E&L: In DEPTH review of AKS 74 MN from E&L and Meister Arms

E&L contacted me and asked if I was willing to do a review of their new revisions of AK’s. And you know what, when the known manufacturer of awesome replicas asks you that, then the only possible answer is HELL YEAH.

So after a few days I got in the mail their AKS-74MN. And they arrived in both flavours. One from E&L and other from Meister Arms, their new economy line of AEG rifles made by E&L, wich were custome ordered by MOS manufacture and also distributed byMOS.


From now on I will use V1 for Meister Arms and V2 for E&L, as I like shortening stuff. 


The common denominator of both guns was abundance of gun grease. Not even a new gun, bought in the gun store is not so greased up. The level of oily richness reminded me of old guns conserved in Cosmoline. And I recommend a thorough de-greasing while wearing gloves.




And now some historical background.



If you don’t recognize the AK then you really live under a rock. It is one of the most iconic rifles ever.

The AK-74 (Автомат Калашникова образца 1974 года or "Kalashnikov automatic rifle model 1974") is an assault rifle developed in the early 1970s, by Russian designer Mikhail Kalashnikov as the replacement for the earlier AKM (itself a refined version of the AK-47). It uses a smaller 5.45×39mm cartridge, replacing the 7.62×39mmchambering of earlier Kalashnikov-pattern weapons.

The rifle first saw service with Soviet forces engaged in the 1979 Afghanistan conflict. The head of the Afghan bureau of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence claimed that the CIA paid $5,000 for the first AK-74 captured by the mujahadeen during the Soviet–Afghan War.

Presently, the rifle continues to be used by the majority of countries of the former USSR. Additionally, licensed copies were produced in Bulgaria (AK-74, AKS-74 and AKS-74U), the former East Germany (MPi-AK-74N, MPi-AKS-74N, MPi-AKS-74NK) and Romania (PA md. 86). Besides former Soviet republics and eastern European countries, Mongolia, North Korean Special Forces, and Vietnamese People’s Naval infantry use AK-74s.



The version I received form E&L is modernized version which has its own story.





In 1991 the Izhmash factory in the city of Izhevsk began full-scale production of a modernized variant of the AK-74—the AK-74M (M—Russian: МодернизированныйModernizirovanniy or "modernized") assault rifle that offers more versatility compared to its predecessor. Apart from several minor improvements, such as a lightened bolt and carrier assembly to reduce the impulse of the gas piston and bolt carrier during firing, the rifle features a new synthetic stock made from a black, glass-filled polyamide that is shaped like the AK-74 fixed stock, but also side-folds like in the AKS-74. Additionally the AK-74M features an improved muzzle device, a reinforced smooth dust cover and a redesigned guide rod return spring retainer that allows firing the GP-25, GP-30 and GP-34 under-slung grenade launchers without having to use the previously necessary additional receiver cover fastener. Each AK-74M is fitted with a side-rail bracket for mounting optics. The AK-74M would have been adopted by the Soviet Union as the standard service rifle, and has been accepted as the new service rifle of the Russian Federation with some AK-74Ms featuring a Picatinny rail for easier mounting of optics that lack a side-rail mount.


I was lucky so I had a chance to compare both E&L ans Meister Arms to the Izhmash version.


And here are some pictures:



Upper one is E&L, lower is the real steel  








All in all a great looking gun. 


As with everything first impressions are important. And let me tell you. I am not really an AK fan but after holding the product from E&L and Meister Arms. I must say that I am a convert.


I must warn you. The pictures here do not really represent the true image as the guns already went through a precise cleaning. The guns come packed in a nice cardboard box and then wrapped in a plastic bag. The plastic bag was there to prevent all the oil to leak out. As both guns are drenched in it. Cleaning of both must be accompanied with shots of Vodka and Russian military songs for the really immersive experience.



For your pleasure I provided the music, but you need to find your own Vodka.



And now we finally arrive at the most interesting part of the review. Comparison between E&L and Meister Arms.



