One thing I noticed when I started looking at the TOP M60 as an Airsoft skirmish replica was that there really isn't a lot of info about there. I wanted to write this article as an overall guide to owning a TOP M60. What should you expect? What will fail? How do I upgrade? What third party parts are available? All of these questions are answered here. APST has owned and operated 3 different TOP M60s, and because of that we became very familiar with this replica's ins and outs.
Is The TOP M60 a Viable Skirmish Replica?
The answer to that question really depends on how much you like to tweak your own equipment. If you are the type of player who hands your AEG off to someone else when it quits working, don't even bother looking at the M60 as a skirmish AEG option. It'll be too time consuming, too costly, and too broken most of the time. You really need to be a gear-head yourself or have a team member who's going to maintain it for the team.
An M60 out of box is actually a tad bit more effective than a stock Tokyo Marui AEG. They operate at about 300 fps even, about 20 fps more than a stock TM replica. This gives a few feet of extra range. The stock rate of fire is also very high, but of course that also depends on what battery you use. Stock accuracy is all over the map, this is good and bad. You can basically spray a wall of rounds at anything that comes your way, but don't expect to pull off any precision shots. It's all about VOLUME of fire.
So do they break down all the time at the drop of a hat? Not really. The older models only lasted about 10,000 to 15,000 rounds before something went wrong. TOP seemed to make some adjustment changes with the E3 model that made them last much longer at stock power. We're talking more like 50,000 to 75,000 rounds before you'll expect to change parts out. But can you upgrade it? We'll get into that, but first, lets look at the differences between the M60 models available to you.
Differences in Stock M60 Replicas
TOP's first M60 offering. Comes with heavy-duty M60 bi-pod, many of the parts are metal but, even still, this gun has the least metal parts of the M60 line-up. It can hold a large type 9.6v battery easily.
More metal parts than the STD model, same features. Same battery capacity.
Same as the TOP M60 DX, lose the bi-pod and shorten the outer barrel. This is also the cheapest M60 variant you can find. Even though it's shorter, it still has the large battery compartment to fit just about any 9.6 large type you can throw in there.
The E3 is one of TOP's newer M60 models, offers more metal parts than the STD and DX models, and also seems to have a better working internal mechanism when it's stock. Reviews report the E3 model being able to shoot 50,000 to 75,000 rounds before problems occur, when the older models only went through 10,000 to 20,000 rounds before breakdown. The E3 model features a forward grip, and loses the heat-shield. Supposedly this allows the real-steel version to be air-cooled, and you don't really need a heat-shield if you have your hand on the forward grip. The modern style bi-pod is pretty weak compared to the old style, I've seen them snap off if the replica is dropped or banged up against something. Due to the modified forward grip, you lose the large battery component and are pretty much stuck with a square type 9.6v 1700 mah custom AUG battery as your largest battery choice. Other options would be to look at storing the battery externally or possibly in a mounted ammo box. Battery power will not be a factor unless you upgrade, so don't sweat it.
The only difference between the E3 long and the E3 short is a few inches of outer barrel, that's it. The inner barrel is exactly the same length, the internals are exactly the same. The bi-pod is exactly the same. The only reason to choose this one over the short model is if you just want that barrel to look longer.
M60E4 Limited Edition
A lot of external changes here, no internal changes. Supposedly this uses higher quality materials for making the rear and forward grips. This also addresses the bi-pod problems with the E3 model, the new one is easier to use and not so chintzy. It's also got a more compact carry-handle and a new flash hider style. Battery capacity hasn't seemed to change, so if you upgrade you'll face the challenge of needing to find a way to use a larger battery.
Appears to just be a manueverable version of the DX without a bi-pod.
What about Upgrading?
The question I asked when I was first looking at buying a 60 was; "Does this make a viable upgraded skirmish replica?" The answer to every question like that with the TOP M60 is always yes, but with extra care and maintenance.
Most people who look at the 60 see the ANGS parts that are on the market. There's an ANGS cylinder set, gear set and 1 joule spring. You'll also notice M60 pistons and spring guides. The stock M60 has a piston/bellows combination that forces air out the front, when you upgrade you replace that with an in-line cylinder and piston. (Like a conventional AEG) The full ANGS setup will put you at about 330 fps, with somewhat reliable performance. (That's with the ANGS 1J spring) To reach the 400 limit that most US milsim organizations have, you have to get a bit more creative.
You'll want to install ANGS gears, the ANGS cylinder set, a guarder or ANGS spring guide and a guarder M60 piston. There's also a precision barrel on the market, that's really a matter of preference and won't effect your upgrade velocity much. Top that off with something like a PDI 210% and you'll come close to 400 fps.
Why a PDI 210%? The springs we all use in AEGS don't really work the same way in the M60. You might find that a Systema M120 gives you about 380fps with your regular AEG, but in your TOP M60 you'll find it won't even pass 350. It seems like the M series springs just aren't really the right length for the M60. A PDI will perform right and fit better.
Here's the bad news: Your piston will die. This is the number 1 problem with the TOP M60, it's how the gears mesh with the piston. This is usually what breaks when the replica is still stock as well, the piston/bellow usually tears or breaks. With such a volume of fire and moving parts, something has to break. The good news is, you can counter this by installing a spacer that will allow the gears to mesh better with the piston. Something has to stop the piston from moving too far forward, so a simple neoprene washer bonded to the piston head can usually do the trick. We've had good results with our spacers. A typical guarder piston without the spacer will last about 10,000 to 15,000 rounds if you are lucky. They cost about $24 plus shipping, that roughly translates to a piston a month if you use your M60 lightly. (None of us do).
Also keep in mine one other maintenance cost to upgrading these; it's really hard to make sure the spring is not compressed. You'll lose velocity pretty fast, it's never a bad idea to have extra springs around incase you want to maintain that high velocity.
What After-Market Parts are Available?
As for internals, I've already mentioned, but I'll elaborate. ANGS makes a spring guide, cylinder set, gear set, and 1J spring for the M60. Guarder makes a spring guide as well as a piston. The Q Project makes a "Super-Duty" aluminum piston for the M60 and M249 series that I'm afraid to use. (Due to problem with aluminum pistons in AEG gearboxes) KM/TN also makes a cylinder set and I'm not sure how it compares to the ANGS (Anyone have feedback here?).
For external parts, GB-Tech makes a whole line of steel accessories for the outer barrel unit. There's a fully metal adjustable sight, outer barrel, carry handle, front sight and gas tube. You can also get the entire outer barrel assembly together. (Minus the adjustable rear sight)
If you love messing with the gear, go for it! I can't tell you how many of these are broken and available for dirt cheap prices. You just have to know what to do with them to get them working again. Another plus here is, you'll always have spare parts. (And you'll need them). If tinkering with AEGs to get them to perform right isn't your interest, stay away from the TOP M60 or only buy it if you plan to leave it stock power.