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Guns of Navarone

The Wop

 

Every player/re-enactor envisions what the battlefield looks like in his head. It is only limited by his imagination. Whether it be he sees a Somalian technical, Iraqi T72, or a Russian satellite up link station, in his mind it is there. And he will remember it as such.  Airsoft is moving in a direction that is requiring the player to rely less on his/her imagination and giving them the visuals that they desire. With more and more private game and event organizers stepping up to the plate and delivering the goods.

 

Events like LC are prop heavy games. With real military vehicles and props. Costing the organizers large sums of money to secure them for use.  But your average player can not afford to do this. So as a result many have started to design and make their own. Recently at OP:ID2 (Cedar Falls) a RAID hosted op, there were 3 very well crafted 105mm guns in place. With attention given to every detail of the pieces. Mike Phillps of Southern California and Marcus Holt also of Southern California have delivered. Mike is a wizard when it comes to wood working and it is evident in these 105s. He also makes props for the History Channel. Marcus is USMC, and a true re-enactor (appearances on the History Channel). While it was Mike’s hands that did most of the work, both he and Marcus paid for all the materials for this project from their own wallets. It was a true labor of love.

 

About a month before the op was to be held, Marcus informed a select group of his intentions. As he did not want to ruin the suprise for all of those that were to attend the op. And what a surprise it was. With the first pictures being posted, all were amazed.

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Mike had already built over 90% of the first gun. They had plans to build four of them. With regular updates Marcus keep us informed of the progress on the guns. The measurements for the guns where taken from scale models, which insured that these props would be 1:1 scale or at least damn close. 

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As the date of the op was getting closer I must say I was a little hesitant to believe that all four would be completed. A lot of work went in to these 105s and it came close. In one of the last updates on the guns Marcus informed us that Mike would be working through the night to complete them. He also had informed us that due to logistics, only three would be present.

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The day of the event had arrived and all those from the Bastards were anxious to see the end results. And it was well worth the wait.

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Although the guns were not 100% complete (still needed gun shields, wheels, and the support arms), they still had that WOW factor to them. It was great to see them there and not have to visualize them in our heads, because there they were. Right in front of us. They looked great. And much dedication went into the detail of the guns. It really made FSB Smith look awesome. Made you feel like you were really there.

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Marcus has informed us that Mike and he still plan to finish the guns. And are toying with the idea of making them fire. Now that would be great! A hearty thank you goes out from the Bastards to Marcus Holt and Mike Phillps for their work and dedication to the things they love. Keep up the good work you two.

Mucked up
The Wop

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Picture courtesy of Jenocide Roughnecks

Water, mud, sand. Caked on soaked in and everywhere. Recently the Bastards had an opportunity to game in a very unique field. The Santa Ana River. As close to the Mekong as you can get, without having really been there.

 

Thick bamboo, sand, quicksand, a river and mud. Trudging through the field made us appreciate how hard it must have been for our troops in Vietnam, who had to do this on a regular basis. Even a light combat load becomes heavy and cumbersome when you are going through waist deep water. And if your gear gets wet and full of mud and sand then it is 10x as hard. Not being able to see where you’re stepping as you walk through the muddy water. Stepping off into a deep section, where just a second ago the water was lapping at your ankles and it is now swirling around your waist. Not knowing if you’re going to loose your footing and get swept away. Tripping over the rocks and branches that the murky water hides from you sight. Hoping that the enemy doesn’t fire on you, because you can’t run very well in waist deep water. A true adrenaline rush.

 

Once you made it to the other side of the river you had to contend with the banks. Usually soft sand, quicksand or mud, making it hard to exit the water. The sound of water sloshing in your boots with every wet heavy step. The sand and mud that now coats everything it touched. The sand paper effect you get from the sand rubbing against your skin and pants as you walk. Wishing that you had a dry pair of socks on you.

 

Wet canvas gear is no joy. Canvas tends to hold water better than a bucket, making all you gear feel heavy and unbalanced. And it don’t dry fast either. Moving fast becomes a challenge. Your weapon now has sand in every little nook and cranny. As you brush it away it seems to reappear magically. Sand in your mags, in your pouches, boots, clothes and somehow in your mouth. And its not going anywhere except that spot that don’t have any in it yet.

