One of the things I have decided about how I collect airsoft guns is that I am not going to be a 'hoarder' and accumulate an absurdly large collection of many different types of replicas. Instead, I thought it would be cool to concentrate on one 'family' of weapons that complement the loadout theme I'm interested in, and slowly upgrade this small collection continually.
So, for example, with my Russian assault infantry loadout I started cheap with the budget CYMA AK74. This is a terrific 'entry level' AK AEG that I intended to occassionally upgrade - as money allowed - until I reached a particular level of quality (say an upgraded VFC AK74). With this in mind, my initial themed collection is the Kalashnikov family to compliment my interest in Eastern-Bloc loadouts (Soviet, Russian, Romanian, East German, etc).
I have got to the point where I am in a position to be able to afford my first upgrade, and the target of this improvement will be my AK74. My CYMA CM0.31 was my first full-sized AK, it replaced my broken Classic Army SA58 as my initial primary AEG and I couldn't have been happier with it's performance or reliability (particularly because of the disappointing failure of my expensive Classic Army AEG).
Above: My current CYMA CM0.31, a replica of the early AK74 with black polymer furniture. This version has a tough plastic receiver and some metal parts, including the very distinctive '74 flash hider.
So why change? Well, as I have progressed in developing my modern Russian infantry loadout I have started to pay more and more attention to detail and authenticity, slowly replacing early purchases with more correct items. The CYMA was a replica of an early fixed stock AK74, while the current Russian army issue is the modernized AK74M version, with folding solid stock.
However, I am also tempted to change up as there is a new CYMA which has recently come on to the market which appeals to me - the CYMA AK-105 replica (CM0.31D). This is a carbine version of the AK74, and is an improvement - aesthetically - over the original CM0.31 model as it is constructed from metal, rather than being mainly plastic.
So, I have an interest in two different AK versions, the long AK74M infantry rifle or the AK105, a skeleton stocked carbine in use by Russian Special Forces units (replacing the AKS74U sub-assault rifle).
These two models are represented in replica form by two very good Chinese manufacturers; Kalash (D-Boyi) who have a metal AK74M (RK-05), and CYMA who, as mentioned, have created a AK105 (CM0.31D).
Above: The new full metal CYMA CM0.31D - replica of the AK105 carbine. Photo credit: 'Kamikaz3' from the airsoftforum.com (see links at bottom of page)
Both models represent improvements over my initial AK74 model in that they are both 'full metal' replicas, and they both represent completely up-to-date additions to the Russian military arsenal. Additionally, both these models are power improvements over my CM0.31, in fact the Kalash will have to be downgraded to come inline with the UK site limit of 350fps.
Apples and oranges
How to decide on which model I will ultimately purchase (next week) is a difficult decision. I like the look of either replica, although the AK105 probably has the edge in the looks department. But, I have to base my choice on what I really feel I am trying to achieve with my current loadout.
The AK105 suggests a Special Forces loadout, as it's compact and just begging for a Russian Kobra red dot sight and suppressor to be added. The AK74M, on the other hand, is good old Russian 'heavy metal' - it's the bread and butter of Russian foot sloggers, and gives me the opportunity to slap on a Russian GP30 grenade launcher.
So, Spetsnaz or 'grunt' (or whatever the Russian nickname for the ordinary infantryman is)?
Funnily enough, if I had had to make this decision a couple of months ago, when I was still toting my 'Spring' Russian loadout of Bekas in Tiger camo and M23 chest rig I would have probably - without hesitation - gone for the AK105, as my Tiger get-up is reminiscent of a Spetsnaz trooper. But, I recently updated my uniform for the summer season with a Flecktar-D camo set, influenced by some reference photos I have of a line reconnaissance infantry unit.
As things stand, however, I find myself flicking from one review to another of either AEG, admiring the excellent features of both guns. It will be a hard decision, and in the end I fancy having both in my collection eventually...
Cometh Tuesday, cometh a decision!
I will be doing a full report on this AEG in due course, but I just have to mention what a fantastic service I got from Land Warrior (UK). I ordered this AEG late yesterday afternoon - plus requested a downgrade - and it arrived on my doorstep at 8.45am this morning!
I particularly enjoyed the nice touch of the handwritten remark made by the Land Warrior engineer on my receipt, which read: "345fps! Happy days!" - You got that right, mate. Excellent work.
Kalash AK74M (RK-05) top - CYMA AK74 (CM0.31) bottom:-