Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
The A&K M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (M249 SAW) Review
#1
The A&K M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (M249 SAW) Review

What with more and more replicas coming out of Chinese factories time has come for them to replicate something that many of us have been waiting for. Finally A&K has replicated the Classic Army M249 Mk.I, Mk.II and Para version of the famous Fabrique Nationale (FN) Minimi or Mini-Machine gun.

Now having been stung once before by an A&K replica I was a little wary of the M249, but what with this gun pretty much being in the Number 1 spot on my wish list for as long as I can remember I was both eager to open the package up to see what was inside and slightly apprehensive at the prospect of another lemon!

[Image: m249paracompletemediumgr0.jpg]

But before we go into the review here is some more information on the real steel M249:

Quote:The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (M249 SAW) is the United States military designation for a sub-family of the FN Minimi squad automatic weapon (from Mini-mitrailleuse French: "mini-machine gun". Both are 5.56 x 45 mm NATO light machine guns manufactured by Fabrique Nationale (FN) and its subsidiaries.
The Minimi is manufactured by Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, while the M249 is made by FNH USA, the American subsidiary of FN. The M249 was the winner of a competition carried out by the U.S. military in the late 1970s–early 1980s for a new squad automatic weapon. The Minimi has been adopted by many other countries since that time, especially among NATO members.
The M249 was one of many firearms fielded in the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that was part of the NATO adoption of a new smaller round. The Belgian cartridge (SS109), developed for use with the Minimi, was the winner of the competition for the new, standardized 5.56 mm round. In the United States, the M16A2 was adopted following the M249 as part of the move to this compatible, although different, round — firearms intended to fire the SS109 cartridge use a different rifling twist rate (1:7 inches) from the previous U.S. standard M193 5.56 mm cartridge.
The Minimi and the M249 are not exactly the same weapon — they weigh different amounts and have slightly different configurations; M249 variants can differ significantly. Although officially adopted in the early 1980s, some early production problems delayed full deployment until the turn of the decade. One thousand Minimis were purchased directly from FN for the Gulf War in 1991, as there were not enough M249 yet in service at the time. The M249 has undergone a number of variant and improvement programs, though it is scheduled to be replaced by a new lightweight machine gun — the AAI LMGA (2004 contract). In early 2005, U.S. Army ARDEC issued a solicitation for a new light machine gun; however, no selection was ever made.

What You Get!

The A&K M249 comes in a plain brown box with minimal trimmings and the standard polystyrene inserts to keep it safe from harm. If this is all you are ordering you might want to ask your retailer if they could pack it in a better box as mine took a real beating. Although everything inside was perfectly ok.

One thing I need to tell you before I go into the ins and outs of this review is that on request I asked if two things were deliberately not sent in the package, the first being the spring. Already I had heard that the stock A&K M249 fires well over the Japanese, UK and Arnie’s Airsoft regulations. The second was the manual, for some odd reason a lot of airsoft related goods are held by customs because of the manual, this could have something to do with the trademarks inside. So at my request these were omitted from the parcel.

The A&K M249 Para

Now just handling the box you know that the contents is going to be heavy, and upon removing the gun from the box I was delighted to see the external finish of the M249 was excellent. Already I was breathing a sigh of relief as anything inside that might be faulty could be dealt with.

[Image: akm249paramediumdd9.jpg]

With all the furnishings the A&K M249 is a joy to behold, a few pieces like the front sight needed tightening but apart from that the outward finish of the weapon is excellent. With the Box magazine attached the over all look and feel of this replica is complete.

[Image: akm249parawithboxmagmedih1.jpg]

The Barrel

The barrel is a 1 piece assembly for the M249 Para and at the push of a lever the whole barrel disengages from the main receiver of the weapon, allowing you access to the battery compartment and also the hop unit.

[Image: barrelreleasemediumhk4.jpg]

The barrel cover is the only part of this weapon which is 100% plastic, the cover should be but the frame underneath isn’t, not a problem for me but more discerning collectors might want to upgrade this.

[Image: heatcovermediumis4.jpg]

The flash hider is steel, most probably pot metal but on closer inspection the threads seem very robust and able to take the abuse that skirmished replicas undertake. The detail of the flash hider is also very good with all the porting and also ridges on the front been replicated.

