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    Airsoft Orange Muzzle Tip

    The 30th of September 2014 wasn't a good day for airsoft players in California. On this day, Governor Jerry Brown finally signed into law SB 199 which will regulate the look of airsoft guns and other imitation firearms. Called "An act to amend, repeal, and add Sections 16250 and 16700 of the Penal Code, relating to BB devices", the amendments and striking off the sections of mentioned in the California Penal Code will then be effective on the 1st of January 2016. This will give airsoft vendors in the state over a year to instruct suppliers and local makers to deliver them airsoft guns that will abide by the provisions of SB 199.

    So what are the provisions affecting airsoft guns in SB 199 and how will airsoft guns look like in California by the 1st of January 2016? I took the liberty of doing some crude photoshopping of some airsoft gun photos to see how they will look like under SB 199.

    Overall, SB 199 has this requirements: (4) A BB device that is an airsoft gun that expels a projectile, such as a BB or pellet, that is 6mm or 8mm caliber which meets the following:

    (A) If the airsoft gun is configured as a handgun, in addition to the blaze orange ring on the barrel required by federal law, the airsoft gun has a trigger guard that has fluorescent coloration over the entire guard, and there is a two centimeter wide adhesive band around the circumference of the protruding pistol grip that has fluorescent coloration.

    So here is how an airsoft pistol will look according to my interpretation:

    (B) If the airsoft gun is configured as a rifle or long gun, in addition to the blaze orange ring on the barrel required by federal law, the airsoft gun has a trigger guard that has fluorescent coloration over the entire guard, and there is a two centimeter wide adhesive band with fluorescent coloring around the circumference of any two of the following

    (i) The protruding pistol grip.
    (ii) The buttstock.
    (iii) A protruding ammunition magazine or clip.

    Here are the options in coloration for airsoft rifles and long guns if my reading of such provision is correct:

    What do you think? Will the airsoft guns look worse than just having an orange tip? Will these colors turn off players from airsoft given that they are after realism?

    You can do your own photoshopping of the airsoft gun photos if you think my interpretation is incorrect and see for yourself. Though we recommend to the Airsoft Safety Foundation (their website right now shows information about anti-inflammatory supplements and locksmiths rather than airsoft safety) to shows us samples of the airsoft guns in California done on real airsoft guns under SB 199 when it takes effect over a year from now.


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    GoPro Hero4

    GoPro is not sleeping on the job, far from it. With more and more competitors jumping into the Action Camera space, especially the big name electronics brands from Japan which have the technology and history in the imaging space such as Sony and Ricoh, GoPro will have to work harder in order to protect its leadership position in action cameras. And its latest salvo in this market, which will be released on the 5th of October, is the GoPro Hero4.

    When GoPro Hero3 was released, it came in 3 flavours: Black which is the high-end version; Silver for the mid-price range; and White for those on a budget. With the GoPro Hero4, Black and Silver editions will be on the market but the White edition will be done away with and simply called "Hero".

    So let's talk about the most expensive, the Hero4 Black Edition (£369.99). GoPro has already dipped its feet into 4K (3840 x 2160) recording with Hero3 Black but which was at 15 frames per second (fps). With Hero4 Black smoother 4K playback can now be achieved as recording will be at 30fps. And for those who want to do even slow-motion clips, 1080p at 120fps frame rate should be adequate enough. For still photos, it can go on a burst mode of 30 frames per second at 12MP and an intervalometer is built-in allowing for timelapse photography. It also boasts of lowlight shooting, night shooting, night lapse and pro-tune. It  has a dedicated button for the settings and of course Wifi , Bluetooth and mobile app which is now a standard on Black Editions starting with Hero3 Black.

    The Mid-Range GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition (£289.99) can do 4K video but remains at 15fps. It's also stripped down to 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 120fps. For those who are happy with this, 1080p resolution is still the dominant screen resolution for many computers, televisions, and mobile gadgets and will still be significant in the following years even as 4K screens are now slowly flooding the market. Just like Hero4 Black, it has the 30fps 12MP photo burst and also boasts of lowlight shooting, night shooting, night lapse and pro-tune.

    But there is something the Hero4 Silver that Hero4 Black doesn't have: Touchscreen display that allows you playback and settings controls.  Before you need to purchase the BacPac to have an LCD screen with your GoPro. Even with the touchscreen display, the size of Silver is not bigger like having the BacPac installed.

    Now, if you can *only* spare a hundred quid, well, £99.99 to be exact, then the Hero version will be made available. It's further stripped down in features, which what GoPro considers to be the most basic such as 1080p video at 30fps, 720p video at 60fps, and 5MP photos at a 5fps burst. According to the company it us very much user friendly with additional features of QuikCapture, SuperView and Auto Low Light.

    Three Hero4 offerings at different price points. So far no action camera has made such triple offerings in a single release, with GoPro trying to hit different budges and perhaps covering most of the bases.  With 4k videos now being offered on videos their video quality would push people to plan on 4K screens in the near future, including new internet broadband speeds to minimise buffering times for 4K videos.

    But for those who are maintaining their airsoft YouTube Channels, do they need to jump into 4K? No rush yet really as many are still invested at 720p or 1080p video cameras and screens. But if one has the budget and the bandwidth to upload 4k videos, then no one's stopping him/her. 4K is the future for videos and it's now here.


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    Seek Thermal

    What was once a gadget that is available only for first responders and military personnel is now getting more accessible to civilians. We have written here various devices that can give thermal imaging features to smartphones and with more competition they are getting less bulky, easier to install, and at the same time cheaper too. With the latest entry into the affordable Thermal Imaging market, Seek Thermal has now allowed sub-US$200 thermal imaging, provided that you have the right smartphone to work with it.

    Seek Thermal works mainly with iOS (iPhone) and Android smartphones, which are the dominant smartphones these days and you can purchase the Seek Thermal version you need for US$199.00. As airsofters and geardos, it is perhaps obvious what the uses of Thermal imagers are to us, but if it's your first time to read about Seek Thermal here, perhaps a video about its uses is in order:

    What we like about the Seek Thermal Camera is that it is small and can easily fit in your pocket without showing a big lump. It also gets its power from your smartphone's battery so you don't need another battery just to power it up. With a magnesium casing, it should be sturdy enough to withstand bumps.
    Seek Thermal operates in the 7.2 to 13 micron long-wave infrared range and can detect heat in a temperature range from -40º C to 330º C (-40º F to 626º F). It weighs 0.5 ounces and it will show images at 206 x 156 with a chalcogenide lens that provides a 36º field of view and we hope that future versions would give better resolution and even wider angle of view.

    With the Seek Thermal App which you can download from the AppStore or Play Store upon purchasing the device, you can easily switch from normal view to thermal view with just a finger swipe. With four different types of thermal measurement modes, you can choose 9 colour palettes called LUTs. Within a specified temperature range, the app will highlight what it sees through its lens.

    For airsoft players, getting a thermal separate imaging device for night games will be an expensive thing to do. Now with Seek Thermal they have an affordable thermal imaging device that they can use with their smartphones. You can either install them on NVG mounts made for smarpthones or you can purchase the iSights Smartphone Rail Mount System which you then use both the iSights Aiming and Seek Thermal apps though you can't superimpose the iSights reticles on the Seek Thermal app.

    All you need now is to improvise in protecting the Seek Thermal App from BBs when playing airsoft or develop a new rail mount for different smartphone models that also have the Seek Thermal App attached that can protect both the smartphone and the thermal camera.

    Whether for airsoft games or not, I am getting one of these. The Seek Thermal can be a very handy device for everyday use.


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    Fund Airsoft

    With all the rage in starting up projects and putting up businesses that may just succeed big time through crowdfunding, why not fully utilise the power of the Airsoft Community to help build more facilities where airsoft players can play their hobby? It is not a new idea as we have emphasized here on Popular Airsoft the potentials of crowdfunding in airsoft if done right, now a group of airsoft volunteers are pushing hard on the harnessing the airsoft community to help fund airsoft fields.

    Called Fund Airsoft, the members and volunteers of this group only have one objective --- to build more airsoft fields, as simple as that. Whilst it sounds easy on paper, it is actually a tough proposition to build airsoft fields. Money is needed to lease/buy land or building and then design the game site and put up the proper facilities to make it a viable airsoft field. Often, those who want to put up an airsoft field do not have capital to build one and getting a loan these days is even hard, unless one has rich parents, willing to pour all life's savings, or best of all a banker himself.

