Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Michelle Rodriguez Publicity Shot for 'Machete' Movie

This movie looks better and better every time I see something about it...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The L119A1 Project: L119A1CQB

Some new bits arrived from Hong Kong this morning after being stung by customs for £25.99. These are the first stage of changing over my generic M4CQB into a 10" L119A1. I must be a glutton for punishment.

Most of it is largely cosmetic. It is essentially a Classic Army M4 with a Marui Receiver. I bought it from a mate a couple of years ago to tide me over while the fullsize 119 was being built. It's a good little gun and has done me well, so now it's going to get the UKSF treatment.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

New First & Only CQB Site in Leicester

First and Only Airsoft are continuing their plan for global domination with the opening of yet another site, this time in a disused shoe factory in Leicester.

The Leicester CQB site opens mid July. There's not much information up yet and I could find directions to see where the site was either, all in good time I guess.

Aologies for the terrible music on the following clip...

Machete Trailer

This could give The Expendables a run for it's money this summer.

MACHETE: Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal

Monday, 12 July 2010

The L119A1 Project: Lessons Learned

Once upon a time, there was a perfectly good Tokyo Marui M4A1RIS. One day, some idiot saw a thread on ASCUK about the L119A1 SFW, otherwise known as the Diemaco, the standard assault rifle of the UK special forces. The weapon came to prominence in the books 'Bloody Heroes' and 'Operation Certain Death' by Damien Lewis. The aforementioned idiot thought it would be a good idea to a) build his own L119A1 and b) make this his first airsoft rifle build project.

Anyone who has built an L119A1 will know the pain that this idiot went through. Initially, the components, such as the correct receiver, the barrel and the foresight were all very difficult to get hold of. Army Code produced limited runs of the barrel and then a very limited run of the extortionately priced foresight. DragonRed similarly did a limited run of the barrel which was far superior to the Army Code product (and the one that went on my rifle).

My personal build project also had the problem that the Marui RIS is shorter than the real M4 RIS and, by default, any accurate replica such as the Classic Army or DBoys M4 RIS which meant that the L119A1 barrel was built around the real thing, so that when installed, the Marui RIS was too short.

Cosmetic details apart, when I started this, I knew very little about the inner workings of the AEG. I know a lot more now and my next project (god help me) will be to upgrade a gearbox. When I put my L119A1 back together initially, it all seemed to work, but lacked power, range and accuracy. I had no idea what this could be so I scoured the internet for inspiration. As it happened, I thought I found the answer in the August 2010 issue of Airsoft International magazine. I sat down on Friday evening with tools and AI open on the table and pulled my gun apart.

The problem was in fact, twofold. When I bought the Guarder receiver, it came with various bits and pieces of cosmetic hardware as well as a new plastic one-piece hopup unit. With the hopup was a tiny piece of clear rubber tube, what I though was going to be a spare hop-bucking. This turned out to be the actual hop bucking. I thought that the hopup unit would be ready to install, complete with hop-bucking and the instructions (such as they were) gave me no reason to suspect otherwise. Being a complete novice, I left this essential piece of rubber out. As a result, practically no spin was being applied to the rounds coming out of the rifle and they were going all over the place.

Problem number two was where AI came in. The August edition featured numerous how-tos, one of which was upgrading a Marui M4 Sportline, very similar to the M4 RIS in most respects. One of the modifications that they suggested was to glue a small piece of plastic to the front of the hop-up to shim it against the receiver and push it up closer to the gearbox. I duly followed the instructions and it eventually worked. The piece of plastic I used was too think to start with but with some patient filing and inevitable swearing, I got it to fit very snugly, making the receiver pins quite tricky to get back in, but at least they won't drop out like they were prone to before this mod.

Threadlock and PTFE grease purchased from GEE DEE Models in Nottingham so the threads were locked and the gears greased (as much as possible), as were the sides of the gearbox to make it easier to insert back into the very snug receiver. All back together and a couple of rounds fire down the garden (much to the consternation of my fiancee and the three cats) and I can safely say that it appears to be firing as well as it ever was.

I'd like to say that I've enjoyed my first build project, but I can't. I'm very satisfied that it's finished (finished in as much as it is back together and working) and I've done it all myself, but it has been a right royal pain in the arse. I have learnt a lot and I may well start another build project in the future (most likely an L129A1 DMR). The L119 still has bog stock internals so the next job is to replace the barrel and upgrade the gearbox. I may get a shop to do the gearbox as I'm not feeling brave enough to butcher the gun again. If I can find a cheap, faulty gearbox, I may use that as a project base rather than ruining a good working gearbox, we shall see.

