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Star L86 LSW


Review date: June 10, 2007
Model: L86 LSW
Type: AEG
Manufacturer: Star
Retailer: Evike
Price: $799.99











My History

So, to understand this purchase you have to know how I got involved in Airsoft. I was playing Rainbow Six 3 on my Xbox a few years back, I always used the L85 rifle, any time I switched to a different rifle, I sucked. Anyways, through Rainbow Six I met Shawn Perkins, and realized we lived close. I went over and we hung out for a while and he invited me to go play paintball with him. I really disliked paintball, having played it years before so I told him it wasn't realistic, and it was loaded with cheaters. So, a few days later I get a phone call from him telling me to check out Redwolf Airsoft, instantly we both were hooked. Of course, not knowing anything about it, the military, or rifles in general, I figured I would go with my R6 weapon of choice, and L85 but unfortunately, I found none. So I opted to go with an MP5 and I was introduced to the Airsoft world. Fast forward to now, and Star has released several L85 variants, and me knowing a lot more about airsoft a choice has to be made.

Intro

The L86 LSW is a bull pup design from the SA80 (Small arms for the 80s) designed for the British Armed Forces which include the L85. The L86 LSW is a “Light Support Weapon” which has a longer barrel than the L85 for better muzzle velocity and accuracy for a longer effective range.

From its inception, the real steel LSW has received much criticism for is shoddy reliability, and poor performance with sustain automatic fire. Since then, it has been relieved in support roles by the FN Minimi, and re-designated to a DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle).

Why?

So, being outranged at the last few games, I looked for something that had a longer barrel and could provide me with enough range in outdoor games. I am already set up for CQC, but I saw the L85 AFV, and was impressed, so I began reading more into STAR’s line-up. I instantly took note that the gearbox design for the L85 series was made out of plastic, which concerned me. I owned an off-brand L85 AEG that I had gotten years ago, it was broken when I purchased it, but I found I could use a TM FAMAS gearbox in it (which I never did). But I liked the look of the L85, so I pressed on doing as much research as I could.

After reading and re-reading threads from airsofters in the UK, I saw that there was never any complaint about the gearbox, or anything about them breaking. I did find that many of them had to downgrade the spring to fit within the UK FPS limits. I knew they AEGs were advertised with a close to 400 FPS limit, and they use 350 in the UK. So since my main goal is going to use this on outdoor and open fields, 400 FPS is my max, and thus the desire turned from the L85 AFV to the L86 LSW for its longer barrel and I hope this will account for a longer range.

The Retailer

I went with one retailer that claimed in stock items are shipped within 4 business days, this was not the case, so I ordered a second one from Evike – Next Day Air and I cancelled the first order.

Packaging

I received the AEG on Friday; it was packed in a large brown box from UPS that weighed in at 21 lbs. I opened this box to find a Pelican Style case that Evike included for free. They did this because the Star L85 series AEGs used to come shipped in them, but Star stopped it a few months back. I inquired if it came with one, and they threw one in for free. The Pelican Case is a bitch to close sometimes, but it sure beats my trying to buy one to fit this AEG.

First Impressions

In the case was the AEG, booklet, a mid cap magazine, magazine loader rod. It came packaged with an orange cap secured by an Allen key to an all black flash hider. Upon picking up this rifle you understand there is a lot more to it than your typical AEG, it is full metal, but unlike a Classic Army AEG, this metal is steel, not an alloy. I was wowed by how long this rifle is when compared to my CA M15A4 Carbine. I lined up the magwell of the M15 to the L86 and its barrel is about 10 inches longer.

The bi-pod is loose, it does rattle around quite a bit, but I read that this is also the case on its real life counterpart. There are a few guys over in the UK that have some great ideas on keeping it in place while running, so I'll test them out to see what works best.

The fore grip is where the battery is stored, it takes a mini style 8.4v 1700mAh battery (which I failed to order) but my 9.6v fits with some patience. I do notice I may have other viable battery options, such as a stick battery in the railing in front of the fore grip, or a sling mounted battery.

It also comes with a nifty sight adjustment tool that fits in the hand grip. This can be used to adjust the SUSAT, as well as remove the screw to access the fore grips battery access.

Doh!

