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    Houses of Parliament Westminster

    In a call to action by the United Kingdom Airsoft Players Union (UKAPU), the Airsoft Trade Body (ATB) and United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association (UKARA), airsoft players in the UK are enjoined to write to the House of Lords to preserve the Airsoft Exception in the Policing & Crime Bill 2016 (PCB). In a development that many are wondering about, the Earl of Shrewsbury, who is the president of the Gun Trade Association (GTA), has tabled an amendment removing the exception to Airsoft from the firearms laws.

    In this case, he wants to limit the airsoft to 1 joule, and that means if any airsoft gun that has a muzzle energy of over 1 joule on full auto, the owner can be subject to 5 years imprisonment. Airsoft retailers and airsoft players doing imports will be affected as all airsoft guns are imported to the UK and are usually over 1 joule and will then be downgraded to meet local laws.  At the point of Customs, any airsoft seller or airsoft player importing will be potentially violating the law if the 1 joule limit passes.

    The exception for airsoft is a maximum of 2.5 joules single shot airsoft guns such as airsoft sniper rifles and 1.3 joules for airsoft guns firing at full auto. These limits were agreed upon as based on the tests conducted  by the Association of Chief Police Officers (or ACPO, now replaced by the National Police Chiefs' Council) in determining the lethality of BB guns.

    The UK airsoft community is hard at work to get the exception from the 1 joule limit. What is surprising is that the person who is pushing for the removal of the airsoft exception is a president of the GTA Association and former president of the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC). Many airsoft traders are members of the GTA so why were not they consulted before the amendment got proposed in the House of Lords?

    With the proposed amendment already tabled and will be subject to a vote on the 14th of September, there is a lot work to do for airsoft players. They can go to the UKAPU “Save the Airsoft Exception” page to get all the information that they need including how to write to a member of the House of Lords to state their objections to the amendment. They can check the list to contact by visiting by Lobbying for UK Airsoft Facebook Page.

    Below is the full press release and infographic in the Airsoft Exception issue:

    Save the Airsoft Exception
    The Gun Trade Association is attacking our hard fought exception from 1J lethality

    United Kingdom: The Policing and Crime Bill is now in the House of Lords. Part of the Bill will specify a 1 Joule threshold for barrelled weapon lethality. Through hard lobbying airsoft had secured an exemption, based on forensic lab testing, of 1.3J for full auto replicas and 2.5J for semi and single shot. The Law Commission and government recognised that this exception is essential for airsoft activities to continue. Shockingly, the head of the Gun Trade Association (a member of the House of Lords) has submitted an amendment to delete the airsoft exception.

    Limiting airsoft to 1 Joule (330fps on a .20) will have many severe effects on the airsoft hobby including:

    • An end to airsoft snipers- airsoft sniper rifles will be legally regarded as lethal air rifles
    • Will become impossible for anyone to safely import AEGs- if found to be over 1J you could face 5 years imprisonment for possessing a section 5 firearm. It will not be legal to downgrade an AEG once it has become a section 5 firearm.
    • Will become illegal to own fully auto GBB and HPA airsoft replicas- if they are tested they will be tested with maximum gas power and be found to exceed 1J. Again, they will be section 5 firearms.

    Some registered firearms dealers (RFDs) aim to sell airsoft replicas as air rifles. Some have speculated that this is Lord Shrewsbury’s reason for submitting the amendment, to push airsoft sales to non-airsoft specialists that hold power in the GTA.

    “There's about 800 Lords and we've got till the 14th September to win over enough of them to defeat Lord Shrewsbury's anti-airsoft amendment. Nothing else in UK airsoft matters right now compared to this.

    Get the word out to absolutely everyone in the airsoft community. UKARA, ATB and UKAPU are doing all they can behind the scenes. However, if we lose this vote there is no coming back from the consequences, and we cannot win the vote without all of you writing in to a Lord. Together we beat the 2016 EU attack on airsoft, we beat the VCRA together in 2006, and we can win this too.

    We are in the right and the evidence supports our position. We are up against people with vast wealth and power but if we can use the voice of every single one of the 60,000 UK airsoft players, we absolutely can win, so read the infographic, visit http://www.ukapu.org.uk/saveairsoft/ and get writing.

    Matt Furey-King, Chair UK Airsoft Players Union”

    About UKAPU:

    UKAPU is an unincorporated non-profit association formed by a dedicated group of Airsoft skirmishers to help protect and strengthen our hobby. By providing a united and official organisation that represents players, we can far more effectively engage in discussion with the government, other organisations, and the press when skirmishing comes under threat.


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    DJI Osmo Mobile

    If you are an airsofter who wants to be the next airsoft celebrity on YouTube, you would probably start on a small budget. Apart from your airsoft guns and gear, you would probably invest your money on an action camera for capturing the airsoft gameplay and a smartphone with a really good camera such as an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy for interviewing people, doing reviews, or going behind the scenes capturing candid moments of airsofters in the safe zone.

    One of the issues that you would probably encounter in using a smartphone camera is stabilisation as you might produce jerky footage when you move around covering the action or capturing the scene. Sometimes software stabilization tools can be helpful but may affect video quality and the best stabilisation really is an actual video stabiliser that you can bring with you on or off the field.

    So rather than spend on an expensive video camera with stabiliser, you can go for the DJI’s OSMO Mobile. Based on the DJI’s OSMO handheld stabilized 4K camera, the OSMO Mobile does away with the video camera and instead comes with the stabilizer and the mobile phone holder. The OSMO Mobile promises to help you capture smooth and fluid video with your smartphone just like the DJI OSMO (which also has a newer version with zoom, the DJI OSMO+).

    To make you an effective smartphone videographer with the OSMO Mobile, you will need to download the OSMO DJI Go App that you will use instead of your smartphone’s default camera app. It will allow you to track a subject, do a livestream with smoother video and even do timelapse.

    If you are vlogging and on the move, using the ActiveTrack of the Go App will make the OSMO Mobile continuously face you as move and reporting about an event with you in front of the camera. This is good when you are livestreaming and it makes the viewing experience of your audience better with a stabilised video.

    Controlling your smartphone camera in manual mode, you can set the settings such as ISO, shutter speed and white balance at the touch of your finger. With the joystick, you can have even more control of the camera. Speaking of movement control you can operate the OSMO Mobile in Standard, Underslung, Flashlight, and Portrait.

    Apart from the timelapse photography, other picture modes that you can do with the OSMO Go App with the OSMO Mobile are the panorama, and long exposure.

    Finally, the OSMO Mobile now promises a longer life battery of 4.5 hours of runtime which is much better than the atrocious battery life of the original OSMO that OptimusPrime decided not to purchase it as being on the airsoft field makes the OSMO useless quickly after running out of batteries as it will be hard to find a charging facility especially in outdoor field.

    Convinced that this might be a good tool for you on your quest to be next Airsoft YouTube Celebrity like DesertFox Airsoft,  Robo-Airsoft, Jonathan Higgs of Airsoftology, or BodgeUps Airsoft? The price of the OSMO Mobile is £289.00 at the DJI Store.  As for spare batteries, you can purchase some at £28.00. If you still have some money left, there are other accessories you can use with it such as the Extension Rod and Tripod Stand.

    And if you need some tips, read our story -- “Be The Next Airsoft YouTube Celebrity Using Your Smartphone's Camera.”

    Good luck!


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    Kalashnikov Concern RPK-16 LMG

    The RPK light machine gun gets a new and 21st Century look as Kalashnikov Concern show the new 5.45mm RPK-16 Light Machine Gun. According to Alexey Krivoruchko, Director of Kalashnikov Concern, apart from the RPK now having a new look, even its design is totally different as it is configurable to the type of mission it is needed.

    In an interview with the Russian news agency, TASS, Krivoruchko explains that the barrels are interchangeable with the longer barrel allowing it to be used as a light machine gun and as an assault rifle when using the shorter barrel.

    “Yes, such work is carried out on the basis of studying the experience of today's armed conflicts, we have developed a lightweight 5.45-mm machine gun Kalashnikov RPK-16 by weight, size, accuracy and versatility, this machine gun is unique.” He said.

    The RPK-16 has some of its design features derived from the AK-12 program and while it is still in development, is being designed to replace the RPK-74 LMG/Squad Automatic Weapon that is in use in the Russian Armed Forces. In May 2016, the Russian Interior Ministry announced a tender for a contract for a new Light Machine Gun of the same caliber as the RPK-74 with interchangeable barrels, can be versatile to use in urban operations, and fires at 800 rounds per minute.

