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Review

Classic Army CA33E
  • Manufacturer 
     Classic Army
  • Model 
     CA33E
  • Capacity 
     330
  • Weight 
     2.8kg (6.3 lbs)
  • Power 
     300fps
  • Motor 
     CA1000
  • Hop-up 
     Adjustable
  • Battery 
     8.4v1700mah
  • Shooting Mode 
     Semi, Full Auto
  • Construction 
     Full Metal, ABS Plastic

Pros

+ Unique and handsome styling
+ Rock solid build
+ Excellent accuracy and power out of the box
+ Super smooth gearbox
+ Metal hop-up assembly
 

Cons

+ Tight magazine fit
+ Minor finishing flaws
+ Hop-up adjustment requires tools
+ Slightly vague fire selector switch
 

Verdict

Rock solid build with high power, coupled with great accuracy makes the CA33E a skirmisher's dream come true. The CA33E looks realistic and has the weight to show for it at over 6 lbs. Stiff components mimic those on a real-steel weapon and solid materials enable the CA33E to withstand abuse of hostile skirmishing conditions. If on-the-field performance is more important to you than model-like finishing, then the CA33E is worth considering.

 

The HK33E has been around for a long time, and its roots date back to WWII when an older German rifle was redesigned in the 1950's in Spain to become the CETME rifle. This rifle was then taken as a platform for Germany,s post-war rifle - the G3 series. The 33E is essentially a scaled down version of the G3 7.62 caliber series rifle, and was introduced by Heckler & Koch in the mid-1960's with official production beginning in 1968. It sports a slightly shorter barrel and a different type of magazine, and uses 5.56mm caliber ammunition complying with NATO standards. The real steel 33E weighs in at a hefty 8.4 lbs and held 45 rounds in its magazine. Incidentally, the HK33 is the official German version, while exported versions were denoted the HK33E. However there are no technical differences between the two versions.

The HK33E was never widely adopted by the German military, but it was very popular with many West German police and security units. It was also widely exported for use to Malaysia, Chile and Thailand's military forces. Since 1999, the HK33E's design was also licensed to Turkey, although Hecklor & Koch in Germany continues to manufacture this rifle and uses it as a platform for the development of their newer G-41 and HK53 compact assault rifle.

Classic Army's rendition of the 33E, denoted CA33E, was much anticipated for the main reason that Tokyo Marui (the market leader in manufacturing and design of airsoft AEGs) does not offer a similar model. For this reason alone, CA's decision to build the CA33E represents a new independence from simply duplicating models already out on the market. By releasing the CA33E, Classic Army is essentially showing that they are capable of not just copying other designs, but also innovating new styles and becoming a design leader. For this we applaud Classic Army, and hope that other models not currently covered by the Tokyo Marui lineup will soon follow.

The CA33E is solidly built and there are no shakes and rattles - especially impressive for such a heavy full metal gun. In fact, for this test I grabbed the pistol grip of the CA33E and shook the gun fiercely in the air to see if any parts shook. The result was complete silence - the components appear to fit tightly against each other making for a very solid gun. This is especially evident in the ABS plastic foregrip, which is firmly planted against the front cocking tube and does not squeak or flex under pressure. In comparison, the foregrip on the Tokyo Marui G3A4 does shake and squeak a bit under use - although the stock plastic cocking tube might be the reason for that. The CA33E's solidness is very evident as you hold it in your hand - it feels that is has been carved from one piece of metal. The rifle is very handsome and looks quite good - the minor variations in the tones of black and the slightly glossy plastic parts matched against the matt black metal body for an attractive look. The CA33E is also very hefty at 7.5lbs with battery installed - which is less than 1 lb short of the real steel version's weight.

Overall finishing and texturing is quite good - and the gun looks convincingly real, thanks to the full metal upper receiver with adjustable rear sights, metal cocking tube, front sights, barrel, magazine, and various other selector switches and trigger. Closer inspection reveals some minor finishing flaws at the seams, and some small patches of texturing flaw inside the trigger guard and other parts that are less noticeable. The finishing on the metal body is baked black coating that does not decolorize easily. The textured fixed rear stock, contoured pistol grip with lower receiver, and the front foregrip are all built from sturdy ABS plastic - very solid and thick ABS plastic that does not flex and can take a beating.

CA33E is a shortened variation of the longer G3 series rifle
Fixed stock can fit an 8 cell 9.6v battery for upgrades
Beautifully stamped metal magazine holds 330 rounds

The rear sights are adjustable with 3 elevations and one open-sight - similar to those found on the MP5 series but the MP5 sights provide different aperture settings instead. Bold white numbering printed on the sight-dial identifies which sight you are using based on your firing distance. The metal firing selector switch can be flipped to 3 positions - SAFE, SEMI, and FULL AUTO. The grip is not ambidextrous so left-handed users may find it a bit cumbersome to use  although this is consistent with the real-steel design. The switch is a bit vague in our opinion and without looking at the switch itself, it is sometimes difficult to feel exactly which mode has been selected. The design of the switch actually incorporates a spring loaded mechanism to provide tactile feedback, but unfortunately it does not offer positive feedback 100% of the time. This was not a big problem on the field since when we were in doubt, we were able to quickly identify the mode we were in by pulling on the trigger! The effective zone of activation for the switch is also quite wide, which means that the lever does not need to be precisely aligned with a particular position for that mode to take effect. Pushing the lever all the way up to SAFE disables trigger-pull. Nonetheless, we hope Classic Army will address the lever's feedback on future iterations.

