Beware, gratuitously awesome airsoft minigun videos follow subsequent to this legitimate headline.
Time to get quasi-intimate with the M134 airsoft minigun. Its real steel roots can be traced back to the 1890s when Gatling guns emerged onto the “scene.” As for the 6mm version, the earliest emergence of the airsoft minigun I’ve found thus far has been in or around 1993 when classic brands, Asahi and Toy-Tec, each produced their own versions with Asahi producing the first. The Asahi version requires the use of special hardened BBs (best of luck getting your hands on some). Both models go for several thousand dollars, used, and are probably better served as collectors’ pieces now, given the difficulty to find replacement parts, although they can be skirmishable. More recently, there are several companies that come to mind that may be more familiar to the airsoft masses. The most prominent MIGHT be the airsoft minigun by Echo1/CAW (Craft Apple Works) who make both a long- and short-barrel version followed quite possibly by Creation’s version, sold on Redwolf Airsoft’s website. However, I may be mistaken altogether about the order of notoriety.
For those of you that enjoy building things from scratch, there’s a guy who calls himself “Killbucket” on a bunch of airsoft forums around the net who sells the patterns to build your own airsoft minigun. He runs a company called, AirSharp, where you can purchase said patterns. He alleges that it’s quite easy to do and the internals are based on a regular AEG and inner barrel setup, however, I haven’t bothered to investigate these claims because I’m both lazy and unskilled in building stuff, therefore I have no real business inquiring about such details.
The model that tickles my airsoft fancy the most and may actually be the most famous/infamous is the gas-powered minigun from Piper’s Precision Products (P3). There’s probably a large number of visitors to this site that have seen this video:
Those that know of Paul Piper’s work in the airsoft world either love him or hate him. I haven’t read anything on his airsoft miniguns lately other than some comments back in 2006 or so (some good, some bad) when I think he may have been still working on getting the bugs out of his system. I’d like to get my hands on one of his latest models and see if any improvement has been made with his designs since then. If that happens, rest assured it’ll be posted up in my reviews section with a full report.
As per my self-declared S.O.P., Standard Operating Procedure, for all you high-speed, low-drag “airsoft operators” (I use that name loosely), I’m going to include a brief overview of the inspirational real steel version courtesy of the lovely, www.wikipedia.org.
“The Minigun is a 7.62 mm, multi-barrel machine gun with a high rate of fire (over 3,000 rounds per minute), employing Gatling-style rotating barrels with an external power source. In popular culture, the term “minigun” has come to refer to any externally-powered Gatling gun of rifle caliber, though the term is sometimes used to refer to guns of similar rates of fire and configuration, regardless of power source and caliber. Specifically, minigun refers to a single weapon, originally produced by General Electric. The “mini” of the name is in comparison to designs that use a similar firing mechanism but larger shells, such as General Electric’s earlier 20 mm M61 Vulcan.”
The minigun has had more than just a one-night stand with several branches of the United States military, including the Army, Air Force and Navy as well as being coveted by at least 18 other militaries throughout the world.
Here’s a brief animated video to illustrate how the real steel version works:
I’m no rocket surgeon, but it’s my guess that the airsoft minigun operates in a completely different manner. A manner of which I have no clue about other than I know that most of the airsoft miniguns, both past and present, use(d) compressed air or CO2 in order to propel the BB towards its intended (or unintended) target. I’d like to do some research on just exactly how in the world these guns are able to feed BBs to each of the six barrels whilst they spin at several thousand RPMs without dry-firing. I did read that some of the earlier models, including the Piper’s model, had some issues with precisely that, while others had different issues varying in nature and complexity. But this is airsoft and that’s what airsoft guns do when they’re not functioning properly or being ogled at. They break. Some more than others, but I guess it’s part of the fun for a lot of airsofters out there. I, for one, don’t care for the finicky nature of these guns one bit. I blame the commies for their poor quality. Just sayin.
Here’s where I burst the pus out of your airsoft fantasy bubble (I’m only doing it because I want you all to share the misery I experienced when I first discovered this):
It’s a common misconception that firing the real steel minigun un-mounted (i.e. hand-held like it’s set up to be in the airsoft world) is a practical method of operation of the weapon.
