VFC KAC SR-16 AR-15 AEG

A few years ago when Magpul were all the rage and those DVDs were all everyone was talking about, there was a very strong trend within airsoft towards buying the likes of CTR stocks and MIAD grips for replica guns.  Either the real thing, or the PTS replicas for most folks outside of the US.

During that time period, the ‘pinnacle’ that got you the most likes on discussion forums (Instagram was not a thing yet) was to have a black KAC rifle replica outfitted with a real Magpul Industries CTR, a PTS MIAD and other Magpul bits on the Picatinny rail – All in FDE.  It got a bit repetitive so I decided to try and find an FDE coloured KAC AR replica, then put some black Magpul parts on it.  At the time (late noughties) VFC were turning out these copies of Knights rifles with fully realistic trademarks at a serious rate and they were a common sight because they had ambi selectors before basically any other AR replica in airsoft.  Looking back now I’m pretty certain they were being naughty with said trademarks, but I was entirely ignorant of those sorts of issues at the time.

Luckily I found this SBR style sewing machine for sale 2nd hand but unused at an appealing price over on the ArniesAirsoft forums.  I already had the stock and pistol grip in FDE so I slapped those on, added a terrible knock-off T-1 clone, some Magpul ladder covers and an XTM hand stop, as well as a SureFire X600 and SR-07 tail switch; finished with an old PTS Gen2 style AEG PMAG.

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This looked realistic to an offering from Knights Armament, but it wasn’t what I wanted to build, the rail was too fat and heavier than more modern options and there were a few other niggles.  So change work began.  Compared to the Krytacs and the like you can buy today, the internals are supremely basic and while the RIF functioned fine when I first got it, the gearbox developed a habit of getting its’ piston stuck to the rear for no reason, so the whole thing went off to LC’s Engineering Outpost.

My buddy Jim over there did a bang up job of making the internals cycle as they should as well as re-tightening the QD sockets integral to the lower receiver, which had somehow worked themselves half way out.  I also asked him to remove the quad 1913 rail, which proved to be a pretty epic task for an airsoft gun.  The KAC URX 2 design comprises 2 levels of threading inside the rear portion of the rail; the lower quadrant is removable via the screws at the sides, but the main body comprising the other 3 rails is actually screwed on to the upper receiver as one whole unit, no separate barrel nut like other companies which you mount to the gun and then affix the main portion of the handguard to.  To make things trickier, there’s then another separate nut which slides over the barrel and nestles inside the base of the rail.  This had been (I found out when collecting the gun) doused in what was near enough super glue and torqued to insanity levels.  A custom tool was made, which broke, so it was remade much tougher, then that one broke, but the 3rd iteration of the peg spanner that was all steel using threaded spigots did eventually remove the inner nut.  I then myself mounted the upper receiver in a vice at home and used a combination of a strap spanner, plenty of heat and a lot of shouting to break the tension/glue and unscrew the main body of the forend.

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I had the black MOE stock and pistol grip already here so they went on and the cheap T-1 is just an ornament for pictures; I stopped mounting any BUIS for airsoft usage long ago because it’s extra expense (and a little more weight) for something I’ve never used and wouldn’t ever actually need.  Also, given that the supplied dual-QD sling plate at the rear of the lower was made entirely redundant by the two integral sockets, I moved over to a standard AEG plate that only features 1 QD point directly facing the firer.  Overall a massively better design since it allows a sling with QD swivels to function like a Magpul ASAP when transitioning shoulders.  Switching to shoot around the different sides of any given cover/barricade is quick, easy and snag free.

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Having purchased some fairly pricey AR-15 forends from the US in the past I really wanted to see how something cheaper might compare, so I went for the ALG Defense EMR V1 to replace the VFC URX copy.  In retrospect I should’ve gone with the EMR V2 (in Black) because the V2 incorporates a small section of pic rail right where you’d usually mount your front BUIS.  On this gun the Magpul plastic M-LOK section I attached sits right over the fake gas block and the screws on the rail segment end up contacting the block if properly tightened; this is the ‘I didn’t see it coming’ issue that happens literally every time I change up a gun because I’m always using new things from different brands to try and gain as wide a field of knowledge as I possibly can to facilitate sharing out said knowledge.  However this was my very first M-LOK forend and the great thing about ELG is all their rails use the same barrel nut, so when I get around to changing to a V2 it’ll only be a case of undoing the visible allen bolts.  The other huge bonus is their pricing; being a sister company to Geissele Automatics the quality is superb and their rails do not feel cheap vs the Geissele SMRs.  I can only presume ALG works on something close to a no-profit business model and they’re just turning over money for their most part, because their entire EMR line is priced more cheaply than the likes of Madbull’s airsoft-only rail systems and a lot of the offerings from PTS, yet all the ALG tubes are made from extruded 6061-T6 aluminium with a 2″ 7075-T6 barrel nut that fits inside the tube immaculately creating a zero wobble lock-up that genuinely feels solid as a rock on your upper receiver.  The anodising is very shiny, at least on ALG’s ‘DDC’ option, but it’s also as smooth as silk.

