This review will start in a most inappropriate fashion- we will tell you why it is a bad time to review a GBB replica. It is winter. There is snow outside and it’s cold, so overall it’s not the best time to bring a gas powered replica to a field.
And now for actual review. If anything marked the 2008 in airsoft it was marked by renaissance of gas as power source. Western Arms is the company, which takes credit for this again found interest in gas as power medium for long barrelled replicas.
This is not exactly a new development; gas was one upon a time primary power source and name Asahi, Falcon, JAC (and others) were captains in the gas replicas industry back in the day. Gas appears as ideal power medium- at least as far as realism is concerned. Bolt blow back is the most coveted feature.
Not everything is rosy, though: gas has several annoying features which reduce its value.
Probably first and foremost is elaborate maintenance, demanded by gas replicas; second, cost (magazines are complicated and fairly costly, also, gas doesn’t come cheap) and third, gas is temperature sensitive. For our readers in the (continental and northern) Europe and North America this means that 5-6 months out of the year your gas replica is sitting in the closet (CQB play notwithstanding).
Recently, several manufacturers branched into gas powered replicas of assault rifles. One of them is Taiwanese company, called GHK Airsoft (from now on, we will only use GHK). GHK’s first widely known product is gas powered, blow back AKS74U. And naturally, you are reading a review of one.
Replica comes in fairly standard cardboard box. Box will not win any awards for excellence in design, but it does its job of protecting the cargo very well. Box contains replica, magazine, BB loader and manual.
Of course we ripped the replica right out of the box and gave it closer visual inspection. In our opinion, guys from GHK did probably the best thing- they didn’t waste time with reinventing the wheel, which quite possibly could result in more expensive and complicated replica.
GHK AKS74U simply uses tried and tested Boyi/Kalash AKS74S as shell. Good decision all-round as spare parts should be readily available and Boyi/Kalash is of decent quality (they also offer a model, which uses Vega Force Company’s shell, but is considerably more expensive).
As such, t6he outline is still the same as with the AEG model. Wire stock is still secured by latch and overall configuration is still typically AKish. Not exactly the pinnacle of the human friendly design, than. GHK AKS74U comes with wood fore grip. Finish of the fore grip could be much better, but if you are not afraid of little hard work, you could make it really outstanding.
And here goes another (cheap) shot at ergonomy- the grip. As there is no motor in the grip they used a realistically sized grip. For someone used to “fat” AEG grip this one is surprisingly narrow. I’m always amazed just how narrow real grips are (in comparison to AEG grips, anyway) and AKS74U grip is no exception. It is not uncomfortable, just different.
We usually speak about field strip somewhere at the end of the article. Not this time- as this is gas powered replica we were very anxious to find out just how close field strip resembles the stripping of the real one.
Well, it is quite realistic:
1. remove the magazine
2. open the receiver cover (…no use to check the chamber for rounds in airsoft)
3. slide the rubber buffer out of the place
4. remove the guide rod (rotate it left or right and pull it back)
5. remove the rubber buffer
5. remove the bolt carrier (pot metal) with bolt (plastic).
For assembly of the GHK AKS74U, reverse the process. Taking the replica apart is a quick and painless procedure.
Trigger mechanism looks very much like the real AK firing mechanism. Which comes as no surprise, of course.
Filling up the magazine with BBs is very simple. It uses “AEG style” BB well and not GBB style . This means that regular magazine loaders are compatible. While readers may not agree, we see that as an excellent decision. Why? GBB type followers are quite susceptible to damage, while AEG type is much more accident proof- at least if you are clumsy as I am (dropping the magazines all the time).
Magazine capacity is 50 BBs, which means that you will need at least three magazines if you want to skirmish. Luckily, they are reasonably priced.