Aside from simply attempting to handle the sheer weight of the real gun (aprx. 19 kg or 42 lbs), you’ve got to deal with the ammunition pack (say 2000 rounds of 7.62mm ammo @ 100+ lbs), which would last you about 20 seconds or less. Additionally, the M134 needs massive electrical power to turn all those barrels at high RPMs. We’re not talking paralleling a Li-Po or two. While I don’t know the exact size, I know the batteries have to be big enough, read: heavy and unportable, to supply around 4 kilowatts (4+ horse-power), which I would guess puts out a Peter North-sized load of torque most of us couldn’t handle either. However, the obstacles don’t end there. Interested in hitting the broad side of a barn with this gun? Not gonna happen, champ. Combined with the torque of the barrels turning, the recoil of this gun firing the 7.62mm cartridges is just too powerful for anything remotely resembling accuracy. How powerful? Peak recoil on these babies is supposed to be around 120 kg (270 lbs), so imagine what that would do to you, the high-speed airsoft operator, if you tried to fire it unmounted (hand-held). For those of you with no imagination or sense of reality, it would send you flying back onto your moneymaker faster than you can say, “MINIGUNS IN ARNOLD MOVIES!!!”
Bummer. Firing a real steel minigun from the hip looks like a darn good time! The good news is that this is airsoft and one of the many glorious aspects of airsoft is the ability to play out certain fantasies that wouldn’t be possible in reality. I’m not talking about the fantasy where you say hello to that girl from the marching band convention and she actually says hello back in a cordial manner, (relax, I was a “bando” throughout the majority of my adolescence) but the one where you want to run around the field with a hand-held and otherwise un-mounted airsoft minigun, pressure-washing bad guys with ease, style and grace.
So, if you’ve got deep pockets and a desire to send a truckload of BBs downrange in a very short amount of time, here’s a few places to purchase an airsoft minigun:
Piper’s Precision Products (P3) airsoft minigun:
Piper’s Precision Products via X-Caliber Tactical
Piper’s Precision Products Official Site
(note the video of the tracer unit that can be used for night ops)
Creation airsoft minigun:
Echo1/CAW airsoft minigun:
ENTER THE REALM OF THE RIDICULOUS AND OVER-THE-TOP
(This site wouldn’t be a true reflection of me if I didn’t include this stuff.)
I. If you roll out to the field with any of the following items, combined with your minigun, no one will care how big (small) your package is.
Here are the vitals for this illumination monster:
Lamp Type: Philips 35W D1S HID lamp
Maximum Output: 3,000 LUMENS!!!!!!/two 5590 military batteries: approximately 8 hours; auto battery: continuous
Construction: Aluminum, hard-anodized Mil-Spec Type III
Battery Type: Two 5590 military batteries(dual 15V 7.5Ah)
Runtime: ≈ 8 hours
Dimensions: Length: 8.0″ (20 cm)
Weight: 10 lbs. REALITY CHECK: So yea, it SHOULD go without saying that this would be for airsoft miniguns that are mounted on a stationary tripod or a vehicle, but since I have been hanging around airsofters long enough, I know that if I DIDN’T state the obvious, sure enough there’d be some numb-nut, smarty-pants emailing me about how unrealistic it would be to suggest mounting a 10 pound spotlight to an already heavy, hand-held airsoft minigun.
It features a shock-isolated ultra high-output HID lamp assembly that generates a blinding 3,000-lumen beam with enough reach to illuminate targets hundreds of yards away and enough surround beam to make it perfect for patrol or search-and-rescue operations. Filters are available in opaque, for window protection; amber, for cutting through smoke or dust; or infrared, for use with night-vision equipment. Additionally, it comes with one of those uber-sweet ITAR notices:
Export of the commodities described herein is strictly prohibited without a valid export license issued by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Defense Trade Controls, prescribed in the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 120-130.
So you know it’s good cuz Uncle Sam doesn’t want the commies to have it, unless of course they pay a premium for it (every girl has her price).
In this case, the price goes from $5,100-$5,500 depending on options and where you buy.
II. Some dude up in Minnesota has what the locals are referring as the “Hellcat”:
Webmaster’s status: aroused.
