LCT G3 Review
Recently, LCT released their long awaited G3. LCT is a Taiwanese company that is known for their high quality line of AKs. They are sought after due to their fairly good internal parts, good internal tolerances, and well made externals. They are known as one of the few airsoft gun manufacturers that have a decent stamped steel finish.
Naturally, airsofters were intrigued when they announced last year that they had a G3 in the works. Existing G3s on the market are fairly lackluster. Most of them are made quite poorly with garbage metal like Classic Army, and creaky plastic twigs like Jing Gong and Tokyo Marui.
Mine was one of the first LCT G3s in Canada special thanks to BlackBlitz Airsoft here, but I wanted to take some time to explore the platform before I published a review. I did not want to be the typical internet reviewer that only had positives to say because they rushed to conclusions and were more inclined to love their most recent purchase. Those of you that know me will understand that I pay attention to very particular details. I care much more for design/finish, upgrade potential, and attention to detail than I do to things like stock performance etc. so this review will be structured to reflect that.
My initial impressions were mixed - not because it was bad, but because it was only good when I expected them to be fantastic. The externals are far better than any other G3 on the market. The gun feels solid.
The pins are tight, the gun does not flex, the mag sits tight. Over time, the gun does not seem to develop "wobble", but the pins, mag, etc. begin to work themselves to be much easier to remove. Same goes for the selector mechanism, which feels solid. My only criticism to the selector mechanism is that the notch that was stamped to stop the selector in full auto was not stamped correctly, and the selector will not move far enough to click into full auto. It will stay in place without issue though. This is a problem with the entire first batch from LCT and will likely be resolved in future production runs.
There were also a number of G3s that came with their rear HK sights installed incorrectly. Simple fix, but it sent a clear message that production was rushed.
The finish itself seems close to that on their AKs, but is darker. It seems quite good, but scratches more easily than the finish on their AK line. The welding is straight up bad. It looks like shitty CYMA welding, does not look like the much cleaner welding on their AKs. Quality of plastic parts seems up to par.
The magazine retention tab inside the magwell is held in by two screws. This is probably going to be a point of failure.
There is a pin that holds the front end together. I found the design off putting because it does not follow a realistic design, it was just put there to simplify production. Small detail, not a big deal.
Disassembling the gun is very simple. Two pins keep the stock on, then one pin keeps the upper and lower together. Once the stock pins are removed, the stock pulls off - its very tight until broken in. The lower must be pulled backward a bit, and then pulled down and out.
One thing that I found immediately off putting but easily fixed, is the lack of a spring guide alignment screw. This means that until you find one and put one in, your spring guide is free to flop around. Again, not a big deal, but really shows that LCT was rushed and was not paying attention to detail the way they do with their AKs.
The pistol grip is removed just like a M4. Two screws keep a grip plate on, remove those and it reveals a motor. Two screws underneath the motor keep the grip attached to the gearbox.
The motor isn't the best, but it is not bad. O-type pinion, crimped endbell. Magnets are not as strong as good neodymium magnets in Tienly motors, but not as bad as the magnets in Krytac motors. Similar magnet strength to Lonex motors. Good for a stock or even mildly upgraded gun, but I would end up upgrading it (I did) if you were looking to maximize performance.
The gearbox itself is a V2 gearbox that clearly still has provisions for bolt blowback from LCT's failed M4 line. Those provisions are useless here, which tells me LCT made some design compromises in order to save money and re-use existing gearbox moulds. LCT made the completely unnecessary decision to put two gearbox alignment pins through the lower receiver that would not be there on a real G3. They only make sense when used on a M4 type platform. One is above the grip, the smaller one is underneath the fire selector. These are minor details, but I found the attitude extremely off putting. After these pins are removed, the gearbox slides out.
The gearbox is standard V2. The nozzle had a slight leak which is common on LCT mechboxes. The LCT nozzle was slightly longer than M4 length, but I found that the optimal nozzle length was actually nearly a whole mm longer. I machined a new nozzle and the FPS went up significantly. LCT, get your shit together.