    Fund Airsoft wants to harness the power of the "Community" part of the Airsoft Community through crowdfunding to quote them:

    We at Fund Airsoft aim to launch this campaign to be the next big thing in Airsoft, right now it's about getting the word out and getting people on board so when we launch in the next few weeks, it is a success.  We think it's time to show the world that the airsoft community is not just a team here or a team there, but a actual community that helps one another no matter what part of the world they are playing this awesome sport.  It's time that an average guy can open a store or build a field and follow his dream without having to worry about taking his life savings or putting his family's home on the line.  Just think of the positive impact this could have on the economy by creating more jobs, bringing tourism to other places but most of all giving our kids a safe place to play with their airsoft guns.  This campaign also does not just go for new fields.  If you know of a field in need of repairs or upgrades but lack the funding to do so, please share this with them and have them contact us.

    Indeed, the lack of airsoft fields for young people to play in can lead to some situations in which they expose themselves to danger --- playing in public places that can lead to police responding to community complaints of people holding realistic-looking firearm replicas. You know the story. It's best to help fund airsoft facilities to keep young people, the neighborhood and the airsoft hobby safe.

    Fund Airsoft will list projects of airsoft fields that are either to be built from the ground up or in need of upgrades or repairs. Fund Airsoft will not accept pledges or donations at their website and would rather direct interested funders to visit these projects at well-known crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo.

    If you like this idea, you can like follow Fund Airsoft at their website or like and share their Facebook and Twitter Pages. It also takes resources to maintain the Fund Airsoft site and community so why donate to the effort by buying a Fund Airsoft shirt? All for a good cause.


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    Operation Urgent Fury

    During the last two months I had two invitations to the Combat Center Lenti (CCL), Hungary, which is an old army base close to the Hungarian/Slovenian/Austrian border. An Austrian gentleman is renting the place now from the local government and the place is available for organizers to hold their own event or players can go to one of the events organized by CCL.

    Some of the buildings are still in good working order where they have offices, rooms and a dining facility. The main building (HQ) is equipped with showers, beds and a bar if you don't prefer hardcore MilSim, but if you do they have several areas where tents or camps can be set up. Even food can be ordered: sandwiches for breakfast and warm meals for dinner or lunch. The food there is very decent and tasty, worth every penny you spend on it (4 Eurobucks for a plate). Meal tickets can be bought at the beginning of each game, but this is optional and you can bring your own MREs but preparing those will take about the same time as walking back to the HQ and enjoy a proper meal.

    The property is HUGE --- full of buildings, open fields and forests and even in the forest you can find different areas like trenches for artillery or more dense bushy areas where an ambush can be launched from. Even the open fields have something to offer: log piles, huge piles of woodchips and peat, pallets, rocks, tall grass, and empty containers. Some buildings are not in play because they are used by a recycling business but it isn't a bother since they aren't there during the games and there are plenty of other buildings to choose from. The bigger buildings were used to house soldiers in the past so these are set up like any other barracks: long corridor with rooms to the left and more rooms to the right. Pretty boring for CQB but on the other hand these barracks are often three or four stories tall and clearing a building this size might be easy but keeping it isn't. Your enemy can always crawl back through basement doors or windows surprising even the more experienced players. A friend and myself were able to hold back a ten man assault team for about an hour only because we knew the place better than they did and had a couple of Tornado grenades as well.

    OPERATION URGEN FURY 15-16 AUGUST 2014

    The first event I've visited was the Urgent Fury on 14-15th of August and it was a CCL organized game with Austrian and Slovenian support. It was an all out war with very few rules (except the safety and game rules of course) which I liked a lot since I don't visit games with 200 players every month and I needed some scalps. The scenario was East (RED ALLIANCE) against West (BLUEWATER FORCE) with strict dress codes. Bluewater teams had to wear any Western camo plus helmet while RAL teams could wear any mixed camo, full green or Russian camo but no helmets (only Russian ones). This way target identification was quicker, no need to find that armband before you slay a whole squad of your own guys:) Bluewater was the offensive team with a tent city as HQ about a mile deep into the forest. I got assigned to Bluewater mainly because I was wearing ACU pajamas and because I knew the Blue general (JELEN of CAD Slovenia).

    My mission was to spy on the enemy with a cool Austrian guy on my side. The "Don't Engage" part of our orders we did not take too seriously and probed the enemy defenses where we could. This mission was awesome to warm up and by noon I got assigned to the general's security detail. Jelen wanted some action himself plus some of the radio messages did not reach the advancing team leaders. Before lunch we managed to conquer more than we've planned. German, Austrian and Hungarian guys fought well on the other side but we quickly overwhelmed them or it looked like so.

    Both teams had two "tanks" at their disposal with mounted MGs on top. These vehicles can only be killed with a paintball grenade, but sniping the gunners out of the turret proved to be fun as well. We almost conquered the entire base when Red Alliance launched a huge counter-offensive and one of these tanks killed our general (not under my watch of course). Bad guys have to win sometimes I guess.

    Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the night game but I am sure it was awesome with 100 players on each side. I cannot say anything bad about the event except some fairplay issues but that's not the fault of the organizers and there are zombies are among us wherever we go. The whole event went down smooth, they even provided troop carrier trucks which went from the HQ to tent city at every hour and this saved us a lot of time during the day. People showed up here even from Germany and they weren't disappointed. My only suggestion for the organizers: get a PMR repeater and install it somewhere around the middle of the base. PMR radios are too weak for this big and complex terrain.

    AUTUMN HARVEST 4


    The second game at Lenti happened on the 11th to the 14th of September and it was called Autumn Harvest 4. Organized by CAD of Slovenia, this game was a LARP game rather than an all out war with a Mexican theme. There were four cartels facing each other and against the forces of Mexican Police/Army. The game was set in a town called "San Miguel" and like any other town in that country this one had civilians, police officers, druglords and DEA agents.

    This game was all about money, each cartel started the game without their primary gun which were held at the armory with a nametag of their respective "user". In order to get your gun back you had to make money. Money could be earned by mining gold/silver, running dope, kidnapping city officials, robbing the bank or other players. This sounds simple but the game had so many hidden objectives that some players were often lost, this only lasted while we found out that there will be a dancer on the stage in San Miguel and admittance is only 500 Pesodollars. From that moment we all just wanted to make that 500. :)

    By the time we managed to mine some gold, the bank clerk got kidnapped so we lined up a coke deal instead. When that deal went south, then we made a deal with a druglord to provide protection in return for our guns. By the end of the day we started to enjoy this role play thing but other cartels did way better jobs than us. Our cartel managed to kidnap/kill the head of the "Policia" twice and I think that says we had fun as well.

    Inside San Miguel, the Police and the Army controlled the game by stopping and searching players, confiscating illegal stuff and murdering "innocent" cartel members in the woods. If they were in good mood they might gave you chocolate bar for your hungry kids or a ticket to the San Juan show. By afternoon most of the cartel guys felt the same way I did: I wanted to kill some "Federales". We got what we wanted when we all stormed the police station, and it was an awesome fight.

    The night game started after a short chow break, but before the tracer show we all attended the local bar to watch the show and put our name in the hat before the raffle started. I did not win the rifle nor the handgun but I was happy because I was able to sell the last two remaining bags of coke I had (under the nose of a DEA agent). The light and tracer show started right after the dance show. This I enjoyed better because here I had my prize several times when I heard loud "HIT" yells after my shots. Not too many people had night vision and that's good. The only problem with night vision in an airsoft game is either everyone has one or no one. After two hours of fighting I've realized that I did not cover my reflective cat-eye, well that explains the number of head shots I suffered. :)

    In the morning, the cartels launched an offensive against the combined forces of the police and army. Despite the rain this was a whole lot of fun as well.

    This game was complex but no matter how hard I tried to complain, I still enjoyed it. The civilians did a great job just like the army, police and other staff members. Everything was well organized. Game money bought you coffee or tortillas in San Juan for example. Thanks to everyone at CAD, they are very nice team. Thanks to Team Lakota for not putting me in jail during the many times I deserved it.

    Here are the results based on money deposited in the bank:

    1. LOS ZETAS: 463,500.00
    2. DEL GOLFO :423,800.00
    3. BELTRAN LEYVA: 387,100.00
    4. TIJUANA -Arellano-Féli: 302,800.00
    5. DE DINALOA: 218,100.00

    A huge amount of money was spent on other stuff, like bribing the police, purchasing black market grenades, and buying information.

    Please take a moment and read how all this was seen from a different perspective. This was written by the Major of San Miguel.

    Greetings my friend,

    I am sorry to have left so fast, but things were kind of urgent. 

    As you know, situation in Mexico is quite complicated at the moment. Ever since I got elected as mayor after the police operations in 2010 things looked quite calm and peaceful. I imagined a very peaceful life for me and my fellow villagers.  

    It seemed very true for a while, but unfortunately things turned around. We barely managed to setup the infrastructure and repair the damage from the anti-cartel operations when floods took away a big part of the village. The mud flows were so large that some of the houses were moved for about 10 meters. Thankfully, the foundations held and we were able to still use them.

