Monday, December 22, 2008

Airsoft Weapons Systems: WMDs?

After seeing the movie No Country for Old Men, I wonder if an unseemly improvised weapon like the pneumatic air gun used in that movie could be the next WMD threat?

By: Vanessa Uy

Touted by movie buffs as one of the scariest “improvised” or “MacGyver-ized” weapons of mass destruction or WMD of 2007, the “mother-of-all-airsoft-weapons-systems” used in the movie No Country for Old Men. Will that particular weapon be destined to become the most popular improvised unseemly weapons system of choice for budding terrorists?

Folks who lived in the “cattle-belt” region of the United States say that the pneumatic air gun used in that particular movie say that it was “allegedly” built as a “humane” way to kill cattle for the meatpacking industry. If this is true, either industrial efficiency has already divorced itself from widely accepted societal moral norms when it comes to animal cruelty. Or the US meatpacking industry is already starting to acquire a really sick sense of humor as the humane law regulatory body fell asleep at the wheel again. Given that Christmas – together with the American celebration of Thanksgiving – is the major meat consumption season of the Christian West shouldn’t cattle or other meat-producing livestock deserve to be raised ethically and slaughtered humanely?

Even though at “first glance” the movie No Country for Old Men looks like it’s primarily inspired by the long lost art of “MacGyver-ism” due to the pneumatic gun’s prominence in the movie as a murder weapon. In my opinion, the movie – true to the book it is based on – is really about the true meaning of what was the “Old West” – warts and all. Some who are currently doing their doctoral thesis might say that the move – as is the book it is based on – is a critique of the over-glamorized rose tinted – sometimes disrespectfully caricatured - 1950’s Hollywood portrayal of the “Old West”. Given that a Nietzschean leaning perception of the true meaning of “morality” has been largely made anathema by the eight years of the Bush Administration, this aspect of the movie – and the book – is often “overlooked” by a large majority of moviegoers and the book’s readers.

To the airsoft gaming community, the movie is often perceived as an anachronistic perversion of the dueling codes of conduct of the “Old West”. Though I often question the wisdom of viewing the past through the prism of the here-and-now, it is certainly is an inescapable intellectual absurdity. That is why I’m a staunch proponent of historical accuracy and / or historical authenticity when it comes to conducting an airsoft military – or other conflict scenario – simulation games.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Metal Storm Airsoft Weapons System

An airsoft weapons system based on J. Mike O’Dwyer’s million rounds per minute capable Metal Storm would not only be a technical tour de force, but would forever change the face of airsoft. Ready for a revolution?

By: Vanessa Uy

When a loan tinkerer named J. Mike O’Dwyer from Queensland, Australia – after 15 years of trial and error - managed to construct a working prototype of his multibarrel electronic gun that’s capable of firing over a million bullets per minute back in 1999. It set-off a revolution that every government’s military organizations around the world find hard to ignore. Rightly so because the other fastest gun at that time, the Gatling-type machine guns with an electrical motor-driven firing mechanism, can “only” fire at 6,000 rounds per minute.

O’Dwyer’s Metal Storm concept is so revolutionary that according to military top brass who witness the first few field tests say that Metal Storm might be the only weapons system that could save more people than it kills. It’s high rate of fire is very useful in neutralizing incoming mortar fire and other heavy artillery, especially in humanitarian aid camps in various war zones around the world. Plus, Metal Storm’s adjustable spread of fire is also very useful in clearing minefields of UXO s without endangering minesweeping personnel. Another bonus of this unique weapons system is the fact that it is an electronically operated system, it is easier to add electronic safeguards like proprietary passwords that would render the weapons system inoperable if it ever falls into enemy hands.

Currently being manufactured by Metal Storm Limited, a company with both an Australian Stock Exchange and NASDAQ public stock listings (ASX: MST, NASDAQ: MTSX) reminiscent of piano builder's Steinway’s LVB (for Ludwig van Beethoven) public stock listings. Metal Storm Limited is primarily a research and development company that specializes in electronically initiated stacked projectile weapons systems. Metal Storm is both the name of the company and the weapons system technology that the company specializes in. The company is based in Brisbane, Australia with a subsidiary in Washington, D.C., USA. Metal Storm owns the proprietary rights to the electronic ballistics technology originally invented by J. Mike O’Dwyer.

Since electronics today is now very cheap compared to 9 or so years ago, an airsoft weapons system / AEG replica gun similar to Metal Storm might obviate the need of a motor. The motor could be replaced by a number of solenoids controlling the array of barrel’s firing mechanism. Even though an airsoft Metal Storm gun will never be single-man portable, it’s high rate of fire – depending on the number of barrels in the array – would make it’s target find out that being hit by one can be a surreal experience. This might revolutionize airsoft gaming scene if the Metal Storm airsoft weapons system becomes widely available.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Science Fiction Based Airsoft Simulation Games

Ever since a segment of the airsoft gaming world embraced Stargate: SG1’s P90 weapons system and the science fiction TV series noted epic battle scenes. Will the wider world of the airsoft gaming community embrace the world of sci-fi battle scenes?

