Dogs of War – Mercenaries and Contractors – Pt2

This two part series began with the introduction of mercenary kits and everything related to that. This part continues with the same general theme but concentrate more on the “civilian” side of these kits. These are more aimed towards LARP situations and games. No one is saying they cannot be used in more general types of Airsoft games, however. With small changes the kits work well in weekend skirmishes.

As before, the kits used by our team, The Firm, will be referenced. The beginning concentrates on the inspiration and how the kits we use were built. Further on, the emphasis changes towards the use of said kits. As always, images will be plentiful for your viewing pleasure.

Inspiration – Where to look

Inspiration and ideas always come from somewehere. While some of our guys look into books and read history, some are more towards the mainstream media (movies, series…). We share ideas and combine everything into a cohesive structure. Having everyone on the same page and with the same mindset is essential to looking the part.

If your aim is not to pull off a specific portrayal, inspiration can be drawn from anywhere. We looked at old images from the Gulf War in the early 1990s and especially the security detail by 1st SFOD-D for General Norman Schwarzkopf. These images gave us a basic kit layout, which we used to build our own look.

Members of 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force) doing close protection duty for General Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm.
Original image credit to owner.

The inspiration for the “shoot me first vests” were taken from these images and others where they are seen in use. Why do we use them? One is for the “cool” (really, they are) factor. They are actually awesome pieces of kit. We have several of these from Banana Republic and other manufacturers. They are excellent for carrying essential kit like radios, magazines (both pistol and long gun) and other items that are necessary. The baggy cut they have allows them to go over body armor. Some of us carry real armor and some opt for the foam plates. Everyone does their own thing on that department.

Image taken by Lauri Heinonen at TSTOS Parola, in 2019.

In addition to the Gulf War images, we also referenced images from the late 1990s. Same unit, but in Bosnia. The main idea with the images is the same: civilian look. Taking from these images we built our own style with everyone adding their own personal touches. We received very positive feedback on the overall look of our group during and after TSTOS19.

Members of 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force) in Kosovo.
Orignal image credit to owner.

After Berget 16, the kits saw some small changes. Our general idea of how we want to build these kits evolved to something much bigger. We began to read into the history of different mercenary groups and build a history for the Firm. This ties to the fictional country of Zembala that our fictional firm is located at. Now that we have talked a little bit about where the inspiration comes, let us continue towards the actual kits.

The kits in use

Evolution has been inevitable with these kits. This is true for all kits. We started with the simple things and built up from there. Once the basic idea was there, we decided that some kind of uniformity was needed. At the same time, we wanted to keep personal freedom and not demand our members to buy a load of different kit. With this in mind, we opted for pants and headgear. These were to be Coyote/Khaki, when we need to stand out from the crowd. This can be changed depending on needs, naturally. Some missions might demand the use of helmets and in these cases, we use them. Upper clothing is always the choice of the individual. As you can see from the image below, while we are wearing some of the same items, we still look like individuals.

For regular Airsoft skirmish games these kinds of kits are not necessarily the best choice. And those kind of games are not the reason we made these kits. They are aimed more towards the LARP/Milsim games, where interaction with other players is key to some missions that different factions are doing. Using them in weekend skirmishes might not be the best option. We did have a few missions during TSTOS 19 (none of which required us to use our weapons) where few of us carried long rifles. While we did not use them, the kit allowed the carry of a few extra magazines and easy use of the rifle. So in theory, running this kit in weekend games can be done. Just remember that with the colors we are using here you might stand out like a sore thumb, depending on the environment.

If you do wish to use these kits in a skirmish scenario, here are some small additions that you might want to consider adding. Modern armor carriers offer the possibility to attach different kinds of placards to the front. Since they are detachable, you can have them with you and attach them when needed. Below are some examples how to accomplish this. In these images I am using two different carriers, one from Invader Gear and the other from Ferro Concepts. Both use the system of detachable placards, but the Invader Gear Reaper QRB is considerably more “overt” than the Ferro Concepts Slickster. You can downscale the Slickster to a basic armor carrier, but the Reaper is always more overt than covert.

Both of these carriers are awesome. I use them both, but for different scenarios. The Reaper fares better at carrying heavier loads than the Slickster. You can add more padding to the Slickster for comfort when carrying heavy loads, but at the end of the day it is not specifically designed for that purpose. The Reaper, on the other hand, is more geared towards that purpose. Here I say it again, you choose the gear that fits your needs. The Slickster is awesome when you do not need to carry heavier loads and need the versatility of placards (vehicle ops, for example). And it hides well under a jacket. The Reaper is much better at longer marches and when carrying more items. It does not hide as well under a jacket, but it can be done. Find what you need. What fits your playstyle.

While this post was rather short, shorter than previously imagined, my hope is that it gave some kind of an idea about these kits we have. So many things have changed with them over the past year, that it is hard to keep track. These posts could be updated in the future and maybe something more visual will be made of these as well. Not able to say for sure at this point though. I will leave you with a few extra images at this time, though.

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