Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Mainland Chinese Rare Earth Monopoly: Bad for Airsoft?

Even though Beijing had resumed exports of rare earth metals to Japan, is Mainland China’s monopoly of the global rare earth metals industry detrimental to the world of Airsoft in the long run?

By: Ringo Bones

The Airsoft gaming world and the rare earth metals global commodities market doesn’t seem to have any links at first, but if you’re a seasoned Airsoft gamer and/ or gun collector, those compact yet powerful electric motors – i.e. the hi-power motor - found in Airsoft weapons systems of the automatic electric gun persuasion is very dependent on powerful rare earth metal based permanent magnets found in their powerful ultra-compact electric motors. Those samarium cobalt and neodymium boron iron magnets in those electric motors are more than likely sourced in Mainland China.

When it comes as an OEM supplier of electric motors, it seems like the Mainland China too has a virtual monopoly on AEG Airsoft guns – i.e. the one that uses electric motors and lithium batteries. Though the diplomatic spat between Beijing and Tokyo may have now calmed and since November 24, 2010 Beijing has resumed rare earth metal exports to Japan, there are other “mitigating” circumstances on why Mainland China’s virtual monopoly of the global rare earth metal industry might not be good for the Airsoft gaming world in the long run.

Given that back in November 25, 2010, Mainland China has plans to set-up 120 fission-type nuclear reactors to minimize its carbon footprint – i.e. moving away from coal-fired power plants. If ever these nuclear power plants come on-line, it is very likely that all rare earth metals mined and processed by China will be used domestically’ As in dysprosium and holmium burnable poisons and the magnetic relays of the nuclear reactors’ safety systems.

Not to mention the latest Wikileaks revelation of the Beijing government “wishing” for a North and South Korean unification where the Seoul government running the show. With all of these geopolitical risk and uncertainty factors taken into account, rare earth metal prices in the global market will skyrocket and those Airsoft electric motors will probably skyrocket in price too. Even the most basic Kalashnikov Airsoft gun is currently way more expensive than a real Kalashnikov – when compared to what a real Kalashnikov back in1999 costs.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Ballistic Computer for Airsoft Use?

Given that present-day specialist snipers already use special-purpose palm-held ballistic computers to further improve their already exceptional performance, can such computers be designed specifically for Airsoft use?

By: Ringo Bones

It seems like only yesterday – actually back in those few years preceding World War II – that ballistic computers of sufficient accuracy were mechanical devices the size of a spacious room. Like Dr. Vannevar Bush’s Differential Analyzer of the 1930s which was later used to calculate artillery trajectories during World War II. Surprisingly, a much smaller – though the accuracy is scaled-down as well – ballistic computer portable enough to be held in one’s hand was invented by a French artillery officer named Amédée Mannheim called the slide rule back in 1850.

These days, specialist snipers are more than likely to use those palm-held Blackberry-sized / Blackberry-looking special purpose battery-powered electronic ballistic computers, like the KAC Bullet Flight 2.0.0 by Knight’s Armament Company, described as a ballistic computer designed to provide quick firing solutions in the field; Palm-held push-button firing solution, anyone?

Similar and / or related devices appear as if they are now fast becoming an indispensable part of the specialist sniper, almost as indispensable as the sniper’s weapons system. Though I haven’t seen a present-day sniper resorting to use a 1950s era slide rule to compute his or her firing solution just to make a statement on how battery-operated devices had dumbed-down the world. And there’s even probably a ballistic computer i-Phone-style app being offered somewhere already. But can such devices be of used in the world of Airsoft gaming?

The problem with Airsoft weapons systems justifying the necessity of ballistic computers is that the 6-mm plastic pellets themselves – Airsoft ammunition – have a non-existent ballistic coefficient. I mean they are spherical and light, unlike a high-performance rifle bullet that’s conical, of sufficient mass and spin-stabilized in flight. In short, spherical 6-mm BB pellets for Airsoft use are a far cry from a 123-grain Lapua Scenar round with a ballistic coefficient of 0.547 and a muzzle velocity of 2,600 feet-per-second famed for its ability to hit tennis-ball-sized targets at 600 yards or 1,800 feet away.

No matter how much you tweak your Airsoft weapons system to give you an initial muzzle velocity approaching 600 feet-per-second, the spherical BB pellet’s very lousy ballistic coefficient will always preclude your Airsoft gun from hitting a tennis-ball-sized target from even as close as 94 feet away – the full length of a basketball court. Real life should have been much easier for the Airsoft gamer, but it isn’t.

Computing the ballistic coefficient – if it ever has one - of a spherical 6-mm BB pellets made of mineral-reinforced polypropylene weighing 0.2-grams or slightly heavier will probably require the computing power of a 1995-era Cray supercomputer or better. Airsoft manufacturing firms probably don’t have the R & D time and money for such an endeavour. Even using a 1950s era slide rule to compute a firing solution during a typical Airsoft game is probably as effective as being able to see the planet Uranus using a 3X sniper scope.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mpingo Goes Airsoft

Better known in the hi-fi world as a widget for controlling unwanted vibrations, does Mpingo have something good to offer to the world of Airsoft?

By: Ringo Bones

Unlike most Airsoft clubs that I’ve been involved before, my current one seems to have a fascination with Airsoft replica guns that have wood in them. Having never acquired the taste for black impact-resistant polystyrene that every other Airsoft enthusiast seems to fetishize, I find my current teammates’ obsession with real wood veneer on their Airsoft weapons systems somewhat refreshing. Real wood veneer does look good on a PPSh brass fountain sub-machinegun, an M-1 Carbine or those Kalashnikov-like Soviet era infantry weapons. One of my teammates even made the butt-stock of her Kalashnikov look like that of the futuristic ray gun toted by Jane Fonda’s character in Barbarella. Remember that ray gun with a curvy Art Nouveau inspired rifle stock from the iconic 1968 film classic? Given the amount of wood in these types of Airsoft model replica guns, would the use of Mpingo in strategic places improve their handling?

It has been a well-known fact for sometime now that up-market Airsoft guns tend to be more comfortable to hold on to when fired in long continuous bursts than their counterparts at the lower end of the market. Could it be that they have better vibration isolation systems? Recently, a group of hi-fi enthusiasts who are also into Airsoft have wondered whether Mpingo’s ability to absorb unwanted resonance would be an asset in designing a better Airsoft weapons system. Mpingo is a dense African swamp-ebony hardwood used by hi-fi widget manufacturer Shun Mook as a way to absorb unnecessary resonance and vibrations that can degrade a hi-fi system’s sound quality. Given that Airsoft guns’ propensity to vibrate somewhat violently when fired at long continuous bursts, will strategically placed pieces of Mpingo improve handling qualities?

The concept of using strategically placed Mpingo pieces in an Airsoft weapons system to damp out unwanted vibrations is a very intriguing concept indeed. Given that Airsoft guns are already expensive, the use of Mpingo – which unfortunately has a fecundity rate like that of a great white shark – will probably add a very steep price premium. Probably a good way for those with money to burn to experiment that is if you can handle the guffaws for not being so environmentally friendly. Please tell us if the improvement in handling is worth the additional expense.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Militia Groups: Still A Valid National Security Paradigm?

Given the relative military success of armed militia and partisan groups during the Balkan civil war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq are militia groups still a valid national security paradigm?

By: Ringo Bones

For a number of years now, several lawmakers across the world have deemed Airsoft clubs as nothing more than a training ground for “unregulated militias”, and yet militia groups have lately been praised as the last line of defense against imperialism. With the relatively successful resistance posed by militia groups acting in a partisan capacity form a military standpoint during the turbulent Balkan region civil war of the 1990s and the ill-advised invasion of Iraq by the Bush Administration back in 2003. It could be said that as long as an invading imperialist armed with the latest state-of-the-art weaponry like stealth bombers and the H-bomb still adheres to the Geneva Convention and related rules of war. The invading imperialists seem to be powerless when facing against modestly equipped ragtag militia groups acting in a partisan capacity. But is there any truth to this?

There has been a “silent revolution” moving across the world – especially citizens of relatively stable democracies – for their respective lawmakers to grand them gun owning privileges modeled after the American Second Amendment as a deterrent against their country accidentally electing a tyrannical leader or an invading army. Since the end of the Cold War, it seems that fiscal austerity became the norm when it comes to national defense spending of most relatively stable democracies during much of the 1990s. But the 9/11 attacks changed all that and the very same countries now face the problem of bolstering their national defense as fast as possible while spending as little as reasonably possible.

This is where the citizen-militia comes in. Private gun owners – especially those who own infantry style assault weapons that are more often than not of higher quality and better maintained than those issued in their respective national armies – can act in a sort of partisan capacity. Harassing the invading enemy until the invaders eventually get sick and tired of it and give up to go home. Given the recent events documenting the relative success of such scenarios, one can easily conclude that private assault rifle owners – in particular – could be truly a typical country’s last line of defense. This is where Airsoft clubs could serve its usefulness as a training ground for basic firearms safety and first-hand exposure to military-style operations to the civilian gun enthusiast.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Are Airsoft Clubs Virtual Militias?

The hardware may just be well-crafted simulacra of real infantry small arms, but does your typical Airsoft club qualify as a true-blue militia group?

By: Ringo Bones

Traditionally, militias have always been accepted as a part of the organized armed forces of a typical country liable to call only in emergency. Some would say the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service. But ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall that eventually lead to the end of the Cold War, militias anywhere in the world are more often than not established by disaffected young men and women coming together for collective security. Primarily due to the fact that these young men and women’s respective government have found it very politically expedient to infringe upon their collective allegiances and / or lawfully acquired material possessions and titles just for the reasons of belonging to an ethnic minority.

Worse still, the Bush Administration’s badly-run War on Terror in which the Obama Administration unfortunately inherited had supposedly implied to every not-so-democratic regimes around the world loyal to the United States to enact their own “carte blanche” when it comes to tackling “terror groups”. Thus making these not-so-democratic regimes team up with their very influential clergy to freely preach sanctimonious religious rhetoric on wealth redistribution aimed at a wealthy ethnic minority as a way for these regimes to shield themselves from anti-corruption whistle-blowers – when there’s a scapegoat, there’s a getaway perhaps?

Given that the United States is the only developed nation that allows its citizens the right to keep and bear arms via the Second Amendment of the US Constitution about not infringing on the establishment of a well-regulated militia. It seems quite odd that there are some states in the US where establishing of Airsoft clubs is deemed illegal. Some countries too that are loyal to the US and her interests have deemed it illegal to have Airsoft clubs. While some of them have legalized paintball clubs, these paintball clubs are not allowed to give advanced tactical training – like CQB, hostage rescue of astronauts landing in hostile zones and room clearing - to their civilian players.

Even though they are just over-glorified versions of pellet guns, there is one thing that you can do with an Airsoft weapons system that you can’t do with a modern infantry-style assault rifle. That is to shoot your opponent without killing him or her or involving lengthy hospital stay during one of your simulated war games. As firm believers of the Second Amendment is just an extension of the First Amendment, all of my Airsoft teammates have real guns – an average of three in fact (infantry style assault rifle, main sidearm and a concealable small backup handgun, while some own man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons systems, etc.) – all unregistered and deemed necessary due to their very healthy mistrust of the government that considers ethnic minorities prettier looking than them as vermin. Sometimes I even wonder if these elected officials have ever heard the concept of the Posse Comitaus Act or the US Constitution’s Second Amendment.