In recent days, E&L company has been become the rising star of Polish airsoft market. More or less a year ago, the first generation of their replicas showed up in Polish stores and instantly gained the favour of local players, taking advantage over such trusted brands as VFC or LCT. I got a pleasure of testing the classic AKM replica. Is this as good as the others?
THE FIRST IMPRESSION
The box is filled with hard sponge, where stencils for the actual filling were cut. The content does not move while transportation and seems to be appropriately secured. The box contains as follow:
- the replica,
- the mid-cap magazine (100 BBs),
- the manual and chronograph results from the factory,
- the oiler,
- the cleaning set, as one in real steel.
The first impression is overwhelmingly positive. AKM from E&L emerges from the box, spreading around the scent of fresh oxidative, straight away charming it's new owner with solid, precise outlook and... very low ergonomy, precisely as AKM should be. The rough-hewn shape of Kalashnikov fits your hands as the bag of bricks. The most awesome bag of bricks ever. Nothing clacks, nothing is too loose, all the parts are put in one solid shape. the selector changes positions with some effort and clear sound. The grating of bolt pulled back puts the grin of satisfaction to your mouth. Thanks to its shape, the rifle looks rather like live firearm than a replica. It doesn't seem to be surprising, as it is manufactured in the real steel factory.
THE CLOSER LOOK
When the shock of first impression passes, one starts to see more details and - unfortunately - minor blemishes. Firstly - stock is a little bit loose, however, as my friend stated - "it's really perfect replica, as in the original firearm stock is a little bit loose as well". The bolt and the reciver cover are not mounted tightly, but snugly enough, not to move during haste moves and are definitely more stable, than in other constructions. It's worth to mention, that the bolt is massive. In some spots almost twice thicker than - for instance - CM or Boyi ones.
It's simply impossible to have any complaints about the front of the replica. Parts perfectly match each other - from iron sights, through the wood, to the top of the cleaning rod. Another fragile element - the selector lever - seems to be outstandingly solid, works fabulously and - what is the most important - doesn't get loose during longer usage. I polished the oxidation with it to bare steel without a single trace of exacerbation. Changing rate of fire is trouble-free (hallelujah!) as well. Modes switch exactly, when selector gets blocked in desired position.
The color of oxidation and wood is rather discussive matter. Personally - I like them. Some of my folks preffered the color of oxidation done by different manufacturer, other stated, that wood looks like "1980s cheap furniture". Nonetheless - I don't feel like discussing tastes here. Despite that, the quality of both reciver and woods is the state of an art.
I also have taken a look at the metal magazine. The catch is plastic and one BB always stays in inside, but apart from these issues it works correctly and causes not a single problem.
Before I will start to mention typical technical matters, I want to give you the portion of pure facts regarding the replica's manual
- Hop-up is regulated in usual manner with little lever visible after pulling the bolt back. Clear scale makes adjusting the bucking pressure a lot easier.
- Battery is placed under the reciver cover with the connector installed in the back. It may cause problems with putting LiPo battery in the "gas pipe" under iron sights. NiMh sticks fit there snugly, but somehow thicker LiPo 7,4V got some difficulties with fitting in. You can forget using 11,1V batteries larger than 100 mAh, as it must be smashed between bolt and cover. There is just not enough space.
- There is a slit in the receiver, that makes fitting cables into stock possible. The stock howeever, is not adjusted for this solution and some amendments are required.
- Each metal piece of receiver and front is made of steel.
- Cleaning rod is full-scale.
Feel free to check out the gallery.
JUST THE INSIDE COUNTS
After undoubtedly pleasant meeting with outside layers of the replica, it's time to take a look at the inside. Replica can be disassembled with pulling the bolt, unscrewing HU chamber and two hexagonal screws under the rear sight basis. No pins for driving! The manual added to E&L AKM clearly shows how to disassemble it, what is really positive.
Before "fieldstripping", the replica has been velocity tested. The result was varying from 449 to 454 fps on 0,2g G&G BBs.
