Snow Wolf Barrett M82 review by Booligan
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Real Steel History
Basic Gun Information
One Barrett .50 caliber replica is usually more than enough for most people, but I'm not most people. When I got the opportunity to get my hands on one of the first Snow Wolf Barrett M82s in the US, I couldn't say no. This review is of a pre-production sample of the gun, but the final product should be more or less identical to the model being reviewed today!
Real Steel History:
The Barrett M82 family of sniper rifles is legendary both in military and law enforcement circles as being one of the most accurate and deadly sniper rifles available. Firing the .50 BMG round at over 2700 FPS, it has an effective range of over one mile. If you've played a military themed video game in the last 10 years or watched a modern military themed movie, odds are that you've seen this gun.
US Army soldier manning a Barrett "Light Fifty" - Image from Wikimedia Commons
I was sent this gun from Airsplat, who will be one of the first retailers carrying this gun once it's officially launched. Pricing is looking to be extremely reasonable, with my sources pegging it in the $300 range, about 1/3 the cost of the next cheapest Barrett M82 replica; the SOCOM Gear M107. As fitting with my experience shopping with Airsplat, the gun was shipped promptly and arrived safely, even using their free UPS ground shipping option. Airsplat has always been at the top of my top 3 retailer list, and I foresee them staying there for quite some time.
Basic Gun Information
The Snow Wolf M82, which I'll just refer to as the M82 from here on out, is a complete AEG, based on the Hurricane M82 "body kit". First and foremost, the Hurricane kit was an $1,100 chunk of metal that you shoved the guts from a TM compatible M4/16 inside, giving you a very expensive, but not 100% accurate replica. Unfortunately, this gun suffers from the same inaccuracies, which I'll cover in full in the external section. Snow Wolf previously manufactured a bolt action M99 replica, and this is their first attempt at an AEG based clone. One thing to note is that this is not the same as the SOCOM Gear version, which is its own design. There are no major compatible external parts between the two.
My gun was stopped in customs on the way to Airsplat, and was pretty manhandled. The cardboard box was more or less destroyed, and taped up in the ominous green "Homeland Security" tape, but the gun inside escaped major damage. It did suffer from some scratches, specifically located on the magazine well, and the carry handle was "misplaced", most likely by customs, somewhere along the way. Airsplat informed me of the damage before they sent it, so I was expecting it when it showed up. This was most likely a one time problem, so I would expect future SW M82s to show up in nice and pristine condition.
As for the packaging, it's a basic cardboard box, which is quite large as the gun comes fully assembled. The gun itself is resting in foam end pieces, protecting it during shipping.
The entire package includes the gun, one metal high capacity magazine, a 3-9x50 illuminated reticle scope with rings, an 8.4v 1500 mAh sub-C sized battery with mini connecter, a trickle charger, bipod, manual, and a small bag of BBs. My model did not include a carry handle, which got lost somewhere on the way from China to Airsplat, in its brief layover with Customs.
Weight: About 14 lbs
Width: 4" (at cocking handle)
Sight Radius: Varies depending on sight placement, rail is 22â€ long
The Snow Wolf M82 can be considered a full metal replica, aside from a few plastic/rubber pieces. The grip and muzzle brake are made of plastic, and the butt pad is made of thick rubber. It's quite a bit lighter than the SOCOM Gear M107, mainly because that gun is predominantly made out of steel, whereas this is a zinc alloy.
Starting with the back, you will see the aforementioned rubber butt pad, which is attached to a metal frame and attached to the receiver using pins. It is removed by taking out both the upper and lower pins, which is how you access the battery compartment, as well as disassemble the gun. The butt pad and lower support are based on the older M82 design, as opposed to the SG model which is the newer lower support with integral grip. The battery compartment is pretty spacious, easily holding the included 8.4v large battery with room to spare. A sling mount is located on the right side of the receiver, just in front of the butt pad.
From here on, click all pictures to enlarge
Rear of the gun
Battery compartment, showing mini plug. My wire has a slight pinch, and needs to be repaired.
Moving forward, the next thing that you will hit is the fire control section, which houses the grip, trigger, magazine release, and safety/selector switch. The selector gear is styled after an M4/16 trigger group, so it'll feel right at home if you've ever shot/handled one. The grip is a standard M4 motor grip, with a ventilated base and flat head adjustment screw. It can be replaced with a different grip if you so desire, but some grips with extended backstraps may not fit due to the difference in lower receivers. The selector switch retains a safe-semi-full auto pattern, which is something the Hurricane did not do. Now, I'm an advocate for keeping full auto on "sniper rifle" styled AEGs, strictly as a way to clear semi-auto lockups easily.
The magwell is located directly in front of the trigger assembly, and has an integrated paddle style magazine release lever. Magazines rock into the magwell from the front to the rear, like an AK or Sig rifle. Above the magwell on the right side is the charging handle, which pulls back about 4", exposing the hop-up adjuster.
Magwell and charging handle, note the scratches on the magwell
Shot into the magwell
Moving forward still, you will hit the ventilated handguard as well as the bipod. The bipod is not a QD design, unlike the real gun and the SG replica, instead being attached by screws. The pin placed in the front is purely decorative. The bipod is longer than the SG one, and props the gun up pretty high; higher than I prefer. The legs are a little wobbly, but it is quite solid when prone. I'm spoiled by the real steel quality of the SG bipod, so I may be more harsh about this bipod than the average user. Another sling mount can be found on the front left side of the fore end.
Bipod attachment method
The receiver is about 2" shorter than the SG model, one of the inaccuracies from the Hurricane design, but the barrel is longer, making up the lost length. The barrel itself is about 30" long, not counting the muzzle brake. It is a nicely fluted design, and is secured to the receiver at two points, making it very stable. The muzzle brake is a point of contempt on this gun, as it is constructed entirely out of orange plastic. It is not easily removed, but can be painted quite easily.
