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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gearing Up!: Burst Wizard Stampede Easy Install Guide

Before we even get started, this build presumes at least passing familiarity with the mechanism of a Stampede.  While the internals are not nearly so complex and intimidating as some people choose to make them sound, this isn't an internals reveal and review.  The "Easy" in the title of the article is a relative thing, and you will need basic modding skills.  Another word of caution, this writeup is based on a teardown and rebuild of a previous test build, some some steps were already completed before photography became a concern.

Make sure to clear a nice large works space to get to work in, and stock it with the following:

  • Stampede, obviously.  Unmodified is not a necessity, but you'll have an easier time with one you already know is functional.
  • Burst Wizard King Kong Super 2 or newer airsoft burst controller with Deans Ultra connectors.  This writeup pertains only to this particular series of controllers, and we claim zero responsibility for failed installs of other controllers.
  • Orange Mod Works catch spring, Stampede catch control spring, and either 4 or 6 kg Stampede spring
  • #1 Phillips Screwdriver
  • Dremel tool with full compliment of cutting and grinding bits.
  • Hot glue gun and plenty of glue for it.
  • Soldering Iron, Solder, and Shrink Wrap
  • 18 gauge or better wire, I used 18 gauge speaker install wire from Radioshack
  • (OPTIONAL)Castle Creations Castle Series Wire Harness, with Deans Ultra Connectors.

Not enough workspace.
First, obviously, remove your battery tray and open up your blaster.  Stampede screws are notorious for stripping, so don't feel bad if you have to dremel or drill out a screw or two.  Just keep your drill or dremelling as clean as possible.

Remove all wiring, switches and motor, preferably without cutting anything.  Patience and forethought pays off here because we will be re-using a couple of switches, namely the trigger switch and safety switch.  Make sure to leave the leads nice and long on your trigger and safety switches, you can always trim them later.  I also retained the forward magazine safety switch, for later integration with the Burst Wizard 3 when I get around to grabbing one for testing.

Now would be a good time to do all the standard Stampede modifications.  Replace the catch and catch control springs, with the ones you ordered from Orange Mod Works, or other sources.  Remove your air restrictor and install your OMW mainspring.  I haven't tested all possible springs, but the OMW 4 and 6kg springs will work in this build, as should any full length spring in excess of 4kg.  A Tek6 spring, although perfect for many other Stampede builds, cannot be used in this build.  With all that done, remove the Cycle Control Rocker and trim it to remove the upper lobe that interfaces with the bottom of the plunger tube.  We won't be needing that and it only ever interferes with the BW's timing and control.  Nothing good comes from having two separate systems arguing for control over the motor.  Put the plunger tube, cover, return spring and return spring rest back in place and screw them down appropriately.  Don't put the Cycle Control Rocker back in yet.

Next cut the end cap off of the battery tray.  We still need that cap for comfort and neat outer looks, but D-cells are so... 1970's.  We will be replacing the power supply with a pair of 1700mAh 2S LiPo packs in this build, but the way the blaster is build in this write up is quite tolerant of NiMH, LiPo, LiFePO4, IMR's or even Trustfires if you should feel the need to make a rather poor decision.  As an aside here, it would be an utter waste of this build to run it on Trustfires.  They just don't supply enough current to really keep the motor happy, which leads to longer cycle times, slower trigger response, potential cell damage and less dakka.  Seriously, for high performance builds of ANY kind, don't waste your effort by fueling it with half ass power supplies.

Next up:  The motor PCB has got to go.  Anything getting between the power supply and the motor is an unforgivable waste of energy and our time.  Boo Hiss, get that shit out of here.  Mark your positive motor pole before disconnecting leads and removing the PCB, that will be important when you get around to running your connection from the BW to the motor with your nice fat 18 gauge wire.  Over to the right you can see the stock motor compared to the one we pulled out of the test Stampede and later installed in the functioning version of the Burst-pede.  It was a convenient moment to get them side by side to show you what the difference should look like.  When you get around to screwing it back down into the gearbox, make sure the positive terminal is on top.  It won't make a difference to the operation of the blaster but will make wiring everything up a little bit easier.

Next, clip your trigger switch out of the stock wiring harness, leaving nice long leads.  Remember that Cycle Control Rocker I told you not to put back in earlier?  Put it and the trigger switch back in, and put the cover on them.  Clip the wire off of the NC position of the trigger switch, you won't need it.  While we didn't think to photograph the preparation of the Burst Wizard itself, it's an easy enough thing to describe.  Cut the heat shrink tube off, desolder the MOTOR-side connector leads along with their female connector, and replace them with a nice long section of your own wire, whether using speaker wire like I did, or two lengths of hobby wire.  While on the subject: Why speaker wire?  Simple, It can be left together to give nice clean runs of parallel wires, especially useful since your leads will go directly from the BW controller to the motor leads, when we get around to running those.  CAREFULLY solder a nice long piece of 24 gauge wire salvage from the stock Stampede wiring to the trigger contact pad on the BW controller's PCB.  The location of the pad is in the manual that came with your controller.  On the BW2 it's next to the indicator LED.  Place a nice large piece of heat shrink tube over your newly prepared BW, leaving the LED exposed.

