Well G96 (AW338) review by Booligan
Discuss this review HERE
Table of Contents:
Real Steel History
Basic Gun Information
With my collection of bolt action sniper rifles steadily growing, I continue to seek out new and interesting models. I saw this model come out in Hong Kong shops a few months ago, but until recently, it hadnâ€™t been seen on our shores in readily available numbers. When I was contacted by Airsplat and asked if I wanted to get my hands on this bad boy in order to review it, I couldnâ€™t say no!
Real Steel History:
This replica is based on the Accuracy International AWM, specifically the model chambered in the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge. The AW series of rifles were purpose built sniper rifles, instead of being accurized versions of sporting or hunting rifles. The AW rifle system features a full length aluminum chassis with a permanently bonded receiver, with a polymer grip and stock components bolted to the frame. This allows for an exceptionally rigid but relatively lightweight rifle.
Royal Marines with their AWM rifles
Info and photo gathered from Wikipedia.com
I was sent this rifle by Airsplat in order to review it here on Airsoft Retreat. It is available HERE, currently priced at $249.95. This price means that it qualifies for Airsplatâ€™s free shipping offer. It includes a 30 day warranty covering manufacturer defects, so if you have any issues, contact Airsplat straightaway.
Basic Gun Information
The rifle itself is a clone of the Star/Ares AW338 design, featuring a removable magazine which houses the gas and BBs. It also features a folding stock, which helps you store this long rifle. The gun is extremely adjustable, allowing you to fit it to your specific body size and shooting type, and offers a very long free floated barrel for increased accuracy. Iâ€™ll go over the pros and cons of this gun design in this review!
The AW338 arrived in a brown cardboard box emblazoned with an image of the gun held within. The box is a sturdy design, and it features a built in carry handle to use it as a transportation case. Upon opening the box, I was greeted by the MUCH improved black high density packing foam, instead of the normal white styrofoam that you used to find in Wellâ€™s boxes. The gun was in two pieces, with the receiver/barrel assembly being separate from the stock assembly. A simple 2 screw assembly is required to build your new gun!
From here on, click all pictures to enlarge
Using this gun does not make you refined, nor should you bring it to a museumâ€¦
The rifle comes complete with one magazine, a bipod/front RIS mounting piece, 3-9x40 scope, medium height adjustable bipod, a one piece 30mm Â scope mount with plastic 1â€ scope inserts, two high mount 1â€ scope rings w/ 20mm bases, loading tool, manual, cleaning/unjamming rod, a cheap sling, Â and the ever-present bag of cheap BBs that should never go inside your gun.
Cliff notes from the manual
Weight: 11 lbs w/ everything attached
Height: 10â€ (grip to scope)
Sight Radius: N/A
The Well AW338 is a very solidly built replica, with aluminum and ABS plastic making up the majority of the build. I will go over each area of the gun in their own sections.
Like the real AWM, the replica features an adjustable stock. It is made of plastic and has an adjustable cheek rest as well as removable inserts to adjust the LOP. For me, the cheek rest is pretty much perfect in the lowest position when used in conjunction with the stock scope mount, and positioning it any higher would make the scope unusable. It is easily adjusted by loosening the two side knobs, putting the rest where you want it, and tightening the knobs back up. The stock also folds and locks onto the receiver, to make it easier to transport the rifle, as it is quite long. It is easily folded by pushing the release button on the right side, and folding it onto the locking post located on the left side of the receiver. There are also three sling mounts on the stock; two at the very rear (one on each side), and one located on the right side of the stock, just in front of the folding release button.
Stock folding button and sling mount
Located on the bottom of the stock is a rear monopod, which gives you a third point of stability when prone. It is adjustable, depending on the terrain, and can be extended quite far. You extend it simply by pulling it down, where it will lock in one of the large adjustment settings. You can then fine tune the height by turning the whole unit, which is threaded into the stock. To retract the monopod, you must pull it all the way down, and while pulling it down, push up on the release collar, allowing it to slide back up inside the stock.
My gun has three legs, what about yours?
The grip is a thumbhole design, and is quite comfy to use, even though it is quite wide (almost 2â€). It is equally comfortable for right or left handed shooters, although lefties will get two nice cheek rest adjusting knobs jabbed into their cheek, which they may not enjoy so much. The trigger pull is pretty light, but is kind of soft and spongy. Iâ€™d like a little crisper release personally.
