airsoft sniper

What is MilSim Airsoft?

New to airsoft and wondering what all the hype is about for this thing called MilSim?

Pretty much anywhere you look in the airsoft world, you’ll see people talking about Military Simulation events, or MilSim. The specifics of these events can vary wildly, but we’re going to give you a brief explanation so you can understand what it’s all about.

MilSim–it’s a blast!

MilSim: The Basics

Like we said, MilSim games are meant to mimic military action. There’s two main types of MilSim games you’ll find: war games/simulations and reenactment. Unless you’re a major geek (*cough* like the author *cough*), you’ll probably prefer war games over reenactment. But, of course, we’re going to talk about both.


Just as you’d imagine, reenactment events use airsoft weapons to recreate specific battles from the past. Civil war reenactments are probably the most visible form of reenactment, but players aren’t just limited to Gettysburg. You can find airsoft reenactment events from both World Wars, Vietnam, the Iraq war, and many modern conflicts.

Airsofters reenacting a WWII battle

In reenactment, appropriate tactics, team sizes, uniforms, gear, weapons, and even language all lend a unique flavor to the game that many history nerd–including the author–enjoy. While the outcome is often set for the game (I mean, we are recreating history), the details are often worth geeking out over.


Unlike reenactment, simulation games strive to immerse players in a realistic war game, but without the strict rules of a reenactment. This blends the experiences of a reenactment event with the fun and objectives of a standard airsoft game.

An player in the ruins of George AFB, Victorville, CA

You’ll see realistic game objectives and settings that fit the theme of the game. Often, objectives require players to work together to beat the game, which is a little different from casual, run-and-gun weekend airsoft games.

Different teams may dress and equip themselves to play different factions, such as the local police, insurgents, military forces, NATO, the UN, and even civilians. The goal is to, for a weekend, create a conflict that feels real, unpredictable, and thrilling.

They see me rollin’, they hatin’…

Often, players will receive extensive briefings that fill players in on the lore, storylines, objectives, and other information to make the game feel realistic and develop tension.

Yes, we’re LARP nerds. Deal with it.

Prepping for MilSim Events

If you didn’t figure it out already, MilSim events take some serious prep to get ready for–more so than a casual weekend tournament.

These events can run from a whole day to more than a weekend of non-stop play time. Obviously, you may not be shooting the whole time, but there’s a good chance you’ll be camping out, cooking for yourself (or cracking open MREs) and participating in in-game events, such as parties, weddings, meetings, traffic stops, and so on. 

After all, even in a war zone, life goes on.

You’ll need to dress appropriately for the faction you’re registered with, and have the right kinds of weaponry and gear to blend in. This may mean hitting up a thrift shop for the finest Adidas track pants, or dusting off your vintage military combat uniform. If you need ideas, ask other members of your team for advice.

Rockin’ their best tactical gear

Chances are, you’ll also be camping out, which means you’re going to need everything you’ll want to stay warm, dry, and fed. Nothing ruins an event like wet socks with no spares, rumbly tummies, or a firestarter you don’t know how to work.

So, here’s some steps to take to prepare for your first MilSim event.

Pack Your Stuff

There’s a lot you’ll need to bring to an event, between your kit, supplies, camping gear, and more. We recommend starting your packing with a list–as well as by talking to experienced players about what they think you need to bring.

Some things you’ll want to pack include:

  • Stuff to wear: your uniform or costume, gear, and a few pairs of socks and clean underwear
  • Stuff to eat: plenty of water, a caffeine source, snacks, and meals (remember, you’ll be burning a lot of calories!), a way to warm food, supplies to clean up
  • Stuff to sleep in: a tent or bivvy sack, supplies to rig a shelter, a sleeping bag, a pad or a cot
  • Stuff to shoot: your guns, sidearms, BBs, spare batteries or gas, magazines, throwables
  • Stuff to survive: fire starting supplies, toilet paper, lighting and fuel or batteries, wipes to clean up with, hand sanitizer, a knife, etc.

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should get you thinking about what you’ll need to make it through an event.


Two words: wet socks. Or, how about these: swamp crotch. The weather is very rarely your friend, and it can get even worse when you’re stuck outside, at an abandoned water park off the I-15, melting into a puddle of sweat, miles from anything resembling civilization.

Part of weatherproofing your kit is preparing for the worst–rain, freezing cold, blistering heat… and part of it is just checking the forecast. Know what you’re walking into, and throw a little bit of extra gear in to make sure you’re ready for the unexpected.

camping fail
Don’t be this guy–plan ahead.

Waterproof boots, a poncho, sunscreen, and other handy supplies are easy to pack and you’ll be so grateful you did when you need them.

Pack a Spare

You’ve heard it before–two is one and one is none. Before you start questioning our math skills, let us explain. You can never have too many magazines, batteries, lights, BBs, etc. If any item is critical to you being able to play, bring a back up.

This goes for your weapons, your ammunition, your boots, your eye protection, and so on.

Read the Requirements

Some events have more standards and restrictions than others, so be sure to read through the rules and familiarize yourself with them before you go.

After all, it would super suck to show up in the wrong gear or without the things you need to stay comfortable through the event because you didn’t read the uniform standards or notice that water wasn’t available at the site.

Test Your Kit

We cannot stress this enough–try *clap* out *clap* your *clap* gear *clap*.

You do NOT want to get to the event and find out that your kit is not portable enough to hump it into the field and you have to lease a bunch of stuff in the car. Even if you just walk around the block, take an opportunity to load up all your gear and make sure you can carry it.

hiking fail
A tragic way to start your event.

Stage a camp out in your backyard (or a friend’s, or a campground, etc.) to make sure everything is in working order and that you know how to use it.

What to Expect for Your First MilSim Event

Without knowing which event you’re attending, it can be hard to give concrete details about what to expect, but some experiences are universal.

Airsoft Buddies 4 Lyfe

You’ll be briefed and assigned to a squadron, missions will be ordered for you to carry out. You’ll work with your teammates to carry out your objectives, and have plenty of fun and excitement. You’ll even probably suffer a bit of razzing and being bossed around by veteran players.

While you’re at your first event, be flexible. You’re still building your skills, defining your role, and figuring out what the hell is going on. The more events you attend, the more chances you’ll find to have to understand how you play, what you enjoy, and what types of games are out there.


So, if you’re interested in MilSim events, we hope we’ve given you a little more of an idea of what it’s all about–and we hope we’ll see you on the field!

Don’t forget the giant box of snacks, mmkay?

Have any questions for us? Are you a MilSim vet and have tips to share? Drop them in the comments below for us! Don’t forget to check out the list of essential airsoft protective gear!

Milo Harrison

Milo's a desert rat by birth and grew up in the shadow of Nellis AFB. He first discovered paintball in high school, but quickly switched to the world of airsoft when he found out how much less it stung. He still loves a pickup game in the backyard, but these days, you'll usually find him at airsoft LARP events.

View all posts by Milo Harrison →

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