Firstly, I would like to thank Randy at Double Edge Airsoft located in Calgary, AB. for sending me a review sample of the ICS AK-74M from his very first shipment. We have all been waiting a very long time, nearly 2 years, since ICS first announced their plans to produce an AK variant. Here is my overall impression of the gun in it's entirety.
I received the gun on the 3rd. of March and opened up the brown paper wrapping to reveal the box in detail.
I also noticed that the gun is as complete in packaging and accessories as is being sold elsewhere in the world.
The gun comes with a cleaning rod, front sight tool, 1000 round bottle of ICS brand .20g bbs, manual and best of all (2) 550 round high capacity magazines.
A little word here about magazines. I own a Marui AK-47 and a Classic Army SLR105A1 and I did some magazine fit-tests with all 3 AK's. The Marui mags were a perfect fit in the ICS AK, yet would wobble and rattle in both others. The STAR mags were also a very good fit, much better than the others as well.
The Classic Army AK-47 lowcaps would rattle a bit in all three AK's and the Classic Army AK-74 mags were a very tight fit in the ICS AK. The fit was not too tight for use, however, just required a bit of effort.
The ICS mags were a very good to perfect fit in all 3 AK's and there was no feeding problems encountered with any mags in any guns.
One neat feature I noticed right away, while playing with the gun, was the fully retractable bolt assembly. You don't really get this on other AK's, with the other exception being the G&G RK-104, and it's a nice treat.
The bolt is a heavy lump of steel and, when retracted and released, hits the "chamber" with a satisfying "clang".
The mount base on the left hand side of the gun is pre-attached by ICS so that installation of the optional scope or RDS rail will be quick and easy. You can also see the rivets (that's right real rivets, but more on that later) that hold the body and internals on the real AK together are present here.
Now on to the disassembly. The front grips were the first to come off and they tear-down just like the real gun (more or less). The lever on the front end just underneath the rear sight pulls up to the level posisiton and a gentle push forward and up on the upper grip pops it right out. Very easy.
Once the upper grip is removed, a small lever is visible under the front portion of the upper grip.
Lifting up on this lever and sliding the grip and cup assembly forward removes the lower grip and this completes the removal of the front grip assembly.
It should be noted, however, that grip removal is not necessary to access the mechbox assembly. The removal of the mechbox in this gun is very simple.
First, you remove the top cover in the usual AK fashion with the pushbutton at the rear. Then you slide out the "recoil" spring, guide and "bolt".
Next, remove the pistol grip from the rear with the lone screw on the bottom and just pull it off. The trigger guard locks into this, so you must remember to pay attention to that upon reassembly.
You can clearly see here that the gun I received definately has the Turbo 2000 motor, but that's not an issue for me unless I plan on seriously upgrading this gun.
Next, you remove the stock via the 2 screws located in the top and bottom of the stock as with most other AK's. Then just pull the stock off and disconnect the wiring at the connector right off of the mechbox.
Next, you remove the 2 screws located on the front end of the gun just below the rear sight. This allows for the removal of the entire front end of the gun, which includes the inner and outer barrel and hop-up chamber. It slides out as you drop the front of the barrel downwards.
Now the mechbox is ready to be removed. It just slides right out as one complete unit, just like many other AK's out there.
I immediately noticed the unique construction of the body of the AK. They use 3 distinct layers to make the body. The outer shell is a thin layer (about 1/16 of an inch thick) of stamped steel. The middle layer is your standard ABS plastic and the inner layer is steel with thickness varying from between 1/16 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch. The inner layer is basically not complete over the whole body, but rather in sections over about 1/2 of the body. Those rivets I mentioned before, well they hold (along with a bunch of screws) the body layers together. It's an extremely rigid design and I can't say to much bad about it.
Here's a pic of the layering on the front of the body.
And here's one of the inside of the body. You can see the different layers and how thick the body is.
