Every airsoft blog has a section about the author’s ‘loadout’. It’s almost like there’s an EU directive of some sort mandating it.
Truth be told, I don’t really like the expression ‘loadout’. I prefer the British Army vernacular CEFO (Combat Equipment, Fighting Order) or, more technically, ‘kit’. In this post, we’ll be looking at the kit I use for a typical skirmish when I’m toting an assault rifle.
It’s worth saying I have another set of kit for when I’m playing a sniper role (any excuse for more stuff) and supplementary items for overnight games. We’ll probably cover these in later posts.
I’ve played around with everything from chest rigs to vests and full webbing set-ups, but experience has taught me to Keep It Simple, Stupid. Only carry what you’ll need on the field, and carry it in as efficient a way as possible.
Of course, when you’re carrying a fair amount of weight about your person in the form of lard, a commitment to minimalism is even more important.
So I’ve boiled everything down to belt kit. I don’t even wear a yoke (suspenders). I’m not lugging round real 5.56, so the weight is actually quite manageable without a harness, provided the load sits comfortably on my hips.
I’ve put the belt kit together myself using my own choice of pouches. Most of these I’ve sourced from http://www.combatkit.net, a Croatia-based outfit that produce a wide range of kit in a broad choice of fabrics. My only gripe with Combatkit is that, while their prices aren’t bad for what you get, their delivery costs are eye-watering. I think they send the stuff via the moon or something.
Let’s look at the set-up a bit more closely. Firstly, you’ll notice that all the kit is clustered around the back and sides. As all tactical gurus will tell you, this helps you get as flat on the ground as possible when the plastic starts flying.
This is an especially important consideration for me. My belly is so big that when I’m lying on it, my arse thrusts so far upwards it looks like a distant mountain range.
Going from left to right, first there’s a triple mag pouch. This takes three M16 mags or two FAL mags in each compartment. For most games, I pack hi-caps, so I don’t carry as many as this. Generally I use one compartment to carry BBs in a small Jack Pyke water bottle.
Next to the mag pouch there’s a slightly embarrassing bit of kit. Embarrassing because it’s not entirely necessary. Not at all necessary, as a matter of fact. It’s a knife pouch, with a rubber bayonet in it.
I’ve never scored a knife kill. And I’ve only been killed by a knife once, when a spotty youth pumped up on complex carbohydrates and e-numbers jumped me from behind a wall. I wouldn’t have minded but he was on my team.
All the same, I live in hope that one day I might find a use for ersatz cold steel. Thus I carry a ‘bayonet’ that fixes to my M4 and can also be used as a ‘fighting knife’. Of course, I’ve never had the nerve to shout ‘Fix bayonets!’ on the field, but like those who own a 4×4 but never go further off-road than the Waitrose car park, I like the idea that one day I might.
Next to the fantasy bayonet is something more useful. A litre of water. I’ve messed around with complex hydration kits, but in the end I’ve gone back to the simple old bottle. Somewhat unpatriotically, I use a Dutch army surplus one, which is modelled after the US pattern. I find it more practical and compact than the venerable British 58-pattern bottle.
The next item is a radio pouch for my Motorola PMR446 radio. I’ll describe my comms rig in a later post, so let’s leave it there for the time being.
The final belt kit items are a pair of grenade pouches. Like most airsofters, I like carrying grenades. However, I’ve seen enough educational videos on YouTube to know that you need to carry them with care, and never, ever in a jacket pocket. If you don’t have grenade pouches, use a spare mag pouch.
These pouches suit my expensive preference for ball grenades. I especially like the new pin-and-spoon ones from TLSFX. Using them is like burning £5 notes, but they’re easy to use and nicer to chuck than Mk Vs. They don’t stop me throwing like a girl, though.
Round the back of the belt, I’ve used paracord to strap down each MOLLE pouch good and tight. I found a paracord needle on ebay that lets you weave cord in and out of the loops on the belt. It’s the best 99p I’ve ever spent.
I said earlier that I take nothing onto the field that doesn’t fit in my belt kit. That’s not entirely true. I do stuff a few items in my combat jacket. Usually a pair of olive green leather shooting gloves (enough protection, but still enough feel), a compact of camo cream, a Swiss Army knife and some sweeties. As if I’m not sweet enough already.
I also have a very small 25 litre BCB day sack, just in case I ever do a whole day scenario. In this you’ll typically find an extra pair of socks, a fleece, a poncho, an extra water bottle, a thermos of coffee and some sarnies.
There are few things more personal to the softer than his or her loadout. And so there are no right or wrong answers. But this is what works for me. At least until the next kit catalogue lands and I find something better.