So… Is it worth it? This is what you really want to know isn’t it. I’m afraid to say, you’re going to have to read this review to find out. The real answer is, it depends on what you are going to do with it.[youtube v=”Fzyle93jLA4″]
GBLS is a South Korean manufacturer who is noticeably new to the industry of Airsoft as a company and has decided to innovate past the norms of what is expected in the technological norms of today’s Airsoft market. The Dynamic Action System, otherwise known as the DAS, is a new mechanical system which simulates the reciprocation of a moving bolt carrier group without the use of gas propulsion. This system works with a split gearbox of one main gear that reciprocates the bolt carrier backwards, not only creating a recoiled effect but also compressing the spring in the bolt and chambering a new bb.
GBLS have released three different iterations of their DAS Airsoft rifles which has lead to the third iteration being the GDR-15 production release edition. This iteration is supposed to be consumer ready with all the expected features and performance requirements to skirmish alongside other AEG rifles. Needless to say, the issues advertised and voiced by media outlets about the older models have mostly been addressed if not completely resolved. If you hadn’t noticed, the DAS GDR-15 comes complete with PTS furniture, not only increasing the ergonomics and looks of the product, but also increasing the value of the product being purchased.
The GDR-15 comes with a PTS Enhanced Polymer Stock which also houses the battery compartment and wiring. The EPS is a fairly ergonomic stock with a cheek weld on both sides and a streamlined adjustment lever for multiple positional adjustments (6 positions). The rubberised pad assists with shoulder seating of the rifle and securely retains itself with the help of two notches on either side of the stock.
On both sides of the stock, there are two universal quick detach sling attachment points which securely retain QD attachments (we recommend using real QD sling attachments as clones have bad tolerances which could lead to loss of retention). Bare in mind that the stock tube accepts milspec stocks and can potentially accept some AEG stocks with some modification. The battery compartment has room for dual stick lipo batteries and don’t forget that this rifle is wired to mini deans. It is recommended that a 11.1v high current battery be used to get the best performance out of the DAS GDR-15.
The upper and lower receiver is cerakoted with a non-ambidextrous fire selector and GBLS trades on one side. The charging handle, bolt catch and trigger are nothing substantial, however they are very well made and have had little to no wear over the course of stress testing this product. The pistol grip is the PTS Enhanced Polymer Grip which is not only rubberised but uses small textured stippling to help with hand grip in wet situations. The use of the beaver tail also adds grip and assists with getting a high position with the nape of the thumb. The fire selector has three positions at 90 degree positions which click into position very securely.
On the other side of the receivers, you can find a working forward assist for the bolt carrier and a magazine release. There are little to no trades on this side of the rifle and the dust cover opens as the bolt reciprocates for a realistic action. The magazine seats in the rifle securely and has little to no wobble whilst seated. The magazine release is not too hard to press and feels comfortable to operate with a naked or gloved finger.
The rail on the GDR-15 is the PTS Centurion Arms CMR Rail at a length of 12.5″ which also contains a low profile gas block (this gas block helps keep the CMR rail in place, be aware of that during disassembly). The CMR is very lightweight and has multiple slots for quick detach sling attachments and M-LOK at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions on the rail. This rail is quite thin, but can quite easily feel bulked up with more attachments applied to it. This rail is definitely a good example of minimalism without the compromise of customisation, however the balance in weight on the rifle does beg for attachments on the front to help balance it out.
The rifle disassembles exactly the same as a real AR rifle, giving access to both the bolt carrier group and if removed, the hop unit and adjustment screw. Be aware that it is recommended that you disconnect the battery and release the spring in the BCG before separating the receivers. The take down pins are held by retainers and are initially capable of keeping both receivers from wobbling at all, however after a heavy amount of usage and fettling, it is likely that the receivers will have a small but unnoticeable amount of wobble between them.
The lower receiver houses the trigger mechanism which controls all the functions of the rifle. The buffer tube houses the recoil buffer and spring which are held in place by a retaining bar. All the vital parts of the trigger mechanism are made of steel and seem to have little wear after heavy use which is very good. This does not mean that the GDR-15 doesn’t need some maintenance here and there. It is worth making sure that dirt and residue is cleaned off when possible as friction can lead to slow bolt travel and high battery drainage.
