Project AKS-74U receiver
The TM Spetsnaz Beta has been subject of extensive debate in almost all airsoft forums, with opinions divided between the performance and the somewhat imaginative design made by Tokyo Marui and the lack of realism when comparing with the real model.
When the Tokyo Marui released this model decided to use the biggest number of available possible parts in stock, the majority of them originary from AK-47 models currently in production. They added a shorter barrel that look similar to the old limited edition Spetsnaz released some years ago.
Based in real AKS-74U, the Beta shows some errors, being the easier to spot the old milled receiver instead of the newer stamped model. These olde milled receivers made for 7.62×39 mm weapons never have been used for the newer 5.45×39 caliber. There are also some other incorrect details, as the flash hider or the magazine needing some work to duplicate the real gun.
Our aim its to made a more accurate receiver allowing to build a more correct replica of the AKS-74U using a Spetsnaz as a starting point.
These errors can be corrected without buying expensive parts as the Smokey AKS-74U kit, just by modifying some standard parts and buying a few extra items. Parts that need to be brought to achieve the best result included the side folding stock, the correct flash hider and a few real AK-74 and Academy MP5 mags.
It’s possible to buy the correct folding stock from Russia, priced near USD 100.00 and a metal body from HK that cost less than USD 80 and allow for a better fitment of the stock. For those who want to keep costs as low as possible, this can be left for a future evolution without spoiling the final result.
Its better to keep in mind that the original plastic receiver isn’t strong enough to hold the folding stock without some internal reinforcements and can be easily damaged if the gun falls over the stock.
Another part needed it’s the stick battery, the same model as used in the AK-47S because the stock will no longer be able to store the old large battery.
To add extra realism, we need the typical orange baquelite magazine designed for the 5.45×39 ammo. It’s possible to get them cheap from Germany where the former German Democratic Republic has them in large quantities. The inside can be provided by the inner part of MP5 magazines from Academy, cheaply priced in www.airsoftkorea.com instead of destroying the much more expensive TM model. The AK-47 magazine has a different shape and the internals wouldn’t fit inside the new AK-74 mag. It’s also possible to use the new black magazines from Star, also cheaply priced and easy to get from HK, but lacking the original colour and shape of the AK-74 mags.
Another easy change it’s the replacement of the flash hider with the correct AKS-74U model from G&G or KM.
Finally we arrive to the most complex and difficult part, the modification of the receiver, changing the current milled model into a stamped AKM or newer receiver.
To modify the body, or to replace it with a modified metal body, I started by turning the gun apart, remove the front and the stock and remove all the internals. Only after removing all parts from the receiver it’s possible to start the modifications.
First step was to fill all the holes in the rear with epoxy glue and removing the prongs that support the stock. For those who have an AK-47S receiver, both side holes must be filled with the help of an inner plate. Using only epoxy filler isn’t enough to fill these large holes where the folding stock is installed. After using the epoxy and waited until it’s completely dry, I’ve start to polish it to get a smooth surface.
Next step it’s to make disappear the lateral re-entrance’s near the mag well. These are filled with epoxy resin and as we did before with the rear end of the receiver, is polish until become smooth. Then, I’ve cut the front upper receiver in a more rounded shape and glued an ABS plate inside in the correct angle.
After these steps, the shape starts to look like the stamped receiver still without the details.
The first detail to add it’s to engrave a line each side of the upper front receiver aligned with the rear part of the receiver. This was made using a modelling knife and with the help of an electric engraver to have more deepness.
Next detail it’s more complex and a good result much more difficult to achieve. Stamped receivers have a rounded shape made by pressing each side near the mag well. We need to do it drilling with a dremel or an engraving tool. Some AK, mostly non soviet models don’t have this shape, however it’s typical and important to the final result to include it. Personally I choose an old electric rotating tool to slowly remove plastic until I got a near shape. Then I used some epoxy to smooth the surface and polish it to improve the finish.
Remaining details are easier to include. I’ve drilled holes and place bolts in the correct places both sides of the receiver and made any screwdriver marks disappear with epoxy. In the front, two 0.5 mm shims look as bolts after the inner hole was filled. These shims are used in every place where a similar shape was needed, glued with epoxy to the receiver.
The finish includes engraving again the logo of the Izevhsk plant, a new serial number and the fire selector new Cyrillic lettering replacing the older characters destroyed after changing the mag well layout.
If using a metallic body and a folding stock, its time to drill the holes in the rear receiver to install the stock. An internal reinforcement plate it’s always welcome, even with a body made of some pot metal.
The finish is made through successive layers of black spray paint. I had an old automotive matt black spray paint, a Tamiya metallic black spray and some polish that prove to be effective achieving a smooth and metal looking surface. I’ve polish the surface between each paint layer of metallic black and ended with an extra polish. Its also possible to add some wear or battle damage to the receiver using the drilling tool before the paint and eventually adding some lighter metallic shade in the damaged area to represent the lack of phosphate finish.
To have a more realistic result, the rail should be removed and the lower fore grip corrected with filler and painted black. I’ve seen AKS-74U fore grips being sold from EBay and may be a good addition for those who are ready to buy both the metal body and folding stock.
When reassembling the gun, the wiring should be as in any AK-47S to connect the new stick battery. People who need a bigger battery can always add the TGS front set and made an even more realistic gun.
With the elimination of the former stock, the correct receiver layout, a new the flash hider and orange mags, the Spetsnaz looks completely different and much more close to the AKS-74U. For those who didn’t install a metal body and a folding stock, the whole project its cheap, with costs limited to the flash hider, a new stick battery and a replacement mag made with a real AK-74 exterior and the inner parts of a Academy MP-5 mag while waiting for the release of the correct mag in airsoft version. Other than this, only need to have a couple sprays, epoxy resin, polish and lots of patience to build a very original gun.