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Review

VFC M40A3: Accuracy Out of the Box
  • Manufacturer 
     Vega Force Co.
  • Model 
     U.S.M.C M40A3 Airsoft Bolt Action Sniper Rifle
  • Capacity 
     20 BBs
  • Weight 
     3354g
  • Power 
     420
  • Power Source 
     Spring\Bolt-Action
  • Blowback 
     It's SPRING
  • Hop-up 
     Adjustable Wheel Type
  • Shooting Mode 
     Single Shot Bolt-Action
  • Construction 
     Aluminum with ABS furiture

Pros

+ Well Built
+ Accurate
+ Smooth Bolt Pull
+ Powerful
+ Lightweight
 

Cons

- Too Powerful for Some
- Wrong Material Stock
- Too Large for CQB
 

Verdict

A surprising first performance from VFC's first entrance to the spring sniper replica world.

 

The United States Marine Corps' standard sniper rifle for over 4 decades has been the Remington M40 in one form or another. The M40 is essentially a Remington Model 700 with several modifications and alterations to the design and operation. The original M40 variant had a wooden stock with a raised cheek-rest and a standard non-removable internal magazine. This design's weaknesses soon began to show during the United State's war in Vietnam, where the wooden stocks quickly succumbed to the humid tropical environment, and thus began the series of upgrades that lead us up to the M40A6 (still under development).

VFC's entry to the bolt action airsoft replica world is based on the M40A3 variant of the aforementioned weapon, with the McMillan Stock, and heavy barrel. While to some this may seem a questionable variant choice to replicate, there are some details about the rifle that I think those who would have an M40A5 variant would enjoy, but more on that later.

Aesthetics

The VFC M40A3 is certainly more faithful to the aesthetics of an M40 than any other out-of-the-box offering on the market to-date. Unlike the Hakkotsu version, it doesn't sport an unrealistic large box magazine that protrudes from the bottom of the receiver, nor does it have unrealistic green paint, like the ARES offering, on the parts of the gun that would be black on the real deal. The McMillan stock is close to, if not spot on, the correct color, and the flat black powder-coat paint on the metal parts is aesthetically pleasing and relatively hard wearing.

Only several small pieces of attention-to-detail have been overlooked, and they are very minor. Those being that the markings on the barrel and receiver do not seem to be entirely accurate to reference photographs, and some small parts like the groove on the top of the butt-stock and the lack of bolt retainer on the receiver, may or may not be correct. It is important to remember with minor details like these, that the real rifles may vary from one individual to another, and that it is very hard, if not impossible, to know whether an M40 existed in this configuration at one time or another. In most cases, it is best to give the benefit of the doubt and to assume that at one point, a rifle with this configuration existed for historical accuracy purposes.

The ABS stock has a good color and feels solid.
The metal receiver's paint is flat and hard-wearing.
The markings on the rifle are not complete but are a nice aesthetic detail.

Build Quality

The first thing you notice about the VFC M40A3 is the solidity of the build. Despite a very small gap between the barrel and the stock (giving a false free-float impression) the barrel does not sway in one direction or another even when pressure is applied. This theme continues along the rest of the replica save for the bolt itself. When pulled back, the bolt has a few degrees of left and right movement, but is otherwise a very snug fit into the receiver in which it sits when in battery.

The metal parts of the VFC M40A3 are made from good quality aluminum and there are no burs, or misshapen parts out of the box. The bolt handle and bolt cylinder themselves are some of the few metal parts that are not matte-coated. The bolt handle seems to be treated with aluminum blacking, and the cylinder is Teflon-coated for a very smooth bolting action (more on this in the performance section). Whether or not the adjustable check-piece was so heavily coated in rubber on the real M40A3 seems dubious but nonetheless, it feels great and serves to give good shooting ergonomics.

On the less positive side of things, the stock is made from ABS rather than fiberglass and the grain on the textured parts of the stock seem to be designed around sand and putty mix. How closely the ABS and texture of the stock resemble the real thing I cannot say. Perhaps it is for the better, as the old Fortress M40A3 stock, made from inferior materials, was exceedingly fragile.

the adjustable cheekrest has a layer of rubber and is solid.
The raised texture on the McMillan stock may not feel the best, but is a flaw of the real design.
The rail is to-spec and solidly built to mount scopes and sights that will hold their zero.

Performance

This is where VFC's M40A3 really surprised me, as this replica represents their first foray into the world of spring action snipers, I was expecting something a little more *mediocre*. To expand on this, I was expecting a rifle with a bad air-seal, an overly stiff spring to compensate, average hop-up and a tight-bore barrel in an attempt to achieve accuracy.

What I got, was an airsoft sniper rifle replica with the accuracy to compete with a VSR and the power to outrange it. In a rudimentary (in-office) accuracy test, the VFC M40A3 boasted a sub-3-inch grouping at 20 meters. Considering that the hop-up wasn't properly adjusted and I'm not that great of a shot myself, the results were impressive.

What's more to this replica is the air-seal is exceedingly tight, as the Teflon-coated cylinder allows for small, accurate tolerances and a good Tokyo-Marui L96 based hop-up unit gives. This excellent air-seal gives an extremely stable power, this particular review model measured at an average muzzle velocity of 420fps with the greatest outlier from the average being 417fps. Having a stable muzzle velocity and a good air-seal means consistent BB backspin by the hop-up rubber. Coupling these attributes with a well-polished, medium-bore barrel gives the least disruption to the BB's backspin and ensures excellent accuracy downrange. VFC either fluked out on part combination, or really did their research when it comes to their M40A3, as it gives excellent performance all round.

The magazine holds 20 rounds, more than enough for a bolt-action rifle.
The test model shot very consistently at around 420 fps, with little deviation.
The 20-Meter grouping was rather impressive when compared to an AEG.

Some Speculation

As mentioned in the introduction, this is the M40A3 model. The problem with this is that it lacks the rail and threaded barrel of the current issue M40A5 in use with the USMC at the time of writing. There is hope however, as if you turn your attention to where the A5's rail would be mounted, you will notice 3 sets of cut-marks in the exact formation to allow the M40A5's forward rail to sit. In addition to this, the barrel cap is removable. Make what you will from these details, but my money's on the A5 accessories being released soon, if not an M40A5 version altogether.

With a removable end-cap, expect to see silencer and compensator adapters soon.
Suspicious holes suggest a rail of M40A5 conversion kit may be on it's way. Only time will tell.
You will have to get your own scope for this rifle, unlike the cheaper Chinese clones, it doesn't come with one.