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Displaying airsoft guns at living history events


willysmb44
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willysmb44

I might not be alone on this, but here in the Pacific NW, I’m starting to see a very disturbing trend in displays at events around here. I’m starting to see more and more airsoft guns being displayed among real ones with “equipment layout” displays. A guy in my own group carries around a TM airsoft M1A1 like it’s a real one. Now these toys are very good looking and we’re in a state where you cannot own real automatic weapons or short-barreled conversions (so any kind of correct-looking Tommy gun that goes bang is out) so many SMGs can’t be represented with real, working examples. For a brief time, I had a MP-40 I threw in the back of my Jeep as a “captured” weapon, but after one show, I felt like I was getting over on people and sold it (which I haven’t regretted).

I’ve recently handled a VERY authentic looking MP-44 which I am seriously pondering buying one and gutting all the pellet gun stuff out of it and making a fake bolt to make it look as real as possible. To me, that’d be no different than a collector armory die cast copy. But I’m curious what others feel about this, would you feel that an airsoft gun in a display is bad, or no worse than any other reproduction item if you’re not passing everything off as original?

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I see no problem with this. Airsoft guns are probably the only way to display some of the weapons that are otherwise illegal to own. At least they look as close to the real thing as possible. What other option is there?

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willysmb44

The really funny thing about this is somehow, there are teens into this who can spot an airsoft gun among "real" guns and will walk from a great distance up to our displays, right up to said airsoft gun and will only ever one question: "What is the FPS on that?" :think:

I guess it gets kind of sad, because they're sometimes standing around things they'll likely never see again and all they care about is what kind of #@%&ing upgrades the darned things has! :thumbdown:

I got intoairsoft as a hobby for about a year. I do like the guns and they're fun to plink with in the back yard (you can tell I took it seriously, check out my toy, it's all metal):

M4andM203.jpg

Just as quickly, I tired of the kind of people you see at these things, all pre-teen know-it-alls. You think re-enactors can be annoying? We got nothing on the airsoft kids, trust me!

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Armed 2 tha Teeth

Airsofters who think they are reenactors are the best joke going. Second best are those who bring out airsoft weapons and think they are even close to being appropriate. It is worse enough to say your Thompson is a dummy made from real parts, or your bazooka is only a metal replica. I'd love to see the face of someone who had to say "Oh BARs weighed 20+ pounds fully loaded, but this one is an plastic airsoft gun so...."

 

An airsoft "1903a1" bears only a vague resemblence.

100_0024-1.jpg

 

Plastic airsoft BAR, just like the real thing. Except it weighs two pounds.

P1010020.jpg

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''no worse than any other reproduction item if you’re not passing everything off as original''

 

This. I don't see too much harm, and as you said, many SMGs cannot be had or used, i see no problem adding an authentic looking airsoft to a 'what they would've looked like' type of display :)

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YankeeDiv26

It's hit or miss with me. Some airsoft stuff is REALLY good and some is crapola. If I can get my hands on a "real steel" variant (as airsofters call it) I will. I prefer them to TOYS. But if there's no way I can legally have one or afford one I'll probably end up getting the airsoft version as a stand-in. I think the situation differs from toy to toy. I was at an airsoft event last weekend and had a M60 with all real Vietnam era parts except for the solid metal reciever and an airsoft M60 within 10 feet of each other and people could not tell which was which. Mind you a lot of people who couldn't tell the difference were vietnam vets, former LRRPs, former Marines, former 11B's, Armorers, active duty Rangers, and a whole slew of other people (one of which who led a MG section of M60s in his career). I don't see how theres ANYTHING wrong with it and I'd rather have the airsoft dummy there and explain what it really is and what the differences between it and a real one are than have nothing and try to get them to imagine what an M60 or a BAR or an M79 looks like.

 

In each of these pictures one of the weapons is airsoft, the rest are real and active. Can you tell me which is which? And if so, if really you consider it "unacceptable".

 

DSC02631.jpg

 

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_iyO1VjruN-A/SMLz...-h/P9060026.JPG

 

DSC04714.jpg

 

DSC02663.jpg

 

DSC05292.jpg

 

 

 

I'll defend airsoft to a certain point, overall the authenticity quality is lacking compared to reenacting and living history but theres some truly good stuff that trumps certain reenacting events I've been to (and I've been to many). What I don't enjoy or partake in are the "pickup games" and the lil' warrior genius's it tends to produce.