    Maybe you have watched the news: on 13th September the village was approached by several armed groups. As I learned later, they were cartel members, the remains of larger groups, upset by military operations in the western regions.

    The city was luckily patrolled by Police and Military forces, so we thought, that everything will be OK. Cartel members also seemed to lack serious firepower. They obviously got roughed up by the government forces pretty bad.

    They approached us cautiously and with some distance. I thought they were actually friendly at the beginning, they caused no problems. Some of them seemed really shy and they were apparently struggling with cash.

    They were asking for some small jobs and tasks, so we gladly helped them. But it wasn't long before things turned ugly. They became more and more pushy, trying to get as much from us, as possible. But as you know, our village can barely support our people, let alone tens of newcomers. They also figured this out pretty soon and started to get really pushy. I heard complaints from the people at the Jose's Tortiteria & Caffe that things were getting heated up, when different members were there at the same time.

    Due to the presence of such a big number of criminals, we felt more unsafe with every passing hour. It wasn't long before I was a target of an assassination attempt by Sinaloa cartel. Thankfully, they hit my steel money clip. so the shot just grazed my right butt cheek. After that, one of our guards was arrested for the crime, but police found out that the witness was lying. So another cartel man was taken away, along with our guard, who returned afterward without one finger which was cut off in a freak accident during torture. We called that guard Pinky after that.

    As soon as I thought the situation was getting normal with the arrival of stronger police patrol, the expected happened. I was approached by one of the DEA operatives and asked to step aside. He wanted to know, what is happening. I said that situation was getting dangerous and that we felt unsafe and threatened. This was not what he wanted so he kept drilling into me. I could only say, what I knew was happening in the village, but he threatened me and said that I have to work for him or we are all f**ked. He said that I have to arrange a hit on a high ranking member of the Beltran Levya cartel or there would be consequences. He promised me 6000$ for the hit.

    I knew I had to do something, so I carefully approached some members from the Gulf cartel. They seemed from the start, very quiet and polite towards our village folk. I told them, that I need a favor and that I have $5000 available. They took the job and I gave them a rough description that the DEA agent gave me before that. Together with that, I told them, that there was a foreign reporter in the area, so they had to be careful.

    I was shaking with fear as they came back and told me, behind the tent, that they were successful. A big weight was taken off my chest as I knew that this would probably get that DEA guy off my back. I was ready to stroll peacefully into the courtyard in front of the Tortiteria when their member pulled my sleeve and said, "Señor mayor, we need your help".

    Dios mio, they kidnapped a reporter. Jesus, Christ! They met him on their way back and probably fearing that he saw them kill rival commander, took him with them.

    They asked if I could just carry the message over to police that they want ransom. It seemed they were a bit lost about the ransom amount, so I told them they could probably ask for $25000.

    They agreed and I had no choice than to take a walk to the police station. Going there, I started thinking about all the troubles that came after us. We thought we were on our way to sort out our lives, when all the troubles came after us. As I was walked, I decided that this was getting too far and that we have to think about ourselves too. The price for release went up, to $30000. I also have to take care of the village.

    As I reached the police, they were under attack from the cartels. It seemed that they were under quite some pressure. Good opportunity to get what we wanted without too many questions.

    As I found the DEA operative, I gave him the message about the successful assassination and the kidnapping. He paid me for the assassination and also agreed to pay full price for kidnapped reporter. As I was leaving the Police station with a bag full of drugs and police money I felt that this was going to work. I met my new friends from Gulf cartel on the way and paid them for assassination. My commission paid for some pancakes and coffee in the Tortiteria for members of other cartels. It is interesting how food and drinks open doors, even better than a shotgun.

    It wasn't too long when my neighbor in the village met some men who wanted to sell some drugs. At first he was hesitant, but then he made a purchase. We had a little chat about it. It happens, drugs are everywhere, but why should we be poor, while everyone, including the police were stuffing their pockets? Since we knew where things stood and we had the advantage of being local, we setup a plan. We would try to get as much drugs as possible, to sell them on and make a good living for all of us.

    We needed of course, the support of other people. We had some local armed guards, that were trying to secure the most vulnerable locations in the village. We had them guard the laboratory that was used to process drugs. We convinced the DEA operative to join in on our little business, as well as a black market dealer.

    With our new connections and money, we could place hits on cartels that do have our favor, as well as purchased stock of unprocessed drugs and paid the cartels to have it processed and brought back to us. Soon, our storage was starting to look like a drug lair. Thankfully, police avoided us. No wonder...

    As night came, plans were made to cause a large war between cartels, but curfew and fighting forced us to wait a bit. We also had some lucky encounters, where cartels could rob us blind while we carried bought drugs and cash to our hideout. Close encounters were too close to talk about, so I will skip this part, my friend.

    Last Sunday was one of the scariest days in my life. During the evening fighting, most of t he Police were destroyed, so we woke up into a morning with a sense of danger.

    Despite everything, we opened our shops at 5 AM, to use the day as much as possible. Some of our guards were awake and ever ready. We were expecting that the army will crack down on the village, so we had to make as much profit as possible, as soon as possible. There were threats from the army commander that we will get deported until the village was cleared, so I made everything possible to ensure that army wasn't attacked.

    Cartel members were still groggy from the night ops, so everything was calm until almost 7:30. After that, all hell broke loose.

    With the police gone, the cartel robbed with impunity. I spent a great deal of money to make sure no clan felt the need to find out what we were up to. But unfortunately, some of our money reserves were discovered, so we had to move the money to the bank. It appeared that information was leaked to some of the clans, which forced me to pay off two clans to guard me and the village, while a third clan transported the safe containing some of our money to the bank.

    Getting safe to the bank was another great achievement, made possible by combined effort of our guards and members of three cooperating clans. When we left the village it was getting so hot, that people started dropping the moment we left the village. Close call indeed my friend.

    The end result was we got the money to the bank, but kept only 25% of the $300000$. We shared everything else with the clans that protected the transfer. But that was enough, our coffers were full of cocaine and materials to even make more. When we put together everything, we were the ones to carry home the profits with minimal troubles.

    It was hard to get it all out of the village, but we used a truck with empty beer barrels. No one bothered to look so we got it out safely.

    I am sorry to be so secretive, but I think our communications are monitored. Rest assured, we are all fine and enjoying ourselves, far away from Mexico and troubles.

    Say hi to all the others and see you later my friend,

    Alejandro Ortiz
    Former mayor of San Miguel


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    Beartooth

    As airsoft players, we are always in constant search of ways to lessen our load without compromising our ability to perform in an airsoft game, more specifically, airsoft milsim events. This means that for each scenario that we are faced with, we take time to plan our loadout --- shedding items that we do not need and adding some to meet mission requirements. It's always a compromise of sorts to get the optimum load without bogging us down.

    What we do not compromise on apart from airsoft weapons and protective gear, is communications. We carry field radios and smartphones with smartphones for general communications with the outside world and field/squad radios for communications during a game. Thus, we carry two communications devices that also add to the overall weight of our loadout.

    What if there's a way to lessen communications devices by having a two-in-one device which will also lessen weight? This means that your device can act as a Smartphone and field radio at the same time, allowing you to communicate with other people who have radios when there's no cellular coverage when playing airsoft (or going out in the  outdoors with friends). I would grab at the opportunity to grab one myself.

    That's where Beartooth comes in.

    It's a casing with a built-in 2000mah battery to double battery life and a retractable antenna to which you install your Smartphone on. With its proprietary software, it becomes a peer-to-peer  communications platform that allows Push-To-Talk (PTT) voice comms, messaging, and geolocation. All of these features can be used without the need of a cellular or Wifi connection unlike other mobile apps such as Voxer or Viber. For now it supports the Apple iPhone 5 and later versions; and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 phones.

    Whilst it can function just like a radio, you can do selective calling with the use of CTCSS/DCS so you can communicate with selected contacts within the Beartooth Open Channel. Just like 2-way radios, it can have a  range of 2 miles and if transmitting from a higher and open elevation, it can go much farther.

    What's even better is that it is backwards compatible and can be used to communicate with traditional walkie-talkies. As for frequencies Beartooth will use 151-154Mhz for VHF (MURS) and 462-467Mhz for UHF (FRS) which are unlicensed radio frequencies with MURS having a longer range which CB radio users are familiar with. FRS are those cheaper walkie-talkies you can just grab from Walmart that are in use in airsoft games and have a shorter range. For airsoft organisers that manage a big area, it is recommended to put up a repeater(s) to help increase the reach of radio comms. Beartooth will also work with commercial/industrial, first responder, and military/security organisations to create custom packages with licensed frequencies.

