Fuck your fidget spinner. This is better.
Before I start it’s worth mentioning how I ended up with these items. I had honestly never heard of Hub creations, but after posting a picture of the kit I would be using for Op ATAR they got in touch and basically called me a poor for still carrying my blanks in a bag. They also said they’d send me a couple of their roto-loaders to rectify this. Despite getting these for free I remain objective and as a rule if there are more negatives than positives, I simply don’t write about an item and send them back.
The Hub Creations Roto-loaders are one of those “so simple, how has no one done this yet?” products that have been made even simpler with the magic of 3D printing. Very similar to and I would expect to be based on the design of rotary air rifle magazines, the roto-loader fixes several issues airsofters often come into when carrying and using blank firing grenades.
Each loader holds 9 rounds of either .38/9mm rimmed blanks or .209 primers (note these do not accept 9mm PAK/rimless blanks). These are held securely in the two part case made up of a circular body and a screwed in lid. Before receiving these I wasn’t sure if there would be any active retention to stop the lid from freely spinning, and was glad to see when it arrived that there was. The lid is prevented from overspinning by two ball detents inside the case. The strength of these detents can be adjusted by simply tightening and loosening the center screw and ranges from basically impossible to turn to looser than your Mum’s…
The lid itself Has 10 holes in, 1 that is large enough for the blank to go in/out through and 9 others that are smaller and allow you to keep track of how many rounds are remaining. The tenth space in the base is solid, so that you can “close” the roto-loader and prevent rounds falling out when full. Finally the lid has a wide scalloped out portion around the large opening which is to help you turn the lid and reveal your blank.
What does it fix?
As anyone who has owned a BFG can testify there are very few purpose built ways to carry blanks, and the usual solution of just having them in a little bag makes them difficult to access while wearing gloves, especially when there are mixed calibres in the bag. It could also be argued that if you had enough blanks they could begin to rattle, especially if the trusty bag you keep them in splits and allows them to roll about in a pouch.
These are the main issues the roto-loader addresses. The scalloping in the lid makes rotating it easy when gloved, and so removes the need to reveal your hands mid game to reload. The rattling issue is also solved by housing each blank in its own space, and the secure lid will stop anything falling out and rattling around your pouch.
How have they been to use?
So, the boring explanation is out of the way, how have I found using the roto-loader? Well simply put it’s one of those widgets that you don’t necessarily need, but having had one I wouldn’t want to go without now. I always find reloading my grenades in game to be a bit of a ballache, and that’s largely down to having to take my gloves off and fuck about trying to find the right blanks in my little pouch often requiring me to take a knee somewhere and be useless for 1-2 mins. The roto-loader takes the piss about out of the equation, and allows you to quickly have access to the correct blank to get your grenade back in on the move and without taking rifle and gloves off or needing a flat surface to lay your reloading kit on. Interestingly I have found that the scalloping in the lid isn’t actually the best place to grip and turn, I have found myself gripping the raised text on the face of the lid more as this catches well in the skin of my thumb and material of my glove. When this inevitably wears down though the scalloping will be enough to keep the roto-loader useable.
I always try to find the flaw in a product, even more so when it was free. Something that is immediately noticed in most 3D printed goods is that the finish isn’t excellent, and that is true with the roto-loader. There are very clearly defined “grains” in the plastic and it lacks an overall polished look. I would also like to have seen a metal insert for the center screw to interface with, as this is the key to the product’s structural integrity and without one I would advise against repeatedly breaking the product down to prevent the threads in the plastic being destroyed.
Both of these issues stem from the low cost of the roto-loaders. Seeing as they’re roughly a tenner (£9.99 to be exact), I don’t really expect the finest finish. If something works well, I don’t really care how it looks. I’ve been messing with these items for a few weeks now, and I’ve kept the 9mm one to hand at home pretty much all the time. While this might sound quite sad, I’ve been trying to rotate the lid as many times as I can and assess if there’s any damage to the inside from the ball detent. After 100+ rotations the 9mm lid is showing very light signs of wear, but not even nearly digging a smooth channel between the detents and looks like it would keep going for over 1k rotations. If this very scientific test of longevity holds any truth, then your £9.99 will last you for several years at least and so a rough finish becomes something of a non-issue.
So where do I stand with the roto-loaders? Pretty damn happy. While they may limit the amount of blanks you can carry I still find 9 to be plenty for a game, and if needs be you can simply add topping your loaders off to the list of between games admin. I don’t think this is a product I would have found by myself, as the trusty old mosquito net bag worked well enough, but I do feel that they have a place in the market and if you’ve got the pocket money to spend I can imagine much worse things to spend it on. If you do want to pick one up I’ll leave a link to Hub Creations ebay store here.
Thanks for sticking through on this one, it’s the first review I’ve done of a small gadget and there are a few more to follow. Massive thanks to Hugo for sending me the roto-loaders and keep up the good work! Add a metal insert into the middle and you’ve got a perfect product mate. If you have any questions about the loaders or just fancy giving me some abuse hit me up on Instagram. Cheers!
A word from Hugo at Hub Creations:
“I started airsoft about 6 or so years ago and have especially enjoyed the technical part of it, building my own aegs etc. When I bought my first bfg, a swat VTG, I immediately looked for some sort of holder for .209 blanks and assumed one would exist but couldn’t find anything. At that point I was in my second year of Product Design Engineering at Glasgow University (currently a few months away from graduating now so on the job hunt!) and had just purchased a 3d printer. So with the combination of my design/engineering knowledge and a clear opportunity for a new airsoft product I decided to design and manufacture the roto-loader and just see how it sold. I just advertised through Instagram and contacted some teams etc. and it really took off and have been producing them in my free time from university ever since!”