Evolution 9: A&K M60VN

On April 6, 2011, in Evolution, Featured, by Gerry

The crew had merely a taste of the awesomeness of a replica 7.62 LMG with the Mk43, and now it’s time to supersize it with the undistilled version in the A&K M60VN.  Bigger is better, as the saying goes, and they don’t come bigger than the biggest airsoft LMG of them all.

Technical Notes:

Internals and Externals

Bigger, longer and uncut certainly apply to A&K’s M60VN compared what was their first effort in the M60E4.  Just about all of the extra length goes to the distinctive, massive front set, heat shield and outer barrel. The barrel and body gets a darker coat than the E4, but otherwise the alloy used is the same lightweight material. Other signature M60VN features include the bipod with its perforated flanges, the gas regulator which is smaller in diameter, and the magazine bracket’s hinged instead of fixed mounting. The box magazine is exactly the same as on the E4, for better or worse, so it’s again necessary to cut a hole through the bag to access the autowinding mode switch.

Under the hood we thought there would be no surprises coming from the E4, but some detuning had to be expected after bench tests showed lower power and accuracy out of the box, and this despite the longer barrel. The M60VN has a 590mm inner barrel (video said 600mm, rounding error), roughly 25% longer than the more compact M60E4, yet bench tests showed the VN missed the mark by a wide margin, from 30mm groupings to 80 to as much as 200mm.  Added to the larger groupings there has been a significant reduction in  power from 2J to a milder 1.44J. The single internal difference to explain the change is a shorter spring, comparable to what is found in a stock A&K M4. The motor and gearbox are otherwise unchanged.

The same XYT gears and 8mm bushings are still present. The extra long air nozzle which has been difficult to replace is still there. Lubrication was good as usual. Even the crappy hop-up rubber is there. In fact, its a given that A&K products may not have a functioning hop-up as the nub and hop are very soft.

Reliability

The durability issues of the E4 were somewhat addressed, though unintentionally, by the design differences between the two models. Going to a hinged mag mount would intuitively seem to create a more unreliable setup, but we found that the degree of movement this gave the box bag actually helped keep pressure off the body screws. The amount of travel on the hinge was restricted enough to avoid flexing the feed tube which might otherwise have caused feeding issues.  The body screws holding the front set to the receiver are also improved as they are a few millimeters longer, but this isn’t enough to avoid some play eventually showing.

Otherwise, the M60VN has that proven internal reliability that allows for the kind of sustained rate of fire that a regular airsoft rifle cannot keep up with. As with the E4, the M60VN can unleash a sustained hail of fire, able to run tens of seconds with hardly any decrease in ROF. We used an 11.1V Li-Poly battery for this review and it handled like a champ.

Owning and Playing

The M60VN is in many ways a throwback to a less ergonomic design.  The considerable length makes this gun difficult to maneuver in heavy foliage and close quarters. All that extra length going to the front also makes it more tiring on the arms to carry for longer periods.  The same balance and handling problems can be said of the side-hanging boxmag, especially for right-handed users. Lack of other modern niceties such as a forward grip add to these woes. The same unfavorable comparisons still hold true when considering the M60 design against more modern LMGs such as the M249. Mastering its effective use in play is almost a challenge worthy of an over-the-top training video hosted by a pair of very animated instructors.

But master it, and you will be rewarded with the ability to employ a truly intimidating weapon, a mobile base of fire to indefinitely deny an assault or wear down a defense. Take some care with the parts and you will reap the rewards for a little longer. Some Loctite on the body screws and careful storage can prolong its life despite the inevitable wearing down of the alloy parts.

Verdict

Given a choice between the M60E4 and the M60VN, though, we would grab the VN first. Given a choice between this and a more modern LMG and the argument for the M60VN becomes less rational. Everything considered, we can only still recommend the M60VN with reservations. But admittedly, these are the kind of reservations that are easily forgotten when the impulse strikes to recreate a scene from Rambo or Tropic Thunder.


Transcript
Hello again and welcome to another episode of Evolution series. Tonight, we review A&K’s Vietnam version of the M60 which is iconic in films and popular culture. It is ironically a newer release than the modern Mk43.

Let’s get started. What’s in the box? Our kit came with the M60VN, a box magazine and a jumper cable to bypass the rheostat.
Absent were the battery, manual and token BBs.

Many retailers have had supply difficulties out of China due to seizures. This particular unit came disassembled from the manufacturer and was reconstituted by the forwarder before reaching the retailer. Not a huge problem if you have access to a gunsmith, but you’ll want to thoroughly inspect your unit for missing parts.

Lets get on with performance.

In accuracy the VN has a burst radius anywhere from 80 to 200mm. This is despite having an inner barrel of 600mm. Power at stock clocks about 1.44joules or 393fps on 0.2grams. Decent but we were expecting a bit more accuracy than the Mk43. The Mk43 we tested in 2009 rated 40mm groups using a 470mm barrel. It was a “hot” gun with 2 joules. Disassembling this M60 gives us a few more clues on the difference.

