Rebel Rebel

Some thoughts on guerrilla fashion in airsoft.

I’ve noticed a new trend at my local site, and I’m not talking about HPA. No, what I’m talking about is a polarisation of approaches towards clothing and equipment.

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It’s best not to invest in too much kit to begin with.

There have always been two sartorial tribes in the safe zone. Namely, those of us who tend towards authentic kit, and the beginners who have sensibly decided not to invest in tactical clothing and load bearing equipment. At least, not until they’re worked out whether turning up to work / school on Monday morning with a bad case of facial BB acne really is for them.

But of late the gap between the two tribes seems to be increasing. For many, an old set of surplus DPMs is no longer enough. They have to turn up dressed like they’re about to infiltrate Pakistani airspace to bring justice to a global terrorist mastermind.

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Seal Team load-outs come in handy for those waterlogged sites.

To call their load-out ‘Gucci’ is an understatement. It’s what Elton John would wear if he did camo. Standard military issue isn’t good enough. It has to ‘operator’ grade or nothing. Hell, their underwear is probably 5.11. Not that it pays to dwell on that thought.

At the other end of the sartorial spectrum, it’s not just the beginners who seem to be sporting what you might call ‘aggressive civvies’ these days. More players are rocking up in jeans, working boots and civilian tops. This could be the influence of speedsoft. Or it could be a tribute to the scruffy look favoured by certain groups of US special forces.

It set me thinking. One thing that stops me hitting the field more frequently than I do is the faff of preparing. Living as I do in the centre of a large city, I can’t just hop into the car wearing cammies on a Sunday morning, ready for mock combat. I have to wear civvy clothing, and then change at the site. Often in the cold or the pouring rain.

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Rebel rig-out. Here, a less handsome stand-in is used to preserve my anonymity.

So why not just play in civvies? Or at least, civvies that would be halfway appropriate on a semi-respectable battlefield. The kind of clothing favoured by rebel fighters the world over. So, I looked out an old black woollen turtleneck sweater, a pair of past-it jeans and some builder’s boots that I happened to have lying around. Oh, and the ubiquitous freedom fighter’s black beret. Total cost? About £20.

I can happily wear all of this clobber (maybe minus the beret) on the streets of my city without looking like a terrorist or, worse still, a weirdo. Making the whole palaver of prepping for and making my way to a site just that little bit easier. Which at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning makes all the difference in the world.

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Full marks to Helikon-Tex for a well-designed and rugged bit of kit.

I teamed this outfit with a great new Helikon-Tex chest rig, that has plenty of room for rifle mags, water and Mk. I haven’t yet completed the look with an AK. But I have an answer for that.

One of my inspirations for this look has been characters like the gentleman on the left (who appears to be in the act of deploying an unapproved pyro). The photo is from Nicaragua in the 80s. And the chap is holding – you guessed it – a FAL.

I’ve touched on my affection for these timeless products of FN at least once before. And the practical nature of the folding-stock G&G FNC appealed to me for this load-out. Not only does it collapse easily into a small and inconspicuous hold-all, it’s also very rugged and, unlike other FAL variants, it takes STANAG magazines.

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The full-length all-metal STANAG-compatible FNC. Another G&G masterpiece, albeit with an occasionally fiddly battery compartment in the hand-guard. Also takes a (rubber) M4 bayonet if you’re so inclined.

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Stock folds neatly which means this full-length rifle will fit in any tactical hand-bag.

Another inspiration for this look was photos I’ve seen of sectarian combatants from the Lebanese city of Tripoli. These blokes happen to support separate sides in the conflict in neighbouring Syria. But I’m sure there’s more than an element of settling old family or business scores in their slightly half-hearted street battles.

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During the week, this part-time operator is a full-time retailer of dodgy part-worn tyres

The fighting seems quite civilised as these things go. During the week, these blokes are probably shopkeepers and accountants. But at the weekend, they pick up their illegally-procured AKs and AR15s (sometimes fitted with some rather tasty optics) and take to the neighbourhood streets to have a genial pop at each other. It’s seems a bit like airsoft, but with the occasional death.

This can’t be fun for the non-participants caught in the middle of it. But I can’t help thinking the participants get some sort of thrill out of it. Many of them certainly look like they’re enjoying themselves. A phenomenon that probably perpetuates more conflicts than we’re prepared to admit.

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A nice group photo provides the finishing touch to any Sunday skirmish.

So far, my new ‘come as you are’ casual wardrobe option hasn’t got me out of the house any more often on a Sunday morning, but with new resolve in the coming year, here’s hoping it will do.

 

2 thoughts on “Rebel Rebel

  1. I think your observations of the “operator craze” that seems to have gripped airsoft fashion in recent years is well justified. Endless ops core style helmets and tricked out M4s seem to dominate the field.

    I have a lot of time for the rugged freedom fighter aesthetic and the FN FAL holds a special place in my heart. I think it’s the idea of making do with what you have that appeals.

    Before long I will also be a secret airsofter. To my shame I will be opting for an M4 platform and throwing my rather worn crye on. The FN FAL maybe sexy but L shape reloads and a familiar feel have won out in my case. Guess I’ll add myself to the operator ocean.

    I hope you’re well and staying safe. Always enjoy reading this blog.

  2. Hi Allycat, sorry for the incredibly late reply. As you can see, I’ve been neglecting the blog somewhat. I don’t mind the writing, it’s coping with the very clunky design interface that puts me off. And no-one will read text without pictures.

    I knew you’d give in eventually and come back to the hobby that dare not speak its name! I’m sure you’re enjoy acting your shoe size not your age. We have to get out of ourselves sometimes; they say it’s healthy.

    I’ve been keeping well thanks for asking, and I’m still in a job, unlike many friends. Hope all’s good with you.

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