Anics replica air pistols are the anchovies of the replica world – you either love them or you hate them. The Anics SKIF A-3000 series of non-blowback, multi-shot air pistols certainly seems to provoke very different reactions from owners. Some praise this Russian replica’s rugged construction and claim good power and accuracy. Others have found them to be roughly made and finished, unreliable and inaccurate. I have owned two of these pistols and I suspect that answer lies in the expectations of prospective owners. If you understand what you’re buying, you may like the A-3000 very much. If you expect something that is as user friendly as equivalent replicas made in Germany, the US or Asia, you may be disappointed.
Because this review looks at several versions of the A-3000 series, I won’t be assigning scores.
The Anics SKIF A-3000 series
The JSC Anics Group was formed in Russia in 1995 and all Anics replicas have been produced since 2002 in a manufacturing facility in Klimovsk city, near Moscow. The Anics Group produces a range of products using Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) technologies and this process is used to produce the slides on all Anics Replicas.
The Anics SKIF A-3000 series comprises four variants:
Released in 2001, the Original SKIF A-3000 has an all-black finish, a fully adjustable rear sight and a 4.5″ rifled barrel.
The SKIF A-3000 S, is identical to the A-3000 other than for a nickel finish slide.
The SKIF A-3000 LB, is identical to the A-3000 other than for the addition of a mock suppressor which is used to hide an extended 9″ rifled barrel. This version of the A-3000 pistol was also sold in the UK and other areas by Brocock Ltd. as the Brocock F1.
The A-3003 Blackbird, was introduced in 2008 and appears to be mechanically identical to the A-3000 but has a re-designed slide with a smooth gloss black finish, a smaller fixed rear sight and revised cocking serrations. I have also seen a Blackbird with a mock suppressor and extended barrel similar to the A-3000 LB, though this does not appear to be part of the current Anics range.
The Anics A-3000 series are not replicas of a specific pistol, though they do have some visual similarities to firearms such as the Walther P-22. All versions have a metal slide, hammer, slide release, safety and internal parts and a polymer frame, grip and trigger. All versions feature an under-barrel accessory rail and all use the same 28 shot conveyor type magazine. All versions are designed to shoot .177” pellets though they can also shoot 4.5mm steel BBs and .177” lead balls.
SKIF A-3000 S
The slide on all versions of the A-3000 moves, but this is not a blowback replica. The slide features a cut-away ejection port and can be locked back, but only when the magazine is removed. The finish on the casting used for the slide on the A-3000 and 3000S is fairly rough though the slide on the later A-3003 Blackbird is notably smoother. All versions are CO2 powered with the CO2 cartridge stored inside the grip and tightened and pierced using the same system of flaps and screws found on other Anics replicas. Anics also sell a laser sight which is suitable for use with all versions of the A-3000.
I have owned both an original A-3000 and the A-3000 LB with extended barrel. Unless otherwise noted, all comments in this article relate to my experience with these versions though I believe that the later A-3003 Blackbird is very similar in operation.
Packaging and presentation
Like almost everything else about these replicas, even the packaging has notable good and bad points. The A-3000 series pistols come in a foam-lined hard case, which is good. Unfortunately it’s a very flimsy hard case, which is bad. On both my Anics replicas, either the catches or hinges snapped on the cases and one case distorted so badly that the pellet tamping tool could fall out even with the case latched shut. The larger case used for the LB does seem to be stronger than the standard case.
SKIF A-3000S in hard case – note how distorted the edges of the case are. Sadly, this is fairly normal.
All versions come with two magazines and a brass pellet tamping tool, which is good. However, it’s essential to adjust and use the tool correctly to reduce jamming and the manual provides no guidance on how to do this, which is bad.
My SKIF A-3000 LB came in a larger case with eggshell foam which seemed to be much stronger.
The A-3000 series look purposeful in a chunky sort of way. Although not a replica of a specific firearm, they do have the look of a modern semi-auto pistol. The finish on the slide of many A-3000s is slightly rough, and doesn’t entirely look as if it belongs with the polymer frame. The later A-3003 has a shinier black slide with a smoother finish. All markings on early versions are discretely engraved while on the A-3003 they’re laser etched in white.
The A-3000 series use a moving barrel to actually fire the pistol. As you pull the trigger, the inner barrel moves forward against a spring until it reaches the release point. It then springs back against the firing valve, allowing the pistol to shoot. The same system is used in a number of replica pistols from other manufacturers, and it’s generally efficient though it does contribute to a long, heavy trigger pull even in single action.
In the A-3000 series up to 28 pellets are loaded into a drop-out transparent plastic conveyor type magazine. Twenty-eight separate plastic pellet holders are arranged in a track inside the plastic housing, and indexing causes these plastic holders to shuffle round the track. It isn’t a particularly efficient system and it takes a fair amount of force to move the pellet holders in their track. The magazine is released by using the ambidextrous release in the base of the trigger guard. This magazine is very similar to the 22 shot conveyor type magazines used on two other Anics replicas – The Berkut A-2002 and the Beretta A-9000S. The A-3000 cannot be fired with the magazine removed – even with CO2 loaded, pulling the trigger with the magazine removed will cause the hammer to fall, but the pistol will not fire.
