[ENG]Review: ICS CXP-MARS PDW9 / ICS SIRIUS PDW9
It took me more than half a year to hold the ICS CXP-MARS PDW9 or rather ICS SIRIUS PDW9 in my hands for a review after the preview.
Before we start, I'd like to make a comment on my own behalf - I'm ICS Captain 2020, but that doesn't affect my honest opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of the product.
ICS Airsoft always asks for direct feedback on products, because they're always trying to improve them.
Info DE: Es gibt hier eine DEUTSCHE VERSION des Reviews.
First of all an overview of the content:
The PDW9 is one of my absolute highlights this year and I'm excited to see if it can meet my high expectations.
There is something special about the ICS CXP-MARS PDW9 in Germany. It's part of the so-called "SIRIUS series" from Begadi, which is why it is officially called ICS SIRIUS PDW9. Models of this series have been upgraded by Begadi. More on this in the review, when we talk about technical details.
PDW stands for "Personal Defense Weapon". The characteristic of those weapons is that they are usually used to defend yourself, compared to a classic assault rifle.
Let's start with the most important facts about the PDW9 from the product website at Begadi with some additions from me:
Modelg: ICS SIRIUS PDW9 (= ICS CXP-MARS PWD9 with upgrades)
System: S-AEG (= shoots only in semi, no full auto)
Material: Metal and high-quality nylon fiber polymer
Magazin Kapazität:120rds (MidCap)
Energie: about 1.0 Joule
Length: about 620 - 690mm (depending on the stock position)
Barrel Length: 160mm (6.04mm)
Gearbox: Version 2 (ICS Split Gearbox with quick change spring)
Weight without magazine: 2.661g
Weight with magazine: 2.806g
Unpacking is always fun! The following items are included in the package:
ICS SIRIUS PDW9
MidCap Magazine 120rds
Chrono test from Begadi
Two thoughts while unpacking: "What a beauty" and "Whoa, weighs a lot".
The PDW9 looks just damn good. I'm a big fan of the design, which is compact with an aggressive shape. There's also a flawless black finish, which highlights the contours depending on how the light falls on it.
The weight surprised me, but it's obvious, since almost everything is made of metal. I'm also very satisfied with the gap dimensions. There could be a little gap because of the design of the split gearbox, which could cause a rattling between the upper and lower receiver, but ICS has done a great job. Everything fits really well!
Since the PDW9 is part of the CXP-MARS series, the design is also based on it.
It has the known shape of the handguard with the interrupted picatinny rail, which has a length of 6.5" and is very similar to the CXP-MARS SBR. I own many weapons with Keymod system and really like the M-LOK system of the PDW9. It adds a clean and modern look to the handguard.
Something special about the PDW9 is of course the 9mm magazine. When some time ago the trend with the 9mm magazines started, I liked it from the beginning. It broke with the look of the standard M4s.
Material and finish
The PDW9 is almost completely made of metal with a CNC machined handguard. The grip, stock and FlipUp Sights are made of nylon fiber polymer.
As already mentioned in my first impression, I would like to highlight the finish. It gives the weapon a high-quality look and has a very special shine depending on the lighting. How much wear and tear it is will only become apparent after the first games, but the material makes a very good impression.
*Update after my first game: It still looks new. No scratches even if I played in a woodland area.*
The model is almost completely black. Only the rails of the PDW style stock are anthracite. And a shiny silver material has been used for the pins on the motor plate and the battery compartment, but this is hardly noticeable due to the small pin size.
The matt golden bolt plate adds some "bling-bling". If you know my HiCapa, you know that I like the combination of black and gold. Here, it is kept discreet and sets a nice accent to the gun.
Stock incl. battery compartment
Let's start at the back of the stock - the PDW style stock can be adjusted in three positions. It can be moved by pressing a solid lever and locks firmly in place, so there is no play and no rattling.
On the lever for adjustment there is another safety device, practically a lever in the lever. Only if you also press the small lever, then the stock can be completely removed.
The shoulder rest is also made of polymer and a bit smooth. I usually prefer a rubber coating to avoid slipping on the shoulder and the gear.
