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Short version:

HAO’s 416 Quad Rail fits my SGT 416 perfectly and has some very nice details. It’s a definite win, both in terms of the product and HAO’s customer service.

I’m impressed. Read on for the full story…

The last time I looked at HAO’s product offer was when they released their Gen 1 HK416 kit for PTW. It was a reasonable effort, with more than a nod to Eagle Eye’s rendition. Nothing in that to trouble the mighty SGT: Godzilla of the PTW 416.

HAO did not stand still, however and I gather from friends that they have become real contenders for the 416 PTW crown. Everyone is talking about how great HAO’s quality is, how reasonable their prices are and how fast, friendly, efficient and courteous their service is.

Crucially, everyone is talking about how well their stuff fits together, too: precise tolerances and no DIY interventions.

And, quite frankly, it just seems like HAO enjoys what it does and is having fun. They take positive and negative feedback in equal measure and learn from it. Yes, they are passionate. But they are not defensive: constructive criticism is viewed as a positive challenge.

I felt I needed to investigate.

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After a good chat with Bismarck HAO through Facebook Messenger, I ordered a few bits, including their 416 quad rail. HAO’s customer service is every bit as good as I’d been led to believe and I’d like to thank Bismarck for his time and effort. I’d also like to add that he is very honest about their products.

As an aside, I didn’t know, but HAO is named after Bismarck’s son – which I thought was really cool!

My parcel was well packaged and arrived fast. Aside from its standoff with mainland China, Taiwan is best known across the globe for high quality engineering at great prices, so I was expecting good things.

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First impressions of this airsoft rail, is that it’s an airsoft rail.

I’m stating the obvious, but a tautology at this point just seems so right…

Airsoft stuff isn’t ‘like’ RS stuff, so I wish people would cut out the, “…it’s like RS!” nonsense. What really matters is whether it’s great quality airsoft stuff, or a pile of shit.

Anyone remember the deep, silky, black finish on FCC’s 416 kit? HAO’s rail is a shade or two off black and is matt/flat in appearance. It is very nicely anodised:

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In some RS pics, the 416 quad rail looks matt/flat and in others there’s a lustre.

Here’s a close up from hkparts.net and it’s difficult to tell what’s going on. Maybe it changes between batches, or between mil (HK416) and civ (MR556) versions?

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Here’s HAO’s rail next to the rail from an RS MR556. Can you tell which one is which? It’s not easy:

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The RS rail is the one which isn’t attached to the blaster. I had to guess.

A second pic with a bit more receiver showing. The receiver set in question is the HAO. Looks good, doesn’t it?

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As it stands, HAO’s finish will probably make an excellent substrate for Krylon abuse.

And don’t get me started about spraying Krylon over Cerakote. Those are not happy memories. Cerakote has its place, but not under Krylon. The slippery bastard.

So, according to HAO, there’s airsoft (pile of shit) and ’boutique’ airsoft – as HAO likes to refer to its products. On the basis of this rail, I’d say boutique is about right.

The more pertinent question here, is how does HAO measure up to its main competitor in the boutique 416 PTW market – SGT? Since I don’t have an RS 416 quad rail, that seems like the most useful comparison to make.

It’s no secret that SGT ships its 416 kit with something which starts life as a VFC rail. VFC is a great brand. If I buy items like BUIS and I can’t get the RS, I prefer to use VFC ones as placeholders. Anyway, this VFC rail is Cerakoted to colour match your chosen SGT receiver tone. Once Cerakoted, it changes from a VFC rail to an SGT one.

Here’s how HAO’s rail looks on my SGT receiver. I think it looks great tone on tone and I’d expect that sort of fit from an RS item. So far so good. I’m liking this boutique stuff.

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Where HAO scores big points over SGT is in the detailing of their rail; specifically in the retention bolt area – including the bolt itself – but also in the rail’s anti-rotation tongue, which locks into the upper’s corresponding groove.

