic match. it's a non-issue.
inside the handle is a spent 12 gram from the factory test. yep, it's leland, made in japan.
with the gun out of its shell, it's fine time for a family photo. clockwise starting from upper right: the mint condition, the retro 7, the work horse, the abomination!
the 12 gram knob
i have never used a multi-start thread 12 gram seal knob before, so i cannot compare it with anything, but the first time i unscrewed this knob it went so quick i dropped it. it takes about 4 twists of a hand to completely screw it in. others have mentioned issues about the knob coming loose, and the knob on mine is indeed easy to come loose without a pressurized 12 gram no matter how hard you twist it shut. i do not have that issue while gassed up, but i have another of my own.
my very first 12 gram puncture was unsuccessful. i simply did not have the strength to twist the knob through because, on one hand, my hand was kind of oily from a film of lube, and on the other hand the knob kind of has a small diameter that makes it difficult to obtain leverage. i ended up wrapping the knob in paper towels to protect its finish while getting a grip on it with a wrench. strangely enough, that was only an issue with the first 12 gram. all the other 12 grams afterwards were punctured by hand, albeit it was still a bit of a chore to pinch and get leverage on such a narrow knob. it may be the same diameter as a 12 gram bucket changer, but on those changers you are able to lay pretty much half your hand's surface area onto the twisting part, giving you much more traction. the knob is only about an inch long and you can only lay 2 fingertips on it. it would of course be ridiculous to have a taller knob, but i would welcome a new design on the knob, preferably reminiscent of the speed wheel of the original nelspot. a knob with a wide handle such as that one would be a total breeze to manipulate. it should not be a problem anymore in the future, because if you have been following the development thread, a new knob is already on the way.
the top tube
the breech is first strike compatible. i do not own first strike rounds though. those of you who do would appreciate it. the feed tube is held down by a single screw, and aligns itself due to its concave underside. it's a very smart design that works, looks good, and stays close to the original nelspot. the front is completely solid to give weight to the gun, another effort to make the gun close to the original. unlike the original, however, the feed is replaceable by phantom style feed necks. installing one by cci, it also covers the first strike capable feed hole almost completely, leaving only very thin slits open to the air. with a heavy hopper on, it does wiggle a bit though. some loctite is recommended. beware: the screw hole for the feed neck (along with the screw hole for the front grip frame thumb screw, by the way) is open to the breech, so pay attention when buying a screw for whatever feed neck you decide to use. the screw that came with the cci feed neck is of the correct length for that feed neck.
the back end of the feed tube is a bit short of the back of the valve. this makes the removal of the valve screw much easier compared to the original nelspot. the back end is also ramped on the inside to allow easy insertion of the 10 round stick feeds, which are supposed to be held in place via friction. others have said their stick feeds are either barely snug or won't stay on. i myself have 10 round stick feeds that are barely snug, but they do stay in place. however, i have other stock class guns that grip the stickfeeds much better. the front sight is a black, short, solid, sturdy little bead. unlike the nelspot, the retro 7 has no rear sight, which is a shame. however, josh/apoc101 did accept my request for a custom marking on the feed tube so that i can accurately glue on a rear sight on my own. there's a little problem with that, more suited to another section of this review later.
the lower tube
there isn't much to say about the barrel and body, so i'm going to talk about the entire lower tube in one portion. the barrel is nice and matches the styling of the rest of the gun. it's stock 0.675 inch inside diameter. josh/apoc101/avratech does offer a freak bored version, but i ended up not getting it due to a few things.
the body is first strike capable as mentioned. it is also ambidextrous for bolt action, which is good news for me. hell the original nelspot doesn't even have grips that are comfortable for left handed play. this is a big step up.
the internals resemble that of phantoms, however i do not have phantom parts to compare. you would have to look to other retro 7 owners for that. the parts look all very well polished, almost to a mirror sheen, the bolt action's smoothness corresponds to that. i casually play with the bolt action with this gun. if i was doing that with a nelspot my finger would be bruised all the time.
my advice to any potential buyers: just spend the $60 for his pump arm. if you want to use nelson pump arms, they may not all fit:
one of the reasons is the lower tube diameter. it is 1 inch wide.
