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ISSUE 126 - JUNE 2021 ISSN 2634-9515
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CONTENTS 8 ARMOURY: ARES AMOEBA MUTANT SERIES It’s great to find an AEG that provides true modularity; the ability to set up a single AEG for different operating environments. Bill believes the new MUTANT series from ARES could be the just the thing we’ve all been waiting for!
PROUD TO SUPPORT PILGRIM BANDITS CHARITY
ISSUE 126 - JUNE 2021 ISSN 2634-9515
Editor: Nigel Streeter Graphic Design: Calibre Publishing Ad Design: Deadshot Design Publisher: Nigel Streeter
Wyche Innovation Centre, Walwyn Road, Upper Colwall, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR13 6PL, UK.
16 ARMOURY: EVOLUTION GHOST L EMR CARBONTECH In relation to new and cutting-edge, polymer-bodied AEGs and the new GHOST from Evolution Airsoft is certainly WAY up there in our estimations! Bill and Bjorn get to grips with this new family of AEGs from Evolution Airsoft, in Italy.
22 ARMOURY: EMG BARRATT FIELDCRAFT Bill has been spending more time than ever on his woodland range with a number of bolt-action rifles that are sure to provide “distance” in the very best way. This month he turns his attention to the latest Barrett-licenced “Fieldcraft” model from EMG!
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FIND US ON…
30 ARMOURY: KWA LM4D Development of products is not an overnight process and the latest Gas Blow Back Rifle (GBBR) from KWA to hit the market is the new and improved rifle in the LM4 series. Boycie gets to grips with the latest model and tells us more!
LETTER , IDEA OR QUESTION? Got something to say? A question for our experts? An article or article idea? Drop us a line and let us know. Either email the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org, write to us at the Calibre Publishing address above, or talk to us on Twitter or Facebook.
56 VORSK DIARY: VORSK VENGEANCE There’s nothing at all corny about the latest GBB pistol to come out of the VORSK Custom Shop program and as the CS VENGEANCE will be in stores soon, it’s time for Bill to start a whole new diary entry!
Contents JUNE 2021
36 KIT & GEAR: PLATE CARRIERS The plate carrier has become the chosen method of load bearing and magazine carriage for airsofters worldwide - but do we REALLY need them and why are they now so popular in airsoft? Bill takes a look back over his last 26 years of playing to try and find an answer…
68 RELOADED: KWA QRF MOD3 Just because we’ve been locked down doesn’t mean that we haven’t been testing and training. The AA crew have used whatever facilities they have in new and interesting ways! Jase Clarke has been working with the KWA QRF Mod 3 and lets us know what he thinks.
40 KIT & GEAR: BIG BILL! When Bill W-R bemoaned the fact that he was having a problem finding decent tactical gear in larger sizes, Boycie swung into action to track him some down and now we have one happy airsofter with some righteous new clothing courtesy of 5.11 Tactical!
72 INSIDE AIRSOFT: NUPROL It’s time for us to get inside the airsoft industry again to find out what makes the big companies tick and, as much as it seems they may be a bit “faceless”, at the beating heart of many are airsofters who started out much like the rest of us! This month we head inside NUPROL.
42 THE CAGE: TACTICAL FLEECE Building up information that can be used to enhance your “gear locker”, the AA crew turn their attention to a piece of clothing that seems to come in and out of “airsoft fashion” - but one that is still a key part of any all-weather, all-conditions layering system - the Tactical Fleece!
78 ACTION AIR: TAIWAN Airsoft Action’s “Man in Taiwan”, Stewbacca, isn’t just into Action Air pistol competitions, being pretty handy when it comes to “longs” he decided to give an Action Air rifle comp a go - and finds out he is actually pretty damn good at it, as he makes it onto the podium!
46 RED CELL: CLASSIC AK In an airsoft world dominated by AR/ M4 replicas this month Red Cell put their focus on a family of firearms that rightly bears the description “iconic”, and that’s the Kalashnikov in all its workmanlike forms. This month they take a look at “The Classics”, and Bill sets the scene…
82 FEATURE: FIRST GAME BACK Whilst the C-Virus is still very much with us and we must continue to ensure that any airsoft games or events that we attend are fully compliant with national guidelines, the fact is that after many, many months of waiting, games are back on!
60 FEATURE: AIRSOFT PORTUGAL More and more countries are emerging from the strictures of C-19 lockdown, and that games and airsoft events are kicking back into gear! Bill touched base with his friend and dedicated airsofter, Miguel Olivera in Portugal, to find a little more about what’s happening there right now!
84 SITE TO STREET: VIPER VX BUP Continuing his series looking at tactical kit that is equally at home on the street, as it is on site, in this latest instalment Frenchie turns his attention to Viper’s VX BUP. Unlike the Covert Shoulder bag reviewed last month, this absolutely has a place on the skirmish field.
62 RELOADED: AAP01 ASSASSIN As the Airsoft Action long-term testing program gathers speed, we’re pleased to be rejoined by contibutor Steve T as he takes a longer look at action army’s full auto pistol, the AAP-01 Assassin. Now it’s had some rangetime, is it really as good as we first thought?
86 SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! We’re beginning to hear that the siren call of “Game On” is beginning to happen far more regularly. That means that we’re all finding out that we need something new and “shiny” to replace gear that’s worn out, suffered in storage, or has “suddenly shrunk” during lockdown!
66 TECHNICAL: KEEP IT SIMPLE Jimmy has been doing further field testing on a couple of our long-term test rifles. It’s always a joy to get out there with something new and Gucci and push it to the limit and to see where they excel and where they don’t quite cut the mustard, so Jimmy now brings us some solutions!
90 LAST POST Being of a slightly “older generation”, over many years of involvement Frenchie has acquired a certain perspective on the “givens” touted in, around and about airsoft. He has a number of pet hates, it’s his right and he’s sufficiently mature to have accrued a fair collection.
ULTIMA JACKET BLACK / DARK COYOTE / GREEN / SRP: £89.95
MONSTERLIKE DURABLILITY RELIABILITY
The classical US Military Force pistol "M9", the trigger-hammer linkage function and ambi safety design make it a ambidextrous pistol. Due to its excellent performance and good reliability, it is widely used by military troops in worldwide.
• GBB System • 3-dot Luminous Sights • Interchangeable Backtraps
• REVO High Performance Valve System • H-UP Adjustable
• Double Safety Function • Incl. CCW 14mm Barrel Adapter
armoury ARES AMOEBA MUTANT SERIES
POSITIVE MUTATION 8
armoury ARES AMOEBA MUTANT SERIES
IN A WORLD OF EVER-CHANGING CHALLENGES IT’S GREAT TO FIND AN AEG THAT LETS US HAVE A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF CHOICE AND, WHEN IT COMES TO TRUE MODULARITY, THE ABILITY TO SET UP A SINGLE AEG FOR DIFFERENT OPERATING ENVIRONMENTS. BILL BELIEVES THE NEW MUTANT SERIES FROM ARES COULD BE THE JUST THE THING WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!
f you’re lucky enough to own more than one AEG, the chances are that you’ll have a number of similar models but with vastly different individual characteristics for differing environments. Just like in the real world, where operators will have one platform for general field use and another for CQB/CQC, we all have favourite AEGs that fulfil a specific role for us. I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to my own “armoury”, with AR and AK models ranging from 8” to 16” barrel-length and each and every one has a very specific purpose. The “shorties” are set up predominantly for close-quarter action, whilst regular 14.5” carbines fit in the “general use” category. For me, once I get to 16” I’m into either “classic rifle” or DMR/SPR territory and those are different beasts yet again, although ones that I love with a passion, either as historical models or dedicated semi-only precision pieces. Okay, it’s true, if you have a regular 14.5” carbine you can use that for just about anything if you put your mind to it and train with it for disparate settings and scenarios, just as real-steel users do. However, if you have the time, inclination and money, then it’s great to have “theatre-specific” platforms, isn’t it? This does, of course, mean that you WILL need more than a single AEG in your gear locker… Or will you? Wouldn’t it be great if you could own a single AEG that offered you full and easy modularity? One that you could transform quickly and efficiently, on site, from a short and sweet CQB monster to a full-on battle rifle? One where you could vary the power and the way it performed in a matter of moments and that would work optimally on whatever battery you happened to have at hand? Well, my fellow BB-chuckers, that time is NOW! The new ARES AMOEBA MUTANT series of AEGs offer ALL that …and more! For the last eleven years ARES has been producing excellent AEGs, as well as GBBs, spring-powered rifles, grenade launchers, internal and external upgrade parts, accessories and even a unique gun rack system! It is their stated aim to “satisfy both avid airsoft players and gun collectors” and they do a great job of just that. ARES airsoft guns do distinguishably stand out from other competitors on the market, with righteous 1:1 replicas through to some stunning and downright unusual designs of their own! Their
technical innovations are designed and tested in-house by their own experienced R&D team and my experience with ARES is that they have a very high standard of quality, performance and realism. That said, ARES is constantly working to improve their products by developing new features and capabilities and the MUTANT series shows that fully!
STAGE ONE MUTATION
As I’ve come to expect from some ARES products, the main receiver parts of the MUTANT series are made from a very highstandard, crisply finished www.airsoftaction.net
armoury ARES AMOEBA MUTANT SERIES
armoury ARES AMOEBA MUTANT SERIES
and achieved, reinforced polymer to make it durable, yet keeping the weight low (just 2,620g for the AM-M-004 test model) and easy to run with all day long. In fact, the overall weight is also kept down as ARES install a chunky CNC alloy M-LOK front rail and an alloy outer barrel. The different models of the MUTANT within the range of four stock models come with different but very attractive flash hiders/ muzzle brakes and the outer barrel is threaded 14mm CW, so you can easily fit compatible suppressors and tracer units. The M-LOK rail is very distinctive, beautifully finished and model-dependant, plus comes in different lengths as standard. One thing that I really love about the rail is that it has some very cool recessed “run-flat irons” that are mirrored on the rear of the upper receiver, as well as QD sling sockets on both L and R. The receiver set across the MUTANT range is also very, very nicely achieved and although it is polymer it looks a properly up-to-the minute angular “billet” style. I personally have no problem with a good standard polymer body and don’t see why some people do, as my favourite .22 AR platform is the S&W M&P15-22 and this also has a polymer body with a carbon steel barrel - and that shoots just fine! The airsoft MUTANT though, has a nicer feature set, with an ambi mag release and actually a nicer bladestyle trigger! The sliding stock is also quite unique, as it resembles (to a degree) a simplified UBR GEN2 Collapsible, as the upper section remains in solid contact with the receivers whilst the lower part slides outwards to provide four “pull lengths”. It’s also a clever design as the fixed upper part gives a good-size battery compartment and means that your battery (and connection) are not moving and stressed in use! The battery compartment itself is accessible easily after you extend the lower part of the stock and remove the end-plate on the upper, revealing a Deans connector. On the shorter of the four models you can choose between a PDW-style stock that operates in much the same way, or indeed you can have a Pistol Brace and amp setup should you desire… or you can mix and match, but more on that later! The MUTANT series, like most ARES AEGs these days, comes with their Electronic Firing Control System (E.F.C.S.) gearbox. With the development of this
easy-to-use system, ARES now seem to be making the E.F.C.S. Gearbox “standard” in line with what is on offer from other manufacturers, but unlike some, the E.F.C.S. has now been around for a little while. This programmable system will still need the external programmer but most good airsoft shops seem to have one these days and can set up your AEG just as you want it in mere seconds. However, when it comes to the MUTANT my advice would be to invest in one of your own …for reasons that will become apparent! The programmer will allow you to set up your AEG in different ways but also protects it by having it withstand current to around 30A, enhances piston positioning and allows it to set up with rapid semiauto fire. The gearbox is of the highest build quality, coming with a quick release spring guide, silver wiring, and an electronic trigger. Allied with a high-torque motor that sits beneath and in line with the gearbox it all equates to an efficient and effective setup. The E.F.C.S./ETU system can be programed to use either 7.4v or 11.1v batteries, and you can also program either semi and auto, 3 round burst and auto, or semi only, which is a very useful thing to have in any AEG, but especially in the MUTANT! In full, the E.F.C.S features: • Micro-motion trigger - more durable then a traditional trigger - light & fast trigger response • Gearbox protection system - E.F.C.S.. will cut down battery if there are malfunction censored from gearbox • Withstand large firing current to around 30a • Enhanced abs & precise magnetic sensor improved piston position • Suitable for advanced player setting • Withstand rapid semi fire • Adjustable trigger stroke distance • Reduce battery use • Maintenance free from dust or grease • Programmable for different shooting modes (ares amoeba electronic gearbox programmer required) The MUTANTs also have a rotary hop in the usual place. ARES say that setting the hop correctly, along with correct input to the E.F.C.S., can actually have a profound effect when everything is working in complete harmony, improving range and consistency
“ARES SAY THAT SETTING THE HOP CORRECTLY, ALONG WITH CORRECT INPUT TO THE E.F.C.S., CAN ACTUALLY HAVE A PROFOUND EFFECT WHEN EVERYTHING IS WORKING IN COMPLETE HARMONY, IMPROVING RANGE AND CONSISTENCY OVERALL AND THIS HARMONISATION OF EVERYTHING WORKING TOGETHER SEEMS, IN PRINCIPLE AT LEAST, ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!” www.airsoftaction.net
armoury ARES AMOEBA MUTANT SERIES
armoury ARES AMOEBA MUTANT SERIES
overall and this harmonisation of everything working together seems, in principle at least, absolutely correct!
STAGE 2 MUTATION
I’ve mentioned several times so far “more on this later” and with the MUTANT there is indeed a GREAT reason for me saying this because, ultimately, the “system” is 100% modular! Yes, it is a single AEG but just like a real AR uses multiple uppers or a common receiver set (in our case holding all the internals), it’s one that can be quickly and easily configured to multiple mission parameters! ARES will offer multiple rail lengths, multiple outer and inner barrel lengths with their own hop units, and multiple stock designs, as when it comes to the “sharp end” the length of your AEG can be swiftly and efficiently modified! The new Quick Change Barrel Unit/ Handguard System is simply awesome in my opinion! By releasing the obvious large body pin at the front of the lower receiver you can then slide off the entire rail - and there’s even markings on the rail that say “slide along on the track” to guide you! It’s that simple and fast to change out a longer “field” rail to a shorter one for CQB. But surely, you say, that still leaves you with a “field” length inner barrel which will stick out too far, right? No! Well, actually yes but when you slide off the rail you reveal two further hex bolts that hold the inner barrel and hop unit in place and by releasing those you can slide out the entire barrel/hop assembly and replace the whole thing with a shorter version that will marry up with your CQB-length rail… This is bloody ingenious and I downright love it, plus the entire process can be achieved in moments!
For testing I chose the AM-M-004 which, at 820900mm, is a great length for a big chap like me. This is the longest of the MUTANT family, with the new stock, and one that I like immensely. With the E.F.C.S. programmed at the shop thanks to Marcus, I loaded up the 120BB middy with .20g and had at it on the 30m range, recording on the chrono a mean of 0.89 Joule/310fps. The flat trigger is most certainly crisp, as just a “tickle” sends BBs downrange happily. On semi you really can get shots away super-fast and the three-round-burst setting works brilliantly! Those “lo-pro” flip-up sights that come fitted as standard to the MUTANT are more than adequate and are sturdily made of alloy, so the rifle is ready to roll straight from the box just by adding a battery and some BBs! At 30m on .25g unsupported it was easy to get hits on a torso-sized target with each BB flying straight and true. I also took the MUTANT along to the Red Cell 10m indoor range where we have the Attack Sense Target System and steels set up, and the rifle performed superbly. I have to say that the MUTANT has REALLY rekindled my appreciation for all things AR-ARES and with a sub-£250 price tag here in the UK, it really gives a massive amount of quality and performance for the money. It looks great, feels great and shoots like a dream, so, as far as I can see, ARES have got this 100% right. My sincere hope is that retailers will offer all of the different models as standard but that they will also carry the different stocks, rails and barrel assemblies. This is the absolute key to the lure of the MUTANT series, the fact that you can own that one AEG with a programmer, a couple of different rails and barrels assemblies and have a fully modular setup that will see you through any game that a site can throw at you! My thanks go to www.iwholesales.co.uk for supplying the test sample and you’ll find more detail of the MUTANT models and accessories on their regularly updated website. AA
“…WHEN YOU SLIDE OFF THE RAIL YOU REVEAL TWO FURTHER HEX BOLTS THAT HOLD THE INNER BARREL AND HOP UNIT IN PLACE AND BY RELEASING THOSE YOU CAN SLIDE OUT THE ENTIRE BARREL/HOP ASSEMBLY AND REPLACE THE WHOLE THING WITH A SHORTER VERSION THAT WILL MARRY UP WITH YOUR CQB-LENGTH RAIL… THIS IS BLOODY INGENIOUS AND I DOWNRIGHT LOVE IT…” www.airsoftaction.net
armoury EVOLUTION GHOST L EMR CARBONTECH
GHOST THE OPPOSITION 16
armoury EVOLUTION GHOST L EMR CARBONTECH
WE SEEM TO BE FOLLOWING A TREND THIS MONTH, IN RELATION TO NEW AND CUTTING-EDGE, POLYMER-BODIED AEGS AND THE NEW GHOST FROM EVOLUTION AIRSOFT IS CERTAINLY WAY UP THERE IN OUR ESTIMATIONS! HOOKING UP AGAIN TO GIVE A DOUBLE-EDGED OVERVIEW, BILL AND BJORN GET TO GRIPS WITH THIS NEW FAMILY OF AEGS AND PUT THEM PROPERLY THROUGH THEIR PACES!
t always strikes me as strange that so many airsofters look at AEGs and insist it’s got to be “full metal or nothing” when there are so many excellent AEG models out there benefitting from super-strong and extremely durable high-standard polymer bodies! As I’ve mentioned before, there’s an entire heap of evidence from the world of real firearms to support the efficient and efficacious use of polymers in overall weapon design and construction, so why on earth should this be any different in the world of airsoft? The fact is that if the correct polymer is used it can actually provide real benefits, not just in strength and durability but also in relation to weight saving! The bottom line is that if you’re carrying less weight you can be faster on your feet and keep fatigue at bay longer. If this wasn’t the case, then why would we have the “light is right” mantra on the lips of the “hi speed, lo drag” fraternity? If you follow my logic, a lighter rifle or carbine reduces your overall load even further, meaning that you can go harder and faster, for longer! And the days of “plastic guns” being somehow inferior in airsoft are WAY behind us, aren’t they? Please remember that when airsoft was in its infancy
virtually ALL AEGs were “plastic”, and many GBB pistols were too, but that didn’t stop us heading out to the woods every weekend to lay down a hail of BBs on our friends! In many ways we have become spoilt by the sheer diversity of platforms on offer, and these days it seems to be as much about what is inside our AEGs as it is about how they look and feel. Internals have come a LONG way since that first hop-up unit was fitted in Japan many years ago, and since then we’ve seen a constant curve of innovation to give us AEGs that perform better, last for longer without spitting the dummy and offer us more choice than a KFC bucket meal! As regular readers of AA will know, there is an ongoing and serious debate even within the core crew as to whether this is a good or bad thing, but the fact that we have CHOICE has to be an overall positive… you make your choice of what suits you best and you roll with that. The last year, however, has seen our individual choice diminish generally in terms of our freedoms but that doesn’t mean for a moment that airsoft manufacturers have been sitting on their hands. Some of them have been churning out the (REALLY!) good stuff even though we, as players, have been relegated to staring at screens for our entertainment. Amongst the manufacturers punching forward in adversity is Evolution Airsoft and the guys in Italy have really moved things along at pace! Amongst their latest batch (Oh yes, there’s MUCH more to come!) of releases is the GHOST family of AEGs and I’ve been giving the Ghost L EMR Carbontech some serious abuse over the last couple of months!
A GHOST WITH SUBSTANCE!
The GHOST is a ground-breaking project for Evolution, as the AEGs have been entirely designed in Italy in Gardone Valtrompia (the “firearms valley” that some
armoury EVOLUTION GHOST L EMR CARBONTECH
90% of the prestigious Italian firearms manufacturers like Beretta call home!) by one of the most skilled real gun designers, who Evolution worked side by side with to develop a ground breaking line of guns that is unique when it comes to overall design and the technological and technical content. However, when someone says “ghost” to me, I immediately have a vision of good old Casper come to mind, an ethereal and insubstantial spirit that drifts around with little purpose but one that inevitably spreads joy wherever he flitters! When it comes to the GHOST L EMR Carbontech, the latter is undoubtedly still true as it does indeed bring joy but there is absolutely nothing insubstantial - and no lack of purpose - about this cracking AEG! Let’s first get the “Carbontech” bit out of the way. The receiver set of the AEG is externally created from a space-age carbon-reinforced techno-polymer designed to be lightweight and strong under heavy duty use. These are cutting-edge techno-polymers that, when combined, provide an amalgam that offers improved strength, extra durability, plus a great feel in the hand and that extend the life of the parts in their entirety. Of course, there is still high-grade alloy used for the rail, outer barrel and buffer tube to give the GHOST some substance. Getting into the nitty-gritty of features, the GHOST has a super-lightweight Evolution Modular Rail (EMR) that is made of CNC machined billet aluminium, matte black coated, M-LOK compatible and this feels just right in terms of diameter to me, with a lot of space to fill up with accessories if you should so desire! The front rail and upper receiver rail are contiguous, with a 70mm section (six slots) extending forwards from the receiver. The top rail does not extend the full length of the M-LOK handguard, making it extremely comfortable and giving a more “civilian performance”
look overall. A 14mm CCW thread is concealed beneath a pretty standard “birdcage” so you can change that out to something funkier easily and that, of course, also means that fitting a tracer unit or suppressor is a breeze. There’s also a nicely enlarged trigger guard around the flat-blade trigger, an ambi single-point sling plate and a six position sliding stock (think modern Magpul) with ambi QD sockets. Internally, the Evolution GHOST is right up there with the best of the current crop, as it incorporates an ETU (Electronic Trigger Unit) with electromagnetic sensors. A powerful Active Brake, Full Cycle control (Systema springs to mind here) and a sophisticated battery protection system are always on for superior performance. This also plays a role in protecting the electronics, by detecting low voltage and shutting things down if necessary and removes the possibility of damage to trigger contacts. A High Torque motor and reinforced steel gears keeps the gearbox rolling at its peak level, and I’m told that the reinforced gearbox can handle up to an M120 Spring. A quick-change feature makes it easy (and fast) to change springs without the need to take things apart fully. Add to this high-flow wiring throughout, a fine-tune rotary Hop unit along with a 6.01mm precision inner barrel, some great flip-up “irons” and the GHOST is quite the package!