Grip and trigger
Above the grip is the bolt assembly, which is made of metal and has an integrated safety. Cocking the gun takes very little movement, as only an inch or so of bolt travel is necessary to cock the gun and chamber a new BB. My bolt was a little sticky, but loosened up after 50 shots or so. The safety clicks firmly into the fire position, but is quite sloppy getting into the safe position, and does not always engage properly. Let your brain and trigger finger be your primary safety on this gun, okay? A nice feature of this gun is the â€œcockedâ€ indicator, located on the rear of the bolt. A cylinder sticks out about 2/3 of an inch when the gun is cocked.
Bolt and safety
Just in front of the rear of the bolt, on the left side of the receiver, you will find an odd little button/lever/thing. Pushing this while pulling back the bolt (and with the stock folded), will allow you to quickly and easily remove the bolt for cleaning and maintenance.
Bolt removal button
On the other side of the receiver, you will find the large gaping maw of an ejection port. You can pull the bolt all the way back if you so desire and peer into the greasy and somewhat boring diorama presented in the ejection port.
Valves and nozzles and grease, oh my!
Taking a detour back to front, we should be arriving at the handguard portion of the stock. Itâ€™s large and rectangular with some small grooves on the side to rest your thumb and fingers, Iâ€™m assuming. Itâ€™s not very comfortable if you have small hands, but if you have massive banana fingers like mine, itâ€™s all gravy. On the bottom of the handguard is a sling mount stud, which works quite well for mounting a Harris style bipod. On both sides at the very front of the handguard you will find even more sling mounts. The Brits sure know how to carry a gun on their backsâ€¦
Handguard portion of the stock
Included with the gun is a front RIS piece, mainly designed for mounting the included Well standard bipod. It wobbles all over the place and is too tall for my tastes, but itâ€™s free, so stop whining! In all seriousness, it works just fine, albeit with more freeplay than I care for, but it does allow you to adjust your point of aim without moving the gun. It is attached by simply clicking it into the hole in the front of the stock, and removed by pushing the little lever at the bottom, and pulling it out.
Heading North, you will encounter the 26â€ long, entirely free floating barrel. It is fluted for increased strength as well as increased style points, which are the REALLY important part. My barrel wobbled a bit, but I found the tightening collar inside the receiver and gave it a quick tightening, which eliminated the wobble 100%. The muzzle is terminated with the proper style flashhider/muzzle brake and a glued on orange plastic tip. Iâ€™d love to tell you all if the muzzle is threaded underneath, but I canâ€™t, for the life of me, remove the muzzle brake!
There are no iron sights equipped on this gun, nor is there a standard 1913/20mm/Weaver rail to mount optics. It does, however, come with a dovetail type rail, like the real gun, and it includes the proper one piece scope mount to attach an optic. It also includes a starter scope for you, which is a very nice throw in. The scope is 3-9x40, and has a standard cross hair. The mount is designed for 30mm tube scopes, but has plastic inserts to allow mounting of 1â€ tube scopes, like the one included.
Scope and mount
Overall, I was extremely pleased to see Well up their build quality from their previous offerings. Iâ€™ve been extremely pleased with Wellâ€™s interpretation of the M700 series, and now Iâ€™m quite enamored with their latest iteration of the L96/AWM platform. The negatives are few and far between, but they include one tricky problem. If you pull the bolt back too far on mine, the retention button doesnâ€™t always keep it in place, instead allowing it to pull straight out. Now, this only happens if you pull it far, about 3â€ more than necessary, so itâ€™s an odd problem, and itâ€™s easily solved by pulling the trigger and pushing it back in. Other than that, Iâ€™m quite happy with the externals of this gun!
As with most Well guns, the AW338 is devoid of any trademarks, real or otherwise. The only writing present on the gun is a very small â€œMade In Chinaâ€ located just in front of the ejection port.
The included magazine is made of metal and features a large internal gas reservoir, and holds 18 rounds. Some users have reported that the fill valves leaked on the 1st generation models of this gun, but after 10 mag fills, Iâ€™ve yet to have any. If you do experience leaking, Star/Ares replacement valves should fix the issue. The magazine fits VERY tightly inside the gun, and takes a very firm yank to get it out. This should break in with time.
