Many people around the world have found the desire to pursue the sniping role in airsoft. While it is a expensive journey, many find the role exhilarating and a challenge to follow through with. Time and time again, people find the role of the sniper is not what they enjoy, and decide to change to another more aggressive role. The ability to be patient separates the true snipers from the cocky noob who thinks taking the long shot is as easy as it is on the xbox. Much more goes into this role than being a great shot, including effectively communicating with the squad, scouting ahead behind enemy lines, and effectively using camoflauge to remain hidden from the opposing forces. With this said, it is time to decide whether to become a serious sniper or to back out and pursue another role.
Choosing a rifle
One of the most effective parts of the sniper is the rifle. Having the ability to take accurate shots when needed is vital for the sniper's success. Thus, one of the biggest decisions in pursuing this role is to pick a rifle worthy of the task. Many people, including I started out with a clone rifle. Even to this day, I find myself using a clone rifle rather than lets say a maruzen or vsr. Their is nothing wrong with a clone, except when a young immature person decides to get one, and thinks they are the best shit out their. One must realize that there is much more to the rifle than just "buying it". The rifle must be tweaked, modded, and upgraded before it even has a chance of being successful on the field.
However, due to budgets, many people find themselves only able to afford a clone rifle at the time. They will use the rifle for some time deciding if the role is or is not for them. After awhile, the person judges whether to put more money into the rifle or to sell it for a solid aeg. If you find money is an issue, and desire to fulfill the sniper role, read on.
WANT A RIFLE THAT IS CHEAP, SHOOTS HARD, AND CAN HIT TARGETS REALLY FAR AWAY!!?
Sorry but this does not exist. I do not know how many times I have heard this, but this is one of the most annoying questions in the world to me. No bolt action rifle out of the box can outperform a solid aeg. Its as simple as that. It takes time for a person to put together a rifle worthy of being successful at hitting the target. Cheap ways to increase performance include do it yourself mods, etc. More expensive ways include upgrading the rifle with solid internal/external pieces. While it can be expensive, one can slowly upgrade their rifle over time, while still squeezing every bit of performance out of it each and everyday.
Now you realize no rifle out of the box is SUPER AWESOME ACCURATE AND A HARD HITTER! That is one step into coming out of the noob stages and becoming a successful sniper.
Realizing money might be an issue, I will suggest a good base platform for a solid bolt action rifle. I personally have had experience with a few clones and find the mk96 from UTG is the best option. The UTG m324, I found weak and unable to take certain upgrades. Its hop up was almost unnoticable, and the accuracy was just awful. The JG l96 clone was the worst of them all. With a hard trigger pull, and loud clank when fired, the rifle was very noisy and unnaccurate, proving to be a sniper's worst nightmare. It was not until the mk96, that I found a solid clone featuring the l96.
The Review of the UTG mk96 clone
Out of the box performance
This is the most important part for those who are trying out the role and are unable to borrow someone's rifle to test if they like the bolt actions. The mk96 is affordable and solid as a stock rifle. The barrel is sturdy and is held in place without any fllimsyness. But the stock is made of a weak plastic, making the rifle feel like a toy. This is one of the cons of buying a clone rifle. :-/ Often a scope package is included with two magazines and a cheap flimsy sling plus a handy speedloader. While not necessary, the speedloader makes loading the magazine easier. The rifle features a nice rail for attaching scopes and optics, but remember some rail rings are also necessary.
Pulling the rifle out of the box, I noticed it came in two pieces. The stock and the barrel assembly. It is pretty self explanatory and can be assembled with two screws that are located inside the stock by screwing them in with the included allen wrench. Once this is done, it is time to load her up and see how she shoots.
After firing a few shots with .28 bbs, I noticed there was a major curve of the bb. Adjusting the hop up will not fix this, due to the fact that their is only one arm that can be adjusted, unlike the pdi hop up chamber, featuring two adjustable arms. Most likely, it was a problem with the hop up chamber, but the use of some madbull .4s helped straighten out the curve of the bb. By using the other allen wrench used to adjust the hop up, located in front of the magazine catch, my shots were dead on. Next, after figuring out how to get the shots shooting straight, I zeroed in the scope. I successfully was able to hit a small round target about 6inches by 6 inches 3/5 times from 120 feet away. After further shooting, I noticed hitting a torso sized target 150 feet away was no problem, but after that, shots began to stray away flying all over. Even occassionally, a flyer would occur, resulting in a very ugly shot. This disappointed me, but I concluded it was able to shoot more accurately than a stock aeg. However, the mk96 was unable to outrange any aeg. Thus, to use this rifle in the field would create a utter disadvantage. With only slightly better accuracy and no more range than an aeg, this rifle stock is not going to perform great on the field. Firepower would most likely win this battle, and usually results in the mk96 user, to drop the role of the sniper, and to go pick up a aeg of some sort. Yet, some stick with it, and find themselves able to practice their skills and to use camoflauge such as a ghillie to their advantage. They find themselves becoming more stealthy and understand the rifles limits. By being able to get in range unnoticed, this rifle is quiet and able to take accurate consistent shots to a certain point. The sniper realizes he enjoys and is quite good at the role. This is where upgrading the rifle will really help with performance of this clone.