By: Vanessa Uy

Maybe it was the release of the soot-em-up video game called Star Trek Elite Force and it’s subsequent variants and incarnations. Or the inclusion of Navy Seal / Delta Force-type personnel in the recent Enterprise series that allowed Trekkies – majority of which that I know of are also airsoft enthusiast – to create simulations reenacting their favorite battle scenes in various Star Trek episodes. From the original series to the last Enterprise TV series, there’s no shortage of scenarios to choose from.

When it comes to the world of science fiction combat scenario – especially ones involving fully automatic infantry weapons. Simulating epic battle scenes using airsoft weapons systems usually depends on the scenario you intend to reenact.

In the science fiction side of the airsoft gaming world, the only widely available science fiction oriented airsoft weapon system - bar Stargate: SG-1’s P90 - is the M41 Pulse Rifle used by the US Marine expeditionary fighting force accompanying Lt. Ellen Ripley in the movie Aliens. Noting that “widely” is a relative term here since an overwhelming majority of airsoft gamers tend to gravitate toward historically real events like the Vietnam War or Operation: Desert Storm, etc.

On the Star Trek end of things, given that Masterpiece Models – the official Starfleet Armory and manufacturer of Star Trek-oriented weaponry – sells these products to avid Trekkies. Since they’ve already made very good Type III Phaser Rifles and compression rifles used in Star Trek: Voyager series, should licence their designs to airsoft manufacturers so that the airsoft gaming world will finally have a somewhat true Star Trek experience.

The problem with celluloid / movie or TV battle scenes – especially ones involving shooting a target over 200 meters away – is that long distances don’t lend themselves particularly well in the make believe world of the proverbial silver screen. Even the latest high definition contrivances don’t even come close of the real experience of shooting a helmet placed 300 meters away with a Kalashnikov using it’s iron sights. Especially when you did this first hand and you’re lucky enough to posses a pair of eyes with a slightly better than 20/20 visual acuity.

Luckily – or is it due to the brilliant directors clever cinematography – that science fiction-based combat scenes usually takes place in close quarters. Like the shipboard phaser-type weapons combat in Star Trek, or in Aliens where the marine’s arch-nemesis tend to pounce on them at very close distances. As an avid Star Trek fan, I never saw their phasers or compression rifles being used at targets more than 300 meters away.

Cinematic foibles such as these tend to benefit airsoft gamers since airsoft weapon systems’ projectiles – i.e. the plastic BB pellets – have a very poor ballistic coefficient. Even ones with muzzle velocities that measure 450 or so feet per second slow down very rapidly the farther the target you intend to shoot. Shooting someone half a basketball court away using an airsoft weapons system – even with a 450 feet per second muzzle velocity – your game mate will just do a “Matrix”-style swerve to evade your pellet fire. So close quarter scenarios are a prerequisite in airsoft battle simulations, especially good ones.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Female Friendly Military Uniforms: A Boon for the Airsoft Gaming World?

Will Spain’s defense minister’s promise of a female friendly redesign of their army uniforms issued to women enlistees be a boon to airsoft female players when airsoft supply shops start to stock them?

By: Vanessa Uy

Starting Thursday, September 4, 2008 military uniforms in Spain will get a female friendly redesign for women enlistees, the Spanish defense minister Carme Chacon said on Wednesday. Chacon was the first woman to fill the position has promised to change the uniforms to better suit “female body shapes”. “Men and women have the same rights, but they have a totally different physical make-up,” Chacon said during a meeting with dozens of women soldiers. “The uniforms should be changed to meet women’s needs,” the minister said.

The new uniforms will be designed to fit “women’s chest, hips and waistlines” better, the Spanish daily El Mundo said Thursday. The defense ministry says that the uniform redesign will be based on a recent study from the country’s ministry of health, which measured the body types of thousands of Spanish women. By the way, the Spanish armed forces did not start to admit women until 1988. The number of women in Spain’s military currently reaches 15,400 out of a total strength of 79,000.

It’s quite surprising that Spain spearheaded the program to design military uniforms specifically aimed for long-term comfort for women serving in the Spanish armed forces. Despite the burden of being the universally accepted stereotype of Spain being known as the spiritual and ancestral home of chauvinism (not to mention The Inquisition), it is quite refreshing that Spain is the first ever country to tackle this “relatively esoteric” issue. Esoteric to me because Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin never talked about the issue of female-friendly military uniforms publicly, not even on Saturday Night Live. Whether it is an effect of the spirit of EU egalitarianism manifesting itself or otherwise, the move is quite refreshing. But the female-friendly uniform design will undoubtedly revolutionize not only the world’s military, but also will trickle-down to law enforcement agencies.

