How I Came To Love The Barrel Cover


I have been playing airsoft since around 2004.  When I started, the safety standards in the industry were… low.  The first thing I saw die out in the Northeast United States was shooting glasses, which were already working their way out in 2004 on account of someone nearly losing an eye due the lack of full seal.

After that, not much changed in the industry until the rise of the “clone” market which suddenly drove the price of entry from $300 for a starting gun with brands such as TM or CA, and into the $100 bracket with copies of said guns.  With that sudden price drop came a massive influx of players (at least in our region), and a massive increase in accessories including things like mesh goggles.  Many players of that time frame wore mesh because not many fog resistant options existed short of expensive and bulky paintball masks.  The problem is the quality of mesh went down in a price war, and safety went down along with it.  Concerning damage started showing up on mesh goggles, and tests showed that when hit with guns that were pretty tame by FPS standards (300 with .2) many of these cheap goggles would fail in 2-3 strikes in the same area at close range.  Luckily, no one in our region that I am aware of sustained any permanent damage, but those too started working their way out.  To this day, a handful of fields accept mesh but those that do only allow certain types or brands.  Even those are a dying breed though, since insurance companies are getting more concerned about BB fragmentation.

The most recent evolution in my area is the barrel cover, AKA that little sock looking thing you put over the muzzle of your gun.  The barrel cover push came about not because of a local event or series of events which pushed them, the reason was actually insurance.  Going back, airsoft was sort of the Wild West for insurance as insurers didn’t really know how to rate fields, or really understand what airsoft was.  Over the years, they have learned what it is, and I suspect some learned in the hard way.  The number of companies doing airsoft insurance has halved in my state over the last 7 or so years, leaving just a handful of options.  Those remaining insurers increasingly pushed the requirements to meld with an industry they had written for years and they did understand, paintball.  The barrel cover has been a staple for paintball for many, many years, and most of the current airsoft ones are just rebranded paintball ones.

For the longest time, I was never a big fan of the barrel covers because I do a lot of real firearms shooting and to me, it was simply annoying overkill because I certainly know better than to point my at someone in a safe area, let alone have my finger on the trigger.  Although I was never personally a fan of using them, I understood why they were required beyond the insurance reason because, let’s be honest, many airsofters have horrific safety discipline as a collective, especially when it comes to new players which is the bulk of what our hobby is in some places.  So I complied out of understanding.

Recently though, I had a shocking reminder of why airsoft guns are not real firearms, and why barrel covers are actually a really good idea.  Recently, I was at a field and for the day I was running a used PKM I picked up not too long beforehand.  I was setting up the batteries, which run in the box mag, so essentially you have to mount the box mag and connect it up to your gun so it was ready for field play.  No problem, because I had the gun pointed in a safe direction, my booger hook was away from the bang switch, safety was on, and barrel cover was on.  So box mag was mounted, and then it was time to connect the batteries for the gun (I run it with two batteries in parallel).  The moment I plugged in the batteries, the gun snapped to life and started firing!  I ripped the batteries back out as soon as I heard the gun winding up, but not before it had turned over 3 times.  I looked at the trigger guard to see if something had somehow jammed in it, but there was nothing.  Then I remembered the safety should have been on and I rolled the gun over to check it.  It was on.

What did I do wrong?  I assumed it would behave like a firearm, and wouldn’t go off without the trigger being depressed.  Turns out the connector plug had been nearly torn out by the prior owner, and when I plugged in the battery, the voltage arced over the shredded wires making a complete circuit, causing the gun to fire.  Despite the box mag being in the off position, the gun still pushed 2 rounds out of its barrel which the barrel cover caught.  Were any piece of my safe handling not on point, and/or was the barrel cover not on, those two BBs could have damaged someone’s property in the safe area, or worse yet hit someone in the face without their protective equipment on, possibly causing permanent damage to eyes or teeth.  Needless to say, I’m glad my barrel cover was on.

My box mag was destroyed from the voltage arc because it was not protected by the fuse which popped too, but I would rather blow out a box mag than have to explain to someone how an accident might have cost someone their vision.  Airsoft guns, especially electrically driven ones, are strange beasts, sometimes prone to violent outbursts.  They may be fun “toys” when we’re on the field shooting each other while wearing proper safety equipment, but in safe areas or non-play areas, we still need to be careful to prevent accidents.  So I guess my takeaway from this experience now is that a barrel cover is an extremely effective tool for preventing accidents.  So always treat your airsoft guns like real firearms for safe handling, but don’t forget to throw on a barrel cover as you do it.