Almost as a postscript, I would like to mention Airsoft International magazine again. The magazine has it's critics, myself among them. Some of the spelling, grammar and punctuation leaves much to be desired, as much the fault of the proof readers as the authors and many of the articles are badly researched and lacking detail. that said, it is a very useful resource. I have been buying it for the last two years. Most of the articles I have read have not been particularly useful but some of them are worth their weight in gold, such as the one that helped to rescue my gun project, plus it supports Airsoft which is commendable in it's own right.

This gun has cost me around £500 including the donor gun. It has also cost me countless hours of frustration as well as days and days waiting for parts to arrive from China. To anyone considering building a custom project gun, think long and hard about why you want the gun and read everything you can about it, even if it seems irrelevent. And good luck.

Parts Summary:
Tokyo Marui M4A1RIS donor gun
Guarder Colt Canada metal receiver
DragonRed L119A1 barrel
Guarder large AR15 grip
DBoys PEQ-2
Marui M4 stock, stock tube, foresight, flash hider and internals
ACM ACOG 4x Scope
Marui BUIS stock pad (incorrect one - to be replaced)
Single-point sling mount (Unknown make - to be replaced)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Gear Review: Blackhawk Advanced Tactical Elbow Pads

I had a nice email the other week from Matthew Milner at telling me that he liked my site and would I add a link to his store. In return, he said send me a pair of Blackhawk Advanced Tactical Elbow Pads to review. Never one to refuse free stuff, I agreed. The pads arrived this week as promised so here goes.

The packaging is typical Blackhawk with the big, bold logo on the heavy cardboard header stapled to the cool (and also reusable) ziplock bag. Inside are a slightly dusty pair of Blackhawk elbow pads. Not sure what makes them advanced, guess that would be Blackhawk's marketing department (or possibly the ridge on the inside to help stop the slipping off your elbow). On first inspection, they seem pretty robust and well made. The rubber elbow cap, embossed with the Blackhawk logo, is reassuringly bulky and there is plenty of padding underneath. I've never been one for wearing elbow pads whilst playing airsoft, but I guess a few hefty knocks there would soon change my mind, especially somewhere like Urban Assault where there is plenty of door frames to clout your elbow on. Having been a BMX freestyle rider many
years ago, I know how much it hurts to fall on your elbow, these could have saved me a lot of pain many times over.

According to the Blackhawk website, and repeated on the PatrolStore pages, are the official list of features:

• Substantial protection in a lightweight, durable package
• Non-slip, flexible, molded polyurethane cap
• 600 Denier nylon shell
• New contoured interior ledge prevents pad from slipping downward
• Closed-cell foam padding provides excellent shock resistance and prevents water absorption
• Hook and loop elastic straps

When you put them on, they are pretty comfy and not particularly restrictive. I usually wear knee pads when playing on urban sites, my current choice of pad is the Alta Superflex. they are pretty good but still move around and dig the elastic into the back of your knees, makes me wonder what elbow pads would be like to wear all day. I'll give them a try and when I do, the after-action report on these pads will appear here in the near future. The one thing I did notice when putting them on was that the 'New contoured interior ledge' on the inside of one of the pads was slightly bigger on one pad than on the other. This ridge is there to help stop the pad slipping downwards off you elbow, it's a sort of lopsided foam cup inside the pad with the upper edge (that would go around the top half of you elbow) being more pronounced than the lower half. I'm guessing that this is a minor flaw in the production of this one set of pads and doesn't really affect the way they are worn and I imagine they will bed in a compact with use, it was just something I noticed when putting them on.

If you want to order a pair of the Blackhawk pads (available in Black, Olive or Coyote) for a very reasonable £16.99 (that's less than £8.50 an elbow, when you get to 40 you'll be glad you did), click along to or give Matthew a call on 01737 642 424.

On to the Patrol Store site. I hadn't heard of them before getting the email from Matthew. The site itself seems more geared towards Police equipment with the homepage showing links to a whole host of law enforcement duty gear. When you dig deeper, the site continues on this vein, but if you hunt around, you can find offerings from 5.11, Blackhawk, Hatch and Mechanix and boots by Lowa, Magnum and
Bates. The gadget fan in you will also be pleased to see knives, tools and torches from Gerber and Fenix and weapon optics from Aimpoint & Eotech.

It's always nice to find something you've never seen before and one of my favourite things on was the range of tactical vests from Protec Covert Equipment, like this this one. Again, these are exclusively aimed at police officers (the cuff, baton and pepper spray pouches give it away, along with the enormous 'POLICE' patch on the back) and, sadly, are only available to police personnel, but are cool nonetheless.

