Whilst it’s true that you often get what you pay for, Certainly within the world of Airsoft replicas. Sometimes you pay a lot of money and get little in return, and sometimes… Rarely, You get something that defies conventional wisdom.
As some of you know, I tend to play as “The Bad Guys” at themed games. There’s a number of reasons for this, Whilst I have the gear and enjoy the structure of a Task Force environment, It can be a little too rigid for my liking.
Combining that with a requirement I had for an affordable “loaner” replica for friends who wish to have a go at Airsoft, There were a wide range of choices but only a few that interested me. I could have gone for a full-sized AK47/74 such as another AKMS which although desirable for a number of reasons would have been ultimately too bulky. The same goes with a G3 or an M14. A Sniper Rifle or support platform would be too specialised and bulky, unsuited to someone starting out and with the Marui Mk48 being released early next year I needed to keep within a budget. I did briefly consider an M16A1 for a Vietnam impression I’m slowly getting hyped for… But with limited choices on well made M16 replicas, ultimately there was only one option that made sense and ticked all the right boxes.
The AKS74u or “Krinkov” as it’s often called was developed as a personal defence weapon for soviet soldiers who would benefit from having a smaller weapon than troops armed with the AK74. This could include officers, heavy weapons crews (Mortars, RPGs etc) and others who require a compact weapon firing a full sized cartridge.
It’s a versatile weapon and one that’s ideally suited to an Opfor role, It’s ease at being concealed with the stock folded makes it great for covert use whilst the Airsoft AK design itself is naturally a good design with a large amount of upgrades available if you should wish to make changes.
The CYMA CM.045A is one of a few budget replicas of the AKS74u, Cyma having another model in the Marui based CM.035A, D-boys offering the same design in their range, WE with a GBBR and various others such as Cybergun offering yet more of the same basic AEG design at the lower end of the market.
At the other end, you have GHK, Tokyo Marui and Vega Force Company offering their respective Gas, Recoil and AEG versions. These are what you’d consider a more upmarket alternative, Generally well finished, great performers and a little bit more money than their budget alternatives.
The CYMA CM.045A is based upon the VFC AKS74u, One of the key advantages of this is the receiver design. The older Marui was based around a plastic body and used a number of screws within the lower portion, perfectly adequate or the original model but as alloys have replaced polymers, the loads on each component have increased. Taking a leaf from Kalashnikov’s book, VFC have made the whole design a little less reliant on threads and more on pins and mechanical locks. The CM.045A also boasts a large amount of steel parts, making this look and feel so much better than the majority of its peers.
When it arrived, the first thing I was struck by was how far the packaging had improved even over the last 3 years since I last had a CYMA AK and that was in a plain brown box with minimal protection, The CM045A came in a stylish blue and black box with a made to measure foam insert which holds the replica and accessories firmly and minimises the shock of transit.
Alongside the replica you also get a charger and an 8.4v 1200Mah NiMh stick/AK type battery, Bot something I’m planning on using but if your starting out I can appreciate it’s one less thing to worry about buying.
If we look first at the externals, starting from the Muzzle Booster (Often mistaken for a flash hider or brake) we can see that it’s a pretty good representation. The device is held on with a 24mm CW thread with a retaining pin preventing unwanted rotation in the muzzle. It’s a common enough solution and most AK owners will be used to this design.
Under the cover you’ll see the stock brass barrel and the adaptor which can be taken off to reveal a standard AEG 14mm CCW thread (Should you wish to add a custom suppressor or tracer unit).
The barrel itself is actually pretty good upon initial external impressions… Made from brass (An often overlooked material by those who wish to “upgrade” but actually a good choice due to its ease of cleaning and it’s able to be polished or lapped to a high sheen. The crown is also made with a deep taper which can provide a consistent cushion of air without a negative vortex upon the projectile leaving the barrel.
Moving rearwards, The front sight post/gas block is a zinc alloy casting which although not on par with the majority of the replica… It’s understandable why this material was chosen on a low cost replica. the front sight pin is adjustable in height much alike the M16, A simple yet effective threaded pin allowing a degree of movement within the winged sight frame.
