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Author Topic: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03  (Read 8961 times)

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2015, 09:37:05 PM »
The Sun Project M203 is a single shot "grenade" launcher which is realistic in that it takes realistic looking cartridges, loading them the same way as the real steel item. However, the function of the cartridges, the "grenades" themselves is, with one exception, completely unlike a real grenade launcher.
Before I get into that let's talk about the launcher itself. The Sun Project M203 has two main parts, the receiver and trigger assembly, and the barrel. The receiver and trigger are made of metal. It is a simple design that I have found to be rock solid. There is hardly anything on it to break. The barrel is plastic and has been criticized for its appearance (it's shiny) but I don't mind at all. The two pieces fit together well and so far I have had no mechanical problems with it at all. [ To-note here is that there have been sporatic reports from players in the UK and US regarding the safeties on the SunProject M203 being field-ineffective, causing the loaded grenade round to be prone to accidental discharges. This is actually even a consideration that’s been reported from our soldiers in Iraq , who were weary of the practice of a live round in the chamber of the real-deal M203. Although the two use distinctly different firing mechanisms, this is still something that you might want to consider pre-purchase. If you want an “always ready-to-go” point-and-shoot M203 replica, the TM might be more your ticket. ]
To load it, you depress the locking lever on the left side and slide the barrel forward. Insert a ready shell and close the barrel by pulling it back until it locks. Flip the safety down over the trigger because it is now ready to fire. The safety is easily [dis]engaged even when you need it in a pinch.
It fits on most M-16 variants, using an adapter set you must buy separately. Sometimes, installing the adapter may take a bit of filing, as it did on my M4.
Now, when talking about the performance of the SP M203, what we are really talking about is the performance of the individual shells. Each shell is a self-contained unit using Hfc134gas (I don't recommend higher pressure gas but some people use it I know) One type of shell fire a foam "grenade" and the others fire BBs. I'll describe each type below, in the order they were released (which is an evolutionary progression):
Ang s 1st generation - These grenades fire 18 BBs from 6 barrels machined into the "warhead" of the grenade. They looked more like expended cartridges because they were designed to be used with the Angs or CAW Hop barrel set. The gas valve mechanism is a one piece affair and very simple.
Ang s "Long" type - These grenades look more like a real shell and have slightly longer barrels machined into the nose. It is also an 18 shot grenade.
The valve in the Angs grenades must be manually reset after firing, by pushing it back into place with the loading rod. These grenades sell for around 6,000 yen.
FIRSTt Hi-Pressure grenade - FIRST Factory released this grenade and it is a significant improvement over the Angs cartridges. The gas reservoir was moved from the base of the shell (as in the Angs shells) to the "core" of the grenade. The valve system redesigned and spring loaded so that it resets automatically after firing. The design also allows for more pressure with less gas than the Angs design. The First grenade has 7 barrels and fires 21 BBs (3 BBs per barrel). The First grenade goes for about 5,000 yen and drove the price of the Angs grenades down when released.
CAW/MM - With the release of their own M79 CAW (Craft Apple Works) kicked out their own grenade (which works with their M79 and the SP M203) in conjunction with Mosquito Molds. So far the CAW grenade is proving to be the most powerful and efficient design. I believe it can fire 24 BBs from 6 barrels (4 BB per barrel). It is also the cheapest at less than 4,000 yen. [Newer releases of the CAW/MM “40mm Moscart” rounds include a 24-BB capacity x 6mm caliber Hop-enabled cartridge, an 18-BB x 8mm caliber cartridge, and an 18x 8 Hop-enabled, and a monstrous 165-BB capacity 6mm caliber “BB-Shower” Moscart shell.]
[ Additional notes: (1) Most recently, GB-Tech introduced their 108-BB capacity x 6mm caliber 40mm shells for the SunProject M203. These are extraordinarily detailed, closely mimicking the real M433 HEDP and M381 HEVN 40mm shells, with a cosmetic copper-metallic “cap” on the end which needs to be removed before you can successfully discharge the BBs. Of note is that this cap should NEVER be discharged at a fellow player or within the context of ANY skirmish games due to its potential injury hazard as a heavy metal weight traveling at substantial velocity. There are accounts of this item, which presents sufficient mass and density, denting metal and wood doors even at skirmish-effective ranges between 25 to 50 ft. That kind of a shot to the head or even to a hand/foot would be devastating! (2) Classic Army has recently brought to pre-production their own “Shower” shell, performance and durability/reliability is currently unknown. ]
Ang s foam grenade - The only non-BB firing cartridge shoots a foam "grenade". It was one of the first designs and uses the old Angs valve system. I have seen it and fired it and was singularly unimpressed. You aren't likely to hit anything you shoot at with it, and quite likely to lose the expensive little thing. It doesn't have much range unless you put a lot of trajectory on it (which is admittedly realistic). Fun to have maybe, but not much use at all in a skirmish. [ To truly be skirmish-viable, this round would necessarily be a “simulation” round in which its impact to a hard-point structure would be judged as a “game hit” by the field marshals or line judges, and would take the form of simulated destruction of that structure and role-play elimination of players in defilade. ]
I have the Ang s "Long" grenade and the First Hi-Pressure grenade. I plan on getting some CAW grenades as well. The valve design of the Angs grenades is clearly inferior; it uses a lot more gas and often leaks. All these grenades perform best in warmer temperatures. Pull the trigger when it is cold and usually all you will get is a feeble pop or hiss and nothing more.
Using the M203 (or M79 for that matter) is a challenge because first you must discard the idea that you are using a "grenade launcher". It does not fire a projectile that explodes. The M203 and M79 in effect are shotguns. In fact they are more like shotguns than [the spring powered] "airsoft shotguns" like the M3 or Spas-12. When you pull the trigger, you get a blast of BBs that will spread about a meter or so at around 30 feet (much less [spread ] if you have the Hop barrel set installed). [ Note that with sufficient practice, due to the low muzzle velocity of the individual departing BBs, you actually can train yourself to “lob” BBs with the various SunProject M203-use gas shells. Sufficient practice and with enough luck on-field, you can actually eliminate players in direct defilade (i.e. hidden behind a dirt-berm “bunker”). And yes, you can even “adapt” the use of various blade and quadrant sights for this purpose as well. ]
In play I have never fired it at anyone over 30 feet away. In fact most of the times I have used it were in assaults and I was closing on my target, or as a "panic button" when ambushed. I also never need more than one shot per game and often don't even have a chance to use it. I carry at most, 2 shells, since my M4 is really the main weapon in the M4/M203 system. Those with an M79 by necessity need to carry more shells. I have also never scored a multiple kill (more than two kills at once). If you install a hop barrel set you get a tighter group and more range, but unless you carry a real load of grenades I don't see it really making a difference in the way it is employed.
I don't think it's instructive to compare the TM and SP launchers in anything except for appearance because in function they are worlds apart. The TM launcher is more of a back up weapon to use when you run out of ammo or you have a malfunction of some kind. The SP launcher gives a little more 'oomph' to assaults and is good to use defensively when they're right on top of you.
The SP or CAW launchers are expensive to equip (cost of grenades) and perhaps a little difficult to use properly and effectively in a skirmish, but the distinctive sound of the grenade firing, the whoosh of gas, and the girlie scream of the poor unfortunate you paste are well worth it!
[W] hether you like it or not depends on what you want out of it.
Want a big spray of BBs at close range targets? SP M203
Want a longer ranged "back up gun" that gives multiple shots? TM M203
I like the realism of the SP and I'm not concerned with it's practicality. I like the devastating one-shot effect. I don't rely on the SP M203; it's not a main or even a back up weapon. It's purely a one shot panic button or something to add insult to injury when you're assaulting. An extra bit of kick, so to speak.
For installation on M4s and A2s, you need to buy an adapter, which may need a bit of filing to get it to fit.
No English instructions.
So, as you can see from Stinger’s own words above, with these various gas-operated SunProject M203 shells, all aside from the Ang(u)s, are essentially just larger “buckshot” Maruzen gas-shotgun shells, in essence.

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2015, 09:37:50 PM »
One caveat, though, as I mentioned previously, is that you *_can_* effectively use the various airsoft “buckshot” shells (for the gas-SunProject M203) to score defilade-effective hits, to a degree, with plenty of practice and a bit of luck.

The BBs are discharged in both sufficient quantity and also at sufficiently low velocities that having them literally arc over and behind defilade is possible -- and there have been many US hobbyists who've used these items with both quadrant as well as blade sights ("adapted" for airsoft engagement-ranges, of course!) to such effect.
So what good, then, is the TM? Again, it’s much the same as the above arguments for the TM shotgun replicas – the primary use of these M203 replicas is that they serve as a viable backup that is instantly co-sighted and co-targeted with the primary (i.e. no need to draw your sidearm if SHTF situations during reloading of the primary). Also, thanks to their tri-inner-barrel design, their effective range far exceed that of any current SunProject M203-gas-use round -- and even can provide service as a viable multi-shot (instead of single-shot) secondary when, say, entering a CQB-environment when your primary AEG is considered "too hot" by your field/event rules for close-range engagements.
It is thus the explicit purpose for which the replica is chosen that makes either the TM or the SunProject "superior" above the other.