The Magpul polymer rail section weighs almost nothing and in spite of the interference issue I’ve got it mounted quite satisfactorily.  The Inforce WML does sit rather higher than anyone would like and I’d imagine Magpul could make their M-LOK compatible 1913 segments slimmer if they wanted to, but I’d also imagine they were tested on hundreds of different accessories and mounts and the extra clearance was a deliberate piece of design work to ensure fitment across the board.

While I’d not recommend the Inforce over a Surefire light for duty or defensive usage due to the more fragile plastic body, the WML is comparatively quite cheap and extremely easy to mount and use, a good option for sporting applications and still somewhat rugged.  There’s no option for remote switches so you simply clamp on the integral mount (which is much lower profile than the standard Scout mount) and you’re away, no routing wires or buying extra accessories to mount a pressure pad or manage the cable.  When mounted as pictured you’ve got incredibly easy access to the angled pressure switch using your thumb regardless of which shoulder you might be shooting from at any given moment.

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Once I’ve changed the forend over to ALG’s V2 the M-LOK vs Gas block interference issue up front will be removed and the aesthetics will be pretty much there, I’ll just have to paint or swap out that nasty chrome washer behind the KAC Triple Tap Brake replica.  Not a gun I’ll pull out often because the internals are so basic and the trigger response on semi auto is a real dinosaur, but with the 11.5″ barrel and a rail that only weighs around 10 ounces including the mounting hardware it’s still a handy package that works with common magazines and generally does what I’d need it to do for ‘CQB’ or Indoor type games.

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Oh and the sticker is from 4 Guys Guns.  Their handy moustache decal packs come in multiple colours with 4 different styling options in each that allow the operator to quickly transition from their shooting stance to a comedic pose whenever the need should arise by simply turning the gun 90 degrees to the side and lifting their collapsible stock to their upper lip.

MOE-SL on TM

Modified some Magpul Industries Corp. MOE-SL Mid length handguards the other day.

Needed a new forend for one on my Tokyo Marui ‘SOCOM’ M4s (NGRS with the front wiring) and simple plastic handguards definitely fit the bill.  Plenty of space inside and easy to open up for access. The metal heat shield needed removing from these however in order to create enough space for a battery, which turned out to be no easy task. The rivets used to hold in the shield were both extremely tight and made of seriously tough stuff; yet at the same time loose enough that when I tried to drill them out, they simply span.  Holding the tails on the back face while drilling was a difficult job even for 2 people.  I tried a Dremel bit with embedded diamond dust, however the rivet metal just ground off the diamond and cut in to the metal of the dremel bit in a matter of seconds.

Got there eventually with a combination of drilling followed by a hefty hammer and punch. Cleaned up the holes by drilling out the scuffed up portions with a larger diameter drill bit and scraping out any flash left over.  With a fake mid-length gas system on a 12.5″ Dytac barrel using a standard delta ring and standard circular handguard cap behind a low-pro gas block, the fit is absolutely solid. Not nearly as gucci looking as a freefloat rail system, but this setup is light and enables a solid direct connection between the LiPo and the workings of the gun, as well as permitting usage of basically any stock.

DAS Update 2

As promised, better quality picture of the GBLS DAS I modified to accept the Fortis Manufacturing SWITCH 556 KeyMod forend; sent by the owner of the gun.

If I ever pick up a DAS and they don’t change the location of the hop adjustment, the QD Fortis rail would definitely be high on my list for fitment. Potentially there’s a whole other upper on the way as well for this specific gun which will likely get outfitted with yet another AR-15 handguard. I’ll report the news as it rolls in over on Facebook.

DAS Update

Update for those interested in the GBLS DAS. The upper I modified to accept AR-15 Rifle forends has now be reunited with (most of) the rest of the gun, my good mate that owns it sent over a real quick potato snap. First one of these guns I’m aware of to have a real freefloat handguard fitted.

