[Review] CYMA AKS-74U

The AKS-74U is perhaps one of the most iconic “bad guy” rifles of all time–and while CYMA’s iteration of the infamous Kalashnikov carbine isn’t the first on the market, it’s certainly one of the least expensive. How’s this entry-level AEG stack up?

Let’s find out!

Who’s It For?

Originally designed to provide the crews of Soviet tanks, helicopters, and armored vehicles with the lethality of the AK74’s 5.45x39mm cartridge in a small, PDW-style package, the AKS-74U has since been seen in the hands of both Russian special operations forces and insurgent cell leaders around the world.

CYMA AKS-74U

That same maneuverability and compact frame the AKS-74U is renowned for translates quite well into the airsoft variant! While CYMA is generally seen as a lower-cost, entry-level manufacturer, their AKS-74U is a candidate for both a starter AEG if you’ve got an eye for the East Bloc stuff, or as a platform to trick out if milsim and impressions are more your thing.

While many CYMA guns include both a battery and standard wall charger, the AKS-74U does not.

Fit, Feel, and Finish

First impressions here aren’t too bad! The gun’s got a full metal receiver, stock, and barrel assembly that feels quite solid–although we don’t believe the metal itself is steel. Impressively, a vigorous shake of the gun reveals no wobbly or jangly pieces outside of the rear sling swivel. Perhaps not the most scientific test, but a good sign nonetheless.

The stock itself is of the side-folding, triangle variety seen on the larger AKS-74 and modern PP-19 Vityaz, and it locks into both its extended and folded positions with a satisfying metal *thunk*. A small metal button on the rear of the receiver unlocks the stock when it’s extended, and allows it to be folded off to the left side of the gun where it locks into place via a hook-shaped metal catch. To unfold the stock, simply press the spring-loaded hook back and throw it into its open position.

The CYMA AKS-74U includes the standard AK dovetail type optics mount on the left side of the receiver, which is going to be your primary method to attach a Picatinny mount if you plan on attaching Western-style optics to the gun. It should be noted that mounting anything to the dovetail rail will interfere with the folding action of the stock, however. Obviously, the gun can also utilize Russian-style optics meant to attach directly to the side rail itself.

Up front, the CYMA 74U sports a pair of real wooden handguards. While solid and well made, they do look slightly “off” in appearance due to the choice of stain color and wood grain.

This is an incredibly minor gripe, but the handguards look much less like those seen on the gun’s real steel counterpart, and much more like a coffee table, if that makes any sense. Again, merely a small cosmetic complaint that can be solved through sandpaper and a re-staining if you were so inclined, but worth mentioning.

An actual pair of Tula AKS-74U handguards. Higher gloss and different wood grain pattern than that found on the CYMA.

Further forward, you’ve got a standard AKS-74U front sight block and a sling loop meant for the issued Soviet AK sling’s metal hooks. While we haven’t experienced this ourselves in quite some time, early CYMA AK’s had a pretty consistent issue with the front sights chipping if they endured any kind of impact damage, due to the relatively weak pot metal used in the front sight block assemblies. We’re unsure if this is still an issue, but just a heads up!

The gun’s barrel ends in a standard AKS-74U conical booster, attached via 14mm CCW threads beneath it.

Contrary to larger AK variants, the AKS-74U’s dust cover remains attached to the gun via the rear sight block when opened. This is quite handy when you’re installing the battery or adjusting the hop-up unit–both of which live inside of the dust cover.

The hop-up unit is about what you’d expect from a beginner-tier AK and is adjustable by pulling back on the fake bolt and moving a small sliding tab rearwards until you’ve reached your desired level of hop. Ideally, you’ll want a fairly flat trajectory that begins to dive right at its maximum range–though obviously with a gun this small, you won’t be punching out super far.

The battery storage compartment on the AKS-74U helpfully extends into the top handguard and mock gas tube portion of the gun, which makes the installation of stick-type batteries relatively easy–though the space is definitely designed more for the width of an 8.4 or 9.6v Ni-Cd battery rather than a Li-Po.