the grip frame also gets in the way for certain pump handles. the grip frame is much wider compared to a nelspot grip frame
nope. just buy the damn pump handle. luckily i wanted a custom pump handle that i will be making myself anyway. until then it's bolt action for me.
the valve body is compatible with nelspots. i know. i tried. not because i wanted to though. more on that at the testing portion. meanwhile, be known that the taller grip frame allows for more meat for the attachment of the valve screw. good news and relevant to the next part.
the grip frame
oh it's good. it's got enough meat to anchor to the tubes. avratech has really put thought into this even for the small details, as you can see the front thumb screw has an o-ring in it for friction.
of course, the tubes still wobble ever so slightly if you force them, but that screw isn't coming loose any time soon. i really appreciate that. my old nelspot losing that screw cost me a game once. i ambushed this guy and was going to shoot him but that screw came loose so the trigger didn't trip the sear. he saw the gun and shot me. it's even on one of my videos. luckily earon carter himself was there that day and he fixed it for me while lending me his prototype for one round, but let's not go too far off on a tangent, the important thing is that screw isn't going to fall off. the trigger guard is also drilled and tapped for asa's, similar to phantoms.
there's a set screw on the back face of the grip frame. it is there to seal the airway leading from the 12 gram to the valve body. there should never be any reason to unscrew it, although there's probably no harm if you seal it back afterwards, i just thought i could explain it here for those curious ones.
on the top of the trigger frame, the airway passes through the touted "magic nipple" that avratech likes to mention every few posts.
it is situated directly under the valve inlet. it's made of a white solid material which i'm guessing is teflon.
sniper97 has mentioned that it looks like a game piece from the board game "sorry!" and i think it looks like an undrilled valve cup seal.
it's actually not a simple single piece. at its bottom is a little rubber bumper. i'm guessing it's there to make sure the piece doesn't fully contact the grip frame and seal something by accident. i do not know for sure.
the trigger is measured out to be 0.200 inches wide using my micrometer. more importantly its sides are rounded, leading to very comfortable trigger pulls. it should not require a trigger shoe but i think it's still narrow enough for some of them. the grip itself is about the width of a bucket changer. the rear radius corners are good, and the included hogue palm swell grips make them even better. you can really grip it nice, firm, and steady and it'll still feel very comfortable with no feeling of any corners biting into your hand.
the only grip i have tried that's better, is dukie's dsp, which uses its built in 12 gram bucket changer as the rear of the grip frame, making the whole rear basically one giant radius corner. i have tried out lechooch's dsp, and that grip is GODLY. however, dukie's method of providing that radius back has its own problems which are beyond the scope of this thread. i also don't think it's fair to compare any grip to the dsp simply because it's in a league of its own. as it stands, the retro 7 grip is very good, good enough that i'll want it on other guns if i could.
this test is for efficiency of 12 gram usage as well as difference in fps between hpa and co2. for 12 gram i kept shooting until i get a shot below 200 fps. the test is done using crosman 12g and a 45/4500 hpa tank with a ninja reg. the barrel is stock 0.675. the vlocity hopper is used so that the test can be done faster. it is set to not provide any force feeding. the paint is valken crusade, a month old, measured to be 0.681, so there's a bit of underboring going on.
for the tank, an original nelspot asa is used in place of the retro 7 valve body simply because i could not remove any of the air port screws to the best of my efforts. despite being told that they are simply glued with blue loctite, i have tried heat, acetone, denatured alcohol, and lacquer thinner with nothing to show for it. i believe the only thing left is a vice and i do not own a vice. in any case the depth of the valve chamber seems to be identical so it should not have any effect on valve spring power.
the laser is not accurate. it is only installed for testing purposes and is temporary. i did not test for accuracy because too many factors affect accuracy, such as paint quality. however, during this test i find the gun very consistent. the few shots tore a hole through my towel and by aiming the laser consistently at one place, i can shoot the paintball through that hole of the torn towel over and over. this is a car's length away from the target.
the efficiency is a little sketchy. i'd like to pin it on the crosman cartridge, but these are the same 12 grams that i have had no problems with on other guns. it's definitely not the 40 shots advertised in the official thread. although 25 usable shots is pretty good too. it's definitely not caused by roll outs, but can it be possible that the underboring is wasting energy? there's also a few odd shots with drastically lower fps. i'm going to just chalk those up to inconsistent paint. regardless of what i think, the chart is out there and is up for interpretation by you, along with the testing settings which is up for recreation by you to either confirm or bust my own test. i myself would want to test with 12 grams and different barrels, but i wasted enough of them as it is while just messing with the gun.
anyway, the hpa test is fine and good. i like its results, i was going to use hpa with this gun anyway.