 

If you were unfortunate enough to have fallen in the mud everything is now slippery from it. When and if it dries it won’t brush off like sand. It stays as a reminder that you’re going to have to go through more of it soon. Maybe the next time you’ll get stuck in it and won’t be able to get out with out help. Every move you make to extricate yourself gets you deeper into it. Once you get out you are covered in a thick smear of it. And no amount of brushing or scraping is gonna get it off. If you want it off, it’s back into the water for you. Only to have to go through all the other hassles again.

 

River OP’s are no walk in the park. They are a true test of you physical and mental shape. You will become exhausted from going through the water with its sandy soft bottom. The mud that grabs you and forces you to struggle with it to break its hold. Even the dry sand fights every step you take. Some how grabbing the toe of your boot as you walk or run. Making it seem that with every step you are gonna fall flat on your face. You’re never dry. You’re never un-clad in either mud or sand. Everything is coated with it.

 

But now you’re on the other side watching others go through what you just had to. Thinking to yourself “Don’t step there”, “Watch out for that deep part”, “Careful of the log”. And laughing when they fall in the water because its not you. Others laughed at you when it was you in the water, and covered in mud. And now you share a common bond. A bond of mud. Just as the mud has bonded to you and you gear. You’ve also probably realized that lack of some essential gear. Rope for helping cross the river, and pull yourself or your buddies out of the mud. A field made walking stick to feel out the holes, logs and rocks that are hidden from your view beneath the water. And in the case of bamboo thickets, a machete. Extra socks, the dry kind. Plastic bags for the stuff that can’t get wet, i.e. mags, maps, commo gear.

 

The preceding was a lesson learned. Knowing what river OP’s entail will give you the upper hand. Knowing what needs to be done and brought along will make things easier for you. But you will never really know until you get mucked up.

 

The back up gun

What I think is the best back up gun

Dial-Tone

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            It’s happened to me more than once before.  I get someone dead in my sights, pull the trigger--then nothing.  Dammit!  My gun isn't firing!”  This time I had exerted a great deal of effort to flank the oncoming attackers and got within less than 50 feet by hiding in the chest high grass.  I stood up, took careful aim through the "iron" sights of my Colt M653, pulled the trigger and nothing.  I ducked back in the grass, flipped the selector from full to semi to safety then back to full, stood up again, squeezed the trigger and still nothing.  Though the opposing team never saw me from my ambush position, I called myself out on the account that my rifle wasn't firing.  I thought to myself if I had a back up weapon, I would have been able to take another shot and gotten that kill.  Never have I had the need for a decent back up until then. 

 

            For short skirmishes I usually don't carry one.  Its one more piece of equipment I need to look after and more added weight to my already moderately heavy gear.  But for big, scenario-type games I do.  I got the idea from my team mate Smokey.  He wanted to get an inexpensive shotgun to screw around with, but good enough to use as a secondary to his M60.  His choice, the new Maruzen CA 870 sawed-off shotgun.

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            The Maruzen CA 870 is a simple spring-powered pump shotgun.  There is no need for a battery pack that could die out or gas that can be finicky depending on the weather condition.  To me, this is the best back-up gun.  The perfect combination of value, power, range and compactness.  I could have opted for a gas pistol but, a quality pistol can get expensive and can be sensitive to field conditions i.e., heat, dust and dirt.  Most have a lot of moving parts that can get lost or broken on the field.  The CA 870 costs as much as a mid-level quality gas pistol, shoots harder than a stock AEG, has pistol-like range and is short enough to be carried in a backpack or inside a hydration carrier.

           

            In stock form, the Maruzen CA 870 shoots at 298 feet per second with a .20 gram BB on a fixed hop.  I have chronographed Smokey's modified shotgun and with an Angs 120 spring and tightbore barrel it produced an APS-like 398 FPS.  That is partly because the cylinder design is somewhat similar to the APS.  But unlike the APS, the pumping/cocking effort did not change with the spring modification. Whereas the APS has a very noticeable change.  The CA 870 is still easy to pump, as if it were stock.

