How do you define best?
Suzutomo Gun Tailoring (SGT) defines best in terms of realism and authenticity. In this sense, they have gone to great lengths to make their 416 upper the best. You can read more about the Suzutomisation of the 416 in a recent blog I published.
Now, Tosh – SGT’s frontman – is supremely confident in their 416 upper and he needs to be; because it’s not a monopoly market. We’ve already seen 416 instances from FCC and relative newcomer, Eagle Eye (EE). Competition is fierce, but many consider SGT to have their own monopoly; a monopoly on obsessive detail. And this is what you’re paying for…and pay you will. SGT kit has no corners cut, nor are there savings to be made.
As for EE, it’s an indication of Tosh’s confidence in SGT’s 416 that he has this to say:
“I like good competition, like Eagle Eye. But we make ’em better. That’s all.”
I documented the excellent customer service I received from SGT, in the bespoke preparation and despatch of my upper. The upper itself has now arrived and it is no less impressive.
Form and Finish
Of all the criteria listed here, this is perhaps the most subjective. So I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.
There are definite differences in the contours of SGT’s and EE’s receivers. Quite telling when you see them side by side, as below. Until now, all 416 receivers have looked the same shape to me.
Just to note, the SGT features striations similar to Prime’s on the bore’s curve. The EE’s curve is smooth. I suspect this represents slightly different finishing techniques.
SGT top, EE below (complete gun)…
The markings are sublime, as you’d expect – particularly the engravings on the outer barrel. The serial number etc are very fine – not the chunky characters normally found on airsoft receivers.
SGT’s outer barrel is proprietary and it’s steel. It is modeled after the slim profile 416 barrel, which SGT has written debuted in 2007. This saves weight over the traditional barrel, but still adds to the upper’s weight over the EE.
Unlike other 416 uppers on the market, which are to M4 spec in the barrel nut area, SGT’s is true to the RS. This means the barrel nut thread is extended, as is the base of the outer barrel. For authenticity fans, this is a huge plus.
However, those who would wish to switch to an aluminium barrel are out of luck. You can’t fit any existing M4 or 416 aluminium barrels onto the SGT.
Now, I dare say this extension in both receiver and outer makes for a stronger assembly. But, if you favour aluminium barrels (I do), this could be a consideration. So, here we encounter a question of authenticity and strength versus versatility.
Yes, I am nit picking and yes this is the only 416 upper which comes complete with a steel barrel OOTB. I know a lot of people who won’t touch aluminium barrels.
On that subject, the majority of aftermarket outer barrels come complete with a grub screw as opposed to a knock pin. That’s no bad thing per se, but it’s also normal to find that the grub screw’s diameter is under-sized. This means that, without modification, the barrel could rotate past 12 O’clock as the barrel nut is tightened. This could lead to feeding problems, for obvious reasons.
The EE’s outer barrel is afflicted with an under-sized grub screw OOTB. However, mine has been modded by PPTW with an OEM Systema knock pin. So, while this isn’t a problem for me, it’s worth pointing out that SGT’s outer barrel does not need modification at all.
I did note that the SGT barrel’s knock pin is slimmer than Systema’s. I asked Tosh about this. It’s because the knock pin, too, is faithful to the RS and is, of course, to metric dimensions…as is the notch in the upper which accepts the knock pin. Again here, we encounter a no compromise approach and while it’s unlikely you’ll ever lose the original knock pin, it would be nice to know if spares are easy to source.
Again, I’m trying really, really hard to identify issues.
SGT 416 outer, left. OEM Systema outer, right:
The outer barrel finishes flush with the inside wall of the receiver, just as it should:
The outer barrel fits the inner barrel like a glove. It’s really impressive. The tolerances here are, again, perfect – better than the OEM Systema barrel (I tried three).
Aftermarket barrels tend to be a little on the loose side, in terms of inner barrel fitment. The tighter SGT is a very, very good thing in my book and where a chunk of money goes, no doubt.
As you can see from the pics, the flash hider end of things differs from the M4. The outer barrel extends out of the gas block, but instead of being male threaded to accept a flash hider, it’s female threaded (CW). A sleeve screws into this. A crush washer is added next, followed by the flash hider, which is CCW.
This is a common sense choice, because most airsoft flash hider are CCW. However, due to the combination of two different threads, the sleeve will need some Loctite.
Gas Block Assembly
Robust, substantial. The gas block itself is full steel and parkerized, like the outer barrel:
I don’t know what these lips or wing things are called. They are located inside the upper, above where the mag would sit.
At the moment, I’m unsure if there will be an issue with them. However, with the EE they need to be removed in order to facilitate use of Tackleberry’s RS Pmag conversions.
The lips on SGT’s upper appear to be of similar proportions to EE’s, so it will be interesting to see if they need attention. Again, this is a realistic RS feature, so not a mistake.
It is unlikely the lips/wings will cause a problem with OEM style mags. Tac’s Pmag conversions are different, because the mag shell extends higher than that of the OEM mag. And yes, my Pmags already have a notch cut in them to accommodate the longer 416 magwell.
Cylinder fit is excellent. Again, I am really impressed by this. It’s tighter than OEM or Prime and quite unlike EE’s cylinder fit…which is a little on the loose side. This was something I was disappointed about with the EE and whilst it doesn’t appear to affect performance, it is a niggle.
So, no such concerns with the SGT; an enhancement, in fact. If you’re familiar with converted RS Vltor MUR uppers, you’ll have a good idea of what the SGT’s cylinder fit is like. What’s more, it has the same solid, RS feel of the MUR. Like you could smash down a brick wall with it.
The charging handle supplied is a smooth fit. I tried one of my RS charging handles and that too was a smooth fit.
RS EOTechs are notoriously picky about how they sit on RIS. It takes a sharp eye, but they can be seen to cant when placed on off spec items. OEM Systema uppers are guilty of this and so is the EE 416 upper.
However, I’m happy to report that the SGT 416 upper passes the EOTest. There is arguably a very minor cant to it, but no more than Prime.
Details, Details, Details
Wedge shaped cut-out intersects with the half cylinder cavity:
Heart shaped rail locating notch:
Steel gas tube sleeve:
Another bit I don’t know the name of, but basically the surface leading up to the barrel nut threads is curved, not angular:
This is only part one and as you can probably tell, so far I’m very impressed.
Next I’ll engage the services of SGT’s UK/EU partner, Tackleberry. He’ll torque the barrel nut and generally make sure the upper is fit to be dropped into my Prime Colt lower. I also hope to get further lower-fit data from him.
A lot of people out there won’t need any more convincing about the SGT 416 upper. I’m certainly convinced that it’s the sincerest, most realistic 416 reproduction possible. It’s the embodiment of SGT’s definition of ‘best’.
SGT has delivered a level of detail which most companies wouldn’t even contemplate. These details do not make production easier, nor do they make production cheaper. They also do not ensure compatibility with M4 parts (and, as Tosh would say, this is not an M4!)
Is the question now one of whether you can afford to buy an SGT 416 upper? Or, is it one of whether you can you afford not to buy one?
I’m looking forward to reviewing the upper to lower fit and how the upper feels as part of a whole gun, in the field.