    When used as an LMG, it will be able to utilize the new 96-round drum magazine and with the heavy and longer barrel, the heat build up from firing the gun as a support weapon takes longer. When used as an assault rifle, it can use the 30-round magazine from the AK-74 or the 45-round RPK Magazine.

    Apart from being a configurable weapon for either LMG/SAW or Assault Rifle roles, the RPK-16 comes with rail systems, making it easier to mount optics and other weapons accessories such as laser, tactical lights, vertical foregrip, bipod. Event the stock does away with familiar wood and you can use a different stock which reminds you of the interchangeability of stock in M249 SAW variants.

    According to TASS, Kalashnikov Concern will be putting the RPK-16 on display at the Patriot Military Theme Park during the “Army 2016” military technology forum which take place from tomorrow, the 6th of September up to the 11th of September 2016.


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    Ground Zero NAF 2016 Day 1

    Last year, it was not able to go the Ground Zero National Airsoft Festival 2015 due to personal reasons and Operator7 was there to cover the event for Popular Airsoft. Looking at the photos of that year, I wonder if the changes they made would be continued on for this year. The best thing is to see it for my own eyes and this year, I am back again for the 2016 edition.

    I have to say it was good to be back to what is the biggest long running airsoft event in the United Kingdom, and one of the major airsoft events known worldwide. For the Ground Zero National Airsoft Festival 2016, it still has that same fun and excitement it offered in the previous years since it started in 2007, and offered even more for this year.

    After braving the traffic on the M3 down to the narrower A31 as most people were hurrying up to get out of London to take advantage of the last long weekend for the summer season, Master Chief and I arrived at Ground Zero at around 1600H and pretty much was in place and ready to go for the big weekend. Checking in with H, as Howard Payne, the big boss for the event was more known and busy as hell as always, we just parked the car in the safe zone whilst he sorted where we could setup camp.

    Pulling out the cameras and selfie stick, it was time to explore the safe zone. One thing for sure, there were lot of food choices this year and it was a good thing that we never planned to do some cooking at the camp area. With more food vans available, players can choose Greek, German, Mexican, and wood-fired Pizza. There was even a mobile café which means even coffee got fancier this year. Of course, there is the ice cream truck for those who want something cold and sweet. Perhaps next year they’ll add Asian and Chinese food trucks too. The more the merrier.

    Whilst airsoft players can load up on their airsoft shopping at the Zero One store inside the big tent, they could also buy from the car boot sale outside for cheaper and used airsoft guns and gear. Also, there were stalls where they could buy or enquire about such as Flecktarn, Viper Tactical, Blu Eyewear, Incentive Designs, Airsoft Machine Shop/Patch Craft, Major Bananas, and Blue Print Designs. Airsoft Action Magazine were there as well, back to event the publication was officially launched.

    It was always a pleasure to drop by Incentive Designs as they always got something that will make every airsoft players curious. From the their Venom MFG to blank firing grenades that are adjustable, they are now pretty much heavy developing parts for HPA airsoft such as Tippmann HPA airsoft guns.

    A new structure got us surprised. Previously, the shooting range was a basic one where airsoft players were able to check their airsoft guns around an area surrounded by netting that makes up the range. Now, it is a more permanent structure, and it is Western Saloon at that. A two level shooting range, airsoft players can aim and shoot at targets at various distances.

    For airsoft players who could not wait for the Saturday which is the first day for major skirmishes, there was a shotgun and pistol game readied. In that group of players, there was  group of players dressed up like a bunch of bananas who can get easily mistaken for Pikachus that would make any Pokemon Go fan whip out his/her mobile phone to throw Poke balls at.

    By 1830, Airsoft Action Magazine had a big raffle draw (separate from the main raffle draw) where they gave away some cool prizes such as an ASG EVO 3A1 AEG. With Nigel Streeter of Airsoft Action hosting the raffle, he called some known airsofters such as Femme Fatale Airsoft to help him draw the names of the lucky winners.

    Past 1900H when we got back to H at the registration area who told us he got as a small patch ready for us at the Marshals’ area for us to set camp. Quickly, Master Chief and I set our tent up before it got darker. It was a good thing that the ten we brought was a pop-up tent so it was quick work and we tossed in our stuff before heading back to main activity area.

    We went to the German Sausage Fest van and ordered the Airsoft Frankfurter Chili Dog special they have for the event. It was good and can get you filled up quick. Eat it with soda or beer, it will taste good either way though our preference was with beer.

    For the first night, there was now live music whereas in recent years it was on the second night.  The bar now has its own big ten where players can chill and listen to live music. It was a good place to hangout, and it is where we had a couple of drinks with Will Green Wood who with  Kelly Louise Hardwick of Femme Fatale Airsoft organised a quick meet up at bar. Also with us was Airsoft celebrity, BodgeUps Airsoft.

    By around 2100H, we were curious about the Forces of Freedom tent. Developed by startup company, Koyoki  Ltd., this is an infantry combat game made especially for tablets and mobile phones. We talked to the guys and they explained it to be online game with controls made for the mobile gaming experience. Watching the testers of the game, it looked like they have good mobile game app in their hands.

    It was already past 2200H when we finally decided to it was time to go back to our tent. With a big day ahead of us, it was best to hit the sack early. Usually, it was hard to sleep with the excitement going on but with some alcohol already in our system, sleep came easier.

    Photos of the first day available at the Popular Airsoft Facebook Page.


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    Ground Zero NAF 2016 Day 2

    I fully woke up around 0600H finding the ground damp caused by the light rain at 0400H. The whole Ground Zero National Airsoft Festival was starting to stir up for the second day. In fact, someone was already at the shooting range saloon aiming for the targets at the farthest distance, which basically were close to our tent.

    I had to do some quick updates for Popular Airsoft and it was a good thing that mobile internet access was good at Ground Zero. Master Chief was still blissfully asleep, snoring as usual. Whilst I waited for him to wake up, I went to the food vans to find where I can grab a cup of coffee. By the time I got back to our tent, he was just getting up. After some morning rituals, we both grabbed some breakfast. It was just unfortunate that German sausages were not available that early in the morning so we had the usual eggs, bacon and bangers pushed down by coffee.

    We prepared our gear, checking the batteries to ensure that they were all fully charged as there will be no chances for us to charge them for two days. By 0900H the safe zone was almost full with airsoft players eager to start the first day of major airsoft skirmishes and all armed to the teeth. Bravos, Deltas, and The Others started forming up for the morning briefing which H started by 0930H.

    It was a quick one and before 1000H the factions started to going for their starting points --- The Others at the Burrows, Delta at the Landing Zone, and Bravo at Fire Base Charlie. Master Chief and I joined The Others as we have been playing for group since we started covering the event in 2008. After the final briefing by the group commanders, we waited for the controlled pyros to give loud bangs and the siren to blare to let the day’s games commence.

    The immediate action that we saw was the Deltas and The Others having a seesaw battle for control of The Trenches and The Chapel. Both provide a vantage point that controlling them can prevent one group from moving to the other locations. The Deltas have already occupied The Trenches whilst The Others held The Chapel and were pushing hard to flush out The Deltas from their positions before we moved to the other areas.

    Moving on, the first dead zone we already filled up with players from The Others, showing how intense the first hour of the game was. Close to that dead zone was The Prison Camp where they built another permanent two-storey structure making it a formidable place to occupy and defend. The Bravos were already there having occupied The Village as well and making a push towards The Nest and The Trenches. It looked like the first part of the day was going well for them. At The Village, they were pretty much under siege by the Deltas who wanted to control that area.

    We walked towards Firebase Charlie to check on how things were going there. It was basically almost empty with the exception of the Command Team and a few players providing base security. All looked secure in this area including Checkpoint Charlie, Stag Camp, and The OP. Bravo pretty much got things covered here.

    Going back to The Chapel and The Trenches, we found the Deltas have dislodged The Others and were making their way to The Burrows which was not good news for The Others. The sector all the way to the Landing Zone was pretty much under control by the Deltas though some of The Others were also moving around to harass them at the Landing Zone via Heartbreak Ridge.

    Checking our watches, it was already 1230H , time for us to grab some lunch and get our game gear. Getting back to the Safe Zone, we tried the Greek Gryos which were good to last us the whole afternoon. Resting our feet a bit, we changed from cameras to airsoft guns as we finally got into the action too. Not having some trigger time at the Ground Zero National Airsoft Festival would break our hearts so off to the Burrows for us as we joined the rest of The Others in their missions.

