Five Blocks to the Subway – Spotlight on Gear Whores Anonymous ‘The Citadel’ Day Sack

Five Blocks to the Subway – Spotlight on Gear Whores Anonymous ‘The Citadel’ Day Sack

Good new deserves to be shared right, well – imagine my surprise to good friends Gear Whores Anonymous have been quietly working behind the scenes – albeit, for a few years now – on their take on the ‘day sack’.


Yup, after being designed, prototyped, and tested – drawing from their extensive years of experience, gear and kit knowledge they’ve produced a surely innovative, and exceptionally contemporary take on the venerable classic – the day sack – check it out below – whilst we’ve not got hands on with this, it’s clearly packed with features, defined by functionality whilst retaining that cool guy form.

As if GWA need any introduction, for those who haven’t heard – they’ve long been purveyors of cool, functional and practical kit. Utilizing years of real world experience testing and reviewing kit as well as offering a small few items for a good few years, alongside their extensive range of patches. It’s a natural evolution that in this instance they truly enter the pantheon of gear manufacturers not only in style but with assured confidence.

I’ll be looking forward to getting one of these to give an in depth review – S23


GWA’s ‘The Citadel’ Day Sack


Finally our long awaited Citadel pack has arrived. The Citadel has been a bag 7 years in the making with every detail painstakingly prototyped & fielded in order to ensure maximum functionality. All this over a 2 year period that has covered over 20,000 miles of road & air travel. Throughout the years we have used dozens of bags while never encountering one perfect design that incorporated everything we wanted in a bag. The Citadel combines all of our favorite & must have features into one bag. This making it our perfect EDC, travel & tactical use pack.


Key Features:

-Main Zip Compartment Velcro® Lined For Tearaway Pouches

-Main Zip Compartment Front Has 2 Zip Pockets, 1 Pleated For Expansion


-2nd Zip Rear Compartment Suited For Documents & Has Padded Laptop Slot


-Water Bottle / Dump Pocket, Expandable (Fits Up To 40oz Bottles)

-2×3 MOLLE / PALS webbing


-Ambidextrous Side Handles For Easing Donning Off / Briefcase Carry


-Padded Top Drag / Carry Handle

-Reverse Type Zippers To Prevent Snagging

-Excess Strap Elastic Keepers

-Exterior Zip Pockets Feature 3 Organizer Pockets


-Adjustable Sternum Strap

-Compression Straps Also Allows Bag To Be Half Open


-Shoulder Straps, Skin Side Features Tweave Fabric For Ultimate Comfort

-3″ x 11″ VELCRO® Field For Patches

-Closed Cell Foam Padded Back w/ Mesh

-Personal Item Carry-on Compliant (almost full-ish)

-Carryon compliant (fully packed)

Specs:

-1000 Denier INVISTA CORDURA® Nylon (Body)

-420 Denier Pack Cloth (Liner)

-VELCRO® Loop

-Tweave Durastretch (Bottle Pocket, Front Panel, Shoulder Straps)

-#8 YKK Zipper Coil & Sliders, Reverse Type

-1″ Mil-W-17337 Webbing

-1″ Mil-T-5038 Binding Tape

-Premium Closed Cell Foam (More Heat & Water Resistant)

-Milspec Acetal Hardware, Buckles, Sliders, D-Rings

-Reinforced Bartack Stitching Where Required


Dims:

-2.2lbs (Empty)

-19″ Length x 11″ Width x 7″ Depth (Overall)

-19″ Length x 11″ Width x 5.5″ Depth (Main Compartment)

-19″ Length x 11″ Width x 1.5″ Depth (Rear Laptop / Document Compartment)

-9.5″ Length x 11″ Width (Interior Front Face Zip Pocket, Top)

-9.5″ Length x 11″ Width (Interior Front Face Zip Pocket, Bottom, Expandable)

-8.5″ Length x 11″ Width (Exterior Top Zip Pocket)

-10.5″ Length x 11″ Width (Exterior Bottom Zip Pocket, Expandable)


Origin:

-Concepted / Designed / Manufactured in the USA w/ USA Materials

$ 315.00

BE ADVISED:

CURRENT LEAD TIME 2-4 WEEKS

Order here from GWA at Next Gen Warfighter: https://nextgenwarfighter.com/collections/catalog/products/citadel

S23 is proudly sponsored by ToySoldier: http://www.toysoldier.com.hk/

S23 is proud to collaborate with Project Delta Whiskey: http://projectdeltawhiskey.co.uk/

Don’t forget you can read our articles exclusive to Airsoft International each and every month:http://www.ai-mag.com/



s23 is proudly sponsored by Emperion: http://emperionstore.com/


S23 proudly supports Legion Airsoft Events – fined out more here: http://legionairsoftevents.com/






 

Message in Blood – Task Force 67’s LT07′ AAR on Stirling Airsoft’s Op Jupiter

Message in Blood – Task Force 67’s LT07′ AAR on Stirling Airsoft’s Op Jupiter

We again welcome LT07 from Task Force 67 for another guest editorial.

He’s turned a truly superb piece documenting his, and TF 67’s time spent at Stirling Airsoft’s Op Jupiter.

We’ll deliberate no further, get the coffee on and enjoy his superbly immersive AAR

Stirling Airsoft’s Op Jupiter 


This is the first time Stirling have used this location for one of their combat missions. ‘The Trees’ as the site is aptly called is located near Hereford in Wales. After a hefty drive down from the North East of England, three members of Taskforce 67 arrived. As this was only a 24Hr event we set up for a nights camping with the other players of the event. After the usual chit chat and gear drooling amongst the assembled attendees we’ve become friends with within the MilSim scene we settled down for the first uncomfortable nights sleep.

 

Saturday July 15th

 

Up at around 08:00 Hrs and after preparation of our gear was complete, we sat through a thorough and comprehensive safety brief from Stirling event staff. Usual stuff we have all heard a thousand times but also paramount, ultimately, for ensuring a good event. After a short pause another comprehensive brief on the scenario, mission objectives, HVT’s, weather/daylight – night time cycles and various call signs roles was carried out. Fully briefed, setup with comms and medic tabs we were ready to go…..

 

Scenario was members of the OpFor were attempting to carry munitions and weapons across a boarder from Chad to Central African Republic (CAR). Taskforce Chad were deployed to disrupt the movement of arms, identify weapon caches/depots and kill any HVT’s in the area.

 

Taskforce 67’s call sign was 6/1, we were one of three long range reconnaissance patrols tasked with inserting covertly over the boarder to identify remote weapons caches and the main harbour area of the OpFor.

 

First Tasking 

All three ‘recce’ call signs pushed out ahead of the main vehicle mounted convoy. Tasking was to advance and secure the main harbour area where the vehicles would stage from. Packing only our daysacks we loaded our main Bergen’a up on the vehicles and pushed out to secure the harbour area. 


After crossing a field we then found ourselves in thick pine forest on a track heading up to the harbour area. We followed the track up a steep incline (nothing like a good bit of phys’ first thing to get the heart pumping) then cut off the track and carved a path through the forest area to the harbour area position. 


Callsign’s 6/1 and 6/2 secured the harbour area and the main convoy arrived just after. We retrieved our Bergen’s and set up our foxhole in the area for the duration of the event.

 

Around 20 minutes after establishing up harbour area the OpFor decided to carryout a pretty substantial probing attack of the area sending possibly around 20 guys. A ‘stand to’ was called and around 30-45mins of fighting occurred before OpFor broke contact  and retreated back to their plethora of camps in the surrounding area.

 

Second Tasking

All three ‘recce’ call signs were given areas of the site to insert and gather as much intel as possible while staying covert. Orders on contact …. Defensive, break contact and regroup. As a 3-man call sign we knew stealth was best adopted here.

