Snow Wolf Thompson M1A1 AEG review by Booligan
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Basic Gun Information
The Thompson submachine gun is one of the most recognizable weapons ever made, and it's been used from everyone from Prohibition era gangsters and lawmen to the Allied fighting forces of WW2 and beyond. There are several variants of the Thompson SMG, and today, I'll be reviewing the M1A1 variant, manufactured by Snow Wolf. Snow Wolf is a China based manufacturer who builds a variety of airsoft weapons, including the first affordable Barrett replicas. Keep reading this review for more information on this gorgeous AEG!
I was sent this AEG through Airsplat, who has it available HERE, priced at $149.99. It is listed as being a JG gun, but all the documentation supports it being made by Snow Wolf. It is eligible for Airsplat's free shipping promotion, which utilizes UPS Ground shipping. I received it 2 days after it was shipped out, which is my standard transit time from Airsplat using UPS Ground.
Basic Gun Information:
As mentioned before, the Snow Wolf Thompson is a replica of the M1A1 model, which was the primary variant used in WW2. It features faux wood furniture, a metal upper receiver, and a high quality polymer lower receiver. It looks and feels great, without any creaks or wobbles, and with a very realistic finish. Inside, it has a metal V6 gearbox with high quality internal components to give you consistent performance out of the box.
Like my other Snow Wolf AEG, the Barrett M82, the packaging is really quite basic, consisting of a cardboard box with a foam insert to hold everything during shipping. The box was devoid of any artwork, aside from a small sticker that indicated the model number, SW05. Everything inside the box was safe and sound, so the foam lower section did its job quite well. My first impression about the gun was how nice the matte black finish looked and felt, and how realistic it looked, even though it has fake wood.
Along with the gun, Snow Wolf included a single hi-cap magazine, an 8.4v battery and trickle charger, a bag of BBs, a cheap sling, cleaning/unjamming rod and a manual. The battery is pretty standard ACM quality, but it's certainly usable until you are able to get a better one.
From this point on, click on the thumbnails to view full size photos
Some of the included accessories
Sight Radius: 21"
Snow Wolf has made the Thompson quite structurally solid by utilizing a metal upper receiver with a polymer lower receiver. The faux wood finish looks and feels like the real thing, however if you must have real wood, there are several kits out there. I will go over the externals in detail in this section.
External overview, right side
External overview, right side
The stock is non-adjustable, given its 80 year old design, however it does have a butt plate that rotates out of the way to install the battery. The length of pull is kind of long, at 17 inches, but it's still comfortable to shoulder. The only comfort issue I have is where the base meets the receiver, as it's a little bit small for my hand, and I have to hold my hand out a little bit. This could be due to the 1920's ergonomic choices, but it's something I can get over.
Rear sling mount
Stock mounting point
The stock attaches to the lower receiver using two large screws that thread through the lower into the upper receiver. The lower receiver is made out of plastic, but I had to do a scratch test to verify that, as it looks and feels like it is made of metal. The controls are all located on the left side of the receiver, making it easy for right handed users to use the gun.
Receiver, right side
Receiver, left side
The fire controls are an interesting design, consisting of a trigger, two selector switches, and a large magazine release lever. The rear selector switch functions as the safety, with options of fire and safe, and the front selector allows you to choose between full and semi-auto. They are not very easy to manipulate in the heat of battle, so choose your desired setting and stick with it. The magazine release is located immediately below the selector switch and operates by pushing up on the thumb portion.
The pistol grip is kind of bulky, but still ergonomically designed to fit your hand. As mentioned before, it crowds the stock mount a little bit, which can cause discomfort for some users. It is secured using a bottom mounted screw and can be removed to access the motor.
The upper receiver is made of metal and serves as the backbone of the gun. Both the outer barrel and lower receiver are attached to the sturdy piece, making the whole gun rigid and strong. The upper receiver is fairly plain, save for the cocking handle located on the right side and the hop-up adjuster in the faux chamber.