    From the Burrows, we headed off towards Camp Coursey where we encountered some Bravos, Master Chief got hit and off to the Dead Zone for him. Our sniper also got hit, but eventually the rest in our group were able to clear the area and we continued again to Camp Coursey. I tripped over some cut branches and glad someone pulled me back on my feet.  The camp was pretty much already cleared so we made our way towards Firebase Charlie and we encountered intense opposition at the road before got near to the Firebase. I got separated from my group and eventually got hit, off to the Dead Zone for me where Master Chief joined me a few minutes later.

    Just outside the Dead Zone, the Others were massing up for a push towards the Prison Camp which the Bravos pretty much controlled. We made an initial push and as I went towards the bushes to move closer, I pretty much got under fire by an unknown number from the opposition and got hit. Back to the Dead Zone where the time to respawn was already shortened to 5 minutes past 1500H. That made it quicker for me to get back into the action and The Others have almost overrun the Prison Camp but the firefight was intense. A group of us were going for some flanking action when some Bravos just came out of nowhere trying to reinforce their comrades in the Prison Camp and they got our attention. After a brief firefight, we eventually made our way to some of the prison cells and calling on for more reinforcements, we finally occupied The Prison Camp past 1600H.

    Resting a bit at the Prison Camp and a quick chat with Nigel of Airsoft Action Magazine and his wife, we decide to move out quickly and go for The Village. The groups should be able to occupy The Village by 1700H so over a thousand players from different groups were converging on this area and that meant a even more intense battle. Our group was able to clear a portion of The Village and immediately we waited for more from our side to secure it before we started going for more of the huts. That was when all hell broke loose as Bravo were putting up a stiff fight and trying to move to our area and reoccupy the huts we got.

    By 1630H things were just really confusing, BBs were flying from all directions and you just didn’t know if you are hit or not and you had to be on guard at all times with the Bravos shouting “Bravo! Bravo” then rushing towards us. If you did not bring enough BBs with you, you will regret it soon as magazine after magazine got emptied quick with the onslaught of Bravos. I may have shot already a year’s worth of BBs in just 30 minutes and looking around we were not advancing at all and it looked like a stalemate was taking place. I fired off my last shots and got my last Bravo when the whistles blew marking the end of skirmishes for the day. Good thing our group was able to hold that portion of the village that we initially cleared.

    Back to the safe zone, I found Master Chief at our tent as we got separated since The Prison Camp when he got hit. I was happy to unload my gear and changed into lighter clothing, sat down to rest my feet a bit. By 1830H, we took the cameras with us and joined the crowds as they started forming up near the big tent for the day’s announcements and main raffle draw at 1900H.

    It was wee bit past 1900H when H finally got up to announce the results of the day, with Bravo winning the day, Delta coming in second, and The Others last. He also said that The Village battle was a tie, meaning that all groups got equal scores from the last battle of the day. With the assistance of Femme Fatale Airsoft and yours truly, H announced the major raffle prize winners. There were more raffle prizes but the winners were already pre-drawn or else it would take hours just to pull out the names of the raffle winners.

    After the raffle draw we first went to Viper Tactical where we saw Gavin busy talking to airsoft players.  We had some chit-chat until it was already 2030H and we joined the Airsoft Action Magazine family for some beer and pizza as other players who still had the energy to play went back to the game zone for the night games.

    With beer and pizza in our system we decided to call it a night by 2200 as tiredness set in. Sleep came in quicker this time and off to our next round of who made the loudest snore.

    Photos of the second day available at the Popular Airsoft Facebook Page.


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    Ground Zero NAF 2016 Day 3

    It was again 0600H when I woke up and relieved that there was a lull in the rain that started in the early hours of the morning. I had to do my morning ritual quickly noticing that the clouds have become darker again and that meant more rain to come. I also needed to do some quick checking on the Popular Airsoft website and having set up my laptop, it turned out not to be quick at all. The weather had been causing interference in the mobile network that connectivity became sporadic. It took me an hour to do everything and drained my laptop’s battery, which I was fortunate to have finished what I was doing when it decided to shut itself down.

    The rain was on and off at around 0700H though whilst most of the people in the camp were still quite asleep, someone was already at the range again to do some target shooting even before having breakfast.  Master Chief was awake by this time and in a quick respite from the rain, we hurried to get some breakfast and coffee.  We got back to our tent just in time when the clouds opened up again to try and dampen the spirits of those who were already awake and gearing up for another round of airsoft battles on the final day.

    We usually decamp after breakfast but with the rain pouring hard; it was an impossible task to do. With no other option, the best thing to do was catch a few zzzzs more until the rain had subsided which it did by around 1000H. Looking outside the tent, players took this opportunity to get into the game zone quickly to resume the game for the day as the forest would provide some cover from the rain as compared to the more open camp grounds.

    Master Chief and I hurriedly put away our tent and bags away in the car. We decided to split up --- I had to go into the game zone to cover the event whilst he finished some business with friends in the safe zone and at the same time stow away whatever equipment we had lying around. By this time, I was ready for wet weather photography so off to the game zone for me.

    On the third day of the event, the factions were on different staging areas. For this day, The Others were at the Landing Zone, Bravo at The Burrows, and Delta at Firebase Charlie.  The closest base upon entering the game zone was Delta’s where it was sparsely defended since it looked like it was not under threat with most of the players aiming for objectives in the more forward areas. Though when I was about to move further on the Delta 1C was talking to a Bravo player whom he discovered was trying to penetrate the base and deal a blow by shooting the 1C who quickly ordered some Deltas to shoot him. Problem solved.

    Moving on, I saw Bravo and Delta players streaming in and out of dead zones which also meant that the sector I was in was where these two groups were having major skirmishes. Deltas were in control of The Prison Camp and The Village whilst the Bravos got the Snipers Nest, The Trenches and The Chapel with The Others were pretty much busy retrieving objectives and getting points to make up for being last in the first day of battles.

    Just right outside The Village, The Others were starting to mass up for an offensive to take The Village on two sides with one from the north and another from the east. Now, I got caught up in the crossfire between the two groups as The Others started their attack and I got hit several times with one being a direct hit on my tender butt. But when I moved to The Snipers Nest, the attack was faltering.

    Not much action on The Nest, The Trenches, and The Chapel as the Bravos were pretty much entrenched in this sector but there was action at the Heartbreak Ridge and Landing Zone where Bravos and The Others were battling it out with The Others were doing a good job here, retrieving objectives that the 1C can later use for points or attacks.

    It was by 1300H that I went back to Safe Zone to start preparing to leave the camp. I already said my goodbyes to the Marshals and H when it occurred to me that I committed to Leigh Thomas of BluEye to test one of their products. I immediately rushed to their booth to tell him that that I will set it up as quickly as I can. I asked Incentive Designs if they would like to test the Jaeger eyewear and they were more than happy to take up the challenge, bringing their .50 Cal airsoft machine guns. H asked Tim to clear the Saloon (the firing range) for the test and with a good number of onlookers, we tested the eyewear which pretty much withstood BBs from the airsoft guns of Incentive Designs at 20 metres. Then we had players who wanted to take a shot at the Jaeger open up as fast as they can empty their magazines. A full write up on this test will follow.

    By past 1400H, Master Chief and I were able to depart Ground Zero on our way back to London. I had an annual commitment to bring friends to the Notting Hill Carnival so no rest for me yet when I got back home.

    The Ground Zero National Airsoft Festival 2016 as always, offers something for every type of airsoft player that’s why they keep on coming back. Some will say it’s always the same each year but with over two thousand airsoft players coming each year, why change the formula since it is delivering consistently? As I always conclude, there is always something for everyone --- from the airsoft player who just wants to have some trigger time to the serious milsimer eager to take on the special missions that group commanders issue.

    Veterans who have been to the Weekender over the years will tell you that airsoft is just one big part of the event, being its core. But other factors come in, meeting new friends, seeing familiar faces, and enjoying the festive atmosphere of the event overall. It is not called the National Airsoft Festival for nothing.

    Overall, the level of organization has gone up higher with better identification bands, more structures in the game zone and more facilities in the safe zone.  Some may say that these are incremental changes, but it’s better than than no changes at all, it shows that the organizers are investing over the years to ensure that it remains to be the biggest airsoft festival in the United Kingdom.

    What I do really approve is more choices on food and for us, no more undercooked or overcooked camp food or being stuck with cup noodles for 3 days.

