VSR 10 Pro Sniper Version - Tokyo Marui
For a long time, decent airsoft sniper rifles were the province of Maruzen (with their APS series), Tanaka (with their gas rifles) and various limited production specialists.
It came as quite a surprise, therefore, when TM announced they were producing a bolt action sniper rifle and, on its initial launch, some pointed to its relatively light weight and the existence of a 'Real Shock' version (supposedly to provide some perceived recoil) as indications that it wasn't really to be taken too seriously.
However, reports quickly suggested that it was actually quite good and Laylax (and others) soon started producing accessories and tuning parts for the VSR10, suggesting it was capable of challenging the previously omnipresent APS series, helped in the UK, no doubt, by an ban on 500fps sniper rifles at most skirmish sites.
As with my CA870 shotgun, I came to own a VSR 10 as the result of a whim. Having seen a real steel L96 sniper rifle at our local Army show, I decided I'd like an airsoft version of the gun, but they seemed very expensive and when an, as new, VSR 10 came up at a good price, I decided to try a bolt action airsoft rifle.
In the Box
The box is quite big, with the VSR 10 being full assembled (the Maruzen sniper rifles, for instance, come with the barrel and receiver separate from the stock).
Inside, there is the very smart black gun, with a bag of BBs, and a lot of paperwork. There are foam rubber bracing points for the stock and barrel, to keep the gun securely and safely in place.
The VERY first impression is good. The gun looks smart with its matt black stock and black barrel and it is a full size rifle, alleviating some fears that I had had that it might be a 7/8 scale gun and look a bit toy like.
Lifting the gun from the box, however, is a disappointment. It feels very light and, as you start to look it over, you realise how TM are able to sell the gun for around half the price of an Maruzen APS.
The metal barrel looks ok, but the stock, whilst looking excellent, feels lightweight and (whisper it) a bit cheap. Oddly, there are already aftermarket barrels, but the aftermarket stocks, which is where the VSR would REALLY benefit from a swap, are yet to appear at Hong Kong retailers.
The bolt action is quite smooth, but, again, the actual finish of the bolt, whilst not actually poor, is far from the faultless fit and finish you might expect of, say, a Tanaka revolver.
Metal parts include the trigger, outer barrel, receiver, entire bolt mechanism and 99% of the trigger mechanism.
Still, for the price (around £150 in the UK), this isn't bad, as long as you don't consider what £150 would buy you in the form of a normal air rifle...
Where to start... Well, let's start with what attracted me to the VSR-10, the bolt action.
The action is smooth and light. However, there's smooth resistance on both the open and close action, which feels good and, on the Pro-Sniper, the bolt lifts and drops around 90 degrees. Interestingly, the gun will not fire unless the bolt is properly closed, with the handle right down in the depression on the stock. A nice feature, I feel.
The bolt is totally closed, so you don't get an open chamber (something GBB fans tend to be horrified about), but that's because the whole bolt acts as the cylinder, containing the spring, piston and nozzle.
As standard the Pro-Sniper comes with adjustable iron sights. They look quite good, but I quickly removed mine and splashed out on the Laylax scope mount. There is a cheaper TM version, but it doesn't look as good (it is just a rectangular section of rail, which covers the ejection port) and only takes 20mm scope rings. The Laylax one is shaped like the genuine thing (so there's a cutout for shells to pass through), but also features 11mm and 20mm rails, which gives a wider range of options for mounting sites.
The G-Spec has a shorter, 60 degree bolt lift, supposedly for speed and to reduce the likelihood of a scope fouling it, but you would an unnecessarily powerful scope to have problems with the Pro-Sniper bolt fouling on a scope. This is a 4x and there is plenty of clearance.
To the rear of the receiver, behind and to the right of the bolt, is a simple thumb safety. It's easy to engage, but not to see if it is (once or twice I have tried to fire having engaged it and I'd imagine under pressure on a skirmish it would be very easy to do). Some people have reported, too, that it can be accidently engaged when opening the bolt, although I have not experienced this.
Up front, there's a simple, but easy to see, blade sight. This is affixed to the barrel with double sided tape. This means it can be removed without leaving holes in the barrel, if you want the pure scoped look. I chose to leave mine in place to have the option of quickly refitting the iron rear sights.
