Today, how about we discuss a few items that you're eventually going to need once you've reached the stage of full-blown Airsoft addict.
Tactical Load-Bearing Vest or Chest Rig. Not required to play right off the bat, but as you add more and more stuff to your collection of Airsoft stuff, you'll need the vest to help you store that stuff. Stuff like extra mags, two-way radio (aka "Comms"), maybe a stash of extra BBs or even some tactical snacks while you're out in the field. Perhaps one of the most important items you'll need to have readily available on your person during a game is easy access to water for staying hydrated and/or preventing dehydration. Getting dehyrdated during a game is not only lame, but downright dangerous. Not to mention extremely selfish. People have actually died on Airsoft fields from dehydration (i think). And that puts a damper on everyone's day, which in effect, makes it a selfish act to literally die on the Airsoft field from not taking the proper precautions and maintaining your body to allow it to function like a champ on game day. Don't be that guy.
Red Dead Rag: While certainly helpful and advisable to newer players, these "dead man walking" identification tools are not entirely necessary if you simply call your hit (as soon as YOU get shot, NOT when you shoot someone else), and then raise your hand and/or gun up in the air to signal your opponent(s) that you have been hit and are walking out. I've found that waiving my hand and pointing my gun up in the air is much more effective at signaling to the OPFOR that I'm no longer in the game than simply walking out with the red rag on my head. Sometimes I've been shot while walking out because my red rag wasn't visible to the shooter for one reason or the other. Other times, I've placed the red rag loosely on my head without securing to my goggles or keeping a hand on it, and the stupid thing flew off my head unbeknownst to me, resulting in the receipt of additional shots to the body because it looked like I was still in the game even though I wasn't taking on an aggressive tactical stance or anything of that business. So again, I wouldn't say their necessary to play, although some fields may require them so check that out before showing up to play for the first time, however, red rags can be effective and useful when used properly in conjunction with walking off the field with your gun pointed up in the air or something else to signal others that you've been hit.
Extra Magazines. You can get away without extra mags if you have a high-cap mag that came with your rifle, and there's always a decent chance someone at the field will have a spare or two that you could borrow, but at some point, you're going to need at least one extra mag of your own. I don't recommend being a charity case every time you go out the field, unless of course, you're just down on your luck. It's cool. I've been there, too, my friends.
Boots. Not an ABSOLUTE necessity, but if you're running around a field where it's basically just raw land or has a lot of treacherous and uneven footing, the next few weeks of your life could be ruined by a severely rolled and/or broken ankle. Here again, I roll exclusively with the 5.11 boots. They're made for real world operators, who depend on them to be legit in order to slap evil upside the head on a daily basis. So naturally, they're going to be a great option for Airsoft as well. They offer a full line of different boots that serve different functions. I wear the very water-resistant 8" Taclite side-zip boots in black when conditions are wet, and when I don't anticipate any real moisture put out by Mother Nature, I roll the ultra-sexy suede XPRT boots in Flat Dark Earth (tan). Phenomenal ankle support and extremely comfortable (once you break them in, just like any type of footwear).
There you have it.
Today, how about we discuss a few items that you're eventually going to need once you've reached the stage of full-blown Airsoft addict.
Using the correct grease inside your Airsoft AEG's gearbox is an often overlooked part of properly tuning your rifle. So, in a rare demonstration of my capability to actually be brief, I'll provide you with some very important information on proper lubrication for your mechbox in just a few words.
I. Lubricating the inside of your AEG's cylinder and the piston head o-ring seal:
Use Silicone Oil.
It's the same stuff you use in your GBB Pistols to preserve the many seals associated with that type of gun.
Silicone oil is better for situations where there are rubber seals involved, since it doesn't deteriorate the rubber like the types of grease that are recommended for use on gears.
II. Lubricating your AEG's gear set:
There are a number of effective greases, but I've only tried a few. I started with a basic White Lithium grease that you can find at your local hardware or auto parts store. It worked well enough, but then I started reading more about PTFE/Teflon and decided to try a White Lithium grease with PTFE. The grease I got is made by a company called Fuchs. It just made too much sense to go with the PTFE, given its highly effective lubrication characteristics, especially in my high-torque setups where there is a substantial load being placed on the gears.
