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King Arms British L1A1 SLR

King Arms British L1A1 SLR

It's finally a reality. The King Arms British L1A1 SLR (Self Loading Rifle) was announced last year and has been a topic of discussion among British airsofters.  There are some high expectations on this rifle as the quality of the King Arms FN Fusil Automatique Léger (Light Automatic Rifle) or FAL replicas were praised in terms of accuracy and performance. Since the L1A1 SLR is based on the Belgian FN FAL, it's no wonder that King Arms started to work on the British L1A1 SLR after a year of the FN FAL AEG release.

Its History According to Wikipedia

The United Kingdom developed its own variant of the FAL in 1957 as the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (SLR). It was manufactured upon tooling using Imperial measurements and ultimately included many minor changes, considered improvements by the UK. These changes included a folding cocking handle; an enclosed prong-shaped flash suppressor patterned after the US T48 FAL; a folding rear sight; sand-clearing modifications in the body, breech block, breech-block carrier, and gas regulator; an integral "fold-away" trigger guard with modified pistol grip for winter use; a strengthened butt-stock attachment; enlarged fire selector; enlarged and ambidextrous magazine release; a strengthened magazine catch and magazine; modified take-down release lever to prevent unintended activation; and top-cover retainer tabs to prevent forward movement. Late production L1A1 rifles were equipped with synthetic furniture, including handguards, pistol grip, carrying handle and buttstock. This synthetic furniture was produced from "Maranyl" plastic, a Nylon-66 and glass fibre composite. The synthetic L1A1 furniture is noted for its anti-slip texture, termed "Pebblegrain". The synthetic buttstock included the unique feature of a replaceable butt-pad, available in several different sizes to accommodate an individual shooter's "length of pull". The majority of these modifications were also reflected in Canadian (C1 and C2 Rifle), Australian (L1A1, L2A1 AR or Automatic Rifle), and to a lesser extent, Indian (1A-SL) production. The UK L1A1 FAL was produced as a semi-automatic only rifle, in contrast to the original Belgian version which was selective fire. It was known for some individual soldiers to interfere with their rifle's mechanism to enable automatic fire; however, this was contrary to regulations and would be punished if discovered. 30-round magazines from the 7.62 mm L4 light machine gun were used occasionally and unofficially on the UK L1A1; however, being designed for gravity assisted downward feeding, they were not reliable on the SLR. The L1A1 was replaced in the mid 1980s by the 5.56 mm Enfield L85A1.


Due to the significant departure of features from the original Belgian FAL rifle, full interchangeability of components between the original Belgian pattern FAL and the L1A1 pattern FAL was not possible, although complete sub-assemblies of the L1A1 pattern rifles are generally interchangeable with assemblies from most other Belgian pattern FAL rifles. Many individual components are also interchangeable, however a significant proportion are not. It should be noted that although the UK L1A1 and its Australian and Canadian counterparts were produced upon machine tools utilizing imperial (English or "inch") measurement systems, they are actually of the same basic dimension as the original Belgian FN FAL rifle. Incompatibility between the original Belgian FAL and the L1A1 are due to feature pattern differences, and not due to different dimensions as [incorrectly] implied by the differing measurement systems. Confusion over this subject has given rise to the common terminology of "metric" or "inch" FAL rifles, presumably originated to reference the machine tools that produced them, when in fact virtually all FAL rifles are of the same basic dimensions - true to the original Belgian FAL design. Popularly, the use of the term "metric" FAL refers to a FAL rifle with original Belgian FN pattern features, and the use of the term "inch" FAL refers to a FAL rifle produced with the modified Australian, Canadian, UK, or "Commonwealth" L1A1 pattern.

The UK L1A1 FAL rifle was manufactured by three makers: The Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield (Enfield); Birmingham Small Arms (BSA); and the Royal Ordnance Factory, Fazakerley (Fazakerley). Replacement components were also made by Parker Hale Ltd.