So, after finessing the battery in, I grabbed a hi-cap of BB's from one of my other AEGs and headed to the backyard to see how this puppy fired. Unfortunately, the Hi-Cap I had was full of the crappy BB's that came with the JLS SCAR I have, and they got jammed in the Hop-Up. So, I looked high & low for a jam rod, but couldn't find one. I drove to a friend to try and use his, but the barrel was too long to use it properly. So I headed back home to rip apart a $799.99 AEG.

Once I got home, I checked out the diagram of the AEG exploded to see what went where, and what was connected to what. I dismantled the AEG with relative ease, it isn’t as easy as an M4, but it seems easier than an MP5. The gearbox design is different, and plastic. It has a quick change spring, and contains all metal gears. The Hop-up unit is connected to the gearbox, so I had to pull the barrel to remove the BB's.

So I put the AEG back together, went out back and popped a few rounds off. It was dark so I couldn't see where they went, but I did hear them bouncing off the back fence with a nice whack. Satisfied, I put the AEG away and waiting till morning so I could use it at Gator.

Double Doh!

So, while at Gator, the first thing I did was show it off – then I went to find a chrono. Unfortunately, Gator no longer uses the red chronos, instead they use some hand held chrono which doesn't seem to work for airsoft. I then move onto a field to take a few shots and see if anything needs adjusting. Well, my first few shots fall short, very short, so I open the ejection port and adjust the hop-up. I give it 2 turns and shoot again but nothing changes. I crank it all the way and still no change, disappointed I head out to the field in hopes of shooting someone with it.

I leave the game without firing a single shot at the enemy, and head back to the staging area. After thinking about things for a bit, I figure that I did something wrong. Did I line up the barrel right, the C clip looked like it wasn't fitting all the way, and maybe I screwed something up. So I head home and strip the rifle again.

Once I get it back down to the same point I had it to the previous night, I look into the hop-up and adjust it. There is no rubber inside to apply pressure to the bucking and backspin to the BB. That's where my problem is. I head out to the garage to strip another rifle to use the rubber; I put everything back together and am ready to go!

Second Impressions

Now, this is something I like. Once everything is back together I head to the back yard and test it out. The BB’s travel fast and at a nice distance. I finally get the chance to chrono this at Viper and it shoots at 330fps. At first I was a bit disappointed, the guys in the UK had to have them all downgraded, and I was hoping for something close to 400fps, but being below the 350 mark meant I could use it at Viper.

While sitting in the staging area at Viper I saw someone else with an L86, I called him over, we chatted a bit and he was selling his so T-2 picked it up from him at a very nice price. He chrono tested it and it was shooting in the low 200s. We picked up a 120% spring, I changed it out for him in about 5 minutes and we tested it again – 330fps just like mine. Changing the spring is a breeze; you remove the 2 screws on the butt stock pad, remove two screws holding a plate, as well as a recessed Allen screw holding in a spring and a pin to lock a body pin. With all these removed, you pull the plate and see the spring access, turn the knob, the spring releases, and stick a new one in. It is faster than the M249 spring change.

So, T-2 & I head out on the field, we get into some action and the rate of fire on these things are nice. We are nailing people at a nice range, and quickly running out of BB's. It uses M4 style magazines, but the box mag I had would not fit. The mag well is a bit deeper than an M4 so it seems I need to run with some Hi-caps for support gunning.

Overall, I was amazed at how well this AEG was performing. I had the range I was seeking, a nice ROF, and something unique (well to a point, T-2 did get one). Also, while I was initially concerned the FPS would put me in the same range as my M15, I stood corrected.

Final Observations

I found out after Viper about a nifty feature. Tony & I were talking about the AEG, I told him I went ahead and ordered the AFV, and he tells me they have a spring release. Turns out, if you move the selector completely down, past full auto, it disengages the spring to prevent wearing it out.

I got my SUSAT in today (had to order it separately), and it really adds to the rifles presence. It is a nice addition to any rifle in the L85 line, and is a 4x optic. Overall I am impressed with the rifle. It is a nice heavy gauge stamped steel, the gearbox has a nice sound to it, the nylon fiber parts of the rifle are nice, and using M4 style mags helps out quite a bit, and even the Warhead Uzi Mag conversion fits nicely. I was so impressed in the short time I have had this rifle that I went ahead and ordered the L85 AFV for CQB scenarios.

On a side note, never use crappy BB's in an AEG unless you know how to take it apart and fix it.

 

Review by: FA-Philip

 


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© Copyright 2004 by Lance Eppley & Joey Araniego