Guarder AKS-74U (BoomArms Custom)

Guarder AKS-74U (BoomArms Custom)

Reviewed by Isaac Marchionna (aka Titleist)

Stock Specifications
BOOM ARMS Custom – AKS-74U
Description Marui AK47 based
Specification &Guarder AKM 7.62X39 Magazine
Upgrade to 330 fps with Systema parts
Custom made Sanyo 1100mah 9.6V Battery
Weight 3800g
RRP 1,180 USD

Introduction Before man first created the wheel, before he forged fire, and created language, there was the Automat Kalashnikov. Okay well not really, but it sure seems that way. One of the most prevalent gun designs of our generation, it has seen conflict in countries too numerous to mention. However there’s something timeless about its design, never looking too anachronistic for the 21st Century.

Let me preface this review by stating a simple fact, I despise the AK47, I think like the VW Beetle, the AK is simple and ugly and there are a lot of them out there. Now that I’ve offended all of the AK fans who are reading this, let me say that anyone who has ever talked with me knows that there is one AK out there that can warm my cold dead heart, that gun being the AKS74U. I won’t dive too much into the history behind the gun, other than the fact that it was developed as a weapon for tank and helicopter crews. It’s extremely short barrel requires the use of the distinctive muzzle break, which some have confused as a silencer of sorts. The gun can be fitted with the PBS series silencers, other accessories if the user so wishes. The gun is still in active use all over the world.

What is it about that little 5.45×39 Krinkov that warms my heart? I think it’s a combination of things. I’ve been drawn to more compact guns, powerful little AEGs that dispense with the need for elaborate doo-dads and massive barrels and magazines. I also find the AKS74U to be incredibly classy looking, with its compact size and wood furniture. It’s no frills, but it also has a simple elegance that most other guns lack. However making one of these guns was tough, there were a few routes you could take, the cheap way was the Beita Spetznatz, but it’s not a real gun, its close but no cigar. You could go with the Smokey’s kit, but it’s not all that durable and its fit and finish is well…lacking. Trapper made some nice conversions as well. However the one company known for it’s plethora of AK parts finally hit the market with their long awaited kit, that company is Guarder. However this is a limited run item, it’s also extremely expensive for what you get in the kit. It’s almost a 1000 bucks, not exactly a small chunk of cash. You don’t get bipods or a wood stock, or extended barrel like the cheaper RPK kits, but you do get an extremely well made kit for an extremely unique gun. However your value will range depending on how much you like the size and appearance of this gun. For me it was money well spent, so you sort of now know how this review will pan out. It’s not all perfect praise, but it’s damn near close.

I ordered this gun through Boom Arms, who were gladly interested in taking some of my hard earned money and translating it into an awesome airsoft gun. I had the gun upgraded internally to 350fps, Prometheus inner barrel, battery, Systema gears, and a set of Guarder magazine conversions (which I’ll talk about in a few paragraphs), shipped off to me for around 1250. Yeah that’s right, 1250, it isn’t a cheap gun. If that price tag hasn’t scared you off, then you’re obviously still interested in how the gun is. Unfortunately since I didn’t build this gun, which makes it the only AEG I haven’t assembled with my own hands, I can’t tell you how it all went together. I can open up parts of it, but I’d assume it’s not much harder to assemble then any other Guarder full metal kit.

