Alpha – Omega, an interview with PTW ‘smith’ Tackleberry
Alpha – Omega, a prophetic epithet to this series, and the title of one of my favorite ‘Cro Mag’ albums, read into that what you will, but it’s only fitting that an album of such precision and definition in sound precedes this interview …
I’ve owned my, PTW, two even at one point, for the last six years, having very quickly arrived at a juncture early on, that something precise, accurate and consistent was needed, and addition to those requirements it needed to be durable, really durable …
It was here, that very close friends presented to me the PTW option, and, to truly get the very best out of these, they needed to be modified, and/or worked and engineered by the mysterious Tackleberry …
Well, just over six years on, they were right, and I’m still happily throwing my self around using and abusing my PTW, but what about the quietly spoken, polite gentleman who toils away under dimly lit conditions in his workshop bring all this magic to life …
Well, let’s find out …
Here, we welcome Anthony G ‘Tackleberry‘ to the page, to get an insider view of why he’s quite possibly the most prolifically leading authority in PTW’s and the ‘Magick‘ (sic) that goes into making these such high performing monsters.
GM75: Welcome aboard, apologies for the hyperbole and dramatic introduction, but it is with no short measure to have a good friend, and someone who’s work I greatly admire on here, so, a big thank you for taking time out to sit down with us (Tack’s invariably inundated with a heavy schedule of work)
So, a little about yourself, I know much of your expertise and extensive knowledge comes from the RC Modeling world, and additionally when did you discover ‘Plastic Deth‘ (Airsoft) and get involved with that?
AG: Hello, the RC Modelling World is really only a part of it. Being brought up on a diet of Lego and Models in general, plus a love of all things mechanical helped pave the way. Not to mention spending the majority of my working life as Motor Vehicle Tech.
I discovered Airsoft around 2003/2004. Actually it was my brother that got us involved thanks to Marui P90 he purchased.
Actually, when you break it down to it’s most basic level, an AEG s nothing more than a glorified electric Air Pump !
GM75: So, at what point did you move onto PTW’s, and was there a specific point, where you had an epiphany and thought, I can make these perform even better ?
AG: I was aware of the PTW almost from the point the prototypes were first shown. It was the fact that it stopped shooting when the BB’s ran out that grabbed my attention. I just hated the way an AEG kept firing when it ran out of ammo.
Also the precise electronic control looked interesting too.
It wasn’t until 2006 that I actually got my hands on one. And it is at that point, like most people who buy one, when you first pick one up you realise how horrible the regular AEG M4 feels.
However the reality of the PTW, especially the early ones, is they were absolutely hopeless as a skirmishable weapon.
The rest, as you well know, is history !
GM75: In brutal terms, what was your initial assessment of the PTW, in its most basic iteration, was there something screamingly obvious that made you think, this really needs to be changed?
AG: As I touched on above, apart from the superb feel, the reality was the PTW was giant steaming pile of c**p when it came to something you could skirmish with.
At that stage the most glaring issue was the Hop and how it shot.
Without going into to much detail, out of the box the PTW could fire a good straight shot. What it could not do was do it consistently.
My first experiments were to try and make the Hop work in a more conventional way. However once I began to understand the the principles of the PTW’s Hop and why it was the way it was I quickly changed tack and instead of fighting it, worked with it. The results …
Other areas were it’s problem with moisture, in particular the Gen III Electronics, tuning the Cylinder to get the Muzzle Velocities I wanted, and finding a way of getting rid of that hideous over sized Crane Stock (remember at this time there were no Li-Po Batteries).
And of course the big one came at the end of 2007 with introduction of the infamous 490 Motor !
I won’t go too deep into that as so much has been written about it, but it was my involvement with R/C Motors that led me to the solution required to rectify the short comings of the 490.
Again the rest is history …
GM75: Now, so sought after, and trusted and as recommended to many others, is your work, you’ve collaborated personally with Systema and their R&D department, a long standing working relationship which they commemorated with a special one of a kind PTW, can tell us how that came about, what you brought to the table as it were ?
AG: Although I have been dealing direct with Systema for a number of years I never really divulged anything to them other than dropping some hints.
In fact on many occasions my offers to provide them with assistance were rejected out of hand !
So I just let them carry on making the mistakes, and continue to address those problems by integrating the solutions and fixes into every PTW I sell.
