PPS Airsoft Kar98k Gas Rifle Review by Booligan
Table of Contents:
Basic Gun Information
PPS is an airsoft manufacturer based in Hong Kong who designs and manufactures a wide variety of airsoft accessories as well as several complete guns, including an M700 sniper rifle, the Mosin Nagant, and this, the Kar98k. I have previously had the pleasure of reviewing the early Mosin Nagant HERE, and needless to say, I was very impressed with it. When PPS announced their take on the Kar98k, I was eager to get my hands on it to test it out! Today, we'll be taking a detailed look at this rifle, so keep reading for more information on this iconic WWII rifle!
The PPS Kar98k was sent directly from PPS in order to be reviewed here on Booligan Airsoft. I haven't seen the gun for sale in the US at this point, however, I have seen it at a variety of Hong Kong shops priced about $300 USD. I'm not sure what the US price will be, but I imagine it will be around that point. I will update this review once I have additional information about US availability!
Basic Gun Information:
The PPS Kar98k is a bolt action, gas powered rifle with a full metal receiver and body fitted in a real German beech wood stock. The gun uses a gas-in-mag system, based off of the system that the Tanaka Kar98k uses, giving you some aftermarket compatibility and upgrade options. It's not a sniper rifle, however, it appears that PPS is working on a period correct scope mounting system for a later model. Instead, it's a standard rifleman's weapon and is a fantastic option for WWII German reenactor who wants to use something other than an MP40 or StG44. It is a high powered replica, so minimum engagement distances must be watched, but the overall performance allows it to be skirmishable at safe ranges.
The Kar98k comes packaged in a basic cardboard box with a high density foam inner liner to keep everything safe during shipping. There's no box art to speak of, instead having a simple blue sticker. My particular gun took a long time to get to me, as it was sent out via ground (i.e. a slow boat from China) and took about 2 months to arrive, but even during all that shipping time, multiple loads and unloads from containers, ships, trucks, etc, it suffered no damage. The first thing that hit me when I opened the box was the smell of the oiled wood stock. A real wood stock has a distinctive smell that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Click on the individual thumbnails to see the full size photos
This is a very bare bones package, only coming with the gun itself, one magazine, and a manual. The manual, somewhat humorously, has a British flag subtly printed on the cover. The manual itself is fairly detailed with plenty of operating information and an exploded diagram of the gun's small parts. My package did include the optional CO2 magazine which uses 8g CO2 capsules, and we will be testing that at a later date.
British flag? Oops.
Weight: 7.75 lbs
Width: 3" at bolt handle
Sight Radius: 19.5"
Length of Pull: 13"
As mentioned previously, the PPS Kar98k is a full metal and wood bolt action rifle styled after the famous German rifle most commonly seen in WWII in the hands of Axis powers. It features a satin black finish on the metal components which contrasts very nicely with the stained beech wood stock. PPS did a great job with the fit and finish on this rifle with one exception: the front assembly. At the front of the handguard, there's a metal section which houses the bayonet mount and cleaning rod. Unfortunately, it's not terribly tight on the handguard or barrel and has a little bit of free play. Other than that, the gun is solid as a rock.
Overview, right side
Overview, left side
The stock is a standard design with a contoured grip that makes it quite comfortable to shoulder and aim. A metal butt pad is installed, just like on the real gun. In the middle of the stock, you'll find the slot for the sling as well as the "stock disc" which is purely cosmetic on the airsoft gun. On the real gun, you could use this to disassemble the bolt, but this feature isn't replicated on the replica.
Left side of the stock
Right side of the stock
Like the real gun, the PPS Kar98k has a metal bolt action receiver. The bolt is easily removable from the gun using the locking lever located on the left side. At the rear of the bolt, you'll find the safety lever which is pretty stiff and can only be manipulated while the gun is cocked. The finish on the receiver is top notch with some slight machine marks visible and engraved trademarks on top.
Bolt pulled back
Bolt cocked back
The controls are extremely basic consisting of a very crisp trigger, turned down bolt handle, a somewhat hidden magazine release button and the aforementioned safety lever. The trigger pull is light and short, but not light enough that it'll accidentally go off on its own. The magazine release is located inside the trigger guard and is operated by pushing it forward while the bolt is pulled back.
Bolt and trigger
Trigger and magazine release
The handguard is fairly wide and plain but is quite comfortable to hold. There aren't really any reference points on the stock for your support hand, so you shouldn't expect to do any fancy Magpul Dynamics maneuvers with this thing. At the front of the handguard, you'll find a sling mount on the left side.
The outer barrel is a one piece metal unit with the aforementioned faux cleaning rod and bayonet mount. The outer barrel is very solid with no creaks or wobbles, but the lower portion does have some wobble. The barrel is terminated in an orange rubber ring that is slipped over the muzzle, and there is no threading for installing accessories.
Aiming this rifle is accomplished using the adjustable iron sights which will feel very familiar for anyone who has used an AK. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation using an adjustable slider which raises or lowers the sight. The front sight is protected by a hood which is removable to access the flat head adjustment screw. There is a side mount located on the rear sight for certain scope mounts.