Moving forward from the upper receiver, you'll hit the faux wood handguard, which is a very basic rectangular design as this is the military M1A1 model. It has grooves in either side for enhanced gripping ability. At the bottom, you'll find a metal sling mount which can be used in conjunction with the rear mount to attach a sling.
Front sling mount
The outer barrel is full metal and is terminated in a fixed front sight. There is no threading, nor is the front sight removable, however there is some cosmetic rifling inside the muzzle.
The iron sights are quite basic, consisting of a simple rear peep hole and a front post, both of which are fixed in position. The rear sight has metal guards to prevent it from taking any damage. The sight picture isn't particularly precise, but it gets the job done for this SMG.
Rear iron sight
Front iron sight
The Thompson is entirely devoid of any trademarks, which frankly, I prefer over some of the extra markings that generally come with licensed models.
The included magazine is a metal hi-cap that holds approximately 350 rounds. It fits into the magazine guide VERY well, with zero wobble or freeplay. It features the standard bottom mounted winding wheel, which is kind of stiff to rotate. I haven't been able to test other magazines in it, but my understanding is that it should be fully compatible with all TM compatible Thompson mags.
Chrono results using Airsplat .20g BBs, shot through a Madbull V1 chrono, after a 500 round break in period:
High FPS: 388.5 FPS
Low FPS: 382.1 FPS
Average FPS: 384.0 FPS
Rate of fire is fairly low, as I only get about 13 RPS with the stock 8.4v battery. With a higher output 11.1v LiPo battery, I only get 20 RPS, which is certainly an improvement, but still fairly low in relation to the battery output. I think the motor islikely the culprit here.
As far as range and accuracy goes, I put my standard torso sized target out to 155', which is the furthest I was able to hit it 9 out of 10 times. Past that, the side to side deviation made shots unpredictable, so the furthest I'd attempt shots with this gun is about 170', where your hit percentage is about 50%.
Inside this AEG you will find a V6 metal gearbox fitted with steel gears, metal bushings on two of the three gears, a metal spring guide, and great air seal components. Disassembly is pretty easy, and there are several video guides on Youtube to help you out.
Gearbox, other side
Inside the gearbox, you will find the aforementioned steel gears, metal spring guide, ported cylinder head, and the high quality piston. The piston has a single steel tooth as well as a ported polymer piston head. The cylinder head is also polymer with a brass air tube. The air seal is quite good for a stock gun. The quality of the gears is certainly acceptable, however the gun has excess grease, so cleaning and relubing the gun is a good idea.
Spring and guide
The electrical components are fairly high quality, with a sturdy trigger switch that is easily removable from the gearbox itself. The motor is a standard strength unit that is short in length. The motor has a steel pinion gear for high strength and durability.
The barrel is brass and 300mm in length. It is fitted inside a polymer hop-up unit with a large rotary dial. It has a standard design bucking and nub, so upgrades are easy to acquire.
Hop-up and barrel
Externally, I may switch the faux wood furniture out for a real wood set. The addition of rails or other tactical accouterments is a slight against the firearm gods and shouldn't be attempted. Internally, I may swap out the motor for a higher speed unit and downgrade the spring to make it into a CQB nightmare, but otherwise, it shoots just fine for my tastes.
Very attractive externals
Full metal upper receiver
Fake wood looks pretty realistic
Very affordable - $150
Incredibly solid magazine locking system
Very solid build quality
Plastic lower receiver, however it looks and feels like metal
Non-adjustable iron sights
Somewhat slow ROF stock
The pistol grip and stock base are too close together for my big hands
Snow Wolf continues to produce unique models for the airsoft market, and the Thompson being reviewed today is one of their newest. It has high quality internal and external components, and looks simply gorgeous. In my opinion, the Thompson is one of the most beautiful firearms ever made, and its rugged simplicity makes it a great option for re-enactors and skirmishers alike.
Many thanks again to Airsplat, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!