An HPA-Powered, Fusion Engine-Based Platform with a Soviet Vibe.
Words: Tom Harris
Photos: Walter Sidas/Dave Baks
MY INITIAL IMPRESSIONS (STEREOTYPES):
When I think about the new PolarStar PAKS-74UN rifle, I want to SHOUT words like “exquisite,” “immaculate,” “gorgeous,” and “Praise the Motherland!” All, of course, with my thickest Russian accent. I’ve actually started to think that communism isn’t such a bad thing and that maybe I should defect to be closer to Putin, the Kremlin and Russian “road ragers” with dashboard cams (apparently that’s a “thing” in Russia). Ok, so maybe defecting to Russia and supporting communism takes things a bit too far, but I think you get where I’m at with my excitement over this beautiful Russian creature.
THROUGH THE SCOPE
WHO MAKES IT: PolarStar Airsoft, with premium external AK body parts by LCT Airsoft
TYPE: Assault rifle
WHO IT’S FOR: Dreamers, thinkers, and airsoft players who want the absolute finest quality AK system on the market
HOW MUCH: $785.00
FPS: Adjustable, depending on nozzle type and air pressure set by the air system’s regulator
ROF: Adjustable, 8 rounds per second up to 30 rounds per second
FIRE MODES: Safe, semi-auto, fullauto and programmable burst-fire (2- to 9-shot burst)
AESTHETIC APPEAL LEVEL: Ultra Sexy
At this point, I’ve owned and/or tested four separate PolarStar Fusion Engine-based guns. I have yet to be disappointed.
Star rating (1-5) = 5
PROS & CONS
+ Extremely realistic look and feel
+ High quality steel body with real wood furniture
+ Adjustable to be legal velocity at any field. Don’t abuse this!
+ Ultra-compact, great for vehicle operations or CQB environments, but also playable at longer ranges
+ Adjustable…Burst…Fire. Need I say more?
– The price doesn’t include a tank, air line or battery
– Figuring out how to adjust the settings on the FCU to speed up or slow down the timing of your rate of fire and nozzle can be tricky for some (read: me). I pretty much leave mine alone because I’m scared
TOP RAIL FOR OPTICS: Aftermarket rail adapter required
STOCK: Steel side folding
BARREL LENGTH: 8.3″
MAG RELEASE: Standard ambidextrous lever type
TRIGGER GUARD: Stamped steel. Magazine 70 round
OVERALL LENGTH: 19.5″ – 28.75″
FUSION ENGINE: Version 3
HOP UP: Standard AK V3 hop up unit
Blue: CQB (275mm) = 380fps
As I opened the box for the rifle and first gazed upon all of its Soviet glory, I thought I heard a choir of Russian angels singing softly from the heavens above while Vladimir Lenin sat closely by on a throne of red clouds, smiling with approval. The PAKS-74UN is so incredible and authentic in appearance, I immediately made several stereotypical assumptions about it upon first sight:
1. The PAKS-74UN is probably very good at chess.
2. The PAKS-74UN would probably rather consume Stolichnaya Vodka than High-Pressure Air (HPA).
3. The PAKS-74UN probably enjoys listening to techno music.
4. When angered, the PAKS-74UN would probably threaten to go nuclear.
5. The PAKS-74UN is probably very flexible, on account of it being exceptional at gymnastics.
6.The PAKS-74UN would probably smash Rocky Balboa into mush in a boxing match.
7. The PAKS-74UN is probably obsessed with cold-fusion technology, and not just because it has a Fusion Engine inside of it, either! See what I did there?
8. The PAKS-74UN can probably authenticate ill-begotten nuclear launch codes.
Alright…I think that just about covers every commonly known Russian stereotype in the book, at least the ones my editor-in-chief will allow to the printer.
WHAT IS A FUSION ENGINE?
If you want the full report on the Fusion Engine itself, you’ll have to get yourself a copy of Issue #1, wherein I provide all the juicy details and tips like “10 things it looks for in a potential operator” and “What to do on your first mission together.” However, I will give you a brief description just to keep you up to speed (if you aren’t already). The PolarStar Fusion Engine is a drop-in gearbox replacement for Airsoft AEG rifle bodies, powered by high-pressure air (HPA) supplied from an external air tank and a small battery, which specifically powers the onboard Fire Control Unit (FCU).
WHAT YOU NEED FOR A COMPLETE SYSTEM
Remote air line (hose), regulator, HPA tank, and a small battery. For a full day of play, I’d recommend at least two 3000 PSI tanks (4500 PSI preferred), especially if your field doesn’t have a fill station available.
At this point, I’ve owned and/or tested four separate PolarStar based Airsoft guns. I have yet to be disappointed. i have yet to feel regret or buyer’s remorse. I have yet to feel anything less than absolute joy when I use these guns. In an HPA-powered nutshell, PolarStar system performance ranks very highly with me.
I’ve yet to see another Airsoft system come close. I’ve already said my piece on System PTWs in the last issue of Airsoft Insider magazine. (Seriously, have you read it yet?) They’re very reliable, don’t get me wrong, but still not where PolarStar systems are. I really like not having to worry about whether my gun is going to work when I get to the field; removing it from the case and pulling the trigger for the first time. I don’t have a lot of time these days to horse around with my guns during the week while I’m at home, so the high reliability factor of a PolarStar rifle carries a lot of weight with me.