 

We left the harbour area and followed out planned route, we instantly found out how difficult the terrain was for this site. Very steep gradient slopes with soft ground littered with either pine needles making it very slippery – the dead foliage made it hard to judge the gradient you were trying to traverse. The sheer size of the site as well is hard to judge but easily under estimated.

 

We hiked covertly through the areas staying undetected before eventually crossing the fictitious boarder into the enemy heartland. After an absolute gruelling accent to the farthest boundary of the site we found ourselves deep in opforterritory. It didn’t take long before we stumbled upon a rather well concealed LUP point of 3 OpFor


They initially got the drop on us taking out 01N but I and 05N took them out and medic’d 01N back to rude health. 

We then searched the area for intel, took photos of the EKIA and then rapidly left the area to observe some pre determined points on the map.

 

During our ‘recce’ phase it came across on the comms that 6/2 call sign had found the enemy’s main harbour area including command tent and vehicle staging area. We decided to head up to their grid reference and assist by setting up an Op on the north side behind their camp. After some slow moving and negotiating another ascent we reached a point around 100m west of their main camp. We then took a pause to eat food and resupply before moving in closer.

 

After stalking our way in we found the camp approx. 50m in front of us to the east. We initially observed from this point but decided we were too exposed so moved into the thick bracken near by. Over the course of a couple of hours we moved crawling through the bracken 01N in the lead 05N on rear security until we were with 15-20m of the edge of the OpFor main camp.

 

Once in position we sat and observed for around 3-4Hrs, enemy movements, basher positions, vehicles and troop numbers via an ad hoc ‘What’s App’ comms network setup with ‘Zero’ (command Net). We stayed in position as our team had brought our NVG’s ready in case we were out till after dark.

 

Around 23:30Hrs equipped with our NVG’s a small patrol pushed out of the north side of their camp missing us by around 5m as the went past. Initially we thought they were going out on their own night raid but around 30 mins later they returned as a 4-5 man team and literally stumbled upon us. We had to blow our cover and engage, as we did so we took two of them out but the remainder had us zeroed in and killed all three of us. 

They then searched us for intel (didn’t find anything compromising) then cut us loose as dead men.

 

We returned to the harbour area around 11 hours after we left it, debriefed Zero and had some well deserved down time.

 

We were woke around 0200Hrs by Zero who asked if we wanted to accompany Stirling Sabre callsign to lead them into the enemy camp. We instantly jumped at the chance for some payback and green eyed mayhem. 

Geared up and set off on the WMIK where we dropped short to hike the rest of the way in. Whilst patrolling in with TF 67 as the point element and me as point man. We ran into a well defend forward element and I was hit whilst a short firefight followed with the rest of the patrol being pushed back.

Alone, separated from my call sign, the OpFor element medic’d my injuries, searched me for intel (again nothing found) and then continued to interrogate me on patrol numbers, assets and resources. I held fast and gave them nothing but my name, before they got bored ‘executed’ me and cut me loose to return to base.

 

That was the end of the night raid. I linked up with the rest of the patrol at the WMIK and we returned to the harbour area for some much needed rest.

 

Sunday 17th July

08:00 Hrs TF67 call sign 6/1 woke to find the rest of the all the call signs were moving out on a huge assault to break the forward enemy elements and push onto their main harbour area. After breaking down our basher, packing kit and getting some scran, we linked up with the forward command element at the WMIK’s – we went as out three man unit and pushed out to the main enemy harbour area as we had the previous day. 


We engaged in several small frenetic firefights along the way, usually ones other call signs were already engaged in. Once we separated we carefully patrolled back across the north side before spotting a small 2-3 man security team positioned where our OP was the previous day. 01N stayed high while myself and 05N flanked low. 01N then laid down diversionary fire while myself and 05N then came from the flanking position and assaulted up. We took down the three guys then moved on.

 

We had now entered the very outer peripheryof the enemy camp, we had picked up a ‘friendly’ straggler who got lost, we now had a 4-man fire team. 

As we advanced we came under heavy resistance causing myself and the tag along to be hit. 01N and 05N did a great job of engaging the enemy whilst trying to get back to medic us back in. 

Unfortunately, a huge enemy hunter force of around 20 guys tracked back and engaged them from the rear. Under heavy sustained fire  01N and 05N were down and that, was the end of our assault …

 

So, back to the forward command WMIK’s which was regen. After a short pause we were asked to move forward to observe for huge enemy movements. 

As we pushed forward the WMIK’s came under fire so the three of us flanked round and engaged a small patrol of 4 or 5 OpFor from their rear taking out all of them. 

We then linked up with the vehicle mounted Scimitar guys from Scotland before EndExwas called. Leaving us on a high from a great final firefight getting the drop on some unsuspecting OpFor.

 

After a final gathering of all Taskforce Chad and Opfor for a debrief we called it a day chatting with out friends on both sides to recount our own stories of what made this weekend great.

 

A big thanks to all the Stirling guys who made the event, good taskings, good comms (at times – laughs – damn trees) and of course the rest of the call signs for support and intel. Additional thanks to the OpFor who in my opinion played their role brilliantly and were well in character for the whole weekend.

 

Taskforce 67 are looking forward to play this site again, although the terrain is hard going this site can only get better. We are also looking forward to future events at Catterick where a few of TF67 will link up with Scimitar, Gun Ho and Stonehammer to make two Northern element call signs.

Looking forward to seeing the aftermath of that one …

Keep up to date with TF 67 right here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/taskforce67/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/taskforce_67




S23 is proudly sponsored by ToySoldier: http://www.toysoldier.com.hk/


S23 is proud to collaborate with Project Delta Whiskey: http://projectdeltawhiskey.co.uk/


Don’t forget you can read our articles exclusive to Airsoft International each and every month:http://www.ai-mag.com/


s23 is proudly sponsored by Emperion: http://emperionstore.com/


S23 proudly supports Legion Airsoft Events – fined out more here: http://legionairsoftevents.com/

 

 

Maladjusted – an interview with A02 & A03 from The Alpha Group

Maladjusted – an interview with A02 & A03 from The Alpha Group

 … introductions, always a painful chore to endure – possibly as much as it is for me to write em’ as much as it is for you to read em’ – right ?
 
Just kidding, I’m sure you’ll bear with me, as I set the scene once again for our latest interview.

 
Sure I’m prone to hyperbole, and as such I’m an excitable sort who often enthuses over whatever chosen subject matter I’ve chosen to focus upon.
 
Still, I’m no less proud to introduce you all to these two long standing ‘stalwarts’ and for the better part stoic champions of the ever changing land scape scene here, in the United Kingdom.
 
I’m sure we’ll clarify the finer points of evolution and metamorphosis into their current incarnation and establish a little more about their mysterious history.
 
But, before we do so – as one of the interviewees ably and succinctly clarified that ‘ … bear in mind that this team is an amalgamation of a lot of experience over the years and has fused together with the ideals and attitude of previous teams. 
 
We’re not elitist, nor are we the best out there, but we give it our all and conduct ourselves to a very high standard, and we are going to bring something new to the table …’


 
I think, this in essence serves quite possibly the most honest and true introductions I could wish for, particularly as these are a group I look up, as when I started out, nearly a decade ago – they’d already been cutting around the UK for some time – give a warm welcome to A02 and A03 from Alpha Group.
 

S23
: Hey guys, thanks for taking time out to sit down with us for an interview – and, I know only too well you prefer to eschew the ‘populist’ vote and limelight thrust up teams preferring your in game conduct to speak for itself, but nonetheless I’m proud to get you on here.
 
So, just to set the scene – how did you both take up ‘Plastic Deth‘ and what can you tell us about the origins of ‘The Alpha Group‘ ?
 

