As you can see in this image that my love of all things belt fed continues. As I also have several competing machine gun replicas a direct comparison is possible as well my hope is that this will make the review even more informative and comprehensive.. I will be initially comparing closely with the STAR/ARES M60E4/Mk43.
Purchasing/ and packaging
My A&K was purchased at Airsoft Atlanta for $395 on Thursday and shipped via UPS, It arrived today a few hours ago due to the weekend and the holiday. Packaging was excellent. One of my concerns with A&K is the resent raid by Chinese government official has shut manufacturing operations down, whether or not this is permanent or not only time will tell. In the mean time replacement parts for any A&K products has proven to be difficult. (I can not find a replacement upper stock pin for a M249) What this means to us and this review is if you want this replica don't wait, once they are gone, they are GONE! at least for the near future.
The replica arrives with a proper metal flash hider which is sadly painted orange and a improper M16 plastic flash hider which is glued on. To remove this one needs to back off a set screw and apply moderate twisting force onto the plastic flash hider, initially I thought it was threaded on to but it is a press fit. After it is removed you only have to clean the glue residue off with a wire brush and screw the metal one into place (it is left handed threads) In addition the replica is shipped with a pouch, powered box magazine and a user manual.
Physical impressions and Description
The A&K M60 replicates the first issued M60 machine gun, nicknamed the pig, it is a awful heavy hunk of fire power. So much so that the military considers the M60 a crew server weapon to help lug its weight around. The replica itself is massive compared to most airsoft replicas most players are familiar with even in comparison to the now common M249. What surprised me is the difference in weight between the STAR/ARES M60E4/MK43 (12.2 .lbs empty) and the A&K M60 (20.2 .lbs empty) Understand that the M60E4/Mk43 is a improved lightened, easier to handle M60 machine gun so it makes sense that the full size one would be awkward and heavier, I just did not expect it to be nearly twice as heavy! If you are a small person, this is NOT the replica for you.
I knew from a excellent review of the A&K M60E4/mk43 done by Hillslam
that the A&K M60 replicas where body chassis is in two major sub assemblies that bolted together into the middle. I had serious concerns about this as it has been proven to be problematic in other replicas. Mine is no different, the screw in my replica are mechanically tight but the forward portion of the operative charging handle has a wobble not unlike that of the infamous barrel wobble found on some M4/M16 replicas. I intend to look into eliminating this wobble in the near future. luckily this loose fit is much better than the prototype which looked bent.
The gearbox is massive, It is if not the same then based on the M249 gearbox that is known for its resistance to abuse. It does have the quick change spring/ spring guide found in the M249 and M60 replicas however there is NO space in the body to use this feature, one much remove the gearbox to do so. In the competing STAR and ARES M60s there is a cavernous space for a battery behind the gearbox. There is not room for even this in the ARES, instead it is wired to the side with the intention of placing a battery into a hanging nylon pouch that also encloses a plastic powered box magazine.
The box magazine
I have high hopes for this box magazine, The biggest problems I have had with the STAR and ARES M60E4/MK43 has been with the box magazine. The A&K box mag looks very similar to its competitors. Thankfully upon closer inspection it is not (thank lord) I have not yet disassembled it yet but some of the difference appear to be more than superficial. More on this at a later date. One thing I can mention is that the box mag does lack the mounting buttons that the ARES and STAR box mags are fitted with. It is wired into the gun with a 3 pin connector (ARES uses a 2 pin connector and the STAR used 3 AA batteries (or 4 A or a 9 volt depending on how desperate you where to get it to feed)
The feed trays are also different between the two replicas as the A&K rightfully is the earlier style. Guess I'll have to find a B3 C ration can to make a feed ramp which was a common GI field modification.
More on this replica review after I get some field time with it.
Skirmished it HARD today, I ran 10000 BBs through it, One bag 4000 cnt. .20 and nearly 8000 cnt .25s (two bags) This thing is a beast! I am really pleased with the box mag in particular, It is everything the ARES and the STAR magazines are not. It feeds consistently and it feeds EVERY BB in the hopper. Chronos a very consistent 364fps with .20s. With .25s it has the ability to chew a "tunnel" through the thickest brush along the tire field at LP. I could see first the bark then the branches disappear in my cone of fire. I was on the trigger for very long periods of fire and it never paused. My only complain is it is a BASTARD to lug around the field. It is not a little awkward to bring around to bear in a different direction. I recommend a padded sling (got a M60 sling at the surplus store for $10) and carry a good pistol AEP, you will need it.
Ran it through another hard day at LP, the first couple of issues are appearing now.
This replica has a good 25000 BBs through it now. First was before I even made it to the chrono station. The cocking lever assemble literally fell off as a walked over to chrono, I picked up these pieces but for the life of me I can not find them now. As far as I can tell this was due to a disturbing trend with this replica, ALL of the screws holding it together are coming loose. This includes the 6 (three on each side) located on the lower receiver and the feed ramp/magazine hanger all started to come apart on me through the course of the day. This led to long delays in the safe zone while I tightened and re tightened components that were coming loose. I have just written a E Mail to A&K inquiring on replacement parts for the now missing cocking lever assembly and a spare magazine.
