Outpost Post-Game Analysis (July 18)

A very rare occasion of me actually appearing in the site photographer’s album post-bbwar.  60-70% of the time I’ll scour the pictures from a game day I’ve attended and if I have had my soul taken at all it’ll be a quarter of my back through a door way, or something along those lines.  An enjoyable little skirmish at Xsite Airsoft Limited’s ‘Outpost’ site, enhanced by playing alongside my buddies Femme Fatale Airsoft and the lads from Project Cerberus.  The game that airsoft is can take a lot of forms for different folks and as long as they bear in mind it is always just a game then I fully support all of them.  But for myself, I really get the most enjoyment from a mixture of a modicum of sprinting around in a crazy fashion, hopefully confirming that my gear facilitates carriage of equipment comfortably alongside allowing smooth access to mags etc, but crucially the social element has to be there too.  The entire game is built on the interactions between human beings and since I don’t get off base as often as I’d like or perhaps should, just being out of the military environment for a while is really a pleasant break – even though the average air force camp is the least military of military settings.

The game in question was a couple of weeks back which wasn’t far off the peak of the heatwave the British Isles are currently in the midst of.  I’d say tipping in to 33 degrees or so, maybe even slightly more in the direct sun being such a clear day.  This was actually the first occasion I think ever in my time playing airsoft that I deliberately forwent carrying a sidearm or indeed any gear at all on my belt line and opted for just a primary with the bare minimum of load carriage (taking in to account I use mid-caps and usually don’t fully load them).

Starting from the top, the good old (long discontinued sadly) Grey Ghost cap combined with the Turbofans/plastic lower performed really quite well given the conditions.  I could’ve gone with a mesh cap of course but I’d actually been extremely stupid and gotten my forehead sunburnt a few days before, so I had to completely cover that up.  I even had factor 50 on my face under the hat just to be sure.  First time I’d been so careless as to get that burnt in about a decade, so definitely a strong kick up the rear end in that regard.

Tried out one of the Patagonia Level 9 Next-to-Skin shirts for the first time since I fancied having the full multicam pattern to complement the chest rig.  To be frank it’s just what you’d expect of a modern combat shirt that’s designed to be a bit of an all-rounder with no-melt/no-drip.  Not bad in the heat but somewhat slow drying in the torso compared to other fabrics that aren’t concerned with FR.  As I expected the pattern started fading slightly in the torso as soon as I washed it that evening, even with a careful hand wash which is a gentle of a wash as one can perform on clothing.

The chest rig was part Spiritus Systems and part Ferro Concepts with a couple of GP pouches in the mix.  Again the first time I’ve not had a dump pouch on in many years so most of the time I was just dropping mags, reloading, firing, then picking back up and re-stowing the mag back in to the chassis during a lull.  Given the nature of the site and the game that was an option for me, but reload with retention would of course still have been possible, it’s just not always quite 100% ideal with the elastic inserts.  Realistically the time difference with a kydex insert would not be anything significant and I’d probably still choose to drop empty mags in the given context, since the option was there.  Either way having such a compact chest rig was most definitely to my benefit and a few other people were seriously sweating inside their plate carriers.  I didn’t have hydration on me which seems dubious in the context, but the games were pretty short and personally I was absolutely fine come the end of the day through just drinking plenty of water during breaks and occasionally snacking on a bag of McCoys salt & vinegar.  At least one guy fell down (literally) but he was in all black clothing with a black PC and I’m pretty sure a black helmet, maybe drinking coffee and/or red bull between games too, quite possibly not enough water.

Also wore some Roman Kurmaz workmanship for the first time in the form of my G3 combat trousers made from the Hyperstealth/US4CES Mexican Marine fabric, though sadly hidden in the image.  Discovered you really have to wear those things in the intended manner (high waisted) once you’re sweating because if they’re not a baggy fit they will cling and be inhibitive when it comes to climbing up stuff.  Not that this is the trousers’ fault; I spent a couple of months in the states earlier this year eating a lot of pizza and when I did go to the gym I did quite a bit of leg work.  It does give me an interesting frame of reference to see how the Gen4s end up performing by comparison in hot weather, being made entirely of stretch fabric as they are.  Quality of stitching wise the report is very favourable on Roman’s work as the sticking of the fabric to me meant that the stretch segments in the design were definitely being put under strain and absolutely none of the sewing showed any hint of giving way in a post-wash visual scan later that evening.