 

            Maruzen has a full line of airsoft shotguns out in the market, ranging from full length, semi autos to folding stock pumps.  The CA 870 is the least expensive behind the CA 870 CQB.  The aforementioned Maruzen shotguns are gas powered; shell fed/shell ejecting and fires multiple rounds.  The CA series have less metal content, spring-powered (as mentioned before); magazine fed and fires a single round. 

 

            The amount of exterior plastic construction (the internals are made of the same material as the APS) does not bother me at all.  To me it makes for a lighter weapon.  The FPS almost remains constant because it is not gas powered and is very field reliable.  Since it is magazine fed, it carries more rounds than the other Maruzen shotguns and there is no need to chase after ejected shells or utilize a shell catcher.  The 40 round magazine is as easy to load as a pistol mag and attaches/detaches from the receiver like a standard assault rifle.  Unfortunately, with the mag sticking out an inch or so, it does detract from the overall shotgun look.

 

            The Maruzen CA 870 sawed off is certainly a great buy, and to me is the best back-up piece for me to bring on the field.  I carry it in a PRC antenna bag, and it fits in perfectly with my Vietnam impression. With it, I can continue in the game provided I don't get eliminated...

Sign(s) of a good BB, and the better BB

The Wop

 

Some may be wondering what makes a good bb. Is it the manufacturer, brand, finish, etc? Yes and no. It is true that these things do help in determining good bbs. But, there is one aspect that is overlooked; the air bubble.

 

Air bubble, what the heck is that? BB weight is determined by the size of the air bubble that is present in the bb itself. The smaller the bubble, the heavier the bb (Although if I do remember correctly, some bbs do use denser material. For instance the quote un-quote metal bb, is just a coating over a ceramic core.).  Having read many reviews on different bbs, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the top brand bbs are the same. Uniform in size, having a good polish to reduce jams, mis-feeds, and drag.  So as long as you stick with a bb that has a well established track record you should have no problems at all.

 

Back to the air bubble. Have you ever noticed, and I’m sure you have, that when you fire you weapon some bbs go straight, while others curve one way or the other. There is no wind, your hop has not changed and you are using the same weight, same brand bbs. This is due to the location of the bubble in the bb. If all the bubbles were center mass within bbs, then every bb would follow the same flight path, but this is not the case. It is because of the bubble being slightly off center that some bbs will veer off path. Of course there is no exact way of making each bubble dead center in the bbs and given to certain aspects of the game is not really needed, i.e. distance of engagements.

 

This brings me to another topic. The finish on a bb. A good bb will be very smooth, having been put through an intensive tumbling process. I’m sure we have all used crap bbs once. And I’m sure you have noticed the proliferation of mis-feeds and jams. Where as a good polished bb wont do this. But there is actually a draw back to the polished finish, range.

 

How? Let’s look at a baseball. The stitching on the ball allows the player to get a grip on the ball and impart a backspin on the ball for greater distance and control over the path of the ball itself (just like hop-up). It is the backspin that allows the ball to travel the distance that it does, coupled with the energy put in to the ball (Energy=upgrades in a gun.). The stitches in fact make the ball travel farther. If a baseball had no stitches it would not be able to travel as far as it does with them. The mathematics behind this are very complex in itself. So if a bb where to have some sort of “stitching” on it, it would in fact go farther. And at the same time negate the need for hop-up, the bubble as well, and cure the “wandering” bb.

 

But “stitching” would be hard to do on a bb. And if hop was still used, would tear it up. Enter the golf ball. Those dimples on the ball aren’t for cuteness. They serve the same purpose as the stitching on a baseball, distance. If a golf ball can travel an easy 400yrds, think what dimples would do for bbs, and the sport. Once again negating the possible need for hop and the air bubble. And dimples would not tear a hop to pieces, if one was still needed.

 

The ranges of engagements would increase and the chance of true “one-shot-one-kill” scenarios would also be increased. Accuracy would be gained. Since the air bubble is gone, the weight of the bb would be determined by the density of the bb. There would still be a need to have a good polish on the bbs to help reduce mis-feeds, jams and drag. And a new way of holding the bb in the chamber would have to be devised, as it is the hop that does this (If you turn the hop all the way down, your bb will roll out of the barrel.).

