Thursday, August 17, 2017
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Classic Army USA Tactical AK Review

Classic Army USA AK MainCapable of running on batteries or AK purists’ tears 

INTRO

Last issue, we heralded Classic Army USA’s return to the airsoft market with a review on their ISSC MK22 AEG. This issue, we have another tasty treat from their new line up of guns in the form of a short, tactical AK with enough western parts installed to make even the mildest AK purist seethe with hatred. Before you say “nyet, rifle is fine” let’s dive into this thing and see what makes it tick!

AT A GLANCE

WHO MAKES IT: Classic Army USA
GUN NAME: Tactical AK74 (CA026M)
CLASS: Electric
TYPE: CQB or Field Use
WHO IT’S FOR: Mid-High Level Player
HOW MUCH: $299.99
FPS: 380 w/ .20g BBs

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SHOOTERS OPINION

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love slightly (or even aggressively) heretical guns. AK purists are one of the groups that I love to upset the most, given my project build from last issue, or even my real AK which I converted to a bullpup format. While I appreciate the steel and real wood of a classic AK47, I certainly think that modernizing the weapon platform for modern expectations and performance does nothing but help the end user, something even ol’ Mikhail would have appreciated. Classic Army’s latest foray into this market took their modern design and added some high tech tweaks to the internals, making for a gun that functions as well as it looks.

Classic Army USA AK p1

With their ongoing development of new gearbox setups, MOSFETs on all of their guns, and even standalone models not based on any existing “real” firearm, Classic Army continues to surprise even grizzled old timers like myself.

PROS

+ Extremely well built gearbox with 9mm ball bearings and quick change spring system

+ Inline MOSFET included

+ Wired for Deans plugs from the factory, but includes Tamiya adapter

+ Metal body and high strength polymer furniture

+ Plenty of rails for accessories and to make purists angry

+ Steel flashhider is hiding under that plastic attachment

CONS

Inline MOSFET limits the use of buffer tube LiPo batteries

TM style body is, in my opinion, less preferred than the VFC style

Railed handguard is the same design as one on $120 JG AKs. At this price range, I’d like to see something a little more unique.

Classic Army USA AK p2
A steel flashhider is hidden underneath all that orange plastic.

BREAKDOWN

BODY:

Classic Army’s tactical AK is definitely considered a full metal replica as everything that would be metal on the real version is metal on this version. Everything is finished in a matte black color that looks great, but on certain parts like the selector area, is prone to scratching. This is normal with most AK replicas and isn’t really something to be too concerned about. The overall feel of the gun can best be described as solid, and there is a minimal amount of flex or bending throughout the construction.

The stock is a Crane style unit with side compartments for holding a battery. Since the buffer tube is filled with the inline MOSFET and plug adapter, there isn’t much room for a buffer tube battery, so you’ll most likely need to use the stock compartments. The metal buffer tube is attached firmly to the receiver and has several locking points for length of pull adjustments. On the sides of the buffer tube, you’ll find two QD sling attachment points.

The receiver is a standard AK74 style receiver, and is a “TM style” design. Personally, I prefer the VFC style as it gives you a little better aftermarket support for external accessories in my experience, but the build and quality seems to be quite good anyways. Like most AKs, your controls are all located on the right side of the receiver and the selector switch operates in the typical Safe-Full-Semi pattern that AKs love to use.

Classic Army USA AK p3
Gripping the AK is easy thanks to the beefy SAW style pistol grip. It’s not the most modern grip out there, but the thing still looks good and is very functional.

Your hand will easily find the pistol grip, which is a beefy SAW type unit that feels fantastic. This is one of my favorite AK pistol grips as it works well with or without gloves, has plenty of gripping surface without being rough or uncomfortable, and looks pretty aggressive. The flared base helps keep your hand on the gun even if you’re swinging it around like a crazy person.

Moving forward from the receiver, you’ll hit the polymer handguard which is adorned in rails on the top, bottom, and both sides. The side rails are removable if so desired for a lower profile handguard. This polymer handguard has found its way onto a huge variety of tactical AKs, and it’s certainly not my favorite, but it’s hard to beat its functionality and light weight. The upper portion is secure enough for a basic reflex sight, but don’t plan on mounting a sniper style scope on this thing.

Classic Army USA AK p4
An M4 style Crane stock is adjustable for length of pull and houses your battery.

Unlike a standard AK74, this is modeled after the AK105, which has a shortened carbine length barrel. The gas block and front sight are one piece, similar to an AKS74U, but with a standard length gas tube. The combination makes for a shorter than normal rifle, but longer than the shortest AK variants on the market. It also makes it fairly unique, and is personally my favorite AK barrel configuration. There’s something so mean about the way it looks, and I personally love that. It is terminated in a steel flashhider that is fitted with a large orange plastic block for federal compliance. Underneath this plastic block, you’ll find that the flashhider is the correct design for this type of gun, so great job Classic Army USA for finding a way to make that work with federal regulations.

Standard AK style sights can be found, and really, what else can be said about them. They’re adjustable for elevation, they’re pretty quick to acquire, and they’re generally adequate. As mentioned before, you can add an optic to the top rail if so desired. What you can’t add is a receiver mounted optic, as there is no mounting point for it on the left side of the receiver.

Classic Army USA AK p6
A robust V3 gearbox keeps this thing running smoothly.

MAGAZINES:

As this is modeled after an AK74, it features the correct 5.45mm type magazine. Classic Army includes two 500 round hicaps with the gun which is a nice touch if you don’t have a lot of mags for this platform. Like most AK replicas, it’s fine feeding from 7.62mm or 5.45mm type mags, just depends on how made you want to make the AK guys on the field by running the wrong mag. I say go nuts.