So, in terms of feel and components and build quality the GHOST is a really cool AEG and when I spoke to my friend, AA Legionnaire and Evolution “Face”, Bjorn, from Klockar Airsoft, about it, he shed some further light on the design process, along with his own feelings about the platform as a whole. “To start with a little history about the “Ghost
“IF THIS WASN’T THE CASE, THEN WHY WOULD WE HAVE THE “LIGHT IS RIGHT” MANTRA ON THE LIPS OF THE “HI SPEED, LO DRAG” FRATERNITY? IF YOU FOLLOW MY LOGIC, A LIGHTER RIFLE OR CARBINE REDUCES YOUR OVERALL LOAD EVEN FURTHER, MEANING THAT YOU CAN GO HARDER AND FASTER, FOR LONGER!” 18
armoury EVOLUTION GHOST L EMR CARBONTECH
Gun”. I first saw it at IWA in Germany back in 2019 but then only as a 3D printed prototype shell in a red/ orange colour, more as a tease of what the guys at Evolution were up to. Little did I know at that point that I would even be involved in its development, of only in a small way! Sergio and I talked about details on the platform and first of all I just love the cleanstyle modular M-LOK rail and the light Carbontech polymer body feels so sturdy and has its own kind of futuristic style. Together with the built in ETU, 6.01 inner barrel and rotary hop up chamber topped off with a really nice and slim crane-style stock makes it both a responsive and accurate gun! I’m really proud to have been with them for a couple years now, working really close with them.” And I can’t help but agree with Bjorn that the GHOST does really feel futuristic, super-sturdy but in the case of the L EMR, coming in overall at just 2,520g! With a length of 740mm stock in (830mm out), for me it’s the perfect size, giving enough space to “get work done” whist still maintaining a decent inner barrel length. In combination with the excellent ETU the GHOST is a blast to shoot and it shines on the range. So, all set up and with the included mid-cap polymer magazine loaded it was off to the targets for some range time and the GHOST performed just as I expected! It’s a super, lightweight carbine to work with, with great ergonomics, a cracking pistol grip, and a very positive cheek weld with the comfortable stock. It’s easy to drive the muzzle from target to
target and the overall length and minimal weight of the GHOST makes it easy to work with. Once the rotary hop is set, an easy control to adjust, the GHOST was putting straight, flat shots out to the end of the 30m range at a site friendly 0.95 Joule/320fps average on a .20g RZR BB. The trigger is light yet crisp, with very little lag so it’s easy to get consistently accurate shots away time after time. Switching it up to full auto sends a nice stream of BBs downrange in quick time! Bjorn told me that his experience with the GHOST was much the same… “When I took it to the range for some target shooting I used a Titan 7.4v/2600mah stick battery to power it. Worked just like a charm! The aluminium targets I have made make that nice “ploink” sound to give you receipt of a hit. And when the aim is dialled in its just that sound you hear moving around the range, the sound of satisfaction! With the range of different styles in the GHOST lineup you can choose your favourite setup and length, whether you’re up for some super-tight CQB or skirmishing the woods.” In conclusion, I would say that if you are looking for a great, lightweight yet durable mid-length AEG then the GHOST L EMR Carbontech is certainly most worthy of your consideration. It’s a great-looking replica, especially with its thoroughly modern styling. It performs just as well as it should out of the box, is solid as a rock and, at under UK£200 at the time of writing, it’s an awful lot rifle for the money! Many thanks indeed to Evolution in Italy who kindly provided me with the AEG sample for this review. You can check out more details on the HOST L EMR Carbontech ETU and the rest of the GHOST range of models by simply visiting www.evolutioninternational. it and models should be with your favourite retailers now. AA
armoury EVOLUTION GHOST L EMR CARBONTECH
“A QUICK-CHANGE FEATURE MAKES IT EASY (AND FAST) TO CHANGE SPRINGS WITHOUT THE NEED TO TAKE THINGS APART FULLY. ADD TO THIS HIGH-FLOW WIRING THROUGHOUT, A FINE-TUNE ROTARY HOP UNIT ALONG WITH A 6.01MM PRECISION INNER BARREL, SOME GREAT FLIP-UP “IRONS” AND THE GHOST IS QUITE THE PACKAGE!” www.airsoftaction.net
armoury EMG BARRETT FIELDCRAFT
SINGLE SHOT SOLACE!
DURING THE COURSE OF EXTENDED LOCKDOWN AND WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING BECOMING THE “NEW NORMAL”, BILL HAS BEEN SPENDING MORE TIME THAN EVER ON HIS WOODLAND RANGE WITH A NUMBER OF BOLT-ACTION RIFLES THAT ARE SURE TO PROVIDE “DISTANCE” IN THE VERY BEST WAY. THIS MONTH HE TURNS HIS ATTENTION TO THE LATEST BARRETTLICENCED “FIELDCRAFT” MODEL FROM EMG!
armoury EMG BARRETT FIELDCRAFT
ver the past nine months or so I’ve been concentrating to some degree on finding a bolt-action rifle that I really feel comfortable with. Starting at the “budget-end” to get my target-eye back in, I’ve already had heaps of fun rediscovering a part of airsoft that really got me started so many years ago and that’s the delight of the not-so-humble-these-days bolt-action spring rifle! I’ve waxed lyrical before on the joys of being at one with your tactical tool of choice and nowhere is this more true than when it’s just you and your rifle out on the range on a beautiful day, and more recently I haven’t even cared about the weather, as with the right gear, even being outside on a cold, wet day has been better than
another confined to my office at home! In fact, when I’ve felt at my lowest (and loneliest!), a short hike to the woodland range I have set up on a friend’s grounds has immediately lifted my spirits! Airsoft is for many a chance to hang out with friends and enjoy some not-so-quiet social interaction, but even when you’re on your own with a gentle rain pattering through the leaves and branches overhead, wrapped in a contemplative cocoon of your own concentration to make a great shot with a great rifle in your hands, “life” and its accompanying anxieties just seem to melt away… or perhaps that’s just me! The fact is, in my opinion, any “shooter” that can call themselves such, whether it’s real-steel or airsoft, will appreciate a good rifle and the solitary satisfaction it can bring and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to try quite a few different bolt-action models now thanks to industry friends who have fed my habit… This habit to me though, as a man guilty of many bad habits over the years, is a thing of purity and enlightenment and if I could be on the range in the woods every single day I’d be happy with that.
But enough of this meandering! What does this have to do with the latest rifle I have laid beside me you may ask? I would reply that THIS RIFLE is just a little bit special and it’s already brought me much satisfaction; it’s not often that you get your hands on a Barrett, even in licenced airsoft form!
IT’S ALL IN THE NAME!
If you don’t immediately link the name of “Barrett” with precision rifles then oh my, it’s time you went back to “precision airsoft 101” and learnt your basics! To give you a helping hand though, I’ll paraphrase from Barrett’s history and tell you that “more than thirty years ago, Ronnie Barrett built something no one thought possible, a shoulder-ﬁred .50 caliber riﬂe so innovative, the Army itself would sing its praises.
From sketching his designs at the dining room table to working with a local tool and die maker to create parts that didn’t yet exist, every millimeter of the Model 82 was a direct result of Ronnie’s passion for the ultimate ﬁrearm.” Headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Barrett is still the world leader in large-calibre riﬂe design and manufacturing. Their products are used by law enforcement agencies, the US military and more than 70 US State Department approved countries across the world! Standardised by the U.S. military as the M107, Barrett’s best-known creation, the M82, has become a thing of legend; despite its designation as an anti-materiel rifle, it is used by some as an antipersonnel system. Found in three variants, the original M82A1 (and A3), the bullpup M82A2 and Barrett M107A1 with muzzle brake designed to accept a suppressor and made out of titanium instead of steel, the range of all these rifles staggers belief! It’s quoted that the maximum effective range of the M107 is 2,000 yards (1,830 m), whilst the “true” maximum range of this weapon (specifically the M107) is 4,400 yards (4,000 m)! www.airsoftaction.net
armoury EMG BARRETT FIELDCRAFT
consistency. As Keith Wood concluded in his take on the real Fieldcraft for American Rifleman… “Whether you are in the market for a lightweight rifle for a high country sheep hunt or a compact setup for climbing in and out of tree stands, the Fieldcraft is a strong option. Don’t let its short barrel fool you in terms of its performance - these rifles are accurate, reliable and capable of making hits at beyond any reasonable hunting distance.”
FIITED AND FINISHED
Barrett undoubtedly made their name from making precision, longrange military rifles, that much is obvious but behind the scenes Barrett, in this case Chris, the company’s president, was up to tricks again as in 2017 Barrett Firearm Mfg. found its way into the lightweight hunting rifle business! Chris Barrett, who previously served for more than a decade as its lead designer, wanted to take a close look at the hunting rifles that he’d used and give them a little of the “Big B Magic” treatment too! The net result of Chris’ focus was the Fieldcraft, a lightweight, high-performance bolt-action rifle built to the same quality standards that Barrett insisted on when it came to military hardware. The actions of the Fieldcraft rifles were scaled exactly to the cartridges used to make them as light and “tidy” as they could be, and it’s said that each Fieldcraft’s barrelled action was “individually pillar-bedded to its own carbon-fiber stock for a perfect fit”. Finally, Fieldcrafts were fitted as standard with adjustable Timney triggers for a light and clean break, one of the most important elements for any rifle when it comes to overall accuracy and
So, in an airsoft world dominated by military models, is there a place for a replica, good as it might be, for what is essentially a replica of a civilian hunting rifle? I’d have to say yes for many reasons! First and foremost is that of the “competitive airsoft shooter”; competitions featuring airsoft pistols and rifles are becoming more and more commonplace, so having a decent “bolty” that’s not an out and out military-themed model is a plus for me. Then there’s the scenario that I outlined right at the very beginning of this article, that of the person, like me, that just wants a great-looking performance rifle to shoot for sheer pleasure. And last by but no means least, what’s the most common firearm that you see in any immediate “post-ap” setting? Yup, the good old hunting rifle! And to have a model that’s been designed by one of the best and biggest names in the military precision shooting world, and that has been scrupulously replicated by EMG (by way of APS) as an airsoft rifle under full licence just makes it all the better! Externally the EMG Barrett Fieldcraft is very, very neatly achieved. All the black metal parts, including the above-chamber rail, are very nicely finished with a matt effect which gives the rifle a classy look. The furniture is available in “Carbon Fibre” black, Multicam, and Multicam Black (for a bit more money of course!), and to fit in with my “post-ap civilian” thoughts, I chose the “Carbon-Fibre” black, or the “Blackout” as it’s called… See, even the name fits with post-ap! Throughout, the “carbon-fibre-style” moulded furniture is very precise with no gaps or prominent lines present and both the grip area and the forestock are smooth and graceful. There are QD
“THE FURNITURE IS AVAILABLE IN “CARBON FIBRE” BLACK, MULTICAM, AND MULTICAM BLACK (FOR A BIT MORE MONEY OF COURSE!), AND TO FIT IN WITH MY “POST-AP CIVILIAN” THOUGHTS, I CHOSE THE “CARBON-FIBRE” BLACK, OR THE “BLACKOUT” AS IT’S CALLED… SEE, EVEN THE NAME FITS WITH POST-AP!” 24
armoury EMG BARRETT FIELDCRAFT
“…WHEN YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN WITH A GENTLE RAIN PATTERING THROUGH THE LEAVES AND BRANCHES OVERHEAD, WRAPPED IN A CONTEMPLATIVE COCOON OF YOUR OWN CONCENTRATION TO MAKE A GREAT SHOT WITH A GREAT RIFLE IN YOUR HANDS, “LIFE” AND ITS ACCOMPANYING ANXIETIES JUST SEEM TO MELT AWAY…”
armoury EMG BARRETT FIELDCRAFT
studs fore and aft if you want to fit a sling but the front stud also doubles for the attachment point if you wish to fit a bipod. There is no cheek pad adjustment on this rifle, however the comb is very comfortable as standard and if you should need a riser to fully marry with your chosen optic, then these are easily found in most good hunting stores! Even as new the action is super-super-smooth and precise, and with a short lift and sharp pull to the rear of the machined fluted bolt there is a little resistance due to the power (oh my, the power!) but you soon get used to this. Several points have been machined into the rifle receiver in key areas to shave down weight, making the Fieldcraft extremely light. To top it off, officially licensed Barrett trademarks are deeply engraved into the side of the receiver giving this rifle a very authentic look and feel. Internally you will find a 6.03 Stainless Steel Inner Barrel as standard; it appears to me that EMG wanted to make sure the accuracy of this rifle is outstanding from the get go. Another feature worthy of note is the trigger; a stand-out feature of the Fieldcraft is the pre-installed featherweight Zero Trigger. Measuring at just 1.2lbs of trigger force, the Fieldcraft has one of the lightest trigger pulls I’ve found on the market which makes it extremely smooth and is a real bonus when you look at the rifle against similarly-priced competitors. A stroke of the trigger is all that is needed to get shots away; many folk may not see the benefit of this, or indeed feel the difference but good shooters will definitely know the importance of the trigger in shooting accurately (see my comment on the Timney trigger fitted to the real thing) and it was the most commented on thing when I introduced the Barrett to the Red Cell crew!
I’ve had the Barrett on the range for a few weeks now, fitted with a Harris-style Bipod and a lowmounted 4x32 optic. Thus far I’ve kept things down to 50m and when I’ve had time to run a couple of hundred BBs through it (as I’ve said before, this actually takes time with a bolt-action rifle if you’re doing it right!) then I’ll open this distance out incrementally. The rifle itself is certainly capable of more distance, as there is some real grunt in this slimline shooter!
The Barrett came out of the box at a thumping 2.4 Joule/510fps on a .20g and it can certainly hop a much heavier BB! Please note that again, at this power level you may find some sites that won’t be happy with it as a skirmish tool. I, however, look at it purely for use as another “precision target rifle” and as it will never be shot at another player I’m more than happy. Thus far I’ve been feeding it my usual .32g BBs and it seems more than happy with these, although I will try some .40g in due course to see what difference that makes (as I do with other rifles of this type). Suffice to say that at 50m I’m again making VERY neat holes in the paper, and I’m loving every visit to the woods. My hope is to extend this accuracy further, so I’m genuinely interested to see what the Fieldcraft is capable of “OOTB”! The EMG Barrett Fieldcraft does seem to me to be unique in the current market, as there are many other manufacturers making military-style bolt-action rifles and the simple, elegant styling of the Barrett sings to me in comparison. This is a rifle that was made to shoot - and shoot well - and in my opinion EMG have done a marvellous job in the quality of their replication of another shooting legend. I believe that any shooter worth their salt would enjoy the Fiedcraft, and I feel that I have found another bolt-action contender that I would love to have in my own armoury! I’m looking forward to living with the Barrett just a little longer before I have to hand it (grudgingly) back, and we’ll see how it truly performs alongside other models out there when we have our Red Cell “precision” day, so watch this space! My profound thanks go to Tim at www.iwholesales. co.uk for letting me borrow the EMG Barrett Fieldcraft for test and for allowing me to have many peaceful and relaxing afternoons on the range shooting it! Please do check out their website, for more from EMG and all the other super brands they work with. AA
“THIS IS A RIFLE THAT WAS MADE TO SHOOT - AND SHOOT WELL - AND IN MY OPINION EMG HAVE DONE A MARVELLOUS JOB IN THE QUALITY OF THEIR REPLICATION OF ANOTHER SHOOTING LEGEND.” www.airsoftaction.net
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armoury KWA LM4D
NEVER STAND STILL! 30
armoury KWA LM4D
AS A COMPANY, KWA ARE NEVER ONES FOR STANDING STILL WITH THEIR PRODUCTS! DEVELOPMENT OF PRODUCTS IS NOT AN OVERNIGHT PROCESS AND THE LATEST GAS BLOW BACK RIFLE (GBBR) TO HIT THE MARKET IS THE NEW AND IMPROVED RIFLE IN THE LM4 SERIES. BOYCIE GETS TO GRIPS WITH THE LATEST MODEL AND TELLS US MORE!
n the USA there are a large number of Law Enforcement agencies and Military units that have used the original LM4 PTR as a low-cost alternative to using their live fire weapons for training. With the cost of all types of ammunition sky-rocketing in the US and the availability of ammo dropping, the use of airsoft replicas is climbing. As a rough guide, a single round of 5.56mm Simunition is on average US$1.40 (£1.00), plus there is the requirement to make a number of changes to the weapon in order for it to be able to fire the Simunition. Also, there is a safety requirement for specialist protective equipment when using Simunition. Bring the airsoft system into the equation and cost per “round” is tiny, with 100 BBs costing around US34c (24p). With a can of KWA green gas costing US$12.95 (£9.26) and providing enough gas for around 600 shots, this means for 600 shots the cost is around US$15.00 (£10.73). As the system is lower velocity the minimum safety equipment required is ballistic safety glasses. A huge advantage for the agencies and military is that they can use the LM4 platform in close proximity to public areas, for example if they are hostage or active shooter training in a shopping centre as there is no large noise from discharge and little or no damage caused if a BB hits a wall or window. The LM4 PTR was designed to closely replicate the standard M4 rifle in both 14.5” and 10.5” variants. As we already know the vast majority of “Real Steel” accessories can be fitted to replicas and this gives the personnel who use this as a training platform to replicate the exact set up as their live fire “duty” weapon. At SHOT Show 2020 we saw the new generation of LM4 on show, the LM4D. This is substantially different to the LM4 PTR that within the USA is only sold to Military and Law Enforcement agencies. Fast forward to 2021 and the LM4D has been released to the UK market and I was lucky to get my hands on one of the new rifles for test and evaluation from BZ Tactical. I must qualify this by saying I paid for the rifle and magazines and nothing was given free of charge.
When I opened the box the rifle is snugly held by (the now common) foam that we find on most KWA airsoft rifles. Inside is the warranty card, loading tool
and a magazine held securely in the foam around the butt of the rifle. When you look at the rifle you can instantly recognise it as an Armalite Rifle (AR) type system and picking it up from the box, the weight and balance was immediately familiar to me. All of the controls are of the AR type and this provides a very familiar “manual of arms” for any AR user. When you are more usually used to picking up a plastic AEG magazine, the LM4D magazine feels like a big heavy lump but it does, as is intended, replicate the weight of a fully loaded magazine of 5.56mm ammunition.
To field strip the rifle it is exactly as with a real AR platform. Pull back the charging handle and lock the bolt to the rear. Check that the rifle isn’t loaded with a “round in the chamber” and then let the bolt travel forward. At this point DO NOT pull the trigger as the hammer needs to remain in the rearward position. Pull the rear body pin out to its stop and holding the foregrip, tap the buffer tube and the rifle hinges open. Pull the charging handle to the rear and remove the bolt, then the charging handle. If you need to remove the upper receiver then simply pull the front pin out to its stop and the upper will lift clear of the lower. Reassembly is the reverse and after being assembled it is simple to complete the “drill” with the AR functions checks, as you would with the real rifle.
A CLOSER LOOK
Going from the rear forwards, the stock fitted to the LM4D is a new design by KWA which fits the MilSpec buffer tube and is of a similar type to a MFT Minimalist style stock. It feels really comfortable in the shoulder and locks positively into place on the tube. It also has a very handy QD point for your sling. If this sort of stock doesn’t suit you it’s able to be changed quickly for any multi-position stock that fits a MilSpec buffer. The rifle is fitted with a steel ambidextrous sling plate, which can easily be changed for something like the MAGPUL ™ ASAP ® if that is what you prefer. Pistol grip is a PTS EPG grip and is fitted using the standard single bolt of real rifles so you, again, are able to fit most RS after-market pistol grips. The trigger guard gives plenty of space to allow the user www.airsoftaction.net
armoury KWA LM4D
to operate the trigger comfortably even when wearing thicker gloves. Selector levers are of a similar design to a standard AR and from the factory the left side has a slightly longer lever than is on the right. This is a normal setup for a right-handed shooter, so that they can get a more natural hold of the pistol grip. For me, being a left hander, it was easy to swap them over so that I could have a more comfortable operation of the levers into the safe, semi or auto positions. Magazine release is a standard AR-type and could easily be swapped for an ambi version if desired. The handguard/rail is KWA’s own design and called the TPR-9.5 with Pitcatinny rails at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. Fitted to the barrel is a nice-looking muzzle brake which has a similar rear portion to that of a standard AR birdcage flash hider. This allows the fitting of a training suppressor to the rifle to give the correct overall length of rifle for the individual user. Atop the rifle sit the PTS flip up sights and again, these could be swapped out for the same type as the user would find on their live fire rifle, if needed.
I just couldn’t wait to see how the rifle felt when it fires, so I set up a mini range in the garage and gassed up a magazine. KWA recommend that you fill the magazine for 30 seconds to give a complete fill of gas, so this is what I also did. I noticed that at about 20 seconds the sound of liquid gas running into the magazine seemed to quieten but I still kept the nozzle in place until the 30 second mark. Filling the magazine with BBs is easy when using the provided adaptor, simply place the adaptor on the feed lips, fill the tube with 30 BBs and then using the plunger rod, push them into the magazine. Loading the rifle is just as you would expect with the real thing, press the magazine into the magazine well until you hear the click of the catch locking into place, then give a tug on the magazine to ensure that it is seated properly. With your finger off the trigger, pull back the charging handle to the rear and then let go. This “chambers” the first BB. Then turn the selector to the safe position. As with the real rifles, you can’t set the rifle to safe without it being “cocked”. Alternatively, pull the charging handle to the rear and operate the bolt hold open device, aka “the paddle” to hold the bolt in the rearward position. You can then put the selector to safe, place the magazine 32
armoury KWA LM4D
in the mag well and let the bolt move forward by either pressing the top of the bolt release or pulling the charging handle and letting go. I put the rifle in my shoulder and found that the stock position wasn’t quite right for me and quickly adjusted it to suit - then it was time to “rock and roll”! Semi-auto is a really positive action and the feedback (felt recoil) is instantly familiar. Follow up shots were smooth and I was able to achieve a tight group at 7m. With a few BBs left in the magazine, I decided to switch to auto and “mag dumped” the remaining ammo. This was really good fun and again, the rounds all found their target in close formation. The second magazine was used to set the hop for the .25 BBs I was using. The adjustment of the hop is really simple and quick to do. Simply take the magazine out of the magwell and put your finger up inside the front of the magwell. Here you’ll feel a small wheel which you can easily move either left or right to adjust the flight of the BB. For the next magazine full I carried out a “2-2” drill by using two 60% IPSC targets at 7m and putting two shots into each as quickly as I could. This drill went well until I went for my 8th string and after two shots a solid “clunk” happened as the bolt locked to the rear to indicate that I was empty. After unloading I decided to gas the mag again for the recommended 30 sec and reloaded it. This time though I loaded the mag with an uncounted amount of BBs and then loaded a second magazine with a similar amount. This would give me the chance to carry out a reload “under pressure” as I wouldn’t know when it was going to occur. I marked the shots on the targets then went back to the firing point, loaded and started the drill again. After 9 shots the “clunk” of an empty magazine occurred and I was able to reload and
“WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE RIFLE YOU CAN INSTANTLY RECOGNISE IT AS AN ARMALITE RIFLE (AR) TYPE SYSTEM AND PICKING IT UP FROM THE BOX, THE WEIGHT AND BALANCE WAS IMMEDIATELY FAMILIAR TO ME.” www.airsoftaction.net
armoury KWA LM4D
complete the drill. With the LM4D’s magazines being as heavy as a full real magazine I didn’t want to let it just hit the floor, so the mag dropped clear and onto a couple of old jackets in a box at waist height. Next was a test at longer ranges up to 30m at StrikeForce CQB. Being indoors there is no play allowed under the current (at time of writing) Covid rules but as this was for work, range testing and taking of photographs was allowed. Setting up a handful of 60% IPSC targets (slightly smaller than an A3 sheet of paper) at varying ranges I gassed and loaded the magazines and completed some basic drills. Once the hop was dialled in for .25s and was past 30m, the LM4D was easily able to hit the target accurately out to 25m with “double taps”. I’m going to be doing more tests when the airsoft sites are fully reopened and will revisit the tests in a future RELOADED article. I’ve had the opportunity to, socially distanced of course, let a small number of people handle the rifle and give me their initial thoughts; Tim: “I’ve honestly not handled an airsoft rifle that feels as good as this. It’s rock solid, no wobble at all. It feels slightly light on the recoil but it’s very nice!” Paul: “I think when the hop rubber wears in this
will be even better and I can’t wait to get it out to a site and give it a proper run out.” George: “It feels really nice and well balanced. The mags seem really heavy but I like the 30rd capacity and the ability to “dry fire” the rifle. The trigger pull is very smooth.” Personally, I’m very much an ERG fan and never have been much of a fan of gas rifles but this one appealed to me. The rifle was paid for by me, so I’ve put my own money into the purchase of the rifle and magazines so it’s important to give it a fair run and see if it will make its way into my “skirmish/MilSim” armoury. The LM4D is going to take a bit of getting used to and once it’s “worn in” a bit, the better weather is here and I can take it to game days to give a proper test under skirmish conditions, then I’ll have more of a rounded feel for the rifle. Some players at game sites will also be offered the chance to take it out for a game to give me their thoughts on the rifle. Watch this space for a “RELOADED” feature in the coming months. My thanks go to Joe at KWA UK for getting the rifle in for me and to Paul for letting me use StrikeForce CQB for the range time and venue for the photo shoot. AA
“I GASSED AND LOADED THE MAGAZINES AND COMPLETED SOME BASIC DRILLS. ONCE THE HOP WAS DIALLED IN FOR .25S AND WAS PAST 30M, THE LM4D WAS EASILY ABLE TO HIT THE TARGET ACCURATELY OUT TO 25M WITH “DOUBLE TAPS”.” www.airsoftaction.net
KIT & GEAR PLATE CARRIERS
WHAT ARE W THEY GOOD FOR?
OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS IT SEEMS THAT THE PLATE CARRIER HAS BECOME THE CHOSEN METHOD OF LOAD BEARING AND MAGAZINE CARRIAGE FOR AIRSOFTERS WORLDWIDE - BUT DO WE REALLY NEED THEM AND WHY ARE THEY NOW SO POPULAR IN AIRSOFT? BILL TAKES A LOOK BACK OVER HIS LAST 26 YEARS OF PLAYING TO TRY AND FIND AN ANSWER… hen I picked up my first AEG way back in 1994 (and yes, it was a TM FAMAS!), the thought of wearing (what is in essence) a fancy, fussified “bulletproof vest” was a million miles away from my first choice of load-bearing gear and the fact that one day we would all have one (or more) in our kit collection didn’t even factor in my thinking! Yes, a good chest rig was the very thing I needed and to this day I am still a huge fan of this type of “load lugger”. If someone had mentioned “armour” to me at that point in my “airsoft career”, my first thought would probably have been to King Arthur and his Knights and indeed, if you look at the history books then “armour” has been with us in one shape or form for almost as long as humans have gone to war with one another. Initially, cured hides and leather armour provided protection for the warrior, as did layers of silk in Eastern cultures, but as the understanding of metals and of metalworking grew, so did armour protection really start to blossom, first in the form of “chainmail” and later in the form of the plate armour we associate with those Knights of yore.
“WHEN I PICKED UP MY FIRST AEG WAY BACK IN 1994 (AND YES, IT WAS A TM FAMAS!), THE THOUGHT OF WEARING (WHAT IS IN ESSENCE) A FANCY, FUSSIFIED “BULLETPROOF VEST” WAS A MILLION MILES AWAY FROM MY FIRST CHOICE OF LOAD-BEARING GEAR…”
KIT & GEAR PLATE CARRIERS
However, as quickly as metalworking evolved, so did the science of ballistic weapons! The bow gave way to the crossbow and the increased power and efficiency of the bolt soon started to make many forms of plate armour obsolete, the negative of weight and bulk (and indeed price!) outweighing the level of protection given. Of course, the introduction of the firearm accelerated this trend but as both crossbows and early firearms were slow to load and fire, some armours remained popular, although the die had been cast… Fast forward to the 20th Century and of course armour systems were still around in both WWI and WWII, but for the basic infantry soldier the new focus on fast, mobile warfighting saw it largely disappear and the trend for nonarmoured troops became the norm throughout the Cold War period. Yes, armour using thick layers of metal were used by American soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam wars, but these were specialist items for specific end-users, and were extremely uncomfortable in those hot and humid environments! Once upon a time - and not so long ago if I’m honest - an “Armour Vest” was exactly that, a vest into which you fitted plates to protect you from harm, and again, it wasn’t too long ago that these were simply called “bulletproof vests”, although that in itself was a bit of a misnomer! Not truly “bullet proof”, the majority of vests were just about able to protect your vital core and organs from pistol-calibre rounds and movies of the time would often refer to bullets that would still penetrate these vests as “cop killers” as the vests were predominantly used by LEOs. Reading online, the website of www. safeguardarmor.com tells me that… “The most important development in the body armour industry was the use of
plastics in creating strong yet light fibres. These fibres were used by DuPont in the 1960s to create Kevlar, a brand known to all as being used in bullet proof vests. These plastics, known as aramids, create fibres with an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio that are still flexible, offering great potential for dispersing energy and coping with impacts. Similar products began to be created by other companies that utilised aramids and plastics and soon body armour became stronger, lighter and more accessible than it had ever been.” …and this, my fellow BB-chuckers is where things started to get real for what has become the plate carrier of today. With the introduction of high-tech, lightweight (in relative terms!) armour plate constructions, the user could remain highly mobile whilst at the same time benefitting from quite significant levels of core protection. Armour plates themselves come in many shapes and sizes these days and are made from the
KIT & GEAR PLATE CARRIERS
most effective materials available to counter differing threat levels. I won’t go into this area in any detail but suffice to say you can easily look up the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) levels for “bulletproof (I’ll come back to that…) armour” which describe the various strengths and sizes of ammunition that said armour can protect against. Essentially, the higher the level, the more powerful the round it can protect against and each level is capable of stopping lower level attacks.
However, as discussed earlier, as materials science moved on apace armour technology moved swiftly on with it. Plates became more protective, better able to withstand larger calibres (even though impact trauma was still an issue - once explained to me in no uncertain terms by a prior-service USMC friend who’d taken an AK round to centre mass and lived to tell the tale thanks to his body armour!) and lighter, although “lighter” is a somewhat relative term. That efficacy though meant that a plate carrier, or PC, that combined the vest with load-carrying capability became both feasible and a reality. In the real world soldiers and operators encounter high levels of ballistic threats, requiring the highest level of protection possible and additional attachments for neck, arm, plus groin protection are often recommended as well. PCs therefore are (in my mind) quite a strange concept for airsoft in one way, as we really don’t need (I sincerely hope!) the ballistic protection they offer, or at least that given by the plates they conceal, to protect us from those dreaded BB hits, now do we? From an airsoft perspective though, the humble “Armour Vest” has been transformed in recent years into something far more useful, carrying not only protective plates but also all the other “battle rattle” that we carry into contact with us! When it comes to Plate Carriers themselves, what we all use, almost to the point of exclusivity today, are “overt” armour carriers. Unlike some of the low volume body armour vests (LVBAV) used by security and law enforcement personnel that are highly concealable, our carriers are made to be worn over clothing. Although they are pretty much all available in plain block colours, most designs will also come in a multitude of camouflage patterns. These days it’s almost impossible to find an image of a soldier - and indeed many police officers - where some form of PC system isn’t in evidence and whilst I would revert to my comment that perhaps we don’t need the ballistic protection element, the “look” is 38
all-important if you’re going to create an even halfway decent MIL/LE airsoft loadout. Whilst the “military” plate carrier has changed in increments though, the “civvy” versions are pushing the boundaries of design, even being created to carry mock, weighted “plates” for exercise purposes. I actually came across a guy wearing a 5.11 TacTec the other day when I was out with the hound, running happily wearing it! There are even some interesting and unique designs out there designed specifically for airsoft use and those are making the PC even more affordable for even the most budget-oriented player, and you know what, some of them are actually pretty darn functional!
ONE CARRIER TO BIND THEM ALL!
Whilst the majority of MilSim players will undoubtedly want a plate carrier model from one of the “Names” out there - and there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to that level if you so desire - the fact is that there are now airsoft-specific PC designs at a fraction of the price that function well, and that mimic some of the most up-to-date design concepts from the real world. Perhaps it’s because of my more widespread interests in “things tactical” that I seem to always see conversations online about the very latest “tacticool brand” and comments about how important it is for me to have them. Fact is that I gave up following fashion over function a LONG time ago and instead look at what works best for me, not only on the field but also in terms of my bank balance! There are many systems out there on which to spend (or waste) your money but at the moment I have to say that I’m a BIG fan of the “Buckle Up” plate carrier systems that give HUGE versatility for very little money. The premise of the “Buckle Up” system is really all about the plate carrier and how you set that up. Some of us have been around long enough that we have multiple sets of gear to use with different AEGs, with different pouch configurations to take that into account. What the “Buckle Up” system does is to take that principle and give you a solution that is totally customisable and that’s achieved by having different pouch panels which do indeed simply “buckle up” to a single PC. First off is the “Low Profile Plate Carrier” and whilst they may look like other, much more expensive, items that I own, they sell for as little as UK£30! Now you might think that for that price you’ll be getting something “cheap and cheerful” and while the gear probably wouldn’t stand up to a real-world combat zone, it’s certainly well enough put together to stand
KIT & GEAR PLATE CARRIERS
up to the rigours of your local airsoft field! The fabrics used look and feel to be tough nylon mixes and seem solid enough, and the stitching is actually far, far better than I thought it would be; some attention has been given to this area, with reinforcement in all the right places. The “Low Profile Plate Carriers” all have a front and rear plate panel pocket (hard plastic “plates” are included but you might want to upgrade these to something like those sold by J-TAC Custom) with loads of MOLLE, good shoulder padding, an elastic cummerbund for a great fit and a fast-clip/velcro front panel for quick changes of your kit to save time. These clips and the large velcro panels are compatible with all pouch panels and chest rigs and herein lies the clever bit! Say you want to set up your plate carrier for general “recon”, well simply attach a “Recon” panel to the velcro and buckle it in place. Running hot and heavy CQB? No problem, just add the multi-mission panel and you’re all set with rifle/ carbine mag pouches, pistol mag pouches and even some elastic loops for cyalumes and bangs! Rocking an AK? Again, no issue as there’s even panels specifically for this and panels cost as little as UK£6 a pop for the Triple AK version… Bottom line is that if you want one piece of tactical gear that will let you carry everything you need “in game”, from magazines to comms, from BBs to hydration systems, then the not-so-humble PC is actually worth a darn close look… Do I own and use a PC myself? Yes, I do, I have several from an old OSPREY MKII in DDPM, through a number of Warrior Assault Systems DCS rigs, right up to a relatively new low-profile Direct Action Spitfire and I use an old out-of-ballistic-date SAPI in the front of them all to offset the weight of the big old hydration bladder on the rear. Whilst you may look at players wearing a fancy
plate carrier and think on them as either elitists or that they have more money than sense, the fact is that they’ve made a choice to run a loadout that is as effective and efficient as it is cool looking! Sure, it’s not going to be right for every single environment or scenario you might encounter but a decent Plate Carrier is going to tick an awful lot of boxes when it comes to carrying and accessing all your “shooty gear”. So, Plate Carriers? What are they good for? When bought at a sensible price they’re good for an awful lot! AA
“...“CIVVY” VERSIONS ARE PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF DESIGN, EVEN BEING CREATED TO CARRY MOCK, WEIGHTED “PLATES” FOR EXERCISE PURPOSES. I ACTUALLY CAME ACROSS A GUY WEARING A 5.11 TACTEC THE OTHER DAY WHEN I WAS OUT WITH THE HOUND, RUNNING HAPPILY WEARING IT!” www.airsoftaction.net
KIT & GEAR 5.11 TACTICAL
THE AA CREW ARE ALL ABOUT SOLUTIONS, SO WHEN BILL W-R BEMOANED THE FACT THAT HE WAS HAVING A PROBLEM FINDING DECENT TACTICAL GEAR IN LARGER SIZES, BOYCIE SWUNG INTO ACTION TO TRACK HIM SOME DOWN AND NOW WE HAVE ONE HAPPY AIRSOFTER WITH SOME RIGHTEOUS NEW CLOTHING COURTESY OF 5.11 TACTICAL! BILL (…NO, THE OTHER ONE!) TELLS MORE…
few issues ago I put a plea out for suppliers to up their game and start to look after the larger player when it came to tacticool wear. Well, I must admit that I thought the response would have been a bit better, especially as the amount of players of larger build is growing (pardon the pun!), especially 40
after months in lockdown! Last month in THE CAGE I hinted of something coming soon though and with thanks to our good friend Boycie, I am now the happy owner of some Gucci camo for the big boy size that is Rocknroll EAT01.
KIT & GEAR 5.11 TACTICAL
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Let’s start with some background details. My name is Bill (...no, the other one!) and I am a member of the Red Cell testing team. I run Expendabellies airsoft team in the South East of the UK. Being a member of the Airsoft Action team has been amazing so far and the future is very bright, both for the magazine and our great sport/hobby. Running the team with 60 plus members is almost like having a full-time job, but then deciding to open my own site in the South East (a future long-range testing ground for Red Cell too!) has added even more work to an already full workload and a real full-time job but we all do our bit as we love airsoft so much. I’m not the most active of players - diabetic, arthritic and very overweight - so my choice of camo is limited, for the average “plus size” player and near impossible for a player my size. So, step forward a good friend of mine, fellow team-member Boycie, from JTAC Customs, who managed to import some very Gucci 5.11 GE07 Fast Tac TDU Rapid Shirt and Stryke TDU trousers in their Terrain pattern. I know this is not any standard DPM or MultiCam but their Terrain pattern is a great, almost snake-skin style, mixture of MTP and DPM tonally, so during the summer months it helps break down this slightly larger outline. Import duties and postage paid, JTAC had the parcel delivered within a couple of weeks and like a young child at Christmas I could not wait to rip open the packaging! Packaged separately the top comes supplied with epaulette holders and badge hanger included separately if you need them. It is made of 100% polyester with ripstop material for the arms and body, with anti odour and wicking properties in the main body. As with all USA clothing, the sizes do come up a little larger than needed so bear that in mind if you buy some. The top is light-weight and the Terrain camo uses (and I quote) “fractal and chaotic mathematical principles in its design as well as micro and macro disruption to give you the tactical advantage at any distance”. I will say it’s very different and will make you stand out from other camo users, whilst blending into a nice dry summer terrain. The extremities are water resistant as well, which is an added bonus. There is space on the both the arms for your patches, with convenient pockets behind the Velcro and the neck has a convenient zip and Velcro combination, allowing either a snug around the neck fit, or a slightly more open vented neckline. The arms are full length and can easily be folded up if you want to have your lower arms exposed (my preferred look). For a big boy like me
it’s probably the closest I will ever get to a proper “UBACS” top. The trousers are in the same Terrain pattern and for one with a belly its always difficult finding that comfortable fit. The Fast Tac trousers are one of 5.11’s earliest creations and have been updated with some stretch technology to allow them to fit and move more mechanically and ergonomically. The material has a Teflon finish to improve water resistance and increase durability. They have added double layering to the knees and stretch panels on the hips and back of the knees help fit nearly all sizes. For pockets you are spoilt for choice with hip, knee and cargo pockets all included and ergonomically designed for easy access yet secure as well. The knee pockets will also accommodate the proprietary 5.11 kneepads, which will probably be ordered by me very soon. The bottom of the legs has some handy ties to bunch up the bottoms. So, all in all you get everything you need and would expect. Enough of the tech and data, the real question is how do they feel and perform? After reading all the usual marketing hype on the website, I was wondering are they really worth the cost? Currently on their website the top retails at US$59.99 and the trousers US$54.99 and the retail price has dropped recently, which makes them a worthwhile investment. However, you must take into account shipping, import duty and VAT.
LAYING DOWN THE GAUNTLET
Comfortable and with plenty of adjustment and little movement restriction, on the field they stand up against all the others out there. Mixed with my tac battle belt and chest rig I have found that it has given no restriction in my limited movement whilst looking “Gucci AF”! Its lightweight and feels like another level compared to the cheap woodland and generic camo I have had to purchase through various auction sites from Asian suppliers, which bleed in the wash, are heavy and just don’t quite fit right. Cooling in the warmer sun we have had this weekend, so far no issues and it looks like as long as 5.11 don’t stop production, my next purchase of kit will be the Night camo version to expand my loadout options. The gauntlet has been laid down! Thousands of my bacon sarnie brethren out there want to buy properlooking camo and manufacturers are SIMPLY not seeing the bigger picture - see what I did there! In the meantime, to the 5.11 team… Please, please make buying the bigger sizes easier in the UK and Europe rather than being USA only! AA www.airsoftaction.net
THE CAGE TACTICAL FLEECE
THE CAGE: TACTICAL FLEECE
SLOWLY BUT SURELY BUILDING UP INFORMATION THAT CAN BE USED TO CREATE OR ENHANCE YOUR PERSONAL “GEAR LOCKER”, THIS MONTH THE AA CREW TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO A PIECE OF CLOTHING THAT SEEMS TO COME IN AND OUT OF “AIRSOFT FASHION” - BUT ONE THAT IS STILL A KEY PART OF ANY ALL-WEATHER, ALL-CONDITIONS LAYERING SYSTEM - AND THAT IS THE TACTICAL FLEECE!
f you take a trip (soon now, SOON… PLEASE!) to any outdoor adventure store or outfitters then you’re going to see racks and racks of one particular item - and that’s the fleece jacket! “The Fleece” has been a stalwart performer in virtually any outdoor pursuit you care to mention for many, many years and, as with everything the technology that goes into, their creation has just got better and better! Sometimes though, the way that fleece itself is labelled can be utterly confusing! There are summer and winter weights, microfleeces and grid fleeces and even windproof fleeces, so what should you be looking for? Ultimately fleeces can be described as “thin” (100-weight) for summer but thicker, up to 300-weight, for full winter. For me, fleece is best categorised by weight in gsm – or grams per square metre – which can be quite confusing as you might not see weight measured in that format every day. The first-ever fleece manufacturer, Malden Mills in 1979 (or thereabouts), split garments into groups defined by how many grams of fleece constituted a square metre, so that’s still how I tend to differentiate them. However, this is now pretty “old skool” as fleeces that we have on offer today have moved on substantially, so it’s probably better to think in terms of the performance you want from the jacket, pullover or hoodie and how you want to wear it. Traditionally, fleece jackets were worn as part of the classic layering system, with a base layer underneath to wick moisture (sweat) away from the skin and transport it out through your clothing system through the openpore nature of the fleece to the breathable shell layer that would let moisture dissipate and keep you
comfortable - your core temperature managed and your personal performance optimal. In this instance you could go as far as thinking of a fleece as a very high-tech string vest and it does (basically) work in much the same way! The open pore structure of the fleece fabric will let moisture vapour move away from your body, but beneath a shell layer it will also trap air in those same pores, and air is a fabulous insulator! If you go back to that “gsm” description, it’s therefore fairly obvious that the “thicker” the fleece, the bigger those pores are and the more air is trapped, increasing insulation. It is also why you can pop on your thickest fleece on a cold winter day and still feel cold without a shell layer… string vests aren’t known for keeping the wind at bay, are they? For this reason we now see double-thickness fleece that helps in relation to windchill, along with both membrane and non-membrane “wind and water resistant” fleece garments, such as GORE’s excellent WINDSTOPPER. Here though, you’re beginning to get into the crossover into softshell garments but that’s a whole other thing that we’ll come onto in due course!
