Concept of battle rifle was prevalent in the years after the WW2. Battle rifle replaced bolt action rifles, which were most common weapon in WW2. Concept of battle rifle- otherwise sound concept- was challenged in Vietnam war, where was M14 quickly replaced by lighter M16. Recently it became obvious that lighter assault rifles cannot cover every demand- and M14 is making a comeback. M14 uses a hard hitting, over penetrating round (7,62 NATO), which means that battle rifle is not necessary for an average door kicker, but it is deadly in the arms of seasoned, trained operator.
Latest incarnation of M14 is called EBR (Enhanced Battle Rifle). EBR is an end result of a US SOCOM’s project of US Navy special forces (SEAL) modernized battle rifle. First direct predecessor was M14 SOPMOD variation, developed by Troy. Their idea was to discard usual stock configuration and to employ a combination of new chassis and stock. Their version demanded a conversion of gas system, despite one of the demands being a “drop in” conversion. This was a opportunity for -at the time- less known company, called Sage International Ltd, from Escod, Michigan. Their proposal was an actual “drop-in” chassis solution. Drop in means that it is necessary to take apart your bog standard M14 and insert it in EBR chassis.
Kart M14 EBR (its official name is M668- we won’t use it, at is is non descriptive. We will rather use name Kart M14 EBR. And box -falsely- states that it is “Conversion Kit”) is one of the more pleasant surprises in 2007. Actually when we first broke the news about this replica it was met with considerable mistrust. Anyhow, let’s start with the review, shall we?
Replica arrives in Styrofoam box (with cardboard sleeve), which protects replica in the transport. And protect it does, as the box was quite damaged in the transit, thankfully without any damage to the replica.
It is interesting, how little Kart hides the fact, that they replicate G&P’s EBR chassis (Kart Laser Products, anyone?).
When you pick up replica for the first time, it rattles a bit. It is pretty much given that you need to tighten everything, make a check and than re-tighten everything again. In short, replica out of the box rattles quite a bit, which is quickly and simply remedied with some elbow grease and ten minutes of your spare time.
With the exception of the rubber butt on the stock and pistol grip Kart M114 EBR is fully metal. Previous versions of Kart used plastic gas tube (and several other parts). Kart EBR has all those parts in metal.
Replica comes with a HiCap. is metal and has smallish sliding door on the top. Capacity is around 400 BBs. It has some play in the magazine well.
Generally speaking, chassis looks good. It is not machined, but casted from pot metal. Casting is much less precise than machining, but in comparison it is much cheaper. Naturally, there are slight imperfections in the chassis.
Finish on the metal parts -as it case with most Chinese replica- satisfactory at best. Problem is in its softness. It chips very easily and in couple of skirmishes it wears down considerably. Despite its softness, it is even and not too glossy.
Battery space is hidden under a plastic fore grip. Originally Kart M14 EBR comes with 9,6V battery, but works with 8,4V just as well. There is no obvious explanation behind the decision, why it comes with 9,6V battery. Probably it is used because 9,6V battery fits better, as its even number of cells (8) forms a symmetric shape. But this is just a guess.
You wont be able to cram large battery, but small, 8,4V battery fits and replica works without problem. Change of battery is somewhat awkward, as it is necessary to remove three (yes three) Allen screws to remove the hand guard. However, I rather see that than to mess around with a battery box. This is not fault of the guys at the Kart, but configuration of the replica.
Sights are of course adjustable. Rear sight adjusting is performed with two dials, which allows windage and elevation adjustment. It clicks to the position, but it is fairly soft. However, as EBR is most often employed as precision shooting platform there is plenty of space to mount an optics.
Stripper clip sight base replaces stripper clip guide. This allows for in line mounting of optics with magnification. You will need appropriate rings and optics (in airsoft, copies of M1 are cheapest and most realistic).
As it is customarily with Chinese replicas there is no authentic markings. Small inscription “Made in China” is located on the rear of the upper receiver, beneath the rear sight.
Bolt is functional- sadly, bolt catch isn’t. Kart’s M14 are copies of Tokyo Marui M14, which reflect down to such small details. Bolt release is not very important as HopUp adjustment dial is hidden in the magazine well. Bolt is fast and slams into the front position with a nice metallic clack.
One of the main attributes of this replica is its weight. Good sling is a first accessory you will need and thankfully, chassis if fully prepared for sling installation. Rear sling attachment have ears on left and right. Front sling attachment is by default located on the left side of the chassis, but can be simply unscrewed and reattached on the right side, if so desired.
Kart M14 EBR comes bundled with the sling. Quality of the sling is not the best, it is too soft, even if it is wide enough. It is good temporary solution; you are advised to purchase better one as soon as possible.
