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Comprehensive Ares AW .338 spring version (MSR-006/7/8) review.

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I intend for this to be a timeline of my upgrade tree. This rifle is far too beautiful to give up on - there have been (and still are) toothing pains, which will be covered in time.


From the title you know this is the Ares manufactured AW .338LM rifle, as designed by Accuracy International. The real rifle is the current LLR - Long Range Rifle - of the British Army and long range it is indeed, holding the longest recorded kill record for a number of years, 2 Taliban gunners were shot by Craig Harrison of the Household Cavalry at over 2475m, one after the other.

He then disabled the PKM machine gun they'd been operating. No other rifle has performed this well in theatre and all previous and subsequent longest kill records were carried out on only 1 target.


This thing is beastly as fuck in real life and the airsoft version is similarly impressive to behold.


There are two versions of the airsoft one, I have the full version, but there is also a sports-line version. There is also a gas version by Ares and another by Well, but having had bad prior experiences with gas snipers, I've been waiting on getting a .338 springer for some time.


The full version has a fluted barrel and the badass .338 muzzle break, as well as a monopod and integral 11mm top rail. The scope mount for this 11mm rail is supplied with the gun, so you can still stick any scopes you might already have onto it.


The Sports-line version lacks the fluted barrel and muzzle break and more closely resembles an L96 with a .338 size bolt and magazine, it also comes with an integral 20mm Picatinny style top rail, as opposed to the more authentically, accurate to real life 11mm rail of the full version, nor does it come with the scope mounting rings.


Supplied with the full version is one magazine, a bipod and the aforementioned scope mount. I won't talk about the Sports-line as I have no experience with it.


The price I paid for the full version was £300 from JDAirsoft, paying £25 each for two spare magazines, also from JD and since JD only stock the black version, I also got an OD body kit for it for £35 - it takes the same body kit as the gas version.


I also bought the scope intended for the VFC/ASG Ashbury .338 from Wolfarmouries, for about £95.


So considering the amount I've spent on it before even seeing it, my experiences so far have been somewhat underwhelming...


The rifle features realistic magazine placement, a folding stock allowing you to knock the length down to around 1m for easier transportation, it also has an adjustable monopod, cheek piece and buttstock (sort of)... You can remove some of the padding from the buttstock, but the screws that hold the pads in place, don't actually screw in any further than they're already screwed in


It comes shooting at EXACTLY 400fps measured with .20g Blaster BBs +/- 5fps (rather amusingly the rifle has a sticker on it quoting the max power as 1.5 joules... 400fps with a .20 works out at around 1.49J lol) I had one rogue shot chrono at 358 but I think it hit the inside of the chrono, so aside from that anomalie the fps has a variation of about 10fps, which I think is pretty good.


My initial thoughts on opening the box were "Wow" to put it bluntly, this thing is spectacular, with aftermarket scope and magazine inserted it weighs in around 6.5/7kg and it's around 4 feet long, most of the weight being in the barrel. It is heavy and hard to handle, smaller users be aware of this.


Accuracy is about the same as a standard AEG and the range is around 45m - you're going to need upgrades. It appears to be fully VSR compatible, it definitely uses a VSR hop bucking - I'll confirm the rest of the parts once I get a chance to show it to Daz from ASPUK.


My experiences with it so far:


Bad, in short.


In long - Sure it looks pretty, but the feeding mechanism design is atrocious. If I'd foreseen the issues I've had with it, then I'd have probably bought the Maruzen L96, done my best to make it look like a .338 and then just dealt with the fact that the ejection port would've never been the right length... Yes, I am that anal about weapon details, that's why I had to get a sniper with the mag in the right place!


The feeding mechanism is very temperamental and the rear section of the bolt assembly (the classic L96 series boxy section) has a tendency to come loose.


So far I have discovered that the feeding mech works in a peculiar way... Because the magazine placement is realistic, instead of feeding the BBs directly upwards into the hop unit, they feed them forwards into a tube. This tube is exactly 25 bbs long and as the mag pushes more BBs into it, the first one gets pushed into the hop unit- theoretically!


What actually happens, is that the space between the mag and the feeding tube is just large enough for two bbs to get jammed, which stops the mag spring from being able to push the bb stack from the tube, meaning that the feeding mechanism simply doesn't work. The only way I've found to load bbs into the chambre so far, is by angling the barrel downwards by about 30 degrees as I charge the bolt. Which as you can probably tell, is highly irritating and inconvenient.


