HK417 Umarex/VFC vs Tokyo Marui
Heckler & Koch HK417 Umarex/VFC Vs. Tokyo Marui
When talking about the HK416 as what many countries’ Special Forces’ rifle of choice for their next generation 5.56mm, then Heckler & Koch’s next generation 7.62mm rifle, HK417, is its logical “Brother in arms”; Because of the use of 7.62x51mm NATO rifle cartridge, portion of the weapon's parts are enlarged to deal with increased size and power of the new cartridge compared to the 5.56x45mm NATO rounds, giving HK417 the look of an enlarged HK416. Together with similar design philosophy, allows the HK417 to inherit HK416's great reliability and accuracy.
若說受到許多國家的軍事特種單位青睞而聲名大噪的HK416，是新一代的5.56口徑步槍，那麼Heckler & Koch的新一代7.62口徑步槍，則非其「孿生兄弟」HK417莫屬；由於使用7.62x51mm步槍彈，部分槍身結構及組件加以放大，以因應體積、威力都較5.56x45mm步槍彈要來得大的彈藥，使得HK417看起來像是大一號的HK416，而相同的結構設計概念，讓HK417擁有與HK416一樣的高度可靠及精確的優異性能。
Stemming from US military special forces' adaptation, HK416 has caused quite a stir in the airsoft community, meanwhile HK417 caught the attention of fans of 7.62mm cartridge, giving rise to this pair of rifles appearing on the airsoft market at the same time. However, unlike the HK416's appearance from multiple manufactures, the HK417 was only manufactured under licence from Umarex by VFC, which first came to market in 2008, in the form of an AEG version, and in 2014, strengthened the line up with a Gas Blow-Back version, to satisfy different preferences of the player base; Japan based airsoft giant Tokyo Marui followed suit towards the end of 2014, adding to their line up with its "Next Generation" system interpretation of the HK417.
Although Umarex/VFC has both the HK417 in AEG and GBB version for players to choose from, renowned Tokyo Marui Next Generation System also has a die hard fan base. In this article we have gathered from the two manufactures, three different systems of HK417 airsoft rifle, so that those wishing to understand the pros and cons of each, can have their wishes come true!
Let's start with the basics of making a replica airsoft rifle - markings. For both Umarex/VFC AEG and GBB version, their markings and trades are practically identical on its receiver. The most noticeable difference lies in their serial numbers and the "Made in Taiwan" sticker located to the right of the magazine well on the AEG version; "Cal 6mm BB" together with the licence marking are laser etched onto the ejection port dust cover, which when in operation, are cleverly hidden from view, reducing its impact on the rifle's realism. Tokyo Marui's Next Generation version has somewhat more "variety" in their markings, not only are the serial number engraved on the receiver, magazine well's left hand side also has the full "HK417D" markings; Although the dust cover are free from "Cal 6mm BB" and other trade markings, due to laws in Japan requiring "ASGK" marking on all replica guns, its location on the right side of the receiver, reduces its realism somewhat.
先從像真度的基本指標──外觀刻字開始：Umarex/VFC不管是AEG或GBB款式，槍身的表面刻字及印記大致相同，最大的差異僅為槍身編號，以及AEG式樣貼於彈匣井右側的「台灣製造」貼紙；「Cal 6mm BB」及授權字樣均以雷射刻印於拋殼防塵蓋上，在實際操作時會因防塵蓋的翻出巧妙遮蓋，降低對像真度的衝擊。TM的次世代製品在刻字內容上略為「豐富」，不僅上機匣也刻了槍身序號，彈匣井左側的槍型也完整刻印「HK417D」；雖然拋殼防塵蓋上沒有雷射刻印的「Cal 6mm BB」及授權相關字樣，但是礙於日本法規必備的「ASGK」字樣卻明顯標示在槍身右側，像真度硬是打了些折扣。
In this exhibition from two manufactures and three systems, both of Umarex/VFC version uses the 12" barrelled HK417 Assaulter version as their reference, whereas Tokyo Marui uses the 16" HK417 Recce as its blueprint. Similar to the HK416's four sided Picatinny rail system, shaped grip, "Bird Cage" flash suppressor, to the right of the rail we find the gas adjuster switch, faithfully replicated on all three HK417; Main difference being the different length rail system used to accommodate the different barrel lengths, Tokyo Marui's rail for its 16" barrel, located beneath the rail locking screw, is a expansion gap used to strengthen the attachment point. Because of its location, the 16" length's gas block is located inside the rail system, unlike the Umarex/VFC versions where it and the bayonet lug is clearly visible.
