Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movie Props - Airsoft Guns in the Movies

One of the hallmarks of a big-budget Hollywood action film, aside from the requisite star power, are the guns which the stars wield onscreen. Two cases in point: it would be difficult to argue that the mini-gun carried by Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Terminator 2’ is any less iconic than the character’s black leather jacket or tinted sunglasses. The same can be said for the twin Heckler & Koch 9mm handguns which graced the leg holster’s of Angelina Jolie’s character of ‘Lara Croft’ in the Tomb Raider films. Croft’s side-arms are as much a part of that character as are her iconic braid and skimpy clothing, and nearly as memorable.

Such film props need to do a bit more than to simply look believable at rest, however, to sell the cinematic gags required of action directors. I doubt that these flicks would be nearly as memorable without the revolutions of Arnold’s multi-barreled, electric gatling gun or Jolie diving side-wise through space as the bolts on her H&K’s kicking. Bottom line, for today’s savvy audiences, the guns they see on the silver screen need to operate as if they were the real thing. Slides still need to travail and cylinders still need to spin. That means, rubberized prop-guns won’t cut it.

Historically, industry prop-masters working to lend authenticity to these productions have needed to walk a balancing act due to such, juggling safety with the intended realism the sub-genre demands, and unfortunately, and sometimes soberly, with varying and occasionally tragic results.

With realism such an obvious contributing factor, actual firearms are often employed in film productions (albeit outfitted with non-firing conversion kits or blank-loaded), and yet they remain still as potentially lethal as their unmodified brethren. Sadly, there are far too many historic examples of firearm prop malfunction or misuse resulting in physical harm (among others, the promising American actor Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed in North Carolina at the age of twenty-eight while on the set of the feature film The Crow, the result a combination of ‘use of an actual firearm as prop’ and operational ignorance of such).

In an effort to prevent such tragedies from transpiring, as well as to ‘sell the gag,’ educated prop houses have now begun to turn to the airsoft industry in an effort to supply film productions with safe, realistic props. Airsoft guns after all closely mimic the appearance of their real-world counterparts (which is why military and law-enforcement world-wide are adopting airsoft as their close quarter combat weapon training platform), yet they don’t possess the ability to fire anything more than 6mm plastic airsoft BBs, at speeds well under a lethal limit. This unto itself, as well as airsoft guns’ inherent ability to mimic the actual mechanical movements of actual firearms, combined with airsoft’s cost-effective nature, makes airsoft the ideal choice for realistic film props.

The producers of this past summer’s Warner Bros. summer flick The Losers can attest to this, as can the producers of HBO’s True Blood series and the brass behind Sony Pictures’ recently-wrapped Hostel 3, a trio of production companies who have in the last year employed the use of airsoft products secured via Southern California’s airsoft retailer Airsoft Megastore. Independent filmmakers too have utilized airsoft guns for their various productions, and given the competitively-priced nature of airsoft products, the attention to display airsoft manufacturers display in the manufacture of these products, and the relative safety of airsoft guns, it’s no wonder.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, an airsoft retailer offering electric and gas powered airsoft guns. Please visit Airsoft Megastore to shop for airsoft AEGs, full metal airsoft rifles or the right airsoft gas gun for players of any experience level.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Heart of Airsoft: Calling Your Hits

Airsoft as a sport relies on realism, and serious airsofters invest significant amounts of time researching the various airsoft products and technical gear they purchase. Focused attention to detail is the norm, particularly when it comes to ‘MilSim’ (military simulation games) and players seem to enjoy this aspect nearly as much as they do engaging in airsoft combat. Their historic selection of custom unit patches and ‘call signs’, their dedicated study and employment of military tactics and strategies, their theater-specific attention to weaponry, uniforms and equipment and their often long-distance travel to airsoft facility ‘combat towns’... all serve to more closely mimic real-word combat. Without such, airsoft would be little more than a chaotic afternoon of airsofters running about scatter-shot, and if that were the case, I highly doubt that the sport of airsoft would be growing so popular.

To a large degree, airsoft relies on successfully creating the illusion of real-world combat – an illusion which unfortunately can easily be shattered, regardless of the time and money invested in the sport, by airsoft players who simply don’t call their hits.

Unlike paintball, airsoft is a sport of honor (there’s no greasy marker paint involved), and relies upon those engaging in the sport to call ‘hit!’ when they’ve been struck with an airsoft BB projectile. Simple failure to do so lessens the illusion of authenticity airsoft players strive to maintain, and indeed causes frustration and anger for the participants who approach the code of airsoft conduct seriously. Not unlike the youthful game of ‘Cowboys and Indians,’ airsoft requires one’s acknowledgment of being ‘killed,’ and for anyone who engaged in the former as a child, they can attest to the irritation they experienced following having an inarguable drop on a playmate, only to hear them reply, ‘Nuh-uh! You missed me!’ If recollection serves, such dishonest interaction immediately sapped all enjoyment from playing ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ as a boy, and the same can be said for the sport of airsoft.