The Ares DSR-1: Tacticool Unicorn Sniper Rifle


Hey everyone, I’m Rick and this is my Gun Gamers debut.  (It’s my first time, be gentle, Senpai)  I figured I would start with something a bit rare, and totally awesome!  So without prattling on too much with introductions, here are my thoughts on the Ares DSR-1 V2 bolt action gas sniper rifle!


The DSR-1 (or Defensive Sniper Rifle 1) was built to meet the need for a compact, yet full power sniper rifle for Police and Military use in urban environments for Counter-Terrorism and other specialized missions.  In order to do that, the company DSR-Precision engineered it as a bullpup, giving it a shorter overall length while still retaining its longer barrel length needed for precision shots.  This rifle is also pretty unique in that it’s a specifically designed original sniper rifle that was not based on a converted, but already produced, Military or hunting rifle.  Currently, the DSR-1 is employed by the German Anti-Terror force GSG-9, as well as some other elite police and military units around the world.



Alright, with the boring history lessons out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff shall we?  Let’s talk about the Ares airsoft replica.  The first thing I noticed upon picking up the DSR was how heavy it is.  Like, really heavy.  Even built as a bullpup, she comes in somewhere along the lines of 15 pounds.  Now, if you can get over its formidable weight, the rifle is actually extremely well made (and I would hope so with how much it weighs).  Made from CNC’d aluminum, the rifle is built to last.  Ares did a fantastic job at replicating the real DSR, down to the adjustability of the rifle.  The rifle can be made to fit any shooter, and nearly any angle of shot, with the built in adjustable cheek rest, length of pull on the stock, sliding buttpad, movable foregrip, and built in monopod.


I purchased this rifle used (as these are mostly out of stock, since being discontinued), so I completely went into this rifle blind performance wise.  I took her down with me to visit Ty, another Midwest Gun Gamers dude, and we took her out for a spin on his local field.  We had with us his laser range finder, and decided to run some tests.  I ran .30 G&G bbs through her using WE Nuprol green gas for these tests, as that is the gas I run in all of my Gas Blowback weapons, and the same bbs I use for all of my guns.  Without adjusting the hop up from where the previous owner had it set, I ranged it to about 150 feet (45-50 yards as measured by the range finder).  Not great, but again, this is a used gun, and I did not mess with the hopup.  She shot well, and fed all the rounds I put through her with gas to spare, so the gas consumption is very very good with the Ares magazines.  The FPS floated around 480-510, as expected from using unregulated green gas, and about par for the course looking at other users’ experience with this rifle.  So, plenty of room for improvement here in terms of range and consistency, which will make for a fun project. After we were finished testing her out, we got back home and I took her apart down to the hopup, barrel and bucking. The DSR uses a VSR type bucking with an AEG barrel, so VSR barrels are usable as well.  This should be very handy for upgrading the hop pieces, as well as for adding an R-Hop or the like.  So, out of the box, it works well with plenty of room to improve, which is great for someone like myself who likes to tweak things and get the most performance they can out of their weapons.  However, I can see how when it was brand new the performance would be disappointing for the premium price tag it carried.  That said, these are floating around as collectibles at this point, so if you’re buying this you’re probably willing to accept the need to put some work into it because you want this specific gun.


Here is where we get to the fun part, taking the rifle down.  Now, if you only wish to take the bolt out to lube it, or something like that, this rifle is a dream.  To take the bolt out, you pull the lever for adjusting the stock’s length of pull, and pull the stock completely off.  After you do that, you slide the bolt right out, easy peasy.  If you wish to get to the hopup or barrel or bucking though, that is a completely different animal.  In order to get to the actual hop parts, you have to completely take the rifle apart.  Yes, you read that correctly, the entire rifle has to come apart.  It is not the most user friendly take down in the slightest.  However, after seeing how it is put together, the DSR will most likely not suffer from barrel vibrations or some of the other similar issues that other high end or built up bolt action sniper rifles have to overcome.


