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| August 24, 2019

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Dave's Custom Airsoft

Interview : Dave’s Custom Guns
Mike Caulfield

Customizing your Airsoft gun is the best way to stand out on the Airsoft field. For many users it’s an expression of how they like to play and internal customization takes time, skill and effort! Undoubtedly one of the masters of customization is Dave, from Dave’s Custom Guns, I speak with Dave to find out more.

First of all, can you tell us about yourself and how you started Airsoft?

I first played Airsoft when I was 10. At that time there were three or four guns available (from Tokyo Marui) and a few springer rifles that I also had. It was a group of friends playing at X-Site in High Wycombe which at that time was only a paintball sight. Occasionally me and a group of friends would be allowed to play an Airsoft only game there. I really enjoyed it and have been going ever since.

Regarding myself I am a bit of a military geek to be honest. I used to watch a lot of military history as a kid – probably what got me interested in Airsoft which led to army cadets, then TA 7 rifles Infantry which i did for two years. That led onto a War Studies degree and after working at Thales for 9 months, I now work as a Dismounted Close Combat Soldier Systems Technology Consultant for another defence company.

In my spare time I shoot clay and target rifle. I am attending a dynamic pistol and carbine course in the U.S in September training with Khyber Interactive Associates alongside Australian Police. Airsoft is another string in the bow and through my day job I am trying to increase awareness of it – although it is not easy!

You wont hear me boasting on my wall or disregarding what others say, I am subtlety confident that when people come to me for custom builds, they are getting someone with good expertise knowledge and understanding. To me that is more important that my engineering skills (which I am constantly getting better at job by job). Everyone on my page is a friend and I profess to ensure that everyone feels welcome and gets their say.

How did Dave’s Custom Guns come from and where did you get your initial inspiration from ?

Dave’s Custom Airsoft Store started 18 months ago. After University I was looking for a career in defence but couldn’t find anything! So one day decided to start a Facebook group for repairs custom builds. At that point I had fixed only one or two guns but I’d been Airsofting for 13 years. I didn’t think it would come to anything. Five days and plenty of work later I had 700 members and my first jobs lined up. This was scary at first because I didn’t know how to do most jobs – I had to teach myself and got it right 99% of the time. I got lucky!

What was the most extreme customization you’ve completed?

Most extreme customization is a tough one! There have been so many extreme examples but the best example I could give would be the one that is most different to the rest. My premium Galil sniper with RIS was a major job!

What do you feel is the next big challenge for you?

Next big challenge is working around my day job whilst still taking challenging builds on and getting well known in the industry.

For newer players what initial upgrade options would you suggest?

For new players, I would say the way to start would be to get a decent gun with a  practical battery ie a Tokyo Marui AK and a large type NiMh because it will never go wrong. When you go into upgrades such as LiPo [batteries] and gearboxes modifications it all gets pricey and generally less reliable. Its like with tanks; its a trade off with mobility, speed, firepower and protection. With Airsoft its a trade off between price, reliability, performance and weight. A decent stock gun with reliable internals is preferable over a gun with poor internals and having to upgrade it to skirmish standard as you will always have weak link and a hole in your wallet!

What do you think about the way Airsoft is managed by the government? Should we be more like the Americans and have no restrictions or should we just be happy with the system we have now?

I believe that the majority of Airsofters do not understand the complexities of the current system that UKARA is a part of. It has created a working environment where anyone wishing to trade in Airsoft has to be very careful about the way they do business and behave with a good degree of responsibility. Even the big boys have got this wrong in the past as they say ‘everyone makes mistakes’.

Secondly and most importantly Airsofters do not fully understand the state that the Airsoft industry is in at the moment. UKARA was created by the big players in retail and is a mutually exclusive organisation. The fact that it costs so much to join the organisation and has so many parameters attached to joining means that people like me have to be very careful to operate legally as a non UKARA registered operator. The system also has more potholes than Swiss cheese – for example I received a letter from a UKARA registered site offering me a renewal when I had not played at that site all year. I am not afraid to say that large retailers have tried to bully and pressure me out of business (although many have been very supportive) and the system allows retailers to push their weight around in the industry on a very dubious basis.

I am entirely confident to say that although I operate legally and am 100% stringent with regards to upholding the law, selling responsibly, checking players are UKARA registered etc. I believe that the UKARA system is 100% flawed and the worst thing to happen to Airsoft in the U.K. (this players policing the industry and the industry policing everything attitude is not good for anyone). There is far too much of “This is the system, deal with it” attitude coupled with “we saved Airsoft.” Everything we do in life should be constantly reviewed and if not perfect must be adapted.

I believe we should be more like the Americans with regards to firearms replicas. The problem in this country is a lack of education and the resulting fear of anything that looks like a gun. This is fueled by media which knows nothing about firearms or shooting. The lack of education with regards the general public and the role the media plays in scaremongering are the big problems for Airsoft in the UK This coupled with a government attitude that they can simply ‘ban anything we don’t like’ is not conducive to democratic society and is a major threat to UK Airsoft.

The fact is society in the UK has become pathetic in regards to anything firearms related – a fear pretty much unfounded given the small amount of gun crime. UK law values property over life and in a way, this is why Airsoft guns receive such a bad rap. Lets face it rob a bank with an Airsoft gun; you may get away with the money but you’re not going to kill anyone with it. the danger is entirely to the user. What we need is armed police that are better trained to handle situations with potential firearms (not just shooting everyone) and also a realisation that if they shoot you and your misusing a replica it’s your own fault! The government don’t ban horses because the odd rider falls off and dies.

Using Airsoft requires a degree of common sense and attention to safety, it is not rocket science and I think often the safety aspect is concentrated on too much. Players must ensure they learn and operate firearms discipline on their own accord.

Which events and games would you like to see more of within the UK ?

I would like to see more independent sites spring up – UKARA doesn’t facilitate this very well and is the biggest problem to independent sites. If I go playing I don’t care if they have insurance; I wouldn’t sue someone if I got a nasty hit. You play and you take the risk so it’s down to you.

I have played at some private sites lately and they were fantastic fun; a select group of friends playing the games they want in their own time with their own rules. In a way, this small game mentality has been lost as sites need to get bigger and bigger to earn more money and pay for UKARA membership etc.

I am a CQB fan and I enjoy playing the MOD villages but I think on the whole we get enough opportunities for that type of play. As for medium to large woodland sites, the options are fantastic. I am a big believer in equality and I detest sites (and shops) that have an elitest attitude. My pet hate is site staff that are rude and obnoxious, something which sadly I have seen all too often.Sites I have enjoyed most are Sennybridge, Bristol, GASS, Long Crendon and some independents. The quality of marshalling and staff at these places have helped to create a fantastic experience.

For more information on Dave’s Custom Airsoft