As usual I threw out the question to the AA Team to see what they had to say. I asked them “Do you own a tactical fleece? Which model is it, and why do you love it?” and this is what they told me… Chris: “I have two VIPER fleece hoodies that I currently wear regularly, Black and Green. They’re warm, comfortable, good value for money and quite simplistic in their styling. Sometimes you don’t need all the features and fabric types like those you find
THE CAGE TACTICAL FLEECE
on a “higher end” hoodie of the same style, you just need something to keep you warm and wear team patches on and funnily enough they do exactly that! I do regret selling my old SPEAR fleece though, totally just because of the look and who used it!” Stewbacca: “I’ve had the 5.11 Tactical Aggressor Parka 3 in 1 combination Goretex heavy weather and internal fleece for many years, although I’ve barely had to use it in Taiwan since moving here. Nonetheless, it has served me very well in the arctic climes of Harbin and Berlin, among many other places it’s seen on my travels. I like it because it has a cool fabric lining that prevents it getting too sweaty for the most part, but the outer fleece itself is nice and soft and comfortable and provides plenty of warmth on its own, along with some windproofing with its full height zip up collar. Combined with the outer parka it provides plenty of warmth and wind/water/snow proofing and looks pretty slick. It also features plenty of pockets and even has concealed carry breakaway snap sides with supporting zips, so you can run a concealed sidearm on a IWB or OWB holster and quickly get to it should you need to - both the inner fleece and outer shell support that feature separately. There’s also velcro “elephant’s ears” that pop out of the front upper pockets and the large upper back opening to allow unit or ID patches to be stuck on.” Boycie: “I’ve still got a black SPEAR fleece from about 20 years ago. I still love it but currently a few little extra C19-lbs means it doesn’t fit well at the moment, although it’s usually damn comfy to wear! For me though it depends on what I’m doing and if I’m wearing armour or gear; if I am then it’s usually a thin one, but I have been known to wear a 300gsm jacket under armour if outdoors in winter.” Jon: “Yup, VIPER ones here too! The original Hoodie was massively flawed in build-quality but the newer versions are much better imo. Stitching seems better and more densely packed, resulting in no pulling (especially at the cuffs). The actual fleece material seems better quality too, with a degree more wind resistance. I use it whenever I’m detailing or working on the cars as well as for airsoft, and it’s been a real life saver.” Jase: “Helikon double layer Patriot fleece for me. This jacket is an absolute legend. Had it about eight years now and is worn in everyday life along with airsoft. Basically, look no further! The Patriot Heavy Fleece Jacket is still one of the best fleece jackets Helikon-Tex offer in my opinion. It’s designed for tactical use in extreme weather and features an adjustable, small- visored hood for additional protection, as well as a set of pockets for your
essentials. The chest pockets have wiring eyelets for small devices and comms and three external pockets are in easily reachable areas, on the upper and left lower sleeve. Elbows are reinforced for additional wear and tear and the jacket can be individually adjusted with Velcroadjustable cuffs and elastic drawstrings in hood and jacket bottom. It’s also excellent at controlling core temperature thanks to underarm zippers that still work when you’re wearing a plate carrier!” Robbie: “Thick or thin? I have a fleece vest I still wear that’s thinner but super quality and works for a slight chill, versus a thick fleece jacket I never touch... outside of work while in Switzerland in winter that is!” Bill W-R: “I run a very cheap eBay “woodland” fleece that has been treated with Nikwax polar proof. My other fleece is a blue zipped fleece from Uneek as they do them in my size and is treated again with Polarproof to make it water resistant. Personally, it’s a case of whatever you are comfortable with.” Hana: “I wear extra base layers, Under Armor, rather than a fleece under my tactical gear to stay warm before the game and keep dry after the game. It’s the solution that works best for me.” Jimmy: “My one and only fleece was issued to me as part of our Red Cell kit, a very nice VIPER fleece hoody. I should have listened when Bill said go for the XXL as the XL is a little tight on my Adonis-like torso but nevertheless it was “issued” so one shall wear it! On its own it hasn’t got much in the way of “windstop” properties but doubled up with a nice softshell it really does give very effective warmth. It offers up two velcro patches located at the bicep which is a perfect size for our favourite patches and it sports a nice hood for when that cold is biting at the ears.” So, there seems to be a real cross-section of answers to this question but for most it would seem www.airsoftaction.net
TAP/CLICK IMAGES FOR MORE INFORMATION
THE CAGE TACTICAL OPTICS FLEECE
to be a well-priced and versatile garment, the VIPER Hoodie! I’d add myself to this group, as I have a couple, and I live in them both on and off the field! It’s a very well-priced, thoroughly affordable pullover that’s available in lots of different colours and camo patterns and, as Jon commented, the latest iteration is actually superb quality! You’ll see the VIPER Hoody appearing in Red Cell pictures quite regularly as this is the model we chose as our “Team Fleece”! Like Jase I also have a Helikon-Tex fleece which I adore but mine is the ALPHA GRID Jacket. Our friends in Poland are real masters when it comes to fleece products and I’ve had one of their heavyweight, hooded Patriot jackets in my gear locker for over eight years too and it’s still going strong! Helikon offer a fabulous selection of performance fleece products in various weights within their range so you can custom tailor your gear to your own performance level or task. The 100% polyester ALPHA fleece is warm, comfortable and lightweight and a part of Helikon’s Urban Tactical line. It features a high collar with chin guard and a strong full-front YKK zipper, which can be fastened to the neck. It also has one zip chest pocket with a comms port inside, two lower zip pockets and an elastic drawstring with cord locks on both sides sewn into the waistband. The cuffs are elasticated, tight enough to keep the arms from riding up, but not as tight as to be uncomfortable. The fleece itself is incredibly soft even when worn directly next to the skin, and as the majority of the sewn seams are flatlocked there are zero abrasion points. The front face of the jacket is also mesh lined, adding to the overall insulative properties and giving some degree of wind protection. The collar is double thickness to again keep the elements at bay. The fit of the Alpha is quite technical, fitting snugly to avoid creating cold “dead air spaces” when you wear it as part of a layering system. I’m normally an XL in jackets and Helikon-Tex’s sizing is spot on. If, however, you are still carrying a few extra pounds you might consider going up one size! My other “go to” is the AVICEDA from Clawgear. This lightweight, mid-layer garment is extremely comfortable to wear and the modern styling allows a full range of unrestricted movement. It’s made from a 100% polyester fleece fabric which looks and feels great, and high quality YKK zips are used throughout. The fleece itself is water repellent and breathes extremely well, making the Aviceda a superb layering piece. I especially like the low-profile hood which works perfectly in conjunction with a hard or softshell outer layer, effectively eliminating cold spots
around the neckline. The Aviceda also benefits from two lower, mesh-lined handwarmer pockets, pockets on both upper arms with velcro patches for team/ unit patches, and an inner pocket which allows routing for comms cables. The outer pockets are neatly trimmed with black fabric which gives the jacket a visually stunning appearance as well. Weighing in at just 410g the Aviceda is easy to pack and takes up minimal space in a pack, so it’s absolutely ideal if you want to stow it away “just in case”. Overall, it’s a superbly designed jacket made of high-end fabrics and components and the finish of it just oozes quality and attention to detail. If you’re in the market for a new performance fleece jacket in the very latest “tacticool” colours then I would thoroughly recommend you take a very close look at the Aviceda. Should a good fleece or two therefore be in your personal gear locker? Technically I believe it should but it’s your own needs and your own personal performance levels that will dictate exactly what you should buy. If, like me, you naturally have a high metabolism and “run hot” then a thin, 100-weight fleece jacket or pullover is probably all you’ll ever need. If however you “feel the cold” then 200 or even 300-weight will be the kiddy but even with all this in mind, if you play year-round then you’ll probably want a couple of different weights for versatility. AA
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
CLASSIC aUTOMAT KALASHNIKOVA IN AN AIRSOFT WORLD DOMINATED BY AR/M4 REPLICAS THIS MONTH RED CELL PUT THEIR FOCUS ON A FAMILY OF FIREARMS THAT RIGHTLY BEARS THE DESCRIPTION “ICONIC” - AND THAT’S THE KALASHNIKOV IN ALL ITS WORKMANLIKE FORMS. THIS MONTH THEY TAKE A LOOK AT “THE CLASSICS” AND BILL SETS THE SCENE…
ooking back, on many occasions in my personal reviews I have used the word “iconic” to describe an airsoft replica and perhaps I do so too easily. But, when it comes to one single firearm, there is absolutely no doubt that someone with even the most fleeting of interest in firearms will immediately recognise the distinctive angular, some might even say “agricultural” outline of the Automat Kalashnikova or “AK”. Wherever you look at the moment, for the right or the wrong reasons, you will see the AK on news reports and on the front page of most daily newspapers. From Eastern Europe in the 1950s to the Middle East of the current day, the AK has been, and is still, the weapon of choice. And that’s not just the “bad guys”, as the AK will quite often be the weapon issued in theatre to private military contractors or “PMCs”. The AK has been available in vast numbers worldwide since its introduction in 1947, hence the nomenclature. “Introduction” is strictly not the correct word though, as it was only prototypes with the first serial numbers that entered service in that year. It was not until 1948 that the Soviet Army started receiving this remarkable rifle as general issue but since that date, in one iteration or another, the Kalashnikov “machine” has continued to roll. Towards the end of WWII the Russians had 46
managed to capture various models of the German “Sturmgewehr”, a revolutionary design that had transformed the capabilities of their foes on the Eastern Front. The “Stg” made use of an intermediate cartridge heavier than that of a submachine gun, but lighter than that of a traditional bolt-action rifle. Looking to the success the Germans were achieving with both the cartridge and the weapons platform utilising it, the Soviets decided that they needed to look in the same direction. In March 1944 the new 7.62×39mm M43 intermediate cartridge went into mass production and at the same time the Soviet planners decided that a whole range of new small arms should use it, including a semi-automatic carbine, a fully automatic rifle, and a light machine gun. Design contests for these new weapons began in earnest in 1944. Numerous Russian firearms designers immediately jumped on board with the project, including seasoned veterans of the industry such as Tokarev, the inventor of the army pistol already tried and tested in service. However, it was a relatively new designer that came to the fore, a former army officer who would give his name to the rifle that would become a symbol to communist inspired nationalists worldwide. That man was Mikhail Kalashnikov. Whilst wounded and convalescing, the young officer had tinkered with plans for various types of infantry weapon but none
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
of his designs were adopted. It was not until the later 1940s that his designs were given a serious look and it was not until the trials of 1946 that his design team in Kovrov submitted an entry to the military for appraisal. It was a gas-operated rifle which had a breech-block mechanism similar to Kalashnikov’s older designs but which fed from a distinctive, curved 30-round magazine. Kalashnikov’s rifles, AK-1 and −2 proved to be reliable and the weapon was accepted to a second round of trials, along with designs by Dementyev and Bulkin. In late 1946 during testing, Aleksandr Zaitsev, an assistant to Kalashnikov, suggested a major redesign of the AK-1, already impressive given its milled receiver, to improve reliability. Although initially sceptical, Zaitsev managed to persuade Kalashnikov and changes were made. The new rifle proved to be simple and reliable under a wide range of conditions with convenient handling characteristics; prototypes with serial numbers one to three were completed in November 1947. Production of the first army trial series began in early 1948 at the Izhevsk factory and in 1949 it was adopted by the Soviet Army as “7.62 mm Kalashnikov Assault Rifle”. And so began the legend of the AK. Used around the world and produced under licence by many communist states, the AK47 proved to be a formidable and highly effective battlefield rifle. Unbelievably rugged and durable it was said that the AK would fire even after having been buried in mud for considerable periods. Incredibly easy to maintain, it was the ideal weapon for poorly trained indigenous forces as well as for trained soldiers. That said, anyone who has ever fired a real AK will tell you that the recoil is also somewhat formidable too and the rifle hard to control unless you really put your mind to it. Once controlled though it is accurate out to 400 metres which is more than sufficient for most infantrymen. Changing methods of deployment meant that Soviet troops were delivered to the battlefield in vehicles and the AK went through further development to include models with an underfolding, skeletonised stock which dramatically reduced the length of the rifle when used by paratroopers or motorised infantry. The safety mechanism also differed from the traditional “safe, semi, auto” format, becoming instead “safe, auto, semi”. This at first seems unusual but given the Soviet preference to engage the enemy with overwhelming force utilising fully automatic fire perhaps it is not actually so. The AK47 is undoubtedly a fine combat weapon and initial models were actually very, very well made.
Unfortunately, this also meant it was expensive and involved to produce, so eventually changes were made and the AKM (M standing for Modernizirovanniy or Modernised) entered service, followed in time by the AK74 which also heralded a change in calibre. The AK-74M is probably still the main service rifle in use with the Russian Federation forces these days and the days of perfectly mated wood and metal have pretty much long gone with new polymer and glass-filled polyamides helping to save those forests! The AK-74M is an improved variant of the AK-74 assault rifle that offers more versatility compared to its predecessor. As well as the Russian Federation, the AK-74M (and the shorter AKS74U) is also used by the armed forces of Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan but if you look across the entire Kalashnikov “family tree” that list becomes significantly longer and, in my mind, this makes it one of the most versatile airsoft replicas out there! If, like me, you’re a fan of the AK, or simply want something different from the slew of “M4 variants” out there, then there has actually never been a better time to own an airsoft AK. With newer companies like LCT, E&L, and Specna Arms now making some righteous replicas and all the older manufacturers like CYMA, Classic Army, ICS, and Tokyo Marui upgrading their offerings to now include upgraded internals and the “100 series”, the choice of “Airsoft AK” has never been wider. If you want anything from a standard AK AEG, through gas blowbacks, to new and innovative “recoil” models they are all there for the taking!
Bill: “For once I’m actually going to start off with my own comments in relation to testing, as I have an admission to make. Many of the AK models featured this month (and those that will be featured next month when we come to “tacticool AKs”) are www.airsoftaction.net
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
TMAKS47 NGRS Price: iro UK£399.00 Age: New Weight: 3155 g Length: 630mm/875mm Magazine Capacity: 90 BBs, proprietary for full function Cold Chrono: 0.84 Joule/300.6fps Hot Chrono: 0.84 Joule/300.9fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.iwholesales.co.uk G&G RK47 Price: iro UK£150.00 Age: Two Years Weight: 2300g Length: 890mm Magazine Capacity: 60, will accept most AK-style Cold Chrono: 0.93 Joule/318fps Hot Chrono: 0.92 Joule/315fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.nuprol.com
LCT LCKMS Price: iro UK£370.00 Age: Four Years Weight: 3500g Length: 660mm/900 mm Magazine Capacity: 130, will accept most AK-style Cold Chrono: 1.03 Joule/334fps Hot Chrono: 1.01 Joule/331.8fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.fire-support.co.uk
E&L AKM Platinum Price: iro UK£385.00 Age: Three Years Weight: 3485g Length: 916mm Magazine Capacity: 120, will accept most AK-style Cold Chrono: 0.99 Joule/327.9fps Hot Chrono: 0.99 Joule/327.9fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.nuprol.com
BOLT AKS 74U BRSS Price: iro UK£420.00 Age: New Weight: 3100g Length: 510mm/730mm Magazine Capacity: 120 (2), will accept most AKstyle Cold Chrono: 0.98 Joule/325.1fps Hot Chrono: 0.97 Joule/324.4fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.nuprol.com 48
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
LCT LCKS74UN EBB Price: iro UK£330.00 Age: New Weight: 2685g Length: 490mm/730mm Magazine Capacity: 130, will accept most AK-style Cold Chrono: 1.01 Joule/330fps Hot Chrono: 1.01 Joule/330fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: Dedicated Muzzle Brake Supplied By: www.nuprol.com
Specna Arms SA-J04 Price: iro UK£160.00 Age: 1 Year Weight: 3240g Length: 710mm/945mm Magazine Capacity: 130 (2), will accept most AK style Cold Chrono: 1.13 Joule/349.7fps Hot Chrono: 1.07 Joule/341.9fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.gunfire.com CYMA CM.048 AK74 Price: iro UK£130.00 Age: Two Years Weight: 3290g Length: 960mm Magazine Capacity: 525, will accept most AK-style Cold Chrono: 1.07 Joule/340fps Hot Chrono: 1.07 Joule/340fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.taiwangun.com
ICS IK74 (Wood) Price: iro UK£330.00 Age: Five Years Weight: 3314g Length: 960mm Magazine Capacity: 550, will accept most AK-style Cold Chrono: 1.13 Joule/350fps Hot Chrono: 1.1 Joule/345fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.fire-support.co.uk
Specna Arms J-08 EDGE Price: iro UK£155.00 Age: New Weight: 3245g Length: 590mm/825mm Magazine Capacity: 130 (2) will accept most AKstyle Cold Chrono: 1.08 Joule/341.9fps Hot Chrono: 1.08 Joule/341.6fps Taclite Compatibility: None Suppressor Compatibilty: 14mm CCW Supplied By: www.gunfire.com www.airsoftaction.net
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
from my personal OPFOR “Kollection” and have seen some action! That said, all of them have been left completely stock as personally I don’t change anything in an AEG until it malfunctions and, thus far, NOT ONE of the AKs that are my own have failed and that in itself says something does it not? And what surprised me was how consistent these AK models proved to be… the figures don’t lie! “Although they’re pretty quiet, CYMA are one of the biggest manufacturers of RIFs and airsoft products in the world. Based in China, there are actually two separate CYMA factories, with one making “budget” guns and the other making more expensive and advanced models. You really don’t hear a lot direct from CYMA themselves about new models and new advances, instead they leave their products to speak for themselves and their AK74 most certainly does this. This super AK has all the usual benefits of other CYMA models, including steel and aluminium construction and internals that are renowned for their reliability. It comes with a 500BB polymer magazine, so what you get is a superb-looking AEG for not much more than a decent GBB pistol that’s “skirmish ready”! This is a thoroughly modern airsoft rifle that costs iro £200 so you’re getting a great bit of kit that looks utterly superb, feels so solid that you could use it to hammer nails and is perfectly adequate in terms of performance. “It’s got to be said that Specna Arms (SA) AEGs are just getting better and better, with levels of personalization and performance that even a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have believed possible in an AEG! With solid performance out of the box, reasonably cheap accessories and magazines should you need more and an introductory price of just €159,
the SA-J04 is a great bit of kit. If you’re in the market for something other than the “M4”, then I’d really suggest you take a good long look at this model. On the range the first SA AKs gave very respectable performance, so I expected - and received - more from the new J08, with pretty solid range and accuracy too. First, I ran the rifle through the chrono on .20g RZR BBs and recorded and consistent 1.06 Joule/338fps. A 7.4V LiPo battery fits easily under the top cover but if you’re judicious you can squeeze in an 11.1V pack, which brings up the ROF quite seriously! My only quibble with the original J-Series was the top-cover latch, which seemed a little “short and I felt needed to be a couple of millimetres “prouder” to ensure a solid lock. I’m pleased to report that SA have taken note of this and made a change to ensure that the new version locks perfectly. I am happy that Specna Arms have given an uplift to their AK AEG platform and although the ASTER™/GCS is currently only available on a number of models (J01-J08) right now, if you’re looking for an airsoft AK, then Specna Arms are now right up there with the best of them in terms of build and performance! “LCT offer products that are not only cost effective but also reliable in performance and solid in build quality. The LCKMS features the same high-quality external build expected of LCT products which will give good, reliable long-term performance. Overall, the features are excellent with a full steel receiver and barrel assembly, beautifully achieved wooden foreend, correctly coloured pistol grip and a rock-solid folding stock. Enhanced by high quality externals, scrupulously achieved internals and extreme attention to detail, the LCKMS is a strong, reliable rifle for those that love the AK platform and want a viable “MilSim” alternative to gas for the depth of winter. The LCKMS chronos really consistently, so if you like your classic Russian gear, are a regular OPFOR player, or just want something different then the LCKMS could be the right RIF for you. It has all the benefits of a full-stocked variant with the added versatility of the under-folding stock, and is a top-quality AEG, so you really can’t go wrong with this one! “E&L Airsoft have teamed up with partners known for making very high quality internal parts for the Japanese market, so the internals are interchangeable with others out there. Inside there’s a Type 3 gearbox employing Japanese technology with super tensile pistons, tappet plates, and high torque motor. Not only are the E&Ls
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
beautifully finished externally with extensive use of steel parts, but inside things are equally precise. With the distinctive slanted muzzle brake along with quality woodwork it almost has that factory-fresh feel about it, and it arrives very lightly oiled so you even get “that smell”. E&L go as far as supplying a green plastic oil bottle as part of the deal, which indicates to me that the externals will need to be kept maintained. With a retail price iro £300 this is one hell of a performer! Okay, I am biased because I love the AKM so much as a model, but after owning many I have to tell you that this is genuinely one of the very best AEG versions I’ve ever encountered. The externals are absolutely spot on, the internals are the very best they can be, and the performance is first rate. “Lastly I’ll touch briefly on the recoils; I do love recoil in an AEG and both the BOLT and the TM are things of engineering beauty! I’ve been lucky with my own BOLT AKS74U but then I’m careful with my AEGs and maintain them regularly, as I’ve heard from Marcus that he’s seen some issues with this model. Mine continues to work well, although I’d suggest you take a look at his comments later in this test report; bottom line is that the BOLT is beautifully made and looks stunning! Unlike some, I don’t believe that everything that TM make is sheer airsoft perfection and although there are features in the classic AKS47 NGRS that I love, like the cutoff/recock, the AEG feels very fragile to me and I hate the fact that they still insist on using “fake wood”. With both the BOLT and the TM the battery compartments are small too, the smallest of any of the AEGs on test, and although battery technology has improved vastly, I’d still like to see space in both for a battery that would last me an entire gameday!” Marcus: “The TM AKS47, now this is a great gun as long as you can deal with it only pushing about 290/300 fps - but come on guys this is a TM! It may not have FPS but it certainly makes up for it with range and reliability as long as you use a 7.4 volt battery; TMs don’t like 11.1! The build quality is what you would expect from TM, which is excellent, but the recoil is… well… a bit like an anaemic wet fart! It’s not that good but it’s a TM... If you want a really good AEG out of the box and you don’t mind the FPS then the NGRS could be the gun for you but don’t mess with it, if you start it’s a money pit! If you want FPS and 11.1 v batteries then this gun is not for you but I would be more than happy to use this in a game.
“The E&L AKM… Now this is a gun that, like Bill, I love! It has the best full metal body for an AK I have ever had my hands on, not surprising as the steel stampings are made in the same factory that makes the real thing (or so we’re told)! The woodwork is great, well-made and finished and the gearbox is a solid model that works well - but there is a downside. Out of the box you should use a 7.4 AK stick battery in it, mainly because the piston is a one-metal-tooth reinforced plastic version and really doesn’t appreciate the high rate of fire an 11.1v battery can produce. The other downside to this one is where the battery is housed, which is under the bolt cover (a throwback to the original TM AK47 days back in the early 1990s) so you need to use a long thinner style of battery. If you don’t mind that and you don’t mind the price tag then this could be the gun for you as they are superb . “The BOLT SU is another recoil gun, and it really is a great gun with bags of kick! But there’s another 800lb gorilla in the room… That recoil comes at a cost and that is the battery, a small 11.1v 800MAH Lipo battery that is housed in the lower front grip and, quite frankly, this is way too small a battery for any recoil gun and it shows! The gun I had from brand new managed three mid cap mags before the battery was dead and when I recharged it and tried the gun again, the gun had a heart attack and did a gear! I sorted that with a new set of BOLT recoil gears but then it completely destroyed the recoil main spring! After I replaced that, the gun worked fine other than the battery life is crap. I may of just had a “Friday Afternoon” gun, who knows? Bill is more than happy with his own and all that said, when the gun works it is awesome on full-auto and you will struggle to keep the gun on target - just like the real thing!
