High-Tech Internals with a Classic Design
Words: Jeremy Hendricks Partner
Photos: Walter Sidas & Jeremy Hendricks
It’s no secret that I love AK’s. There’s a picture of Mikhail Kalashnikov looking over my work area, frowning sternly at my shoddy capitalist technical skills. Now, it seems like every time an airsoft manufacturer announces a new AK, it’s some new amalgamation of M4 parts with an AK receiver, so when G&G announced the GKM, I was very happy to see that it would have the timeless AKM design. I’m generally a huge fan of tactical AK’s, and have built several wacky versions myself, but the allure of simple steel construction and gorgeous laminated wood makes my little Kalashnikov-loving heart swoon. This piece of Soviet mechanical art isn’t all show and no go, and as such, is fitted with some very tasty high-tech internal components to give you top-notch performance. Let’s dive inside and see what this AK brings to the table.
WHO MAKES IT: G&G
GUN NAME: GKM
CLASS: Electric blowback
TYPE: Rifl e
WHO IT’S FOR: Mid-high level player
HOW MUCH: $420
FPS: 350 w/.20g BBs
PROS & CONS
+ Full steel body is absolutely gorgeous
+ Laminated wood furniture looks very realistic
+ Pneumatic blowback system gives you some bolt movement without putting strain on the gearbox
+ 11.1V LiPo is built into the handguard for a clean install and quick battery changes
+ No traditional battery connectors to worry about
+ MOSFET pre-installed from the factory will help preserve your electrical components
+ Skirmishable performance out of the box
– Disassembly is kind of a pain due to the location of certain components
_ Lots of locking screws in the front assembly to keep tight
_ Cleaning rod rattles around a little bit
_ Included hi-cap misfeeds from time to time
Combining the glorious Soviet AKM design with high-tech features like a pneumatic blowback gearbox, MOSFET and an 11.1V LiPo battery located inside the laminated wood handguard, the GKM truly is the best of both worlds. The body is the finest AK replica that I’ve ever handled, hands down, and the real laminated wood furniture is more beautiful than the furniture I had on my real AK. G&G made a few funky decisions with the design of the gun, but overall, the thing is just plain good.
RAIL INTEGRATED SYSTEM (RIS): None, however, there is a side optic mount
STOCK: Fixed laminated wood unit with metal butt pad
BARREL LENGTH: 16 in.
TRIGGER GUARD: Metal, plenty of room to wear gloves
MAG RELEASE: Standard lever type
OPTIC SPACE: None, but you can attach a rail to the side mount
MAGAZINE: 600 round high-capacity metal unit
LENGTH: 36.2 in.
WIDTH: 2.5 in. at bolt handle
HEIGHT: 10.5 in. (sight to mag)
SIGHT RADIUS: 15.25 in.
LENGTH OF PULL: 13.5 in.
GEARBOX VERSION: V3 Modifi ed
MOTOR: Short type high torque unit
GEARS: Steel, standard design
BUSHINGS/BEARINGS: 8mm ball bearings
WIRING HARNESS: High quality with integrated MOSFET
CYLINDER & HEAD: Proprietary design for pneumatic blowback
PISTON & HEAD: Ported with green G&G O-ring
NOZZLE: Standard V3
SPRING: M100 equivalent
ANTI-REVERSAL LATCH: Standard
SPRING GUIDE: Bearing equipped
INNER BARREL: 463mm long
HOP-UP UNIT: Metal one-piece unit
WIGHT: 8.2 lbs. (3720g)
CONTROL OPERATION: Three-position switch, variable fiRe modes
BATTERY STORAGE: Integrated 11.1V LiPo handguard battery (two included)
RANGE/ACCURACY: 55 ft. “Torso” accurate
ROF: 11.1V- 21 RPS
CHRONO: .20g- 352.5; .25g- 321.8
Externally, the G&G GKM is one of the finest looking AK models that I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to stress how good the steel receiver and laminated wood furniture look. The thing just looks real, plain and simple, and at first glance, without an orange tip installed, it would be really hard to tell the difference. Remember to always transport your airsoft replicas in a case or gun bag when on the way to the field.
The stock is made of laminated wood with a
mildly glossy finish. The butt pad is made of metal and is attached to the main stock using hex screws. The stock itself is hollow; however, the battery is not stored there like it normally would be with full stock AKs. A metal sling mount is located on the bottom of the stock and works in conjunction with the front sling mount located at the front of the handguard.
The receiver is made of steel and serves as a sturdy backbone for the rest of the gun. It features a selector switch located on the right side with the standard Safe-Auto-Semi AK selector pattern. The left side of the receiver has a mount for installing AK-specific scopes and mounts. To access the hop-up, you can pull back the mock bolt which will expose the adjusting slider. The pistol grip is a standard plastic AKM type unit that is a little glossy for my tastes, but it is accurate to the real gun.
Moving forward from the receiver, you’ll find one of the key features of the GKM: the 11.1V LiPo battery-equipped hand guard. G&G actually designed and shaped the battery to fit inside a standard sized AKM laminated wood handguard. The battery is rated at 11.1V 1100 mAh 22C, so it’s not too high output, but it is used very efficiently in the GKM due to the direct connectors and integrated MOSFET circuitry. It is secured to the gun using the handguard cap (portion that has the sling mount) and can be released within two to three seconds in case of an emergency. To release the battery, push the button in front of the sling mount and slide the assembly forward.