Taken away from that context, neither stands alone as being superior or inferior to the other in terms of durability, reliability, or performance.

Just like as the difference is to be had with the TM spring-powered shotguns and the Maruzen gas-powered pieces, the true determination of which one is superior depends on their particular application.

Each one has its own strengths and deficits -- and must be mated to the task at-hand. Just as you would not drive a F1 car to a CHAMP or IRL event and expect it to win, the same cannot go the other way around, either. The best tool is the one which simply suits the purpose at-hand.
The only thing that can *_truly_* be said is that due to the much greater effective and absolute range of the Tokyo Marui M203, it makes it virtually impossible to properly "lob" BBs, especially at medium to closer-range targets -- and that due to the much lower end velocity/energy with which BBs are discharged from the various SunProject M203 gas-use shells, it makes such "over the top" lobbed-shots at least CAPABLE of being accomplished, albeit with TREMENDOUS practice.
A word of caution, though – if you’ve been shopping around for these M203s, RedWolf's description of the CAW/MM “Moscart” shells may be right as to how the item operates, but it is SERIOUSLY flawed otherwise....

CAW/MM never meant for their 6mm or 8mm Moscart cartridges (aside from the monstrous 165 BB-capacity “BB Shower” shell) to contain anything more than 24 to 18 BBs, each. This is clearly designated on the product packaging as well as with CAW/ MM's official on-line advertising, press-releases, and catalogue.

Furthermore, it is also published directly by CAW/MM themselves that their Moscart shells are NOT intended for use with any gas other than true HFC134a (see below-referenced Arnie’s Airsoft article by Darren-Jon Ashmore), and even then, there is a highly graduated fill-to-temperature ratio that MUST be maintained to prevent main seal malfunction.

Using higher-powered gasses such as Taiwanese “Green Gas” or as RedWolf suggested even “Red Gas” will practically guaranty early failure of these shells -- and is well documented in the various technical posts made by fellow enthusiasts and players on-line.
In order to retrofit/upgrade your CAW/MM Moscarts for field-reliability, all that’s really needed is to replace its internal main seal. This is covered in-detail below, in the reference link that takes you to Blake’s airsoft hobbyist site.
Here are the reference articles --
http://www.arniesairsoft.co.uk/reviews/m79/moscart_review.htm - Darren Jon-Ashmore’s excellent assessment on the CAW/MM Moscart shells to be read with -- http://www.arniesairsoft.co.uk/reviews/caw_barrelset/caw_barrelset_review.htm -- which contains a more detailed technical assessment. Pay special attention to CAW/MM’s recommended fill time (with HFC134a ONLY), for these shells.
http://www.geocities.com/blakes_airsoft/old/m79so/m79so.html - Blake, who is a true OG and a fixture of the on-line airsoft community, authored this excellent CAW M97 review – what I find most valuable is his technical article on the Moscart shell further down the page.

Section Seven – Understanding velocity/energy:
If you come from a paintball background, you undoubtedly are familiar with safety rules as they apply to velocity capping your marker.
Let’s talk for a moment about why they did this.
The easiest way to think of it is to take a baseball as an example.
Let’s say that we’re sitting at the dinner table, and I “rolled” the ball at you. It hits you in the chest, and you laugh because that was a pretty funny and unexpected stunt.
Now let’s say, instead, that I chucked/pitched the ball at your chest as hard as I could. That’s going to hurt, right?
Why? Because of this simple physical equation……
Force = Mass x Velocity
We hold the mass of the object, the baseball, the same.
We’re changing the velocity – or how fast the baseball travels – in this case, it changes from my rolling it on the table to my hurling the ball at you. The latter is much faster, right?
Thus, it produces more force.
With paintball, it’s the same. Each paintball comes off of the factory line being limited in terms of size – .68 caliber, and weight (mass) – around 3 grams; thus, if we can limit how fast it goes (limit the velocity), we can control how much force, and therefore damage, it will produce.
But for airsoft, as you will see in the next section, we have a wide selection of BB gram weights, and thus our MASS varies. With our airsoft replicas, because the FORCE that they produce is constant as long as you keep the same spring, this thus means that your observed muzzle velocity will vary depending on your BB mass.
Example:
We’ll say that you’re the spring – the amount of force you can produce is pretty consistent, correct? If you were to, say, bench-press a maximum of 250 lbs. now, you’ll probably still be benching, max, 250 lbs. tomorrow, right?
OK –
So now I’m going to ask you to push a 1,500 lb. race car down the street, as fast as you can possibly make it go. Not too bad, right?
What if I asked you to push a 5,000 lb. SUV?
Even if you could get the SUV rolling, you’d find that it is going to be rolling along much slower than that light race-car that you just pushed before, with the same amount of force and effort.
Same idea here.
Put a heavier BB into your replica, and you’ll notice that its muzzle velocity will decrease – however, because the SYSTEM PROVIDING THE POWER has not changed, the total ENERGY OUTPUT, or the total FORCE, will not have changed.
This means that with your replica, if you see a velocity of 500 fps. with 0.20 gram BBs or 2.32 Joules of force-energy, when you substitute-in .36 gram BBs, because you’re still pushing with 2.32 Joules of force-energy, your muzzle velocity will drop to 372 fps.
Pushing a heavier BB with the same force– so you get less velocity.
So how does this tie-in with safety?
Well, with paintball, because the mass of each paintball is constant, we can regulate how much force the marker puts out by turning down velocity. When velocity goes down, force decreases. And as it is force-energy that inflicts damage (think about the difference in FORCE that I exerted in the first example with the baseball, at first, I just softly rolled the ball at you, and with the other instance, I forcefully threw the ball at you – force hurts!), it is actually this factor that we’re controlling for.
With airsoft, because the mass of the BB can be changed (different gram weights), velocity itself means nothing without a reference to the specific BB mass you are using.
In real world terms:
Say a field has rules of 500 fps. with 0.20 gram BBs as their upper limit. AirsoftOhio events are limited like this specifically for “sniper rifles” (full-auto capable replicas must chrony at lower levels). This means that your energy limit is 2.32 Joules.
So you start to soup-up your sniper rifle replica, and give it a test.
With 0.20 gram BBs, you see that you’re shooting at 550 fps., or 2.8 Joules of force-energy! Oh no! This exceeds AirsoftOhio limits! So what do you do? You remember the above equations, and substitute in a 0.25 gram BBs – and presto, your velocity drops to 490 fps. Perfect, right?
WRONG .

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2015, 09:38:47 PM »
Why?
Because your replica is still putting out 2.8 Joules of force-energy (550 fps. with 0.20 gram BBs). If you did the math, 490 fps. with 0.25 gram BBs actually equals 550 fps. with 0.20 gram BBs (you can easily “do the math” with The Cimmerians’ FPS/Joules Calculator, referenced below). You’re still exceeding the safety danger limit.
Remember, in airsoft, our limits are based on a combination of mass and velocity.
This is why when tuning or upgrading a replica, you have to be sure to test the velocity with the same gram-weight BB that the rules specify – i.e. with AirsoftOhio rules and events, you “test” your replica by shooting 0.20 gram BBs . It doesn’t matter what you choose to use later in-the-field during the skirmish, because the heavier round will naturally decrease your velocity (think of the case of you pushing the race-car versus the SUV). But to artificially chrony in at a lower velocity by using a higher gram-weight BB than specified is both dangerous and outright cheating.
To help you with calculations of Joules force-energy with different gram weight BBs and velocities, here’s a very useful item to have bookmarked -- The Cimmerians (a very well respected airsoft team/enthusiast club on the west coast) has this very nifty utility: http://www.cimmerians.org/FPS_Converter.html
So now that you understand the difference between velocity and force-energy, let’s move on to BB selection.