The Fortis Manufacturing SWITCH is an ideal candidate given that it gives you easy access to the hop adjustment (located on the outside of the barrel near the ‘chamber’) as well as the modern ergonomics that one might expect from an extended, narrow diameter rail. Not forgetting KeyMod accessory mounting of course.

Pistol grip is the PTS EPG, VLTOR stock that’s currently being modified to accommodate and a Magpul Industries Corp. AFG2. I should be getting some better shots of this thing in a couple of weeks so if folks are interested I’ll post those up as well. To my mind this is by far the most interesting and innovative BB slinger to hit the market since the Marui NGRS line.

Once You Go

Really excellent little skirmish at Ambush Adventures ‘The Billet’ last night. Small site and some that was shut,but with only about 20 or so players it worked really nicely. Cold, dark, very close quarters.

Discoveries and gear lessons learned:
-First time out with the FirstSpear Asset shirt, Mk3 combats from PLATATAC and Gunfighter belt from TYR Tactical, LLC. I knew this was all quality gear going in and it was no doubt going to work well; I was not let down.

-Micro red dot from Primary Arms, LLC has brightness settings for every condition. (y)

-The Haley Strategic Partners MP2 inserts got their first proper usage and as I expected, they are superb all around. Solid retention yet still with an easy draw and so much easier to index and re-insert magazines with all your gear on compared to almost any other option on the market.

-Bone stock TM SCAR-L on a fresh new 7.4v LiPo cycles and shoots like a damn champ. Only lock-ups I had on the GB came from firing as fast as possible on semi and not fully pulling the trigger in the correct manner. Other than that, my trigger finger could not out-run the gun.

-The Stark Arms, LLC G17 Gen4 was not behaving at all. First time I’d tried to use it in a game, it functioned fine at home with no BBs, but the ammunition in the mags was seemingly preventing the slide cycling properly. Sometimes it would get stuck trying to move to the rear, sometimes the loading nozzle to stop behind the top round in the mag. Being in brand new condition with almost zero oil or grease and a fairly coarse finish on the slide, it clearly needs a lot of breaking in and lubrication. Or I’ll just use all-plastic TM guns when I’m outdoors in the winter, rather than metal slide guns.

-I have an INFORCE WML (standard version) with a switch between momentary and constant functions. Unfortunately the position for momentary is with the toggle switch facing towards the shooter meaning it gets bumped forward when your thumb goes for the pressure pad. At first this seemed to be causing the light to get stuck in a super low-level output mode that was entirely useless. But then I put in a fresh CR123 and the problem went away. The issue was incredibly intermittent during the game though, and the fact the light was switching down to a low output mode was confusing. I know now it was obviously an emergency low power setting, but when you’re so accustomed to electronics that simply die (or bleep or flash) when the battery is low/dead it does confuse things. I do bring spare batteries for everything electronic with me wherever I go, but as the voltage in the battery was obviously slightly ‘regenerating’ while not in use, the full power output would return inbetween attempts leaving me unaware that I simply needed a new power source. All that aside however, the output of the light is extremely impressive for something so small and feather light.

5 Things Airsofters Might Want to Stop Doing

Everyone has very different perspectives on everything in life.  The term ‘airsoft’ encompasses a very broad range of activities that range all the way from ‘chairsoft’ and gear collecting through the general 1-day skirmishing across to what essentially equates to something vaguely akin to a light military exercise, but using BBs instead of blank rounds and without any of the requirements that being paid to do something entails vs paying to do something.

Being the great big REMF/uniformed civilian that I am and as a long-time airsoft player and gear whore, I tend to float somewhere inbetween the military world and the world of l33t bbwarz.  I don’t really class myself as anything specific other than an airman who knows some stuff about kit and really likes guns.  I’ve never done anything vaguely ‘special’ and it’s very rare I do anything that’s mildly unpleasant or uncomfortable or go anywhere austere.  I do not in any way, shape or form need all the over-priced tactical gear that I’ve acquired over the years and many people would (and have) strongly criticise that, both online and in work.  But that’s fine because I know that how I spend my expendable income is entirely my decision.  I do ok financially, I’m far from rich but I’m not one for flash cars or a fancy lifestyle (i.e. I’m boring, as society will tell you) and I live alone in a tiny barrack block room 95% of the time, so I can have money to spend on my hobby while still managing to put funds aside for a house and other things that I’ll need once my time in the mob is over.  Of course I pay for that luxury by putting up with immense amounts of pointless military stuff that I won’t go in to now; that’s a whole other article that I’d get in real trouble for writing, but if you’ve ever served you know the type of things.