The mags also have a tendency to spray all the bbs out everywhere because the stopper comes in the form of a gigantic button on the outside edge of the mag, so even putting the mag down wrong can result in ammo going everywhere. Heavy sniper ammo is expensive and these mags hold 70 shots, so that's like seeing a shower of 5ps flying away from you or something.


The feeding tube section is also the only internal component which is plastic in construction and since the magazines have a habit of falling out unless you slap them incredibly hard, I've already managed to break crucial section of it. I've been able to fix it by cutting up an old credit card and using it in place of the section that snapped off, but it's a pisser all the same.


The bolt loosening itself is an easy fix once you know how to solve it. I was trying to figure out how for over an hour last night.

Turns out you can unscrew the pin in the back of it which shows whether the rifle is cocked, by hand. Revealing an allen head screw, simply tighten this and the problem is solved.


So that's it for my preliminary findings.


I'll work on the feeding issues and find out what the parts are compatible with, as well as getting some photos of the internals added next time I have it in pieces.


So stay tuned for updates.


Cheers folks.




Just adding some photos of the externals, just so those who aren't so gun savvy have an idea what I've been rambling about:





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Literally the first thing my eye's saw was my name and i was like why is my name in their read it and said to myself doh!

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Shame about the issues, but it does look brilliant from the outside, looking forward to seeing how you get on with it

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Ok so here's a take down guide with loadsa pictures.


...This might actually be the most photo heavy post there's ever been on the forums.


Anyway, you'll want to start off by taking the scope and its mounting bracket off, just makes it that bit easier to manoeuvre:




Then you flip the rifle over and undo the two screws on the bottom, allowing you to separate the barrel, bolt and trigger assembly from the stock:

The two screws are here:



Note that the longer one goes by the trigger:



Once they're out you can lift the barrel up and separate the two parts of the rifle:



So now you're sat with this in front of you:



Next you want to loosen the two screws on the right hand side, you don't need to fully remove them, they just clamp the barrel inside the receiver - if you can call it that on a sniper:



Then, before you pull the barrel out, to prevent any damage coming to the fragile feeding tube, you might want to unfasten it and remove it before sliding the barrel free:


Undo these two screws here:



Then lift the feeding tube out - be sure to empty it of BBs first, I forgot... it holds 25 and they bounced around all over my dining room... Cat went mental.



Now the barrel will slide free of the receiver:



Next, we remove the trigger mechanism in order to get at the bolt assembly, to take the trigger out, remove these four screws:



Then just pull it free - be aware that the parts on the sides can fall off, so you might want to take note of how they're placed in case they do:



Once the trigger is free, you can just slide the bolt assembly out - there is a plastic O-ring that sits around the cylinder at the front end, it holds the barrel in the right place, so don't lose it!



So now you'll have an assortment of bits in front of you, which after some organisation, ought to look something like this:



So that ought to help if anyone's wanting to carry out any work on it at all.


In addition to the take down, I've also taken some better photos of the bolt components and measured them with a tape measure... Not spectacularly accurate, but hopefully it'll help you all direct me to which parts will and won't fit...


Here's the cylinder head:



I'm not sure it comes out in the photos, but it sort of has a conical shape on the inside, I assume that's a staple thing with snipers, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.


Here's the piston:


It feels quite flimsy, it's a very light plastic, has a degree of flex in it. The piston head doesn't seem to be removable either. Is that normal in snipers?


Spring guide - same plastic as the piston:



And one of the whole bolt assembly:


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Lastly, I thought I might as well take the time out to explain how the feeding mechanism works, since from what I can tell it's a new system. Hopefully they'll bring out an upgrade feeding tube, because I've had nothing but issues with it so far.


Here's the feed tube, looking at it from the end where it meets the magazine:


The little catch on the top of the hole is under spring tension, which causes it to push down and obstruct the hole a bit like a guillotine.

This is because the tube holds BBs inside it, to prevent you dropping 25 every time you remove the magazine.


When you insert the magazine it has a sort of corresponding catch, which doubles as the BB blocker:


Works exactly the same as the catch on the feeding tube.


When you insert the mag into the gun, they sit together like this - just without the spaces in between obviously:



The catch on the feeding tube latches into the corresponding part of the magazine which pushes the latch upwards, opening the hole from the photo above, like this:


Allowing BBs to freely pass through the mag, into the tube and be held under constant spring tension from the magazine.