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
“If you want a great AK with no whistles or bells, then the CYMA AK74 could be the one for you. It’s simply a great full metal, great working AEG. Let’s be frank, all we ultimately want is a gun to shoot straight and work reliably and this gun dose all this. It’s just great and at half the price of some of the other guns on the market, the body is a steel stamping like the real thing and well-made and well put together, with woodwork that is nicely made and finished. The hop unit is a nice full metal variant and works well with the gear box, and also works fine with the barrel and hop rubber which are both okay. All could be upgraded for a bit extra which would be worth it, but that could be said of most out of the box AEGs! The side folding stock is nice and pretty strong but again, as with a lot of AKs out at the moment, the only downside that I can see is the battery that (like the E&L and to be fair a large proportion of AKs) is housed under the bolt, cover forcing you to use AK stick batteries. Not a major problem but it can be a pain to get in sometimes and not damage the wiring, which would be a bad thing if you are using a LiPo! Other than that, if you don’t want a to pay the high prices for some of the other AKs then this AEG is highly recommended, as they simply just keep going and going if looked after.” Chris: “AK’s, like AR’s, come in many guises nowadays. However, classic AKs, like Classic ARs, are simple, smart and the combination of metal and wood is sincerely good looking. Out of the bunch we tested my favourite was the E&L AKM, purely for the reason that it has that quintessential AK style rifle with the real version firing the equally quintessential 7.62x39 round. For those into their historical kits it’s perfect for Vietnam era loadouts (the NVA being issued the AKM and Chinese Type 56 rifles over the much rarer AK-47) “For those into playing as OPFOR (much like myself) the classic AKM is again ideal for that “bad guy” look western culture has ingrained in our minds. The E&L itself is extremely robust with no movement in any parts and it shots smoothly with a very fitting rate of fire on a 7.4v LiPo, and that’s all you can ask for from an Airsoft AK Replica!” Jase: “With my Mother’s 70th birthday going down on the Red Cell test day, I could only give an hour to help test out the AKs. So, with that in mind, I was very selective in what I took to the range. What would I spend my money on and the answer was the ICS AK74 and the Specna J08. Now, truth be told, I’m not an AK guy, too agricultural for my taste. Both went through the chrono without issue and gave very consistent results for RIFs that have had a fair few BBs 52
through them but the ICS was a fair bit lower in FPS when compared to the Specna. “Starting with the Specna right off the bat I almost drew blood! The trigger guard was larger than anticipated and rough in its appearance to the point it nearly skinned me alive!! This has always been an “AK gripe” of mine and I wasn’t disappointed, lol. Build quality was okay but it felt a bit “loose” and the pistol grip needed a good tightening up. ROF was fine and hit the targets consistently. “Now onto the ICS. This version had a very “classic” feel to it, which I strangely appreciated. I had no issue with my knuckles being skinned as the fatter motor grip sorted out the issue. I really liked the fact the top cover was easy to access. It had a very solid feel to it and I felt that of all of the AKs on test, this would have been the one I’d take out to a Skirmish Field. ROF was fine and I was hitting the steels with good accuracy.” Jimmy: “A day of AK. I knew this day would arrive and I knew I would have to keep an open mind as, ultimately, it isn’t about me, me, me but about you. It’s no secret that I’m no fan of AK style rifles and I’m not one to hide it either. When it comes to AK I’m not a lover of the early look. I hate the thin pistol grips and I don’t like the wooden parts, they just look old. “But onto the guns! The LCT range are really quite perfect in all honesty and, from what I understand, LCT use the same solid reliable internals across the range of different variations. The workings of the LCT were spot on, as I was expecting it to be sluggish with an overly long trigger pull when, in actual fact, it was quite the opposite! It was really very responsive, allowing quite a fast ROF on semi auto and a very respectable ROF on full auto. Not being an AK guy, I kept getting full and semi mixed up which is a pain; I can’t understand why they continue to use that configuration on the fire select! I’m used to safe, semi, full. OOTB though, the LCT was spot on and a real mind-changer on my opinions of AK’s. This isn’t a budget AK, as it does have quite a high price tag, but you are getting one mean AK! “The E&L AKM. What a beast of a rifle this thing is! A heavyweight contender and it actually feels like you are holding the real deal! Everything about this screams “Soviet”! It’s an actual pleasure to hold and shoot and whilst the E&L AKM is not the most responsive, it isn’t a “slug-head” and I’m not going to worry about this thing failing on me as everything felt solid. Fire select was very precise yet easy to select with one finger, although I still kept mixing up semi and full. I’ll get there eventually! Velocity was up there
RED CELL CLASSIC AK
around the 330fps mark, so you know you’re good to go wherever you play. “Now this might sound contradictive to what I said about not liking the classic AK but for the day I overlooked my personal preferences and I did enjoy testing the TM. I am a TM fanboy, there’s no denying it. The TM NGRS was very nice to use and quality was typical TM perfection as usual. A very solid piece indeed; when chrono’d I was surprised to see it hitting over 280fps, as it was around 300fps on .20g. It had a nice feature which required you to rack the bolt before you could fire and it had a nice, positive recoil which I really enjoyed. Once the mag was empty the cut-off would kick in alerting you to reload another mag. Being a classic it didn’t have any points for attachments and sadly TM did not include any point for fitting a mount for a scope, which I would have liked to see. I wish we had a bit more range so I could have tested it on distance, but we make do with what we have in “times of covid” and the impact point at the distance we had was very consistent. If TM were to do a tactical version I would be all over it to be perfectly honest. Oh wait, they do now, don’t they!!! “To conclude on my feelings. Specna have excelled with their new line of AK’s and keeping up appearances have made some pretty solid rifles. I love the quality of Specna giving you the premium feel with a very pocket friendly price. Everything about Specna just seems to work perfectly. Both models were very similar externally and come in two flavours, the standard series and the EDGE series which incorporates the Gate ASTER. I’m becoming very fond of the Gate ASTERs due to the fact they aren’t expensive and they seriously enhance the performance of any rifle. I would recommend to any player, from noob to pro, that Specna rifles are worth their weight! Both Specnas were spot on velocity wise, boasting between 340 and 350fps, which is very respectable for an OOTB rifle that will probably drop a little after a few thousand BBs have been sent through it.” Jon: “There’s something to be said for simplicity. In a world full of endless choices be it, food, music, films or weapon systems sometimes it’s nice to have either this or that. That’s where the Classic AK falls for me. It’s either this or that, an island paradise in an endless sea. “Truth be told, I’ve always been about that “Tacticool Lyfe” but there’s solace in simplicity. Even my own AK is a CYMA Magpul Replica adorned with fancy attachments. Due to this, I was looking forward to a simple day with some classic AKs. It’s not so simple though, you see the more-well versed will
know that there are more variants than the 47 but to the vast majority it’s just that. Yes, there is the 47, 74, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, SU, M and S and so on and they come in a variety of spicy flavours but we’re not getting into that here. We looked at wood (or plastic wood) furnitured classics and it was great! “Many, many times we (me mostly) asked “What one is this one?” Every day is a school day right? You live, you learn. What I really learned through the day was that I can really appreciate “no frills” airsoft. With the exception of a few proprietary mags, everything and anything fits. Pick up a mag, insert and shoot. In my opinion the classic AK is THE way to start airsoft. Pick up a few mags, pick up a rifle and away you go. No need for full regalia, no need for specific kit or camo. So let’s look at what I tested (All FPS readings were with the hop off). “TM AKS47. Averaging 300fps. It’s a TM but it felt more sturdy than the offerings of old. It was an accurate, fun little shooter and the recoil system made it my firm favourite. LCT AKMS. Averaging 330fps. Another simplistic set up, feels good and solid. The response felt good and it felt nicely balanced. E&L AKM. Average 328 FPS. Another well-built offering. I caught my finger on the trigger guard a couple of times but that’s not a problem with the design, it was definitely user error! It shot well, was accurate enough over the short range and target acquisition felt good. SA J AK74S & SA J AK105s. 354 & 341fps respectively. I’ve got to say, I enjoyed shooting these. They felt snappy, had a “thunker, thunker” feel to them that I like from an AK and shot exceptionally well. “These offerings would be more than enough for me to part with my hard-earned cash, for sure. I still feel like you can’t go wrong with a CYMA though. Ol’ reliable. Plenty of replacement parts on the shelves and you know what you’re getting into. A CYMA will last you forever if you look after it. “Today, I feel at peace with airsoft and that’s nice. It’s a good place to be.” AA
BLACK / BROWN / TITANIUM / SRP: £49.95
STRETCH PANTS BLACK / DARK COYOTE / GREEN / SRP: £69.95
VORSK DIARY VORSK VENGEANCE
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE! SOMETIMES JUST THE NAME OF A NEW MODEL LEADS US TO A VERY CORNY TITLE, BUT THERE’S NOTHING AT ALL CORNY ABOUT THE LATEST GBB PISTOL TO COME OUT OF THE VORSK CUSTOM SHOP PROGRAM AND AS THE CS VENGEANCE WILL BE IN STORES SOON, IT’S TIME FOR BILL TO START A WHOLE NEW DIARY ENTRY!
f you’re anything like me, it seems like a very long, LONG time since we entered the most recent lockdown and I will admit that it’s been a challenge (even for me) to keep properly enthused about new things hitting the airsoft market, for as much as they are fabulous creations without doubt, not being able to use any of them in game has been a struggle! Regular range session may have kept my eye in when it comes to hitting a target but the fact that these have all been on my own, means that a very vital ingredient has been missing - that of the companionship of my teammates, players and industry friends that I’m used to seeing on a regular basis. We have been lucky enough in the past few weeks to finally reconvene, at least in part, the Red Cell crew, but all of us are keen to get out to a game and actually have fun just playing together as friends. Luckily for us we’ve had an invite to attend a private game in June, and all of us are excited about this, not only as it will be our first run-out together for some considerable time, but it also happens that the site is close to home for Ross, the main man behind VORSK, so we’re hoping that he’ll be able to join us when it comes to “Game On”! In the meantime, my range sessions will continue apace and I’ve really been looking forward to a particular GBB pistol that I’ve known was on the way for a while, namely the VORSK CS VENGEANCE! This particular pistol is not only VORSK’s first Hi-Capa
variant to come through their Custom Shop program, but also the very first where VORSK Tech, Mark, has had a clear solo-run at designing a GBB from the ground up from concept to realised reality - so this is exciting for me and I am absolutely certain for him too! I’ve been lucky enough to know Mark for many moons; he’s one of those private guys that sits quietly behind the scenes just getting “sh1t done” and you can take it from me that he’s a very knowledgeable and very capable “tech” with many years of experience building AEGs and GBBs. What happens though, when a “tech”, even a great one like Mark, gets the reins to create a new model? Awesomeness is my answer! When compared to VORKS’ standard 5.1 Hi-Capas, the CS VENGEANCE features a new adjustable rear iron-sight, an extended magazine base plate and the inclusion of a floating BDS option. The slide markings are a new pattern with some forward cut-outs revealing the fluted outer barrel within. A common feature of VORSK Hi-Capas is the inclusion of a muzzle cap that neatly covers a 12 mm (CW) to 14 mm (CCW) thread adaptor, making their Hi-Capas “attachment ready”, especially with a cracking rail on the front lower of the frame! Inspiration has been taken from a popular race-platform sidearm and, under Mark’s direction, the VORSK team have furthered this design by introducing the floating BDS option to the world of airsoft replicas. This is a great feature that allows you to run a red dot if you’re on the range
VORSK DIARY VROSK VENGEANCE
slide, the grip angle and operation is both familiar and comfortable. It’s as if Mark has taken that classic “rake” and feature set and incorporated it into a new,
competing, but one that is easily removable if you want to slide the VENGEANCE into your regular Hi-Capa gameday holster. It’s a simple yet elegant solution to mounting a red dot, and one that makes the VENGEANCE eminently versatile! I’m also loving the fact that VORSK have been extremely bold with their colour choices with the VENGEANCE, with some very distinct colours including a Metallic Red and a Dark Earth/ Tan variant. There’s also a really cool and muted Grey version and for once I was REALLY torn which to pick, as they all look great! As I’ve been running my DELTA Recon Alpha AEG as my personal “race rifle” with some OTT red furniture and accessories though (some of you may have seen this if you were at the last National Airsoft Festival before C-19 knackered us all…), so I’ve ordered the Metallic Red as it marries up VERY well! VORSK have obviously wanted to make a firm statement of intent when it comes to what they are able to achieve with the Custom Shop Program, and the net result of this is the VENGEANCE. This model moves on from what has come before with a modern yet elegant look that is right on the nose for current pistol design; luckily I was able to beg a pre-production model for test and evaluation! With this Hi-Capa they’ve kept things completely streamlined without any fuss; this is a pistol fundamentally designed to be shot, to be used rather than just carried in a holster. Even though the design is obviously at variance with the lines of a “classic 1911” in terms of both the frame and
stylish design that works well and looks great. Although the frame and slide are very different from the classic style though, the VENGEANCE fits sweetly into all my “1911” holsters, both Kydex and leather with the floating BDS
removed. Using NP 2.0 gas and the new .20g VORSK Precision BBs, from the box the VENGEANCE chrono’d at 0.98 Joule/325FPS. The pistol feels great, cycles smoothly, has a super recoil impulse and the scaled polymer VORSK grip keeps it firmly in your hand. The flared magwell and extended magazine www.airsoftaction.net
VORSK DIARY VROSK VENGEANCE
base plate help with swift changes when you run dry and with the red dot fitted it’s supremely easy to track from target to target if you’re shooting plates or spinners. If you want to run a suppressor then it’s no bother at all and fitting a taclite such as the NX300 is simplicity itself! Overall, this is another fabulous addition to the VORSK GBB pistol line and I believe that Mark has shown yet again he’s quite a bit more than your average tech! The CS VENGEANCE moves the VORSK range on in another marvellous direction and I’m looking forward to getting many, MANY more BBs through my own as soon as it arrives, and of course I’ll report back in due course. For now, it’s another big, HUGE well done to Mark and the rest of the VORSK team and I am genuinely fascinated and excited to see where their design-mind heads next; it’s sure to be interesting! AA
“THE FLARED MAGWELL AND EXTENDED MAGAZINE BASE PLATE HELP WITH SWIFT CHANGES WHEN YOU RUN DRY AND WITH THE RED DOT FITTED IT’S SUPREMELY EASY TO TRACK FROM TARGET TO TARGET IF YOU’RE SHOOTING PLATES OR SPINNERS.” www.airsoftaction.net
FEATURE AIRSOFT PORTUGAL
FEATURE AIRSOFT PORTUGAL
IT’S THRILLING TO HEAR THAT MORE AND MORE COUNTRIES ARE EMERGING FROM THE STRICTURES OF C-19 LOCKDOWN, AND THAT GAMES AND AIRSOFT EVENTS ARE KICKING BACK INTO GEAR! BILL TOUCHED BASE WITH HIS FRIEND AND DEDICATED AIRSOFTER, MIGUEL OLIVERA IN PORTUGAL, TO FIND A LITTLE MORE ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING THERE RIGHT NOW!
f you are any kind of follower of really good airsoft content online, then you’re sure to have come across Miguel Olivera as he and his team-mates are dedicated players that are also great at taking pictures and documenting their experiences. During the course of this “C-19” thing I’m glad to say that he and I have got to know one another a little better and have spoken quite regularly. Like me, Miguel has been sure to keep up his posts in relation to airsoft and it’s always a pleasure when I see him post something on social media. I know that he and his team-mates were finally able to get together and train again at last, so I asked him how things had gone - and he not only told me but also sent me a great series of pictures too, that, with his permission. I will share with you here! This is what Miguel told me… “It has been another long lockdown, no Airsoft to relax and meet the fellas, unable to try new gear or simply breathe that fresh air in the field. But now, with the COVID numbers going down and the vaccines rolling in, we were finally able to get back out there, and oh boy have we missed it! “And with a lot of new gear to test for the first time, from uniforms to HPA systems, there is nothing better than going to one of our private fields (Yes! In Portugal teams can have private fields) with the gang and take our time to check everything. “One of the main novelties is the brand-new full OD uniforms that Gunfire (our sponsor - a big shoutout to them!) sent us. And why OD uniforms you may ask? Well, it’s quite simple; the main goal is to have a solid option for those games that have factions with no camo pattern and also to mix it up with our existing uniforms, M81 and ATACS-AU. “After making sure what was in order and what needed to be fixed, we ventured out to one of our woodland areas to feed our pew hunger. One of the drills/games that we do, when it’s just the guys, is simple; several two-man teams fight in a pre-determined area and everyone who is hit goes to the respawn, joins up with someone and goes back into the game area. That way we all play with different teammates and you never know where the enemy may come from. Simple, effective and with constant action. “After the game, we packed up our gear, went out and enjoyed a cold one and some good food - but that’s another story! I hope everyone is able to be back out there soon but remember to keep safe! No one wants to be back to a lockdown!” Miguel “Homer” Oliveira, Ghost Ops Airsoft Team” My sincere thanks go to Miguel for letting us share the pictures and we’re very, very pleased that he and the guys are getting their airsoft back on at last. His comments sum up our own feelings very well, and I hope that I’ll be sharing a “cold one” with him in the not-so-distant future. For now, if you don’t already, check out Miguel and his fellow GHOSTS at www.facebook.com/GhostOpsPortugal. AA www.airsoftaction.net
RELOADED ACTION ARMY AAP01
RIGHT FIRST TIMEFOR PISTOL 001?
AS THE AIRSOFT ACTION LONG-TERM TESTING PROGRAM GATHERS SPEED, WE’RE PLEASED TO BE REJOINED BY CONTIBUTOR STEVE T, AS HE TAKES A LONGER LOOK AT ACTION ARMY’S FULL AUTO PISTOL, THE AAP-01 ASSASSIN, NOW IT’S HAD SOME RANGETIME; IS IT REALLY AS GOOD AS WE FIRST THOUGHT?
here’s an unspoken rule amongst some airsofters that RIFs - even pistols - under £100 are going to be “not good”. They’re wrong! Red Wolf Airsoft obviously feels the same, awarding the AAP the number one spot in its Top 10 Airsoft Guns of 2020. The old adage that you get what you pay for may hold true in airsoft much as it does generally, but every now and again there’s an exception to the rule that makes us sit up and take notice. Action Army’s very first attempt at a gas-powered pistol is definitely in that club, with its budget approach to a Glock-18CRuger-hybrid - complete with full-auto fun switch. I started this review before the RWA Top 10 broke cover - and took a long time to finish it, largely thanks to COVID - but I still can’t disagree with their plaudits. Glock… SO very boring; snooze, thank you and goodnight! It’s almost as if some players can’t be bothered to put in an ounce of imagination to their loadout beyond what’s most popular. And that’s… fine. There’s nothing wrong with the obvious. But there is another way.
Action Army obviously felt the same when it approached the release of its first airsoft pistol - and the overwhelmingly positive user feedback on social media suggests they might be onto something. If you were an airsoft aftermarket company, the smart money would say that your new pistol should look distinctive but also share working parts with something popular and readily available such as the Tokyo Marui compatible G18C. And surprise-surprise, that’s exactly what Action Army has done with its AAP-01. The Assassin bears more than a passing resemblance to Ruger’s line of pistols from Connecticut USA. The marque is known for its cylindrical bolts that cycle inside a tubular receiver and a design philosophy dating back to 1949 that remained largely unchanged until 1982, when the MK II replaced the standard Ruger up to 2005 and it was lightly upgraded. Despite its old-fashioned appearance, the MK IV was introduced as recently as 2016. And the AAP-01 pistol shares that design
“…THE SMART MONEY WOULD SAY THAT YOUR NEW PISTOL SHOULD LOOK DISTINCTIVE BUT ALSO SHARE WORKING PARTS WITH SOMETHING POPULAR AND READILY AVAILABLE SUCH AS THE TOKYO MARUI COMPATIBLE G18C. AND SURPRISESURPRISE, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT ACTION ARMY HAS DONE WITH ITS AAP-01.” 62
RELOADED ACTION ARMY AAP01
with a “slide” that’s almost entirely static. If anything, it’s more like an upper receiver where the external moving parts are limited to two wings to the rear of the assembly. With less reciprocating mass to move, one very positive result is that we’ve found the AAP can clear up to four full magazines of around 20 BBs in semi-auto on a single fill of gas. Despite outward appearances, Action Army’s airsoft version relies heavily on the tried and tested airsoft cocktail of Marui-compatible innards and that all-important full auto “fun switch” from the G18C. There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a “Glock in a Frock” and only you can decide whether that party dress is better or worse than the everyday uniform, but at least it’s something different. It very much reminds me of an old wired videogame controller I had in the 80s, but it’s also reminiscent of the A-22B Chao from the recently released Cyberpunk 2077. Now THAT could make for a fun build…
…but oh so good in the hand! In terms of scale, it’s nearer the full-sized Glock 17 than its slightly more diminutive 19-designated sibling. The AAP’s construction is entirely plastic fantastic, so it comes in on the lighter side for a pistol at 665g, but Action Army used what feels like a decent quality polymer and it has a nice matte finish. The angle of the grip feels natural and the distinctive grip pattern is split in half on either side with an almost pebble-like texture to the fore. The front of the trigger guard and grip feature horizontal lines, while the rear of the grip has a grid of small squares. It might look like a bit of an aesthetic mismatch, but at least if feels good in the hand - especially the way your thumb naturally sits in a recess atop the grip. The mag release can be swapped from the left to the right, while the slide release works just as well on either side as standard. The safety above the trigger only works in one direction across the frame, but we can see it working equally well for left or right-handed users. But being a Glock clone, of course most players won’t even trouble with that switch because the AAP-01 features the distinctive scissor trigger with its built-in safety mechanism. This not-Glock is advertised as being “Based on the EU series platform”, so you should be set for spare magazines - including drum mags - backstraps and
stocks. The AAP is devoid of rails to mount accessories such as scopes or lights, but Action Army sells them separately to fit pre-drilled mounting points, both above the upper and beneath the barrel. There are already aftermarket upper rails that extend almost the entire length of the pistol and we’ve seen more than one tasty mod that turns this lightweight pistol into a proper rifle. Trades on the AAP are almost non-existent with “Read instruction before use” stamped and barely visible above the left grip, with “Made in Taiwan” on the other side. You’ll also find “CaL 6mm BB” on the ejection port, but you’d have to look pretty hard to find any of the markings. It comes fitted with “Light Enhancing Iron Sights”, which any other manufacturer would probably call fibre optics and be done. They’re pretty cool and work well. You can adjust the hop through the ejection port, though fellow sausage fingers might find they need something like a small flathead screwdriver to move the dial. It’s so easy to split the AAP - just press the full-width button at the rear and lift the top off that it’s almost more convenient to do it that way. Speaking of the hop, don’t panic if your brand new AAP doesn’t cycle completely and BBs just dribble out of the muzzle. You haven’t been sold a lemon; your hop is fully off and you just need to dial some in. The Outer Barrel has a straight fluted appearance, with a thread hider that unscrews to reveal it will readily accept 14mm counter clockwise (CCW)
suppressors and tracer units. Which is great but it’s a shame the threads are plastic that will inevitably soon wear. Best to fit your unit of choice and leave in place.
RELOADED ACTION ARMY AAP01
ONE SECOND, ONE MAGAZINE
The chrono shows a perfectly respectable average of 294 FPS and a site-legal maximum of 345, so there shouldn’t be any worries before a game. It’s something of a rarity to talk about Rate of Fire (ROF) with a pistol, but the AAP-01 yields around 15 Rounds Per Second (RPS) or 950 Rounds Per Minute (RPM). That means you’ll dump an entire mag in just over a second, which is every bit as much fun as it sounds! And that’s exactly why many owners are running AAP’s with extended - or even drum - mags... It’s just a shame that the selector switch is located under the slide/bolt to the rear. It’s easy enough to change between games even wearing gloves, but impossible to draw and select the fire mode on the Assassin like you would with a G18C. What you get is what you dialled in before you holstered it. A word of caution though: full auto is hard on the internals and can lead to early failures, with some owners reporting breakages within just a couple of mags. Action Army took - well, action - and updated parts for their latest batch as tested here, so this should now be less of a concern if you buy new. That’s if you can actually find them in stock, such has been this pistol’s popularity since launch. In any case, more durable aftermarket parts are both inexpensive and readily available if the worst does happen, so you won’t be left with a brick. As a compact sniper’s sidearm for those moments when the shizzle hits the proverbial within Minimum Engagement Distance (MED), a full auto pistol like this will be much easier to build into a loadout than even the smallest Sub Machine Gun (SMG). The Assassin is both quieter and more consistently accurate than most conventional Gas Blowback (GBB) pistols, precisely because there’s less reciprocating mass by design. Although it falls behind the mighty Marui’s MK23 as a sniper’s best friend on both counts, it makes more sense in many ways at half the price too and has that lovely full auto “Brrrrrrt…” to fall back on. Of course, accuracy takes a hit in full auto but you’ll cover a human-sized target at 25m or more with fewer outliers than you might expect from such an affordable RIF. Don’t expect to match longer - and much more expensive - GBB rifles and you won’t be disappointed.
Stepping back to semi auto to assess accuracy and the AAP-01 continues to impress. Up close and personal within 10m and you can confidently expect to either clear bunkers or repel boarders depending on the situation you find yourself in. At that range I was more than satisfied with how many times I could hit a drinks can, which is the equivalent of hitting an opponent on a single magazine pouch. Moving further back to a rested position at 25m and while the AAP performed just fine, it’s not the match of a dedicated rifle - although many users on social media feel otherwise. While the AAP works well with .25 or even .28 BBs, we found it struggles to effectively lift anything over .30, which is not unusual for a pistol, but might disappoint snipers that would prefer to use the same ammo across both their primary and secondary. But we know people who report good performance with even .40s as standard and have no doubt that light mods such as a new bucking would improve performance. Action Army’s AAP-01 Assassin ticks a lot of boxes: accuracy, range, distinctive looks and parts availability, plus a side order of full auto fun. And at a genuinely bargainous price point, too. Obviously, this pistol isn’t one for the MilSimmers out there and we probably wouldn’t recommend it as the only pistol in your loadout, though time will tell with regard to durability. But it’s easy to suggest the AAP as something different, fun and well worth the investment as an addition to your airsoft arsenal. This is a great little hellraiser that won’t break the bank. Accurate, fun and full auto in one affordable package - what’s not to like? AA
“THERE’S NO GETTING AWAY FROM THE FACT THAT THIS IS A “GLOCK IN A FROCK” AND ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE WHETHER THAT PARTY DRESS IS BETTER OR WORSE THAN THE EVERYDAY UNIFORM, BUT AT LEAST IT’S SOMETHING DIFFERENT.”