SGT’s offering is a pragmatic affair in both areas. Their rail gets the job done, but the company supplies an Allen head retention bolt as standard, which is jarringly unfaithful to in the wild pics of the RS HK416. I think the MR556 uses an Allen head bolt of some type but, again, that’s not what we’re going for here.

HAO’s retention bolt area. Note proper cross and flat head rail retention bolt details at  either end:

‘Weld’ marks – made from epoxy? No one would object to a short cut like that.

Actually, no! I checked with HAO and these are proper welds – and very difficult to do. It’s also a really cool detail:

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Rail retention bolt’s smooth middle section, to slide the bugger in and out easily and not wear thread marks into the recess in the barrel nut; nice:

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Rail retention bolt is captive, so won’t fall out during a rail changeover. I don’t know about you, but I like to swap between SMR and quad rail. Two looks, one gun!

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The RS SMR has a similar feature, so we know we’re in good company:

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SGT, with fully threaded Allen head bolt and removable ‘structures’. I’m not going to spend much time on this because it’s a low point. Still does the job, though:

SGT’s anti-rotation tongue is adequate, but lacks a touch of CNC definition as can be seen in the pic below. HAO’s is CNC’d nicely, a lot like the one on an RS SMR.

SGT left, HAO right:

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HAO rail on SGT upper. It looks like there’s a massive gap around the tongue – but there isn’t. It’s perfectly sized:

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In the pic below, you can see that the business part of the RIS – the angle – is consistent with the upper.

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Now, SGT’s argument is that anyone buying their kit will buy a better rail; I totally understand this, because I went with an RS SMR as soon as I could. From SGT’s point of view, their rail is supplied merely as a placeholder – to use until you source the RS 416 quad rail or SMR of your dreams. SGT Is upfront and honest about this, so it’s not like they are unaware of their rail’s limitations. I doubt that SGT has ever been completely happy using VFC base items. If SGT manufactured their own, the cost would be sky high. So it’s also a way for them to temper the cost of their kit.

As for rail fit, well, there’s no nasty step between receiver top and rail with either product, which is great. In fact, both rails fit the SGT upper receiver nicely.

Even with the rail retention bolt ‘airsoft tight’ (i.e. hand tight), neither the SGT nor the HAO will rotate once pushed firmly into place on the upper. (I only mention this because if you leave the RS SMR’s retention bolt hand tight, the rail can move slightly. This is because the SMR’s anti-rotation tongue isn’t quite broad enough to fill the SGT upper’s groove. There’s not much in it, but it’s enough to get slight movement.)

Now, here’s the money shot:

Both SGT and HAO rails are nice and snug on the barrel nut – so lube up! But, SGT’s offering needs to be positioned along the barrel nut – in just the right place – through trial and error. This is so that the rail retention bolt can be wrangled through to the other side and screwed tight.

On the other hand, HAO’s rail should be pushed onto the barrel nut to its limit. At this point, the retention bolt is in precisely the right place to go through to the other side. No mucking about.

That’s pretty awesome for airsoft tolerances.

To conclude I could rhyme “wow” with HAO, but I’ll refrain. I am impressed, though. If HAO’s 416 quad rail is anything to go by, it’s clear to me that the company has access to RS, really thinks things through and really knows what it’s doing. I truly think it understands the PTW platform, the way that Systema designed it.

I haven’t yet seen HAO’s 416 kit, but I think it would be a contender in the ultimate PTW 416  kaiju showdown. Whether SGT or HAO comes out as the Godzilla is yet to be seen. Maybe one of them wants to be King Ghidora? I would! He’s got three heads. And wings.

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Don’t forget, the SGT is due another release.

It was near perfect before, just a few things in the lower which needed fixing (the upper is a work of art). Adding a decent rail offering would be a massive bonus – maybe an SGT RAHG? I’m sure that Tosh, SGT’s frontman, is on to it already.

Tosh from SGT once said to me that he liked competition. At that time, the competition was FCC and Eagle Eye. Now, with HAO upping their game, the playing field has changed.

Anyway – I don’t half fancy the chances of HAO’s RAHG being a good buy, so I’ll be ordering one as soon as it’s released.