This writer has built a lot of guns. So, when I kept seeing these little ‘Goat Guns’ replica gun models on Facebook, I ignored them. After all, toys are for kids and I’ve got real rifles to shoot, right?
Except after a few weeks of being bombarded by the ads, I decided to pull the trigger on one of these 1:3 scale diecast models. I sprung for the good ole’ AR-15 (It’s this one here). It’s configured in what appears to be the typical Colt M4A1 setup, which perfectly matches my actual black rifle, shown below in some comparison photos. It made sense to grab this one for a review, anyway. It seems to be the most popular one.
Uh, what’s a Goat Gun?
Goat Guns (the company spells it without a space, ‘GoatGuns’) are diecast metal firearm toys. We use the term toy loosely, because these are borderline functional miniatures. No, sadly, they do not shoot live rounds. These 1:3 models are properly die-casted metal and painted to be identical to their real-life counterparts. All the major parts move, too. Bolt carriers actuate, iron sights can be adjusted, triggers can be pulled, and magazines can be loaded with lil’ bullets.
Do they pull off the mirage well enough? Can you trick your shooting buddies into thinking you bought a real M82A1? They do have a convincing, officially licensed model. Let’s take a look.
Goat Guns Unboxing & Review
I noticed the mailman drop an obnoxious, bright orange envelope in my box three days ago. Being quarantined, I finally braved the 60 seconds of cold required to get to and from my mailbox. Inside was my fancy new miniature AR-15, waiting to be assembled.
The Goat mascot greeted me first, with an Uncle Sam-esque I want you!…. To assemble me kind o’ look. I got right to tearing Mr. Goat away to reveal the Hamster operator-sized black rifle build kit underneath.
The packaging is quite nice and it’d make a good presentation as a gift. All the parts are separated by a felt liner.
They throw in simple picture instructions (which aren’t perfect, more on that later) with a product registration card, QR code, a sticker naming your new mini-build (this one’s called Charky), and a sticker of the GoatGuns mascot rocking a plate carrier. Cute. Moving along:
I’ll preface this review by saying it is not sponsored by GoatGuns. I bought this out of my own pocket with the sole purpose of figuring out whether this toy (which has been bugging me on Facebook for weeks) is worth the rub.
First impressions: Wow. The tiny buttstock is indiscernible from the real thing, even way up close. As someone who builds and sells ARs and loves model toys, the first thing that stood out to me was how polished this little plastic piece was. The injection mold markings usually found on diecast models’ plastic bits were all gone. What’s more, the actual injection mold markings found on full-size stocks were there. The sling mount is made from metal, coated, and threaded to the stock, just like an M4 carbine. Cheaper toys probably would’ve molded it as one piece. So far, so good.
As I inspected more of the parts that come with this ‘mini-gun’, I went from bemused to impressed. I had to break out my AR-15 (M4 clone build) which is equipped with a two-piece Knights Armament Picatinny rail for a direct comparison. And, well, you decide. If it weren’t for the rifle in the picture, I probably couldn’t tell this toy handguard is, in fact, miniature. What’s noticeable here is the rails are separate from the rest of the diecast mold. They’re are held onto the handguard by tiny screws, mirroring the bolts that hold the rails to the KAC Handguard. Great detail.
This mimicry continues in beautiful fashion at the business end. The A2 “birdcage” flash higher and FSB with swivel stud for the sling look exactly like the real, forged thing. The upper and lower receivers are shaped accurately, with tiny screws securing the functional parts kit inside.
The only thing betraying the fact that this receiver is 1:3 scale is the rear takedown pin. It’s a Philips-head screw instead of a detent and roll pin. The safety lever operates, too. With a once-over, we got down to business and starting putting this toy rifle together.
At this point I came to expect the mini AR-15 to basically piece together like a full-size rifle, and I was right. The mini KAC rail is held on by a proper spring-loaded Delta ring and small sheet metal plate tucked just behind the A2-style FSB. And, like a proper two-piece rail, this one installs with two halves held together between the Delta ring and front sight. Of course, keeping in true AR assembly fashion, getting the rail installed was far from perfect:
JuUuUusT LiKe ThE REeEeAL THiNg, the mini’s handguard fought the Delta ring’s spring once it was compressed. This made it difficult getting both halves of the rail situated underneath the plate. Thankfully, there isn’t a gas tube to bend on the toy version. This was a pain in the ass and I had to resort to using a small motherboard screwdriver to get the handguard to pop into place. But I stayed positive here: It gave it a battle-worn finish, right? It left me laughing after spending years Gorilla-arming the real things on and off abused service rifles in my unit’s armory.
With the handguard battle won, I turned my attention to the adorable STANAG magazine (made from coated metal) and the miniature 5.56 NATO rounds this thing comes with. I was not at all expecting actual brass rounds that look like they’ve been annealed.
This sent me over the edge with confused laughter, and almost left me wondering why anybody would make something this detailed for $45. But then it made sense to me: If you’re buying a Goat Gun for someone who’s an obsessive gun lover, they will be unusually entertained by the accuracy of this toy’s mimicking. I imagine that was the goal.
Excited to pull the charging handle back, I snapped the buffer tube into the fake housing (it’s not threaded like the real thing, sadly) and pulled the adjustment lever on the stock and slipped it on. Then I spent a moment ogling over the miniscule “mil spec” A2 iron sights made for the flattop receiver.