Speaking of magazine, at the very end of the day, it stopped feeding, I just popped the bottom off the box mag here at home and found it was jammed up on a miss formed BB. This is the only stoppage I have had in 25000 rounds. Impressive. I can now tell you that this box mag has NOTHING in common with the ARES or STAR magazines, it has a spring assist and a weighted flywheel that helps it pick up BBs a move them up the feed tube.
While I was trying to clear the jam on the field, I used the barrel release lever to pop the whole inner and out barrel and hop up assembly out, (great feature by the way) be careful when you do this the ROF rheostat has a plug and wires that lead from the gearbox wiring harness, these wires are thin and break easily, Just be cautions if you end up doing this.
As for effectiveness on the field? It is a awesome, I had no feeding problems that were the fault of the design it has the power to push .25s but not to much to make .20s inaccurate. My Padded M60 sling made its size and weight a little more livable on the field. Do NOT use the "carrying handle" this is thin and flimsy it will bend or break under the weight of this replica.
Micro update: the last two LP games I have been using this replica hard, Another 15000 BBs through (40000 BBs total) it with out any mechanism problems and only one jam. however due to impatient stupidity I busted it up pretty bad. Basically I ninja 'ed into a well concealed unexpected direction on my opponents deep into a brier patch. After the game while fighting
my way clear I got caught, thinking it was the sling I powered my way clear, sadly what I was caught up on was the feed spring and power wires that lead from the box magazine to the replica. I tore these up pretty badly. But don't dispair, below is the repair. This also applies to most box magazines including STAR,ARES, A&K,ECHO1, Classic Army and TOP. I have not
tried this with any real sword, Inokatsu, Trigger Happy or other replicas.
This is the damage done to the M60, I was pretty mad at myself.
elongated feed spring"
Missing bolt mechanism, still not response from A&K on replacement parts.
First, this box magazine is NOTHING like the STAR or the ARES M60 magazines internally. It is closer to the classic army mechanism the feed mouth inside is double the size of the for-mentioned competitors. In addition the feed mechanism is not only spring assisted, but also has a counter weighted flywheel both of which help the motor to force BBs up the feed tube with out issue. No wonder that it feeds so well!
On tho the repairs:
much like the STAR/Ares box magazine start by removing the bottom panel by removing 4 screws:
Then remove the jam nuts form the damaged feeding spring and set a side, take the opportunity to slide the feed spring inside the box magazine proper so its not flopping around.
Once that is done flip the magazine so the bottom is up and remove the mechanism and the feed ramp by removing one screw,
Remove the feed ramp by backing out a jam screw and carefully spinning it off so you don't force anything.
Then push/pull the damaged feed spring from the box magazine, careful that you don't pull off any wires from the mechanism while it is loose from the box magazine.
Now the fun part, I made replacement feed springs and tube stock available thru McMaster Carr
The specific part are below. The springs wire is slightly
thinner than the stock components, with a higher number of coils per inch, this is not a big difference as to make the use of the feed ramp and jam nut at each end unusable but it is less coarse allowing BBs the feed better and smoother. This is a great MOD to do to balky A&K M249 box magazines which sometimes feed poorly.
1 3038K192 1 Each High-temp Nsf-51 Silicone Rubber Tubing, 5/16" Id, 7/16" Od, 1/16" Wall, Translucent, 10'l
2 9664K49 1 Each Spring-tempered Steel Cont Extension Spring, 36" Length, 5/16" Outside Diameter, .028" Wire
There is enought stock here to do several box magazines for less than $20
The last step is to prepare the need feed spring by cutting it with a dremel tool to length and insuring that the cut end is smooth and flat by squaring it off carefully with a dremel.
You are now ready to reassemble the box magazine in reverse order of disassemble,
OPTIONAL by SUGGESTED
To prevent future tangles and snags that damaged the feed spring in the first place, you can slide the silicone tube over the feed spring, this will protect the coils, keep out debris while remaining flexible, It will also keep the feed spring coils aligned which also will help achieve smooth feeding from the box magazine and the replica.
5/1 Op Frequent Wind, The M60 lasted through the first evolution and then the feed spring socket dropped off the replica. I have tired for 5 months (its now September) to get replacement parts to fix the replica from A&K. After repeated emails and one phone call I have had no response from A&K, let this be a warning that replacement parts are made of unobtainum and if you break this replica you are pretty much screwed. The ARES and STAR feed sockets do NOT work, I tried. I will pick up this review when I manage to locate parts or another box magazine. I have every intention of usingA&K M60 box magazines
on my STAR and ARES M60s as they are far superior. If only they were available.