Test fit your BW in the cavity below the battery bay, and if you're happy with that positioning, cut a slot in the bottom of the battery bay to feed the battery leads through.  If you're happy with its placement tack it down with hot glue and begin running the wires through the body to the are with the motor and trigger switch. Tack down wires and trim bulkheads as needed.  In my case I also used a Castle Creations Series Wire Harness, with the connector inside the BW's cavity so that I couldn't accidentally pull the harness out during a battery change.  I would recommend using a single 4S battery with a 30C rating and 3500mAh rating, if you can afford the expense.  If using two packs like I do, be aware of the additional requirements of making sure that the batteries are always charged together and balanced. In short if you use twin packs like I do they MUST be identical packs, and those two packs are married to each other for life.

Connect your 24gauge wire to one of the two trigger switch leads, either  the Common or NO (that's the lower one).  Trim wire lengths, solder, heatshrink and tack down to keep that line out of the way of the trigger mechanism.  Solder the negative motor cable directly to the negative motor terminal, after appropriate routing and trimming.  Next, solder BOTH the remaining trigger lead AND the positive motor wire to the positive motor terminal, after appropriate trim and routing of course.  Check all your connections for shorts.  If desired splice your safety switch into the 24 gauge trigger wire.  Trace your leads from the BW to double check your work.  You should now be able to hook up your power supply of choice and proceed to programming your BW according to the manual, using mode 11 to set a custom burst length.  If using a Lithium based battery make sure to set the appropriate Lithium battery protection mode.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Voberries 7.2

EDIT: Additional measuring has led me to the conclusion that these are the exact same the Voberry darts mentioned below.

Seems like we have a lot of choices lately when it comes to the ammo we use for our blasters.  Stock elites, koosh darts, cheater lengths as well as the new voberries that just popped up.  And this doesn't take into account any of the many stefan varieties.  I recently noticed a different batch of darts pop up on ebay.  Cheap and plentiful, I ordered a batch to evaluate.  The short of it is that they appear to be identical to the voberries except for their length.  More detailed information below.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Burst Wizard: Lets Talk Features

Previously I talked about how I got my Stampede to fire in three round bursts.  Today I talk about the little device that made it possible for Rebound and I to accomplish it in only a week.  Okay I suppose that would be computers and the UPS supply chain.  Lets revise that to within a couple hours of sitting down with the device.  Specifically let's talk about features.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hasbro, Meet the Streisand Effect

"An injunction is a very expensive way to make sure
 a very boring story reaches the maximum number
of people"
Jeremy Clarkson, Have I Got News for You
Dear Hasbro,

It has come to my attention by way of other bloggers that one of your employees, or someone pretending to be one of your employees, has demanded that one of our community take down a picture of a display showing a series of unreleased blasters.  I suppose that's a step up from last time when you sent people to his home to harass him, so I applaud your marginal improvement.

I, however would like to introduce you to the Streisand Effect.  When an individual or group attempts to suppress something that they don't want known or seen, often this causes people to become more curious, and in many cases mirror the content to make suppression effectively impossible.  This is particularly true when intimidation, legal or otherwise, is used against a party with comparatively little power.  This was the case when Barbra Streisand attempted to sue a photographer to suppress a photo of her house, and it was true in 2012 when you attempted to intimidate the owner of Urban Taggers.

If you wish to keep information under wraps, I suggest plugging your leaks rather than attempting to intimidate and harass your fans.  Look at your supply chain and contractors.  The information originates with them and their failure to control said information, not with bloggers who receive the information and publish it.

If you had left it alone, you would simply have your fan base stirred up and excited for more information and new products.  Instead you have ensured that this information will be spread as widely as possible, while alienating your fanbase.  Good Job, Big H!


Gearing Up!: Burst-fire Cheap and Easy

Every once in a while.... Okay, quite often, I have been known to have some wacky ideas.  Ideas like "How much trouble can I get into using only a box of corndogs and a pack of rubber-bands?"  or "Can I shove this thing into that other thing?"  This latest bit of wackiness falls in the latter category.

I was sitting at work, minding my own business, trying to do some actual work for once.  And along comes my brain, "Hey.  Hey! Hey, Listen!!  Hey, Animal!!..... Burst fire!".  That last bit actually got my attention, because I loves me some nerf modification with a dash of mad science.  Nothing makes me giggle quite so madly as when one of my abominations works and I get to reenact the "IT'S ALIVE!" scene from Frankenstein.  Anyway thus begins the story of why I have accomplished NOTHING productive this last week.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gearing up! Midland XTC Action Camera with Bonus!

Something personally I've liked doing recently is watching footage from other groups nerf events.  The stuff coming from B.U.R.N. as well as Basic Nerf and others is fun to watch and a good way to get ideas for games and gear.  At some point, the thought might cross your mind "I'd like to try recording my own events!"  But which camera to use?  Everyone has an opinion, here's mine.
The Midland XTC 205 with mounts and case.