[Image: flashhidermediumwp1.jpg]

The thread it’s self is a 14mm clockwise thread so If you are looking to attach something else to the barrel you might need to double check its fitting first.

[Image: 14mmthreadforflashhiderjb1.jpg]

The gas block is slightly off colour according to those in the know, but for the laymen it’s something that will get overlooked by most. This is again made from steel adding to the overall weight of the weapon.

[Image: gasblockmediumgs0.jpg]

Attaching to this is the “Gas Collar” which is the imitation parts for the regulator, just like the real thing you are able to twist this to each of the set positions “normal and adverse” but remember this is just a dummy and has no effect on the weapon.

[Image: gascollarmediumga2.jpg]

The Iron sights at the front of the weapon needed tightening as mentioned before, but once locked down they are very sturdy with no play. These again are made from steel and feature an adjustable pin that can be raised or lowered with the provided tool.

[Image: ironsightsmediumcu4.jpg]

Removing the inner barrel and the hop-unit demonstrates the US Armies, 30 second barrel change feature and although the only use it has is for quick battery change over (Some prefer to remove the lower hand guard) it does make upgrading the inner barrel easier.

[Image: completebarrelassemblymdu3.jpg]

For those of you unfamiliar with the M249’s barrel quick change feature here is a video:

[url="http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=n4f2oQHtIMw "][Image: exportframeqx6.jpg][/url]
click image to view the video

The fore grip is made from hardwearing ABS plastic and can take a torrent of abuse normally associated with airsofting.

[Image: handguardmediumgf8.jpg]

The fore grip is removed by pulling back while also pulling down at the rear. The front engages the main assembly here:

[Image: frontclipmediumvt2.jpg]

And then snaps in to place underneath the lower receiver of the weapon, I found I got a much better fit by closing the clips a little with a pair of needle nose pliers.

[Image: rearclipmediumot7.jpg]


Due to the housing for the bipod you will not be able to fit a large capacity battery in there although I have been able to fit a 9.6v nunchaku style battery without problem.

[Image: nunchukabatterymediumrj1.jpg]

[Image: nunchukabatteryinstallexs7.jpg]

The bipod is of a very sturdy construction and while playing I left it in the extended position, not only did it collide with branches, the odd tree and a few squad members heads, but took repeated beating when I dove into the prone position to stat gunning at enemy positions.

[Image: bipodfrontmediumsn2.jpg]

The bipod has three adjustment heights and a central lock, which will fix the legs of the bipod into the upright position, for players in urban or dense woodland/jungle environments the bipod can be collapsed and folded inwards into the bottom of the fore grip. Be warned though they do have a tendency to drop out, so either bend the notches in a little to tighten the fit, or apply a small piece of Velcro or double sided tape to hold the legs in place.

[Image: undersideofbipodfoldedmbd7.jpg]

[Image: bipodfoldedmediumtf2.jpg]

The upper and lower receiver comes with no trades or serial numbers, which is a little disappointing but for the price you pay and also the fact that to date no Chinese made replica has been made with trades it’s no surprise and the more enterprising players will no doubt be able to get trades etched in.

[Image: rightsideofreceivermedivu0.jpg]

[Image: leftsideofreceivermediuor6.jpg]
One nice feature is that as standard the top feeding tray is metal and also comes with a top rail allowing you the option of mounting an aiming device straight away. No need to purchase upgrade parts just to mount a scope.

[Image: feedtraycovermediumjc4.jpg]

Also mounted on the feed cover is the rear iron sights, these operate just like the real M249 and can be fully adjusted in exactly the same way enabling those whom prefer them to adjust the elevation and the windage. A lot of players then use this to dial in their rod dots or magnified optical scopes, so I would zeroing the Iron sights before anything else.

[Image: rearsightsmediumrb4.jpg]

I have procured a copy of the US technical diagram of all the parts and what they adjust, simply set your hop unit so the BB’s maintain the longest straight flight before they drop out of the sky. If your BB’s are arcing upwards then reduce the back spin, if they are arcing down slightly increase it. Once you have the best settings select a target that the BB will hit without arcing either upwards or down wards and then dial in the sights. Once you have done this for the iron sights do the same for your optical sights.