Also, will airsoft clubs be not so far behind since women players over 14 are finding out that battle dress uniforms – even expensive ones that are currently standard issue to the US military – are not exactly designed with women’s long-term comfort in mind. This might kick-start the formation of an all women airsoft team, which just over a year ago seems almost inconceivable. Will female-friendly ballistic armor vests / body armor / bulletproof vests be offered soon?

Monday, September 8, 2008

The International Red Cross Emblem: Off Limits in Airsoft?

Ever since the high-profile rescue operation of Ingrid Betancourt from her FARC captors, a legal row erupted over the misuse of the Red Cross symbol. Does this now include Airsoft military-simulation game scenarios?

By: Vanessa Uy

Ever since that dramatic hostage-rescue operation of former Columbian Green party presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt together with 14 other hostages from their FARC captors became headline news back in July 2, 2008, a somewhat relatively esoteric aspect of international law also gained headline news exposure. Namely the law about prohibiting the misuse of the International Red Cross’ Red Cross emblem.

The Columbian Military’s use of the Red Cross emblem in Operation Jaque as a rouse to rescue Columbian-French politician Ingrid Betancourt constitutes as a “war crime” under the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. That specific stunt could endanger humanitarian workers in the future according to international legal expert Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association. According to Ellis: “It is clear that the conventions are very strict regarding use of the symbol because of what it represents: impartiality and neutrality”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross - or Comité International de la Croix-Rouge as the ICRC is known in the Francophone world - was founded by Jean Henri Dunant in Geneva, Switzerland back in 1864. Jean Henri Dunant also founded the Geneva Convention and is also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1901. As a neutral spectator at the Battle of Solferino in Italy on June 24, 1859, Dunant witnessed first hand the horrors of war. When at the day’s end, the battleground was littered with some 40,000 dead and wounded victims of the conflict. Horrified by the suffering of the unattended men, Dunant organized groups of volunteers to serve them. Brought supplies for the soldiers’ use, and worked personally as attendant and nurse. His experience of the war has made him decide to form a humanitarian organization, which will later become the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A few years later, Dunant finally managed to organize a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in August 8 – 22, 1864 attended by official delegations of European nations. At this meeting the Geneva Convention of 1864 for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field was adopted and signed by 12 of the nations represented. Thus, the Red Cross was born. In honor of Dunant’s nationality, a “red cross on a white background” – the Swiss flag with the colors reversed – was chosen as the symbol.

A group of prominent Swiss citizens who were instrumental in arranging the Geneva meeting became organized as the International Committee of the Red Cross. It’s functions include the recognition of new national Red Cross societies; working for the development and observance of international humanitarian agreements – especially the Geneva conventions. Acting as a neutral intermediary in time of war or internal strife to ensure the victims of such conflicts of protection and assistance; and in particular serving the welfare of prisoners of war, making appropriate recommendations for ameliorating their condition.

In 1867 the first International Red Cross Conference was held in Paris. Regular meetings of this highest deliberative body of the Red Cross are held normally once every four years. Its membership is composed of representatives of the national societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the League of Red Cross Societies, and the governments that are signatory to the Geneva Conventions. The humanitarian effort of the International Committee of the Red Cross has earned them scores of accolades. The ICRC has won a number of times the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1917, in 1944, and in 1963.

As a prestigious humanitarian organization, the ICRC is very serious with regards to the issue of misuse of the Red Cross emblem. Over the years, there are incidences of violation of this relatively esoteric legal issue. Like the ICRC ‘s pending legal dispute over a multinational drug company who insists of using the Red Cross emblem as a “mere” branding logo of it's products. Also, Back in the mid-1980’s, the Philippine National Red Cross threatened to sue Tommy Tanchanco – founder of the long-defunct Philippine punk rock record label called Twisted Red Cross (TRC) – in court for using the International Red Cross emblem on his TRC products and tapes. Tommy, being a son of an influential ex-government minister, just brushed the threat aside. After all every Twisted Red Cross or TRC punk rocker knows that the TRC record label logo is actually a red colored “X” set over a white circle as background.

In the Airsoft world, there seems to be a “tacit compliance” with regards to the proper use of the Red Cross emblem that managed to permeate globally in airsoft military simulation games. Every team I’ve witnessed first hand so far, even those from far away who posted their Airsoft gaming activities on the web – either via still photos or YOUTUBE – had never misused the International Red Cross symbol. In my place, players with medical degrees or has a medical profession often volunteer as ad hoc medics / "Corpsmen" during Airsoft military-simulation games don’t wear ICRC armbands. Is this just because ICRC armbands are well-regulated commodities? Not even lapel pins designating what kind of Medical Corps they belong to. For all intents and purposes some of them probably belong to the Veterinary Corps.