The front handguard, Made from real wood… Unsure on the actual wood used but it’s finished and lacquered to a good standard. My guess would be a red stained pine by looking at the grain but I’m no wood expert (Despite selling hardwood furniture for a number of years 😂). On the inside of the handguard it’s reinforced with a pressed metal sheet that’s formed to the wood itself. The front cap for the handguard is pressed steel, string and virtually identical to what the genuine article would be in both material and look.
Just rear from the foregrip you have the receiver dust cover, this is unlike the AK47/74 in that it’s hinged at the front… A far better design and allows for a stress free battery installation… Especially when you consider that it’s sprung and will stay up until pushed back down and locked via the locking button to the rear of the receiver. In addition to retaining the cover this hinge also allows a captive pin to slide rearwards which allows the removal of the upper handguard.
An integral part of the hinged cover is the rear sight, a spartan arrangement that doesn’t allow for windage, the ranges at which the AKS74u being employed for not really requiring such adjustment. I’d hazard a guess that you’d simply adjust your aim based upon point of impact if using the real deal. The sight does allow for two different range options, the постояннаяon (Constant) setting which provides an all round aim point from zero to 350m and the longer range 4-5 (400-500m) option which again is simply flipped much alike the iron sights on the M16.
On the lower portion of the receiver you have the magazine well, Compatible with most brands of AK AEG magazine, E&L midcaps fitting with the usual amount of standard AK wobble. Other Marui compatible magazines should fit, MAG being an affordable option and the CYMA mags also being a well performing option.
The included magazine is a 500 round orange “bakelite” style high cap, I’m not a user of high capacity magazines do have bought half a dozen E&L 120 round Midcaps which I managed to pick up for £5 each! They’ll need a bit of work to get that genuine Bakelite look but that’s a job for another day… They’ve also required a little bit of work to feed correctly as well but it’s a simple enough task to add a bit of material to the lip that engages with the magazine release.
On to the controls… Starting with the Fire Selector/Safety it’s not quite as positive in its action as the Marui AK102 or my previous CYMA AKMS (CM.048S) in that the “Safe” position at the top doesn’t click into place as it does on the others, It doesn’t budge but I’m used to a tactile click when it’s in this position. I have no way of knowing if this is simply a by-product of its design or if in fact the real AKS74u also has this trait. I wouldn’t be too concerned as I doubt it’ll shift without user imput.
Knocking the selector down into Full Auto (One click) it feels far more positive, All the way to the bottom gets you semi-automatic which also feels as positive as full auto.
The other major control is the magazine release, a basic AK affair, pushing the lever towards the magazine will allow the magazine to pivot forward and be released from the well. This is reassuringly stiff and doesn’t budge unless you want it to.
The receiver itself is steel, providing a strength that far outclasses many other replicas, even those “high end” AKs made by the likes of TM sometimes are not made of steel which can lead to fatigue and damage if treated like a real AK. The receiver also has an AK type side rail attachment for optics etc… Not something I’ll use for the most part but handy if one was to attach an optic such as a Kobra Red Dot or Night optical devices.
At this point it’s important to note that airsofters sometimes have an unrealistic expectation of their replicas, I’ve overheard many an Airsofter talk about the merits of an AK or a Sniper Rifle and confusing the reliability and/or range of one and putting its reputation in the real world and expecting an Airsoft toy to behave the same… “bolt action snipers are more accurate” and “It’s an AK, It’s bomb proof”… Whilst there are agreements to suggest that both these points are true, it’s got very little to do with its real world namesake. Airsoft AKs for the most part use a V3 type gearbox. Compatible with many V2 parts yet with a built in motor cage which allows a far better adjustment in motor height. This in turn means that an AK replica can be shimmed incredibly well and made to be a very quiet shooter indeed.
Onto the main area that usually lets replicas down… The stock. This does not disappoint, the stock itself is made from steel with a steel button! Not likely to break without considerable force
and study enough for most weekend warriors. That goes for most of the replica to be honest but I’d suggest not pushing your luck… using it as a chin up bar or a shovel isn’t going to end well. Also, A real AK might function after immersion in sand or mud but it’ll fuck up an AEG, So whilst you might be in the mindset of a hardy Russian, Your replica is still a cheap Chinese toy.
