topbar for interface

Guarder AKM Kit


Review date: November 14, 2004
Type: AKM Kit (2004 Steel and Wood version)
Manufacturer: Guarder
Retailer: UNCompany








The Lessons

Continuing my new personal quest to decrease quantity and increase quality in my airsoft arsenal, it was time to address my trusty AK-47. I'd already put a metal body on it and had been thinking about adding a wood kit for some time. But then I started taking a closer look at some of the more elaborate upgrade kits. Since this was my primary field weapon... maybe I needed to get a little stupid and spend even more money on it. Yeah... that's always a good idea!

I was looking at the AKM kit, as well as the AK-74 kit by Guarder. I also had been thinking about the AK-103 kit, with the composite body. Even though the AKM is an earlier weapon, you still often see it in the hand of modern Russian soldiers. Just can't beat the reliability of the AK, and the heavier 7.62mm round is still just the ticket when you need to TCB (that's Take Care of Business for those not fully graced by the King). So I decided that the Guarder AKM kit was the way to go for me.

I sort of learned my lesson, or rather, was reminded of my sad, mechanically-challenged state of being, a few months back when I tried to install the Smokey's AK-74SU kit on my own. Dingo is still getting me squared away with that little exercise and I hope to be reviewing it soon. Rather than try my own luck at installing the kit, I decided to just order it preassembled from UNCompany and hocked my Marui AK to help pay the bill. A lot of local games play with a 350fps limit for CQB, and I wanted this gun to serve in urban terrain as well as a field gun. I opted for a 320fps kit to be installed, even though a 350 was available. I just didn't want to risk firing even a few FPS higher than 350 and be unable to use the AKM in many local games.

I've had good experiences with UNCompany in the past, and this was no exception. The communication was excellent, custom gun work completed within five days, and the shipping was remarkably fast. Soon enough, the AKM was here.

General Observations

Visually, there are several small, signature items separating the AKM from the basic AK-47. There is the distinctive muzzle compensator designed to reduce the tendency of the real AK to pull up and to the right during automatic fire. The weapon has a bayonet lug and it's great to be able to attach a bayonet when posing and looking fierce for photos (although certainly anyone running around during a game with a fixed, real steel bayonet needs to be led off the field, sat down, and given a serious talking to.) The lower front handgrip has a horizontal ridge running several inches along its middle length. The receiver cover isn't smooth, like the AK-47's, but has a series of reinforcing bands and ridges stamped into the metal. The pistol grip is a cross-hatched plastic, fitting flush to the lower receiver instead of mating with this shallow "collar" found on the lower receiver of the AK. A nice feature is the metal butt-plate, covering the battery in the stock, with screws securing it to the wood.

The weapon shoulders well, secures a quick sight picture, and it fires very well. I've not yet had a chance to chrono the weapon to see how close to 320 it fires. It could be firing slightly above 320, but I still should be safely under the 350fps ceiling I was hoping to avoid.

As I didn't construct the AKM myself, I can't personally say how easy or difficult it would be if you simply bought the kit and did your own conversion. Surveying the components of the kit, I would think that the procedure would not be that bad. Nearly every part of the AK except the gearbox, hop-up, trigger guard, magazine release and inner barrel are replaced by all new items from the conversion kit. It would seem the assembly would merely involve dropping in the internals and assembling the pieces.

Obviously the first thing you notice is the extra weight of the all-steel and wood kit. Not as heavy as I thought it might be, but a very respectable heft. This weapon is SOLID. I mean... it's all steel and wood. I remember early publicity shots of the weapon with a small Asian guy standing on the AKM propped between a pair of boxes. While I'm probably not going to be recruiting my own small Asian guy for this express purpose, I feel reasonably secure the externals of this weapon are much likelier to survive a mishap on the field than I am.

AK magazines lock very securely into the receiver, the fit Guarder achieved with the magazine-well is dead on the money. The front sight post and front sling attachment are very secure without any wobble or rattle. The rear sling attachment is on the butt of the weapon rather than on the lower receiver attachment point found on the AK-47. The metal butt-plate secured by two screws, which I mentioned earlier, is also a nice improvement on the basic Marui AK with the slide-off plastic cover.

Cons

The open construction of the magazine-well exposes more of the hop-up mechanism to dirt or foreign objects than I would have liked. I'll want to be careful when the magazine is out not to let the weapon fall into the dirt (an offense worthy of some push-ups).

The slightly narrower breadth of the stock, and the need to have a smaller cavity inside a wooden stock than a plastic one, unfortunately means that the AKM cannot accommodate the standard large 8.4v battery used in most full-stock airsoft weapons. It requires a slimmer model. UNCompany provided a Sanyo 10.8v 1500mAH battery designed for the M16 Ready-Mag system which works very well, and I think there are one or two other battery models which will fit in the stock. That is a little disappointing for anyone who has several large spare batteries, but I had already known the AKM kit required a different power source.

While nearly every piece on the weapon fits together exceptionally well, there is a little play in the upper wood fore-grip that causes a rattle in its fittings. It's nothing I won't be able to fix with a slim bit of wood to shim the pieces more tightly together. That's the only flaw I've found in the fittings.

I mentioned the bayonet lug is fun, but not really applicable for airsoft games. The airsoft GP-30 unfortunately does not connect with the bayonet lug and there is too little clearance between the lug and the removable GP-30 front attachment piece included with the launcher. The Guarder website (www.intrudershop.com) shows howt a little Dremmel work on the GP-30 can fix this problem and allow the launcher to be used with the AKM. (I don't really consider this a Con to the AKM... it's based on the real AKM muzzle and bayonet lug details... it's just unfortunate that the GP-30 won't fit it without some minor modification to the launcher.)

Summary

I really like the AKM a lot. I'd wanted to trade my old Marui AK-47, which was my primary field weapon, for a top-notch, BB-flinging, Kalishnikov-designed, bit of all-right. While the 2004 Guarder AKM kit is a pretty pricey upgrade option, I have to say I'm very pleased with the final product. The production quality of the kit is very good and the finish and fit of the pieces are excellent, except for the rattle I mentioned in the upper fore-grip. I should be able to fix that with something as simple as a cut-down piece of a toothpick.

I won't say that everyone needs to rush out and buy this kit. Honestly, no airsoft player really NEEDS to have an all steel and wood weapon. A stock Marui AK-47 is one of the more dependable and rugged Marui airsoft weapons right out of the box. Our comrade on the Red Alliance forums, Camo, has provided an article and photos detailed a remarkably realistic painting technique to enhance the plastic stock and grips.

Of course nothing feels quite the same as a metal and wood upgrade on a AK-47 for players who want to invest a little more money to take the weapon closer to its real-steel counterpart. If you are in the market to add a metal body and a wooden stock and grips to your AK-47, you can find separate pieces and come out a little bit cheaper. If you're not opposed to spending a little bit more for probably one of the best kits currently on the market, I would certainly recommend the full treatment provided by the 2004 Guarder AKM kit.

 

Review by: Mac

 


[Back to Top]
© Copyright 2004 by Lance Eppley & Joey Araniego