    Our thanks to H and the rest of the organizers who always found time to accommodate our requests, which hopefully were not unreasonable. Everything was well organised and I expect this to continue for next year, and it will be the 10th year of the event. I don’t know if they have bigger plans for next year given that 10 years is a big milestone. It will also be the year that Popular Airsoft will be celebrating its 10th year as well and it was also officially launched on the same weekend as the first Ground Zero Weekender.

    Too bad we were not able to join in the Pub Quiz that took place in the evening of Day 3.

    Here are the final results:

    • Delta: 1,468
    • Others: 1,366
    • Bravo: 1,219

    Photos of the 3rd day can be found at the Popular Airsoft Facebook Page.


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    Garmin Virb Ultra 30 4K Action Cam

    4K video resolution has now become mainstream for action cameras and the online world has responded such as you YouTube, allowing 4K resolution videos to be uploaded. This means even more high quality videos can now be produced by professionals and amateurs alike, including our airsoft YouTube celebrities, provided that bandwidth of most viewers can allow for smooth play of such heavy videos.

    While GoPro Hero 4 is the king of 4K action cameras, feature and quality wise, big name competitors are nipping at its heels to claim the 4K Action Camera Crown.  The latest of which is Garmin and they just announced the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 4K Action Camera that comes with tricks of its own that GoPro can really worry about as it may just have taken the thunder away from their product launch as they preparing for the unveiling of the GoPro 5 this September.

    Apart from 4K at 30 fps (2.7K/60fps; 1080p/120fps; 720p/240fps and 480p/300fps), the Virb Ultra 30 has 3 axis-stabilization for smoother videos. If you have been planning to get a 3-axis gimbal for your action camera for stabilization, then why not just go for this action camera as you do not need to spend on a 3-axis gimbal as it is already built-in.  With the higher frame rates at lower resolutions, you can have the option of editing the videos for slow motion scenes and many airsoft videos can benefit from some slow motion video.

    It comes with a high-sensitivity mic that it will be able to record better quality audio in and out of the waterproof casing. And speaking of high-sensitive mic, I wonder if this is mic that is used to capture voice commands allowing you to control the camera by taking to it using Garmin’s Sensory TrulyHandsfree technology. This is a good thing for airsoft players as they don’t have to take their hands off their airsoft weapons to record the action by pushing the record button. They can say “start recording” or “take a picture” or “remember that footage” to tag a recording for easy recall.

    Like other action cameras nowadays, the Virb Ultra 30 comes with a touch screen LCD but what makes it better is that it works even with the waterproof case.
    Also another feature in more well-known action cameras is a mobile app and the Virb Ultra 30 can work with a mobile app to control multiple cameras, edit video, and share footage. With it you can do livestreaming on YouTube when you connect the action cam via Wifi though for now the YouTube livestreaming works only when paired with iPhone and iPads.

    Now a strength of Garmin is in their sensor technologies that are used for the outdoors. In this case, the Virb Ultra 30 comes equipped with sensors and GPS capture G-Metrix data to show how far, how high and how fast you’ve gone.

    All such features are neat though I am most happy with the voice controls. What I am not sure though with using voice controls is if it will be able to isolate the voice commands from the background noise such as crowds or in an airsoft event, the staccato of airsoft rifles in a firefight.

    Will Garmin be able to steal some market share from GoPro and other action camera makers, especially the big ones such as Sony, Panasonic, Ricoh, and Olympus which are all giants in imaging technologies? I can’t tell, but surely they have a very compelling product in the form of the Virb Ultra 30. Its introduction makes the action camera competition even more intense.

    The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 4K action camera is now available in the USA and it is priced at US$499 with the cage mount not included.


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    Rebel Tactical Customs G17 Kydex Holster

    I have been using the custom Kydex Holsters from Rebel Tactical Customs since I last reviewed them. Over time, they affirmed themselves as good products that you can trust to hold your sidearm and whatever airsoft weapon you want holstered. Recently, they sent me some new stuff and these ones are awesome looking double layer black carbon fibre look and green pistol holster and knife sheath.

    David, my good friend from Rebel Tactical again sent me photos of his latest creations and they even look super cool. These ones are made from Kydex material which is very tough and durable but instead of making them from a single layer, these are made from two layers of Kydex fused together. They don't just look great, the holster and sheath feels a lot tougher and more durable than the single layers ones. Both also comes complete with the Tek- Lok mechanism which can be used to attach the holster and sheath to a belt or MOLLE webbing. There is no need to change the attachment which makes these very versatile and can be used to in almost any way the user prefers to wear them.

    Photos: Rebel Tactical Customs Glock 17 & Cold Steel Tanto Set

    The quality of these items is really very impressive. There are no sharp edges or any kind of imperfection. They have that expensive, high end quality look in them. I used these during the 2016 National Airsoft Festival here in the United Kingdom and they were an eye catcher. Everyone mentioned how great they look and some even asked where they can get them. Both items hold the pistol and knife well secured without any added locking mechanism apart from the mold itself.

    The pistol holster has an adjustment screw where the tightness can be loosened if needed. Also, the Tek-Lok mechanism can be repositioned 180° depending on the user's preference. On a seventy point of view, since the pistol is held inside a Kydex mold, the trigger housing serves as part of the retention mechanism that locks the pistol into the holster, with this there is no way the trigger can be accidentally pulled while the pistol is holstered.

    Photos: Rebel Tactical Customs Desert Eagle Kydex Holster in Black Carbon over Blood Red with matching Kydex Wallet

    Rebel Tactical Customs make these holsters and sheaths to custom fit your own pistol and knife. You can send your pistol or knife to them for that perfect fit. I highly recommend this for custom made pistols and knives to get that fit that you want. This will also help David a lot and make him avoid guessing the measurements. Also with knives, getting the correct and accurate measurements is very critical as you would not want a knife falling accidentally and injuring yourself or others around you.

    Photos: Rebel Tactical Customs Glock 17 Kydex Holster & Battle Cleaver Sheath & RebTac Wallet

    These items are also available in other colours and styles and Rebel Tactical Customs also sell a variety of knives so make sure to check out their Facebook page for more information.

    I have been informed by David that Rebel Tactical Customs are now accepting orders from abroad and very good news to USA customers, Rebel Tactical Customs will open a 2nd workshop across the pond in Spring Hill, Florida. So this will mean huge savings on shipping costs!

    For more information about Rebel Tactical Customs Kydex holsters, please read my first review on the first Glock holster that they made for me.


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    Surefire FirePak

    For the Airsoft YouTuber who is more dependent on smartphone cameras than ever before, thanks to newer models with more capable 4K video capture and third party tools to provide stabilization and more, can look into the new Surefire FirePak Smartphone Illuminator & Powerbank for his/her lighting needs. Apart from being a video light and powerbank it is also a very useful everyday tool that you want in your bag.

    It is the first time that Surefire has unveiled a lighting solution specifically targeted to the mobile market. What it carries to this market is a brand that is trusted by first responders, military and outdoors people and has some of the most powerful and military-grade illumination tools in the market today. If an Airsoft YouTuber wants a video light to use for covering airsoft events and doing related reviews and news, then the SureFire FirePak will be up on his/her list. For OptimusPrime, this is what he wants to get from SureFire this year.

    What makes the SureFire FirePak a very much capable portable video light is that it uses two high-performance LEDs whose light output is shaped by two specially designed reflectors that it can provide wide illumination for video cameras at 16:9 aspect ratio. Most of High definition to 4K videos that are posted online are produced at this aspect ratio and the SureFire FirePak can provide up to 1,500 lumens using 4 output and an effective range of 50 feet.

    With that powerful illumination it can be used as a light source for anything you do at home, in the street, on the road, and at the campsite. Apart from being a lighting solution, it can also be used as a Powerbank, able to charge smartphones depending on the model (there was no mention of battery capacity) with its Lithium-Ion battery with the USB port and also charge it via the Micro-USB port.

    Since it can work with smartphones, Surefire has released an app to work with it, allowing you to control the lighting output via Bluetooth. With such remote control, you can decrease or increase the output of the FirePak from a distance. You can monitor its battery level with the battery level indicator light, a feature that is already standard in powerbanks.

    Now with its integrated rails, you can also attach the SureFire FirePak to your smartphone with Surefire Phone Case. Unfortunately, it is only limited to certain models such as the iPhone 6/6s and the Samsung Galaxy S5 so if your smartphone is not in this very short list, you will have to carry it separately with your other hand when doing illumination or have an assistant hold it for you during a video or photo shoot.

