So yet another few months have zipped by for me here in Taiwan and along with juggling final exams, parents days, national holidays - and flitting around my new island paradise home in typical me fashion - I’ve reached the point where soon enough I’ll be signing on for another year contract with my school here and hopefully getting my domestic tax rebate and dropping down to the lower bracket like all the natives for the second half of 2018.
Far from being all work and no play, however; despite the fact my tactical blogging activities have been piling up unaddressed since my visits to Bolt Airsoft & Modify Airsoft, I’ve been hitting the gun shops/ firing range, game days and more recently the 23rd Hooha show pretty hard along with the books.
The Hooha (or ‘WuHa’ in Taiwanese, which translates roughly as weapons expo, but just happens to sound enough like a US military cry that they went with that for the anglicisation… HOOHA!) show is held every 6 months here in Taiwan and has been going since 2006 and alternates between somewhere in Taipei and Taichung each time - the 22nd Hooha being held in XinDian, Southern Taipei back when I first got here and which was my first foray into the industry here.
So the other week me and a couple of my shooting buddies dragged ourselves out of bed at ungodly hours for a Sunday once again and took the HSR down to TaiChung… although one of them couldn’t make it at all in the end due to sleep deprivation, another was in such a last minute rush that he ended up Northbound on the Taipei train by force of habit and only realised when he had to argue with someone over his seat, and another only joined us far later in the day.
So basically I made my way down there on my own to start with and started pounding the floor and pressing the flesh before the other lot caught up with me; gave me a good opportunity to get the business end of things out of the way again, scatter gunning my name cards among the representatives and seeing what was new and shiny from the various manufacturers this season.
Whilst TaiChung Hooha seems to be a bit smaller than the Taipei show there were still the typical dominating front of house stands occupied by the major players as usual; this time it was TaiChung’s own ICS (I Chih Shih) Airsoft based in the North of the city and LCT (Li Chung Taichung/Taiwan) Airsoft from ChangHua county to its South and where I ended up just after xmas on the KUI friendly match where I got eaten alive by mosquitoes but also had a great time and first acquired my KWA HK MP7.
I was greeted not just by their pleasant representatives but also by Goliath displays of current and upcoming products. LCT Airsoft seem to be rising pretty meteorically in the UK/ European market from what I’ve seen and my friends back there were ecstatic to see their new PKM/PKP lineup expansion, as well as the ever increasing array of HK G3 models, which of course I had to get my hands on - I mean, it’d be rude not to, right?
Compared to their still sizeable booth/ monolith at MOA 2017 there seemed to be at least twice as many actual guns on display all of a sudden; not just three times the range of G3’s there were last time, but AK/PP SMG variants, M60s, RPDs, PKM/PKPs, more AKs, Armalites, FALs and Valmets. They really went to town showcasing the sheer variety of the platforms they are providing and the largely modular variants they seem to be turning out. The PP-19 series were particularly nicely presented and seem like a good alternative to the normal fare.
Their representative Bella was also good enough to escort us to the other side of the arena where the firing ranges had been set up and let us have a go with their new AK EBB variants to try out their recoil mechanism. Certainly no complaints from us!
Moving left of centre, like my politics over the years ^^ - I was then welcomed by Yvette of ICS and given a thorough rundown of their latest product lines; they’re really churning out a lot of new Gas BlowBack pistol models now they’ve decided to shift some interest back to that corner of the market; an array of Black Leopard Eye and similar pistol variants were on display.
Some of their models interestingly enough have bevelled barrel extensions to facilitate smoother operation; just the day before I was taking a look at someone else’s Glock variant that was ‘hanging up’ out of battery due to binding of the barrel extension in the ejection port as the slide was returning in to battery - so perhaps this is something we’ll see more of given that locking the barrel and slide together isn’t necessary in airsoft guns like it is in real steel - I know a few different models I’ve owned in the past have all suffered from similar issues… particularly the Marui Five-seveN which always ended up loosening up internally then binding and having stoppages in a similar fashion.
