After a couple of months off I’m getting back into writing, and so it’s time to address one of the most requested articles that I’ve got left to do: dems kits. Getting it out of the way now this is a purely airsoft blog, but if you like things that go bang then stick around and you might get some ideas.
Before we dig into the kit itself I’m just going to drop a bit of a disclaimer. Flash powder based pyrotechnics are fun, but dangerous if used the wrong way, and are not something to be taken down to the football or thrown in the middle of a high street. There are courses run in the UK to learn about the safe handling and use of pyrotechnics that you can take, but here’s the short version: don’t be a twat. If you do decide to replicate this kit and end up blowing your mate’s foot off with an artillery simulator then that’s on you, you twat.
Something that you might notice throughout is that despite the MATT 9 perfect headings I don’t refer to this as an IED kit. Simply put the term IED carries a connotation of an offensive item used by scumbags to blow people’s feet off. My kit while “improvised” is not designed to hurt anyone. It is a strictly theatrical tool and is something I would never use without making explicitly sure that everyone was okay with it. Like I’ve said many times throughout if you want to own something like this, don’t be a mega cunt with it, and don’t ruin it for the rest of us.
So what do I actually need this kit for? Airsoft is a game after all, and surely command wire pyrotechnics are a bit overkill?
In practise I have a dems kit for one thing and one thing only: mitigating the overpowered nature of gun mounted vehicles at Stirling Airsoft events, and scaring the bejesus out of unsuspecting victims. The explosive composition of the charges used in this kit are no different to the likes of the trusty Mk5 thunderflashes, being made up of a flash powder mix inside of a cardboard tube. The only differences come in their yield, and their firing mechanism.
The standard Mk5 “fizzy pyro” is initiated by the user striking a match head style fuse on top of the grenade which emits a fountain of sparks and has a very distinctive sound. After a set time this fuse burns down to the main charge and *boom*. This is a great, relatively idiot proof way to use grenades, but has the unfortunate side effect of literally looking like a roman candle and making a pretty obvious noise. We’ve all been there; you hear a fizz, you see an angry sparkler come winging in through a window and generally speaking you can get out of its way before it goes off.
With electric ignition you eliminate this problem entirely. What you have instead is a charge that does nothing to give itself away until it goes bang. This is great for ambushes against both vehicles and people for obvious reasons, and so is a very effective way of levelling a playing field where gunners are essentially “invincible”.
The Kit Itself
I know, this is why you’re really here. What actually makes up my det kit? It’s very simple; a clacker, a wire and something that goes bang on the end of it.
Power Source and Switch
The hardest part of putting together a good dems kit is the power source and switch, preferably in the form of an M57 Firing Device, otherwise known as a “Clacker”. If you’ve played COD then you’ve seen one of these before and it is as simple as the game. It is a device that creates a static current by moving a ferrous metal through a copper coil in a magnetic field and is totally reusable without any need for batteries.
The tricky bit is getting them, as clackers are hardly ten a penny. To date I have had 4; 2 working, 1 sort of working, and 1 total dud. Ultimately you just have to bite the bullet and buy one hoping it works as the supply of these is far from regular and if it’s a dud, better luck next time.
If you do manage to get your hands on a working one then you need to find a way to connect your clacker to your charge. Unfortunately COD isn’t real life, and clackers actually need a wire to send a current into an initiator.
This is by far the simplest portion of putting together a party popper kit, as just about any wire will do. The most effective “civilian” option is speaker wire, but as long as it is as low resistance as possible you should be alright. The “Milspec” option however is black & tan.
Black & tan is the issued general purpose firing wire used by the British Army, and if you want to do the thing properly you should be using it in your kit. It’s low resistance, highly durable and actually hard to knot or tangle making it perfect for a wire you will be quickly reeling in and stuffing in a pouch. As with clackers though it’s not the easiest stuff to get your hands on, but as a totally disposable item if you have any friends in the Royal Engineers they should be able to find you some just fine.