Section Eight – BBs:
Which is best, and which are worse?
If you’ve done any searching at all, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that there several heatedly debated threads about just this topic that already exist on the various Forums and d-boards. And if you’ve actually read these threads, you’ve undoubtedly also noticed that while some players will vehemently denounce one make and/or grade as being totally unacceptable (for whatever reasons -- from lack of BB consistency to breakage/splitting in the barrel), others will, at the same time, highly praise the very same BBs and swear by their use.
Why this inconsistency?
It’s the same as with the varying reports of performance and durability with the AEGs and GBBs – some players simply have had better luck with one make than the other.
Similarly, you may notice claims of BB superiority from a specific retailer that markets their own “brand” of BBs – the problem here is that they neither provide quantitative raw data for analysis by the skeptical, nor do they, per se, provide even qualitative data for review by the shopper. Instead, they just make blanket claims with minimal cited backing data, which are often “pseudo-scientific” in nature, and often designed to make you think that their item is better, for no true reason…...
What can you do? Here, there’s simply no substitute for your own experience. Until someone can step in to do a truly quantitative study with statistical power, there’s simply no way for you to be sure that any claims are true until you’ve taken the initiative to try the BBs in question for yourself.
As for the various gram-weight of BBs?
Here’s a short blurb taken from a past www.AirsoftPlayers.com Forums, from a player named “Mirage,” although by no means authoritative nor complete, it does give you, the newbie player, a good bit to go on:
.12gm - best used in shotguns or for weak handguns [i.e. “springers”] - they have very low accuracy at ranges beyond 30ft and will deviate wildly [beyond this range] (Additional note, various “generic” branded “tracer” BBs are of this variety.)
.20gm - the standard round used for bench-testing [muzzle velocity/energy] and normal indoor skirmishing - they are decent rounds for use outdoors but they are not too accurate beyond 30yds - best used in indoor guns/handguns or high volume of fire type guns * see notation/discussion from icruztn below (Additional note, TM “Tracer” BBs are of this variety.)
[ . 22gm – Western Arms, new to Western markets since FAQv.1.2. Intermediate between .20 and .25 gram. Same reasoning as .23 variant below.]
.23gm – new [ er] round [more] recently released - designed to be a compromise between the velocity los[t] from using .25gm rounds and the low[ er extended range] accuracy of .2gm rounds. I have tested some and they performed very well- better than .2's for sure. Best used in any gun.
.25gm - Standard round for outdoor skirmishing - They maintain flight path accuracy better than .2's especially in the presence of a cross-wind. Best used in any gun to gain accuracy. * see notation/discussion from icruztn below
[ . 28gm – ToyJet, new to Western markets since FAQv.1.2. Intermediate between .25 and .30 gram. Same reasoning.]
.30gm - Good round weight to use in upgraded gun for an excellent level of accuracy on the field. They have a much better ability to punch through veg[e] tation than lighter rounds.
.36gm - Round typically used in [velocity/energy-enhanced] sniper applications. They carry a good part of their momentum for a better downrange impact force and they maintain stability even in the presence of a good wind. The Straight series of Teflon BBs are very good and help preserve the life of you sniper barrel. Typical guns this round will be used in: PSG-1, APS, M40, M24... typically shooting over 450fps with .2gm BBs.
.39gm - Again another round that would be used almost exclusively in sniper rifles. A further step up in accuracy and stability but the higher weight requires a strong setup and good HopUp to get good results. Expect to get consistent shots and wind should only play a part when engaging targets beyond 80 yards. I would not recommend this round for a gun shooting slower than 450fps [with 0.20 gram BBs]. Again the round will be Teflon coated for better barrel life.
.43gm - The highest weight round currently available and only made by Straight. It is an extremely heavy round in comparison to normal skirmishing rounds. Expect the .43 round to maintain flight stability well beyond 100yards. I would only be concerned with wind if you are engaging targets at 100yards+ because in all honesty this round flies exceptionally true. Again this is a Teflon coated round. Only use in rifles with a base velocity over 500fps [with 0.20 gram BBs].
Hope this helps a bit. I have tried all these rounds in guns with velocities ranging from 180fps to 600fps so I know what I am talking about - I'm not feeding you second hand info.
( The original thread for the above can be found here: http://www.airsoftplayers.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=893&FORUM_ID=11&CAT_ID=6&Topic_Title=Airsoft+bbs+and+sizes%2E&Forum_Title=General )
To this, we will add the following notation/discussion from icruztn:
re : BB weights
My team plays almost exclusively with .2g BBs, outdoors in a woodland environment. We have noticed the greater stability that .25g BBs provide, but we are not willing to accept the two tradeoffs inherent in switching to the heavier round. One, less of them per bag. Hey, a 1700 round difference is a lot, especially when the two are the same price. Two, a loss of effective range. I distinctly recall a teammate shooting at a bad guy with a magazine full of .25's; the rounds dropped at his opponents feet, and the opponent was able to take cover. My teammate changed mags to a hicap filled with .2's though, and was able to nail his opponent center of mass when he stepped out from cover. Just a thought on the .2's vs .25's debate.

After having read that, you should be able to decide on what gram-weight BBs to use. Generally, as a beginner, you’ll want to reserve your 0.12 gram BBs for your spring-powered pistol replicas, and use 0.20 to 0.25 gram-weight BBs in your AEGs, GBBs, and other high-grade replicas.
But there’s also something new that has just peeked over the horizon – 8mm BBs.
Today’s “new” 8mm caliber BBs, coming in .34 and .45 gram versions, fitting specific-applications like many of Marushin’s NBB replicas and even the Smokey’s Gun Factory Barrett .50 (M82A1), presents somewhat of a visceral attraction for newbies. However, before you think that bigger must be better, let’s have a look at a few facts.

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2015, 09:39:14 PM »
Even though they are relatively heavier than their 6mm counterparts, these large-caliber BBs unfortunately also present a much larger overall aspect to the physical forces that a BB typically encounters on its way out of the barrel – specifically, wind resistance. Due to their larger overall area, not only will they simply catch more wind, but their actual “density” is less than that of a comparable .36 or .43 gram 6mm BB, and this makes them even more susceptible to deviations caused by such factors.
This is borne out in even close-ranged target-testing, of which the Marushin Taurus Raging Bull 444 was tested by both myself and friend and fellow enthusiast Snowman(40) of the UK in recent “accuracy tests” (found on his private hobbyist page here: http://www.snowman40.8m.com/). Both of our results conclusively demonstrated the above academic supposition/hypothesis regarding the 8mm BBs’ susceptibility to external conditions.
Taking this into consideration while also factoring in skirmish-safety muzzle energy/velocity limits as we have discussed above just previously in Section VII, we can come to the objective conclusion that the 8mm genre is ill-suited as a skirmish-use BB, and is instead meant either just for show (i.e. a “paper tiger” if you will, serving only to impress your friends with its big gaping barrel bore at the bar or at the range), or should be taken to “terminal” upgrade levels (levels of which are unsuitable for skirmish gaming use, and should only be reserved for demonstration-purpose or competition target-shooting pieces) in order to show its real advantages, if any, over the 6mm genre.
Finally, the last “aberration” that we need to touch on in terms of BBs have to do with biodegradability.
Until recently, we’ve all been under the supposition that Excel BBs are biodegradable. This is, unfortunately, far from true. As you can read for yourself from the following thread, http://forums.ukairsoft.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=32219&highlight=excel, respected enthusiast Reverend G of the UK conclusively tested the Excel BBs and revealed, along with information from other enthusiasts, that the traditional Excel’s are “biodegradable” in essence under the specific context and provisions of certain Japanese environmental and industrial law, and are not truly “biodegradable.” More recently, Excel and Tokyo Marui have both introduced their “True Biodegradable” BBs, and this field is also now being entered into by an European company, BioVal (whose products have yet to be seen here, Stateside, and whose claims of biodegradability and unknown-reason muzzle velocity/energy increases have yet to be independently confirmed by hobbyists – as of 05/2003).

Section Nine – Gear:
- A general word about gear for newbies
If you are coming into this truly "serious" about skirmish gaming, you'll want to see if you can hold-off on gear for a while.

Why?

Well, it's simply just very hard for newbies to figure out exactly what piece of gear will be "right" for them....

Until you get a few full game *_DAYS_* (not just individual games) under your belt, it will be hard for you to get a good feel for what you, as an individual, would prefer.

Sure, you can think, academically, that you'd like to have a full tactical vest, and that one with a cross-draw holster would be “cool.” But say you eventually turn out to be a “crawler” or prefer something that's less heat-retentive -- you'll quickly find out that the spiffy looking vest you bought not only does not meet your needs, but can specifically hinder your movement and totally be the opposite of what you desire.

As a newbie, it’s hard enough for you to figure out what kind of gear you need (i.e. a vest or a load-bearing harness? a drop-leg thigh holster or a belt-holster? do I want to carry my mags on my chest or on my legs, or at my waist?) without also needing to contemplate ancillary considerations such as “how much should I spend?” or “how good do I need for my gear to be?” at this point.

Without knowing what your preferences are or what your budget happens to be, this choice is virtually impossible.

For a newbie who is serious about beginning, just focus on the basics.
Just go for the bare-minimums at this point, as once you truly settle down, you're likely to go through several major gear configurations, and having you, at this early point in your hobby career, spend hundreds of dollars on "high-speed gear" would be a waste if you're just not going to be happy with them later.