The gun includes a “bakelite” style 600 round high cap magazine, although it includes none of the “swirly” pattern found on real bakelite magazines. Again, another small cosmetic gripe that doesn’t harm the function of the magazine itself whatsoever.

Mags lock into the receiver well enough, but there is a bit of play once inserted depending on the type of magazine used. LCT midcaps seem to lock in a bit tighter than the stock CYMA magazines for whatever reason, but all tested mags functioned well.

The gun’s selector lever is located on its right side and moves pretty smoothly through its various firing positions. Selector levers on entry-level AKs can tend to loosen up over time, however, and we’d recommend using a small amount of low-strength Loctite on the screw that threads the selector assembly into the receiver and gearbox if yours appears at all wobbly.

How Does It Shoot?

Entry level guns are definitely going to give you enough firepower to get the job done at casual and pickup games, but their out of box performance is nothing special. Even still, the CYMA AKS-74U had a decent rate of fire with an 11.1v Li-Po battery, and reasonable accuracy considering the relatively short barrel length. Do be aware, however, that the use of 11.1v batteries can wear down the internals on entry level guns much quicker than in higher quality AEGs. If you’re planning on using a Li-Po, we’d recommend beefing up your internals just a tiny bit to handle that added stress. Otherwise, consider using full auto sparingly or in small bursts!

While not being a huge issue, the AKS-74U is a little bit whiny when fired on full auto–which is typical of entry-level guns. Further adjustment of the motor height screw located in the pistol grip managed to mitigate a bit of this whine, but we suspect the gun isn’t shimmed optimally. Again, this isn’t a huge deal! You shouldn’t expect top tier performance out of a gun aimed at beginners, and it’ll still do its job just fine.

Cyma AKS-74U 5 Shot Chrono
Cyma AKS-74U 5 Shot Chrono Results

Somewhat surprisingly, the AKS-74U is hitting pretty damn hard for an entry level gun! It’s worth nothing that ~430 FPS is a bit above what’s normally allowed for play at many fields, but your mileage may vary. If you were eye-ing this gun for indoor play, be aware that you may have to downgrade to a lower tension spring to drop that FPS depending on your local field rules and regulations.

On full auto with an 11.1v Li-Po and .20g BBs, we were able to consistently hit a human sized target at ~80-100 feet, which is going to be the approximate max engagement distance found within the close to medium range settings you’d likely want to use the CYMA AKS-74U within.

Upgrades and Accessories

As with any airsoft gun, you may need a bit of modification to get accessories to play nicely with your particular gun. The CYMA AKS-74U however should accept a number of external upgrades with little to no elbow grease necessary.

The AKS-74U’s handguards are unique to the gun itself, meaning that standard railed handguards for larger AKs will not fit. We’d suggest taking a look at these Zenit-style lower handguard and top handguard rails if you find yourself needing to add lights, lasers, or grips to the front of your gun.

Stock wise, you can also replace the AKS-74U’s triangular side-folding stock… stock, with several different options. LCT’s SKTBR-style stock should fit the rear side-folding mechanism on the AKSU if you want a little bit of mid-2000’s
flair–or ditch the AK stocks altogether with this LCT buffer tube adapter that’ll give you the ability to toss M4-compatible stocks right on!


A DTK-2 style muzzle brake is a great addition to the AKS-74U if you’re really looking for a modern look, and adding a mock suppressor to your gun can effectively conceal a longer inner barrel if you want both form and function. The choice is yours!

Optics

As mentioned, you’re going to need an adapter of some kind in order to use Western-style optics on the CYMA AKS-74U. This Zenit-esque mount will attach directly to the dovetail on the receiver and let you mount any Picatinny-compatible optics you desire! Alternatively, if you’d like something a tiny bit lower profile, the Zenit-style B-18 mount attaches directly to the AKS-74U’s rear iron sight–providing you a tiny bit of Picatinny rail that’s perfect for smaller red dots. We’d probably stick with an optic that plays nice with the AKS-74Us overall low profile, like this Microdot sight.

