Words and Pics: Nismo (@ta31rcom4)
I’ve done a lot of freestyle-ish HK416 builds, as you can see from my previous articles for the blog.
This time I really wanted to build up a solid military clone: the famous modern CAG ‘Tanodized’ HK416D.
Now, that was not easy – at least not initially. There were no replicas on the market with the correct finish – just glitter paint like the TM and VFC versions; and nothing at all for the Systema PTW – which I wanted to use again, as my platform of choice. You know, all the usual stuff – it’s 99% 1:1 with the RS, so accepts more drop in RS parts than most GBBs; it’s high performance; etc, etc. I’m a hardcore PTW user, basically.
The colour of the (officially not existing, BTW) Tanodized HK416 is a well discussed topic around the clone and impression globe. There are only reference pictures of it, where the tone never seems fixed.
The world famous tan_rifle build set the benchmark. It is also a very good example of what a challenge it is to get the colour correct through the anodising process. But then again, what is correct? Like the RAL8000 HK416A5, the colour of the CAG 416 seems to vary from tan to brown, brown to green, green to grey, and grey to silver – with shades in between! So the colour largely comes down to interpretation.
That said, I knew the colour range I preferred and HAO seemed to have aced it.
Finally, after a long wait, HAO’s production version of the CAG HK416D for Systema PTW was released and I put a lot of effort in to getting one.
On arrival I was very pleased and extremely satisfied with HAO’s choice of anodised (not glitter paint) tone. It matches extremely well with my perception of several well-known pics. Plus, it isn’t just an FDE HK416 like the bad clones. This time HAO really did a great job – unlike their first, limited edition version, which didn’t fit my idea of the correct color at all.
Because of the anodised finish (and presumably like the RS) HAO’s colour morphs depending on the environment from a nice sand / FDE-ish tone to slightly grey / olive drab. In fact, it’s redolent of some of the RS HK416A5 RAL8000 rifles seen with SF / LE units here in Europe; and (crucially) highly consistent with CAG reference pictures.
So, in my opinion, the RS CAG 416 is almost definitely produced using the same RAL8000 anodising process as the RS HK416A5. Readers of this blog will know its variation has been exhaustively documented in the Fifty Shades of RAL8000 article series. Notwithstanding, I’ve been lucky enough to handle an RS HK G28 RAL8000 from one of the latest production batches. The HAO CAG receivers up close are almost identical to what I saw of the G28 up close. And also this G28 had subtly different RAL8000 tones between upper and lower – like the HAO CAG.
Kit Quality and Completeness
As for other quality aspects, HAO’s measurements and tolerances are state of the art. And Systema PTW internals fit like a glove. This cannot be overstated and it’s what separates HAO from the rest – but there is a downside.
HAO’s kit is bundled with a lot of HK416A5-specific parts. These are simply incorrect for a CAG build, so are next to useless – even as placeholders. In addition, their recoil charging handle does not fit their receiver properly; it is just too thin and wobbles. In addition, it’s simply a bad idea because it removes the actual functionality of the charging handle for PTW, which is to help remove the cylinder. That said, I’ve modded mine until the planned RS HK item or RS Geissele ACH arrives; and of course these RS handles fit the HAO perfectly as it’s 1:1.
Analysis, Identification, Procurement
When building a military clone the right way, I’ve found that there’s a huge challenge simply to identify and source the correct items. I viewed tan_rifle’s excellent list and clonerifles.com for background research, and also talked to some CAG impressionists…which is also is a challenge, I’ve noticed. So I went back to the primary information sources (reference pics) and made my own analyses.
It is very hard to source the correct RS Wilcox .410 riser mount in FDE, in my experience. Also the correct HK V4 grip, which is not included in the HAO kit, is nearly unavailable all over the world, and seemingly not in production anymore. I wanted more RS HK parts for the build and even talked to some HK guys directly, but they could not help.
I have managed to source and collect a lot of correct parts, or at least acceptable placeholders. I was happy to find some nice items; the prototype Geissele SMR in DDC is certainly something that makes my build feel even more special.
As of now I have a few things left to source. To get the build 100% done right, I will now focus on sourcing the following:
- RS Wilcox .410 riser & FTS mount in FDE…if ever!
- RS HK416 V4 grip RAL8000
- RS HK416 castle nut (M4 style fitted is not correct, but closer than A5 nut bundled with HAO kit)
- RS HK416 stock tube RAL8000
- RS HK416 charging handle RAL8000 and RS Geissele ACH FDE
- RS KAC micro flip up front sight
- RS LA-5
- Correct RS SF M600 head
I really like the build so far, but it still feels incomplete. Maybe HAO will come up with some helpful CAG related clone parts like, for example, the famous Wilcox mount or a V4 grip. The grip they supply with the kit doesn’t actually exist in the RS, so it’s hard to know what they were thinking when they designed it – although it’s composed of great plastic and well moulded.
As a future plan I am considering building a long version of the CAG 416 (again using a HAO kit) when I can get my hands on an RS Geissele 14.5” SMR in DDC; and the correct Geissele scope mount for the well-known Vortex short dot.
Lastly please let me say again a big “Thank you!” to Rich for putting this article on T H E blog.
- HAO HK416 CAG Full Kit
- Complete Systema PTW Supermax internals & small parts
- RS Magpul CTR FDE
- RS HK416 triggerguard RAL8000
- RS Geissele prototype HK416 SMR DDC
- RS HK416 steel barrel nut
- RS Magpul RVG FDE
- RS KAC micro rear flip up sight
- KAC micro flip up front sight (placeholder)
- RS Insight AN/PEQ15 (placeholder)
- RS Surefire M600 DF FDE w/ remote switch
- RS Aimpoint T2 / LaRue LT751 QD mount
- RS Eotech / L3 G33 magnifier FDE w/ Wilcox FTS mount clone (placeholder)
- RS Magpul PMAG 40rds (soon converted for PTW)
- RS SigSauer Romeo 4T
- RS Larue LT101 riser mount
- RS Magpul converted PMAGs & EMAGs
- VFC HK416D V4 grip FDE (placeholder)
- Various Wilcox .410 riser mount clones (placeholder)
- Angry gun Surefire can FDE
Follow Nismo @ta31rcom4