    The SureFire FirePak is now available in the USA and you can order one from the SureFire website for US$299.00. If you want the Surefire Phone Case with the FirePak, then prepare to shell out an additional US$29.99.


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    Tokyo Marui & CAPCOM Shooting Experience TGS 2016

    Coming up in two days’ time is the Tokyo Game Show 2016, the biggest video game show expo in Japan organised by the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association (CESA). This is where the most popular video games in Japan and around the world show their wares and promote their upcoming titles. Whilst it is mainly a Japanese video affair, other game developers from overseas now participating in this event.

    Many of you will be interested in the video game titles that the Japanese games industry will be releasing this year and in the following years, but for airsoft players visiting this exposition, they will be mainly be interested at the CAPCOM Biohazard/Resident Evil Series. CAPCOM has some of big hitting video game titles in the world such as Street Fighter, Mega Man, Ace Hunter, but the Biohazard series will be the most enduring, having spawned a list of titles and movies.

    CAPCOM will be having a big presence at the Tokyo Game Show, and they will be pushing hard for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard that will be released in January 2017 for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One. A new protagonist by the name of Ethan will be searching for his wife that will lead him to an abandoned plantation. The game will also feature new characters though there will be connections to the previous games in the series.

    For general visitors and airsoft players visiting Makuhari Messe and queuing up at the CAPCOM booth, there will be the main Resident Evil 7: Biohazard booth, then a Biohazard Museum. But for the purpose of this feature story, CAPCOM are collaborating with Tokyo Marui to have the Biohazard Shooting Experience area at the show.

    For this year, the collaboration is special as it marks the 20th Anniversary of the Resident Evil/Biohazard Series as such they will be pulling all stops to come up with a unique shooting experience for the visitors at the show. According to Tokyo Marui, if our translation is right, the Shooting Experience booth will be a fusion of analog and digital. The analog is obviously the Tokyo Marui produced Biohazard Samurai Edge Airsoft Gas Blowback Pistols but for the digital part, a rendering of Raccoon City being devastated by zombies and the shooter needs to shoot at the zombies to prevent them from overrunning the city.

    The main Tokyo Marui Samurai Edge Model to be used at the range will be the Standard Model, and perhaps other Samurai Edge variants produced over the years will be on display. But the star attraction in the Samurai Edge Series will be the upcoming 1996-2016 S.T.A.R.S. Samurai Edge Gas Blowback Pistol Special Variation Color, sporting a sand colour this time as compared to the black colour of the previous Samurai Edge pistols . This will be on display but will not be used at the range. This will be released in November 2016 and it will be a limited edition release.

    If you are interested in going to the Tokyo Game Show 2016, the business days will be on the 15th to the 16th of September and will be only open to trade visitors. The general public can come in on the 17th to the 18th of September 2016 to check out what trade exhibitors feature and make a beeline to the Tokyo Marui – CAPCOM Biohazard Shooting Experience.


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    Nexo Group Python Thermal Mask Tactical

    Last 22 August, Jonathan Higgs on his Airsoftology Monday Q&A Show, talked about an Airsoft Heads Up Display. That actually tweaked our interest as we are always on the lookout for the latest gizmos that can be used in airsoft. It turns out to be a Paintball HUD Mask in the form of the Empire EVS Heads Up Display that was developed in a collaboration between Empire Paintball and Recon Instruments.

    It is basically a Heads Up Display unit that is based on the Recon Jet and redesigned to be fitted to the Empire EVS Mask as an added module and enhanced with features that can be used in Paintball (and perhaps airsoft as well, though it is more optimised for Paintball). It is also designed to work with the Empire Vanquish paintball marker via Bluetooth. So it is more locked-in to the products of Empire Paintball to make the most out of its features.

    But, as many airsoft players know by now, there is an actual Airsoft HUD that was developed from the ground up with airsoft in mind. We have been writing about the Nexo Python Thermal Mask since last year and it has features that airsoft players would want to use for their airsoft game, especially for Milsim events, apart from its thermal camera, it’s most significant feature.

    We tried on the Python Thermal Mask during the IWA Outdoor Classics 2016 where we visited their booth and had a chat with Alessio Bua and the Nexo Team about the product. It is really a cool product and the thermal camera works as promised but it will take time for you to get acquainted with using a thermal camera inside your airsoft mask. We were not able to check out the other features since they need to be tested in actual or simulated conditions.

    What airsoft players should be glad about is that the Python Thermal Mask can now be ordered by anyone and for resellers to place bulk orders.

    Apart from the Thermal Camera, the Python Mask also comes with a High Definition Camera that allows you to capture 1080p videos and still photos.  With the power of smartphones in mind, they have developed tools to properly coordinate an airsoft team. Using the internet connection of your smartphone, you can communicate and coordinate with other players/team members who are wearing the Python Thermal Mask via real time voice communications though we would love it if you can connect it to PTTs of radios.

    Now speaking of team coordination, the Geolocation feature allows the wearer to track the movements of team members in real time, allowing for making tactical decisions and coordinating tactical manoeuvres.

    The Python Thermal Mask can work with smartphones that use either the Apple iOS or the Google Android mobile operating systems which pretty much cover most of the current and upcoming smartphones in the world.

    We do not know how expandable the Python System is, especially in developing apps or add features to it to fully maximize its capabilities. But for now what Nexo Group have settled on before releasing the first generation of the Python Thermal Mask are features that should be enough for airsoft players to use for now.

    You can now order the Python Thermal Mask at the Nexo Group website for €878.00 with an announced release date of 10 November 2016. If you are thinking of the ultimate gift for yourself before or on Christmas day, then this should be in your shortlist.

    SPECIFICATIONS:

    Python v.1.0 – L1/3 F1

    • 1 Python Thermal Mask with Desert Camouflage Frame, Strap, Foam Seal and 3 Bulletproof Anti-Fog Lens

    3 Apps Included

    • Therm-app
    • Keep in touch
    • Geolocation

    HD Video Camera

    • 5MP camera modules CMOS pixel 2592 x 1944 view angle 70º

    Micro Thermal Camera

    • Long-wave Infrared (LWIR) camera module, 80x60 Focal Plane Array (FPA), 25º fov

    Optical Prism

    • WVGA (800×480 pixels) resolution

    3 Interchangeable Lenses

    • Polycarbonate lenses – 100% protection from UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays

    Batteries

    • Output: 3.7V 2400 mAh

    Product Compatibility

    • Python Thermal Mask is compatible with all devices running with Android 6.0.1 and all iOS devices.

    Accessories included

    • 1 earphones
    • 3 interchangeable lenses (Whiite, Yellow, Black)
    • 1 micro USB Cable
    • 1 Desert Camouflage pouch

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    Seta Tec Touch 1K

    It looks like a trend is developing in the lighting solutions --- they are now being designed to do multiple functions instead of one, which is illumination. With higher capacity rechargeable batteries, they are not only used to provide light, they can also be used as powerbanks to charge mobile devices (with some also having FM radios). Now, there is an all-in-one device that just got its funding goals achieved on Indiegogo, also comes with a touchscreen that probably makes it unique.

    The Touch 1K is the only flashlight that you will ever need according to Seta Tec, the company behind the product. Jeremy Hansen, the designer/developer of the Touch 1K,  writes about the product in his email to us, “It is compact, waterproof, durable, powerful (1000+ lumens), has a touchscreen for easier output adjustment & power display, transforms into a lantern, and can fully charge any cell phone up to 2 times. This product is great for everyday use scenarios; as well as, a great addition to any emergency kit.”

    Truly a feature-packed device, the case is military grade aluminum which should get the attention of airsoft players who are looking for a lighting device that they can bring along with their weaponlights and which they can use a backup when they need additional lighting in the game zone or in the camp area. Furthermore, since it can charge a mobile phone, no need to worry about finding charging outlets which are usually non-existent in outdoor airsoft game sites.

    There are lots of uses for the Touch 1k that it can be recommended to be used as an everyday carry and you will definitely try to find space for it in your EDC bag.

    While its funding goal has been met via crowdfunding, they are still extending their offer to others who want to be one of the first owners of the Touch 1K. Interested individuals can go to the Indiegogo and they can the select the perks of owning the Touch 1K at a discounted price.

    Seta Tec estimates the deliveries will begin in October 2016.


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    Columbus Ohio Police Ford Interceptor Utility (Photo By Raymond Wambsgans)

    Another tragic day in which using an replica gun to scare off pursuing police ended in the snuffing out a young man’s life. Last September 14, 2016, police in Columbus, Ohio have reported that a 13-year old boy was shot dead while they were in pursuit of robbery suspects after pulling out an BB gun from his waistband, leading the pursuing officers to open fire.

