Today I came home to a nice surprise sitting between my doors - a package that I knew containted my new Real Sword Type 56 rifle. So without delay, I raced my ass inside to get this thing out of the box and take a good look to see if this thing was truly worth the $890 I paid for it. After close inspection (from my noob perspective), I must say I am genuinely impressed, and am content that I spent my money on what is without a doubt the finest AK variant available in the airsoft world. And here I am to share the story with you guys. Yes, there's another review posted here, but it's for the Type 56-1, so I figured I would give this baby its own review from my point of view instead.
I'll start with a VERY brief history for those who aren't familiar with the Type 56. It's the Chinese variant of the AK-47. More modern Type 56 rifles have the stamped (vs milled) receiver of the AKM, but the rest of the gun is undeniably AK-47. Real Sword offers 2 version of the gun. There's the Type 56 (wooden stock), and the Type 56-1 with a steel folding stock.
First off, just a quick note to say what makes this gun so special compared to other airsoft guns. It's the first AK to be made to 100% accurate dimensions of the real steel. Normally, AEG bodies are slightly wider than the real steel to accomodate the mechbox. Airsoft AKs are typically a bit longer, also to accomodate the AEG internals. Real Sword have managed to make everything fit inside the space of a real Type 56 rifle by using a modified V3 mechbox that is 5.5mm shorter than a standard V3 mechbox so that it can fit.
Secondly, all steel and wood are made using the same materials and processes as the real Type 56 rifle. It's widely rumoured that Norinco (Chinese state factory who produce the real Type 56 for export) produce the basic steel and wood parts. While I can't find 100% confirmation of this anywhere, it seems widely accepted in other reviews that this is the case. Judging by the construction and the inclusion of internal 'notches' that have no purpose in an AEG, I tend to believe that the lower receivers were stamped on the same machinery used to produce the real steel. And the end result is an AEG that is 100% authentic and true to the original.
I unwrapped the box from the outer packaging it was shipped in to see a rather plain box with minimal markings. Its subdued look really belies its content. Upon opening up the carton, I was what was the best AEG packaging I had seen to date. The gun and its accessories were well packaged in sized foam to prevent any moving or rattling during shipping. The magazine, an all steel magazine, came wrapped in oil paper. Everything was very well packaged.
As a side-note here, I'll take a second to make a rather odd observation about this gun. It's the best smelling AEG I've ever encountered. While that may sound a bit odd at first, the first thing that struck me when I opened the box was the smell of gun. I'm talking the smell you get when you pick up a real steel weapon. Whether it's the smell of the finish on the steel, the oils, solvents used to clean it, it all contributes to that 'gun smell', and this thing has it. As a matter of fact, I haven't actually handled the gun in close to 45 minutes, I've washed my hands twice (to make and eat dinner), and I still have that smell on my hands.
So back to our regularly scheduled review already in progress...
Taking the rifle out of the box, I was immediately stricken with its solid feel and substantial weight. As solid as my other metal-bodied AEGs feel, this eclipses them completely. The gun is 100% steel and wood. Other than the spike bayonet, there isn't an external piece of plastic to be found anywhere on this gun. This is as close to a real AK as you can possibly get without being in criminal posession of a prohited weapon. There isn't a loose part or rattle to be found. It's solid and well built. And it feels substantial too, weighing in at only 100 g less than its real steel counterpart.
I have to say, I was quite stricken with the wood furiture. This is serious quality, and 100% real-steel grade stuff. You could easily use the buttstock to beat on things and not damage it any more than you would a real AK. The finish on the wood is excellent, but not "furniture" good. This is an assault weapon, and its finish is what you'd expect out of the real thing. "Upgrading" to real AK furniture would be pointless, as you'd be getting exactly what's already installed on the gun out of the box.
I popped the upper receiver cover to inspect the inside and prepare for battery installation. I immediately noticed the neat and tidy internal construction in terms of wiring. The blade-style automotove fuse is nicely tucked away. The wiring is run through guides so that it doesn't go all over the place. You can tell that they paid good attention to detail.