Humor aside, it seems that the global Airsoft gaming community – so far – has been tacitly policing themselves with regards to the proper use of the Red Cross emblem in military simulation games. I just hope that it stays this way for years to come. But to be sure, I’m doing my part of spreading awareness on the proper use of the Red Cross emblem. If you’re reading this, please kindly spread the message to your local Airsoft gaming community.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Are Airsoft Gas Blowback Guns Earth-Friendly?

Despite their relatively high operational cost compared to Auto Electric Gun-type Airsoft weapons systems, are gas blowback Airsoft-type guns using CFC / Freon-based propellants harmful to our planets still-recovering ozone layer?

By: Vanessa Uy

Even though they can cost several times to run / maintain and on rare occasions repair than your more common battery-operated Auto Electric Gun or AEG-type Airsoft weapons systems, Gas blowback Airsoft-type guns still enjoy widespread popularity. Maybe its due to the fact that when they fire, they resemble uncannily like a real gun firing – i.e. their charging handle and ejection port moves like the real thing every time you pull the trigger. After seeing gas blowback Airsoft versions of the Heckler and Koch MP5 or the M-14 assault rifle in action with the charging handle rocking back and forth rapidly when fired from a full auto mode, it can be quite hard to resist the urge to buy one despite the caveats.

Though still relatively rare in the infantry weapons, sub machinegun side of the replica gun universe, gas blowbacks reign supreme in the handgun / side-arm world of Airsoft gaming. Not only because – at present – only a gas blowback mechanism is capable of mimicking the slide recoil action of semi-automatic pistols, but also because some models sound like a real .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol when they fire. Piston and gear assemblies that power AEG-type Airsoft guns has not yet been made small enough to fit snugly inside replica semi-automatic pistols. Not even for a relatively large handgun like a Colt Series 70. But before we assess the ozone-damaging effects of gas blowback Airsoft-type weapons systems, let us examine first their history.

Back in the 1970’s when the gas blowback Airsoft military simulation game “craze” began in Japan, the gamers use Freon-12 or R-12 CFC-based refrigerant gas. A gas that will be deemed illegal by law in the following years due to it’s ozone-depleting properties. And besides, Freon-12 / R-12 refrigerant gas is a relatively expensive gas just to be vented into the atmosphere just to propel a 6mm plastic BB pellet at more than 300 feet per second. Not to mention that a single molecule of Freon-12 / R-12 or similar CFC-based refrigerants was proven in several scientific studies to destroy 10,000 individual ozone molecules. This spells bad news for the ozone layer.

Contemporary 21st Century gas blowback Airsoft guns utilize a much ozone-friendly (we’re told) gas known commonly on the Airsoft gaming market by its trade name of “green gas”. Green gas – usually sold under pressure in gas cylinders – consists of a mixture of propane, poysiloxane lubricant, and HFC-134a. Green gas is usually used on gas blowback Airsoft guns whose muzzle velocity hovers around 300 to 400 feet per second. When an Airsoft enthusiast upgrades his or her gas blowback weapons system to enable to fire those 6mm plastic BB s faster than 450 feet per second, he or she must switch to a different kind of gas called “red gas”.

Red gas is a trade name of the gas used by Airsoft enthusiast to “power” their gas blowback weapons systems after upgrading the muzzle velocity specs. Red gas consists of a mixture of HCFC-22, carbon dioxide and nitrogen / high-pressure air. Red gas usually reserved to be used only in upgraded Airsoft gas blowback guns because the gas has a relatively high critical pressure, which can cause damage to the slides and bolts of an unmodified gun.

When it comes to the environmental impact of green gas, the refrigerant component of it - HFC-134a – was developed as a less ozone damaging replacement for Freon-12 / R-12. But this resulted in increased electricity consumption in refrigerators / air-conditioning units because HFC-134a is a less efficient / lower specific heat rated refrigerant compared to Freon-12. Fortunately, it takes more carbon dioxide molecules to cause climate change than Freon-12 molecules to destroy the ozone layer so the efficiency issue of HFC-134a can be viewed as an acceptable compromise.

While the refrigerant component of red gas – HCFC-22 – was also developed as a less ozone damaging replacement for Freon-12 / R-12 and is a more efficient refrigerant than HCF-134a. HCFC-22 is somewhat notorious for being a better greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide because it has a higher specific heat rating. HCFC-22 use was banned for refrigerant use toward the end of the 1990’s for fears that it might exacerbate the progress of global warming.