Just look at all the airsoft imitation/clone tactical gear (Guarder/IS, MilForce, Swat Systems, etc.), the USGI issue gear, the mid-to-high-range "real-deal" tactical gear from Eagle Industries, Tactical Tailor, and BlackHawk Industries, to the really high-speed gear offered by makes such as HSGI, SOTECH, SOE, LBT, and others, and you can see that the variety offered is mindblowing and that the cost ranges from tens to literally hundreds of dollars per piece of kit.

Take it easy at this point, and have an eye out for the future, that's what's important as a newbie.

Don't fly off the handle and waste your money right off pursuing gear that you have little understanding of, and have even less knowledge about whether if YOU, yourself, will like them in the end.
As a new player, unless you are entering into a VERY well-established team/club (i.e. The Cimmerians), there’s really no absolute and necessary and required load-out you will need to bring to your first game. And even if you did join one of these established and highly disciplined/rigorous teams/clubs, chances are that should you make contact with the players/organizers. They will either exempt you from having to have such complete gear, or, alternatively, give you a complete list of exactly what’s required and where to go to find them – to make life easier for you.
While this means that you likely won’t have to go all-out and spend the big bucks on tactical gear when you first join these teams/clubs (on pieces of gear or clothing which you may or may not need later), or, should you be joining a club that has more relaxed dress-codes or perhaps even one without a guideline as to what your load out should be, you should still be prepared to spend about $20 to $50 to equip yourself with the “bare essentials” of skirmish play.

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2015, 09:39:48 PM »
- Gear basics
A. The bare essentials – protection, hydration, and how to carry all that stuff
A set of BDUs that match the skirmish environment (a look at what the regular players for the field like to wear will be a good start – look at the AirsoftCleveland Team TAC page for a perfect example of this; note that everyone is wearing USGI Desert Tri-Color…why? because the field is mostly of those colors!), decent boots, perhaps a pair of knee and/or elbow pads and maybe even an athletic supporter with protective cup, gloves if you desire. Do you need a cup and/or elbow/knee pads? That’s up to you to decide, we all prefer different levels of protection. Athletic supporters and protective cups are usually of minimal cost, and cheap foam-filled “volleyball” elbow and knee pads can be had for less than $10 per set – hard-shelled “rollerblading” pads for around $20 per set. Should you decide to splurge on neoprene or even rivet-secured “tactical hard pads,” the cost is still unlikely to exceed $30.
One critical item that I will address later is proper eye protection . It deserves its own section. Just know that you should set aside anywhere from $30 to $120 for this CRITICAL item. Remember, you only have two eyes, and even the loss of one is devastating (life insurance pays the same for the loss of an eye as for the loss of an entire arm or leg – why? because the loss of an eye is a tremendous handicap) .
Along this line of “critical” gear should be some kind of a basic first-aid kit. Military surplus kits sold through the various gear discounters are an excellent and very affordable choice. No, they won’t help you much when and if you have a heart-attack or allergic-anaphylactic reaction out there on the field, but they will help with basic medical needs such as cuts and scrapes, and can help you save either your life or someone elses.
A cell-phone (with service in that area) in a hard-case should also be available to at least one game participant or the gaming organizers/field marshals for emergency contact needs.
One important item that you should not forget is that you’ll need some kind of hydration equipment. Traditional military canteens work just fine, and there’s now even special cap adaptors and flexible drinking tubes that can attach onto these models to facilitate drinking on-the-go, without having to actually remove the canteen from its pouch. Of course, you’ll still get noisy liquid slosh, but at least it’s cheap, at only around $10 to $20 for either a canteen and pouch, with the drinking straw attachment. Alternatively, CamelBack or other such systems are very popular – they offer both excellent storage capacity as well as the ability to “collapse” as you drink, minimizing any liquid slosh sound. Cost is a bit higher, though – a bladder itself, with drinking straw attached, can run anywhere from $20 to $40, depending on size, and the holding pouch/pack, along with a bladder, can run from $40 to upwards of a hundred bucks.
For those who are on a tight budget, you’ll likely have purchased only one or two extra high-capacity magazines to supplement your AEG purchase. You can either stash these extra magazines in your pocket, or, alternatively, you can purchase a single 2-3 magazine capacity magazine pouch from a used/surplus military supplies retailer for around $5 to $10.

If you feel that load-bearing equipment is a must, look toward getting just a basic set of used (or new) USGI genuine military surplus or import imitation MilSpec or non-MilSpec (i.e. “commercial”) load-bearing harness/vest or other such inexpensive gear. Gun-shows and flea markets are great resources, as you can typically find used USGI pistol belt, H or Y harnesses, and one or two of the standard 3-pot plus two frag-grenade US military mag-pouches on-sale for anywhere between $15 to $30. On-line, The Sportsman’s Guide and Cheaper Than Dirt, both of which I’ve cited above in the “Optics” section, will carry many of these items. Also, don’t forget www.AirsoftArms.com, which we Ohio enthusiasts hold dear to our heart, and who truly provides excellent service and very competitive pricing. Again, shop around to find the best deal.
B. The same basics, but with a slightly larger budget
Should your budget be higher, and you’ve decided to obtain a cache of standard-capacity magazines, you’ll need both a number of the standard magazine pouches, as well as a “spent-magazine dump pouch” (most players use either GI “Butt Packs” or some kind of large-capacity [i.e. a 6x30-round M16-magazine or SAW Gunner’s Ammo pouches] magazine pouches for this purpose) – set your budget for at least 2 of the previous magazine pouches to store your loaded mags, with about $15 to $25 set aside for the “dump pouch.” Total here for the more extravagant spenders would be between $25 to $65, depending mostly on the number of “full” magazine pouches you need. Whatever you do, should you desire to use standard-capacity magazines, DON’T decide to skimp and not get a “spent magazine dump pouch.” Trying to shove spent mags back into their original spots during an engagement is slow and frustrating (especially in the dark), with a high chance for loss – and the same can be said for trying to stuff them into your BDU pockets, too.
An alternative to a dump pouch is to use tape and Paracord to fashion a home-made “Magpul” device on the bottom of each mag. In addition to serving as a pull (which will also help keep your mags from rattling against each other when in their mag-pouch), it will also allow you to quickly “clip” the spent mag onto a carabiner that you’ve got locked to one of your vest/harness D-rings.
Remember, whatever method you choose to store the spent mags, it’s only temporary. It’ll be noisy – so when you’ve disengaged from the opposition, remember to take some time to re-configure your mag-pouches to secure these spent mags.
C. The anchor and the weight bearer: the pistol-belt and the load-bearing suspenders
Now, if you haven’t gotten a pistol-belt with your purchase above, you should remember that you’ll NEED a proper pistol belt as “anchor” for all of your body gear – top and bottom. Go to a surplus store to purchase a genuine military pistol belt, or alternatively, hit a tactical supply shop to purchase a 2 inch or wider police duty belt. You’ll need the width and rigidity of this type of belt to truly support your tactical load. Look to spend between $5 to $15 on this item. If you have a slightly bigger budget ($5 to $15 more), you should think about a set of suspender harnesses for your belt – which will take the weight of your load off your hips and evenly distribute it over your shoulders. Should your budget be even bigger than that, again by about $10, and you are a serious multi-day scenario player, you should seriously think about obtaining a pad set for your pistol belt, which will GREATLY enhance your overall comfort.
Speaking of pistol belts, what should you purchase to hold your sidearm?
D. Holsters – you don’t stick a pistol in your pants crotch, so why would you stick it in a $15 POS holster?
While it is tempting to purchase one of those el-cheapo, $5 belt holsters or an el-cheapo $15 thigh rig, trust me, DO NOT do it. I’ve seen more than enough players having their day totally ruined by losing their expensive GBBs in the field, after it falls out of their cheap holsters. Why would you trust your $200 GBB to a $15 holster? I could never figure that one out.
When purchasing holsters, look for its retentive capabilities. Police “duty holsters” are especially good for this, as many offer double or even triple retention protection. Should you be a very active, highly mobile player who likes to jump and run a lot, this, along with holsters that offer an additional outer “flap” (i.e. “airborne” or “assault” holsters) that can close down over the entire pistol to further secure it (in ADDITION to also having a traditional thumb-break) or holsters with a supplemental securing system (i.e. look at the various “jump” holsters by Eagle Industries and High Speed Gear Incorporated, and also the aftermarket-addition BlackHawk Holster Bungi/Bungee Retention Strap) will provide you with the best protection.
With belt holsters, you really don’t have to worry so much about the gun flopping about as you run – however, this will be an issue with both shoulder holsters and tactical thigh-rig holsters. For the former, choose ones with tie-downs that latch on to the pistol belt for stability. For the latter, look for DUAL adjustable and/or elastic thigh straps, or one really broad strap/base-plate (the BagMaster BTR2-L and the HSGI Saddle Holster are excellent examples).
Look to spend at least $15-$20 for a good belt-holster, and at least $40 to $80 for a good shoulder or thigh rig.