RATE OF FIRE
Thanks to the onboard Fire Control Unit (FCU), you have the ability to adjust your rate of fire from anywhere around a very realistic eight rounds per second all the way up to a fear-inducing 30 rounds per second. Bear in mind that unless you’re running a box or drum mag on your gun, running at 30 rounds per second may not be the most effective route to take, as you will undoubtedly find yourself running out of mags rather quickly if you’re heavy on the trigger like I am. I can tell you that it’s hard NOT to be heavy on the trigger when you’ve got a gun that’s as fun to shoot as this one, or any PolarStar system I’ve had thus far. You can lower the rate of fire down to 20-25 rounds to spare yourself a bit of ammo and still leave plenty of “fun factor” in firing on full auto. Just a little “Tominator Tip” for you. No pun intended.
FPS & CONSISTENCY
Like many of the performance elements to a PolarStar system, the FPS is adjustable based on the pressure you have set on your tank’s regulator (manufacturer recommends between 80-120 PSI). FPS is also dependent upon the nozzle you have installed in your engine. Rather than try an come up with my own convoluted way of describing the nozzles, I’m just going to copy and paste what PolarStar has listed on their website about the available AK series nozzles:
Our series of Fusion Engine air nozzles allows you shift the velocity range of your rifle up or down to best meet your requirements. Nozzles are easy to install and typically take less than five minutes to change out on most models from start to finish.
Each nozzle is machined from aluminum and comes with both the internal and external o-rings. The nozzles are color-coded with a hardcoat anodizing for easy identification.
Results with a .20g BB using a 6.05mm barrel at 120psi.
CQB (270mm) = 370fps.
For your reference, the PAKS-74UN rifle comes standard with a Blue nozzle. Don’t you dare ask me how fast it shoots because I just told you what a blue nozzle does in the list of nozzles above. The gun chrono’s at whatever you want it to, within the range determined by the nozzle.
As far as consistency goes, anything more than a 4-5 FPS variance (2 FPS up or down) would indicate there may be something wrong with your system at some point along what I call the “air chain.” HPA is extremely consistent in normal conditions.
Burst-Fire Mode: A great way to enjoy full auto while conserving ammo. It also comes in handy when the field refs or game admins declare that full auto firing is limited to short bursts. Not uncommon at the fields up and down the state of California where I’ve played. Having Burst-Fire Mode takes the guessing right out of it while you’re in the heat of the moment. Set the number of shots you’d like to fire in a burst from two up to nine (yes, 9-round burst) using the FCU’s little tiny joystick (a very handy feature) and you’re good to go. Does the FCU ever miss a beat and fire a different number of shots than what I’ve designated on it? Not as far as I can tell. And I’ve tested this pretty thoroughly between all the systems I’ve had at this point.
Trigger Response: Fast. Lightning fast. While all PolarStar systems, including the PAKS-74UN, utilize a standard AEG trigger, the trigger itself is simply used to press a tiny button that fires the Fusion Engine. As stated in my previous article, I like to insert a small spacer in my trigger unit to shorten the distance I have to pull before the trigger engages the button. This results in extremely fast trigger responses. This mod, however, may cause the safety to stop functioning in some systems without being executed properly. Don’t attempt if you’re an idiot and/or otherwise unable to figure stuff out on your own.
Accuracy: I’ve typically found AK hop-up systems to be pretty accurate and one of the more stable designs out there, in terms of re-adjustment frequency. I’m able to achieve a fairly flat flight path with just a little rise at the end of about 60-70 yards on a torso-sized target with the blue nozzle, and pressure-set to produce right around 400 FPS with a .20g BB. It’s not unreasonable to expect hits at longer ranges and, in fact, I’ve done so, but after a certain point, that starts to have more to do with the shooter than the rifle. I actually used Elite Force .28g BBs for gameplay and range-testing instead of the .20g BBs used to chrono. I found that accuracy definitely improves with a heavier BB. I recommend at least a .28g weight BB. I’ve also used the Elite Force .32g MilSim Max BB, but due to their tannish brown coloring, they’re a bit harder to see at longer distances or in certain types of lighting. It should be noted that Elite Force is the recommended BB for PolarStar systems and is what they use to test their systems at their shop out in Delaware.
Take your idea of “loud” for an airsoft gun, and then add a few decibels; for better or worse. What I mean by that is that the loudness can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Mostly a good thing, though. It’s good because I think an argument can be made that it’s enhanced loudness plays well into the element of psychological warfare or the “intimidation factor” when you’re out on the field. When I hear someone on the OPFOR firing off a bunch of rounds from their PolarStar “shoosting device,” I tend to be a bit more cautious about how I go about the field. I really don’t want to get lit up by one. On the other hand, the loudness can be an issue if you’re trying to avoid detection while moving around the field. If you have to fire that gun during a covert mission, consider your position blown. Everyone around you is going to know almost exactly where you are (at least the smart people around you, anyway).
It’s time to wrap up this review like a Chipotle burrito. The PolarStar PAKS-74UN is one sexy Russian lady. Personally, I’d place her right up in the ranks with Xenia Onatopp, Famke Janssen’s character from the movie Goldeneye: super-classy, super-sexy and super-deadly. The definitive femme fatale. From the stamped steel body and real wood furniture, to the precision internal performance components made here in the U.S. by a bunch of really smart, really cool dudes, I am declaring this rifle the ultimate choice for the discerning airsoft AK enthusiast (I pretend as if I have any authority on the matter). Sure the price tag is mountainous, but for those whom this rifle is meant, it is merely an obstacle on a Russian grail quest. It is reviewing guns like the PolarStar PAKS-74UN that remind me just how much I enjoy doing this and how much I love airsoft. While this should come as no surprise if you’ve been paying attention thus far, I’m stamping this steel-bodied PolarStar AK rifle with five red stars, which is better than five regular stars, because they’re Russian.