Start by unlocking the release lever to pull out the barrel. Mind the wiring for the rheostat as you could accidentally strip the plugs if you pull too hard. On either side of the body are three scews holding the front set. You’ll need hex keys to remove them. Pull gently to break the halves. Guide the fuse cable out from the front set. The gearbox should be visible now. Pull out the retaining clip from the buttstock. Then use another hex key to remove the retaining screw. Pull the stock and remove the buffer. Remove 3 screws from either side of the gearbox. Pull up from the nozzle to remove it.

The handgrip has two pins holding it. It’s not important to remove.

There is a removable cover plate for the cylinder. One of the things you’ll immediately notice is the strong magnet on the super torque up motor. This is part of the reason the gearbox takes some effort to separate from the metal body. Also be careful to leave distance between this and any screws you’ve just removed.

Push the release tab on top of the gearbox toward the rear. Then push the spring guide with a screwdriver to release.

We measured the spring that came with the unit and it was about 6.5 inches. It was a typical A&K spring you’ll find in their M4 models. This partly explains the low fps on this unit.

To access the internals you will need to remove 13 screws on the right side of the gearbox. Except for the spring, the internals are pretty much the same as the Mk43. Visit our website for more details.

We’ve owned this unit for about four months now. Within the first month we’ve seen some issues. First was the balance on this weapon. With the longer barrel and no front grip its a challenge to manuever 18 pounds of metal. The magazine placement isn’t optimal for right handed users. And the barrel release can be accidentally disengaged. Unique problems to this model include the tendency of the fake bolt to come unscrewed and some weak metal used on the bipod mount to break off. Not even epoxy would hold it together.

Mechanically it has good potential and just begs some tuning. The long barrel does give you about 6 feet more effective reach than the M249 Mk2. Unfortunately, power from springs stronger than SP130 are limited by air leaking from the nozzle.

If you want to own just one M.G. this isn’t it. The A&K M249 Mk2 is a better deal in usability and maintenance. But if you’re a collector or Vietnam re-enactor go right ahead. We can’t discount that this gun looks badass. If you’re willing to run around with 18 pounds of metal you’re pretty bad ass yourself. And if you’re caught in the open fending of hordes of invaders, well, it would still be a heroic death.

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Evolution Series 2011 Filming

On December 26, 2010, in Site News, Sitrep, by Mike

We have three guns in line for the 2011 release: M79, M14 and M60VN. We’re looking for a fourth gun. It’s been hard this year with the shortage of airsoft guns. We had to scour several stores to find each one of them. Oh, just to answer that frequently asked question: No, we don’t sell airsoft guns. And each one is purchased with our own hard earned cash. This gives us the freedom to be brutally honest.

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We got some truly awesome news from PopularAirsoft today: our Evolution 7 video review on the JG M4A1 GBBR made it into the final of the 1st Airsoft Player’s Choice Awards! On behalf of the crew, thank you for nominating our video review.  The show of support from our audience is truly appreciated. We’re now even more fired up about the next Evolutions, which we hope you’ll enjoy even more!

Check out more details on the 1st Airsoft Player’s Choice Awards on PopularAirsoft. We hope all of you avid viewers contribute your votes as voting opens in a few hours.

UPDATE: Voting is now open at PopularAirsoft here.

 

In the new world of airsoft GBBRs, there is no talking about WA without mentioning WE, and many a debate have been done on the merits of the WETTI AWSS system over the Western Arms system. The crew check out what WETTI has to offer the gas blowback addict with their replica of the unique KAC PDW to draw their own conclusions.

Technical Notes:

Internals and Externals

WETTI offer a number of variants of the KAC PDW, with and without trademarks, in some color options and all in metal alloy. Even with the trademarks-less version we reviewed, the build quality and materials were very good. Construction is nearly all metal from the barrel to the stock (only the pistol grip is plastic), but it manages still to be very lightweight and compact. Inside as well as outside, the Advanced Weaponry Simulator System (AWSS) KAC PDW feels well built and incorporate some nice features such as what should be a more efficient closed bolt (more on this later) and a hammer with a roller bearing, and internal construction that is claimed to be CO2-ready (you must buy CO2 version magazines or a CO2 package).

The PDW magazine has a plastic shell as on the real PDW. The included M4 STANAG magazine has a metal shell. Both are lighter than the WA system M4 magazines.  WETTI seem to have traded lightness for mag capacity, as both magazines can load only 30 rounds compared to 40 to 50 on most WA-style magazines, and seem to only charge enough for that many rounds. The magazines, being of their own design, are of course incompatible with the WA system.

As already mentioned, the KAC PDW initial version had a closed bolt design, just as with their first AWSS models (M4 and SCAR). WETTI eschewed  accuracy for better reliable and respectable power output, and the system delivers power. Our unit produced between 1.8J (390FPS @ 0.25g) to 2.08J (420FPS on 0.25g) in sub-tropical climate. However the PDW suffers from a lack of precision, producing very dismal 22cm or worse groupings. It is possible on the unit we tested that the 275mm brass inner barrel was either defective or maybe just too short to handle the amount of air being fed.