A02
: I played around with Airsoft a few years ago, then the nature of my work at the time meant I had to take an enforced break. Came back into the fold over 3 years ago, when my cousin, A01, and I chatted. As ex forces like he is, we got together on a few games and sub ops and with A03, we banged heads, put some ideas on the table, and here we are in 2017 doing our thing. Collectively, the team as a whole is experienced both in real steel and Airsoft genres going back many a year, and this is constantly evolving and developing as we bring in new ideas, new players to the team, and the training and organisation it takes to get us all out there. The origins of Alpha Group came from Tier 1, who you know, were one of the leaders in the MilSim scene. However, we are in no way resting on the Tier 1 laurels, but getting out there as a separate identity. I’d like to give a shout out to DC Evans from Contact Front who we have collaborated with recently on ideas and past and a few unique endeavours in the pipeline. Watch this space. 



A03: On a personal note, I got introduced to the world of airsoft back in 2010 after a chatting with then a mutual friend and a BBQ now a firm brother Kiero who played as part of the Dark Angels. We got chatting BB guns and he told me you could get these things that’s took batteries and sling Plastic Deth like it was going out of fashion. Up until then I had a couple of springers that my dad had got me from the model shop back when I was 13!


Got invited along to some skirmish fun back in the day at the academy in Lewisham run by Andy from FCS and I’m not going to lie the bug hit me.
Straight on from the that rolled out with Kiero and the DA’s at the mall for some CQB action meeting Lex, Mark, Basho Siwa and Usif to name a few and got invited to step into their family over a post-game Nando’s that’s day is still great memory and a honour that opened up a whole new world or Plastic Deth for me. We rocked out as a team at BattleSim and MilSim games run by Town Assault at Sennybridge, Stirling games at Catterick and then hit up some training offered by Tier1 military simulations. This basically took me from a humble unskilled skirmisher to a full blown MilSim crack whore.
I got involved heavily with Tier1 again had the great honour of being asked into their growing family after a memorable weekend attending a low-key sub op. Never has not firing a single round ever been so immersive and of the chain. I’m pretty sure all who attended would say the same. Ed and the rest of the T1 family was an awesome movement to be part of. We pushed boundaries and had a great blend of skills within our ranks from all different backgrounds. 


Tier1 exposed me to many different guys and girls from the milsim scene and I got to make many friends from all over the world.
Fast forward to T1 slipping into the shadows for some much-needed R&R and a few of the guys kept hitting games for shits and giggles as well as running some very low key rural and urban training sessions lead by our very own grumpmeister A01 the main man with the knowledge. From this the Alpha Group grew organically with the aim of likeminded guys who all have a great attitudes and mind set hitting games together. Regardless of skills within the team we all strive to improve, put real world tactics into practice where it’s transferable to the event but mainly have a laugh whilst doing it. Serious faces on the field and s**ts and giggles off.
 


 

S23
: Now, I’ve quietly followed – or was struck by the teams earlier ‘incarnation’ – ironically becoming very good friends with one of its former members through work (o has to put with him daily – laughs) but, seriously it’s evolution into its current long-standing iteration has garnered my interest f’sure. It’s surely a subtle combination of real steel experience and know-how from both the real world and from ‘the field’ through Plastic Deth. What’s the driving ethos behind The Alpha Group?
 

A02
: the ethos has never wavered from our earlier incarnations, and that is having a correct outlook and attitude, marrying that with having a bit of fun, which Airsoft should be at the end of the day.


 

A03
: yeah, we are a right mixed bag of guys. Out of the current 15 lads that are dipping in and out when work/time being in country allows 3 of us started with the DA’s back in the day, 8 off us were heavily involved with T1 and that’s has defiantly helped mould us in our current incarnation as the Alpha Group. As we stand now we have guys with experience from real world operations, both old school and bang up to date operations. We have carpenters, chefs, lighting techs and rail operators amongst our ranks to name just few civilian trades. This balance for military and civilian backgrounds blended with our just crack on and get the job done attitude drives us forward. 


Attitude is key, skills and gear can be worked on but attitude has to be right from the get go. No fuss just have a laugh and get the job done whatever that may be.
 


 

S23
: Guns and Gear – always a welcome subject amongst our readers. In particular I’ve enjoyed extensive phone conversations with A03 about tweaking and even abstracting philosophies on the traditional load out. In particular, as hard as it has been for me to do so, I’m continually evolving and streamlining gears to produce something functionally practical.
 
What’s your take on this, what’s the key driving rule which inspires what I see has a healthy blend of UK inspired practicality which serendipitously in form produces something very SF in appearance?
 

A02
: If there’s one thing that I can quite happily say and that is very simply: “Adapt to overcome”. We are constantly tweaking our kit to suit the environment we’re in. Not major tweaks, as all of our essential kit is in the same place (med kits etc) but as a team, we don’t stick to being full Multicam all of the time. 


We’re quite happy sticking on a Gorka suit, picking up a PKM and chest rig or going minimal with an AK and the classic football t-shirt and a spare magazine in the trouser pocket. That way, we can hone our skills outside of the normal good guy/bad guy sphere and see it from both sides, and either do the usual recce and doorkicking stuff, or harass and bang a few rounds down before running away, shouting “Aloha Snack Bar!”


 

A03
: I guess the key driving rule within all of us is use what works and gets the job done. Like 02 says we adapt and overcome. It’s not all about Gucci gear and looking cool it’s about getting the job done, although If we look badass doing it then that’s a bonus!


In terms of gear A01 teaches the rule of 3. If you pack it 3 times and never use it then leave it behind.


 

S23
: I’m all too aware, from my current and former members – you’ve a can do attitude, regardless of it being training, attending a skirmish to hone and tune those skills or putting them to good use in the field on an extended more immersive MilSim – what essentials do you always keep to hand ?
 

A02
: combat coffee flask! Always had one from my real steel days. Morale boosting snacks are always secreted in a pocket, along with a notepad   and a pencil.
As far as kit goes, we are pretty much squared away with what we use on a personal basis, and we have quite a lot of kit in our stores that we can dip in and out of. With regards to any milsim we do, we always double check who has what and where, and spread that load evenly amongst those team members present.  



A03
: combat coffee and combat crack (biltong/jerky) is my own personal little moral boaster. As for gear the one thing that always comes with me on MilSim weekenders is my softie jacket Cheap as chips from eBay, warm, lightweight and just works. 


Good boots and a good Bergen is essential as well. As you know I love gear and am always tinkering to get the best setup for whatever environment I’m playing in. I think we are all the same.
For the most part, we all seem to RRV type chest rig setups or webbing for rural and stripped back armour carriers for urban ops seem to be the guys choices.
As for camo, well that’s depending on role and environment. Although our current go to camo has become Multicam Tropic based on the fact that at the beginning we were hitting a lot of rural games and rural training. 


 

S23
: Recently A02 reached out to us, and kindly cheered on the positive attitude the blog has towards all genres of Plastic Deth – as well as our enthusiasm for the more immersive side of AirsoftMilSim‘ – what is perhaps missed by perhaps more recent entrants to the MilSim community and Airsoft perhaps in general?

A02
: And I’ll stick with what I said, all the kit and holier than thou attitude will not get you anywhere, either in Airsoft or in real life. At the end of the day, if you want to wear x, and use y, go for it. I’d rather see a player enjoying themselves, than worry that they don’t fit in, so wear and use what feels right. Too many barriers are being erected by so called “experts” and personalities, some of which are definitely all the gear no idea, and that in itself is degrading the whole ethos of what this concept of a sport is. 


Remember, we all turn up to a Skirmish or a MilSim and fire BB’s at each other then go home at the end of the day. 
 