The outer barrel is a multi-piece design, and the whole front assembly has a total of five grub screws securing everything. You might need to give the gun a once over with a hex wrench if you have any barrel or front end wobble. The barrel is terminated in a 14mm-threaded muzzle which is fitted with an orange metal slant-type muzzle brake. The faux cleaning rod underneath the barrel tends to have some free play and can rattle when running or shooting.
Aiming the GKM is so easy, even a monkey can do it. The rear sight is your standard AK unit which is adjustable for range/elevation. The front sight is adjustable for elevation and windage using the appropriate tools.
Overall, externally, this thing really is top notch. The recurring barrel wobble does concern me a little bit, but a touch of Loctite on the hex screw threads should help out with this. Otherwise, the thing is amazingly solid and looks simply beautiful. Sometimes, the simple designs are best.
The included magazine is a full metal hi-capacity unit holding 600 rounds. It is charged using the bottom mounted winding wheel which doesn’t stick out far enough to easily wind on my sample. I also had an issue with occasional misfeeds on full auto with the factory mag, but when I loaded up my G&P 150 round midcap, it fed perfectly.
G&G has fitted the GKM with their pneumatic blowback system-equipped V3 metal gearbox. It is fitted with 8mm ball bearings, steel gears, a ported piston head and a specialized cylinder designed to work with the pneumatic blowback system. Now, this system doesn’t give you great recoil force, but it does give you an inch or so of bolt movement with every shot. The system has a nice perk in that it can protect your internal components from damage due to jams by diverting the compressed air from the piston into the secondary piston assembly. This can prevent the piston from “hanging” and stripping. If you want to modify the internals for different performance goals, you can do so easily as a result of the standard gearbox components.
The trigger is your typical AEG unit, giving you a short, lightweight pull with a short reset. Nothing breathtaking here, but when you pull that light trigger, the GKM starts firing, the bolt clacking away as you go, and that brings a smile to my face.
The hop-up adjuster is located behind the faux bolt and is accessed by pulling it back. The wiring on mine needed to be pushed out of the way to go through the full range of adjustment, but once was set, it held its position quite well. The hop-up unit is attached to the outer barrel using two screws, so it has great lateral stability.
While I can’t, in good conscience, promote any external shenanigans to this beautiful machine, I can say that there are options out there for tacticooling this thing up, if you were into that sort of thing. You will run into issues installing front rail systems due to the internal battery system installed in the handguard, but you could install a scout-type rail to replace the gas tube. The stock is also a relatively standard design, so you could install a more tactical unit if you want. Internally, while the gun does have a specialized gearbox, the majority of the internal components are compatible with standardly available parts.
The GKM has good all-around performance, giving you the ability to use the gun at many CQBs as well as most outdoor fields, due to its reasonable velocity. My average velocity with .20g BBs was 352.5 FPS. Many manufacturers fall into the “more FPS = better gun” trap, so it’s a nice change of pace to see one that’s firing at sub-400 FPS velocities. Consistency from shot to shot is quite good, with only an 8 FPS deviation from the highest to the lowest velocities in my testing.
Rate of fire with the included 11.1V LiPo is quite good, coming in at an even 21 RPS, tested using Audacity. As mentioned before, on full auto, the factory hi-cap magazine had some issues keeping up, causing occasional misfeeds, but G&P mid-cap magazines worked very well.
Range and accuracy weren’t out of this world, but I was very pleased to find that the gun would comfortably put rounds on my standard torso sized target out to 155 feet. It liked heavier ammo, and the sweet spot I found was with .25g Airsplat BBs. The hop-up holds its selected position quite well, but is a little tricky to adjust due to the gaggle of wires located in the receiver.
Lastly, this gun does have pneumatic blowback which you may or may not even notice. It doesn’t add any appreciable recoil to the gun, but it does give you a nice little mechanical clack when firing. When you dry fire, the blowback is pretty much nil due to the lack of a BB in the chamber to allow the pneumatic system to work, but when loaded up, especially with heavier ammo, it travels back about an inch when firing.
During my testing, the gun performed flawlessly, aside from the feeding issues that came from the included hi-cap magazine while on full auto. Load up some spring fed mags with some heavy weight ammo and you’ll be good to go. The internals are well constructed, and overall, the gun is well designed and engineered, so durability shouldn’t be a major concern.
Ultimately, this gun is really all about the blending of old world craftsmanship with new world technology. In a sea of M4s fitted with dozens of accessories, it’s a pleasant experience to step back into a simpler time, where the only accessory your gun needs is a fresh coat of oil on the laminated wood stock. The Kalashnikov design has continued to be used by a vast collection of nations, meaning that this gun will fit in with nearly any loadout you can come up with. G&G did a fantastic job designing and manufacturing this rifle, and it rightfully sits near the top of their AEG lineup. The fact that it comes as a complete package, including two 11.1V LiPo battery handguards and a proper balance charger makes it a no-brainer for mid-high level airsoft players looking for one of the finest AKM AEGs currently on the market. Mikhail would be proud.