[Image: dialimagezb2.gif]

I was able to hit a standard Tokyo Marui paper target at 50 meters, but remember this is not a sniper weapon and I had to walk the shots in and over the target.

To open the feed cover, all you do is squeeze the two buttons situated at the back of the feed cover on either side of the receiver; this will cause the feed cover to spring up giving you access to the gear box and the hop unit.

[Image: squeezemediumgu7.jpg]

[Image: liftmediumkw4.jpg]

This also allows you attach a string of belt ammunition (Sold Separately) from the box magazine to the gun. These are held in place by the fake feed port that has a small notch that you hang the one of the rounds over and is then trapped in place when you close the feed cover.

[Image: ammonotchmediumwx3.jpg]

I would recommend that you purchase deactivated rounds rather than the Classic Army ones as it’s a lot cheaper. But the overall effect is worth spending that little extra on.

[Image: fakeroundsmediumih8.jpg]

The M249 in real life is also able to utilize standard M16/M4 magazines and just like its reel steel relative the A&K M249 is also able take these magazines.

[Image: standardmagazinemediumwo6.jpg]

Having experienced problem in the past with Chinese replicas having problems with certain brands of M16/M4 magazines I decided to give my selection the test.

The following brands of High capacity and Mid capacity magazines work with the A&K M249:

• Tokyo Marui
• King Arms
• G&G
• Echo1 USA
• STAR
• G&P

[Image: magazinesmediumkg7.jpg]
To be honest if all of these fit then I can’t see players having an issue with other brands or manufacturers. But already some players are having issues with some of the brands fitting!

The trigger mechanism is replicated on the real thing also (externally that is!). Now believe it or not the whole trigger mechanism is removed in exactly the same way as the real thing. First you will need to remove the pin at the front of the mechanism here:

[Image: removefrontpinmedium2pv0.jpg]

Be careful as the assembly will swing down, then you will need to remove the pin that connects the stock to the weapon, get ready to catch the assembly as it will now fall clear.

[Image: rearpinmediumly0.jpg]

As you can see there is very little to the A&K M249 trigger mechanism and the way it engages the gear box and trigger switch. To be perfectly honest I think the design could be greatly improved on over the current design.

[Image: triggerassemblymediumrc0.jpg]

The actual grip of the A&K M249 Para is very ergonomic and fits the hand very well, the ribbed effect gives the operator a very positive grip especially in adverse conditions such mud, wet and snow.

[Image: gripmediumsx9.jpg]

As the motor is part of the gear box the pistol grip of the A&K M249 is empty and has a compartment that is held in place by a small spring loop, this is very annoying as it will just detach with the slightest knock, the main purpose of the compartment on the real steel M249 is to store lubricant, as the airsoft version doesn’t really need it I would suggest finding a better away to keep the base of the grip closed. Otherwise you might find that it gets ripped off.

[Image: storagemediumxy4.jpg]
A few drops of supper glue in one corner will hold the door closed without permanently locking it.

Now we move to the rear of the weapon, the stock on the A&K M249 Para is collapsible and for players that are members of a squad will certainly understand the benefits that it gives, especially in either CQB or dense woodland scenarios.

[Image: collapsedmediumro7.jpg]

To release the stock and extended it to its full length it’s a simple procedure of pulling the stock so the arms are fully extended

[Image: extendedmediumdf1.jpg]

And then twisting and locking the arms into position. The stock it’s self is again made of steel and is very sturdy with absolutely no wobble. When fully extended the whole weapon is very ridged and ideal for either a fixed place gunning position or prone. For crouched or standing it’s better to collapse the stock and I would certainly look at getting the Ranger vertical grip for the front!

[Image: lockedmediumtb6.jpg]

The over all look and feel of the weapon is solid, although the materials used aren’t the best in the world, short of someone running over the A&K M249 in a car or physically jumping on it the weapon is going to last. The paint work is well done, there is no “Orange peel” effect but I have noticed that the paint has scratched off where the heat cover connects to the outer barrel.