Do not use the same grease on the cylinder/piston head seal that you use on your gears. As I've said many times before, they are two different systems that require two different types of grease.
There. That wasn't so bad, was it?
Today, I join you during your day to talk about juicing. Not like Barry Bonds' *alleged* juicing, but juicing of your AEG. Powering that pea-shooter through the use of a Airsoft battery pack.
If you're savvy enough with a search engine, you'll find that there are many different types of Airsoft batteries available for the AEG. They come in different shapes and sizes, volts and milliamp hour (mAh) ratings. What you may or may not know is that those voltages and mAh ratings are important to pay attention to, as they affect the performance of your gun.
First and foremost, I would like to clear one very common Noob Myth about upgrading to larger batteries: THEY WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR FPS. So don't think that if you're currently running a small 8.4V battery and you bump up to a big ol' 12V battery that you're going to see an increase in the velocity of your rifle.
I. Voltage - More voltage equals faster trigger response and a higher rate of fire (ROF) when using full-auto. Higher voltage is also needed in high-torque setups like DM rifles in order to give the motor enough power to pull back the heavy spring.
II. mAh - this stands for "milliamp hour" NOT the commonly-used phrase, "milliamps PER hour." mAh is a rating used to indicate the storage capacity of the battery. Basically, how long it will last on a full charge before the battery's voltage drops below a certain level, deeming it useless unless recharged.
III. Deans vs. Tamiya
Get Deans connectors. Tamiyas are generally regarded to be lame. They are difficult to connect and disconnect and are said by those that would know to have a higher level of resistance than the Deans. Another plus side to the Deans is that you are pretty much guaranteed a positive connection all the time, whereas with Tamiya connectors, even though the male and female might be physically connected, the metal pins inside the plastic cases may not actually be touching which will not allow the gun to fire. Most veteran players use Deans on their guns, which means that if you are using Tamiyas and forget your battery at home, you may have a hard time finding anyone with a battery to lend you that uses Tamiyas. Of course, if you just love your Tamiyas, you can always just make a Deans to Tamiya adapter cable to keep with you on the field in case you need to borrow a battery and the only ones available use Deans. Boom. Threat neutralized.
IV. NiMH vs. Li-Po (C-rating) vs. NiCD vs. LiFePo4
NiMH = Nickel Metal Hydride.
This is perhaps the most common battery type seen on the market. They are very safe, very reliable batteries. For AEGs, they come in voltages of 8.4, 9.6, 10.8, and 12. Notice that the voltages get larger by 1.2? That's because each time you go up a level in voltage, you're adding another battery cell to the pack. Each individual battery cell in the pack carries a voltage of 1.2. To get the total pack voltage, you simply add the number of cells and multiply by 1.2 volts. Voila. You have your pack's voltage. Crazy stuff. The downside to these batteries is their large size. The more volts and/or the more mAh you want, the larger your battery will have to be.
Li-Po = Lithium Polymer.
This battery was somewhat controversial when it emerged onto the Airsoft scene. There was a lot of skepticism and rumors floating around about how dangerous they are. Videos on YouTube started popping up of science nerds performing experiments that would cause these batteries to explode, or at least catch on fire. This caused an Airsoft hysteria and many decided to avoid these wonderful batteries like the plague. I would like to use an analogy now.
I equate Li-Po batteries to be the Pit Bulls of the Airsoft battery world in that they are very powerful, very compact and if you treat them poorly, they'll ruin your day and possibly that of others. However, if you treat them well, you will enjoy a long and happy relationship with each other.
Li-Po batteries for Airsoft AEGs come in voltages of 7.4, 11.1 (which is most common) and for extreme setups, 14.8. Like NiMH batteries, increasing voltage means increasing the number of battery cells in the pack. A single Lithium Polymer cell contains 3.7 volts.
