Thursday, October 3, 2013

Research can be painful.

I have lately been trying to do some research into the Airsoft concept, as a training tool.  I do think there is some significant value there, and I'm trying to figure it out as much as possible before spending scarce dollars. 

This research process can be excruciatingly painful.

(My apologies.  The following is going to sound horribly elitist and snobbish, but I know of no way to mitigate that.)

What have I learned by seeking out Airsoft-related content on YouTube and textual product reviews?  Oh, lots.  I've learned that:
  • The average Airsoft video review involves a highly ritualized unboxing segment, including such details as what product stickers are included in the box.
  • An Airsoft video review absolutely does not mean that the gun will actually be shot.
  • Jaw-droppingly atrocious gunhandling is essentially mandatory.  (Seriously, I think there is a bureau somewhere that simply requires it.)
  • Street cred seems to be measurable by how much Walter Mitty garb the reviewer is wearing.  Extra bonus points if your reviewer speaks to the camera through a gas mask or face shield.
  • "Accuracy" appears to be measured in minute-of-target increments, with targets typically measuring at least a foot across, at purely random ranges usually under 10 yards.  
  • The reviewer is not interested in group size, nor really in adjusting the sights.
  • Targets, when they are actually traditional targets with, you know, an aim point, cannot be held in place by more than one tack;  and if the target is not four feet away in the basement it is blowing around constantly in the breeze.
  • During "accuracy testing", any attempt to actually steady the gun at all is either completely ineffectual, or has no bearing on the visible trigger control and patience of the shooter.  One might logically conclude that actually resting the gun is a sign of weakness.
  • Paradoxically, the segment about adjusting the "hop-up" (a mechanism which imparts a backspin to the round plastic BB, retarding its drop and theoretically extending its effective range) is highly ritualized, and gives the novice viewer the impression that it will make the gun rilly rilly accurate at extended range.
  • Likewise, velocity testing (most likely driven by the need to use as many gadgets as possible) is nearly mandatory...and pluperfectly pointless.  What difference is there between 300fps and 500, for a plastic BB shot out of a smooth bore, in environments where 25 yards is a long shot for a "sniper"?
  • Brain-dead narrative, or at best a solid commitment to complete the review without saying anything useful about the gun, seems to be a cultural requirement.
Oh, there's more.  One could go on.  In trying to approach the question of "just how accurate can one of these guns be?" I ran across a video that advertised testing an M14 lookalike at 75 feet, 100 feet, and 150 feet.  Cool, right?  And the video even begins with the claim that the distances were measured accurately, and footage of meticulous use of a 25' tape measure to set the range.  Cut to our intrepid shooter, who is lying prone, absolutely square to the target, support hand under the rifle's "20-round" magazine, muzzle waving all over the place, squinting like there's no tomorrow, and finger just kinda...drumming on the trigger.  (Maybe it really was an accomplishment that he got all his shots on paper at 25 yards, but how much did that really tell me about the rifle?)  And here's the punchline:  out at 50 yards, after he landed zero for five in semi, he switched to full-auto, fired a full three-second burst (so, somewhere between thirty and forty rounds at the gun's cyclic rate) at the end of which a few rounds hit the 50 yard target, and the reviewer (not the shooter) concluded that--wait for it--the accuracy was much better in full-auto than in semi.

Ow.  The stupid.  It burrns!

There are times when I think that the better way to do this would be simply to buy the gun in question, and look at it myself.*  The heartburn would surely be reduced.

* I think I'm pretty much at that point already, and just need funds to spend.  The amount of new info I'm getting from the Airsoft world is pretty small now, especially compared to the acre-feet of drek that surrounds it.

1 comment:

MamaLiberty said...

How do you tell if your shots are "on paper" with a plastic BB? Especially out that far? None of mine leave any trace of impact on a target over 10 feet away.

I have airsoft pistols, not rifles, so that might make the difference.

Anyway, the only thing I use the airsoft for is that red dot, to verify my point and shoot aim.

Still have not gotten another pellet magazine for the Crossman BB/pellet rifle. Sure wish I knew where the darn thing disappeared to.