The SKD Tactical PIG Deltas did exactly what I wanted in a glove as expected, similar story for the Under Armour boxer shorts and Darn Tough Vermont Socks.  I used a couple of wire pull Enola Gaye pyros for the first time as well which was a real luxury compared to striker lit pyro (thanks to Kelly for those).

Stock Tokyo Marui SOCOM AR with old PTS/Magpul Industries Corp. furniture and mags just worked of course.  Nothing to say about that that you won’t know already if you know anything about the platform.  The FPS is somewhat low so to BB takes a little bit to get to where it’s going, but I love the faux bolt-lock feature and since the ROF is also pretty low short bursts are very easy to pull off consistently.  Not the absolute best indoor gun when you’re set to semi, but then it and my batteries are all many years old at this point and my bar of comparative standards is also set very high.

Space Cowboy

Yesterday evening’s game – Zed Adventures – Airsoft: the Mall, Reading. Gear used/lessons learned.

-Ops-Core FAST Carbon, O-C Counter-weight pouch, FirstSpear cover, Wilcox Industries Corp. L4G24 & J-Arm, PVS-14 with Butler Creek flip caps and Tac Optician protective transparencies from AM Tactical – AMTAC. ESS (Eye Safety Systems) Turbofan goggles, 3M PELTOR Comtac 2s and the OneTigris mesh mask with straps taken from a different mask to clip in at the corner of the arc rails.
-Arc’teryx LEAF Assault AR shirt, Crye Precision G3 Combat pants, SKD Tactical PIG Alpha Gen1 gloves.
-FirstSpear/Dead Coyote Tactical Nylon mash up plate carrier, FS and Tactical Tailor GP pouches with a DCTN placard and Haley Strategic Partners MP2 inserts.
-FS AGB with Slimline sleeve, High Speed Gear pistol TACOs, Grey GhostAccomodator rifle mag and flashbang pouches, FS/CSM Tactical Gear dump pouch, G-Code Holsters RTi belt mount with SOC holster.
PTS ACR AEG with the folding-collapsible stock and ‘real size’ handguard.SureFire, LLC M300V with SR-07 and Magpul Industries Corp. MOE Illumination kit mount plus Princeton Tec switch rail. Magpul MS1 amalgamation sling.
Tokyo Marui P226E2 with Streamlight, Inc. TLR-1.

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One of the first things I did was download 2 of the 5 lead weights from the O-C counter weight, I may even try it out with 3 weights removed or simply replacing the metal with batteries of an equivalent mass. For a single tube NV setup, the full complement of weights is definitely excessive to obtain proper balance and having less pressure bearing down on the head overall is certainly a plus. That said, using the counter weights compared to my previous time out with the PVS when I didn’t have them allowed for less cranking down on the occ-dial, which helps significantly in terms of comfort. I’ve still got to arc rail mount some electronic hearing protection (vs running the stock head band inside) and swap the padding to the 4D tac option; all very much an on-going process. Since I tend to just run my usual plastic mask + cap setup there’s less impetus to get on with sorting out the helmet.

First use of the Tigris mask, it looks weird going over the top of the ear pro admittedly but I’d thoroughly recommend it for helmet mounting. No cheek weld issues as with older all-mesh masks and given the large volume air flow I may well have to try and figure out if I can mount one of these to some goggles as a potential upgrade to the ‘Sansei’ plastic lower halves.