 

There are many things that make a good bb, bubble location, polish, and uniform size. And as I believe, most brand name bbs are in fact the same (If not being made by the same manufacture and then having a different label slapped on them, like cars. Or simply, a good manufacturing process.). But to have a better bb then now would be great. I don’t know if what has been presented here has been tried, or if it’s even possible. But it would be nice if it were a reality. Just like with real steel, the bullet helps make a big difference. The bb can make a big difference in airsoft as well. The companies put a lot of effort and R&D into the guns and parts. But they are neglecting a very important part of the game, the bb. Maybe the bb has reached its apex in design, or maybe the companies feel it is good enough. What ever the case is, a better bb would be the cherry on top of the Sundae.

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Make with what you got:

The Deadman's boots

Dial-Tone

 

           So it's been a while since I have gone playing.  That day I went through the usual mental checklist of the gear that I was taking with me to the field.  I even made sure I had enough food and water to last me the day.  I loaded my good-to-go boxes into my truck and left for the field wearing only my sandals. 

 

            The day seemed to go well from the start.  There was minimal traffic on the way to the field and the field itself was easy to find.  The weather seemed cooperative too--sunny and with a slight breeze.  The Wop, Mr. Fred and myself started to gear up for the game then I realized what I was missing.  My BOOTS!

 

            Of all the things to forget, it was my boots.  I forgot several key pieces of gear in the past.  I forgot to bring along my upper cammies twice.  The first time was at Fields of Fury for a regular pick-up game and second was Operation Whiplash.  At Whiplash at least it was sort of salvageable.  I brought along my flak jacket and it was good enough to play in.  But this time it was my boots and I can't play in sandals! Maybe I can go as VC?...I don’t think so!  My first instinct was to get in and drive back home but I knew I would not be able to do that.  I decided to just take pictures instead.  Fortunately Mr. Fred brings along with him enough gear to outfit another man.  He had an extra pair of boots that he 'retired' because they were wearing out.  Lucky for me too Mr. Fred wears one size bigger boots he normally does and the boots fit me. 

 

            Of course I was now the subject of ridicule from the two (Mr. Fred and The Wop) which I didn't mind.  I told them this was like wearing a deadman's boots.  That I had to take it off someone's feet because I needed it.  The boots were a tad tight but at least it was a wide size and my flat feet were able to expand in them.  I couldn't run in those boots and when not moving, I had to sit down and literally take a load off my feet to prevent my feet from further expanding inside.  I told Mr. Fred that it felt like baking bread inside a boot!

 

            Game play was sort of rough on my feet. Several times I had lagged behind due to the uncomfortable wear. Because of it I had to adjust my field tactics to minimal movements accordingly to ambush, but this was not different from how I usually play anyway.

 

By the end of the day, my feet were sore. I returned the deadman's boots back to Mr.Fred, widened and expanded to the size of my feet. I don’t think Mr'Fred will ever be able to reclaim those boots as his anymore.

 

            Well next time I will just have to check and re-check again what I have.  Or maybe just put the boots inside my good-to-go box.  But then again the last time I did that I actually thought that I left my boots at home...

Strike fast and hard

Ball ping hammer or scalpel? One we do a little damage here and there, but over time will take its toll. The other is precision, used to deliver exacting cuts. So you’re asking, “What are you talking about?”. Well my friend its simple, I’m talking about Guerilla warfare and Conventional warfare. The main focus of this article is Guerilla warfare. The SOP of any small group.

 

Most of the teams out on the fields are fairly large, anywhere from 10 players or more. But there are a few that are small. Conventional military tactics work fine for the large more organized teams. But for the smaller ones they do not. If a small team of three were to try to use a squad based tactic it would almost be suicide. A three man team can not use fire and maneuver tactics to their full advantage, nor any other squad based tactics. Sure they can try, but will fail; at the least not have its desired effect. Squad tactics work fine if you have enough warm bodies. Guerilla warfare relies on small teams to accomplish its goals. Most tactics used by Guerillas’ are adaptations of squad tactics. Where the idea is to hit and run, sometimes coming back and hitting again, i.e. the ball ping hammer. If we take a look a Vietnam and the lessons learned there, you will see that Guerilla warfare works well against a large force. It was very hard for US forces to deal with these types of attacks. It would frustrate them to no end. Look at Iraq today, once again, Guerilla warfare, hit and run raids, RPG’s, IED’s, quick ambushes. Tactics like these have been used for centuries of conflict. All with the desired result.