Pellets are loaded from the rear of the magazine via an opening which gives access to just four of the pellets holders at a time. However, you can only load three pellets at a time as you need to insert the long end of the brass tamping tool into the fourth holder and use this to drag the next empty holders to line up with the opening. To reduce jamming, extreme care must be taken when loading pellets. The supplied brass tool should be used to tamp pellets into each holders so that they sit clear of the front and rear edge of the holder (the tool can be adjusted by unscrewing the two halves to set the appropriate depth for different lengths of pellet). Anics recommend pellets with an overall length of less than 7.6mm. I found that both my A-3000s worked best with flat-fronted, target type pellets. Although using the tamping tool is essential if you want to avoid jamming, this tool can distort the skirt of the pellet as it is pushed in to the holder, and it’s possible that this distortion may contribute to relatively poor accuracy with these pistols. I like the idea of a large capacity magazine, but loading pellets into the A-3000 is so fiddly that I’d happily have settled for something with a lower capacity but that was easier to load.
Loading CO2 involves opening the piercing flap in the base of the grip, and then pressing the cartridge release button on the rear of the grip which allows the CO2 retaining gate to open. A CO2 cartridge can then be inserted and the retaining gate can be clipped closed. A screw is then finger tightened and finally the piercing flap is closed. Generally loading CO2 is done without loss of gas, though it’s best to give the piercing flap a sharp slap to make sure it closes cleanly. Overall, loading CO2 isn’t particularly difficult, just different to the systems found on most other CO2 pistols.
Brocock F1 (SKIF A-3000 LB)
The slide on the A-3000 series can be racked and locked (though only with the magazine removed) and the slide release on the left side works as you’d expect. These replicas also include a working manual safety on the left rear of the frame. Take-down latches are provided on either side of the frame. Pushing these down allows the rear of the slide to be retracted, raised, and the slide removed by moving it forward off the barrel.
The rear sight on the A-3000 models is fully adjustable using slotted screws for separate windage and elevation adjustment. On the A-3003, only windage adjustment is provided.
Once you have pellets and CO2 loaded, you’re ready to shoot. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the A-3000 is the odd shape of the grip. The curved lower part of the grip is much wider than the top. Once you’re used to it, it’s easy to get a firm grip, but it feels slightly odd and might be an issue if you have smaller hands. The second thing you’ll notice is the double-action trigger pull. It’s horrible – long, heavy, scratchy and notably heavier just before release. Anics claim a 9lbs double action pull, but on both my examples the pull was variable and peaked at over 12lbs. The problem in double action is that pulling the trigger does several things. It cocks the hammer, advances the next pellet in the conveyor magazine and moves the inner barrel forward. The effort required to do all these things simultaneously results in a very heavy double action pull which in turn means that it’s very difficult indeed to achieve consistent accuracy in double action. I found that after six or so shots, it was extremely difficult to maintain the sights on target during the long pull. Fortunately, manually cocking the hammer (which also moves the barrel forward) gives a much lighter 5lbs single action pull though the first part of the pull still indexes the magazine even in single action.
SKIF A-3000 with mock suppressor removed, showing extended barrel
On both my A-3000s, accuracy wasn’t great. Partly this was due to the nasty double action trigger, but even rested and using single action, I couldn’t get better than 1½” – 2″ groups at six yards with occasional flyers. Not particularly great for a pellet shooter with a rifled barrel. Oddly, the A-3000 LB with the extended barrel didn’t seem to be any better than the original A-3000 in this respect. The A-3000 can also be used to shoot 4.5mm steel BBs or .177″ lead balls, but I have only tested it with pellets.
Anics claim that the construction of the A-3000 (and the Berkut and A-9000S) provides “20 – 50%” more power than other equivalent air pistols. On their website they claim up to 400fps for the A-3000 and up to 510fps for the LB version when shooting pellets and up to 560fps when shooting steel BBs. With pellets, my original A-3000 chronoed at around 380 – 400fps and my A-3000 LB at around 410 – 425fps, dependant on temperature. These are perfectly respectable figures, but only a little better than other equivalent pellet shooting replicas and well short of the 500+fps I have seen claimed elsewhere when shooting pellets with these. Incidentally, my power figures were measured in double action – for some reason, single action shooting gave around 10fps less on both pistols.
