The choice of my next new AEG was kinda easy this time. As a team - Team AKA - we had already decided that we wanted to try out CQB, compliments of SYA's new indoor site which opens at the end of March.
Needless to say, this new play style meant a new weapon, not least because the SYA CQB rules state that AEGs must fire at no greater than 320 fps for the comfort and safety of the players. So many of the choices were already made for me, and add to this that we are a Russian themed team and that we are attending the new site dressed in Russian MVD SPetsnaz black tactical garb - then there was actually very little room for manoeuvre as far as what AEG to go for!
It's a AK47 - but not as we know it!
Without a shadow of a doubt, any new CQB indoor site - like SYA's - will be brim full of H&K MP5s of all shaped and sizes (with maybe a few P90s and G36c's thrown in for good measure). But when you are a Russian based team the lack of any direct equivalent to the MP5 becomes painfully apparent. Luckily for us, Tokyo Marui saw this gap in the market and produced it's own design of Russian 'pocket cannon' specifically with CQB in mind...
The 'infamous' TM 'Spetz' is a cut down (or more correctly, 'sawn off') AK47, based not on any real Russian weapon (that anyone can definitely ascertain). It is a hybrid, designed just for airsoft requirements which allowed those who loved the AK to have a compact version ideal for the tight spaces of close combat.
The SRC 'Krinkov' - a 'Spetz' of a different name
Since TM got the ball rolling, there have been a few clones of the format - most notably by JG whose AK47 'Spetz' is perhaps the pick of the bunch (CYMA have also produced a worthwhile copy). Jing Gong went further, by producing not only a direct copy of the fully stocked TM 'Spetz', but also a folding stock version and even a 'AK pistol' (un-stocked) version.
Left: Available at UNCompany.com (HK) - the SRC 'Krinkov' (click to enlarge)
My team mates have already purchased their 'Spetz', and went down the JG route, with Dewey going 'stocked' and Wayne preferring the even more compact 'no stock' weapon. I was about to follow suit when quite by chance I came across another clone of the TM 'Spetz', but one which stuck out as having it's own special, and peculiar, twist.
The SRC AK47 'Krinkov' features the same sleek black tactical looks as the TM 'Spetz', but with the added feature of a Russian style thumb-hole fore-grip. Now, this was not only a rather novel take on the 'Spetz' format, but also pleased my sense of Russian design aesthetic. My friend Wayne had tacked on a Western looking grip onto the rail of his 'Spetz', and I was never entirely comfortable with the look, but the 'thumb hole' grip of the SRC seemed quaintly and quintessentially Russian.
Final observations - pound for £
Aside from the novel looking front end, the SRC had one other bonus feature to offer over the JG 'Spetz' - it's receiver is all metal. I like 'all metal'!
Yes, this feature alone puts a good £40/50 on the price tag, but at £150 I think it's fair to say that the SRC is still within the 'budget' end of the AEG market. And an all metal AEG for £150 is, by any account, a pretty good deal. So I checked out what reviews I could find, and the scuttlebutt was positive - so there we have a decision made!
(I will, of course, provide a proper review when I get my hands on my new pet.)
A change of mind - SRC 'Krinkov' is now TM 'Beta'!
The amount of time which has elapsed between my deciding I wanted a 'baby AK' for CQB until I could actually afford one has really been a blessing in disguise. As the months passed since my original post declaring my intention to buy a 'Spetz' style AK74 I began to refine my requirements for such a AEG. Additionally, what I originally thought was 'cute' about the SRC 'Krinkov' has become a little ugly to me now (namely the Russian style thumb-hole stock).
So, I changed my mind, and decided to look again at the other 'Spetz', 'Beta' and 'Krinkov' options out there. The short-list quickly shrunk to two different options (or variants thereof) - the original Tokyo Marui 'Beta' and the JG 'Beta' or 'Spetz' clones
Basically the JG options are the same AEG, but with a solid stock or no stock at all (there is additionally a folding stock version, but that is particularly hideous). The chief advantage of the full stock version is that while it does lengthen the AEG is also allows for a more capacious battery bay, meaning a larger battery can be fitted. The 'Spetz' version restricts you to the use of stick type batteries of a lower electrical capacity.
My original interest was the JG 'Beta'. This is a highly thought of AEG, and although a budget clone it has proved itself to be a very good clone of the TM 'Beta', retaining the fames TM strength, accuracy and reliability. However, the JG is not without it's problems - in particular it is widely reported that it has a very weak selector switch which many players finds comes loose with use and flops unceremoniously down from full-auto fire to single shot just when you least expect it (this issue has indeed happened to my team mate who has a JG 'Spetz' - he has since rectified this problem by using electrical tape to hold the switch in place).
However, this well known glitch aside (one which I am sure can be fixed) the JG's price makes this a very hard beast to ignore. Or, at least it was until one of my favourite retailers announced a Tokyo Marui sale and dropped the price of the original 'Beta' to £20 pounds above the JG!
So now I have the chance to own a real Tokyo Marui at not all that much more than a budget JG and this is a very attractive proposition. I have not yet owned one of the legendary TM branded AEGs, and so it's tempting to buy this one just to see what all the hoo-ha is about. All over the airsoft community you hear how reliable the TM make is, and how many people loyally stick to the brand - many of which still say that it's the brand by which all others are judged.
Pay day is just around the corner, and it looks like I will be purchasing my very first Tokyo Marui, and in a way I am quite pleased because it was TM who originated the whole 'Spetz' format and so - in it's way - it's a bit of an airsoft classic.
Here's an ArniesAirsoft.co.uk review of the TM 'Beta' Spetnaz (to give it it's other name): ...
And for fairness sake, here's a video review of the JG 'Beta'...
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