Academy SA-80 L85-a1 (ACX-L85) written by DolphiNCommand - Friday, December 21, 2001

Academy SA-80 L85-a1 The Academy SA-80 L85-a1 ( £170 from Zero-One Airsoft Telephone 01202 521629 ) is the only readily avalible AEG version of the SA80 still in production today. There are other custom versions, but they can cost up to 4 times the price of the Academy one.

However, many people have said that the ACX L85 is not a very good piece of equipment, I think these people may be missing the point slightly, as its just so cheap!

Performance So, how does the rifle look? Well straight out of the box, it looks really quite nice, it's the right shape, it's the right colour, the foregrips are even the right shape. Everything looks prim and proper - if a little plasticy. But hey, the real-steel L85a1 is a bit plasticy too - can't fault it there.

Even the cocking lever works, and flicks down the dust cover in the process, just like the real-steel! The magazines are unfortunately plastic though. The gearbox design is the same as the TM FA-MAS, so at least the RoF (rate of fire) is nice and high. especially if you slap a 8.4v battery in!

Shooting The first thing that is apparent on shooting the ACX L85 is the fact that the rifle comes without a fitted hopup unit. This results in BB's having a maxiumum range of only 20 metres! This is good enough for close combat, but you wouldn't want to take this on a Skirmish! You might want to take it on an indoor game (CQB or FIBUA), but you would get pounded in a woodland setting!

Gubbins The replica itself is not the only thing you get for your £170 in fact you are actually buying an entire pack. The pack contains, in addition to the rifle, a 7.2v battery (worth about £20), 2 hicap magazines (worth about £40), a charger (worth about £5) a pair of shooting glasses (worth about £5) and some Academy BB's in a storage box (worth about £5) and the whole 'shebang' comes replete in its own carry case (worth about £10), a reddot sight (more of this later) (worth about £5). In total these extras are worth about £80 so in actual fact you get the rifle for a mere £90 (90UKP)!! repeat... NINETY POUNDS.

SUSAT The rifle even comes with a fake SUSAT sight, now the real SUSAT sight is a 4x fixed magnification site with a radiocative element (it glows) for precise aiming, which has contributed to the real-steel L85-A1's well known accuracy. Now ACX couldn't run to a couple of grams of Uranium for each AEG (shame..) but they were able to install a reddot sight.

The reddot is an LED type with a simple on-off button. The dot itself is about 10 MOA, (quite big) but is excellent fun, and a very nice extra!

Conclusion Well, the ACX L85-a1 is not a skirmish replica! You could try, but you would be blown out of sight (very quickly) - unless your enemies are at close range, e.g. an indoor skirmish! Apart from that it is the easiest way to get hold of an Airsoft Electric L85a1. Especially if you want to look like the British Army! Its also absolutely fine for back yard plinking, after all, it hasn't got HOP so its going to be accurate!!

Upping the Anté
Now apparently, and I'm sure someone out there will correct me, but in the past Academy AEG's did not have a gearbox! They had all the bits inside the gearbox. but none of the parts that held it all together. In fact it is said that the gears and piston were mounted directly to the chassis of the gun, making upgrades nigh on impossible!

So what's changed? Well this version of the ACX SA80 L85a1 definately has a gearbox you can see (by racking the cocking bolt backwards to reveal it, in fact). The replica even comes with a gearbox dissassembly manual for upgrade purposes, written (would you believe it) in Korean, naturally, and English!

Neil at Zero-One assures me that FA-MAS Upgrade parts will fit directly into the gearbox, so you can up the anté and swiftly improve the rifle to a skirmish capable rifle. To solve the lack of hop up, a FA-MAS hop up unit can be installed fairly easily! Of course a new spring and piston can be installed as well. This will drop your RoF (Rate of fire) due to the 7.2Volt battery being 'weaker' then a normal 8.4Volt.

To increase the rate of fire to even more insane levels, a 8.4 V battery *can* be fitted to the ACX-L85, as the hand grip has just enough space for it, However, The fusebox has to be removed for this to work!

With all this work done on the ACX rifle you can get it up to a reasonable standard, and have a great time at skirmishes. After all, there aren't many people out there who own this Airsoft rifle, and you will certainly look unique. Most people also think ACX rifles are a pile of pants.. Perhaps you will be able to show them that with just a little bit of tender loving care and attention. and a couple of "A-team" style tweaks and additions, you too, can have a SA-80 that works! (unlike the real life British Forces..)

Availability A quick note, Airsoft versions of the SA80, in spring and ACX-electric have been fairly hard to come by in the last year or so. This has been attributed to several different things, mainly the Korean Airsoft scene buying them up, and the fact that ACX stopped production for a while.

However, there is another reason.. the St. James Borderer Grenadiers at, British Army, based in California!!! Yep, thats right, in sunny California.

The grenadiers are a dedicated team of US Mil-simers, who, to be slightly different to everyone else in America, decided to form a unit, based on the British Army, the fact that DPM is hard to get hold of in the US, and the fact that it looks oh so much better then US BDU, was also a factor!!

Of course getting hold of the British Army Rifle, in Airsoft form, left them with a little bit of a problem at first, because they could only get springers. Well it wasn't that much of a problem as it seems they bought up every single ACX L85a1 SA80 they could. This caused a world wide "Lean green, fall apart machine" shortage. =D

The 1st Kings regiment were last sighted conducting operations with NATO forces in Southern California, during Operation Savage Garden III.

So blame them, if you've been after an AEG L85-a1 for the last year and havent been able to buy one!

More info: As this is still a bit of a rare replica, I've scrapped around the 'net for a lot of resources. heres a few of them.

Red Storm Rising is a superlative swedish Airsoft site, with many articles in English, and they have a slew of reviews on the L85-a1... okay, they've got 2. thats a slew in the SA80 world... Okay.. one's of the springer version.. What can you do..!

VS's review Voodoo Sprout wrote this springer review.. move over Pete Wadeson.. VS is after you!

Practical Airsoft Good old Redcap has this review protected by evil looking copyright notices. So I cant tell you anything about it, other wise he will be legally bound to remove parts of my anatomy, in fact, I really shouldn't be telling you about it at all, or even telling you Redcap has a website, or who Redcap is which is why I'm not. But its a good review, of er. a thing. erm.. that.. Could be.. related.. to.. something else on this page....

Yep, I think that makes it as clear as mud and hence I have not broken any copyright notices.

Elite Action Games Good Ol' Tom Andrews, The man with the RPG also makes L85a1's except his are full custom bits that are lovingly crafted by Toms dextrous but innumerably calloused old hands out of spit and wood. Okay, thats a bit over the top, but you get the idea.

Tom can be reached here: with his L85a1's popping up here.

To you sir? ~£400 including all the gubbins.

Carrot Apple Works also produced a SA80 AEG, and DENTrinity have some of them, it comes with a green RIS system, but you can also get it with the normal green fore stock!

External Links:
ShopItaly seems to have quite a few classic airsoft guns available, including some rather nice KHC springers.
British Army: 1st Kings' Regiment (airsoft)

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Last modified: Wednesday, May 9, 2001 9:37 AM copyright 2001 ArniesAirsoft