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Review

ICS M1 Garand; The Taste of WWII
  • Manufacturer 
     ICS
  • Model 
     M1 Garand AEG
  • Capacity 
     40 (35)
  • Weight 
     3722g
  • Power 
     385 fps
  • Motor 
     ICS M14 type
  • Hop-up 
     Adjustable Dial Type
  • Battery 
     7.4v LiPo
  • Shooting Mode 
     Safe, Semi
  • Construction 
     Wood and Aluminum

Pros

+ Real Wood Stock
+ Full Metal
+ Accurate
+ Above Average Power
+ Good Capacity Magazine
+ Stable Hop-up and Good Airseal
+ AEG Reliability
+ Great Cocking Sound
 

Cons

- Lighter than Real Gun
- Unrealistic Loading
- No Optics
- Trigger Feels Awkward
 

Verdict

The best contender for a skirmishable, reliable, accurate 6mm M1 Garand. ICS surprises with excellent out-of-the-box performance as well as an aesthetic to die for.

 

Background:

Here is a rifle from the age where the Battle Rifle dominated the battlefield, an age where large caliber, full size cartridge rounds were used for engagements over rolling hills, countryside and vast plains. Here is a weapon that was developed and deployed at the conception of modern combat, for no longer where the battle lines static and territories fixed. This was a weapon designed for more fluid warfare, it had to have greater versatility than the standard bolted rifle. It is a weapon that hinted at a step towards the assault rifles in vast use today.

The M1 Garand, also known as "the greatest battle implement ever devised" (1), was revolutionary for being the first semi-automatic rifle to become the primary weapon of an army. It also held advantages of being fast to reload and held a larger number of rounds in its clip than most other rifles at the time. It features technologies relatively recent at the time, such as a hammer designed to ensure full battery before firing.

Aesthetics:

Upon opening the box, before even catching a glance of the rifle, you are greeted first by the scent of wood oil, due to the authentic stained wood that the stock, and its accompanying furniture, is made from. The stock itself is a rich, reddish-brown, solid wooden piece of craftsmanship. Whether or not this is the correct color of an M1 Garand at the time of the Second World War, I cannot say, but it seems close to the samples of the wood seen on surviving models of the rifle from the time (that may have darkened since their manufacture).

The rest of the external parts are all metal, finished in a selection of satin and semi-gloss black in a tasteful choice. Some grease and oils from the factory can still be seen lingering on the surface of the parts. While others may prefer a clean, bone dry replica out-of-the-box, this gives a more rugged, practical, useable aura of a gritty service rifle, better suited to the origin of the replica, I think.

Lifting the ICS M1 Garand from its package reinforces the grittiness of the first impression as excess staining oil, still present on the wood, gives a stick feel to the stock, letting you know that it's factory fresh. The rifle feels weighted, but mobile in the hands at just under 3 and a half kilograms (2 kilograms lighter than the real M1) and well balanced, with the center of mass located at the front of the receiver, about 15 centimeters ahead of the trigger. The metal's cold touch and lukewarm wood mesh well together and despite the earlier mentioned weight disparity, the replica feels very authentic with only one complaint; the edges of the receiver seem somewhat rounded, and while not 'lumpy', they do not give the impression that a machined receiver would give. However, should the receiver have been machined instead of cast, we would probably be left at a much less accessible price.

Unlike the real M1 Garand, the ICS airsoft offering does not use an en-bloc clip, but instead, a bottom-loading magazine with a stated capacity of 40 BBs. This is due to the M14 design gearbox that resides under the receiver and beneath the bolt where a clip would normally be inserted. Pulling the bolt back reveals the top of the gearbox, but more importantly, emits an exceedingly satisfying sound when released. I did not manage to fit 40 BBs into either of the 2 magazines that come with the AEG, closer to 30 or 35 instead. Both of these features are unrealistic and/or annoying but what it does give is a much more useable experience in a skirmish.

The ICS M1 Garand looks authentically sexy.
The wood is stained and have a nice grain.
The aluminum body could have sharper edges, but is not bad at all.

Performance:

Considering the M1 Garand is a semi-automatic battle rifle, and the ICS replica is faithful to the original in this aspect, the primary performance aspects to be concerned with are range and accuracy, as the ability to hit a target reliably and at advantageous distances to other AEGs will be a key factor if the ICS M1 is to stand up against fully automatic competition. The ICS M1 Garand clocks in at an above-average 385 FPS giving it potential to outrange most other out-of-the-box AEGs. Muzzle velocity, however, is not the be-all-end-all of range, as only with a barrel with the correct bore diameter and good polish, coupled with a hop-up that seals well against the gearbox and is finely adjusted, can provide the actual properties that give range to a single-shot airsoft replica.

ICS is not known for good quality barrels and consistent hop-up units, but rather for their innovations in split-gearbox designs and sturdy build quality, so to the informed, cautious airsofter, ICS is stepping into unproven ground in the case of the M1, so I put the ICS Garand to the test. I cleaned the barrel, put several tens of rounds through it to help the hop-up settle and adjusted it, zeroed the sights, and shot groupings to the best of my ability at 20 meters. The test was conducted with 0.30 gram Airsoft Surgeon Precision grade BBs.

The first thing I have to mention from this test is that the trigger doesn't have the best pull. While the weight of the trigger is good, the activation point is too far back to my liking, and while a firm, determined squeeze will fire a shot, slower movement with more a delicate technique can require more effort than I would have liked to activate the trigger contacts. In addition, the ICS M1 gives no opportunity to mount optics to help with accuracy. The accuracy test was conducted from a seated and soft-supported firing position.

From the two ten-shot groupings I made, no shots were wild fliers and all were on target. There appear to be two or three outliers out of the twenty BBs that were fired during the test; this could be due to several factors, such as barrel resonance from gearbox vibrations, or simply (my) human error. The results speak for themselves. Given the limitations of this replica, the shots are satisfyingly consistent. Combined with the muzzle velocity that the ICS M1 has, I would expect that hitting a moving target at ranges that one would normally resort to bursts of automatic fire, while still challenging, is comparatively easier than with most stock AEGs.

There is one more internal feature that warrants mention. The ICS M1 Garand comes ready with a MOSFET installed. While repeated, sustained and long term semi-automatic fire would degrade and oxidize your gearbox contacts in a standard wiring setup, ICS has made efforts that the semi-only nature of the replica will not affect its durability. While I have not had the opportunity to test the durability of the MOSFET over a long term, it's a good sign that ICS knows what they are doing that they have placed one at all.

The Hop-Up is not a Marui M14 Clone but is stable and provides a good air seal.
The trigger pull could use some work.
Good groupings over 20 meters with .30g Airsoft Surgeon BBs.

Conclusion:

Many Second World War airsoft enthusiasts have been waiting for a skirmish-practical M1 Garand replica for a long time. The ICS M1 Garand is a much welcomed addition to the World War Two airsoft replica scene. While those looking for absolute authenticity in operation will be disappointed, many airsofters who want to look the part but still desire to retain that competitive AEG edge without resorting to a Thompson or extensive M14 conversion now have a good product which provides reliable, accurate performance, looks authentic and doesn't break the bank.




(1) - General George S. Patton