A03
: I echo what 02 is saying, it’s all about getting everyone involved regardless of background or plastic death preference. At the end of the day it does not matter if you are playing high end MilSim of quick ball skirmish we are all grown ass boys and girls playing Cowboys and Indians. 


The pastime has always had undertones of elitism and snobbery to some extent but for the most part I love the fact you can rock up to most events and have some good banter get your gun off and finish your experience with a smile on your face. 

 

S23
: The Alpha Group draws upon a broad collective of individuals, who not only have a wealth of experience both from the real world, individually and just as invaluable – from years of playing Airsoft – be ‘Plastic Deth‘ or MilSim. What does this give the team, in terms of capability, and as team who clearly all read from the same page, what are your expectations, personally and attitude towards what you want to draw from an event?
 

A02
: That’s a good question. I think that it’s because of our collective understanding and capabilities, that we can go into an event and just get on with it, and usually with the least fuss, whether it be slow recce or full on doorkicking. On that note, we are not out there as a just “The Alpha Group” and we have teamed up with some superb teams out there, such as TF Spear, Gray Fox and our Dutch cousins from The Orange Element to get fully immersed into the event and “crack on!”
 



A03
: As a team, we are just as happy not firing a shot and getting the objectives done. And happy to spend the time working hard to not be seen.
But once it’s time to lay the smack down, we are all in balls deep. 0-100mph at the drop of a hat if the situation dictates it.
Violence of action and winning the fire fight is important but so is also knowing when and which fights to pick.
 

S23
: We’ve seen some huge changes to the scene here in the UK – event organizers have come and gone, some even are possibly due to return …
 
Some have stoically weathered, at best, the tempestuous storm – such as Stirling and we’ve some exciting new comers recently arriving. But, after all this time what keeps you going, coming back for more and as enthused about it all?
 

A02
: Having a great bunch of lads around me, who are able and willing to put that extra mile in, with a cheeky bit of banter and love for the sport is what does it for me, and its essential to keep those spirits up. 
 

A03
: I love the Immersive nature and challenge of hard, wet tiring milsim events taking me outside my comfort zone and pushing me to dig deep and solider on. Which is about as far away from my day job as possible. 


A lot of enjoyment for me goes hand in hand with the lads you roll out with at any given event.
The banter, piss taking and down time with the lads at all events help bond you as a team, galvanise your resolve to get the job done and not let your buddy’s down. 
 

S23
: Before we part out with trade mark question, we’ve not put this out to interviewees for a while – any particular stories or tales or ‘derring do’ you care to share, I know you’ve attended and partook in some particularly stunning events, often in inclement weather or austere conditions to say the least?
 

A02
: Far too many to mention, but one of my favourite fun moments was during a weekend at STANTA. Myself and A04 were in a rural hide, doing what we do best (no, not sleeping!) when we had a contact happen right on our heads between the OpFor and the local police. they were so close, that when one on the police died and lay down, he was almost lying on him! A couple of hours later, when it was getting dark, I had to leave the hide to go to a prearranged dead letter box position to collect an item we needed. 


After crawling there and lying up there for a few minutes, as it was a fairly risky thing to do, I was very surprised when an opfor patrol walked over me, and I mean over me! Walked on my back, arm and my L119a1 without noticing. And that is the power of a decent well prepped ghillie suit kids! Oh how I laughed after! Not real laughs as it would have given our position away, but I wrote it down for A04 after.
 

A03
: crikey there have been some awesome moments over my time in the sport. We are still building up as the Alpha Group  slowly with some great mini ops under our belts but I think I’ve got to hark back to maybe my T1 days for some of the most amazing experience to date. 
Getting lifted at a cheeky sub up was as strange as it sounds a stand out moment for me. Being put through the mill by the OpFor and mentally tested to my limits during interrogations really got my juices flowing. 



Wendigo 2 Arctic OP
with some of the finest guys I know was also a different level of challenge. 48hrs of proper hard graft followed by the reward of BBQ, beers, hot tubs and ice plunges in frozen lakes takes a lot of beating. 


 

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? 
 

A02
: 30 round mags all the way for me. It feels natural to me, and keeps that mind eye on ammo conservation. It also develops the team as a whole, in terms of how we fire and manoeuvre, without getting bogged down in endless firefights. It’s a sight to behold haha! 
 

A03
: Love me a low/real cap and for MilSim that’s what I run for the most part. It forces you to think about your targets and if you need to engage head on or suppress and flank. We do love a bit of flanking action. 
Normally up the ammo count for a Sunday skirmish but keep the combat maracas behind. That’s what we have A04 and his LMG’s for.
 
 
 

… Life is Good – A02 & A03

Huge thanks to A02 & A03 from the Alpha Group, keep up with their exploits right here – S23


Alpha Group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/milsimalpha/

Alpha Group Instagram: http://instagram.com/alphagroupmilsim


S23 is proudly sponsored by ToySoldier: http://www.toysoldier.com.hk/


S23 is proud to collaborate with Project Delta Whiskey: http://projectdeltawhiskey.co.uk/


Don’t forget you can read our articles exclusive to Airsoft International each and every month: http://www.ai-mag.com/


s23 is proudly sponsored by Emperion: http://emperionstore.com/


S23 proudly supports Legion Airsoft Events – fined out more here: http://legionairsoftevents.com/






An Ode to Locksmiths – an Interview with Noble and Blue

 An Ode to Locksmiths – an Interview with Noble and Blue

… I’m still in bewilderment how the internet has the strange ability to connect and unite kindred souls.

Sure, that sounds a little ‘overly romanticized’ and perhaps a little like the tag line from the movie – You’ve Got Mail’ anyone – anyhow, bad fatherly humor aside, I’m an unashamed fan of the two Finnish gentlemen and so should you be too.
Whilst I’ve put thousands of pounds of gear and kit both good and bad to use in the ‘trenches’ whilst waging much Plastic Deth – these guys have, far more productively put thousands of pounds (or rather Euro’s) through thousands of miles of abuse through the beautiful Finnish countryside, mountains lake side walks, and treks through stunning forestry to boot – give a warm welcome to Noble & Blue .


S23: Welcome aboard guys, great to finally catch up with you both – despite becoming firm friends. I’ve been an avid follower of your exploits and adventures. To see gear and kit put through its paces, through the stunning Finnish landscape no less makes the reviews articles, and spotlights all the more compelling and in my mind relevant.

Anyhow – just to briefly set the scene, as mutual fans of testing kit and finding new ways to punish and put it through its paces, something you’ve always be upfront, honest and candid about is your former background coming from an Airsoft/MilSim community – how did you get started with that ?


Noble: Thanks for having us, we have been big fans of your blog too for very long time! And that is partly because of our background in the Airsoft world; we just love seeing all those amazing areas and venues you are playing and all the dapper loadouts you and your interviewees are carrying. And we have been amazed too that how quickly we have acquired friends through our blog, yourself being one of the first! Say what you will about social media, one of it’s best qualities is that it brings like-minded people together.
To me it all started back after my service in the Finnish Defence Forces actually. I stayed in the military for a bit after my service and worked as an instructor for conscripts. I come from a somewhat poor family and we never had too much to spend on stuff like airsoft guns, even though I always had a big interest in the hobby as a kid. So when my first big paycheck came in from the FDF after one of those week long boot camps we had, I went on a spending spree and bought my very first own AEG, a chinese MP40 (I forget the manufacturer). I was also big on history and WWII back then, and I guess I still am, but I have moved on from that, and thanks for that goes to Blue!