Reliability

Running on green gas for up to 700 rounds did not expose any issues or weakness in the parts or construction. The PDW just kept shooting hard and survived our abuse, and we did our best to abuse it, not hesitating to lean on the full auto. We noted in the progress of this review that some users reported cracks on the back of the receiver (probably from impact of the metal bolt) ultimately leading to the receiver breaking. However the only issue we confirmed in our long term test was a tendency for the receiver to develop a gap between upper and lower. It did not affect operation, though we cannot speak to how long this issue might persist before it becomes a concern.

We had only one failure with the magazines: a malfunction causing the magazine not to load any gas, but this was quickly remedied. This is apparently a commonly known issue, and the fix is simply to shake and load the magazine upside down to reseat the seals.

Owning and Playing

In nearly all aspets the AWSS KAC PDW is almost a completely satisfying gun to play. It delivers even better than the WA system on the blowback action. It is particularly loud as the metal bolt crashes into the back of the metal receiver. It remains fairly consistent in  continuous use, probably that much more reliably enough than WA system model. However the intractable problem with the KAC PDW is its imprecision. An otherwise great experience is ruined as one cannot predictably send rounds that actually hit a target unless the target is close enough perhaps for pistol range.  This is a personal defense weapon indeed.

The uniqueness of the WE magazine system is both advantage and disadvantage for the AWSS system. The lightness makes it easier to carry more magazines. The design seems fairly resistant to getting knocked around and is much more reliable than the WA magazines. However extra WE magazines are still a pricey proposition, as there are no budget-priced alternatives available unlike with the more popular WA system.

Note: WETTI released an Open Bolt Version, which brings the FPS down but improves the groupings. A conversion kit lets you change your old “closed bolt” PDW to the new system, however annoyingly the new system requires new parts to be installed in older magazines.  Be sure when purchasing magazines of what version you are getting, or you may end up with mags you cannot use.

Verdict

The AWSS KAC PDW closed bolt is a great gun, until you have to shoot at something.  If you tend to play CQB and your environments always put combat in short ranges, perhaps you can consider the PDW as a viable main weapon.  In most other cases, the precision problem really makes the PDW unplayable.  If you want a gun that can be counted on in larger playing fields, look elsewhere. Otherwise if you must have the PDW, take a look at the Open Bolt version instead.


Transcript:
When you’re on the run and all alone, you need a bit of personal defense. Enter W.E.’s black edition of the Knights Armament PDW. This handsome package comes with the closed-bolt gas blowback gun,
a standard PDW magazine and a bonus STANAG magazine. You get a loader and a nice illustrated manual.

This gun comes in many variants. There are models with trademarks and without. Colors include black and FDE tan. Like the real gun it comes in 10 inch or long version and 8 inch or short versions. Not to be confused, this is the original advanced weaponry simulator system with a closed brass tube. The packaged magazine uses green gas. All parts are metal which makes it hefty.

Take down is straightforward. It is by design, similar to an M4 or M16. There are two receiver pins, front and rear. Rotate until right faces up. Push from the left side. Pull both pins out. Rotate the gun to normal position and lift the upper receiver from the lower. Pull out the guide rail then take out the bolt carrier which slides from the brass tube. Afterwards, slide out the charging handle. The handle, bolt and guide rail form a unit which attaches to the brass tube. Two screws hold the barrel assembly. A set of hex keys will be needed. Use an anticlockwise movement to remove the screws. The front screw should be the longer piece. With both screws removed, slide the barrel to the front. The inner barrel extends all the way to the flashhider with a length of 275 millimeters. The lower receiver houses the complete trigger mechanism. One odd feature is the roller bearing on top of the hammer.

FPS is about 450 adjusted for 0.20g. Rate of fire is high at 19 rounds per second. But here’s the fly in the ointment: It was a dismal performer at our 15 yard test with only two rounds out of fifteen hitting the paper. Unless you’re a member of the Imperial Stormstroopers, this would be a poor field gun.

For CQB purposes and no wind you have decent chances of hitting what you’re aiming at. If you insist on using it out in the field, you’d have to get very close! That’s not the only trouble with the gun. The strange BB loader is terrible even with two people trying to load it. Get a pistol loader after market and you’ll be happier.

For long term reliability, we observed some receiver wobble at 5 months which is normal even for real steel and doesn’t affect performance. The glaring problem with this unit is excess gas discharge. On a good day it may output a consistent 2.06J. But it’s hardly consistent and usually averages 1.8. We suspect that the power from the magazine is more than what the 275mm barrel can control. If not for that, this gun would be excellent.

It’s a pretty gun. Nice to display and to hold. In the limited scope of close quarters it could perform. The crisp recoil noise and nice finish make this unit fun. But I wouldn’t replace my AEG for it if I actually want to score.

That’s it for this evolution. See you next time.

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