Buying a L85 replica is quite a brain teaser, because there is a large choice on the market. There are 4 manufacturers to choose from: ARES, ICS, G&G and (Chinese) Army Armament. There are, of course a lots of differences, both externally and internally, due to using different materials and techniques, but there are also some similarities (Army is basically a G&G copy). I should mention that I’m not going to describe a box or a real-steel version, because it’s just pointless. Today we will be reviewing an Army Armament’s replica. Our L85 has been slightly upgraded, but stock parts will be described.

The looks

To start with, I should give Army’s L85 some credit, for being very well made, despite being Chinese made. Mat black receiver of a gun has been made out of stamped, sheet  steel, which gives it a better durability and weight. It makes the gun feel really good and solid.  Unfortunately, there are no real markings, just “MADE IN CHINA Army” on the left side, and “R85A1 SERIES” on the right side.

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On the gun we also have a cheek rest, made from a good quality plastic. Buttstock has a rubber pad on the end, with a sling mounting points on both sides, made out of ZnAl.

A metal carry handle contains an adjustable rear sight. Handle is mounted on a 20mm accessory rail, which is used to mount optics ( but putting anything other than SUSAT there is an abomination).

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On the right side of the gun there is a ZnAl cocking handle but the “Bolt Carrier” is steel. A bolt catch, which makes accessing hop-up easier, is a nice touch. Lifting a plastic bolt catch lever up releases the bolt.

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A polymer front grip, meant to contain a battery is quite well made. Lots of space there is a big advantage, because it even fits a 11,1V 2200mAh LiPo. There is also a sling mounting point on the front grip, that can be moved from side to side. It should be mentioned, that the sling mount point’s thread is easy to wear down, but it can be fixed by removing the original thread and putting in a threaded insert.  Under the front grip, there is a nice touch- a moving, steel gas block!

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A sling mounting point with a threaded insert

 

An adjustable front side is made from ZnAl, but it’s pretty nice.

The outer barrel is unfortunately covered with a shiny black paint, and has a flash hider at the end, threaded on a standard, 14mm counter-clockwise thread. Both are made out of ZnAl. Also, there is also a brass ring stabilizing the inner barrel.

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A quite big trigger is made from ZnAl, but a trigger guard is steel. There is a safety, marked with  “S” and “F”.

A mag release lever, most like in the original gun, is very easy to press  accidentally. The gun is fed with a standard STANAG magazines.

A plastic fire selector is placed on the left side of the gun. Placing it on the “R” results in a semi fire, and “A” is full auto.


Disassembly

I can only show you how to get to the Hop-up assembly and a top half of a Gearbox (which is really easy to get out), because everything else is perfectly assembled by Qbson from BBmax.

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Disassembly starts with taking out the pin by the shoulder pad

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Then , you should carefully slide both parts of the body apart. And why carefully? Because there are some cables plugged together, that you wouldn’t want to damage.

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We disconnect the plugs and we can put the top half away.

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To take the Hop-up chamber out, we need to unscrew a small screw and pull it out to the back of the gun.

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To take the top half of the gearbox out, we need to turn the pin up, and then take it out.

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We then need to lift the top half up, and then slide it to the front of the gun.

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We unscrew 4 visible screws.

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Take the top plate off.

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And we have our gearbox open 😀

 Internal structure and tuning

Hop-up is  plastic M4/16 type, with quite bad stock rubber, that came damaged. The stock, brass barrel is quite standard for Chinese made gun, with about 6.10mm diameter.

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A damaged hop-up rubber.

It should be noted, that L85’s gearbox is a “long” type, so the piston and cylinder are longer than standard V.2 and V.3 ones.
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Spring guide is originally plastic, but I replaced it with a metal one with bearings. Good news is that it’s V.3 standard.

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Piston has 19 teeth, and it’s quite poor plastic as well as a piston head . It died first, and I replaced it with SHS piston, full metal teeth and SHS aluminum piston head.

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Stock cylinder is type 1 brass (who in his right mind would think of that?!) it was replaced with a chrome SHS cylinder.

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Cylinder head- non-standard, plastic and leaky. Solution: some teflon tape

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Brass nozzle is a bit leaky, and non-standard pusher, with a spring pushing against a gearbox.

