Reviews

Tokyo Marui AKS74U with Blowback and Recoil Engine

OptimusPrime

As promised in the August 2008 issue of the Popular Airsoft Magazine, we were determined to make a full takedown and review of the Tokyo Marui (TM) AKS74U AEG that comes with the blowback and recoil engine. This is the second AEG that Tokyo Marui has released that features this new innovation, the first being the TM AK74MN. If you think that blowback and recoil are just unnecessary niceties for AEGs, I may have to ask you to think again. My playing experience with this AEG is even better since the effects of these two innovations as the realism part of airsoft has been brought to a whole new level.

Until now…

TAKING OUT OF THE PACKAGE...

The TM AKS74U came in a nicely box and the basic stuff you’ll need to get started, sans battery and charger, the AEG, a speed loader, 80-round low capacity magazine, and sample BBs. You can operate the AEG with an 8.4V mini battery, which is a tight fit in the handguard area, and not the stick type battery that we are all accustomed to with version 3 gearboxes. Due to the redesign of the gearbox to have the blowback and recoil effect, installation of a stick battery was out of the question, as it won’t fit in the upper receiver of the AEG. You’re stuck with an 8.4 mini battery. Perhaps some tinkering will allow you to install a larger type of battery, but only externally, with a battery bag attached outside of the front guard. Thus putting a scope mount at the handguard area will be an inconvenience, since it’ll be hard to make a quick battery change with the mount installed and would take a lot of time.


Being a shortened version of the AKS—which usually denotes that this type of a rifle comes with a side folding skeletal stock—the flash hider appears funnily conical due to its being a compact version of the AKS-74, which in the real steel version allows projectile stability and the internal expansion chamber relieves the gas pressure generated inside. The AKS74U was developed for special forces troops, paratroopers, vehicle-mounted personnel, and soldiers behind frontlines such as those in logistics and artillery. Thus it is one of the most compact and highly manoeuvrable assault rifles in the world today. And this is one aspect that I like about this AEG.

The wood-like finish for the handguard is actually ABS and I cannot tell if various wood kits for the AKS74U can fit the TM version.


The receiver is aluminium, making it light and sturdy. It has number markings on the bolt with the “Tokyo Marui, Made in Japan”, and “ASGK” stamped on the main body of the receiver. Another thing to take note is that the AKS74U has a different sighting system. It differs from the traditional sliding notch type, as it has a U-shaped flip rear sight that can be adjusted for fixed “P”, and “4, 5” for the 400m to 500m range (which is actually useless for an airsoft gun). Just make it fixed to “P” and no adjustments necessary unless you place a side scope mount rail for you to put a reflex sight. In this case, you’ll need to dremel on the side to install the side scope mount. For me, the finishing of the receiver is nice and I don’t want to bore extra holes into it just to achieve a certain look. I like it the way it is.

The fire selector switch is still the same as the AK, with the right lever used to select firing modes (top = safe, middle = auto, bottom = single). Pulling the bolt open to reveal the hop-up, you'll see the hop-up dial there and looks very much standard, unlike the King Arms Galil SAR EBB that has a sliding hop-up adjustment tool. Magazine insertion and release is still the same too. But the magazine is a different design altogether for the new generation TM AK AEGs. Any older TM-compatible AK magazine will not fit in this AEG, nor the AK74MN.



For a compact AEG, it fires at 285fps, due to Japanese laws, but it has a long range. It actually out-ranged my CA SCAR-L even if the SCAR-L has a longer barrel and higher fps. Typical of TM AEGs, even for their lower power, the range they produce is actually good, thanks to their hop-up system which they basically designed



Before we opened up this AEG, it has gone through several gruelling skirmishes, firing over 6,000 rounds. A lowdown when skirmishing with the TM AKS74U is the faster consumption of batteries as the 8.4v mini 1400mah battery we used stops providing juice at around 2,000 rounds. Perhaps battery levels drop faster due to the additional requirement needed to run the blowback and recoil engine.

