ON THE CABINET, IN THE CELLAR ... OR ON THE WALL?
We usually store rifle replicas under a bed, magazines and accessories in drawers, uniforms in a wardrobe ... Wait, what about a vest?
For many players, such problems are well known. After all, each of us started this hobby once and had to wonder at some point where to keep all his/her new toys. After all, not everyone has so enough equipment to organize a special place for it (or even a room) in their apartment or house. However, you don't have to be doomed to stuff your gear in every possible place. For many airsoft enthusiasts, or even small collectors, the aesthetic arrangement that looks like some kind of exhibition is an additional boon, sometimes also a way to interest potential guests in their hobby, without pushing airsoft BBs down their throats with while enthusiastically shouting - "Look and listen to me, that's what I do!"
Yes, a properly displayed collection is definitely a better way to arouse interest, and above all it pleases the owner. Of course, you need to know how to do it right. Displaying heavily used footwear can evoke the feeling that you visit some surplus military store, regardless of whether the boots are of low quality or made by such manufacturers as Lowa.
However, the situation is different when the exhibition contains unusual items: such as airsoft replicas and equipment. And if so, in addition to purely aesthetic values, what if an airsoft exhibition also had utility values?
Then one of the helpful solutions are various types of universal wall racks, often used in commerce which, thanks to their modular design, facilitate keeping order and provide quick access to your favorite toys. An interesting alternative has recently appeared on the market - wall panels in the molle system made by the 4WAR company, which is run by none other than Krauzak, more widely known to the Polish airsoft community as the organization of various airsoft games, including the Fedrunki series, which has been held for several years now.
WALL PANELS IN THE MOLLE SYSTEM?
Sounds proud and professional, but it's still nothing more than a type of display rack. However, if the name has evoked a product dedicated for airsoft equipment, then... that's right. The panels made by 4WAR have been designed from the ground up in such a way as to allow convenient storage of the airsoft gear and replicas. Although, in accordance with the assumption, you can mount equipment and accessories in the molle system on the panel (visible in some photos), the main advantage of Krauzak's product are the various hooks, shelves and hangers that can be organized on the panel in any way. Thanks to this, the user can place virtually every element of his/her airsoft inventory on it.
The panels are made of 6 mm thick plywood, 60 cm high and 40 cm wide. They have 9 mounting ports in each row and 11 ports in each column. This gives you great many options for configuring the hooks. Due to the design of the panels (the shape of the ports and the dimensions of the posts separating them), it is not possible to mount them horizontally. For now, 4WAR does not offer panels with reverse dimensions.
You can use holes for up to 6 wall plugs (included in the kit) to mount the panel, which can be important if you want to hang heavy objects or the wall quality is poor. For testing, it was enough for me to install the panels using only four plugs, one in each corner of the panel. The panel was well mounted and looked robust regardless of the number and type of things hung on it. An important element of mounting are the attached spacers, which move the panel away from the wall by a distance of 3 cm, enabling comfortable use of all types of hooks, shelves and hangers.
The panels available in the manufacturer's offer come in four colors: black, red, green and beige. For testing we received a set in black. We also got information that the products intended for sale have already received the first improvement - the paint used has been changed, because the one originally used had a tendency to wear very fast.
HOOKS, HANGERS AND OTHER MIRACLES FROM 4WAR
For the purposes of testing, in addition to the panels themselves, I also received a full cross-section of the hooks and hangers from the manufacturer's portfolio - also made of 6 mm plywood. They included: large hooks, small hooks, flat hangers, a 20 cm long shelf and a hanger for equipment and a helmet. I decided to take a closer look at each element.
