ICS Equipment Review

We are continually trying out a wide variety of equipment in the process of making the ICS courses as effective as possible. The equipment basically falls into two categories: weaponry and support equipment.

The weaponry includes everything from actual weapons to simulations that will allow us a degree of realism while maintaining some safety. This includes the wooden bayonet trainers we introduced to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). We borrowed the concept the Japanese mokuju (literally, “wood rifle”) and asked Christian Darce of Purpleheart Armoury (www.woodenswords.com) to make them. Christian has a done a tremendous job with them.

Support equipment is basically everything else, which includes web gear, packs, protective equipment, etc.


Among our biggest challenges in weaponry has been useful firearms training weapons. While Simmunitions™ has great advantages, it is expensive and not always practical for use in many environments or with minimal equipment. We have worked with everything from paintball guns to Airsoft to BB Guns, and have found advantages and disadvantages in all of them.

Here are just a few of the rough pros and cons we have found in training with simulated firearms.

Pros: Wide variety of weapons. Semi-auto and full auto available. Relatively long range. Can shoot to some extent through light brush. Widely available. Cons: Messy. Not cheap. Don’t closely simulate real weapon shape except in very expensive models. Clumsy extraneous gas and ammunition containers. Sometime difficult to obtain gas. Can only be used in dedicated training areas.

Pros: Wide variety of weapons. Closely simulate actual weapons. Handguns and longarms available. Inexpensive spring powered, single-shots of some use. Semi-auto and fully auto available. Limited damage capability - useful indoors without dedicated training area. Cons: Decent quality Airsoft are expensive. Weapons often break down under rough training conditions. Finicky power systems - both gas and electric. Gas is sometime difficult to obtain. Short range. Not useful for shooting through light brush

BB Guns
Pros: Both spring and CO2 cartridge weapons available. More rugged than paintball or Airsoft weapons they stand up to rough training fairly well. CO2 and BB Guns widely available. Depending on the weapon, the BB Guns effective at useful ranges and through light brush. Cons: Limited selection of realistic looking weapons available at reasonable cost. Indoor training requires a dedicated or protected area.

We have moved away from the paintball, and have been using the Airsoft extensively over the past several years. The Airsoft guns are made overseas (Japan and Taiwan), and there have been a number of problems importing them. Our biggest problems were their tendency to break down during training, and the constant demand and difficulty in refilling them with their special gas. We also found them of limited use in shooting outdoors, through light brush; the smallest twig or leaf would send the light plastic bb on a totally new course.

The Daisy TM Powerline 5693
About two years ago we began trying out CO2 cartridge powered bb pistol made by Daisy™. The Powerline 5693 closely resembles a Smith & Wesson semi-auto pistol of the TSW series. We found it to be a good replacement for the Airsoft for outdoor work, or indoors if we had either a dedicated training area or could arrange protective covering. The CO2 cartridges are much easier to reload compared to the typical “green gas” utilized by the gas powered Airsoft. The 15-bb magazine does not simulate the grip magazine of the real weapon, but we found that only to be a small disadvantage. The biggest factor to us was the weapon’s robustness. Long after the typical Airsoft would have broken down, the Daisy Powerline 5693 just kept on going. Our only regret was that there was no Airsoft bb version of this that we could use indoors.

Crosman™ “Soft Air” Air Mag
A couple of months ago, we found the new Crosman™ “Soft Air” Air Mag (Model 1008). Looking something like one of the many 1911 clones, it is everything the Daisy is, but shooting an Airsoft bb. It’s fairly light, but solid. As with other Airsoft handguns, it’s range is limited, but useful enough for indoor training. The magazine no more simulates the real thing than does the Daisy’s, and it only holds 7 bbs, however we found the limited capacity useful for training purposes.

Obviously neither of these air pistols are the final answer for simulation training, but we have found them to be of considerable value when used appropriately. By the way, each comes with protective eyewear, which we also strongly recommend wearing while using any of weapons mentioned above.

The EAA Drozd BB Machine Pistol
Another firearms training weapon came to our attention very recently. It is the Drozd BB machine pistol imported by EAA. The Drozd is a CO2 powered and electrically fed, full auto BB gun. It is equipped with both a select fire switch and a rate of fire switch. The first allows the operator the choice of firing single-shots, three-round bursts, and six-round burst. The rate of fire switch allows a selection of 300 rpm (rounds per minute), 450, or 600. Propulsion power is supplied by a standard 12 gram CO2 cartridge, while the feeding and rate of fire are powered by 6 AA batteries. The thirty round magazine also holds the both the BBs and the CO2 cartridge, and fits into a magazine well in the pistol grip. Spare magazines can be utilized for magazine change drills. The Drozd has a removable two-piece butt stock, which allows three shooting configurations: no stock, held like a handgun; 1-piece stock which puts the butt about 8 inches from the rear of the pistol grip; and 2-piece stock, which adds another two inches to the stock length.

The Drozd is Russian made, and of surprisingly high quality, sturdy construction.

In our preliminary training tests with the Drozd, we have so far found it useful in CQB type drills that would typically entail the use of such weapons as the HK MP series or the M-4 type carbine.

A fresh CO2 cartridge should push the BBs at velocities of well over 350 fps. So far the general experience is that one CO2 cartridge will effectively last through 90 shots.

The only problems we had with the Drozd was the initial loading of the CO2 cartridge. It was a very tight fit, but we contacted the EAA gunsmith, and he provided us with an easy solution.

All in all, we have found the Drozd to well suited to some of our training needs, and fills an important niche in the training context. It is well made, and though a bit pricey at around $205 (though cheaper than many of the full-auto airsoft weapons), it’s quality seems to more than match the cost.

Compasseco Inc.
Tel: 1-800-726-1696
web: www.compasseco.com

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Hunter B. Armstrong, Director ~ The International Hoplology Society
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