[Image: paintchippingmediumoh3.jpg]

You will also need to be cautious not to over tighten any of the external fixing screws as you can easily strip the threads on the body work. I have found in the past JB weld or similar will reverse the effects, but I suggest you manually tighten them using “Lock Tight” or similar.

The Box Magazine.

Now I covered early the fact that the A&K M249 is capable of utilizing standard M16/M4 magazines but we all know that this is a support weapon and to support your fellow man in the field you will need a little more than 300 BB’s. That’s where the A&K M249 Automatic box magazine comes in to its own.

[Image: boxmagmediumqz3.jpg]

The box magazine is based on the 200 round pack and is made out of hard wearing ABS like the real thing and connects in two ways to the receiver. The first is through the standard M16 magazine well on the upper receiver.

[Image: feedportmediumjm8.jpg]

The second is to the fixing bracket located underneath the receiver.

[Image: fixingbracketmediumrz4.jpg]

Now this is where you encounter you first problem, it is incredibly fiddly to attach the box magazine and will require you to first slot the box magazine underneath the receiver, without locking it into place and then inserting the magazine loading port into the feed port on the weapon.

[Image: clipnotlockmediumgo5.jpg]

Now there is a simple modification that only requires either a small modeling file or if you have it a rotary tool. By simply cutting away a notch a little bigger than the size of the clip found on the main box you will be able to attach the magazine into place and lock it into position and then attach the loading port. I started off by filing the starting location and the finishing location of the area to be removed.

[Image: areatofilemediumeu8.jpg]

I then removed everything between and rounding off the sharp edges to reduce the risk of it catching on something or damaging other parts of my equipment.

[Image: roundtheedgesmediumce0.jpg]

This simple modification now allows the magazine to be attached a lot quicker and without the need to juggle the weapon and the box magazine when installing it.

[Image: quickfitmodificationmedux9.jpg]

To load the BB’s is a very simple affair and only requires you to remove the side panel from the box magazine, this is very tight and you will need to use a little force to remove it, I wouldn’t recommend using anything but your fingers as repeated opening and closing will wear away the catches.

[Image: bbloadingmediumhr0.jpg]

Or, and I have to admit that I found this only recently! There is a little door situated beneath the feed tubes!

[Image: trapdoormediumgp9.jpg]

The capacity of the box magazine is 2500 BB’s and they are fed into the mechanical feeding mechanism by gravity, some people tend to use recycled BB’s that have been caught in catch nets or off the floor of the range and I would recommend against anyone doing this as debris or misshapen BB’s will result in Jams.

[Image: feedingmediumzd1.jpg]

The box magazine has 3 settings for its automatic winding feature, off, Auto, and Sound activated. Automatic is used when initially loading the BB’s and to push them all the way into the hop-chamber, also if you are using sustained fire for long periods of time. Sound activated is a cool little feature that utilizes a microphone located in the feeding port that activated the automatic winding mechanism when the weapon is fired.

[Image: mircophonemediumau0.jpg]
The round object to the right of the spring release latch is the microphone

Finally there is the off function. Which the box magazine should be set to in the safe zone and also when placed in storage to prevent the batteries from going flat. The switch is located underneath the box magazine, so it can be easily adjusted as required in the field.

[Image: boxmagswitchmediumlq9.jpg]

Now upon closer inspection of the A&K M249 box magazines internals I found that the two sides that form the feeding mechanism do not join correctly resulting in jams. Now although this sounds major it’s actually a result of where the plastic is injected into the mould. The struts used to join both sides together were also where the plastic was injected and on assembly of the unit the struts were not cut back far enough resulting in a large enough gap for two BB’s to jam up the gravity feed.

To resolve this problem all you need to do is unscrew the box magazine controls located underneath, this separates the switch from the box. Then all you need to do is open the cover and slide out the internals. Be careful not to damage the wiring around the switch and the motor as it is very thin and easily damaged.

[Image: internalsmediumxq5.jpg]

Once you have the unit out of the box you will need to split the two halves, this is done by unscrew the screws on one side, be careful not to loose any of the winding mechanism from the feeding unit.