Overall, the Ares DSR-1 is a wicked cool rifle, the very definition of “tacticool.”  With its complete modularity, cool base gun, as well as its performance potential, this rifle has its own niche place in the bolt action market as a unique and collectible piece.  That being said, with its standard performance, and its absurd takedown it does not warrant the MSRP cost of the rifle, and there are definitely stronger immediate performers out there.  If you can find it for a good price second hand, it is definitely worth looking into for its unique profile and overall coolness factor, or should I say, tacticoolness factor.  So for those reasons, I don’t regret it, and I’m glad I was able to highlight this unique piece for you today.

Until next time!


An Ode to PDWs


Garrett here, and I’m back with another opinion piece on a weapon type.  Previously on Gun Gamers, we discussed how awesome the SBR is and how it can be the go-to rifle for most players, as well as how the RECCE rifle is a good alternative for the marksman looking for a lightweight option.  I’m here to add another weapon type to the list of fan favorites; the PDW.

PDWs, or Personal Defense Weapons, are very short and compact tools intended to be used for close range engagements.  Executive protection and CQB are where this type of weapon shines.  They tend to push how small a powerful weapon can be, by sacrificing some performance and ergonomics.  In fact, the U.S. military in the early 90’s was looking at PDWs to replace carbine rifles for its second line troops like truck drivers, artillery crew members, and officers.  They generally don’t see medium range combat, with the theory being that if they got ambushed, a PDW would be allow them the ability to flee or hold enemies off until help arrived.

In their effort to find a super compact weapon, the FN P90 and H&K MP7 were born.  These weapons used super compact calibers to really shrink their size.  This didn’t bode well for their logistics though, so instead other weapons have opted to use 5.56 NATO as the caliber.  Save for all of the different variations of AR15 PDW stock systems you can buy, two of the most prolific examples of military PDWs are the FN SCAR-PDW and H&K’s HK416C (funny, seems like tradition for the two of them to compete).  Both rifles use an 8.5″ barrel, and a sliding style stock to severely reduce the overall length when stored.  Other than that, the rifles are the same internally as their larger, carbine sized cousins.


Now, the big downside to these types of weapons is the performance gap between a PDW and carbine is pretty severe.  The 5.56 NATO (and subsequently the .223 Remington) was designed to be used in a 20 inch barrel.  As you get shorter and shorter, the performance degrades quickly, limiting your effective range.  The M16 is theoretically good out to 800 yards, whereas the M4 drops that to 600.  Cutting the barrel even further means 200-300 is about all you can really do before the round loses significant energy and ballistic performance degrades beyond effectiveness.  Granted, as I said earlier, these types of guns aren’t really designed for anything beyond 100 yards.  The short barrel means accuracy is degraded as well, so this 100 yard mark is truly the best you can reasonably expect.


As far as airsoft is concerned though, I think the PDW’s properties shine.  Not just for CQB, but for field play too.  If you have a good barrel and a consistent hop up, you can get some serious range out of a less than 10 inch barrel.  My WE Tech 888-C (HK416C replica), can get consistent hits at 175 feet with .28g bio BBs.  It might be “minute of man” accuracy at that point, but a few triple taps will get folks to call out.


The flash hiders are misleading in this picture, but the barrel is 2 inches shorter compared to my LMT MRP CQB, and I get the same range and accuracy.  Both guns use a stock diameter barrel and the bucking they came with.

This isn’t at all surprising to me.  Andre (the man behind All Things Speedsoft, and member of Gun Gamers) tunes up his pistols to shoot like rifles.  This gives him an advantage in that rather than a very large rifle mag, he can use the much smaller pistol mags (as well as HPAing the mags so you don’t run out of gas mid rapid fire) which take up less space.  The fast handling of a pistol is certainly handy, but I know for a fact I am not as steady with a pistol.  This is where a PDW helps fill the gap.  The compact shoulder stock and short overall length make it light and fast to move with, and grant me more stability than using a pistol.


Now, like I said, there are always downsides.  The biggest one is comfort.  The stock on the 416C is not conducive to a proper cheek weld.  Anyone who has some serious trigger time on an MP5 with the sliding stock will tell you, it isn’t the most comfortable thing they’ve ever used.  I’ve experimented with it enough to know a good spot to set my cheek on, so I don’t think it is that bad.  For taller folks though, it means the stock won’t extend far enough to be comfortable.  Since I’m barely cresting five and half feet tall, it fits my arms great.  Even better, the empty space created by the two sliding rods is a perfect spot to fit my lower mesh face protection so I can get a normal cheek weld on the lower sitting optic.


