ARES Airsoft L1A1 Self Loading Rifle AEG
13 Dec 2016
Now here’s a gun that you often see, but not on Airsoft games. This is more of a PC and console video game gun, which has been largely used on many Call of Duty titles as the infamous FN FAL from Belgian manufacturer FN Herstal.
Ares Airsoft have been manufacturing the L1A1 for a while, but now they’ve decided to bring it back in strength by providing us with two new and improved versions of their already very sought after L1A1. One is the black version with plastic furniture and the other, the ever so great looking wooden version.
According to Ares, both these guns have the exact same length as the original one, and loads of new accessories to spend money on.
So let’s see how the new Ares L1A1 fares as an Airsoft DMR.
Of course you’ll see different variants, but the same base technology and design is there. And the L1A1 is just that, a well known derivative of the FAL used by Commonwealth countries and the British Armed forces in particular.
This brings us the to the second place you’ve probably heard about where this gun was used --- The Falklands. This was the iconic sniper rifle used by the British army there, making it one of the probable precursor of the modern DMR, or designated marksman, based on its single shot action and increased barrel length for the improved accuracy at longer distances. So if you like the DMR role, this is the big daddy of those guns and amazingly fun to shoot.
This is an amazing gun not only for regular airsoft players but also for reenactors.
I’ve never done any re-enactment games myself, but I do like to see how much effort people put on in order to look the part and have the correct gear, and this is like the holy grail of anyone who will want to have the Falklands “look”. But then again, if you’re looking for that COD unique gun that no one has at your local Airsoft site, and you have the money available for the L1A1, then this is your winner, since it’s quite unique at most airsoft fields. However, you have to pay for exclusivity and the question is, does it also mean quality? Read on if you’re interested in finding out more.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
Here is where a lot of effort has been put by Ares Airsoft, both in getting the specs right, when it comes to keeping it real size wise, and also the build quality:
The lower and upper are now made out of Zinc Alloy, making the body sturdier and looking more realistic. The top cover is steel and feels rock solid. Absolutely no wobble atll. Everything fits together tightly with very little or no tolerances.
One thing that got me worried at the beginning when I found out the lever that’s used for the breakdown of the gun on the real steel, was that if you don’t close it well, you’ll see a lot of wobble between the upper and the lower. But once I’ve found out how to close it properly this was gone.
The stamped markings on the body are just jaw dropping and combined with the very nice and lasting black matte finish.
One thing I noticed was how slim and sleek the gun is, which surprised me, since it feels slightly slimmer than an M4 and it uses the higher calibre 7.62mm ammunition, versus the 5.56 of the M4.
This makes the gun quite ergonomic and easy to run. In fact, it’s quite a pleasure to handle this gun, even in very tight spaces, although here the very long barrel becomes quite clumsy. But the body, stock and handguard are very sleek and easy to adjust to.
The pistol grip is quite well positioned and I really like the angle, which feels similar to the M4’s but ever so slightly more angled, which still makes it quite comfortable to hold because of the large trigger.
As expected, being a DMR, the L1A1 only comes with two fire selection options. However, if you action the breakdown lever and push the upper a bit, the fire selector trigger will be able to reach a third position which outputs full auto. ARES have even created a trigger that will allow you to do this without having to use said lever. But I will mention that later on the accessories section.
The fire selector is huge, making it very easy to use, which I like. However, if you’re a lefty or are always transitioning to the left hand, you’ll see it’s quite easy to inadvertently switch from fire to safe. I guess it’s a matter of getting used to it, as its by design of the real steel.
Reloading this gun is also an experience in itself as the magazine is big, being a 7.62mm mag, and has a different loading procedure from M4s. So instead of inserting the mag vertically, you must first slot it in on the front and then the back. This reminds me of the AK’s method of inserting the mag onto the mag well which is cool and quite easy to do. Removing the mag is also very AK or the G series from H&K since there’s a lever located on the back of the magwell and it’s easily actioned using the thumb. Again, here is where this is a very right handed gun, since the lever is present only on the left side.
Also on the left hand side sits the very well built and pleasant to use charging handle. Its design is something special as it folds and stays out of the way for improved operation. The system that ARES recreated works great and is solid. When you pull the bolt back the hop-up is exposed, showing an easy to adjust wheel. The bolt doesn’t lock, but once you release the handle the metallic sound is fantastic as it sounds heavy and quality metal!