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2015, 09:40:25 PM »
E. The big one, EYE PROTECTION
Of utmost importance , eye protection.
DO NOT think that simple “safety glasses,” “lab goggles,” or “shop goggles” will suffice. These items may or may not offer sufficient impact resistance, and most do not provide enough of a “seal” around your facial bones to totally enclose your eye sockets. Several well-respected teams/clubs here in the US have already banned the use of such eye-wear at their skirmishes.
Instead, choose eye-wear that will actually “seal-in” your eyes.
Paintball goggles from JT style='font-size: 8.0pt;font-family:Verdana'>USA , Scott USA, and Brass Eagle are all highly impact resistant, and have withstood repeated testing by many clubs/teams – gaining wide acceptance for just about all skirmish events nationwide. Many would even debate that these are indeed the current “standard” eye-wear for airsoft. With paintballs impacting the lens at upwards of 12 Joules of force-energy (for a .68 caliber, 3-gram weight average paintball traveling at 300 fps.), it is easy to see why these paintball goggles more than suffice for even a very hot 3-Joule airsoft hits.
Alternatively, you can use actual “tactical goggles” that meet or exceed ANSI Z87.1 1989 impact resistance standards (this claim should be enclosed with the goggle, printed on the box, or described in the catalog you are ordering from). Made by such noted names as ESS, Bolle, Oakley, etc., these items will offer more than sufficient protection for airsoft, as long as they are truly full-sealing around the perimeter of your eye-cup area, and as long as they meet the above ANSI standard.
In any case, either going with paintball goggles or with true tactical goggles is NOT necessarily an expensive proposition – paintball goggle-and-mask sets can be had at discounters such as “WalMart” for around $20, and many such impact resistant tactical goggles can be had for under $30 from a large number of on-line tactical equipment retailers.
If you have more money to spend, spend it first on getting either a set of goggles that have anti-fogging properties, or, alternatively, an anti-fog lens for your goggle set. Should you have even more dough in your wallet, get a set that offers a built-in fog-reducing vent fan (i.e. ESS TurboCAM), or, an aftermarket miniature fan (such as the JT fan, for JT paintball goggles). These last two areas are critical for players who tend to sweat a lot (chemical anti-fogging, in the form of liquids or solid wipes, may also be necessary), and the fans are an excellent addition for those who wear prescription eyeglasses under their goggles (here, note that certain Bolle and ESS models offer a supplemental prescription lens frame insert within their outer goggle shell, and can be fitted for a supplemental prescription lens).
Actually, here’s what I recently wrote about this very topic, covering the issue of fitting goggles over the frames of prescription glasses as well as regarding the issue of “fogging” –
Much of this OTG ("over the glasses") fit issue depends on exactly what type of prescription eyeglass frame style you have.

With the large "aviator" frames, there's practically no goggle system that will fit comfortably over them.... However, if you have a smaller, lower profile set, as is what is popular "style" dictate today, you can rest assured that all but the most low-profile and highly contoured systems (i.e. Wiley-X SG-1, etc.) will work just fine for you.

Also, there are designs of USGI "combat eyeglass" frames which offer a low-profile "curve" around your face, yet still will retain a rather large (almost "aviator" in style) lens -- these items typically can be had from surplus or military-supplies stores, and includes a jig in the kit for you to take to your ophthalmic doctor or lensmaker to get a proper set of lenses with your prescription.

In terms of actual protection:

With ANSI Z87.1 1989 compliant/meet-exceed "tactical goggles," most of the ESS and Bolle systems will clear smaller-framed eyeglasses just fine. Both also further offer specific prescription insert frames (which you take to the lens-making opticians to get one made that is the same as your prescription every-day wear), should you desire a specific-for-application fit.

As for paintball goggles, most actually will clear small to even medium framed glasses just fine, with several of the larger makes offering specifically "OTG" goggle/mask systems that are cut more generously to allow clearance of even the largest-framed glasses.

If fogging is a worry for you (and every person is different), here’s an algorithm that you can follow:

First, you should look for goggles that utilize either a inner-aspect anti-fog "coated" lens or one that has a dual-pane lens setup (such as the soft acetate lenses that you see of "thermal" systems with JT USA and others' paintball goggles).

Should your goggle/mask system, regardless of paintball or tactical origin not have such lenses installed, you should seek replacement upgrade lenses or consider the self-installation of the "Fog City Fog" inner acetate lens (which has a foam-backed self-adhesive lined border that renders your single-pane goggle lens into a double-pane setup in the critical vision areas), which can readily be purchased on-line for around $10 per insert.

Next, if that is not sufficient to clear your fogging problem, you should consider applying supplemental chemical anti-fogging solution.

The key to making this effective is to make sure that you're applying the solution properly, and to regularly and religiously re-apply the solution every chance you get -- that means EVERY time you come back into the safe-zone after being shot-out or during breaks. EVERY TIME. Just as any chemical protective coating on a hard surface will wear off (you do re-wax your car every once in a while, right? what about lubrication for your GBB or AEG? what about remembering to wipe down your handgun or rifle and re-applying bluing solution? oiling down your favorite sword or knife blades? same idea here!), you must REGULARLY REAPPLY these solutions for them to properly confer fog-protection.

Apply to goggle lens AND your eyeglass lenses!

Playing in adverse weather conditions will greatly increase your need to re-apply such solutions, and you should be well-advised to decrease your time-intervals between such application to-match. Again, do so as often as you can, as regularly as you can.

Be careful with the inner acetate lens of the two-pane systems. They are very scratch prone, so use a proper "lens cloth" to clean and to apply anti-fog solutions to them. No, “tissues” aren't soft enough, you'll still scratch. Trust me on this.

Also, if you wear contacts, be careful -- these solutions work by depositing a physical microscopic particle barrier on the lens surface, and by their very nature, are volatile and "boil off." This often creates a vapor within your goggle/mask assembly, and can be an eye-irritant (I've found that RainX brand anti-fog makes my eyes water a bit when I first apply them, but, for example, the JT USA paintball-mask anti-fog solution does not -- depending on your own sensitivity as well as the particular chemical you use, this will differ) -- and the ability of contacts to physically concentrate through "edge-effect" the deposition/accumulation of such solution vapors on the surface of your eyes can be a serious concern.

If this still doesn't do it for you, you can next/then try ADDING forced air induction or extraction TO THE ABOVE METHODS. The ESS TurboCAM is a perfect example, and JT USA also makes a fan system that specifically fits to their brand's paintball goggle/mask systems.

Finally, as another consideration, I've found the BLOK airsoft-specific mask system to be tremendously fog-resistant. I don't know why -- just that it does work. And this will clear most small-framed glasses just fine.

--

In addition to these considerations, remember the following general principles that should always be applied.

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2015, 09:40:58 PM »
(1) Inhale through your nose -- exhale through your mouth while using your lips to direct your moist exhaust air down and out of the mask, away from the goggle portion. Even if you're not wearing a mask lower portion (i.e. just wearing goggles), this will still help.

(2) Make sure that your eye-cup portion is properly sealed. Often, with African Americans, Asians, and other ethnicities that have an anatomically lower nasal "bridge," you can see/feel a gap where the goggle frame doesn't seal properly in this area. Cutting a bit of foam or other such padding to fit and block-up this area can help improve the "separation of air chambers" effect, and help keep your goggle free of the moist exhaled air, especially if you're wearing a mask lower section.

(3) Don't block air exchange holes/vents from your goggle frame -- they're there for a purpose, and the design/development staff have gone through great pains to optimize flow via these holes. Beware of any head gear (especially bandannas and hat brims) or even your long hair covering up these critical exchange holes, particularly from the top.

The exception to this is with rain/snow -- top-cover is a must to avoid water-logging....you'll have to seek a compromise based on your specific conditions and your specific needs.

(4) Consider not wearing headgear. An extraordinary amount of your body heat is exchanged through your scalp -- blocking heat-exchange from this area means that you'll start to sweat much more profusely as well as exchange heat wherever else you can. This can also lead to goggle/glasses fogging.

