So I have a different take on airsoft, I am not known for being subtle…or particularly stealthy …Most of what I do in airsoft involves getting up close, a lot of pyro and giggling. In our little team, I am normally one of the people asked to go into a building and make the bad people go away. While I like to think of what I do as akin to the opening scene of equilibrium…it is more akin to a fat man sweating profusely running around and throwing pyro. But I can dream….
So anyway, sniping….very new and alien to me. I have seen for years countless of my mates fall in love with the idea of a sniper rifle, buy one, upgrade it and bin it all in a month. Often loosing several hundred pounds in the process. I refer to this process as “monkeys circle of sniping”.
but I have had a slight love affair with the ares striker….im not sure why but their were a few things I found deeply pleasing. I am the kind of player that can just about change a battery and programme a spectre, so for me a rifle that was Easy to maintain (no tiny screws, complex take down), upgradeable with ease and at a price point that I wouldn’t be too stressed if I decide that sniping is not for me.
I’ve found the striker online varying in price between £200+ to about £175, but found JD airsoft had a deal on for £126 quid, so that got bought.
It arrived 2 days later, and I was seriously impressed.. mostly. Solid out of the box, and then looking under the grip 2 Allen keys..all the tools I need to do anything with the gun all their and contained. The butt came off with 2 screws and underneath a large space for whatever is needed. (I’ve stored a bigger spring in their and some random bits and bobs. Really well thought out. Nothing wobble nothing creaked. The box even comes with an old skool speed loader. The old pipe and pokey stick job, I haven’t seen one of those in a number of years.
But then the horror, the horror of that first bolt pull. Imagine, if you will, dragging a bag of bricks over some concrete…it was awful, grindy and made a horrific noise. Mr chrono tells me I did all of that for a paltry 380fps. Looking on Facebook, I found myself a rather good little group, the ares striker owner group is a fantastic resource, and I will mention them a lot later on. Anyway, a brief look through the photos showed every striker had a lovely shiney brass cylinder/bolt…did I have the wrong gun, was mine different? A little more digging showed that every single person on the group had immediately on receiving the gun polished the ever loving crap out of that cylinder inside and out. So looking quickly online tells me the cylinder comes out by poking the cocking indicator. Comes out really easily. Again the cylinder really easy to do, a set of pliers into the steel (really nicely machined steel) nozzle and that twists out too. Everything inside looks good, although the stock cylinder Oring looked like it had been crimped at some stage, so that got replaced.
About an hour and endless cups of tea later and all was shiney inside and out. All goes back together and with an Allen key I pull the piston back and test the air seal, with my finger over the end the cylinder still fires forward air leaking out everywhere…im a little disappointed by now I understand where the low FPS has come from. Some PTFE tape around where the cylinder meets the nozzle, a new Oring and lots of lubricant later and the air seal is perfect. Finger over the end again, pull it back and the piston doesn’t move at all. Booyah.
By this stage im bored and slightly over caffeinated, So, out come the Allen keys and the stock comes off as I thought id have a look at everything else, I look and find that everything from the RIS rail down to the magazine well, the trigger mech box is one piece of really high quality extruded? ZAMAC aluminium, nothing dogily screwed together no rough parts no wobbly mech box, no poorly attached RIS rail that comes off when you put a scope on it, one solid piece top to bottom. Very nice.
Reassembly was a bit more difficult, I had to again look on the ares striker group, and found a hand guide to sticking it back together. Getting the bolt back in is a task and needs some practice, It involves a pokey stick on the sears and some wiggling to get it all back in, but with practice it works.
All fits well, the cylinder is a little smoother and the fps is a slightly better 400 fps. Later I strip it down add a cheap m140 spring and get a very nice spot on 445fps (site limit round me is 450, except one site that is 500). Its also pretty consistent with a +- of about 5 FPS. Pretty good for a £126 quid gun. Moving to 0.36’s tells me I have a slight loss in Joule energy, 445 with a 0.2 was 1.8J. 320 with a .36 ended up as 1.65 J. more on this later.
The hop up also was an odd affair, a little grub screw difficult to access, an M4 bolt and a spring to keep the pressure made an easy and finley adjustable hop unit.
A few days later and im off to a site. By this stage boredom has taken over and I’ve painted it, put some random RIS rails on it (one underneath for a rubber bumper to rest on stuff / Atlas BIPOD, or a moscart launcher for added heresy.
I’ve also plonked a short doc scope on it I’ve taken of my recoil 416, it looks good. A lot like the Magpul rifle stock for the Ruger.
From stage left, I’ve made a suitably horrific side arm out of an old galaxy mp5k, some high speed gears and other bits, ably assisted by Mr reaver..who truth be told did most of the work.