First Impressions

First off, this gun is 19 inches with the stock closed, and 28 inches with stock extended, so this isn’t exactly going to give your MP5K a run for its money. And in fact what is a bit deceiving is its weight. Because it’s so small the weight is so much more compacted and it’s a damn hefty little gun. Not as heavy as a full metal M4, but about in-between that and a full metal MP5. But it never feels awkward; in fact it’s perfectly balanced in both compact and extended setups. Guarder does not skimp on the metal quality of this gun, its steel, and it feels like it too. The stock and upper receiver are the only two moving parts besides the selector switch of course. Nothing wobbles, nothing feels loose, and it feels as it should. I’ve never spent time on the real AKS74U so I can’t compare this to the real thing. But I would imagine its close. From the detailing of the rear U shaped notched site, to the laminated forearm, this is an amazing example of what Guarder can do quality wise. However one gripe is that for 1000+ dollars for the kit, it seems that Guarder could have included a steel cocking handle in the kit. The only Marui part that remains is that silver cocking handle, which may or may not annoy you, I like the silver look to it, but would appreciate some company releasing a nicer handle down the line, are you listening, Guarder? Hint, Hint. But that’s minor gripe.

Skeletonized Stock Nothing rattles or shakes, there is no play of any kind between metal parts, once the gun is locked into a position, either stock open or closed, the gun is rock solid. In fact I have to tip my hat to Guarder in terms of the stock. When closing the stock the metal latch that holds it into place clicks in with such a great sound that you’d swear this is real, this isn’t like a G36K stock, where it’s held on but can be opened with a light tug, this thing is locked and is not going anywhere. It’s fantastic. In regards to the stock, operating it is beyond easy. Press the gray button on the left side of the stock to collapse it; it will lock in place with a latch that hooks into the very end of the stock. Press this release again to pull the stock to its fully extended position.

Everything is better in wood One of the things I picked up from my father was a good understanding of woodworking and the ability to recognize good craftsmanship, with that in mind the Guarder kits are superb in that the quality of wood on the grips is in fact better than that of the real AK counterpart, as funny as that sounds. No knots in the wood, no cracks, excellent fit and finish all around.

Handling/Performance Before writing this review I attended a game with Sequoia Airsoft and gave the AKS-74U its first field test. Now this is just a kit, the performance of the gun isn’t going to be any different then a Beta Spetnatz or an AK47, the barrel length will vary depending on who installs it, but other than that it’s just a normal AK. One of the concerns I’ve always had with folding stock weapons is how unbalanced they can be, I find my G36 a tad front heavy compared to my HKM4, but that is just a personal observation. The AKS-74U when folded feels completely balanced even considering the almost 100 percent metal and wood ratio on this gun. In playing I found that the gun works great both folded and not, I personally prefer to carry it folded but actively move and shoot with it in the un-folded configuration. When moving fast the bulk of the weight is on your forearms, and as stated it is indeed a heavy little gun. Using the unfolded gun and a 3 point sling it’s nicely weighted and not a big deal to take the gun around all day. I also find that it’s quite a good sized barrel for a gun that’s only 19 inches long when folded; not quite an M733 barrel, but it’s definitely not as small as an Mp5 barrel, which leads me to recommend this gun easily for use outdoors as a mid-range assault weapon. I went a whole day using only one 9.6v 1100mah battery, although there was more room to spare if I ever wanted to build a 1500mah battery. Although the gun came with an EG750 motor the gun has a wicked high RoF, it was suggested that I go with an EG1000, but I find the rate of fire to be perfect for a gun like this, plus I tend to favor semi-auto more so then full auto anyways. The Guarder kits are also definitely well built, this is not the kind of gun that you will buy and be afraid to take out into the field. These will definitely pass the whack to a tree test. It’s as much of a field gun as it is something for your collection.

On a side note, I was pleasantly surprised to see another Guarder AKS-74U. Its owner and I got to talking about what we loved about the kit. You could easily tell that he loved his new gun, as did I love mine. He was planning on switching out guns mid-day, but by the end he was still using it, reluctant to even let it go. It was definitely surprising to see given how few of these kits will be coming stateside. Which I can say might be a good thing, definitely nice to see a few unique guns now and then.