    For now Beartooth will work in the USA and other countries that use similar regulations in radio frequencies. For European users, they will still have to wait until a PMR version will be released. As of now, Beartooth are working with the FCC to get approval for the use of device for the commercial market.

    Thus, when going out to areas where you expect cellular and Wifi traffic to be heavy such as concerts and festivals,  or spotty/no cellular/Wifi coverage at all such as going to the outdoors such as playing airsoft, then Beartooth is a good mobile backup accessory to use.

    If Beartooth gets fully approved, it also presents gear makers an opportunity to develop pouches for smartphones equipped with the Beartooth.  Also headsets  used for radio comms in airsoft will need to be modified in order that their connectors/adapters can be used for Beartooth.

    There you go, the marriage of smartphones and radio communications in a single device with Beartooth. It also helps save on costs by removing the need to purchase of two-way radios for use in airsoft and thus, another weight reduction for the loadout. That's innovation for you.


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    Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

    In a move that will be to the delight of PC gamers worldwide. including us here at Popular Airsoft, Konami announced that they will be releasing Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes PC version via Steam on the 18th of December 2014. It is perhaps the best gift from Konami for Christmas as many of us have grudgingly had to get a Sony Playstation console just to play the beloved Metal Gear Solid Series. It is just a smart move on the part of Konami to release the game not only for the Playstation but also for the Microsoft XBox and PC.

    Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is the prequel to Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain with Snake now having the voice of Keifer Sutherland.

    Whilst many have been saying that PC gaming is declining, in fact, it has been rising and dominating gaming hardware sale. According to a report cited by IGN:

    PC gaming has expanded its lead over consoles in the hardware market, and may safely be called "dominant" in the industry, according to a recent study by John Peddie Research.

    The study found the PC gaming market is worth $21.5 billion USD - over twice the size of its competitors in the console industry. The report took into account market sales of personal computers, accessories, upgrades, and other such form of hardware used for gaming purposes. Senior Gaming Analyst Ted Pollak says it's being driven by both casual gamers moving to mobile platforms, and by more hardcore gamers who desire gaming experiences not available through console technology.

    PC Gaming rigs are more powerful and faster than gaming consoles and you can use PC gaming rigs to do more apart from just gaming --- they become powerful tools for video editing, designing, office work, and general surfing and browsing the internet. Many PC gamers invest in their rigs and get more out of it than those who do console gaming.

    Now, with one of the best video game franchise of all time now to be released for the PC, all's well in the PC universe, where some of the best video gamers in the world cut their teeth from.

    Here is the official press release from Konami:

    KONAMI Announces Steam Date for METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES
    October 6, 2014

    Steam version of Hideo Kojima’s open world prequel to come on December 18th

    Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it will release the PC version of METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES via Steam on December 18th, 2014. The company also confirmed that it will be 4K compatible and will feature an increase in the number of simultaneous light sources, the number of models that can be displayed on-screen, and increased shadow resolution.

    METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES takes place in 1975 and sets in motion a series of events that culminate in the stunning plotlines of METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN. GROUND ZEROES centers on Big Boss - legendary hero and mercenary - as he infiltrates a sprawling secret prison base called ‘Camp Omega’ in Cuba on a rescue mission. He soon finds himself alone behind enemy lines with a truly non-linear mission that showcases key advances to the series made possible by its use of Kojima Productions’ FOX Engine.

    GROUND ZEROES is centered on a large open environment, with missions where time of day and weather have a dynamic effect on the game and its content. The game offers a total freedom of movement within its missions, with users choosing how they engage guards, the route they pick, and who they rescue. As such, it offers incredible replay value and encourages the player to revisit its content in order to find more of its many secrets. Furthermore, the game features an online global ranking system where players can compete in unique in-game and mission challenges and achievements to see how they compare against others around the world.


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    Eton Blackout Buddy H2O

    It's October and it's the month where lots of zombie-themed or post-apocalyptic gimmicks take place, the stuff that survivalists always prepare for (well, the real event though, not these for entertainment ones). One of the things that is discussed among survivalists is having a bug-out kit that contains all the necessary stuff that you need to survive the hordes and make your way to a safe haven. One of the items that you might want to consider is the Eton Blackout Buddy H20 emergency light.

    Why do I recommend the Eton Blackout Buddy H20? It is hassle free to light up, just add water and the light is activated for 72 hours continuously. Even if you're not evading zombies, it's a must have at home to use in case of power blackouts or natural calamities as it's safer to use. The three LED lights are powered by a magnesium-oxide battery which is activated by water. You do this by dipping its base into a cup of water. No need for candles that tend to get blown-out in windy and wet conditions.

    What's even better is that it will still work even if submerged in water. When the lights start to dim, just add more water.

    Its design makes it lightweight and compact so you can stash several in your bag, in your car, or in your home emergency kit. The Eton Blackout Buddy H20 can be stored for up to 10 years without worrying about its degradation.

    For the outdoors, this will be useful as an emergency light. We airsofters tend to use some light sticks for our camp sites which are actually inadequate, the Eton Blackout Buddy H20 will be an even better solution as there's no need to worry about changing batteries and have continuous light for 72 hours. It’s also environment friendly as it is free from Mercury, Hexavalent Chromium, Cadmium, and Lead.

    It costs just under US$10 each to purchase so it's cheap enough more than one handy. While we always have our own illumination systems for our camps while out for weekend airsoft games, especially in summer, I would recommend having this as a backup in case our torches run out of batteries or the power generator runs out fuel.


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    HTC REcamera 02

    At first glance, one would think HTC's new RE Camera is a new snorkel technology or an inhaler for those who have asthma. You won't be blamed with that first impression since the REcamera does indeed look like those. In case you haven't heard word about it, the RE Camera is HTC's first venture into wearable/action camera category, and it's a jump from their mobile phone camera expertise.

    Also looking like a PVC pipe, the RE Camera is aimed at non-action sports or outdoor enthusiasts and more for the average person on the street. To put it simply, it's more of a product that wants to put the art of taking selfies on another level. Oh God!

    It's almost a surprise to find HTC in the camera market, though one who is much into smartphones would realise that HTC has good cameras in their smartphones, especially their flagship phone, the HTC One M8 which pushed smartphone design to even greater heights. Bringing such technology to a standalone camera is just a natural course for the company to take to have other revenue areas as the smartphone market is tightening.

    The HTC RE Camera is really a lightweight one at 65.51 grams and small enough to fit in a purse so one can carry it daily to take photos and videos of a scene that one would encounter in their daily lives. So be it meeting friends, going to parties, and taking photos of the food at the restaurant and upload it on Facebook or Instagram (another Oh God!), the RE Camera wants to be handy daily tool.

    Operating the camera takes two buttons: the first button for still photos (pressing once) and videos (pressing longer for video); and the second one is for slow-motion capture that you can activate before taking a video, which means two buttons to press and giving you 4x slow motion 720p video. For still photos, you can get 16mp ones and 1080p 30fps for high definition video.

    It's also an always on camera, so there's no power button at all! There are fleeting moments that you really don’t want to miss and preserve for posterity and powering up the camera might take longer with the scene gone by the time the camera's ready. With sensors that can detect that you are want to take a photo or video, the HTC RE Camera will be ready to take that decisive moment in an instant. Citizen journalists will love this always on feature.

    Here's a first look video from Android Central:

    Apart from its very simple look, it has an LED indicator light, a microphone for audio capture, and a micro-SD card slot which can take up to 128GB micro-SD which should be a lot for video and photos. It has a micro-USB port for charging and at the bottom is a quarter-inch tripod mount which you can use with some mini-tripods, or even the Gorillapods.

    According to HTC, its 820 mAh battery is enough for 1,200 photos, or 1hr 40 minutes continuous FHD video recording. But there are some people who may just immediately drain the battery with all those still and video selfies.

    Just like existing action cameras in the market, you can download the app so you can use it with smartphones. You are not limited to HTC smartphones as it will work with other Android devices (4.3 up) and even iOS (version 7 and up) devices!  You can then transfer your files to the smartphone to free up memory, use the screen as a viewfinder, change settings, and even do timelapse photography, you can indicate the intervals for the camera to take a series of photos.

    For airsoft players already famous on  YouTube, you can do live broadcasting with it as long as you have an internet connection. This means one can broadcast the action happening live, be it a moment in history or that awesome room clearing missions in CQB games, or whatever that can give you an embarrassment online.

    You might think that might not be ready for airsoft games but it is IPx7 compliant, meaning that it is water and dust resistant. Buying a waterproof cap will make it even IPx8 making it even usable for underwater shots.

    For airsoft games, there are no helmet/head mount accessories for it, so far. But you can easily imagine that once you use it, you would look like someone with a small snorkel. Still, its design and smartphone compatibility would allow you to adjust the camera easily, just rotate like a screw for front, side, and rear views.