There are no iron sights on this gun, instead having a long rail on top. Sadly, it's not canted like the SG rail, but hey, we can't have everything. The included scope is quite nice, being a 3-9x50 illuminated model. The rail on mine was a little out of spec, and the scope wobbled a bit. I fixed this by putting some velcro on the scope mount, closing the gap and firming things up.
Overall, the externals are fantastic, considering the relative price of the gun. Mine has a few cosmetic blemishes, most likely due to manhandling by Customs, but it makes it a great candidate for custom paintwork! The gun is front heavy, like ALL M82 replicas are, but it isn't too hard to run with, due to it's relatively light weight. It does have differences with the SG model, which I'll show here:
This gun is devoid of any trademarks. Not even a "Made In China" can be found on it.
The magazine is one thing that I have mixed feelings about, mainly due to my having been spoiled by the SG model. The mag is a clone of the Hurricane one, however the Hurricane one was designed way out of spec. It's smaller in just about every regard compared to the real/SG one. Now, if you've never handled a real/SG M82, you'll likely never notice, but it is a fair bit different.
The magazine is just a shell housing a VN hicap, which holds about 190 rounds and feeds pretty well. It locks into the magwell extremely well, with no freeplay at all. The winding wheel is easily accessed at the bottom of the .50 cal mag shell, instead of having to stick your finger in the bottom like the SG mag.
Baseline performance after a 500 round break in period is as follows:
FPS (Recorded using Airsplat .20g BBs shot through a Madbull V1 chrono):
Average over 10 shots: 374.8
Range and accuracy was right on par with my expectations, given the mid-range FPS coupled with an M16 length barrel. I performed my tests using .28g biodegradable Airsplat brand BBs, outdoors from a 10' elevated position relative to my target. I was able to put 90% of my shots onto my standard torso sized target at 160', which certainly isn't stellar, but is a good place to start. This gun isn't designed to be a full on sniper rifle right out of the box, but can easily be upgraded using standard V2 gearbox parts, as well as AEG cut barrels and standard hop-up components. With this gun's relatively low starting price, upgrading it is an easy financial decision.
The Snow Wolf M82 uses a V2 gearbox and M4/16 style hop-up assembly to function. The gearbox is a rear reinforced shell with an interesting interlocking front portion. The metal composition looks like standard ACM fare, but with nicely machined portions. The initials "SW" are molded into the shell. The bushings appear to be 7mm in diameter, and are metal. Wiring quality is good, especially considering this is Snow Wolf's first attempt at electrical components.
Interesting interlocking front end
The gears and AR latch are XYT stamped pieces, and a sector chip is pre-installed. The whole gearbox was over-coated in thick brown grease, and the shimming wasn't very well done, however, this is SW's first AEG to date, so I wasn't expecting perfection on the first time out. A reshim and regrease will work wonders with this gun. The piston is made of red plastic, with a black ported piston and cylinder head. With about 1000 rounds through the gun, all on an 11.1v lipo battery, I was expecting to see a little bit of wear on the piston teeth, and sure enough, there was some. The airseal was excellent, especially considering the nasty grease that coated everything. Cleaning and regreasing the compression parts yielded an even better, ALMOST perfect airseal, even through the air nozzle. The spring guide is a solid metal piece, and is plenty strong enough for any spring that I can think of.
The motor is a plain black unmarked medium-high torque unit. It's fairly hard to rotate it by hand, but not the strongest magnets that I've seen.
The hop-up is a standard M4/16 style unit, which is made of metal. The bucking was extremely greasy, so cleaning that up will increase consistency. I would recommend swapping out the bucking and nub ASAP, if you plan on tweaking this gun for peak accuracy. The inner barrel is interesting, in that it has a barrel spacer c-clipped in place about halfway down, which is something I have not seen on a factory AEG. The barrel length is 650mm long, and there is plenty of room to grow with this gun. At the muzzle of the inner barrel, SW installed an aluminum extension in order to keep the barrel centered. This extension just barely sits onto the inner barrel, and can easily get misaligned with taking down the gun. I remedied this by taping the extension to the inner barrel with some electrical tape.
Inner barrel, barrel spacer and aluminum extension visible.
Overall, the internals are a decent starting point for a high performance buildup. You can throw all the standard V2 upgrades in there, add a long tightbore barrel, better hop-up components, and have a pretty formidable and unique DMR, for not too much cash.
I will likely be turning this into a bullpup M82A2 replica in the near future. It's a V2 based AEG, so performance is only capped by how high your budget allows. For extreme high FPS buildups, a high strength gearbox shell is recommended, such as the new Torus or Bravo gearboxes.
Cheapest M82 to date - about $300
Full metal construction
Relatively light weight
Included scope is very nice
Not 100% accurate proportions
Orange muzzle brake
Rail slightly out of spec
Bipod feels a little cheap
When comparing this gun to the SOCOM Gear model, obviously you will find differences in quality, but you will also find extreme differences in price. You can buy three Snow Wolf M82s for the price of one SOCOM Gear model, and most of the cosmetic differences between the two are pretty minor. If you are looking at building up a perfect scale, full steel Barrett M82 replica, and price is no object, go with the SOCOM Gear; it's a better gun overall, but at a much higher price. If you're looking at building a skirmishable Barrett M82 replica, and don't mind some minor external inaccuracies, or if you're on a budget, the Snow Wolf M82 is the best place to start, and will serve you well!
Many thanks again to Airsplat, Deadrag Airsoft Radio and of course, AirsoftRetreat!