One needs variety... From left to right, a Gamo Rocker , a Gamo Trap, and a generic mesh-backed target from any one of a dozen airsoft suppliers. The Gamo units have been somewhat of a disappointment, so far - I ordered direct from the manufacturer, and while the Rocker took a mere ten weeks to arrive, even a month after that they are still unable to tell me when the Trap targets will available! The Rocker is a neat design, though - a little metal box about eight inches across, with four swinging metal target paddles. The outer targets lock up and back when hit, until they're released by hitting the centre paddle! It was something of a gamble, though, and sure enough the low muzzle energy of an airsoft replica is incapable of reliably tripping a mechanism designed for considerably more powerful air rifles. I intend to replace the steel paddles with a lighter equivalent of thick plastic card, though, and at the same time replace the plastic spacers shattered by the few test BBs I shot into it. Unlike soft lead air rifle pellets, the rigid BBs ricochet into all sorts of places that they shouldn't inside the mechanism - but I'm inclined to think that enough lead pellets would find their way in there too, after long-term use, and at this stage I can't really recommend either the hardware or the manufacturer themselves...

The mesh target, however, is a definite success. Slipping a replacement target into the sprung front panel takes only a moment, and in spite of it's apparent fragility the mesh shows no sign of weakening. All the BBs safely gather in the base, and opening a little zipper allows them to be poured out into the palm of the hand. It's only a tenner or so to buy, easy to find online, and well worth it.


Guarder Tactical/Duty Holster

An interesting idea... In the configuration shown above it's a belt holster, currently mated with Guarder's own nylon duty belt, but with the additional of a few simple straps and an hour spent wrestling with industrial-strength Velcro it converts into a drop-leg tactical holster strapped low on the thigh. This is not a task that I would want to perform often, though, as most of the straps in question have Velcro on both sides, and I've had to invent all sorts of cunning ways of loosening their grip enough to slide them within their "slots". The holster will suit most medium-sized automatics, I'd say, but was obviously designed specifically with 1911-framed pistols in mind - the Beretta fits Ok, but the Para-Ordnance slots very neatly indeed. The Velcro is not the only component with delusions of mil spec, though, as the nylon webbing that forms the rest of the holster and belt is also noticeably over-engineered. I've spent several months trying to force the belt to conform to the shape of my waist rather than the other way around, and I'm still not making much progress. The extra rigidity of the holster will provide considerable protection for the gun, though, and the double-secure thumb break will certainly ensure that it stays in there.


Dowlings Beretta Shoulder Holster

Dowlings sell a range of these leather pistol holsters, each shaped specifically to a particular gun. I bought the shoulder rig version mostly to provide a contrast to the tactical holster, although the additional slots and attachment points on the back suggest that conversion to a belt holster would be trivial. The leather straps are of a reasonable quality and seem adequate to support the weight of the gun, and the holster itself (probably formed around a blank of the gun with high-pressure steam) is a perfect fit. It's comfortable to wear, and the horizontal carry design provides the potential for a quick draw, if at the cost of a rather odd bump behind the armpit!



This is a Guarder three-point tactical sling, but you can call it Spawn Of Satan. I decided that I wanted something suitably businesslike for the M4CQB, and this one appeared to have the most straps, buckles, attachments, adjustments and twiddly bits of any on offer. One day I may even learn how to use it correctly - these designs are traditionally awkward to understand and although there are a handful of FAQs online none of the slings illustrated are quite like mine... I know roughly how it should work, but implementing it is another matter. [Update: I worked it out, and it's very neat! Mail me if you need a clue.] The shotgun sling from KM Head 1950 (another great Pacific Rim company name) is considerably more basic, but certainly does the job... The shells are relatively secure in their elastic loops, and the webbing strap is neatly finished and broad enough to be comfortable.


Mil-Force Aluminium Gun Cases

I have a pair of 16" pistol cases for the handguns and the MAC-11, and a 43" rifle case for the M4CQB, and, for a collector, they are definitely one of the crucial finishing touches. Fortunately the range also includes a 34" that will be perfect for my hypothetical folding-stock shotgun, as well as a massive 52" model presumably intended for Bazookas, M60s, Vulcan Miniguns etc. The smaller cases come with locking hasps and a shoulder strap, the larger with an additional pair of combination locks and a surprisingly comfortable carrying handle - definitely necessary, as even empty the case is no lightweight. The design and manufacturing quality both seem excellent, with nicely reinforced corners, a pleasing milled finish, and layers of thick high-density foam which will hopefully keep its resiliency for a good while.

My only complaint is that the cases are rather slim for their size, and the generous bulk of eggshell foam padding makes closing them around all but the slimmest of weaponry somewhat of a struggle. I solved this for the large case by painstakingly cutting away the eggshell foam in the appropriate shapes for the M4 and magazines, leaving them settled on a lower layer of foam and nicely snuggled in for safe-keeping. Cutting the foam was easy enough with a long, sharp knife blade and a gentle sawing motion, and the closed-cell structure is relatively forgiving of accidental over-runs. The end-result is certainly worth it.