Posted on

LCT M70 AB2 – AEG REVIEW

LCT have done a fine job of producing a line of detailed and specific AK-based models to rival that of the huge number of AR-based derivatives many manufacturers choose to produce. This month we have another authentic, beautifully made and interesting Kalashnikov variant on test…

I’ve often said that AKs are some of the most misidentified weapons in the firearms world. Not in terms of the newspapers just calling everything an “AK47” but deeper than that. Even many firearms enthusiasts tend to misidentify AK variants with frequency. Somebody at LCT must have a real passion for the subject though, because they produce a great number of subtly different variants all with details and variations carefully considered. Although the silhouettes of the guns might remain largely familiar, when you take a closer look you have some very interesting guns.

M70 AB2

The M70 AB2 is produced by Zastava, often acclaimed as the finest manufacturer of AK-type rifles in the world. The M70 was built to outfit the then Yugoslavian (now Serbian) armed forces in 1970. It borrows heavily from the AK design but features some interesting details. We were drawn to the replica after seeing recent images of the British Police in counter-terrorism training and noticing that the weapons they were using to discharge what we assume were blanks were more interesting than your average AKM or AK74.

The M70 AB2 is the result of several revisions and cost-efficiency exercises and the end result differs from it’s forerunners based on this. Like most modern AK-based rifles, the M70 AB2 uses a stamped receiver and pinned barrel as opposed to a heavier, milled barrel and threaded barrel system. Although the latter prove to be more robust, the additional cost and weight is often deemed unnecessary when it comes to the longevity of the finished piece. Essentially a stamped and pinned weapon works and lasts more than well enough in comparison to how much it costs to produce.

The AB2 model (the A in the nomenclature indicating the presence of an underflowing stock as opposed to a full, wooden fixed stock) eventually would comprise of a thickened 1.5mm stamped receiver and bulged barrel trunnion to give the rifle the strength and robustness to deal with the stresses of the rifle grenade launcher attachment.

The “real deal” M70 AB2 features a safe, burst, semi fire selector system and can be visually distinguished from the AKM through several factors. As well as the thicker stamped receiver, the light beech wood furniture features three cooling slots on the hand grip as well as the integrated rifle grenade sight and gas cut-off on the gas block. The barrel of the real thing is also non-chrome lined, making the weapon more accurate than the AKM but more susceptible to corrosion. As visible on the LCT replica, there’s also a different polymer pistol grip fitted to the M70 when compared to that of the AKM and others in the family.

LCT’s M70 AB2

With a little insight into the context of the M70 AB2, let’s take a look at the replica itself. Visually, we are dealing with an accurate and faithful rendition of the M70. Primarily the steel metalwork of the receiver and barrel, along with the associated parts is bang up to scratch and well on par with the rest of LCT’s offerings. That is to say they are amongst some of the most realistic on the marketplace.

The receiver, although not quite the 1.5mm thick of the real thing is a good 1mm sheet thickness and formed into a fantastic replica of the stamped receiver of the M70. As with many AEGs, the dimensions are slightly off when compared side by side to the real thing, but scarcely enough to be of note.

The receiver is modelled with various pin positions, indents and even the bulged trunnion design of the M70 and faithfully it bears the U (safe), R (burst) and J (semi) marking on the fire selector; a detail that would be easy to overlook when producing a replica weapon. Along the barrel we have the specific M70 AB2 gas block featuring the pressed sheet metal grenade sighting system and also the front sight. The front sight post incorporates a flip up piece that obscures the front sight post when engaged in position and would provide phosphorescent or tritium illuminated low light sighting. This is again a small and easily overlooked addition to the M70 and it’s something that’s exciting to see featuring on the replica. Unfortunately the the front sight system doesn’t have any sort of illumination in place but features an indent to allow you to paint your own marker dot in place. This isn’t a difficult job to accomplish at all.

The lengthened, smooth beechwood hand guards match the reference images we have seen perfectly, even though they look a little clean and clinical on first glance and the polymer pistol grip is a larger Zastava-style design that improves upon the original AKM and AK designs in our opinion. It actually looks similar to some of the more modern Zenitco offerings but with a bit of retro flair.

All round the externals of the M70 AB2 from LCT are robustly and faithfully reproduced in fitting with the real weapon. Even the mock bolt cover is enhanced with a more substantial design and although it doesn’t reciprocate with the action of the gun firing, it’s heavy and chunky enough to make a satisfying and metallic “clunk” when operated by hand, which must be done to access the hop unit.

Overall the only part of the LCT M70 AB2 that we can’t find in keeping with the real gun is the rear sight ramp, which seems to be a generic AK item and not the night-sight equipped M70 spec component. This could quite easily be replaced if you can source something more accurate to the real thing though.

Inside the Gun

With a  massive range of replicas based on the humble Version 3 AEG gearbox, it would suit LCT well to ensure they had a decent off the shelf option to fit them all with. Fortunately, they have that bit sorted out and squared away.

