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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.