Large hooks are the quintessence of what I have always missed in standard hooks supplied with universal display racks. The high of the blocking element perfectly protects large and heavy replicas from sliding off the panel. Sometimes it happens to touch a replica with your hand in the wrong moment, or accidentally pull a part of a carrying sling which can cause a replica to fall and sustain damage. These hooks prevent this possibility. Many people may also wonder how much weight can those inconspicuous wooden hooks handle. I have no measuring equipment, but the manufacturer has proven their resistance to a load of up to 30 kilograms in a simple test that used a luggage weight. The inner width of the hook is quite large, 66 mm, which can leave some free space when used to store narrower replicas.
Small hooks are a very convenient solution for hanging slightly narrower rifle replicas, as well as sidearm replicas and various types of equipment (e.g. goggles, protective mask or even a watch). The securing arm is much shorter but definitely sufficient for properly secure the hanged equipment on the hook. The inner width is smaller than for a large handle, just 40 mm.
The third type of hooks is the flat ones. They have no safety arm and instead have a wedge-shaped cut. This allows one to display, for example, tactical knives. You can also hang equipment that has a string or a narrow strap that protects it against loss. This type of hook was the least attractive for me and at first glance it seems to have little use in the airsoft world.
At the opposite side of the utility scale (in opposition to the flat hooks) was certainly another element of the 4WAR system, a wide shelf for magazines and other accessories. During airsoft trips I have often forgotten to take various useful gadgets, such as an antifog spray, a multitool, a duct tape, a radio, a GPS or even a flashlight. They usually got lost in the pile of other equipment lying in a drawer. The shelf mounted on a panel seems to be an ideal solution for displaying the most useful, small items. One glance lets you check if any of them haven't been forgotten. If someone does not have such problems, they can allocate a magazine shelf for their main replica. Among all its advantages, this shelf has one drawback, and this is... its dimension. From the description it can be concluded that the width of 20 cm will allow you to mount two such shelves on one board in one row. Nothing could be more wrong as due to the thick side walls of both the board and the shelf itself, it takes much more width of the panel in practice (6 out of 9 holes). In my opinion, it would be more sensible to do it in a different dimension: either taking up 4 holes (enabling mounting two next to each other), 9 holes (giving really a lot of space for small items), or at least 5 or 7 holes, so that it can be symmetrically mounted in the center of the board, leaving room for individual hooks mounted in the ports on the sides of the panel. In the case of 6 holes, aesthetic mounting of the shelf is difficult. I feel sorry for people with obsessive compulsive disorder. Its going to be hard for them.
The last of the attachments included in the tested set is a helmet hanger and an equipment hanger. I write about them in one paragraph for a reason. Although they are two independent elements, they are also structurally adapted attach one on the other, which saves space on the panel. Both of these elements give an impression of being very robust and are a useful addition. Of course, it is worth mounting them at the bottom of the panel so as not to lose space unnecessarily.
FUN WITH CONFIGURATIONS AND IMPRESSIONS OF USE
From the very beginning of my adventure with airsoft, the place and method of storing replicas have always played a big role for me. Whenever I could afford it, I invested in universal display racks that I still use today. For this reason, I was pleased to see and test the 4WAR panel system, because I could directly compare both solutions. As it turns out, both systems have their pros and cons.
First of all, I had my dilemmas concerning the durability of the panels, hooks and hangers of the 4WAR system as, unlike steel display racks, Krauzak's solution is made of plywood. However, with every moment of fun I gained confidence in the wooden elements. Even if their actual strength is lower, they still seems 100% sufficient for airsoft applications. I have high hopes for the strength of the replica hooks themselves. Standard steel hooks, under the influence of time and heavy weight, were becoming deformed. Sometimes it happened that with heavier replicas I had to use a third hook as a security measure. In the case of wooden hooks from 4WAR, their design seems to be good enough so that such a phenomenon should not occur. However, I would not like to be groundless here: after all, the steel hooks I use are almost 10 years old, and the wooden ones have a test of time ahead of them.