One of the distinguishing characteristics of this gun is indeed the carrying handle. Loved by some and cursed by others it really adds a different dimension to this gun. And quite an odd one as we’re most used to see carrying handles like this on support weapons, but at that time the designers and engineers thought it would be a needed feature. On the ARES version of the L1A1 the handle is sturdy and rock solid, made out of metal and sporting a plastic handle for comfort.
The plastic is good quality and resistant as is the remaining plastic furniture of this AEG which includes the stock, pistol grip and handguard.
Interestingly there was a discussion on the web about how the length of the ARES L1A1 wasn’t the same as the real steel one but that has been since then put to rest since ARES confirmed it’s not the case for their production L1A1’s. And this one is long! 1 metre and 160 centimetres long!
On the end there, the flash hider can be easily removed by unscrewing it from the outer barrel. If you pay close attention you have the bayonet lug which I would like to see the first airsofter using a plastic knife on it. :)
On the opposite end of the gun, the stock is where the batteries can be housed and you can use anything from 7.4v lipos, 9,9v LiFes and 9,6v NihMs. Opening the stock is easy since you only have to pull the but pad back and twist it in order to see the mini Tamiya connector.
Both front and back sight are made of metal and fully adjustable. The back sight is amazingly well built and solid and can be adjusted for both windage and elevation, whilst the front can be adjusted for elevation. On the front, next to the sight, there is a fake gas adjustment wheel and a sling attachment point which can be paired with the one on the stock.
Owners of this unique AEG will have quite a lot of accessory options. Not out of the box, but standalone accessories you can buy separately, such as a top rail so you can add your favourite optics; the optional firing selector which will allow you to have full auto (such as the Australian version of the L1A1); or the wooden furniture kit which will allow you to convert you L1A1 to have the wood look.
Of course, another accessory you’ll have to get for this gun is the magazine, since the included magazine is a mid-cap with 120-round capacity. I would get at least 4, since I have 3 mid-caps and 1 hi-cap for my other DMR, the ARES M110.
The box includes the mag, a cleaning rod and a feeding tube which I don’t use as I found it easier to reload the mag in game using a speed loader in the shape of a pistol mag.
Finally, there’s a wish list, from me: the bayonet rubber knife and an update kit which would update this goddess from the past with all the tacticool bells and whistles from the present, such as full ambidextrous controls, top rail and updated furniture. Heresy?? Okay, at least the rubber bayonet!
Also, I would really like to see from Ares would be either a conversion kit to convert it to the more modern version of the FN FAL or even a new version with the tactical updates that modern military technology has introduced since then. Who knows?
PERFORMANCE AND INTERNALS
When it comes to the performance and internals, this AEG has some very nice specs:
The motor is a high torque motor which allows to easily pull stronger springs, reinforced metal gearbox, and a system that ARES named Rapid Velocity Tuning System which, in short, allows the user to quickly replace the spring and up the FPS.
In my case and since the gun was imported, it was sent with a meagre 350fps, which of course I will upgrade. But just with 350 I can see the potential of this AEG since the range is already very good, almost on par with a sniper rifle a teammate of mine was using at the Airsoft Plantation during last weekend.
Inside the body you’ll find the short High Torque short motor and a V3 ARES gearbox with the quick spring change system. In order to replace the spring you must first remove the stock.
The inner barrel is very long, 560mm long! Which of course helps to translate into long and accurate shots.
The hop-up adjustment wheel is very easy to dial and adjust. However, I did have a small issue with this hop-up since it wasn’t tightened enough at the factory and firing would make the wheel move.
Solving this was simple, and all I had to do was look at this video from ARES and disassemble the gun until I could reach the inner barrel. Removing the inner barrel with the hop-up unit was easy and all I had to do was tighten the small screw that holds the adjustment wheel. Now it works great!
Firing is just amazing as the trigger response is very fast and the trigger pull is short, making it great to send down the barrel several rounds to the enemy position.
Also if you look at the trigger closely, there is a small switch that activates the motor, since this AEG uses micro switch instead of the classic contact switch inside the gearbox, such as the M4’s. Apart from the aesthetics there’s nothing wrong with it, and as I mentioned the trigger pull is incredibly fast and short.
Visually impressive due to its length, design and historical accuracy, this is for many the holy grail of DMR’s due to its past both in real steel and in Airsoft.
Construction-wise, it’s brilliant with all the bells and whistles you’d come to expect from ARES, plus a good and reliable performance out of the box that you can easily upgrade.
The granddaddy of DMR’s is a nice package that comes with a high price tag only matching its uniqueness and build quality.
So if you’re looking for an AEG different from the many and want to treat yourself this Christmas, this might just be the gun for you, as Xmas is really only once a year!