Thursday, March 1, 2012

Carmatech Engineering SAR 12 and Milsig Update

       Ok, I've decided to be a news outlet once a year for the paintball expo, just for the sake of the next two posts.
       I have a few updates regarding the last post about new Milsig products. First regards the internals and the construction of the M17: it sounding like there will be no charging handle on either the new Paradigm or the M17, and that they will be blow forward systems. Another interesting development is the HEAT upgrade for the K-Series MKII; this will let current owners of MKII's operate at lower pressures (about 500-600psi), and it does away with the side air tube for the MATS and CATS stocks, air goes directly into the back with the new internals.
       Now for some prices: Doug Brown of Psi Ops has been posting on the Milsig Owners Facebook page with a few figures like: FXR kit: close to 200, HEAT upgrade: 125, M17: 550 (no word on accessories included at that price). I was also incorrect on my assumption about the M17 being a cast aluminum receiver, turns out it is actually molded polypropylene which should help keep the cost lower than the all metal counterparts. There is no word on the pricing of the new Paradigm, but if the change in price of the original M-series if anything to work with, it could be as much as $2000 CAD!
       In related news, a new contender is stepping into the mag fed realm: Carmatech Engineering. They're ramping up for a September 2012 launch of their marker, the SAR 12. It's the first mass production bolt action paintball rifle on the market and it's quite the beast of a marker, if not a little niche. The rifle can also been changed to fire in semi auto mode without tools in a matter of seconds which is a pretty cool too. Carmatech is currently designing a number of accessories for the marker like new front ends, stocks, one of which will take 13ci tanks which the rifle will achieve about 170 shots off of. It will take first strike rounds in a stacked fashion in the mag, and when you run out of shots, you flip the mag around and use a second stack of rounds on the other side which is a pretty clever way to get the most out of a huge mag designed to look like the real thing. Price point looks to be $1000 US, and they're asking 150 for preorders!
Here's Carmatech's site

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Milsig Markers Closing the Gap

       I tend not to post news items here, but this stuff got me pretty excited. New markers have been appearing on the Milsig Owners and Milsig Industries pages over on Facebook for the last two days and it's been stirring up a lot of talk. Nelson over at Milsig is pretty strict about not letting the company turn into a hype machine, so anything new coming from them makes even their most manly fans giggle like excited school girls. These are Nelson's three aces as he calls them, and they are a new limited edition Paradigm, a new mass market platform known only as the M17 (no relation to the M-Series), and two fairly substantial pistol to carbine kits for the T8.1 and TPX called the FXR.

       Above is the new Paradigm Mk II. As you can see, there is the CNC'd hand guard we know and love which has been elongated on the new model, and the 13ci air in stock which appears to supply air directly into the back of the marker; no side air line. It can shoot first strike too, no word on if the pictured barrel is what will be included with the marker or if that's a Marksman Barrel. Also, it would appear that Milsig has finally found a way to close the gap between the magwell and trigger guard. Nit-pickers rejoice! There is debate over what the internals of this marker will be like. No confirmation has been given over whether it will use the same blow back design as the original and Mk II K-series markers, or of it's something we haven't yet seen in a Milsig; with a little luck, it will operate on lower pressure, so those of us who have troubles getting a Milsig over 270 fps out of the box will not have this issue any more.

       This is the M17 and receiver and internal wise, should be fairly identical to the Paradigm Mk II. This is the cast aluminum, non limited run model. It is also first strike ready.

       This is the FXR Force Multiplier Pistol to Carbine kit, which will be available soon for T8.1 and TPX. Word is there will be Air thru and air in stock options of this kit which is pretty nifty.

       More details about these two new markers and kits will be unveiled on the 28th at the upcoming paintball exhibition, like just what kind of internals they have, pricing, and what will be included with these markets when you purchase them. No word if Nelson has a fourth ace ready to show, but if he does, I think I know what we all hope it would be. I'll be sure to follow this particular story closely.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

