Introduction: When I first heard about the release of the GB Tech gas-charger I thought it was a nifty idea but it wasn’t really of interest to me. Since then I’ve indulged in a couple of GBB pistols of my own and I decided that one of these would be handy to have instead of lugging a big can of gas around.
When I ordered the gas-charger I noticed that the retailer (Airsoft Scotland) also stock a BB holder modelled after a flashbang so I decided to buy one of these to make a matching set.
Aside from looking cool and being rather handy, the gas-charger is additionally useful. I’ve just started using a propane adaptor to fill my pistols instead of using airsoft gas. I’ve found this to be very cost-effective but carting a propane cylinder around an airsoft site is a bit of a nuisance. The GB Tech gas-charger makes an ideally sized storage tank for a days-worth of gas.
First Impressions: Both items arrived by next-day delivery. I opened the box and examined the gas-charger first. The body is constructed of good quality alloy, both inlet and outlet valves are brass, the fake detonator seems to be made from rather roughly cast iron or steel and the release lever is made from spring-steel. The body is painted in matt black and the white lettering is painted on top. For what it’s worth, the spelling and grammar are truly awful. From the large words “DISTRACTION DEVISE” on the front to phrases such as “DO NOT deploy against wall or barrier on or about furniture” the Eastern origins of this item are clear to see. Still, it does look the part unless you look too closely.
One thing which I did find slightly troubling was that there is nothing on the canister which shows it to be a dummy or replica. I imagine that if this fell out of your bag on the street you might have some serious explaining to do.
The brass filler valve assembly screws into the top of the canister and is fitted with a rubber O-ring seal to help keep the dirt out.
The fake detonator screws into place on top of the filler valve to protect it from dirt. The release lever is held in place by a split-pin with an authentic-looking ring through it although the lever is not spring loaded so you can’t make it fly off by pulling the pin.
Next I had a look at the BB holder. The BB holder has a plastic body but has the same brass upper, iron detonator and steel release lever as the gas-charger.
The lettering on the BB holder is on a sticker which wraps right around the body. I’ve used in 2 skirmishes and the sticker hasn’t started peeling yet. The spelling on this one is better although the wording is even worse. “It is effective in paralysing the movements of the gangsters.” and “It has a 1.5 second fuse. When that 1.5 seconds runs out the explosives take over.” Are a couple of my favourites. Again, though, overall the presentation is good unless you actually read the instructions and the BB holder does, have writing on it stating that it’s just an inert replica.
When you unscrew the detonator from the BB holder you find that the brass upper has a 7mm hole drilled through it, just big enough to dispense a neat stream of BBs. It’s worth noting here that this, obviously, means that this item won’t work with 8mm BBs unless you get the brass upper drilled to suit.
The final feature of the BB holder is that the release lever is spring-loaded and pulling the pin results in the handle flying off with a neat ker-pling!
In use: Both items have been to every skirmish with me in the last month (all 2 of them) and I’ve got used to having them around.
The BB holder is handy but it could be better. I have to say, however, that it can provide hours of entertainment simply by leaving it on a table and waiting for somebody to pull the pin and then 3 or 4 people run out of the room. The look on the face of person who’s pulled the pin is always hilarious.
The BB holder is useful but it’s too bulky to accurately pour BBs straight into the magazine of a pistol and it contains no way of getting BBs into a locap or midcap magazine. It’s possible, however, to refill a hi-cap directly. I mostly use it to fill up my TM BB loader and then fill up my mid-caps with that.
The BB holder will carry about 1500 BBs and the only problem is actually filling it through the 7mm hole. It would have been far easier if the entire top or bottom screwed off so you could simply scoop it full from a bag of BBs. Decanting BBs from a normal bottle, it takes a couple of minutes to fill the BB holder.
The gas-charger is pretty straight-forward in use. The filler valve, on the base, has a rubber seal so you can fill it without the usual cloud of gas being wasted. To refill a gun you simply unscrew the fake detonator and use it as you would any other gas canister. I found that hanging the detonator, by the pin, from my little finger was a good way to make sure that you don’t lose it during a skirmish. If you don’t do this then it’s very easy to stuff the detonator into a pocket, while you’re filling your pistol with gas, and then realise that you have no idea what you’ve done with it.
In use I’ve refilled my Glock 19 mag’s at least 10 times during a skirmish and the gas-charger has coped with this easily. Judging by how long it takes to fill from empty and how long it takes to top-up after a skirmish I’d estimate it could hold about 15 mag’s of gas.
Technical: Not a great deal to discuss here.
After a couple of days having fun making the release lever of the BB holder go ker-pling! at every opportunity I decided to bend the ends of the split pin over, to stop the pin being removed, because I was starting to worry I might actually lose the pin and handle during a skirmish.
Before using the gas-charger for the first time I did a bit of a test on it. The first time I filled it I did it with the gas can upright so the gas-charger would fill with gas rather than liquid. I then filled a bowl with water and dropped the gas-charger in. I was happy to see that there were no bubbles coming from the device. If it had been leaking, and I’d filled it in the normal way, I would have wasted about half a can of gas.
When I then tried to take the fake detonator off, to get access to the filler valve, I found that the entire brass upper was turning. Doh! I guess it had never been tightened properly when it was assembled at the factory.
I vented the canister down, unscrewed the brass upper, cleaned off a couple of dust specs and then reassembled it after applying some thread-lock to the join between the alloy canister and brass upper. I’d suggest that thread-lock is used rather than simply tightening just in case excessive force causes the threads to strip. I then put some more gas in it and dropped it back in the bowl to check it was still ok.
Conclusion: Both of these bits of kit are handy and, equally important, look pretty cool. The BB holder doesn’t really do anything practical that a spare BB bottle can’t do. It does, however, look really good and you can spend hours pulling the pin out and watching the handle fly off. Ker-pling!
The gas-charger is more useful than the BB holder. It fills a real hole in the market for a gas container which is portable but carries enough gas to see a pistol through a skirmish. If you use propane to power your pistols then the gas-charger becomes almost indispensable because it saves you hauling a big gas cylinder around.
For what they are, both of these items are unmistakeably luxury items. You don’t really “need” either of them. They are both good quality but expensive and there are cheaper ways of doing the same job. The gas-charger is the more practical of the two but if you buy it, you’ll probably want to buy the BB holder as well. They are probably the sort of thing airsofters might ask for as a Christmas or birthday present rather than buying for themselves.
External links: Links to external sites of interest.
By Simon Crewe (aka Hissing Sid)