Later production UK L1A1 FAL rifles are noted for the availability of unique optional sights. The first of the optional sights included a folding dual-aperture day/night sight, commonly known as the "Hythe Sight". The Hythe sight was developed for close range, dusk and night use and incorporated two overlapping rear sight aperture leaves, and a permanently glowing (until radioactively decayed) tritium inserts in the front sight post for improved night visibility. Also noteworthy was a unique scope designed specifically for the L1A1 rifle. The scope, identified as the L2A1 "Sight Unit, Infantry, Trilux" (SUIT) is a fixed-focus 4X magnification scope with an unusual prismatic offset, a unique inverted tapered tritium illuminated sight post reticule, and an integral bullet-drop compensation via a two-position mechanical cam. The offset prismatic design reduced overall length for improved clearance around the L1A1 action, reduced parallax errors and significantly reduced the effects of heat mirage from a hot rifle barrel. The inverted sight post allowed a very rapid target re-acquisition due to the fact that recoil typically raises the rifle barrel, leaving a clear sight picture under the inverted pointer, which combined with the pointer's thick taper promoted the quick target re-acquisition. Although relatively heavy, the SUIT scope was also noted for its durability, due to the very robust construction. It is also noteworthy that the during the Cold-War, the UK SUIT scope was copied virtually verbatim by the Soviet Union and designated as the 1P29 telescopic sight. Both the Hythe and SUIT sight options were commonly found on production UK L1A1 FAL rifles.

Since the adoption of the newer SA80 (A1 & A2) rifle, the existing stock of L1A1 rifles has been disposed of. Many former UK rifles were sent to Sierra Leone; however, most were simply destroyed.

Almost Faithful

The King Arms L1A1 replica departs from the real design of the British L1A1 SLR by maintaining the full-auto feature as seen in their FN FAL AEGs.  Otherwise, the King Arms is faithful to the other parts of the L1A1 SLR. Purists may be disappointed with this feature, but they can always use this rifle in semi mode, to put it simply.

Out of The Box


King Arms sent in the review sample to us, and this item arrived in a sturdy box which is just long. Well, with the length of the L1A1 SLR at  107cm (3.51 Feet/42.13 inches), it's no wonder that this is one of the longer AEG packaging out there in the market.  Opening it up, you'll find the rifle in a Styrofoam case, its muzzle with an orange muzzle cap, and a 90-round magazine included. Simple packaging you tell us.

Taking it out of the box, we expected this to be heavy, but we were surprised that it's actually light, for a weight of 3.10 kilograms, even people of lighter build can easily carry this rifle. This is actually lighter than the real thing, which the FN FAL variants weigh from 4.0 to 4.5 kilograms. Main material used here are aluminium and nylon fibre, there are many steel parts in the rifle which actually provide a good look and texture. It doesn't come with a FAL multi stock tool that usually comes along with the real one.

The metal receiver is built nicely which you could see how faithful King Arms was to the real thing, with the exception of the full-auto feature.  The metal cocking slide has a folding handle, markings and shows a unique serial number, while the fire selector switch is very stable and adjusts properly into the different switch positions. 

Furthermore on the receiver, you can find the upper and lower receiver latch that you pull back when opening the receiver.  On top of the receiver there is the familiar carry handle which swivels to the right side of the rifle when in a firing position. Unlike the M16 carry handle, this one just serves as a carry handle while the M16 also contains a rear sight.

Now, the additional feature that King Arms bravely went into is adding a blow back feature with the Bolt Carrier Operating Mechanism to simulate a blowback action. While this is an improvement, it does not provide some recoil as seen in other airsoft replicas that have the blowback feature. We fired the rifle to see how the the blowback acts and if it creates some force to give any semblance of a recoil. Just some vibration is created but not really simulating an actual recoil. However, we find the blowback feature really neat and the spring used for the blowback very sturdy.

If you pull the metal cocking slide, you open the Bolt Carrier Operating Mechanism and the shell ejection port exposes the hop-up area. The orientation of the hop-up knob is cylindrical rather than as a flat dial commonly seen in other AEGs. Now, going to the rear “inch” and front sights, these are made of steel and can be adjusted accordingly. The handguard is plastic just like the real one. The flashhider is an exact copy of the original which also features the bayonet lug.