Blue: Indeed thanks for having us, it’s quite funny to be here actually given that we’re not known for airsoft, but it’s our pleasure to be here. Even though our interest in gear has come from the airsoft world, our friendship actually started on the local airsoft skirmish fields as well. Neither of us really know how it came to that, but somehow two very like-minded 

people ended up becoming best friends during the years.
I started Airsoft when i was like 11 or 12 years old, with some local school buddies with springer pistols, and it started growing from there towards AEG’s and larger locally organized weekend skirmishes as we got more age and budget. So I had been playing for years before Noble entered the fields and the scene.

S23: Naturally, the reason I ask – is whilst I want to talk about your exploits and adventures today, you recently sent over a stunning photo of you testing gear for a rare return to an upcoming Airsoft/MilSim event. Now, I mention this as we started to have a conversation regarding your current exploration of gear, kit and equipment which has with good authority made you a discerning voice on the subject, one which I listen to very closely. The lessons you’ve learned whilst out trekking and exploring how have they been applied here, as opposed to say the traditional ‘conformist’ load outs as seen by more traditional re-enactors ?
Noble: Well we always go by the motto: poor man cannot afford to buy cheap products. Of course we too try to find affordable solutions and count our pennies with every purchase. But the fact is that when you are outdoors with poor gear most of the time you end up wishing you bought the one tier up model because of a breakage or inconvenience. And in the worst case scenario you might end up putting yourself, and others too, in danger for operating poorly made and designed equipment.
So we like to put emphasis on quality, tested gear for outdoor activities, and this has overlapped to the Airsoft/Tactical side of things too. Before I used to buy webbing from cheap airsoft suppliers, and there is nothing wrong with that, but at some point Blue nudged me to re-enactment things and the lure of ‘issue’ gear was too strong to deny.


Then after a while the other learning point from outdoors life set in with me: use what works for you and your needs. I have since put aside my strive for UKSF kit and approach all of my tactical equipment from the point of view described above. But I am still looking for realism and real world solutions, rather than what works on airsoft fields. I am trying to be an active Army reservist these days and so my equipment aims to fill those needs. So my kit cannot leave me hanging, because it aims for “real steel” applications as well as plastic deth games.
Blue: As Noble said, we really delved into Real Steel kit through our joint UKSF re-enactment/impression builds, which no longer exist as projects other than getting rid/selling of said kit. I have spent years lurking on the Finnish geardo forums and admiring the kit people put together and I have great respect for them for going the distance and putting the effort in. Nowadays we’re personally more inclined to get pieces of kit that strictly serve our needs.
S23: I read with much enthusiasm, the adventures as you both trail across mountainside, march over marshland – frozen tundra and up and through undulating forestry of your home country. This question is threefold. 
What lessons and learnings did you bring from your ‘former’ past time when approaching this endeavor ?
What preparation and planning goes into one of forays exploring the great outdoors ?
And, what key lessons and experiences have you perhaps feel are of value and can be re-applied to enduring ‘Plastic Deth’ or at the very least – have they had an impact on how would now approach gears, kits and load outs ?

Blue: In all the years of playing Airsoft or doing other outdoors activities, I’ve found that there’s certain pieces of kit you shouldn’t hold your money back from. And I think the most important one is good footwear. It makes all the difference in comfort and protecting your feet in whichever activity you do. And especially outdoors, the weather and terrain will bring challenges to your physical and mental state, but good footwear can make all the difference and keep you going longer.


Planning on overnight and multi-day hikes is a factor of many things, something in which we still keep learning and improving ourselves.

 First of all I would recommend getting familiar with some maps of the target area, planning routes, figuring distances, terrain, weather conditions. Especially desired hiking distance, weather and terrain factor into how much food and water one should consume daily and what to wear. 


Everything you carry, weighs something and weight adds up surprisingly quickly in a backpack or a ruck, and all that is on your shoulders and back for extended periods of time.

Overpacking is easier than underpacking. This is just a quick list, nothing too comprehensive and could almost do with a whole article of it’s own really! 


Noble: For example, for the forthcoming MilSim game I am going to pack as I would for a two-day hiking trip, making sure I have enough water and food, but also all that I need to be an asset to my team, so there is that added side to the packing of course. But the principle is the same: check the weather and terrain specific requirements for your kit, plan for possible scenarios accordingly and consider this when packing. Basic stuff, but many a time it is just there where you can screw up the whole thing.


S23: Now, digressing somewhat – I’ve already seen you put GSI’s ‘Java Mill’ and Aerobie’s Aero Press to good use – but recently saw you’d also picked up another S23 favorite HPG’s Tarahumara day sack, thoughts on these ?


Noble: Well firstly, I cannot thank you enough for writing your own review on the Java Mill and Aero Press! I immediately did a Google search to see if I could get those from Finland, and I think it was not even a hour later when I already had the Aero Press and had plans to get the Java Mill from another store. 

Since then I have used these almost weekly, sometimes even at home, and I think I could not do another outdoors trip without them!


Blue: Now sometimes pictures don’t tell the whole story, but actually neither of us has picked up the HPG Tarahumara, yet. Not too long ago we got acquainted with another finnish blogger and entrepreneur, the man behind IMTT Finland and he’s the one who had the Tarahumara in our instagram. We met for a dayhike and discussed some possible collaborations between us and got a pretty extensive showcase of many HPG products from him, such as the Tarahumara, Umlindi, Ute and a couple different kit bags. I personally haven’t been much of a fan of HPG stuff, but there was one piece of kit in those products that got to the back of my head and made me really consider!


S23: What’s commonly your key expectations from kit and gear you purchase. What’s the defining ethos and standard you expect, when like I, your working from a disposable income ?


Blue: Like Noble said earlier, the poor man can’t afford s**t quality. Paying once for a cheaper product will more than likely end you up in a situation where you eventually spend more money on finding a solid piece of kit than what you would have spent on a quality piece in the first place.


Although finding the ‘holy grail’ of gear is always through trial and error and paying the prices for it, but oftentimes reading reviews and doing your research will save you money in the long run. And that is one of the reasons we wanted to start the blog, to bring our views and experiences accessible to everyone and help people make somewhat educated decisions if they’re planning on purchasing a certain product
And like we often do, buying gear and even clothing second hand is an option, as some higher-end brands cost fortunes brand new, but you can find good deals on lightly used ones that will still serve well for many years, if not forever. This is something that really helps getting reasonably priced kit when you are a poor student like I am haha.



Noble: Personally the two things that I have come to appreciate through the search for quality equipment are longevity and lightness. When you are rucking for long distances and you have to haul all the equipment you need to sleep, eat and operate properly, you want to have your kit comprised of lightweight stuff so that the overall weight of it all is not unbearable. 

For example, the tent that I got with my wife, the Fjällraven Abisko View 2, is incredibly lightweight! Weighing just under 3 kilograms it is a total bliss to carry, but that kind of quality and design comes with a hefty price though.


And when you are paying big money for equipment, you kind of want to see it last for a long time too. That is why we both moved away from Salomon boots. As comfy as they are, we both had issues with their durability. Granted we both used the boots almost daily, but even still, with that kind of price tag you should expect the boots to last a good few years of use, not just 12 months. When you have limited sources, like we do, you cannot have yourself buying the cheap option multiple times (or God forbid the fragile expensive option!) but rather you want to save up, try to get it right once and stick with the durable quality choice.

S23: Now, in the early days – of your blog that is, there was some unintentionally humorous moments, when either the wrong gear or gear and Equipment had failed, boots in particular. Has such lessons and experiences fine tuned your selection of gear and equipment ?
Blue: I mean, it’s not an adventure if Noble don’t soak his shoes! It’s almost become a running joke in the sitcom series that is our sometimes ill-prepared day hikes or other adventures! Though I think our adventuring footwear is now past the Salomon XA pro line and we’re equipped with more heavy duty boots, so hopefully this might mean the end of an era for wet feet.