這次一同鑑賞的二大廠家三款系統中，Umarex/VFC的兩款均為參考實槍搭配12”槍管的HK417 Assaulter版本，TM則是以實槍搭配16”槍管的HK417 Recce為藍本。與HK416相同特色的四向戰術軌道護木、適形握把、鳥籠型防火帽之外，護木右前側的瓦斯調節開關也都完整複刻是三款外觀上的共同特色，忠實呈現HK417的實槍外觀；主要差異在於因應不同槍管長度而使用的不同長度護木，TM製品對應16”槍管的護木在對應固定螺栓位置的底部，有類似伸縮縫的開孔以強化固定效果，16”款式的瓦斯導引座因位置關係隱藏於護木內，所以TM製品不像Umarex/VFC製品可以完整看到與刺刀座整合的瓦斯導引座。
No matter which version, the iron sights are the same as to those found on HK416, utilising removable HK style mechanical sights. Players can also customise and attach sights to their liking atop the rail system. Note that on the Tokyo Marui product, its charging handle has a longer one-sided safety latch, which differers to that of the Umarex/VFC's standard design.
No matter whether it's the Umarex/VFC or the Tokyo Marui version, their accessories tear down the same way as real steel rifles do. All you need to do is unscrew the two screws located in the rear of the rail system, then the rail slides out via the front of the rifle; The two companies happened to "share" similar design in regards to the adjustment in length of their rifle: From the gas block as the baseline, and with aftermarket parts, one can customise the rifle from 10" stubby carbine to over 20" long range marksman's rifle. Umarex/VFC has already prepared for the inevitable need to customise its rifle length, releasing outer barrel and rail systems that are compatible with both AEG and GBB versions of their rifle, currently there are real steel standard 16" and 20" barrel lengths to choose from, and the mechanical front iron sight is replaced with integrated, foldable front sight. Players can customise their rifle to their liking, without spending a hefty sum on a full rifle.
Both Umarex/VFC made rifle grips can be opened, where for the GBB version, faithful to the real steel rifle, is a small storage compartment; The AEG version opens up to the motor pinion and gear spacing hex adjustment screw. Tokyo Marui on the other hand only leaves a small adjuster port, for adjusting what the company calls its current best SmCo high torque motor's position. Although Tokyo Marui made handle had a smaller angle for the web area of the grip compared to both Umarex/VFC rifles, all three HK417 felt solid and manoeuvrable in the hand, and offer similar degree of comfort.
Fire selectors for the Umarex/VFC differs in design, where the GBB version has ambidextrous selectors, and the AEG version only selectable on the left side of the receiver. Tokyo Marui chose to incorporate the ambidextrous selector design. So which design is faithful to the original real steel rifle? They both are, so there are no lost of realism in either.
Whilst outer parts and mechanism may be similar, inner parts and design are in fact unique. Just pull back on the charging handle and open the dust cover, you'll recognise differences in the BCG chamber. Pulling the charging handle on the AEG version (which opens the decorative bolt cover), the obvious difference inside shows each manufacturer's product differences: GBB version shows an empty loading chamber with the BCG partially locked back in place. AEG version shows the two manufacturer's Hop-Up adjuster mechanism. On the realism of locking BCG, the ability for the Umarex/VFC AEG design to lock back the decorative BCG cover after activating the charging handle, wins out over the Tokyo Marui design.
Other then the difference in outer barrel length, one other major difference between the two companies' product lies in the collapsible stock design. whether it is the Umarex/VFC GBB or AEG version, the stock is designed after the OTB-E1 type collapsible stock. The rubber butt pad bulges out towards the middle, and the sides adorned with the licences HK markings; Tokyo Marui's product uses the OTB-E2 collapsible design, with the butt plate slightly concave towards the center, and without the HK marking. No matter the the stock design, both offers good level of stability in use.