TAKE DOWN

Dismantling the TM AKS74U requires a total takedown of most parts, even if you are just after looking into the innards of the gearbox and the new features.

1. Remove the external covers for battery compartment and the upper receiver. Ensure that no battery is attached providing power to the AEG in order to avoid accidents. When you remove the cover of the upper receiver you’ll also need to remove the next plastic cover for the blowback and recoil mechanisms. The flat screw heads have look unique, which I cannot say what type of screws these are, but nevertheless make sure you have a screwdriver that you can use to remove these screws.



2. Now, remove the spring guide for the blowback and recoil mechanism, which then the bolt cover comes out enabling you to fully remove the plastic cover of the recoil mechanism.



3. Time to dismantle the blowback and recoil engine that I so like about. Nothing difficult to do, just remove the screws securing the cover of the engine then take everything apart to see that the engine is nothing complicated, but the simplicity of the innovation shows how TM’s craftsmanship remains excellent. The engine is connected to the main gearbox, which sure will put some strain on the gearbox, but I’m getting ahead of the story.



4. Removing gearbox gets a little cumbersome, as it requires an almost total dismantling of the rest of the AEG. Next on your list is to push out the pin to release the skeletal stock. You can use a mallet to push it out.



5. Take out the pistol grip and the motor housing the remove the screws in the mag well area and at the rear part of the lower receiver.



6. The front part of the AEG then comes next, starting with the flash hider to the battery compartment area until the fuse is exposed.



7. Take out the skeletal stock lock on the front-left side of the lower receiver then slide out the lower receiver. The gearbox is revealed showing a serial number, and from there you can now proceed to looking into the innards of the gearbox just how like how you do it with the other version 3 gearboxes.



SO WHAT DID WE FIND ABOUT THE GEARBOX?

  • Gearbox is fully reinforced, as Bulletproofmike said, it's much better than a Guarder or G&P reinforced gearbox. It's full metal, though we cannot say what type of metal is used, but the colour is different from the older generation Marui gearboxes. It is wider, or thicker to be able to withstand the abuse and vibration as from the AEG's recoil and blowback function.
  • The gears are thicker and have longer teeth
  • The piston is half-teeth
  • The cylinder is brass
  • The plastic spring guide is still standard TM
  • Polycarbonate bushings
  • Motor used is the TM EG-MAX Hyper 1000S High Torque


THE PLAYING EFFECT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL

The TM AKS74U, while compact, can go head to head with many longer AEGs out there in the field, and outperform many of them. It has great rate of fire, consistent feeding, durable, and has a great range. But the most immediate effect is not the performance of the AEG itself, it is the playing intensity that one can have with this due to the feedback from the recoil and blowback mechanisms. I can say this, because I felt it. I am a laid-back player, and take it easy while playing. But the TM AKS74U has produced an effect that made me want to push harder, and the comfort of a compact AEG, which is nice to hold.

To the surprise of my mates, I was out there leading the charge and showing to everybody that I have a rifle that barks loud. It also brought admiration from other players, as it’s just a sweet thing to see it in action with the blowback, recoil and all. There is the feeling of power, due to the level of realism that you get when playing with it. It’s a “high” I must say.

Woodland, MOUT, CQC... you name it, I am going to be sticking with this baby for a long, long time, save for that TM M4 SOPMOD that just came out. I’m already preparing a budget for that too.

When you see a TM AKS74U on display at the airsoft retail shop you frequent to, don’t think twice, just buy it.

Whether you have to shoot, maim, or steal just to have one of these, it’s worth it. You won’t regret buying this.

I hope to see more of these types of AEGs in the near future. Tokyo Marui just raised the bar way high for the competition to catch up. They’re still the big boys of airsoft.

Just don’t forget to bring more 8.4v mini batteries when you’re going out for a long skirmish day.

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