It was extremely humid inside the old Friars Walk shopping centre to say the least and though it doesn’t wick very efficiently (as expected for non synthetics) the torso of the Assault AR remained fairly comfortable even when soaked and the underarm mesh certainly seemed to help, along with the spacer mesh inside my PC. Since I didn’t get home and unpack until nearly 1am the washing was left until today, but again the mesh seems to have done well in terms of not breeding bacteria and stench, though I did take a thorough shower immediately before leaving for the game This would require further testing at a longer game in higher temperatures.

The padded section of the padded MS1 varant is longer than the pad on the BFG Vickers slings I’ve built on in the past, which left the weapon sitting far lower than ideal in the 1 point mode. This is exacerbated by the piece of 550 I have on the sling point of the ACR, but I’ll have to either do more chopping/sewing on this sling configuration or perhaps look at trying the HSP sling instead.

PTS Delivery and Why I Like What They Do

One last company to thank for sending some swag to perk up the morale here in my armoury – PTS​. They’ve also been kind enough to provide a couple of little bits for me to feature here down the line; the Griffin Armament M4SD-K mock silencer and their hammer comp, as well as the Battle Arms Development​ licensed 45 degree throw ambi selectors which will be going in my next KWA LM4 build (short barrel in grey for CQB games and this selector will complement that setup perfectly).

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I had a dig through my e-mails to check order confirmations and I’ve been buying PTS stuff myself since at least 2010, if not a fair bit earlier. I’ve made numerous purchases throughout that time and had very, very few issues at all, certainly no major ones. That in itself can be a rarity when it comes to airsoft manufacturers and their lax approach to tolerances and material selection. Compared to the vast majority of airsoft-centric brands, their consistency is way up there and the quality is very high indeed, though the prices are still extremely competitive and certainly don’t exclude those who aren’t spending thousands on meticulous PTW/Inokatsu builds and the like. Yet they use proper Dupont nylon for their plastic parts, easily rivalling a fair few producers of firearms accessories and it’s a similar story with anything that’s metal. All things taken to account, I’m more than happy to accept things for review because I can be confident it’s going to be well made and not a waste of my time.

I’ll admit I do miss the days when they had the Magpul license because I prefer my own replicas to use all parts that look like real ones, so despite the practicality of their new EP series I’ve not purchased any myself just because of the styling. The licenses they hold for all sorts of muzzle devices, handguards and other parts however are put to very good use and if I can’t use a real firearm part on a build (either through legality or interfacing) I’ll go PTS an awful lot of the time.

CoD – Future Bullshit Guns

Pro Airsoft Supplies messaged me and said “hey, we’re bringing in all these S.R.U GBB kits for WE Airsoft, would you like to try the G5, SCAR-L or AK?” and I’d already seen the amazing absurdity of the AK kit, so naturally I picked that one because all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.

This thing is as terrible ergonomically as it is brilliant aesthetically.

If the weather ever holds out long enough to get some video I’ll be posting one just briefly going over the kit some time in the next week or two; and if not video then another blog post.

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PataWrongia More Like…

Gear I was trying out for the first time yesterday at Ambush Adventures The Billet site:

-Custom Blue Force Gear, Inc./Magpul Industries Corp. 1-to-2 point sling:
I’ve been using setups like this that I’ve made myself for years, but yesterday was the first time using it with QDs instead of Paraclips. The rotation-limited QD sockets that the MS4 adaptor and ALG rail have built in are good once you get things set the way you like, but you can’t realistically see where the segments and dividers are within the socket (without taking undue time clipping in) and sometimes you end up having to go back and mess with the attachment. Regular QD sling swivels are also a pain to manipulate compared to clips or hooks, which is why Magpul and BFG make their own versions with better control mechanisms.

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-Crye G3 All-Weather Combat Shirt:
Thicker in the torso than the regular G3 shirt, giving just that little bit more insulation and still a decent drying time. Unfortunately the wind will still go right through the torso and it definitely was doing that yesterday in a biting fashion, but the unlined softshell on the sleeves and yoke cuts out any wind and still breathes very well indeed.