LCT’s all metal, high spec gearbox system comprises of a quality metal casing that has enough quality to hold its own as an aftermarket part. Inside this casing you get solid steel gears working on large ball bearings which are surprising smooth and well shimmed. In terms of strength, they work fine with the stock spring, producing around 1.2joules but they can also withstand an upgrade spring and still run absolutely fine.

In terms of additional components, you get LCT’s awesome looking, shiny heat-dispersing ribbed cylinder on show along with a good smattering of quality plastic components inside the gearbox, like the switch and associated parts. Without labouring the points we have made in reference to the LCT gearbox in the current crop of guns (because we have spoken about them at length in previous reviews) we will leave it at saying that what you get is a very high quality and capable power plat for your gun that will serve you well in its basic guise or will alternatively act as a solid foundation for future upgrades. In fact our good friend Mick Johnson, creator of some of the most brutal, high speed AK builds we have ever seen, relies on the LCT parts for 90% of his work, only upgrading beyond the stock components in a few cases.

One thing that is great to see in the LCT gun is a quality polymer hop unit. You don’t gain anything by rough casting a metal hop unit except for poor finishing and slightly distorted sizes. Polymer does a fantastic job for airsoft gun hop units and only in some very expensive, precision CNC’d cases do we thing ant other material does a better job. LCT’s simple black V3 AK hop unit fits into the M70 and mates to a brass barrel. Although the stock brass barrels perform well enough, there will certainly be scope to improve this, along with the hop rubbers, with your choice of components. Compatibility with aftermarket parts is broad so the world is your oyster in this sense.

Performance

Despite being well built in all respects, the M70 AB2 is essentially a generic Version 3 AEG which will bestow a good level of longevity and reliability upon its performance however what you get hardly gives you “cutting edge” features. It’s just a basic AEG inside really.

A few years ago it would have been impossible to complain about this but as airsoft technology has progressed the level of expectation has gradually risen and what used to be considered exotic features are now pretty much expected. At least with the LCT set-up you get a dependable platform on which to build into. One thing that we would consider implementing would be some kind of trigger control system, maybe an ASCU, in order to add the “burst” function of the real M70 AB2 instead of having simple full auto or semi auto. Thanks to LCT’s standardised design, this is a very “by the numbers” upgrade process though.

Potential aside, what LCT’s M70 gives you is a solid, dependable shooter that puts out rounds at around 330fps which makes it about spot on for most UK sites. The potential to drop in a bigger spring to peak out performance is there and the components will handle this. Battery dependant, you will be looking at between 13 and 15 rounds per second on full auto. If you want to push things with an 11.1v LiPo pack, you will juice out more.

In terms of range and accuracy, the stock hop rubber and barrel combination does a solid job with lighter ammo. If you want to maximise range you might find yourself needing to upgrade the hop rubbers to something with a little more “grip” on the BB to get a more consistent backspin/hop effect.

One aspect that is nearly impossible to ignore though is the great value for money you get with LCT. A faithful and accurate replica built from steel and wood combined with a solid gearbox and internal component selection all for just £270? You really don’t get much better value than that throughout the world of AEGs and for that reason alone, LCT go right to the top of my shopping list when it comes to guns of this type!

 

Vital Stats 

Price: £270 (Fire Support)
Weight: 3.6kg

Length: 650-890mm

Hop up: Adjustable

Magazine capacity: 600rnds Hi-Cap

Velocity: Up to 330fps (1.2-1.3 Joules)

Pros:

Built like a brick outhouse
Many authentic details
Solid internals to match

Cons:

Basic, simple AEG tech
Rear sight not “authentic” for the M70
Missing burst mode

First published in Airsoft International Volume 12 Issue 2

Posted on

Buying your first Airsoft gun in the UK

You could be forgiven for thinking that buying your first airsoft gun would be a simple step. A matter of selecting the one you like best, handing over some cash and taking it home to treasure but unfortunately it’s not quite that easy. Buying your first gun is more complex than it may seem and causes a great deal of confusion amongst new players.

It’s not uncommon for people first exposed to airsoft or airsoft guns to exclaim “is that even legal?!” It’s true, certainly in the UK the majority culture seems to be one that is terrified of anything even remotely shaped like a gun and the incorrect notion that all guns are illegal is rife. That said, one of the most appealing things airsoft holds over your average day playing paintball is that you CAN own a realistic looking replica gun and you can take it home and customise it to your hearts content. It goes without saying that airsoft IS 100% legal when carried out on private premises or at an organised event with the appropriate insurance. It might come as a surprise then to find out that in the strictest interpretation of the law, it’s actually illegal to sell a Realistic Imitation Firearm.

