It seems like everyone these days is making some version of an M4 or AK rifle. Let’s face it; you can’t turn around at an airsoft field without seeing dozens upon dozens of “Plain-Jane” AR-15 rifle variants. So, when I was told I was being sent G&G’s GR14 HBA-Long rifle to review, I was cautiously excited to see how this very different rifle measured up to the mainstays of modern airsoft; the M4 and AK.
SHOOTER’S OPINION: A formidable, long-range marksman rifle with the ability to lay down accurate suppressive fire when the need arises.
Star rating (1-5) = 4
EXTERNAL BUILD FACTS
RIS (Rail Integrated System) – Integrated; top, sides and bottom with polymer hand guard
STOCK- Retractable (six positions) and vertically adjustable (nine positions)
INNER BARREL LENGTH- 510mm
GRIP- Custom – Pistol Style
TRIGGER GUARD- Metal, Integrated Ambidextrous Safety
UPPER & LOWER RECIEVER – Metal
MAG RELEASE – Ambidextrous, Behind Magazine
OPTIC SPACE – 28-space upper front rail with rear scope mount.
Sling Attachments: Front and Rear Steel Ambidextrous Clip-Style
MAGAZINE – 470 Round Hi-Cap
Material: Stainless, Aluminum, Steel, Zinc, Plastic, Nylon, Fiber
Overall Length: 46.5 in. (stock extended); 41 in. (stock collapsed)
Weight: 9.9 lbs. (4500g) unloaded
INTERNAL BUILD FACTS
GEARBOX VERSION – G&G Version 7
MOTOR – High-Torque Short Type (16,000 rpm)
GEARS – Standard Ratio Steel Gears
BEARINGS 7mm and 8mm Steel Bearing
CUT-OFF LEVER- G&G V7
WIRING HARNESS- G&G v7
CYLINDER & HEAD
PISTON HEAD- Vented Polymer
ANTI-REVERSAL LATCH- G&G V7
SPRING GUIDE- Metal Bearing
INNER BARREL – Brass
HOP-UP UNIT – One-piece, Dial-type
GENERAL FEEL – Balanced design, a touch front-heavy when loaded and with battery installed
CONTROL OPERATION – Intuitive controls, mostly ambidextrous. Ability to lock back bolt cover for Hop-Up adjustment
BATTERY STORAGE – Inside Front Hand Guard – Large Tamiya connector (small adapter included)
RANGE/ ACCURACY – 160 ft. effective -180 ft. max.
ROF- 8.4V- N/A; 9.6V- 14 RPS; 11.1V- 18 RPS
CRONO .20g- 389 fps; .25g- 347 fps
– Battery – 9.6V Stock NiMH, 11.1V Nano-Tech 15C LiPo
– Charger – Elite 5i Smart Charger
– BBs – Elite Force .20g and .25g
I must confess, having handled many M-14 EBR (Enhanced Battle Rifle) airsoft replicas over the years I braced myself for the 20-pound barbell that I’ve encountered from other companies. I was immediately surprised when I didn’t throw my back out lifting the ‘relatively’ featherweight 10-pound rifle from the box. In fact, the GR14 HBA isn’t that much heavier than some of the M4s or AK-47s in my collection, and that was a huge relief. Nobody wants to carry 20 pounds of steel and plastic around an airsoft field for hours, unless you have the sustained firepower of a mini-gun or SAW to back that weight up. The HBA isn’t designed for accuracy by volume; it’s a precision rifle by design, so weight matters. It’s made for every shot to count. That’s very obvious the second you lay eyes upon the imposing, 46-inch fully-extended black rifle.
A CQB rifle it is not, but what it lacks in compactness, it makes up in rugged style. Its looks are akin to an Italian sports car; hard lines that on their own seem out of place, but when you take a step back and look at it as a whole, they meld into a work of art. The quality is second to none; for you collectors out there, it even includes licensed Sage trademarks through ASG. There’s just something very enticing about the look of the GR14, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it. It’s just undeniably cool in its own way.
No matter how you describe the appearance of the GR14, it is unmistakably a Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR); from its barrel length to the multiple cheek and shoulder adjustments, everything about the build of the HBA screams, “It’s time to reach out and touch someone.” Now that’s not to say that there won’t be a time where you’ll need to twist the fire selector to “A” and let the plastic fly, and the GR14 still offers you that luxury.
G&G provides you with a generous, metal, 470-round Hi-Cap magazine to keep you in the game with minimal magazine changes. The GR14 also accepts off-the-shelf M14 magazines (both Hi-Cap and Mid-Cap), so finding your favorite loadout for long games or MilSim events isn’t a challenge.
After digging out my large rifle bag from storage, I packed the GR14 HBA into it and headed out to the local field for some real-world testing. It was a private event day, so with smaller numbers it worked out perfectly to put this long rifle to the test.
I arrived on site and checked in. Time to install my battery… Where was the cover release? I knew it was under the hand guard, and then it hit me. I needed to remove six Allen screws every time I wanted to access the battery and reinstall them when I was done.
A fast change battery is critical in long games, and this was definitely not fast. I’d have to bring a 2.5mm Allen driver on the field and pray I don’t lose six tiny screws if I had to do a combat battery “reload”. Now this isn’t a huge deal breaker, but it could make the difference for those of us that play longer games.
I had finally hit my first “gotcha” on the GR14 HBA, but thankfully it wasn’t a major negative. Not discouraged, I grabbed my gear and went to check-in.PERFORMANCE
After signing my life away and donning eye protection, I made my way over to the Chrono station to see where the numbers fell. To be honest, I was a bit nervous to see if I was within limits. The box had a bright yellow sticker proudly stating “Enhanced Muzzle Velocity Version” and I had no idea what that meant. Hopefully I’d be within the 400 FPS range for the field and not forced to sit in the safe zone due to a “hot” gun as everyone else played.