Noble: Well I guess the search for quality kit is constant and sometimes even if you do your research properly and follow the current standards of the kit loving community you might still end up swinging a complete miss with your choice. The affair with the boots is definitely a benchmark for myself now for finding new boots. I now look for certain parts of the shoe to see if it is reinforced and made to stand repeated use. And if the new boot does not seem to fill the standard in my head, I leave it on shelf. I mean, I walked with the broken pair of Salomons that I had for almost six months because any of the Finnish outdoors stores did not have boots that satisfied my ideal for the next pair I would get! So yeah, we try hard to learn from such lessons, haha!


I actually ended up getting a pair of AKU Pilgrims from the UK and I have been extremely happy with those so far, and thanks goes to you again for speaking out for those boots! (I too use AKU Pilgrim GTXS23) AND I got them with GTX, so that Blue does not get the pleasure of seeing my feet getting wet anymore. 


S23: So, in the short while you’ve been going you’ve quite rightfully attracted an expanding and growing audience – many of whom, not only come from the outdoors community but ‘Plastic Deth’ aficionados too, do you think there’s a real opportunity to cross over more between both lifestyles – a lot of what you’ve put out has a credible place within MilSim and RealSim ?
Blue: It’s funny how things have slowly kept escalating as we keep working on the blog, and we keep gaining new acquaintances and connections all over the world in the gear loving community. All that brings us more and more possibilities for collaborations and new content to hopefully interest even more people with different backgrounds and introduce new skillsets or hobbies applicable to their daily lives. 

The Outdoors/Adventure lifestyle and Airsoft/MilSim are absolutely complementary worlds, which we love seeing collide more and more. Knowing your combat kit, tactics etc. is one thing, but so is knowing how to treat the nature and how to embrace the elements and terrain surrounding you. There’s so many things for a MilSim player to learn from basic hiking and “adventuring”, many times a lifelong hobby even!
S23: So, the blog has been syndicated by ‘Spotter Up‘ which I was very proud and pleased to see happen – I’m sure you’re rightly proud of such a collaboration, how did that come about ?
Noble: Thank you and yes, we are extremely proud of this collaboration and opportunity that Spotter Up offered us. It was wild how 2017 kicked off for us! I think it was the start of January when we got not one, but we got two reach outs suggesting collaboration, and one was from Spotter Up


This was something we both thought would have been long off into the future of the blog, if ever to come for us at all! And I think they too found us through Instagram, and thought at first we were Australian, for some odd reason. I think it was our pictures and overall visual feeling we have that caught their eye, but that our texts reeled them in for the collaboration in the end.
The feedback we got from Spotter Up has been overwhelmingly positive and the extent to which they have embraced us and have syndicated our reviews and articles has blown us away. Through Spotter Up we have had several of our writings featured in the Loadout Room too, which is one of the largest tactical blogs in the States apparently, and frankly that is a huge deal for us. Spotter Up also has a huge readership in the US and since then we have seen an explosive growth in US readers for our blog too, so needless to say we are very pleased with this collaboration, and all of the other collaborations we have going on as well!
S23: So, what next for N&B – new adventures, gear reviews – what can we expect from you both putting kit through its paces in the N&B Finnish ‘Outdoors’ laboratory?

Blue: It has been a bit quieter on the blog side for a while now, though we have a lot of pieces in the works and new projects underway! Summer always means vacation time for the both of us, and we try to maximise our adventuring during that, but we also like to lay back on occasion and enjoy a cold one or two on a cottage porch by the lake with friends. 
Noble: During this summer we both have acquired some very interesting pieces of kit, so in a few months after proper testing and evaluation you can expect to see new reviews to come up from such things as OV Innovations X HPG Under Pack Belt, AKU Pilgrims, Hanwag Tatras and Arc’teryx Drac pants, and more! And of course some new adventure accounts and stories of our endeavours both on and off field. 
And we have some new exciting collaborations coming up too! Maybe the biggest and most exciting one at the moment is the partnership we are starting with IMTT Finland


We both have an interest to transgress more on to the Real Steel training and IMTT Finland has promised to give us a basic pistol shooting course, PD1A in the IMTT standards. We might also have an upcoming collaboration, that we cannot discuss yet in detail, but you will find out soon, if it all pans out.
But we will not forget the ‘Plastic Deth’ either! The MilSim scenario is close at hand now, and I think we will try to be more active with the smaller games too in the future. We have a small group of friends, whom we assembled into a team earlier this year in anticipation for the larger scenario, and I think we will continue training and taking part in future events too with the team.


And you never really know what the future has in store for you. Last year we thought that this is going to be a minor past time for us, and now we have fans and readers from all over the world, with new friends and collaborations coming up all the time. We truly are humbled and blessed to have had such a great welcome for our blog and we only hope to continue to put out quality reviews and articles for everyone who are interested.


S23: … Really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, whilst you’ve somewhat retired from ‘Plastic Deth’ (Airsoft) I’ll put to you our 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 ? 


Noble: I actually played with nothing but 30 round plastic mags when I gave up the MP40 and got my first M4 platform! I always thought that even though I was underhanded against some who played with hi-caps, I still managed to hold my own and I loved the added realism it brought. I now have mid-caps in use, but I still think that if there would be more viable quality options for 30 round mags on the market, that is the way I would go. Changing the mag under stress, in the combat situation is definitely part of the charm of the game. 


Those power players who burst through the match with their drum mags and trigger constantly squeezed do not know what they are missing!


Blue: I personally see it as a possibility to elevate and challenge the players and their playstyle as well as the whole gameplay experience. You would need to pick your shots and angles of attack more carefully. 
I think the concept would fit MilSim better than regular skirmish games, because those who want to play MilSim should be willing to subscribe to the added realism factor, where it would mean more combat tactics, reloads, refilling mags and having to resort to teamwork when doing so in ‘combat situations’. 


Regular skirmish play is a bit too “Who sprays, wins” in my personal opinion, wordplay intended! (laughs)


Thank you so much for having us, it was a huge pleasure and honour! You can lookout for those ‘Beer-Mat’ photos from the MilSim event soon! N&B

A huge thank you to Noble & Blue for truly stunning interview- I’m sure you’ll want to keep up to date with their blog, adventures and reviews and you can do a the links below – S23

Noble & Blue Blog: https://nobleandblue.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/weekday-adventure-rainyday-mindset-tester/

Noble & Blue Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nobleandblue/

Noble & Blue Instagram: http://instagram.com/noble_and_blue

Noble & Blue YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5jgePE3_FTPFbRwnmimMIg

S23 is proudly sponsored by ToySoldier: http://www.toysoldier.com.hk/


S23 is proud to collaborate with Project Delta Whiskey: http://projectdeltawhiskey.co.uk/


Don’t forget you can read our articles exclusive to Airsoft International each and every month:http://www.ai-mag.com/
s23 is proudly sponsored by Emperion: http://emperionstore.com/



S23 proudly supports Legion Airsoft Events – find out more here: http://legionairsoftevents.com/

Secrets of the World – an Interview with Upp3rz D0wn3rz from DEVTSIX Group III Silver Team 

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.  


When the kit is finished and built, there is nothing left for you to do, and that’s no fun at all! 


You must always be WIP!!! In terms of ethos, most reenactors agree that attention to detail and accuracy is a way of showing respect to the real life units we portray.  

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/

**GET EM’ BEFORE THEIR GONE**

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/

Don’t forget you can read our articles exclusive to Airsoft International each and every month:http://www.ai-mag.com/

S23 proudly supports Legion Airsoft Events – fined out more here: http://legionairsoftevents.com/

Punk Crusher – an Interview with Dan W’s Project Delta Whiskey 

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 …
Why ?
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.