The battery installed easily, sliding into the upper gas tube, and left plenty of space. You could easily fit a 9.6V or 10.8V battery without a problem. As a matter of fact, you could easily add aother 4-5 cells to the battery and still have plenty of room left over. It would more than likely fry something, but physically, there is nothing preventing a veyr large stick battery from being installed. In the picture below, the battery is only slightly inserted into the gas tube, but believe me, it goes in COMPLETELY if you want it to. This gun was well thought-out in the design stages.
Popping off the end plate on the buttstock, I was very pleased to see a second battery compartment for a larger size battery. According to the manual, the wiring connects in parallel to the receiver battery connection, so you can actually use 2 batteries at the same time to give you more than enough power capacity to play extended games without ever running out of juice. This is a very nice touch, and I applaud Real Sword for including this. It's so simple and brainless that's it's absolutely brilliant.
Next I decided to inspect the accessories that came with the AEG. Included are a small steel cylinder tool kit that includes the cleaning attachment for the cleaning rod, a multi-tool that includes as a screwdriver, and an adjustment tool for the fron sight elevation. The tool kit itself also serves as a tool to release the upper hardguard latch. Believe me, you won't move this latch without some kind of tool. It also includes a blued steel muzzle (to replace the orange plastic tip that comes pre-installed) and a silencer adapter. There's also a tool for removing the front sight (not pictured). Also included is a plastic oil can, although I don't see this as being all that useful without a small nozzle on the bottle to be able to apply oil precisely where its needed. It's a nice touch nonetheless, although sort of useless IMO. The cleaning rod itself is attached to the gun under the barrel as it is on its real steel counterpart.
As stated earlier, this gun is made as its real-steel counterpart using the same materials and processes. The quality of the steel certainly makes me believe this, as this isn't your typical steel AEG. The receiver and upper cover are both engraved with a unique serial number, with mine being 56-RS000359. The markings are consistent with the export version of the Type 56. I would have preferred to see Chinese markings on the gun to maintain that authenticity, but it in no way takes away from the beauty of this gun.
This next pic is my only real sore point with this gun to date - the bolt. Its movement is VERY limited, and this makes the hopup adjustment rather difficult to reach. Pulling back the cocking lever all the way only opens the bolt about -3 cm. While hopup can still be reached, those with large fingers will definitely find it challenging. I removed the bolt and its guide rod and determined you could easily cut up to about 2 cm off the end to make it open farther without affecting its stability. I cut 2 cm off the end and now the bolt opens enough to make hopup adjustment easier. I will be performing another small mod in order to be able to open it up about another 2 cm. I'll update this review with new pics when I do.
A note on the magazine - it rattles. It really sounds like a real AK mag. And it has a very satisfying click when locked into place. However, it also wobbles a lot when in the gun. There is a lot of side to side play. While firing it in semi-auto, I tried wiggling the mag, moving it from one extreme of its travel to the other, but I never experienced any feed issues. Despite this motion, the mag is held in place firmly and will not come out until the magazine release is pressed. I tried using a King Arms plastic AK magazine (I have a box of them) and they fit and work well. However, they DO NOT hold securely into the gun because their locking tab is thicker, and the mag catch can't lock onto them properly. A hit with a dremel and sanding bit will quickly fix this issue. Even without being locked in completely, the KA mags fed without issue. I should also note that the KA mags have very little side to side wobble compared to the steel RS mag. And the KA mags feed as well as the RS mag. So with a little work, these mags will work with this gun.I had no feed issues
Next I will mention something that usually get very little attention in AEG reviews - the included documentation. There are 2 pieces of documentation included. First is the instruction manual. It is NOT your typical Engrish manual. This is a 56-page, bound manual. The first 23 pages are English, and the last 23 Chinese. I was surprised to find that for the most part, it's very detailed and well-written in good English. Yeah, there's a bit of Engrish, but generally, it's quite good. It doesn't have the generic illustrations and warnings accompanied by atrocious Engrish found in every other airsoft manual I've seen to date. It's well written, well illustrated, and very concise. Secondly is a 2'x3' FULL COLOUR pictorial guide to disassembly of the gun. Other airsoft manufacturers should pay very close attention to the effort that Real Sword have put into their product documentation. They could learn a thing or two.