Despite the environmental concerns based on the chemical properties of the gases used in Airsoft gas blowback guns, the red gas component HCFC-22 and the green gas component HFC-134a poses only a minimal degree of threat to the ozone layer using data of the studies done in the 1990’s. HCFC-22 and HFC-134a easily degrades compared to the Freon-12 / R-12 that they replaced. And when the newer refrigerants chemically break down in the ozone layer under intense ultraviolet spectrum exposure, they won’t break down as many ozone molecules as they degrade in our planet’s ozone layer compared to Freon-12 / R-12. Also, they are relatively expensive so widespread use is not much of an issue. If this bothers you, there are always those cheaper battery operated AEG guns. Which you can chose to recharge via wind or solar photovoltaic generated electricity.

Sino-Indian War Airsoft Military Simulation Games

Underwriting your Airsoft team’s first ever Sino-Indian War military simulation games is a lot easier now than you might think. The question now is wether to chose the historically accurate 1962 version or Gene Roddenberry’s?

By: Vanessa Uy

Given the increasing plethora – not to mention affordability - of Airsoft gaming props like Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU s) and accessories like body armor modeled after the one’s used by the US Army in their operations in Iraq. Especially ones colored for camouflage in an urban battlefield has become quite similar to those used in Gene Roddenberry's “apocryphal” escalation of the Sino-Indian War or S-I War on his Earth: Final Conflict TV series. Now makes underwriting your Airsoft team’s own S-I War military simulation games much easier now compared to 10 years ago. But first let’s examine the options on which version of the S-I War we’ll be re-creating since technically there’s already three of them. There’s the historically accurate one that’s documented on that famous Indian patriotic film titled “Haqeeqat”. Then there’s Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek version where the genetically enhanced revolutionary named Khan Sing avenges “Nehru’s Shame” – i.e. the 1962 Sino-Indian War. And the third is Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict version of the S-I War. Where the United States was dragged into a renewed Sino-Indian War of the early 21st Century before the benevolent Taelons race arrival from space. But since the real historical version is somewhat less familiar to the wider world compared to Gene Roddenberry’s “literary embellished” version, I’ll only explain the historically accurate version of the Sino-Indian for the benefit of the uninitiated.

According to “official” historical records, the Sino-Indian War – also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict – was a war between the People’s Republic of China and India that started in October 10, 1962 and ended in November 21, 1962. The initial cause of the war was a disputed region of the Himalayan border in Arunachal Pradesh, known in China as South Tibet. The relatively minor inter-border skirmishes didn’t reach into a full-scale war until October 20, 1962 between the People’s Liberation Army and the Military of India.

The first heavy engagement of the war was started by a Chinese attack on an Indian patrol north of the McMahon Line. The fighting eventually spread to the region of Aksai Chin in which the PRC ’s party functionaries at that time regarded as a strategic link that’s navigable via the China National Highway route G219, between Chinese-administered territories of Tibet and the ethnic-Muslim populated province of Xinjiang.

The war ended when the Chinese captured both disputed areas and unilaterally decided a cease-fire on November 20, 1962, which went into effect at midnight. The Sino-Indian War was notable for the harsh conditions, under which much of the fighting took place, entailing large-scale combat altitudes of over 4,267 meters (14,000 feet). This presented numerous logistical problems for both sides.

The aftermath of the war saw sweeping changes in the Indian Military to prepare it for similar conflicts in the future, and placed undue political pressure on India’s then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who was seen as responsible for failing to anticipate the Chinese Invasion. The battlefront was located at North - East Frontier Agency and Aksi Chin. Even though the Chinese won, this resulted in the subsequently withdrawal to pre-war positions. Those who died during the Sino-Indian War include 1,460 Chinese troops compared to the 3,128 Indian soldiers that were killed. On the Chinese side, only 569 of their PLA troops were wounded compared to 1,697 Indian soldiers. Troops captured by the Chinese included 3,123 Indian soldiers, while India captured none of their Chinese adversaries. For all intents and purposes, the Sino-Indian war is a one-sided war favoring China. Yet many in the West saw it as a police action launched by Chairman Mao against His Holiness, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet and the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India. Thus making Tibet’s spiritual leader, one of the world’s best loved “resistance fighter” albeit in a pacifist way.

