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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gearing Up! BlasterSmiths UK 1812 and 612 mag pouches

Not terribly long ago, in a country that seems increasingly near thanks to the jet and information ages... It is a period of unrest. Human survivors, striking out from secure shelters are winning minor victories against the shambling undead that wish to feast on thier delicious brains. During this conflict, blastersmiths and armorers have managed to engineer gear to make human fighters more effective in dealing with the living impaired, a force multiplier for humanity. Pursued by brain-munching zombies, humanity's fighters race from their fortifications to gather much needed supplies to sustain humanity in the face of those that death forgot....

It wasn’t that long ago that carrying extra mags for your Nerf blasters at a Humans vs Zombies game meant stuffing cargo pants with 6 round mags and hoping to not get caught reloading. With the advent of the Raider’s slamfire and 35 round drum, along with 18 round mags coming with the Stampede, things changed. Fire rates increased and competitive magazines no longer fit into the leg pockets of a pair of trousers. With this several different approaches came. Some stuck with thier 6 round mags, others started carrying their 18 round mags and drums in large ill fitting pouches, while still others re-purposed airsoft or military surplus gear to carry thier gear. A few others started engineering their own solutions, and some of those decided to sell their solutions to other players.

Monday, December 16, 2013

DIY: Dirt Cheap IFF patches

I was at Walmart browsing the craft section restocking my Velcro (I might have gone a little bit mad with power), then I spotted some colored outdoor gear patches, for patching raincoats, tents and the like.  It occurred to me that as easy as I had found it to add Velcro to things with fusibles, that I could probably make some team patches with those, by adding a little ingenuity.  After all the industrial strength Velcro I use has adhesive backing and so do the nylon patches.  All that was left was to attach them to my chosen battle apparel, which was easy, so I thought I would go ahead and make a tutorial of it.  For the tutorial I'm only making one color set of patches, but the process can be repeated to make as many color sets as you have material for!

1.  Gather your materials.  As with everything there are other ways to go about making these, but to make them the way I made them you will need:

6" self adhesive 2" width industrial strength Velcro for each color set of patches you intend to make.
1 roll of 2" width Stitch Witchery
1 pack multi color Bondex Pressure Sensitive Nylon Patches
1 garment to attach patches to (I used a hoodie)
Ironing Board
Cloth you don't mind potentially ruining

2. Cut Velcro into 3" sections, two for each color of patch you are making

3. Grab a nylon patch, and two sections of hook side Velcro.

4.  Remove backing from the nylon and the Velcro.

5. Carefully place Velcro sections on the nylon, sticky side to sticky side.  Use a rolling motion starting at one end of the Velcro to reduce air bubbles.

6.  Cut them out and throw away excess nylon.

7. You're done making the patches, repeat for other colors.  Continue for instructions mounting the loop Velcro to your chosen battle garment.

8. Grab your Stitch Witchery and your loop side Velcro!

9. Peel the backing off of your Velcro.

10. Slap your Velcro onto your Stitch Witchery.  Congrats you've just made iron on Velcro!

11.  Follow the instructions of your iron on adhesive to mount the Velcro about 2' below the shoulder seam.

12.  Slap a colored patch onto your chosen battle garment! Enjoy

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gearing Up!: Condor 25 Round Shotgun Reload Platform

When I started with the Gearing Up! project I knew from the outset that the mission was to take on some of the risk of trying out existing accessories.  Try them out so you don't have to so to speak.  Some things work, others don't, and others are still a little more complicated.  The Condor 25 Round Shotgun Reload platform is one of those things.  As such this won't be as much a review of the product itself as information on how to adapt the product's concept to foam warfare

The platform mounts very securely and unobtrusively to MOLLE platforms, and as such will also mount to most belts simply by feeding the belt through the loop created when the MOLLE straps are properly woven.  I like the orientation of the shell holders and love the way the pouch stays out of the way when not being used but holds ammo ready to be retrieved.  Such a thing makes all the difference in the world when the undead are after your brains.

The platform obviously wasn't designed to work with Elite darts, and this is where we run into trouble.  Shotgun shells are shorter, thicker, harder and heavier than Elite darts.  This means a few things for us:

    BuzzBee Shells standing in
    for shotgun shells
The loops are spaced for the shorter shotgun shells, leaving the elite darts overlapping the rows.  When I load mine I skip the middle row on each side of the pouch and still run into some spacing issues.  This means of course that the pouch is dependent on you view, too short for 3 rows or too long for 2 rows.  With them spaced out from each other it can be a fumbling experience to find your darts when you need them in that excess real estate.

The loops are about 50% wider than one would expect for an Elite dart.  And under most circumstances this is not a bad thing.  The loops are tight enough to hold a dart without risking crushing and deforming the dart.  However the loop spacing isn't the most consistent thing in the world, meaning that some of the loops are a bit wider, taking the dart fit from just right to too loose.  This wouldn't be too bad at all if the rows were spaced a the right distance for elites, then they would just sit on top of one another inside their cozy loops.  With the excess space however they can fall out of the loops.  The spacing however is less critical for a shotgun shell because it can be held far tighter due to is hard shell and dense innards.