All of this comes from some decad- and-a-half's worth of paintball and airsoft play (which, if counted separately, would add up to nearly 20-year's worth of hard-won experience) -- I'm one of those guys who sweats like no tomorrow, so I FOG like no tomorrow as well. Trust me when I say I know fog.
Whatever you do, DO NOT short-change yourself on proper eye-wear. You only have two eyes, and even the loss of one will leave you PERMANENTLY impaired (loss of depth perception and a HUGE portion of your overall field-of-vision, try going around a day with an eye-patch over one of your eyes, you can get opaque eye-patches from your local pharmacy/drug-store). DO NOT FUCK AROUND HERE, SPEND THE MONEY AND GET A GOOD SET OF GOGGLES – IF YOU CAN AFFORD THE MONEY TO GET A GBB OR AN AEG (or if you can afford to get your child an AEG or GBB replica), YOU CAN AFFORD TO SAVE YOUR (or your child’s) EYES.
Proper eye protection is a – MUST – .
- Special considerations: low-light/night skirmish gear
A. Night vision gear
Night vision?
Not necessary, but definitely a consideration now that more and more hobbyists are making efforts to attend and organize night-skirmish games.
A word to the wise – this is likely the LAST piece of gear that you’ll need. Get yourself all set up otherwise before you even think about pursuing night-vision.
So what are some considerations here? Well, here’s a post that I put up on AirsoftOhio’s Forums:
I'll start this one off by saying that I hate snobs.

I hate those guys that jump on the Forums and tell everyone that their imitation body gear by Guarder/IS or MilForce is just not good enough -- that they "need" to go out and get SOE or SOTECH stuff to skirmish. I hate those guys that jump on the Forums and just start yelling that "all Taiwanese replicas suck," etc.

With that said, unfortunately, here, with night-vision devices, they're right....to an extent. And unfortunately, I have to become a snob…

Before you buy night-vision, consider for yourself what, exactly, your needs are -- as well as, even more importantly, what the opposition is bringing to the game.

Why? Simple.

If you've got a set of "starlight/moonlight"-amplification Gen.I night-vision binoculars or riflescope with you on a moonless night under cloudy skies, you'll basically be relying on your IR illuminator to help you "see" with the scope/binocs. Guess what? Everyone else with night-vision will also be able to see your IR flashlight "beam." It would be just like if you were to use your natural vision and scan the operational area with a regular flashlight or spotlight in your hands.

And what's more, if someone has a "better" night-vision device than you do -- for example, someone with "total darkness" Gen.II or Gen.III (or even higher) technology -- then he'll be able to spot you much sooner than you'll spot him, as you'll be flagging him down with your IR illuminator beacon, while he can see just fine even without.

Take into account what your opposition is using before you buy.

Also, take into account the field/event/club/team's policies regarding "tactical white lights" or other spot-light and field-lighting use and policies/rules. Think about what will happen to your night-vision device's tube when someone suddenly shines a 500-lumens SureFire directly into its lens....without overload protection, you'll have burned the unit permanently. Before you play, be sure that your item will survive its intended use -- there was some confusion about this a few years earlier on the west coast, at Operation Savage Garden II, where some players complained about their Gen.I units being burned out by players using tactical lights. If your field allows free-use of tactical lights, be sure that your night-vision device will auto-shut-off or otherwise amp down such inputs so as to prevent permanent damage.

Before you buy any Gen.I equipment, in addition to the above brightness-cut-out concern, you should also realize that among the night-gaming crowd, there is some debate as to the true usability of these units.

Certainly, being able to see even just "movement" with the aid of night-vision will help, but there are many night-vision enthusiasts who maintain that on moonlit nights, it is just as easy to use your natural night-vision (think about getting up to take a piss in the middle of the night -- the room which looked so dark as you first closed your eyes to fall asleep is now strangely "lit" and bright, isn't it? same idea, you develop natural night-vision as your eyes accommodate to the lower ambient light level) as the Gen.I units often have an excessive noise-to-signal level that makes distinguishing targets very difficult at-best. Ironically, many say that this is further worsened by the use of the IR illuminators, which tend to "flare" the surroundings, especially as reflected IR light would shine off trees/walls and other objects, making the signal too noisy to offer good use. Furthermore, this is also ironic in that using such light-amplification units will also kill your natural night-vision to a certain degree/extent.

Finally, think about the different advantages and disadvantages to be had for a head/helmet-mounted binocular unit, a monocular unit, and a riflesight unit. With the binocs, you will have better depth-perception than with the monocular setup, however, it will be bulkier and heavier, and may require a special head-mount and wear-configuration that may impede the use of your normal sighting device(s) on your skirmish "weapon." With a monocular unit, you lose depth-perception in trade for a more easily handled and lighter/more streamlined unit. With a weapon-mounted unit, you trade being able to constantly scan the horizon for an item that will be specifically well-suited for actually accurately engaging the opponent.

Think through these considerations VERY carefully before you buy. That $150 you're thinking of using for a Gen.I unit could just as well be spent on a very, very nice SureFire tac-light that may actually be much more well suited for your skirmish gaming goals and purposes, particularly, say, if your opponents already own Gen.II or even Gen.III+ equipment.

Be sure you think this through before you buy.
But what about something more basic, you ask? What about something like “tactical” flashlights?

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2015, 09:41:29 PM »
B. Flashlights
Flashlights are what I consider essential low-light/night skirmish gear.
Why?
Not only is it useful for a variety of gaming purposes, but it is also essential for many “real-life” circumstances, such as first-aid or even helping you find your way back to the base-camp/safe-zone, should you become lost.
What is “necessary?”
Think about carrying one of today’s many “long-run time” LED-based flashlights. This can be something as small as a Photon Microlight to something as large as an Inova X5 or Lightwave 4000.
This is a basic survival tool should you become lost/hurt. It will put out enough light so that you can either see what’s sticking out of or into your leg or to help you trek back to base-camp, and will also help you signal your friends, if needed. But also, this item doubles wonderfully as a general-use light, giving you something to use when you need to go to the latrine at night or help you find things in your tent/car. Its long battery life, plus near fail-proof “bulbs” makes these items something that you should always carry.
But aside from this tool, why carry a flashlight?
Flashlights are also indispensable “tactical” instruments.
Now, before we go any further, let’s define this word – tactical – in terms of flashlight use.
The most common meaning of the words “tactical light” refers to the manner in which SureFire – what is perhaps the world’s leading manufacturer of high-speed “tactical” handheld and weapon-mounted flashlights – defines “tactical.” In this case, it’s something that’s bright enough to temporarily blind and daze/disorient a subject on the receiving end of the light’s output beam. SureFire defines this level of output to be at least between 60 to 65 lumens of objective light output.
However, “tactical,” as defined in Webster’s, means simply (1) of tactics, esp. in military or naval maneuvers, or (2) of or showing skill in tactics – which is itself defined as only “a means to gain an end.”
Now, then, what if this “tactic” is to be as stealthy as possible? Is stealth not a viable tactic of military maneuver?
In this case, then, wouldn’t the best “tactical” light be one which you can use – to, say, read a map of your Area-of-Operations or to signal your linemate – without giving up your location by “light compromise” by being overly bright, as with the “tactical” lights of SureFire’s definition?
Certainly it would!
Thus, we have two types of “tactical” lights, with two distinct and separate purposes.
Want a stealthy light?
Again, the LED’s work well, especially one with a shroud, such as the Photon Microlight III + Shroud. Get one with a red LED, and you have something that you can easily use to read maps of your AO night while maintaining your natural night vision and minimally disclosing your position to opposition squads patrolling the surrounding forest. Want something with a lockout to prevent accidental light discharge? The Arc AAA will fill this purpose just fine. Look around a bit – just about every major flashlight and tactical light maker now has a complete line of such LED-light units available, for a variety of prices. Just remember your purpose, and how you want these lights to perform as you look at their options (color, output power, lens shielding, switching, etc.) and you’ll be fine.
What about a more powerful light?
One capable of lighting up a relatively large area so that you can clearly determine threat level – one that has enough light output to temporarily dazzle, daze, and blind your down-field target?
Unfortunately, despite their claims otherwise, that Mini MagLite that you see rigged to the front of some players’ AEGs, that Tokyo Marui “Tactical Light” (which is nothing more than just that very same Mini MagLite, only in slightly different cosmetic construct), and the various LED-based flashlights all simply do not produce enough light output on an OBJECTIVE level to fit this bill.
SureFire , for good reason, defines this type of “tactical” use with the need to put out at least 60 to 65 lumens – or around 10,000 candlepower – as a minimum.
Unfortunately, this is a level of objective light output that no current LED-based flashlight can measure up to. Even the “brightest” of the bunch, such as the SureFire KL3 head (1W LuxeonStar emitter) fitted 9V-systems (producing a total of around 20 lumens, max) or the LightWave 4000 or the Inova X5 (both of which fall far short of this mark) is simply insufficient to fill this job description. [Note, as of 05/2003, we are still awaiting the introduction of SureFire’s promised 80-100 lumens 5W LED-based systems; similarly, Streamlight, which has come forward with several LED-based “tactical lights” – note the similar tone of the claim as Inova puts on their products – has ironically and cryptically not disclosed the lighting output of their lights, thus making one wonder exactly how applicable or capable their lights are in this context.]
To truly go “tactical” in this sense, at this present day and time, outside of custom-built LED projects, we are left with incandescent lighting as our one and only choice.
But exactly how bright is such as system?
To figure this out, one has to realize several different considerations.
Remember first that lumens and candlepower are two separate measures, and that they cannot be either mathematically nor realistically/practically converted.
Candlepower, as defined by Streamlight, is “a measure of the brightest spot in the focused beam. It is a function of both the output of the lamp and the efficiency of the reflector.”
Lumens, meanwhile, is a measure of “the entire light output of the flashlight regardless of beam focus.”
But to us, the end-users, neither figure really means all that much.
Instead, to get a better picture, we have to take into account both how much light there is, as is seen with the above two measures, as well as how “focused” the light happens to be. This is the only true way to get a useful practical measure.
Think of it this way.
That 60-Watt desk lamp that you’re using to help you read this post?
That lamp puts out over 800 lumens.
It lights up your room pretty well when you remove the lampshade, right?
But look outside your room door, down the hallway. I bet that after about 30 ft. or so, you can barely even see your German Shepard sneaking into the bathroom for a quick drink from the toilet.
As such, we have to rate these lights according both to how much light they throw out, as well as exactly how they throw that light.
Have a look here, at Brock’s excellent comparison page:
http://www.uwgb.edu/nevermab/flash.htm
Look specifically at the “Focus” and the “CP@ 7 meters” columns. To judge a light for our use, it becomes imperative that we consider both how much light is thrown out towards our target at a distance (the latter measure), as well as exactly how that light is dispersed (the former).
With that in-mind, let’s look at some of those lights.
First of all, let’s get a good feel for what, say, one of the “standard benchmarks” of this genre – the SureFire 6V system, with their standard P60 (65 lumens output) lamp and reflector unit can do. Scan down until you find the entry that reads “SureFire D2/P60” and now compare that with some entries right below – the MagLites. See how the “relative brightness” of the SureFire unit, which is about ½ to 1/3 the size of the corresponding 3 “D-cell” and 5D MagLites, slots in? That, my friends, is how “powerful” such a small SureFire light can be. It has the “lighting power” that, for all intents and purposes, is the same as a 4 “D-cell” MagLite.
Does the 4D MagLite attain “tactical” levels of brightness? By SureFire’s own definition, certainly. But at somewhere near 3 times the size, the MagLite is going to be awfully burdensome to drag around with you during skirmishes, and furthermore, it is going to be an absolute bear to mount to your AEG or even GBB when compared to the svelte SureFire!
And have a look at this:
To wit, the Mini MagLite that is also the basis of the Tokyo Marui “Tactical Light?” That only has an objective light output of 2,200 candlepower – the Mag 2AA on Brock’s page doesn’t even register a “relative brightness,” does it? That’s why these items are totally a joke when it comes to being used as “tactical lights” in the SureFire coined sense of the words.
So, with all that said, what, you ask, is a suitable “tactical” flashlight?
If you used Brock’s chart, basically, we have an arbitrary cut-off at the 10 CP @ 7M mark, and that will do it. Everything above that, OK. Everything below, no go.
Out of these, currently, perhaps the absolute “best deal” that you’re going to find for such “tactical lights” is the SureFire G2 Nitrolon. This polymer plastic bodied light is a near carbon-copy of SureFire’s legendary original P-series, and will support either the P60 (65 lumens) lamp (with about an hour’s run-time per set of 2 CR123 lithium batteries) or the high-output P61 (120 lumens, with about a half-hour run-time) lamp/reflector units. At under $25, this is an incredible bargain. Add to this an el-cheapo one-inch diameter Weaver-based scope ring, and for less than $30, you can have a nice, hard-mounted tactical light on your AEG (the P61 lamp will cost you about another $15 extra). Getting a little fancy, spend another $20, and you can easily buy the G&P remote pressure-pad tailswitch assembly, which will give you the ability to use a pigtail to actuate your light.

