Punk Crusher – an Interview with Dan W’s Project Delta Whiskey
… where do I start, possibly the hardest part of any interview we’ve done is writing the intro …
It’s perhaps here, the tone, ethos and message we are trying to convey rests heavy on the shoulders of the very paragraphs. Interviewees invariably knock it out of the park, and in no small part, they are the ‘stars of the show’ although I’m sure you’ll agree as a modest group they’ll blush at such high praise.
Well, as we often remind you all, the ultimate inspiration for the blog, excuses aside for an opportunity to show case my gears, kits and blasters – is to promote and showcase the community we’ve built. Admittedly, we print at a sporadically variable frequency, often working on a huge back log of interviews and articles …
I digress, community, it’s important and it’s the founding pillar of the blog, Airsofters, Skirmishers, Re-Enactors, MilSim and RealSim players all form what we affectionately like to call the S23Famila or coined broadly ‘Plastic Deth‘.
So, with that caveat in mind, I somewhat of an announcement to make, and proudly so too – we are collaborating with long standing friends ‘Project Delta Whiskey‘.
In the upcoming months, Project Delta Whiskey have struck up an ongoing exclusive arrangement where I’ve been approached to show case their apparel and upcoming ‘active wear’ as their ‘Tactical Athlete’ representative (hey, no sniggering at the back).
Earnestly, what does the mean in real terms – well, Project Delta Whiskey already produce a staggeringly broad range of apparel, everything from shirts, hooded and crew neck tops and headwear – with a broadly ambiguous focus on not just on the field, but off the field and naturally everyday wear.
We will be showcasing some of their traditional catalogue, as well as testing and reviewing some of their upcoming ‘technical wear’ – you can guarantee we’ll be doing so with the expected honesty and integrity as we do with all our own self financed reviews, and Dan from PDW wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, it’s at this juncture, I’ll introduce Dan W from PDW, longstanding ‘Plastic Deth‘ aficionado and brain child behind PDW …
S23: Dan, welcome aboard – great to have you on here for an interview, we’ll open up with ‘how did you get started with Airsoft‘ ?
DW: Hey man, thanks for having me. It’s an honour to be interviewed, I’ve been a huge fan for a long time. The venture into Airsoft was a weird one for me, Since the young age of 13 I had heard of this hobby/pastime and I was always interested. It wasn’t for another five or so years until I finally managed to get out and give it a go. First time I played was a cold, wet Sunday (aren’t they all) at SWAT’s Parkgate site on Merseyside. Wet, muddy, tired, hungry and under-prepared …
I was hooked. The next five years consisted of a constant obsession with the game, gear, and the partnerships and friendships formed with like-minded individuals who all share the same passion.
S23: Before we discuss PDW in depth, give us a brief insight into the gears, kits and blasters your running – and what’s your preferred genre of Plastic Deth ?
DW: It’s only really over the past 12 months I have invested serious time and money into my kit – if you’d have asked me the same question 12 months ago, the answer would be simple – G&G Combat Machine and a Chinese reproduction plate carrier. I’m not sure what twigged in my brain, but I felt the need to invest in more suitable gear. I was finishing weekend events with a sore back and shoulders due to the low cost gear digging into all the wrong areas, and I had enough. My primary blaster is an ‘08 Systema PTW MK18MOD1 – a kosher build, not real word re-enactment. I’m not particularly fussed with exact replication, I build my blasters and kit based around the demands I set for myself. Running the MK18 with a Vortex Sparc Red Dot, Magpul XTM Handstop, PEQ15 and Surefire M300 Scout. The 9.5” Daniel Defence RIS is the perfect length for me, any longer, or any shorter, feels unfamiliar to me. I also use a next gen WE M&P w/SureFire x300u.
Other kit I run religiously, includes my Warrior Assault Systems DCS, my PIG Alpha Touch Gloves (which reminds me I am about due to pick up a new pair), Smith OPTICS Aegis shooting glasses, and my prized possession SUUNTO Core BLACK Edition watch. Recent investments include my Safariland G17 Holster (which fits my M&P) with a mid-ride adapter and an EarMor Sordin style headset, in replacement of my battered Z-Tactical headset. (I’ve not made the plunge into genuine ear-pro just yet)
S23: So, Project Delta Whiskey – how did this all come about, and how long have you been going ?