    It will always be a losing proposition for anyone who thinks that using a replica gun (BB gun or airsoft gun) to commit a crime is a good idea. The criminal will always either end injured or dead when police respond with force. In the case of brandishing an realistic looking gun, it will always be met with deadly force even if the airsoft gun itself is not lethal at all. That’s the inherent risk in carrying an airsoft gun in public since it is very much realistic that it can be mistaken for the real thing.

    In this case, the deceased was carrying an Umarex 9XP/40XP CO2 pistol that can fire .177 pellets equipped with a laser sight as shown in the photo below that was posted by the Columbus Police Department. It is not an airsoft gun, but you get the idea that the deceased will get the same result if it were an airsoft gun.

    Criminals who do not have access to real guns will try their luck using replica guns that can be easily bought at big box stores such as Walmart. Even if the suspect is a minor, any responding police officer will respond to protect his/her life and those around her if a gun is pulled out, even if it is a replica. Sadly, in this case of the boy, who has been identified as Tyree King, made a bad decision to think he can get away from his pursuers by thinking that they will stop in their pursuit if they see the replica gun he brought along.

    Photo: Umarex 40XP Blowback BB Pistol (Source: Columbus Division of Police on Facebook)

    Here is the news report from the Columbus Division of Police on Facebook:

    ***3rd UPDATE 6:30am (news release)

    Public Information Office
    September 14, 2016
    Suspect Killed After Armed Robbery

    Columbus Police are investigating a police involved shooting as a result of an armed robbery in the area of S. 18th Street and E. Capital Street.

    On September 14, 2016, at approximately 7:42 pm, officers were dispatched to the area on the report of an armed robbery involving multiple suspects. Upon arrival, the victim told officers a group of individuals approached him, one of them brandishing a gun, and demanded money.

    Officers observed three males matching the descriptions in front of 33 Hoffman Street and attempted to speak with them, when two of the males fled on foot. Officers followed the males to the alley in the rear of 27 Hoffman Street and attempted to take them into custody when one suspect pulled a gun from his waistband. One officer shot and struck the suspect multiple times. The male was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead at approximately 8:22 pm. The officers and other suspect were not injured.

    Crime Scene Search Unit detectives processed the shooting scene and collected what appeared to be a handgun. Upon further inspection, it was determined to be a BB gun with an attached laser site. The gun was recovered and transported to the Columbus Police Property Room. Witnesses to the robbery and to the shooting were interviewed by investigators.

    The suspect has been identified as thirteen year old Tyree King. The male with Tyree King was identified, interviewed and released pending further investigation. Additional suspects are being sought. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Columbus Police at 614-645-4624.

    (As in all police involved shootings, the involved officer(s) will receive mandated psychological support counseling. Officers are also afforded an opportunity to take leave time to assist in recovery from a traumatic experience. This incident will be investigated by the Critical Incident Response Team (made up of specially trained investigators from the Homicide Units). The final investigative package will be forwarded to the Columbus Division of Police Firearms/Police-Involved Death Review Board and the Chain-Of-Command for review.)

    **2nd UPDATE 10:55pm Officers responded to the area on the report of an armed robbery. Officers chased several suspects on foot to a nearby alley where one suspect was shot. He was transported to Nationwide Children's Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The investigation is underway.

    *UPDATE 9:55pm The suspect was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

    OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING: 8:25pm 9/14/16

    We are investigating an officer involved shooting on E. Broad St.

    1 person was shot and taken to Nationwide Children's Hospital in critical condition.

    No officers were injured.

    We have no more info to release at this point when we do we'll pass it along.

     

    Teaser Photo: Columbus Ohio Police Ford Interceptor Utility by Raymond Wambsgans.)


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    Gov Planet AM General M988 Humvee

    Airsoft players have been sharing information on Facebook about surplus Humvees that will be auctioned off by the U.S. government via Gov Planet. Now, this is not exactly something really new as Gov Planet has been auctioning off surplus Humvees in batches since 2014 to the delight of those who have been wanting to own a Humvee at bargain basement prices.

    Though in 2014, the starting bid was at $10,000, and for those who are really low in budget but deadset on owning here 2016 is probably the chance to win one at a much lower starting bid, which is $4,000 for these over 20-year-old workhorses of the U.S. military.

    For those who can pony up 4K or more to own one, the dream of having one to bring the airsoft field should be reason enough to register an account at Gov Planet as the next auction will be on the 21st of September. But before anyone of you think that it comes with all the accouterments that made them fit for military deployment, they have been stripped of these (so no machine gun mounted if that’s what you are thinking about) and what you get is the basic mil-spec Humvee that you can use for an airsoft gun truck project to use for the big milsim event you have been looking forward to attend.

    When you go to the Gov Planet website, details about the vehicle are listed there such as condition of the engine, exterior and interior. This can also help you decide if you need to add more on top of the winning bid price which probably you will since there are bits and bobs missing and sometimes the engine may not be in good working order. But if you know of a garage or shop that can put it back to life, then you’re in business.

    But before you dive into bidding for one and hoping that you will win, there are caveats in getting one of these surplus Humvees.  The buyer should be a citizen of the United States; be able to submit an End-Use Certificate (EUC) before the items gets released; and that the vehicle shall be for “off-road-use only” meaning that you won’t get licence plates for it that will make it certified to be used on the nation’s roads.

    So worried about not being able to drive it on the road after winning one? According to Andrew P. Collins in writing for Jalopnik, it is  not easy, but it is possible and lists down the tips to have a higher percentage of making it street legal. Good luck in owning one and share it for use in airsoft events.


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    M67 Grenade Throw By U.S. Soldier In Afghanistan

    Yes, you read it right. The M67 hand grenade that is much in use in the U.S. Army has been around for 40 years. Introduced in the 1968 and lobbed by soldiers during the Vietnam War, it is the mainstay grenade to dislodge the enemy whether in caves, rooms, and bunkers. Finally, the U.S. Army have taken steps to design its replacement as it has inherent flaws that need to be corrected.

    The US Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, are now on a new grenade which is safer and multipurpose. Called the ET-MP or the Enhanced Tactical Multipurpose Grenade, if it gets finally approved for use, will give soldiers an option to select either a concussion or fragmentation mode before throwing it against the enemy at the flick of switch.

    Illustration: ET-MP Hand Grenade Design (Credit: U.S. Army)

    “They are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects. With the new multi-purpose grenade, they can carry one ET-MP grenade and have the ability to choose either fragmentation or concussive effects desired for the situation,” said Jessica Perciballi, ARDEC Project Officer for ET-MP, U.S. Army, Grenades & Demolitions Division.

    With the use of an electronic fuze rather than a mechanical one will make it safer to use. The use of an electronic delay makes it more reliable and more precise to use. Also, the design takes into consideration left-handed throwers as the M67 has been designed for right handed throwing, and incidents of lefties injured in training accidents with the M67 grenade makes designing a new grenade that can be safely thrown by left handed soldiers imperative.

    Photo:An Army cadet aims before throwing a hand grenade during basic training on Fort Jackson, S.C., Sept. 19, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar

    Surely, there are more types of grenades that are in the market to be use for tactical and crowd control purposes. But for soldiers going into battle, they always go for the concussive and fragmentive ones and with the ET-MP Grenade, they can carry more such grenades knowing that they both have such options to use. Before the U.S. Army were using the MK3A2 concussion grenades that from World War II up to 1975, where they had to withdraw it as it presented danger to those friendlies as well as it its coating contained 50% asbestos.

    The current plan for the ET-MP will transition to the Project Manager Close Combat Systems by 2020 which is also located at Picatinny Arsenal.

     

    Teaser Photo: U.S. Army Lt. Charles Morgan, with the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, throws a M67 fragmentation grenade during skills training at Kunduz province, Afghanistan, July 3, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Avila.


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    GoPro The Karma Drone

    We were expecting GoPro to make an official announcement on their products this week, and they did not disappoint at all. What they unveiled are products to tell the world that they intend to be on top of the action camera world and expand into other territories to bring the fight to other big competitors.

    By the looks of it, GoPro have their sights on Garmin, Sony, Olympus, and DJI with their new product offerings: the Karma Drone and Hero5 action cameras:

    Hero5 Black

    Airsoft players will be more interested in the new action cameras from GoPro so I start with the Hero5 black and it is a major upgrade that before you pull the trigger on buying other competitors’ offerings, it’s best to check out its features. One feature that many users have been clamoring for is an LCD Screen, which the Hero4 Silver has but the Hero4 Black doesn’t even though the Black version commands a more premium price. For the Hero5 Black, it now comes with a 2-inch LCD Touchscreen on the back and simplified controls.