Now having watched Norvitsch and the very good bodgeups videos I am left with the impression I need to be slow, steady and stealthy…im not good at that, but for the whole experience I decide to play the first game as I’ve seen.. . its hot. Its 30’c and im crawling about in a heat wave….im bored.
SO I mix it up a bit, next game starts and I run (read waddle with intent) as far forward as I can and find myself a little nest on top of a small hill. I have a nice view over the field and start popping off targets from between the 50 to about 80 metre mark. There is almost no wind so I’ve got no problems getting the range. The hit taking on the other hand was frustrating, but selective choice of target made life easier. Head shots are frowned upon. However, after you have shot the same person 3 times and they haven’t taken the hit, shots to the genitals are more of a grey area…..but effective.
So my little nest, its wonderful. People getting too close get dispatched by the MP5k, those further away get sniped. It is actually rather fun. I’m covering my team mates as they move forward, occasionally entertaining myself by bouncing a BB near the drum they are hiding behind…just to test my hop up of course. The game ends, my team mates tell me that while It was useful having me over watch the giggling gave it away as to where I was..I had failed on the stealth element required for the role.
With this in mind, we go back and reload for the next game. This game I try more of an upfront and direct approach. Running forward with the AEG players and finding targets of opportunity, being mindful of the 30 metre minimum engagement (450fps at 5 metres is likely to offend). Swapping between AEG and sniper is difficult at times and I find myself getting shot where I am too slow to transition between the two guns. With just an AEG I would have blatted them (giggling optional) but I am aware im now holding something in my hand with the real capacity to harm someone if I fuck it up. I’m not yet confident judging 30 metres with less than a second to decide.
So sprinting around , finding myself doing the lee Enfield style mad minute is really effective and a lot of fun, transition and proximity problems aside, I find myself able to shoot a little further and to hit targets more easily than with a recoil AEG. Both my AEG and my sniper have roughly the same range, with 0.28 I can get 80 metres with my HK417 AEG, but the default reaction of an airsofter hearing AEG fire is to step one way or the other, BBS taking 1-2 seconds to travel that distance are now way off target. With the sniper rifle, there is no noise.. only a whiz and a thwack as a BB hits them. Muhhahah. Hitting a moving target at range is more difficult with a bolt action thought, but I achieve this a few times.
The perspective from the other team was that they weren’t expecting a sniper so far forward, and places where they felt safe from AEG fire suddenly became unsafe. The perspective from my team mates is it was useful, but the giggling really disturbs them.
All in all sniping was really different. It is definitely airsoft on hard mode and made an old familiar field seem new again. Everything I normally do I could not do, I cant charge into buildings, kick down doors and shoot everything. I must be patient (not a strong point) and plan what I am doing. The slow sneaky sniper was so not for me, it set my ADHD off big style and I find myself rocking back and forward in boredom. The lunatic approach of running to where no one expects a sniper to be, and moving everywhere was really enjoyable. Pair that off with a radio to talk to your team, and you have a really powerful player that can see, direct and control the game with ease, as well as have the capacity to reach targets that others cant.
I had never realised the massive psychological effect a well placed sniper can have. talking with others who had sniper rifles that day, they spoke about how 1 player well set up with a long range rifle can make the opposing team completely loose their balance. Well placed well set up snipers are something I’ve not come across very often in either my local skirmish or the more serious games I play. Its something I want to look at further. If nothing else, taking a sniper rifle instead of my usual Marui Recoil will make games more challenging and interesting.
In regards to the rifle itself, I find the ares striker to be a pretty good little rifle, decently accurate out to about 80 metres with a few simple tweaks. It is definitely the most solidly built sniper I have picked up in a while, far outclassing anything else for the same price bracket and feeling better than the majority of more expensive rifles.
it is entertaining with a lot of parts available for it, but in a way I find that to be the problem. I am left feeling that while enjoyable, the striker to me feels like one of those pieces of software you get for a reduced price, but then quite quickly find it is incomplete and you must pay more for the package you thought you were getting.
This said, the community support for it is excellent, HPA Kits, External Barrels, 3d printed parts, how too guides and a really really good Facebook community around it. Customer service from ares is reported to be well thought out, polite and quick. Which is very gratefully received.
I had a problem with the reverse joule creep, I lost a little bit of power using .36 vs 0.2, and I do wonder what caused this, that was the only quite minor, disappointment of the day.
While there are sniper rifles that can get further range, maybe a little more accurate maybe a little more refined, those items are 5 to 8 times the price (I’ve seen VSR set ups of over £1400 quid) and while I am envious of the golden 100 metre airsoft shot, will the average airsofter take their hit at that range? So am I getting good return for paying the extra ££££ for the additional 20 metres that someone may or may not take their hit at.
A really big shout to the Ares striker owners group, a lot of resources there worth checking out.