DW: PDW was the result of adaption and evolution. Project Delta Whiskey was originally my Photography Instagram ‘brand’. If you scroll far back enough through our Instagram feed, you will find my photography work from Shock and Awe Airsoft, my home site based in Abergele, North Wales.
The clothing line came from a moment of spontaneity when I decided to have my ‘Project Delta Whiskey’ logo printed onto a t-shirt. It was never my intention to sell the t-shirts, that happened naturally when a few close friends and other Shock and Awe members took notice of the t-shirt and asked if they could get a hold of one. Being a web designer, I saw the opportunity to simplify the entire process of friends purchasing t-shirts. Next thing I know, sales started coming through the site from people I didn’t know. Organic traffic had boomed, and the orders where coming in thick and fast. This August 2017 will mark the one year anniversary of ‘Project Delta Whiskey’ in its original form.
S23: What’s the ethos behind it, the PDW mission statement ?
DW: Basically, to keep it simple. Avoid the politics and just do our own thing. We’re not going to go out of our way to please everybody, as we know that can never happen – but that doesn’t mean that we don’t try our hardest to provide the best service and experience for our customers, existing and new. If you’re willing to spend your hard earned money on our products, we will do everything in our power to ensure that every penny spent was a penny worthwhile. If you’re not happy with our products, tell us – we have a kickass returns policy. We know the core spirit of the community is superb, and we want to make sure that the market we appeal to knows we’re embedded into the community as much as possible. We aren’t a huge organisation with a massive financial backing, we’re not out to make millions, we’re simply out to provide something new and different to the community we know and love. Cliched, I know – ‘but god damnit, it’s true.’
S23: I liked the idea, or rather the ambiguity of the designs of the apparel you’ve put out so far, it certainly captures the spirit of our community whilst not directly referencing it – I’m just as happy wearing it out to get a coffee, training or instructing at work, or in the safe zone – serendipity or a deliberate design brief ?
DW: Most certainly an intentional design brief. Our clothing was never intended only appeal to Airsofters, and it certainly doesn’t. Airsoft/Milsim is just a community that I know personally, and felt the most appropriate place to start with our marketing campaigns. We’ve sold to people who have absolutely no relation to the world of ‘plastic deth’, meaning that our apparel is suitable for multiple situations.
We didn’t want to ‘reference’ any elements of the community, or our interests directly, as we feel it’s already been done. I’m pretty sure if you wanted a t-shirt with a rifle on the front, you could find one. What we want to create is a lifestyle brand – the skull, the text, the simplicity of our designs, it’s all intentional. We’re just trying to keep it old school, keep it simple and deliver high standards.
S23: It’s been a visually prominent success, shirts and other apparel spotted all over the globe, I take it’s been a lot of hard work, planning and prior preparation to build it up thus far ?
DW: I think success is measured not by amount of sales, but by the appreciation of customers in the community. We’ve not had much negative feedback, if any – and I think that is the biggest indicator that we’re doing something right.
A lot of late nights, a lot of sampling, a lot of testing went into finalising products and getting them up on the site. My hand was so far into my own pocket in the early days when things where getting started that I forgot I had two of them. I still maintain a full-time job, as well as a freelance Web Designer, marketeer, and photographer in my spare time. So when you factor in running PDW as well, there really isn’t much time left for other things.
Nothing is ever perfect, things can always be improved, I believe.
Whether it’s the checkout process on the website, the order confirmation emails, the print designs on the tee’s, or even the communication with customers. I believe that there will always be room for improvement; you’ve just got to be willing to admit it to yourself and keep your ego in check.
S23: What can you, tentatively, tell us about future PDW plans and projects ?
DW: At the moment, a large majority of our plans our product based. We have a huge inventory of products and prototypes we’re currently sampling that will soon reach the marketplace – but we cannot indulge into any launch estimates at this moment in time, nor can I give away too much of the products in mind, all I can say is, they’re not standard tee’s and hoodies – something totally different.
Stepping away from products, our biggest plans on the table at the moment would have to be our upcoming collaboration and partnership with you, S23. The ‘tactical athlete’ premise is one that I have been working on for a while, but with the absence of an appropriate athlete. That is, until you and I started talking about our similar policies, mentalities and ethos around this crazy world we live in.
S23: We discussed this at length on the phone already, but you’ve consciously not adopted many of the visual all physical hall marks of other ‘more tactically branded apparel’ – why ?
DW: Simply, because it’s already been done. Why would anybody want to purchase a shirt from us with Velcro pouches on the sleeves when they can purchase already existing products from Condor/Viper etc. We’re trying to set ourselves apart, and that’s difficult to do if we just release the same products, with a variation of design being the only difference.
We want products you can, as you’ve mentioned above, wear to the likes of the coffee shop, AND the field. There are no limits there. We understand that our t-shirts are just standard t-shirts and a t-shirt will never be any more than just that… so why try? It’s the designs we include and the quality of those t-shirts that we focus on. Same concept with the hoodies and CONTRACTOR caps (which are excellent by the way S23). We’re not trying to be something we’re not, you can’t re-invent the wheel – so why not use that time to better improve other areas of the service we provide.
S23: Now, something that really caught my eye with PDW is the quality, hard wearing, launders well – but more importantly to me the little details, such as the sleeve and interior collar prints, at such affordable price points this certainly raised a smile here – is going that extra mile, of particular importance to PDW ?
DW: Of course it is, now when I first started Project Delta Whiskey as a photography brand, the quality of the t-shirt didn’t matter. It was only me wearing it, who cares? Now that we ship all across the world, it’s easily THE most important aspect that must meet our criteria. Go big or go home, right? We’ve had three different materials used in our t-shirts since day one, and that’s only over the course of six months. None of them have been particularly bad, but they do keep getting better. We’re most pleased with our current ‘cut’.
S23: … and I’ve gotta ask what’s your favorite piece of apparel released so far ?
DW: Well, in short, it’d have to be our Fortune Favours the Brave Tee. It’s the newest addition to our store, and already one of our most popular.
We strayed away from the ‘original’ Project Delta Whiskey t-shirt and introduced something totally different, which I believe massively paid off. This, coupled with the new ‘cut’ t-shirts we have been rolling out across our products. We’re away with the 100% Cotton, regular fit t-shirts and have begun to introduce our new 65% Ringspun Cotton, 35% Elastane tailored fit tee’s. Snug on the arms, slightly longer in length, more flexible, and tighter across the chest / shoulders. We’ve also ran these tee’s through multiple shrink tests, and happy to report a less than 5% reduction in shrink over the course of ten washes and dry’s w/heat.
S23: Okay, enough about ‘work’ you and some of the PDW including Stretch and James Flynn both PDW ambassadors came up to Airsoft International’s Ai500 – how’d you get on and what’d think ?
DW: Well, first of all, I have to take the time to say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to both James Flynn and Stretch.
James being our first ever ambassador, and actually running the PDW Instagram whilst I was in the States (see above live fire range video) attending OP Stonebreaker with the 1Legion MilSim crew. And Stretch, our first ever customer and now original PDW Ambassador! Without them, I don’t think PDW would be where it is today.
Onto Ai500: what an event! It was my first in the instalment of the Ai500’s, and it certainly won’t be my last. A superb AO, fantastic firefights, enthralling social opportunities, and an all around enjoyable event. We left shortly before the final stint on the Sunday afternoon, as we had a big drive home ahead of us – apparently that was the most exciting element of the weekend, so next time I will be sure to stay until the last second! Came away with some brilliant memories, and I truly cannot wait for the announcement of the next.
S23: … 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 ?
DW: I think there certainly is a niche for it, most definitely. I used only 30 rounds per mag for some time, when I owned my TM Shock Recoil 416. Me personally, I think a lot of ‘real world’ tactics aren’t completely applicable to Airsoft, and I think magazine capacity plays a part in that. If you’re playing in dense woodland, you need at least 5/6 rounds just to punch through a bush and make a path for your final ‘kill’ shot. Thirty rounds per mag is a great concept, and I certainly wouldn’t argue if that was adopted as a game rule for an event – but in general, I don’t think it’s a concept a lot of people would willingly adopt for their standard Sunday Skirmish.
It’s been a pleasure, thank you for having me.
S23 Mk II ‘Beer Mat’ Patches – https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/322506771568
S23 is proudly sponsored by ToySoldier: http://www.toysoldier.com.hk/
S23 is proud to collaborate with Project Delta Whiskey: http://projectdeltawhiskey.co.uk/
s23 is proudly sponsored by Emperion: http://emperionstore.com/
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