Yep, it has two apertures with windage adjustments, just like — you know. It uses a lil’ wingnut and Picatinny attachment to cinch down. Once you’ve got the tube, stock, and sights on, you can play around. There’s one thing to note if you decide to build the mini AR-15 model like I did:
The instructions forgot to mention the dust cover! It comes in the kit with a steel pin for securing it to the receiver, and you need to pin ‘er into place before you slap the handguard over the Delta ring. It’s highlighted in red below (Sarge, might want to update your instructions).
Once everything was together, I start finger-flickin’ the charging handle, trigger, and having fun with the buttstock. These toys make great fidgets at your desk while you work. It’s fun to peek inside the upper and see those tiny .22 round sitting atop the mag. It makes you want a pet gerbil, just so you can train him to clear rooms.
So, how well does the Goat Guns AR stand up in appearances against a real gun? Here’s the up close and personal comparison with my M4 clone. You be the judge.
My rifle’s Duracoated. But I’ve handled enough receivers and handguards to say this toy does a great job at feeling like the real thing. It’s got some weight, too, since it’s made entirely out of individual metal pieces. The buttstock slides smoothly on the tube, the magazine catch and release has a springy pop to it, and the trigger squeezes and resets. Overall, the functionality of this toy is pretty much perfect.
Are Goat Gun model kits worth the rub? $40 or $50 bucks for a mouse-sized shooter or miniature gun collection?
Impressions & Score
Assembly: 4.6 out of 5. The instructions for the mini AR-15 weren’t complete. Plus, that wonky handguard plate got dinged. Perhaps I was unlucky. Other customer photos seem to show their mini handguards fitting just fine. The plate is pretty strong and will take some abuse if you need to Gorilla-arm it on there with a mini screwdriver (like me). All other parts fit as they should with a snug but smooth fit. Even the upper and lower receivers have just the tiniest wobble, so you know they aren’t cheating by casting them as one piece. These are tiny toy models, so expect a wayward bolt or part that needs to be tweaked or tightened.
Functionality & reliability: 5 out of 5. The Goat Gun’s about as reliable as a standard-issue M4. Jokes aside, nothing binds or sticks and there aren’t any cheap, flimsy, or easily breakable parts. I dropped mine on the floor from standing height and it was perfectly fine.
Display stand: 4.9 out of 5. The stand is made from nice metal with a smooth painted finish, and once you get it set up it works great. It snaps together but the instructions didn’t indicate that. Each one works differently for each Goat Gun. You’ll probably wind up playing with your model more than leaving it to collect dust.
Quality & overall score: 4.8 out of 5. The Goat Gun has painted finishes that are indistinguishable from hardcoat anodized and parkerized finishes. All the parts are cast beautifully to look like their full-size counterparts, and the results are consistent. Even the polymer buttstock feels real. There aren’t any casting seams or overspray. It’s got some weight to it and operates exactly how you’d want or expect a tiny AR-15 to work. I’d like to see button-head screws holding the parts to the receivers, though. They’d look more like roll pins instead of those Philips-head screws.
Overall, I think my Goat Gun passed the “fake it” camera test, and perhaps that rough spot on the handguard helps. You can set one of these 1:3 toy models up and make ‘um look real or 1:1 with a bit of lighting and perspective. At under $50, these toys are priced well enough. They’ve got some cool long guns, AKs, and other gun models that comes in around $40 to $45, too.
Goat Guns FAQ
Q: Do these things shoot real bullets?
A: Nope. Those miniature bullets are inert dummy rounds. These toys certainly look and feel like they could shoot a live round, though.
Q: Could I make my Goat Gun shoot?
A: No. These are cast parts, not forged. This is still just a toy. If you managed to make a live round small enough for this thing, you’d just wind up with a very tiny (but still dangerous) grenade, complete with real shrapnel. Don’t do this.
Q: Does the bolt chamber and eject the dummy rounds?
A: Unfortunately not. The ramps and lips on these small parts would need some precise (and expensive) fabrication to make that happen, driving the price of these toy guns way up.
Q: How big are these toy models?
A: All models are 1:3 scale to their real counterparts. Rough measurements place the AR-15 we reviewed at 13″ in length and 3.5″ in height. The average Goat Gun seems to be about a foot long. A sniper model will add a few inches compared to the other rifles that are available.
Q: Are these authentic diecast?
A: Yes. Most models are officially licensed by firearm manufacturers, too. It appears that only the AICS sniper rifle is not officially licensed for Goat Guns to replicate by name, so they renamed it the Panther.
Q: What are all the toy models Goat Guns makes?
A: We combed through their store and came up with this list. There are a few fun miniature rail accessories, too.
- AR-15 (Black / Digital Camouflage / Flat Dark Earth)
- M16A1 (Black)
- M1A1 Thompson (Black)
- Barrett 82A1 (Black / OD Green / Digital Camouflage)
- AK-47 (Black / Gold)
- 1911 (Black / Silver)
- Steyr AUG (Black)
- ‘Panther’ / Accuracy International Arctic Warfare (AICS) (Black / Digital Camo)
- SVD Dragunov (Black)
- Rail Accessories (M203 Launcher / Pistol Grip / Trijicon ACOG / EOTech 512 / Angled Grip / AK Drum Mag / Magpul Stock)
- 10-Gun Gift Pack (Colors vary, includes ten Goat Guns for $299 for $10 to $14 savings on each toy)
Q: Are these toys banned anywhere?
A: No. Places like New Jersey, New York, California, and Chicago have dumb laws about toy guns, but these are not restricted in any U.S. city or state.
Q: Do you need tools to assemble?
A: No. A pair of pliers or a small Philips driver may be necessary to adjust the fitment of some cast metal. But Goat Guns are designed to be assembled without any tools.
You’ve read enough. If you’re still here, go build one!