I don’t do unboxing articles, but sometimes a quick look at a new purchase wows me enough to merit a short blog.
No one really needs stamped trades on an airsoft receiver set, but those with a certain taste do appreciate the knowingness and effort involved.
The airsoft market is used to cleanly engraved trades. However, the reality is that most RS receivers are roll marked (stamped). This gets the identification/branding job done, but it creates uneven characters of varying depth, together with an undulating surface topography which no other inscription process can quite match.
Presumably it’s cheaper as part of an industrialised process to do this for RS, whereas with airsoft receivers there are a number of cost barriers. For instance, each set of trades needs specific tooling, unlike a multi-font, multi-use laser. Also, the pneumatic equipment required to deliver the blow is quite specific.
Aside from the costs involved, the majority of consumers are perhaps indifferent or oblivious to stamping; or, want pretty trades – not something that looks like it’s been hit with a hammer. With all that said, maybe the biggest barrier is the blend commonly used to make airsoft receivers. Stamp a pot metal receiver with the force required to make a decent impression and it’ll break.
So, we tend to find stamped trades only on airsoft receivers made of 7075-T6 aluminium which, as it happens, is what RS receivers are made of, too. That means stamped trades are more likely to figure in higher end airsoft sets. These occupy a niche market where that little bit of extra charisma is worth paying a lot more for.
You can see clearly the difference between stamped and engraved in the pic above. The serial is engraved and has a harsh, square imprint of consistent depth. The stamped content, on the other hand, has a U-shaped imprint of inconsistent depth.
More stamped features:
What is also apparent is how the impact of stamping affects the surface of the receiver around the trades. Run a finger over and it’s palpably embossed, like the edge of a crater.
Here’s the same receiver, but with light coming from a different angle to pick out the relief. Note that the serial (engraved) lacks the tell tale impact marks of the stamped trades. Engraving was chosen for the serial to differentiate it from the trades. In the RS the serial is unique and roll marked using a different tool, so often looks dislocated in terms of style.
I bought this “Gen 2” M4 receiver set from HAO, but other boutique companies have followed their lead and brought to market receivers with stamped trades (e.g. Zparts). They’re rarely cheap, but it’s nice to have the choice – for those of us who appreciate the process. From my POV, HAO’s trades are still rather neat and I’d really like to see them done nastier; but stamped trades do vary in the RS due to their very nature and I guess there is a commercial balance to be struck in airsoft. Not everyone wants their trades to look nasty, after all.
I’ll add that I think these trades are an improvement over the more than passible ones on HAO’s L119A2. This is mainly because I prefer the contrasting serial on the M4 set, as opposed to the pneumatic pinned version on the A2 – which looks like it was gouged out by a 6 year old psychopath. I guess this shows that the company is developing its technique all the time.
This bodes well for HAO’s forthcoming L119A2 GBB receiver sets, including the MWS model.