Yvette was also keen to introduce me to their latest release on the AEG front; the HERA arms collaboration Armalite style platform model with enhanced ergonomic grips and sliding stock mechanism, which seems to draw inspiration from the likes of FN’s P90/F2000 modernised ergonomic layouts with rung style wraparound grips which make for a very comfortable and controllable hold of the platform regardless of your hand size or chosen positioning.
Further towards the middle of their pretty impressive and extensive layout Yvette introduced the new and ever expanding variants and subcomponents of ICS’ flagship MARS (Modular/Modern Assault Rifle System) - with a host of different Keymod and M-Lok forends to suit the user’s desired barrel length and platform layout, as well as the continuation of the split gearbox and a variety of telescopic/sliding stocks to suit your butt end desires.
All of which incorporates their latest Electric BlowBack engine and MOSFET / SSS control systems, which Yvette explained not only give the user programmable firing patterns as with many other available units, but also an active feedback system which actually alerts the user to the readiness of their gun on startup or aids in diagnosing gearbox lockup issues, battery power reserve, stoppages related issues or when maintenance may be necessary, all quite clever, it seems.
A whole host of CXP MARS models were on display, many of which are apparently becoming very popular in both the local market and those further afield, easy to see why, once I got my dawbs on them and felt how comfortable, well balanced and integrated they are. Many of them were also on heavily discounted offer at the show as well… although much as she might have tried to convince me to part with my cash I actually managed to resist - I’m sticking with Gas Blow Backs and Heckler & Koch models for the moment, I am afraid!
Kiran might be convinced to part with some hard earned money for their Mitigel M11 rotary 6 chambered grenade launcher though…
Along with Olivia, Yvette was good enough to furnish us with freebie patches, carrier bags (with a pretty badass little red riding hood with MP5s montage) as well as extensive literature regarding their 2018 product lineup as well as their last remaining English language HERA arms collaboration product run down catalogue, which they’d set aside for me - so thoughtful!
Managing to peel myself away from their lovely company I sauntered on over to HFC’s stall to see Sindy again and have a look at their latest offerings - unfortunately the bulk of their product is still en route back from Germany and the IWA expo they recently attended in Nuremberg, so their stall was somewhat less heavily decked out with offerings than the last time I saw them at MOA 2017.
Of note at least is their rather curious new flintlock pistol which actually uses the flash pan and striker mechanism as part of the air-cocking system for actually firing the BB pellet. Very intricately decorated and nicely presented, at least, although I’m not sure it would be practical for someone like me with such an over developed trigger finger.
Next up I had a meander around to see some old familiar faces in the shape of Show Guns Hong Kong; Frankie and his team were this time decked out in lab coats instead of suits and had brought a whole host of new toys for us to take a look at.
Whilst many of their new ideas are visually impressive, the wow factor was probably most brought to bear with their new SG DE40… in gangster chrome or MilSpec black… a Desert Eagle .50 model… with a custom designed and fitted 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher… you know, just in case it wasn’t already an audacious enough weapons system for your tastes… not to mention their added bludgeoning muzzle brake with sharp pointy bits in case something manages to survive such an onslaught and reach truly close quarters.
They’re also planning some fairly exotic horseshoe magazine fed classico machine gun variants and a very nice looking SVT40 self loading Tokarev rifle model from WW2, all of which look to have their usual great care for attention to detail and quality materials and finish incorporated.
Of course for you Kingsman fans they have also rolled out their latest partner piece in the shape of the sequel film’s US ‘Statesman’ equivalent centrepiece - the M1911 .45 cal sidearm with its own custom integral under-barrel proprietary shotgun shell launcher. A really nice piece as you would expect from SGHK and beautifully finished and functional.