GEARBOX:

Classic Army USA has improved leaps and bounds over the old CA models which had passable, but generally flawed gearboxes. The new versions that are in all of their new guns are full of features such as a quick change spring system, 9mm ball bearings, wire cut steel gears, and more.

Classic Army USA AK p5
Classic Army USA includes an inline MOSFET with their current product line and terminates their gun with Deans plugs. You can see the mini-Tamiya adapter on the wiring harness in this photo.

Like most TM style AK replicas, accessing the gearbox is relatively simple, only requiring you to remove the grip, the selector switch for starters. Then things get a little complicated as you need to remove the “tray” on top of the gearbox, undo the 4 screws holding the barrel assembly to the gun, and sliding it forward enough to clear the air-nozzle. Once that is done, the gearbox will pop right out; however, you need to take care with the wires going into the buffer tube.

The gearbox itself is a V3 design, but with the aforementioned quick change spring system and 9mm ball bearings. Inside the gearbox, you’ll find a bore-up cylinder setup with aluminum cylinder head, metal spring guide with ball bearing base, and a polymer piston. The air-seal is quite good with these components, and keep in mind that the cylinder is a bore-up unit in case you want to change any of the compression parts around. The gears are steel with a 21:1 ratio, and are made using the “wire cut” method.

Classic Army USA AK p9
The motor is labeled as a high torque unit, but it may need to be replaced if you decide to increase the spring strength substantially.

ELECTRONICS:

One of the things that Classic Army USA has done with their new models is installing a simple inline MOSFET to improve rate of fire and protect trigger contacts. They also are one of the only companies that terminates their wiring harness with a heat resistant and low resistance Deans plug. Now, since most users don’t use Deans plugs, they include a mini-Tamiya adapter so that you can start playing immediately.

HOP-UP:

An easily adjustable hop-up unit is pretty vital to a good skirmish gun, and the AK74 has a basic, easy to use one piece unit. The slider moves easily and holds its chosen position very well, but it does need to be removed separately when you disassemble the gun. This is one of the things I like about the VFC receiver style compared to this TM style receiver.


MODIFICATIONS:

There aren’t many things that need to be replaced or swapped out of the box with the tactical AK, but you’ve got plenty of rail space, so get out there and throw some crap on them! Lights, foregrips, lasers, grenade launchers, even other guns can all be mounted on the maple rail space.

EXTERNAL BUILD FACTS

RIS (Rail Integrated System): Polymer handguard with 4 rail surfaces
STOCK: Crane style, extendable
BARREL LENGTH: About 12”
TRIGGER GUARD: Standard
MAG RELEASE: Standard lever
OPTIC SPACE: 20mm top rail on handguard
MAGAZINE: 500 round capacity hi-cap x2
LENGTH: 33” – 36.5”
WEIGHT: 7 lbs
HEIGHT: 11”
LENGTH OF PULL: 12.75” – 16”

INTERNAL BUILD

GEARBOX VERSION: V3 with quick change spring system
MOTOR: Short length, marked as high torque
GEARS: Steel V2 21:1 ratio
BUSHINGS: BEARINGS- 9mm ball bearings
WIRING HARNESS: Rear wired, MOSFET equipped, deans plug
PISTON & HEAD: Polymer piston
NOZZLE: Standard
SPRING: M110 strength
ANTI-REVERSAL LATCH: Standard
SPRING GUIDE: Quick change design
INNER BARREL: 363×6.03mm tightbore
HOP-UP UNIT: 1 piece slider adjustable unit

PERFORMANCE 

CONTROL OPERATION: 3 position switch, safe-auto-semi
BATTERY STORAGE: Stock, nunchuck batteries preferred
RANGE/ ACCURACY: 145′ “Torso” accurate
ROF: 11.1V- 17 RPS
CHRONO: .20g- 380.4 FPS

ITEMS USED

Battery: 11.1v 20C 1000 mAh Tenergy LiPo
Charger: G&G LiPo Balance Charger
BB’s: .20g Matrix BBs

Classic Army USA AK p7
9mm ball bearings and other high end components improve the rate of fire and give you the top performance possible.

PERFORMANCE:

I’m happy that more companies are starting to add integrated MOSFETs to their products, as they improve the rate of fire substantially, along with improving trigger response. The basic MOSFET in the AK also helps protect the trigger contacts from damage due to high voltage batteries, so feel free to run a LiPo battery in this without too many worries. When shooting, the gun sounds very smooth, a testament to the 9mm ball bearings installed in the gearbox and the acceptable shim and lube job from the factory.

Classic Army USA AK p8
Velocity changes are a piece of cake thanks to the quick change spring guide. You do need to remove the gearbox from the gun in order to change the spring, however.

Shooting the AK is uneventful, in a good way. It’s drama free, shoots where you aim it up to about 145’, doesn’t seem like it’s straining too hard to pull back the M110 strength spring, and seems to be pretty reliable. Keep it well fed with high quality ammo and with a good battery, and it’ll serve you well on most fields. It does shoot a little hot for CQB use, but the quick change spring system lets you throw in a lighter strength spring to bring that velocity down easily. The short length and small overall size definitely help your maneuverability on any type of field.

THE LAST WORD

My first full metal gun was an old Gen 1 Classic Army M4 many, many years ago, and I’ve been very pleased to see how far they’ve come from those old days. Their body quality is much improved, their gearboxes are actually ready to go out of the box, not needing a bunch of upgrades to be skirmishable, and their feature list is getting longer with every new version that they come out with. Personally, I’d like to see this model with the more solid VFC style body in the future, and maybe a different railed handguard as this version is getting a little played out, but overall, it’s another excellent effort from Classic Army USA. The internals alone are better than many guns costing a hundred bucks more than this thing.

IMG_6662LINKS

Classic Army USAwww.classicarmyusa.com

 

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