I loaded the Elite Force .20g BBs into the magazine and gave the Hi-Cap a few winds. With the mag locked in place, I clicked the trigger safety (a convenient, ambidextrous lever nested inside the trigger guard), took a deep breath and pulled the trigger toward the rear.
Shot 1: 391 FPS
Shot 2: 388 FPS
Shot 3: 389 FPS
Whew! Crisis averted.
With that behind me, I finally exhaled and rolled the fire selector to full auto to let out a burst. The rate of fire (ROF) indicator lit up on the chronograph and on my Tenergy 9.6V battery, I clocked in at a modest 14 BBs per second. A few screws later, I swapped out for a beefier 11.1V Turnigy Nano-Tech LiPo and the number jumped to a healthy 18 rounds per second.
The G&G Modified Version 7 mechbox has been a staple of their M14 rifles for years, so it was no surprise that the cycling at the Chrono range was fast and smooth under the 11.1V LiPo, and that there was no noticeable over-rotation during semi-auto firing. With their steel internal parts and 7mm and 8mm bearings, the mechbox ran crisp and clean without any hint of strain.
G&G smartly made the modifications to the V7 gearbox to accept most off-the-shelf V2/3 parts, but they did hang on to a few of the original V7 components to accommodate the smaller footprint of the shell. It’s this parts compatibility that makes the rifle much easier to upgrade and repair if the need ever presents itself.
Still, with a few minutes to kill at the Chrono station, I flipped back to semi and tested the trigger response on the LiPo; it was notably crisper than the 9.6V. This was the sniper trigger response I was looking for! Needless to say, I left the 11.1V installed and headed up for the safety briefing.
Briefing over, I was fortunate enough to talk a ref into letting me take the field early and snatch a coveted sniper position in one of the towers. It was time to see if this AEG’s performance would match its looks.
This being airsoft, I skipped the scope and opted for the included iron sights. Before the game began I needed to dial in my hop-up to match my ammo. Since I switched over to .28g Elite Force Bio BBs, I needed to retune my shots.
I reached over and locked the bolt back to reveal the hop-up adjustment. A very neat touch, if I do say so, completed simply by holding the bolt catch down and pulling the bolt back.
I took aim at a steel target 150 feet out and squeezed off a few rounds and dialed in the backspin. Once I was happy with the flat path of the BB, I moved on to adjust the rear sight. The vertical and horizontal adjustments are clearly labeled on either side of the rear sight post. Mimicking the real EBR, they are adjusted by pulling the dial away from the rifle to turn it so you don’t accidentally take the sights out of zero during combat.
Once I was comfortable that I could hit what I was aiming at, I got into prone position on the roof and waited for the game to begin.
The whistle blew and both teams made it to my position quickly. I was wearing a blue armband, so anything yellow was fair game. It didn’t take long for something bright to move into my sights at roughly 180 feet away. I aimed high and quickly popped of a pair of semi-auto shots and the red rag went up.
Wow, I was impressed!
This process continued for a few more opponents from 150 to 100 feet until Yellow became aware of my position and moved in.
I popped up from my rooftop position and moved into the building. Moving the retractable stock back to maneuver, I flipped to full-auto and was able to keep heads down from interior windows for a while. But since I was running solo, I had to reload without support. This gave the yellow team time to make it to the bottom floor walls. At this point I turned quickly and took a hallway on the way to the ladder down. Faced with the tight opening for the access, I was forced to swap to my sidearm to defend myself… and it didn’t end well for me. I was shot with my rifle slung on my back as I made my way down.
A few high-fives to the guys that got me and I was on my way back to respawn.
In all the game play, that was the only time this weapon choice showed a weakness. Its size really limited its ability to operate indoors, but if you give it enough room to breathe and it can perform brilliantly. This was a fact I was aware of before I took the field and I tried to intentionally put myself in a spot where I’d be forced to maneuver in a CQB environment. Even with this limitation, the advantages significantly outweigh the negatives.
You really do get the best of two worlds; a sniper rifle when you have the time to make the shot and a support weapon when things get hot. I know there’s no such thing as a “Swiss Army Knife” rifle that does it all, but this one does two things very well; impromptu support weapon and precision marksmanship rifle.
After spending time on the field with the GR14, I did feel the need to add some external upgrades to enhance the look and usability of the rifle. Considering you have a good amount of rail space to work with, this replica is just begging for the addition of a 4X scope and bipod.
If you aren’t looking for all of the extra weight of a large scope or you want to use this in more of a support role, a small reflex-type red dot would be a great addition. Swap out the bipod for a fore-grip and you can lighten the load even more while upping maneuverability. Either way, you have all of the rail real estate you need to modify the HBA-L to your heart’s content.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this replica. It really changed my mind about the EBR-style rifle. With a lighter weight than expected and solid FPS for outdoor games, it’s become a definite contender for my primary skirmish weapon. Take into account the long barrel for accurate shot placement plus ability to go full-auto when things get crazy and the G&G GR14 HBA-L checks all the right boxes for everything from local weekend play all the way up to a National MilSim event.
Even though the longer barrel prohibits close CQB play, it isn’t a deal breaker. It does two things and does them well; sniper platform and support weapon. That makes it a solid rifle. And for that, I can’t find a good reason not to recommend this AEG to anyone looking to add some range and style to their arsenal!
EDITOR’S NOTE: G&G makes a shorter version of this rifle, the “GR14 H.B.A. – Short” that makes CQB play a possibility on the same platform.
Words: Jonathan Higgs Photos: Jonathan Higgs