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Crosman Offers a Training Alternative

Ranges and rangetime are hot commodities and everyone knows from LE pros to warfighters that you can't ever have enough practice with your handgun techniques.

In November we reviewed an alternative training device for those who don't have a lot of access to ranges and want to do some virtual plinking even in their office.

The Sure Strike training device developed by Laser Ammo is pretty sweet and has a lot of advantages. But as the company itself indicated, its one drawback is the lack of blowback.

That's where Crosman steps in with its Game Face line of ultra-realistic airsoft pistols. The company shipped me both an M9 look-alike (dubbed the Elite Combat GBB) and a feau Glock (called the Mayhem GBB) with bunch of marking pellets and CO2 canisters for a tryout.

Before I go any further let me make one thing clear...this site is not and will never become an Airsoft wannabe blog -- no way, no how. The only reason I'm interested in reviewing Crosman's guns is for their training potential.

In September, I noticed this solicitation from the Army looking for Airsoft pistols for training. So it got me thinking that this just may have some military interest...

The Surface Deployment and Distribution Command solicited a full array of Airsoft rifles and pistols, including AK-47s, Glocks, M9s, M4s, 1911s and even Airsoft shotguns. The requested manufacturer was KJ Works.

The Army is also looking into the option for service wide training...

What began as a popular form of civilian entertainment is being tested on Fort Jackson as a possible new way to train Soldiers preparing to head to a combat zone.

The 187th Ordnance Battalion is operating a pilot program designed to test the feasibility of using Airsoft weapons to train Soldiers to cope with real-world combat situations such as forward operating base operations and force protection...

Maj. Benjamin Kratz, the battalion's executive officer, said data is being collected on Fort Jackson's Airsoft pilot program so that it can be determined if it should be implemented Army wide.

Kratz said initial data shows that Airsoft ammunition is much cheaper to use in training than the traditional blank ammunition used with MILES or equipping weapons with specially-designed bolts to fire paintball rounds. Kratz said one blank M-16 round costs as much as 32 Airsoft rounds. The Airsoft rounds used on Fort Jackson are biodegradable, which is a benefit over using traditional blank rounds.

"We go through a lot of blank rounds here on Fort Jackson," Kratz said. "What the data doesn't show yet is how long the Airsoft weapons last and how much the replacement parts and other ongoing costs are."

Crosman, which is probably best known for its pellet and BB guns, created the Game Face line a couple years ago and has been agressively marketing to the military and LE training niche with their ultra-realistic blowback guns. They have Glock, M4, AK-47, MP-5 and M9 look alikes.

Now I don't know the first thing about Airsoft gaming and equipment and plan to keep it that way, but the M9 and Glock they sent me are downright spitting images of their lead throwing brethren. They fit in standard holsters and have a realistic weight, feel and operation.

They function the same as a straight up pistol, with the full-on double-action (with the M9) operation and recoil, though clearly not as much as a true pistol. The CO2 cartridge can handle about 50 shots, so you can go through multiple mags before a gas reload.

While they make up for the Sure Strike's shortcomings -- the blowback action and an actual projectile leaving the barrel -- the Game Face guns still have their limitations.

The pistol is loud and the pellets shoot out at a pretty high velocity, so you almost have to set up a mini range for training with one of these things. With the Sure Strike, I can just pick up my actual sidearm and shoot at the wall with little audible and no kinetic impact. I also had a hard time getting shot placement feedback since the marking pellets didn't mark that well. But I'll admit, I wasn't shooting them at standard targets.

The one area I can see some advantages to this system over the more subdued Sure Strike option is in the force-on-force training scenario. It's gotta be a lot cheaper than simunitions and less of a logistical impact -- and Game Face even has biodegradible marker pellets for those environmentally sensitive areas.

So, I guess it all depends on what your training objectives are and how ambitious your home/station range plans can be. The Game Face/Crosman gear is almost like the real thing, so if you don't want to use your current armory for simunition training and are doing some force-on-force scenarios, then these puppies will be a good option. If you're a desk jockey like me who just wants to make sure he can draw and shoot somewhat accurately, then maybe you'll want to stick with a low-drag solution like a Laser Ammo getup.

The Game Face M9 runs around $160 retail, the Glock about $99, the MP-5, M4 and AK-47s list at $219.

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