The laws stating that the sale of such items were passed as part of the Violent Crimes Reduction Act 2006. This did not specifically state that airsoft guns where illegal, moreover lumped airsoft guns into the category of RIFs. A RIF is simply anything that could be perceived as a weapon, regardless of its ability to fire any kind of projectile. This could be made from wood, foam or be a functional airsoft gun. As those laws stood, unopposed, they would have meant that all airsoft guns would have needed to have been converted to, or sold as an Imitation Firearm instead, (Notice the omission of the “Realistic”). In practical terms, this would likely have meant the end of airsoft as we know it.
Section 38 defines a “realistic imitation firearm” as “an imitation firearm which has an appearance that is so realistic as to make it indistinguishable, for all practical purposes, from a real firearm”.

To qualify as an IF, a gun must be coloured predominantly in a unrealistic and bright colour. (These specific colours are set in law, the most commonly used are bright red, bright blue, bright green and bright orange.) There is some ambiguity about how this colouring can be applied and in what proportions, but in practical terms, the gun should be less than half black or a realistic colouration and the rest should be visibly an “unrealistic colour”.

Many guns we find imported to the UK are manufactured for the US market. This means they have a bright orange section around the muzzle. There is nothing in UK law pertaining to this and as such, a bright orange muzzle on a gun means absolutely nothing in UK law.

After these laws were proposed, extensive lobbying from the airsoft retail industry bought to light the then niche activity of airsoft in the eyes of the Government and as a result, a defense was established for the sale of Realistic Imitation Firearms.

Defenses

The word “defense” is used in relation to RIFs and it’s important. There is no “license” to own an airsoft gun although providing you have legitimate reason to use a RIF in a law-abiding manner, under some pre-defined activities, exception can be made.

Due to the manner in which this defense was granted and the disparate and varied circumstances under which a defense is given, the airsoft industry was asked to be “self policing” and as such, there is no centralised scheme or membership system that is fully recognised by authorities across the board.

In order to purchase or sell a RIF from a retailer, you must be able to convince them that you are a legitimate airsofter eligible for a defense under law. How you do this is down to the self-policing policy of the retailer in question.
If a retailer were to take a customers word that they were an airsofter with legitimate intentions for their purchase, and that individual turned out to be lying and wished to use the RIF in illegal activities, it is likely that the retailer would find themselves under the scrutiny of the authorities. As something of an insurance policy, and a manner in which to diligently record their checks and measures, many retailers require players to be part of a number of schemes that record their airsoft activity to an extent where it is possible to demonstrate they believe the person in question to have legitimate use for an airsoft gun.

Memberships and Defenses

There are a number of schemes and clubs in place that allow airsofters to join in order to track their activity and prove their activity within organised airsoft (and therefore a defense in law). None of these schemes are currently recognised as an official or legally endorsed method, however some retailers prefer customers to be members of one or another.

Examples of these schemes and club include:
UKARA
British Airsoft Club
SWAT PASS

Being a member of one of these schemes or clubs still does not give you a license as such, because individual retailers may only recognise and feel comfortable with dealing with customers that are members of certain clubs or schemes. This is the individual retailers decision to make and they withhold the right to refuse a sale if they are not satisfied that the customer has a legitimate use for the product. It’s important to check with your preferred retailer to find out which schemes or clubs they recognise and use.

If you are unable to qualify for a defense or unable to convince your chosen retailer of it in a manner that suits their business practice, you may be offered a “two-tone” gun, as outlined above as an IF, if you are over 18. Unless you subsequently qualify for a defense, it is illegal to “manufacture a RIF” by painting or otherwise modifying the gun.
What a defense allows
When you have a defense, you may purchase airsoft guns but that is the extent of what it allows you to do. Under no circumstances, defense or not, are you allowed to brandish or display a RIF in a public place or carry one in public without an adequate bag or box that completely conceals it from public view.

The VCRA and Airsoft

Since October 2007 you can only buy a realistic imitation firearm (one that looks like a real gun) if you meet one of the following conditions:

You must be over 18 years of age to buy either a realistic or an imitation firearm.
You are an airsofter with membership of an insured skirmish site.
You are a member of a properly insured historical re-enactment group or society. – Historical re-enactors also include living history associations such as the military vehicles trust. You will need to prove membership.
You are a film, television or theatre production company. – Think plays, operas, that kind of stuff. You and a buddy with a camcorder do not cut the mustard here. You need to be a genuine, registered film production unit.
You are (or are acting on behalf of) a museum – Refers to a museum that is open to the public – a private collection just for you is not good enough.
You are a Crown Servant in pursuance of your Crown duties – You must have specific relevance to obtaining a RIF such as if you are in the forces or similar and are using it as a training aid.
If you cannot meet any of these criteria, you can still buy an imitation firearm, one who’s principle colour is significantly different to that of a real firearm – i.e. bright green, bright blue etc.

The VCRA 2006 concerns itself with sale, manufacture and import ONLY. If you buy an imitation firearm and either gift it to someone else, or allow them to use it – regardless of their age – you are not contravening the Act. So, a parent can buy a two-tone airsoft gun and give it to their child to use or keep.