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Thread: SVI Infinity Expert 5" by Western Arms (customized)

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    2nd June 2004
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    SVI Infinity Expert 5" by Western Arms (customized)

    Introduction

    In order to reduce international shipping costs, as well as to convey the impression that he didn’t wish to have all the fun himself, John assigned me to shoot and to evaluate some of the many airsoft pistols he has assembled for reviews. Because it is larger and heavier than most of the other pistols received for review, one of those I was delegated to “play” with was the Western Arms SV Infinity or, as we nicknamed it, “the race gun.” And “race gun” seems a very appropriate nickname for this pistol. It appears ready to take on IPSC and IDPA competition out of the box. This pistol came from Airsoft Extreme, and is reported to be one of their top-selling models.

    Description


    The pistol arrived packed in standard Western Arms packaging, a charcoal grey cardboard box enclosing a molded white Styrofoam tray divided into a chamber for the pistol itself and an adjacent recess for accessories. This box, however, is larger than any of the other Western Arms boxes we received.



    In the case of this pistol, accessories included a small bag of 6mm plastic pellets (not identified as to weight, but white in colour); a pair of small hex (Allen head) wrenches (about which more to follow); one small (very) sample target (unfired – not a test target); a card written in Japanese which appears to be a mail-in card to activate a warranty; a yellow paper (also in Japanese and with cartoons) that appears to be a warning sheet cautioning users not to shoot people or dogs, not to do stupid things, and not to attempt to modify the pistol in your home workshop; and an instruction book, also written in Japanese but nicely illustrated with a mix of drawings and photographs that generally convey the important points even without western (English) text.



    Lastly, this pistol has a customizable trigger, with interchangeable front faces. The pistol arrived with one face installed, and three more in the box. To be honest, I didn’t care for the trigger face that came installed, but it appeared that the trigger needs to be removed from the frame to change the faces and, because this gun was on loan and would be returned to Airsoft Extreme, I didn’t wish to risk breaking anything by detail stripping a “loaner” pistol.



    When I first opened the box my immediate reaction was that Airsoft Extreme had made a mistake and sent us a Desert Eagle by mistake. However, on closer inspection I saw that the barrel is marked “INFINITI .45 ACP.”



    The frame is a double stack frame with a full-length dust cover that incorporates a light rail, not unlike the original Springfield Armory “Operator” rail.



    The trigger guard is squared off at the front rather than rounded as are most 1911s. Overall, it appears that the pistol is styled after an STI double stack pistol. Despite its apparent size, it is a standard 5” barrel length.

    Surprisingly, because I didn’t think it was legal, this pistol did not arrive with any identifying red on the tip of the barrel and/or slide. Perhaps this is because the folks at Airsoft Extreme assumed that the pistol would find its way to Greece (*), since it is illegal (at least in my state) to give, sell, or even offer for sale a “facsimile” firearm that is not identified as not being a real gun. The state law does not specify how this is to be identified, but the bright red “snout” is the universally accepted identifier. I believe that most states, and possibly the Federal government, have similar laws in place.

    This pistol uses a full-length guide rod and a heavy bull barrel mated directly to the slide, with no barrel bushing.



    However, when in battery there is perceptible lateral and vertical play between the muzzle and the slide. I am certain that this did not enhance accuracy.



    Detailing on this pistol is superb. This pistol is one of Airsoft Extreme's “enhanced” models, with a metal slide.



    Everything works like a real 1911, too. It is correct even down to details such as the thumb safety cannot be engaged unless the action is cocked. Racking the slide to cock the action, of course, requires considerably less effort than a real 1911, but the movement is the same.



    Bells and whistles include a dovetailed front sight, magazine well, dropped magazine base pad, memory pad beavertail grip safety, and an extended ambidextrous thumb safety. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation with a set screw (nicely detented so that it moves in firm click stops), but windage is adjustable only by loosening the sight and drifting it in the dovetail. The sights are 3-dot style. Unfortunately, the front sight was too loose for the dovetail and fell off the pistol when we removed it from the box. Testing was delayed for a couple of days while I applied a drop of purple LocTite and reset the sight, then left it to set up.

    Another minor anomaly was that the ambidextrous thumb safety functioned perfectly when operated with the thumb on the left side of the frame, but when using the right side paddle the safety would engage fine, but was then very difficult to disengage. I found that I could duplicate the difficulty using the left side paddle if I actually pushed the safety forward against the plunger while disengaging it, but under normal conditions the problem occurred only when using the right side paddle.



    The pistol also features a light rail, where you can attach all kind of accessories.

    I weighed it on a postage scale and the weight (with magazine) is 35 ounces (985 grams) with empty magazine installed. This makes it the heaviest of all the pistols we received for review, even heavier than the double stack Para P14 I reviewed previously (32 ounces / 900 grams).

    This pistol is also equipped with an adjustable “hop up” feature. “Hop up” is a device (a “thingie,” to use highly technical terminology for something I am not about the destroy trying to see) inside the barrel that imparts a slight drag to the top of the pellet as it exits the chamber. This causes a reverse top-spin, which results in either a flatter trajectory for a longer distance, or even an upward trajectory for a moderate distance. One of the aforementioned two hex wrenches is for changing the trigger face. The other fits an adjustment screw located at the front of the trigger guard, that adjusts the amount of hop up action. Thus, for vertical zeroing there are two adjustments available on this pistol: the adjustable rear sight, and the hop up adjustment. The hop up adjustment can also be used to adjust the pellet trajectory when changing from one weight of pellet to another.