<<<<<<<update 6/19/2012 new test below>>>>>>
vs the original
the retro 7 has a trigger thickness of 0.20 inches. it also has a nice round radius on both sides for added comfort. this is a big step up against the original nelspot whose trigger thickness is measured to be around 0.12.
in terms of handling, the retro 7 feels like a lightened nelspot, which is to say that it behaves similar to one in your hand, but you can still move with more ease. i have played with nelspots for years, and the aiming process on the retro 7 feels right at home.
to put it in pictures, both guns were weighed on a scale. this is a good time to let you know that all of these pictures can be clicked to open a page into the mcb gallery, if you click the pictures there you can see a larger version. these 2 pictures with the scale should be large enough there for you to read the units.
the retro 7 weighs in at 2 pounds and 3.1 ounces.
in comparison, the original nelspot 007 in its stock form weighs 2 pounds and 7.6 ounces.
the 4 ounces may not seem like much, and you are right that they are not much, but they are not the only factor: center of gravity plays a big difference in how heavy a gun feels in the hand. a rough estimate of a gun's center of gravity can be measured by finding its balance point. here you can see the retro 7 standing on top of the end of the zero barrel which has roughly 1 inch of diameter. it can be estimated that the center of gravity of the retro 7 is somewhere within that diameter which sits on the barrel, about an inch forward of the trigger.
similarly, the nelspot also has its center of gravity in that vicinity.
however, the difference in the grip design also factors into the feel, the nelspot has a very sloped grip, effectively making the hand further from the center of gravity compared to the retro 7 using the standard 45 grip. since torque = force times distance, either a heavier gun or a gun held further out would have a larger strain on your wrist. the thing is, the nelspot is BOTH, so the torque applied on your hand would definitely be greater if you were holding the nelspot. this combined with its extra weight explains the lighter feel of the retro, while the positions of the hand and center of gravity are still similar enough that they can both be aimed in a similar fashion.
that's right, i'm consolidating every complaint i have, big and small, in this one whole section, for an easier time for readers, as well as a harder time for apoc :p. let's start with the small stuff, we'll build the hurt feelings slowly and excruciatingly.
as mentioned, i have requested an alignment mark to be made on my retro 7 on the back of the top of the feed tube. apoc101 has agreed to this. he has even been so kind as to voluntarily pm me about how i want it done, after a while that i have almost forgotten about that request, yet:
there is no marking whatsoever. i don't know if he forgot to do it, i don't know if he decided not to do it, i don't know if he did it but sent it to the wrong owner so that somewhere out there is a really angry customer who is mad at josh for scratching his gun.... anyway, it's a small problem, and i don't mind, because i have a reason to go get creative now. i have already found a solution.
on a semi related note, please look at this image:
now look at this image:
is it just me, or is there no serial number? not only is there no serial number, but there is no "avratech," there is no "retro 7," no "maple ridge," and no "canada." not on the grip frame, not on the lower tube, not on the feed tube, and not on the valve body. this wouldn't be an issue, but apoc has stated in the order thread that the guns were delayed waiting for the serial stamps, and then after that stated that they have obtained the stamps.
and moving on to more business stuff, it states clearly in my invoice that shipping and handling is charged on my part. the shipping method is announced to include tracking, and a signature requirement upon delivery. yet the whole time i have not received the tracking number until the ups guy slapped a slip on my door with it when i missed him the first time. i can understand if you messed up a date by mistake on your tariff form (which, by the way, i've found out that those NAFTA forms are good for a year maximum, so that's another puzzle how you managed to be off by a whole year) causing a delay, but how am i supposed to know when to be home to sign a mandatory signature if i don't have a tracking number telling me when it should be here? it took a week to get here too, plenty of time to shoot a pm with it if you've got the time to post about justice concerts and what not. there's also only 7 numbers to give out. it is also paid for, according to the invoice, by me. at least give me what i paid for.
