Echo 1 Wolverine AEG review by Booligan
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Echo 1 continues to produce high quality, unique AEG models, and one of their newest in their Red Star line is the Wolverine, an AKS-74N replica, featuring a steel body and real wood handguards. This AEG also has a piston driven blowback system, giving you bolt movement and a little bit of recoil when firing. As with most other Echo 1 AEGs, this gun is moderately priced, and includes Echo 1's 30 day warranty against manufacturer defects. I'll discuss all of the pros and cons of the Wolverine in this review!
I obtained the Wolverine directly from Echo 1, in order to review it here on Airsoft Retreat. It is currently available at most major retailers, including Evike and Airsoft GI, priced at about $240. As mentioned earlier, it includes Echo 1's 30 day warranty, in case you have any problems with your gun.
The Wolverine comes packaged in a tastefully decorated box, with the gun's name printed on the front. The gun itself is held in a cardboard lower, with special supports installed to keep the gun centered during shipping. I was actually really surprised when I saw how high quality the metal body and wood were, as they looked quite a bit nicer than the real AK I recently picked up!
Aside from the gun itself, Echo 1 included a black metal flashhider, cleaning rod, 8.4v stick battery, which was oddly sealed inside a foil bag, a trickle charger, a small paper bag of BBs, and a warranty card. The battery wasn't the highest quality, as even after I charged it up, the rate of fire was quite anemic, and died quickly. I chock that up to a bad battery, which is something Echo 1 will replace for you if you have the same problem. I decided to continue my testing with an 8.4v stick battery of similar performance, in order to keep it on par with the included battery.
Weight: 7.8 lbs
Sight Radius: 15"
The Wolverine is a full metal replica, with a large portion of the parts being made out of steel. The overall feel of the gun is incredibly sturdy, with no creaks, wobbles, or other negative attributes to speak of. The paint finish is matte black, with a slightly textured feel to most of it, aside from the barrel, which is slightly glossy.
From this point, click all photos to enlarge
External overview, right side
External overview, left side
The stock is a stamped and welded steel side folding unit, which folds and locks onto the left side of the gun. Unlike other side folding stocks that I've used, this one actually locks quite sturdily in both positions, without any wobbling to speak of. You can easily pick this up by the stock and swing the gun around without any issues. A single sling point is mounted on the right side of the stock, and unlike other stocks of this design, the mount doesn't clank around when moving.
Stock hinge and folding release button
Folded locking latch
The receiver of the gun is made out of stamped steel, much like the real gun it replicates. The bends in the receiver are crisp and square, and the rivets in place, whether cosmetic or structural, are well executed. Your main fire controls are located on the right side of the receiver, which basically consists of a single selector switch, with selections of safe, full auto, and semiautomatic, in that order. The selector switch clicks smoothly between the different selections, locking into each position securely. The left side of the receiver features a scope mounting point, stock folding button, and the stock locking point.
You grip this gun using the plastic pistol grip, which is a dark plum/brown color, and has texturing on the sides. The grip is larger than real AK grips, which is necessary in order to fit the motor inside, however, I prefer the slightly fatter grip on the airsoft models over the real ones. In front of the grip, you'll find the trigger, which has the standard AEG light trigger pull, and is protected by a metal trigger guard. The magazine release is located right in front of the trigger guard, and is a standard AK paddle type release.
The top cover is metal, and it must be removed in order to install the battery or inspect the AEG blowback system. It is removed by pushing in the button at the rear, and lifting the cover off. The paint on the button is not the greatest, and scratches up a fair bit after repeated use. The battery slides in the front of the receiver, underneath the upper handguard, which allows room for the blowback system to operate. This, however, limits you to short battery packs, maxing out at 9.6v for standard chemistry battery packs. You can, however, install a lipo stick pack of whatever voltage you can fit.
The goodies held underneath the cover
Another key feature of this gun is the real wood handguard, which is of the proper 74 design. It is flared out slightly at the sides, to give you a better gripping surface, which is quite comfy if I do say so myself. It is not laminated wood, as initially speculated, but a sturdy hardwood, with a dark reddish stain. Simply put, the wood looks beautiful.
Shot inside the handguard
The outer barrel is metal, which a ribbed texture, and slightly glossy finish. Underneath the barrel, you'll find the standard AK cleaning rod, which doesn't rattle around like some real guns I've handled. The barrel is terminated in a 14mm- threaded muzzle, which is actually attached to the front sight assembly. Echo 1 installed a two piece muzzle device, with a metal inside portion, and an orange plastic outer portion, which can be replaced with the included metal unit.
