Knights Armament PDW
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- Last updated: 21/02/2018
A PDW made by VFC based on a KAC original? Makes perfect sense what I’m talking about, right? I thought you might agree that there are far too many abbreviations flying around, so let me break it down for you! The airsoft replica I’m looking at this month is a bit special, in that it’s a fully licenced, 1:1 copy of the now famous Personal Defence Weapon (PDW) that was fabricated by Knights Armament Company in the USA and has been lovingly turned into an airsoft carbine by Vega Force Company (VFC)… Phew! There you have it!
It all started with the IDW (Individual Defence Weapon) and was a ‘halfway house’ between pistol and SMG, one which it could be argued was first filled by the venerable M1 carbine used during the latter part of WWII by the US military; the M1 was however still of rifle/carbine length and although it was certainly lightweight at 5.8lb/2.6kg loaded, was still relatively long at 35.6-inches/900mm. Although various models of IDW were tried by military forces around the world (such as the Skorpion vz. 61) the term largely disappeared for some years.
In the mid-1980s, the US Army decided to revisit the concept and started to develop the Personal Defense Weapon (PDW). Its primary role was again not for front line troops, instead for the ancillary personnel like drivers, engineers and medics to protect themselves. This continued into the 1990s, only to have the powers-that-be turn the prototypes down, due to unsatisfactory performance. To the engineers, the challenges came in two forms; firstly, the ineffectiveness of the conventional 9mm cartridge used by the US Army against OPFOR using body armour, which was becoming increasingly commonplace and secondly, the lack of controllability of the 5.56mm cartridge, due to its power in the necessarily short barrel length of proposed PDW platforms.
The solution sought for this would be powerful, with high penetrating strength in a compact and lightweight PDW. Enter, stage right, Knights Armament Company!
Already well known to the US procurement services, Knight’s Armament Company (KAC) of Titusville, Florida was an American firearms and firearms parts manufacturer, best known for producing the Rail Interface Systems (RIS) and the Rail Adapter Systems (RAS). They already produced a variety of firearms for the military, specifically AR-15 style rifles, but were probably best known for their SR-25 semiautomatic Special Application Rifle, which was a firm favourite with USSF personnel.
As was their way, after quiet development, KAC proved to have a solution to the PDW conundrum and a weapon was formally introduced at the 2006 NDIA Small Arms Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The KAC PDW combined both new and off the shelf components in its design; the lower receiver, holding the magazine and trigger assembly, was essentially a shortened M16 rifle lower receiver, which made the basic operating controls familiar to many potential users. The 6x35 mm cartridge, upper receiver, and operating mechanism were all new designs by KAC, and the PDW used a completely side-folding stock, unlike the M16 and M4 designs, which have their main operating spring in the buffer tube, and therefore can only partially telescope, and not fold sideways at all. This meant that the PDW was over 10-inches shorter (19.5- against. 29.8-inches of the M4 with stock retracted) and more than 1 pound lighter (4.5lb/2.04kg vs. 6.3lb/2.88kg) than the issue M4 carbine, and even the barrel was lightened with a new dimpling process.
In production, the KAC PDW now has two versions, one with an 8-inch barrel and the other with a 10-inch barrel, with the weight coming in at just over 4.41lb/2kg. With the 6x35mm cartridge, it has an effective range of 300m, combining accuracy and lethality. The KAC PDW has two gas pistons, tapping the hot gas from the barrel to operate its mechanism, located on the top left and right sides of the bolt carrier. A single mainspring is located at the top, between two gas pistons, the bolt itself is said to be similar to the AK-47 type rotating bolt.
The dimpled barrel is designed to reduce both the weight and heat, and a specially designed KAC muzzle break is used to help reduce the recoil by up to 40%, making it lower than 5.56 x45mm weapons with the same 10-inch barrels firing the M855 ammo. The upper receiver integrates the rail hand guard and equips a removable flip up front and rear sight, with the lower receiver being similar to that of an M4; the main difference with the standard M4 series, is that the KAC PDW features a fully ambidextrous magazine and fire selector. With its compact size, the KAC Personal Defense Weapon is a great leap forward, far surpassing the pistol calibre SMGs that had been the norm.