Built for skirmishers in mind, the CA33 comes with a beautifully metal-stamped 330 round high capacity magazine. Pulling the magazine out is easily done by pushing on the metal magazine release lever and pulling the mag out. Loading the magazine back into the gun takes a bit more skill and requires a good strong shove - mainly because the magazine is a very tight fit and therefore contributing to the solid feel that we mentioned earlier. Incidentally, Tokyo Marui AEG magazines have a bit of play in their magazine wells, which contributes to a bit of rattle. CA33E's tight magazine fit means this does not happen. The other reason is that the metal hop-up unit's BB feed tube fits very snugly into the magazine BB feed tube. Out of the box, the magazine required a good slap and jiggling to get it to lock properly, but after applying some lubricating silicone spray to the inside of the magazine well and the BB feed tube, the magazine locked into place more easily without the need to shove.

Access to the battery compartment requires sliding and removing the rear rubber butt-stock cover. Again, the tight fitting parts required a good push with the palm of your hand in order to remove the butt-stock. Everything about the CA33E seems very stiff and solid - kind of like a real steel weapon but may take getting used to for seasoned airsoft players who are used to light touch. The inner cavity of the stock is designed to snugly fit an 8-cell 9.6volt battery in order to power upgrades. The fuse-box and battery connector can be carefully pushed and stored inside a special cavity area that does not interfere with the battery. With the wire and connectors positioned carefully, the butt-stock cover slides easily into place - and locks with one quick and firm shove with the palm of your hand. After about 4-5 repeated actions to remove the butt-stock cover, it loosened up significantly and required much less of a push to open and close. The front fore-grip can also be removed by taking out the single retainer pin in the front sight. Underneath lies a metal outer barrel that runs the front length of the cocking tube. Note that there is no real need to remove the front grip since it is not designed to store a battery within.

Full position adjustable rear sight
Hop-up adjuster located inside breech cover
Aluminum flash hider can be screwed off and replaced with a silencer

The receiver and gearbox design is very similar to that of the Tokyo Marui G3 series - and by simply removing 2 retainer pins, the entire lower receiver slides out from under the upper receiver, revealing the gearbox. RedWolf technicians have analyzed the internal components and have concluded that Classic Army has invested in better quality materials, and have achieved higher tolerances in the fit and finish of this gearbox. More precise fitting also means that there is less "leakage" and more air is diverted onto the BB for propulsion on each shot. The result is higher durability and upgrade potential. The gearbox's higher quality can in fact be heard when shooting the gun - the gearbox is smooth and fast, delivering a high rate of fire. BB's are propelled out in a reliable and consistent manner, with no "skipping". Classic Army has also fitted the CA33E with a newly designed high torque motor, which is capable of powering upgraded springs.

The CA33E offers adjustable hop-up, and the adjuster knob is located inside the breech cover. To gain access, simply pull back on the metal cocking lever and the breech cover pulls back to reveal the adjuster knob. Adjustment of the hop-up requires use of an included tool - turning clockwise to increase hop-up and anti-clockwise to decrease the intensity. On our power and accuracy tests, the CA33E faired very well, delivering accurate performance to within +/- 1 inch from 25 feet - a level of performance that is on par and even slightly exceeds some Tokyo Marui AEGs. Muzzle velocity was clocked at the 300fps range using 0.2g BBs, with hop-up turned off. This is very decent power, considering the CA33E's relatively short barrel length. RedWolf currently offers both Level 3 and Level 4 upgrades for this rifle for those yearning greater power. Overall, we were very impressed with the CA33E's performance and found it very usable in competitive skirmish situations.

The CA33E can be easily accessorized for improved looks and functionality. The front and rear sling mounts allow installation of a 3-point tactical sling, which was immense relief since the six pound rifle is no lightweight when carried in the field on a hot summer day. Thankfully, Classic Army chose not to design the flash-hider like those found on Tokyo Marui G3 rifles, and instead chose to use 14mm counter-clockwise barrel thread for attachment. This means that you can easily remove the stock flash-hider and screw on a silencer. Standard scope mounts designed for the MP5 also fit onto this CA33E with easy (though the installation process is also a bit tight and takes finesse). The front sight assembly also houses a bipod mount that fits the G3 SG1 bipod.

Overall, the CA33E is probably the best-built AEG from Classic Army to date. Numerous refinements have been made in the manufacturing process, and we are sure that some of the new technology they have gained from working with Armalite in their M4 line has found its way into the new CA33E. If you are looking for a high performing skirmish rifle housed in a granite-like body that can take the abuse of rough play, then the CA33E is probably a good choice.

Finely finished receiver with 3 position selector switch
Breech cover with realistic weld marks
Full aluminum barrel and front sight assembly