Secrets of the World – an Interview with Upp3rz D0wn3rz from DEVTSIX Group III Silver Team
Sometimes, life itself breaks the forth wall, and fortuitously the stars align and things just fall into place …
Well, that just happened – just after the holidays earlier this year, working through a long, long wish list of interviews – sometimes, one interview opens up a doorway to a bunch of other – well, after interview long time friend ‘That Brit Pierce‘ he recommended I give ‘Upperz Downerz‘ a call …
Well, it turns out not only am I fan of his work, and that of his DEVTSIX team, he in turn is a fan of the blog, and was just as enthused about doing a piece with us too …
Fate, huh, well – I guess I’ve killed that story, certainly sounded funnier in my head – but I’m proud to welcome Stateside based ‘Upp3rz D0wn3rz‘ (SK04 of DEVTSIX Group III Silver Team) to the blog and talk all things Plastic Deth, Gears, Kits, Blasters and MilSim !!!
S23: Welcome aboard bro, and thanks for taking time out to sit down with us for an interview. First up, how’d you get started with Plastic Deth (Airsoft) and building kits and gears ?
UD: Thanks a lot brother! I’m a big fan of Ai and I’m very excited to do this interview. Hmm, well, to be honest, my obsession with MilSim and gear started well before my days of delivering Deth by Plastic. It actually began with books, because, (and this may come as a shock) I am a total nerd! Many years ago I began reading extensively about elite special operations units and other secretive military organizations and the amazing stories of the operators that fill their ranks. The stories of these courageous men and women who achieve incredible success in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances has motivated me to achieve successin my personal life as well as in my career. These stories have taught me to work hard every day, always try my hardest, and never ever give up. So, when I started Airsofting a couple years ago, I quickly realized that the MilSim scene was an opportunity for me to continue learning about these awesome special forces units and the cool gear,guns, equipment, and tactics they employ against our enemies.
S23: Now, fact that I’m a fan aside, you’ve proliferated your team page and personal account with not only some stunning photographs of you and your fellow team mates, but some stunning NSWDG themed gears. Talk to us about the research and the collaborative effort between Group III Silver Team to achieve and work towards this level of aesthetically accurate kits ?
UD: Thanks. Yes, I guess you could say that I’m a little bit of a picture whore. My teammates make fun of me for it all the time (thanks a lot guys, you jerks). And speaking of my team, I’m part of Silver Team, an element of Development Team Six’s (‘DEVTSIX’) United States chapter, Group III. DEVTSIX is an international community of military and special operations enthusiasts, reenactors, and gearcollectors who are dedicated to increasing appreciation and respect for our armed services. We support veterans through charity fundraisers and we host special events that donate funds to various veteran communities such as SEAL Future Fund and Lone Survivor Foundation, just to name a few.
Silver Team is currently the only active US-based DEVTSIX team, which is something we are very proud of. As part of the broader DEVTSIX reenactment community, we focus on a particular impression (aka ‘kit’ or ‘loadout’). Our primary Silver Team kits are based on the gear and equipment used by the US Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Development Group (aka ‘DEVGRU’ or ‘SEAL Team Six’) during the 2011-2012 time period, specifically the kits used by DEVGRU’s Red Squadron during the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Building a highly accurate kit for this particular unit and time period is very challenging, not to mention ridiculously expensive (just ask my wife … wait don’t do that!).
The amount of information and research that goes into building our kits is unbelievable. The smallest details tend to be the most difficult things to find. Getting things wrong is very easy! In my professional life I’m a bean counter, so when I tell you that I can’t even count how many times I’ve screwed up on my kit, that should tell you how difficult the details are!
Thankfully I have had a lots and lots of help from our friends in the DEVTSIX community. The DEVTSIX geardos around the world are always willing to help and share knowledge (and reference pictures) to help with refining those pesky little details which give our kits an extremely high level of accuracy.
S23: As ‘former’ or rather I guess a more liberal interpreter of load outs these days, I know ‘screen accurate’ builds can be prohibitive when playing certain events or certain styles of Airsoft/MilSim – do work okay with researched gears say for example in a CQB environment, switch between gears those units would use for those environments or quite simply apply a little artistic license and switch things around to accommodate each AO/Scenario ?
UD: This is a great question because it’s a topic that comes up all the time. It’s a sensitive topic and once I punched a guy in the plate carrier while arguing about this topic and my hand literally pierced his Level III ballistic plates. Actually, that is all a lie. I’m a lover not a fighter! But seriously, our rule in Silver Team is that we can wear whatever gear we feel like wearing when it comes to local/national MilSim events.