The V3 gearbox makes very solid impression with accordance to thicker front and characteristic cut-outs in the cylinder sector. V3 gearboxes are known of their roboustness even in the most basic versions. In the E&L AKM case it is absolutely sure, that even the hardest springs will not cause any fractures to the gearbox.
The second visible thing are cables, running along the gearbox. Stiff, 1mm wires got socket for small fuse in the circuit (in the replica 30A fuse is already installed). The connector is usual Tamyia. Although at LiPo 7,4V 25C and NiMH 9,6V batteries the reaction and ROF were acceptable, the exchange of cables at low-resistant 1,5 or 2 mm wires with Deans-T or XT90 connectors for sure improves the results and seems to be essential for tunning, that for sure will be withstanded by very powerful replica's motor.
As I mentioned replica's motor, I feel obligated to close this subject - the E&L motor is built with so powerful neodymium magnets, that they attract tools lying nearby. The sticker with "M170" on it is really adequate. The motor axis spinned with finger gives clear resistance.
On the mechbox front leans metal HU chamber tightly screwed to it. This solution is known, for instance, from Airsoft Pro chambers. In the chamber the 455 mm / 6,04 mm precision barrel and silicon bearing with hardness similar to Systema or G&G ones is set.
Let's check the surprises inside the mechbox. As obviously enhanced gearbox and powerful motor makes you feel to upgrade this toy a bit, the rest of mechbox content will give you some second thoughts about it. Some of parts seems to be made just to hold factory spring, which is - following the producer brochure - M140. Let me present you this parts, starting from pneumatics:
Pneumatics consists of:
- brass full cylinder
- Silenced plastic piston head
- Also silenced cylinder head
- plastic nozzle with phase
- plastic piston with three steel teeth
It is not factory air-tight. The cylinder is dry. After using some silicon oil, I got almost 100% tightness. The nozzle got no o-ring, but it fits enough to cylinder head, that preassure loss is ommitable.
Both heads are made precisely. They are air-tight, bumpers are mounted strongly and there is no chance for them to break.
The facet of piston head not possesing the bearing is pretty surprising. There is even no metal ring known for example from older Chinese constructions. The head is attached with screw directly to the piston. The spring leans in the same place on the other side. It is not the perfect solution, especially, if it is intended to exchange the spring for a stronger one. Fortunately, it is rather easy to add standard bearing, using just a slighlty longer screw.
The piston is made of hard, white plastic. It got three steel teeth and "Land Arms" written on it. It makes solid impression, enhenced with a fact, that in other E&L replicas, I have been stripping such pistons got minimal exhaustion traces after shooting couple of dozens thousands pellets in original factory set. Piston rails are flooded with thick grease.
Let's take a look at mechanical parts:
- founded steel gears,
- M140 spring, regular cells,
- Steel 8 mm bearings,
- Spring guide with bearing.
Gears set is made of steel with "X" signed marked on them. They are look-a-like to XYT or A&K products. I got no doubts about their durability. Above-mentioned sets are commonly used with springs up to M140 with minimal damage risk (brave ones frequently use them with stronger upgrades as well). The only thing I didn't like is the single drop of oil at spur gear. Apart from it there is not a single trace of grease over gears. It's really nice of the producer to provide the sector gear with the tappet plate delayer.
The shimming is done tightly. Neither of the gears got even a little fracture of milimeter to move. There a re many different schools of shimming and for sure some folks will claim, that there should be at least a bit of space for them to move. I must emphasize here, that even reshimming for somehow less tight made no change in mechbox work.
Bearings are mixed - bevel and sector gear got ball bearings, while spur one is set on slides.
The "power source" is the short spring with regular spin, set on bearing guide.
Apart from above-mentioned, inside the fearbox you will find absolutely standard tappet plate and V3 mechbox switches. Both made of durable plastic.