I chose the Midland XTC 205 for several reasons.  First probably was cost.  What can I say, I'm a cheap bastard when it comes down to it.  Really though, it can be difficult to justify the cost of something like a Go-Pro (which costs several hundred dollars)  when you're only going to be using it maybe once a month.  The unit I picked up clocked in at about $40 plus shipping and was purchased through ebay, which is how I suggest buying one incidentally.  Amazon has a similar  model for just over $70 while buying one directly from Midland will cost about $100.

More after the break.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gearing Up!: Apex Weapon Systems "35 Oscar Mike"

Jangular is at it again, this time with a review of Apex Weapon Systems' 35 round drum holder, the "35 Oscar Mike".

As a prior user of AWS mag carriers on one of my older rigs, as reviewed in a previous blog entry, I can stand by the review in this video in good faith.  Apex Weapon Systems has never done me wrong, and has been the go-to supplier for gear in my local group.

Click the image for the video.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blastersmiths UK MkI Battle Belt

Jangular has been kind enough to submit a review of the BSUK Battle Belt he ordered, for use in the GearUp! Database. I've been pondering ordering a set of the Cuirass and the Battle Belt for a while, but while I was trying to decide, Jang got himself one and some other goodies.

If you looked at the review of the NC Star M4 Chest Rig, and thought you'd like it better without the shoulder harness and hydration pack, this may be the solution for you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I know it's late in coming, but...

As some no doubt know already, Akmetan from teh Reddits has joined our writing staff.  Akmetan runs Reynolds Corner Nerfers, or ReCoN for short, way up in the perpetually frozen land of Ohio, and hosts frequent successful indoor wars.  Welcome to our motley crew, Akmetan!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Simple Drumming Truth: Sticks Beat Drums

Pictured: 126 Darts worth of CS-18, 105 Darts worth CS-35.
Greetings Nerfers of all stripes.  It's been a while but I hope you all still remember where to sit for story time.

Today we are talking about magazines, N-strike magazines in particular.  What I carry, why I carry it, and why I don't carry something else.

My standard loadout includes five CS-18 magazines, one in the blaster, four in my rig.  This totals up to right at 90 darts for my Stampede, ready to use.  I could carry a great deal more by adding pouches onto the PALS space on my rig, but I find that five mags was plenty at the church we used to play at.  And so far the same has held true in the little yard wars we hold in our community, even with the higher hit count.

Back at the church wars however, I ran a CS-35 drum and three CS-18 mags.  It didn't make much difference, but I've had time to tinker and refine my loadout since then.  And I have found that drums are horribly inefficient, and unreliable due to the nature of the spring used in them.  They are also both heavy and bulky for the amount of darts that they make available to the player using them.

The bulk is a problem both in game and in storage.  A pair of drum mags, in their most efficient arrangement in a storage box, take up the same storage space as seven CS-18 mags.  That's not space on a rig, that's space in storage or in a backpack on the field.  72 darts vs 126 darts.  It's not just a problem of storing them either, integrating them into your loadout can also be a pain.  In its thinnest dimension (front to back) the drum is as thick as a stack of four CS-18's.  If the player were willing to carry that bulk on their thigh, they could be carrying a stack or two of four mags, or carry the same darts in half the bulk.

CS-18's are quite simply the better bet.  Drums are big impressive and intimidating, but until somehting better comes along the CS-18 mag is king of the battlefield.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Night Vision Gear

Feel free to file this straight under “tacticool.”
Both systems side by side for comparison

I really feel that if you’ve played a night or low light game, at some point the thought crossed your mind that “man this would be better/cooler if I had night vision goggles.”  A tactical light is the cheaper option, plus it can be used offensively.  However tac lights will give away your position and gives your opponent an area to aim at.  That’s not so great.  And really, there is just something about the thought of being hidden in the dark while still being able to see what’s going on.

“Real” night vision equipment is expensive, often starting at $100 for a new monocular viewer.  Seeing as what we do with nerf is basically playing with toys, maybe there is an answer in the toy aisle.  Usually night vision for kids means a pair of glasses or binoculars with an attached flashlight, but there are a few real deal night vision options.  I had the fortune of coming across two of the options and would like to share my impressions with the rest of the community.  For review today with have the Spy Gear Ultimate Night Vision (abbreviated UNV from here on out) monocular and the Spy Net Night Vision Infrared Stealth Binoculars (NVISB).

To begin with, both units share a pro and con.  The plus is that both units offer real deal night vision technology, no chintzy flashlights or red/green lenses here.  They use infrared LEDs to broadcast light invisible to the naked eye and have a camera capable of picking up that part of the spectrum in order to display an image on an internal viewing screen.  Even in complete, utter darkness, you will be able to see, up to about 50 feet.