Li-Po batteries have the advantage over NiMH batteries in that they utilize a higher voltage in a relatively small package. The small package of the Li-Po comes in handy when you're limited on the space in which your AEG allows you to store batteries. Often times, using a Li-Po battery will eliminate the need to use an external battery bag or mock PEQ box to store the battery outside of the gun in order to use a battery with a high enough voltage for your needs.
NiCD = Nickel Cadmium.
No. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. These batteries are stupid. They suffer from a memory effect that requires you to fully discharge the battery before recharging it, otherwise you will never get a full charge again. The amount of energy the battery can store per charge will be reduced and you will have to charge your battery more often from there on out. If you're thinking about getting this type, don't. Just get an NiMH-type battery and call it a day. The NiMH batteries are basically the new-and-improved version of the NiCD batteries.
LiFePo4 = Lithium Iron Phosphate.
The new kid on the Airsoft block. MadBull came out with a couple options using this type of battery. They did not invent the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery, they just branded one. In a nutshell, the main selling point(s) to this battery is/are that it has the safety of a NiMH but the high voltage level and small size of a Li-Po. Essentially, combining the best features of the two prior batteries into one. These battery packs come in voltages of 9.6 and 12.8.
Do NOT use the same charger you use to charge your NiMH batteries to charge your Li-Po or LiFePo4 batteries, if you use multiple types. Each type requires its own special charger. Look in the product description of the charger you're giving consideration to purchase. It will say what type of batteries it will charge. In the case of the Li-Po or LiFePo4 battery charger, you'll need a balancer, not just a charger. You can either get them separately or just do what I did and got a Li-Po charger that has a balancer built in. Balancers help to ensure that each cell in the battery pack receives an equal (or very close to) amount of energy during the recharging process. Not balancing your cells can result in ruining your day. Remember that Pit Bull analogy?
Additional note on charging your batteries: there are a number of chargers out there for multiple battery-types that offer adjustable rates of recharging. It can be argued that the slower the recharge rate, the better charge your battery will receive. The rate of recharge is classified in Amps (usually 1,2 or 4A). Basically take your battery's mAh rating (we'll say 2200 mAh in this example) and divide by 1,000. 2,200/1,000 = 2.2. 2.2 is the most amount of Amps your battery should be recharged at. So obviously recharging at 4A is a no-no. Personally, I wouldn't even charge it at the 2A level either. Again, to err on the safe side, I just leave my charger on the slowest rate and let it sit while I do other things within the general area where I charge at. It's best to keep an eye on your battery while it recharges just in case Murphy's Law comes into play and whatever could go wrong, DOES, in fact, go wrong.
Invest in a quality battery charger, regardless of your battery type. Think about the longevity of your battery here. When I first started playing several years ago, I used the cheapy charger that came with the battery I purchased. It was just one of those chargers that plugs one end into the wall socket and the other straight into the battery. No real "smart-charging" going on. Long story short, my battery was ruined within a few charges and required me to spend more money on a new battery AND a new charger. Learn from my mistake. You're welcome.
If the wiring that comes with your Airsoft AEG either sucks or simply needs replacement for whatever reason, here are some helpful pieces of info to help guide you with selecting the optimal wiring for your Airsoft AEG.
Let us discuss some of the important characteristics or attributes that you need to know about when it comes to selecting wiring for your AEG.
The gauge (pronounced "gage") of a wire refers to its thickness or diameter. The two most common gauges for Airsoft AEG wiring are 16 awg and 18 awg. "AWG" is the unit of measurement for wire gauge and it stands for "American Wire Gauge." An important item to note is that on the scale of different wire gauges, the larger the awg number means the smaller the wire's thickness or diameter. So of the two I just mentioned, 16 awg is the thicker wire, and generally the gauge that you'll want to use in your AEG. I have yet to see the inside of an AEG gearbox that will fit anything larger than 16 awg, but that doesn't mean it's not possible. Bear in mind though, that I have seen inside a respectable number of gearboxes though. The reason you'll want to go with the larger, 16 awg wiring is to allow more signal flow from the AEG's battery to the Airsoft AEG, itself. Think of gauge like the thickness of a water hose. The larger the diameter (or gauge) of the hose, the more volume of water (or power) will be allowed to pass through without resistance. Minimizing resistance is usually recommended.