SKD Tactical/Patrol Incident Gear [PIG GEAR] FDT Deltas:
I’ll be replacing at least a couple of pairs of my Alphas with these, if not most of them. All the same brilliant fitment and dexterity without the bloody annoying velcro tab to get them on and off every time where the hook part of the 2nd glove you put on always ends up eating some small part of the 1st glove. The Pig silicone letters peel off very easily but that’s always been the way with small grip additions like that on glove palms and fingers; be better if they knocked a few $ off the price and just never put those adornments on in the first place.

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– ALG Defense EMR V2 M-LOK Handguard:
A true pleasure to get to grips with. There’s not a massive different between this tube and the V1 I changed over from, but the small piece of pic rail at 12 o/clock up front is exactly what I want personally with no other wastage. It’s slim, extremely light and with just enough texturing in the geometry and anodising to not make things too smooth and slippery. You can’t beat 95%+ Geissele Automatics, LLC quality at a fraction of the price. I may add some covers/panels of some type just to decrease heat transfer slightly in winter, or possibly a cordura wrap as metallic rails act like a perfect heat sink, but that sort of thing entirely depends on your glove choice and circulation in the hands.

Grey Ghost Accomodator rifle mag pouch:
With an AEG mag, the function is perfect. Just enough grip to hold the ammo source, but no resistance to drawing it. I’ll need to try it again with a GBB rifle mag (they weight the same as a real one loaded) to see how it really retains something that has the necessary mass to carry momentum under movement however.

Patagonia PCU Level 9 Combat pants:
Big fat meh on these. They look cool and different to the G3s yes, but they’re not better in any way from what I’m seeing so far; certainly not when compared to NCs with the buttons. The normal front pockets are too shallow, the front thigh pockets seem too small in general as well. The main thigh cargo pockets are too far around the back of the leg and by far the worst feature is the fly. The button arrangement overall makes taking a piss a nightmare mission that would genuinely need SEAL training to complete. It’s hardly impossible to do a button fly that works either, other trousers have them, but the Pata arrangement is a fail. The L9s are just a step down from the NC or G3 in most ways. Not the worst trouser ever by any means and they’re not a million miles behind the Cryes, they’re just straight up not as good, so there’s no reason to recommend them for the vast majority of folks. Doubly so when Crye combats are far easier to find.

What folks want to know most I’m sure is what failed. Frankly these days I’m a bit disappointed if nothing goes wrong at all because then there’s nothing I can change and improve. I’ll say this beforehand however – I neither baby my kit nor do I deliberately trash it. I own enough now that if something falls apart I’m not going to be stuck and without kit to use, but on the other hand I’m not about stepping in to any recreational activity purely to ruin stuff I’ve purchased.

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The Patagonia knee pads were frankly unsurprising in their fragility and lacklustre performance. As with anything this is just a sample size of 1, however given the thin and brittle type of plastic that’s been used for the external caps I was pretty much expecting something to go wrong from the start. Bearing in mind I didn’t crash my knees in to any sharp edges to cause the split, this was the first outing for these pads and I only took a knee maybe 7 or 8 times during the day. A day of casual airsoft – not war fighting. As mentioned the plastic is just brittle, it doesn’t flex and cracks were simply bound to propagate. I liked the padding of the internal components of the pads, they’re a bit small compared to Crye but do a decent job. The other issue of course is the press/pop studs, which I knew weren’t nearly tough enough as soon as I took them out of the packaging. Move to a kneeling position too fast and guess what happens? At least 1 will disengage. Easy enough to take the time to remedy that in an airsoft game, not when you’re taking actual fire and have bigger concerns than protecting the stretch panels on your trousers from abrasion. The newer iterations I have on the way (which I’d presume are current issue) do have a positive locking system instead of the press studs.