TECHNICAL SIMPLE YET EFFECTIVE
SIMPLE YET EFFECTIVE!
OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS JIMMY HAS BEEN DOING FURTHER FIELD TESTING ON A COUPLE OF OUR LONGTERM TEST RIFLES. IT’S ALWAYS A JOY TO GET OUT THERE WITH SOMETHING NEW AND GUCCI AND PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT AND TO SEE WHERE THEY EXCEL AND WHERE THEY DON’T QUITE CUT THE MUSTARD, SO JIMMY NOW BRINGS US SOME SOLUTIONS!
he two AEGs I’ve been testing are from either end of the spectrum, one budget and one premium and regardless of this there will always be something you find that can be that little bit better (personal opinion of course) - but to what extent do you go to in order for it to be “better”? Sometimes it can be something simple but then there are those that want for something that bit special. On this particular occasion I kept it simple, cheap yet very effective. Both the long-term test AEGS out of the box were working fine mechanically but I was left wanting more, sadly from both the budget rifle and the premium rifle. When buying premium rifles you don’t expect to have to upgrade anything but, unfortunately, a small issue I discovered created the need for a little fix. On the market today there are an overwhelming amount of different manufacturers offering up their own interpretation of upgrades and aftermarket parts, each claiming theirs is better than the next guys, some with a low price and some with a high price, ultimately all striving for one goal and that is to relieve we airsofters of our hard-earned cash! The best upgrade is one that works and not necessarily the most expensive. Over time I’ve come to realise that there are some incredibly cheap yet very effective upgrades available which you can’t go wrong with in my opinion. These have now become my “go to” parts and I will highly recommend them to anyone looking to better the performance of their equipment. I know there is a world of airsofters who will disagree and unfortunately suffer from “trend fatigue”, and because the internet tells them to, they have to have the most expensive parts available. I feel sorry for 66
these people but at the end of the day their opinion is fine with me and after all, it is their money. The upgrades to both rifles were exactly the same, apart from the barrel on the premium rifle where the barrel stayed stock. I fitted Maple Leaf Macaron rubbers/bucking, Omega Nub, ZCI 6.02mm stainless tight bore barrel and Element M105 springs all supplied very kindly by Marcus @ All Ages Airsoft, our local haunt.
WHY THE UPGRADES?
The reason behind fitting these parts was justified; the budget rifle wouldn’t lift a 0.25g BB further than about 30mtrs and any more hop added would cause the BBs to jam, not something you need happening. Velocity was down at around 300fps and while not bad, I was going to be playing at a large woodland site and felt it best to get the maximum velocity while still being inside the limit. The combination of parts brought the velocity up to a very respectable 348fps and now I was able to lift a 0.28g BB out to a very healthy 75mtrs +/- 5mtrs, which I was incredibly happy with. That left one thing to do and that was zero in my dot and once zeroed, I was effectively able to hit reasonably consistently a man-sized target at around 65mtrs. This was perfect for me as it meant I could keep a little distance between me and my opponents! Next was to tackle the premium rifle; a “Limited Edition” rifle and I’m having to replace parts OOTB? Go figure! With the hop fully off, every second BB would trickle down the barrel without me even pulling the trigger and I found I had to add a fair bit of hop adjustment in order to stop that happening which, in
TECHNICAL SIMPLE YET EFFECTIVE
turn, majorly affected the velocity, dropping to around 190fps and causing the BB to drop very fast at around 15mtrs. This needed to be addressed as the site I was going to be playing the following day was VAST and out in the open. As a result of this the site organisers would be allowing us to play up to 370fps, which (as you may well know) is the UK legal limit for a full auto airsoft gun. To have a chance to push to that limit was a rare treat indeed!
So, out with the bad and in with the good! I fitted the spring first and replaced the piston O-ring before going back to the chrono and I had a surprise to say the least - when it registered 410fps! Immediately I fired a few test shots but I was still having the issue with the BB dropping very early, only this time due to the higher velocity. They were dropping around 35mtrs. I decided to install the new hop rubber and nub to see if this would alter the problem trajectory. Once fitted, I then retested on the chronograph to my utter amazement the velocity had risen close to 440fps! 440fps on an M105 spring? Either the spring wasn’t the correct power and the rating was way off or I had one crazy airseal! Now I had a dilemma… Do I adjust the output …or do I lock it to semi auto …or do a short stroke? Hmmmm…. As it’s a test AEG it was advisable to bring the power down, so it would stay an assault rifle rather than rig it to semi, as I may have needed to reverse the semi mod back to original or end up replacing
new gears. With a little heat from the blow torch I collapsed four coils on the spring (it was getting late and I couldn’t get hold of a lower powered spring). I prefer to collapse the springs rather than cut chunks off. With a stroke of luck, the rifle was now pushing a 0.20g BB at 365-368fps (about 0.91J), so “that’ll do nicely” and now I was able to send 0.28g BB out to about 80mtrs. After setting my red dot I was hitting the same target out at 65mtrs with every shot and I knew I could go further. I couldn’t wait to get out on the field and size up the enemy! Both rifles are working perfectly and now I have some confidence instilled. All of the parts came to around UK£75, and it was £75 well spent, leaving me some money for vital pyro supplies! £75 for all of the parts? I know players who would have spent £75 on just the barrel alone! So, if you ever need to upgrade your RIFs please don’t be fooled into believing that you need to throw money at the most expensive parts. It’s ludicrous the prices of aftermarket parts in today’s market and I do sometimes feel like some brands just prey on us. A little tip to conclude this month: When it comes to fitting the Maple Leaf hop rubbers, I don’t know why this is the way it is but Maple Leaf rubbers aren’t always compatible with some hop units, so I advise paying close attention here as the feedlips tend to be a minuscule amount longer than most others and can cause jams. That’s my only niggle with the Maple Leaf but you can’t knock the performance of them - if fitted correctly! AA
“THE BEST UPGRADE IS ONE THAT WORKS AND NOT NECESSARILY THE MOST EXPENSIVE. OVER TIME I’VE COME TO REALISE THAT THERE ARE SOME INCREDIBLY CHEAP YET VERY EFFECTIVE UPGRADES AVAILABLE WHICH YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH IN MY OPINION.”
KWA QRF MOD 3 RELOADED KWA QRF MOD 3
KWA QRF MOD 3
JUST BECAUSE WE’VE BEEN LOCKED DOWN OVER THE WINTER MONTHS DOESN’T MEAN THAT WE HAVEN’T BEEN TESTING AND TRAINING IN OUR OWN WAYS AND THE AA CREW HAVE USED WHATEVER FACILITIES THEY HAVE IN NEW AND INTERESTING WAYS! JASE CLARKE HAS BEEN WORKING WITH THE KWA QRF MOD 3 FOR A WHILE NOW AND LETS US ALL KNOW WHAT HE THINKS!
et me paint a picture for you dear reader… It’s a cold wet winter afternoon in Blighty. You’ve completed that jigsaw granny gave you for Xmas and Grand Theft Auto just isn’t cutting it anymore and, to top it all off, the machine shop has lost the rare bolts to your prized mountain bike! Mood in the Clarke residence is frostier than an election dinner between Vladimir Putin and Alexei Navalny! Luckily for me I am part of the AA Red Cell where the strong brotherhood can help a downed man’s spirits and pick them up. So, my phone goes off and it’s very our own Boycie. He had taken five minutes out of crawling around his loft conversion like a hobbit to ask if I wanted to take a closer look at one of KWA’s QRF range, namely the QRF Mod 3. “Why the devil not!” I said, be really good to keep the old grey matter ticking over and in due course a nice little compact parcel turned up ready for me to shred!
KWA HISTORY TIME
KWA has been around since 1988 and has been a
leading designer and manufacturer of airsoft replica weapons for law enforcement and military training in 6mm. Its reputation for quality, performance and reliability makes KWA a recognised leader in professional airsoft products and it’s something that I not only look for in a company, but I love that has been around for so long. Coupled with the fact all of their lines are reasonably priced makes them, in my eyes, one of the best. Now it’s no secret that I am a KWA enthusiast. I think they make cracking AEGs and GBBs, as Boycie’s look this month at the new LM4 shows. Quality is always solid and performance out of the box is spot on. I don’t own many RIFs but my two “go to M4s” are a KWA RM4 and LM4. Two of their best-ever products in my eyes, but of course I’m going to say that because in six years they have never let me down. So, as I open the box to this QRF I’m not disappointed. Securely held in place by some nice plastic padding was a solid and sleek looking AEG and nestled inside was an extra box of mags John had kindly popped in
“LET ME PAINT A PICTURE FOR YOU DEAR READER… IT’S A COLD WET WINTER AFTERNOON IN BLIGHTY. YOU’VE COMPLETED THAT JIGSAW GRANNY GAVE YOU FOR XMAS AND GRAND THEFT AUTO JUST ISN’T CUTTING IT ANYMORE AND, TO TOP IT ALL OFF, THE MACHINE SHOP HAS LOST THE RARE BOLTS TO YOUR PRIZED MOUNTAIN BIKE! ” 68
RELOADED KWA QRF MOD 3
for the test …everything a growing boy needs! So, I pick up my grab bag and head to the range. I load up the four mags with ease and lay them next to the Mod 3. It really is a nice compact little package and a bonus point goes to KWA for selling these magazines in boxes of three and at a very reasonable price. It’s something they have done for a while now; prices will vary depending on your location but they won’t break the bank.
Out of the box you can run this RIF with an 11.1v LiPo and it is Gate Titan ready should you wish to run one at a later date. One of the reasons you can run an 11.1v LiPo is that KWA have put some tasty uprated gears and a high torque motor into this package. These KWA 2.5 series gearboxes have a snazzy trick up their sleeve with adjustable FPS allowing you to be able to turn it up or down (from around 330 to 370 on a .20g in testing). My range is around 40m long and gives me a great feel for anything I test and with the mags loaded with some of Nuprol’s finest RZR .20 BBs, I banged off some rounds downrange in semi-auto mode. After a quick adjustment of hop, I have this baby dialled in and every one of the rounds smacks the target with fine accuracy. In total I must have blown through a good twelve mags with great success. In full auto mode this puppy is fast - and I don’t say that lightly about something so fresh out of the box! The KWA 2.5, 3.0 and ERG series have the last
round bolt stop function which sold me on the brand back in 2014, it really gives that realistic feel at 6mm cost. This, however, is missing on the 2.5+ and 3.0+ updated series of rifles. I also must say I am a fan of the ambidextrous dummy bolt stop release button which releases the dummy bolt plate when it is held to the rear to allow hop adjustment, a lovely little touch.
DOWN AND DIRTY CQB TESTING
With the British COVID lockdown 3.0 still in full effect and my business mothballed, I decided to pop to work and check on my premises but I had an alternative motive (you bet I did!). With me, in my lock box, was the QRF. My plan was simple… set up a small range with a few targets over 4 floors. By the time I was finished I was sure the boys in Hereford would have been proud of my efforts! BANG, a swift kick clears the door from the yard into the basement. Now this section of the premises is tight, shelving close together meaning movement is limited. As I move towards the stairwell I have to move through a doorway turning 90o to my right but to cover my angles, transition the QRF from the right shoulder to the left before moving my hands to their corresponding position. The Tanker stock definitely helped me out. Now this QRF is a short example and based around a “9mm round” so it fitted perfectly into this situation I’d set up. As I moved up the stairs in a clockwise movement I decided that the QRF is becoming tricky to maintain as I navigate these steep stairs. Once at the top, I’m into reception. I scan my surroundings through the pop-up PTS sights, I do like a PTS product, always works well and looks and feels good. Now I have the second staircase to tackle but before I do I decide to reduce the stock’s length a couple of clicks to help me through the process of moving up the stairs. Eyes darting around as the stairwell opens up to first floor, it is a good 20ft above www.airsoftaction.net
RELOADED ACTION KWA ARMY QRF MOD AAP013
me, I turn 180o and raise my rifle to cover what could be potentially be above my head and it was at that point I was very happy that I reduced the stock’s length, as it made the transition smoother while keeping my workspace as fuss-free as possible. As I start to get to the top of the stairs I can see a target, I send about 10 rounds in very quick succession, and man, the trigger response is good! Now I’m on the first floor. I work my way through the desks and chairs, behind a desk I spy another target, as I lean over to my right the shortness of the QRF helps to get a quick target acquisition. It gets the good news with ten snappy rounds. I am now at the end of the first floor and I have another steep set of stairs to get up. As I turn almost 180o to enter the stairwell the next target comes into sight, its halfway up and a good 8ft above my head. I decide to drop to a knee and bring up the QRF, again the lightness and compact RIF acquires the target without issue and gets another ten single round takedown. I do a quick reload even though I know I’ve got a good 50 or so BBs left. Magazine changes with the QRF are not bad, it was taking my muscle memory a wee bit of getting used to working with the longer MP9 style mags but I was getting quicker. Once again I hit that sweet dummy bolt release on the right hand side of the frame and I’m good to go. As I conquer the Everest of steep stairs I get to the top and have to manoeuvre my way through an ‘S’ bend of tight shelving before I can enter my office. Before I enter the QRF gets switched to “Happy Hour” so I can test the full auto mode …and Go! Through the door I round to my left to see him, the Cardboard Kingpin sat behind his desk, I squeezed off three pulls of full auto and damn this QRF is fast, I was massively impressed. Response was so quick and snappy!! Only one room left to clear, the staff room, where the evil tea lady is, and some say she is the brains behind the organisation. As I traverse my way back through the ‘S’ bends of shelving I am reminded of how manoeuvrable this QRF really is and how I wished I had it when I was at ‘The Mall’ many moons ago, it would have been perfect. Bang! The door gets the good news with my boot and I flow in checking blind spots. There she is, sat relaxing with her last brew! She got the good news with the snappy full auto
mode… job jobbed!! As I pack up my things and clear up any evidence I had been playing toy soldiers, I’m left thinking whether or not I liked the QRF?? Quick answer is a yes! I feel for the price you really do get value for money and if left alone, like my old ERG, you should get years of hassle-free airsofting out of this new RIF. On an 11.1 it’s super-fast and snappy, what else could you want for your CQB needs?? It’s a super solid RIF, no wobble or suchlike. If I was to compare it to the VFC Avalon (which I recently reviewed), it’s cheaper and has the same build quality but better running gear. I would in an ideal world change over the stocks because the VFC stock was spring-loaded but that would be it. So, do you fancy one? If it’s something you like the sound of then check them out at the many stockists around the globe! AA
“NOW I’M ON THE FIRST FLOOR. I WORK MY WAY THROUGH THE DESKS AND CHAIRS, BEHIND A DESK I SPY ANOTHER TARGET, AS I LEAN OVER TO MY RIGHT THE SHORTNESS OF THE QRF HELPS TO GET A QUICK TARGET ACQUISITION. IT GETS THE GOOD NEWS WITH TEN SNAPPY ROUNDS.” www.airsoftaction.net
INSIDE AIRSOFT NUPROL
IT’S TIME FOR US TO GET INSIDE THE AIRSOFT INDUSTRY AGAIN TO FIND OUT WHAT MAKES THE BIG COMPANIES TICK AND, AS MUCH AS IT SEEMS THEY MAY BE A BIT “FACELESS”, AT THE BEATING HEART OF MANY ARE AIRSOFTERS WHO STARTED OUT MUCH LIKE THE REST OF US! THIS MONTH WE HEAD INSIDE NUPROL TO FIND OUT WHO THEY REALLY ARE AND WHAT THEY REALLY DO. BILL TAKES UP THE STORY…
INSIDE AIRSOFT NOPROL
t has been said many times that I am biased when it comes to NUPROL as they are my friends and, paraphrasing the President’s words from the movie “Clear and Present Danger”, I’d start this by saying “we aren’t good friends, we are lifelong friends”! I’ve known some of the team at NUPROL, Ross in particular, for many, MANY years, since the time we were all just simple airsoft players and it has been my absolute joy to see both Ross and the rest of the awesome team at NUPROL grow and flourish as industry professionals and fine practitioners in their own rights. I have witnessed a small, UK-based company rise inexorably from handling one single airsoft brand to creating their own and, in turn, they now represent some of the finest airsoft brands in the world as trusted distributors and partners, whilst at the same time developing their own product lines. I’ve watched them develop and have worked with them over the years and been in constant wonder at the tempo within which they achieve things. I’ve seen them start very much at the bottom and revelled in their continued ascendancy and now, having just visited their new warehouse facility, I can’t see what is going to stop them growing further! Like any airsoft business they’ve had their ups and downs but their “hits” they have taken with good grace and an open ear! Trust me, they only make a mistake once! Then having listened, they react and move on positively and it’s this sheer passion to ensure excellence in everything that they do that drives them ever forward. They want to be the best in an industry where everyone is striving for the same goal but (and it’s an enormous BUT!) they want to ensure that what they produce is for the benefit of airsofters, even as they make their own business a success in its own right. So, to go back to my opening statement, we ARE lifelong friends and as such I will always have the greatest respect for who they are and where they’ve come from, as in those many years I’ve travelled with them every step of the way. Nothing comes without good old hard work and, like me, these guys work massively hard at what they do to ensure that airsoft, both in the UK and globally, continues to move forward positively. It has genuinely been my privilege to share and travel alongside them a little in their journey, and I look forward to the steps still to come!
To get a real idea of what it’s like to be inside a cutting-edge airsoft business I got together with Tom,
a relatively new addition to the NUPROL family who now looks after the marketing side of things. My thanks go to him for helping me with some of the real “inside” knowledge of the company. To get straight to the heart of things, NUPROL’s foundations were built upon a firm that specialised in the distribution of Field Sporting goods. Trying their hand at a few different product lines, it was not long before airsoft became the dominant product type, and with some key personnel additions (more on this later) the foundations for what NUPROL was to become were laid. As I’ve often said before, as a fully-fledged airsoft manufacturing and distribution business, NUPROL are here to give players what they want! Their firm belief in re-investment has allowed them to build upon their successes; from gas, BBs and accessories to AEGs and GBBs, NUPROL are always looking to expand the choices available to the player, all whilst remaining affordable. People are the backbone of any airsoft business and every staff member at NUPROL is considered essential to the success of the company. From the warehouse team to the sales staff, through product and technical specialists to the management team, everyone plays a key role in providing the high level of service that retailers and players deserve. I asked Tom about “key members” within the team, and he told me: “If we were to focus on a couple of individuals, they would be the two main engines of the NUPROL machine Product and Design Manager, Ross and the General Manager, Danny.” Anyone who has met Ross will know him as a larger-than-life character. His passion for airsoft is matched only by the dedication to his work, with new and exciting projects being churned out by his design team. An experienced player/site-runner/technician prior to joining NUPROL, both Ross’ and NUPROL’s growth are intrinsically intertwined with each other. Ross has been present and applied an extensive roll in every major product release since the launch of NUPROL Gas all those years ago and continues to be a leading force in the development of new projects. Ross told me: “NUPROL has come a LONG way since the company started and our decisions have moved us ever closer to the top of our game. I say “our game” because we like to follow our own path, to do things our way, the “NUPROL way. This means we’re not restrained by the way our peers & predecessors have approached the Airsoft world, and with some ingenuity and a “have-a-go” attitude we’re genuinely excited to be bringing quality, high-performance, and www.airsoftaction.net
INSIDE AIRSOFT NUPROL
most importantly, affordable Airsoft goods to players. “We’ve established some great relationships with our factories and manufacturing partners to ensure that everything is produced to a high standard. Development, by its nature, requires communication. There is a constant flow of ideas and information between ourselves, our in-house R&D teams and our factories, with all parties challenging one another on improving efficiency, quality and most of all – the player’s experience. Considering the new technologies and materials becoming available to Airsoft manufacturers the future is bright, with many new and exciting Airsoft concepts on the horizon.” Designing and manufacturing cool new concepts for the airsoft market is all well and good, but completely pointless if you cannot get these goods to the players you’ve designed them for. That’s where a man like Danny comes in. Danny has been with the company since its inception and has a lot of first-hand experience in being a part of the airsoft community growth in the last ten years. I asked him how the journey has been and where he sees the industry heading… “The Airsoft industry has experienced a great deal of growth over the last 10 years. We’ve seen the player base increase with newcomers transitioning from both paintball, as well as some bedroom warriors (the FPS video game community), all welcome additions to our beloved sport. At the top end, established Airsoft manufacturers are continuing to develop their product listings with new, innovative concepts, providing the players with more choice than they’ve ever had. This expansion at both the top and bottom of the industry is helping retailers and site owners maintain and grow their customer base. Obviously COVID-19 has been a challenge for almost every business in every industry – Airsoft being no different. The disruption caused by the virus has affected global supply chains, raw materials and component part production. These issues are starting to resolve themselves with incoming orders now 74
arriving with an improved frequency. This “new dawn” is backed up by the opening of Shops and Game Sites leaving us feeling very buoyant for the future of the Airsoft.”
NUPROL HAVE YOUR SIX!
The NUPROL brand covers a lot of products. You may think of them from their early days supplying gas and accessories under the WE Europe name but their listings have increased immensely over recent years. Consumables are covered by their popular NUPROL Airsoft Gas, a wide range of RZR BBs and NP POWER batteries with NiMh, LiPo and newer LiFe and Li-Ion types available. As far as replicas are concerned, NUPROL supply a range of AEGs under the DELTA (AR15) and ROMEO (AK) series names. These AEGs all feature reinforced V2 gearboxes, Full Steel Tooth Pistons as well as a Micro-Switch Trigger System. In a world where lots of manufacturers are installing ETU systems to their AEGs, it’s great to see NUPROL continuing to use the “analogue” system we’ve mentioned before, a system still favoured by many players. Their replica offerings continue with their springbased RIFs, the SIERRA Shotgun series and TANGO Sniper series. Both the SIERRA and TANGO series replicas offer a great deal of fun at a good price, excellent for those wanting to try their hand at CQB or long-distance target shooting. NUPROL are also the team behind the successful, yet relatively young RAVEN brand of GBB Pistols. In the short time that RAVEN has been on the market (just three years) they can now be found in Airsoft stores across Europe. I asked NUPROL what the mission goal was with RAVEN and how they’re doing achieving this three years later. Tom told me: “The initial concept for RAVEN was to provide
INSIDE AIRSOFT NOPROL
full-metal 1:1 GBB Pistol Replicas to the market that prioritised the shooting experience and affordability above all else. It’s all well and good spending topdollar on a GBB Replica but if it cannot unload a full magazine on one gas reserve is it really that good? Environmental conditions pending, RAVEN pistols consistently supply enough gas for 1, 2 (or even sometimes 3) fully supplied magazines. Supplied with an additional Air Nozzle and O-Rings (both items considered perishable over the lifetime of the pistol) for you to maintain yourself, plus a huge selection of spares available for order, with general maintenance your RAVEN will be your sidearm for years to come. For the future, RAVEN will continue to develop 1:1 GBB Pistols – with a few additions to the range expected in the next couple of months.” I’ve again been privileged to have worked with the RAVEN line since they very first models arrived in the UK, indeed quite literally since the initial pistols came out of the very first container to arrive in the UK. I honestly believe that the RAVEN Hi Capa 4.3 is one of the very best GBB “fighting pistols” I’ve ever encountered in nearly 27 years of playing airsoft, and with the amount of BBs I’ve put through my evaluation models over the past three years, I can most certainly attest to their effectiveness and longevity. There is indeed “more to come” soon and I’m just as excited by this as when I first heard about “Project RAVEN”! Interestingly, in his response Tom also mentioned the word “maintain” and as a B2B supplier, NUPROL’s technical support is provided to their retailers to directly support players. They work to maintain parts availability for all of their key brands to ensure that,
in the rare event of failures, they’re resolved in the timely fashion expected by customers. Although B2B is NUPROL’s main game, players can also reach them direct via their social media pages and they are always genuinely happy to help!