    That also means there will be no Hero5 Silver edition, making your choices simpler --- the Hero5 Black or the Hero5 Session.

    As for video resolutions, the 4K is at 30fps whilst 1080p Full HD recording can be done at 120fps, allowing for better slow motion footage when editing the video. Audio is also enhanced and the Hero5 Black comes with 3 mics and adjusts automatically to the mic that has the best audio coming in.

    With Voice Controls, the Hero5 negates the unique offering from Garmin’s Virb Ultra 30 which has this feature and you can bark commands at the Hero5 better than the Virb Ultra 30. You can command it to take stills or photo burts whilst taking a video or doing a timelapse and it can understand 7 languages.

    You many not necessarily need the waterproof case to bring the Hero5 underwater as it can go skinny dipping up to 33 feet but if you are unsure, then use the waterproof case which can also serve as protection case in airsoft games.

    Another feature that we want to see in the newest Hero action camera is built-in electronic image stabilization that many of its competitors such as Sony, Olympus, and Garmin offer though Sony offers optical stabilization on their new X3000R action cam than the rest. For those who want more control on the quality of output, it can now shoot in RAW and WDR.

    Hero5 Session

    Now, the Hero5 Session is a bit as capable as the Hero5 Black albeit, it is smaller and does not have an LCD Screen. It can record at 4K 30 fps and 1080p at 90fps, it is waterproof and can also take voice commands. The other features not available on the Hero5 Session are RAW + WDR photos and location capture.

    If you are on a budget and want a smaller action cam that you can use for everyday lifeblogging purposes, then you can opt for the Hero5 Sessions.

    Both the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session come with Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. Users can opt to upload their video and image files to the GoPro Plus Service Cloud which is their subscription service for users. As for editing the footage on the go, GoPro has the Quik mobile app which they acquired previously.

    GoPro Karma Drone

    What I can assume when GoPro were designing the Karma, they have DJI in mind as DJI now have established themselves as the company to be reckoned with in drone technology and have started to encroach into the market of GoPro with the release of the DJI OSMO which is a 4K camera with a 3-axis gimbal for smooth videos. The release of the GoPro Karma Drone hits DJI in both areas --- drones, and handheld camera stabilization for budding videographers.

    So does that mean the GoPro Karma Drone is a two-in-one product? Yes it is and that should make investing in the Karma Drone more feasible as compared to getting a DJI Phantom Drone and and DJI OSMO (or its new OSMO mobile gimbal for smartphone cameras) which will rack up your costs significantly. 

    But before that, let’s go into the features of the Karma Drone. It is a very much a portable drone to bring along as it has been designed to fit in a backpack by retracting its four rotor arms into the main body where they click into place and ready to be placed inside the backpack.

    If you are a console video gamer, then you would welcome the Karma Drone’s controller as it has been designed like a video game controller. It is easy to use and with the GoPro Passenger App, you can have friends help you out as you fly the drone as they can watch the video and control the GoPro action camera used on it.

    The GoPro Karma Drone does not come with Hero5 action cams in the package by default and you will need to buy them separately and there is a Karma + Hero5 Black/Hero5 Session bundle. The drone will work with the Hero5 Black, Hero5 Session, and the Hero4 Black.

    It is not yet as sophisticated as other drones in the market, especially the DJI Phantoms and the Inspire One but it does come with presets for shooting such as dronie, cable cam, reveal, and orbit that can be more than enough in covering an airsoft event.

    Now, the Karma Drone comes with 3-axis stabilization. The action camera is mounted far upfront of the drone so that propellers are not in the way when recording is taking place. Now, this is where a unique feature comes in as the camera mount of the Karma Drone is also a 3-axis handheld gimbal for the Karma Grip, allowing you to do handheld video recording that is smooth with the gimbal. This goes against the DJI OSMO and the DJI OSMO Mobile and if you look at the Karma Grip, it looks almost like the OSMO grip.

    The Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session will be available on the 2 October 2016 with a price of $399.99 and $299.99 respectively. The Karma Drone will be released on the 23rd of October 2016 with a price of $799.99 and the Karma Grip has a price of $299.99 and the same release date as the Karma Drone.


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    Tokyo Marui 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show

    It is a busy September for Tokyo Marui in terms of public appearances. They were with CAPCOM during the Tokyo Game Show 2016 that took place last week and for this week, they will be at the 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show. The All Japan Model & Hobby Show will be the last show for the year that the company will be having a big presence of their own.

    For hobbyists, this show is a must visit as they get to see the biggest names in the hobby industry from Japan such as TommyTec, Tamiya, Bandai, Crown Model, and Hasegawa. Even with the proliferation of hobby toys and model kits from China, these companies still set the standards in design and innovation. Tokyo Marui is part of this group, innovating and setting standards in airsoft that have not been surpassed.

    The first question is, will Tokyo Marui unveil new products again and surprise the airsoft community with their upcoming products? We cannot tell for sure, as the company keeps mum about product development no matter how much we badger them for information. It is always a big day in the airsoft world when Tokyo Marui announces new products, but perhaps this year, it is more of releasing what they have announced during the Shizuoka Hobby Show last May.

    Of the products that we are expecting this year, the KSG Gas Shotgun, Samurai Edge Standard Model and the Glock 22 Gas Blowback Pistol have already been released. We will be expecting the following models to be released from now until December: M4 CQB-R GBB and the M40A5 Bolt Action Sniper Rifle. All of these will be on display at the 56th All Japan Hobby Show as well as the Samurai Edge Special Variation Color which will be released in November in celebration of 20 years of the Biohazard/Resident Evil Series.

    So if you are thinking of your airsoft Christmas gifts, then some of these may just be in your list.

    The 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show is set for the 23rd to the 25th of September 2016. The 23rd will only be open for trade visitors and the public can come in the 24th and 25th. The venue will be at the Tokyo Big Sight West Halls 3 & 4.

    Expect an after event report on Popular Airsoft.


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    Baltimore City Hall

    For airsofters in Baltimore and the general airsoft community in Maryland, it’s time to move into action to preserve their beloved hobby. If the proposed Ordinance in the city gets approved, ownership of replica firearms, airsoft included, will be banned.

    Filed by the District One Councilman Jim Kraft last September 19, File # 16-0761 is now on first reading and is titled as“Police Ordinances - Replica Gun Ban For the purpose of prohibiting the possession of replica guns in Baltimore City; defining a certain term; making replica guns subject to seizure and forfeiture; establishing the procedures for seizing and forfeiting replica guns; imposing certain penalties; and generally relating to replica guns.” It defines “replica gun” as “any toy, imitation, facsimile or replica pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle, air rifle, B-B gun, pellet gun, machine gun, or other simulated weapon, which because of its color, size, shape, or other characteristics, can reasonably be perceived to be a real firearm.”

    The bill was filed by Councilman Kraft as a reaction to a recent incident in which a teen died of gunshot wounds when he was shot by Ohio Police for holding a replica firearm and also to a similar incident in Baltimore in April where a 14-year old boy carrying a spring-BB gun was shot and injured by the police.

    The proposed city ordinance is fast getting support from various political leaders and is expected to be passed in December. If indeed it gets approved as an Ordinance, Baltimore follows New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C. in putting restrictions to owning replica firearms.

    For violations, the offender will be given a citation and the replica firearm seized. A third time violation will result into a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of US$1,000 and/or 30 days in jail.

    So far, we have not heard of any effort by the local airsoft community to block the proposed Ordnance from reaching the Mayor’s desk. Previously, the Maryland airsoft community successfully campaigned against SB742 and HB879 in the State legislature that aimed for prohibition of imitation firearms, and were withdrawn by their authors.


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    Platoon Attack U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Seth Starr

    Modern-day camo patterns are effective (no thanks to the UCP though) in breaking up the shapes of soldiers that they cannot be detected by the naked eye. However there are now sensors widely available commercially and are also affordable that can detect soldiers in camo as they strongly contrast in the environment they are in when these sensors are used.

    Thus, threats to soldiers in camo clothing are night vision, thermal cameras, and other devices that can detect parts of the light spectrum that are invisible to the naked human eye. Smartphones nowadays can be equipped with modular thermal or night vision cameras which are even affordable. Thus, not only professional armies can use these devices, terrorists, insurgents, and violent extremist groups have access to these making it imperative for militaries to research on making their soldiers invisible to SWIR (Shortwave Infrared) sensors.