If you pull off the stock, you have access to the buffer tube and the battery compartment inside. A problem with many PDWs is the small battery compartment, so you often have to use extensions from the 3D printer. This is not necessary and also not possible, as the compartment is closed in itself.
A single stick battery with a length of approximately 10.5 cm works best. Begadi recommends several batteries for the weapon, which are linked on the PDW9 product page. I use a lipo battery with 1100 mAh. You will need a battery with a dean plug due to Begadi's built-in CORE system. Adapters will rather not work due to lack of space.
The grip is a new development, ICS installed a 20° Vertical Pistol Grip which I paid less attention in advance, but it has an extremely positive effect on the ergonomics. It has a steeper angle compared to a regular grip, so it is easier to carry the gun closer to the body. This is very comfortable for the wrist in particular.
The stippling on the grip is quite rough, it provides a very good handling in combination with gloves.
Rail and handguard
The Picatinny Rail is interrupted at the handguard for a better grip. The rear part has a length of 200mm and offers enough space for the optic of your choice. In the front, it has a length of 55mm. The front FlipUp Sight is there, which could be easily removed if you want to attach a Scope Cam for example.
I really like the interrupted handguard. It gives the PDW9 the typical futuristic look of the MARS series and looks great in combination with the M-LOK System.
The CNC machined handguard has a length of 6.5".
Two polymer FlipUp Sights are already mounted on the Picatinny Rail. They can be easily flipped up and are both adjustable. Most people will put a Red Dot on them anyway, but if you don't have one at hand, you can use the sights.
Controls should be functional and ICS did a great job and also built in a little gimmick.
The fireselector can be operated from both sides, which will certainly please left-handers. Due to the legal requirements in Germany, only the settings Safe - Semi - Semi are possible. The selector is easy to reach and moves very smooth.
You can also eject the magazine from both sides. On the right side is an extended mag release and on the left, you have to push in the counterpart. Additionally, there is an eject on the bottom, like you know it from the MP5.
This enables a very flexible magazine change depending on the situation.
I have already mentioned the golden bolt plate. ICS has built-in a working bolt catch. The bolt plate stays back if you pull back the charging handle and could be released with the bolt release button integrated into the finger rest near the trigger.
Due to the working bolt catch you have easy access to setup your Hop-Up.
Begadi replaced the standard trigger with a Retro Arms CNC Flat Trigger. I like the look very much and the small tip at the bottom is not only a design element, especially when wearing gloves, the finger sticks to the trigger. The trigger travel and the responsiveness is described in the internals under "Trigger response".
A silencer is embedded in the front of the hand guard. It is screwed to the outer barrel via a 14mm CCW (negative) thread. ICS has installed its Shadow Extension Tube with a length of 100mm and a diameter of 33mm. Instead of the silencer, you can also mount a classic flash hider or tracer. With the diameter, I would stay with the max. 33mm to avoid scratches.
There is no filling material in the silencer. A plastic tube has been installed and screwed to the cap. A longer inner barrel would fit into the tube if you want to extend it.
Attention: Please pay attention to the legal situation in your country if you want to change the inner barrel.
Since the PDW9 is not a licensed weapon, there is no reference for the markings.
Let's start at the front of the silencer, here you can find the lettering "ICS Airsoft" with some additions.
On the left side of the hand guard is only the brand logo of M-LOK.
On the lower receiver there is a serial number on the left side and above stamped into the metal "M.A.R.S. PDW".
On the opposite right-hand side is the lettering "SIRIUS" and below it the caliber and the F.
Further brand logos are embedded: On the left side of the upper receiver "CXP", on both sides of the stock"ICS CXP" and on the grip "ICS Ergo Technology". In addition, further information from ICS is printed on the upper under the fire selector.
The PDW9 uses proprietary magazines, which aren't compatible with any other manufacturers. You can get a 330 rds HiCaps or MidCaps with 120 rds. One MidCap is included in the package.
The MidCap magazine is transparent and you get a nice view om the 9mm bullets. One advantage of the transparent material is that you see how many BBs are still in. You can check it easily during a game.