So finally, I got to fire this thing, and it was a pleasure to shoot. This is easily the quietest gun I've heard to date in terms of internals. There's very little motor sound, and the mechbox gears are pretty much inaudible. The only thing you really hear is the POP-POP-POP sound of the piston and the subsequent sound from the barrel. At the short ranges of 15 and 30 feet that I have to shoot it at in my house, it performed admirably. A small hopup adjustment was all that was needed (at that range, at least) to tap out groupings of less than 1". I don't have a chrony to test this out, but it failed the pop can test, so the advertied 90 m/s (295 fps) out of the box is probably close to its actual velocity.
Unfortunately, I'm not a tech guru or mechbox expert, and I'd rather not have my noob self tear this thing apart to inspect the insides. The other review posted here on ASC has more than enough details on its internals to satisfy the most experienced airsoft tech. That being said, RS have equipped this gun with a rather weak spring, more than likely to accomodate laws in other countries and to make the 'one size fits all' AEG. All reviews of this gun clearly cover its reinforced mechbox, gears and other internals and make no bones about saying you can easily install a 400+ fps spring in this gun without having any worries of damaging internals or the mechbox itself. Of that, I have absolutely no doubt. If the internals are as good as the externals (and from other reviews, they are), then this gun can probably even handle 500+ fps springs without requiring any internal modifications other than the spring itself.
So in the end, I can't really find anything bad to say about this gun other than the easy-to-fix bolt problem. This is as perfect of a replica as you can possibly get without getting a non-firing AK. Try as I might (with my limited airsoft knowledge) to find something wrong with it, I simply can't. This is the perfect AK.
If I have to nitpick a bit, I would have to say that the only thing that irks me a bit is the bayonet. I find its position when retracted a bit annoying, as it sits out of the lower hand guard. It's not a major annoyance, but since it's made of relatively soft plastic (for safety, or course), it tends to bend easily as you grip the hand guard. I'll probably just either extend it or remove it if I use the gun in a game scenario, as it serves no functional purpose. An aluminum bayonet is also available and would eliminate that problem, but for safety reasons, it's probably best to not install that for gaming purposes.
So in the end, this is the very best airsoft AK variant that money can buy at the moment. With these things available, there's no reason for someone to spend $600 on a Tokyo Marui AK then spend another $500+ to upgrade it to steel and wood and to upgrade its internals. In the end, the upgraded TM would still not be as good quality as this gun out of the box. For just under $900 Cdn, this thing is far better than anything to come out of Japan, or any other country in terms of airsoft AKs. Outside of Systema, I don't think you can get a better, more realistic, and more solid AEG than the Real Sword Type 56. Consider this thing the PTW of the AK world, at least in terms of its external construction. And even its internals are of a high grade not usually found in even high end stock guns. This is the best AK on the market - FULL STOP. Nothing else even comes close, stock, or upgraded. Anyone who thinks you can't get a quality airsoft gun out of China (Hong Kong in this case) needs to take a good hard look at this gun. All other AK airsoft makers have just been served notice.
- Solid, real-steel quality construction
- 100% accurate reproduction of the real steel Type 56
- Built with the same processes and materials as the real steel
- Heavy weight (100g short of the real steel weight)
- Incredible feel
- Impeccable accuracy and shot consistency (at the short ranges I could try it at)
- Can hold 2 batteries at once for extended gaming.
- Cheaper than a fully upgrading a Tokyo Marui AK with metal, wood, and upgraded internals, and still better external quality.
- As close as you'll ever get to owning an AK without owning the real thing
- Travel of the fake bolt is limited, making hopup adjustment a bit difficult (I've already fixed this by cutting about 2 cm off)
- Soft plastic bayonet is a bit annoying when folded back under the hand guard.
Here are a couple of full size 1600 x 1200 pics. I figured I'd add them as links instead since they'll throw off the layout of this page.
Bayonet extended: http://www.societyssorrow.com/_crunc...6/IMG_1984.JPG
Bayonet collapsed: http://www.societyssorrow.com/_crunc...6/IMG_1985.JPG