however, all of that is small stuff. all of that i actually, personally do not mind. i am cool with it and not even slightly mad. not even. i understand life happens and running a business is hard. i only posted them because, just because i don't get offended by these small issues, does not mean others who read reviews would not get offended by these small issues either, although i urge those who do to be more forgiving. the one problem i do have though, is this:
as mentioned, i tried removing the 1/8 npt plugs on the valve body unsuccessfully. i sent apoc a message and received back that they are sealed by plain blue loctite. brute force is usually enough, but not in this case. when the 1/8 npt plugs didn't budge, i tried the bottom air inlet and it warped:
the outermost lip got stretched by the allen wrench and expanded in diameter. when that happened, this happened:
so the part was expanded and no longer fit in the gun, luckily it was recoverable. i had some modeling sand paper in my possession and i put them to good use. however, after it's fixed i decided force isn't the best thing to remove these plugs, so i moved on to heat, the next thing you are supposed to try when removing loctite. i dumped the valve body into boiling water for a few minutes. when that didn't work i tried acetone, then denatured alcohol, then lacquer thinner. none of them made any of the screws budge. what kind of blue loctite did he use, i do not know. i do know there are several grades of blue loctite though. maybe it's all just a big misunderstanding and i'm just weak, maybe i need a vice, but i've dealt with asa's before and none of them are as difficult to remove as this.
the more concerning point for me is the brass part. brass is pretty soft and if you look at the o-ring groove, that's a very thin portion. i'm not sure it's a good idea to use brass on such a thin area on such a small part with such a difficult to remove tightening. isn't there something else you can use? i know spyders have brass valve retaining screws and those get stripped once in a while, as well as the ball bearing screw on some old spyder bolts. think about this: some guy who's so weak he can't puncture a 12 gram managed to bend this piece out of shape...
maybe it's my fault for trying to remove it but it is meant to be removable, right? to run constant air? i'm not even going to ask for a replacement part, at this point there's no reason for me to, it works right now and i can't remove it to replace it anyway, but i strongly urge you to rethink the design on that part because even though i know i'm clumsy, i also know i've been working with guns for a few years and that somewhere out there, there's also someone else clumsier than me who will **** that part up harder... i think i had a mini-heart attack when i first tried to put the gun back together and it wouldn't work.
well here's the neosporin for the butthurt apoc might be feeling right now. josh is a great guy. he will go above and beyond to fix what's wrong, even if it isn't his fault. i'll tell you during the ordering process a typo was made by a 3rd party that caused me to order the wrong barrel option, thinking the typo was correct. it's usually no big deal, but i accidentally ordered the stock 0.675 barrel when i wanted freak bored, and this is a huge deal because small paint is kind of hard to come by in my area. when apoc heard about it, it was too late because the anodizer already picked up the raw barrels, but he up and just said he'll give me an extra barrel. for free. even though he didn't do anything wrong. that's great customer service.
this is my first pre-order, so it may not mean much, but i have browsed through several pre-order threads and have had the general feeling that they are roller coaster rides, you think the gun's finished but BAD STUFF SUDDENLY OUT OF NOWHERE; or worse, you gave money to punisher. what i appreciate from avratech is the constant update. it makes the wait bearable, and each little picture update on progress is a little reminder that you're not being scammed. a little less clutzy delays would be good though. :p
i think communication is very important for a start up, especially in an industry where many airsmiths have taken money and disappeared, and especially when you have no product out yet so that the only way to obtain reputation to increase your fan base is through communication. be honest, be up front, hide nothing. hell, even a 5-days-a-week-blog with 10 posts in a row saying "still waiting for the machine shop" would let your customers know your company is not the cause of delay.
on the old and new pre-order systems
i'm surprised not more people get scammed.
