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A magnum opus, this one, which reveals the resourcefulness and decision making which makes a great build. This is part one in a two part series and this blaster snuck into a pic on an earlier blog, as a bit of a primer.

Tactical Optician is Andy Bourne, who is an Ophthalmic Optician. Andy provides expert services to members of the Armed Forces, as well as performance athletes and airsofters. Obviously Andy is an airsofter himself, so he fully understands the needs of the demographic…as well as those of actual warfighters.

I hope you enjoy reading Andy’s build reflections as much as I did…

”My PTW experience began a couple of years ago. I got ‘hands on’ with a Systema at a day’s play and realised that my AEG days were numbered. Most striking was the grip size. I take size small gloves, and I noticed that I could reach the magazine release catch on a Systema without having to rotate my grip. The fatter AEG pistol grips to house bigger motors meant that I didn’t have an instinctive mag release. Damn these small hands….

I bought a second hand 2008 Max with a partial Tackleberry history, but after a while the urge to tinker with the ergonomics became irresistible. Modern modular weaponry is designed to be customisable and amenable to modifications of an individual nature to suit the user’s preferences. This leads to a process of ‘fit, evaluate, modify’ as various options are tested for suitability and ergonomics. Plus, I’m picky.”

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”The first to go was the G&P rail. As it had been fitted ‘enthusiastically’ there was no way to split the rail from the upper receiver without a danger of damage to the latter. The opportunity for a new upper receiver had presented itself.

As the new standard for SOF blasters had become the H&K 416 variant, this was my prime choice. Also appealing was its relative scarcity in the PTW as well as AEG markets at this time. The only workable solution was a GBB upper receiver and RIS converted to fit a PTW. I soon sourced a WE upper assembly and had it fitted and running well. But that was only half the job. These weapons are adorned with various ancillaries ‘in the wild’ and as a solely Mil-Sim player, I would have to do the same. ”

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”In my mind there was only one choice for lighting; Surefire. An M600 Scout was fitted, but I had long struggled ergonomically. As I use NODs, I require an infrared laser for aiming. This means a PEQ of some form. Initially I fitted an Insight PEQ2A with Surefire dual tape switch. I found this arrangement cumbersome no matter where I mounted the switch. RIS, vertical grip, there was no intuitive position. Various vertical grips were tried & discarded as I eventually settled with the Magpul RVG. It fits my small hands well, and is widely used.

Thanks to the photographs in Mark Owen’s book No Easy Day, I found a solution. S&S Precision Lo Pro mount specifically for the 416, allows the torch to be mounted at 2, 4, 8 or 10 o’clock close in on the rail. As a right handed shooter with a vertical grip, I could set the M600 to be activated by tail cap switch with the push of a thumb. Just as Owen’s 416 had. A copy Lo Pro mount validated the concept but needed modification to fit acceptably, so the only option was to source the real deal.

In the interests of a more modern impression, I switched out the PEQ2A for a copy PEQ15, with a Jimmy Pie IR laser fitted, which zero’d well and works admirably when compared to such as InvisibleSight & similar souped up PEQ15 units. ”

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”Sighting has always been Aimpoint’s T1. In my opinion nothing comes close. Light, robust, a huge battery life, and often seen on the real thing. An ADM co witness mount addressed the small issue of a fractionally narrow RIS on the WE rail which meant the OEM Aimpoint mount fit was sub optimal. Obviously a Tactical Optician lens protector and FCC T1 lens housing were required.

Finally to Krylon. I’d long considered this was the way to go, but baulked at the idea of spraying my blaster. Eventually, I decided on a dry run on my faithful PTS Masada. Happy with the results, I waded into the 416. Despite some misgivings mid-paint, I soldiered on and after 1 hour pronounced the result satisfactory. Having tried various brands of paint, I used Halfords Camouflage range as consistency, ease of application, and spray pattern were all, in my opinion, superior to Krylon. Base coating was khaki, then nets were applied and green, brown, and khaki were built up. The electronics were masked, but the rifle sprayed fully assembled, but without ancillaries.

The only niggling gap was that the lower was not a true 416.

Part 2, The SGT files, to follow!”


WE 416 upper & RIS
PTW lower, 2008 Max H&K trades engraved
Aimpoint T1 with ADM co witness mount and TangoDown IO cover
Tactical Optician polycarbonate lens with FCC lens retention
Magpul CTR
Magpul RVG
G27 grip*
PTS AAC flash hider (bored out to take a 14″ barrel if required) and Mini4 suppressor
RS EMAGs converted for PTW
Daniel Defense RIS sling mount
BFG Burnsed socket
VTAC padded 2 point sling
H&K diopter sights*
S&S Precision Lo Pro Sout mount
Surefire M600 Scout with KM2 head and Tactical Optician lens protection
Halfords Camouflage paint

*Denotes reproduction kit