Hooded front sight
There are a few fairly realistic markings on the Kar98k, mainly located on the top of the receiver. The left side of the receiver has a serial number, which I believe is unique to each gun. Mine appears to be #5, making it a VERY early model.
The included magazine is a full metal unit that holds your gas and BBs and drops free from the gun once the bolt is pulled back and the release button pushed. It holds 10 rounds comfortably, and feeds them all very well. The gas fill valve is located on top of the magazine, keeping it free from dirt or other debris that could otherwise clog it up. A large valve knocker is located on the back of the magazine which corresponds to the striker on the bolt assembly. The gas capacity is pretty good for a magazine of this size, giving me around 40 shots per gas fill.
Valve knocker at the rear
Performance after a 100 round break-in, using Airsplat .20g ammo is as follows:
High FPS: 485.6 FPS
Low FPS: 471.8 FPS
Average FPS: 480.2 FPS
When I did my FPS testing, I took about 2-3 seconds between shots, long enough for me to cock the gun and realign it with the chronograph. The velocity never dropped below that 471 FPS reading in the 10 round testing. The velocity stayed about this level for the first three BB reloads, but the last 10 shots or so before refilling the gas saw velocities dropping into the low 400s. Cool down doesn't seem to be much of a problem with this gun, especially due to the bolt action firing mechanism. You really can't fire too rapidly with a bolt action rifle.
Range and accuracy were VERY impressive, especially after feeding it some heavy weight ammo. I took the opportunity to try out some Airsplat .36g and .43g BBs and after cranking the hop-up up enough to get a flat trajectory, I saw consistent torso accurate accuracy out to 190' with the .36g BBs. The hop-up didn't seem to have enough spin for the .43g when matched with the sub 500 FPS velocity, so I'd stick with .30-.36 ammo for the Kar98k. The furthest I was able to put rounds on target with any sort of consistency was 205', which is pretty damn impressive for a stock rifle. At that range, on an average torso sized target, I was able to put about half of my shots on target, which is at the bottom end of what I would consider skirmishable. Honestly, I would be totally comfortable throwing a low magnification optic on this and using it as a period correct sniper rifle, especially after doing a few slight tweaks to boost power a little bit.
A few things to note about the firing experience of the Kar98k: It is a very quiet gun and the bolt pull is short and light. At the ranges you will likely be using this gun, the target may never hear your shot. Since the bolt action is only recocking the striker assembly and reloading a BB into the chamber, the bolt pull only needs to be an inch or so, allowing you to get shots off relatively quickly. The gun is a pleasure to shoot, plain and simple.
Internally, this gun uses the same system as the Tanaka Kar98k, which means that it functions quite similarly to the real gun. When you cock the bolt, the striker on the bolt is held back by the trigger sear mechanism and is released when you pull the trigger. The trigger pull is light and crisp giving you very consistent accuracy when shooting.
Gun taken apart into its main components
The bolt is easily removable for maintenance by pulling the lever located on the left side of the receiver and pulling the bolt back and out of the receiver. I recommend using white lithium grease on the bolts lugs, but avoid getting any on the rubber air seal on the bottom as white lithium grease isn't great for rubber. Use pure silicone lubricant on the rubber seal to keep it in top condition.
Bolt removed from gun
Long air nozzle and rubber seal towards the front of the bolt
Striker assembly that catches on the trigger sear
Trigger sear in the receiver
The hop-up adjuster is located on the bottom of the receiver and is adjusted using a flat head screwdriver. When you turn the screw, it pushes on a large bar that is connected to the hop-up unit, applying more or less hop-up effect to your BB. The nub has a standard design, no fancy H-nub or anything like that here. I believe the gun uses VSR-10 type inner barrels and hop-up buckings, so upgrades are a piece of cake.
External modifications to this gun are relatively limited, however, the thing is pretty much a perfect visual replica and there really aren't a lot of things that you would want to do to it. I'd recommend adding a period correct sling and maybe add a period correct scope mount/optic if you want to turn it into a sniper rifle. There are a few scope options out there, however, I believe PPS is working on their own system that should be out soon.
Much more affordable than the other non-shell fed options
Full metal receiver and barrel
Real German made beech wood stock
Gas-in-mag system is actually quite consistent and efficient
Fantastic accuracy and range out of the box
Very sturdy construction and build quality
Light bolt pull for quick follow-up shots
Shoots too hot for some fields – almost 500 FPS out of the box
Cleaning rod assembly is all cosmetic and wobbles a bit
Safety switch is a little stiff to operate
Low magazine capacity (more than the real gun, but still...)
When I first reviewed the PPS Mosin Nagant, I knew that they would be a company to keep my eye on. Their Kar98k further backs up this, as it is a VERY well made replica that has skirmishable performance out of the box. It looks absolutely gorgeous, from the well machined receiver to the stained wood stock, it's hard to tell that this thing isn't a real Kar98k. PPS did a fantastic job building the Kar98k, and again, I'm looking forward to how they continue the product line with a sniper variant. They seem to have found their special niche with bolt action replicas, so hopefully they'll get their hands on other rare models that are relatively unseen in the airsoft market.
Many thanks again to PPS Airsoft, and of course, Airsoft Retreat!