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Gears- special type, made especially for L85. Quite weak, with a middle one failing mostly. Fortunately SHS comes to our aid with some solid, steel gears.

Stock spring is around M100, but I replaced it with a M130. Worth noting is that you can use standard springs, but they don’t work perfectly, because gearbox is longer than normal :p

Guarder tight-bore, Metal JG hop-up chamber and red madbull rubber gave me a stable 450 fps.

Motor is long type, quite miserable. JG’s Neodymium motor works great.

Overall cost of my customization isn’t too high, because SHS’s cost next to nothing. It costed me around £50, including tight-bore barrel and replacing  cables with mosfet.

Some curiosities and problems.

                As you may know Army’s L85 is G&G’s clone, with some minor details. First of them is a blow-back system- breaks easily and puts some stress on the gearbox and battery. You can “switch it off”  by disconnecting the charging handle from the piston.

Secondly, it works a bit like an “open-bolt” gun. That means, that after a shot, piston travels back, and waits there for a next shot, which results with an immediate shot after pulling the trigger.

Last, but certainly not least is a spring release, found in the mag well. It sends the piston forward, so the spring isn’t compressed all the time. Unfortunately, after replacing the motor we lose that feature, because better motors generate too much tension on the gears, co we can’t release the spring.

Unfortunately L85 has some flaws, like a bit unreliable gearbox and sometimes semi-auto doesn’t work properly, because of how the trigger and contact cube is made. There are two solutions possible:

1) Shooting full-auto only (interesting, huh?), because Rate of Fire is so low, that shooting single shots by properly squeezing  the trigger is not a big problem .

2) Putting in a better motor and battery- problem magically disappears.

3) Also, not all screws are missing from the front sight’s base, which makes it loose. Putting in 3 screws (two on the sides and one on the bottom) fixes the problem.

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RoF is a bit low, because of a longer, 19 teeth piston, which means that the gearbox has ¼ more work to do than a standard one. Good 11.1v LiPo gives us around 20 BBs/sec.

Summary

Despite not being really extraordinary when stock, you can easily and quite cheaply modify it to get a good looking replica with a steel body.  Being a Bullpup, it’s a very compact gun with a long (509mm) inner barrel. Yeeeeah, it has it’s downsides, but they are easily fixable, which gives us a really reliable Airsoft gun. I can honestly recommend it to any Britophile, and I think none will be disappointed. You just have to put some money into it.

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6 Comments

  1. I also have no idea what cylinder you got, Im quite new to airsoft and alot of the parts youve mentions are very hard to find when I type in Chrome SHS cylinder it comes up with all these diffrent types of parts it would be good if you could list all the parts from this upgrade and where I can get them.

  2. Hi there, Ive knackered my Army Armament R85A1. My one came a different foregrip to this one in the pictures. I got mine with a RIS steel foregrip, which doesn’t slide and split in two. This foregrip is a nightmare, theres no room for the battery it came with let alone a thinner battery. I attempted to take out but without it the foregrip moves up and down because the sling bracket is the only thing holding it in place. Not good lol. Well anyway, I took my battery out to be charged. When it came to placing it back in the foregrip, I dropped it and under its own weight yanked the wires off, not a happy bunny lol. What Id like to know is how do I completely replace the wiring, the battery and the motor? I was going to buy a TAR-21 as a replacement but I want to give the L85a1 (converted to an A2) another chance. So far Ive given this gun the SUSAT replica sight it deserves and the tear-drop cocking handle. I kind of don’t want to stop but its left me a little disheartened to see it broken. If you could leave a step by step guide as to dismantleing it and re-assembly I would very greatful 🙂 cheers

  3. Hello, I was wondering if you guys could help me out with this, I know the post is old, but in the hopes of getting some help i will just ask it. Any idea how to remove the cheek rest and the pistol grip because i want to paint mine to a different color, but for the love of god i cant figure out how to get those two pieces off the replica. Any help would be apreciated. Cheers!

    • Alex Aldridge on

      It’s quite simple, the grip comes off with 1 screw at the top, then the finger guard in front has 1 screw attaching it to the grip.

      And the cheek rest has 3 poppers holding it in, if you slip a flat head screwdriver you can pop them off without damaging them, then it just slips slightly toward the front and comes right off!

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