Proper Shiny

Spent some time sweating in my No1s this morning to get handed my proper medal. As I said over on IG, my feeling is there should be 2 types of medal, one for support guys like me who had a real chill time (by comparison) and one for the blokes who actually did proper dangerous shit. But it is what it is, not something I can change.

The NATO one on the left is well known for being made of chocolate, pretty trinket but that’s it. The one I earnt is on the right and made of cardboard and some really terrible MS Paint artwork. But every time a group left, the ‘characters’ got a special citation from the lads for meritorious service in the face of boredom and the enemy (the drinking ban). There was a certain chain of events involving an American general and some pictures and some things happened and I won’t say any more than that. True story.

Shades of Grey and PenCott

Bit of a random ensemble of a mail call, actually arrived a while back but I’ve kept it in the back pocket since the next one will be another few weeks at the minimum (and I’ve already been waiting months for certain things to worm their way around the globe).

Ft. Arc’teryx, Magpul Industries Corp., B5 Systems, Aimpoint AB, Salomon,Husar, PenCott CamouflageLA Police Gear, SKD Tactical and Legit Kit.

Arktis Update

Time for some more signature straight-up no BS gear truth:

For those that remember the new version Arktis Ranger Trousers I posted up about a few times a couple of months back, after many e-mails and a lot of prodding I’ve finally got some response worth reporting on.

I did a bit of testing (in a non scientific way) with the 2 pairs they lent to me for review and overall they were pretty damn good. Top end materials throughout, bar-tacks and double/triple stitching where it needed to be, all the pockets you might need etc. However there were some minor niggles that I took substantial time to document and report back on, as was the agreement when Arktis sent over the items in the first place. A couple of small areas where parallel stitch lines weren’t quite right, some small suggested changes to the factory kneepad inserts and, primarily, the knee pad pockets being just a hair’s width too short to 100% fully fit G3 kneepads perfectly.

Initially I was told the 2 pairs of trousers I have were first off the production line early models (borderline prototype) and the kneepad fitment issue apparently wasn’t evident on other pairs in the warehouse upon checking. I said ok then, in that instance let me return these sets and I’ll borrow a fresh pair from you guys for actual recording of a video review so that I’m not putting out false negative information about the product.

Now, all this communication was with a gentleman working in the design department at Arktis. There was a bit of a gap in comms, I then received an e-mail that had been shotgunned out by this person to explain he was leaving the company. I didn’t exactly say why but it came across as perfectly normal and amicable, no big dramas or anything.

The next person I moved on to speak to then again (it turned out) left the company shortly after. Maybe I have just a terrible effect on people? Regardless I’ve now been informed that “the trousers are still under review”, from a design perspective presumably, and I should get in touch again later this year when Arktis are planning to have made further changes. What those changes will be and whether they’re actually going to finally listen to the feedback I’ve given them on many, many occasions now, advice that would fix the problems I keep finding with these trousers, who knows?

It’s frustrating that they have such a well established manufacturing location, access to plenty of mil-spec materials and just keep falling that tiny bit short of the mark. The one pair I have here in temperate DPM that were custom 1-off modifications of the earlier model are absolutely top notch and fit Crye pads perfectly, yet, the 2 examples of the current iteration I’ve got here do have small issues that really do bring them down (disproportionately so).

I’ve made it very clear that my assistance is available going forward and maybe they’ll actually take me up on that and I’ll keep that ship sailing straight and true. Maybe not though. I will as always keep you updated.

I’m a Wanderer

Think I started my game of Fallout 4 roughly a year ago now, spent all my down time in Afghan building this huge glass and concrete mansion thing out on Spectacle Island, filled it with pretty much every type of power armour possible. Started working on the DLCs before completing the main quest, then BF1 came out which took my attention for a long while, but after a few days completing Nuka-World today I’ve finally destroyed the institute. Pretty sure I’ve checked every location on the map and done nearly every quest there is going, so I’ve hung up my X-01, my Gauss Rifle and my Quad Barreled rocket launcher, currently sat on the 4th floor balcony at Lvl100 enjoying a cool can of emergency ration water.

Also decided to break open my copy of American Sniper this evening since I’m staying on camp for the weekend and I had a lot of time to kill. I won’t get in to real detail on my thoughts, because as many things as there were that stuck out in the combat sections that were maybe not *exactly* realistic, I’d say the story being told and the issues highlighted are what matters most.