Whilst we’re on the subject of cost, I bought this for £107 from Gunfire.com, A site I’ve used a couple of times for bits and pieces… It took 1 week to arrive and being EU based it skipped the usual import drama of holding and customs. As mentioned before, I did order a half dozen E&L midcaps as for a lot of games I’ll be attending, High caps are just not an option. I’m also not a fan of high caps in general… They promote a spray and pray mentality and become a bit of a crutch for those who use them. Put a high cap user in a limited ammo game and they end up walking off halfway through due to poor trigger discipline.
This is a tale of two half’s though, Whilst the externals of the replica punch far above their weight, The internals are exactly what you’d expect from a £107 replica. Upon firing the stock AKS75u there is one immediate concern, The average muzzle velocity along a 20 shot string is 420fps tested with Madbull .20 ammo. Obviously for the UK market this is far too high, High enough in fact to potentially get you into trouble when you consider the Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 classes Airsoft as having a clearly defined upper limit of 370fps with a .2 projectile. This is a big big concern, one I immediately rectified by stripping the CM.045A down and swapping to a random spring I had lying around, Unfortunately a stock TM spring so along with the poor air-seal it’s resulted in a massive loss of power until I can have a better look around my parts box.
Internally I’m not going to lie… It’s a bit meh. Weird blue grease that reminds me of the Exploding alien heads in Mars Attacks!.
The box itself isn’t without merit, a beefy 8mm set of bushings provide a suitable base for upgrading. The spring guide as well is a ballraced type which considering the budget nature of the replica it feels a little out of place. The nozzle and cylinder head are unfortunately not amazing and you’ll find more than a little air leakage around the head and nozzle. The piston head is also rather a poor seal, there’s virtually no resistance when pushing the piston down the cylinder and a superfluous Mylar (sure looks like Mylar) disk washer is tasked with acting as either a pressure valve or a sealing gasket… I’m not sure which and it’s not working effectively as either!
The cylinder itself is a full polymer rack with a single release tooth, Not everyone’s cup of tea but I’ve long advocated the use of a polymer rack to act as a mechanical fuse, pistons are cheaper to replace than gears.
The wiring appears to be 18awg silicone coated with an inline fuse, this runs around the front of the box and uses the top sliding clip to hold the loom away from potential damage.
The hop unit is a zinc casting, nothing really negative to say about the stock hop unit aside from the rubber itself being damaged upon arrival. Not an issue for me as I planned on putting in a spare Prometheus 6.05 barrel and a Maple Leaf rubber, Not because I believe wholeheartedly in upgrading for the sake of it but I had particularly good results with this pairing in my Mk18 and had them laying around in the spares box.
The stock barrel is a 6.08mm bore and arrives absolutely filthy, One of the first jobs I did was to polish the inside with a bore snake and brasso cloth followed by isopropyl alcohol to leave a spotless finish.
Onto performance… So despite my regular use of LiPo batteries, I thought it only fair to review it as it comes in the box. The only concession I have made is to change the connection to deans, this was more of a practicality choice as taking a replica to a game with only the one battery isn’t a good option… Certainly when it’s a NiMH 8.4v battery that’s bundled with the replica. Tamiya being another Japanese master of precision (Alongside Marui of course) made a pretty much standard connection 30 odd years ago but anyone using high discharge batteries nowadays will be using XT60, Deans or bullet connectors on their cells.
So am I able to recommend it in good faith? Yes, But with a caveat that you should understand that in order to have a skirmishable replica you’ll have to spend either a little time or money making a few little changes to get the performance you’re after. If that doesn’t bother you and your willing to accept that you might need a few things swapping out then I’d say it’s one hell of a base to work on.
If your the type of person that wants to simply buy a replica that’s ready to Skirmish out of the box, There’s a couple of choices… Buy one of the more expensive models such as the Tokyo Marui Recoil Shock AKS74u or the VFC model this CYMA is based upon, The other option is to buy through a business that’s willing to tweak a replica to your needs and send it to you once he work is completed.
Either way, I’d regard this as a good investment overall… The low cost means that I’m unlikely to make much of a loss if I shift it on and once I’ve had a few choice components replaced and installed it’ll hopefully give me a high end performance with premium externals at a budget price point.