Heckler&Koch’s family of assault rifles, called G36, doesn’t need a special, long winded, introduction. Whole family successfully covers entire spectrum of weapons, required on modern battlefield- from compact carbine to assault rifles in different lengths and configurations and finally, light support weapon.
Oversimplifications aside, SL8-2 is civil version of G36. It is being reconfigured to its current state because of (political) decision that pistol grips, folding stocks, hi-capacity magazines and flash hiders (not to mention bayonet mounts, which are ultimate evil) are features, which are not needed for civilian shooting. Anyway, end result for civilian shooters is accurate and dependable weapon, with aesthetics, open to discussion.
CA 8-2’s configuration is interesting and deserves a closer look as it is configured in relatively untypical manner. Color of body is jet black (which is not typical form most HK SL8 rifles, as black is deemed as “aggressive” and “military-like”), it has installed optical block with Henshold replica optics and finally, fore grip with pre-installed bipod. Name of this product is somewhat confusing, as name 8-2 suggests that it replicates version, sold in the North America; but configuration is similar to European version, called H&K SL8-4. However, all this is irrelevant if the replica is not a straight shooter. And in short, CA again managed to produce an excellent out of the box solution.
Receiver of the original is made out carbon fiber reinforced polyamide and – as always with Classic Army- is well replicated by jet black black fiberglass. Another point worth mentioning is absence of squeaking, which would be very annoying, given the overall length of this replica. Sadly, various edges could use some work, as they are not exactly most precisely casted. Outer barrel is excellent replica of the real thing, thick and precisely machined. At first, I was a bit worried that outer barrel will develop dreaded barrel wobble, as it is not fixed to the fore grip. No fear, it is rock steady, even after prolonged use.
Sadly, no original markings are present. Classic Army logo is printed on the spots, reserved for revered red letters of Heckler&Koch (positioned on stock and above the trigger). That shouldn’t bother even more demanding users, as this markings are very low profile and won’t distract. However, lack of individual serial numbers is much more distracting.
Despite appearance of “fixed stock,” it has no room for battery, which is hidden in the fore grip, as we are used from the other models in CA36 family. This means that we are limited to either small type batteries or custom batteries with larger capacity. Changing of the battery is quick, but not the quickest as it is necessary to remove the pin, which secures hand guard to the body.
Position of fire selector is awkward, to say the least- which is the fault of the original. When changing fire setting it is either necessary to use non dominant hand or move the dominant hand from the grip. What I like is how they bypassed the absence of full auto fire on the original. Judging from the markings, this replica doesn’t offers full auto setting. Wrong. It is there, it just isn’t marked. Fire selector (marked S- Sicher/Safe ; E-Enzelfeuer/Semi) has third setting, which is engaged by moving fire selector lever in the third, non marked, setting. This is very nice compromise between realism and general usefulness. Changing is nicely defined and fire selector clicks into position. Naturally, both fire selector levers are ambidextrous.
CA8-2 comes with two magazines with nominal capacity of 20BB (with actual capacity of 18 BBs, as two BBs are not fed). To be blunt- their usefulness is seriously limited. As a die hard NormCap fan I’m shocked to say that you will be much more satisfied with classical NormCap magazines. This micro magazines (as I like to call them. They actually replicate 5 rounds magazine) as you will be much less handicapped. Just as curiosity, this is first Classic Army’s replica, which comes with filling rod (which you probably won’t use. Magazine shaped loaders are much more convenient). Replica will look less streamlined with NormCaps, but operator will be much more efficient. Sadly, 1 bullet does not translate into one BB very well. Micro magazines are very attractive, but their usefulness is seriously limited.
Magazine change lever is similarly located on the center position in front of the trigger guard and it naturally ambidextrous.
Optics is very good, at least for airsoft standards. It is a decent replica of Henshold optical block, and identical to the optics, which CA installs on the CA36 family. It is interesting that opinions on this piece of optics vary as much with real product as with CA’s replica. And even funnier- basic question is the same. Is the magnification adequate? For airsoft- it is. Picture is clear and well defined. Furthermore, it comes with the product, which should put all complaints to an end.
Or should it? Beauty of flat top rails is that there is ample space to install after market optics, tailored to the needs and wishes of the user. Removal of bridge is possible and flat top rail is available from Classic Army.
Back up sights are located on the top of the bridge and are useful for quick acquisition of the target. Reticle can be seen below; range finder is located at the left.
Eye relief is very important and you should take special care in adjusting the length of the stock, as described below.
Fore grip (in full length) has an addition of bi-pod. And opinions on bi-pod very much differ. Mostly about its usefulness. Truth to be told, we didn’t used them during the test, but than again, they are not in the way, as they rest close to the fore grip. It is very simple to take the bipod off- it is only necessary to remove front sling post. Again, bipod is part of the package.
Deploying of the bipod is quick- all you need is to pull them in the down position. Folding both legs is even simpler- there is a small button on the every leg which needs to be pressed to secure them in the closed position.
As we already mentioned -and we will again, as it is important- distance between the eye of the shooter and lense of the optical block is determined by numbers of the spacer segments on the stock. Individualized length of the stock is difference between excellent sighting picture and abysmal sighting picture. This will be again one of those “take time” advices, which we so much like to dispense. Take time and determine correct length of the stock.
Correctly reassembled stock shouldn’t rattle, if so, use strategically placed duct tape.
HopUp is adjusted in exactly the same manner as in CA36 family. Simple pull of cocking lever reveals dial, accessible trough ejecting port. Picture below shows HopUp chamber from atypical angle- from below.
Field stripping is simple and quick procedure. It is only necessary to remove one screw and one pin to break the replica in three main parts: lower receiver with gearbox, upper receiver with inner and outer barrel and magazine well.
Removal of gearbox from the lower receiver is again quick and painless. Gearbox is from trusted V3 series, which is known from CA’s SLR and G36 families. I’ve seen first V3 gearbox from CA quite some time ago (with G36K) and it is obvious, that CA gives lot of attention to constant improving of their products. Personally I very much like new “color coded” gearboxes, as it enables quick identification of inner parts.
Gearbox was opened after month of heavy duty testing. Most parts are already known; yellow polycarbonate piston with metal piston head showed no traces of wear. Gearbox is very well sealed against loss of pressured air; speeds are constantly on spot, just below 100 m/s.
No wear and tear was seen on the steel gears, which is just as expected.
CA8-2 was tested on several consecutive skirmishes. Long (51 cm) 6,04mm barrel does have a very positive influence on accuracy. Magnification of optical sight is just right and it takes several magazines for average shooter to develop the feeling of “impact point” Handling and ergonomy are more than adequate, even with impressive overall length of the replica. We mentioned questionable usefulness of 20 round magazines, which are- even with very conservative shooter- empty all the time. And fire in full auto in conjunction with those magazines is a dream; but this is not replica, which would deny opposition progress with high volume of fire but rather with accurate, quick succeeding, well placed shots. And this is exactly where this replica finds its place on airsoft field.
Another theoretical problem, which is not as insignificant as it may seems, is classification of CA 8-2. Naturally, it is not a true sniper replica. It is my opinion that no electric replica can be considered as one.
Despite different answers of dilemma conclusion is simple: CA8-3 is yet another one in growing line of Classic Army replicas, which will not dissapoint its user, as long as he understands its basic function. It may not look “militarized” enough, but it does its job very well and certainly better than competition. Classic Army CA 8-2 is usable out of the box, without upgrades. And sometimes this is all we ask for.
Test item was provided by ActionSportGames.com