If you are reading this, then more than likely you’ve engaged in the sport of airsoft, and have therefore either witnessed dishonesty in hit calling, or worse, have been the culprit. Unfortunately it seems that every airsoft field has one: a player who’s tarnished their reputation by consistently not upholding the honor code, and whose name has subsequently become analogous with dishonesty.

So please, call your hits.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the #1 fastest growing Airsoft retailer in the nation. Airsoft Megastore offers the latest airsoft guns and gear as well as a 125% low price guarantee on all new Airsoft guns and gear.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Airsoft for Christmas: When Should I Order?

The popularity of airsoft is growing at an exponential rate, supplanting paintball as the preferred weapon platform for military and law enforcement training. Airsoft continues to grow in the public sector as well. Much of this is due to the youth and young adult demographic groups, who have latched onto the sport of airsoft with the same level of enthusiasm which they’ve historically displayed for first-person shooter video games. Have a look at the staggering sales figures for the newly launched ‘Halo: Reach’, and you’ll get an idea of their buying power!

The difference in supply between the two couldn’t be more different, however.

While video games (a popular thing to gift for those December holidays) are easily obtainable given the nature of their manufacture and broad distribution, airsoft products can sometimes be a bit more tricky to acquire, particularly during the months leading up to Christmas. The reason is two-fold, and basically comes down to ‘supply attempting to keep up with demand’.

The first reason is, the sport of airsoft is a rapidly growing and while long-standing airsoft manufacturers work around the clock to keep up with the ever-increasing worldwide demand for their products, the delivery time of these products to airsoft retailers isn’t instantaneous. Most airsoft manufacturers are located overseas, which means longer cargo transit time and customs inspections. Shipments from manufacturers can sometimes take months to reach airsoft retailers.

The second reason is the sheer demand for airsoft products by savvy airsoft players. The demand for products can quickly diminish the stock of those shipments once received by an airsoft importer. It’s no secret. Airsoft players are often tech-heads, and they know what they want and when/where the airsoft products they desire will be available. They often pre-purchase their airsoft guns so as to reserve the product and guarantee their receipt. And while some airsoft retailers possess the purchasing power to import large amounts of product, their customer base also often purchase these products in large quantities, as they understand the constant waltz of supply and demand.

What does this mean to you, the young airsoft enthusiast or the parent of one? Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to place your airsoft orders, because more than likely, that particular airsoft gun that you’ve been eying will be by that point unobtainable by December 25th.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, a leading online provider of Airsoft guns, gear, airsoft ammo and accessories. Airsoft Megastore brings Airsoft to the masses by offering low prices on Airsoft gear for beginner to experienced players.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Type of Airsoft BB Should I Use? A Lesson in Airsoft Physics

Considering the exorbitant amount of time airsoft enthusiasts spend in selecting their airsoft weapon... not to mention the amount of time they spend endlessly discussing the varying spring tensile strengths, gearbox upgrades and batteries available... I’ve always found it rather interesting how little focus many avid airsoft players place on the quality of airsoft BBs they employ with their hardware.

To put it simply, the choice of airsoft BB used is as important as the airsoft gun a player selects. Ammunition-grade influences everything from effective range and impact to the very mechanics of their airsoft gun... all things crucial to not only a player’s field survival, but also to their pocket-book. So if you will, let’s take a moment to address the positive impacts of using high-grade airsoft ammunition, what it is, and how the varying weights of BBs will affect one’s game-play.

Airsoft guns fire 6mm precision-polished, seamless, plastic pellets made expressly for airsoft guns, so the next time you are at your local sporting goods store, stay away from that old box of bronze BB ammo. It won’t work with your airsoft gun. In fact, those bbs will damage your firearm, as will most of the low-grade airsoft BBs sold by these distributors. Unfortunately, most of the airsoft ammunition you’ll find at these stores simply won’t cut it. These low grade BBs lack the spherical density and consistency needed to not only lend your gun 'effect on target', they also have the unfortunate tendency to jam your gun, or - even worse - shatter and damage the internals of your gun. So please take the time, as you did in the selection of your airsoft weapon, in your choice of airsoft ammo. Visit a specialized airsoft retailer, whether online or otherwise, and purchase high-quality airsoft ammo. I personally use GoldenBall ProSlick .20 gram BBs in conjunction with my current AEG (a JG M4 S-System), and I have been more than happy with the results.

With that, as we’ve now touched on the impact of the manufacturing-grade of the airsoft BB on your gun, let’s briefly address the varying weights of airsoft ammunition, and how they may affect your target shooting and/or combat operations, the two main sports airsoft players engage in.