 It’s important for me to really relate to the goals and aspirations of somebody before I work with them, which is certainly a tick when it comes to our future partnership.

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.


… huge thanks to Dan W from PDW, keep up to date with all their projects and products here, and check out their growing collection of apparel, which can be found on their web store – S23



PDW Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectDeltaWhiskey/
PDW Instagram: http://instagram.com/projectdeltawhiskey
PDW Web Store: http://projectdeltawhiskey.co.uk/
**GET EM’ BEFORE THEIR GONE**


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/


Don’t forget you can read our articles exclusive to Airsoft International each and every month:http://www.ai-mag.com/


S23 proudly supports Legion Airsoft Events – fined out more here: http://legionairsoftevents.com/

Mouth for War – The Ai500 ‘The Gathering’

Mouth for War – The Ai500 ‘The Gathering’


The Ai500 ‘The Gathering’



So, I attended my seventh Ai500 and my seventh time leading Task Force Viper, a 200+ strong ‘battle group’ comprising of Airsoft players from all over the United Kingdom, Europe including strong contingents from Belgium and Holland.

For those not already aware, the Ai500 is Airsoft International magazines biannual weekend event celebrating the very best of Airsoft.
Always large in scale, ambitious as it is audacious in concept, this time out saw it largest attendance yet with over 400+ present.
Including industry luminaries naturally from Airsoft International, ASG, Thomas Jack, Airsoft World, Enola Gaye, Viper, ICS and much to everyone’s pleasant surprise Hereford Kit Company – this rounded out the event perfectly, providing an engaging and celebratory atmosphere off the field as much as on it.


This year, the first of two events – over the weekend on 09th-11th June was held at a disused and abandoned Theme Park, in Cleethorpes, in the North East of England.


It’s eerie deserted confines, stretching over several hundred acres, and subsequently overgrown with long grass, generous tree lines went a long way to not only offering an immersive and visually stunning vista as a back drop for players to wage battle over. But, one which is again unique and original and it’s abandoned post apocalyptic deserted stylings certainly lent itself to the games not to distant future scenario of civil war.


Day One

To manage effectively 200+ Players and the additional support of a QRF is no easy feat, and as such leading up to the Ai500 nearly six months of updates, posts, maps and even two blogs as well as six episodes of the ‘live’ ‘Command Cast’ where broadcast on the Task Force’ Home Page.


It’s this which not only broadly informs the majority of intentions, equipment required, event rules – but communications, tactics and much, much more – it’s almost as fun as the event itself and lends it self to creating an atmosphere and anticipation right up to the first shot being fired …


To break down and manage and command 200 players, it was agreed the best model to structure the Task Force on, would involve five separate callsigns, each with an allotted sub commander, who naturally would operate on our radio command net.

Responsible for 40 or so players each, this allows I and my second in command to move around each call sign into action and onto respective objections as the unfold.
In addition to this, we again had a slightly smaller sixth call sign, comprised of Dave and his team, The Centurions.

So, after an evening of meeting new and old faces alike, taking advantage of many of the sites amenities – clean rest rooms was certainly a welcome respite from previous austere conditions. Catching up over either a hot coffee, courtesy of Hereford Kit Company who had Black Rifle Coffee on the go, or a cold beer and pizza certainly offered a little R&R before the chaos ensued …

After a succinctly comprehensive safety and event rules briefing early Saturday morning, I quickly assembled the five call signs Alpha led by Bruno from TACT Belgium, Bravo commanded by Mikey from Bravo 46, Charlie with Luke F, Delta under veteran Carlo T, Echo with Mike Templar and of course Dave P and his stalwart band of Centurions as Vipers QRF.


Led out to the cavernous old music stand, which earlier this year had been subject to a fire, partially destroying its roof – this, aesthetically only further added to its charm, as our temporary base of operations – our CP (Command Post).
If you look at the above map of the AO – you can see our position in the left hand border of the map, on the Southern facing point of the border, sitting squarely in grid reference C6.
Our opening gambit was to fight the OpFor on two fronts – Alpha, Bravo and Delta where immediately dispatched to capture and hold the structures between grid references K4 to N4 and then form a fighting position along the bank O3 to 07, thus effectively cutting of the OpFor from moving along the southern bank of the reservoir.

During this assault Charlie and Echo, spearheaded by the QRF swept straight to capture our first objective – the hill situated alongside the rail track which circumnavigated the AO in reference H6.

This was done in short order, meeting only minimal resistance as large numbers of the OpFor battled Alpha, Bravo and Delta for the structured areas furthest North East of our CP, in fact they’d established a solid defensive line which caused those three call signs to sustain heavy casualties …

It was in the interim Charlie and Echo pushed forward in tandem to explore and engage the enemy through the myriad of pathways and fence lines that compromised the former ‘pig pens’ thus putting the OpFor in stranglehold through to a temporary ‘ceasefire’ being called for ‘lunch’ …

This tactic whilst successful in impeding the enemies movements proved to be a double edged sword. Applying pressure only sought to encourage our tenacious and formidable foes to push back and reinforce the structure upper North Eastern corner – conversely when a third assault on this area was implemented in the latter part of the day, using a three pronged attack splitting Alpha into two assault groups either side of the reservoir with Bravo,Delta and the QRF liberating the buildings once more only served to push the OpFor back down the South Western flank onto a now heavily out numbered Charlie and Echo – who found them pitted against a determined and entrenched enemy and receiving not only head on direct fire but indirect fire 360° from small arms ambushes.

Ultimately, Charlie and Echoes pressure eventually kept a tired but no less aggressive OpFor sufficiently tied up, fighting inch by inch to dominate that South Western corridor. This undoubtedly allowed Alpha, Bravo and Delta during the late afternoon to liberate and dominate the North Eastern structures. 


Day One was undoubtedly a success, Vipers putting in tirelessly strong performance right up until EndEx.
However, pitted against our long standing foes on the ‘Green Team‘ who’s more methodical solid defense saw us jubilant – but tired and weary from a very heavy days fighting, Day Two would undoubtedly be the decider.

Far wiser and learned tacticians could dissect our decisions and possibly offer no end of invaluable advice on tempo of operations – but, this aside, I could not be prouder of Vipers stunning display of Violence of Action.

Our simplified communications net proved to be yet again, with the team work displayed by all, under the direction of the Sub-Commanders an effective way to move around large call signs swiftly around the battle space.



War and Peace



Rather suitably, the first days proceedings where now to be punctuated by a little respite, an opportunity to reconfigure gears and kits in preparation for Day Two of ‘Combat Operations’ reloading spent magazines, packing assault gear with ordnance, refilling hydration bladders and MRE’s to consume in the field and maximize time spent putting ‘boots on the ground’.
Once admin was squared away, I got the chance to catch up with Thomas and Ben from Hereford Kit Company, here enthusing about gear and kit for several hours was ‘gear junkie’ like me a highlight. Thanks to them both for the generous and copious amounts of Black Rifle Coffee too.

Finally, good friend of former interviewee Daniel Castro of MilSim Media, Omar from Enola Gaye and co-owner of patch fiends ‘Who Shot First LLC‘ had flown in from the States. It was a true meeting of minds, here discussing everything from PTW’s, Coffee, Real Mag counts, Metal and Hardcore as well as the differences in styles of the UK and US’ scenes. 
He was in particular, very complimentary about how cohesive on such a large scale players in the UK appeared, and more so considering the scale and numbers in attendance.

Alongside some good food, cold beers I also got to catch up with old and new friends alike, Scott the ‘Green-Side’ Commander, Stretch and the boys from PDW (Project Delta Whiskey) James Flynn and shoot the breeze Mike from Templar Airsoft before having a few late night drinks with Yannick, Bruno and my brothers from TACT Belgium

During the evening Scott and I hosted the raffle, seeing some special prizes won by members of both teams, the ‘poker game’ which unlocked tactical advantages for the team on Day Two. Special mention to Meggan Matthews who bid and donated a staggering £325 to Pilgrim Bandits Charity, who overall raised a staggering £690 in aid of wounded and injured service personnel.