REVIEW: Original SWAT Classic 9" Side Zip Boot, Coyote

       In case you are a new reader to the blog, I feel it is necessary to link you to the review of the 5.11 ATAC Boot w/ Side Zip since to date, it is the golden standard to which I measure all boots up to. Here is the link to that review REVIEW: 5.11 Coyote ATACs 8inch. Have you read that one yet? Ok, good, so you probably know now that after going through a pair of those boots every six months over the last year and a half, I was in pretty bad need of some different footwear than 5.11 offerings both on and off the field. There was a sale on Original SWAT boots down at First Response Duty Gear back in mid June-early July, and I decided that there was no better time than the present to check out the offerings of a non 5.11 Tactical company. Of course, since I have enormous mutant feet, I had to find a size close to what my feet were and then guess what size I should order. On to the fit and feel of the boot.
       At first try on, they feel about as good as the 5.11 boots, at least around the sole, but they lack some of the additional padding which the ATAC boots have running up the back of the ankle. As a result, I've developed some blistering on the skin over my heel bone due to the lack of cushioning. I can't complain about any other friction or pressure points with the boot, however. In spite of the boot being a 9 inch boot, I have found that it feels like the top of the boot rests at a lower point on my leg than 5.11's 8 inch ones, and to this day it still feels a bit alien to wear them. This might be due to the fact that I continually switch between my nearly worn out 5.11 boots and the newer Original SWAT's.
      Design wise, the boots leave a lot to be desired. Although they have a few features that the 5.11's have, the features aren't nearly as heavy duty. The side-zipper isn't as robust, though I can't say that it's ever given out on me. The anti-bacterial sole doesn't do as good a job at minimizing foot odor. The boots have no one-way ventilation points on the inner sole like the 5.11's. Along the back and front of the sole, there are two layers of very wide stitching which for me have broken in several places so I now have tassels on the bottoms of my boots; I have no idea what these are for in regards of the construction of the boot but given how huge the stitches are, they can't possess any structural purpose. Last comment is regarding the quality of the materials used in these boots. Although they are still wearable and in one piece, they are deteriorating, especially where the boots have to flex. There are small holes forming on either side of the base of the ankle on them and it won't be long before the holes are the size of the eyelets the laces are woven through.
Something is falling apart in the sole
      The chief redeeming quality of these boots is the soft sole they have, it's nice to walk on, and it's significantly softer than the 5.11 boot sole, albeit, the sole and treading is quite a bit thinner. I accidentally developed a clever means of testing the softness which involved foot breaking on a longboard and seeing how effectively the boot could slow me down. These boots are quite grippy and can stop a person in motion very effectively, so much so that they've nearly caused me to fall forward on several occasions. As a result, taking off into a sprint is similarly easy as your feet don't slide around at all. But there is a downside to the soft sole, and that's on tile and linoleum floors, especially when the soles are wet. Every step will squeak absurdly loud if you go from outside to in on a wet day. Not much of a big deal for a paintballer, but if you're a curious law enforcer or military type reading this and thinking these might make for a boot that one can sneak around in, I'd recommend avoiding these boots, everyone will know precisely where you are at all time if these boots are moist.
Material falling apart in where there's flex
       Overall, I feel like the Original SWAT's aren't a boot which is worth 30-40$ more than the 5.11 equivalent. A lower price point might make me feel a little more fond of them, but I paid for these on sale what I would have paid for 5.11s at full price and am not convinced it is in any way superior, in fact, I think these boots lack some of the features the 5.11 ATACs have, and feel that the next time I need to make a boot purchase I will go with what's been tried and true for me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

REVIEW: 5.11 TDU Rapid Assault Shirt

       When Valken made several mistakes with my teams’ first order in summer of 2011, it resulted in my giving a team mate the large Zulu jersey I’d purchased for myself while I waited for his to sell locally and recycle those funds into a replacement. By the time that jersey had sold however, the team had already received order number two, this time for Underground Productz, and it too was incorrect and incomplete. I said bollocks and decided to purchase a different brand of combat top from somewhere that would get it right the first time.
       The solution came through First Response Duty Gear, the local mom and pop tactical shop I’d been seeking sponsorship from for boots and gloves for my team. I looked at a few of their Multicam offerings from Tru-Spec, BlackHawk, and 5.11, and settled on the 5.11 TDU Rapid Assault Shirt. It closely resembled Valken’s Zulu offerings but had a few more features I liked, such as the non Lycra (Spandex) torso section, a zip-up front (upper third), a collar, ergonomic patch areas on the arms, velcro wrist cuffs, generally tougher materials all around, and I definitely got what I paid for in the end.
       Feel-wise, the shirt is very comfortable. I usually find myself wearing XL everything and hoping it shrinks down to a size between XL and L after the first wash. I grabbed a Large Rapid Assault Shirt and found it fit perfectly right away, not what I was expecting from a company that usually makes gear for those with athletic body types, but I’m not complaining on that one. It was a good fit, not too long on my short arms, and not too clingy on my torso. The material on the arms, shoulder, and collar is a 65% polyester and 35% cotton blend, and the material on the torso is 55% cotton, 37% polyester, and 8% lycra, and while it does have some spandex in it, it’s not super noticeable. The top has integrated elbow pads which won’t save your elbow if you hit your funny bone on a rock, but they are much larger than the elbow pads on the Zulu Jersey and are more than adequate for crawling through unforgiving vegetation. One the topic of arms, they also have quite a bit of real estate for patches, as well as pouches to store small odds & ends. The patch areas are also sewn on at 45 degree angles and contour to the arms which is nice for keeping your profile a little more stream lined and having a few less bits of clothing poking off of you. The zip up collar is a nice touch as well, it’s great to do up on a chilly day of play and you can unzip it for temperature control on hot days as well. The tough canvas it’s made of also means it will take the bite out of balls that hit you in the neck.
       After a half season of playing in this top, it has only suffered one war wound. I took a ball to the chest at very close range, and the jagged shell of the ball punched a very small, neat, hole in the 100% cotton material there. I did not get around to mending it, but after playing for the rest of the season and letting the tear do its own thing, it hasn’t spread or become any larger than the day it was inflicted on the jersey. There have been no broken stitches anywhere on this top or any other quality control issues to speak of. The 100% cotton material on the torso is much more durable and breathable than the material on the Valken Zulu Jersey, the arms are also much tougher and heavier duty, but they don’t breathe quite as well on a hot summer day in the desert around Kamloops. The only improvement I can think over there would be some ventilated cotton material running the length of the upper-inner arm around the armpit. But yes, the whole thing is very indestructible, I’ve played several games running only a pistol and have crawled across some pretty gnarly surfaces only to inspect the shirt after and find no frays or rips anywhere
      I’m feeling exceptionally lazy today, and don’t want to lug out the big ‘ol SLR to take pictures of my own shirt, so I’m going to link you directly to 5.11’s page for the this top which is right here. And if you’re concerned about the hole I mentioned earlier, don’t be, seriously, it’s smaller in circumference than a Bic ball point pen.