Now onto the mechbox. This mechbox looks like any other Marui AK I've worked on, except for the color. ICS has painted the exterior and cylinder black so as not to show a HUGE silver glint when you pull back that bolt. Really nice touch, in my opinion.
The internals are what I expected to see from other photos I'd seen on the ICS website. The mechbox has steel bushings (not the "upgrade" copper bushings ICS usually sells), reinforced ICS steel gears, a full capacity cylinder and stock ICS cylinder components and spring guide. Everything else looks just like a Marui AK as far as switch, trigger and tappet are concerned.
The mechbox was well shimmed and lubricated and there were no signs of potential faults that I could see. The bevel gear appears to be different from other ICS gears I've seen as the small gear which turns the spur gear is a dark colour. Perhaps it has some heat treatment?
After reassembling the gun in the reverse order to disassembly from above, I did some testing of the gun. The battery compartment cover (butt plate) removes the same way as a Marui, and not like the awful screws on the Classic Army. The battery compartment will only hold an 8.4 volt large battery, with modifications needed to hold a 9.6 volt.
With a charged 8.4 volt 3000 mAH battery, I proceeded to test out the gun. On an initial dry fire, I noticed the gun to have a very fast rate-of-fire. My chrono showed it to be around 15 rounds per second or 900 rounds per minute. This is quite good for an 8.4 volt battery.
I loaded a mag full of Airsoft Elite .20g bbs and proceeded to fire the gun. With no hop-up engaged, the gun chrono'd a mean of 269.9 FPS of 20 shots with the three highest and lowest numbers discounted. I thought this was a little low, so I engaged the hop-up, which is a little different from a Marui with alot wider range.
With the hop-up set to a mid-point area, the FPS jumped up to a mean of 317.8 FPS out of 20 shots with the three highest and lowest numbers discounted.
This variation in velocities leads me to think that the hop-up has a very wide range of adjustment to accomodate varying bb sizes. Using a good quality bb will offset this, but in cases where that isn't possible, the gun can accomodate you somehwat.
I didn't do any accuracy testing as this would require some outdoor time with the gun and that's not easy with a Canadian winter. Other reviews from Arnie's have shown this to be a reasonably accurate gun ,as far as airsoft guns can be anyway.
The gun has a good solid feel to it with no barrel wobble, creaks or rattles, save the rear sling loop as there is no sling on this gun yet. Mags don't rattle around, only the loose bbs in the mag.
Before I agreed to do this review, I told Randy at Double Edge that I wasn't going to do a free promotional review for his store or ICS products and I also told him I would tell the good along with the bad, whatever they may be. But you know, he was prompt with gun delivery kept me apprised via weekly pm's on the guns arrival and the gun was just a real treat to work on. I just can't really seem to find anything bad to say about either the gun or Double Edge.
Overall I rate the gun a 9.5 out of 10 for construction, fit and finish and esthetics. I'll update you all as I field the gun in another week or so.
And Randy at Double Edge was a great guy for getting me a review gun.
I got the chance to use the ICS AK this past weekend at the Ferry in Mission, B.C. I only used it for one game and I didn't fire alot of rounds out of the gun, but all shots were in semi-auto only and I got the chance to set the hop-up and check for subjective things like accuracy.
I can tell you for certain that this AK is NOT a CQB weapon. It's length being nearly the same as my M16, it's really no surprise. I did get to use it in a CQB setting with some longer distance shots. I double tapped some poor fellow in the head (sorry 'bout that) with virtually no time to react to his presence as he came around a corner and the gun fired very quickly. I plinked at some fellow on the dark upper car deck at about 150 feet and was forcing him to move around alot, so I was getting damn close.
I was not forced to cycle between full and semi to keep semi working, which is a common problem for ver. III guns. Both my stock Marui MP5K and G36c suffered from this problem.
My other teammates were impressed enough by my use of it this weekend to decide to add it to their arsenals as well.