Systema PTW Gen1

Systema PTW Gen1

Postby Matt » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:39 pm

Published on: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 8:55 pm

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Introduction

Systema set out to create a replica that would revolutionize the AEG as we know it, for the purposes of creating the most reliable and realistic training tool they could. The Systema Professional Training Weapon System (or PTWS) was developed specifically for Law Enforcement or Military training application, but is also available to the private sector.

So, you ask, "Have they done it?" Does it really matter what we think? Really, the PTWS wasn't actually created for mil-sim Airsoft players nor is it marketed to us. Still, here's an objective look on how you might expect it to perform on the playfield.

Before I proceed, I'd like to thank Kumi Yoshida (CEO Systema Engineering), Clyde Caceres (The Development Group International) and Troy Mohr (Tactical Toystore) for making this evaluation possible.

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How is it Different?

One of the biggest problems with using Airsoft for Law Enforcement or Military training drills is the fact that the AEG continues to fire after the magazine is empty. This wastes battery power, wears down on your gearbox and real steel firearms just plain DON'T do that. Systema set out to solve this flaw by creating an AEG that would be smart enough to know when it's out of rounds and then stop cycling after the last BB is fired. They also wanted to require that the bolt catch be pressed before the AEG could cycle.

In an ideal world, this works as intended. You load the magazine, switch to semi or full auto, press the bolt catch, shoot until your magazine is empty and then repeat. However, Systema doesn't yet have this down to an exact Science. Often times, there's still 2-3 rounds left in the magazine when it stops firing. Also, any time you tap that bolt catch by accident while crawling around in the field will also disable your PTW from firing. Then you might take the magazine out to see if it's time to reload, but no matter what there will always be a BB or two still loaded. It's hard to tell if you ran out of ammo or if you hit that bolt catch censor.

This minor annoyance can be bypassed by holding the bolt catch while you fire. If no BBs come out, it's time to load another magazine. Obviously, this defeats the purpose of having this feature in the first place. Systema's engineers are working to eliminate this problem in future revisions, I'll keep my eyes peeled.

The Interior

Systema's proprietary split gearbox design goes miles beyond what I've seen in the new ICS Olympic Arms branded M4 type replicas. Rather than taking an existing (and by some standards "flawed") version2 gearbox design and simply splitting it in half, Systema opted to have the gearbox inline in the lower receiver. The cylinder set is independent of the gears and completely self-contained. Cylinders can be swapped if you need harder or weaker springs for different occasions or playfields. ($165)

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They've also introduced circuitry into the lower receiver that ensures every shot fired with the PTWS is a complete cycle. There's no need to ever decompress the spring, it always goes back to the correct position. Skeptics may argue that having even more electronic parts can just lead to more problems, but perhaps they've never had a broken tappet plate before a game. Having been in my hands for a 45 day evaluation, and before that for 90 days with the Army, the circuitry worked flawlessly. You'll notice it as soon as you pull the trigger, the cycle sounds crisp and very smooth, compared to your average Tokyo Marui M4A1 that sounds like a pissed off sewing machine.

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The barrel and hopup assembly leave much to be desired. I was surprised to hear that all Systema PTWS ship with 6.1mm inner barrels. Notice I did not say 6.01, it's 6.1. Systema manufactures amazing precision inner barrels and I'm not really sure why they didn't use them in this replica. Unfortunately, you also won't be able to swap the barrel because Systema uses a proprietary inner barrel, third party upgrades aren't available. For most training applications, especially indoor, the 6.1 inner barrel will be all you need. However, for those of us Airsofters who are used to getting kills at 100-150 feet outdoors, you will not be impressed by the grouping.

The hopup must be adjusted with an alan-like tool inside the magwell. Each time you have to tweak the hopup, you need to remove the magazine to make another adjustment. Rumor has it, Systema was actually planning to release this model with a fixed hopup. For training, this makes sense, less moving parts mean less operator error. Perhaps they'll kill two birds with one stone and release a precision inner barrel unit with an accurate fixed hopup in future versions of the PTWS. I'll hold my breath.