Firing is serious fun. Fill the magazines with BBs and gas (we encountered no leakage), insert the magazine (be sure that it is fully seated), unlock the replica, cock the replica and…. “brrrrrrrrraaaaaap…” There is loud report and respectable kick. There are several YouTube clips available, so check them out. Word of warning- when the magazines are new, they may have some trouble sitting in the well correctly- hence the remark in the parenthesis.
It is bit annoying that replica does not stop to fire when the magazine is empty, but there is a logical explanation- AK do not have Armalite style bolt catch. Also, such feature would be probably impossible to implement, since they used the “AEG style” BB well.
Maintenance is bit more complicated than ole’ good electric powered replica. GHK supplies good set of instructions, which offer basic guidance what to do and what not to. Follow them:
– do not dry fire is there is no gas in the magazine
– use green gas only
– for new gun, more lubrication inside the bolt carrier is needed
– use high viscosity silicone oil to lubricate all rubber contact area
– use light household oil to lubricate all metal contact area (WD40 is not recommended)
We followed this instructions to the letter and did not experience any problem. Some users reported cracks on bolt assembly (bolt traverses quite a lot and slams forward with considerable force) but we didn’t find any problems whatsoever. Again, this was not a long term test (we fired around 1500 BBs), so your mileage may vary. However, we followed some basic precautions, like tearing the gun apart every couple of 100 BBs with oiling and inspecting for wear and tear. You should carefully inspect the front of the bolt carrier, which forcibly slams into the body of the replica. This is the trouble spot- our shows some slight wear and tear, but nothing really troublesome.
Hop Up is adjusted just like the AEG. No annoying field strip is necessary, just pull the bolt back and adjust rotary dial. As already said, AEG type BB well on the magazine and AEG style HopUp means that couple of BBs will fall out of the HopUp chamber with every magazine change.
Magazine has fairly big BB capacity. This means that it suffers from cool down effect, especially if you love long bursts. One long burst is out of the question, as the cool down effect is quite visible. Best results were given by short, controlled bursts (10 BBs maximum). Rate of fire is quite good and sound is fantastic.
Performance- for stock replica- is very good. With green gas (sorry, no chemical composition available) and .20 g the replica clocked at about 370 at the 19 C (indoors of course). Range was sadly not tested beyond 15 meters.
So, what is the verdict? What role does GHK AKS74U fill?
While we haven’t had an opportunity to fully test its potentials in the field (remember, we have snow and sub zero temperatures) it is still clear that this replica is much more than an overgrown GBB pistol.
While I’m sceptical to see a widespread use of gas as the power source I’m more than willing to admit that GBB replicas are great fun. And -under certain circumstances- I can see it could be at least a temporary replacement for AEG replica.
Since we have the dead of winter here we didn’t have the actual opportunity to fully test it on the open battlefield, only in simulated CQB setting.
We didn’t encounter whole lot of technical problems- except one, which was serious and not GHK’s fault. Plate, which disconnects the trigger got knocked out of position. We suspect that this happened during the transport.
When trying (with magazine inserted- stupid mistake on our part) we pressed on the trigger, while GHK AKS74U was on the safe. Replica fired full auto, slightly bent the fire selector lever and made an ugly scratch on the bolt. I seriously suggest that every new replica is tested: remove the magazine, cock the replica, put the safety on and press the trigger If trigger moves, you have to repair it.
Solution is very simple: field strip the replica (open the top cover, remove the recoil spring, recoil buffer and the bolt carrier). You should have unobstructed view on the safety plate. Push the safety plate forward while holding the safety lever, which will push the plate back to position.
To nicely round up the GHK’s replica in a nice package all you need is a couple of magazines (which are -surprisingly- quite affordable), a good sling and some realistic optics (preferably EKP Kobra). And you should have an ultimate CQB tool.
Is it worth it? If you take every maintenance provision seriously, you don’t use overpowered gas and you understand, that this is not your regular use-and-abuse AEG, you should be fine.
In conclusion: GHK AKS74U is so much fun, it should be illegal.
Test item provided by GHK