Now, the vast majority of people that engage in any sort of activity that falls under the airsoft umbrella are very much aware of who they are and what it is they’re actually doing, so when they talk about it online they bear that in mind.  They either talk in an appropriate fashion without using all of the military-sounding terminology they can physically fit in to a sentence, or they go sufficiently overboard with it in order to be quite clear that they understand the lane they’re actually in and articulate the fact their tongue is in their cheek.  The slight issue can come in the middle ground.

Now, airsoft as both a recreational hobby and as a tool for proper training has gained traction over the past few years and its’ popularity and appeal has certainly seemed to increase.  At the same time, the amount of ignorance regards what an airsoft replica actually constitutes these days has decreased significantly as the older generation slowly begins to realise that they are not, in fact, entirely made up of the $5 specials found in supermarkets.  Slowly the realisation is dawning that there are plenty of airsoft companies producing quality Gas Blowback and Electric Recoil guns that do a pretty reasonable job of mimicking a firearm.  However, a lot of this positive progress is being hampered, and indeed reversed, by the explosion in popularity of milsim type games and the very strange, misguided attitudes that have grown up around it with some of its’ participants.  I would imagine that most people would agree with my feeling that the more grown-up, sensible and self aware we can make the community around this hobby of ours (especially in the online arena), the better off we’ll be.  The veterans that so many players copy are far less likely to be driven to a dislike of said players and the game will overall attract more participants.  This part is the key to my thinking on this whole piece.

With that in mind, I’ve picked out just a few of the issues that jumped out at me when browsing certain Facebook pages, IG accounts and YouTube videos.

 

  • Saying ‘hardcore’ before the word milsim

I’m kicking off with this one, because at the first ‘military simulation’ GAME (a word some folks forget too often) I attended, this phrase was one of the very first things I heard uttered in the starting brief and I threw up in my mouth just a tad.

Yes, you’re running around with a fair bit of kit on, basically camped out and playing your game in potentially some pretty unpleasant weather conditions; but there is no genuine risk to life or limb.  The only people I’ve ever seen or heard of succumb to the elements are those who rocked up to a game without investing the appropriate money in to warm/dry clothing layering and/or did not employ their clothing system properly.  The most basic fundamentals of the training in any military are far more focused on survival in austere conditions than they are on fighting and far too many players get caught up in the tacticool while not realising this basic fact.  You look after yourself such that you can sustain fight, not the other way around.  This includes keeping well hydrated, eating appropriate food at appropriate intervals, staying warm and as far as possible, dry.  The UK and US are not Afghanistan, they are often far wetter and copying the gear you saw in ZeroDarkThirty will not do you any good on a cold, rainy winter’s day in England.

Overall, by educating yourself to a basic level and kitting yourself correctly, when you’ve got more than sufficient time and opportunity to eat, drink and change layers and there’s absolutely none of the stress associated with a real enemy shooting real bullets at you, there is nothing hardcore about anything in airsoft.  Real guys blowing through doors on the real 2-way range are hardcore, you are not.

 

  • Constantly referring to each other by LetterNumberNumber ‘callsigns’ (then blurring all faces)

Chances are you are all incredibly normal people leading incredibly normal lives.  You’re not in an SF team, you’re in a milsim team.  You have normal names.

I’m more than fine with people wanting to not be identified on the internet, that’s a personal choice for whatever reason and that’s ok.  I don’t personally understand why you’d be such a massive social media whore if you want to remain anonymous, but hey that’s a perfectly acceptable preference.  My opinion is that far too many civvies do this because it’s somehow similar to the way the indentities of actual military personnel are protected and some folks feel a need to cling on to that cool factor they’ve not earned.

Some players are current or ex military or LE, which again makes sense.  But I think if you’re Jim Smith from I.T. and you’re posing in $5k worth of AOR1 out in an arid area, pixelating your face and hiding your name, you might have lost a bit of perspective in your mission to emulate something you’ll never be.  I’m not going to say everyone does exhibit this for certain because I don’t know what’s going on in their heads, but it’s a distinct possibility.

 

  • Using “Milsim” as an adjective

You cannot ‘be milsim’, that phrase has literally no meaning.  Every single person I’ve ever heard use it was in serious need of evaluating their perspective of themselves and their place amongst the airsoft community as a whole.  It’s a well known and documented fact that humans love to belong so they group and segregate themselves based on all sorts of abstract concepts and ideas, but the way a lot of people do this within airsoft is just supremely backwards and counter-productive.  I’m encountering more and more people who are only interested in milsim type games as the popularity of that style of airsoft has rocketed over the years.  Along with this there is a growing sentiment amongst some participants that they are, at best, taking part in a completely separate game, or at worst somehow ‘better’ or above other people purely due to the style of airsoft they play.

