A short time ago, the Chinese Manufacturer E&L released its new and redesigned series of AK rifles to the Airsoft market – the so-called “Generation 2”. We couldn’t resist getting our hands on one of the new models and will be taking a closer look on its new features in the following review.
The first thing that stands out is the new packaging of the Gen.2 rifles. The Gen.1 came in a simple, brown cardboard box with only a small sticker on it. The rifle was wrapped in an oily plastic bag and this wasn’t a really a pleasing experience. I cleaned the whole gun with some FrogLube CLP Wipes before taking photos in order to get rid of all the oil and dirt. The packaging of the Gen.2 rifles consists of a solid black cardboard box with red logos on it.
The inside is made out of foam and keeps the gun safe from damage and falling around inside the box. There are several cut out sections for the accessories.
The AEG comes with a polymer Midcap magazine, an oiler, a magwell spacer and a QC certificate and manual. Besides the QC stamps you can find the factory FPS readings on it.
The magwell spacer is a piece of polymer, that is placed inside the magwell and reduces the depth of it so you can insert the magazine easier and quicker without putting the magazine in too far. The magwell spacer is screwed onto the bottom of the Hop-Up chamber.
Another nice feature of the E&L spacer is that you can mount it with screws and don’t have to clamp it into the receiver. This allows for an easy and quick removal. Thumbs-up to E&L for adding this accessory free of charge. Other manufacturers will charge you another 17USD for it.
Externals / Build Quality
The build quality hasn’t really changed on the Gen.2 models. The quality is excellent and on the same level as the Gen.1’s were. The AK feels rock solid and sturdy but also weighs about 3.6kg. You better get your weight lifting game going when you want to operate that rifle all day long.
The receiver has a nice matte finish to it. The color is slightly bluer then the other metal parts – most noticeable when comparing the optics rail to the receiver. The rest of the metal parts are all painted matt black.
One of the most important “new features” is the correct length of the mag catch. The Gen.1 models had a slightly longer one and thus issues with a lot of third-party magazines. Now you can use almost any other magazine brand for your E&L AK. I tested a bunch of magazines I had laying around and I was able to insert them all without any problems.
Does the stock wobble? Are there any other wobbling parts? A well asked question when it comes to AK models that feature a folding stock. The stock has a minimal, really minimal play and wobbles only when pushed hard. This mostly depends on the model itself as there is a small production tolerance.
Apart from the stock, the only other thing that wobbles a tiny bit is the polymer handguard. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a little bit of hot glue within seconds.
The muzzle break features a 24mm thread as the real ones do and is not compatible with any 14mm silencers and flash hiders.
1) Fire Selector
At first, we need to remove the fire selector. The easiest way of removing the screw is by using a set of pliers. Grab the screw, loosen the screw by turning it counter-clockwise and unscrew it by hand. Take off the fire selector.
2) Rear Sight
Now we need to remove the rear sight in order to loosen the outer barrel. This can be down by loosening the two set screws underneath the rear sight block. E&L put a really strong spring into the rear sight block and it can be quite hard to remove it. To remove the rear sight, you need to push it down against the spring and then backwards. Tilting up the rear sight a few degrees helps with the handling and you can grip it better. (Note, that the rear sight had already been removed in order to be able to make a photo of the set screws)
It is possible that you don’t have enough power to push down the rear sight with your fingers. In this case, you can either buy/use an AK rear sight removal tool or a flat screwdriver and push the spring down just far enough so that the rear sight can be moved. I had to use quite a bit of force (and a hammer) to get the rear sight out.
Another way to loosen the set screws is to use a 90° hex key. This is a bit tricky and takes a lot of time until the screws are loosened. The set screw in the back can be hard to reach with the 90° hex key. Removing the gas tube and handguard and may help but in the end, removing the rear sight is the best way of doing it.
When the set screws are loose enough you can pull the whole front set away from the receiver so that the nozzle of the gearbox is just outside of the Hop-Up chamber. Be sure to unscrew the tiny screw that attaches the Hop-Up chamber to the gearbox, otherwise you can’t remove the frontset.
3) Charging Handle
Now it’s time to remove the charging handle. The rods are screwed into the push button of the dust cover with a small set screw. Loosen the screw and remove the push button and the rods/springs. Slide the charging handle backwards to the rear end of the receiver and take it out by pulling it upwards.
4) Hop-Up / Inner Barrel (OPTIONAL)
Remove the screw that mounts the Hop-Up unit to the shell of the gearbox. The following steps are optional if you want to remove the gearbox only. If you want to remove the inner barrel and Hop-Up assembly, read on.