It’s obviously a Polaris, possibly a slightly older-than-current-year model from their Ranger series, with a track wheel kit installed for snow (remember when I said Minnesota?). Oh and then there’s the P3 airsoft minigun mounted on the passenger’s side, and it would appear for good measure they’ve added a rifle mount just above the head rests. There may be more goodies added than meets the eye, but I haven’t located the owner of the vehicle, nor could I obtain any detailed specs on the net regarding this specific vehicle other than it’s got the Piper’s minigun on it.
Not bad, Minnesota-guy-who-owns-this-Hellcat, not bad.
If you’re dying to know more about this sweet piece, look around the Minnesota Airsoft Association (MAA) forums and/or the Amplified Airsoft forums for more info. If you’ve gone through and read everywhere you think the info might have already been posted but found no info, THEN it’s cool to start asking questions. Use decent grammar and spell-check your shizzle. Also, don’t be annoying, as other forum users will hate you and call you names to your face or behind your back or both.
If you look up the individual components that are obvious in the photo, you’re looking at an approximated total package price tag of anywhere from $20,000-$30,000 for this type of setup, including the airsoft minigun.
III. Enter the Raptor LSV4 Mil-Spec Fast Attack Vehicle from the Skunk Works division of GamePod Combat Airsoft.
Here’s the info I plagiarized directly from the GamePod website (www.gamepod.com):
The Raptor LSV4 Mil-Spec was developed by Gamepod Skunk Works as lower cost Limited Exposure Remote Gun System solution for the US Military.
The GSW LERGS utilizes a computer controlled target acquisition system that offers complete control over the target acquisition and firing process. Using a joystick controlled electronic weapons mount and thermal day/night video targeting system the operator is able to quickly acquire and neutralize targets while limiting the gunners exposure to external threats.
Due to the relatively small size of the system and its ability to operate on 12-24 volts the GSW LERGS can be mounted to virtually any vehicle such as the HUMVEE eliminating the need to expose personnel to unnecessary danger.
Raptor LSV4 Specifications:
4 Cylinder EFI 4 Stroke DOHC 1200cc engine
5 Speed Manual Transmission
Fully Independent Multi-Link
High Travel Suspension
4 Wheel Disk Brakes
Rack and Pinion Steering
Wheels: Front-27×8-12 / Rear-27×11-12
Length: 14’10” Width: 7′ 4″
Top Speed: 105MPH
Price: Unknown, but when you breakdown the factors, you can get an idea.
4-Seater Dune Buggy:$6,200-$145,000 (according to Google Shopping searching for “dune vehicle”)
Airsoft Minigun: $3,500-$5,500
Custom airsoft minigun mount: Varies, but my guess would be at least $1,000
Then you get to the joystick-controlled electronic target acquisition system with day/night thermal imaging. Based on the wording used by Skunk Works, it sounds like this is only for military training/testing, so civilian use probably isn’t likely. However, if you WERE to get just a thermal optics scope, you’re looking at a minimum of $10,000 for the decent stuff (opinion), and it goes upwards from there.
BOTTOM LINE: Start saving now, and someday, you might have a down payment built up, and that is assuming you can even purchase such an asset for civilian consumer use.
Time for a random side note on the subject of the name, Skunk Works. As per the Lockheed Martin website, “Skunk works” or “skunkworks” is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects. Bear in mind though, the name and logo of Skunk Works is registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, owned by none other than mega defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, so it would not be the wisest move to go copying it for your own personal gain. For those of you that live under a rock and have an IQ of stupid, Lockheed Martin makes expensive and high-tech weapons to “relieve you of your existence.” And they most definitely have dangerous friends to do the same on their behalf if they’re not in the mood to do it themselves. And by “relieve you” and “dangerous friends,” I mean they will probably attack you with legal issues using their lawyers (some of those dangerous friends). For the record, and with great respect to the Patriot Act, I love the U.S., the U.S. government, Lockheed Martin, and the friends of Lockheed Martin. But back to Skunk Works. They’re responsible for a number of famous aircraft designs, including the U-2, the SR-71, the F-117, and the F-22. Google them. Also, Google Skunk Works for more info because I’m tired of talking about it. It’s so secret, it makes me sleepy.
I am now nowhere near the subject of airsoft miniguns any longer and don’t plan on returning. Sooooooo…just click on the link below and find something else awesome to read about.