The important parts
It appears to have the same separate removable BB section as the Star/Ares mags, but even with pushing the button and pulling on the BB section, I canâ€™t get it out. Iâ€™m working on a fix for this.
Baseline performance after a 100 round break in period is as follows:
FPS (Recorded using TSD .20g BBs shot through a Madbull V1 chrono):
Average over 10 shots: 550.2
I did not experience much cool down effect to be brutally honest. Maybe itâ€™s the fact that you only get 18 BBs before giving the mag a break to warm up, or maybe itâ€™s the relatively large reservoir for the gas, but it stayed relatively consistent, within 20 FPS from first to last shot, shot over a 45 second period with no breaks in between. This was also using an extremely tired propane tank, and in 60-70 degree temps, so with warmer temps and more staggered shots, more consistent FPS will be seen. If not, just drill and tap the mag and rock HPA.
Range and accuracy were tested in a 160' long warehouse, at approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit, using straight propane coming in at 114 PSI (higher temps yield up to 150+ PSI), using TSD and Airsplat brand .28g ammo, with the Airsplat brand being biodegradable. I'd recommend heavier ammo with this gun, but unfortunately, that's the heaviest I had on hand. Targets were 12"x24" rectangles, situated vertically, and positioned at 100' and 160'. I was basically seeing if I could hit a target the size of the average torso. As soon as I started shooting, I noticed that I was having a fairly extreme, but consistent curve to the left. A glance down the barrel showed me that my hop-up and barrel were twisted slightly, but unfortunately, I didn't have the tools on hand to fix it. I decided to keep shooting, but compensating for the curve. I was able to put all my shots onto the 100' target easily, but the 160' target was a bit more difficult, and in the end, I was only shooting about 80% at that distance. The BBs still have plenty of power and loft at that range, and I'm convinced that once I tear into the gun and correct the crooked hop-up, range will stretch out substantially. I think that with an upgraded hop-up bucking, on a warmer day, and with some extremely high precision ammo, such as Bioval .27s, you could hit a torso at 200' easily, with some good consistency.
There really isnâ€™t too much to say about the internals of this gun, as itâ€™s a relatively simple design. Basically, the bolt has an integrated hammer that hitâ€™s the valve located on the top of the magazine when firing. The hammer is cocked by cocking the bolt back. The minimum amount of bolt pull is only about 1â€, so you can get some quick shots off with this rifle. The bottom of the bolt is starting to show some paint wear, so I may just sand all the paint off and give the bottom a quick polishing job to ensure smoothness.
Bottom of bolt showing the inner workings
Valve port and nozzle
Hammer assembly inside the bolt
The inner barrel is brass and is 654mm long. I do not have digital calipers and cannot measure the inner barrel diameter. This gun actually uses standard AEG cut barrels and hop-up components, meaning that you can get very high quality, high tolerance components at most airsoft stores, and for not too much money. The bucking and nub were extremely greasy and needed a good cleaning before testing. The bucking was also quite soft, so upgrading the bucking and nub would yield some great results! The hop-up is adjusted using the included allen wrench, with the adjustment point being located at the very front of the receiver. It's not terribly convenient, but it is externally adjustable, so that is certainly a plus!
Hop-up and barrel
Barrel and bucking
There are a few upgrade parts for the gas system, but IMO, they are unnecessary. It shoots plenty hard for field use, and if you want more, I would advise switching to HPA. As for accuracy, it uses AEG cut barrels and hop-up buckings, so you can upgrade that to your hearts content.
Externally, Iâ€™ve tossed a very low Harris bipod on the front sling stud, and plan on painting the stock a less-black color.
Proper AWM replica
Very high FPS - 550 w/ propane
Easy accuracy upgrades
Light and short bolt pull
Adjustable for damn near any user
It just plain looks good
Heavy, not great for long crawls
Long, causes maneuverability issues
Magazine is hard to take out
Low mag capacity
Bolt removal issue on my gun
I was pretty surprised when I opened up the box and saw the beauty held within. Well really stepped up to the plate with this gun in the looks and performance department. It is lacking in some final finishing details, such as the seam lines and bolt finish, but overall, they did a good job with this one. I'm more than happy to lug this thing around the field!
Many thanks again to Airsplat, Deadrag Airsoft Radio and of course, Airsoft Retreat!