Anything’s Better Than MALICE

In all genuine seriousness (just for a second), by far the most satisfying and overall cool thing for me with this blog/page/channel is when people like my ideas enough to actually bring them on board to use themselves. That’s no small thing and when it’s related to gear someone has purchased themselves I appreciate there’s a fair bit of risk being taken that what I’ve said will actually ring true in reality. Whether that’s fellow service members or fellow airsoft geeks, it’s either kit people depend on or kit they’ve spent their hard earned money on. It all matters in some form or another. I hope I can continue to pass on some tid bits of useful knowledge based on my experiences as time goes on that may actually be of small benefit to various folks.

Like to thanks my mate Scott for sending over these shots of his TACOs rigged up using the Velcro one-wrap I mentioned in a video a little while back. If you run any MALICE compatible pouches on a belt (especially a belt with a loop lining) then you may find this a handy tip. I’ve not run with it a ton so far admittedly so i wouldn’t call this duty-ready by any stretch, but in the time I have used pouches attached this way I’ve not had any problems at all. They’ve stated glued in place and do hug the belt tightly with very little bulk on the inside.

 

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:
https://tinyurl.com/m7fsjum

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:
https://tinyurl.com/n8ef9jn

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.

PCU Primer

This may ‘only’ be a product specific video, but if you want to gain more understanding of all this softshell/inclement weather clothing I’ve banged on about in the past, this does an amazing job. Only 6 minutes long yet this is a solid primer for better understanding more in-depth discussions and other pieces about PCU/ECWCS style (doesn’t really apply to PCS since brit kit still doesn’t include a softshell layer) foul weather layering. Also a great video for demonstrating the concept of *not* insulating yourself and fully prioritising moisture management during fast movement and heavy activity.

Hill People Gear have their stuff made by FirstSpear with some more outdoor/mountaineering twists, less military aesthetics and features. The FS Windcheater is a very popular jacket for good reason and I’d strongly consider going for the HPG version of it.

Minty Fresh

For those who prefer the gear stuff, trust me I’ve still got a TON of that to post. But I’ve not paid any attention to my fake guns for a good year+ now so they’re getting some well overdue work and updates. I fit firearms parts wherever I can and it’s legal so if you’re interested in customising shooters, you might like these posts as well. There’s a bit of something for everyone really.

So.. I’ve done this that many times before I really thought I’d not have any trouble changing up the Krytac LVOA to better resemble the earlier models that War Sport manufactured. That was naive of me.

Making the pick’n’mix B5 Systems stock wasn’t too bad, the spring pin in the latch on the black stock was pretty darn stubborn, but once I’d gotten it properly cranked in to the vice it came out ok. The end result fits basically perfectly on the Krytac buffer tube. Said buffer tube also came off without drama so I can switch out the awful factory sling plate for something much better. Going from the USGI magazine catch to the ambi type was also luckily smooth and trouble free. That’s where the good times end.

To change the selectors obviously the gearbox has to come out, meaning the pistol grip has to come off (itself being changed in the process). This process fell at the first hurdle because the two tiny crossheads holding on the motor base plate were honestly the cheapest, weakest metal I’ve encountered. I just about managed to get one out, but despite using a perfectly fitting driver and applying a ton of pressure to prevent any slippage, the other head is totally destroyed. Why they needed to be so tight in the first place I’ve no idea.

In a more expected area, I’m now lacking one of the ears on the lower that holds the spring pin for the rear of the trigger guard – snapped clean off. I supported the area as one should when changing trigger guards but the spring pin was an insanely tight fit and seemingly the force required to move it was too much. How this company is putting “Aluminium alloy receivers” as an advantageous bullet point in their product descriptions I don’t know. It is normal for airsoft ARs, but the inside of these receivers looks like heavily sintered metal, it’s closer to an Aero bar inside than proper metal (I’ll be posting pictures don’t worry).

Off to Homebase tomorrow for cutting accessories to put a flat head slot in to the ruined screw head and some sort of epoxy to carefully rebuild the trigger guard attachment. I can’t imagine that Krytac sells just the lowers and even if they did they will no doubt be totally disproportionately priced compared to the full gun. It’ll be annoying having that crack line in the lower, but luckily the metal is so rough and bobbly inside whatever glue I use should bind pretty well.

I also had the gun on the scales last night. Weighs just over half a kilo less than some of my TM recoil M4s, yet because such a huge proportion of the weight is held in the fat-ass rail, when aimed it manages to actually feel substantially heavier than my Maruis. After going through so much time, effort and money to replicate some tiny details of the real War Sport guns I’m very much on the fence about changing to any aftermarket rail. However there are so many super light ones out there using carbon fibre and super skeletonised 6065, it’s hard not to want to change things up and say to hell with replicating anything.