Also within this point, saying ‘milsim’ instead of airsoft is not the way forward in this regular guy’s opinion.  The two are not separate entities and one has not replaced the other, by doing this you just look even more like you believe like the section of the hobby you engage in  is something far more than it actually is in reality.

 

  • Generally using totally over-the-top terminology

Just because you’ve put on a bunch of Crye gear doesn’t mean the stuff you’re doing is the same as the people who were issued that same gear for their work.  You are not a door-kicker or a sniper or a medic (in 99% of cases) and repeatedly declaring yourself as such gives a seriously poor impression to outsiders and people just seeing your content for the first time; regardless of whether you’re entirely serious or not.

When you attend any type of airsoft game (milsim style or otherwise) you are not ‘out on the ground’, that is a term applied to troops actually going out of base areas in real conflict.  You are also not in an ‘AO’, similar meaning to the above, yet I hear this term used on a literal constant basis to the point it’s as if some people have an addiction to saying it.  It’s just an airsoft field or an area ofland, there are no military operations happening within it while you are there going pew-pew-got-ya.  Obviously there are a shit load more examples whereby hobbyists have, for whatever reason, misappropriated specific military terminology in an effort to ‘immerse’ themselves far beyond what is necessary.  Far too many to list here, but I hear and read them all the time in certain places, to the point I find it almost unnerving.

 

  • Declaring anything airsoft ‘OAF’

Let’s be real clear on this one.  Nothing airsoft is even vaguely operator, let alone as-fuck.

As far as I know, the phrase became more widespread as a result of the facebook page/website of the same name, a page which ironically is run by people who clearly (to a large extent) despise airsofters because so many of us do stupid things in the form of taking this game way too bloody seriously.

 

These are all points I’ve just taken off the top of my head, but I’ll quite possibly look to note them down as I come across them in future so as to not forget.  I think in general there is just far, far too much of this sort of thing going on and the more it happens the more widespread and accepted as the norm it appears to become.  Again, to reiterate, people are more than free to say whatever they like wherever they like and partake in their free time in whatever manner they wish provided it doesn’t negatively impact other people’s lives.  But this grey area that’s smudging the line in to the territory of walting and stolen valour, could, IMHO, really benefit from being significantly reigned in.  It may seem totally fine from the inside looking out, but believe me for those folks on the outside looking in, it is at very best, extremely odd.

Some people who don’t know me will probably really hate me after reading this, but that’s alright.  If you express an opinion on the internet, it literally does not matter how many times or how eloquently you express your belief that everyone else remains free to lives their lives however they wish regardless of what you may have just said; people still get hurt in the butt.   Also people often seem to lack the ability to recognise when they’re not actually the target of a given point and choose to take it personally anyway; that if anything is the most common problem.  But my goal has always been to speak completely honestly and I’m sticking with that.

 

Non-Destructive Testing

I don’t very often play airsoft these days, but I always enjoy the social aspect of going with friends and to what sort of funny antics go down.  As sporting type hobbies go, the actual single day skirmishes definitely give you something in terms of a good run around, provided you’re not lazy and just stroll about of course; you get out what you put in.  As much as some super duper serious people who’ve never tried it will scoff, I’ve found airsoft is not a bad way to wring out basic issues with any gear in a comparatively entirely safe environment.  Once you put all your shit on, fill your pouches with mags, sling your rifle etc and jog about for a few hours, you will definitely identify any baseline problems.  Pouches that are too hard to access or don’t hold your mags securely, belts that ride up, slings that chafe you, any kit that constricts or binds your movement etc; all problems I’ve flagged up when using a new piece of gear for airsofting.

I attended a game at ‘Strikeforce CQB’ in Gloucester a couple of weeks back, which is set in what I’d imagine used to be a manufacturing building that’s been completely stripped down to a big, rectangular room and then been fitted with a lot of pallets and string to hold up wooden barricades and hanging curtains.  Compared to some other close-quarter/urban type sites I’ve played in the past it’s not the biggest, but it’s enough to not feel cramped and provide a bit of variety.  Engagements often occurred at 2m or less but also stretched out to 25-30m.  This isn’t a review of the site, but sufficed to say I enjoyed it and wouldn’t be at all adverse to visiting again.