A good rule of thumb to tell if a gun fits you is to see if the stock will reach the inside crease of your elbow.  The HK416C stock is about an inch too short to be perfect, but if you are wearing gear, then it handles pretty well.


Just to give you an idea on sizing, the 416C stock is about 2-2.5 inches shorter than this VLTOR IMOD on a 5 position buffer tube when both are fully collapsed.


And here are the two when fully extended.  The PDW stock is about 1-1.5 inches shorter.

This brings up another advantage I like with PDWs; the super compact size means it takes up less space in my bag when I go to a game.  With my well earned name of “Pack Rat” on EOMC, I tend to bring lots of stuff to games.  My trunk is usually maxed out, and that is after I bring the “bare minimum” for a weekend.  Lastly, since the entire gun is barely two feet long when its folded up, it means I can sling it away in comfort in order to work on an objective or carry something.


From this picture, you can see the rifle, fully collapsed, sits at 22.25″.

Back onto ergonomics though, I think another thing that draws me to PDWs is the shifted balance point.  The shorter barrel and handguard, and the reduced stock means the gun’s balance is literally between my hands, right where the balance (and comfort) point of a rifle should be.  Well balanced guns have their balance point just in front of the magwell (where some people put their hands to shoot).


The biggest points I want you to take away from this is that PDWs can be made to perform like their SBR cousins with a smaller package.  You might have some ergonomic problems, but if the gun fits you, the performance is there to be able to compete with other rifles.  A DMR rifle it is not, but as a medium to close range tool, it fits the bill just fine.


In fact, I’ve grown to liking PDW stocks so much that I am planning on sticking one on the Krytac Alpha CRB that is on the way for me.  I managed to pick up Krytac’s in house designed stock for a good price.  Stay tuned to Gun Gamers as I see how good the Krytac Alpha series is in the long term!


Is Airsoft “Pay To Win?” What Can We Do About It?


For many of us, airsoft is an incredibly expensive hobby, possibly our most expensive hobby.  I know that I personally have spent thousands of dollars on guns, gear, ammo, and accessories over the course of my career, and if I total the cost of everything I wear and/or carry for a MilSim game I’m looking at the better part of $3,000.  If you’re a nerd with a bunch of disposable income, it’s very easy to blow through money as you try out new setups, tweak your equipment, and try to squeeze every bit of performance out of your kit you can.  This level of infinite investment for greater and greater performance gains is great for guys like me who are willing to pay for it, but what about people who don’t put so much money into airsoft?  If we examine the game realistically, to what degree is there a “pay to win” element at play on the field, and how do we balance that as players, field admins, and game providers?


Unlock access to the exclusive Krytac Trident CRB, for a one time payment of $325!

To start, I don’t think there is any reasonable way to deny that your equipment makes a difference on the field.  I’m sure the comments will be filled with stories about how you killed a whole team by yourself with a spring pistol, but such stories are the exception, not the rule.  They are typically facilitated by exactly the right set of circumstances that may only ever happen once out of ten instances.  Those other nine instances will pretty much always end with the spring pistol player getting lit up by the guys with AEGs.  That’s because cheap guns (As in below $100) will almost universally have significantly worse all-around performance capability than a gun that costs $150+.  There’s a reason you never see someone on the field being competitive with a Crosman Pulse M4, and that’s because they don’t have the range, accuracy, or volume of fire to be competitive against even your basic Combat Machine.


Carry more ammo with the “pack rat” perk, for only $20 per EPM, and $50 in pouches!

This extends beyond just guns though, and it carries into every element of your kit that affects how you play.  What about radios?  Can you imagine what an outcry there would be if a video game came out that charged you a microtransaction before you were able to use team chat?  How about if your character’s vision randomly fogged while you were playing because you spent $30 on a cheap paintball mask instead of $120 on a Dye mask?  Or, possibly the biggest one of all, what if you had to pay for your character’s ammo?  I can just imagine the bill that would be racked up if Call of Duty started charging players real ammo prices for every shot!  While not implemented in video games (for good reason) all of these are real concerns on the airsoft field that affect how you play, and can contribute to how likely you are to win.  It’s hard to win a game when you can’t talk to your team, see your enemies, or shoot as much as you want because you didn’t bring enough money for more ammo.