Shorter LVOA

Got a Krytac LVOA-S in from Socom Tactical Airsoft the other day after finally getting around to selling the ridiculously-proportioned LVOA-C. Really outstanding customer service from Socom, they’ll definitely be making it in to my bookmarks, which I have to say is a rare thing for any company, doubly so in airsoft.

I’ve probably bemoaned the state of the AEG market as far as ARs go before now, but fuck it I’m going to do it again. I was pretty excited when Krytac first came on to the scene given the quality of internals they were talking about providing, but personally I can’t stand the aesthetics of the vast majority of their line up, which is annoying when they have such top end gearboxes and come with MOSFETs, without getting in to TM Next-Gen territory as far as pricing goes.

Very recently we’ve started to see ‘EMG’ showing off prototypes and early releases of some proper AEG replicas of rifles that really exist on the US civilian market, but a year or 2 ago that wasn’t the case, you had the Krytac LVOA, the G&P Salient Arms and that was about it (with 1 or 2 military style M4s around if you really dug deep). I picked the lesser of 2 evils and went with that original LVOA-C for the better quality of internals vs the G&P Salient. Than and I’ve seen a lot of evidence from various sources demonstrating Salient to be a company I wouldn’t even want to replicate in airsoft their business practices are that shocking.

The S (SBR) variant LVOA replica is still way heavier than I’d like and it should be, on account of the standard airsoft pot metal they’ve used in place of proper quality aluminium, but compared to the full rifle it’s infinitely more manageable and will be much better for skirmishing indoors. I don’t think the loss in barrel length will have any noticeable effect on range or accuracy, so having a much lighter gun that’s more easily aimed in tight spaces just makes sense.

I don’t like the really long trigger pull this thing has, doubly so because the gearbox cycles at a decent speed and I can’t actually take advantage of it, even though the trigger looks like something out of a fancy 3-gun competition rifle. Also the selectors are way too stiff and lack a really solid click in to each position. I can’t knock the assembly though, not an ounce of rattle to be found (with the usual exception of the stock and that’s going anyway). Even the receiver pins have allen screws like the upgrade ones Laylax sells for TM recoils.

I’ve got a fair few parts here already from B5 Systems, PTS and G&P waiting to convert this in to something far more reminiscent of the original early guns from WAR SPORT. I don’t think I can change the charging handle or bolt release to replicate the real thing since they’re proprietary parts that interact with the fake bolt piece, but I’ll still be able to get it looking a lot better than it does right now.

Guns’r’Bad M’kay?

So.. YouTube.

I’m guessing if you read this, you follow a fair few gun/shooting related channels. I don’t subscribe to a whole lot of them, probably less than a dozen in total and a lot of them rarely post because they’re run by 1 dude just for the fun of it.

Now the basic headline story here is that the Wall Street Journal highlighted the fact that because YouTube puts ads before/around every video, various companies were having their products ‘associated’ with ISIS and neo-nazis etc etc, so some huge brands pulled hundreds of millions in revenue from YouTube, not far off a billion USD. It would seem this caused YT to have a big rethink about how and where ads are placed and in the process of implementing an even more mysterious, unexplained algorithm for monetisation, gun channels have done very badly indeed (even worse than they were doing before vs the so-called ‘family friendly’ generic content).

All the big channels I subscribe to have uploaded in the past few days talking about this and a lot of them are asking for more support via the likes of patreon since they’ll now be making either zero money from ads, or very little. This also affects airsofters since if a channel primarily promotes/discusses airsoft guns, they fall in to the same bracket as real guns as far as YT’s rules go.

This could definitely hurt viewers in terms of a loss of content to watch, but whether any big channels completely disappear or change dramatically remains to be seen. My personal perspective is that, to an extent, some people have been unthinkingly riding the gravy train on YouTube and social media in general for a long time now and were really, really naive to think it would last forever. Basing essentially your entire livelihood around that sort of thing was never a smart move, it was always too fragile a platform if you’re in the realm of anything that looks like a gun.

Despite the view/sub numbers clearly showing that, globally, people want to see firearms and airsoft, a vocal minority of people (probably largely in the US) will never stop squealing about how a bolt action bb gun is definitely 1 small step away from being converted to an automatic high-capacity assault weapon ideal for mass shootings.

Personally I made so little off YouTube that losing (for example) 50% of that money means nothing to me, it’s a miniscule percentage of what I earn in my actual job. I’ll carry on uploading gear reviews, the occasional shooting video and the occasional airsoft video as and when I’m able to, want to, and feel it makes sense. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this affects the sphere of ‘gun guys’ on social media and around the internet as a whole.