What really disappointed me was the G-Code Holsters RTI rotating belt mount, which as you can see decided to shed 2 screws and would’ve shed 3 if the body of the holster hadn’t actually retained the 3rd. Those 3 sets of chicago screws worked themselves incredibly loose somehow, the other 2 were also loose but not to the point of the outer screws falling out (yet). I only drew and re-holstered maybe a dozen times and I’d rather expect draws and holstering actions to be the movements this gear should be designed to hold up to the best. Is this a parts or materials issue? Nope, it’s assembly. I’ve got lots of G-Code products here and this is the only one to have an issue anything like this. Clearly that bloke on the assembly shop floor was having a bad day; either that or the torque specs he was working to were far too low. Or the torque tool got a hard knock and was producing vastly different numbers to its’ setting. Either way those 2 screws of the 5 are gone forever now, I was lucky to catch the third right as I was packing up to leave.

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Highly fortunately I’ve got a bunch of spare G-Code nuts and bolts in a small organiser unit here that’s designed for DIY use and is full of similar ‘just in case’ bits and pieces. Wouldn’t want to be the guy on deployment or between shifts who was relying on this thing to mount his holster, especially if he’s only armed with a pistol in the first place. If they don’t respond to this post G-Code will be informed directly of this issue so they can double check their assembly processes. They’ve responded quickly in the past when I brought up a very minor issue with a slightly corroded piece of non-essential hardware. I’ll update here with my findings, but having talked about this item recently and sung its’ praises based on the other one I have (that has performed very well), I’m hardly thrilled by this turn of events. The toolbox and loctite will be used shortly to return the mount to full working order with the addition of spare screws, I’m just glad my holster and pistol didn’t even up clattering on to concrete.

The Billet, Skirmish Thoughts

Quick few thoughts on mine and Passive Shooter‘s trip out to Ambush Adventures Billet site; I’ll be talking more about what I used that was new and what I found out about tomorrow.

For those who haven’t been or seen me talk about this site previously, it is a small area no doubt, but it’s good overall and the guy who does any fixing up of my electric RIFs lives only about 10 minutes away so I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone and there’s few things in life I find more satisfying than that.

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A bog standard old style AR AEG can reach at least half of the way across either the width or length of the actual area that’s used in play. However the buildings within are made up of many, many split up rooms and corridors so this is no great issue, there’s lots of usable gaming area to battle over. There were a tad under 20 players per side today at a guess, which honestly worked about spot on. No walking around for ages wondering where everybody is, but also, unlike many other close-up type sites I’ve attended, I didn’t spend most of the day stuck in the same half dozen cramped, impassible bottle neck corridors and doorways.

I’m not personally a huge fan of every game type they run, but then basically everyone else was so I’d say that’s entirely on me. I’ve also been a good few times before and at this point the physical site isn’t massively interesting to me, it’s also entirely on one level, but again they have regulars who play all the time and you can never under-estimate a skirmish site that avoids the issue of constant choke points. They also run ‘No Bang’ days, which may be a sneaky joke at my lack of tinder matches, but on the regular days it’s a very .209/9mm grenade heavy site. That has its’ ups and downs without doubt, but personally on balance I’d rather have everyone actually have to shoot each other vs certain people who come loaded up with multi-shot grenades just chucking them around every single corner. Or play against lots people who just throw a pyro any time there’s any sort of a stalemate. I get the flip side of the coin too, but with a fairly small player count the stalemates are kept very minimal.

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There’s no driving down a bumpy dirt road to get to the parking, there’s generally ample space for cars too. A walk on is £30 and crucially a lunch comes with that and it was a bloody good one, joint best I’ve had at an airsoft game myself. Actual fruit and veg mixed in there, enough food in total for a full lunch meal then a snack in the afternoon and a bottle of water for all the idiots who think coffee and Monster are the go-to beverages for a day running about with kit on. At this point after playing for about 11-12 years, the food, safe zone and the attitudes of people in attendance are very much the key aspects of playing this game for me. As with any site I’ve seen the odd mildly-iffy player attitude, but it’s very minimal frankly. The marshals are experienced and do a solid job and considering how short the distances are where people are getting shot the number of ‘disagreements’ were essentially zero.

If you’re curious what I’ll say about the gear tomorrow; quick preview, I managed to make 2 items fail pretty impressively, both from kit companies most folks would consider top of the food-chain. Just in playing about 4-5 hours of airsoft.

