In this section of the site you will find all my airsoft equipment reviews and any news on items that catch my eye on other airsoft retail stores or web sites. I try my best to put some sort of review of any new kit that I buy, but inevitably there is always a backlog. Here is an index of the equipment I have managed to review so far:-
Milgeek's Airsoft Electric (AEG/AEP) & gas guns
> CYMA CM.030 AEP (replica of Glock 18C)
- (Follow-on) Airsoft Glock 18C 'Assassin' replica
> Kalash AK105 Milgeek 60-second video review
> BE Type 89 review part one
- BE Type 89 review part two - field test
> Classic Army's DSA SA58 - first impressions
- Classic Army's DSA SA58 - field test
> Kalash AKS74U (first version)
- Kalash AKS74U (first version) - follow up
> CYMA CM.031 AK74
> KJW Sig Sauer P229 GBB pistol
> ASG CZ 75D Co2 pistol
Milgeek's AEG accessories and upgrades
> Classic Army SA58 cocking lever repair (YouTube movie)
> Type 89 AEG Laylax RIS upgrade - Part Two (YouTube movie)
> Type 89 AEG Laylax RIS upgrade - Part One
> Element all steel PSB-1 suppressor
> ACM replica of the Russian KOBRA red dot
> Classic Army Russian GP-30 grenade launcher replica
> MAG brand AK74 mid-cap magazines
Milgeek's uniform and loadout kit
> Russian 'Tiger' Spring season loadout
> Russian 'Flecktar-D' Summer season loadout
> German Flecktarn Autumn season loadout (part one)
> Action Navy SEAL holster
> Russian SPLAV M23 Pioneer chest rig
Entries in Airsoft kit review (12)
To be correct the PBS (Pribor Besshumnoy Stryelbiy = Device for Noiseless Shooting) is a sound suppressor. It was designed for the Russian army's 7.62mm range of Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Above: Here you can see the PBS-1 in use - second from the top - on a 7.62mm AKM. This short documentary by the BBC brought the PBS-1 to my attention, other influences for purchasing the replica were it's inclusion in the game 'Call of Duty 4'. (Photo source: BBC News)
The real PBS-1 uses special sub-sonic ammunition and was originally issued during the Soviet-Afghan War for use with the AKM Kalashnikov. There is not - apparently - a version of this design available for the newer 5.45mm round, though a different design - the PBS-5 - is available for use with the AK74U.
Element PBS-1 - first impressions
Yikes! That's what you think when you first pick up the Element all steel PBS-1 suppressor. Here's my 60 Second video review which outlines my initial thoughts about this replica:
Final thoughts: I make much of the weight of this accessory, but you'll be happy to know that Element also make a much lighter aluminium version too - and strangely they are both exactly the same price!
On quality, the Element PBS-1 compares very favourably indeed with the VFC made PBS-5 aluminium replica (on the right of the accompanying photo). In fact if I had to choose - without first knowing the manufacturer - I would plump for the PBS-1 being the more expensive item. It really just goes to show how the budget companies and constantly raising their game. Which is good news for us consumers!
Note on attaching the PBS-1 to your AK:
I found on my Kalash AK105 model - which has the 24mm adaptor integral to the front site - did not then allow the PBS-1 to use the AKs muzzle accessory retaining pin. The PBS-1 adaptor - see photo on right - has recesses cut into it to allow the pin to slot into place, securing the adaptor. But screwing the PBS-1 onto my AK105 simply pushed the retaining pin back on its spring into its recess.
Other makes and models of airsoft AK may or may not allow the correct use of the retaining pin. I deducted half a star from funtionality for this.
Quality & finish:
Value for money:
Real steel PBS-1 retailers:
> Rusmilitary.com - Dummy PBS-1 (no Firearms Licence required)
> Rusmilitary.com - Functioning PBS-1 (Firearms Licence required)
Full set of additional photos are available on the Milgeek PBS-1 Flickr album
About google choices
It's perhaps amazing that after a year and a bit of airsofting that I haven't yet managed to settle on one particular type of eye/face protection. The reasons that I am finding it so hard to chose one particular method is a mix of wanting the best, most comfortable and most aesthetically acceptable googles/mask available.
I've been trying out a large variety of goggles and masks since I started playing, including airsoft mesh goggle/mask combinations, military spec goggles and shooting glasses. I quickly discarded the idea of using shooting glasses as the least safe option (while noting that they can be the most authentic looking option for some loadouts) but otherwise I haven't made a definitive choice in face protection.