If you're the local BuzzBee aficionado
you're in luck.
And this brings us to the weight issue.  Shotgun shells are much heavier than Elite darts.  I don't think it would be stretching much if at all to say an order of magnitude heavier.  The upper portion of the outer section of the pouch is designed to flop down when opened, hanging four shells to the outside of the pouch where they can be easily grabbed.  Our problem here is of course that our darts aren't heavy enough to hang that way on weight alone.  I have a solution to this that I'll get to in a bit.  Additionally once you use the upper eight darts, those on the flap and those on the upper row of the back of the pouch, you have to rip the velcro of the rest of the pouch open to get to any further shells.  This leaves the outer side of the pouch flopping around below, without enough weigh on it to stabilize it when you want to access two thirds of the darts in the pouch.

Hook fastener to hold the flap open
My solution to the lack of weight is fairly simple.  Add hook side velcro to the outside of the pouch front, and divide the pouch front into three sections instead of the current two.  This way when the pouch is opened, the outer section can be secured against the outside of the pouch, and when the first section is emptied, the outside can be pulled down further to reveal the second rows of ammo.  This would also leave less flopping around when one goes for the last rows.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gearing Up!: Some Assembly Required

Ladies and Gents, thanks for tuning in once again to Animal's Rock Block... Ah screw that I'm a terrible DJ.  Welcome one and all to another chance for Animal to stand foolishly upon a soapbox.  Today we're talking about chest rigs and vests, more specifically why I use one, and a little about how one lays their pouches out on one.

"Firebirds" (1990)  I promise you it makes sense in context.
Before we go any further I should go ahead and share a little personal information:  Due to the genetic lottery, I'm right handed like most of you.  Unlike most of ya I'm left eye dominant.  Unless you use some sort of monocular device like a scope, night vision, or head mounted display you can go your entire life without ever being impacted by eye dominance.  For an example in media of how this might impact you, check out the 1990 film "Firebirds" with Nicholas Cage and Tommy Lee Jones.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Open Letter to Cottage Gear Makers


My name is Owen Atkin, you may know me as Animal from Coastal Bend Action Sports. If not it doesn’t matter. Though this letter will often refer to me and my decision making, this letter as a whole is not about me. This letter is about how to get my patronage, and through that my money. Listening to me won’t necessarily guarantee getting into my wallet, since there is still competition between makers to consider, but its a start and makes you a contender for my cash.

As a writer for a blog that focuses on gear that supports the use of blasters, rather than blasters themselves, I spend a chunk of time looking at both repurposing items from other sports and at the cottage industry that is making custom Nerf tactical gear. And of course I have to decide what to buy and not buy and who to buy it from. Some items are exclusive and others not.

When I purchase airsoft tactical gear from online airsoft mega-stores such as Airsoft GI and Evike, I generally accept a couple risks, such as the fact that my gear might not fit into it, and that is a risk I’m willing to take as a reviewer. I take the risk to find out what works, what doesn’t, and what’s garbage. They have wide selections, in dizzying arrays of colors, and in some cases sizes, all neatly categorized for browsing and indexed (to varying degrees of functionality) for searching. While it may not work for us as a community I can find the thing I was looking for.

Accompanying these of course are ads on the front pages all meant to draw customers to one item set or another, or advertise a special. These are signs that the website has a pulse, a sign that should i toss a few items in my basket and pony up my credit card information or PayPal (which is a proxy for ponying up financials), that I will receive goods in return.

I consider these two things to be absolute minimums for me to consider doing business with a website. Ease of finding the thing I’m looking for, and signs of currency. Nobody tries to go into a store when the lights are out and they haven’t been on in months. If there are signs of life I might chance looking about picking out a few items, and checking out with them, or I may simply ask questions about them to make decisions later. Having someone home to answer questions in a reasonably prompt fashion (yes I know you’re busy, give it a week), gives a store a leg up on the competition.

Facebook, with exception of appropriate apps, is not a store, nor is it a blog. Social media is for quick information and generation of interest in your products. Pictures meant to showcase a product in development, or to generate interest in a product now in stock, belong on your Facebook page. Quick notes or questions about products, setbacks, development, all good stuff but useless if not followed up on with a place to go where the customer can find out more! Link customers to your blog or store.

Blogs are not stores, they are places to share well thought out information about projects and products. Nor are they social media, something I have been a couple times guilty of forgetting. More information and pictures, explaining a bit about the product and what it does in particular, and how one might use it. Respond to comments, because the comment doesn’t just go to the person who wrote it, it goes to everyone that reads comments after them. Particularly make sure to link to the place from which your product can be purchased, whether thats a form that generates an email to you, the maker, an on site store front, or another store such as an Ecwid, Etsy or Ebay account.

Stores make it easy to find and buy the product. It should be easy to find the product you want, read a little about it to make sure it’s the right one, select options if any, and how much it costs. From there it should be easy to pull the trigger on an order. In short, your store is for people who already know what they want. If the order doesn’t go through the customer may want to talk to you about it, check your emails! Respond to them. And for heavens sake if it’s going to take more than a few weeks to get someone their stuff, communicate and ask if they are willing to wait that long.

To summarize the uses of social media, your blog/website, and your store are respectively: Show us the precious, Tell us about the precious, Give us the precious!



Special Thanks

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