    So another camera in the market to choose from amongst a myriad of offerings from various competitors, and it’s priced at US$199.99. The HTC RE  Camera is now on pre-order and will be coming to the US this October to rain on GoPro Hero4's parade.


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    Tokyo Marui Area 54th All Japan Model & Hobby Show

    One of the two events that we hear about product releases and announcements from Tokyo Marui is the All Japan Model & Hobby Show. This is the last major trade show that the company attends for the year. If you have noticed in the past years, product revelations from the company usually come in fours. At the 54th All Japan Model & Hobby Show which took place last 26 to 28 of September 2014, four products were also announced and revealed to the general public.

    For product specifications and details, please click here. I'll be more writing about the story of what the exhibit area of Tokyo Marui was during the public openings of the 54th All Japan Model & Hobby Show.

    When we posted an initial photo of the Tokyo Marui booth taken from the show, one Facebook fan noticed how big it is and wished that such displays can also be seen in trade fairs that involve airsoft in his country. Indeed, the Tokyo Marui displays during the Shizuoka Hobby Show and the All Japan Model & Hobby Show are massive and generate high foot traffic to their products.

    At the 54th All Japan Model & Hobby Show, the Tokyo Marui exhibit area is comprised of three corners. My heartfelt thanks to Yuki for explaining the rationale for the exhibit area design, which is very much logical and highly organised:

    NEW PRODUCTS CORNER

    Whilst this is where the upcoming products are displayed, for this year, not much foot traffic happened here as compared to the previous shows they were at. Perhaps due to the inability of visitors to test fire the products. The Tokyo Marui HK417 Early Variant New Generation AEG (with blowback and recoil) is finally on display and can be handled, but cannot be test fired. They are still in the midst of testing the designs so we cannot expect yet a late 2014 release, unless they make further news announcements before the Holiday season.

    In recent years, Tokyo Marui's New generation models have been from the Heckler & Koch series, such as the HK416D and the HK416D DEVGRU Custom. There is such demand for H&K NEG models from Tokyo Marui with the HK416D series that making the HK417 Early Variant is an obvious move for the company. We hope that they move even faster releasing a USMC M27 IAR version too.

    Still writing about H&K airsoft versions, there is also the HK45T (Tactical). It's not exactly a "new, new" product since the HK45 GBB version has been release earlier and it's more of an update. It was actually a popular product at the hobby show, and being the first Tokyo Marui model that has a silencer installed (other airsoft pistol they have with silencer is the MK 23 SOCOM Non-Blowback/Fixed Slide Gas Pistol).

    With the revelation of the Silencer for Tokyo Marui gas blowback pistols, many visitors enquired if they can have silencers that can fit the other gas blowback pistols. So far, there are no revealed plans yet, but the company does listen to customer feedback, thus, it might just be developed.

    Other products that were on display in this corner were the H&K USP Compact, This is the V1 (Variant 1) Model with the Control Lever which was reproduced faithfully found on the left. The safety will be on by lifting the lever regardless of the position of the hammer. And decocking by lowering the lever. It is 1:1 scale with measurements taken from the actual real steel pistol itself. Also, the first Tokyo Marui Hi-CAPA AEP, the Hi-CAPA E, resembles the gas blowback version, but this has semi and full auto features. Being an AEP, this is a fixed slide version. The grip safety in the 1911 and Hi-Capa GBBs is not a feature for this model.  Accessories such as a rail mount can be purchased separately, and there is also a long magazine version for this. The Smith & Wesson M&P9 and the HK45T GBB Pistols still do not have definite release dates and that more information will be released by the company in the coming months.

    Before I forget, their affordable Tokyo Marui M4 Lightpro M4 CQB Tan version was also on display. This is their entry level model that runs on AA batteries and can do single shots with batteries run out via the charging handle.

    FULL PRODUCTS DISPLAY CORNER

    Just like the Tokyo Marui Festival that took place in Akihabara last July 2014, visitors can check all 50 Tokyo Marui products that are in production. They can touch and test fire the models (they were unloaded/no BBs in the magazines) and this corner also generated much foot traffic is there are enough products that can be admired. With the success of the Tokyo Marui Festival, the visitors are now more familiar with airsoft creating even more prospective customers for the company. You can see more people of different ages and genders actually holding the airsoft guns, from kids to seniors, and more women checking out the various airsoft guns.

    SHOOTING RANGE

    There were long queues at the shooting range as people wanted to try their hands on shooting at targets using HK45 GBB for adults (18 years and above) and for minors the TAVOR BOYS were made available. For the first time, the visitors were able to bring home the paper targets they shot at and many tweeted their records.

    I hope we can see more of Tokyo Marui, which means the company more active beyond the shores of Japan since most of their appearances are within the country. They are more represented by distributors and resellers in other countries but we never experienced the Tokyo Marui displays seen at the Shizuoka Hobby Show, Tokyo Marui Festival, Victory Show, and the All Japan Model & Hobby Show. For now, for airsoft players who want to have the full Tokyo Marui experience, the place will always be the metropolis to which the company is named after --- Tokyo, Japan.

    More photos at the Popular Airsoft Facebook Page.


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    Nixie

    We're back to posting gadgets that will help you catch the airsoft footage from the air ---- another camera drone. But camera drones are bulky and add weight to the load we're carrying on our way to the airsoft game, especially if we're commuting to the airsoft field. This project, called Nixie, and a finalist in the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge Finale, takes that concern off as you can wear this drone on your wrist.

    A wearable camera drone? Project Nixie must be the coolest and ultimate tool for taking selfie rather than look awkward with the pole you use or that arm that's extending to the camera when taking a photo or a video of yourself and friends. So once there's some intense airsoft firefight, you can quickly deploy the Nixie from your wrist to take footage of you and your mates in action. From a wristband into a quadcopter, that must be some kind of magic.

    Information is still light on Nixie as there are no product details apart from what I have written above. Information is lacking on the usual features such as video/photo capture resolution and frame rates; wifi and bluetooth connectivity to mobile devices; camera specifications such as lens; and power capacity such as charging and battery

    We'll know more about Nixie once the prototype is presented on the 3rd of November for the Finale of the contest in San Francisco. You can also know which other wearable projects made it to the finals, and the winner will walk away with the US$500,000 Grand Prize plus mentorship in making the product/idea into a very viable business.

    That's still a lot of waiting for Nixie to become a consumer product. But they just proved that making a wearable drone which will be ready to deploy if you need to capture the moment handsfree. That'll make a lot of camera huggers in airsoft happy if Nixie becomes widely available.


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    Resident Evil Retribution

    We have been pretty much writing about the Resident Evil Series here, pretty much as it is one of the game/movie series that have their weapons in existence in the airsoft market. This is mainly a partnership between CAPCOM the game owner and Tokyo Marui, the venerable airsoft company. But for the movie series, it's more of between CAPCOM and Constatin Film. With the final Resident Evil movie "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" in the works, there has to be somehow something to continue with the Resident Evil Franchise.

    A TV series is the most logical move for them to make.

    According to Variety, the German production company confirmed that they will be producing the TV series of "Mortal Instruments" and "Resident Evil." But before the TV series goes into production, "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" will have to be released first. Originally, slated for release this year, it has been pushed back for a 2015 release. The reason for the delay is that Milla Jovovich, who is married to Resident Evil Director Paul Andreson, is pregnant and is confirmed to be back for this movie. Michelle Rodriguez is also confirmed as well.

    There is not much details yet on the television series, even the title hasn't been determined yet since the focus right now is to make sure that "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" gets out of the door next year. This means that we can expect the earliest for the TV series will be in 2016.

    What you will notice is that the Resident Evil movies have different stories from the game series but both series revolve around the mainly the same characters. Thus, don't be surprised if the Resident Evil television series will also be different from what you're used to. Though for us in airsoft, it would be nice to see some neat weapons used in the series that will be produced for  the airsoft market.


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    Tracking Point XACT

    Last June, I wrote about the combination of TrackingPoint and Google Glass to maximise the benefits of using TrackingPoint's Precision Guided Firearm (PGF). TrackingPoint's PGF, if any introduction is still required to our readers, is a shooting technology that's akin to a jet fighter pilot's cockpit --- select the target and achieve a lock on and off the missile goes to the target. With the PGF, it fires the rifle only when everything's aligned, even if the shooter already has  pressed the trigger just for selecting the target.

    Now, TrackingPoint moved from Google Glass which it uses with its Shotview Streaming App made for Android and iOS devices, to releasing its own ShotGlass, calling it the Google Glass of Shooting, "ShotGlass digital shooting glasses empower you to shoot around corners and record your hunt. ShotGlass is the Google Glass of hunting and shooting. It enhances your precision-guided shooting experience using a built-in camera and high-definition video display."