In summary, I would say that this site is not as useful to the airsoft world as a lot of the tactical gear sites out there, but it is still worth a visit and the friendly introduction I got to the site from Matthew coupled with the swift delivery of the pads can only speak well of their customer service.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Night Vision USA

Night Vision USA have a huge collection of high quality night vision equipment including night goggles, night vision cameras and rifle scopes at very attractive prices.

Peter Morris from NVUSA sent me an email asking if I could put up a link to his site. Having had a look at Night Vision USA, I'm more than happy to do so. they have a massive selection of NVG gear, day & night systems and thermal cameras. I don't know very much about night vision gear, but from what I do know, I'm very impressed with their range.

Night Vision USA

Gear Review: Warrior Grab Bag

Okay, so I've had this just over a year and I guess it's time I did a review on it. What we have here is a Warrior Grab Bag, originally bought about sixteen months ago from UK Tactical. I bought this bag in that tactical manbag frenzy that did the rounds about that time, just as the fad for Claymore bags was dying out and people were snapping up something cooler, more tactical and more expensive. I have to admit, I jumped on the manbag bandwagon with this, coupled with the fact that I wanted to buy myself a birthday present and didn't know what else to spend the money on.

Warrior do several configurations of their grab bag. All utilise the same basic bag but have options as to the pouch configuration attached to the front MOLLE straps, you can have 3 double 5.56mm mag pouches, two mag pouches and a holster, three single 5.56mm mag pouches or three smoke pouches all in either olive drab or tan. I ended up coughing up about £70 for the grab bag with holster and a spare magazine pouch for the single reason that each variation of the bag is £54.95. A spare mag pouch is £8.95 and the holster is £14.95 so this seemed like the best value for money.

At the time, I wasn't sure how useful this bag would be but I have ended up using it all the time as an everyday-carry bag with all my work stuff in, as well as a load of tat I don't really need but fulfills the GHB /BOB (get home bag/bug out bag) purpose of the item.

Since I bought the bag, I have replaced the mag pouches with two Warrior medium utility pouches that I bought from an airsoft forum. They are OD, and a little big, but work pretty well on the bag. When I get round to it, I may change these for a couple of Warrior small utility pouches in tan to match the bag, but I'll leave it as it is for now.

As far as I can tell, the bag, like much or Warrior's gear, is a copy of a much more expensive, US branded item. In this case, the Blackhawk grab bag. The Blackhawk bag is about £100, so this is pretty good value as far as I am concerned. If you are bothered by brand names, and would rather carry a US branded bag, feel free to go out and buy the Blackhawk one, but I would be inclined to say you were wasting money.

The Warrior grab bag has a single main compartment with two internal pockets, one of which is velcro lined (loop) and comes with velcro backed (hook) pistol mag pouch and an elastic loop backed with velcro (hook) that you could get a STANAG magazine in, but usually contains my iPhone which fits like a glove. The flap of the bag doubles as a map or document case with a clear plastic inner sleeve, accessed from the side by some hefty velcro. On one end of the bag is a small utility pouch, big enough for a cellphone, small PMR446 walkie talkie or field dressing. Mine contains my Petzl head torch. At the other end, originally, was a removable MOLLE double pistol mag pouch but this has been replaced with a 5.11 Water Bottle Pouch, another single pistol mag pouch was also attached to the MOLLE webbing on the bag's strap, but this has been removed and usually sits on my belt with my Leatherman in.

If I had to complain about one thing it would be that this grab bag isn't very grab-able, it would very much benefit from a grab strap as well as the shoulder strap, but apart from that, I've been very happy with my man-bag so far. My bag gets used every weekday for my general work and everyday-carry gear, some of which is probably not needed every day but I feel better carrying it with me. So far the bag is not showing any wear and tear despite being dumped in my car boot twice a day, there are a couple of scuffs on the buckles and the tiniest bit of wear on the bottom, but no signs of failure or breakage.

If I was going to complain about this bag, it would be that it should have a grab handle. When getting in and out of the car, or grabbing it from under the stairs, you have to grab a handful of shoulder strap or the bag itself.