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Since a lot of my equipment was having its’ first outing, I thought I’d highlight some stuff that did and didn’t work.  As opposed to just listing my loadout, which tends to imply that all of it worked perfectly and in turn, potentially gives folks the wrong impression.

The Bad News

To highlight my earlier point about gear that surprises you with problems when you actually try and use it, the first issue I had was with the modular setup I’d created for the front of my plate carrier.  If you want to use placards or chest rigs to the Mayflower/Vel Sys spec (the HSP D3CR falls in to this category) via an adapter kit on a plate carrier that isn’t specifically designed for such applications, you need to position the female QASM buckles such that there is a gap of 2 rows of PALS in between said buckles and your field of loop (which itself needs to be 5 rows high).  The buckles need 2 rows to mount to, making a total of at least 9 rows needed on the 2 outermost columns either side of your front plate bag.  Unfortunately the medium SAPI cut FirstSpear Strandhogg only features 8 rows on the outer columns, meaning the placard hung about an inch too low.  I left it like this for a short period but, as I expected (but wanted to test to check), the hook backing chewed up my combat shirt really nicely in very short order.  Luckily I had some loop handy from my belt rig to cover up the over-hang and save my shirt.

The only other issue that I encountered and would class as at all ‘significant’ was with my dump pouch.  I had a Plat-A-Tac roll-up SSE type pouch on my belt which is supremely small when folded and incredibly lightweight; but the main body of the pouch is constructed using a multicam fabric that is so thin it’s borderline transparent.  Now this will work just fine when you’re stuffing it full of things you need to recover, but I was shooting a GBB rifle and those mags weigh the same as a full 30rnd 556 whether they’re full or empty, so the swinging pendulum effect created when I’d stowed 1 or 2 mags was seriously impressive.  Sufficed to say I’ll be swapping to a much beefier, multi-layer pouch made from 500D in future.  Sometimes going too light on kit isn’t the way forward (again, a lesson I’ve really picked up these past few years of moving in to the realm of modern, lighter nylon gear).

Another minor grievance reared it’s head in the vision department.  My eye/face pro combination of ESS Turbofans and ‘rental mask’ plastic lower continue to work pretty much perfectly and I can’t foresee any other combination of similar PPE serving me better as far as airsoft goes.  Unfortunately however, I did find that the tinted lens, combined with a killflash on my Primary Arms red dot and the indoor light did make aiming a little tricky.  It would probably have been fine if I was either outdoors or using a clear lens and it wasn’t as if I couldn’t use my dot, it just made the view through the tube less than ideal given the overall dark sight picture and the metal mesh generally cluttered things up.

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Always Get The Good News Second

Good gear is gear that does it’s job and you don’t even notice it.  For example, the Beyond Clothing Lvl 9 set; seen in this case in US woodland, but it’s available in Multicam for a little bit more and then FR Multicam for quite a lot more.  When I was searching for a modern, combat cut set in US woodland there weren’t many (to put it mildly) good options out there, but I rang up Beyond and they sorted me right out.  The specific version of the A9-A trousers I have isn’t entirely compatible with the Crye knee pads, but I feel that may be a deliberate move, for reasons.  Anyway…  I generally prefer to mix apparel, but I’d owned the Beyond set for a while without using it and I wanted to try out the full set in one go.  As far as just wearing it and running around a bit went, there were no issues and it was comfortable enough to meet that criteria of simply not being noticed.  Much like some of the lesser-spotted Crye combat apparel, The Beyond L9 clothing features buttons for closure on the arm and thigh pocket (as well as velcro); buttons which I can’t say I’d want to try and use in a hurry, even less so with cold hands.  But then again they are impervious to snagging (being covered as they are) and I’d rather have a button that I can choose not to utilise on land, yet remains available if I was someone who, for example, spends time in combat gear underwater.

On the day in question I also tried a velcro interface belt configuration for the first time and as I’d very much predicted, it was excellent.  I’ve found in the past that having any sort of belt stay in place without having to thread it through the loops on your trousers was pretty much down to luck in terms of your kit selection.  I’ve managed it with some other cheaper belts and seen other people manage it ok with certain belts depending very much on their body type, but it was never hard and/or fast as to what would work and who it would work for.  With a loop covered trouser belt and a hook lined war/PALS outer belt (FS slimline AGB sleeve in this case), staying in place is a sure thing.  Short of something seriously extreme, your belt line will never, ever ride up on you.