The magazine holds 30 rounds. Annoyingly there's no tool to load BBs in and it is fiddly to load by hand. The magazine itself slots in and out smoothly (into the underside of the stock, as a real magazine would) and is released with a small round button under the stock. This is probably not easy to use on a skirmish, but, equally, it is unlikely to get released by accident, which would seem a bigger problem on a sniper rifle.
The hop-up is easily adjusted, just by sliding a pointer on the left side of the barrel along a scale. I have not experimented with it much, but reports suggest, as is often the case with TM products, that it works well.
The trigger is metal, but the guard is not. It doesn't seem especially fragile, but I noticed there is now a metal replacement available.
At the back of the stock is a very comfortable rubber buffer, but as there is no kick, it serves little real purpose.
Markings are virtually non-existent on the VSR-10. Aside from the scale for the Hop-Up, the only markings are the warning message engraved on the barrel, urging the owner "WARNING REFER TO INSTRUCTION MANUAL" and the "TOKYO MARUI MADE IN JAPAN" trademark, with a serial number just behind these two on the left side of the barrel, above the Hop-Up adjuster.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test was pretty pointless with a sniper rifle, so I set up a target down the bottom of my garden (which is around 18m from the house) and banged out a few shots, using the front iron sight and simply aligning it with the centre of the scope mount - Not the most accurate way to aim a rifle.
I decided to shoot kneeling, simply because this was the most comfortable way for me to shoot. Prone or standing may improve any person's accuracy, but these are not (and cannot be) absolute accuracy measures for a sniper rifle, merely a guide to what you might achieve.
As you can see, the results were pretty impressive even with my inaccurate sighting configuration. The shots feel low (no doubt due to the lack of a proper rear sight), but the second set (the squares on the target) are a mightily impressive 65 x 75mm grouping.
With a zeroed in scope or even just the proper rear sight, you could expect to be grouping shots within 1-2 inches at 20m or so.
As the target is A4 sized (8.25" x 11.75"), all the shots would easily have hit a person's head, let alone somewhere on the whole body.
Over 10 shots, the unmodified VSR 10 averaged 293 fps with .2g BBs. It also showed an impressively even performance with a Standard Deviation of just 2.6, which is even more important for sniping, where you need the shot to hit the same spot time after time.
Out of the box, the trigger required a pull of 32 ounces (900g), which is about the same as an average GBB pull.
The VSR-10 is reasonably simple to strip down. There are two allen bolts on the underside of the that need removing, with the magazine out.
With these bolts out, the whole mechanism can be lifted from the stock.
At this point, the bolt can be withdrawn from the receiver by pushing down a small catch and withdrawing the bolt as if cycling the rifle, but continuing to pull the bolt out of the rear of the receiver.
With the mechanism out of the stock, it is also possible to adjust the trigger, to reduce/increase travel and pull weight.
A few seconds with an Allen key reduced the pull weight by 150g (to 750g), which is a highly useful feature for a standard sniper rifle.
There are already many upgrades for the VSR10. Out of the box, you can choose from the G-Spec (with shorter barrel, fitted scope mount, 60 degree action bolt and silencer), Pro Sniper (as tested here) or 'Real Shock' version (which features a fake wood stock and a device supposed to provide an element of 'kick' - Most reviews say it fails to deliver much).
There are a variety of aftermarket springs to take you up to (and beyond) 500fps and plenty of strengthened internal parts (cylinders, sears, etc) to make sure the gun doesn't snap in half with one. There are also tight bore internal barrels and supporting spacers to keep the inner barrel straight.
There are also a set of custom barrels from Laylax (They and Firefly make most of the upgrade parts), some of which feature built in silencers.
As I come to finishing this review (November 2004), there's a whole new trigger mechanism just been released, promising extremely light action.
As with the CA870, 888 Airsoft's website is a great source of info on how to upgrade the VSR10 and what with.
Overall, for the price, the VSR 10 has taken quality bolt action rifles to a new level. For about £150, you can get a capable sniper rifle and for another £50 you can equip it with a scope and upgraded spring to get a bit more long range accuracy.
It is not, it must be said, absolutely top quality, but it is good enough and, as with most Tokyo Marui products, it does what it is supposed to do.
Being virtually alone at this price point, the VSR 10 is unbeatable and stands reasonable comparison with the dearer products of Maruzen, although they will deliver better appearance and a feel of solidity the VSR can only aspire to.
Weight : 1,900g
Realism : ***
Quality : ***
Power : ****
Accuracy : *****
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