I may sound like I’m nitpicking, and to an extent I most certainly am, but my point is that there is no denying that the money you put into the game can affect its outcome… to a certain extent.  You see, while I’ve demonstrated above how clearly there are gaps in field performance between certain levels of investment, there is a cutoff for both performance reasons, and practical game related reasons.  In terms of gear, the law of diminishing returns applies very quickly once you cross a certain threshold.  Then in terms of gameplay, there are a lot of individual factors that will change how much gear matters, and ways that players of different equipment levels can all play together on a more or less even playing field.

The law of diminishing returns plays a big role in negating absurd levels of performance gap between players, because once most players have acquired a decent gun (something like a Combat Machine, CYMA AK, or any of the more budget friendly AEG offerings) that gun will at least be able to engage effectively enough to put up a fight against players armed with Krytacs and Polar Stars, especially as the player gets more comfortable with it and learns more about the game.  The ability to shoot back in the same range of velocity, at a decent rate of fire, and in the same ballpark of range is the most important gain when you go from a cheap springer or LPEG to a decent AEG, but once you’ve reached AEG status, you start paying more money for relatively less drastic performance gains.  Sure things like trigger response, precision accuracy, consistency, and build quality all improve, but these are much more incremental changes and don’t create nearly the same gap.  I ran an externally customized, but internally pretty much stock Combat Machine for my first national level MilSim Operation, and I was at no point majorly outgunned, and I’ve seen similar instances in many cases at many games.  More basic AEGs do suffer by comparison to higher end offerings, but they can still work well enough to keep up if a player knows what they’re doing.

That’s another major factor that can balance out gameplay, the skill and knowledge level of players.  A player who doesn’t spend as much on the game, but who knows how to tinker can build their gear to suit their needs, and a player who doesn’t spend as much on equipment but knows how to use what he has effectively can compete with other guys who’ve spent more money.  This is especially true if this player knows how to work with a team, because a well-coordinated and knowledgeable team with gear that’s “good enough” will absolutely run train on poorly-coordinated players with premium equipment.

We can also leverage that fact as players and admins to help make games more balanced, and more fun.  Spreading out the more experienced players among both teams, and having those more experienced players (many of whom have high end equipment) take the newer guys with less money in the game under their wing help with team coordination, teaching newer players how to use what they have effectively, and possibly where they should focus on allocating their more limited resources in the future.  Of course, this relies on players who have more time and money into the game being willing to share their super-secret tips and tricks, but that’s the point of a community.  So as an admin, do what you can to spread out your experienced players, and as an experienced player, do what you can to teach other guys how to play on your level, as it will directly benefit you to have better teammates.

Of course, don’t forget the most important tool admins have for keeping games fair: We get to control the game.  Too many players with high RPS builds that are shredding new guys and ruining the experience?  Institute a rate of fire cap, or make games semi auto only.  Are there a lot of new guys on one team that are getting wrecked?  Give the other team harder objectives, get rid of their medics, or institute a respawn timer.  Don’t be afraid to get creative with alternative methods of balancing besides just numbers, sometimes it will be necessary.  If your game is organic and ever shifting, then ideally you should be able to create a balanced enough game that, as long as everyone on both sides plays it hard, will be a good time all around.

I think what I’m getting at is that, yes, on paper airsoft has a ton in common with the “pay to win” model often seen in free to play or microtransaction laden video games, but airsoft is more flexible than those media.  Airsoft was never designed from the ground up to force people to spend more and more money to be competitive, and both players and admins are working much less within the confines of a rigid, coded system.  There is a greater degree of on the fly adjustment for admins to help keep things balanced, and players exercise much more real skill application and creative thinking that is confined only to the rules of the field, rather than the limitations of an electronic medium.  That doesn’t negate the fact that equipment can make a difference, but as long as players and admins take the actions outlined in this article, I think we can avoid any serious issues.  Just don’t get careless, or the continual technological arms race that is airsoft will make it an issue.

-E House

Editor’s Note: If you’re wondering why the featured image is relevant, it’s not.  I just think it’s a  nice picture of myself, Joe, and Garrett, and I felt like using it! – E House

A Tale of Three Knives: How Benchmade Showed Me “You Get What You Pay For”


Before I met E House, I was not much of a knife guy.  I knew the likes of Gerber and the cheap knives at the local oriental thrift shop at the mall.  Generally, they have been a basic tool to me, and something I never really thought about nor really carried with me everyday.  Once I became an EMT and subsequently a firefighter, I looked into more durable and higher quality knives.  For a while, I carried CRKT, SOG, and Kershaw, which are all very good knives for their price point, but don’t quite reach the “premium” level.  While watching YouTube videos on the subject, I was introduced to companies like Spyderco, Benchmade, etc. through reviewers that posted their reviews on YouTube.  What kept me from these knives were their price point.  Yet, once I met E House and Kyle, I saw the light and took a plunge.


