ICS PAR Mk3
Always a fan of properly licenced airsoft replicas, Bill Thomas is excited to see a properly branded PAR Mk3 carbine from one of his favourite manufacturers, ICS…
I’ve been a great fan of airsoft rifles and carbines from Taiwanese manufacturer I Chi Shivan (ICS) for many years, and their split gearbox design has been a real industry staple for as long as I can remember. They’ve always had a reputation for making superbly detailed replicas and, in my opinion, their L85 is one of the best on the market.
They’ve also always had some great ‘AR’ style models in their line-up, and over the last couple of years I’ve really begun to see them doing things their own way in terms of unique and genuinely innovative design. You can imagine therefore how chuffed I was to see them launch a range of models based around the PAR Mk3 rifles from PROARMS ARMORY. Again, in my opinion, properly licenced replicas are the way forward, as such agreements allow the airsoft manufacturer to work hand in hand with the builder of the ‘real steel’ model to bring us true 1:1 scale and detail.
PROARMS ARMORY was established as a company specialising in the production of PAR Mk3 rifles and accessories for firearms. The company utilises the highest-quality, modern and technologically advanced equipment, the very best parts and components, a test tunnel and design workshop to ensure the highest-quality of their products. PROARMS ARMORY employs experts with extensive experience in the development and production of firearms to make certain that what they offer is the very best it can be.
The real PAR Mk3 semi-automatic rifle, manufactured in the Czech Republic by PROARMS ARMORY is a high-tech firearm for both professional and sports use. The rifle is the result of the comprehensive evaluation of ‘AR’ style firearms and is based on the original PAR Mk1, launched onto the market in 2008.
The standard model is offered in .223 calibre (5.56 mm). Due to the universal concept of this firearm though, further calibres will be launched in the future or on special request, including 9 mm Luger, .222 Remington, 7.62x39mm, 6.8mm Remington SPC and 5.45x39mm.
Mk my words
The PAR Mk3 rifle features precision made CNC parts.
Manufacturing tolerances are more stringent than in the standard production of this type of firearm and the frame and upper receiver are made from high-quality 7075T6 aluminium alloy. The rifle is designed to maintain compatibility in terms of individual parts with USA ‘AR’ production standards, so that it can also be used with any accessory designed for the ‘American Rifle’.
The frame enables the additional installation of left- or right-hand controls and the upper receiver is kept free of extraneous protrusions to provide excellent handling characteristics. The trigger guard enables shooting with gloves and it can be quickly tilted with a cartridge. Combining the upper receiver and case deflector into one block and positioning it closer to the frame makes the weapon slimmer.
The adjustable gas block (four positions) for calibres means that PAR Mk3 rifles function with virtually all types of ammunition available on the market. Due to the control of the amount of gas in the system at any given time, the rifle will run in an optimal manner with less effective ammunition as well. The rifle also benefits from an improved bolt carrier and bolt, while the entire piston mechanism is designed with the emphasis on durability and maintenance-free operation.
The freefloat handguard has four fixed MIL-STD-1913 rails and can be supplied in three different lengths of 218mm, 266mm, and 314mm, and is one of the slimmest available on the market. Superior barrels produced exclusively by Lothar Walther for PROARMS ARMORY are again available in a variety of lengths, ranging from 267mm up to 457mm. In the real world each PAR Mk3 is supplied with Magpul accessories including a six position stock, MOE pistol grip and MBUS back-up sights. Overall, the PAR Mk3 is one heck of a rifle and speaking to friends in Europe who’ve been lucky enough to shoot one it’s a real ‘tack driver’. Accurate, smooth in operation, and superbly built from the very best components available, I can see why ICS were keen to get together with PROARMS.
I truly believe that, for airsofters worldwide, this is going to be a replica that we’ll all be keen to get our hands on, as even by the high-standards of ICS the PAR Mk3 is a superlative rifle. The finish of ICS airsoft replicas has always been good, but in recent years they have become absolutely first rate in terms of the externals. In terms of the Mk3 the distinctive upper and lower receivers mate together absolutely perfectly, with zero movement or rattle; you can’t even slide a business card between upper and lower! The finish is a deep satin black and the trademarks look to be laser-etched and highlighted in white, and they are as crisp and clear as any I’ve ever come across. The 310mm quad rail on the front is equally beautifully finished, and again the fit is spot on. Inside the rail, the 263mm outer barrel is fitted with a lowprofile gas block, and a flash hider of ICSs own design is held just inside the rail.
Although this makes the rifle look slight ‘blocky’ the flash hider is a standard 14mm CCW fitting, so it’s easily changed if you’d like to extend the outer barrel or indeed run a slim suppressor inside the rail; I changed the hider out for a ‘Noveske Sound Hog’, which resulted in quite an aggressive look, whilst keeping the Mk3 as short as possible. You will need to take the rail off to remove the factory hider, as it’s held in place with a small hex screw, but this is quick and easy to do.
The Mk3 has a pretty standard sixposition buffer tube, but don’t try and push the MTR stock all the way forward, as all the wiring for the battery runs to the rear. The MTR stock, another ICS ‘in house’ design, is very comfortable to use and it’s easy to get a good and consistent cheek weld. A singlepoint sling plate comes fitted as standard. The pistol grip is a comfortable, ergonomic design and the angled trigger guard means that it’s no problem if you use gloves. There is a rather tasty ambidextrous charging handle as standard too, and the Mk3 comes fitted with a set of the ICS flip up sights which are simple to use and adjust.
Internally, things are just as interesting, as the Mk3 benefits not only from the excellent ICS split gearbox, which is easy to work on and upgrade, but a new version that also provides an electronic blowback system. Although not as hard a kick as that given by an ERG or gas blowback replica, it does give you some feeling of ‘feedback’. The piston is factory upgraded and reinforced, and with a metal hop-up unit, reinforced MIM pinion and bevel gear in place, you just know that you’re going to get good service from this rifle. Another great feature is that ICS have integrated a spring release function into the safety, which means you can take the pressure off everything when you finish shooting for the day, protecting the longevity of the UK friendly M100 spring and piston even further.
In use, the Mk3 is every bit as good as I expected it to be, with performance livingup to the promise offered by the stunning externals and solid, workmanlike internals. The Mk3 comes with an ICS 300 round TMAG; this is a super design as well, as the magazine features a ‘window’ on both sides, so that you can easily visually check your remaining ammo at any given time. Loaded up to capacity with my new favourite .20g ‘Hardball’ BBs and with an 11.1V LiPo battery fitted into the buffer tube I chrono’d the Mk3 through my Xcortech at an incredibly consistent 334fps.
With the hop set, the BB trajectory was incredibly, and I do mean incredibly, flat; at 10 metres I was easily hitting small spinner targets and at the maximum of the 25 metres range I test on I was hitting ‘dinner plate’ metals unerringly. There was zero drop-off at 25 metres, so in my mind I think you’ll be hitting targets at far greater distances than that, and that’s with the gun straight out of the box. Switching up to full-auto saw BBs heading off downrange with alacrity!
Overall I am massively impressed with the PAR Mk3. With a retail price of just £289.00 this looks, feels, and shoots like something far more expensive. ICS replicas have always been good value for money, but I honestly believe that the Mk3 takes this to a new level. It’s got a cracking story behind it, and would be equally at home on a practical course of fire, as on the skirmish field. If you’re in the market for a new airsoft rifle, then I would certainly take a very good look at the ICS PAR Mk3. If this is the shape of things to come from ICS, then I’m excited to see what they come up with next!
There are four different models of the PAR MK3 to choose from and all of them are available in either plain black or tan.
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates