Monday, August 31, 2009

Blood, Sweat, and Airsoft

It always makes perfect sense to seek out bargains, but is your typical low-cost Airsoft gear ethically produced?

By: Ringo Bones

Maybe it was that BBC produced documentary titled Blood, Sweat & T-shirts exploring whether typical high street fashion items are ethically produced that had me to start wondering if your typical low-cost Airsoft gear passes muster as being ethically produced? But first, let us examine the idea about what makes a typical product and / or commodity ethically produced.

Ethically produced products and / or commodities are usually defined by the way the workers responsible for producing and making these items “marketable” are compensated fairly and / or ethically for their laborious efforts. Some companies are starting to advertise that their goods and services are ethically produced, although they are still part of a very tiny minority that announce to the world that they practice ethical business governance.

In the world of hi-fi, Wilson Audio Specialties can be considered a paragon when it comes to championing ethically produced products. Dave Wilson and his wife, Sheryl Lee, always made sure that everyone interested in acquiring their renowned loudspeakers knew – either through advertising and plant tours – that their factory workers are provided with full healthcare coverage and matching 401K plans. Wilson always made sure that when a customer buys one of their 45,000 US dollar per pair loudspeaker that’s made in America and built in-house, the customer is also paying for their workers’ way-higher-than-Wall-Mart-wages and benefits that his company are his obligation to his loyal team.

But in the Airsoft gaming world, every time you look at their glossy catalogues of Airsoft weapons systems, BDUs, and other replica of infantry-level paraphernalia. The testimonials and assurances – that are verifiable via plant tours and Michael Moore-style fact-finding missions - to whether their products are ethically produced are nowhere to be found. If you are following on the Beeb on the incidences of forced labor camps of the People’s Republic of China, it can be somewhat disconcerting to think about it every time you buy those ultra-cheap Airsoft weapons systems and their associated peripherals. Especially if they are made in the People’s Republic of China.

Given that most of us are starting Airsoft clubs as a way to save money in firing real ammunition and / or able to use low-cost non-lethal weapons systems on each other. No, make that because the primary goal of our rag-tag militia is to stop tyranny when our own government’s military can’t or won’t be bothered to do so. The ideals we are fighting for should extent to the ones making our goals possible. Airsoft gear providers should start making sure that their products are ethically produced because their regular customers can always boycott their products. If you bought that Free Tibet concert DVD, maybe you should start concerning whether your Airsoft gear passes muster as one of those ethically produced products.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Great Site For Jungle Warfare Simulation?

Given that Alexander Arms corporate headquarters is located in the tropical idyll of Honolulu, Hawaii, shoudn't us "mere" Airsoft enthusiasts deserve the good life?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Should Helium Be Used In Airsoft Gas Blowback Guns?

Given that the laws of thermodynamics dictates that gases of low molecular weight have excellent work function, should Airsoft gas blowback guns use helium instead of Green Gas?

By: Vanessa Uy

It is well known in the Airsoft gaming community that gas blowback guns – especially handgun replica weapons systems – uses refrigerant like gases, like Green Gas and Red Gas as the working substance for these type of guns. But shouldn’t gases with low molecular weight like helium or hydrogen make better gases for use in gas blowback Airsoft weapons systems? After all, our current understanding of the laws of thermodynamics states that gases with very low molecular weights have a very excellent work function when used as the working substance in a typical mechanical system.

Though it never got used as a battlefield weapons system due to it’s relative complexity, the light-gas gun system is a good example of how a working substance of low molecular weight can produce very excellent performance – in projectile velocity terms – when used as a gun propellant. Oddly enough, the mechanical principle of the light-gas gun system is akin to that of a typical Airsoft AEG weapons systems’ piston, cylinder, catcher section, and launch tube set-up.

Operation of the light-gas gun system consists of igniting a conventional powder propellant in the propellant chamber, which forces the pump piston down the pump tube, compressing the helium or hydrogen gas – usually pressurized at 450 to 1200 pounds per square inch before firing the propellant. This gas eventually builds up sufficient pressure to cause the diaphragm to burst. It is the release of this pressure that propels the projectile from the launch tube. The catcher section of the gun serves to limit the forward motion of the pump piston.

Projectile velocities of the light-gas gun system are of the order of 7,000 to 15,000 feet per second, while conventional battlefield guns – like howitzers – are limited to 7,000 feet per second. Although the 7,000 feet per second figure is the sole domain of artillery pieces that fire tungsten carbide or depleted uranium cored disintegrating sabot projectiles, those that fire your typical high-explosive fragmentation projectiles are probably limited to under 5,000 feet per second in their muzzle velocities.

The higher level of performance attained with the light-gas gun system is attributable to the low molecular weight and the correspondingly high sound velocity of the working substance acting on the base of the projectile. These guns are typically used in research labs that investigate the hypervelocity impact damage of meteorites or space debris on satellites and manned spacecraft.

Given that hydrogen has the inherent hazard of flammability and the long term ozone layer and global warming hazards of Green Gas and Red Gas – i.e. HFC-134a and HCFC-22 – are yet to be determined. Even though one cannot directly substitute helium for Green Gas or Red Gas because your typical Airsoft gas blowback mechanical systems are pre-designed to work only with either Green Gas or Red Gas. It looks as if the use of helium as a working substance for Airsoft gas blowback guns has been unfairly overlooked.