[Image: removescrewsmediumhh5.jpg]

[Image: feedunithalfmediumlk7.jpg]

Now this is where you need a good eye, realign the two halves and gauge which of the struts need to be cut back, I found that mine only required 3mm to be cut off from two of the struts circled in red. Once you are happy with the join you can test it by turning on the unit and letting the bb’s fall into the feeding unit.

[Image: circledinredmediumlm3.jpg]

[Image: cutitdownmediumnt4.jpg]

Once you are completely happy it’s time to put the unit back together and reassemble it. While I had the unit open I decided to put some grease on the gears to lessen the noise.

[Image: greasemediumyt6.jpg]

Now that the Box magazine is working to 100% efficiency it’s time to give her a whirl!

[url="http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=aHOakZb1-OI"][Image: getsomesm3.jpg][/url] Click on the image to view; Distance from target 20 meters, 0.20g BB, 0.97 Joules


The Gear Box.

The A&K gear box is a very weighty piece of kit made out of steel pot metal and of the same quality as the Tokyo Marui metal. Removal of the gear box, as you have seen is incredibly easy and makes working on it a joy.

[Image: oldgearboxmediumot1.jpg]

But it’s not all roses!

There are some issues with the gear box that are easy to remedy but so easy they should have been addressed on the actual production line. I’m going to list exactly what faults I have found and then walk you through how to fix these, most of these are extremely easy to fix and one or two can actually be done without disassembling the gear box.

• Trigger switch to long.
• Non-lubricated gears.
• Gap between the Cylinder and the gear box.
• Motor plate adjustment not shallow enough.

Not really a lot but some of the fixes are in the moderate difficulty level and do require specialist tools.

Now don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything drastically wrong with the gear box, but with over 10 years airsoft experience its hard not to spot the small things and tinker with a new toy.

Breaking it down.

The first step I took was the easiest and it was to remove the switch, the reason for this is as many have already said it is 3mm too long and the angle it is bent at interferes with the sector gear. This will result in the trigger being pulled by the teeth of the gear as it rotates, causing the gun to fire even when the trigger is not being pulled.

To do this I removed the two bolts from the gear box, these are indicated in the picture below. Don’t worry; removing this will not open the gear box as there only purpose is to hold the switch in place.

[Image: switchscrewssl1.jpg]

Having looked at images of a replacement switch I was able to estimate that I needed to remove 3mm off the overall length of the switch contact plate that engages the switch when the trigger is pulled.

[Image: switchld4.jpg]

After removing the excess metal from the switch I took a small modeling file to round off the edges and remove any burring that could get into the gears. Then using an image of a Classic Army M249 trigger switch;

[Image: caswitchfr5.jpg]

I bent the metal plate to exactly the same shape, and then tested to see if the trigger worked, needless to say when I pull the trigger it longer gets pulled back with the sector gear as it rotates.

[Image: finishedswitchmediumxr9.jpg]

Problem one solved!

Those of you not wanting to open up the gear box and are happy with the performance of the weapon can now move on to lubricating the gear box, which again doesn’t require you strip the gear box down but for a complete job I would recommend it.

The first thing to do is remove the spring, anyone who has worked on Airsoft gear boxes before will know how annoying it is when the spring guide and spring fire out the back and either disappears or causes the whole gear box assembly to jump out. The spring and spring guide are a dream to remove and anyone trying to get as close to legal limits or in need of quick change outs for different styles of play will appreciate this.

I’m going to show you how to remove it with the gear box removed first seen as we have it out. First of all you will need to push the spring guide housing/bolt forward, this relieves a lot of the tension on the catch you are about to lift.

[Image: springreleasecatchmediujz3.jpg]

Push the catch towards the back of the gear box and the spring guide and spring will eject out the back. Make sure you still apply a little pressure to the guide and ease it out otherwise you’ll find that the spring and guide will fire out the back.

[Image: springejectedmediumgq3.jpg]

[Image: springguideandspringmedcg4.jpg]

That’s it, easy! As you can see the assembly of the spring guide is in two pieces and for those of you looking to maintain optimum performance will be able to attach a spring guide of your choice to the pin.

[Image: springguideassemblymedixe2.jpg]

I was able to attach several different brands of spring guide to the pin and decided on upgrading mine with the Systema bearing spring guide as I am looking to increase the rate of fire as well as increasing long levity of the internals.