The rule of thumb seems to be, the bigger and more encapsulating the goggles are the safer they are, but the less authentic they can look (unless you choose a loadout that complements big goggles). Furthermore, if you prefer the face mask option - ideal for CQB - then authenticity can go completely out the window.
At the end of the day, you must judge what compromises to make regarding safety, comfort and authenticity. I for one stoutly refuse to let any other players influence my decisions on my choice of eye/face protection on the grounds 'they aren't cool' - my eyesight comes first, full stop.
The Tokyo Marui Pro Goggles
I've just received delivery of yet another new face protection system, this time by the leaders in airsoft development - Tokyo Marui. Their Pro Googles have brought together several available technologies to produce what they obviously feel is the ultimate in airsoft face safety. It's a face mask, but with polycarbonate googles and includes a mini extractor fan to aid in de-misting the lenses, so it borrows quite a lot from the paintball world to improve upon the standard Sensai type mesh airsoft mask. So in looking at the TM Pros I should break down my comments into the three major components/features; the mask, the googles and the fit/comfort.
Jim Carey connotations aside, the TMPG's mask element is a fairly conventional airsoft type - as opposed to the full face encompassing paintball style mask. In this, there seems to be some unspoken agreement that airsoft masks should be a deferent design from paintball masks, just to clearly differentiate the two different sports!
So, airsoft face masks are flatter, less contoured facial sheilds that do not normally enclose the side of the face and ears. The TM Pros do not depart from this format, but are rather nicely shaped and quite cool looking, in complete contrast to the Senai G5 mask which has been around for many years now and which is possibly one of the most hideous pieces of design one could imagine. In short, even the most style conscious airsofter won't mind wearing the TM Pro!
Airsoft masks have usually incorporated mesh lenses to circumvent the polycarbonate lenses greatest disadvantage - fogging. I have used mesh masks several times and have been generally pleased with them (Sensai G4 & G5s) and while they obviously don't suffer from fogging they do slightly cut down light contrast (like wearing sunglasses) and have a nasty habit of flaring in bright sunlight. Also, there has been nagging anecdotal evidence to show that BBs can fracture on contact with the mesh and pierce it - not what you want to hear.
The TMPGs have tackled the above issues by using policarbonate lenses but have also incorporated a miniature extractor fan to help combat fogging.
The mini fan is not a new technology, paintball masks have used them for years, but the TMPGs use a system introduced on high-end military spec goggles like ESS TurboFan and Oakley Fan Assists - an integrated top mounted extractor fan - but at a fraction of the cost of either of these premier manufacturer's goggles (TMPG £50 - Oakley FA £195).
Airsoft masks have one principal draw back - one size fits all. The Sensai range, as you might expect from the name, cater for Asian ergonomics, so I find them to be rather on the small size for European faces (unless you are a teen). The TMPG is at least on the larger size, and I find it provides good coverage even for my big head!
Moreover, the design of the interior of the TMPG and it's general ergonomics are very good (at least compared to the Sensai range and their clones). The Sensai G5 is positively torture to wear - in my opinion - the nose 'well' in particular is badly placed and actually cuts into the bridge of my nose. Additionally, the small elastic strap on the Sensai G4 & G5 does not securely hold the masks in place, and can snap if rived around aggressively (which can happen in the 'heat of battle').
Right: Sensai G5 mask, designed for the Spanish Inquisition! Not only is this mask unattractive and draws ridicule from other players, the sharply angular edges make this mask a pain (litterally) to wear.
The TM Pro is both very comfortable and has a nice deep elastic strap which also has a plastic snap type buckle at the back to make putting on and taking off the mask a very stress free operation.
Overall I am very impressed with the TMPG, but then I have been very impressed with all the various Tokyo Marui accessories I have bought of late. Previous airsoft masks have been all but devoid of any real design per say, seemingly thrown together in a shape which generally resembles a face. Tokyo Marui have done their homework, an their recognition of the size difference between European and Asian face sizes is much appreciated - it is still 'one size fits all', but at least it is a little bigger size to begin with.
Every element of the TM mask exudes quality, and the strap in particular - not an unimportant component - is a solid piece of manufacturing.