    The Marine Corps have an excellent camo pattern, the MARPAT, but when tested with commercial available SWIR devices, they found out that the uniforms glow when seen through these devices. Whatever the advantages of camo patterns are, they are immediately negated by advances in technology.

    In a blog post on Military.com’s Kit-Up! The Marines are looking for a dye to use on the uniforms that won’t be detected by SWIR devices:

    In August, the Army published a request for information for printed fabric materials, including MARPAT woodland and desert camouflage swatches that reduce the fabric’s signature when it’s seen through short-wave infrared, or SWIR, optics. Officials at the Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center in Massachusetts hope the samples they obtain will determine the availability of existing technology and materials that will meet operational goals as they continue research.

    Photo:US Marine in MARPAT uniform training in Okinawa, Japan.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Carl King Jr.)

    Such uniform dye should be able to reduce the signature fabric when seen through SWIR devices. The research will be looking into the full spectrum, including the use of UV light which makes certain colors glow when put under it such as paper bills when checking for counterfeit money.

    There are companies that are offering mitigation of signatures so soldiers, vehicles and equipment won’t be quickly detected by these devices. But these can be more expensive solutions and a dye solution can be cheaper in the long run as it can be produced in larger quantities to be treated on uniform fabrics.

    Having a new dye which that does not reflect infrared light and help the soldier still blend well into the environment may not be the ultimate cloaking device, the holy grail in concealment, but it can be a positive step forward.

     

    Top Photo: Lance Cpl. Steven Hoggand, a machine gunner and section leader with 7th Marines, directs his Marines’ fire while suppressing an enemy position during platoon attack drills, July 24, 2015 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Seth Starr)


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    Tokyo Marui 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show Booth

    The 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show is ongoing as of this writing, with today and tomorrow being open to the general public to check all the nice toys and hobby kits that the members of the Japan Plastic Model/ Figures Industrial Cooperative are putting on display. For those who follow the Japanese hobby industry, some of the biggest names in the hobby world are there right now and they have some really cool products on display.

    For airsoft players, the main focus of interest will be Tokyo Marui, expecting for new product announcements. For this year’s show, there are no new product announcements for reasons that we shall explain in a post-show report. But if you are intending to include some Tokyo Marui airsoft products in your airsoft Christmas shopping list, you won’t be disappointed.

    Photos: Tokyo Marui booth being prepared for the 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show

    As always, Tokyo Marui have a big presence at the All Japan Model & Hobby Show, and for this year, they made their onsite shooting range bigger, taking up half of their display area. At this range, people who have not tried their hands on airsoft, can shoot the AA-12 AES, HK416 DEVGRU Custom NEG, and the new Glock 22 Gas Blowback Pistol.

    Photos: Tokyo Marui Shooting Range being prepared for the 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show

    For others, it was checking out what will be released by November and December, just the months to do their Christmas shopping. Here are the updates on the remaining products that Tokyo Marui will release in 2016 (copy and pasted from the product specs the company sent to us):

     

    TOKYO MARUI M40A5 BOLT ACTION SNIPER RIFLE (BLACK/OD)

    Series: Bolt Action Air Rifle
    Price: 39,800 JPY
    On-Sale: November to December (Undetermined)
    Target Age: Over 18 years old

    Features:

    • Internal mechanism is newly designed (Incompatible with VSR-10 and L96 parts)
    • Main parts are made of metal and have high rigidity. (Main parts: taper barrel, muzzle brake, night/ thermal vision mount and receiver etc.)
    • To reproduce the reality, taken measurement of real gun stock.
    • The distance of bolt stroke is shortened to 68mm (real gun is 100mm). This is able to shorten the time a lot from cocking to fire.
    • Cocking indicator is equipped at the rear of the bolt.(PAT.P)
    • With or without using BB bullet, easy to notice weather to pull the bolt for cocking.
    • Bolt handle lock system is installed to avoid going down the bolt handle while cocking. Not only pulling and placing back the bolt smoothly, but also preventing the damage of safety lever.
    • Newly trigger system is developed. When pulling the trigger, it is easy to know where the sheer is released.(PAT.P)
    • Adjustable cheek piece up and down. Enable to adjust the stock length by adding the spacer between stock and butt plate. Attached spacers are total 4pcs(S x 1, M x 1, L x 2). Enable to attach some spacers together.
    • Reproduced real gun magazine can be installed 5 bullets. Magazine capacity is 35rounds.
    • To reproduce the set position of magazine, BB load is newly equipped. Even though BB bullet is left inside of BB load, safety function is equipped as preventing accidental shooting once taken the magazine.
    • The stock will be released in O.D and Black color at a time.

    *Front site and rear sights are not attached.

    Production Specifications:

    • Length: 1,200 mm
    • Inner Barrel Length: Undetermined
    • Weight: 3,200 g (Undetermined)
    • Capacity: 35 rounds
    • Caliber: 6mm BB
    • Power Source: Air (Bolt Action)

     

    TOKYO MARUI M4A CQB-R BLOCK 1 GAS BLOWBACK

    Series: Gas Blowback Machinegun
    Price: Undetermined
    On-Sale: November to December (Undetermined)
    Target Age: Over 18 years old

    Features:

    • Variation model of M4A1 MWS. The mechanism and shooting performance are the same as M4A1 MWS.
    • 10.3 inch short barrel.
    • Adjustable six-phased crane type stock. CQD type rear sling hook on the stock base.
    • Adjustable front site elevation.
    • LMT type rear site is adjustable for elevation and windage.
    • KAC type QD flash hider and vertical fore grip are equipped.

    Production Specifications:

    • Length: 698 / 780 mm (Undetermined)
    • Inner Barrel Length: 250 mm (Undetermined)
    • Weight: 3,111 g (Undetermined)
    • Capacity: 35 rounds
    • Caliber: 6mm BB
    • Power Source: HFC134a

     

    TOKYO MARUI LIMITED EDITION SAMURAI EDGE <SPECIAL COLOR VARIATION> GBB PISTOL

    Series: Gas Blowback
    Price: 26,800 JPY
    On-Sale: Estimated in November
    Target Age: Over 18years old

    Features:

    • 20 years anniversary limited edition model for CAPCOM game “Bio Hazard”.
    • Various sand color is used for slide, Frame, barrel and grip. This model has military mood and is different atmosphere from previous model.
    • Variable HopUp system. Blowback engine is the same as U.S.M9.
    • Reproduced safety function with decocking.
    • Enhanced the strength of Brigadier slide by increasing in the thickness of locking lag, slide is engraved the names of “S.T.A.R.S.” which is the name of special forces that appear in video games. It is also engraved “LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY”, this marking seems like real law enforcement model.
    • Tactical combat site is with white dot.
    • Manageable long type slide stop.
    • The medallion engraved “S.T.A.R.S.” is attached to bicolored grip. The medallion is arranged by black color to match this model.
    • Serial number is attached on gun case.
    • Special pin badge attached.

    Production Specifications:

    • Length: 216 mm
    • Inner Barrel Length: 115 mm
    • Weight: 947 g
    • Capacity: 26 + 1 rounds
    • Caliber: 6mm BB
    • Power Source: HFC134a

     

    TOKYO MARUI HK45 TACTICAL GAS BLOWBACK PISTOL

    Series: Gas Blowback
    Price: Undetermined
    On-Sale: November to December (Undetermined)
    Target Age: Over 18 years old

    Features:

    • HK45 base variation model.
    • Our first GBB hand gun model with attachable suppressor. Aluminum made and lightweight HK45T suppressor attached.
    • Attached suppressor is only for HK45T. Other suppressors cannot be used for HK45T. (This suppressor is not 14mm left-hand screw)
    • Outer barrel is made from metal and ABS for suppressor
    • To attach the suppressor, newly developed front site and rear site.
    • Ambidextrous Thumb safety.
    • Black color slide, tan color frame.
    • Muzzle guard is attached for protecting the damage of screw when not using a suppressor.
    • Replaceable back straps are attached like HK45.
    • Magazine is the same as GBB HK45.

    Production Specifications:

    • Length: Undetermined
    • Inner Barrel Length: Undetermined
    • Weight: Undetermined
    • Capacity: 26 + 1 rounds
    • Caliber: 6mm BB
    • Power Source    HFC134a

    Post event report on Tokyo Marui's presence at the 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show to follow.


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