That noted, they both share a similar downside, this is forced, unchangeable magnification.  Both units are set to a zoom level, with the UNV having a increased level of zoom over the NVISB.  This forced zoom makes both units extremely difficult to use on the move.  Standing still and scanning is ok, you have the time to pause and try and figure out what your looking at (it can be confusing to be faced with a zoomed in view of an object without outside context).  But the magnification, coupled with lack of depth perception makes moving ill advised (case in point, I cut open the bridge of my nose when I ran into a wall trying to navigate some rooms at night using the NVISB.)

Specifics after the jump!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stay Cool Texas!

(c) Blastersmiths UK Ltd
"How do you even Nerf in 30C heat?!" - Mike Harratt, BSUK
"Like a BOSS." - Owen Atkin, CBAS
Those that follow us know that we are fans of Blastersmiths UK, to the extent that they are our go-to people for custom tactical gear.  The collaborations and feedback cycle means we exchange a lot of emails.  Imagine my surprise when, during discussion of the most recent Modular Dart System prototype, Mike alerts me that new gear previews are imminent!

The first new piece of gear to be shown is the new MkI MOLLE Cuirass, covered front and rear in PALS webbing.  The new vest features a shorter length than previous models in the BSUK lineup, terminating at the bottom of the rib cage as opposed to going fully down to the waist line like most models.  The shorter length should allow greater range of motion and ventilation, particularly to the kidney area which is particularly important to staying cool.

(c) Blastersmiths UK Ltd
Cooling is especially important here in southern Texas, where during the summer months temperatures are usually in the 70's F before anyone is even thinking of getting out of bed and into the upper 80's by the time game time rolls around.  That's 26C+ for our Metric readers.  I stuff my personal chest rig's map pouches with ice-packs, and pack a couple more in with the hydration bladder in the back to keep that water nice and cold, which of course helps keep me cool as well.

BSUK will be offering this new smaller rig in their new black breathable 500D Cordura, which lacks the MILSPEC anti-fray coatings and should allow more cool air to your skin, to allow you to more evaporate your sweat, and let you stay cooler.  Additionally the inner face of the cuirass gets a 3mm mesh lining to let air flow around underneath the vest as well.

I'm the not-skinny guy.
Of course the real secret to staying cool is to man up and sweat.  No, really.  Sweating is one of the methods the body uses to regulate temperature, via evaporative cooling.  The sweat evaporates water vapor into the air surrounding your body, which cools the air a bit and allows your skin to radiate its heat into the cooler air.   Blood flowing through the skin is cooled which then flows through out your body.  Methods like my insertion of ice-packs into my map pouches use the same mechanism, without depleting my body's water supply.  Instead of transferring heat to the air, heat is transferred to the packs, which will of course slowly melt, leaving you with a bag of body temperature slush to carry around.  Luckily my rig is open enough to let me fall back on the old fashioned way.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Gearing Up!: CBAS/BSUK Modular Dart System

Panel and pouch mounted to PALS
panel, which mounts to my belt
A few months ago I started putting together specs for a custom piece of Nerf tactical gear, to commission from a cottage gear maker.  After a couple emails and a month of silence I ditched that maker and went to BlasterSmiths UK, to discuss and finalize my specs.  The result of that time is the Modular Dart System.

The aim of the project is simple:
System comes with five panels.
I cut one up to test revisions.
Better ammo management for non mag-fed blasters, like one would use as a sidearm.  The new system should enable the carriage of more than twice that offered by the BSUK belt mounted dart panel, without cluttering the player's "workspace".  The system should not be more complicated to reload from than the existing dart panel.  We (CBAS and BSUK) accomplished this with a multi-part system.  

The pouch I use holds three reload
strips quite handily.
  1. A PALS mounted panel to mount in the player's "workspace" on their rig, making mounted ammo easy to use.  This panel fills the same PALS space as a single N-Strike mag pouch, to make it easy to integrate into loadouts.
  2. Modular panels that go onto the PALS panel, that the player can tear off and replace with a loaded panel when depleted.  These panels are the business end of the whole system, making reloading your blaster easy.  A tab at the top makes removing them from the PALS mounting panel quick and easy.
  3. A pouch for storing loaded modular panels, where ever the player feels comfortable having them.  This allows the player to mount their extra modular panels right next to the mounting panel, or somewhere else out of the way.  This pouch is still in the works, but for now a Condor MA2 Ammo/Dump pouch does a pretty good job.
  4. Optional:  A player might use a dump pouch to put their empty modular panels in, rather than dumping them on the ground.

As with any product made by BSUK, or for that matter designed by CBAS, the pattern is in a continual cycle of revision, to make it even better.  For instance swapping the hook and loop side of the connection between the panels, to get rid of snagging has been put on the table.  Or new stiffening materials to allow the modular panel to be narrowed enough to fit in mag pouches.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Camera B.U.R.N.