[Image: systemaspringguidemediuqa5.jpg]

The next thing to do is start removing the screws from the gear box, I always start with the inner screws leaving the ones in the corners till last, but with the spring already removed and no forces or pressure on the gearbox housing you are free to remove them in any order you chose.

[Image: boltremovalmediumpk3.jpg]

You are now free to lift off one half of the gear box housing. As you can see the design of the innards is very simple, with no spring, spring guide and trigger mechanism it really is a wonder why a better trigger system wasn’t designed!

[Image: gearboxhalfmediumro0.jpg]

One of the first things that jumped out at me was the corrosion on the gears; already the spur gear was showing large amounts of oxidization which is easily cleaned off and treatable. Nothing that a good coating of grease won’t help!

[Image: dirtygearsmediumty0.jpg]

Apart from that the gears seems to be of good quality and look like they can take the wear and tear that a support weapon induces on it’s gear box, but only time will tell.

[Image: gearsetmediummr2.jpg]

The piston and cylinder set.

The piston and cylinder set seems to be a little on the cheap side, but for the price of this weapon it’s not surprising and I would recommend any one looking to upgrade their internals to start here.

[Image: pistonandcylindersetmedsw2.jpg]

Now there are a few things to take into consideration when choosing the parts, the first one is the cylinder head, On the A&K I found that the o-ring was too small and did not allow a good air seal between the cylinder and the cylinder head, this was easily resolved by pulling one off another cylinder head, funnily enough I got mine from another A&K gear box that had been relegated to the parts box.

[Image: cylinderheadmediumbl0.jpg]
With original O-ring
[Image: neworingmediumqt8.jpg]
Replaced with new O-ring

Also another thing to note is the fact that the cylinder head’s nozzle is actually 2mm longer than a M4A1 nozzle, so if this makes any difference in the performance, I don’t know. But if it does I will report back on it at a later date.

[Image: airnozzlemediumkl5.jpg]

The Air nozzle itself is actually identical in length to that of a Systema M4A1 air nozzle, but as I am going to be leaving these parts standard for now I haven’t installed a new one. You might notice the dirt inside the air nozzle; I washed this out with detergent and dried it out with a hair dryer. Not good, but easy to resolve!

Next we move on to the cylinder, this isn’t remarkable in anyway and is standard in quality compared to a lot of other branded manufacturers on the market at present, one thing that I must say is that there is a 1mm gap between the cylinder and the gearbox, resulting in air loss, if you have replaced the o-ring on the cylinder head then you can move the cylinder as far forward so the gap is now to the rear of the gear box.

[Image: gappm1.jpg]

Currently I am not aware of any cylinders that are longer so you really have no choices apart from putting up with this or getting some sealant and closing the gap.

The piston is also of low end quality, although you will be able to change out the piston head if you so choose, so far though the weapon seems very happy with the installed parts but I will definitely look into replacing both the piston and the piston head in the future.

[Image: pistonandheadmediumqw8.jpg]

The tappet plate again seems very standard and wouldn’t need replacing unless you decided to overhaul the entire gear box.

[Image: tappetplatemediumad8.jpg]

The anti-reversal latch is again standard and won’t need replacing as it is very sturdy and the spring is actually very good quality in comparison to other ACM weapons and in comparison to Systema replacement parts.

The motor again is pretty good and straight out of the box I was getting around 9 to 10 rps out of her on a 9.6v b battery. The motor is non-branded and looks very similar to a standard Tokyo Marui short type motor but just a little slower.

[Image: motormediumfx1.jpg]

As you can see from the video it’s not the fastest motor on the planet but it is enough to get the job done and purist’s will know that the real M249 only fires 12 rps when using the box magazine.

[url="http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QA05mJ2C_RE"][Image: akmotorqm3.jpg][/url]
Click on the image to view the video

The very last thing on the gear box I will look at is the housing, particularly the motor housing. I noticed when installing different brands of motors that the bay for the motor adjustment plate is doesn’t have a sufficient depth and I found that with Systema, AimTop, Tokyo Marui and other custom motors that the motor is jammed right up against the bevel gear resulting in the gear box to jam.