For reenactment and impressions and team pictures, we always wear our primary Silver Team kits. But for BB Warz, we wear whatever the F**k we feel like wearing! It’s a matter of form versus function: I tend to emphasize form which means I like to wear whatever makes me look super sexy (which is usually Arc’teryx LEAF).
My teammates are smarter than me and emphasize function, which means they optimize their gear/kits for the particular AO/scenario we’re playing in. During AMS events we tend to run heavier, more versatile kits for the long Saturday portion of the event, and lighter, more specialized kits for the shorter Sunday portion of the event.
We also run different gear for the night portion of events. For example, our white lights and visible lasers get replaced with IR flashlights and IR lasers, our Peltor Comtac III headsets get swapped out for bone conduction headsets so we can rely on our natural hearing, and instead of using our H&K 416’s, we might use H&K MP5’s and MP7’s (because everyone loves hushpuppies!).
S23: When assembling and researching load outs, kits and blasters such as these – what’s the key motivation and what the over ruling ethos behind it, naturally accuracy and respect to the units portrayed, but what’s the standard your seeking to attain ?
UD: People are motivated by different reasons. Some reenactors want to have the most accurate kit possible, others build their kits because they want to look super cool, and some people seem to build kits just to be able to brag about how much they spent on their uber rare gear (even though we all know it was secretly mommy and daddy who paid for most of it!) For me personally, I like the challenge of building a kit. Speaking of that, you’ll hear geardos constantly referring to their kit as ‘WIP’. The fun part about building a kit is building a kit.
S23: Now in particular, trawling through the mass of photos already online from you and your team I spotted a very ‘familiar’ and obviously inspired blaster – talk us through this build, the base blaster it’s built on and accessories you’ve detailed it with ?
UD: Ahhhhh, yes, you must be referring to my DEVGRU blaster, the one that is AOR1 and black. I built this for my official Silver Team kit. This blaster is WIP (typical geardo thing to say) with only a few final details left to upgrade.
But before I talk about details, let me tell you about the overall build. So, this blaster is a nearly exact replica of the H&K 416 from leaked pictures which allegedly show one of the actual H&K 416’s used by a DEVGRU operator during the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011. If you type “Bin Laden HK 416” into Google image search, the first couple results will probably be the picture I’m talking about. The base gun for this build is a VFC 416 AEG with completely stock internals. I’m supersticous about upgrading AEG internals (laughs) so I leave everything stock internally. Externally almost everything has been replaced. I’ve added a Magpul CTR stock painted in AOR1, a replica Hogue style rubber grip painted in AOR1, a replica EOTech 551 holographic sight painted in AOR1, a replica old gen EOTech 3x flip-to-side magnifier painted in AOR1, a replica Remington RAHG rail which is kept painted black like the reference pic, a replica Surefire M600B flashlight painted in AOR1 that is direct mounted to the RAHG rail, a replica LA-5 PEQ laser/illuminator painted in AOR1, a dark earth Magpul RVG foregrip which is wrapped in AOR1 camo fabric that holds the pressure switch for the LA-5, a replica AAC M4-2000 suppressor (can in cool guy talk) painted in AOR1 with a replica glassbreaker attached to the front and of course a Magpul EMAG magazine (30-round green label airsoft version) painted in AOR1. And to top everything off, I use an AOR1 wide padded sling similar to the VTAC MK2 sling. I did all the AOR1 painting myself, and there’s a combination of natural weathering and some artificial weathering applied in specific locations to make the wear as close as possible to the reference picture. I’ve recently purchased a real EOTech 551 hood, because the replica hood has some small diferences (noticeable to geardos) to the real version. I’ve also purchased a higher quality replica RAHG rail that is almost an exact match to the real RAHG rail (again, the differences are only noticeable if you’re completely sick in the head). After these final upgrades, I’m probably done as in “done-done” with this build. I have to say this is one of my all time favorite blasters because it looks awesome, it was fun to research and build, and it has deivered massive amounts of Deth by Plastic alongside the rest of Silver Team.
S23: Now, what’s the current state of MilSim Stateside – over here there’s an expanding desire for more and more immersive RealSim events, and over in the Netherlands and Scandinavian continents they’re really taking it to the next level, often involving extended InFil’s, Reconnaissance, Night Phase and Patrol tasking’s – has it reached that level or is there still some way to go ?
UD: MSW and AMS are the biggest event organizers over here. They both do an excellent job of putting together fun MilSim events that many people enjoy, which Silver Team reguarly attends. In particular, AMS has some really cool customized ‘Direct Action Missions’ that include actors and role players with complex scenarios and objectives, and they’re really fun. I’ve been reading about the RealSim events outside of the US, and I have to say I’m peanut butter and jealous! I wish we had legit full-blown RealSim events here in the US, but unfortunately we don’t really. RealSim is a whole different level of immersion.