MidCap magazines cost EUR 24.90 (as of July 2020) per piece at Begadi.
All my pouches are from Templars Gear and the magazines fit into a Templars Gear Fast Magazine Machine Pistol Pouch. They also fit into the regular M4 Fast Magazine Pouches, but it doesn't look that good. But you can use them if you don't want to buy new pouches. There is a little risk that they fall out of the M4 pouches because they are not that tight.
Of course, the PDW9 also has a split gearbox. Means the upper and lower receiver are separated. By loosening the rear pin you can easily open it and take out the upper gearbox. So you have very fast access to some internals without removing the whole gearbox.
Quick Change Spring System
You can change the spring with a few simple steps because the PDW9 has a quick change spring system. You just have to open the gun by loosening the rear pin, take out the upper gearbox and then open the screw at the back of the gearbox. Through the hole, you can easily change the spring.
Attention: Please consider the legal situation in your country, if you want to change the spring!
The springuide used is made of steel with a ball bearing.
Cylinder and Cylinderhead
Many ICS users will already know the internals. These are the well-known internals from other CXP models. Because of that, I can also share my long term experience.
The cylinder works well and I never changed it on my UK1. You can use the cylinderhead also without any problems, if you install it correctly it works very well in combination with the nozzle. If you don't install it right, air might leak. Personally, I prefer cylinderheads with two O-rings and a good sorbopad to reduce the sound.
Piston and Pistonhead
The piston has 14 full teeths in total. It is made of polymer and the first 8 teeth are made of steel. I know that some people would prefer a piston with steel teeths. I'm using that piston for many years in my UK-1 at approx. 1.6 Joule and I had never problems or any visible wear. So don't worry about it and the whole combination works really well and the energy is very consistent at 1 Joule.
Some people will think that the cylinderhead and piston should be also high-end, for a price of 529 EUR (as of July 2020). I can agree and always like to get the maximum for my money. But I have also the long term experience with the internals and never had any problems.
ICS installed a new aluminum Air Seal Nozzle with O-ring. Compared to nozzles made of polymer it should have longer durability. Regarding the website form Begadi it should have a length of 20,92mm. That would be a bit shorter than the golden aluminum air seal nozzle from ICS with 21mm.
The PDW9 has an Electronic Blowback System (EBB). This let the bolt plate move every shot, just like a real gun. It has only an optical effect and needs a little bit of battery. If you want you can deactivate it permanently with a small modification.
The well-known durable 18:1 gears from ICS made of steel are used.
I would like to address one additional point. The PDW9 might be a bit loud compared to other AEGs. A split gearbox is more open than a closed gearbox and the internals may sound a bit louder. It's not louder than other models from ICS, but if you've had used another AEG or HPA system recently, you might notice it.
In the video below at "trigger response" you can check out the sound.
Begadi CORE System
It's the first time I'm testing the Begadi CORE System in the ICS CXP-MARS PDW9 / SIRIUS PDW9. It is an EFC (Electronic Fire Control) / Mosfet system, which as far as I know has been manufactured by ASCU and adapted to the requirements of Begadi.
The list of features is long and I will go into some more details:
Internal EFC/Mosfet System
Trigger with microswitch
Battery protection (LiPo, LiFe, Li-Ion, NiMH)
Battery shutdown (LiPo, LiFe, Li-Ion, NiMH)
Fast trigger response
Intelligent active brake
Strong batteries useable
240A burst load
Plug & Play
Dean / T-Plug
Semi Fire only, especially for Germany
4 year Warranty
Made in EU
What are the advantages - what do I get from such a system?
You get an EFCS that makes gear jams almost impossible. There is a cycle monitoring of the gears and the intelligent active brake ensures that the motor is stopped at the right time. Because of that, the PDW9 will also respond faster. The trigger is controlled by a microswitch and you have a great feel of the exact trigger point.
And then your electronics are protected by the Mosfet system. The system can handle up to 240A for a short time, so you can use stronger batteries without grilling the electronics during power peaks. The system also detects when your battery is getting too weak and then switches it off so that there is no deep discharge or damage to your battery.