Setting the wires up for use means attaching a way to secure one end to the ports on the clacker, and the other to the wires on the charge’s initiator. For mine I went with a pair of spade connectors crimped to fit the clacker’s ports (edit: since writing this blog, I have since moved over to a new system which will be explained in its own right in another blog), and an exposed area of bare wire at the business end with a shrink wrap cap holding the ends of the individual wire strands together. These methods make attaching the wires to the clacker very simple and secure, and mean that the wires at the far end will not become untangled from themselves over repeated uses.
Initiator, Container and Main Charge
This is the part of the blog where I say don’t be a monumental wanker. Everything up to now is totally legal and you’d be hard pressed to go wrong with it. The loud portion of the kit is where things can go wrong. Don’t be an arse, only use charges you would normally use in the “fizzy pyro” role, and whatever you do ground yourself before messing with them (i.e. touch the actual floor with your actual skin before touching any exposed wires on the initiator).
In my kit I have a couple of different charges, but the majority of them are converted Thomas Lowe Defence blue cores. They’re loud, they’re easy to convert, and being blue they’re bright enough to give passing foot mobiles a chance of not standing on it just as I set it off. The conversion process is actually incredibly simple; just pop the plastic end cap off and insert an electric match, replace the cap, and hot glue into place. This last step is important as if you don’t do it your claymore bag will get filled up with flash powder residue/dust leaking out around the e-match and while not strictly dangerous, will make going past a sniffer dog very awkward.
What this process does mean however is that just about any airsoft thunderflash can be converted simply by hot gluing an e-match to the chemical fuse, and accepting that you will have a few seconds delay between clacking off and the charge detonating. (I’m deliberately NOT recommending cutting into pyros, if you want to set your garage on fire that’s up to you).
This is the one part of the kit where I’ve chosen to go excessive simply for the sake of nostalgia. I carry my dems kit in an old claymore bag solely because I’m British and we have a strange obsession with them. In truth this entire kit fits into a large utility pouch and can be carried on the belt, but for the sake of justifying my 5 claymore bags I rotate it through them so fuck it.
If you’re building your own dems kit I would advise getting a pouch that is slightly too big, this will mean that quickly stashing your firing wire will be easier and giving it more room to go into will help to prevent tangles when you come to take it out again.
How to use a dems kit safely
So now that you know how to make a dems kit, here are a few ground rules on how to use it safely:
1. Don’t be the fucking wankstain who buys a 250g artillery simulator, buries it on a site, and sends someone halfway to the moon for the sake of an airsoft game.
2. Ask the site owner/event host if you can use it well before game on, let them see it in action, and if they say don’t use it put it in the car and forget about it.
3. Only ever fire it if you have line of sight to the charge itself, or have a bloody good aiming marker and no way that someone could have crept on top of it.
4. Always stay grounded. Keep the wires on your initiator shorted when not in use (twisted together) and touch the ground before interacting with them.
5. Put the clacker on the wires LAST. It’s guaranteed that as soon as you hook up a clacker then stand at the other end fitting a charge some bellend will come along and squeeze it, which will suck a huge dick, especially if you’re that cunt with an artillery sim and you’re halfway through burying it like a proper jihadi dickhead.
6. Do not fire it when someone is stood on/right next to it. As a rule in airsoft there is a kill radius of around 15 feet. Believe me if your charges are loud enough 15 feet will be more than enough to make someone jump out of their fucking skin.
There are many more things you can do to be safe with these kits, but as a general rule sticking to the above will keep you out of trouble, and keep everyone’s fingers and toes attached to the proper body part.
I’ve got a few ideas for the dems kit going forward, one of which is for a dedicated pouch which I’ve been dreaming up over the last few weeks. If it comes to fruition I’ll be asking the ever patient Cellar Gear to make it a reality.
The other idea I’ve got in mind is to create a functional victim operated pressure plate system, however I can see this being immediately turned down by every site owner, and getting me a knock on the door from firearms when I order 2 sawblades and a waterproof battery housing from ebay. But you never know, I might get away with it.
Thanks for reading through the explanation of my dems kit, I’ve had a lot of questions about this recently and so it seemed like a fitting way to get back into some writing. If you’ve got any further questions on it don’t hesitate to fire them over to my Instagram @thegeardocrow.