British Airsoft Show
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- Last updated: 16/12/2016
I’m still not an active skirmisher, but once again I’ve enjoyed having a brief to look at what’s new on the airsoft scene, this time at the First British Airsoft Show which ran alongside the British Shooting Show at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, on the 8th and 9th of February.
The show enabled visitors to experience airsoft action on site via demos of CQB skills laid on by Stirling Airsoft and the chance to try out a wide selection of guns on a variety of ranges.
It must be said though that the sight of skirmishers in full battle-rattle and with holstered or slung arms walking around the rest of the venue presented a distinct “culture shock” to practitioners of other shooting sports. I also heard several people say that they thought replicating current kit and tactics for fun at a time when many lads the same age as the players were facing real danger on the battlefield may be perceived as disrespectful. Clearly, these are perceptions that will need to be addressed, on both sides of the current divide, if bridges are to be built and common ground found between groups who, by and large, share an enthusiastic interest in weapons, tactics and military history.
Crossing the Divide
As just such a military enthusiast, I’m increasingly impressed by the proficiency – and the swiftness - with which manufacturers of airsoft guns replicate the latest developments in “real steel” firearms. Take KWA’s KRISS Vector, for example, a cutting-edge SMG that features an innovative design in which the working parts are vectored down in front of the grip to reduce recoil and counter muzzle flip. Not content with a perfect imitation of the external appearance of this gun, KWA have produced it as a gas blowback (GBB) version whose internals also replicate the action of the original.
Also impressive were the ARES’ MS338 / MS700 replicas of the Remington MSR in .308 Win. and .338 L.M. seen on the Redwolf airsoft stand. Available in either black or a gorgeous semi-metallic FDE finish, one look at the fantastic CNC machined, multi-position, anodised alloy chassis had the live-fire shooter in me wondering whether it would take a real Remington 700 action!
Into the Future
Sometimes, it seems, airsoft even gets ahead of firearms development. It has, at least, in the case of the Magpul Personal Defense Rifle (PDR). A potential entry into a US defence competition to find a compact defensive sub-carbine weapon firing the 5.56x45mm NATO round, it was discontinued when the competition was cancelled, but carried forward by Magpul’s Professional Training & Simulation (PTS) airsoft division and brought into production in 2012 as an airsoft electric gun (AEG). True to the original, the PTS PDR-C airsoft replica features a Steyr- AUG-style dual-function trigger with a semiautomatic first stage and a fully-automatic second stage, takes replica Magpul polymer P-Mags (or AEG NATO-standard USGI-style magazines), and even has a pivoting ejection guide that lets the user switch from right to left side ejection in an instant - though obviously this is merely “cosmetic” on the plastic-BB-shooting PTS replica. Add to this its compact size, ergonomic FN-P90-style grips, and a full-length optics rail equipped with flip-up MBUS sights, and you’ve got a great little sidearm that bridges the gap between the portability and concealability of a pistol and the fire-power of an M4.
Another new gun, seen this time on the Pro Airsoft Supplies stand, was a justcompleted “Zero Dark Thirty” custom version of a G&G TR4-18 replica of the HK-416. The base gun is from the Top Tech GT Gen 2 series so already has a ton of great features, such as G&G’s patented pneumatic blowback system, a functioning forward-assist springrelease mechanism, and a functioning bolt-hold-open for better access to the hop-up adjuster. There’s also an accurate 6.03mm tight-bore inner barrel, a Deans-to- Tamiya connector for wider compatibility, and upgraded wiring and a high-torque motor for improved trigger response and rate of fire. To all this Neville at PAS has added an Eotech holographic sight with a magnifier in a flip-toside mount, a functioning laser designator/ illuminator, a tactical flashlight, a dummy suppressor, and an all-over camo finish with a deliberately “hand-made-in-theatre” look to it! Neville also drew my attention to some other new offerings from G&G, including another example from the Top Tech GL Gen 2 series in the shape of their GK5C GL Swedish battle rifle, which, with its distinctive forest-green colouring and bronze accents on the rails and the core of the folding, collapsible stock, represents an attractive alternative to more familiar primary arms.
Another desirable addition to any skirmisher’s airsoft arsenal was found on Milspec Solutions’ stand in the shape of the XPower M18 “Claymore” mine. Unlike previous, and distinctly underwhelming, “trampoline” designs, the XPower M18 is powered by CO2 which blasts whatever you put in its payload bay (BBs, powder or paintballs) at the enemy with considerably more sound and fury. The good news doesn’t stop there though because the mine has a built-in PIR sensor and comes with a wireless “clacker” so you can set it to activate automatically or on command, as well as via a tripwire. All that’s missing is a mini DV camera so you can record the looks of surprise on your opponents’ CONTACTS: faces when it goes off! Internally it’s based around a MOSCART-style grenade shell and externally it shows a realistic polymer casing, complete with “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY” legend, and adjustable scissor legs, and comes in a choice of green or tan. The price? Around £250, so again, not cheap, but the fun could be priceless! It’s currently under further development, but will be available in the UK later this year.
Finally, thanks to all the exhibitors for taking the time to educate me, and kudos to everyone involved in the Airsoft Show for making it such a vibrant event despite being at the furthest, draughtiest, leakiest, coldest end of the entire venue! Next year’s show is on 15th to 16th February 2014, so put the date in your diary, and mark it: “wrap up warm!”