While Haqeeqat, the famous Indian patriotic film about the 1962 Sino-Indian War, typifies the Indian Military’s resolve of not giving up their cause of maintaining India’s sovereignty against overwhelming odds by choosing to die in battle instead of surrendering their territory to China. The main plot of Haqeeqat centers on a small platoon of Indian soldiers in the hilly terrain of Ladakh. The soldiers were considered dead when they failed to contact their Combat Information Center to update their present status. They were rescued eventually by the local Ladakhi tribesmen and by Captain Bahadur Singh (played by the Indian actor Dharmendra). The small platoon are then asked to retreat from their post (chowky) as an overwhelming hordes of Chinese troops have already surrounded them. Captain Bahadur Singh and his girlfriend Almo (played by Indian actress Priya Rajvansh) both died in a firefight to hold the advancing Chinese troops at bay so that their fellow comrades can fall back to safety. Despite their heroic efforts, the retreating platoon of Indian soldiers are eventually caught between a rock and a hard place situation and instead resorted to fighting the advancing Chinese PLA troops. Eventually giving up their lives for their country.

Despite becoming India’s de facto patriotic film, to me, Haqeeqat has subtle Left-leaning views. Especially the part when Captain Singh’s girlfriend Almo willingly chose to die in defense for her country was included in this movie and was not cut-out by Indias board of film censors at the time. This despite of India being a staunchly patriarchal society – even till this day. Was Mahatma Gandhi’s message of “equality” still fresh in 1962 period India? But anyway, you should make effort to at least try to see Haqeeqat since DVD s of it are already advertised all over the Internet. The movie is really that good. I just hope that Hollywood will do a remake of this that’s as good as the 1965 Indian version.

While ad hoc props for an Airsoft military simulation game based on Gene Roddenberry’s somewhat futuristic version of the Sino-Indian War are widely available in just about any Airsoft shops around the world. Those infantry weapons / small arms props used in the historically real 1962 Sino-Indian War movie Haqeeqat is somewhat hard to obtain. Airsoft versions of the infantry weapons / small arms that were probably used during the 1962 Sino-Indian War like the BREN light machine gun, various WWII-era British sub machineguns, Lee Enfield SMLE s, and the M-3 Grease Gun are few and far between in our place. Though old style Kalashnikovs (AK-47 s) are a dime-a-dozen, FN FAL s with wooden inlays the type that are just fielded during the end of the 1950’s are virtually impossible to find. Plus, most of the Airsoft enthusiasts in our area are ethnic Chinese while only a few pass- muster as Indian troops. And even those that somewhat do look more like Singhalese IT billionaires than Indian soldiers. Especially when wearing an Indian military Dafadar’s uniform. Though hard to undertake, Airsoft military simulation games based on the real 1962 Sino-Indian War are very interesting though rare undertakings nonetheless.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do Heavier BB Pellets Make a Better Airsoft Gun?

A thorny topic plaguing the modern military assault rifle world in the guise of 5.56mm versus 7.62mm round also has its equivalent in the Airsoft world – i.e. 0.2-gram 6mm BB pellets versus heavier types. Can the laws of physics offer insight?

By: Ringo Bones

Ever since the debate on which weapon system is best – automatic assault rifles that fire the 5.56mm X 45mm cartridge versus ones designed to fire the 7.62mm X 51mm NATO round – arose during the Vietnam War. Many a servicemen and gun enthusiast around the world readily embraced the resultant maxim of the debate. A maxim stating that the heavier the bullet, the more accurate and energetic it is – i.e. more kinetic energy. More kinetic energy equals more killing power. Thus, making everyone and his dog in the Airsoft AEG weapons system gaming community to stock-up on heavier 0.25-gram 6mm plastic BB pellets – even heavier 0.3 and 0.5-gram types – in lieu of the standard / regulation-approved 0.2-gram 6mm plastic BB pellets. The question now is, are their “obsession” with heavier plastic BB pellets grounded in the laws of everyday Newtonian physics?

Just because Airsoft AEG 6mm plastic BB pellet-firing weapons systems produce even lower recoil than the latest super V recoil vectoring technology-equipped KRIS submachine gun doesn’t mean that Airsoft enthusiast are entitled – even wise - to use the heaviest 6mm plastic BB pellets available. Apart from engendering a 0.2-gram versus 0.25-gram or even a 0.3-gram debate in the Airsoft world, and here’s the reason why.

The typical formula for calculating the kinetic energy of a typical projectile – i.e. how hard a bullet will hit the target, is typically calculated using the formula Ke=½m•v². Where: Ke or kinetic energy is equal to one-half of the mass (m) of the projectile or bullet multiplied by the square of the velocity (v²) or velocity multiplied by the velocity of the projectile. For calculating convenience, we’ll use meters per second for velocity, even though a typical chronograph (the device used for measuring the muzzle velocity in an Airsoft competition) is set to measure the velocity in feet per second. Also, don’t forget to convert the given weight of your 6mm BB pellets weight into kilograms (example 0.2-gram BB = 0.0002Kg). This is necessary because the kinetic energy formula Ke=½m•v² is an MKS (meter, kilogram, second) formula which gives the answer in Joules or kilogram meter per second, as a measure of kinetic energy.