Check out this video of a B.U.R.N. King of the hill session by friend of the blog Jangular.  I love the great commentary in the video, taking advantage of relative quiet.  Particularly at the beginning of the video explaining the play area for those of us not already playing with them.  The use of a rear facing camera on the blaster is also a nice touch.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gearing Up!: Drop Thigh Equipment

Welcome once again ladies, gents, and others that don't fit into that dichotomy.  Also also those who don't know what a dichotomy is because it's not actually important to this article.  Not every article necessarily has to be about things we like.  While we strive to be fair, sometimes we write about things that we don't like.

If you do silly things like read titles, you already know I'm talking about thigh mounted equipment.  If not, smack yourself on the forehead, you deserve it.  Let me be clear before we go any further that it's not my desire to give drop thigh equipment a bad rap.  I, myself, personally as a matter of preference, prefer not to have things mounted to my legs for a few reasons.  It's hard to adjust the straps when they are wrapped around your leg, without help.  The straps in my experience with rare exception sag down and cause a sharp pull on one's belt when running, though I have been told that other folks with a similarly tapered thigh have similar problems.  Not the maker of the equipment's fault.

Equipment mounted to one's thighs also adds to the energy it takes to walk and run, more so even than gear mounted on your torso.  More than that though, the fact that your stuff that you presumably want access to in a hurry is now a moving target bugs the hell out of me.  Not that I'm ever hauling ass, anyone who's ever seen me knows I move with the speed and grace of a runaway glacier.  They also know I try to avoid wearing stuff that makes me even wider, for I am as broad as the day is long.

However, thigh mounted equipment is good for when your rig's bulk makes a belt mounted option impractical.  When I was experimenting with the BSUK mag pouches, I mounted my Matrix Universal Tornado Tactical Holster on my thigh so the odd combination of pouches and pistol wouldn't interfere with each other.  It was functional, even if I didn't like it.

With all that said, I recently bought a Condor brand drop thigh platform.  And it has escaped my ire.  I originally bought it to convert into a mini chest rig, but that wound up being a bust, so I put it back to its original purpose.  While I intend on mounting more extensive gear to it later, for now it serves well holding a lightly modified BSUK belt panel for darts, holding it down away from my belt line where the darts will not get folded as I move around.  It's serving rather admirably in this role, holding ammo for my secondary, as close to the belt as can be managed without risking squishing my foamy ammo.  Between the thigh panel and my holster on the belt, I have everything I need should I decide to put away my Stampede and M4 Rig for a round or two.  And it will only get better when my modular dart panels come in from BSUK.

Gearing Up!: Stingy Player Edition

As pretty much everyone should know that reads this blog should know, one of the primary goals of the Gearing Up! series is to get players equipped for as little as possible.  Mostly the goal is to explore the options out there for nerfers and pass that information to players, so they can make informed decisions about their gear options.

As I was browsing Airsoft GI today to order some bits and bobs for my next rig project and reviews, I noticed something.  Seemingly all of Condor's ACU pattern products are 25% off!  Basic Nerf fans probably know by now that Condor's Dual and Triple AK mag pouches can be modified slightly to hold N-strike 18 round mags.

These items cannot be discounted again with an additional coupon, but one can add the "giground" coupon to discount their shipping to build a rig on the cheap!

1 x Condor Outdoor MOLLE Dual AK Magazine Pouch ( ACU ) (*not discounted) (01512 / MA6-007) = $10.46
1 x Condor Outdoor MOLLE Triple AK Magazine Pouch ( ACU ) (*not discounted) (05063 / MA33-007) = $11.96
1 x Condor Outdoor Belt Mounted Magazine Recovery Pouch ( ACU ) (*not discounted) (01838 / MA22-007) = $10.46
Sub-Total: $32.88
United Parcel Service (UPS Ground (Special Discounted Price: $15.87 $12.70)): $12.70
Discount Coupons:giground: -$6.35
Total: $39.23
Total Savings for shopping with Airsoft GI: $17.31

Below is a list of items from the database currently discounted.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Stuff from Blastersmiths UK

(c) Blastersmiths UK CC-BY-NC-SA
Coastal Bend Action Sports has gone collaborative, on a site to site level!  About a month ago our own Animal put in a custom order for gear with Blastersmiths UK.  After some discussion between the two groups, the Modular Dart Panel system is going up for sale as a part of BSUK's regular store lineup.

The Modular Dart Panel is simple to use, to bolster your muzzle loading or breech/shell loading dart blaster.  Grab darts from the panel to reload quickly, and when the panel is depleted grab the pull tab and rip it off to put the empty one away and replace it with a full one from your pouch.  This should keep you Roughcut shotgunners and Hammershot pistoleros in action a bit longer than the existing belt mounted panel on offer.

A quick click of this link right here will take you to the BSUK store, where you can purchase the first version of this system for about $35US.  That includes the mounting panel and five reload strips to get you started.  Mine should be arriving in the mail in the next couple days, so keep an eye here for the review

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gearing Up!: Allen Company Marker Bag

Every once in a while I am known to do something impulsive.  This usually works to my detriment in the long run.  Every so often I find out something neat in this spontaneous experimentation.  This was the case today as I was walking the airsoft and paintball section at my local Academy sporting goods store.