FULL SPECTRUM COOLNESS
When we get down to some of the products on offer, let’s start with the product that birthed the organisation known as NUPROL – NUPROL Gas. At the time, this “New-Propellant” (get it?) was designed to improve on the “Gas Expansion” rates of what was available from other manufacturers at the time. An airsoft gas’ Expansion Rate is essential to delivering consistent FPS, as the mixture needs
INSIDE AIRSOFT NUPROL
to restabilise within its reservoir between each shot. NUPROL gas contains Silicone for treating your RIF’s seals, plus their own special lubricating additive to improve the longevity of your replica. RZR BBs have been a great success too, after what can only be described as a shaky start. This is an instance where the integrity of NUPROL shines through in my mind, as when they discovered a bad batch, they recalled it to their own financial loss rather than leave a potentially damaging product out on the market! These days RZRs are top-quality, triple polished, Taiwanese-made BBs that are as home on the skirmish field as the target range. We use them for all our Red Cell testing as we’ve found they do offer great consistency. NUPROL are also now one of the largest importers of AEG Airsoft batteries to Europe! They have over 100 battery types with variations in chemistry (LiPo, LiIon, LiFe, NiMh), configuration and a wide selection of amperage and voltage rates. And who doesn’t love to “accessorise”? Whether we like to admit it or not, spending our hard-earned cash on items such as new grips or optics is part of being an airsoft player! NUPROL understand this. They therefore offer a huge selection of accessories for players to add to their armouries. I asked Tom about this and he said: “Our best-selling accessory is our range of Premium Hard Cases. A quality case is essential for the safe storage, transportation and care of your replica. Our cases have an IP67 ingress protection rating, a pressure relief valve (PRV) for airline travel and a choice of wave or customisable “pick & pluck” foam. We’ve seen some great custom paintworks and loadout setups in our cases and arriving on site with all your tools for the day in one secure case certainly adds to the feeling that you’ve arrived
ready for battle.” Other accessories include their range of NX Series Torches, optics from Dot and Holo sights through to magnified variants, suppressors, tracers units, grips, speedloaders, chronographs and a huge selection of magazines. The NX Series Torch range deserves some further attention here I feel. NUPROL’s range includes the NX200 and NX300 Pistol Torches, the NX400 Torch/Laser unit and the NX600 Rifle Torch, which includes their pressure-pad switch. They’re quality little units featuring powerful CREE bulbs and finished in a very nice Black or Bronze. NUPROL’s Optics range includes over FORTY different products, from simple dot-sights through to magnification scopes. Like all replicas in airsoft, NP Optics allow players to customise their loadout with some quality, functional sights without breaking the bank. This is also an expanding range having received six new magnification scopes to the range in May, and we’ll be looking at these in detail in due course! NUPROL also offer a range of quality Upgrade Components, including Pistons, Barrels, Gearboxes and Motors - in fact too many to mention in this article. We’re going to be doing some work on this range so expect to see some further information in the future. And gear is not forgotten either! Airsoft is a great sport that is welcoming to beginners and “old-timers” alike. Soon after the initial purchases of a rifle, pistol and some spare magazines, “looking-the-part” becomes part of the player’s journey. Whether you’re looking to match a real-world look or are building your own tactical vest with bespoke pouches, NUPROL have a great list of products under their NUPROL PMC range. Rigs, Platforms, Pouches, Slings, Holsters, Gloves all serve practical purposes to their owner in regards to their play-style. However, Tactical Kit like Eye and Face Protection provide genuine protection to the player, for these reasons NUPROL take great care in ensuring their goods meet the standard expected by players and site owners alike.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE… OR TWO!
Whereas the majority of players will recognise NUPROL from the RIFs, Consumables and Accessories bearing their name, they are in-fact big players in the distribution of products from other key Airsoft brands. NUPROL are the official UK distributer for G&G Armament, BOLT Airsoft, LCT Airsoft, Emei Landarms (E&L), MODIFY and BO Fabarm. As OEM manufacturers in their own right, NUPROL recognise and respect the work of these other great brands
INSIDE AIRSOFT NOPROL
and are delighted to work with them to provide their “route to market” in the UK. G&G Armament have a huge listing of quality AEG Rifles, GBB Pistols and all the accessories to boot. They are constantly developing their product listings and find themselves at the cutting edge of Airsoft design. They have recently released their 2021 brochure and would encourage all players to have a peek at what they have to offer (you can find this in the Airsoft Action website Catalogue Section). BOLT are a team made up of a team of first-class individuals, headed by Tomy Lee. Tomy and his team offer an excellent service and genuinely listen to feedback from their customers when designing their RIFs. On top of this, their focus and commitment to providing outstanding recoil effects (B.R.S.S. Bolts Recoil Shock System) on their AEGs is second to none. LCT Airsoft also have a huge list of products available and their work on their modular accessory system will help players run a dozen different loadouts based on one core replica. Emei Landarms’ range of AKs are gorgeous with their real-wood, stamped & folded steel construction and are all quality AEGs to boot (as you’ll see from comments in Red Cell about their AKM this month). MODIFY expand upon airsoft upgrade offerings with a great selection from Barrels to Nozzles, Gearboxes to Cylinders. Finally, licensed STF12 BO FABARM shotguns provide a “premium” shotgun for the market. NUPROL are the primary worldwide distributors for the latest players on the GBB market - VORSK Airsoft. VORSK have really turned heads with their distinct style and some supercool, pop-culture replicas. Their VX-9 AGENCY, DEFENDER PRO and both Split Slide Hi-Capas (7.0 Titan and 5.1 variant) are some of the standout models from this young airsoft brand. There is a lot to say about the inception, workings and future direction of this unique brand, which we will cover in a not so distant future issue!
the product to market and establish it across our territories. Upon a successful product launch, focus moves to the next project …and then the next. This inevitably leads to growth, and growth in every area from product listings to new markets. “So what does that mean for our future? Product Development is a priority! There are some gaps in our listings that will need to be covered, as well as returning to some of our established products for some TLC, expanding their ranges. As we improve our offering to the market, we’ll also look to enter new territories, building upon our current distribution partnerships. More products in more territories will hopefully lead to another stressful warehouse move in the not too distant future.” To conclude, I also asked Tom on a personal note where he saw his own “airsoft adventure” taking him next? “Everywhere! I’ve been with the company just shy of two years now with most of it being dominated by COVID-19. This has meant a cancelled IWA that I was really looking forward to (next year now!). It has also got in the way of me making my way to game sites, something we’ll be fixing in June, Bill, thoroughly looking forward to that!” And such is the calibre of the individuals that make up the NUPROL team! Even though the “day job” is very much business, at the beating heart of the company lie fellow airsofters who want to get out and play every bit as much as the rest of us and with this foundation in the very game itself it’s hard not to see NUPROL moving on even more strongly, and I look forward to being beside my friends when they do! AA
Given that NUPROL have recently relocated to a larger and more central distribution hub/warehouse in the UK I asked Tom where he saw NUPROL heading in the future, and he told me: “You’ve caught us at a great time to discuss the company. When we look back at NUPROL’s history it’ll be marked by events such as our recent warehouse move to larger premises. Looking back at our successful product launches such as with our Gas, BBs, NUPROL Hard Cases, AEGs and other great products a pattern emerges. Do the research, bring www.airsoftaction.net
ACTION AIR TAIWAN
THE OF ACTION AIR AIRSOFT ACTION’S “MAN IN TAIWAN”, STEWBACCA, ISN’T JUST INTO ACTION AIR PISTOL COMPETITIONS, BEING PRETTY HANDY WHEN IT COMES TO “LONGS” HE DECIDED TO GIVE AN ACTION AIR RIFLE COMP A GO.
aving barely finished writing my previous Action Air article regarding the first IPSC shooter centre cup competition shoot of the year in early March, editing together my stage videos and still having a raft of still photos to edit, I nonetheless dragged myself out of bed at an ungodly hour on the next Sunday morning - the 14th of March - to join a few of my SPPT teammates in the long road trip down to the central hills East of Taichung in the middle of Taiwan, to take part in my first Action Air rifle competition - the KUI rifle contest. Following a couple of hours in the car with the other guys driving and snoozing in shifts as the sun started climbing overhead, we arrived in the misty foothills of Xinshe district, the other side of the first chain of hills from Taichung and signed in on site and began preparing ourselves (and our equipment) for the morning’s four stages of Action Air. Despite my well known usual love for all things Heckler & Koch, I had decided to eschew my WETech HK416 GBBR in favour of their slightly longer-barrelled T91, the Armalite platform rifle that is Taiwan’s current national militaries’ service rifle; a blend of the AR15’s platform and ergonomics with the reliability of the AR18’s gas piston system. Used by entirely too many other platforms in the real steel arena, the T91 has all
the typical handling of any AR style rifle and shares the typical STANAG magazines with my HK416. I had spent half of one of my training sessions on home turf bore-sighting and adjusting the hop unit and the replica EOtech 558 holographic sight I have mounted atop its receiver, ensuring that I had accurised it after its previous outing, using it at longer ranges at the Pinoy charity shoot. With all our magazines loaded and gassed up, belt kit donned and adjusted and, of course, the all-important camera setups ready to roll, we had the initial briefing from the organisers and took the short walk to the first stage our squad was going to undertake. Stage 4 was the longest and highest round count and the only one that required a reload as a result. Consisting of 10 paper targets grouped in pairs in various bays arranged around a central, ring-fenced pair. With one opening facing the start point, forcing the shooter to move right to clear the pair around that side of the fencing, then move left to get the pair inside it and swing left to take on the 3 pairs in separate bays before reaching the end point. Here, a reload would be required to take on the final 8 poppers in a close cluster 3-2-3 configuration of three rows and then, finally, the ending plate beyond them.
“27 ALPHAS, 2 CHARLIES, 4 MISSED SHOTS, 33 ROUNDS TOTAL FIRED, NOT A BAD START TO THE DAY GIVEN IT’S THE FIRST TIME I’VE COMPETED WITH RIFLES SINCE ARRIVING IN TAIWAN, OR GBBRS IN GENERAL - THE LAST TIME I SHOT RIFLES ON A PAPER WAS LIVE FIRE!” 78
ACTION AIR TAIWAN
<<xhead>>29 SHOTS IN 21 SECONDS Stage 4 was a great start for me, taking just shy of 21 seconds to clear all 29 shots relatively quickly and cleanly - only acquiring 2 Charlies on the longer shots towards the end. Although the popper array incurred 4 missed shots with me trying to transition quickly and deal with height over bore issues at such close quarters, which I then had to make up adding a little to my time. At least my reload as I reached the barrels they were hidden behind prior to taking them on was fairly quick! 27 Alphas, 2 Charlies, 4 missed shots, 33 rounds total fired, not a bad start to the day given it’s the first time I’ve competed with rifles since arriving in Taiwan, or GBBRs in general the last time I shot rifles on a paper was live fire! Up next we walked up the steps to the topmost terrace where the other 3 stages had been arranged and prepared to take on Stage 3. This was a more open plan “hall of mirrors” style affair, with dispersed barricades hiding 8 paper targets (2 with no shoot lower obstructions) at various heights and angles around the cover, plus 2 poppers and the ending plate. This required more rapid shuffling side to side and acquiring targets at odd angles when compared to the “run and shoot” pathway of Stage 4. With a 19 shot minimum there was little likelihood of reloading being required, it was more about
moving fast and overcoming the awkwardness of some target presentations. Starting at the rear of the wide, irregular pentagonal fault line box, with your heels resting on the line across the back and the rifle unloaded in “Condition three”, I immediately swept left as I loaded and took on three of the paper targets - two that were visible in the foreground and another further rearward only possible to engage from this position through a narrow gap between barricades. Making a hard run right I hit the high paper hidden the other side of the barricade there, as well as the popper at its base and then began sweeping left to hit the low paper the other side of the same barricade plus the remaining papers further back now visible from this point, before dropping the final popper and ending plate. Just over 19 seconds and 22 shots later, I’d missed the last popper on the first shot and put four rounds through one of the middle targets just to make sure I’d gotten two alphas on it, but the run was otherwise clean, if again a little slower than my peers - all to be expected. We broke for brunch and to top off our magazines with rounds and gas again, before returning uphill to take on the final two stages.
“WITH A MINIMUM SHOOT OF 11 ROUNDS, I ENDED UP MISSING A POPPER AGAIN ONCE AND RUNNING 12 ROUNDS THROUGH EVERYTHING IN JUST SHY OF AS MANY SECONDS, GETTING ALL 11 ALPHAS AND STILL MANAGING TO BE HALFWAY UP THE PACK IN TERMS OF TIME.”
ACTION AIR TAIWAN
Stage 2 was shot third in order. Consisting of a triangular fault line box, the shooter started at the front point of at a traffic cone, with barricades flanking each side, hiding the targets beyond and forcing you to run to the corners at the rear of each side to get sights on them. These were 4 paper targets in total, one with a no shoot obstruction right in front of your starting point, two stacked vertically with a no shoot between on the right side and a final paper on the left side with twin poppers at its base, the ending plate being forwards of the start point. With a minimum shoot of 11 rounds, I ended up missing a popper again once and running 12 rounds through everything in just shy of as many seconds, getting all 11 alphas and still managing to be halfway up the pack in terms of time. Another quick break to reload and it was on to the final stage before we stowed our gear and began the breakdown of stages.
Stage 1 - shot fourth in order - was short and sweet! A small triangular fault line box made for minimal movement, being allowed to start on either the left or right rear corner and having to move to the front point to reach the final target. This was the last of three paper targets and the only one with a no shoot obstruction, which followed the first low paper hidden
behind the left side of a barrel on the right side, with a popper on its right and with the second high paper beyond the left side barricade and a popper at its base. Just shy of 8 seconds to take 9 shots which were all on target. I was the fastest shooter but probably because I picked up 2 procedural penalties due to slipping over the fault line on the left as I ran to get sights on the targets there! I should have spent more time moving further back to the rear left corner of the fault line triangle. Another slightly annoying failure on my part following the previous week’s final stage ballsup, where I totally missed one of the targets at the far rear. It seems, in general, I shoot very accurately, which is good at least, I just sometimes make procedural errors or scupper myself over silly things as I concentrate on deliberate marksmanship and perhaps take a little too long to do so and miss things mentally at times as a result.
ON THE PODIUM!
Nonetheless, my diligence seems to be slowly paying off in terms of shooting increasingly cleanly and with slowly progressing speed in doing so, aside from occasional procedural mess ups. Once the scores were all collated it turned out that despite the penalties I still acquired enough points to finally claw
ACTION AIR TAIWAN
my way onto the podium by taking third place, while our team leader and my primary Action Air teacher, Mars Liu, took first place. With very similar scores to me but usually acquiring them in 5 seconds less per stage and with me obtaining 78% of his performance looking at the final hit factor scoring. All good practise. I was once again largely very happy with how I’d shot, I just let myself down with a silly error again on the final hurdle but the progress is nonetheless consistent and pushes me up the pack every time I compete, which is encouraging. I’m really looking forward to doing more rifle, or even SMG based shoots in future. I’d love to run the PP2K and MP7 GBB PDWs on the clock and on paper to see how they perform in that environment, having given them a thorough testing on meat targets that shoot back already with great performance. My equipment at least functioned flawlessly and the T91 has a really nice recoil impulse and is surprisingly easy to throw around despite being my longest gun - thanks no doubt to the KAC vertical foregrip I have on the stub picatinny rail section beneath the gas block and front sight assembly. I find my left wrist gets uncomfortable from holding rifles conventionally with the hand cupping upwards beneath the handguard because my arms are so long!
With the results collated we had a raffle for KUI Airsoft’s donated prizes, with our teammate, Rex, walking away with a really nice multicam backpack and the rest of us getting free Emerson gear baseball caps. Then the presentation of awards and medals for the runners up and trophies for the winners in GBBR, GBB Pistol and AEG rifle were awarded and we finished up around just after lunchtime and prepared for the long drive back. I’d like to thank the organisers and everyone who took part. As always, the atmosphere in the competitive circuit here is jovial and supportive with us all striving together to be better. AA
FEATURE ROLLIN’ OUT AGAIN
ROLLIN’ OUT AGAIN: A RETURN TO (AIRSOFT) ARMS! WHILST THE C-VIRUS IS STILL VERY MUCH WITH US AND WE MUST CONTINUE TO ENSURE THAT ANY AIRSOFT GAMES OR EVENTS THAT WE ATTEND ARE FULLY COMPLIANT WITH NATIONAL GUIDELINES, THE FACT IS THAT AFTER MANY, MANY MONTHS OF WAITING, GAMES ARE BACK ON! BILL FEEDS BACK FROM THE REPORTS HE’S HEARD ON WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK AND BEYOND AS AIRSOFT COMES BACK TO LIFE…
inally… FINALLY… (for some of us) after what feels like an interminable wait, the lights are turning back on slowly but surely around the globe and those are the lights in all those empty airsoft safe zones that we’ve missed so much! C-19 has ravaged - and in some places is sadly still ravaging - the globe but there are finally signs that although the beast has yet to be fully tamed, battles are being won and freedoms so long restricted are being regained, even though the “new normal” is far, far removed as yet from the “old normal”. In the UK -and in some other countries - airsoft games have restarted and we hope that this will be the same for all of our “6mm brothers and sisters” around the world soon! But is “Airsoft 2021” different from airsoft of just a couple of years ago? In some ways no, airsoft is still the same game that we all love and enjoy, with the same people, at the same places, with the same energy and enthusiasm as always, but just as the “new normal is the same as the old normal but with masks on”, it would appear that some things have indeed changed in some respects. Airsoft, in reality, is a “young game” and although
there are many of us in our 50’s (and indeed beyond!) that still get out to shoot and play regularly, we have to face the fact that the average age on site is usually at least half that and that thankfully new, young players keep flooding into airsoft! This seems especially true “post-covid” as obviously there are many that have been stuck, bored out of their tinies, at home with just their internet connection as a friend! And, for some, that online intimacy has led them to watching… airsoft videos! Hurrah! And that watching has instilled in them a desire to get out and get involved in something that they have seen, heard a murmur of, or indeed been told directly about. The sites that I’ve spoken to since “Covid Compliant” gaming has commenced have all told me that there has been an influx of “new blood”, with an increase in new players and (commercially good!) rentals. Retailers also back this up, as they are reporting that business is solid right now, not just in relation to more seasoned players restocking and treating themselves to new “shiny things” after the imposition of extended lockdown, but also when it comes to enquiries from new players and once again, here
“SADLY, SOME OF THOSE VIDEOS THEY’VE WATCHED ONLINE ARE NOT THE BEST ADVOCATE FOR WHAT WE REALLY ARE, OR WHAT AIRSOFT REALLY IS. GAME AARS LIKE “IT WAS A COMPLETE BLATFEST”, OR “NOBODY CALLED THEIR HITS” CAN BE SEEN IN A NEGATIVE LIGHT, SO IT’S UP TO ALL OF US TO HELP THE NEW GUYS UNDERSTAND WHAT IS BEST ABOUT AIRSOFT.” 82
FEATURE ROLLIN’ OUT AGAIN
in the UK especially, retailers are having to explain “Defence in Law” to a whole new generation of airsofters who want to buy their own RIFS! On the face of things then, all is rosey but it would appear that, as “more seasoned” players, we also need to give the retailers and site owners a bit of a helping hand and take a moment, either in store or on site, to help new players understand what airsoft is REALLY about. Sadly, some of those videos they’ve watched online are NOT the best advocate for what we really are, or what airsoft really is. Game AARs like “it was a complete blatfest”, or “nobody called their hits” can be seen in a negative light, so it’s up to all of us to help the new guys understand what is best about airsoft. We can bitch and moan about games we attend but if the new (and indeed some older) players aren’t with the program, then it’s up to us to lead the way, is it not? Luckily, those negative comments seem to be fading quickly and reports from the AA team are largely positive again already. In a nutshell, this is what the guys had to say… Jimmy: “Damn fine day at The Quarry for “Ruckus 2.0”, a game day run by the guys from the Heresy Group and boy what a day it was, the perfect day for an airsoft comeback! Brilliant atmosphere with a lot going on, a plethora of trades were there, Trent from FBS, Camoraids, Valkyrie, ENV, and JCI comms, all very inviting and it was a pleasure to get to meet them all. The games were incredibly played over a vast site which made regen a bit of a mission but it made you think about your play, and not be too eager to go running into it! All parties played hard but very honourably. Some of the firefights were intense and quite long, with ammo consumed by the thousands. Pyro was aplenty; I’ve never experienced pyro of that calibre or to the extent. There was free cake and biscuits (we likes cake!) and an added bonus was the raffle with some pretty awesome prizes to be won. I’m glad I went and what made it even better was the fact it was 10 minutes down the road. Being able to play so close to home is a real pleasure and I’m looking forward to Ruckus 3.0!” Boycie: “I spent the day at Red Alert with Stuart as we were doing some pyro tests for potential new clients. It was beautiful weather and great company. Loved the site and looking forward to getting back soon. Well worth the long trip for me!” Stu H: “As Boycie said; noisy and great fun! The BBQ the night before was a tad epic too!” Stewbacca: “I recently tried a new site in Taoyuan that’s an old chemical incinerator, which the likes of VFC and Military Anny use for their photo shoots and
a lot of the Pinoy Airsofters also frequent. Was a good game, interesting indoor and outdoor spaces aside from the general debris to navigate. One of our newbs did end up testing the depth of some pond scum with both feet and ended up waist deep in it so had to head home early, bless him. Other than that, it’s been business as usual in Taiwan so have played plenty.” Björn: “Sadly nothing yet for us… Some people here are trying to host games even though the rules say max 8 people at a gathering. I’m not supporting that.” Chris: “Popped along to Imperium on the 18th of April, which happened to also be my Birthday.... Games ran as they always do at Imperium; superbly well and well-staffed. The armoured vehicles really do add another dynamic to gameplay on a site like theirs. Good sportsmanship from players and I didn’t encounter anyone playing loose and fast with the rules. Off there again soon…” I can only agree with Chris, as I also had a run up to Imperium as an “observer” for the day and to catch up over a coffee and bacon butty with my old mate the “Platoon Leader” himself, Pete from Platoon Stores, one of our great local stores. The day was brilliantly run from what I saw, with all C-19 guidelines fully in place for the safety of all present and the “technical and tracks” certainly made for a stirring spectacle as they carried the players into battle! My sincere thanks go to all the guys at www. imperiumairsoft.com for letting us attend, and for letting me snap some pics on the day! The bottom line is that we all want to get out and get some trigger time, and it looks like the time will soon be upon us again where we all CAN! Let’s get back to play the best game that we possibly can, so play with honour, embrace your hits and the accuracy of the opposing player and set a really great example for all those new to the game. We’ve waited long enough, so now it’s time to make your first game back - and every game after that - the very best airsoft experience it can be. It’s in YOUR hands to make it so!. AA
KIT & GEAR SITE TO STREET
VIPER BUCKLE UP SLING PACK
CONTINUING HIS SERIES LOOKING AT TACTICAL KIT THAT IS EQUALLY AT HOME ON THE STREET, AS IT IS ON SITE, IN THIS LATEST INSTALMENT FRENCHIE TURNS HIS ATTENTION TO VIPER’S VX BUP.
h! This is more like it - a properly tactical bag that can also cut it as a daily carry. Needless to say, it’s not perfect, so let the kit bashing, both literal and metaphorical, begin. Unlike the Covert Shoulder bag reviewed last month, this absolutely has a place on the skirmish field. When I received and unpacked it, my first thought was of the SpecOps Bandolier I ran for many years, both on and off the field. The SpecOps bag had a single large compartment, closed with a rugged zip. The outside was all MOLLE and, as intended, I added pouches back and front to suit my needs. Their X4 M16 mag pouches are a really useful size, and not just for magazines! I think that was probably my favourite loadout, it was super competent, easy to access and incredibly flexible. Let’s see if the Viper VX Buckle up Sling Pack can measure up to my golden memories.
