ICS has a strange place in airsoft for me. I cannot say I have seen a really bad example of an ICS product, and I know a lot of players swear by them. But though I’ve owned a few of the company’s guns, they have never truly given me the ‘wow’ factor that the likes of G&P do. But then there’s more to it than just the ‘wow’ factor.
The ICS G33 comes in two colours: dark earth and black. It’s a kind of futuristic G36C, and ICS has really gone to town in making it look a little more… Gucci.
The real G36 is manufactured by Heckler & Koch. An ultra-short assault rifle, chambered for the NATO 5.56mm round, it is a versatile platform used by police and military organisations all over the world, including the UK. One drawback is the unique magazine; it is extremely reliable, but a pain to store in pouches, and the G36 does not accept the standard magazines from the SA80/M16 range.That aside, field- testing has proven that it is reliable and tough in all conditions. Its largely polymer body keeps the weight down, but does not compromise strength. Firing the G36 is a pleasure, and it is comfortable to use, while the sight stays neatly on target regardless of how fast you pull the trigger.
The G33’s design, meanwhile, is unique to ICS, but isn’t too gut-wrenchingly bad. It has an unusual stock that is adjustable in length and height, and it still folds, making it extremely short.
The fire selector is ambidextrous as on other G36 versions, and it feels positive, unlike the JG models that tend to wander into different positions like a sheep casually grazing.The pistol grip has a slightly different design, but is nice and comfortable, while the magazine has been designed to take regular,TM-style M4 magazines as standard, instead of G36 ammunition.The magazine release works in the ordinary format, or via a M4 style button. All the rails are polymer, which is a little disappointing, but there is a lot of rail spare for extras.The battery is located in the front hand guard as usual, and the locking pin sports a sprung catch, so it shouldn’t fall out, unlike on many standard G36s.
Removing the hand guard reveals a big let-down for me, however: the flash hider and outer barrel are plastic.The outer barrel itself barely exists; it’s just a little plastic- formed gas tube, and you can see the inner barrel. It looks like a corner has been cut here. I have no idea how many pennies were saved, but it really cheapens the look.
As it’s an ICS, I didn’t expect a massive rate of fire, but after testing the Sig 552 a few issues back, I hoped for good accuracy and consistency. With a Blaster 0.20g BB it registered an average of 333fps, which was perfect. I filled up the Canada-style Thermold magazine (which looks as cheap as Christmas selection-box plastic), set up on the 25-metre range and tried single-shot. The trigger response is decent, though there does not seem to be any form of positive engaging point, and it is a fairly long pull with little resistance. All the shots landed neatly in behind each other, very much like the Sig 552, and testing the fully-automatic again shows a very tight grouping. Despite some cheap-feeling parts, the accuracy was above average for an out- of-the-box gun.
Overall, it is lightweight, short, adaptable and shoots above average. Downsides are the amount of polymer used, and just how tough the outer barrel/gas tube parts would be in the event of a nosedive. I doubt the spares would be expensive or difficult to source from an ICS dealer either. The magazine and hop unit well appear to be bespoke, meaning no magazine well conversions to use standard,TM-style G36 magazines, which I find strange.
Gaming with this would be a treat; the accuracy and number of rails means it is a good all-rounder for outdoor and indoor sites. Personally, I don’t likeThermold magazines as they look nasty and feel cheap, but it is a high capacity magazine, so if you’re new to airsoft it’s a bit of a bonus.The batteries are mini NiMHs or the 1200-1300mah LiPos, which I prefer.The ‘what if it catches fire?’ argument seems to be fading with the reply, ‘what if you are in a plane crash?’ It is very unlikely, so we do it anyway.
If I wanted a G36 replica I might be tempted by the G33, but I prefer accurate to real steel weapons. G&G and ICS are both moving to these futuristic ‘near- copies’, which is fine as long as someone is making the real steel copies for guys like me. I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone who likes the G33 from buying one, as the performance is good and the price is fair for the quality on offer. My biggest grumble is the amount of polymer used in places where a little metal would have gone a long way.
INFORMATION & PRICES
MUZZLE VELOCITY: 310-350 FPS MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 300 Rounds
PACKAGE INCLUDES: Gun, Canadian C7 high cap magazine
LENGTH: 515mm (folded) – 745mm (unfolded)
PRICE: Around £220