    As with most of the other airsoft pistols reviewed, to load the pistol the magazine is removed just as on a real 1911: depress the magazine release button, and the magazine drops out into your hand. The magazine is shaped and contoured exactly like a real double-stack magazine. Naturally, the details are different. The nose has a small orifice for 6mm BBs, and a hole in the baseplate provides a nozzle for filling the gas chamber. This pistol uses green gas (**), which isn’t included in the box with the pistol. Airsoft Extreme had provided a couple of canisters of green gas, which proved to be more than sufficient for our testing. It wasn’t possible to ship gas canisters to Greece, so John had to procure his own gas and I was able to use the supplied canisters for the pistols tested here.

    The loading procedure is to first charge the magazine with gas, then load the BBs. Charging is simple. Retract the slider on the back of the magazine to allow the gas valve to pop out. Insert the tip of the gas canister nozzle into the valve on the magazine base plate (being careful to align the nozzle perpendicular to the valve), and press the nozzle against the valve to release the flow of gas. Hold until you no longer hear the hissing of gas transfer. As with the other pistols I tested, I didn’t bother to use the Marui pellet loader, that Airsoft Extreme has send us. I found it easy enough to drop a handful of BBs into the palm of one hand, depress the magazine follower, and simply pour the BBs into the loading orifice. Using the magazine loader would probably be beneficial for someone who is shooting a lot, however.

    In the next page, you can read how to disassemble the pistol and our shooting tests results.

    [BREAK]

    Shooting



    I fired the pistol using an improvised test range in my basement. I wasn’t able to achieve the full 10 meters (32-1/2 feet) that John used, but I was able to set a target 25 feet away from the firing station. As a backstop I used a large corrugated cardboard box with the flaps cut off, and several additional layers of corrugated cardboard at the bottom of the box (which was oriented as the back of my target stand) to stop the pellets. And the several layers are necessary. This pistol will punch through two to three layers of corrugated cardboard.

    My improvised shooting rest is a chair set with the back facing the target. By kneeling behind the chair, I could place my elbows on the seat and rest the underside of the dust cover on the horizontal back of the chair. I fired groups of 6 shots, with the intent of discarding the worst shot and measuring 5-round groups. My targets were the same lightweight paper I used for the P14 tests, and as with the P14 I found that the paper usually seemed to close up the hole after the BB had gone through, making it difficult to see where I was hitting. On the other hand, that eliminated any subconscious urge to apply “Kentucky windage,” so perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing after all.



    My best group, shot using a 6:00 o’clock hold and using the tops of the sights rather than the white dots, was five shots in 1-3/4”, with one flyer discarded. I can’t honestly play professional gun writer and claim that the flyer was a “called” flyer, but it was well below and to the right of the other sots in the group. Considering the less-than-ideal lighting in my improvised shooting range, I do not think it is being unfair to declare this shot a flyer and discard it.

    Poor Man's Chrono Test


    Using the improvised Coke can chronograph method John has adopted for these tests, the pistol easily fired through both sides of a Coke can. Firing at the bottom of the can resulted in a large dent, but no penetration. If penetrating both sides is equivalent to a velocity of 350 to 370 fps, and penetrating the bottom is equivalent to 430 to 450 fps, we can safely say that this pistol develops muzzle velocity in the range of 350 to 370 fps. Extrapolating a bit based on the depth of the dent in the can bottom, I’ll go out on a limb and guesstimate that the velocity may actually be closer to 400 fps.


    Rating

    Accuracy: 3
    Upgradeability: 5
    Training Capability: 5
    Realism: 5
    Quality: 5
    Power: 3

    Overall: 26

    Overall

    I will readily admit that, for my taste, this pistol shoots better than it looks. I am admittedly a 1911 “originalist” who likes the 1911 just the way John Moses Browning designed it. This pistol simply appears too large and out of proportion for me to appreciate it aesthetically. But as my grandmother used to say, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” and this pistol shoots very nicely. Trigger pull is generally consistent, with approximately 3/32” of light take-up followed by a clean release, and almost no overtravel.

    I would have liked to try the pistol with a laser sight on the accessory rail, but the only laser sight I have is for a narrower .22 caliber rail and there was no way to fit it to this pistol.

    Overall, this is a high quality pistol that should be useful for several types of practice, or simply for fun plinking. Out of the box, accuracy appears to be acceptable, and I believe that modifying the barrel with a shim of very thin metal tape, as described by John in one of his tests, would improve the accuracy considerably by reducing barrel-slide clearance. Slide to frame fit is fairly good. Laterally, there is some play that can be felt, but is hardly visible. Vertical play is greater than lateral, but I doubt the .20-gram pellets generate sufficient recoil for this looseness to be much of a factor in accuracy.

    In closing, I should note that I conducted my tests using .20-gram pellets. I do not know what the recommended pellet weight is. Using .12g pellets would generate more velocity, while .25g pellets might group closer. I elected to use .20g pellets because that is the weight available to me in bulk at my local Wal-Mart, and because I tested other pistols using .20g pellets I felt that the reviews would be more comparable if all pistols were tested using the same weight of pellet.


    John's Notes

    (*) The reason why this pistol arrived without the red tip, was because they were customized, with metal slides etc. If a vendor customizes a pistol, the obligation to have a red tip at the muzzle end, is no longer applicable.


    (**) As with all Western Arms pistols, the normally recommended gas is HFC 134A. However, this pistol was modified with metal slide and upgraded springs, so one can use Green Gas in it, or of course propane.

    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside


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