 

What kind of tactics would be used by such a small team? In airsoft mostly harassment. An ambush set to take out stragglers. A vicious barrage of high volumes of fire, directed at the leader of a squad. The simple yet effective, shoot as many as you can in a few seconds and run. And a host of others, they are up to you to devise, remember its called Guerilla warfare for a reason. Its name is synonymous with “unfairness”. The key here is to capitalize on the mistakes of your foe. They feel safe in large numbers. Secure. They become lax in their vigilance. With enough of this a small Guerilla team can easily take out a squad larger than themselves.

 

With these kinds of raids you must strike at the right time. And strike quick and hard. You must observe you advisory, to find out who is calling the shoots. Sometimes following them for long periods of time before striking. Moving along their flanks or directly behind them. Moving when they do. You must know the terrain. Avenues of escape, for both you and them. You must be committed to your actions. Follow up quickly on attacks if you’ve inflicted numerous casualties. Three men moving after every shot and firing again and again can cause confusion amongst you intended targets. Using these types of tactics, you have to be able to move, and fast. It is a vital part of Guerilla warfare.

 

There is no set doctrine to Guerilla warfare. Be creative in your attacks. Use deception, callout to them as if you were their allies. Split you team to hit them on the signal from various sides. Make them chase one of you and into a trap with the others waiting to pounce on them. Most people will, after all chase someone that is running from them. To survive as a small team you must adopt these kinds of tactics. There is nothing wrong with being part of a large squad, but if you find yourself in this situation you have to make do. And it can be fun too. You get to call the shots. You decide when to fire and where. Just like Chess, it is a mind game, as much as it is a physical one.

 

So if you find yourself with a ball ping hammer don’t think of it as nothing. Use it. Be creative with it. Hit the vitals with it. Even the mightiest of walls will fall if hit enough.     

 

 

The next level
What is Airsoft? It is milsim. Meaning that it is s simulation of military tactics and warfare. Simply enough. So since this is what Airsoft is it is time to bring it to the next level.

  The first move towards bringing Airsoft closer to reality was the use of gear. This was an obvious move, since you need a place to hold your extra bb’s, mags and such. Next came the howlers. That simple $3 Nerf football that when shot out of a grenade launcher screams at its target before impact. Now handgrenades are making an ever increasing appearance into the game. There are some promising examples out there, with the best being at http://www.airsofthandgrenades.com/ .

  Now, what would be the next thing to make its way into the milsim realm? Landmines and rocket launchers of course. First let’s start with the rocket launchers. You are starting to see them, although in small numbers, on the fields. They started with the simple compressed air/water balloon type. Not good if it hits you $800 weapon and fries it. So now there is a small move toward the old potato gun. This is a little better because of the fact that it uses a solid projectile. But once again you have a small problem. Combustion in a confined area, which can lead to an explosion and the injury or even death of the operator or those nearby. (Any kind of fire source should not be used in Airsoft, unless you have the proper safety measures in place.) Not to mention that it would probably not be to fun to get hit with a potato either. Well then, what would work and be relatively safe. The answer is above. A compressed air launcher and howlers. There are sites on the web devoted to these and their sale. Although not being cheap $400-$600 a pop. The examples that I’ve seen look real and not like the ones that you build in the garage and look like a drain pipe.

  Next would be the landmines. This would be the best introduction into the game, as far as I’m concerned. Already there are several “Panitballmines” out there that can be used without paint. Instead they use a SFX powder that simulates smoke. But with no audible this is not the best idea.  Then there is the Claymore. One a paintballmine, which can’t be used in Airsoft for obvious reasons. And the then there is the one from http://www.supercelldev.com/index.php . Which is a step in the right direction, but one flaw no boom. Just imagine that you have set your mines, you’re in deep cover and can’t see anything, BOOM! You know instantly that you have a kill and that the opposition is nearby. That is why you need an audible mine. And they are here! I’ve seen pictures from OP’s with the mines being deployed. Having seen them on the web I knew what I was looking at. And being within an affordable price range too. These few new introductions to Airsoft will bring this game to an evolved state of play. Where large groups and those guys that creep up ever so quietly will have to look out for something else now. As death has a new means in Airsoft.