Today's review is of the A&K M249 Mk II SAW. I just received this gun today and thought I would share my impressions of it with you in both writing and video.
I should preface this review with a couple of points.
First, I know nothing about this gun, its parts, and so forth. I wanted a SAW for my collection, and got this gun on a trade, so I went for it. I've handled real steel Armalites and pistols, so know that parts, operation, basic field stripping, etc. I can at least use more technical terminology with those guns, as I know what the external parts are compared to their real steel counterparts. I at least have something to compare the airsoft versions to. My only contact with a SAW in real life was a C9 in the Small Arms Trainer at the Peace Support Training Centre in Kingston a few years ago. So other than I'm going blind on this thing.
Secondly, I'm not easy to impress in general by the appearance of anything. I can be surprised, pleased, etc, but rarely will I give a "holy shit!!" comment at an airsoft gun just taking out of the box. My Real Sword Type 56 got a "WOW" reaction when I removed it from the box. But this thing got a "HOLY SHIT!!! THIS THING IS AWESOME!!!" just taking it out of the box. It really looks that beastly and feels that solid.
Just removing it from the BB-riddled box (the former owner had some fun with the box) left me impressed. This is one serious looking piece of hardware. I was immediately impressed with the weight. While it didn't come with a manual, the one I downloaded says it weighs 5.7 kg, so about 13 lbs. It doesn't quite hit the (aprox) 7 kg of the real steel but it's close enough to make it feel substantial while giving a bit of weight relief. From what I've read on this gun, this AEG is modelled after the Classic Army M249, which is apparently the better M249 design. I can't speak from experience, only from some info I found online.
The gun is fully metal. The body is a zinc alloy, with some steel parts. The only plastic parts to be found are the nylon stock, grips, and plastic box magazine. The gun has no trademarks or markings anywhere to be found. I wasn't even able to find the customary "Made in China" anywhere on it. Now, here I'm assuming it's made in China, sice that's where most clones are made, so if I'm mistaken, please correct me on this point.
In terms of realism, I can't really comment since I've had very little contact with the real steel. From pictures, it looks great, and with the fake buttel belt coming out of the receiver and into the box magazine, it wouldn't be hard to make someone believe this was a real gun. As for the finer details, I can't really comment on it. I just know it looks great, and that works for me.
The front bipod is adjustable. It fully folds up into the front grip and is very quick to deploy. It's also height-adjustable with 3 different height settings for different firing positions. In terms of functionality, it's great. However, the bipod is probably the only part of the gun I can say feels weak. It's made of very light metal and doesn't feel as solid as the rest of the gun. I could see it being easy to accidentally bend these bipod legs with a good hit in the field.
The box magazine is battery-operated, holding 2500 6mm BBs. The magazine has 2 modes - continuous feed, which constantly winds the magazine, or sound-activated, which will only wind the magazine when it picks up the sound of the gun being fired. The plastic on this box mag is a bit questionalble, IMO. I can't see this being able to take a whole lot of abuse without breaking. And I can see it breaking easily if used in cold weather.
Carrying and firing the gun with the box magazine attached is very awkward if trying to fire from the shoulder. Really, it was intended as a support weapon and be fired from the bipod or from the hip, so that's not really a flaw against it. You can also use standard Armalite STANAG magazines to feed it ad it makes it a lot easier fire standing with the gun shouldered.
The gun came with a 9.6V 1200 mAh battery. I opted to use my 9.6V 2000 mAh battery instead for the extra juice. I ran it through my chrony a few shots. I had chronied it before shooting the actual video below, and the average of the 10 shots was 395.8 fps, with a rof of 11.6 bb/s. The video saw it shooting an average about 395 fps. I forgot to repeat the rof on video.
As you can see in the video, this thing is a beast. The accuracy is quite good at the short range I was shooting - far closer than you'd ever use this in the field, so I can't say much for its accuracy at ranges, but at close range, it was dead accuracte.
I have no idea what the internals of this gun are like. I don't even know what type of gearbox or motor are in, whether it has plastic bushings, etc. I have no itentions of tearing the gun apart as long as it works though. I don't quite feel comfortable enough with it to do that yet.
EDIT: After having had a chance to test the gun outdoors at a long range, I thought I would add that things I've read about the hopup being ineffective are correct. No matter how I dial the hopup, it doesn't have any perceivable effect on the BB trajectory. Shots fly straight about 75-ish feet and then just drop to the ground. There are several fixes / mods for this issue and they're easy to implement. Will try sometime shortly as repost with the new info.
- Nice, stead rate of fire
- VERY consistent muzzle velocity
- not very manoeuverable
- bipod feels very flimsy compared to everything else on this gun
- shitty hopup that seems to have no effect whatsoever
Some porn for y'all:
Here's a video of the gun in action. Note that I did the video before writing this review, and before downloading a manual, so had no idea about some of the specifics of it as I do now.
YouTube - A&K M249 Mk II Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)
So for anyone looking to add a SAW to their arsenal, I'd say this is a pretty impressive one to own. It's SO much fun to shoot.
EDIT - 4 June 2008
Today I dismantled the gun to verify the integrity of the mechbox and to repair the non-functional hopup.
First I hit the mechbox. Man, this thing is a joy to work on. The mechbox pops out of the gun almost as easily as an AUG. Simply remove the stock (2 pins), the trigger / grip assembly (1 more pin - one of the pins holding it also holds on the stock), remove 2 hex screws, and the mechbox slides out easily. I didn't disassemble the mechbox, as the gears could easily be accessed. The shimming seemed very good. The gears move freely without any side-to-side play. There wasn't a lot of grease, so I added a bit of grease to the gears and a bit of lube to the bushings to ensure everything was working well. I did notice that 2 of the hex screws holding the mechbox closed were almost falling out, and a couple of the others were loose. I tightened everything up and reassembled.
As for the hopup, I simply used a piece of stiff 16 gauge speaker wire sheilding to replace the existing bucking. The hopup now works like a charm and actually has an effect on the BB trajectory.