Taking a rotary tool to the housing I removed about 4mm from the inner wall and then sanded flat removing any burs and sharp edges. I then re-installed the motor and was happy to see that straight way that the motor was now able to slide too and throw within the motor tray.

[Image: milledoutbodymediumii1.jpg]

All in all unless you are a complete perfectionist I really doubt that you would actually need to change anything internally on the A&K M249 all she needs is a few tweaks, a bit of lubrication and it’s good to go!

The Hop Unit.

Or lack of it, a lot of people have complained about the total uselessness of the hop unit in the A&K M249, this is probably due to several things and having looked at the design there are several things you can do to actually make the hop work.

[Image: hopunitmediumfh4.jpg]

One of the worrying things and possibly a contributor to feeding issues is the quality of finish to the actual chamber where the BB’s feed into the hop unit. The finish looks hand made and has a very poor finish. Some work with the rotary tool and a buffer is certainly needed here, just to remove the edges.

[Image: hopfinishmediumwd9.jpg]

Now I can’t speak for everyone on this but the actual hop bucking was extremely poor, fortunately these are 2 a penny here in Japan and I had a few spare. The A&K bucking was missing its lips and BB’s would just pour through the barrel, not good when using the box magazine!

[Image: buckingmediumie0.jpg]
Tokyo Marui bucking is on the left.

Like I said this was an easy one to fix and just required me changing over the old A&K bucking for a Tokyo Marui bucking.

Now the actual design of how the nub engages the bucking is very odd, rather than the nub lying horizontal along the bucking the A&K M249’s sits vertically in the unit. Now as you can see the nub is irregular and any pressure on the nub such as adjusting the hop for more back spin will obviously not put equal pressure across the bb, thus resulting in irregular back spin.

[Image: nubmediumwj8.jpg]

One of the other issues with the A&K M249’s hop-unit is that the nub is too short and even when the hop-unit is adjusted to maximum it had very little effect on the BB’s back spin.

[Image: standardatfullhopmediumdv5.jpg]
the Hop setting is at full and as you can see there is little effect.

Now there are two fixes to this, the first is to cut a new nub. You can use electrical wire that has a thick plastic housing and then remove the strands which give you a pliable nub.

The other method, the one I used is to place something between the dial and the nub. Having purchased a new spring for the A&K M249 I decided to use a piece of the thin acrylic packaging that I cut to size, folded in half and then placed the dial over.

[Image: plasticnubmediumew2.jpg]

This not only gave me a responsive hop-unit but also tightened the dial a little preventing the dial from slipping during firing or roughing the weapon around.

[Image: modmediumrq6.jpg]

[Image: withmodificationmediumil6.jpg]

Field Testing.

After correcting all the minor issues it was time to take this beast out in to the field. One of the first things you will notice is that people are unable to tell this apart from the Classic Army version of the weapon and don’t be surprised if people don’t believe you when you tell them how much you paid for it!

[Image: rockandrollpl6.jpg]

Out on the skirmish field you learn to respect the healthy 7.5 Kg that this beast weighs in at and for that reason I decided to purchase a sling for it, yes I hear the collective gasp that it isn’t in Multicam but the only ones I could find were not available to mere civilians like me!

Within about 4 minutes of the game starting the team I was paying with was ambushed and was under heavy fire from a well entrenched enemy position, just what I wanted to test the weapon. Now as many have pointed out support weapons are used very differently to that of their assault weapon cousins.

The M249 is used to suppress the enemy with superior fire power and the A&K M249 is perfectly capable of doing just that, with a ROF of 14 BB’s per second and a FPS of just 0.96 Joule (Right on the money for Japanese law) I was able to unleash her full potential on the enemy.

Now a member on the forums shared his experiences with me on another thread and his main piece of advice was “Hit anything around the enemy that makes lots of noise! Oil drums, wooden barricades and corrugated roofing anything that makes a lot of noise when you let into it! Nothing keeps their heads down better.”

So that’s what I did! Not only did it keep their heads down it also worked to demoralize them and forced them from what was actually a secure position.

