Review text and images by Mark 'Blondie' Ormerod.

As regular reader's of our reviews will no doubt recall the last time we looked at an ICS MP5 variant the conclusion was "great externals - shame about the internals". Since then a lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge and ICS have upped their game and improved their design considerably. There are a wide range of variations available in ICS's MP5 range covering all the popular designations - from the suppressed SD models through to the solid / sliding / end cap variations of the A2 and A4 configurations. As of yet they haven't extended their range to cover the PDW or K variations although all models are available with a PDW style folding stock should you so desire. Out of the box all models give between 300 - 310 FPS and are relatively consistent with good grouping considering the short barrel length.

All will happily take any make of magazine. I prefer to stick to normal 200 round hicaps but the usual array of box mags, midcaps, handicaps and more are all available.

The models are available with two types of fire selector. The first is the "early" designation (as this configuration is from an older design of the MP5) consisting of a right hand only safety with SEF markings. The second is the "navy" designation (this design was originally produced for the US Navy) consisting of an ambidextrous safety and pictorial representations of the bullets to indicate safe, semi and full auto. All are based on the same basic receiver and gearbox - differing only in battery capacity, stock type and whether or not they come with the SD suppressor. All come with the full metal receiver. The quality of the ABS parts - such as the grip - are far superior to the Tokyo Marui alternatives. They're thicker and better finished with no visible seam lines. Sadly, there are no trademarks on any of the models. On the lower part of the receiver is 19x9mm and below the cocking handle a small barely discernable ICS. All feel extremely solid with none of the give or creaks that you would find on the TM equivalent. Each type comes boxed with a 200 round hi-cap mag, barrel cleaning rod and an excellent English(!) manual.

The model we are looking at here is the MP5A2 SEF version.

Firstly, I'll deal with the externals and the differences between the two types of grip. In terms of operation and designations of safe, semi and full auto there really isn't any difference between the two - aside from obviously looks. Some people prefer one or the other - and I'm not going to make a subjective call on this aspect. However, the SEF grip confers two distinct advantages (provided you're not left handed).

Firstly, the SEF style grip is contoured unlike its smooth Navy alternative. Simply put, its comfier and provides a much better grip.

Secondly, the ambidextrous safety found on the Navy style grip has a nasty of habit of getting knocked onto Semi or Safe during operation - which is obviously a problem during skirmishing. For these two reasons I would recommend the SEF grip without reservation.

The MP5A2 comes with a solid stock - and solid is an apt description of it. It will easily accommodate a large 8.4v battery and can be modified internally to take higher capacities. Even with the solid stock the gun is light (all the ICS MP5 models are surprisingly light given the amount of metal) and compact enough for the tightest QGB situations. It is easy to hold and fire this gun in one hand and you're not going to suffer after running around with this over a weekend. I prefer a large battery and a stocked gun (with folding or sliding stocks I always end up with them extended fully anyway). I also wanted to remove the standard handguard for a Guarder one holding a torch (another reason for rejecting an SD model) - and having the battery in the handguard makes this a bit more complex than it should be.

All models feature the standard open sites and all makes and types of mounts will fit for those who prefer optics. Indeed there are a wide range of aftermarket parts from mounts, optics specific to the MP5 / G3 series, custom handguards and RIS sets. To fit a suppressor to the non-SD models you need to remove the grub screw holding the flashhider on and fit an aftermarket positive or negative thread adapter. ICS make just such an adapter and its fitted in under a minute, robust and available in the standard 14mm size.

I prefer my airsoft kit to have suppressors fitted as they do dampen and reduce the sound - which does confer an advantage, especially in woodland skirmishing making it harder for your target to locate you. The A2 throws out a lot of noise compared to TM kit so any reduction is very welcome.

The cocking lever will slide back but serves no other purpose. The hop is accessible via a lever on the left hand side of the outer barrel. It an unusual system but easy to set and stays set. I was concerned about the possibility of it being knocked but it is partially covered by the handguard which so far has afforded ample protection.

The handguard itself is solid, wobble free and extremely well built with no seam lines. It is easy to remove - simply push out the pin and slide off - although the retaining spring on the pin doesn't seem terribly robust.

Takedown is easier than on a Marui model thanks to the split gearbox design. Not as easy I'll give you as ICS's "revolutionary" new M4 gearbox but good all the same and they have definitely overcome the build quality issues of old. As seems to be the case with the newer ICS internals the rate of fire is impressive - again close to the equivalent TM model running a 9.6v battery.

So there you have it. With the latest version of their MP5 series it seems that ICS have overcome the issue of old. You're getting a rock solid, full metal piece of kit with an excellent gearbox. (Full metal inthat everything that's metal on the real one is metal on this). I can't emphasize how good the build quality is. Alongside Classic Army, ICS are giving people fewer and fewer reasons to buy Tonkyo Marui kit - unless you simply must have an MP5K or an MP5 with trademarks - you'd be a fool not to go for the higher quality ICS equivalent.

Aftermarket Accessory - G&P Navy Handguard

Whilst we’re looking at the MP5 range its worth mentioning a couple of useful aftermarket parts. First off is the G&P Navy Handguard. The particular model here is the 6P – which denotes the voltage of the torch (2 x CR123 A3 volt batteries) – the 9P is obviously slightly bigger and heavier. There’s not really a huge amount to say about it. The build quality is slightly poorer than the standard grip with a visible seam line but its solid, easily bright enough to blind an opponent or illuminate out to around 25-30 metres. It takes seconds to fit – simply slip out the pin on the existing handguard and replace. The right hand side of the grip has a pressure switch running along most of the side and its sensitive enough to be easy to flick on with a gentle squeeze. Be aware that if you’ve fitted anything other than the smallest suppressor you’ll need to remove it and go back to the standard flash-hider or the grip will not fit due to the torch’s diameter. I’d say there are better and brighter replacement torch grips around – but at a much higher price. For your average skirmisher’s needs this will fit the bill just fine.

Aftermarket Accessory - Top Point 20mm Red Dot Scope for MP5 & G3

This is a cracking little find which Speedman alerted me to. I’m assuming Top Point are the distributors for Walther in Hong Kong – either that or expert copiers – as the sight arrived in a Walther box with full English manuals and Walther trademarks as well as the hex key needed to tighten up the grips. Essentially this is a very low profile reddot sight designed to fit straight onto the upper receiver of any G3 / MP5 variant. It sits between the two sets of open sights giving you a red dot as a point of reference when looking between them. It has 7 levels of brightness and full windage and elevation controls. For the money it’s a cracking piece of kit and an excellent rugged targeting solution.

Mark 'Blondie' Ormerod.

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