Boots on the ground
Getting into the swing of things and talking of things ‘Redwolf’, the guys were flag-shipping some stunning new ‘Airsoft Surgeon’ replicas, including Clarence’s rather wonderful ‘cutaway’ creations. Their stand, as always, was absolutely chock-a-block with airsoft goodness and innovation but one thing that particularly caught my eye was the new range of ‘Avatar’ grenades, which look superbly, filthily cutting-edge; I look forward to having a closer look at these in due course. Of course, the real ‘showstopper’ for many of us was their own Lee Enfield Bolt Action, which although not yet a full production model, was a thing of absolute beauty; I’ve already shown pictures to numerous airsoft friends who are all now drooling in anticipation, and I am 100% certain that Redwolf will have an absolute winner on their hands with this replica.
Following the trend in the ‘real steel’ world, a number of manufacturers were showing ‘AR/ AK’ style hybrid carbines, the most impressive of these to me being the Krytac Alpha 47 CRB; hopefully one of these will be winging my way for evaluation. Now, I’m not a big personal fan of the whole ‘KRISS Vector’ deal, but I know that for many of you the AEG version of this innovative firearm has been eagerly awaited; well sadly, following the show, I have to tell you that the launch date has been pushed back yet again, so you’ll have to be patient just a little longer. In terms of prototypes, it was exciting to finally see a SIG MCX on the Cybergun stand, and a Desert Tech MDR prototype from Silverback Airsoft; in the real world, the Micro Dynamic Rifle (MDR) has been delayed time and time again, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Silverback got their licensed replica to market before the ‘real steel’. Other big news included getting ‘hands on’ the new EVO Carbines from ASG; Paul at ASG has been teasing me with these for some time now, and the two variants, one suppressed and one standard are absolutely lovely! It’s great seeing such a positive response to another European business in a marketplace that traditionally has been ruled by the Far East, and with a new handgun colour to boot, ASG are certainly driving forward well and their range of fully licenced replicas never ceases to impress and inspire. Serious talks obviously went on at IWA, as ASG and ICS will be teaming up, with our well-respected Danish friends now acting as European distributor for the Taiwanese brand! One other interesting ‘mini trend’ that I came across. was the introduction of more ‘western’ style handguns, and both Umarex and King Arms both had cracking models to look at; The ‘Dependables’ revolver from Umarex will be a ‘must have’ for any fans of ‘The Expendables’, and the King Arms SAA ‘Peacemaker’ models will certainly bring out your inner ‘Pale Rider’! King Arms have extended their handgun offering again this year, and I really like the look of their Predator Tactical Iron Shrike. Although Umarex only had a few new things to show, I have to admit that their latest take on the HK416 GBBR looks simply stunning, with upgraded performance to match!
Best known as a distributor of fine airsoft replicas, accessories, and consumables in their native Italy, Evolution Airsoft are really rolling these days. As the new distributor for DYTAC products, they’ve really upped the game; I really like some of the DYTAC kit but it’s sometimes very hard to come by and Evolution assured me that this would no longer be the case, as they have placed orders ‘in bulk’ to ensure that the brand is readily available. They also had a number of really first rate ‘Cerakote’ finished AEGs on show, and confirmed that “things are in the pipeline” for some new products of their own. I really look forward to working with them, and to bringing you the very latest news as soon as I hear it. G&G also always have something new to talk about at SHOT and this year was absolutely no exception; there were two new CQB AEGs in the form of the ARP9 and the ARP556, both super-compact with PDW style sliding stocks, a slightly longer PDW15 and a super ‘larger calibre’ offering in the shape of the TR16308, which will be a dedicated, out of the box DMR. They were also showing new pistol models, which have some clever internal performance tweaks, utilising their new ‘Whirl Cylinder Valve’, along with some tasty wheelguns. To put the icing on the cake, not only did they have their new G2 gearbox with enhanced performance and functionality to show me, but also their G2 MOSFET, which is half the size of their G1, but offers single shot, three round, five round, and fullauto settings! They also had some prototypes of accessories, gloves, footwear, and Tac gear, and even their own Night Vision gear; more on this in another issue! It certainly looks like it’ll be another exciting year for them.
With the new relationship with ASG in place, ICS had their usual fine stand, and like other manufacturers, continue to tweak and refine their already super AEGs; as well as an extension to their new ‘XFG’ handgun line, they were showing off a really nice looking ‘light tan’ finish and some excellent new rails. Classic Army were just across the way and once again seem to have upped their game in terms of quality and appearance; they also had more standalone accessories and rails than ever before, with both KeyMod and M-Lok in evidence, but of course it was their new ‘mini’ minigun that everyone wanted to play with! The UTG/Leapers stand is always an impressive affair, but this year seemed bigger and bolder than ever before; if you need an accessory for your RIF then they will undoubtedly have it! Last year at IWA they were at the very forefront of the whole ‘KeyMod’ rail drive, and whilst adding further to this, they’ve also delved fully into ‘M-LOK’ as well. There were some great rails and accessories on show for AK variants, but it was their ‘PRO 15-inch Super Slim’ system that really caught my eye; if you’re looking to build a ‘race rifle’ then this comes in a whole rainbow of colours to catch the eye and is extremely light and low-profile.
Flying the flag
With the Far East still very firmly in the driving seat when it comes to airsoft, I have to take a moment of pride in seeing the NUPROL team flying the flag for British airsoft, and indeed British business. With a bigger stand than ever before, and with the entire team on hand, they looked every bit the professionals, and this is absolutely superb, a real business-like boost for airsoft in general! Following the confirmation of 101 Tech USA Inc. as the official distributor of NUPROL products in the USA at SHOT, the guys were really rolling in Germany, and were constantly busy, the impressive stand quite literally rammed most of the time. They seem to have new products every month at the moment, and speaking to Ross at some length, this trend looks as if it’s not going to change any time soon, as new colours for gear were filtered in, and new AEG models announced. I have to admit that the NUPROL team are a constant amazement to me, and it’s just fabulous seeing a great UK company nailing it in a global market. Before I wrap up though, I have to make a couple of ‘honourable mentions’ of things that I saw that I thought to be first rate. Gunfire were showing off a number of their ‘custom’ projects and these were really superb; iWholsales were showcasing new models from EMG International, which are both highly unusual in their design, and aesthetically pleasing, along with the full range of Armorer Works handguns; I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the new LCT RPD and even with its hefty price tag I seriously want one; GSG had a very tasty G14; VFC were showing off their new Monster ‘Leopard Series’ AEGs, which are again certainly unique; and BOLT Airsoft were breathing real excitement into the recoil market, and I think these guys are definitely ‘ones to watch’. IWA 2017 was a tremendous show, both for me personally and for airsoft in general, and I hope to see just as many folk from the UK airsoft community in Nuremberg next year; the show has already been fixed for 9th – 12th March 2018, so get it in your diary and I’ll see you in Germany for the next one!