Anti reversal latch does not stay in place. Very poor tolerances here compared to their AKs. The gears themselves are good. They sit in 9mm bearing bushings which seem to be quite durable. The gears appear to be machined and held together with pins, bevel gear is sintered. Other brands seem to like sintering all of their gears, which I do not like as much. LCT has some of the best stock gears on the market. The metal sector delayer seems solid. *Note to you techs out there, this is how sector delayers are meant to be installed. Everyone seems to install them backwards.*
The piston assembly is good. The piston body is okay, a bit more brittle than some aftermarket pistons, but the steel rack is good and so is the aluminum piston head. You will have to modify the piston rack for angle of engagement if you add a sorbo.
The cylinder head is CNC machined and is good. The stock shock dampening pad is stuck on well. It needs to be thoroughly cleaned in order to install a sorbo, but is fine as is.
The spring guide is metal with bearings. Previous generations of LCT guns used plastic spring guides which had a tendency to break. These are good.
The tappet plate I believe is made of polyacetal, which seems to be a good material for tappet plates. I have never seen one of these break in their AKs, I've probably worked on 50 LCT AKs by now. One detail though that really pissed me off, is the tappet plate is too short. Maybe it shrunk during cooling, or their mould was just off spec. Either way, the tappet fin prevents the tappet plate from going forward all the way, resulting in massive air seal problems. Simple fix, you can replace the tappet or sand the fin. Not noticeable unless you use the top half of the gearbox to align the tappet plate, therefore not visible in the picture of the whole gearbox. Extremely off putting, LCT get your fucking shit together.
The gearbox itself seems fine. The wiring is 18 AWG, standard stuff. I ended up re-wiring to 16 AWG and installing a 3034 MOSFET. The cylinder is fine as well.
The hop up is accessed through the mock bolt, it uses a rotary M4 style hop up unit. It seems quite good, gun shoots straight. I'm sure all of you chairsofters will want to know about the H&K slap. Its probably the best you will find on an AEG, does not look like it will break the charging handle.
Upgrades and Aftermarket Compatibility:
Despite the numerous shortcomings when you really pay attention to detail, the stock performance of the gun is quite good. They typically shoot just over 400 FPS out of the box.
If you plan on upgrading this gun, simple air seal upgrades are fairly easy to perform. I would recommend immediately swapping the tappet and nozzle. I believe a SiG/FAL nozzle is the correct length for this gun. I ended up machining my own out of a G36 nozzle.
Drivetrain upgrades are a bit more difficult, and I would not recommend them unless you have access to a mill. The motor, as stated previously, is quite good for a stock motor. I would still change it out if you are planning on more thorough upgrading. The main concern is the gear set. The bushing holes are not recessed very far. The stock gears sit fine, however there is not enough width to fit the SHS, ZCI, and Siegetek gears I tried to fit. I had to recess the bushing holes on both sides of the gearbox or the step gear and bevel gear. Since this is a gearbox spec related issue, one could theoretically alleviate this by replacing the shell with something like a Lonex shell.
Conclusions AKA TLDR:
Overall, this is a good gun. It is by far the best G3 on the market. There were many small details that bothered me because of my attentiveness to such things, but to most end users the details that I complained about would not affect use. I would equate it to expecting a VFC M4 and getting a G&P instead, or expecting LCT quality but instead you got a janky E&L. Attention to detail is simply not there, and it is extremely obvious that LCT rushed to meet the demand from distributor pre-orders. It is also obvious that the design was meant to cut costs for LCT, not to produce the best G3 they could possibly make.
If you want a G3, this is the G3 to get. If you just want a stock gun that shoots well, this is a good buy. If you plan on light upgrading, it is also a good buy. If you plan on heavy upgrading or you're nitpicky like me, this gun is a candidate and competitor, but not a fantastic choice - though the only decent G3 choice.
Time will tell if LCT improves on their next batches of G3s once demand has settled down and they can take their time to fix these minor yet extremely off putting issues. LCT improved their AK line over time to be the top airsoft AK manufacturer, it only makes sense that their G3 production will improve as well.
Thanks to LCT for putting the effort to make the only good G3 on the market. Special thanks to BlackBlitz Airsoft for helping me to acquire such a piece.