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2015, 09:42:09 PM »
The only downside?
You can’t keep the unit on for long – especially with the high-output P61 lamp. The heat generated will literally blister and then melt the plastic lens that’s on the G2s. Also, your on/off switch will not lock-out, so you must be careful not to incur accidental light discharges, which can easily compromise your position in low-light situations.
This unit serves just as well as a handheld as it does a weapon-mounted light, and is a bargain to-boot. I own three, with one mounted to my loaner AEG that I give to my friends, one that I give to them as a handheld, and one that I keep for myself as a backup light to my SureFire Z2 Combatlight.
Other options?
In terms of low-cost lights, those that fulfill the above minimum performance criteria (but are not cited already in Brock’s comparison, i.e. the Streamlight Scorpion and the Brinkmann Legend LX are both not mentioned here as it already has been cited above) include:
- Various “generic” tactical lights offered by both airsoft (i.e. “Walther,” G&P, G&G,
Guarder/IS, ICS, etc.) and generic hunting-supplies makes (such as the products that
you’ll find in the “Cheaper Than Dirt” or “The Sportsman’s Guide” catalogs)
- Copia products (incandescent, remember the LED units are not bright enough), usually
purchased through airsoft retailers like Wargamer’s Club Shop (WGCS, Hong Kong ),
for between $60 to $120, depending on options and configuration
- Smith&Wesson Magnum Force Spotlight, ~ $60-$70
- Galls HALO and Shooter Light, between $60 and $100, with various options
- Tac-Star WLS-2000 (6500 cp), which has an integral pigtail remote, ~ $90
- TACM-III (100+ lumens), bundled kit with a pigtail remote and mount, ~ $110
- AimShot TX65 Nova Tactical Light (6500 cp), kit with pigtail remote included ~$60
Mounts:
The TACM-III has a proprietary set of mounts.
Other than that, most mounts, you’ll see, especially for the 1-inch diameter lights, can easily be had by using a single or a pair of Weaver (thus Picatinny compatible)-based 1-inch diameter scope rings (for those who fancy a Q/D design, yes, high-dollar ARMS rings will work – and as a matter of fact, SureFire’s MU system is based off of such a design). Alternatives?
Lite Mount Technologies : http://www.pages2go.com/lmt/order.htm
Fobus
Knight’s Armament
SureFire
Various airsoft-specific flashlight mounts (including those which clone the items cited above) – FIRST Factory, Just, G&P, G&G, ICS etc. Some of these even offer very specialized mounts, such as the FIRST Factory Front Sight Post Mount (note here that their lasersight unit of this designation is actually usable as a stable lasersight mount platform, as it is much more secure than the shoddy Tokyo Marui unit).
If you don’t mind their size being a bit bigger -- for example, if you’re going to use these units as handheld units only and not “weapon-mount” -- you can try any of the options that Brock’s mentioned in his chart already. This means that all of the high-powered (and high cost! unfortunately) SureFire units such as the Millennium M6, M3T Turbohead Combatlight, etc. (all of these can cost upwards of $200, easily – but you should try on eBay and surf the ‘Net for “specials” and sales that may drop the price of the lesser-performance units down into the $150 range) and even the brighter MagLites 4D (and above, which would be a more economical approach).
As for batteries, yes, the 3V CR123 lithium cells – commonly known as “camera batteries,” are expensive. But if you are smart and shop around a bit, you can get them very easily for around $1 per cell, which is not bad at all, considering that your local drugstore/pharmacy or supermarket grocery store probably charges 5 to 10 times that cost! Regardless, if this $1 per cell seems a bit high for you, you should remember that these batteries, by their physical nature, will “self recharge” during non-use cycles. This means that with the typically rapid “on-off” blinks (and for that matter, more “off” than “on”) of “tactical” usage of these lights, your average true run-time is greatly extended from the above estimates by SureFire. Besides, compared to D or C-sized cells, these diminutive CR132 units are cost-matched, and are much lighter and smaller in size, giving you additional benefits.
Are rechargeable units available? Certainly, specialty recharge units are available – and are a favorite of many law-enforcement agencies due to continued issue-spending. However, these units are going to be costly as an initial investment (with the trade-off being, of course, that they’ll be much more economical in the long-run, particularly if you take good care of their battery cells). Items to look at here include:
- SureFire 10X Dominator (unfortunately, easily upwards of $300)
- SureFire 8AX and 8NX models ~$130 to $170, depending on model (note that if more
power or longer run-time is desired, a 9AN version is also available for added cost)
- MagLite MagCharger, ~$100
- Streamlight
Stinger HP and XTHP ~$100 to $150, depending on model and charger options
UltraStinger ~$120
Stinger, with optional XT bezel unit ~$120 altogether
SL-20X and SL-35X ~$110 to $160, depending on model and charger options
Pelican M11
- Copia (various units – again, look at their incandescent lighting units)
Whatever you choose, remember, these lights also are vulnerable to BB attack, just like your scope’s lens. Some protection in the form of a sacrificial lens or a lenscap will help you avoid such damages, but may alter the performance of your light – so keep this in-mind as you shop for such lens protection.
Finally, remember that in the field, an “accidental light discharge” is just about as bad as lack of fire-discipline with your replica or lack of fieldcraft. Look for models which offer a lock-out on-off switching device or, alternatively, use various means to effectively disable/contain light output from the lens should your light be accidentally tripped. There are plenty of makes of specialty “flashlight holsters” out there, from SureFire themselves to nearly all of the various tactical gear makes ( BlackHawk, Eagle, Spec Ops Brand, etc.) to specialty Kydex products makes (anything from the big manufacturers such as Fobus to the high-end “little guys” like Cen-Dex and Blade Tech), just fire up your favorite Internet search-engine and have at it! These products will not only help you securely carry your high-dollar tactical flashlight, but will also, many times, be designed so as to specifically either “contain” or outright avoid light ADs.
- For further gear references and reading
http://www.airsoftplayers.com/gear/index.asp - An excellent article, “Gear, the Paco Way ,” hosted on AirsoftPlayers. Paco is a friend and a well respected airsoft enthusiast and long-time skirmish player, belonging to the MAA.
http://www.airsoftplayers.com/webbing/webbing.asp - Yet another nice load-bearing equipment digest on AirsoftPlayers.
http://www.wolfpackairsoft.com/projects/lbe.htm - An extension of the above, this time, by enthusiast, fellow player, and gear-nut MadMorbius at WolfPack Airsoft. Excellent companion read.
Additionally, I would urge you to consult the following threads on the AirsoftPlayers Forums for information regarding the load-out of various players:
http://www.airsoftplayers.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=10563
and
http://www.airsoftplayers.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=10564 - Are a pair of excellent sister-posts which detail the looks and the why’s and how’s of various players’ load-out kits.
http://www.airsoftplayers.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=106 - And this is what started the above two threads – and from here, you can literally visualize the “evolution” of many players’ kit……newbies, take heart, this is why you should go easy on gear and body wear until you know for sure what it is that you’re looking for. Look at some of the well-known names on this thread, we’ve got my friends and noted gear-nuts The_Edge, Haji, and others who’ve changed their load-outs many times as they’ve “grown” as players. This stuff is expensive, and unless you have a good deal of funds to devote to constantly change your setup, you’d be much better off to simply play a few games with just simple USGI surplus gear that you got from the local flea-market, and figure out exactly what it is that you like BEFORE you spend the big bucks.