What I found in my browsing was the Allen Company's Paintball Marker Bag.  At $20 I wasn't expecting much, but figured that it would be worth a shot as a field bag for compact clip system blasters.  The box advertises space inside for one paintball marker, one compressed gas tank in an external pouch, and three pouches for paintball pods that zip off into an ammo belt.  The ammo belt come as a surprise to me as I hadn't even bothered to read the box when I decided to pick it up.

I had hoped to fit my Stampede, with its cropped down length, into the bag but this turned out to be a bridge too far.  A Rayven or Stryfe with a stock attached fit quite nicely.  While I didn't try them I imagine a Stockade, Alpha Trooper, or Retaliator without barrel would fit too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

So, why gear?

Gear is a funny thing. So are creativity and writer's block. Ever since someone first decided to start making stuff up and writing it down there's been writer's block. Since there have been dart blasters there has been a need for a way to carry it.

Since a time that I don't bother to remember, Nerf and other brands of dart blaster have only ever come with one load of darts. This is fine for plinking around your bedroom or apartment, perhaps even your cubicle. But, once one decides to engage a fellow dart-slinger in

faux combat, one needs more darts than the handful you get. This has been true as far back as I care to try to remember, even back in the days of the Eagle Eye.

Once one has more than a handful of darts, one needs a way to carry them. For muzzle or rear loaders, a simple belt pouch is sufficient, and continues to be more than enough. Such a thing is analogous to a Revolutionary War cartridge belt in its simplicity. Reach in, grab a dart, load, ramrod if necessary.

Then along came removable CS-style box magazines, and the Magstrike's clips. While this made reloading in game quite a bit speedier, it did call for a way to carry them. Magstrike clips came with a handy belt clip, and CS-6 magazines were small enough to fit in cargo pant pockets. This worked great, until the Stampede. For those who got into the hobby Post-Elite, the Stampede was the first full automatic clip system blaster. It was also the first blaster to come with multiple high capacity magazines. Those magazines would not fit into cargo pants pockets, and the experimentation began.

I turned to paintball gear with hit and miss results, due to vaguely similar sizes between CS-18 magazines and 140 round paintball pods. Later I tried cardboard and duct tape, with results that weren't stellar and were instructive of the sorts of features that I would look for later in my own gear. Those with sewing machines or access to grannies that could sew would make their own pouches and vests from contemporary vest patterns. I sadly couldn't sew a stitch, and was tired of trying to make my own gear.

So I turned to the internet and real steel gear. After all real militaries had had decades of experience solving the problem of how to carry their crap. And as it would turn out, other people had had the same idea. From there it was as simple as gathering that information into one place that could be easily browsed, to simplify the quest for the people that followed.

So why gear? Because as long as a blaster uses a type of consumable, a way to carry it will be needed. Why lights? Because it was only a matter of time before someone turned off the lights on an indoor game, or the sun went down on an HvZ game. Slings, holsters, and general purpose pouches? A place to put your broken weapon, a sidearm to replace it, and tools to fix it once you hit a safe zone.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Multi Mission Sling Review

The below is a guest post written by our friend from Reddit, Akmetan, who also provided his own photos.  Editting and formatting by Animal.
After ammo storage, one of the next most important pieces of gear (in my mind) would be something for blaster retention. For a sidearm this means a holster, for a primary this means a sling. The sling can be used to keep the blaster near when you need to switch to the sidearm, or when you need hands free while doing something else. This article will examine a specific sling, the Multi Mission Sling from Black Rifle Tactical.

Before I begin, it’s worth noting that there are three basic types of slings and multiple styles within those types. There are other articles that can cover that better than I can, in fact the one at Airsoft GI is pretty thorough (pick any sling and go the to Product Article tab in the Item Highlights section).

However, I will give a brief synopsis of some personal experience. Generally I was content to run with the Nerf Bandolier/Sling most of the time as it’s fairly convertible and comfortable, but noticed a few issues during its use. Namely when the sling is adjusted so you can aim properly, it sits too low and loose when not in hand. And when it is adjusted so that it sits properly when not in use, there isn’t enough slack to aim properly. This led me to try using it in a one point configuration (one of the snaps attached to the blaster, the strap looped around my torso and the other snap attached to one of the elastic dart loops). This worked well enough, but still, a little too much give thanks to the elastic as well as the usual issues one point slings have (the blaster still takes up a lot of working space right in front of the torso).

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Aim Sports 90 Lumens Flashlight Review

The below is a guest post written by our friend from teh Reddits, Akmetan, who also provided his own photos.  Editting and formatting by Animal.
Our group is primarily an indoors one, and we do a number of low to null light games. With that in mind I was looking to get a tactical light to use, one that would fit on a nerf rail and more importantly, one that could be operated with the utmost ease. I did manage to find both in the Aim Sports 90 Lumens Flashlight.