    Looking at the design of the ShotGlass, it looks like it is based on Recon Instruments' Recon Jet that has been developed with the Shotview Streaming App. Previously featured here before, Optimus Prime thinks that the design of Recon Jet shows promise of a Tactical Heads Up Display and is much better suited for sport and tactical shooting. He actually wrote wondering if Recon Jet and the Shotview App can work together and thus, was thinking ahead. With Recon Instruments inviting developers to make apps suited for Recon Jet, TrackingPoint made full use of this opportunity. Furthermore, Recon Jet costs US$599 as compared to the US$1,500 Google Glass, so deciding which pair of glasses to use for the TrackingPoint ShotGlass, the pricing of Recon Jet made it easier for them.

    One of the features of ShotGlass is Increased Situational Awareness. Whilst the PGF is zoomed-in to the target the ShotGlass remains zoomed out giving the shooter a two fields of view with the zoomed out view giving a bigger picture of the situation an environment. For those used with GoPros, ShotGlass can also record videos of the action to be downloaded to smartphones and can be shared via social media. For me, the feature I like best is the Collaborative Shooting and Mentoring feature especially for shooting instructors and sniper teams where the Spotted can easily direct the sniper to targets with the ShotGlass.

    TrackingPoint is making the future of precision shooting not only easier, but even more convenient with the combination of their PGF, Shotview, and ShotGlass. One can purchase the ShotGlass for US$995 but it will be free if one purchases a PGF Rifle before the 30th of November as part of a promo.

    Press release below:

    ShotGlass™, The First Wearable Tech For Hunting and Shooting

    ShotGlass™, the Google Glass™ of hunting and shooting, enhances the precision-guided shooting experience via a built-in camera and high definition video display.

    PFLUGERVILLE, Texas, Oct. 14, 2014. TrackingPoint™, creator of the world's first and only Precision-Guided Firearm (PGF) systems, today announces the world's first weapon-integrated digital shooting glasses, ShotGlass™. The new digital shooting glasses allow you to routinely make extraordinary shots from around corners, covered positions, over walls and behind trees. ShotGlass™ includes a video camera, microphone, and a high-definition video display, that automatically records high definition videos of your hunting and shooting experiences.

    "ShotGlass™ is similar to Google Glass™ but optimized for shooting sports," said TrackingPoint CEO John Lupher.  "The innovative shooting glasses have an aggressive high-tech posture and connect wirelessly to TrackingPoint's Precision-Guided Firearm's. ShotGlass™ can even record the excitement of your voice when you make an astonishing shot on a moving trophy at extreme distance."

    ShotGlass™ has four primary uses:

    1. Shooting around corners.  Shoot from completely protected positions from behind trees or around corners when necessary to remain unexposed to the target.
    2. Increase situational awareness.  When you are zoomed in on a target with your Precision-Guided Firearm, the view in ShotGlass™ can remain zoomed out. This permits you two unique fields-of-view on the same shot.
    3. Video/Voice Recording.  ShotGlass™ can record everything you are seeing and saying.  With the same capabilities as a GoPro™, ShotGlass™ videos can download directly to smart devices for sharing with friends, family and social media.
    4. Collaborative shooting and mentoring.  Friends or family can wear ShotGlass™ while others are shooting.  They can see exactly what the shooter is seeing and share the same experience.  Fathers can mentor children by guiding them to the proper whitetail.  Professional hunters can see exactly what target their client is engaging and direct the client to the desired target and to the actual desired point-of-impact.  In battle, a spotter wears ShotGlass™ to direct their sniper to the desired target in real-time under high battle stress. 

    ShotGlass™ is simple to use. Put them on like any other glasses and get ready to experience high-definition displays showing exactly what the TrackingPoint Precision-Guided Firearm is pointing toward. Now engage your target without actually looking through the Precision-Guided Firearm. You can shoot from a completely covered position without exposing your position. Hit a wild boar at 900 yards from behind a tree with only the PGF and shooting hand exposed. Tag-and-Shoot an entire pack of wild boar without being detected.

    "Wearable tech, designed to enhance the shooting and hunting experience, changes the way you experience the sport," said TrackingPoint CEO John Lupher. "ShotGlass™ adds an element to hunting and shooting that is beyond belief."

    Technical Specifications

    • Wide Screen WQVGA display (Image appears as if on a 30" HD Display)
    • High contrast and brightness
    • Power saving sleep mode
    • Optical control buttons – control even with hunting gloves on
    • HD Camera
    • Speaker and Microphone

    Accepting pre-orders now for delivery in March, ShotGlass™ is available for $995 to TrackingPoint Precision-Guided Firearm owners. ShotGlass™ is free of charge with the purchase of your Precision-Guided Firearm prior to November 30, 2014.  For more information visit www.Tracking-Point.com/ShotGlass.

    About TrackingPoint

    TrackingPoint based in Austin, Texas created the first Precision-Guided Firearm, a revolutionary new shooting system that puts fighter jet lock-and-launch technology in rifles, enabling anyone to make extraordinary shots on moving targets at extreme distances. www.tracking-point.com.


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    Ghost Recon Future Soldier Energizer  Lithium Batteries

    In probably what airsoft players should also pay attention to in trying to save on budget to power up their electronics such as holo sights, tactical weaponlights, and laser sights, the U.S. Army's PEO Soldier is promoting the use of Lithium AA Batteries rather than go for cheaper Alkaline batteries. To help push for more greater adoption by various units, they launched the Power-Up-Properly lithium battery campaign.

    The main reason for the preference of the more expensive Lithium L91 Batteries is that it helps lessen the load for the soldier as stated in the FAQ: "The cost for both L91 and alkaline AA batteries can vary. On average you can purchase L91s for $1.40 - $2.50ea. Alkaline batteries on average can be purchased for $.60 -$1.00 each. However, because L91 batteries last significantly longer, you would have to purchase three times the number of alkaline batteries to get similar run times."

    Thus, to achieve the runtime of a single Lithium AA battery, a soldier has to carry three Alkaline AA batteries and even a Lithium AA battery weighs less than an Alkaline AA one. If there are more than just one electronic gadget that the soldier has to carry, then just imagine the weight more Alkaline batteries will add to the load. Batteries are one of the load concerns by soldiers and there are several projects that are aimed to lessen or eliminate batteries. Examples are the energy generating gear demonstrated by the US Marine Corps during the last ExFOB'14.

    The good thing is that Alkaline can power the same systems that Lithium batteries and can be easily procured at stores and households, so they are still a backup option when the supply of Lithium batteries runs out. However, PEO Soldier also explains that the Low Battery Indicator (LBI) in the devices used by soldiers work mainly with Lithium batteries.

    Major Tom Beyerl of PEO Soldier explains the rationale further in this article he wrote for the North West Guardian:

    High drain devices such as the AN/PSQ-20, 20A, 20B Enhanced Night Vision Goggle, AN/PAS-13 Thermal Weapon Sight and the AN/PED-5 Laser Target Locator Module, benefit most from lithium non-rechargeable batteries. The current requirements for these devices deplete conventional alkaline batteries at such a rate that operational use time is severely limited. Many of PM SSL’s current sensors, lasers and precision targeting devices were designed for the lithium battery with its far superior output capabilities and voltage curve. As expected, the number one issue Soldiers expressed with these systems in post-combat surveys is poor battery life when using regular alkaline batteries.

    Lithium L91 batteries, apart from lasting longer and weighing less, can  operate better in extreme batteries, from -40°F to 140°F. Cold weather usually affects battery life and performance, but Lithium L91 batteries can provide energy better than Alkaline batteries in colder climates.

    While various research centers of the U.S. military, especially DARPA, are working on portable and renewable energy sources to power up the various devices that soldiers carry into the battlefield, non-rechargeable batteries will still be playing that role of powering up the devices. Lithium L91 batteries are seen to provide the necessary power and at the same time help decrease the load for soldiers and improving their operational performance.

    Thus, next time you are offered by your airsoft retailer Lithium L91 batteries to power your tactical devices for your next 3-day Milsim event, better take the offer. You'll be thankful for the offer, even if it makes a dent in your airsoft shopping budget.


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    Johnson Ting DEFCON Zero Alt

    I've been seeing photos of soldiers in futuristic loadouts in photos and shared by various airsoft players and groups around. I never had a clue who made these images until early this week, Flanker of the Ballistic Tsunami Airsoft YouTube channel sent me a link to Sploid Blog at Gizmodo. Checking it out, the digital artist is Johnson Ting who is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and who is as of now, the concept artist for Project TriForce.