And immersion is priceless! In the meantime, Silver Team continues to particpate in the national MilSim events acoss the US, and we see that the event organizers are really upping their game lately to improve the realism of their events.
S23: What essential kit and gears are important to you on such longer broader games ?
UD: Capri Sun might as well sponsor Silver Team because that’s what fuels us in long games at large AO’s. I also have been known to keep a pocket full of sour patch kids and other sour candy. Water is clearly important, as is caffeine, but mmm that Capri Sun! In Silver Team, we literally put in nonstop work the entire time when we’re at national MilSim events. I’m talking SERIOUS work. That holy work! For example, at AMS’s Copperhead 2 last year (a massive AO in a hot climate) my Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS unit recorded us covering a total of 14 miles by foot during the 12 hour Saturday game, during which we were moved almost constantly throughout the entire AO.
The second we get back to the FOB we head right back out. Silver Team does work, period. That kind of physical exertion requires some good old fashioned sugar and caffeine, preferably sour patch kids and Red Bull. Aside from those things, I would have to say that good comms are critical at the bigger AO’s and the longer events. All of the guys on Silver Team have invested heavily in high-grade military spec comm systems. I run a dual comm setup with two milspec TRI 10-pin PRC-148 radios, real military Nexus MSA U94 PTT’s, a dual comm Peltor Comtac III headset, and Thales whip antennas or some other antenna system. The rest of the Silver Team guys run similarly awesome comm setups. Silver Team’s RTO has the dopest comm setup that I have ever seen, which I won’t even talk about here. So in summary, superior comms, GPS tracking equipment, and good old fashioned maps are probably the most critical pieces of equipment you can bring to these large events because they ensure you maintain awareness throughout each event, which is critical to executing effective missions. And lastly, I didn’t even mention proper hiking boots. Once I saw a guy show up to a national MilSim event in full kit, with the exception of his shoes which were those super comfy checkered slip-on Vans that happen to be paper thin on the bottom. Don’t be that guy.
S23: I’ve long been a fan of real steel gears, and at every opportunity these are the preferred option. We are seeing a growing number of smaller companies reproducing exacting reproductions of items, using real materials, matching scale and mil-spec ancillaries such high Velcro and Buckles – but their are many who purport to produce realistic replicas but often pattern, color or quality is off – what’s your take on this ?
UD: I’ve noticed that as well. As time goes on the replica manufacturers are getting better and better. But one thing hasn’t changed, which is the replicas are cheap and crappy and never quite like the real thing. I have lots of RS gear and stuff, but I also have lots of replica stuff. 99% of the time what happens to me is something like this: I spend money on replica gear, it breaks, then I spend more money to replace it with a better replica, then that breaks, and then I end up purchasing the RS version out of frustruation.
If you’re a player who plays Airsoft regularly, if you a player who does work, or if you attend national MilSim events frequently, there are lots of reasons why you might be better off with real gear. But it’s all a matter of personal preference, wallet size, and how long you plan to do this thang we call BB Warz.
S23: Your team does a fair amount of preparation, training and practice – how does this translate into to the battle field ?
UD: Yes, Silver Team is very focused on training and applying real world tactics in BB Warz. One of the Silver Team members is an Army Ranger (3/75) and we learn a lot from him. We have friends from SEAL Team Four that we play airsoft with and they teach us stuff. Another guy on Silver Team runs a military and law enforcement training company that allowed us to train with some real life ninjas from elite military units including Tier 1 units.
All of the guys on Silver Team love to learn, whether it’s learning about gear or learning about tactics, so training is very important to us. We realized very quickly that a small amount of knowledge about tactics can have a big impact on the battle field. A small fire team can wreak havoc on a large enemy formation when the right tactics are applied. Our goal is to continue learning, improving, and we look forward to each new opportunity to translate that into mass fake casualties via Plastic Deth.
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 ?
UD: I’m a big fan of mag limits as well. Unless you’re out there sweepin’ the streets with a SAW, there isn’t really a need for sprayin’ and prayin’. I don’t shoot a lot of rounds, but when I do shoot you can bet your lunch money that those 1 or 2 rounds are going to deliver some good old fashioned Plastic Deth! Realism is important in MilSim events, and mag limits would improve the realism and the immersions. I’m all for it.
Huge thanks to Upp3rz for an incredibly insightful interview. As I’m sure like me, you’ll want to keep up with his exploits and the rest of DEVTSIX Silver Team, you can do so at the links below- S23
Upp3rz D0wn3rz IG: http://instagram.com/upp3rz_d0wn3rz
DEVTSIX Group III Silver Team IG: http://instagram.com/devtsix_silverteam
DEVTSIX Group III Silver Team FB: https://www.facebook.com/DevtSixSilver/
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