When the outer barrel or frontset is loosened, remove the two hex screws that mount the Hop-Up to the outer barrel. Then, push the frontset away from the receiver so that only the Hop-Up and inner barrel are left inside the receiver. Remove the Hop-Up and inner barrel by tilting it upwards.
Again: be sure to have the tiny screw, that connects the Hop-Up to gearbox removed.
Last but not least: remove the grip by unscrewing the screw on the base of the grip. Then take the gearbox out of the receiver.
Inner Barrel / Hop-Up
The Hop-Up is basically the same as on the Gen.1 models except from the color of the metal housing and the plastic parts. The Hop-Up has been painted black and the adjustment lever is now red – somewhat matching the color of the cardboard box. Maybe black and red are the new CI colors of E&L?
The bucking also features the same W-shape as on the Gen.1’s. The adjustment lever is way stiffer than on the Gen.1’s and won’t accidentally move itself while shooting.
The inner barrel is made out of brass and has a diameter of 6,04mm. Be sure to give your barrel a good cleaning and also think about polishing the inside. This can easily be done with a drill, a cleaning rod, a paper towel and some polishing paste.
Now, let’s take a closer look inside the heart of the E&L AKS-74. The most new features of the Gen.2 models are inside the gearbox. First thing that stands out is the matt black color of the gearbox shell. Also the cylinder is black this time.
The gearbox features a “Quick Spring Change System”, which makes changing the spring with a flat screwdriver an easy task. This is a “must-have” for any gearbox in my opinion. You can not only quickly change the power of the AEG but also safely remove the spring before opening the shell.
Sadly, the spring guide can’t be removed when the gearbox is still inside the receiver. There’s a thin metal bar that prevents the spring guide from being removed trough the back of the receiver. I think it would be possible do cut out the metal bar just so that the spring guide can go through. But be sure to leave small sections of the bar in place on the left and right side of the receiver so that the dust cover can be mounted.
The spring guide is made out of metal and features a ball bearing. The spring is rated M130. The FPS readings will later show if the spring holds up to this rating.
E&L did use 9mm bearings this time instead of the bushings.
The gear set is now made of CNC’ed steel and features a 18:1 ratio. The trigger response is quite snappy in combination with the high-torque motor.
The piston and piston head are the same as in the Gen. 1 models. The AEO (Angle of Engagement) is not 100% correct, so there’s a little bit of fine tuning required to make sure the piston lasts some time. A piston with full steel teeth would have been the better option in my opinion.
The motor also hasn’t changed much, the decals did change though. It’s the same M170 high-torque model found in the Gen.1’s. The motor has pretty strong magnets and a lot of torque.
E&L did listen to the reviewers and players and updated the nozzle to an air seal type. The air seal of the cylinder and nozzle did actually surprise me, in a positive way.
The cylinder and cylinder head also got an update. They’re now a one-piece unit. The “exhaust” of the cylinder head (how is that thing called?) has a really uneven surface and creates a lot of drag on the o-ring of the nozzle.
Lust but no least did E&L change the copper wiring to a silver one. The stiffer isolation of the cables is a good choice as it withstands the wear caused by the sharp edges of the receiver way better.
The Gen.2 gearbox is a successful update. E&L has listened to the critique and opinions of the reviewers and players. The thing that stands out most is the air-tightness and compression of the cylinder unit.
The space for the battery inside the gas tube and rear sight block is still the same. We suggest using a 3 cell Nunchuk-type LiPo battery, so you can place two cells into the gas tube and one cell underneath the dust cover.
With the built in M130 spring we should be able to reach up to 130m/s (426 FPS), in theory. Due to the air-tightness of the cylinder our own readings are very close the the M130 mark.
E&L states on the QC certificate that the AK has reached a V0 max. of 429 FPS and a V0 min. of 426FPS.
We measured a V0 max. of 417 FPS (127m/s) and a V0 min. of 410 FPS (124m/s) by using 0.2g BBs which is more than enough for most fields if not too much.
The ROF using a 11.1V LiPo battery was 1000rpm.
The second generation of E&L AKs is slowly but surely reaching to the crown and sends a clear signal to its competitors. The quality of the internal components has vastly improved, E&L did update the parts and listened to the reviewers and players. There’s still room left for improvements when it comes to the build quality of the externals and internals.
The value for money is unbeatable though. The E&L AKS-74 is 80€ cheaper than the competition and for that saving you can get yourself some fine tuning parts if needed.
You can get the E&L AKS-74 and other AK models at Gunfire.
We’d like to thank our partner Gunfire for letting us test the E&L AKS-74.