And of course it wouldn’t be Frankie’s stall without his signature truly outlandish offerings… next he showed us a video on his mobile of his latest film prop realised as an airsoft replica… the ‘sex machine’ crotch gun of ‘From Dusk Til Dawn’ fame… I will see if he can send us a link of the video of it in operation, but failing that - take it from me - it’s pretty damned hilarious!
Finally he introduced us to SGHK’s new ‘ESC’ - Emergency Shotgun Carrier - a pocket sized weapon of last resort that takes their proprietary under-barrel launcher technology and dispenses with the pleasantries of having a normal sidearm above it to make it a pure palm sized ‘go away now’ shotgun shell firing device! I’m reminded of Ian Malcolm’s lamentations in ‘Jurassic Park’ - they were so preoccupied with whether they could do it they could do it they didn’t stop to think with whether or not they should ^^.
Next up KUI Airsoft were also out in force, with a wide array of different manufacturer’s wares selling like hotcakes and as ever Ben from our local ZhuBei branch was trying to get us to part with our hard earned cash, unfortunately to no avail this time - we did score some sweet freebie T-Shirts from Lancer Tactical at least, and I got my hands on SRU’s GHK G5 GBB Bullpup conversion kit which my teammate who overslept wants to invest in for his G5. Also on show was SRU’s curious AK Bullpup with canted pistol grip to allow for the large banana magazines to clear the bottom of it during loading, their SCAR bullpup and even their latest VSR10 sniper rifle offering as well - everything in back to front awesomeness (I’m a big fan of the bullpup platforms, except the L85. see below sad face).
Following on from this we headed around to Modify Airsoft’s booth where Xiang that I’d met at their HQ a few months before was busy extolling their newly released XTC-PDW; the shortest variant of their Armalite platform AEG they had mentioned was in the final stages of development when I visited their facility. It’s certainly a very comfortable and pointable size and well distributed in terms of its weight and balance in the hands - really good to shoulder and sweep with quickly.
Moving on from here we headed to King Arms’ fairly extensive stand to check out their array of platforms on display, as well as making use of the cynical old ‘lovely lady parading around with an M79 grenade launcher for photos’ ploy. Of course we fell for that hook line and sinker. I know. We are terrible human beings.
Their sizeable booth had a vast array of both mainstream and more obscure replicas to get hands on with, coupled with the fact they had decided to collaborate with Sword Tactical Supply, also of Hong Kong, to bring both their product lines to bear - I was very happy to meet Jan Tong of STS and of course they had the ever lovely Valkyrie Anny helping out with promoting their lines, always a pleasure to see her - although I swear she has a new hairstyle every time I bump into her!
Someone even brought along their tactical doggo to the show which obviously made for great photo opportunities. Because if you can get lovely ladies AND guns AND Tac Gear AND Doggos all into one event then the only major attraction you’re missing at that point is probably meet and beer… and to be fair me and Kiran had wandered over to the Family Mart earlier in the day for both of those anyway.
Trying to move my attention back to the actual airsoft equipment I was very interested to get my hands on the latest CZ Bren 308 replica, having seen the real steel one in the hands of Tim from the Military Arms Channel online, and being a fan of CZ kit in general based on its reputation for utility and general awesomeness. It was really nice to shoulder and comfortable to hold in general, very sturdy feeling but in no way cumbersome or unwieldy.
Turning up the home straight towards the exit we happened upon APS and Umarex’s booths and decided to see what was on offer. Kiran has a penchant for shotguns so was most interested in their gas powered shell ejecting models which I’d already had a play with at the previous Taipei Hooha show, and we were both interested in the APS Shark pistol - a Glock derivative capable of using their fairly standard format magazines from other manufacturers, but with a more aggressively contoured slide with select fire capability but also made of a very high impact resistance polymer and entirely waterproof in its operation… such things always appeal to me because I am clumsy as hell at times and like things which can take the kind of abuse and punishment I seem to afford myself at times!