Recommended Attributes for High-Quality Airsoft AEG Wiring
The Conductor (and no, I'm not talking about orchestras, you band geeks).
For those that don't do their homework, the precious metal we all know as Silver is generally regarded as being an excellent, if not one of the best, conductors of electricity. Copper is also respected in the electrician's community, though not as much as Silver. So naturally, if you can get your hands on some Silver-plated copper wiring for your Airsoft AEG (which is actually very easy to do), I'd say you're not making a bad move whatsoever. Now, before you cheapskates freak out. Yes, Silver is expensive, however, buying a couple feet of Silver-plated wiring will NOT break your bank account, unless you either don't have a bank account at all or if you do have a bank account but it's already over-drafted and you get hit with a $35 dollar overdraft fee for making a $6 purchase. In fact, the stuff I use is not only Silver-plated, Mil-Spec-rated copper wiring but it goes for $.90 a foot. If you're only rewiring one Airsoft AEG, you'll generally need no more than 2 or 3 feet of red and 2 or 3 fee of black unless you're doing some kinda of crazy MOSFET wiring configuration. So that'll cost you that 6 bucks I just mentioned, plus maybe a little tax and shipping for premium grade wiring that you will then install in your AEG and enjoy the advantages of having excellent electrical flow in your weapon. You can also say that you use Mil-Spec parts on your AEG, which automatically adds length and girth to your "cylinder shaft."
The Insulation (and I'm not talking about asbestos here).
So, if you've been reading any of my recent blogs about the Airsoft AEG upgrades and tuning I did, you'll most certainly have heard me rave about Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or better known as Dupont's Teflon material. PTFE is so versatile, it just tickles me. I really love it! Sometimes, when I've had a rough day, I like to put a little in my hair (what little is left of it). It seals, lubricates and insulates different things extremely well. One of the items it acts as an excellent insulation for is wiring. According to NASA's Parts Selection List (NPSL), wherein the well-known space agency details a list of approved materials for use on spacecraft equipment. PTFE insulation not only makes NASA's cut, but is at the top of their list of recommendations for exhibiting the following advantages:
- Excellent high temperature properties. PTFE Teflon is preferred for solder applications
(e.g. solder applications like maybe installing in an Airsoft AEG?! BOOM. Nuff said, NASA. I'm sold).
- Non-flammable (Always Nice)
- Good outgassing characteristics
(My 5-Month-Old Baby Boy has already learned to "outgas" his father, which is quite a feat!)
- Most flexible of all insulations (Ideal for weaving through one's AEG gearbox)
- Good weatherability, resists moisture absorption and atomic oxygen erosion (Cool).
- Susceptible to cold flow when stressed (bent) over tight radius or when laced too tightly
(This will probably be the biggest item to watch out for when installing your new PTFE-insulated, Silver-plated Mil-Spec wiring in your Airsoft AEG. Don't bend it too much!).
- Degraded by solar radiation above 5 x 105 RADS
(Not quite sure that's gonna be an issue for our Airsoft AEGs, but I've been wrong before).
- Heaviest insulation (Not an issue for us Airsofters).
Basically, if it's good enough for NASA, it's good enough for your TOY Airsoft Gun.
One last item before I pop smoke. I've seen various Airsoft manufacturers selling Silicon wire replacement sets for Airsoft AEGs. Don't go there. For two reasons: (1) It's over priced. I've seen it as high as $40. (2) NASA pretty much says it sucks (in more or less words)...
- Excellent flexibility at low temperatures (who cares)
- Excellent high voltage corona resistance (Corona isn't that great of a beer anyway)
- Good radiation resistance (to 108 RADS) (Not relevant to AEGs)
- Good cold flow resistance (Only useful if trying to conduct electricity while the wire is pretty much bent in half. If you have to bend your wire in half to operate the AEG, for whatever reason, you might want to rethink who is tuning your guns).