HK417 from both manufactures has the ability to remove the butt plate of the collapsible stock. The Umarex/VFC products, faithful to the real steel rifle, its butt plate is removed by twisting 90 degrees to the left. The GBB version also realistically offer storage compartment in the rifle stock, with obligatory OBT drain port on the end of the buffer tube. AEG version on the other hand utilises both the spaces in the stock and the buffer tube as the battery compartment; Tokyo Marui on the other hand opens up the butt plate by pushing it upwards. Not only can it use the proprietary SOPMOD battery, an adaptor is included so that you can opt to use aftermarket batteries, reducing the player's financial burden.
Other then the differences in the way the stock butt plate detaches, the two companies' mechanism for the collapsible butt stock also differs: Both versions of Umarex/VFC has six positions, whereas the Tokyo Marui has only five. However no matter the number of positions, players should be able to find a position to their liking.
The power for the AEG version of the Umarex/VFC HK417 comes from improved second generation gearbox, whilst the GBB version utilises a negative pressure rocket valve system, and the Tokyo Marui's product continues the use of the highly praised Next Generation system. The three types of magazine also differ due to the different propelling mechanism and design of the rifle. Of the two AEG rifles, the Umarex/VFC comes with 100 rounds mid cap magazine, whereas the Tokyo Marui provides 70 rounds mid caps. Although both feature semi-transparent polymer magazine casing with decorative dummy rounds, Tokyo Marui's Auto Cut-off on empty mags switch certainly helps with realism; In pursuit of realism, Umarex/VFC's GBB version magazine only allows for 20 rounds, and allows the activation of BCG lock back with a switch on the magazine near the gas valve, giving the player more control. On the topic of firing feedback, compared to the powerful recoil on the GBB version, the AEG feels like a BB hose. Even on the simulated recoil of Tokyo Marui's Next Generation system, there is no comparison to the GBBs powerful kick.
On the topic of operating realism, Umarex/VFC's GBB version is far superior in both the shooting feedback and field stripping compared to the AEG versions. Field stripping is as with real steel rifles, by removing both the takedown and the pivot pins, the upper and the lower receivers comes apart, with the Fire Control Group and BCG operating similar to the real thing. This product updates the valve knocker base, where on the HK416 version's gas cut-off pin was too close to the hammer and would deform pretty easily, relocated to above the valve knocker, greatly reducing its chance of malfunction.
In the past there was only the long and heavy M14 series to play with, and although with FN SCAR-H's recent arrival, there was a void in the heart of fans of standard issue 7.62mm cartridge rifles. With overwhelming popularity of HK416 in the airsoft market, Umarex/VFC and Tokyo Marui subsequently came to market with their realisations of the HK417, not only does it satisfy fans of the larger calibre, but also gives Heckler & Koch fans another item on their wish list; If you're looking for something that looks good and functions well, no matter the AEG version's unending spray of cover, GBB version's powerful shooting feedback, or the amalgamation of the above in the Next Generation system, Together with great attention to detail on the outside, are all great choices for your airsoft collection.
過去只有又長又重的M14系列產品可以把玩，雖然後來又有FN SCAR-H的加入，但是對於喜好7.62口徑步槍的軍武愛好者來說，似乎仍有不明所以又難以言喻的缺憾。這次挾著HK416在玩具槍市場的高人氣，Umarex/VFC及Tokyo Marui先後推出HK417，除了滿足大口徑步槍愛好者的市場需求，也讓Heckler & Koch的粉絲們多了一項收集目標；若想要挑一把動靜旨宜的玩具槍，不論是AEG版本的長效火力支援、GBB版本的強勁操作手感，亦或是兩者兼具的次世代系統，搭配做工精良的槍身外觀， 都是樂趣十足的最佳選擇。
產品規格 / Product Specifications
製造商 / Manufacture：Umarex/VFC
名稱 / Name：HK417 AEG/GBB
全長 / Length：808mm/888mm（槍托伸展）
重量 / Weight：3980g（AEG）/4230g（GBB）
裝彈數 / Magazine Capacity：100（AEG）/20（GBB）（6mmBB彈）
製造商 / Manufacture：Tokyo Marui
名稱 / Name：HK417 EARLY VARIANT
全長 / Length：921mm/998mm（槍托伸展）
重量 / Weight：4500g
裝彈數 / Magazine capacity：70（6mmBB彈）