When using hooks made by 4WAR, I noticed that not all of them can be pushed all the way in when mounting them on the panel. In practice, this does not seem to affect the design itself, but I still asked the manufacturer for his opinion on this issue. It turns out that due to the properties of the plywood, there may be slight differences in dimensions. At the design stage, the hooks which could always be pushed all the way in were tested, but this forced some concessions regarding their durability. However, because the priority is the reliability of the hook and the safety of the equipment, the decision was made to create hooks with a slight slant. Therefore, some of them attach firmly on the panel, others have slightly more slack. However, they are all equally durable.
On the other hand, I really liked the option of configuring the panel in various ways using various hooks, hangers and shelves. It is true that baskets and more complicated hangers are also available for steel display racks. However, in the case of the 4WAR system it can be immediately seen that they are thought in terms of airsoft applications, which has a positive impact on the ergonomics of use and the aesthetics of the entire solution. I realize that ones likes or dislikes are not a good subject for discussion, but in my opinion on many types of walls (e.g. brick or wooden), plywood mounting panels look better than steel ones.
At first, I wanted to accuse the entire system of having a small capacity, but it is inherent in the compact dimensions of the panel. I checked various configurations that can be seen in the photos. A single panel can fit one complete set (equipment, a main replica, a sidearm replica), two main replicas with inserted magazines, three main replicas without magazines, up to six sidearm replicas or various equipment configurations, which would make no sense here. A larger number of panels can be combined into more elaborate compositions (as an example, on one of the photos at the 4WAR profile on Facebook shows such a configuration), however, one must not forget that this significantly increases the costs of the entire display. In terms of the surface-to-price ratio, panels from 4WAR are more expensive than universal display racks.
As well as in the case of replicas, the 4WAR system can be a very interesting solution for collectors of real firearms. Of course, only if you have a weapons warehouse and meet the other conditions of the regulation that allow the storage of firearms and ammunition outside cabinets that meet at least the S1 standard.
Finally, a small curiosity. Except for the shelf, I had no problems mounting other hooks and hangers on a steel display rack. Unfortunately, I am not able to reliably check how it affects their durability. However, this can be valuable information for owners of different solutions for airsoft exhibitions.
A few days of fun with the 4WAR system by Krauzak allows me to conclude that it is not a revolution at this moment, but only an evolution. Apart from the subjective aspects, such as one's taste and comparison in terms of aesthetics to steel display racks, the strength of the 4WAR modular system are thoughtful, varied hooks dedicated to, among other things, for airsoft applications, as well as the low weight and compactness of the entire system.
These wall panels have limited capacity. This means that for people with a large collection of equipment (e.g. a dozen or so long replicas), an investment in a universal display rack is a cheaper solution. However, if finances are an impassable barrier, there is nothing to prevent the combine many panels to make a composition that is right for you and to store also these more impressive collections of equipment.
4WAR panels, however, seem to be a great solution just for people who have a more modest collection of airsoft equipment and who want to aesthetically display it in a selected place, while having quick and easy access to it.
It should also be remembered that the entire 4WAR system is at a fairly early stage of development. Sales of panels and hooks have started this month. I hope that the design will evolve over time, and the manufacturer's offer will also include other panel formats and even more sophisticated hooks that will be able to meet the requirements of owners of even the most exotic examples of the airsoft inventory. The author of the solution is a person who has repeatedly proven he has the knowledge about the tastes and needs of airsoft players, he organized games that turned from local events into ones attracting even airsoft players from abroad. Since in terms the mechanics of airsoft games Krauzak can be trusted almost without question, why not give his airsoft products a chance?
Thank you to the 4WAR system manufacturer for supplying their products for testing.
- aesthetic manufacturing;
- panel and hooks strength;
- system modularity;
- different hooks dedicated for airsoft applications;
- lightweight construction and a thoughtful assembly system;
- availability in four colors;
- small dimensions.
- small dimensions (yes, this is also a disadvantage);
- higher price than universal racks;
- some hooks mount firmly, others have slightly more slack;
- unusual dimensions of the shelf for accessories;
- panels available only in one format, without the possibility of horizontal installation.