- Poor cut through resistance, mechanical toughness, and fluid resistance (Yea, I don't even need to see the rest of the list. Item #1 kills it right out of the gate).
- Must be processed for outgassing control (Don't care. See Disadvantage #1)
- Flammable (Don't care. See Disadvantage #1)
- No standard silicon rubber insulated wire or cable (Don't care. See Disadvantage #1)
- Use Silver-Plated Copper Wiring with PTFE insulation in your Airsoft AEG, especially if it's a Classic Army M14 EBR (Extra Beautiful Rifle) from Pyramyd Air.
- Do NOT spend a ton of money on Silicone Poop Wiring for use in your Airsoft AEG. Remember, NASA says it smells like rotten beef and moldy cheese.
Don't thank me for the info. Thank the astronauts. But on their behalf, "You're welcome."
So it's Monday. Which means the weekend is now behind us. I hope upon all hopes that you were all able to get out to your favorite venue to throw some 6mm plastic downrange on either Saturday or Sunday or both days, if you're hardcore and/or try hard.
But let's get on topic here.
Today we're going to talk about Squad Automatic Weapons (aka SAWs).
Squad Automatic Weapons are also known as light machine guns. They are designed to put prolonged, fully-automatic fire down on the enemy's position to keep their heads pinned down while your infantry squad advances upon their position. This type of firing is also referred to as suppressive fire. SAWs generally utilize a bipod and a high-capacity box or drum mag. The role of the SAW or support gunner is not necessarily to rack up a bunch of kills in game, but to assist the assaulting infantrymen in gaining a clear shot. Basically, the SAW gunner sets 'em up, and the rest of the squad knocks 'em down. Does this mean one cannot shoot to kill with a support weapon? Absolutely not. It just means that even if you don't have a perfectly clear shot, you can still be of assistance to your teammates by providing suppressive fire to allow them into a position to get the kill. While Airsoft is (dare I say it?) just a game and therefore you may do as you darn well please, it would be advisable to stick with at least one other squad mate to be truly effective as a support gunner.
Now, there is one issue I need to be clear about: Adding a bi-pod of any sort and a box mag to your M4 or MP5 does NOT make it a SAW in the realm of military simulation. Examples of typical squad weapons available in the 6mm world include:
The M249 Variations
The LMG from Knight's Armament
(Although this is heavily flirting with the line between SAW and an M4 with Box Mag)
This is my transitioning sentence into the issue of cost.
Due to the prolonged firing on full auto, one can expect to burn through a ton of BBs during the course of an Airsoft game day. This WILL raise your cost of ammunition to very expensive levels. I suggest buying in bulk (for example, check out the TSD BBs Bulk Pack or the AirVenturi BBs Bulk Pack). Notice the significant discount offered on a per bag/bottle basis. I do not recommend you put an expensive tight-bore barrel in your gun that will require you to run premium grade BBs. This is relatively pointless in a SAW (in my opinion) and will REALLY run your cost of BBs up. When it comes to your SAW's accuracy, I am of the school of thought that it's actually better to have a little bit looser shot grouping than what would be required of a designated marksman or sniper rifle. I'm not talking about just shooting random fliers everywhere and having no consistency at all, but i don't think you need to have the thing shooting quarter-sized groupings at 50 yards with a 6.01mm inner barrel. Basically, I like a little bit of spread on my SAW groupings.
Another item of importance is what type of battery to use. The general rule is that the higher the voltage, the higher the rate of fire (ROF). So I would recommend at least a 9.6V battery with a high storage capacity (mAh), like this one. You'll want a higher ROF in your SAW because that will allow it to spit out more BBs in a short amount of time at your opponents. Battery voltages in Airsoft can go as high as 14.8V, but that's at the very extreme end of things. Most people don't use anything higher than an 11.1V Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) or 12V Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery for their high-ROF setups.
So those are some of the basics to getting started with a squad automatic weapon. If you're interested in picking one up, but aren't quite sure if you want to go through with it, ask yourself, "What would an Operator do?" And then do it!
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