 

I resent the statement that implys that if you use airsoft as part of displays instead of a real firearm, you "dont care about history". Tell that to someone like me, who owns nothing but airsoft guns and has an extreme amount of appreciation for military history. It seems you forget that we all can't own weapons. I'm not a registered firearm owner in my state, and even when I will be there will be firearms I can never afford, what am I supposed to do. Show up with the airsoft gun that visually is 99.8% the same, illegaly purchase and use a firearm, or keep showing up at events empty handed?

 

I think people sometimes forget that not everybody goes to a Living history display to learn only what you WANT to teach them. Not everyone cares about the difference between OD3 and OD7 gear, or how you have every different kind of bayonet used in WWII. Be willing to accept that. I find it rather snooty when people think that the public is lesser than them because they don't particularily care for what you do. If someone wants to know about the airsoft guts in your airsoft gun then be courteous enough to inform them a little bit. A kid rambling about his toys FPS isn't really very different from the guy who SWEARS his SKS was a vet bring-back from his grandfather during WWII. As someone who has an experienced "eye" for whats airsoft and what's real I can say the occasional airsoft gun is not NEARLY as big of a demerit against authenticity as the modern coke cans, farby uniform, 300lb paratrooper, 50 year old Corporals, or all those other things that you commonly see at a display.

 

Thats my 2 MPC.

 

-Tim

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I don't have much to add, except that Mrs. Hotlead got me an airsoft M14 for christmas a few years ago, and it's awesome.

 

It shoots good quality heavy BBs at about 450fps and is real accurate. I can sling up real tight and use it as a backyard trainer for my M1As and M1s, my standing slow fire has improved quite a bit !!!

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In the UK there a certain snobbery to airsofters aswell...

 

Two things:

 

Are repro uniforms out of the question then?

 

The law is clamping down on us hard, and there might be a time when even these will be banned...

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I think Airsoft weapons are a good way to run around at a event and not break the law in any way .

The way they are looking these days with the wooden stocks is great .

 

 

owen

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In the UK there a certain snobbery to airsofters aswell...

 

Two things:

 

Are repro uniforms out of the question then?

 

The law is clamping down on us hard, and there might be a time when even these will be banned...

That's basically already happened here, and i hear, things are going to get worse as of next year. You basically need the license of a fully live firearm holder, just to own a plastic or cast resin prop that can't fire anything and has no moving parts!

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Airsofters who think they are reenactors are the best joke going. Second best are those who bring out airsoft weapons and think they are even close to being appropriate. It is worse enough to say your Thompson is a dummy made from real parts, or your bazooka is only a metal replica. I'd love to see the face of someone who had to say "Oh BARs weighed 20+ pounds fully loaded, but this one is an plastic airsoft gun so...."

 

I think the makers heard your complaints. The newest airsoft weapons are near exact matches for the weapons which they replicate. I held in my hands recently an airsoft R5, short Galil to most. and the only thing I could say was that the balnce was SLIGHTLY off from a real one.

 

So be patient, somebody is making or has made a BAR which you will grudgingly come to love.

 

T-Bone

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hawkdriver

I am probably going to buy a Airsoft .45 for re-enactment, I am working on a Beretta 92 for the same purpose. Why? Because I have a horrible aversion to being in the prone position and having to roll over on top of my expensive piece of history and scratch, gouge, and in simple terms, ruin my historical piece.

As for realistic, I have a MP5 that uses the steel frame and other than the orange tip, many couldn't tell the difference from a real one other than the sound of BBs in the mag.

I would be more concerned with the guy that is running around with all authentic gear, tearing it up and ruining history. I have even seen museums using rubber duckies for dirorama displays, so if it's OK for them, they why not the re-enactor. Remember, it's "acting". Now, if someone is trying to pass a airsoft off for real, then ya, take it from them and pop them in the butt with it.

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I got intoairsoft as a hobby for about a year. I do like the guns and they're fun to plink with in the back yard (you can tell I took it seriously, check out my toy, it's all metal):

M4andM203.jpg

 

Damn Lee, I was zapping bad guys and never had that many toys :)

 

PM me where you found that set up, or at least get me started on an M4, please.

 

T-Bone

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I despise airsoft junk. I also cant stand resin guns or dummy guns, but that's me

 

I think If someone is going to do a display may as well have "real" junk. I know I was always highly disappointed knowing as a kid (and even today) the object I was looking at was "fake".