The first concern was of cost. Let’s be honest, while I love this hobby, we are talking about toys here. I’m not quite willing to throw the money into a serious tac light for my nerf gun, so my desired light would need to be a bit on the cheap side. Fortunately I managed to pick this up for less that $13 (plus shipping) from Sounds good to me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

So Animal has some free time

So reviews are slow right now, and DIY guides for the blog are slow too.  This makes a good moment to just talk, from blogger to readers.  Sort of a Meta blog post.

Some of you might have seen me post on Facebook, when I see an announcement for a new 3rd party product.  The content while not identical always carry the same message:  "How much is it going to cost me to get some for review?"  Not "Can I have one free for review."  There are a couple reasons for this.

First, I won't pretend that CBAS is big enough or popular enough to be a blip on anyone's radar for marketing.  It's practical to assume that we aren't going to get anything for free.  Barring a review going nuclear, not too many makers give a damn what we have to say.  When we get something for review we ALWAYS send feedback to the manufacturer, barring repurposed gear.

Second, I like to buy the gear I review to put the price in perspective.  It can be a little tricky to put aside that I already own a rig when I order one for review, but it helps me decide whether it's worth the price.  I also intend to make a habit of selling off or giving away older gear.

Third, when something is wrong, or sub par, or just not worth the money or effort to get it, I like to use my indignation in the article.  When it's good, there's a real joy with the item that makes it into the text.

Fourth, when I pay for something, I pay more attention to it.  I once won a homemade in a giveaway, and I didn't really give the review and build the attention that it deserved.

So yeah, that's why I try to make a point of paying for my gear.  Sure, I'll review free stuff, but I won't solicit freebies.

Friday, March 14, 2014

On playstyles and gear

Functionality.  It seems like such a simple concept to grasp, but so disagreed upon among the community of folks on the internet.  Recently I posted a poll on this blog with a few open ended questions, asking how players carried their ammo.  We also asked what they thought was practical and tacticool.  We got a wide variety of answers, some well thought out, others just an example of people being dicks.  (It's okay guys, I'm a bit of a misanthrope as well.)

Before going any further I feel I owe the NIC crowd an apology.  I had assumed that more of the dickery submitted to the survey would be from the NIC crowd, and you guys were in general brief but polite.  For underestimating you guys I apologize.

The number of responses to the survey was pretty small, not enough to make any definitive statements about any segment of the community.  I can say some small things, but as no authority on the subject.

- Players that use non-magfed blasters only use no type of specialized load carrying equipment.  No real surprise there.  Pouches of varying descriptions, from left over Crown Royal bags to Belgian Gasmask pouches.  A pouch is a pouch as long as your hand can get into it quickly.

- Players that play HvZ only seem rather split on the use of load carrying equipment, even though usage of magfed blasters is nigh-ubiquitous.  Lots and lots of people carrying mags around in cargo shorts.  This strikes me as less than ideal for QUICKLY grabbing a reload.  A near equal number of respondents who played HvZ have adopted mag carrying equipment.  Whether this is indicative of a trend in that direction, I haven't the foggiest idea.  It could be simply that people who play often enough find it worth their while to invest in gear that makes quick access to mags possible.

- Players of Stock-class wars, predominantly indoor, have the highest adoption rate of load carrying equipment.  While some will go full cosplay military kit, the majority it seems from my limited data-set take a very pragmatic approach to their gear.  If it helps more ammo or make their ammo more quickly available to them, gear has value.  Anything that makes their blasters or ammo more available has value, all else is just frosting and flair.

Of course based on what limited results DID come in, I may ask further questions down the road.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reader Feedback Time!

Every once in a while I get curious what people think about our articles.  This is not one of those times.  Today, I want to know a little more about you guys, our readers.  What you think, what you like and don't like are valuable information that can help us better write articles pertaining to things you like... or not.  Just a few simple questions for you below the fold!  Answers may be as brief or detailed as you like.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Gearing Up!: FASTmag

Source: Tactikal Photography
Greetings, boys and girls.  It's once again time for Animal to talk about gear.  In this case gear that holds your mags!

Today's piece is a pretty specialized magazine pouch, the Big Dragon 7.62 Fast Magazine Holster.  This mag carrier is a reproduction of ITW's FASTmag Heavy.  Both the Big Dragon and ITW version are polymer two part mag holsters, using friction to hold the magazines inside.  A pair of elastic bands squeeze the two halves together, creating a nice tight friction hold on the magazine.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gearing Up!: NC Star M4 Chest Rig

Greetings again Ladies and Germs.  Welcome back to the Gearing Up! series of articles, wherein Animal rambles and rants about gear.  Today I will be talking about the NC Star M4 Chest Rig, a piece of tactical gear that I discovered through a Facebook friend.  Though this NC Star designed this piece with M16 and M4 users in mind, my friend uses it for her AK type airsoft rifle.  As some of you may know pouches that fit AK47 magazines will pretty likely fit Nerf N-strike magazines as well.  With this in mind I decided to grab this piece of gear to try out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Animal has been quiet... Too Quiet...

Hey guys, it's me, Animal. If you've forgotten about me I forgive you. It's been a while. I've been quietly at work behind the scenes building a new Gear Up! section on the website that will act as a compendium of Nerf compatible gear.