Example: given that a certain Airsoft AEG weapons system fired an 0.2-gram BB pellet at a muzzle velocity of 128 meters per second (about 420 feet per second) about the same muzzle velocity as my own Airsoft AEG gun when measured from a competition-sanctioned chronograph. This works out to be: Ke=½ (0.0002kg)•(128 meters / second)² = 1.6384 Joules, which is about the same energy rating as the spring driving the piston primarily responsible for throwing that 0.2-gram 6mm plastic BB pellet to it’s intended target at such velocity. Since the energy transfer in the gearbox and piston system of a typical Airsoft AEG weapons system is conserved – i.e. you can’t pack in more nitrocellulose propellant – a heavier 6mm BB pellet will only result in a velocity slowdown. This is so because the spring can only transfer 1.6384 Joules worth of kinetic energy. In my Airsoft AEG gun, using a 0.25-gram 6mm BB pellet caused the chronograph reading to fall to 114 meters per second (374 feet per second) in accordance with the law of energy conservation. Using lighter 0.12-gram 6mm BB pellets allowed my Airsoft gun to fire at a muzzle velocity of 165 meters per second (541meters per second), but this resulted in a wildly inaccurate trajectory since 0.12-gram BB s are just too light given their inferior ballistic coefficient characteristics. The mathematical / theoretical results might be sobering, but how is it in practice?

My first-hand experience points out that heavier BB pellets suffer less horizontal deflection in flight, especially on windy conditions, but your range can be compromised by as much as 20%. About the same as that resulting from using a silencer / suppressor on a typical sniper rifle. Also, the energy transfer of the pellet is about the same as it’s lighter counterpart since you are only using the same spring with the same energy transfer characteristics.

As a “mere toy”, Airsoft AEG has surprisingly gained widespread acceptance among “strike teams” around the world for their CQB / room clearing training sessions because they are much safer than real guns being loaded with paintball-type ammunition being shot at their fellow team mates. Despite it’s inherent range limitations due to the woefully poor ballistic coefficient characteristics of your typical 6mm plastic BB pellets, these various government and law-enforcement strike teams have learned to live with the Airsoft AEG gun’s limitations. Shouldn’t those “mere civilians / pseudo militias” Airsoft enthusiasts learn to accept them too?

M-134 Dillon Minigun as an Airsoft AEG Weapons System: Over the Top?

Popularized by Hollywood blockbuster action movies like Predator and Terminator2: Judgement Day, is the M-134 Dillon minigun, in it’s Airsoft BB gun version, somewhat over the top as a “mere toy”?

By: Ringo Bones

Ever since the M-134 Dillon minigun, a Gatling-type multiple rotating barreled 7.62mm machine gun, was popularized by scores of Hollywood action movies and even the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters”. Airsoft AEG BB gun companies are quick to capitalize on the M-134 Dillon minigun’s popularity by manufacturing and selling their Airsoft replica gun that fires 6mm plastic BB pellets based on the famed weapons system. But the nagging and oft-asked question arises - is an M-134 Dillon minigun-type Airsoft weapons system just way over-the-top Airsoft replica weapons system for day-to-day gaming?

Even if an overwhelming majority of the global Airsoft gaming community says otherwise, this doesn’t dissuade some from purchasing themselves the “best ever” Airsoft AEG BB gun / weapons system ever made. The proof of this can be found on some obscure YOUTUBE sites. An Airsoft enthusiast, with probably more money than sense, demonstrates his 6mm plastic BB pellet-firing M-134 Dillon minigun – which probably cost similar to or is 500 US dollars more expensive than the Indian-made 2,500 US dollar Tata Nano – by shooting it at an unsuspecting 14-inch TV set. Thus turning it into a pellet riddled pile of junk destined to the local community’s overloaded landfill. Despite it’s steep price, the Airsoft version of the M-134 Dillon minigun can be considered a bargain when compared to the real thing which has an MSRP of 50,000 US dollars or about as expensive as a fully pimped-out Lexus. The question now is – inherent poverty aside – should every Airsoft enthusiast avails himself or herself of the M-134 Dillon minigun?

Just because the former pro-wrestler, action star, Minnesota governor Jesse “I’m proud of my Slovak heritage” a.k.a. “The Body” Ventura looks good using one on the first Predator movie. Or if perennial action star and incumbent California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also looks good when using one on Terminator 2 doesn’t mean that the M-134 Dillon minigun is the Airsoft gun for all seasons, far from it in fact. But if you don’t mind the encumbrance of what is a crew-serve weapon in the first place being carried solely by you while evading a maelstrom plastic 6mm BB pellet fire, then maybe, you’ll just fall in love with it. The only problem is that an overwhelming number of Airsoft game clubs and tournaments forbade the use of the Dillon minigun. Assuming that you’re lucky enough to find one that does, 6mm BB pellets – especially high density premium grade ones famed for their accuracy – are not exactly cheap. This is one of those not-so-ideal places to engender resentment, especially since a number of Airsoft clubs are staunchly clinging to their “Marxist-Leninist Ideals”.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

P90: The Best Airsoft Gun Ever?