Yes, the TMPG suffers from the same issue as all aisroft masks, it somewhat compromises authenticity when it comes to a military loadout. But if safety is your primary concern - as it should be - then at least the TM Pro Google will not have you cringing in embarrassment when it comes to the obligatory game photos! It's cool looks might even win over a few more fans from the shooting glasses fraternity!
(As usual, I hope to do a field report soon to complement my initial impressions.)
I've had a real trauma finding a pistol holster that I was absolutely happy with. I've gone to stupid lengths to find a suitable one, even going as far as buying a obsolete 1950s British Army webbing holster to try out.
Left: The ACTION Navy Seal holster. You can see how the flap securly retains the pistol. The holster also has a smal pocket for a spare magazine and has three MOLLE straps on the reverse for you to attach it to a duty belt or MOLLE rig. This holster can be used with medium to large framed pistols, and works exceptionally well with both my SIG P229 and Glock 18C replicas.
Well, long story short, I have finally found a modern and cheap holster that is absolutely what I want. The ACTION Navy Seal ICE MOLLE Pistol Holster is available from eHobby Asia via their eBay store and cost a paltry $21.99 (including shipping).
It only took about seven days to arrive and when I opened the parcel I was immediately pleased with the quality of the holster. I have had all sorts of makes from the cheap Viper to more expensive Webtex models, but have been left very unsatisfied with them. One of my criteria based on my experience in the field was that the holster had to have a flap enclosure, for maximum security of the pistol. Speed draw was not an important aspect, so an 'open' holster was not necessary.
It seems the 'fashion' to have these open topped holsters on drop-leg rigs (the pistol being secured usually by a thin strap with goes over the heel or hammer of the pistol). I found this type of holster far from secure, and on my first outing a fellow player lost his pistol from one of these, which perhaps prejudiced me against them.
Klobba TPR Trail boots - waterproof, sizes 6-12 available, cost £24.99
As fine and popular as 'tactical boots' are, they do have a few drawbacks when winter draws in. For a start, the standard tactical patrol boot - made of soft thin leather and cordura - isn't the warmest (although mid-range models do now seem to come with a 'thinsulate' lining these days). Additionally, they were never really made to endure the mud soaked and boggy conditions of British woodland sites at this time of year.
Tactical and patrol boots are primarily urban footwear, and they make very little concessions to the soggy British winter weather especially where deep mud, snow or shallow wading is concerned.
So, I have changed over from my summer season patrol boots to something a little more suitable for the sites I have visited recently. I have bought a rather nifty pair of TPR Trail Boots. These boots are probably familiar to any of you who go fishing, as they are very popular among bank side anglers. They are, in fact, a hybrid boot - half hiking boot and half Wellington boot.
The top half of the TPR Trail is a padded ankle section of waterproof material with the familiar metal eyelets for lacing. This hiking half of the boot is both very comfortable and - most importantly - very supportive of the ankles. This is crucial as al UK airsoft sites demand ankle supporting boots as a prerequisite to playing.
Wellingtons might sound a little peculiar as a choice for 'military' footwear, but the TPR Trail bottoms are uniquely practical for woodland sites after rainfall or snowfall. Thick soggy mud, sometimes up to than ankle or deep snow are both play havoc with lightweight patrol boots, never designed to deal with continuous drenching. The boot tongues of cheaper patrol boots are usually separate and thus allow water to leak leaving you with wet socks - yuck!
Left: Klobba also do a high lacing version
(Incidentally, Wellington boots are widely used by the military of many nations around the world where deep sticky mud is the norm. From the FARC guerrillas in Colombia, to the Russian Army in Chechnya.)
The boot tongue of the TPR Trail is joined and sealed to both halves of the boot, meaning that the boot is completely waterproof and will not let in the wet.
I had a rather unexpected chance to try these boots out this weekend as Britain was hit by a cold snap and snow fell across the country. Being a temporary winter aberration we got the full gommet of snow to play in - from thick dry powdery snow (with thin ice underneath) to dirty slush later in the day when the sun melted the snow.
The TPR Trails handled the snow, ice and sludge fantastically well, and as they are insulated they kept my feet toasty warm as well. The deep grips on the sole were excellent and I didn't slip once, and unlike leather boots I didn't have those nasty white stains that you get after a day in the snow (nor did I worry about what the salt on the roads was doing to my boots).