The Exterior

The PTWS is built to spec as realistic as possible. The body of the replica is much closer to the real steel width of an actual AR15 receiver, due to it's own proprietary in-line gearbox and motor. Of course, the receiver is metal, and all other parts that should be metal are (aside from the flash-hider, more on that below). The first thing you'll notice if you ever handle one is that this thing is a beast! You could chop trees down with it. Having been beaten and battered by the Army for 3 months and then in my hands for 45 days, I had no noticeable barrel wobble at all.

The receiver pins are built with locks so that they cannot be pushed out all the way, for anyone who's lost receiver pins before, I'm sure you understand the importance of a feature like that. The PTWS ships with an orange plastic flash-hider with metal threads for the outer barrel, this is due to the fact that it's marketed as a training tool and not a weapon for mil-sim battles. This is a quick fix with any real-steel flash-hider. On that note, it's obvious that you can take the safety even further by using a blue hand-guard to emphasize the fact that the PTWS is not a real firearm.

Systema's magazines for the PTWS (again proprietary) are very heavy duty and feel much more like the real thing when compared to those made by Tokyo Marui, Classic Army, G&P and so on. They're available in 30, 60, and 120 round versions.

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The M4A1 model PTWS comes standard with a crane style stock, I had never used one before testing out this replica and now I must say I really miss having it. The stock had multiple locking positions with a rubberized surface where your cheek rests. The stock also serves as a battery compartment, you can fit a 2 prong style large type battery in it for all-day action. After using this battery setup, I would never go back to trying to cram a v-battery into the fore-grip of any M4A1 model. Another thing to note about the battery, make sure you don't plug it in until you're ready to use it. The PTWS' circuitry drains the battery slowly, if you leave it plugged in overnight before a game the next day, you may find it's been drained significantly.

The cocking lever on the PTWS serves no purpose but to assist with removing the cylinder during take-down. It can be used to simulate chambering the first round, however you cannot pull it back nearly as far as with a real steel AR. The forward assist knob also doesn't have any function to the replica itself, but can be pressed. The bolt catch must be depressed in order to prime the PTWS for firing, which is one function of realism that no other AEG has been able to boast.

The finish on the barrel and receiver are very much like you'd expect from a real firearm, it's gray rather than the "painted look" of matte black. Trademarks and serial number are all Systema branded, as to be expected. They're laser engraved and painted white.

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Durability

The model I was allowed to test had just come off of a 90 day test with the Army, it was not sent in for refurbishment or repair, I received it "as is." It was solid as a rock, no barrel wobble and in great condition.

You also won't have to worry about breaking tabs, the body implements a very solid block of metal where the receiver pin goes through in the back. I can't see any way this would break off under any normal circumstances.

Upgrade Options

All of the internal parts in this replica were built specifically for the PTWS. This means you can't simply swap out a spring or a gear set on your own, as many of us are used to with our standard AEGs. However, Systema makes it easy to upgrade with swappable cylinder sets. A cylinder set is a self contained unit that has everything you need from the spring to the piston itself. Upgrading your AEG from an M100 to an M130 is as easy as opening the receiver and dropping in a different cylinder. 2 minutes tops, and you can do it on the field! Cylinder sets retail at approximately $165, most mil-sim enthusiasts would only ever really need 2 total (one for outdoor, and one for indoor).

For external parts, most real steel parts and AR15 accessories will be compatible with your Systema. This includes things like RIS units, 37mm launchers, flashhiders, stocks, optical mounts, ReadyMag systems and much more. The possibilities here are pretty vast.

Tactically Speaking

The M4A1 is an extremely versatile platform for limited long range use outdoors and amazing for indoor/cqc tactical use. The crane stock also adds a nice touch that you can feel right off the bat when you shoulder it. Keep in mind, everything on the Systema PTWS is specifically for this replica, even the magazines. This means that in a team situation, you will be unable to swap out magazines with your teammates unless they have Systema magazines.

The Bottom Line

I'm not really sure how this platform will bode with Airsoft mil-sim enthusiasts in the United States, considering many of us can go to any gun show next weekend and buy a real-steel AR15 for near the same price. But the fact remains, this is as realistic as an AEG can get. Systema will continue to raise the bar as they release new versions and new replicas. If it's important for you to have an extremely durable and realistic AEG that will actually stop firing when you run out of ammo, the Systema may very well be worth it's $1200 price tag.

For further information about purchasing the Systema PTWS in the US and information about future development, contact Z-Shot.

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Matt
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