The bolt carrier group houses the spring, spring guide, and the loading nozzle. These parts are also reinforced and have had little wear after heavy use. The teeth on the bolt carrier group are met with the gear on the lower receiver to pull the BCG back, priming the spring and re-chambering another bb from the magazine. The recoil on the GDR-15 is dictated by the speed in which the gear pushes the BCG back and hence, the faster the action of the bolt, the more recoil the rifle creates. The nozzle head is reinforced and works much like the nozzle in an AEG but at a more exaggerated level, loading the bb and expelling the output from the compressed spring in the BCG.
The hop unit that connects to the inner and outer barrel is a lot like that expected from a GBBR with an allen screw. The outer barrel is compatible with WA GBBR aftermarket accessories and can be replaced as such by WA components. The barrel nut is very tightly installed from factory and may require a more experienced technician to uninstall. The upper receiver accepts most AEG spec barrel nuts, allowing for AEG aftermarket rail systems to be installed. The inner barrel and hop components are all compatible with AEG aftermarket parts as well as PDI components. It seems that access to aftermarket parts is freely available for replacing barrels, rail systems and internal upgrades for accuracy and range.
The magazines for the GDR-15 resemble PTW mags with a sturdy and light structure. Each magazine can hold up to 60 BBs and have been able to sustain rigidity after frequent drops on the ground. The finish on the magazines is a dark grey coat which is susceptible to scratches and oil marks, but has a rough and grippy feel to it. It is uncommon for rifle magazines to have such a rough finish and may be seen as an annoyance to some. Our opinion is that the magazines fit their purpose and look the part whilst the feel of them may seem rough, they actually feel more functional in wet weather conditions.
The DAS GDR-15 shoots at 346 fps with a variance of 5 fps at both ends, the consistency of the fps is quite surprising considering the amount of moving parts in the system which means that there is a tight tolerance to how it performs. We have stress tested over 10,000 BBs in this rifle and have seen no difference in performance from usage. We had noticed that the motor was initially getting warm when we first received the product, but eventually the heating issue resolved itself as the system has worn in and it seems that the tolerances have loosened to allow for less friction in the bolt carrier’s travel.
The GDR-15 is a very accurate AEG out of the box which was initially surprising, we have tested to see which BB weight is most optimal with this rifle and have concluded that 0.36 or 0.40 gram BBs are most efficient in creating a consistent and ranged shot with this rifle. We have been able to reach as far as 76 metres without modification of the rifle, with the only disadvantage being the loss of fps from firing a heavier BB. Accuracy was initially an issue as the hop rubber took time to wear in, however after the first 100 shots and a worrying feeling in the gut, the rifle started pulling its weight and started getting more consistent shots. The spread of shot at 70 metres was found to be 10 inches which is very acceptable at that range.
The rifle is quite heavy, weighing in at just under 3 kg, but has a good balance which makes it more comfortable to use over a period of time. The recoil of the rifle is dependent on the cycling of the bolt, however it is safe to say that it is in between that of a recoil shock AEG and a GBBR. The furniture that is given to the rifle on production has given it more value and the unique function of the rifle is one of the main reasons for buying this product. The one issue that has been addressed by many is that the trigger is absurdly hard to pull, it is hard to determine the issue however GBLS has claimed that the 11 lbs trigger pull weight has been purposed to represent that of a milspec trigger. There has been speculation as to why the trigger is heavy, however it is one disadvantage that many have addressed. We have personally identified that the trigger is initally to hard to pull, but have been able to ignore that fact and still be able to rapidly fire the rifle in succession without issue (in a competition environment).
So is the GBLS DAS GDR-15 worth it? For the majority of Airsoft enthusiasts, no. This is a proprietary and expensive system that has it’s purpose in creating a reliable and realistic system which works in all weather conditions and can deal with the harsh nature of a harsh environment. This rifle has a place in the community, for hardcore enthusiasts of technology, for reenactors as an alternative to gas operated replicas, and as a training tool for real life application of live firearms. Although the rifle itself is expensive, comparing it to that of a gas equivalent has shown that it is cheaper in the long run as their are less consumables in the mix of a 5 year period.
So is the GBLS DAS GDR-15 worth it? Yes, but only if you understand why and for what purpose you want to purchase the product for. This product has had a long development cycle and has lead to a point where the GDR-15 has been sold in Asia, US and now Europe with many happy customers. We have monitored the popularity of the DAS rifles and noticed that the system is gaining popularity amongst many enthusiasts, hence we can only assume that the DAS rifles will develop a community very similar to that of the Systema PTW user community has since the popularity of the PTW gained face.