By The Numbers

Reliability: 7/10

While we ran into no real issues during our time testing the Cyma AKS-74U, entry-level guns do occasionally run into hiccups, and we’re not trying to sugarcoat that. Particularly apparent when subject to heavy use of 11.1v Li-Po batteries, you may eventually see wear and tear on internal components such as the piston or gears. However, these issues are easily rectifiable with the help of a certified airsoft tech (or yourself if you’re brave enough!), and can even be an opportunity to springboard into upgrading the rest of the gun itself. Lemons, lemonade, etc. 😎

Accuracy: 6/10

The AKS-74U has a pretty damn short barrel, and while it is hitting pretty hard right out of the box, airsoft guns do benefit from longer barrels when accuracy is your main goal. Ideally, you’d probably be using this gun in CQB situations where longer distance accuracy isn’t a huge concern–but you can always add a longer inner barrel and cover it up with a mock suppressor to bump up that accuracy at range!

Effective Range: 6/10

Pretty much the same as above–while the gun certainly isn’t bad in its stock incarnation, longer-range engagements isn’t really going to be its cup of tea. Expect to be able to make accurate hits out to ~100 feet or so, but probably not too much beyond that.

Rate of Fire: 6/10

We were getting right around 12 rounds per second with an 11.1v battery, which is totally serviceable, but also nothing to really write home about. As with most stock guns, future upgrades will definitely bump your RPS up if you’re looking to tune the gun up for CQB, so don’t despair too much!

Ergonomics: 8/10

While the AKS-74U is essentially a standard AK for most purposes, it does receive higher marks for its compact size. The short barrel length and foldable stock means this AEG is really going to excel up close, and adding aftermarket parts that allow for the attachment of further ergonomic-enhancing items such as grips or higher-speed stocks means you’ve got plenty of options to up the ante!

Looks: 8/10

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m definitely biased when it comes to AK-based visual aesthetics, but the AKS-74U looks rad! Definitely one of the most iconic “bad guy” guns that brings to mind nameless baddies from 80s action movies in its stock form, and capable of being transformed into a sleek, FSB-style blaster if you’re into Russian kit, the Cyma AKS-74U has got plenty of options in the looks department.

Customization: 8/10

Gone are the days when the aftermarket parts world was largely dominated by M4 accessories, and AK users can now enjoy a full host of both internal and external upgrades to really fine-tune their AEG exactly to their liking! Whether you’re trying to trick this bad boy out for a milsim event with a replica Zenitco parts, or you’re trying to squeeze more accuracy and tighter groups out of it, the Cyma AKS-74U is ready for just about any situation you might want to throw it into.

Conclusion

While the gun is definitely on the entry-level spectrum price-wise, that doesn’t mean it’s hamstrung by poor performance like some of the other so-called “beginner-friendly” AEGs on the market! Capable of being turned into a truly formidable CQB or mid-range gun with a little bit of elbow grease, the AKS-74U is great for newer players looking to snag something that’s got staying power, or slightly more experienced airsofters that are maybe looking at their first project gun.

What do you think of the AKS-74U? Thinking about buying it, or going to pass it up? We wanna hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Rory Saváge

Hailing from the quiet suburbs and endless cornfields of the midwest, Rory was first introduced to the world of airsoft via backyard springer games with friends over 15 years ago. Since then, an ever-deepening love for all things BB larp has been a constant background in Rory’s life, eventually transforming into a desire to continually push the envelope of what milsim-based airsoft can be. Rory remains a regular milsim player to this day, often attending large-scale national events designed to push the player to their limits through physical exertion and immersive, narrative-driven environments, and thoroughly enjoys helping new folks go deeper down the larperator rabbit hole.

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