Snow Wolf Barret M82A1 (SW-02) Review

November 18, 2010
By Brandon

Introduction

For some reason, owning an M82 has always been a bit of a grail for airsofters.  I’m not sure if it is the mere aesthetic, the perceived firepower, or weird one-uppsmanship instinct, but airsofters for a long time have purchased their Barrett replicas by the handful, wallets screaming the whole way.

Until recently, when a large shipment of the Snow Wolf M82′s found their way across the pond, and into Airsplat’s storefront.  Seeing this thing for sale for such a relatively low price (for a Barrett… the key word here is relatively), and in the US, I jumped on the chance to get something new and interesting to review.  And I needed its reassuring manliness in my life… Moving on.

Real Steel History:

“The Barrett Firearms company was founded by the Ronnie Barrett for a single purpose of building semi-automatic rifles chambered for powerful .50BMG ammunition, originally developed for and used in the Browning M2HB heavy machine guns. Barrett began his work in early 1980s and first working rifles were available in 1982, hence the designation M82. Barrett continued to develop his rifle through 1980s, and developed improved M82A1 rifle by 1986. The first real success was the purchase of about 100 M82A1 rifles by the Swedish Army in 1989. Major success followed in 1990 – 1991, when US Military purchased numbers of the M82A1 during the operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Kuwait and Iraq. About 125 rifles were initially bought by US Marine Corps, orders from US Army and Air Force followed soon. The M82A1 is known for US Military as the SASR – “Special Applications Scoped Rifle”, and it was and still is used as an anti-materiel weapon and EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) tool. The long effective range along with high energy and availability of highly effective ammunition such as API and Raufoss M213 allows for effective operations against targets like radar cabins, trucks, parked aircrafts and so on. The M82 also can be used to defeat enemy snipers or criminals from standoff range or when targets are behind the cover, but anti-personnel work is not a major application for Barrett M82 (or any other .50BMG rifle, for that matter).”

  • Caliber: .50 BMG (12.7 x 99mm)
  • Operation: Short Recoil, Semi-Automatic
  • Overall Length: 1448 mm
  • Barrel Length: 737 mm
  • Feed Device: 10 Round Detachable Box Magazine
  • Sights: 10X Telescopic
  • Weight: 12.9 kg empty
  • Muzzle Velocity: 854 m/s (M33 Ball)
  • Max Effective Range: 1800 meters
  • Expected accuracy: 1.5 – 2.0 MOA or better

Real Steel Info from world.guns.ru

Movie Appearences:

C’mon, its a Barrett.  Of course its in movies.  See three reasonably good uses of the gun below;

Smokin Aces had a pretty excellent Barrett scene, though prone to maybe embellishing the gun’s effectiveness.

The above is a bit of a shit picture, but the recent movie remake of Miami Vice shows the Barrett in its anti-vehicle element very well.  Probably my favorite appearance of the three of these.

Marky Mark (Sans Funky Bunch) shows the Barrett used for its initial intended purpose (light anti-aircraft) in Shooter.

The Replica:

So, lets get down to the replica.  At a bit under 5 feet long, the packaging to contain the replica must be quite large.  I was somewhat surprised, the box is simple brown cardboard, with the gun suspended from either end by styrofoam clamshell packing, but minimal support in the middle.  Mine, as ordered from Airsplat, came with a sling I couldn’t figure out, a junk wall charger, a battery, and a poster.  No matter, the box is junk.  The extras are junk.  No-one cares.  Lets get the thing out and have a look already.

It certainly looks businesslike out of the box.  It should be noted that the scope was not included with the gun.  The scope is a basic 3-9x50mm Leapers scope that I borrowed from our field owner for the review.

Just to get some perspective here, this is a big rifle.  Mike is illustrating the size of the replica, which is just under 5 feet long.  Mike is about 6 feet tall, and the gun comes up to his mid shoulders from end to end.  This thing is unmanageably large.

Starting at the flashhider, the original (and only) flashhider came in blaze orange plastic.  A good hit of Rustoleum (my standby flat black paint) and a bit of light sanding got rid of some of the molding flash, and really completed the look of the replica.  The Rustoleum matte black also approximates the finish on the barrel quite closely, so overspray isn’t a huge deal (my flashhider had to be painted on the barrel, as Airsplat glued the flashhider on, and given its size, there is a ton of surface area for the glue to hold).

Another shot of the flashhider.  You can still see a line of molding flash on the front, which we did sand, but apparently not well enough.  Still, the flashhider appears pretty accurate, and definitely gets the gun’s point across.  This flashhider is synonymous with Barrett rifles, and if this was done poorly, the overall presentation of the replica would suffer.  Even though its a plastic flashhider, it looks good once painted.

Moving back, we come to the enormous fluted barrel.  Its large both diametrically and lengthwise, as I would expect from a replica of something that shoots .50 BMG in real steel.

