Worth The Wait - KLI Baba Yaga Review
For the world of Airsoft Guns, the KLI Baba Yaga has been a hotly anticipated new release here in the United States since it was first announced. We had the chance to preview the prototype back in 2019, and have been salivating for the final model ever since.
Why was the Baba Yaga such a sought after piece though? We believe this to be for a couple of key reasons. Firstly, everyone loves the Hi-Capa, so a new flashy one is a positive addition. Second, it was one of three similar models from three manufacturers releasing around the same time, so who doesn't love to do a good shoot out between brands? Lastly, KLI is a relative unknown here in the states. There was definitely a credible air of mystery and the unknown spurring us to see what makes this pistol tick.
Now, the Baba Yaga has been releasing to preorders via Airsoft GI for a couple of months now, after an initial delay (which we'll get into later) to make it the best possible pistol KLI could muster. Let's see if it really was worth the wait!
The KLI Baba Yaga is definitely a pistol leaning towards the flashy side of the line. It is not a solid black duty handgun purpose built for combat. This pistol was meant to be noticed by the shooter and by the bystander every time the trigger gets pulled.
A unique textured dragon-scale-esque grip pulls your hand away from the included magazine well flare and up towards the skeletonized trigger. As you click the safety off, it clacks with definition and applause. Rolling forward, you slap the slide release down and send the skeleton-cut slide ripping forward as a preview of what's to come. This skeletonized slide is lighter than normal due to the cuts, but still very robust and reinforced in all the right places. It reveals the humble sheen of a rosegold colored barrel giving just the right amount of flash without being tacky. The final piece of the puzzle is sighting down the included fiber optic sights, which give clear precise picture to what you are aiming at. A light but purposeful trigger breaks like a piece of glass, allowing you to feel a thunderous recoil and let the shouting report of each shot tickle your ear drums.
This pistol is exquisite on the outside. It is exotic, but remains just reserved enough that it doesn't scream "bright loud former paintballer" and beg to on a speedQB highlight reel. Every piece of the puzzle comes together in unison to deliver one of the best, if not the absolute best shooting experiences we have ever felt with an airsoft handgun.
The internal construction of this handgun had us with high expectations. The initial delay on release was to address performance related concerns of the handgun, as Airsoft GI and Classic Army USA who helped bring this gun stateside didn't want to release a subpar handgun to the world. With eager customers chomping at the bit to get their hands on this hot new pistol, was the wait worth the upgrades?
The key reasons for the delay were to address a slide cracking issue, hop up performance, and reliability of the pistol's safety features. The hop up was redone, the slide was reinforced, and the grip was completely re-molded to make sure your safety functions 100% as expected. Additionally, as part of reinforcing the slide, a recoil buffer was added to the recoil spring assembly to lessen the forward impact of the slide, which was a contributing factor to at least one prototype failure.
What we saw from our performance testing was 100% worth the wait.
We hit shots well past the 150 foot mark, even in pretty intense winds during testing. FPS was consistent through the first magazine of BB's on each fill. This allowed us to really dial in the hop up, and send some .28g BB's sailing. Either CO2 or Green Gas mags gave us stellar performance, and you'd be fine to choose your gas preference with this gun. We would make a recommendation of the CO2 though, as it did hit just a hair harder in FPS (300 vs 310 or so), but also felt WAY better to shoot. The green gas model felt stiffer than your average hi-capa, but the CO2 had more recoil than some of the real steel firearms in my collection.
In fact, the recoil is the last major positive to this pistol we'd like to address before we move on to parts compatibility. We had to do a side by side comparison with some real fire arms to test our theory on felt recoil. While we don't have any scientific data to offer, we did take a couple of other hand guns (and for mild curiosity one rifle) to an outdoor range to compare them to the Baba Yaga. Felt recoil of the Baba Yaga was greater than the felt recoil of the Ruger Mk3 in .22lr, Walther PK380, and Mossberg 715P in my collection. In fact, when suppressed with a Silencerco Octane 45 suppressor, the CZ P-09 we compared it to felt pretty close to the Baba Yaga as well, so much so that we couldn't definitively say which was the greater felt recoil. Muzzle flip was somewhere in the vicinity of an average .556 carbine, matching the Daniel Defense M4V1 we also shot that day, but with the obvious changes to address the fact that one was a rifle. Recoil had us quite literally blown away on the Baba Yaga. Airsoft guns rarely compare to a firearm, but this one kept up and surpassed some real models.
Since it's a Hi-Capa style, the name of the game is crazy high performance builds. What fits inside this KLI blaster?
We did some light testing with parts on hand, and found that with some fitting, you can definitely make some stuff work. It's not 100% Tokyo Marui compatible, but it has better compatibility than something from Armorer Works, and honestly build quality is superior to AW as well.
If you change the slide, some TM parts will function within, but changing the slide defeats the purpose of buying a Baba Yaga. Inside the hop up chamber, KLI uses a different bucking to a TM, but if you trim the TM down a bit, it can and does function fantastically. We swapped in an Autobot bucking out of pure curiosity, and range skyrocketed.
Magazine compatibility is pretty great. We tested a few different hi-capa magazines from WE, TM, and KJW and all of them functioned perfectly, with one exception. Two of the KJW magazines we tested had very thick baseplates that interfered with the dimensions on the magazine well flare on the Baba Yaga. Once the baseplates were removed, the magazines functioned 100%. Sanding or removing baseplates would allow you to use just about any magazine you wanted. From 50 round extended magazines, to some of the more insane drum offerings on the market today, you're covered.
A Thousand Times Yes.
This pistol is incredible. Shooting it was some of the most fun we could have had with a handgun in 2019, and I have a hard time believing any company will match it in 2020.
The performance and build quality are superior to many other handgun offerings, and price is competitive as well.
This pistol isn't just worth the wait, it's absolutely worth your hard earned dollar.