One of the things you need to remember about the M249 is that it will not only eat through the 2500 capacity magazine but it will also go through a 9.6v mini battery in no time as well, so make sure you carry a couple of spares if you are spending a few hours in the field.

Lastly I found that I was spending more time firing the A&K M249 from a squatting position rather than a prone position, so I really was thankful that I had the foresight to purchase a sling. A Seal’s type vertical fore grip would also be a god send for players that are playing within a fluid game or part of a squad. If you’re sat back at a fixed location or base then the bipod is ideal.

At the end of the day, apart from the sore arms and the serious amount of BB’s I had gone through I had no serious complaints about the A&K M249 Para, the collapsing stock and the short muzzle was perfect for a SAW/LSW role both in Urban and woodland scenarios, especially when I was on the move. The sling is a must unless you’re the Rambo type.

A&K M249 Para Score: 8/10[b]

For the price, quality and overall high cost of all the other brands on the market this weapon could have been a perfect 10/10 straight out of the box.

But the small niggles and modifications needed to fix the slight errors eats away at the final score, certain shops will probably address these issues before they even hit the shelves (Thus the mark up!) but if you are comfortable with the inner workings of a gear box and slightly technically minded these faults will seem very minor and as I stated in previous posts will only take about 1 hour to correct.

The weapon is 100% is skirmishable straight from the box in the US but its high FPS requires it to be down graded in the UK and Japan. Thankfully this is easily done and I found that with the air leaks in the cylinder a 130% Madbull spring got it to just below 0.96 Joules. (You can see just how badly that slight gap between the piston and gearbox is.)

[b]Pros:


• All metal construction.
• Excellent finish.
• 100% compatible with Classic Army Parts.
• Auto and sound activated 2500 round automatic box mag as standard.
• Amazing price!
• All three models available Mk.I, Mk.II and Para versions.
• Gear Box is easy to work with.
• Simple gear box design is perfect for players with midlevel modding experience.


Cons:

• Problems with hop-unit, nub isn’t long enough resulting in no back spin.
• Needs down grading for the UK and Japan.
• Box magazine jams or mis-feeds and requires slight modification to fix.
• Trigger switch too long. Requires cutting down and rebending.
• Certain shops will not export to the US so price will be higher, although certain issues might be addressed before sale.


Closing Comments.


In total I have to say that I am very impressed with the A&K’s M249 Para, my previous encounter with an M4 made by A&K left me with a bad taste in my mouth, but the A&K M249 has certainly redeemed them in my eyes.

It seems that certain flaws in production are main stream when it comes to Chinese built replicas, either no grease or too much is a common complaint. Shimming is also an issue, many will say, “But for the price it doesn’t matter!” but does it? You’re paying for a product that should work out of the box, in reality the weapon does, the FPS is outrageously high but it does do what it’s supposed to do.

[Image: junglemediumhg9.jpg]

In the whole Chinese built replicas have come a long way since I started playing and companies such as Echo1 USA who seem to be pushing for higher quality, Chinese built replicas are pushing the trends for better quality replicas.

Also having recently sourced a Classic Army M249 gear box, I can tell you now that there are certain issues that the two have in common. The gap between the cylinder and the gear box is an issue in both although it seems that the positioning of the cylinder head is a little further back on the Classic Army that negates the problem.

At the end of the day I’m very happy with the M249 Para, for the price you pay it really makes it a viable purchase and it’s no longer only in the reach of the few, yes you will get the elitist reactions and backlash and for this product it’s justified! There really is no reason to pay so much for a product that you can now get for just over $200 USD.

[Image: oldqt3.jpg]

Already I have started internally upgrading the parts, why? You ask after informing everyone that it’s good to go straight from the box. The answer is simple; the M249 has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember I can recall countless times I have fawned over other players M249’s and now having finally got one I want nothing but the best for it, Guarder Elcan scope, Systema Magnum motor, Systema gear sets, the list goes on.

So those out there who spent good money on the G&P, STAR, Classic Army, Thank you! As it’s you who paved the way to allow those without the money to finally obtain one.

I would like to thank the kind team at http://www.jiadui.com, especially Ginny who sent us this sample for review.

You can purchase the A&K M249 at http://www.RSOV.com and http://www.gunnerairsoft.com
Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)