The barrel appears to be made from solid aluminum, as it’s not heavy enough to be steel, but a molded potmetal barrel would bend easily.  A testament to the build quality of the replica is the lack of any identifiable flex or wobble from picking the replica up by the barrel.

One feature I noted was missing from the Snow Wolf that is present on the higher dollar replicas was the lack of any kind of replication of the recoil damping on the barrel.  The real Barrett’s barrel recoils into the receiver each time its shot as a part of its semi-auto short recoil action. Obviously in airsoft this won’t happen, but the VFC and SOCOM Gear replicas at least have the barrel mounted on a spring carrier so it can be moved back and forth by hand.  Personally, this doesn’t bother me, as that just adds more complicated bits and joints to eventually become loose.  The Snow Wolf is simple, and sturdy here, and I appreciate that.

Moving forward down the gun, we get to the bipod.  The bipod appears only to be held in by pull-pin in the image above, however there are also six mounting screws holding the bipod on, and level.  These screws can be removed so the bipod attaches only by the pin.  As of yet, I haven’t felt the need to remove mine, but other players may be more impulsive.  The bipod build quality is alright.  The legs are made of steel, but getting the height adjustment to lock is touchy, and no matter how many times I tighten the screws that the legs rotate around, they inevitably come loose again (even with loctite).

Here is the included carry handle with the SW-02.  I’m not sure I understand the sorcery at work here, but the handle can be pulled easily from the mount base when the base is not attached to a rail.  When it is, however, the carry handle is solidly attached to the base, and feels easily up to the task of supporting the replica.  I have used the carryhandle quite a bit with no deformation or close calls.

Also, note the front sling swivel near the left of the photo.  Its a large bent steel loop, and feels quite sturdy.  I also want to mention the quality of the receiver.  The receiver is aluminum (as is most of this gun, except the flashhider, pistol grip, and trigger group), and finished in a good matte dark grey.  The finish seems like it may not be the most durable, as I noticed wear a little quicker than expected after loaning the gun out to get people’s impressions for the review.  The receiver is of excellent quality, and feels well built.

Moving back along the receiver, we get to this piece.  I’m not sure what it is, as its just a small metal bracket pinned to a small metal protrusion on the receiver.  Local players have suggested this as an alternate bipod mount, but I don’t recognize this as a mount for any bipods I’m aware of.  I pulled the bracket and pin off, as they aren’t really necessary.

Moving yet further back, we get to the bolt cover.  As you’d expect, this receiver has a nice long fake bolt cover, and it can be pulled back between 3 and 4 inches.  The bolt cover feels relatively good compared to other replica’s junky feeling fake bolts (plastic G3 replicas, I’m looking at you).

Magazine

Moving back further, we get to the magazine.  This is one of my bigger issues with the replica.  If you look at the real steel pictures provided above, you can tell that the magazine in this replica has no basis in fact or reality.  I feel like it should be longer and taller, and it does affect the overall look of the replica.  The bag release is a simple spring metal tab at the front of the trigger guard, and is a bit of a hassle to activate.  Also, the magazine must be tilted in and out, much like an AK or G3.

You’d assume with all that real-estate (even if understated in size), that this replica would have a pretty fantastic capacity.  We also all know what they say about assumptions.  This is an M16VN hicap in drag, leaving you 180 rounds and a short tempered winding wheel.

Fire Select

Now you would think 180 rounds is not a huge deal on a sniper rifle, right?  Well, the above image shows why you may run into problems with the limited capacity.  The Barrett has a fire select similar to an AR, which appears appropriate based on the references above.  You can switch from safe, to semi…. to… ???  What it comes down to is, much like the ludicrously expensive SOCOM Gear M82, the Snow Wolf’s internals are based on a bog standard V2 gearbox, found in any MP5, AR, or G3.  What this boils down to is that the Snow Wolf is a big, heavy stock AEG with a really long barrel, and the unmarked position yields full auto as it would in a regular AR.  180 round mags can be awful small at a public CQB field with a regular AEG (If you’re laughing at the irony of this sentence, its not lost on me here.)  More on this later, but to sum it up, Look!  My Barrett shoots full auto!

Here’s a shot of the other side of the receiver and trigger group.  Not much to see here except the proudly emblazoned Snow Wolf logo, and an AR selector cap.  If you haven’t been able to tell, the pistol grip is a bog standard AR style pistol grip, and could be replaced with a grotesque looking ergo grip if you were so stricken.

Look, now we’re at the back of the gun!  Back here is one beefy sling swivel, and two pins.  The upper pin is the only pin that needs to be removed to strip the replica, and the lower pin holds the stock support and the buttpad together.  The buttpad is made of rubber, and the gun is reasonably comfortable to shoulder, if a bit front heavy.  Why did I even mention that?  Its four and a half feet long.  Of course it will be front heavy.  If you’re looking for a well balanced rifle, keep looking.