Overall rating: 6/10
Reason: Fliers here and there, and range is limited
Overall, the stock has held up, even after a few falls. The barrel is solid and shows no signs of denting even after a few crashes too
The sears are metal, and have held up for a long time, showing no signs of wearing down. The hop up chamber is sturdy and reliable, but recently I have come to the conclusion that the bucking has been worn out. Sadly, taking apart the hop up chamber is difficult and is not recommended. Replacement parts can only be purchased from leapers under the 30 day warranty. I suggest you get a few extra buckings (which are only made for the specific mk96 hop up chamber). Once the bucking wears down, you have no choice but to take apart the hop up chamber.
I am currently fiddling with it, and will post a dissembly guide if I figure it out. Wish me luck comrades
Also, the piston and spring guide are a yellow plastic, that seems very solid for stock pieces. However, dropping in a heavy spring from the beginning will result in very results. With that said, despite the durable stock internals, they in no way can handle a heavy spring by themselves.
Overall rating: 9/10
Reason: Nothing wore down and broke on me after all these years
Being a clone rifle, the mk96 can take maruzen l96 parts. Here is a link to a very useful thread when upgrading any clone or maruzen l96 rifle: http://www.airsoftsniperforum.com/phpBB/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=681
If money is still an issue, keep saving up for some good upgrade parts. But for the meantime, here is a link to some good Do it yourself upgrades (DIY): http://www.airsoftforum.com/board/Stock-MK96-Dummies-t172200.html
. These mods can help make the rifle more affective without burning a hole in your pocket. Some deal with helping increase compression, and decrease in compression lost, a vital part of your rifles success. Others like custom barrel spaces help prevent barrel vibration which results in decrease in accuracy.
Next, once you have gotten some cash, and still enjoy this role, it is time to upgrade the internals. While the upgrades prove to be costly, they also find themselves to greatly increase the rifle's performance. All the way from consistency, to accuracy, to an increase in its fps. But wait, didn't the noob ask a question about a rifle such as this?? They wanted accuracy, long range, and a high fps
. O, but they wanted it cheap, thats right. :-/ It just goes to show you, that the rifle takes some money to get shooting to the best of its ability. Noobs, seriously think about whether or not spending lumps of money on the rifle is worth it to you. If not, using this rifle stock will be difficult, yet not impossible
on the field. For you, I recommend a aeg to get you started. Now for those who are interested and have the desire to still go through with upgrading their rifle, please continue reading.
Many upgrades are available in and out of the country. My favorite is airsoft atlanta, which is in Atlanta, Georgia. Also, redowlf, is out of the country but has a alot of good stuff. Redwolf, unlike Airsoft Atlanta, has the zero trigger in stock, a valuable upgrade part that offers amazing durability. Just read the thread by Zulu for a better description on all of the upgrades available.
Here is my recommendation for upgrade order. This is based off Zulu's thread, and this will be like a little summary
First Upgrade Purchases
1. PDI hop up chamber: allows use of aeg barrels and buckings
2. AEG tightbore barrel (6.03mm to 6.05mm recommended.) Stock barrel length is 499mm, but a 509mm barrel will suffice if the end cap is removed. A flash hider will provide cover for the small bit of barrel that is extended.
3. Soft bucking and nubbing (possibly polar stars concave spacer--is a nubbing)
4. Heavy weight bbs (madbulls are nice)
5. PDI repair kit: Cheap kit, with spare pieces for PDI hop up unit.
Second Upgrade Purchases
1. Cylinder head, spring guide, cylinder, and piston and accuracy cup. I prefer laylax parts but PDI parts are also very high quality.
-Note: the cylinder being the most expensive is not necessary with the purchase of the spring guide, piston, and cylinder head. The stock cylinder will suffice just fine for now.
2. Trigger sear and piston sear. Although, the stock sears held up extremely fine, and show no signs of wear after three years of use.
Third Upgrade Purchases
1. Zero trigger
2. If not bought yet, a teflon cylinder
3. Heavier spring (note how other internal parts were upgraded before the spring was. This is very important
Fourth upgrade purchases
1. Flash hider adapter
2. Flash hider
3. New bolt handle
Note how these are not necessary upgrade parts. Some offer good durability upgrades, whiles others are for looks
Overall rating: 9/10
Reason: So many available upgrades, and only a few pieces like the piston sear is hard to find.
Now for the overall rating of the UTG MK96 clone rifle: 8/10
Reason: So much can be done to this rifle. Not to mention, it shoots very decent stock. This allows the person to slowly upgrade overtime, and practice the role of the sniper, without terrible performance from the rifle. Only true weakness when fully upgraded is the stock, which makes the rifle feel weak and like a toy, even when it is shooting fantastic :'(
For any further description please refer to Zulu's thread linked above. This is just a brief summary for you lazy kids out there
evike.com (not a whole lot of selection but it has some good stuff
Just go to the bolt action parts sections and there will be some great stuff
Any questions feel free to pm me. After all, I love to talk airsoft
I would also like to thank Zulu, a valuable member of the forum, who helped me get to where I am today with my rifle