Vega Force Company (VFC) are no newcomers to the world of airsoft replicas, but I have to admit that with all the aggressive marketing going on, courtesy of a number of the ‘mainline’ brands, they are often a company that somehow falls by the wayside. In reality though, VFC have always been there, quietly beavering away in the background, creating airsoft replicas that are actually real ‘diamonds’ when you get to know and use them.
According to the guys at VFC, there’s an old Chinese saying: “a decade whets a sword”, which means time, effort and focus on only one thing, making their products just a good as they can possibly be. 2018 is the 14th year for VFC, and as they approach their second decade of manufacturing, the never-ending pursuit of perfection is still at the forefront of what they do. That’s their focus, and again in their own words “we do focus and we will (continue to) focus”.
VFC has put a lot of care and effort into reproducing the KAC PDW, producing an outstanding AEG in the process. The VFC PDW is made from high-quality alloys and steel, processed through CNC-machining and finished to a military grade standard finish. The resulting product looks and feels exactly like that of the real steel KAC PDW. The many metal components give the VFC a very robust structure but with a wellbalanced and an easily manipulated feel.
With every external detail reproduced faithfully, including the dimpled outer barrel, the Special KAC ‘Triple Tap’ Muzzle Break, and the distinctive upper receiver, everything has been meticulously recreated. VFC’s unique patented designs, such as the functional ambidextrous safety and magazine catch, all help to improve the overall ‘feel’ and operation of the RIF.
The VFC’s gearbox comes equipped with an 8mm enhanced precision gearbox, with professional steel bushings, high strength steel gears, a durable Polymer Carbon (the same material used to produce Glock pistol frames!) piston, and ball bearing spring guide. The VFC gearbox is strictly tested with a 12V car battery and is also suitable for Li-Poly batteries!
My first impression, when the VFC arrived with me from Redwolf UK, was pretty much a “wow!”, I’m pleased to say. On opening the box, I was delighted to find an AEG featuring a metal receiver and high-quality ‘KAC’, engravings as the replica is a fully licenced model. A fully side-folding stock allows you to make the PDW ultra-compact when needed, and the AEG is front wired with a Tamiya type battery connector for an externally-mounted battery box. One positive for me is that the PDW comes as standard with a ‘Knights-style’ 120-round Mid Capacity magazine; standard STANAG mags do fit, but the ‘Knight’s’ version is very distinctive. The unique ‘Triple Tap’ metal flash hider can be screwed off for installation of a 14mm clockwise threaded silencer, and the dust cover can be flipped open to reveal hop-up adjuster for swift and easy setting.
However, all of this is well and good; yes, it looks sweet, but the performance of course is the key to success. Having had positive experiences with other VFCs in the past, I had very high hopes for the PDW, so with a NUPROL 11.1 LiPo installed in the ‘PEQ’ battery box that comes with the AEG and a bottle of .20g RZR BBs in hand, it was time to hit the range. First off, was the chrono test; VFC have a HUGE market in the USA, so I did wonder if the test model would run a little hot for the UK, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it ran through the chrono at a lovely, consistent 0.95-Joule/320fps.
I expected the PDW, even with its 8-inch shorty barrel, to perform well, and moving up to .25g RZRs I was pleasantly impressed when the new AEG easily cracked BBs out to the 30m extent of my range, with no fliers or drop-offs at all, meaning that I got a nice solid ‘thunk’ from the sandbags with each and every shot, just using the flip-up irons, which are supplied with the AEG.
Now, it’s not always a good thing to revisit a brand when you’ve had such a positive experience with many of their older models, as you do wonder if the hunt for the ‘mighty dollar’ has caused degradation in either quality or performance. I have to say that getting my hands on the ‘KAC PDW’ though was a thoroughly great experience, and I’m extremely glad to report that the years have obviously been used well by VFC in their quest for excellence. They obviously continue to hone their blade, and I hope they do so for many years to come!
Thanks to http://uk.redwolfairsoft. com for providing the review sample and you’ll find more details on the ‘KAC PDW’ on their website. This review models retails with them at £335.95.
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