First, some basic specs: • Capacity approx. 5L • Viper VX system compatible • Main compartment with two-way zip closure and glove-friendly pull tabs • Two small, zipped pockets with internal mesh sleeves, lanyard and glove-friendly pull tabs • Second compartment with loop field for customisation or VX mag pouches. • Mesh pocket with hook-and-loop closure on the back • Side MOLLE panels on both sides of the pack • Fully adjustable shoulder strap • Loop field on a shoulder strap • Adjustable, removable, and padded shoulder pad for additional comfort • Loop field on the front for IDs and patches 84
• Grommets at the bottom of the main compartment • Dimensions: approx. 16.1”x7.9”x6.3” (41x20x16cm) • Material: 700D Polytech • Weight: 500g So, right off the bat, the BUSP (Buckle Up Sling Pack is just too much of a mouthful!) is a more complete package. It has a number of pockets and compartments ready for use and although the MOLLE panels are trumpeted, they are pretty small and only two loops wide. You can attach small additional pouches at either end but you aren’t going to significantly increase your storage. I thought about one of Viper’s fold up dump pouches, but in use it would probably unbalance the rig. I’m using mine with a Viper V-Lock on one end and a pen in the other! The two front pockets are square, zipped top and side and have a mesh divider in them. I was initially dubious about their utility, however, they carry more than I anticipated and are easily accessed on the go. The main compartment runs the full length and height of the BUSP and is internally unadorned - it’s a big space for “stuff” basically. Again, easily accessed on the go and you can carry whatever you can fit in there depending on your use of the pack. Behind that is a further full length, full height compartment with loop fastener lining both sides in their entirety. This is either a handy space, or on the field, where you fit your VX compatible mag sleeves. I really like this feature from a player’s point of view, it’s neat and given that Viper mag sleeves are pretty inexpensive, cost-effective. The BUSP comes with a bunch of elasticated mag retainers to stop you losing your ammo during a mad dash or comedy cartwheel. Finally, there is a mesh pouch on the back of the
KIT & GEAR SITE TO STREET
bag secured (I use the term loosely) by a small velcro tab. Handy for light stuff. The shoulder strap is 2” nylon and is permanently fixed to the bag. The manner of its attachment suggests that the BUSP is intended to be worn on the left-hand side - this makes sense as the majority of us are right handed and having your supplies on your non-gun side is where you’d want them. It will ride fine on the right and the additional strap designed to hold the BUSP securely in place can be used for either side - one attachment slides on the shoulder strap and there are buckles at either end on the bag itself. Day to day I don’t use this additional strap but when playing I don’t doubt its value. Finally, there is a nice, big, padded shoulder pad, secured again with velcro. That saved me the trouble of cutting it off! There’s a loop patch panel on the front for your patches and further MOLLE/loop on one end of the strap. For field use, with some mag sleeves (which attach to the loop inside the compartment), sorted. I don’t think you need to do much more than order, unwrap, load and go. For non-skirmish use I have views…
ON THE STREET
To my surprise, I was able to move everything from the Covert Shoulder bag into this with storage space to spare. Not only that, but I find it easy to access anything I need. Big plus right there. I have no need for a patch panel nor the MOLLE/loop on the strap, so both were removed as they would just have irritated me. Shoulder pad was already off and the securing strap was rolled up and put away. The biggest issue for me was the second large compartment with the loop fastening. This is open as it was clearly envisioned that it would have sleeves or suchlike added to it - that would hold things together. The problem is if you don’t hold it together somehow, the weight in the front of the bag pulls it open and makes it a deal less useful than it might otherwise be, or just throws the balance of the bag off. In short, it’s all a bit “floppy”. The reason for this is that the strap attaches to this part of the bag, it is the rear wall of the construction if you like. I can appreciate why it was designed this way and I don’t have a problem with it. I do think it could have been dealt with simply which would improve the off-field use of the BUSP considerably. I can think of two approaches which would have resolved the problem - either a zip closure or some hook material to hold it closed when not being used
with the velcroed sleeves. I don’t think either would interfere with the intended use, while at the same time creating a far more useful pocket. I have some heavy duty sticky backed Velcro so I cut four small strips and stuck them inside, right at the top of the rear loop panel. I later changed this setup to a single hook panel made by sticking two lengths of Velcro back to back. This is easier to use and serves the same purpose. This had exactly the effect I expected - a more secure pocket and a bag that no longer falls away from its straps. I don’t want to over-egg this, it’s not a deal breaker by any means, it’s simply a small thing which I believe would have made a big difference. That done and the pullers swapped for the plastic ones that came with the Banshee (nothing wrong with the supplied pullers, I just really like these ones), I’m good to go. The pack sits well on either side of my body, the zips are great again, smooth and easy to use. I can find anything I need easily and actually the rear mesh pouch has proved to be useful for just jamming things in the short term to free my hands for other tasks. How does it measure up against my old SpecOps Gear rig? Well, it’s a lot cheaper! Recommended price for the BUSP appears to be £59.95 but many retailers discount Viper kit quite aggressively so it is always worth shopping around. It is less flexible, but my old rig was literally built by me, pouch by pouch, to suit me and my needs. For sixty quid I would be more than happy with the options the BUSP offers, both to a player and for use in the wider world. I’m genuinely impressed! Look at it this way - for around £70 you can have a piece of kit that will organise and carry all your in-game supplies and be useful when you are out and about; what’s not to like about that! AA www.airsoftaction.net
KIT & GEAR SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP!!
THANKFULLY, WE’RE BEGINNING TO HEAR THAT THE SIREN CALL OF “GAME ON” IS BEGINNING TO HAPPEN FAR MORE REGULARLY AGAIN AND, OF COURSE, THAT MEANS THAT WE’RE ALL FINDING OUT THAT WE NEED SOMETHING NEW AND “SHINY” TO REPLACE GEAR THAT’S WORN OUT, SUFFERED IN STORAGE, OR HAS “SUDDENLY SHRUNK” DURING LOCKDOWN! THE AA CREW HAVE KEPT THEIR EYES OPEN AS USUAL FOR NEW KIT AND RESTOCKS THAT WILL KEEP EVEN THE MOST JADED PLAYER HAPPY!
t’s been a really thrilling month for all of us, hasn’t it? Games are restarting and we’re finally able to get out and hang with our fellow players and friends again and as summer seems to be grudgingly approaching (boy, but that North wind has been a swine!) we can all be looking forward to some seriously good airsoft! It’s also been a thrilling month as new products continue to be revealed and although we can’t tell you everything that we know (sadly we do have to sign some NDAs…), we can at least start to talk about some of the new models on the horizon and first and foremost is the ARES RDB! A visit to our friends at iWholesales gave us a first look at the pre-production sample of the new KelTec RDB AEG. KelTec is an innovator in rifle design
and one that some members of the AA team have had first-hand experience of in “real steel” form. Engineering downward and forward ejecting bullpup rifles with unrivalled trigger systems, KelTec build rifles for sportsmen, hunters and tactical shooters. Every rifle produced at KelTec exhibits a standard of quality and forward thinking that they claim is “unmet 86
by other firearm manufacturers”. KelTec also tell us that the RDB is “like no ordinary bullpup” and that it “redefines the platform”. The RDB is completely ambidextrous due to its patented downward-ejection, magazine catch/release placement, intuitive safety and reversible operating handle. The real RDB series of bullpups delivers a 5.56/.223 ballistic advantage in a very compact package that’s easy to manipulate for just about anyone. And whilst in airsoft form we’re talking about 6mm BBs not 5.56, the new ARES RDB looks like it’s going to be a proper performer, with a great feel in the hand and a superb finish (that we’ve come to expect from more recent ARES releases) apparent throughout. The balance is superb and the tactile feel of the furniture makes it feel like something you could easily carry in game all day long! As yet there is no firm date for the release of the finalised airsoft RDB and, sadly we haven’t yet had a chance to shoot the new bullpup… YET! However, you can rest assured that we’ll be reporting back just as soon as we’ve had a chance to get it on the range and hopefully now “in game” too! Sticking with iWholesales for a moment, they also told us that they’ve just had a massive restock of BATTLEAXE MAGAZINES, including the Battleaxe P-Mag for M4/M16 Series 150 Mid-Cap Magazine, Battleaxe Mega Magazine M4 Series, Battleaxe Mega Hi-Cap Magazine M4 Series and the Battleaxe M4 Mid-Capa 200 Magazine. Founded in 2005, BATTLEAXE AIRSOFT LTD is a dynamic team with high-quality management and production technology
KIT & GEAR SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
that provide high quality airsoft accessories at a reasonable price. As airsoft enthusiasts with 15 years of production and sales experience, they adhere to the business philosophy of “quality for survival,
integrity for development” and offer customers products with good quality, reasonable price and market competitiveness to ensure satisfaction. We’ve had good results on the Battleaxe P-Mags during testing and as all of these should be hitting stockists soon, you can give them a try yourself if you’re in the market for new mags! Also in relation to mags, PTS SYNDICATE have been in touch to let us now that their new models are now shipping here are now TWO new variants of their EPM magazine that will be hitting the stores soon, and this is sure to please both SR25/DMR and G36 users! They told us: “We are delighted to announce PTS EPM-LR AEG & PTS EPM-G AEG are now available!” The PTS EPM-LR AEG is a “7.62×51 NATO” style magazine (pictured) for SR25/M110 (AEG) pattern rifles and comes in the form of a 150-round midcap, constant-curve body. It’s compatible with G&P SR25/XM110 (AEG), Classic Army SR25 (AEG), and similarly compatible SR25 AEGs. The magazine is available in Black. The PTS EPM-G AEG for G36 AEG rifles features a constant-curve internal geometry for reliable feeding. It utilizes the same internal components as the former PTS PMAG M Version, and proprietary high strength polymer to ensure durability and performance in all environments. The magazine is available in Black. We’ve heard good things from users of the AR EPM, and there’s certainly going to be a couple of “happy bunnies” in the AA crew as a couple of us have been working on DMR projects for the coming summer and the PTS EPM-LR AEG looks a strong contender for our needs! PTS also told us that their Unity Tactical FAST™ Micro Mount in Dark Earth has started shipping and that anyone who has pre-ordered should be checking their mailbox! These will soon be more widely available; the Unity Tactical FAST™ is a series of optic mounts that provide end users with a quicker sight picture than standard height mounts. The Unity
Tactical FAST™ features built-in standard height back up iron sights (BUIS) that keep your airsoft gun uncluttered without reducing capability. The FAST’s built-in front/rear BUIS is perfect for backup on super short PDW/SMG platforms where rail space is critical for mounting lights and lasers. Also, the front sight post can be removed so that the rear BUIS aperture can be used with a traditional front sight such as the PTS FUSION folding front sight, creating a more conventional sight radius. Both front and rear BUIS are completely adjustable for windage and elevation. Built from 6000 series Aluminum Alloy with black anodized, the PTS Unity Tactical FAST™ Micro Mount compatible with Aimpoint® Micro (H1, H2, T1, T2, CompM5) and other optics with the Aimpoint® Micro footprint such as those found on many Sig Sauer®, Holosun®, Primary Arms®, and Vortex Optics® platforms. And if you’re in need of optics, then NUPROL have been in touch to let us know that they are adding to their NO OPTICS line with TEN new models! Although
there is as yet no firm date on these arriving they tell us that there will be amongst the models the NP Optics 4x28 Rifle Scope, 1.5-4x30 IR RGB Rifle Scope, 1-6x24 IR Rifle Scope, 1-5x24 IR Rifle Scope, 1-8x24 Rifle Scope, and a very exciting-sounding 4-16x44 SF Rifle Scope! Our absolute favourite of the current line is theNP Optics - 1.25-5x26 IR; this is a superclear optic that boasts some excellent mechanical features not often seen on such an affordable sight as it retails around the £110 mark. The windage and elevation dials can be popped and locked into place to avoid any accidental changes made to your zero. The mount is also included and bolts straight onto the sight tube with twelve bolts in total, so the whole unit becomes rock solid once mounted on your top-rail. The illumination is great too, thanks to the variable brightness and with three (RGB) colour options, you have a very crisp outlines of the main central dot and outer ring that does not distract from your target be it at 1.25 or the optional 5x max zoom. This excellent www.airsoftaction.net
KIT & GEAR SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
sight really works very well and everyone that has used it in the team thus far has been impressed, so it’s definitely worth mentioning again and we look forward to seeing the new models if they’re anywhere as good as this one! Moving swiftly on to gear, there’s been a couple of new releases to catch our attention, and the first of these is the addition to the PRIMAL GEAR clothing and gear line in the shape of the G4 Combat Uniform Set! Primal Gear is a range of Tactical and EDC equipment that’s now become quite established and well-respected amongst users and if you pay Gunfire a (virtual!) visit you can check out the wide range of Primal Gear clothing and equipment that will be perfect for tactical operations, for EDC, and will surprise you with high quality of workmanship and attention to detail. Equipment and clothing from Primal Gear is made from durable fabrics and components and is ideal for the harsh conditions we find on most airsoft fields. They make use of solid seams and highquality components such as tape, Velcro and buckles to increase resistance and durability. The new design of the G4 uniform set includes trousers and a combat shirt, which thanks to the advanced cut will be perfect for any dynamic environment. The multitude of pockets will allow you to fit all your necessary equipment, and a set of pads will protect your knees and elbows against impacts. The shirt is adapted to be comfortably worn with plate carriers and tactical vests. Coming in plain block colours and a number of popular camo patterns, the G4 Combat Uniform Set is available on the Gunfire website right now, and we’re currently putting a couple of sets through their paces to report back on soon! If you’re amongst the “family” that have embraced PenCott GreenZone, then we have one piece of news that is sure to interest you, as BEGADI have released a version of their “Value Plate Carrier Set” in the
genuine pattern! Sadly, we’re aware that there are already “knock offs” out there using substandard fabrics, but Begadi’s is the real deal using originally licensed GreenZone. Made of 500D nylon (not polyester!), with sturdy webbing and a solid pouch
set, it offers an all-round complete package, ready to be played in! The plate carrier is made up of four parts and has a classic cut. The front is provided with a flap to fix the cummerbund, as well as with Velcro for patches. An integrated admin panel and integrated magazine pouches were deliberately omitted. The classic back has a wide tunnel for mounting the cummerbund, as well as a handle. Both the front and the back are equipped with a lightly padded, breathable spacer fabric and thin, removable soft SAPI inserts, which can be exchanged for hard inserts if you wish. The cummerbund is infinitely adjustable using three ladder buckles and 1 “belt strap, so that the plate carrier can be adjusted from approx. 85cm to 110cm in circumference. In the cummerbund, under the lightly padded, breathable spacer fabric, foam inserts are also installed, which can be removed and/or exchanged. Two lightly padded shoulder tunnels allow comms cables and drinking tubes to pass through but also significantly improve the wearing comfort. The plate carrier is equipped with two multi-purpose pouches, two single (or double) magazine pouches with hook and loop fastening and a triple panel for magazines, also with hook and loop fastening. The magazine pouches each hold two magazines for AR or a single magazine for AK, G36 or similar. In total, the set has a capacity of 5-10 magazines. All pouches and the carrier are fully MOLLE / PALS compatible and can be removed, added and moved, with a total weight for the system around 1200g. And the best bit? The price is just €109.90! That’s it again for this time, so as usual keep safe, stay frosty, and PLAY AIRSOFT! AA www.airsoftaction.net
last post LESSONS IN LIFE
LESSONS IN LIFE
BEING OF A SLIGHTLY “OLDER GENERATION”, OVER MANY YEARS OF INVOLVEMENT FRENCHIE HAS ACQUIRED A CERTAIN PERSPECTIVE ON THE “GIVENS” TOUTED IN, AROUND AND ABOUT AIRSOFT…
have a number of pet hates, it’s my right and I’m sufficiently mature to have accrued a fair collection. One of them is the expression “University of Life”. Yeah, right mate! It’s a saying that manages to combine inverse snobbery, a certain declaration about the actual learning of the individual and should never be uttered without being drenched in irony. Consequently, I am not going to coin the expression “University of Airsoft” because that would be stupendously naff! However, it is undoubtedly the case that over the years I have learned a load of stuff courtesy of airsoft. Some of it is useful, some of it isn’t and some of it is downright embarrassing. Without further ado let’s delve into the teachings of airsoft - as far as this disciple is concerned. Players hate getting taken out by springers. For this reason you should, if at all possible try and take a player out with nothing more impressive than a humble spring pistol at least once. The worse the gun, the better the feeling! Crappy little gas guns can do the job - especially if it’s a non-blowback Colt 25 and you’ve just managed to shoot your target in the ear! Having a YouTube channel will not get you sponsorship. Unless you can show a persuasive business case to a potential sponsor, save yourself the polite rejection. Most retailers spend serious money on their websites - they reach way more people than you can. The Marui triple-barrelled shotguns will shoot round trees. Picture yourself in a shallow trench on a hillside below a ridge. An opposing player is leaping out from behind a substantial tree above you, spraying the area and then retreating. Doom beckons, unless 90
you have a Benelli M3. One frustrated shot, directly at the tree resulted in a cry of “Hit!” and the exit of that particular obstacle from the game. I cannot guarantee it will always work but it’s absolutely worth a try. When moving through anything other than open ground, be aware of the limits of the gun you’re carrying. Large player with equally large G3 and a narrow gap between trees will generally deliver a single, inevitable result. This was back in the days of predominantly plastic guns but I remain unconvinced to this day that a full metal gun would have fared better. Airsoft guns are not invulnerable and you can reduce your pride and joy to a pistol in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful. He was a sad boy! You can make your hobby your work. People often counsel against this but there is a certain satisfaction to pausing in the middle of routine retail tasks and realising you’re surrounded by a load of guns and gear. That’s cool! If you are lucky enough to also be involved in running games, so much the better. That’s hard work and tends to eat your Sundays, but it can be great fun and really satisfying. As long as you don’t think that working in airsoft is all posing with cool kit, you’ll be fine. Video from games can be your friend, even when it is excruciating to watch. Many years ago, when airsoft videos on YouTube were really taking off, lots of people were filming games. Some of the content was really good - ScouttheDoggie for instance - and much not so good. I had a player approach me with some video he’d shot from a game I was running and asked if I wanted it put online. Odd request, but I watched it. He’d caught me utterly losing my sh*t as a marshall at a young player who was, admittedly,
LAST POST LESSONS IN LIFE
being really foolish, dangerously so, but even so my reaction was completely out of order. I asked him if he would do me the favour of not posting and he never did. For my part, I went away and had a long hard think about what was acceptable behaviour on my part when running games and, as a result, I
love my wife, honest) caution is absolutely the best policy if you find yourself pulling guard duty. Some equipment should never be worn on the back of a vest. Knives are a good example. Carrying your knife on your shoulder might feel and look cool but it leaves you open to some scum of a prisoner helping himself to said knife when you are distracted by fighting going on around you and stabbing you and your mate with it. One of my finest moments ever, still makes me smile years later.
Frenchie gobbing off
made major changes to my attitude, approach and professionalism. The player was wrong but so was I and I should have known better than to rant as I did. I’m eternally grateful to the player filming who spared my further embarrassment and in doing so gave me the opportunity to learn from my mistake. Not my finest hour. You can remove a BB lodged inside a player’s ear with a biro. Simply remove the nib and the end cap and use it like a straw to suck the offending article out. This way you don’t force it further into the ear canal. It’s a strangely intimate thing to do to another guy, but that’s airsoft for you! I have also found airsofters really good when you’re faced with a genuine injury and over the years I’ve encountered a few. Given that many players are really, really bad at taking orders in game, they are fantastically good at doing what needs to be done when a fellow player is injured. There are a number of players out there who have my gratitude for their cool heads, skills and willingness to help when a fellow player had a serious mishap. Airsofters will not properly search female hostages. This is understandable for a whole bunch of reasons, but as a result you should always assume that your hostage is armed. Having fallen foul of the opposite assumption on a number of occasions (I do
Speaking of gear here are a few observations… Classic Army magazines can be unreliable but work brilliantly if you throw them at your opponent to keep their head down while you advance. Old soap and radiator valves are acceptable grenade substitutes if you lob them through a doorway whilst shouting “GRENADE!!” very loudly! It is vital you follow the soap into the room immediately so that you can (a) shoot the opposition and (b) enjoy the look of chagrin on their faces when they realise what has just happened. 12g blank firing grenades deployed inside a solid concrete room will cause not only a degree of deafness but also brief, but weird, visual illusions as well. Noisy but cool! When conducting a hostage rescue mission and having cleared every other room in the target building, DO NOT grenade the last room. A five year old could tell you that the person you are seeking to rescue is most likely in there… Finally, FAMAS is still the bestest gnu. If you don’t get that, enjoy your youth! Undoubtedly there are many more valuable lessons I could have drawn on, these are just the ones that came easily to mind. As we finally see a return to playing across the country we all have the opportunity to add to our store of airsoft lessons. Enjoy school! AA
“GIVEN THAT MANY PLAYERS ARE REALLY, REALLY BAD AT TAKING ORDERS IN GAME, THEY ARE FANTASTICALLY GOOD AT DOING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE WHEN A FELLOW PLAYER IS INJURED. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PLAYERS OUT THERE WHO HAVE MY GRATITUDE FOR THEIR COOL HEADS, SKILLS AND WILLINGNESS TO HELP WHEN A FELLOW PLAYER HAD A SERIOUS MISHAP.”
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Airsoft Action is at the forefront of what's happening around the world. In this issue we review four superb rifles, in the form of ARES' Mu...
Published on May 14, 2021
Airsoft Action is at the forefront of what's happening around the world. In this issue we review four superb rifles, in the form of ARES' Mu...