So what happened in 2019? Let’s start off with the replicas that were released, there has certainly been some interesting developments in the Airsoft world.
Marui launched a brace of pistols this year, from the Glock 19 to the FNX45, their modus operandi indicating that alongside looking at replicas they haven’t already built such as the FNX they’ll also looking at older designs such as the Glock 19 and bringing them up to date internally to match the performance and features of their newer models.
They’ve already done this some time ago with their 1911 line, their latest M45A1 being rather different and somewhat improved from the older 1911 models and their Beretta line. the 2018 Beretta M9 Military Model with its adjustable hop, functional de-cocker and more up to date design.
This years release, the Glock 19, represented a new standard for their Glock series with the Glock 17 Gen 4 being the next model in what could be a whole new Glock line up.
The biggest release though for many people, although somewhat late into the year and without any chance of Europe and the US getting their hands on one until after the holidays, is the FN Mk46 Mod 0 Special Purpose Weapon.
This being the first recoil shock support weapon is sure to garner much of the attention over the coming months, with demand seemingly outmatching supply. There are those who snigger at the thought of a £1200 support weapon, but with other replicas such as the GBLS DAS (reviewed here) and certain PTWs and custom builds being considerably more money, the cost isn’t beyond the realms of what we’re already seeing on the market.
Whether the Mk46 actually performs well as a skirmish or milsim weapon is another matter entirely, with a split barrel design and what could potentially be a fragile internal system it remains to be seen if this is the Christmas Cracker of 2019 or just a big fat turkey. Initial reports are good, but I’d like to see it for myself before casting my vote.
As much as I’ll admit I’m a committed fanboy of the Japanese Airsoft market, other manufacturers such as Specna Arms have started to sweep in from nowhere over the last 12 months. Priced at the sport line end of the market but offering pre-fitted Gate MOSFETs and reportedly very good performance out of the box, they could be one to watch in 2020… Certainly if they start to creep into the realms of stop on empty and working controls such as bolt releases and charging handles.
One replica that has divided the community is the VFC MP7 AEG, finally… VFC have used their H&K license and made a 1/1 scale MP7 AEG. Having owned their less than perfect GBBR MP7 I can say that the Tokyo Marui MP7 feels rather different than its full sized counterpart. Wether it’s a good and skirmishable replica though has had people divided, that signature VFC high rate of fire coupled with a stop on empty feature has certainly earned them a thumbs up, but old habits die hard and it appears that internally the MP7 isn’t without its quirks and more than a few owners have said “it’s not the best AEG I’ve owned”.
The 2019 Weekend Events Calendar for me was a case of Stirling, Stirling, Legion. With a heavy bias towards one day walk on events at Spartan Airsoft’s Woodland (Bristol Airport) and CQB (Chippenham College) sites, I’ve gone a little bit back to my roots in Airsoft and have enjoyed every minute of it. As people lament about the lack of a decent Milsim community it’s something that I’ve looked back upon to make sure that my passion for the pastime doesn’t disappear.
The first weekender at Sennybridge was typical of the Training Area… Cold as fuck and constant sideways rain, pairing this with some questionable gameplay and me actually not liking Senny itself as an Airsoft site made this a somewhat disappointing game.
That being said, any game where I get to run around with NODs gets at least an 8/10 and some of the night shoots alone made the rest of the event worth attending. Plus, any weekend that starts off with a hotel so shit that it makes you wish you’d slept on a cold hillside in Wales has the makings of a conversation piece for years to come.
The next weekend event at Caerwent (Also a Stirling game, report here) wasn’t without its disappointments too… A sudden change in land management restrictions turned why would usually be a solid 24 hour event into 2 day games, a massive disappointment and one that I think might have set a change of scenery in motion for the organisers and also a few regular players. I still had a pretty good game, admittedly one that would have been better if we’d been allowed to play at night.
My last weekend game of the year was with Legion Airsoft (game report here), a company whose events I’d already attended and had a fair idea of what I’d be getting myself into. A catalogue of issues from in-game organisation to having to mop a dusty old building made this game one that’ll be remembered for years to come… If only for the wrong reasons. However, I did get to unleash the NODs for another outing, which as mentioned will always bring up the games overall score… Adding this to spending time with like-minded nerds and we’re onto a winner.
No “Trees” events for me this year, a shame but one that I hope to remedy next year although I’m feeling like a summer outing might be a more comfortable game than a weekend of cold darkness in November. CAG hosted their final game, although in all honesty not a surprise. The “Milsim community” is constantly telling itself that the scene is dead, it’s not a surprise when it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
Player and team led events appear to be the flavour of the moment, not wholly unsurprising and not really a new thing… I’ve personally organised a brace of local events in years gone by, but it takes a lot of planning, commitment and a fair amount of funding to get even the simplest of events off the ground. It lost its appeal for me, hopefully those who hope to do the same will stay the course and provide an alternative to those who want it.
2020 Has a brace of replicas, gear and events that are hopefully going to give us all something to look forward to. VFC releasing their FAL, it might not prove to be the most skirmish friendly replica in the world but I know of a few people who’ll happily add one to the collection just because of what it is.
More recoil support weapons might be on the agenda for Marui in 2020, the Mk46 just crying out for a Mod 1 version but with Marui still yet to produce a short barrel 417 it could be the “must have” that never actually ends up happening.
As always, many of us will eagerly await Marui’s announcements at shows throughout the year to see if the often requested yet never officially announced recoil MP5 is finally revealed. It’s more and more likely that Marui will look back at their MP5 line with its popularity with influential shooters in the US and it’s obvious popularity with airsofters the world over.
It’s not just recoils that people will be anticipating, HAO working on a SCAR-L body kit with a realistic polymer lower (and being HAO you can bet it’ll be a good reproduction) other rumours speak of other kits and possibly some MWS related kits and parts coming out in 2020.
Bigger weekend games? Well Stirling Airsoft appear to be concentrating on Catterick as their primary FIBUA location with their Herefordshire “The Trees” site being used more over the next 12 months than ever before for the more rural “Combat Mission” games.
Dates for Caerwent or other MOD sites not as yet being published, this likely being due to the difficulties everyone has had with Landmarc and other governing authorities… Over the last few years it’s become harder and harder for organisers to book MOD sites, and I think we might see a shift towards privately owned sites in the future. Whether this is a good thing or not, it’s an almost inevitable symptom of the current policies that are in place.
A number of small and independent organisers will undoubtedly be looking to make an impact on the event side of airsoft, but I’d urge them to think very carefully about the nature of the event they’re hoping to achieve… Gunman and Stirling, the two old boys in the game might not run the most ultra-realistic events in the business but they stay true to their respective communities, that’s probably why they’re the old boys.
There’s also a lot to look forward to from ATRG over the next 12 months, I’ve still a mountain of gear, accessories and indeed… Guns sitting around to review. At this point I’ve got over 40 articles in various states of completion, so I’m afraid those who want the blog to disappear up its own arse will have to wait another year at least… Sorry.
I’m not in the business of self promotion (although promotion does go hand in hand with any form of content creation) nor do I wish to become a bigger fish in a rather small pond, however I do set myself a little target each year to hit and I’m proud to say that this years target is well and truly smashed.
So what can I say as a message for the next 12 months? 2020 will be what we make of it, keep spouting the same old crap about the community being dead and it’ll surely happen, being more positive about the community and educating where you can, influencing positive change when needed and simply being quiet when nothing else will make the situation better. You’ll probably be happier and you might just have a year to remember.