Quirks and Problems: Although this is a great kit, I do have some gripes. The first as mentioned is the lack of a steel cocking handle for as much as you pay for this kit. A black one would also be very nice. Secondly, and this is completely beyond me why Guarder did this, but the gun’s muzzle is threaded with a 24mm x 1.5mm thread, so adding a silencer to this gun becomes a pain in the rear. After about a weeks worth of searching my solution for finding a PBS silencer came down to buying a real AK74 Krinkov mock suppressor, which fits the same thread. I will have to come back to this review and update it with how well it fits. While I am amazed that Guarder copied the real thread dimensions, I would have liked for them to keep it at a standard thread size so we could add our own suppressors later on. It’s doubtful that Guarder will make a specific silencer for such a limited run item. Another thing is that when a battery is inserted into the gun, the cocking handle is almost impossible to pull back if you need to adjust the hop up. This necessitates removing the battery or pulling up the top receiver and making adjustments, then putting it all back together. Not a super big deal, but just once you adjust the hop up, leave it alone, seriously.

Accessories As stated above, you are very limited to what you do silencer wise. There are solutions as I mentioned, such as finding a real AK mock suppressor, however depending on where you live this may prove difficult or expensive. I paid about 125.00 dollars for my suppressor, which was well built, but a good deal more expensive then any normal airsoft silencer. Plus if you want to be correct you’ll insist on finding a PBS series silencer, rather than a normal “can” silencer. Also with the installation of a side mount you can proceed to add items such as the Kobra Holographic red dot site. I voted to pass on the scope mount, as I found that the gun looked perfect without any scopes.

The PBS silencer was the only item I really did want to eventually add for cosmetic purposes. The one thing you’ll either love or hate about the AKS-74U’s is that they don’t have a lot of accessories. For me that’s a good thing, I find that RAS’ and M4’s/G36’s just beg to be over accessorized, almost to the point of death. Whereas this gun you can pretty much add a sling, a silencer, and a Kobra red dot site, and then you’ve hit a wall. I pretty much petered out when I got the silencer, honestly the kit is just that nice in stock form, the silencer is pretty much icing on an already damn tasty cake.

(Image Courtesty of Tantal’s Automats in Action)

The other thing you’ll want to consider is magazines. Obviously a standard Marui AK47 magazine will work in this gun, it’ll just be completely incorrect. So that leaves you with 3 choices, Guarder, Star, or G&P. I own a set of the Guarder and the Star magazines.

I have 5 of the Guarder AK conversion kits for my Marui normal capacity magazines. I find them to have the best fit of the two magazine brands that I own. They click in and do not wobble at all, in fact you really have to give them a good tug to lock in, once done they aren’t going anywhere. For about 10 dollars it’s a good orange finish, and fairly nice plastic quality on the magazine shells. Conversion is nothing more than pulling a pin out of the Marui magazines, remove the front metal piece, sliding the guts of the magazine out, putting them in the guarder shell, and reinserting the retaining pin. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the wood grain as in the real magazine. It’s not that it’s a bad plastic finish, it’s just disappointing. In fact besides just being a little more matte than the Star magazines, it’s almost the exact same quality. One thing to note is that this is a 7.62 magazine, so its curve is more than the Star 5.45 magazines. It doesn’t bug me but I find the AK74 magazines a bit easier to fit in my Strike chest rig. While this isn’t a make or break thing with the curve of the magazine, it’s probably worth it realism-wise to go for the proper magazines for this gun.

The StarAirsoft magazines are either hit or miss as well. I went into AEX to buy a set of 3 of the black AK74 magazines, and before I could buy one, they warned me they wouldn’t fit metal bodies. But just as a test they tried one in my gun, it fit in perfectly fine; which surprised all of the sales guys and techs in the store. However the fit of each magazine is widely different, one magazine I have fits in fine but with just a tad bit of wobble. One fits in super smooth but wobbles a good deal, not a lot but enough to concern me. The last one takes a bit of force to get in, but when it’s in its rock solid, even more so then the Guarder magazines. This is really due to the width of the front most plastic square area that locks into the magazine well, if it’s too wide the magazine will fit in too tightly, not wide enough and the magazine will wobble. The Star magazine feeds fine, I opted for the 160 round madcap, I only encountered one or two jams, and those were fixed by just slapping the magazine once. Still a nice magazine for the price; and it looks proper in the gun.

