On the way to a game on Sunday, the conversation turned to RIF performance.

It was between three dyed in the wool PTW users – all of us guilty of the most shameless bias. I had to admit though, that because the performance of my Tackleberried PTWs has never been a doubt, I’ve never bothered to write a blog about it.

So, after hammering my HAO HK416A5 on the weekend, I thought I’d write something.

The story really begins with the receiver set, because without that being built to the correct tolerances you’re on a hiding to nothing.

True, you don’t need anything fancy in terms of materials. An OEM Systema receiver is made of the same pot metal shite as any other factory RIF. However, things have to fit together as they should and certain alignments are essential.

HAO obviously does this, but also CNCs its receiver sets from 7075 aluminium billet: the same alloy blend as the RS. This makes them much stronger – even more so than 6061.

Furthermore, it means that HAO’s receivers can be anodised like the RS – but more on that later.

They are also built to 1:1 scale, so you can fit most of the RS externals you like; although my A5 is probably the lightest on RS parts of any of my builds in the last eight years. That’s because the parts that I would normally buy are instead manufactured by HAO to a very high standard.

The only RS parts I’m using, in fact, are the rear BUIS, stock, castle nut, fore and aft sling loops, AFG2 and optic. That’s a positively lightweight list compared to something like my AFSOC-inspired M4A1 (now gone to a loving home).

At the game, people were kind enough to comment on the eye-catching RAL8000 anodising of the rail and receiver. It mimics the prototype RS A5, which was hawked around trade shows by H&K.

The RS:

While that kind of praise is of course very welcome (no one wants an ugly gun), what I really wanted to know was how durable the ano is, as I’d heard mixed things.

I was expecting to return home with it scratched to fuck and while that’s not something I mind, it was revealing to find that I’d not really marred it at all.

Ergonomics are also something that’s really important to me and I already knew I got on with the HK416D – having owned both Eagle Eye and SGT versions (the latter has been taken to the next level over the past year by a good mate, and will be featured in the blog very soon).

This is the first time I’ve had the luxury of full ambi controls and my muscle memory is such that I didn’t actually use them at all. Furthermore, the slave fire control lever on the right side is a fuck up waiting to happen. This isn’t down to HAO but because of Systema’s inept design. Look, but don’t touch!

What was really great, however, was HAO’s magnetic bolt catch which is the best functioning one I’ve ever come across. There’s also a safety feature – a partial fence inherent to the A5 – which stops you knocking the bolt catch inadvertently.

The paddle is also huge, so it’s really easy to operate.

The grip is also new to me. It’s modelled after the H&K V7, but HAO decided not to replicate it fully – choosing to angle the motor plate end at 45 degrees to the horizontal (when it should be parallel to the ground).

Still, it’s solid and comfortable in extended use (although I hope to swap it out for a steeper angled RS Magpul grip at a later date).

As previously stated, I do get on with the HK416D but I think the A5’s magwell is much better. More in the M4A1 style, it not only accepts a wider range of mags but is flared for ease of insertion. A great performance feature which HAO has closely replicated:

The trigger guard, too, is a great feature and is enhanced compared to the standard, straight HK416D version – allowing a range of gloves (or fat fingers) to be used.

The aft sling loops are, however, a massive PITA if – like me – you’re using a Magpul MS3 Gen 2 with chunky Paraclip sling adaptors. They don’t fit the loops, so I made something out of knotted paracord to get around the issue.

Inside, it’s a case of #TACKLEBERRYALLTHETHINGS – including the monogrammed HAO cylinder:

In fact, when anyone asks, I always recommend they buy the cylinder built from the ground up by Tac; or, send the cylinder they bought direct from HAO to him, for attention.

As you’d expect from a Tac’d build, my A5 is moisture proofed and I didn’t really think about that until now. It pissed down in the afternoon and there were no problems. But, I’ve never had any problems with Tac’d builds in the wet so that’s not exceptional.

However, when I got home I was sure to dry out the A5 as recommended by Tac: disassemble into its major components and leave to dry – with the lower inverted.

I’ve got to be honest: I absolutely hate setting PTW hops. It’s a shit system, compared to the gold standard Marui version and includes dropping the mag and inserting an Allen key into a grub screw in the mag well.

However, if the hop has been Tackleberried, once set it’s like a fucking laser. Setting the A5’s hop (with Tacbelts Andy as my spotter – thanks mate!) I was surprised to find that it was pretty much spot on for Green Devil 3s.

Tac does tend to pre-set the hop near where you need it, but this was perfect and it was indeed as effective as usual – placing bursts (tap trigger in auto) where I placed the EOtech’s reticle.

Did it make me a better player? God no. I’m incredibly out of practice, but a reliable AEG which is consistent and delivers decent effective range is never going to hurt your game.

Thanks to Beard and the team at Spartan Airsoft for an excellent Xmas game, and for the in game pics. Also thanks to Andy F, James H, Mark E, George E, Andy D and Alex D for being great company!

P.S. Miguel from HAO did a bit of a photoshop on one of the pics. Thanks Miguel, really made me smile 🙂