i think one of the problems with pre-orders is it gives the airsmith no sense of urgency. you start the transaction by paying the guy in full. bam, suddenly he has all the cash. does it matter to him whether he finishes the guns early or late? not a bit. he already got your money. he has nothing to gain by hurrying up, and i think that's the problem. i don't think i've ever seen a service industry where the customer pays 100% up front before...
what i think might have worked is a 50% investment and then 50% payment after the product has shipped, so that there's an incentive for the airsmith to finish fast. the earlier he finishes the faster he gets the money, but it's easy to see why an airsmith would not want that: the risk on his part of customers not paying is too great.
the new system seems decent. admin approval, proposed schedule, options for refund, but none of that's going to matter if the guy can just high tail outta here. what if there's a binding contract that requires signature of both customer and airsmith, as well as requiring the airsmith to publicize his name, contact info and business address? or at least send it to admins for record keeping... anyway, this is all just hypothetical.
retro 7 conclusion
pro: similar handling to nelspot, lighter, fast 12 gram changes, modular design, etc.
con: 12 gram knob is small, might have small fragile parts that need strengthening up, blah blah you think i'll type all this up just so you can skip it and read a summary? **** you.
here's a summary. the pre-ordering process is slow and painful enough to make you not want to do another again; the gun is so good it makes you not want to buy another again; overall, despite the hiccups, snags, and shortcomings of the ordering process and the gun design itself, i have no regrets and this gun is exactly what i have wanted since i first discovered the nelspot. it's based on the first gun of the sport and will probably be the last gun i need. :thumbup: if you're a fan of the nelspot, this is one gun to add to your collection. the empire modified jango fett's dna to create the clone army, while jango fett commissioned a copy of himself and named that one clone boba fett. if the clone army is the other nelson guns out there with their improvements, this retro 7 is boba fett. :gunsfiring:
oh, and about the rear sight, i found an old spyder sight rail and the curvature is pretty much perfect. i'm guessing it was also a 1" diameter body.
you are going to need a longer screw. a 1 1/8 inch socket screw. i only found one in stainless steel, not alloy.
ah, the sun's coming up. i guess i'll end this review now.
There is a reason I love reading your posts.
purely awesome review, dude.
btw, idk what is up with oyur crosman 12vies but my phantom is way more consistent than that on crosman 12vies.
Would read again.
Great writeup! What's your thoughts on adding a palmer's fast changer setup for more leverage when changing out a 12 gram?
I'm still kicking the idea around and it would provide two benefits.
1) A chute to guide the 12 gram
2) A larger knob for increased leverage
I like your use of the sight rail. A+!
Good write up.
My review of your review:
-The thumbscrews and internals (minus the bolt) are CCI sourced. So while the o-ring on the thumbscrews is a great design feature, unfortunately Avratech can't take credit for that. LOL.
-Crosman 12 grams are not the best to be reaching conclusions about efficiency. They are notoriously inconsistent. Lelands are available everywhere, they can be ordered online in bulk. I would recommend picking some up before drawing final conclusions. Also one 12 gram (even if it was a Leland) is not enough data to draw any conclusions, period.
-Blue Loctite Tech Data straight from the manufacturer: http://www.loctiteproducts.com/tds/T_LKR_BLUE_tds.pdf
-The missing serial number is interesting. Slipped through the cracks. But not worthy of criticism for delaying shipment. Basically what you are saying is "Mine accidentally didn't get a serial number, so they should have sent it out before the stamps came in if they were just going to accidentally forget to stamp it!" LOL WUT.
Rename the "abomination" to "The mint condition".
i did try soldering iron, i don't have a torch, i'm not going to use a torch, high temperature is what agglets use to bake their anodizing. i have the gun's finish to worry about. i'm just going to leave it alone at this point and use the nelson asa for constant air. most i can do is ask the airsmith next time i'm in the store.
Nice review heinous. Idk If I want one or not now.
Oh, and are you calling me out?:p
" i also know i've been working with guns for a few years and there's also someone else clumsier than me out there who will **** that part up harder..."
I use crossmans all the time with way better efficiency results. Those were very disappointing.
i'll chrono again next time i'm at the field.
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