Motor is not stored in the grip, so it is realistically narrow. But all is not good. It appears to be too narrow and is not exactly the most ergonomic solution ever.
Overall, Kart M14 is posible to adjust to the operator. Telescopic stock is adjustable in length. It is secured by button on the rear of the chassis. Just a note: button is obscured by fully retracted stock, but it is still easily acessable. Stock can be set in four (actually three- stock does not secure itself in last setting) increments. Movement of the stock is not smooth.
Cheek pad is a integral part of the stock. Naturally, it can be adjusted in height. If you use sights it is not necessary to adjust it at all. Adjustment is necessary when using an optics. Cheek pad is secured with lever and it can be adjusted to ridiculous height.
There is plenty of real estate to mount Picatinny compatible accessories. Stripper clip mount was already mentioned, there are also rails at 3,6,9 and 12 o clock. There is plenty RIS compatible accessories which you can choose from, from bipods to tactical lights. Tolerance of rails could be better, as some of the accessories have don’t stay there very solidly.
Quality of assembly is fairly good. There are some minor details, which detracts, like visible (red) cables, which are visible through gaps on the chassis. They are visible on couple of spots and if you find this annoying (we did) it is fairly simply to take Kart M14 apart and tape over the offending cables with some black tape.
This replica is very interesting for our readers, so we took special interest in field test:
Replica is very heavy, and you will need a decent sling. One of the main comparative advantages is fully adjustable stock, which enables very efficient use of sights or optical devices. Replica is muzzle heavy and puts a lot of strain on your support hand. Hand guard is fairly stressed, so it creaks and moves a bit.
Safety is positioned in the best place possible and works. Same goes for fire selector, which could use a bit stiffer spring with better report but it is serviceable as it is. Moving bolt makes phenomenal sound but it could use a stiffer spring. Range, accuracy and exit velocity (chronoed around 340 fps) are impressive. ROF on 8,4 V battery is comparable with other replicas. Fire selector is simple knob on the right and has two settings (semi and auto).
HiCap magazine’s winding wheel is not protruding from the plate all that well and takes a bit of using to winding. This is common feature of M14 HiCaps, so we can’t really blame this to Kart exclusively. Bit more annoying is winding of the magazine as HiCap is a bit finicky. It is necessary to constantly wind it, as it appears that coiled spring is soft. Inserting the magazine is simple and (Marui’s) solution is much better thanGuay Guay’s or Classic Army’s.
Stock has some play and it moves if it is not shouldered. Cheek pad lever has also some play, even in locked position. Trigger pull is very crisp and nice, with no sluggishness.
Change of battery is a challenge. Not as much as changing the battery, but more taking care of small screws. You will need to carry a Allen key with you (part of the package). High performance battery is preferable, just to avoid this tiresome procedure. Also, I assume that large battery presses against the hand guard (which has less place to move and moan).
Adjustment of the HopUp is uneventful; you need to remove the magazine and turn click adjustable dial. HopUp shows no tendency to reset itself.
Magazine release lever’s spring is very soft and it is possible to loose the magazine on the field if you are not careful. This is one of those small details, which are cheap enough and easy enough to change.
After a field test and skirmish (approximately 4000 BBs) we opened a replica. Kart M14 EBR uses standard Kart M14 gearbox (what else), which has upper half colored in black in order not to be seen trough the ventilation holes of the chassis. Work on this type of gearboxes is very easy.
Kart’s gearbox is basically a Tokyo Marui V7 gearbox. Shell is die casted, but job could be better. There is lots of left over material, which could (and does) end up between the gears, causing havoc.
Replica uses plastic bushings. Gears are XYT brand. Shimming looks decent, gearbox was adequately (as in: not too much) greased. There was no visible tear after our little field test (and yet again, this was everything but long term test).
HopUp appears (as we didn’t have an opportunity to actually cross test compatibility) to be identical to Tokyo Marui M14 HopUp. Tested version was very nice and consistent, without any air leakage. Speaking of inner barrels: there appears to be problem with diameter of the outer barrel on Kart’s M14s and regular after market inner barrels can not be inserted in the original barrel. Important, if you plan to upgrade your replica with tighter barrel.
So, this is our review of KART M14 EBR. Is Kart EBR perfect? No, it is not. Actually, it is far from perfect. But even with all its flaws it is very nice rifle, which is skirmish ready. It is a good and affordable package without really big problems, but with several smaller, less serious problems- but it is still worth you money if you want replica of Enhanced Battle Rifle for cheap.
Test item provided by RSOV