We’ve covered all of the replica here from nose to tail, but we don’t have much discussion on the overall package.

Taking a look at the gun, some inconsistencies present themselves if you’re pedantic.  Based on the style of the stock, this appears to be a replica of the M82A1, or one of the M82′s earlier variants, which had a very simple metal structure on the buttstock (as this replica has).  Later variants like the M82A3 and XM107 got somewhat more complex looking stock components.  This isn’t strange in and of itself, but the gun has a full length picatinny rail, and no built in iron sights,  which are more consistent with an M82A3.  I feel like the designers at Jin-Gong Snow Wolf wanted to get the basic idea of a Barrett across, but didn’t really pay much attention to the details.  Combined with the strangely undersized magazine, the rifle as a whole winds up being a little offputting because things aren’t 100% accurate.

But there’s always a line with pedants.  While I think the gun would look 100% better with a bigger magazine, some integrated iron-sights, and the tiny and overly tall scope mounting turret from the M82A1, my choice is limited to a toweringly expensive and essentially nonexistant VFC.  Similarly, If I really wanted an accurate M82A3/XM107 (which I don’t, the A1 is my personal favorite), I’d have my choice of buying the similarly expensive and hard to find SOCOM Gear or not buying the SOCOM Gear.  If I ease my scrutiny just a bit, this ‘cross-breed’ is on the radar at a $280 shipped, which is much easier to swallow than $1440 for the VFC, or $850 for the SOCOM Gear, each before overseas shipping.

The above wild disparity in price is where this gun’s genius comes in.  You don’t have to be made of money to have a Barrett anymore.  While this may make people who paid for the exclusivity on the other two mad, who cares?  Let them stew.  They can take solace that their guns are much more realistic while you are enjoying your enormous stock AEG.  Everyone wins really.

Field Stripping:

The images above show how to pull this bad boy apart to install the battery/do whatever else you have planned.

Image 1: Pull the pin at the top rear of the receiver, and remove the magazine.  These are the only two things holding the gun together.
Image 2: Slide the upper receiver/barrel assembly (yes, they come off as one piece) forward and off the gun.
Image 3: The gun is field stripped.  Here you can see the basic V2 gearbox, which is reminiscent of a JG and which comes with the much touted JG M41 Hi-Torque motor (which Mike says has neodymium magnets, the same magnets found in the $100 Systema Magnum motors).
Image 4: The battery lays in behind the gearbox.  There is a ton of room back here.  The stock battery is shown, but I’d plug that battery into a trash can and get this gun turning on a decent battery.  I’ve been running mine on an 11.1v Lipo.
Image 5: A gratuitous shot of the one piece hopup.  This is very similar to hops found in ARs.  Before reassembling, make sure that this is riding smoothly in its tracks in the outer barrel, otherwise it can bind and you won’t get the gun back together properly.

To reassemble, do images 1-3 backwards.  You’ll probably need a hammer for the rear pin to get it back in.  Mine is super tight, and needs some of the old Albanian speed wrench to pin together.

Shooting Impressions:

Like the Steyr GB Review, I tried to pawn the shooting review off on players at the DMZ on the day that I chose to review this.

I put the gun in the hands of a local player, sent him off, and after letting him play for an hour, he made good on his debt to me of a single paragraph on playing with the gun…  Prepare yourselves:

“The M82 not only feels as good as it looks, but it shoots that well to [sic].  With no scope I was able to get a few kills from 50 yards, then moved up as a distraction for the enemy team.  Just sticking the barrel out was an intimidating enough thing that they would instantly drop for cover. This not only gave my teammates time to move, but gave me time to get set up. It takes a bit to really get set up, but when you do, you can get some pretty easy kills.  In close quarters it is lacking, but that expected [?]. The full-auto works amazingly well in a sticky situation though. It has a good amount of weight to it, but that doesn’t keep you from being able to sprint to cover quickly. However you become a BIG target for the enemy team, and unless you have some allies to help you out, then your [sic] gone.”

Sorry readers, our playtester didn’t understand that he should comment on the specific properties and performance characteristics of the M82.  The preceding was mostly an incoherent jumble of thoughts that could be easily applied to any large airsoft replica.  With that out of the way, I turned to Mike to write about playing with it:

“My experience with the M82 is limited to a short stint at our local CQB arena, DMZ Airsoft.  Before I continue, I need to state my expectations for the SW-02.  Upon first seeing the gun I thought it would be ridiculously heavy, uncomfortable to hold, and overall quite unwieldy.  Knowing that the gun was manufactured in mainland china, I expected an average V2 gearbox, poor hop-up and poor quality barrel.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised all cases.  The gun is amazingly well built for the price, with an anodized barrel and receiver which is well formed and without defects.  The M82 is surprisingly easy to carry and point thanks to its relatively light weight.  I saw the inside of the gearbox when Brandon downgraded it for use at our field and it was filled with average to better Chinese internal bits.  JG/GE gears, white polymer-fiber composite piston, excellent JG ultra torque motor.  The airseal in the gearbox is excellent with a very low shot to shot FPS deviation.  The gun’s accuracy/precision is absolutely astounding for an out of the box Chinese replica.  With the hop-up properly dialed in, shots had a very consistent and flat trajectory.  All in all, aside from the fundamentally flawed V2 gearbox shell, this gun is a great upgrade platform to make a semi (or full) auto sniper rifle.  If you’re feeling like doing something on the crazier side, you could try to make this into a RoF gun.  While stock rate of fire is low to average on the included 8.4V battery thanks to the slow speed of the JG motor, it could be greatly improved with a set of highspeed gears which the motor is certainly capable of handling.”

Hmm.  Mike doesn’t seem care enough about you to finish 2 sentences. -Look, I went and finished my review, now you can shut up.- That’s OK readers, if I have to review my own gun’s shooting characteristics, then so be it.

I’ve spent the last few play days at DMZ getting comfortable with playing with the gun.  I had to do a bit of housekeeping with the gearbox straight away when I got it.  I cleaned up the shimming, because it was pretty bad out of the box.  I cut the spring down to produce 350 FPS on .2s (for field regulations), though the gun as delivered was shooting between 380 and 390 on .2s.  I also cleaned out the gunky Chinese grease from the gearbox, and replaced everything with SuperLube, our standby miracle gearbox grease.  I have to mention that I get fantastic FPS consistency (+/- 2ft/s) from shot to shot after the basic maintenance above, meaning all of the airseal parts on the replica seem to be well made.  The gun showed dramatic improvement between out of the box, and after a basic teardown and cleanup.  Ok, ok, I also cut enormous chunks out of the piston because I plan on making it a rate of fire gun (remember the irony I told you I was aware of?)  We’ll discuss high-speed gearbox modifications someday, hopefully with Mike if he can be bothered to write you anything.

I digress.

Actually fielding the gun is interesting due to its length.  The gun shoots laser straight once the hop is dialed, and quite consistently in terms of minimal spread thanks to the enormous barrel.

In any scenario, this gun will best serve a non-moving player.  Come on, this is logic.  Its a sniper rifle.  I participated in many ill advised attempts in rushing the gun forward, only to be too slow to get angles on people.  Sit back and use the gun’s traits to your advantages if you’re going to play it like an AEG.  Keep a good engagement distance and this thing really shines at putting rounds where you need them.

Also, it excels at making you feel epic.  There really is something to be said for the perception effect of having a big awesome replica.  I normally don’t get involved in my review pictures, but your author is the tactical light blue t-shirt wearer above.  I conned myself into being in these pictures because pointing this thing around (especially at our abandoned dog-track home-field) feels positively awesome.  On a slightly related note, I promise one day we’ll write you a profile of where we play/take pictures for Chairsoft Press.  The place is a pretty amazing setting.

Conclusion:

Performance: 3.5/5
Even without my basic maintenance at the beginning, the gun shot pretty well.  The rate of fire out of the box is slow, which won’t bother the majority of people looking for this gun, and the shimming was poor, but with some minor tweaking and a good battery, the gun really comes into its own.

External Design: 4/5
The replica is solid as a rock, to use a cliche.   An awesome rock that, for the most part, looks like a Barrett.  The minor aesthetic niggles and plastic flashhider cost this one a point, but the easy takedown, and overall good externals give the SW-02 a 4.

Value: 5/5
For $280 shipped at Airsplat, this represents excellent value compared to the other Barretts on offer, as I ranted about above for awhile.  Considering how cheap this is for an iconic gun, I’m compelled to say this represents pretty flawless value, and award a 5.

Overall: 4/5
I feel like the overall is a pretty good reflection on the gun.  Not absolutely perfect, but it represents a good value on something that is a decent replica of various Barretts.  Who cares if its a few different Barretts at once?

6 Responses to “Snow Wolf Barret M82A1 (SW-02) Review”


  • Could you give a detailed description on how to take the barrel out of the gun?

    Thanks,
    George Plantenga

  • That’s not a flash hider, it’s a muzzle brake. In a real gun it redirects the gasses backwards to reduce recoil and muzzle climb

  • Hi, nice review. just one thing, this is the size of the real steel 5 slug magazine. So the size is realistic. :-)

  • do you have the body dimensions to built a replica?

  • This is hands down, the most indepth awesome review ever, we should CQB of Field Battle Sometime With Our Barretts, This Website Gave Me A Awesome Review And A New Wallpaper. 10/10 Mi Amigo

  • Hi,

    Thanks for the review, helped me decide to buy it.

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