Finally, when you consider how clogged up with mud your boots can get in boggy woodland the TPRs have the advantage of just being able to be cleaned with a high power hose and no polishing is required (I like low maintenance). Additionally, along with the boots I bought a boot storage bag, so I don't have dripping dirty boots mucking up the pristine upholstery of my mates BMW! :)
Having done a ‘Light Order’ post during the summer, you might wonder why I am now doing an ‘ultra-light order’ post. After all, my main excuse for changing down to a light order rig was to placate the warm weather and to gain the extra ventilation. So, shouldn’t I be going back up to full rigs or at least chest rigs now it’s winter again?
Well, the British weather being what it is these days we are now in the ‘rainy season’ (that passes for our late autumn/winter). At the moment it is more likely that I will be caught out with sudden stormy rainfall than frost or snow. That being the case I want to be able to don a lightweight waterproof jacket quickly (and remove it again when the rain stops). Doing so is a bit of a bind if you have a full rig on – unless you get a voluminous rainproof poncho.
This is where the ULO belt comes in. It is much easier just to take off a belt and then put a rainproof on and then put the belt back on than start stripping off a full assault vest.
Belt rigs, what’s out there?
I touched on belt rigs in my original post on Light Order, from MOLLE belts to ‘battle belts’ to the famous Allen Belt (which is almost like a mini-chest rig worn around the waist). So while there is a variety of belt rigs out there the main issue that the user should be aware of is stability.
In short, load up your belt with too much equipment and you could soon find yourself wearing the rig around your ankles instead of around your waist!
For this reason you should either be looking at a medium sized belt rig with very good stability, or a small belt and pouch system that is light enough not to require hitching up every five minutes (simply tightening the belt is not a option that I would recommend for reasons of comfort).
Above: The Bulle duty belt and ammo belt combination rig. Both of these items can be purchased from Flecktarn.co.uk - the total cost is £24.50 (ex. postage).
Stability can be gotten in several different ways; a good stiff belt, a nice wide belt or the adding of US style ‘suspenders’ (that’s braces to you and me). In my case I chose to go for a nice stiff belt, the new Bulle US duty belt to be precise. Unlike normal duty belts - which are a thin strip of nylon or webbing - the new Bulle US duty belt is a double lined and stitched cordura strap that is very stiff and inflexible. It is designed to fit closely around the waist of the user and to almost mould itself to the wearer’s particular physique. In this way it remains in place snug and secure.
This belt does not have load-carrying pouches itself, so for this I added the Bulle Kit & Ammo Belt Pack (KABP). This ‘belt’ (it’s actually a belt attachment) is a wide MOLLE cummerbund with belt loops though which you thread a duty belt.
It has two integrated ammo poches mounted horizontally at either end of the belt, and is constructed in the form of a tube with zips at either end by which means you can store a lightweight kagool inside - very clever.
The system is light and flexible as several different combinations of equipment can be attached both to the duty belt and to the ‘ammo belt’ via its MOLLE loops. Because of the stiff Bulle duty belt you can actually get away with wearing a reasonable load, and I have additionally attached a holster to mine and am considering fixing a canteen pouch to the other side.
Above: The integral ammo pouches on this belt attachment are non-removable (not MOLLE). Each of the two pouches is adjustable enough to take 3 x 5.56mm (M4 type) magazines, and I have even got a couple of my long AK74 mags in each. The horizontal orientation of these pouches is unusual, and I have yet to see how practical they are in actual field use.
As well as this belt I have also invested in a Snugpak Response Pak for times when I really want to run with the minimum amount of kit.
The Response Pak is basically – and I hate to use this term – a ‘bum bag’. However, it has – apparently – favoured by the US Marine Corp. It is a surprisingly capacious little pack, with a plethora of internal pockets. It also has the advantage of being wearable both by means of its own integral belt, or with the belt folded away you can clip it to any MOLLE equipped item.
Above: The above picture shows a typical load for my Pak, but it does change depending on what other load-carrying kit I am wearing. By the way, as well as wearing this pack around the waist you can also wear it bandoleer style over the shoulder.
> My original 'Light Order' post: Milgeek - ‘Light order’ options – summer load-carrying rigs
> Retailer link for the Bulle Kit & Ammo Belt Pack (KABP) - Flecktarn.co.uk (£19.50)
> Retailer link for the Bulle US Duty Belt - Flecktarn.co.uk (£15)
> Retailer link for the SnugPak Response Pak - Polimil.co.uk (£11.75)