The butt stock has a sandblast look which is also seen in the pistol grip and handguard and large enough to accommodate a large battery up to 12volts.  You can open the battery compartment by removing the large screw at the butt area and find a large battery connector. If you intend to use a smaller battery, find a tamiya connector that allows a large to small connection.

No wobbles, no creaks, King Arms came out with a great-looking rifle that is sure to compliment your Falklands War loadout.  The blowback feature works nicely and but we noticed there is an air leak as the AEG fires at 220fps rather than the specification of 320fps as indicated by King Arms. We were not able to fully test its accuracy and range, but being a long-barreled rifle, we assume that it has a pretty decent range that can rival other long AEGs.

Takedown Steps

We are not actually used to taking down FN FAL and L1A1 AEGs, as we're more used to AK, M4/M16, and HK variants that we just went on unscrewing some parts in order to take down the rifle. The takedown sequence can be much more efficient than what we went through.  Please follow the usual precautionary steps of ensuring that the power has been disconnected, battery removed, and there are no bbs left before proceeding to take down the rifle.

1. Slide off the rear sight to the left side and pull back the latch to unlock the upper receiver from the lower receiver.

2. Slide off the upper receiver cover to expose the blowback mechanism.

3. Remove the buttstock by removing the screws in the stock area and forward area where the stock meets the lower receiver.

4. Detach the bolt carrier operating mechanism and remove the dustcover by sliding the tube inside the spring towards the front.

5. Unscrew the pistol grip at the bottom and slide it off.

6. Remove the fire selector switch by unscrewing the large negative screw on the right side of the receiver then pull out the switch.

7.  Remove the the large hinge screw located on the left side of the receiver and tilt the front end from the receiver and slide out the gearbox.

8. Remove the wire guide on the gearbox, disconnect the motor and remove it together with the motor housing.

The L1A1 Gearbox is Version 3 and upon opening it up we found the following:

  • The piston is vented polycarbonate black
  • The gears have no markings but are very well made
  • Plastic tappet plate
  • Plastic spring guide
  • Plastic Cylinder
  • Metal anti-reverse latch
  • Metal sector gear with plastic sector chip
  • Plastic Hop-up unit
  • Adequately greased – not too much, not too less
  • 7mm bearings


Some Fixing

As we previously mentioned, we noticed that there is an aweful air leak when we did some test firing and chrono. Since this is a sample unit which was sent ahead to us before the first batches are sent out by King Arms to retailers worldwide, we are not surprised that there will be some problems and surely King Arms must have put a quality control on all units to be shipped out to waiting airsoft players.  With this in mind, and if you might encounter the same some airleak issues, you might want to follow this fix.

We found out that the gearbox does not fully fit into the hop-up unit and also there's an air leak in the nozzle.  We discovered that the hop-up unit of the Jing Gong SIG-552 is compatible and therefore replaced the King Arms version with it. Then we placed a rubber padding at the rear of the gearbox to push the gearbox and properly fit into the hop-up unit.

We tested our fix to the air leak problem and the AEG showed velocities of 320 to 330fps averaging at 328fps which is higher than what King Arms indicated and just right for UK use. The AEG fired smoothly with an impressive ROF, and the blowback mechanism works without affecting the power of the rifle.

Conclusion

The King Arms L1A1 SLR, while still based on their FN FAL AEGs, is still a remarkable AEG. The company has followed the path of other AEG manufacturers such as Tokyo Marui and not hesitating to put the blowback feature  to release the British L1A1 SLR AEG. Though Star Airsoft Accessories (STAR) already has an L1A1 SLR in the market ahead of King Arms and maintaining the semi-auto feature, the King Arms version has a nicely built AEG, costs a little bit less than the Star version, and with the blowback feature that many airsoft players are looking forward to nowadays. 

While some might be disappointed that King Arms maintained the full-auto feature as found in their FN FAL replicas, we do not think of this as a setback. The air leak issue can be easily resolved and we are confident that King Arms have already solved this problem after they sent the sample to us. All in all another AEG from King Arms that gives you the most bang for the buck.

 





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