Besides these benefits, I would also like to highlight the 4-year warranty. Begadi is always offering one of the best support I know in the industry. Whoever sent an e-mail to Begadi at the weekend at night knows what I mean. Sometimes it feels like the team never sleeps and they always try to find a solution for the customer. The brilliant thing about the warranty extension is that it is not only valid for the CORE system, but the complete S-AEG. Thumbs up!
If you want to learn more about the CORE system in detail, you can get more information directly from Begadi.
The motor is another upgrade of the SIRIUS series. It is a Tienly 25K Super High Torque motor. In many tunings exactly this motor is recommended due to its quality and performance.
The motor is included in the price and normally costs 67.90 EUR when purchased separately.
Here are the technical details:
- Super High Torque Motor
- Rounds per minute: 25.000 U/Min
- Torque: 3,61 Kg/cm
- Winding: 22T
- Magnets: Neodymium
It runs great in combination with the CORE system and definitely adds a few percentage to the response of the PDW9.
Inner barrel and Hop-up Unit
The barrel has a length of 160mm and a diameter of 6.04mm. The Hop-up Unit is the regular ICS unit made of metal and there are no surprises when it comes to bucking and nub.
The whole combination works really great and gives you great precision and range even if the gun has just 1 Joule.
I wouldn't change the bucking in the beginning. It shoots great out of the box. If you still want to get an improvement, you can think about an R- or Flat-Hop.
With the installed spring the PDW9 has an energy around 1 Joule. It's perfect to use it for CQB, where most field limits are between 1-1.2 Joule.
Of course I measured the energy through my chrono and here are the results:
The results are very consistent and were between 0.97 and 1 Joule, so there was a variation of 0.03 Joule. The average was 0.984 Joule. The consistent values speak for a good performance of the entire system.
For the use in CQB a fast response is important. This is where the Tienly motor and the Begadi CORE system show their strengths. Especially with an 11.1 lipo fast triggering is possible.
I prefer a very short trigger pull. With the built-in trigger of Retro Arms the trigger travel felt a bit long at the beginning, but I had no reason to concern. I really liked the micro switch and I had a good feeling for it after a few shots. Check out the short video to see how fast it shoots.
Congratulations and thank you if you read everything until now, you have reached my conclusion. For the impatient people who just looked at the pictures and scrolled down, I will do a quick summary.
I would like to highlight the design and quality of the ICS CXP-MARS PDW9 / ICS SIRIUS PDW9. The finish is very well done and I think the S-AEG creates the "I want it" effect on many people because it looks amazing.
Apart from the very practical controls for players, I would also like to mention the 20° Vertical Grip. It adds a great handling to the PWD.
Of course, the split gearbox is always a reason to buy a gun from ICS Airsoft. You can get much faster to the most important internals. The internals themselves might create mixed feelings. The piston and cylinder are well-known and proven parts from ICS. With my long term experience, I can say that everything is very durable and works, but some people would expect a steel tooth piston for a price of 529 EUR.
The price is okay if you look at all the upgrades through the SIRIUS series. The Tienly 25k motor costs 67,90 EUR and you get the Begadi CORE system plus the Retro Arms Trigger. These add many great features to the PDW9. Especially a great trigger response and safety regarding the electronic system
And the extension of the warranty to 4 years is just awesome. This is a promise from Begadi and shows the confidence into their own product.
Only the sound can be perceived as somewhat loud, but this is very subjective. In the video above you get a good impression.
Finally, can I recommend the ICS CXP-MARS?
Absolutely! You get one of the most beautiful models on the market and the compact S-AEG will give you a lot of pleasure. It's not just made for CQB, you can play it on every field and have all the advantages of a compact gun with a great range and precision.
It's not the cheapest gun on the market, but you get an upgraded beauty and I bet you will not regret the purchase.
If you ever meet me on the field and want to do some test shots, just let me know.
Finally a short overview of the advantages and disadvantages:
+ Split Gear Box
+ EFC / Mosfet system from Begadi
+ 20° Vertical Grip
+ Motor (Tienly 25k)
- Might sound a bit loud
o Price (puts itself in perspective because of the tunings)