Introduction: The Canadian company Airsoft Innovations has been in business for 9 months now and is the brainchild of Carlton Chong. Now despite what you may think by the inset photo here of Carl he is honestly a very sane and intelligent individual. No really.. he is. ^_^
I should point out now that any budding Photoshop monkeys have had the gauntlet laid down for them as Carl requests that PS’d work based on the inset shot right are sent over to this email address for perusal and possible publication on his website.
Why a propane adapter? One day Carl’s engineering brain became bored there were no more pencils left to launch into the ceiling tiles, and he was all out of matches. First he pondered the idea of strapping buttered toast to the back of the cat to create a versatile levitation mechanism, but decided that was too silly (plus it’d been done in HHGTTG), then hit his head on the bathroom sink and discovered the recipe to the perfect chilli and what “42” really was the answer to.. but because of the ensuing concussion promptly forgot. In the end Carl settled with being curious as to what the actual composition of Airsoft gas was.
Samples of gases were sent to “…Analest Laboratory at the University of Toronto where 3 brands of green gas (Jet, Green Power, Shooting Air) were analyzed with a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer, an industry standard for organic gas assaying. All 3 gases were shown to be propane. Additionally 3 more brands have shown to be similarly flammable and exert the same pressure…” the results answered many questions that Airsofters had pondered about their propellant for many years:
In short (without boring you with chemical mass spectroscopy mumbo jumbo) “green gas” is propane (see more details here).
History of the adapter: I thought I’d add a bit to show how the adapter has been adjusted and modified through its existence. In the bottom left shot here are the three generations of the adapter. From the initial design, to the current model then to the promotional adapter that Carl sent me (now with a handy knurled outer rim). As you can see the first model used a washer system, but the new design no longer needs that, as a recess has been cut into the main adapter collar that only allows the probe to move a specified distance downwards.
The spring system is now incorporated into the main collar too, meaning that you’re less likely to lose the spring. The spring was accidentally left out of the one sent over hence the two spare springs in the background as these arrived later. If you happen to need to refit your own spring, may I suggest using the back of the loading probe to push the spring into its home in the underside of the collar.
Grab some propane: First things first you’ll need to grab yourself some propane to use this adapter, but don’t worry it’s easy to find if you know where to look. Here in the UK your best bet it to grab a can from B&Q. The huge advantage is that B&Q stores are open from 8AM till 8PM Monday-Friday and from 10AM till 4PM on Sunday so if you’re caught short and out of gas before a skirmish you’re in luck as long as you have an adapter handy.
I picked up a can of Benzomatic Propane which you’ll find in the gas and pipe welding section. You want the blue cans that are marked Propane, not the MAPP cans (in yellow). Apologies for the fuzzy nature of the above shots, but they were taken from a phone camera. Price wise, you’re looking at around £5.98 for a can for propane and you’ll probably find it much cheaper at a bulk or trade supplier, after all B&Q is the Dixons of the DIY world.
Precautions: There are a few simple precautions that should be observed with the use of any Airsoft propellant:
Assembly of the AI Propane adapter: Movies are great, they tell you so much more than words and plain images can. In this movie, okay I know – I’ll just shut and let you download it, it’ll be easier :)
Assembly Movie – WMV Format (Windows Media Format) 2,136Kb
Of course if you don’t want to download the movie, then the thumbnail images above explain all. Simply remove any protective cap that covers the threads on your gas bottle. Thread on the main collar, add a few drops of silicon oil (once every 8-10 mag fills), then drop the nozzle in. Press the nozzle down until it is flush with the main collar, then you’re ready to go and fill your mags.
The gas bottles at my local hardware store were somewhat rusty in places around the threads, so I’d recommend checking the tops to get one that’s either not rusty at all, or the least mucky of the lot. Rust is after all the last thing you want in the threads.