M.S.-ARC

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Re: Newbie FAQ UPDATED 6/12/03
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2015, 09:43:03 PM »
Section Ten – Shopping Advice:
- Research first, buy later
Do NOT first buy an item from a retailer or bid on an item on eBay and -then- come on-line to ask “Hey, I’ve just bought X AEG or Y GBB, is it any good?”
You’re too late.
If you’ve lucked out, you may have made a decent buy. But if not, you’ve already made a mistake that you cannot undo.
Research and do your homework FIRST and THEN shop and buy.
Anything else is outright stupid .
You wouldn’t buy a car without first test driving it or reading in the magazines what they thought of the car, right? Same idea here.
- Who’s got the best prices?
Finally, having done all of your homework, you’re ready to make the purchase. Now, then, who has the best prices?
Again, here, a simple-minded “can anyone tell me who has the best prices” post will only land you in more trouble.
Prices change rapidly in today’s highly competitive airsoft market – retailers and private re-sellers/brokers are now in the practice of running “specials” all throughout the year. As such, you can never be guaranteed of getting the best price if you simply trust someone’s word for it (it may have been the cheapest place for him a month ago, a week ago, or even just a day ago – but the prices may have already changed in the interim).
Use the “Soft Links” on the AirsoftZone, the www.AirsoftPlayers.com “Seller Ratings” section, or the Arnie’s Airsoft (UK) “Web-Links” page to take you to the various retailers’ commercial websites. Spend a moment and look through their pages and note down their prices on a piece of paper (don’t forget cost of shipping!), and then, e-mail a few for a complete price quote, including shipping – and to check for item availability. Only by doing your own leg-work can you be guaranteed to get the best prices.
- Which retailer can I trust?
AirsoftZone offers a “Retailers” section. Fire up the AirsoftZone Forum search-function to help you locate past posts in this “Retailers” section that bears your interest. Remember, it does no good to just post a question asking about a particular retailer – by doing so, you’re at the mercy of a few members who deem it worth their while to respond to you. Instead, take the time to search the past posts to see what has been posted about these retailers IN THE PAST. It’s the history of each retailer that counts.
Similarly, check out AirsoftPlayers’ “Seller Ratings” section. It’s on their pull-down navigation menu off the main page. Give each of your potential retailers’ ratings section not only a cursory look to see how many positives and negatives they’ve accumulated, but rather, pay attention to what has ACTUALLY BEEN SAID about them within those rating posts.
Regardless of where you get your opinions from or where you eventually decide to shop from, remember that there will always be those who complain about retailer X or Y. It’s an unavoidable part of business – no one can satisfy their customers 100%, all of the time. This is particularly true of the Internet, where everyone and their uncle can come in, stand on the soap-box , and put their own two bits out for everyone to hear, no matter how right or how wrong.
Just look at on-line reviews of even top-notch hotels like The Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons.
World renowned service, yet, people still complain. Why?
Because you always remember that one red traffic light that you hit on your way home from work or school.
Same idea here – the negatives, no matter how small, tend to stand out – while unless you get absolutely stellar service, you just don’t seem to remember, as clearly, your positive experiences.
Look not only at the individual complaints, but rather, look at the larger picture.
If a retailer has had 100,000 orders filled, and has 1000 complaints, is that any worse than a retailer who has only filled 1000 orders, but has had a 50-complaint history? The first case has a error-rate of only 1%, but the second retailer has had a 5% complaint history. Lower number of complaints doesn’t mean much – it’s how many complaints were made against how many orders were filled that’s the true concern.
Sure, you may hear that Wargamer’s Club Shop, RedWolf, or DEN Trinity may have had a number of complaints against them, but considering that they’ve been in-business for so many years and have served so many hobbyists to their complete satisfaction, the few complaints that you hear is next to nothing in terms of significance. So what if a smaller retailer has their entire past history of 100 orders perfectly? These larger retailers have filled tens of thousands of such orders without trouble.
Remember this difference during your research.
- Buying off eBay or off hobbyist Forum or other enthusiast website “classified” pages
When buying off eBay and other such auction pages, the same rule would apply to your airsoft purchase as any other purchase. Look at the seller feedback ratings.
When buying from a website “classified” page, check the AirsoftZone “Arms Deals Seller/Buyer Reviews” sub-Forum and JayKay’s Airsoft Buyer/Seller Review Forums (at: http://www.jkcns.com). Both will offer feedback on potential sellers and buyers.
Don’t skip this homework – failure to research your seller/buyer is the surest way to get scammed.
- Legal concerns
A. Purchasing overseas and importing
First and foremost, currently, import purchase of any type of airsoft replicas is fully legal for the United States at the federal level.
The less-scrupulous Stateside retailers will tell you that such import may be illegal (i.e. within the past year, a well-known US retailer was noted to have cited that GBB replicas are illegal – which is completely and utterly false) or may be very high-risk. That is just simply not true at all. Airsoft is legal, in all forms, for import into the US by individual retail purchase. And provided that the items satisfy US import codes (covered briefly and basically below), their entry is virtually guaranteed.
The only provisions required for legal importation of these goods, purchased from overseas retailers, is that they bear muzzle orange (with respect to color, depth/length, and "permanency") and that their offending trademarks are properly covered or obliterated to-specs.
However, much of this compliance with barrel/muzzle orange paint and trademark coverage issue depends highly on the variable interpretation of such laws by individual Customs inspection officers.
Example?
Western Arms actually has a true “International License” pertaining to their Strayer Voigt Infinity, Beretta, and Wilson Combat replicas. These goods bear trademark rights that actually are truly “international,” and should allow their entry into the US . However, from most retailers, they are still are covered-up. Why?

Although *_WE_* might know that the goods carry actual licensed trademarks, and the individual retailers might know, too – the Customs Inspector checking through our replicas may not be aware of such a special circumstance.

Unless something can be done to improve their knowledge, I truly do not think that having such items pass-through with full trademarks is a worthy risk for any consumer here in the US .

Legal or not, your inspecting Customs agent just might not know better -- and this has happened many more times than I'd care to count. As such, when importing goods, always ask your retailers to properly cover the trademarks (if desired, most of these coverage methods, just as with most barrel-orange painting, can be 100% “restored” to “collectors’ condition” once you’ve received them).