 

But I digress, my opportunities today and my childhood probably spoiled me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A month ago there was a wonderful WWII reenactment event that took place in Randle, WA, just south of Mt. Rainier, that combined Airsoft with reenactment that was called Jump for Destiny. It brought together both traditional reenactors as well as those in the Airsoft hobby who enjoy historical battle simulations. These combo events are still relatively new and how to best integrate the two groups of history geeks is still being worked out. But I daresay a good time was had by both sides of the coin. Here is a link to one set of photos. You might be able to use Google to find additional photos of this event.

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PaulsAirsoftArmory

I could just go on forever on this thread, but I haven't got much time so I'll make it short for now. I don't see a problem with using airsoft guns displays as long as they are the good ones.

 

The main thing is the price. You could buy a solid resin replica for around $300 (I think). For basically the same price, you can gut a full metal airsoft gun with moving parts and an accurate (or at least close) weight to it.

 

Thompson

-You could pay $165 for a 7 pound, 1:1 scale, full metal, airsoft gun. (doesn't come with real wood, but it is available)

-You could pay $1500 for a semi auto long barreled real Thompson.

-You could pay $9,000 for a registered full auto short barrel Thompson.

-You could pay $250 (?) for a resin one.

 

B.A.R.

-You could pay $300 (?) for a resin one

-You could pay $800 ish for a full metal, real wood, accurate airsoft gun.

-You could pay $2000 for a semi auto B.A.R.

-You could pay $20k for a full auto

 

In the past few years, there has been an unprecedented rise in interest in airsoft. If there isn't a cheap, accurate airsoft gun of the model of gun you're you're looking for, wait 2 years and there will be.

 

I know of a guy near me that has taken all the parts of a real M4, right down to the receiver, and turned it into an airsoft gun. Is that a waste of a good gun? Absolutely. Is it as close to real as it gets? Absolutely.

 

Now, I can go on for hours, but I won't, because I'm flying to Minnesota tomorrow morning. You'll all just have to wait until Wednesday for my return.

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An excellent point is that airsoft can for cost reasons be an admirable stand in for educational purposes.It matters little when explaining differences in weapons if it's not "real" if it's accurate and the person who is learning can get the "feel" of the piece in it's context or purpose in their mind.An example being the guy who brought a cut open musket display he made and brought to Ft. Meigs,it demonstrated how a musket worked with alot of the parts made from items other then a real barrel and stock,etc. It gave the viewer the sense and idea of the subject.Even the site manager,(who is a dr. of history) approved. Heck,even big time museums ,(like the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patt.) use non-"real" displays......or did you think those representations of the first atomic bombs were the real deal?Some of those aircraft are not "real" aircraft!

In closing,all I'm saying is it's alright sometimes to fill in with an accurate teaching aid.

post-4746-1248106873.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think that some have taken Lee's initial point about the inclusion of Airsoft weapons in our displays beyond its intended scope. Personally, if an Airsoft weapon is used as prop, it needs to be cosmetically de-farbed prior to placement. If handled by the viewing public, some sort of disclaimer, written or spoken, needs to be communicated regarding the difference between the specs of the real weapon versus that of the prop copy. A good pard of mine (Lee, you know who I'm talking about) has supplemented his LRRP display with an Airsoft CAR-15 (XM177) that he has airbrushed with silver paint to create wear-marks in the blueing similar to those of field-used pieces. He obtained the piece at an extremely discounted price from a dealer locally because it was no longer operational as a pellet-firing device. This was no big deal, its new life was to be as a prop piece! The only trick now is making a real mag fit.

 

I've included a photo of me holding a real, live-firing weapon with two weapons in the background, one real (M1A) and the other being the Airsoft replica described above. I posted this picture in an earlier post and include it here only to serve as reference.

post-6622-1249196372.jpg

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PaulsAirsoftArmory
They have a airsoft for everything, check this out:

That specific model is made by Piper's Precision Products. I can't remember what they sell for, but there are actually several companies that make the M134, most of which go for $5,000 and up. Recently, a company called Echo 1 released a comparatively cheap minigun, which sells for $3,500. http://www.airsoftgi.com/product_info.php?products_id=4514 Not that I could afford either. I am actually planning on buying the plans for this that only costs $30 (the plans cost that, around $200 more for everything else)

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