What color magazine you get will depend on the look you’re going for; I have a mix of black and brown magazines. I find the wooden color magazines to have that Afghani/Iraq look to it, while the black magazines are more Russian special Ops look to it. Although the color and type of magazines is so varied that you could do whatever you want and no one could argue either way. At the time of this review G&P has just released a set of 3 AK74 magazines, a wood colored magazine, black, and the plum colored. Odd as it sounds, most AK74s are seen with their matching plum colored magazines, which match perfectly with the plum pistol grip of the kit.

Cost vs Kit

Finally you have to ask, is this kit worth the cost? It’s definitely more expensive than a full size AKM or RPK kit, but you in fact get less of a gun. On a part for part basis this gun isn’t all that spectacular of a value, however if you are intending to build a gun that is incredibly unique, then this is the gun for you, and it’s price is justified in the ability to say you own a stylish and classic piece of Russian hardware. In fact I was absolutely shocked when I encountered another one of these guns at the game this past weekend. They won’t be too common. However with the lack of other ready to go accessories for this gun you might find it to be a tad costly for pretty much being a “what you see is what you get” kind of gun. However you’d be hard pressed to find another gun with the build quality as seen in this gun, I’ve handled a lot of M4s, G3s, and Mp5s, and none of them have ever felt as solid as this gun came right out of the box when assembled. So if you find the AKS-74U kit attractive, or have always lusted after one, then this is a no brainer, it’s worth the money. But it’s not a gun that you’ll want to buy on a whim; it is expensive as a kit, but damn is it worth it.

Conclusion: Did this kit warm my AK-hatin’ heart? Absolutely. The gun isn’t without its quirks, but those are small compared to the overall amazing build quality. It’s also a great gun for close range CQB and mid-range outdoor work. It’s not for everyone obviously, you won’t be doing much long range assaulting with it unless you add a much bigger inner barrel, and go through the trouble of buying a real AK mock suppressor. However it’s a fantastic looking gun and it feels as good as it does look. I feel completely lucky to have cut my teeth in the field of AKs on what is one of the finest kits that Guarder has produced. For those lucky enough to own one, this is a spectacular treat.

Upgrade Potential: 5/10 Unfortunately the only bad thing about this gun. Scope mounts aren’t the problem, neither are scopes. Lack of a standard 14mm thread makes finding Suppressors a real chore. Not impossible, just annoying.

Build Quality: 9/10 Guarder hit one out of the park on this, no plastic or metal on the gun at all exterior wise. All wood, steel, and aluminum. Only downside is that pot metal cocking handle that carries over from the marui base gun.

Value for Money: 9/10 At an average cost of about 850-900 this thing isn’t cheap, but for those avid AK fans this is well worth the cost, extremely strong and well built you will have little to gripe over.

Overall Potential: 9/10 I can see this gun lasting me for a long time, and at 350fps as I upgraded it, I can see it filling my need for a CQB gun and a mid-range weapon perfectly. With a little bit of legwork finding a few AK specific accessories was easy enough to accomplish.

External links: Links to external sites of interest.

Intruder Shop – The manufacturers of the body kit used in this replica (product page)
BoomArms – Where this item was bought from
Tantal’s page on the AKS-74U – a semi-automatic recreation of the Soviet pattern AKS-74UN in original caliber 5,45x39mm
the largest and most comprehensive site
on the Soviet armed forces on the Internet

Movie screencaps courtesy of Black Hawk Down, GoldenEye and Alias and Copyright respective holders.

By Isaac Marchionna (aka Titleist)

on this review in the forums

Saturday, March 19, 2005 6:38 PM
Copyright ArniesAirsoft

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