    I must say the designs of Johnson Ting on Deviant Art are really impressive and all through the use of Adobe Photoshop. The photos I've seen were touched up photos of actual present-day soldiers. But it's no easy feat for us who are just mere mortals at the use of Adobe Photoshop as it takes a lot imagination and skills to pull something very convincing. With all the exoskeletons we see in the recent action movies such as Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow, or Matt Damon's Elysium, Johnson Ting's designs will easily fit in, even in those first person shooter video games.

    According to Rob Chaney, Johnson is an active gamer and has actually done work for Activision, NetherRealm, Infinity Ward, Electronic Arts, DICE, and 2K. No wonder that the designs he makes can be imagined to be part in the video games.

    His work DEFCON Zero is getting a lot of admiration amongst airsoft players, with many in the airsoft community being ultimate geardos who can outgear even a real world special operations soldier. With the use of a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet, he spends hours and hours going over existing real world photos of soldiers and turning them into futuristic-looking soldiers.

    In what probably will be his Magnum Opus with be his book project called NEO JAPAN 2202.  Johnson is gathering feedback from his fans and followers on Deviant Art if they would like to buy copies of the book when it eventually gets released (and hopes a video game will be developed too). This will be full of his artwork with stories to go along with these. No final details yet on what will comprise this project and release but the reception is actually good. Naming it NEO JAPAN 2202 is also a very brilliant move since the Japanese are the most at ease with robots and mech.

    Most probably somewhere in the Philippines, someone's already going over Johnson Ting's designs to make some airsoft masks. We would not be surprised if some of the NEO JAPAN 2202 concept head gear will be seen in the Takap Lupa or Cactus Hobbies products (both companies are based in the Philippines) given the details they give to the other airsoft masks.

    Personally, I am waiting for more concrete information about Johnson Ting's book so I can order one if it really  gets released. It will find a nice place in my collection of sci-fi design books.


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    Darkhorse

    I get asked about this topic more and more frequently these days. What do I think about airsoft celebrities? The truth is airsoft celebrities are all salesmen. There is no airsoft celebrity out there who isn't a salesman. Anybody out there reviewing gear and guns that they didn't buy is a salesman. Anybody who travels to events paid by a sponsor or by the event producer is probably a salesman too. Companies that use high profile people to promote a product are hoping the average Joe will buy the item or attend an event based on the person pushing it. This in turn makes the airsoft celebrity a salesman.

    When I was a little more active in the media world and playing more, before I took a break this year, I was offered to go to events. I was offered to look at guns and equipment at no charge in the name of cross promotion. Because even though I wasn't extremely popular and far from the top of the mountain, I still had some reach and any little bit of promotion is what these companies want. But, make no mistake about the really popular people in airsoft. All of those people are given a lot of what they talk about for free, including free admission to events simply to record footage so they can create YouTube videos, for promoting whatever event they were at.

    This is the side of airsoft and the celebrity side of the sport that many of the high profile players won't admit to. Some of the regular players can see that celebrities are pushing a product, and many don't care. Whether you care that these celebrities get things for free and go to events for free really isn't what matters. What matters is the fact that some of these people try to pretend like they're just like a normal player. It makes perfect sense for any business. If they want to reach more people with their new product, put it in the hands of somebody in the community who can reach a lot of people already. So with someone who has a high number of Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram followers, of course it makes perfect sense to approach that person and say let's cross promote. I'll promote you and you promote me, everybody gets along.

    But are you as a consumer really getting an honest review? Are you getting an honest opinion at that point?

    Now, I'm not bashing those who have made a name for themselves in the airsoft community, some of these celebrities are honest and good guys. They are awesome players and best buddies to you on and off the field. No one is saying they are evil people with an agenda of just fooling you. Still, at the end of the day the endorsers still have to answer to those companies that sponsor them, give them gear, and send them to an event. So, it's a lot like a job for them to promote a product. They have to review a product and you can really tell who's being honest or not by how often they negatively talk about the company's products . I mean think about it, not every product a company makes will be perfect. There is likely to be some room for improvement somewhere. It's easy to start to see who's just taking the gift and who was actually reviewing the item honestly. If 10 out of 10 product reviews are all awesome, with no negative or suggestive criticism, it is likely that the reviewers are just pushing the product for the company and not expressing their true opinions. As a matter of fact, most reviewers have to sign agreements that state, that they can't post or say anything negative until they run it by the company first. That's the agreement for getting the product that they accept. Others are afraid to upset potential sponsors and companies by saying anything negative about a product.

    If you want to think about it, how often do you see head-to-head reviews comparing products? Very few, because people don't want to upset sponsors or potential sponsors. It's all about keeping a positive sales pitch about everything they can get a hold of, because if they promote the companies, the companies will promote them; you'll follow them and the product will get sold more. Just like products get this polish by celebrities, airsoft events get this polish, too.

    Celebrities are invited at no charge to come play events, sometimes hotel and transportation is also covered. All of this is done to produce a video that makes the event look good. They often do multiple takes of gameplay footage because the celebrity had to get things just right because the celeb has to look good and the event has to look good. Some of the game play footage from big celebrities equates to nothing more than a glorified commercial. It's simple marketing, if the big name players have an awesome time at a event, then average players are going to think that the event is awesome, and want to attend, too. Sometimes the producers will set up special scenarios and sequences of events, just for the celebs to get good combat footage. I know it's a little hard to believe that some of these producers can be so intertwined with the celebrity players, that people look to bring an honest view of the world of airsoft, but it does happen.

    The reality is, the airsoft industry has moved from being a type of a subculture,and turned into a mainstream marketing environment. In this environment there are going to be spokesmen to promote products and help businesses grow. Even though these people are getting everything for free, or getting a lot of things for free, they are still growing the market. Now, I don't really have a problem with this, it's how business works and it's how the market grows. What I have problems with, is when people pretend like it's not the truth, like it's not real. When celebs say this is my combat footage and we kicked ass, but I was shot five times and that was the best combination of all five takes. I have a problem when the same celebs tell you over and over and over again how great a product is. They never have anything negative to say about anything their sponsor gives them. It's just not honest when the company gives away products and then have high profile people telling others that it's the greatest and you have to have it. The product may be great and may be worth having, but what they forget to tell you, is that it was handed over to them to promote. There is nothing wrong with promoting an item, just be upfront about it.

    Now, you might say that the world is filled with celebrities endorsing products, that is true. I'm sure when you see a world famous celebrity holding a soda product or riding in a car, you know that they were paid for that item or that that was a deal. The sad truth is that in the airsoft industry, there are still a lot of people who are naïve to this concept. It is because we believe our subculture is not part of that greater marketing world. But, if you look carefully it's obvious that airsoft; the industry and players, are very much part of that circle now too.

    Do I think you should now be in an uproar over the fact that airsoft celebrities are taking products and going to events simply to promote things? The simple answer is...No. Many of the celebrity players have a true passion for the sport, which is why they got into airsoft in the first place. I just caution airsoft consumers to see beyond the sales pitch. Understand the reality, that some of the reviews from your most popular, and most liked airsoft personalities and some of the game footage is not always the most honest perspective. If you are okay with that then continue to follow and continue to admire them. We all know that a magician doesn't really saw a woman in half, but, we still go to see the entertainment. It's the same way with the new videos celebrities post and the lives they live, it's good entertainment. As long as we look at it that way then it's okay.

    I do challenge you airsoft celebrities to be more transparent and honest though. There's nothing wrong with admitting that you are successful enough that people gave you things, trust your opinion, and want you to promote their products. It's a sign of achievement, it's a sign of success. Don't lie about your gameplay footage being optimized because you have to answer to important sponsors expecting a certain final product in you footage. It took a lot of time and hard work to get to the position in which you're seen as ambassador of the sport or a promoter of great products. It doesn't have to be you dirty little secret.

    I do want to see airsoft celebrities with influence find more positive contributions that they can make to the world of airsoft. You're a celebrity to a lot of kids, you're an important person in the front of the community, you should do something to give back. It's a way of thanking the community for being so good to you. I don't see enough of that in the airsoft world with the celebrities. I say spend a little less time promoting yourself and whatever product has been handed over to you and step out to use your voice and your long reach to influence positive change and progress so that we see more positive things happening in the community. Airsoft celebrities should not only use their fame for rewards, but also for the good of the sport/ hobby they say they love so much.

    Like I said before, let's not forget there are some great reviewers and leaders in the community. Not as many as we need in comparison to high profile celebs. But, they are out there spending their money and answering to no one person or company so you can get the most honest truth. Now understand that that kind of honesty doesn't always equal popularity, if you're doing the reviews and making game videos just to be popular then you're not getting it. You're a dime a dozen and why not try to be something different.