Airsoft pellets range in weight from very light 0.12 gram BBs (used most often in starter spring/electric air guns) to 0.25 gram BBs (airsoft snipers prefer the heavier pellets for accuracy), and their varying performances are dependent not only the previously-discussed and quite important quality of manufacture, but also of course on Newton’s First Law of Motion, which is, ‘Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.’

In this case, the external force will be gravity, which unsurprisingly affects the flight of every airsoft BB, as do external weather factors (wind, rain, etc.). Simply put, the lighter the airsoft BB the further it will fly, although it will have less effective range the further it travels (meaning it’ll eventually begin to stray from its flight path). The heavier the airsoft BB, the less distance it will fly, although the effective range of a heavier airsoft BB is greater than its lighter counterparts (the additional weight provides flight stability), which lends itself to an increase in accuracy and impact energy. (For airsoft enthusiasts that play CQC, this also means that the heavier BB hurts a lot more).

Choose the weight and grade of your airsoft BB wisely. Both will affect not only your tactical operations and battle-field longevity, but also the life-expectancy of your beloved airsoft gun.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the fastest growing of all airsoft stores in the nation. Airsoft Megastore offers deep discounts on sale items for players interested in cheap AEG airsoft guns and looking to find airsoft sniper rifles cheap.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gear up! How Many Mags Will I Need for my Airsoft Gun?

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the sport of airsoft is accessorizing your gun, and whether that is with a tactical fore-grip, flash-light, laser or red dot scope, the possibilities are as varied as the personalities of those who enjoy airsoft. Of all of the accessories available, however, none are more important than the component which actually feeds your airsoft gun: the magazine. Whether it be a CO2 or gas clip for your airsoft side-arm or a low to high-cap AEG magazine (or the impressive ‘drum’ magazine - which can hold literally thousands of airsoft BBs) for your electric air gun, those entering into the sport of airsoft often pose the question, “How many mags should I purchase?”

The varying answers revolve around not only the airsoft gun in question, but more importantly the style of airsoft activity one looks to engage in. For this article, we’ll break that down into three categories: target-shooting, CQC (Close Quarters Combat) and MILSIM (Military Simulation) games.

For target-shooting, generally a couple of airsoft mags will suffice. Airsoft marksmen are generally rather economic with their trigger-finger, as the goal is to improve one’s accuracy, as opposed to waging an airsoft pellet ‘shock and awe’ campaign on a target. Marksmanship is the name of the game here, and as such it allows the player more time in not only leisurely sighting, but also in leisurely reloading, their airsoft gun. Because of this, most airsoft gun owners who use their weapon solely for target shooting are content with only two or three airsoft magazines.

CQC however is a different world entirely. As the game itself consists of a series of airsoft operators engaging in mock combat in a confined environment with ‘light’ weaponry, one must make sure that a steady supply of airsoft ammunition is consistently on-deck for disbursement, and that means more magazines, as they are the veritable delivery system of airsoft BBs for hungry AEGs (the guns generally favored for CQC operations). The last thing an airsoft player wants to happen is to come up empty at the time of threat assessment/target acquisition, which is why players often choose hi-cap (high-capacity) magazines for use in Close Quarters Combat. Most often holding three-hundred rounds and up, three to four high-cap magazines are usually enough to allow the airsoft enthusiast an hour or so of CQC play prior to requiring a reload, so most players are content with a handful of airsoft high-cap mags. Given the nature of play, however, and the fact that system redundancy is imperative to ‘life-expectancy’ in the field of CQC, some players carry twice that. It renders them more effective from an equipment standpoint, and honestly, a tactical vest overflowing with high-cap mags just looks… cool.

Airsoft MILSIM (Military Simulation) is without a doubt the most demanding sub-play of the sport, not only physically, but in this case, as it applies to the sheer amount of magazines needed in order to effectively participate. In an effort to as-closely-as-possible mimic actual ‘real world’ combat, airsoft MILSIM operators approach these games of MOUT (urban warfare) with an acute focus on detail, which means shying away from the use of high-cap magazines. Given that the standard magazines of airsoft guns’ real-world military counterparts generally hold roughly thirty rounds of ammunition, airsoft low-cap magazines emulate this, with most holding only fifty or so airsoft BBs. This means reloading, and more often, simply because the use of low-cap mags allows for the operator a more believable military simulation. Given such, it’s not uncommon to witness airsoft players toss aside with abandon their spent low-cap mags, in an effort to reload in heat of MILSIM operations. It’s also not uncommon for airsoft retailers to sell low-cap magazines in packages of five to ten, given MILSIM players’ voracious appetite for sheer quantity.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, the fastest growing of all airsoft stores in the nation. Airsoft Megastore offers deep discounts on sale items for players interested in cheap AEG airsoft guns and looking to find airsoft sniper rifles cheap.

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