Considering it is called a grab bag, it could be a bit more grab-able. The other minor gripe would be to have a removeable shoulder strap. I can't give a good reason for this, I just feel it would be useful and the quick-release clips (which usually have a swivel on) would make untwisting the strap easier. With a bit of work on the sewing machine, this mod would be easy to add, but it'd be nice if it came as standard. Whilst writing this article, I saw a thread on UKAZ advertising the new Flyye range over at eHobby Asia, which includes the FLYYE Low-Pitched Equ Bag (whatever that means), which is essentially the same bag (as far as I can tell from the pictures) as the Warrior one, but with a removeable shoulder strap.

The contents of my bag, should you be interested, usually resembles the following with room to spare for sandwich box or other miscellaneous tat (as you can see, you can get quite a bit of stuff in there):

Main Compartment
External HDD & cables
Phone & cable/charger
Misc USB cables
USB drive(s)
Misc paperwork, couple of CDs
Bluetooth headset

Front Right Pouch
Pocket Buddy containing Leatherman, Gerber Scout torch, spork, emergency whistle & sharpies/pens
Mini prybar
Small can of deoderant
Compass, Tool Logic credit card tool, mini-glowstick, Pen

Front Left Pouch
Sunglasses case containing Oakleys, Choob & Croakies
Headphones for phone

5.11 Waterbottle Pouch
Nalgene bottle & Firefly lid
Tatonka steel cup

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

L129A1 DMR

There seems to be a lot of interest about the new British Army sharpshooter/DMR rifle, the LMT L129A1 so here's a video. Looks good.

Link to Combat Arms article over on the LMT website.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tactical Camera Gear: When Two Gear-Obsessed Worlds Collide

Being a keen photographer and tactical-gear nerd, I wondered if there was any middle ground between the two. Cameras are obviously used in the Military and Law Enforcement fields for surveillance and the like, so there must be a requirement for hard use gear for storing and transportation of expensive and fragile electronics and optics. I thought I'd look into it.

I'm currently using a LowePro Toploader bag for my Sony a200. It's okay for the time being as I just have the standard lens that came with the camera and a couple of small accessories and cables that just about fit in the front zip pouch, but if I need to carry anything else, like a tripod or gorillapod, I have to carry another bag or rucksack, which isn't ideal. Something bigger and more practical is required.

The first site I found having typed in 'tactical camera gear' into Google was this camera grip/mount thing made from a wooden rifle stock with a couple of RIS rails, a torch and bipod attached. Not only really cool but practical and not entirely very complicated to make. This has been added to the future projects list. Unfortunately not really what I was looking for. I'm also not sure what the Police in the UK would make of you carrying it round in public.

Back to the old search engine, there are, as I expected, a couple of options from some of the major tactical gear manufacturers like Diamondback Tactical, and Flyye as well as a couple of Chinese airsoft sites like Toy Soldier and Airsoft Club. The DBT offerings consist of a camera/optics bag and a camera/optics bag with a laptop sleeve on the front. Both look as though they are designed as an insert for a rucksack or assault pack, although I could be mistaken. Toy Soldier and Airsoft Club, obviously at the other end of the tactical gear price range, have more of a variety. Toy Soldier boasts several items including a camera go-bag, single-point sling type camera straps and a couple of chest rig style offerings, with Airsoft Club having a more multi-purpose, multicam shoulder bag at a very reasonable US$22.99.

Although not particularly tactical, but still worth a mention are professional level photographers luggage manufacturers CCS who have an excellent range of gear ranging from simple compact camera pouches to full blown camera and lens rucksacks. If you can't find a bag on there, you haven't looked hard enough.

MOLLE systems are nowhere near as exploited by the photography industry as they could be. I found a few manufacturers that made individual MOLLE components that, combined with a battle belt, chest rig or drop leg panel could be very useful, not to mention cool-looking. Items such as the Forward Observer pouch from Hazard 4, the Spec-Ops padded utility pouches as well as some of the more military-oriented MOLLE accessories like dump pouches or clamshell style medic pouches and you could have a very versatile as well as individual camera-bearing solution.

Finally, although not a manufacturer or retailer, this guy clearly knows how to put together a camera rig such as the one I mentioned above, making use of commercial MOLLE components. Read his blog here.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Coming Soon...

Once again, I've been a bit lazy with my posting. I've been doing some gear reviews but haven't got round to taking the photos yet, I'll try and do that this week.

Coming soon:

Gear Review: Warrior Grab Bag one and a bit years on.
Gear Review: 5.11 Tactical Nalgene pouch/Flyye Nalgene Pouch Comparison
Tactical camera gear
Site Review:
Gear Review: Blackhawk Elbow Pads

That's what's coming your way when I can get round to doing them. Stay tuned.

Monday Gunfight

A bit of a teaser for the upcoming Expendable movie. Enjoy