    There is a reason companies don't give me free stuff and I'm not swimming in the cool swag. I decided not to go down that road. I buy everything I talk about myself and if I'm given something I tell you it was given to me. Even when things are given to me, I will give a 100% honest opinion on the product/event. That may mean I don't get a product from a company a second time, but I'd rather be genuine than get free things. To those of you who are like minded and working hard to do things honestly, keep doing your thing because we need more of you, if this opinion offends you, then you know this is the truth and it is the group you fall into.

    Just one grunts opinion,

    Javier "Darkhorse"

    -------------------------------------------------

    About The Author

    Javier "Darkhorse" Franco, formerly from This Week In Airsoft, runs his own Airsoft Blog on Facebook called "One Grunt's Opinion." This article has been posted here with the author's permission.


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    Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare Gameplay Launch Trailer

    Nothing groundbreaking on the airsoft or tactical front to start the week right for the readers of Popular Airsoft.  Now that we're already past the half way point of October, apart from being the month of zombies and Halloween themes at airsoft game sites all over the world, it's also the month where the noise for marketing some of the biggest FPS video game titles go really loud.

    Activision and Sledgehammer Games are definitely the main culprits, as they prepare the gaming community for the official release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.  Set for release on the 4th of November 2014, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is set far in the future where countries have to rely on a massive Private Military Company, Atlas Corporation, for their security.

    Recruiting Kevin Spacey as the main antagonist for the latest title in the Call of Duty franchise looks like a masterstroke. But what’s more are new features that will change the way we have been playing Call of Duty as more high-tech tools are put our disposal as we play as Jack Mitchell in the game. Too bad many of these are still in the drawing boards of weapons and tactical gear designers and may still take decades to develop. Though the exoskeleton which is now a mainstay in many video games and even movies looks like it’s going to be the first to become a reality for use in military applications:

    The exoskeleton carries over into Multiplayer, where an all-new movement system changes the way players traverse the terrain. Chain together boost actions like jump, dodge, and dash in a fast and fluid style of play. Equip all-new abilities and armaments in the revamped Create-a-Class. Earn additional weapons and gear through in-game Supply Drops, outfitting your operator in the deepest customization experience in franchise history.

    For those who want to be the first to play the game ahead of the rest, they can now pre-order the Day Zero Edition which allows them to have the game a day in advance. This also comes with two custom weapons such as the AK-12G and the Crossbow B-2 Energy Weapon.

    But you'll have to move quickly as the Zero Day Edition is only limited and thus, it'll be a first come, first serve basis so better rush to your nearest game retailer.  And as we anticipate its arrival, Activision releases the Official Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Gameplay Launch Trailer over the weekend.


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    BAE Systems Broadsword

    We go back to looking at some gear for the future warfighter today. Since the start of the 21st Century, the stuff that we just saw in the movies in the previous century such as those from Universal Soldier and even Terminator, are starting to be seriously developed and deployed for use by soldiers in the battlefield. With aims to have a fully networked and connected warfare, even individual soldiers will be expected to carry more and more electronic devices to the field.

    This means more cables, wires, processors, and batteries for them worry about. This also means more weight to carry, especially with batteries, and wires that can just get the soldier entangled and sometimes confused which cable goes to what device.

    To help resolve that problem BAE Systems are proposing their Broadsword family of soldier products that will lessen the load and worries while at the same time increasing the capability of the soldiers. According the company, these are selectable products that use open standards which will allow their customers to control their selection and acquisition of products.

    The main component of the Broadsword family is the Spine which use the latest e-textile technology to manage power and data connectivity to the devices put into use by the soldier. Woven into conductive yarns, Spine is a garment insert that also has embedded data and power management or to put simply a computer. The Spine is more of a ballistic vest which can take in the Spine's technology and has ports for USB connections and power supply. A smartphone app can also be used to monitor the Spine's status such as power levels, signal strengths, and which ports are useable.

    To provide the juice that will power the devices connected to the Spine is the Central Energy Store. This is a big lithium ion battery pack that comes with its integrated charger.  While being charged, the Li-Ion battery can still provide power to the devices. An optional Inductive Seat Charger then charges the batteries when the soldiers is seated inside the vehicle without worrying about the charge cables and charging ports. The charging process starts immediately as soon as the soldier gets seated. Inductive Pouch chargers are also available and these charge the devices when they are inserted into or set beside the pouches without the need any special connection.

    Now included in the Broadsword Family of Products is the Q Warrior Helmet Mounted Display which we wrote about in February 2014. Just like the jet fighter pilot's Heads Up Display (HUD), the Q Warrior also displays tactical information in the monocular see through display. It will be able to plug-in to the Spine and be manage with the soldier's smartphone.

    No details yet which military will soon first adopt the Broadsword, though we are expecting it to be adopted by some U.S. and British units. Only recently, it has been put on display at the recent AUSA 2014 which was held early this October.


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    MTKL 2015 Calendar Indiegogo

    With the uproar on racy photos posted by female IDF soldiers posted on Facebook already way into the past, a select group of female IDF soldiers just did their sexiest poses as part of a calendar that will be released by a new Israeli fashion line. MTKL is founded by 2 former IDF soldiers and recruited fashion designers to design clothing and accessories lines that combine military and street fashion. To make their mark, they have launched the MTKL Calendar 2015 campaign on Indiegogo

    … And they feature some of the most gorgeous female soldiers we have ever seen. Whilst other calendars with girls and guns were basically shot with models who mainly had no military experience, the MTKL models are real soldiers. Perhaps to get more attention to the new fashion brand, "the soldiers by day and models by night" women posed in revealing clothing and sure thing, they just created a buzz for MTKL.

    The launch of the campaign to the fund the MTKL Calendar on Indiegogo is a also crowdfunding campaign for the products and designs that will be released by the company. The calendar will have perks of US$25 for the printed version and US$10 for the high-resolution photos delivered in a digital edition. But if you want to more than just the calendar and be one of the first to have the MTKL apparel, then a perk of US$500.00 will give you exclusive access.

    Even if they don't achieve their funding goal of US$30,000 on Indiegogo, they promise that they will deliver all the calendars to those who have contributed. This is a good thing that for those who are expecting a finished product will definitely get a finished product.

    Just like the Hot Shots Calendar, a part of the proceeds for the MTKL Calendar is also devoted to charity. 10% of the proceeds will go to the Association for the Well-being of Israel's Soldiers (AWIS).

    We don’t know if the clothes worn by the soldier-models on the MTKL Calendar 2015 are previews of the street wear as envisioned by the founders of the MTKL. But as for the Calendar, they see deliveries in November 2014 though the Indiegogo campaign ends on the 6th of December 2014. Since this is a "Flexible Funding" campaing, the funds raised will still go to the MTKL even if the funding goals have not been achieved.

    If many of you are frustrated with the lack of real female soldiers in those tactical calendars, then your wish may have been granted. With the MTKL Calendar 2015, you now get to see real ones in more revealing loadouts.


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    RAZAR

    The rifle scope now gets updated for the 21st Century. What has been long been a feature on digital cameras, especially the bridge camera ones can now be a feature on rifle scopes. With the prototype RAZAR from Sandia Laboratories, a shooter can now toggle rapidly between magnification at the press of the button though it works differently from digital cameras.

    It is a simple solution to an important need in shooting: the ability to zoom in and out quickly without taking their eyes off the target and removing their hands from the rifle. When time is of the essence, especially for targets moving to a new position, the push button approach can minimize the time to  zoom on the target and firing the shot.

    RAZAR or Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles development is being led by Special Forces Operator turned engineer, Brett Bagwell:

    “The impetus behind the idea of push-button zoom is you can acquire what you’re interested in at low magnification and, without getting lost, zoom in for more clarity,” Bagwell said.

    He saw the need to work RAZAR as there are no existing commercial products to answer the need for a push button magnification scope. For over a hundred years, optics from shooting have been more on turning the lenses along an optical axis to zoom in and out on a target for clarity. The push button pad of RAZAR will remind you of the switch pads for weapons lights and thus operating RAZAR is a not a hard thing to do. It is more getting used to a new way of operating a rifle scope. Also, RAZAR was a response to the interest of Department of Defense for an easy to toggle compact rifle scope in 2006.

    To allow this capability for a rifle scope, it uses a technology called "adaptive zoom" also developed by a Sandia engineer, David Wick:

    "Adaptive zoom changes the focal lengths of two or more lenses by varying the curvature of the lenses’ surfaces to provide optical zoom without changing their overall positions relative to one another, allowing the user to view either a wide-angle image or zoom in on an area of interest with a compact, low-power system, Wick said."

    Apart from military applications, the technologies used in RAZAR can also be used for other purposes that require the rapid magnification required such as binoculars, medical imaging, and even digital cameras used in mobile phones.

    With the positive feedback coming from former military personnel who have tested the RAZAR now has led Bagwell to work on making it adapted for night vision and thermal imaging systems.


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