I must apologize to the FN SCAR-H; I think I’m falling for a another 7.62 FDE DMR. I’ve gotten to know her pretty well over the past couple of months, and, well, for the first time in my airsoft career, I wasn’t afraid to be inside her.
Read of my love affair after the break.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I owned an ARES M110. It shot the most consistent groupings I’d ever seen out of a non-PTW AEG, but it had a ridiculous electrical gremlin I could never solve and I ended up selling it to a teammate. I regretted it almost immediately, but thankfully my love affair with the M110 platform didn’t end there.
Fast forward a year or so and a local player put his M110 parts kit up for sale. It was essentially just the upper and lower receivers and the gearbox shell (along with a Magpul PTS ACS stock, suppressor, and 6 midcaps); the internals were apparently FUBARed aside from the trigger switch and the Guarder High-Torque motor (which is my go-to motor for high-torque applications). I snapped it up, because the owner gave me a ridiculously good deal (thanks Schoolboy!) and I have a thing for 7.62 FDE DMRs. It’s a problem, I know.
My first step, therefore, was rebuilding the internals. As far as I knew the ARES M110 uses a standard V2 gearbox; the mags are proprietary, which allows for the standard V2 box and not an elongated gearbox or nozzle like other SR-25 models on the market. I reached out to ARES for confirmation via Facebook and got this reply (I also asked if a standard V2 M4 hop-up was compatible with the M110):
So I ordered an ARES V2 gearbox from eHobby, along with an ARES M4 hop-up unit. I expected it to be a quick drop in job.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
Whilst the rear receiver pin matched up, the mag release, bolt catch, and middle body pin didn’t (the latter being too large for the hole in the smaller V2 box, while not having the necessary cut outs at all for the former items). Modifying it to fit would’ve been an undertaking I had neither the patience or skill for.
Thankfully, I still had the stock M110 gearbox shell, and decided the best thing to do would be to swap everything from the new V2 box into the old M110 box. It took an afternoon at a teammate’s house during a team tech day (plus some pizza + cursing), but I finally got it working. I’m not sure if ARES made some changes to their V2 box or if the M110 box really is proprietary and the ARES rep that sent me that reply didn’t know what he/she was talking about (I suspect it’s the latter). Either way, at the end of the day the thing is working. I’d be more upset if I didn’t have that M110 gearbox shell…
Things I learned whilst putting the thing together:
- How to shim – thanks to teammate Turtle for giving me pointers and guiding me through the process. Shimming was always something I left to the professionals (or the self-shimming VFC gears), as I had figured it was some super difficult task that required years of experience to do well. But now I kinda know what I’m doing. Kinda.
- ARES V2 pistons don’t fit in M110 gearbox shells – the rear of the M110 gearbox shell’s piston track tapers for some reason, leading to the ARES V2 piston getting caught up in that section and jamming the gearbox. Thankfully, Goggles had an old Guarder piston lying around that fit fine. YMMV.
- ARES V2 boxes are a pleasure to open up and close, thanks to the quick spring change feature that eliminates the need to squeeze everything into the box when opening/closing a traditional box.
- As a follow up to point 3: the spring guide can go flying when you release that spring from the box. You may or may not lose an eye.
- The compression in the ARES V2 box is fine from the piston to the piston head, but terrible from the piston head to the nozzle. I think a replacement (Lonex?) is in order, assuming it’s compatible with the rest of the box and doesn’t cause any feeding issues. Only one way to find out…
- The ARES V2 hop-up units have a unique arm that has a molded-on Shredder’s Concave Spacer-esque design. I wish I’d taken a picture of this before I put the thing together. I’ll make a note of it next time I install something in my barrel group. Not sure how effective it will be without a shaved hop rubber, but we’ll see. It’s also a rotary drum-type hop, which I’m a fan of.
- The best way to do any sort of gunsmithing is with your teammates on a team tech day. Nothing beats hanging out with your buddies while helping each other out here and there with their work. There’s always someone who can teach you something, has some spare parts they’re willing to donate to you, or hold the damn anti-reversal latch down while you put a gearbox together.
Right now she shoots at a very consistent 370-373 fps, with a very small shot-to-shot fps deviation, which is encouraging. The old M110 that I sold was ridiculously consistent as well, so maybe it’s an ARES M110 gearbox thing? Who knows. I think I’ll swap the spring out for one that shoots around 420ish fps relatively soon for that full DMR experience. Trigger response is extremely snappy, thanks mostly to the Guarder High-Torque motor and the microswitch trigger box.
The next steps in the project will focus on the barrel group. I have the stock barrel from my Umarex/VFC IAR in there right now (I’ve since tossed an R-hopped Prometheus barrel in the IAR), as it was the only inner barrel I had lying around that was of an appropriate length. I was relatively impressed with the groupings it gave me when it was in my IAR, so hopefully it’ll do well until I find a suitable replacement. The hop-rubber is a Prometheus purple courtesy of Goggles (thanks again buddy), but I want to eventually swap that out for a PDI W-Hold. I would R-hop it, but I prefer the W-Hold’s accuracy, which is my main goal with this AEG. Hopefully the W-Hold plays nice with the molded hop-up arm I mentioned above.
I should also probably re-grease the damn thing, as I only realized once I had completed the job and reassembled it that I didn’t re-apply any grease to it. That’s probably something I’ll do when I swap out the air nozzle for one with better air seal. If anyone has any recommendations for grease, let me know in the comments.
I’m satisfied with the externals (especially with the Magpul PTS ACS stock, which the previous owner included). The optic is temporarily lifted from my TM SCAR-H (don’t worry baby, I still love you), and I’m probably going to swap that out for another shortdot-esque optic down the road. I have my eye on a VISM optic from a local retailer at the moment, but we’ll see if anything else turns up that strikes my interest. Again, recommendations are appreciated. I may or may not add some sort of flashlight to it; that empty rail space above the bipod is just screaming for a Surefire replica of some sort. I’m going to forgo a foregrip (wordplay!) while I try it out with just the hand stop, but I may toss an FDE KAC one on there down the road.
So far I’m pretty proud of myself for putting this thing together from scratch (well, from parts anyway). It’s the first AEG I really feel like I’ve had a chance to work on from start to finish; my gunsmithing experience before this had mostly been limited to barrel grouping stuff, but now I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what makes it tick and I’ve grown pretty attached to it as a result. I even turned down a pretty substantial cash offer for it! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I tend to buy/sell AEGs pretty quickly, but I have a special attachment to this one, and I think it’ll be in my collection for a long time to come.
On another note, anyone wanna buy my KWA ERG off me? 😛