Although Green Gas and Red Gas are now readily available in Airsoft shops throughout Southeast Asia, helium tanks typically sold to fill party balloons are more widely available. Also, helium has a greater commercial and industrial incumbency than either Green Gas - a mixture of propane, polysiloxane lubricant and HFC-134a refrigerant – or Red Gas – a mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and the refrigerant HCFC-22. Because it has been sold for a while longer than either pre-packaged Airsoft working substances, plus the laws of thermodynamics proves that helium is a more efficient gas than either Green Gas or Red Gas - mystery of mysteries indeed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Should Political Extremists Be Banned From Airsoft Clubs?

Given that most law-enforcement and local government entities regard Airsoft clubs as de facto gun clubs, should anyone harboring extremist political views be barred from joining?

By: Vanessa Uy

Many consider me as a political extremist in more ways than one. Though I can manage to play on both sides of the proverbial political net, but like what Robert Frost said about the Japanese, I too have a disdain of playing “political tennis” without a net demarcating between the left and right of the political spectrum. If one loses sight of this “net” they could become one of those “hated people” who never understands responsible gun ownership. Thus turning themselves into the proverbial whipping boys often featured in pro-gun ownership magazines like Guns and Ammo or Soldier of Fortune.

While the Second Amendment of the US Constitution is more often than not mistaken as a “universal value”, although in reality tyranny is deemed more universal in our contemporary globalized world in comparison to an individual’s right to defend him or herself. The issue had never emerged during discussions by member nations of the UN Security Council as they conveniently overlook the very unflattering aspects of the victor-victimized relationship. But why should we in the Airsoft gaming community care about global macro-politics? Aren’t we too preoccupied with our own “micro-politics – i.e. that who should be allowed or denied entry?

Even though every aspect of our lives is very much politicized since as far back as the 20th Century. From art to spirituality (organized religion – to me – is nothing more than politicized spirituality) all it seems had been deemed political. Our post-9 / 11 world just makes the political contrasts starkly stand out. Simulated war games like Airsoft have always been a 250-paged doctoral thesis on cognitive dissonance that T.S. Eliot could only dream of. I mean do Airsoft players around the world find it just a bit strange that after spending the whole Sunday trying to pretend kill the opposing team, they could at the end of the day come together and enjoy a barbecue and a round of drinks. Given the overall pathos, one’s preoccupation with an over-glorified version of a pellet gun is only half of the story. I for one could only wish how the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche could have viewed such spectacle.

Like all violins and their respective f-holes, everyone has their own political viewpoints. If we start mandating that only such-and-such persons with such-and-such viewpoints can join Airsoft clubs is tantamount to discrimination. After all, facing an opposing team harboring political views wholly different from yours can be very exciting, right? Just remember not to confuse one’s ego with their political viewpoints.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cornershot Weapons System: Viable for Airsoft Use?

Given that it is now widely adopted by the world’s leading defense and law enforcement groups, can the cornershot weapons system prove useful in the Airsoft gaming world?

By: Vanessa Uy

Ever since Amos Golan invented the cornershot for use in the Israeli Defense Force’s urban warfare operations, many in the Airsoft gaming community are wondering whether it will be viable for Airsoft use given that Airsoft weapons systems are almost identical to the “real” guns that are used in cornershot. But before we proceed, here is a short primer on what is cornershot.

Given that the Israeli Defense Force operations are usually done in urban environments. Designing a “contraption” that allows soldiers to use their standard infantry weapons to be fired behind corners while allowing them “cover” against gunfire from the enemy would serve as a very useful lifesaver to soldiers prosecuting their operations in such hostile environments.

Amos Golan’s cornershot used a system composed of a camera, a view screen / video monitor, and a firing mechanism that allows a soldier to fire not only their standard infantry weapons like assault rifles, but also handguns and even 40mm grenade launchers in relative safety behind sufficient cover without the need for the assault rifle, handgun, and grenade launcher to be modified in any way. Even though his system now enjoys widespread adoption and use, a similar - although different in concept - device was built during World War II by the Germans that also allows their soldiers to fire their guns behind corners.

Known as the MP44 bent barrel weapon, the gun was primarily designed for German commandos for use when they gained entry to bunkers and other enclosed spaces. The gun’s barrel was “gently” bent 30° to allow the gun to hit targets behind corners wile giving the soldier sufficient cover against enemy fire. The German built device uses prisms for optical sighting that allowed its operator to see targets around corners. Even though the gun was manufactured in significant numbers, it’s “thirty-degree-bent-barrel” became it’s “Achilles Heel” because bullets – the projectile – could more often than not get stuck in them. Plus, the MP44 Bent Barrel Weapon was only accurate in CQB conditions, at distances greater that 12 meters, its accuracy is found wanting. Unlike the modern version invented by Golan were standard infantry weapons can be easily fitted into for “cornershot” use without modification. With sufficient training – especially given the original cornershot’s excellent camera and sighting optics – a soldier can still get guaranteed head shots even at distances slightly greater than 300 meters via a standard issue M-4 carbine.

Even though in military and law-enforcement use had became widespread, in the Airsoft gaming world, use of such weapons systems had been outlawed by most Airsoft clubs. Citing that cornershot weapons systems based on the one designed by Amos Golan is a violation against established blind-fire rules. Given that if an Airsoft enthusiast – with MacGyver-like sense of engineering improvisation - is fortunate enough to examine one closely, he or she could easily clone it using of-the-shelf Internet-ready personal computer peripherals. Like Net-cams and small plasma screens to be used as a video monitor. One can be cobbled up using these items and other parts for probably under 500 US dollars. Given the lack of “truly binding laws and agreements” in the Airsoft gaming world preventing the use of such weapons systems. It will be only a matter of time when a cornershot weapons system similar to that invented by Amos Golan will be widely used in Airsoft as a squad-level weapons system.