GM75: Now, I saw some photos of some superbly detailed scaled 60’s and 70’s Racing Cars, particularly the sky blue and orange liveries caught my eye. It got me thinking, such attention to detail, as when I built Tamiya King Tigers and Panther tanks with my father, had such precision and attention to detail, transferred to building PTW’s perhaps as it has done with my own fascination with load outs ?
AG: Being a Virgo I am naturally afflicted with an eye for detail and things being correct. I will freely admit it borders on the OCD, but then that benefits the customer as I do my best to ensure everything is as right as possible.
That does of course trace back to my youth and building scale models.
However the Models you have seen are from my collection of 1:18 Scale Diecasts.
GM75: So, aside from precision assembly, you offer several other improvements and enhancements, what else is available to customers, I know you’ve recently undertaken Cerakoting and engraving, as well as entering an arrangement with HAO, for the 416 inclined ?
AG: Bottom line is this. The only restrictions are the customers budget, and can it be done to a PTW.
There are few things I will not do, but those probably centre around what is legal.
GM75: Now, you’ve built thousands of PTW’s for others, but what in your mind formulates the perfect AR PTW build, for example what about your own personal armory of classically styled PTW’s ?
AG: Simple is best. A nice basic classic AR15. Whether that is an M4 (A1) or an M16, or any of their variants.
My own personal favourite being the Colt M733 (Commando).
In fact I now only own three PTWs. An original Systema M733 (one of the limited production ones from 2007), a custom M733, and a special finish one only M4A1 which was a gift from Systema.
GM75: I recall, one Sunday, the hottest of the last decade we ran both our teams together, through what a merciless stampede through Surrey’s ‘Saxon’ woods at Dorking’s EAG. That was, to this day, one of my most memorable games. Now, I more than most, know how busy you are, and you have many interest aside from work, but of late have you had a chance to get out and play ‘Plastic Deth‘ ?
AG: I remember that too, and it was indeed one of the best days Airsofting on memory.
However I have little interest in the game these days. It’s the problem when your hobby becomes your business.
I haven’t played for number of years now, save for the odd one here and there.
GM75: Had you, or would you ever consider diversifying with other platforms, had perhaps GBBR’s or even Marui’s recoil series potentially been under your auspices and considered some attention from your ‘PTW MAGICK‘ dust ?
AG: I will be honest and say I have more than enough to occupy my time with PTW’s than to get involved with anything else.
I still have a few long term customers who ask me to sort out the odd regular AEG now and then. Simply because they have been burned by other so called experts, and will only trust the work I do.
Then there is this. Regular AEG’s, and that includes the Marui Recoil, are just a massive unnecessary ball ache to work on.
PTW’s are pure simplicity by comparison – as long as you know what you’re doing with them of course !
GM75: Off topic, a tangent, you own a rather striking 1911, which you extensively ‘fettled’ and engineered into a real ‘nail driver’ – as its so strikingly authentic in appearance, what can you tell our readers about this particular piece ?
AG: Sadly I do not own that particular piece anymore. A customer made me an offer I could not refuse !
However I do have several other custom 1911’s, all with custom Receivers and internals.
My favourite being my original Western Arms 1911 that I have had for years. Built it into a Prime Metal Body back in 2005, and it is still my trusty side arm to this day.
Occasionally I dust it off, fill the Mags with Red Gas and BB’s and give it an airing.
And it still hits 360fps !
GM75: great stuff, really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses ?
AG: I am probably the 30 Rounds per Mag’s biggest fan !
Right from my earliest days while still using regular AEG’s, I was using that.
I originally tried for an experiment to see how I would get on for a days playing. As a result I have never skirmished with more than 30 Rounds per Mag form that day.
It teaches you to make every shot count, and only shoot at what you can hit.
Also make sure you have someone on your team with a Minimi !
And as foot note to that, I only ever fill my 1911’s Mags with 7 Rounds too (Laughs)
Ha, there you have it, a man after my own heart, real steel mag counts for the win. Well, huge thanks to Anthony. Not only for a superbly personable and highly insightful interview. But, for being a very good personal friend for many years, and on behalf of the legions of PTW’s owners who’s you’ve built, personalized, customers, repaired and serviced- I think you’ll all join me in a hearty thank you and a raucous round of applause – S23
You can find out more on the PTW and other related Systema ephemera and contact ‘Tackleberry‘ regarding potential projects here: http://www.systema-ptw.com/forum/