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GBLS Competitor

I had other sutff I was planning on posting, but for you airsofters (or AR shooters who want a safe trainer that’s super cheap to feed) this is something PRETTY DAMN interesting from American Airsoft Factory via Booligan Airsoft and Shooting Sports.

Amongst the line-up of high end electric guns out there, this one has by far piqued my interest the most, both as a potential purchase and in general with the design. Highly recommend checking out the AAF website because they have some extremely smart product options and a lot of open and honest technical data on the guns that’s rare to see.

The tricky part about actually finishing some of my recent airsoft builds is the little details. The larger parts that really change up the weight, feel and aesthetic are comparatively easier to decide on and get hold of, but it took more hunting around for the smaller touches that make something genuinely different (at least to the eye of the keen observer). Manufacturers by and large tend to ship out rifles with all sorts of different stocks, grips and forends but usually it’s fictional stuff, and even if the small items like the trigger and selector aren’t just the plain old USGI designs then again it’s usually not a pattern that really exists on a firearm and I’m not personally a fan of that look.

The other aspect is that airsoft brands copy firearm products more than people realise, it’s not as common now but historically it happened a lot and they just never put the original name to the item to save themselves legal hassle. So again tracking down that replica part takes a lot of trawling and you have to have the prerequisite knowledge. A couple of stores I like for these small parts and accessories are ehobbyasia.com in Hong Kong and Dave’s Custom Airsoft LTD here in the UK. At the time of writing eHobby actually carry some quality gear like G-Code Holsters and a lot of other items that US stores won’t let you export as an individual because of the pointlessly over-reaching arse covering exercise that is elements of ITAR, so that’s handy.

One thing I’ll say is I strongly recommend avoiding APS like the plague. I’d always gotten the impression just from the look of their stuff online and the pricing that the quality would be pretty dire and my suspicions were thoroughly confirmed. I figured hey it’s an anti-rotation link for an AEG, purely cosmetic item so why not? Now I may have a biased view because of my work, but the metal on these things is in my opinion the living embodiment of that old trope when they say something is “made of cheese”. The no-name ACM charging handles also took work on the dremel to fit my particular RIFs but I almost prefer that in a way, it’s a lot more satisfying when they eventually fit and work. That said, if higher quality alternatives were common and stocked widely I’d opt for them. They generally aren’t however because that market is fairly dead these days in the realm of AEGs.

Aero Bubbles

As promised, issues I ran in to trying to alter the Krytac (and one shot of some of the markings with my macro lens just because I had it out).

I’m not saying I’m perfect or the very most skilled technician in the world, is there a chance this stuff could’ve been avoided? Yeah maybe, but when I do jobs I do them properly and both broken parts failed extremely easily, far more quickly than anything else I’ve worked on. Is the receiver issue unique to Krytac? No there’s barely any airsoft ARs out there which use decently graded aluminium, Systema receivers are the same ‘alloy’ and we all know the price difference there. Hopefully these shots do a good job of showcasing what these parts are actually made of once you get inside them (for those who’ve never seen a receiver break).

Krytac referred me to Shield Airsoft with regards getting a new lower, I’ve contacted them but no reply thus far, so “we’ll see” on that one.

I’ve pretty much decided that as cool as it is to replicate the War Sport rifle so closely, it’s pretty much impossible to get this AEG 100% correct so I might as well improve the weight distribution and handling by changing the rail out. Plain black, with M-LOK and the WS bungees threaded in as a homage to the original.

Either something like this to maintain that scooped front end look:

Or I’ll just go with whatever is the lightest most fancy looking M-LOK freefloat tube I can get my hands on. This V Seven Weapons has been on my list for a while:

Battle Arms Development and Faxon Firearms also have some really cool options recently released but these really light tubes are so damn popular and manufactured in fairly small batches that it’s not easy to find them in stock. The great thing about a rear-wired AEG and modern LiPos in the buffer tube means that once I’ve re-threaded the upper to firearm spec the world’s my oyster in terms of rail selection.