Please check out the link below, and support the incredible work Terry Arnett and all of the Pilgrim Bandits do in support of our injured servicemen and women


It’s also to be noted, I was kindly volunteered by Paul MonafAirsoft Internationals publisher, and encouraged by my Editor Ai’s Ben Webb – that I be interviewed by Esturary Television news to discuss the Ai500. Hopefully some of you saw it, and if I get a link – I’ll share it here. A unique experience and opportunity if there ever was …

**AS RECENTLY SEEN ON UK DIGITAL NEWS**

A few weeks back as I’m sure you’ve already seen from the recently ran review we’ve just finished up the latest installment of Airsoft International’s event the Ai500 .

This year was the biggest and baddest yet and was recently covered for a news article which originally aired on Estuary TV, Stephen W the reporter who covered this has very generously edited up an extended cut, a mini documentary if you will – I was briefly interviewed for this and you can watch it all here featuring never before seen ‘S23‘ footage from my Contour camera …

* All footage remains intellectual property of http://www.astralmedia.biz

It was a fitting end to the Ai500’s first day, lending an incredible atmosphere, almost festival in tone and certainly lent it self to events title ‘The Gathering

Day Two


After a good nights rest, and a little recreation – Viper quickly assembled for round two, here on the second day switching CP’s to the far North of the AO.


Here, our objectives where threefold, having won in the previous nights ‘poker’ game ‘ordnance’ to blow to railway bridges either side of the AO’s Railway station we could annex this strategic area thus limiting the OpFor’s movement to other key strategic locations.


However, first – to move this into position we had to retrieve a means of carriage – which was deep within enememy held territory.


Thirdly, this needed to be moved by rail onto the two bridges and simultaneously blown. Easy, no chance – the Rail Station in between both bridges was also under heavy  enemey  control and defended by entrenched fighting positions.


Dispatching Alpha and Bravo to retrieve the case to transport our ordnance took well into late morning whilst Charlie, Delta and Echo and smashed down onto the Rail Station.


A simple and effective plan, which in theory should of easily seen us achieve this in no short order.


However, the OpFor had other ideas – on two heavily defended front lines they successfully held off the retrieval of the case until early afternoon – and subsequently threw everything they had back at us defending the Rail Station.


Such heavy resistance, even with mortar fire couldn’t break their resolve. So much so, with only one bridge to blow – the OpFor launched a horrendously huge assault that saw virtually all of TF Viper entrenched along the tree line covering the top end of the AO’s service road.


Viper fought right down to the last magazine, it was here we made our final stand unable to break down along the railway lines to blow the second bridge – desperate, to push on we continued fight forward but the OpFor had far too strong a defensive line to break …


EndEx was called at 15:00 Hrs – as I walked back to pack away gear, I shook hands with no end of smiling players from both Viper and OpFor, one thing was clearly visible and palpably evident we’d all had an event that was blisteringly enthralling, truly memorable and we’d just born witness to possibly the largest scale all out warfare which climatically brought the event to its stunning conclusion – undoubtedly, absolutely epic …


The Kit, Gears and Blaster …

What worked and what didn’t ?

It wouldn’t be an S23 blog without a little look back at the gears and equipment used in game and especially prepared for the event the Ai500.

First up, Multicam, like Ben and I most of TF Viper optioned this pattern – it ably suited the topography, the almost ‘Serengeti’ like overgrown summer greens and golden browns. Conversely the OpFor clad in their greens, woodland patterns and blacks had a distinct advantage under the shade and canopy of the dense tree lines that carved across the site.


New for this event, although recently Road tested earlier this year, was the LV-MBAV and Haley Strategic D3CR combination.

Added with an LBT kangaroo magazine pouch across the Plate Carriers front, just to pack a little extra punch – ammunition wise. This held true to its low profile aesthetic and kept weight and silhouette to an absolute minimum, as per original brief.

Arguably excessive, but the LVMBAV was run with real Lvl III plates and Soft Armor backers. This actually assists with its fit and form, and assist with correct interoperability with the D3CR.

Not for everyone, but I’ve always taken a degree of enjoyment and immersion suffering for my art and it didn’t slow me down even when up against players half my age.

Only other LBE added to the cummerbund of the plate carrier were additional CP pistol and 40mm Pouches used go  ‘Flash Bangs’ along with my second PRC 152 MBITR.


Now, the real star of the kit bag, used for the first time in ‘anger’ was FMA’s Aramid Fibre ‘Maritime’ Ops Core. It’s as solid affair, allowing me to intergrate my comm’s, camera and NOD’s.


Despite it substantially heavier weight against, say my former Dragon Red AirFrame – it proved to be no sweat even in the heat of the mid day sun. (no pun intended)


Last but not least, nearly ten years old, but well looked after – my ’08 PTW punched consistently above its weight against a plethora of high tuned, contemporary ‘Plastic Deth‘ blasters. Often accurately out ranging the very best of them, only just and there was certainly some sharp shooters out there who stopped me dead in my tracks …

That said, the incessant cross breeze at extended range, really reminded my it’s time to switch up to 0.28’s…



Thank You



So, my seventh Ai500 has concluded – even after the monstrously devastatingly awesome bout at H.M. Blundeston – it’s been in my opinion the very best yet.
An action packed thrill ride throughout saw both ‘Viper‘ and the ‘Greens‘ locked in combat over two days across several hundred acres of ‘disused’ Faire Ground in Cleethorpe‘ …


It’s was a bitter ‘war’ of attrition – and both teams, truly professional heavy weights slugged it out right down to the bone and to the very end …


Whilst the results have now been announced, a truly well deserved and hard earned congratulations to the Green Team, the real ‘win’ and reward for me personally is see over 400 + players tear across the site and thoroughly enjoy them selves waging mass ‘plastic deth’.
A huge thank you to Paul and Sharon from Airsoft International, Ben Webb and Ben Dickie as well as all the attending staff, it’s a privilege and pleasure to lead Task Force Viper on your behalf.

Extra special thanks and a hearty well done to Scott Connal, who celebrated his final game leading the ever tenacious ‘Green Team’ for the seventh time no less – I’m undoubtedly certain, we will still see him in the very near future.
Thank you to Hereford Kit Company, Viper, ASG, Airsoft World, Enola Gaye, ICS, Thomas Jacks and Nuprol The Pilgrim Bandits as well as support from ToySoldier.
Last but not least to the mighty Task Force Viper, you exceeded yourselves with no end of professionalism, honesty, integrity and fair play. I asked everything of you, and even when your pockets where fully spent of energy you still kept on going right up until the very last. Outstanding, I couldn’t be prouder.
Thank you to Ben, Luke, Carlo, Bruno, Dave and Mike for being superb sub commanders. Thank you to Tactical Belgium, Team 3D, Task Force Voodoo, Bravo 46 and The Centurions.
Extra special thanks to Megan Matthews again, for her very generous donation to The Pilgrim Bandits Charity.

S23

Special thanks to the following for additional photography:

Snook Snaps: https://www.facebook.com/Snook-Snaps-373945083002109/

Red Bandit Photography: https://www.facebook.com/RedBanditPhotos/

Elliot Knott Photography: https://www.facebook.com/elliotknottphotographic/

JVis & MvE Photography: https://www.facebook.com/JVisMvEPhotography/

Pilgrim Bandits: https://www.facebook.com/pilgrimbandits/

Ai500: https://www.facebook.com/Ai500-148728415210679/

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