However, this is where the problem arises. The magazine isn't held in the gun in the right place for the feeding mechanism to actually work. The magazine sits slightly too high, so the hole the BBs are coming from in the magazine, eclipses the hole in the feeding tube, making the gap too small for BBs to fit through.


So the only way to get the gun to feed, is to pull the bolt to the rear, tap the magazine to briefly knock the two holes in line enough for one BB to slip through and push the rest one BB along, to get one in the chambre. Then push the bolt back forwards and fire the shot.


If you don't do this then the gun never chambres a round, unless you pointing it down at an angle of 30 degrees or more, because the BBs in the feed tube just push the furthest shot forward into the hop unit because of gravity. You can actually forego using the magazine at all and use this method to load shots more generally. But it does making shooting from a prone position impossible.


In short, the feeding mechanism has rendered the gun almost unusable. But I will perceiver! Just need to find a way to make the mag sit in the right place, either by modding the feeding tube, or altering the magazine seating position...

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Just skim-read it as it's late and I really can't be bothered now, I'll read it properly tomorrow. Looks good though.


I solved the problem with the rear of the bolt assembly coming loose on mine by putting a small bit of toilet roll in the bottom of the screw hole, which then means the screw stays tighter. Not sure if it'll work on yours, as it's more realistic, and it probably won't work if you have a "cocked indicator" as there'll be hole all the way through there and into the cylinder itself.

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Nah, there's no hole all the way through, part of the trigger mech sticks into the cylinder around the spring guide and the cocked indicator has something to do with that but they're not intrinsically linked. If you pull the trigger really slow, it's possible to drop the cocked indicator down without the gun actually firing.


I can unscrew the indication piece by hand, then underneath it, there's an allen screw that tightens it all up. Took me ages to find it because the allen screw sits underneath the threads for the indication piece, so when you're looking into the hole it just looks like a nut that the indication piece screws into.

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Just finished reading it properly now, pretty good review, well written as expected :). Shame about the feeding mechanism, it's the exact reason I didn't get one with realistic magazine placement, and I got the Well/Warrior over the Maruzen because it was cheaper and I've changed pretty much everything anyway..


The stock and bolt housing look much better quality than mine does, but I intend on replacing those two when I get round to it anyway. The rest looks on par, as I've replaced everything with PDI parts :P.


If When you get the feeding mechanism sorted and get it fully upgraded, keep us updated on how it's doing, will be nice to see.


Regarding the piston head, no it doesn't come off the stock piston. But with my LayLax piston, you need the accuracy cup head that pushes on the end of it. Otherwise you end up with a nice bit of metal sticking out the end where it clips on, and you have metal hitting straight onto metal when it hits the cylinder head.


And, when you upgrade the power, get a spring that is more powerful than you want, then cut and file it down. I got an sp170, giving 590-600 FPS, then cut it down to give me 495-500 FPS. This makes the spring last longer (as it's not being compressed as much, in comparison to full length and compressed length, if that makes sense), and it makes the gun much quieter because the spring is shorter so the piston isn't slamming into the cylinder head as strongly as having a full length spring.


If you go to the NAE 2013, make sure to bring it, I should be there, just waiting for work to make sure I've got it booked off (asked 5 weeks ago now!!).

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The spring cutting is a good call, I remember reading about that.


The cylinder head is conical on the inside though, so I'm not sure the piston head thing you were talking about would smash into it? I've had a responce from ASPUK about the compatibility - going off basic photos he said:


"Righto, looking at the photos and off the top of my head measurements....


Looks like it takes:


VSR Piston Sear

VSR Trigger Sear (need to confirm length to see if its the same as VSR or the longer version in TM L96 AWS)

Cylinder Head


Spring Guide

Set Pin - although located in a different place.

Springs 7mm (9mm outer diameter)


Cylinder looks a possibility but might need to double check the end piece of the cocking lever actually fits on properly.


I don't think other after market VSR triggers will fit because of the set pin (spring guide stopper) and trigger stop location.


What does the hop look like? Could it take DangerWerx hop levers?


The trigger casing is not unfamiliar, the HFC VSR uses similiar design."


So once I've been paid I'll look at improving it.


Plus, in responce to what he said, the hop lever looks exactly the same as the stock VSR ones and it's metal.


And of course I'll keep this up to date as I add upgrades!