CO2 consumption is about average – I could generally get 50 – 60 shots from a single CO2, but in colder conditions I wasn’t able to shoot two full magazines before the A-3000 ran out of puff. CO2 consumption seemed to be notably worse when shooting quickly. I also had a number of random instances of low power shots on both pistols. The gun would shoot, and a pellet would leave the barrel, but the sound was muted and the pellet seemed to move much more slowly than usual. I’d guess that these were the result of some sort of partial misfeed rather than any inherent fault with the valve or CO2 system.
As a shooter, there isn’t a great deal to like about the A-3000. Power is a little better than some other pellet shooting replicas but accuracy is just average and only achievable if you use the pistol in single action. The double action trigger is so heavy that it’s almost unusable and the A-3000 series do seem to be prone to jammed pellets and random low power shots no matter how carefully you load the magazine.
However, it’s only fair to note that some owners report much better performance from the A-3000 series. I have seen claims on other sites of over 500fps and consistent groupings of 1″ – 1½” for these replicas. I don’t dispute these, but I can only say that the two versions I owned didn’t produce these levels of power or accuracy.
Quality and reliability
The A-3000 series generally seem to be well made and finished, but they do seem to be prone to frequent jamming. If pellets aren’t very carefully tamped into the magazine, the conveyor may fail to index. However, overenthusiastic tamping can distort skirts and cause a pellet to jam in the barrel, particularly if CO2 pressure is falling. The worst possible problem is a pellet which jams halfway out of the magazine. This will cause the pistol to lock up – the trigger can’t be pulled, the magazine won’t release and the slide cannot be removed. The only remedy is to poke something down the barrel (after removing the CO2!) and try to force the pellet back into the magazine (some versions of the A-3000 come with a jam clearing rod for this purpose), or to knock the muzzle of the pistol against something solid in the hope that the pellet will move into the barrel.
As the pellet holders in the Anics magazine are made of relatively soft plastic, they do wear over time. If this happens, pellets won’t be held snugly in place and can slide back and fore, increasing the risk of jams. Fortunately, replacement magazines are still widely available and relatively cheap. If you have recurring issues with jamming on an elderly A-3000, it may be worth trying a replacement magazine.
The very heavy trigger pull is a major issue, and the conveyor magazine seems to be responsible for some of this. Trying the trigger in double action with the magazine removed gave a pull of around 9lbs, still not great but much closer to the figure claimed by Anics. The conveyor part of the magazine does seem to be very stiff, and dismantling the magazine and using silicone oil or grease to lubricate the channel through which the pellet holders travel does help. However, doing this just makes the double action pull bad rather than horrible – nothing is going to turn an A-3000 into a creamy smooth shooter.
Finish on all models seems to be durable, but the slide finish on all but the later A-3003 is very rough. A number of owners have reported leaks with these replicas, especially from the main CO2 seal, though both of mine sealed perfectly. I have even seen reports of valves exploding, breaking the slide, though again I have no direct experience of this.
I have to admit that both my A-3000 replicas spent more time gathering dust at the back of the gun cabinet than being used. Partly it’s the time-consuming loading process. You do have to be very careful to tamp pellets down accurately in the magazine, though at least you do get 28 shots without reloading. Partly it’s the horrible double action trigger pull. It would be great to shoot off 28 pellets without having to cock the hammer, but unless you have a massively overdeveloped trigger finger, this isn’t going to be possible. But mostly, it was the indifferent accuracy. Even after taking time to load pellets carefully and cocking for each single action shot, neither of my A-3000s were particularly accurate.
When the SKIF A-3000 was introduced almost twenty years ago, there were relatively few multi-shot pellet pistols on the market. Now there are many more to choose from and technology has moved on. The A-3000 feels like a slightly quirky bit of Russian engineering and it doesn’t always compare well with other designs. If you compare this replica to (for example) an Umarex Walther CP88 or one of the other early Umarex pellet shooters, you’re unlikely to be impressed. The SKIF A-3000 is built like a T-72 tank. Which is sort of OK. But something like the Umarex CP88 is built like a 5 series BMW, which for most people is even better.
However, it’s not all bad. The A-3000 series is robust with a durable finish and all versions come with a spare magazine, which is always welcome. But you do have to put up with a very nasty double action trigger pull, average accuracy and CO2 consumption and these replicas do seem to be very prone to misfeeds and jamming. If you don’t want to pay out for an Umarex pellet shooter, for a little less than you’d pay for an A-3000 you could buy a much more recent pellet shooting replica like the ASG CZ P-09 Duty. The ASG replica doesn’t have a perfect trigger pull, but it’s way, way better than the A-3000 and it’s overall a much better shooter. Given that, it’s difficult to see why you’d want an A-3000.
However, if there is an A-3000 shaped gap in your collection, just make sure you take the time to adjust the pellet tamping tool to suit the pellets you’re using and use it every time you load. Also consider trying new magazines if you continue to have jamming issues.
There are people on-line who will tell you that the SKIF A-3000 series are some of the most accurate and powerful replica pistols ever made. Neither of mine were, but perhaps I was just unlucky?