Simple, adjustable iron sights are used to aim this AEG, which are standard AK units. The rear is adjustable for range and elevation, and the front sight is also adjustable for elevation, but unfortunately not windage. People either love or hate AK style sights, and I really like how quick they are to acquire in high light conditions. In low light, not so much.
Overall, the externals are quite impressive, and are amongst the highest quality to come out of Echo 1's warehouse. It's solid, beautiful to look at, comfortable to hold, and affordable. It's the perfect storm of AEG construction.
Echo 1 did not include any real steel trademarks, instead opting to label this gun with their Red Star markings. Each gun has a unique serial number, which is laser engraved on the left side of the receiver. On the right side of the receiver, it simply states "Wolverine", and a single "Made In China" marking is located on the bottom of the receiver.
Made in everyone's favorite socialist fun land!
The included magazine is an orange colored plastic hi-cap, holding about 600 rounds. Fit, finish, and importantly, feeding are all good with the included magazine. I tried a few other magazines made by DBoys, Cyma, G&G, and Army, and didn't have any feeding issues, however, they didn't all lock in solidly.
Trademarked floor plate
Baseline performance after a 500 round break in period is as follows:
FPS (Recorded using TSD.20g BBs shot through a Madbull V1 chrono):
High: 410.5 FPS
Low: 401.6 FPS
Average over 10 shots: 404.2 FPS
As mentioned previously, ROF was very anemic with the included battery, and even with a full charge, only lasted 50 rounds or so, showing me that it had a bad battery. I opted to do ROF tests with a similar non-branded 8.4v 1400 mAh stick battery, and was able to get 14 RPS out of it, which is not too bad, considering the high FPS and generic battery. A higher quality, or higher voltage battery will yield better ROF results.
Accuracy and range were quite impressive, using mid-weight ammo. I threw some Echo 1 .25g BBs in the hi-cap, and sent shots down my testing range. My torso sized target set at 150' never saw it coming, resulting in 9 nicely placed holes out of 10 shots fired. The hop-up spins the BBs well, and the metal hop-up unit kept everything centered, making the shots quite consistent. Add a slightly better battery, and this gun is absolutely skirmish ready.
The blowback system is a hoot to use, giving you a nice metallic clack with every shot. There is a slight amount of recoil, due to the reciprocating bolt, but it's not enough to really negatively affect accuracy. It is a piston driven system, using a top mounted shuttle, which can be disabled relatively easily if you choose to do so.
Powering this AEG is a variant of the V3 gearbox, with specialized equipment in place to allow for blowback operation. It also has vents in the rear, to show you the piston position and reduce weight. It features a black POM piston, and steel gears with a sector clip installed to aid in feeding. The gearbox has 7mm ball bearings installed to keep the operation running smooth.
Echo 1 markings
7mm ball bearings
Metal air nozzle
The motor is a standard torque Echo 1 labeled unit, which is short in length. Echo 1 used tabs on the wiring, instead of soldering it on, making disassembly and motor replacement a breeze.
The inner barrel is 500mm long, making this a fair bit longer than most other AKs. The plastic hop-up housing surrounds a standard black hop-up bucking and nub, so replacements will be readily available if you so desired. Overall, the internals of this gun are great, and the only change I can see doing would be to remove the top mounted shuttle if you wanted to get rid of the blowback.
Being an AK, your options for modification are obviously less than for an M4, however, there are still plenty of things that you can do to tweak the gun to your liking. There are no rails on the gun, so you can't mount lights, lasers, or foregrips without adding a rail kit, but they are inexpensive and readily available. The side mount allows you to mount a Russian style optic, or a rail mount to mount your choice of scope.
Full metal, most of it steel
Real wood with a great finish
Sturdy side folding stock
Good performance out of the box
Blowback system makes shooting fun
Affordable price - $240
Piston driven blowback can negatively affect battery life and ROF
No rails for accessories (Not a problem for me, but others may want to make it tacticool)
I'd like to see the FPS a little lower, in the mid 300 range, but that's my personal preference
My battery was basically DOA
The Wolverine is a damn solid little AEG, with good performance, and great externals. It is comfortable to use, accurate, and versatile, due to the folding stock. Echo 1's Red Star line continues to grow, with their LMG/RPK being the next model on the list, and if it's half as good as the Wolverine, I'll be a very happy man!
Many thanks again to Echo 1 and of course, Airsoft Retreat!