Charge/fill instructions: To fill your magazine with your newly assembled Propane adapter gas rig, just treat it like pretty much any other gas bottle. Hold your magazine upside down, if it’s a WA mag or R-Type copy ensure that the valve latch is not holding the outlet valve open (unless you want to gas yourself):
Gas comparisons : Now that we’ve got the adapter fitted to a bottle of propane it’s a good idea to see how things perform in the real world. After all there’s no point just showing how the adapter fits unless I do some tests to see how things perform on the bottled gas.
For these tests the following gases were tested with a wide selection of pistols:
The tests were run across a selection of pistols to give a fair spread across available models and something hopefully something vaguely similar in barrel length and quality to just about anything out there in the pistol market.
The pistols used were:
It should be pointed out that using any gas that differs from the manufacturers instructions is not generally recommended. The tests have been carried out here across all gases for the sake of this article but the choice of what gas to use ultimately lies with the user. A more powerful gas places extra stress on any system or mechanism and will reduce its lifetime. This reduction in lifetime can be anything from instant failure, to a simple percentage reduction in life span.
Test methology: For the test at least 10 shots were fired per pistol/gas combination. The loaded pistol and charged magazine was allowed to warm to room temperature (21degC) and then shots were fired at 1 second intervals.
Shooting at 1 second intervals will produce a cooldown effect, so running averages will not be constant for any one pistol. This is quite deliberate as it gives you an idea of how cooldown affects certain types pistols with certain gases. As the shot timing is the same for all pistols you have a fairly good comparison of how these pistols run on each type of gas.
All tests were carried out with my favourite Airsoft Elite 0.20g BBs and two different chronograph units to ensure accuracy of results.
Results: The “heap-big overall graph” says it all really:
Here’s the individual shot graph results for each type of gas:
A few notes about the pistols used: I thought a few comments about the pistols used would be appropriate at his point (basically before I forget tomorrow):
There should be something in the above list that is close to your own pistol in specification, and will give you an idea as to how your own pistol should perform under the same tests.
Thoughts: Some averages for some pistols tested tended to wander around a bit, but that was more down to the dynamics of the pistol under test rather than anything else.
After conducting around 500 readings to conduct this review I’m quite familiar with the smell of all the gases seen here, but I should point out that you want to fill and operate your pistols in a well ventilated area. Please don’t play with propane in a confined space such as a room at Uni or a small flat without simple precautions such as having the windows open.
I should point out that it’s a very bad idea to leave propellant of any form in your car as I’ve been sent in photos from two incidents in the US where cans have gone off like frag grenades inside their vehicles when they’ve been left in the roaring summer heat (when I dig up the photos again I’ll add them here).
Conclusion: I was a little wary of Carl’s product when he contacted me initially, but after reading the documentation and tests that he’d conducted I was eager to give the little adapter a go.
The adapter is not only well made but it’s dead easy to get used to. The adapter won’t mean that I never buy Airsoft gases again, after all I need a supply of 134a; but it does open up a simple avenue for people like myself to get hold of cans of propellant from the local hardware store. The work Carl has put into researching the chemical buildup of green gas leaves me quite confident in the knowledge that propane is as safe as the bottled ’22 styled Airsoft gas.
Not all ’22 styled Airsoft propellant is 100% propane as some is mixed with different lubricants and other gases to give known pressures at specific temperatures, however the Airsoft Innovations adapter allows you to use a very common and readily available gas. Handy if you can’t lay your hands on your usual gas or like most of us want to use something cheaper to power our desk toys.
After testing multiple pistols with the adapter I found no real problems with the design. Propane performed in a fashion identical to that of the Taiwanese green gas derivatives and the handy adapter worked well with all pistols tested. One major bonus to me is that the propane cans at the local hardware store are made to a UK approved safety spec. The tank walls for commercial disposable propane cans are thicker and I’m less worried about puncturing the can accidentally.
The only real pain from now on though is that I have to remember not to call Green Gas “’22/HFC22” anymore.
What more can I say? Tried, tested, approved and thoroughly recommended.
External links: Links to external sites of interest.