Specna Arms have, in a short amount of time, become known as a brand that offers quality AEGs at very affordable prices. The latest entry into the selection of guns is the CORE series, which utilize a nylon fibre receiver construction, bringing the price down even lower. But if you think they are just cheap plastic guns, guess again.

The model for review is the SA-C08, a CQB sized M4 with a keymod front handguard and a SOPMOD style stock. The gun is wired to the rear and the stock easily houses a nunchuk style battery. A 9.6 V NiMH nunchuck battery is even included in the package, alongside a charger, flip-up iron sights, a high capacity magazine and a softer, M90 rated main spring.

The gun was kindly provided for review by Gunfire. At the time of writing the gun retails for 147.54 EUR.

First impressions

Handling the gun, the first thing you’ll notice is the way the surface feels compared to metal guns. There’s a satin finish to the nylon fibre material, and you can immediately tell it’s not flimsy ABS. The second thing is the weight, as the gun is somewhat lighter than metal ones for obvius reasons. However, the SA-C08 tips the scales at 2340 grams with the magazine inserted, and compared to a similar gun with metal construction, the difference is not more than a few hundred grams.

The metal parts on this particular gun are the trigger, trigger guard, body pins, keymod handguard and its rails, flash hider, dummmy bolt catch, magazine catch and pistol grip and receiver end plates. Yes, even the buffer tube and castle nut are plastic, and are actually a single piece. Other CORE models follow similar material choices.

The flip-up sights are sturdy and snap open readily. The opening mechanism was a bit sticky at first, but this was due to some burrs from molding which disappeared after five uses or so.

The buttstock end cap is made of a hard plastic so it’s a little slippery, and the end plate has no sling mount loop at all. In fact, there are no readily available sling mounting points at all, save for narrow slots on the buttstock where you can thread sling webbing through.

Some cost savings have also been made with non-essential functions, and as such there is no bolt hold-open, and the bolt release is just decorative. On the upside, the hop-up adjustment is of the rotary type, which is easier to manipulate and should hold its setting better than the traditional model with the adjustment wheel on the side.

The trigger feel is nothing special, but the motor response is quite crisp, and the rate of fire is more than decent using the the accompanying 9.6V NiMH battery. The gun also ships with two springs, one rated at M120, the other M90, so you can use the same gun for field use as well as for CQB.

Externals

The first thing that may come to mind when people hear the words plastic gun is bendy, squeaky parts. Not so on the CORE series. The fibre reinforced nylon receiver parts are sturdy as hell. The upper and lower mate completely flawlessly. In fact, all parts fit together brilliantly, with the exception of the buttstock, which when fully extended wobbles quite a lot. However, that’s nothing new, and only a minor nuisance at best anyway. I’d go so far as to wager that the nylon construction may well be able to take a bigger beating than its pot metal counterparts, as nylon is more likely to bend than break.

More or less the only thing that lets you know the difference to a metal one is the fact that it doesn’t feel cold to the touch.

The magazine well takes several brands of mags without issue, but some are hard to lock in place. It seems the magazine catch is ever so slightly too thick (or high, depending on how you look at it) for some magazines. Filing down the top side of the catch or swapping it for a different one will allow for more magazine compatibility. Due to the construction material, the mag well inside surface is also a bit rougher compared to metal ones, so magazines that are very close to the internal dimensions may have some issue falling out freely.

Internals

Moving on to the insides, things keep on looking bright. Once you unscrew the buffer tube, you can remove the spring guide and spring with a 6 mm allen key.

The spring guide is plastic with a metal enc cap, and comes without a bearing of any sort.

The gearbox comes radiused from the factory, which will ensure a longer life span without the need for user modifications.  

Motor wires run on the back side of the pistol grip. The motor itself a ferrite magnet one, with an o-shaped pinion, and the pistol grip is connected to the gearbox with four screws instead of the more usual two.

All gears sit on steel bushings. What’s best is that the gearbox has been shimmed as close to perfection as I’ve ever seen on an out-of-the-box gun! The gearbox halves fit together amazingly well, too, it’s almost hard to pry apart even without a spring inside.

All gears are steel and the sector gear comes equipped with a delayer chip. While the gears are lubricated a bit more sparingly than I’d personally prefer, everything works wonderfully. The grease also seems to be of a much higher quality than the brownish gunk you usually see in guns from the lower end of the price range.

The nozzle is a standard AR one, without an o-ring. The piston has a steel tooth rack with the second tooth removed. There’s a very slight air leak past the piston, but the chrono results are still very consistent.       

Conclusion

Based on the gun provided for review, the CORE series from Specna Arms looks intensely promising and definitely delivers much more than you’d expect based on the price tag! If the nylon fibre construction does not detract you from immersion or gameplay enjoyment, the CORE series comes extremely highly recommended as a very affordable starter gun, a cheap backup or, for example, a nifty CQB alternative for your field rifle.