To sum up:
After giving it some tightness, E&L AKM gives a result of 465 FPS (464 - 466 FPS to be more ecxact). As for assault rifle, the velocity is above average, although everyone know guys who won't be pleased even with such an outcome. These fellows are welcome to make their best with upgrades. Just mind, putting some sort of stronger spring inside is not you only effort. I advise you to invest in new piston, cables and some bearing to piston head. Gears and ball bearings may also be replaced with more redical tunnings.
For ones, who are absolutely satisfied with what you get from the factory, I suggest to make some decent job with greasing your gears (I recommend PTFE grease under pressure, if you don't feel like disassembling the mechbox) and penumatics (usual silicon oil is just fine) to have fun with long, blemishless work of your toy.
THE WALK WITH MIKHAIL
The specimen I was given for the test, has been taken to the forest three times. Twice it refused to cooperate by burning the fuse after couple of shots. We checked if wires are ok and there is no damaged insulation. There may have been the assumption, that powerful motor takes more than 30A in some specified moments, however this theory couldn't explain why there was not such a problem win "laboratory" conditions. Accroding to barely suffcient amount of space, the fuse must be low-profile, as I wanted to use the replica in normal way. Finally, I got rid off the fuse to test AKM properly in the field. I have checked the other E&L replicas and there was not a single similar problem, so I assume this was just a feature of my specimen.
The first thing you spot after pulling the trigger is the work your Hop-Up do. You got two basic options:
1. It's perfectly idle.
2. Your pellets sky-rocket to participate in interstellar mission.
Getting "the golden formula" is difficult to reach. And even if it is found, we can celebrate our success just for a few next shots, as the Hop-Up lever is that loose, it moves each time you set a finger on the trigger. It's childishly easy to fox - get one shim with small o-ring placed on the screw pressing the lever. After that small ammendment the bucking still got an issue to stay in line, but it becomes a lot less troubling than before.
As I have mentioned, AKM refused to cooperate twice during skirmishes I was able to take it. Shooting targets and my fellows backs in the nearby forest must ahve pleased me. The accuracy is good - all the BBs fit into A4 paper size target on 10 and 20 metes. On the contrary, the range seems to be rather pathetic. Hitting the man-sized target (hi Olaf!) on 50 meters required shooting the "mortar way". For the replica with 465 FPS on board - definitely insufficient. I have blamed thr Hop-Up bucking - later it occured I was right.
Apart from above-mentioned, the AKM didn't cause any particular problems in the field. I witnessed no jams, power shortages, feeding problems or decreasing the mechanism work.
After coming back from the forest, I decided to eschange the Hop-Up bucking for popular G&G one and shot several times into the safe direction, aiming for deserted house located approximatel 80 meters from me. Results occured to be a lot more satisfying. Firstly - Hop-Up regulation is a lot more predictable and setting the appropriate spin took several seconds instead of minutes. Secondly - this time parabolic shots made it to the house wall. After decreasing the distance by 15 meters I was able to target attic window a lot smaller than the shape of duckig human.
I got just one conclusion - I strongly recommend you eschanging the Hop-Up bucking and some ammendments with the chamber. Stock 6,04 mm barrel makes a sort of splendid job and does not require replacement to let you be the effectinve player in the field.
- Beautiful outside!
- Full steel.
- High power straight from the box.
- Good barrel.
- Accessories added to the replica.
- Some blemishes and discussive solutions, that should not appear in the replica of such a price range.
- Fanciful Hop-Up bucking.
- Limited space for the battery.
I must admit, the new AKM from E&L passed all the tests and the impression it made is definitely positive. Obvioulsy, it is not the perfect replica, as such cannot exist and this one got some construction flaws (for instance slightly loose stock and Hop-Up chamber, dry mechbox, poor wires). Nevertheless I am sure, that each user capable for fixing these really minor problems can boldly try to get along with new E&L product. After some ammendments, working with this replica is celar plasure and event the most demending fans of classic outfit should take a look at this one. If (or when) E&L decided to fix flaws mentioned here, that's going to be the best AK replica available at the Polish market.
Thanks for Gunfire store for delivering the replica for this test.
Thanks for Airsoft HQ store for help in tests and creating this review.