"What is 'gear'?", you ask? That's simple really.  It's everything that isn't your darts and blaster, that helps you carry and organize your stuff on the play field.  Some of it is made specifically for Nerf like products from Blastersmiths UK.  Other items are co-opted military and airsoft gear like what's offered at Airsoft GI.  And some of it is paintball equipment, with Nerf mags or hoppers stuffed into the pouches.  Each item is listed with information about price, a link to a review if one is available, and a link to where to get the item in question.  Each also receives a simple field readiness rating.  Items that are "Field Ready" contain everything needed to put it to use immediately, requiring nothing else not even something as simple as a belt.

Meanwhile I've also been communicating with a few gear makers to get custom gear made, get premade gear ordered for review, and talking to other content creators about how to continue making CBAS better, for each of our readers.

Edit: Rebound: Please, any suggestions on what you'd like to see, what direction you'd like us to go in, anything to make our few readers/followers happy

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Click Click BAMF: Extreme Indoor NERF - Dart Warz

Click Click BAMF: Extreme Indoor NERF - Dart Warz: Warriors, a couple of weeks ago we got a great tip from @thelomdr on twitter. I had heard rumors of a NERF arena in Colorado, but hadn&#39...

I want one!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tactical Tag: Nerf'd

Tactical Tag: Nerf'd: So here's the story: Zook's fiance was coming over for lunch today and, so far, the morning hadn't gone quite as she had planned it so...  He did something adorkable and romantic

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gearing Up! Time To Slap Leather, Boys!!!! BlasterSmiths UK's MK III Holster.

Too young for that, huh? How bout "DRAW!".  Today I'm reviewing BlasterSmith UK's MK III Drop Leg Holster for CS blasters.  So, upon receiving this holster, I filled it with my Stryfe, adjusted it, and threw it on my Service belt (standard heavy duty 2" duty belt). First note, the thing needs a bottom retention strap like the MK II holster does, so you can adjust how deep the blaster sits. Second note, this would be better if it was stiffer. some thermal bonded sizing inside would do a lot (this one's my personal opinion).  <<continued after the break>>

Monday, January 13, 2014

DIY: Buffdaddy's DIY-1

A little over a month ago, I won a giveaway in a Facebook group for one of Buffdaddy's prototype DIY-1 kits, for the purpose of writing a review. And now I've finally gotten around to finishing it or as close to it as possible.

Like IKEA furniture the kit comes with all the parts needed to build the working section of this blaster. You'll need to provide your own tools, adhesives, lubes, and make your own stock. The instructions on Buffdaddy's blog make it deceptively easy to assemble. Make sure to pay attention when the instructions tell you to test fit parts and assemblies! And make sure those washer seals are well lubed, since the Lube pulls double duty as a sealant.

I was unable to get what I would consider to be firing pressures from the tank assembly, though I was able to narrow my problem down to blow-by in the Over Pressure Relief Valve or the fitting it screws into before I had to lay it aside for other projects (keeping up my ruse of being a responsible adult). It may simply be that the OPRV is defective or needs an adjustment not listed in the instructions, so this should not deter you from ordering the kit. Building it was fun, and enlightening, particularly with respect to pump replacements made easy.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Gearing Up!: JT Paintball Ball Hauler

 Here I am once again! This time I bring you the “Ball Hauler” by JT Paintball. This device which has a name that conjures to mind a jockstrap is a simple belt mounted pouch with pouches for two 130 round Paintball guppy tubes. The pouches also fit two N-Strike 18 round box mags or one Vortex or Magstrike mag. The flaps will close over the N-strike mags, though don’t expect much overlap, ‘tis a near thing.

The pouches hang at the top of the belt with Paintball tubes, and a few inches above with N-strike mags. This is far more comfortable for use than the Dragonspine Belt System’s native pouch with the 18 round mags. The pouch also comes with a simple 2 inch web belt, and will fit over pretty much any 2 inch tactical belt.

As I was looking for suitable images for the article I came across images of an older model, with a single flap for both pouches. That pouch hasn’t been tested, the camo ones with individual flaps, in the clear plastic bag with the card at the top have. Just so you don’t go grabbing the wrong gear for hauling your junk around

Best part? The set is only 7 bucks at Academy. Expect similar prices online. Some of the best bang for the buck.

Comfort 4
Since it does extend above the belt with CS-18 mags,  positioning can be tricky.  In the wrong positions, the upper portion of the magazine can dig into you when you move.  Even given this I'm giving this item a 4 in comfort, because the pouches hold mags securely with little bounce and makes access easy with simple to operate flaps.  The included belt is best replaced with something padded, both for comfort and better load support.

Compatibility 5
Fits standard 2 inch tactical belts: Check.  
No awkward quirks about using it with Nerf gear: Check.

Capacity 5
For the money you won't find much else that can haul this much goodness into the field.  4 CS-18's, 2 Magstrike, or two VTX mags

Special Thanks

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