N FAL is often regarded as counterpart to the ubiquitous Avtomat Kalashnikova and is often named as “the right arm of freedom.” Jingoism aside, this may very well be true. It was made in the western country (Belgium), it is reliable, widespread used and despite being surpassed by variety of weapons, still used to some degree. License for originally Belgian build FN FAL (Fabrique Nationale FAL) was sold to pretty much all over the western influenced world and can be seen every where, from South America to Africa and Asia. It is also one of the rare (western made) weapons to be used by both sides in conflict during the 80es. Argentines used FN FAL (with full auto capability), British soldiers used SLR (semi auto only). SLR was a companion of British soldiers post WW2 and often seen action from Northern Ireland to Falkand islands.
L1A1 Self Loading Rifle aka SLR is a license build FN FAL with certain changes. A short, but important digression: British SLRs (Australian and Canadian too) were made on machinery, using inch standard and are thus known as “inch build.” Other FALs were manufactured as “metric build,” which means that they are in principle not compatible.
L1A1 SLR has several distinguishing features, which are in our opinion important only for collectors. This changes are mostly insignificant: for instance, magazines in inch build have different floor plate and bigger retention tooth, while metric magazines have smaller retention teeth and floor plate, flush with the body of the magazine. And there is quite a lot of similar details, which would be entirely too tiresome to go into. Look them up; we don’t think that omission of removable trigger guard is very serious transgression in realism department.
There are however some details, which are important. For instance, SLR is semi auto only (truth to be told, Squaddies knew a trick or two to make them full auto). King Arms L1A1 SLR is has also a full auto option, which in my opinion is wise decision. But more on that later.
King Arms L1A1 SLR has a sleek, menacing, all black appearance. A prominent flash hider is one of the most noticeable features. Replica is very long (116 cm) and its plastic parts are replicating the pebble grain texture. Fore grip and stock are plastic, other parts are metal. Fore grip has some play, which is understandable, if we take overall length of the fore grip into consideration. Fore grip has ventilation holes in all the right places. Fore grip uses two piece (halves) design and in places it unglued itself. As always, application of appropriate adhesive saved the day.
Stock is covered by plastic cap, which is slid off. It can take large battery,but its shape – stock gets pretty narrow- may cause problems when batteries with thicker insulation are used.
Number of steel parts is impressive (barrel, trigger guard, sling mounts etc). However, this means that replica is susceptible to rust. Several parts (hand guard bracket, for instance) need special care as they are prone to rusting. I suggest cleaning and lubing with appropriate silicone oil after every skirmish.
Markings are located on the left side of the (die casted) receiver and state that you are looking at RIFLE 7,62mm L1A1. Serial numbers are located on the receiver and cocking bar.
Fire selector is located on the right sight of the receiver. A large fire selector knob is big enough so you can’t missed it even in the heat of the combat. It has two marked settings: S (Safe) and R (full auto). Setting are very pronounced, as fire selector laudably clicks into position. Semi auto is in the third position and is engaged when fire selector is pushed all the way forward.
Carrying handle is extremely handy and folds itself flush to the body. Similarly, cocking handle is also folding; its function is naturally to move the bolt (or more accurately bolt plate) in the rear position to access the HopUp dial.
Front sight is protected by “dog ears;” rear peep sight is flip up type and adjustable by pressing the button on its side. Rear sight is has markings (3-6) in yards.
Sling attachments are in the usual places. Front sling attachment revolves freely around the barrel, rear attachment is located on the end of the butt stock. Both sling attachments are wide apart and I would be careful with the sling. As we already mentioned, replica is fairly long and there is slight body flex present. It is barely noticeable, but it could get worse with sling.
Also, King Arms’ R&D department replicated several features, found on real one: gas regulator can be adjusted and gas piston assembly can be removed. Again, it does nothing as far as primary function is concerned, but it is still neat addition nonetheless.
And now a funny story: our SLR was one of the first manufactured replicas around and it came without manual. Remember our news story about SLR from King Arms being delayed because of SLR, made by KA’s competitor? And that King Arms’ engineers are trying to squeeze in new features? Well, we filled magazine, inserted battery and started shooting. Replica has a nice jolt, Thor21 remarked. Give here, said I. Hopup is bit off, let me adjust it. HopUp is adjusted, but slide won’t move into forward position. Weird, huh? We tried to move it manually, without any success. Ah, a problem- sticky bolt. Ok, let us shoot some more. Than one member of our staff said… wait. This thing has a moving bolt!
Yes, ladies and gentleman, King Arms SLR has blow back function. Bolt is very swift and gives a really nice kick while shooting. Bolt release is sadly not functional, but that would be quite hard to incorporate with moving bolt function.
Magazine release is very stiff and takes some breaking in. Magazine has capacity of 90 BBs and feeds very reliably, even with 9,6 V batteries. All but last three of four BBs are fed into the replica.
HopUp is very effective. It takes very little fiddling with it to adjust trajectory. It is accessible trough ejection port, but sadly, bolt does not stay in the rear position, which only slightly complicates things. After adjustment, trajectory is set and shots are accurately placed. And what trajectory- due to extremely long barrel- it is!
Performances are indeed comparable with upgraded guns. Exit speed with .20g BBs are slightly under 100 m/s, which is expected (with very little variation). Accuracy is above average for stock gun, no doubt due to barrel length and efficient HopUp.
As the platform is quite old, there is definite lack of accessories. SLR was known for excellent optics and SUIT (Sight, Unit, Infantry, Trilux) sights are occasionally offered, but they are relatively rare and pricey.
Now you probably expect a look at the gearbox. Well, there isn’t one. Not because of our laziness, but rather because we will rather look at biggest selling point of this replica – moving bolt.
First off- it doesn’t bother one bit. We haven’t seen any noticeable decline in battery life and construction should not harm the durability of the gearbox. Whole principle is simple and really nothing new in airsoft: V3 gearbox with slit on the top of the gearbox. System is driven by the motion of the piston. Closer look at the system is available below.
As bolt is relatively big (there is lots of space beneath the bolt cover) replica gives considerable jolt. It is not comparable with gas blow back pistol with metal slide, but it is interesting novelty. While this is purely subjective, it helps the overall enjoyment to the game. For instance- lying prone in the ambush, lining up enemy CO and releasing a couple of accurate shots on semi auto… with replica giving feedback, is quite an enjoyable experience. In our opinion, this is true worth of the blow back systems: replica giving feedback that BBs left the barrel.
There is lot of similar blow back systems in the works and we feel that they are not selling point by themselves- they are rather interesting additions to already purchase worth packages. Nobody will buy sub standard replica only because it has a blow back. King Arms’ overall quality and affordable price guarantee that blow back is indeed a valuable and fun feature.
In conclusion – a very nice surprise in well rounded package. At the time, King Arms has competition in the STAR SLR. Although we haven’t reviewed it yet, it should be phenomenal to be better than King Arms’ L1A1. While it has some shortcomings, none are serious enough to detract from purchase. I don’t know what King Arms’ future replicas are – but they are bound to be good.