Made famous to us BB gun enthusiasts via the fourth season of the sci-fi TV series Stargate: SG1, does an Airsoft BB AEG weapons system modeled after the P90 is – as their fans swear – the best Airsoft gun ever?

By: Ringo Bones

Stargate: SG1, a sci-fi TV series that not only revived Richard Dean Anderson’s post-MacGyver acting career, and spread awareness to the TV “couch-potato” community the works of German mathematician Herman Weyl and theoretical physicist John Wheeler about the yet-to-be-discovered cosmological phenomenon called wormholes. But also made famous – during the series’ fourth season – a somewhat esoteric weapons system called the P90 in which we - the Airsoft Replica / BB gun AEG weapons system enthusiasts – are forever grateful. Not to mention the time when one of the contributors of this blog became a “rabid” Stargate: SG1 fan when her “look-alike”, the perennial TV sci-fi guest star Elisabeth Rosen appeared in a fourth season episode titled “Prodigy”. But before we proceed, let us first discuss briefly on how the P-90 weapons system came into being.

The P90 (FNP90) is a Belgian designed weapons system that fires the 5.7mm X 28mm or colloquially known as five-seven cartridges. It is usually classified as a submachine gun even though the five-seven cartridges that it fires are classified as an intermediate round. To the uninitiated, an intermediate round is a cartridge that is more powerful than a standard 9mm round, but has less kinetic energy and range compared to a “full-grown” rifle round like the NATO 5.56mm X 51mm or the 7.62mm X 44mm cartridge. Stéphane Ferrard originally developed the P90 at Fabrique Nationale de Herstal in 1986 to 1987. The weapon’s name is an abbreviation of Project, and the number 90, which specifies as a weapons system of the 1990’s. Since the weapons system’s inception, the P90 has engendered a new class of weapons systems called Personal Defense Weapons or PDW. The need for Personal Defense Weapon arose when increasing number of criminals and terrorists acquired Kevlar body armor with a level 2 bullet resistance rating which can easily stop a 9mm round fired from a Heckler and Koch MP-5. The P90 is a selective fire straight blow back-operated weapon with a short recoiling barrel that fires from a closed bolt position. This made the gun a compact bull-pup design suitable for CQB situations.

Despite the P90’s design merits, the US military has resisted its widespread use, relying instead of newer variants and upgrades of Eugene Stoner’s famed M-16 design. Looks like the TV sci-fi series’ top secret US Air Force unit in Stargate: SG1 is looking very “science fictioney” indeed for using a weapons system that looks more like a ray gun – i.e. the P90 when compared to the looks-so-high-tech-back-in-1964 M-16 / M4 A1-type assault rifles.

Airsoft BB gun AEG weapons system modeled after the P90 are very suitable for use in CQB / room clearing simulations because there’s no 20-inch barrel advertising your position an you enter. Majority of the world’s military outfits are now increasingly embracing bull-pup designs, like the British SA-80, the Austrian Steyr AUG, or the French FAS 5.56mm X 45mm assault rifles because their compactness doesn’t become an encumbrance in close quarter firefights in urban warfare situations.

Despite of its positive attributes, a significant number in the global Airsoft gaming community “vehemently” disliked Airsoft BB gun AEG weapons systems modeled after the P90. As is with the criticism thrown against Airsoft guns modeled after the XM8, many of them view guns with an increasing number of external plastic components – even the real lethal versions of the P90 and the XM8 – as “mere toys”. (Real M-16 rifles have foregrips and butts made of polystyrene but they – the Airsoft enthusiasts - just let the issue sail by.). Maybe this is due to the fact that Tokyo Marui – who has the sole global monopoly of Airsoft guns modeled after the P90 – is infamous for using plastic on their stock Airsoft models, by offering only metal and - sometimes real wood veneer ad-on’s as a relatively expensive upgrade. I even wonder if Tokyo Marui even acknowledges the contributions of Stargate: SG1 fans who are also Airsoft enthusiasts to their company’s “bottom line”. Plus, the P90 – despite being used by the US Secret Service, the Philippine National Police Special Action Force and certain Philippine Army units – still looks like a toy, really! And that will probably keep any Airsoft BB gun AEG weapons systems designed after the P90 from making into everyone’s “the best Airsoft gun ever” shortlists.