Airsoft sniper rifles similar to the L96/AWP design have been on the market for over a decade. And given the general popularity of the design and the price you could get one for back in the day, no wonder these soon became widespread.
However, those rifles had some big flaws, and they could not outperform AEGs out of the box, meaning you had to replace a significant chunk of the internals to get there.
Fixing these issues right in the factory was a great motivation for us to push the NOVRITSCH SSG96 Mk1. And that is exactly what the SSG96 did – you no longer had to upgrade your new rifle. Two years after its release, though, the Mk2 hit the market to take the spotlight. That raises the question: what makes the SSG96 Mk2 better?
External Design Evolution
Before we even get into the external differences between the new Mark 2 and the Mark 1, we just have to touch on the old externals for context. These old stocks were usually made out of a relatively soft ABS plastic, which was, among other things, glossy. That pushed these replicas towards looking like a toy, meaning players often opted for a paint job to cover it up.
Moreover, this kind of plastic is also very lightweight. And when you look at the rifle, you can surely deduce why that might be an issue for weight distribution. The way these older designs solved it is by adding a chunk of metal to serve simply as a weight.
Source: This is not the weight itself but rather an upgrade that replaces the weight while being similar in size and placement.
Given this, both the Mk1 and Mk2 have solid nylon-reinforced stocks that don’t require extra weights, have a very cool matt finish and definitely do not feel like a toy. But there is more to it.
The new Mark 2 is foldable. That means it’s easier to travel with over the Mk1. Also, an important point for those whose alarm bell just went off: no, this one does not wobble. The hinge is very solid. The only thing is that the folded rifle is more bulky to hold, meaning the feature is mainly for transport.
Moreover, the Mark 2 comes out of the box with a drill-fluted cylinder, which is an upgrade for other rifles. For those who might not know 100 % what that is, it’s the grooves machined on the outside surface of the silver cylinder. Besides looking cool, they also serve a purpose – allowing for a smoother bolt pull.
Last but not least, the Mark 2 offers 2 colors, including the iconic green. For the CS2 or CS:GO fans: we in the office 100 % feel the game vibe…
Innovation over compatibility
Remember how we wrote that this platform has existed for over a decade? Well, that’s both a blessing and a curse. The good thing is that you get a lot of owners and aftermarket support. Bad thing – for the entire time, further innovation is restrained by compatibility expectations.
Our team decided to break these restraints and go with innovation. This was mostly (but not only) about the SSG96 Mark 2’s barrel assembly. The aim was to redesign the Hop-Up system to use our custom-made inner barrel and Hop-Up bucking combo.
Doing loads of tests, we concluded that our changes improved the accuracy and consistency of the entire system. What did we do? First up, we added our (fancy purple) CNC Hop-Up Chamber. These precisely manufactured chambers are the staple of upgrade builds, so we thought, why not have it out of the box. On top of that, it comes with dials that tell you how much Hop effect you have applied.
Now, this chamber was custom-designed to accommodate our new Hop-Up Bucking. This bucking is a bit thicker, 70° Flat Hop bucking. Again, tests showed us that it outperformed other options on the table. And to allow for a thicker bucking, we also made the inner barrel thicker.
To avoid misinformation, that doesn’t mean you need to use different BBs – 6mm BBs will fit like a glove. It’s the external diameter that was enlarged. The reason was both to enable the use of new bucking and also to make for a more solid connection between the inner barrel and the Hop-Up chamber.
On the bucking is another CNC piece – a metal Hop-Up nub. For some, that might seem counterintuitive. But with a 70° bucking, which is fairly hard, having a softer nub has proven to be inconsistent on the shots. That’s why we ended up with CNC.
The chamber itself also has some cool features. Through the window in the outer barrel, the Mark 2’s TDC Hop-Up can be adjusted toolless and even with gloves. Plus, the sliding Hop-Up cover ensures the rifle’s silhouette remains the same.
For context: old L96 designs had a very awkward Hop-Up adjustment with a long hex screw from under the replica. It was one of the screws where you don’t see the screw head, meaning you take the wrong Allan key 3 times before doing it right.
To make this all work together, we also added a longer nozzle – this is due to the different sizes of the Hop-Up chamber. And not to forget, to further smoothen the bolt pull, we added a second glide ring out of the box. It helps…
And to state the obvious: these things from the Mk2 are hence no longer compatible with the standards used by the Mk1.
What are the results?
From what we have tested, both in the factories and in the field, the SSG96 Mk2 is truly a considerable improvement over the Mk1. Consistent ranged hits, good durability and a 25-year warranty.
Of course, some people will never fancy the design itself, but for those who want the best L96-style replica, this is your best bet at the moment.
What’s gonna happen to Mark 1?
With a replica surpassing the Mark 1, some might expect the old version to get discontinued. Well, this is not the case. Since we wanted to offer both the foldable and non-foldable versions, the Mark 1 stays. Moreover, it is a bit cheaper than the upgrade-packed Mark 2.
TIP: How to remove the Red Tip from the SSG96 Mk2?
If you get the red tip version of the SSG96 Mk2 but decide you don’t want or need to use it, in theory, you can remove it. However, the process is a bit tricky since the tip is glued and double-pinned.
If you decide to do it, disassemble the outer barrel and make sure the inner barrel is out. Then, you can punch the pins in and unscrew the tip. You can also boil it to weaken the glue before unscrewing it. Or simply buying a different outer barrel…
And as a wrap-up, here is a funny video… 😄