Not even knowing it, my first Benchmade knife I owned was an H&K Pika.  I ordered this knife pretty cheap through a website that would buy bulk and sell product at a discount.  This was a great knife and still is, though it is sadly discontinued now.  The Pika is a simple manual lockback knife with a thumb hole.  No spring assists, no thumb stud, no crazy locking mechanism.  After playing with it, I became proficient with opening the blade as most of the knives i’ve had in the past were assisted and/or had thumb studs so it took some getting used to.  Over two to three years, this became my daily carry knife at work.  Even though it doesn’t have a premium steel, the edge geometry is on point and the knife has maintained a sharp edge with some mild use at work and the occasional touch up.  After carrying it at work, I would also take the Pika from my work uniform and bring it to the fire house.  The Pika was by far my favorite knife I’d owned, and the quality and elegant simplicity made it stand head and shoulders above many others.


My next dabble into Benchmade occurred when I met E House.  I learned that he was a big knife guy, and he had a lot of knives to show me.  At one point, E House needed/wanted to thin the collection and sold me his Barrage.  Even though used, I knew that E House took great care of this knife.  With that, this knife became my EDC knife both on the daily as well as at work.  The AXIS-Assist opening mechanism is fast and strong, and that was one thing I loved about this knife.  The assist and lockup felt solid, unlike many of the cheaper knives I’d owned with a spring.  The thumb studs on both sides of the blade and the reversible pocket clip also allowed me as a south paw to open and carry this knife with ease.  The 154CM steel and drop point blade have stayed super sharp through my use, and this knife got me used to the high quality construction and premium feature set that I now look for in knives.


Lastly, my most recent purchase happened at a local Fire Chief’s Association trade show where Benchmade had a booth.  I was able to speak to company and factory reps who took me through the various lines they had to offer.  I left this booth with a new knife in hand, a very nice ball cap, and a catalog of products for 2016.  While speaking with the factory rep about my EDC knife being the Barrage, he showed me a knife that he said if I liked the Barrage, I’d like this knife.  The knife he handed to me was from the Hunt series of knives.  I started playing with the knife, and almost instantly fell in love with it.  The knife’s opening was butter smooth and the rep advised me that all one would need to adjust the opening is to adjust the blade screw at the pivot to adjust the speed and ease of opening the knife from folded.  There was also a gut hook, since this was afterall a hunting inspired knife.  Despite that, the rep told me that this was his EDC knife because it was still a very sophisticated knife, and boy did I agree.  The stabilized wood grips were both attractive and functional, and stylish, and that was what sold me on the Grizzly Creek.  This is now my EDC knife, and the combination of features, construction, and materials has raised my standards again.  The wood grips give it a refined feel, but they’re also tough and high quality enough to take a beating.  The gut hook too can also be used for tape, paracord, mail, and rescue hook applications allowing you avoid wearing down the straight blade or giving you a more safety-minded cutting option, while the plain edge, satin finish S30V blade is built for hard cutting in any situation.  The Axis lock and smooth manual action just top it all off.

So what’s the point of this story?  The point is to document how, in just a few years, I went from one of those “meh, this gas station knife is fine” guys to a Benchmade fanboy.  E House has dragged me into a few things, and a passion for some more expensive knives might be another thing I’m now into.  The features, materials, and construction of these higher end knives have spoiled me, and then factoring in the warranty and customer support after purchase (especially Benchmade’s LifeSharp program), I don’t see how I can compare the old thrift store knives anymore.  I can definitely say that I am currently looking into Benchmade’s Rescue product line for some tools to use while working as a Firefighter/EMT, and I place the blame for that squarely on the Pika that opened my mind to how knives should be built, the Barrage that showed me the combination of features and construction I fell in love with, and the Grizzly Creek that combined that with a classy look and premium materials.  So if you’re one of those guys who doesn’t understand the draw of higher end knives, maybe try giving these a look, or maybe my story helped expose the reasoning behind going higher and higher in price point.