In short, an Airsoft ‘Milsim” or Military Simulation, is the closest you’ll get to experiencing military operations without being a serving soldier. It’ll scratch that itch of kicking in doors and posting flashbangs into rooms, allowing you to experience military-style operations and tactics all with the comfort of knowing the endex time.
Milsim events are all about realism. You'll get to experience what it would be like in real military engagements, through two styles of events: re-enactments and war games/simulations.
Through the use of props, era-specific uniforms, and historical records, the events aim to recreate specific battles from World Wars, Vietnam, and other modern conflicts using the correct gear and tactics.
Simulation games are better known in the airsoft world to be a blend of extended objective-based games without the strict rules of reenactment. These tend to have limits on ammunition and types of weapons you can bring but are less of a role-playing game.
That's the great thing about airsoft milsim events - there is something for everyone!
If recreating your favorite loadout with airsoft means donning your M1 Garand with 22nd mag is your thing then visit a re-enactment; there are plenty of events throughout the year.
This wide selection of milsim events in the UK allows you to immerse yourself in different conflicts and roles of the past. These events usually have strict rules of engagement for added realism and restrictions on weapon classes to balance out squads.
Alternatively if kitting yourself out in Crye clothing alongside your replica Black Hawk Down M4 is for you then a simulation is your type of event. These airsoft experiences allow for more action and freedom than a re-enactment day, and will often include airsoft games designed by those with military experience, including props such as vehicles and HVTs.
Unlike your normal all-day skirmish with regular tea and biscuit breaks, hi-cap mags, and your favourite cheeseburger at lunch, Milsim events can run from 24hrs up to and beyond 72 hrs depending on the airsoft site and team sizes.
These operations generally run for these lengths of time to provide an immersive feel to gameplay with operators deep in the action with continuous objectives until endex.
This helps to build on that close to reality experience that most may never experience.
It also allows for thought-out stories and scenarios during events to be intricately detailed with rolling objectives to allow teams to utilise tactical playstyles to execute their missions. These can include faction-wide command radios, civilian players (non-hostile characters), and specific clothing and uniform choices all to gain the upper hand.
If you’re looking at signing up for a milsim that lasts over 24 hours you’ll need to plan ahead; I’m yet to see hotel facilities on sites. Best pack that camping gear and roll mat.
Which leads us on nicely to how to prepare for your first milsim event.
Firstly food, water, snacks, and warm kit are king here. Don't forget that jack flask either.
That beef jerky also ain’t gonna cut it for multiple day and night operations, so make sure you have the right food to fuel you throughout your time on-site.
Let's draw up a kit list for your first event.
This will be dependent on the airsoft team/faction you have joined. Make sure you have clothing suitable for the weather and can survive uneven terrain.
Plate carriers, webbing, and other tactical gear
Ensure your kit is stress-tested in the field beforehand. Battle rattle is frowned upon so make sure your kit fits you and your gear is not bouncing around. Sniper tape is your friend, no loose straps, please!
Make sure your airsoft gun is serviceable, i.e. you have fired and used it multiple times and that it is fit for the event ahead. Don't turn up with a brand-new rifle still in the wrapper not knowing if it works or not.
If you have a spare it’s always worth bringing backup weapons so you don’t have to miss the action if your primary fails.
Ammunition (BBs) and Pyrotechnics
You have plenty of ammunition and it is the correct ammunition (this may be dictated in the event scenarios as to how much you can carry and have for the event, including any restrictions on speed loaders or the number of magazines carried)
Consumables such as pyros are fit for purpose and within regulation (usually, blank firing grenades are fine but don't be sneaking an MK7 into a room clearance and blow someone's ears off)
Batteries (tried, tested, and charged! Depending on the length of the operation you may need to bring a battery charger that you can plug into your car).
Magazines (all in working order and of the right capacity for the event. Most events will run low or mid-caps to replicate realism)
You should always ensure you have good quality eye protection with you, and if you’re doing an extended operation perhaps bring a backup pair. A gumshield or face mask is also a good idea if there will be a lot of CQB action.
Radios and specialist kit
Night-vision goggles (nods), tracers, radio, and other similar equipment. Personal preference and gameplay dependant.
Sleeping bag/cot/basha. Whatever keeps you warm at night and off the floor.
Ample food for the event, this goes without saying. You will be burning calories! Get those snacks in your field pack or belt kit. They are a lifesaver. If you want hot food you’ll most likely have to bring your own cooking equipment too.
On a serious note, guys going down with dehydration is a real problem. Ensure you bring plenty of water (a water bladder or water bottle is fine) and take on board adequate fluids.
A change of socks, underwear, etc. Goes without saying foot hygiene in the field is another major problem. At night, air your feet and get some fresh socks on. If you suffer from blisters, tape your feet up properly. Compeed is your friend!
Look after your personal hygiene in the field so the enemy can’t smell you from a mile off.
Wet and Warm Kit
No need to be a hero. Stay warm, stay dry. If in doubt pack a spare: two is one and one is none.
Read the requirements of the event, a kit list will most certainly be provided.
Ask experienced airsoft players and you’re going to receive the usual answer of ‘intense’. Regardless of what other answers you may get, this is nothing like a casual airsoft day.
Morning routine will often start with team commanders delivering a set of orders with objectives and timings for the day. Sections and fireteams will then be instructed on what their individual objectives will be alongside their main effort.
You will be expected to be carrying the correct equipment with an understanding of the timings and objectives of the day as with any skirmish event or military operation. Specialist kit such as breaching tools may also be added to your fireteam’s list on top of the basic equipment all teams have to carry.
Just like any military unit in the world, you'll be expected to operate as part of a team. Other than adjusting to the military lingo, you're about to experience what will possibly be the closest thing to being a soldier you can wish for.
Immerse yourself, soak up the knowledge of experienced players and enjoy your first milsim!
One more tip; don't call your team commander your mate. Lots of the experienced airsofters at these events are veterans and potentially serving soldiers that take these events seriously.
Be respectful of your position in the team, give your ideas and use it as a great opportunity for training and honing your skills.