So we’re a pretty big fan of TM recoils here at Pew, as can probably be guessed by the number of gun reviews that relate to them in our Guns section, but all of them have been modern, western based recoils.
This time, its all about something a bit more Eastern bloc, the TM AKS74U. The SU format means this variant comes with the shorter barrel/foregrip set up and side folding stock.
The AKS74U weighs in at around 2.6kg, so is relatively light and anyone should easily be able to carry without a sling for extended skirmishes and MILSIMs if you should so choose to do. Whilst it is relatively lightweight, it does feel sturdily built, with next to no rattle from the top cover, which on many an AK I’ve seen be quite loose.
The folding stock locks into the extended position with an audible enough click that you can tell its properly in place, although there isn’t much when you fold it and lock it into the side, so make sure, if you’re folding it away in the field to double check that it is properly secured.
One thing that did slightly disappoint me was the faux wood of the foregrips, especially as TM have been doing a pretty good job with the plastic on their pistols, I was expecting a much better effort on their part. They feel solid in the hand, and with a bit of sand paper and krylon you can make them appear much better.
Thanks to the folding stock and the recoil engine sitting under the top cover, you are limited to the battery being stored in the foregrip and in TMs world, the battery should be stored in the top section of the foregrip, which limits you to batteries of about 1300mah or less. You can however quickly expand the battery capacity with help from a philips screwdriver, some heat shrink and a spare fuse box. If you take both handguards off (using the supplied allen key, which I wasn’t expecting from TM), you can remove the plastic battery/wire holder and expand your battery capacity. Doing this allows you to run a 7.4 2600mah split pack battery, and I can’t see much reason why you’d need a bigger pack.
Important pre-fielding information
Before you field your AKS74U, and I imagine this will apply to the rest of the AK range, you will want to remove the faux bolt and locktite/superglue the cocking handle screw. Lady luck happened to shine on me at a previous skirmish and I noticed the cocking handle hanging on by a thread to the bolt and was able to pocket it and the screw to deal with later.
To stop this, remove the top cover, remove the spring that sits behind the faux bolt, slide the bolt to the rear and it should come away from the rifle. Then use either red locktite or superglue to make sure nothing can make a bid for freedom again and then put on the bolt back in, pop the spring in, give it a few charges to make sure its seated OK and replace the top cover.
With an average FPS reading of 288FPS on a 0.2g BB, the AKS74U is within the usual stock TM FPS range, and thanks to the usual TM mating of decent parts in the gearbox and hop unit, you can still expect a decent usable range. If you don’t opt for making use of a larger battery, unless you have some high discharge batteries, I found the rate of fire to be fairly sluggish and experienced a few semi-auto lock ups, yet when using the same batteries in an M4 recoil, didn’t happen. However if you do make use of the extra space in the handguard, the trigger response and ROF goes up quite considerably, not into mosfet territory but certainly more than adequate for the task.
Unlike the M4 range, the AK series does not have bolt lock, so whilst it takes non-standard AK mags, the only benefit that you get is the every round feeding thanks to the extended follower/hop unit combination. I did also pick up a 600 round high cap for the SHTF moments and the only small negative I have found with them is that the winding mechanism is quite quiet, so hearing the change in click when the mag is fully wound might get missed when out in the field.
Whilst this is a Next Gen ‘Recoil’ AK, just like the rest of the range, don’t be expecting anything close to 7.62 recoil from one of these. The recoil engine does enough to give the gun some feedback when firing, and the faux bolt helps to disguise the regular AEG noise of motors and gears.
As you can see from the later pictures, the folding stock has been replaced by an M4 stock tube and clone Magpul CTR stock. I wasn’t originally planning on making this change as there is no out of the box stock adapter to do so, however after snapping two stock catches in back to back game days and coming to the conclusion that the stock catch is made of cheese pretending to be metal, I asked a team mate to affix a stock tube onto the back (through the combination of metal resin filling the stock mounting block, a bolt and a steel washer). Long and the short, if you play fairly aggressively and like to throw yourself around a bit, you’re probably going to break the stock catch pretty quick, and you’ll have to hit up Eagle6 for a TM replacement (http://eagle6.co.uk/shop/catalog/product/view/id/883/s/tokyo-marui-ak74mn-folding-stock-release-catch-for-ak-next-generation-recoil-shock-series/) as unfortunately no one makes a better quality replacement.
Laylax (NitroVo) Keymod rail
So pretty much the only external part available for the AKS74U is the Laylax keymod rail (http://eagle6.co.uk/shop/catalog/product/view/id/1768/s/laylax-nitro-vo-aks74u-keymod-rail-hand-guard-for-ak-next-generation-recoil-shock-series/) which doesn’t come cheap. However it is your only option if you want to make your AK more tacticool, and get mounting accessories and sights on it.
In terms of build quality, the rail system is made of an aluminium alloy and as a result is nice and light weight. As you’d expect from a Laylax product, the finish is excellent and all of the keymod slots are nicely machined. The rail system comes with an integrated top rail and three keymod areas at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. Unfortunately you do not get any rail sections with the rail, so if you need to mount something to a rail, you’ll have to source these separately. That said, the whole point of keymod is to mount directly to it, eliminating the extra weight and bulk of rails. I’ve thrown a BCM Gunfighter keymod vertical grip onto the bottom section, and having tested each of the slots at all positions, Laylax have made the slots compatible with real steel keymod direct mounting accessories.
One negative to this rail is that because the underside is flat, rather than curved like the stock ones it replaces, you can no longer fit a split cell battery, or at least not the 2600mah that was in ther before, so if you intend on using this rail, I would suggest getting yourself some turnigy nano batteries with a decent discharge rate. I’m currently using some 1,000mah 25-50C discharge batteries (http://www.hobbyking.co.uk/hobbyking/store/__11900__Turnigy_nano_tech_1000mah_2S_25_50C_Lipo_Pack.html) although I reckon you could get a wider battery in there without much issue.
Whilst expensive at nearly £110, if you’re looking to expand your AKS74U into something more, then I can recommend this product whole heartedly.
+ Well built construction (except stock catch) with no wobbles or rattling
+ Reliable, consistent TM performance out of the box
+ Recoil unit and faux bolt give the AK gives enough feedback to be noticeable when using
+ Being lightweight, it is incredibly easy to bring up to target quickly and doesn’t cause much fatigue during a full game day.
– Faux wood leaves a little bit to be desired, but nothing that some sand paper and krylon can’t fix.
– Limited and expensive after market external parts.
– Stock catch is made of cheese and will break if you put any kind of side ways strain on the stock.