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Wow i Feel like one of you guy's reading my Post's, After reading that i actually feel Mentally Confused for once...


Edit: I also Keep opening this Thread seeing Craig and going Yes he's mentioned me then going oh dam you...

Edited by CraigW-H

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Haha yeah, it's in French or something isn't it? I opened it on my phone and then forgot to reply once I got back on the laptop.


I'm just going to wait for me and Darren from ASPUK to cross paths to confirm the compatibility once and for all. For the time being I'm thinking of just getting a tightbore, new hop and heavier spring and just going until something gives out.


Unless it's still shit. Which I'm guessing it probably will be lol.

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I'm still so dissapointed at how useless the ashbury is. I love the look but it won't even take some vsr parts like the cylinder, I don't really want to have to buy a whole new set of upgrades for an already ridiculously priced rifle :/


These .338's are very tempting also so I'm glued to this thread to see how yours goes.

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Don't say that, it makes me feel like I need to rush to give you some results lol.


It might be weeks before I can meet Darren at a Skirmish.


I still need to take the trigger mech to bits to show him the sears. Since the trigger mech can't be replaced, he needs to see the inside to see if the existing one can be internally upgraded.

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Ed, you likely to go to Darren's local site, he go to yours or meeting at a site half way between kinda thing?

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He has been to mine a few times in the past, he said he'd come up again at some point in late Feb/March, so I'm just waiting to hear from him about an exact date and then I'll plan my trip to coincide with his.

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He has been to mine a few times in the past, he said he'd come up again at some point in late Feb/March, so I'm just waiting to hear from him about an exact date and then I'll plan my trip to coincide with his.



Shame, was hoping to be able to shoot you..

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I'm sure it'll happen one day lol.

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Created an account on this website just to say how thankful I am to see an excellent review of this (have been looking everywhere over the past days), as well as how eager I am to learn what parts can be used to upgrade it. I recently purchased this gun myself (should be getting it this Tuesday) because I loved the externals and wanted something unique that most people wouldn't want to fool with. I look forward to seeing what happens in the future, and thanks again for what you've posted so far Ed, it's been very helpful!



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Cheers Valdorian, there ought to be some updates on this thread within a month or so, just need to fix my L85, buy an L86 to pay back my brother and then get around to buying the upgrades!


It's student loan day in about a fortnight, and pay day in around a week, so it's all highly feasible. :P


Oh and Marcus, I didn't see this post until just now:

This also may be of interest- realistic colour too.


I've looked into it but it's for 1J springs only... even though the stock spring is 1.5J so I'm not sure who exactly is going to want it... Especially when it's $135.

But yeah, I do want a black cylinder. I wonder who ever thought silver ones were a good idea...

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Great review. I bought this gun a few months ago and share your frustration on the lack of upgrades available for it...and that bloody cocking indicator removal set up. Took me hours of sitting there staring at the back of the bolt before I just twisted it off and went WTF!!!!


I have purchased the Raven PDI cylinder set for it. Its really really nice. The guys at PDI did confirm that VSR pistons will work with the gun in their Raven set. I will say though that if you want o run it hotter than 400 fps be ready o replace even the raven piston. It's plastic and cannot take holding a 500fps spring back. Just food for thought.


PDI also informed me that they were/are/might/would be releasing a new trigger group for the ares. Let's hope so.


Look forward to sharing/exchanging/reading about what you find out about parts compatibility.



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As far as I know, it takes VSR pistons, springs, spring guides, cylinder heads and sears. I'm currently buying all those parts second hand for about £45 to keep the costs down, in case any of them don't fit... So I'll update this once I've received the parts and tested them.

The trigger mech is the same as the one used in the HFC VSR10, meaning as you say, there are no Zerotriggers or trigger box upgrades as of yet, but upgrading the sears ought to be possible. The barrel from what I've seen is an L96 cut, the hop rubber is a VSR type, as is the hop arm, though I imagine the unit itself is proprietary, I've never had a spring sniper prior to this one, so I don't know if the hop unit as a whole is from a VSR or not.


I just hope they either bring out a better feeding mech uprade kit, or at least sell the current ones are a purchasable spare part, 'cos mine's shit and is basically rendering the gun unusable.


As for the Raven PDI piston though, it does say on their website that it's only intended for 1J springs. I can't understand why anyone would want one, maybe aside from getting a black cylinder... Price is silly high just for that though.


Where'd you buy it from? I've not actually found one anywhere.

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