For easier recognition I mounted a sling on a E&L variant (V2).  


As you can see on the outside both versions of the gun are the same. And let me tell you that feel of the really heavy steel gun makes your day. Whole gun is made from the same material as the real one even the trigger is made from steel.


There are four distinct quick recognition markers that will help you distinguish between the E&L and Meister arms even if the both guns are made by E&L.


1 - Back end of a gearbox. That can be seen only on guns with collapsible stocks.  



V1: Meister Arms



V2: E&L


As you can see the E&L has a lug that is used for a quick spring change and comes really handy when you are a repairman as me.




2 - Hop-up chamber of E&L has distinct red parts




3 - Wires are high current in E&L. And they are silver coloured. 



4 - And there are also serial number which add to the realism.





As you can see from pictures the level of detail is astounding. And really shows dedication of E&L for designing the best replicas.





Even flash hider is made from steel and has original threads so any aftermarket 14mm CCW thread attachment will not fit.




As you can see there is gun oil everywhere.





And here is the conclusion of professional photos. Following pictures are a bit less professional and made by me when I was disassembling the guns



Here are the steps how to get to the gearbox.


Both guns disassemble the same so you will see only one set of pictures. 


1 - You will need the following. Philips screwdriver, flat head screwdriver, 2mm inbus key and pliers. Optional are the gloves which will make your day a little less greasy.  



2 - Remove the bolt cover. 


Big button on the top.  You cannot miss it 




3 - Now remove the simulation of bolt and bolt handle




4 - Remove the selector lever. 

Use pliers for that. Turn the button CCW and you are done.




5 - Remove the screw at the bottom of the pistol grip




6 - Now remove the hop-up assembly. All in all 2 inbus screws and one Philips 


Slide the hop-up unit forward and you can now remove the V3 gearbox.




And you are done :D great job you.



Side by side comparison of both versions. 



Left one is E&L on the right Meister Arms





Bottom one is E&L, top is Meister Arms.




Meister Arms is a medium budget replica so it has a bit weaker motor, but still stong enoug to run 120 spring.



Meister Arms:






And that is one really strong motor. Which will work great for a long time.




Now to get to the internals you need to do this.



1 - E&L has a nice way for removal of a spring. Meister Arms doesn’t have it, so disassembly is a bit tricky.



Gun oil, gun oil everywhere. Common to both guns is an abundance of grease.



2 - Remove the next parts: 1 - metal plate, 2 - Fire selector thingy. 3,4,5 - Philips screws.


And you are done.



Look at both of them.






On the left E&L on the right Meister Arms. Differences are obvious.



1 - The spring in E&L (V2) is more powerful than in Meister Arms (V1) as you can see here.



2 - E&L uses 8mm ball bearings while Meister Arms has 6mm bearings.






Meister Arms:




3 - The biggest difference comes in the form of upgraded gears.



E&L: Has a nice 18:1 ratio and really better made gears.


Meister Arms: has standard 32:1 ratio and generic non branded gears.



4 - Next surprise comes in the design of cylinder and cylinder head.




As you can see here. The V2 (E&L) cylinder and cylinder head are made from one piece of alluminium. That provides better compression and  stability.



Also it is E&L branded. 




5 - The V2 (E&L) nozzle has an internal O-ring but you can’t see that well on this picture.



All in all everything fits snugly in gearbox.









End thoughts. 


All in all I am very impressed with both guns. Even if Meister Arms is intended as a medium range gun it surpasses other guns in this price range (Price range of Meister Arms guns moves around 220$ - 260$). And the high quality of E&L internal parts will surely impress the upgrade enthusiasts.


In the end I really recommend both guns. If you want an extremely well built gun that will last for a long time and be a proud addition to your gun collection, you will not miss neither with Meister Arms or E&L.

I had a pleasure testing them both during CQC and they both performed more than adequate in this task. This weekend I am going to test them in the forest gameplay and shot even more videos for your entertainment.



Until next time. 



Ive Zagorc; Editor in Chief

Photos by: Matic Zalaznik