 

As in the past, the PIG FDT Alpha gloves, Peltor Comtac XPs, BFG/Magpul amalgamation sling, FS plate carrier, HSGI TACOs, G-Code SOC rig, Arc’teryx BAC and Source bladder all performed flawlessly.

14.5″ Mid-length G&P AEG

Aesthetically, this is one of my preferred AR builds.  I’ve long felt that all-black is a bad move camo wise for firearms in general and just about any other ‘tactical’ colour works better, even if not necessarily suited to the environment.  That and with 99% of the metal parts on all the guns out there being black, having something different is appealing.

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I can’t remember the exact name of the base model, but G&P had a phase of producing a lot of guns that gave zero fucks about trademarks and used Mapul or VLTOR style lowers with the VLTOR MUR uppers.  They also had VLTOR MOD series stock clones and TangoDown pistol grip clones with 9″ replica DD quad rails on the front, as well as either 10.5″ or 14.5″ barrels tipped with the VLTOR ‘flower’ type flash hiders (or again, copies thereof).

As with all of my airsoft ARs, I only ever really buy for the receivers, buffer tube, hop unit and internals, everything else gets changed (and obviously sometimes I change internals as well).  At the time I bought this AEG originally, the new standard for mid-length gas systems on ARs had taken off in the states and both Magpul and PTS were producing the mid-length MOE handguards.  So when a company called Crusader released an outer barrel that placed the gas block in the right place to replicate said gas sytem, I picked one up along with the new style handguard.  At that time I also learnt that G&P uppers are different to most other companies in terms of the area inside the barrel meshes with, so if you have a G&P and want to change barrel, stick with one also from G&P; there’s tons of them out there.

Along with the new longer MOE handguards I went for a PTS MOE grip and sourced a Magpul Industries MOE stock all in the matching FDE.   I then added a first gen Magpul rear MBUS to go along with the King Arms copy of the VLTOR gas block that integrated a flip-up front iron sight.  This was a nice, light configuration that didn’t cost a lot to put together compared to the quad rail monsters that were popular at the time, but a year or so ago I decided it was time to update.

I’d already converted a couple of airsoft AR uppers to take actual firearm barrel nuts by re-profiling the threads using an appropriate die nut, so I did just that again on this gun.  I saw Weapon Outfitters offering the Parallax Tactical rails with a Cerakote finish option (various colours available), so I moved to a low profile gas block and acquired and fitted the 13″ ‘FFSSR’ in KeyMod from Parallax.  Price wise it’s around the mid range for an AR rail, but only weighs 8.6oz alone or 12oz with the barrel nut and screws, which is very much as light as a feather compared to a 13″ Quad picatinny rail.

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I kept the PTS pistol grip since it was and still is one of the very best of the market and stepped up from the MOE stock to a B5 SOPMOD Bravo, which at the time (around 18 months ago) was a big step ahead of Magpul who had been rather stagnant in their stock offerings for a while.  Luckily the colouring of the forend and receivers happens to match up perfectly, leading to my primary liking of the aesthetics of this AEG.  I’ve stopped bothering with BUIS for airsoft usage because there’s really no need for back up sights when the ranges you’re shooting are so short you’re just point shooting most of the time.

There’s a PTS AEG-specific Magpul ASAP plate on the rear which works very nicely with a Magpul sling in the 1 point configuration and a newer PTS licensed replica of the Griffin Armament compensator.  Overall a very ergonomic package that remains light and easy to manoeuvre with tons of modularity options.  I still need to put in a nicer selector lever and charging handle just as finishing touches; possibly a mag release button too if I can find a nice airsoft product that both copies a real item and will fit and function in this gun.  Interally the gearbox has had a spring downgrade and a general check up and re-grease/shim check from LCs Engineering Outpost and it definitely sounds smoother than stock form for having that done (though still not amazing given G&Ps very ‘average’ parts).  Long term it could really use a MOSFET and a higher torque motor because as mentioned, G&P stock internals are the definition of mediocre and ‘just about do the job’ to my mind.  But for indoor/close range airsoft it’s not like you need a super high performance replica anyway.  I also feel this replica is a good example of how airsoft can be setup to be a supplement for live firing, given that the usage of real parts makes the ergonomics extremely close to a real equivalent rifle using those same parts.  That and the weight is also very close to an AR configured with the same parts and accessories.

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Marui SOCOM No3 – 12.5″

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I currently own three of these recoil/blowback AR replicas from Tokyo Marui, this example being the third one I purchased.  The first was kept in the 14.5″ barrel configuration, the second taken down to the 10.5″, then just to mix it up I’ve stuck with just over 12″ on this one.

Right now this rifle (well, smoothbore technically) is in its’ 3rd incarnation as far as accessories go.  It’s always had the 12.5″ barrel with fake mid-length gas system, but it started out with a King Arms 10″ Troy MRF replica quad rail accompanied by an OD MOE stock and MIAD grip.  Then I went to a Black mid-length MOE handguard (pre M-LOK) with matching MOE stock and pistol grip, as well as a King Arms replica of the VLTOR gas block that incorporates a flip-up iron sight.  There’s been a few other small detail changes over the years in terms of muzzle device/sling attachments etc but that’s the big stuff.  Being a front wired gun, the MRF and MOE plastic handguards were both great for storing a Li-Po battery without any fake light/laser units, plus they were two piece designs which meant easy access to the storage area of the battery.

Now I originally switched from the KA Troy replica because it was a fat quad rail and airsoft pot metal is heavy as hell, but the plastic handguards weren’t really the look I was after either, so I went over to the pictured mid-length Midwest Industries drop-in KeyMod forend.  It’s light, a lot thinner than a quad rail, splits in to 2 and very cost effective all things considered.  Unfortunately however, much as I like the look and light weight, it’s still too narrow internally to allow fitment of even the smallest nun-chuck type 7.4v battery and that’s after I went away and had the Dytac 12.5″ barrel put on a mill (by someone who’s actually good with one) in order to scallop out the cut in to the bottom of the outer barrel as per the original TM spec.  So the search for yet another suitable handguard continues.  I could of course just go with a fake PEQ or a PTS polymer foregrip, but my main aim is to avoid that sort of thing if at all possible.

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Annoyingly I also ran in to an issue with the QD sling point I dremel’d out to fit on to the buffer tube.  I can only assume the castle nut on the Marui gun is larger than a real one, possibly a similar story with the buffer tube itself too; because there’s simply not enough clearance between the castle nut and the QD point for a QD swivel to lock in to place.  Now, I could go with one of the Magpul ASAP QD plates which change the angle of the hole for the sling attachment slightly (facing down and away from the castle nut), but I’m yet to test whether firearm sling plates will go anywhere near fitting the Marui lowers; so far I’ve only used GBBr airsoft plates.  Another alternative is to try one of the Magpul ‘QDM’ swivels which are a slightly different shape to the standard swivels, but I’ve no idea if they’re slim enough to negate the issue.  Third option is to go with a Marui SOPMOD specific end plate that’s setup for HK Snaps/MASH hooks/Paraclips, but with the decline in interest in this particular platform in the airsoft market those are all long out of stock at every store I’ve searched so far.

I do like a challenge though and making these things work on airsoft platforms is always interesting to figure out.  I shall of course post again further down the line to let you know how I end up rectifying the issue.

Shop Tour at Pro Airsoft Supplies

I actually held this video back deliberately for a short time while I was talking to PAS regards a RIF I’d purchased that had a few problems (not the fault of the store in any way) for 1 simple reason; the true measure of any retailer in any sector is how they deal with things when a transactions doesn’t quite go 100% (or in this case the manufacturer hasn’t done a 100% job on their end).  Now don’t take that to say I doubted the guys there because I didn’t, but it simply made more sense to wait until the return was fully dealt with and completed before I passed further comment on the store given that maybe 3-4 people might read this.

I’m quite happy to say that the staff at PAS were very polite in all my contact with them and I didn’t have any problem at all getting hold of them via social media, e-mail or on the phone; which is something I can’t say for Zero-One and a couple of other places.  They stock a great range of AEGs and GBBs (from a fair few brands I’d actually be interested in), pistols, good gear for the starter (or indeed pretty much any) airsoft skirmisher as well as ton of mags, internal parts, accessories, consumables and just about anything else you could need.  Not that that in itself is at all unusual for an airsoft store, but nobody likes to have to pay for more postage because they had to buy from multiple different shops.  Plus I’d imagine it’s not uncommon for folks to buy entire loadouts from a single place.

The retail location is actually pretty close to a tube station and despite being in a real ‘cosy’ part of London where space is at a premium, they’ve seriously made use of the space they do have yet still kept the store feeling light and open, as opposed to the feeling you get when walking in to an actual armoury or gun museum.

I didn’t cover the small upper area where they’ve got a ton of internal parts on display and a shooting lane, nor did I go down to the basement where the teching happens and they keep the bulk storage of guns (not much point looking at boxes), but I’d say I’ve covered all the stuff that’s worth seeing here: