Central War Gaming Blog

Central War Gaming Blog


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How to Clean Optics

We use optics of all sorts every day. Well, most of us. Glasses, sunglasses, etc. are optics. But often we go to the range or the field, and have to use dots, scopes, lasers, night vision, and more. A lot of those we paid good money for to get the best optical clarity, and use in terrible conditions. How do you keep them clean? 

First, assume every environment is dusty like the desert. Dust is made of stuff that includes microscopic abrasives, so best to assume even your house has dangerous dust from the most desert/lakebed/wasteland. Also, it gets you used to the right procedure, so you remember the proper methods, buy the right cleaning materials, and carry a bit of stuff with you.

I was taught:

  1. Air over brush
  2. Brush over wiping
  3. Wiping always wet
Get a small blower with brush from a camera store. Like this one: 

Actually, finding this picture I just learned that the brush comes off the end. But all of these types all work assembled together, so you can blow / brush as a unit and at the same actual time.  

Keep the lens level (pointed sideways) or actually point down a bit to have gravity help (why knock stuff free to have it stay there!?), but not so much you can't see what you are doing. Blow as much off as you can. IF you must, use the very very soft brush to wipe away more, then blow that off also. Occasionally flick the brush to get the dust off it as we'll discuss more in a minute. 

If convenient (not too big a gun or optic), etc I'll often finish with the lens pointed straight down, and give it a few good squirts of the blower to have gravity take one more help to knock loose bits off the lens entirely. 

Get a bigger one for home or if you have a big optics case. I like this Giotto one because it's a rocket and is very very good:
Lots of air, deals with most issues. The rocket bit also means it stays upright as shown so doesn't get dirty etc. They make several sizes of this rocket blower. The mini is fine for most things but if you want bigger rockets, go for it as more air moves more stuff.

Do NOT use shop air (e.g. a compressor). That's too much, can damage things, and shop air has (a little) oil in it which defeats the purpose. 

For more dirty, such as when it rains (or just condensates) on your dusty lenses, you wipe. Wet. Always wet. Wiping dry is also called "sanding." Don't sand your lenses. Turn the optic lens up (and don't forget, you probably have to clean both ends, so do one, then the other), flood the area with Windex (or similar, but not like denatured alcohol, as that can dry out the rubber seals holding the lenses in, etc). Use a disposable wipe and go in a very tight spiral from the center outward.

The edges are the most dirty so you want to clean them last, and... they are also less important optically if they are dirty or even scratched. May be other stuff with optics going on, all I know is people like Zeiss above do big NO NOT THAT symbols for any pattern other than spiral. Believe them.

Don't use microfiber cloths etc, as dust is bad stuff like we mentioned. The cloth absorbs some of the bad things, so you want to toss them if at all possible (same for hand washing actually. Get rid of the bad things). Hence the cleaning the brush off periodically also. 

I like Kimwipes. They make a lens-specific one but I am unclear if it's just a different box label as I have used both, they seem identical. 

I first used these professionally, cleaning scanner beds and cameras for work I did with Hallmark, which is another type of optic and the results matter, so aside from being a nerd for scopes and night vision, I've done this cleaning where people judged my results. 

If you need to get visible ickiness out of the corners, wrap a wipe around a Q-tip, and (starting gently, plenty of liquid) go around the edge of the lens, where stuff gets trapped. The stick in the image with spirals above is doing that, but we can normally just use a slight wad of the wipe on your finger. It's fine. 

This wiping is going to end like window cleaning. Okay, we'll also not assume you know how to clean windows. You blow / brush to get all the chunks off, then wipe once to get big dirt, then spray with a bit less liquid, wipe around in circles pretty fast to get all the dirt and residues off, so it's perfectly clean. Then... it should do this visible flash drying you see when good window washing. If spots (large or pinpoints) exist as it dries: it's not clean. Do it again. If it evenly flashes from wet to dry across more or less the whole lens surface, it's clean.

For emergencies, in the field, etc. these liquid-impregnated wipes are my backup. I still try to brush or blow off first, and they are less optimal than the full procedure. But they are pretty good, and also have anti-fog properties so are good for eyepro, glasses.

I suspect all the lens cleaning wipes from legit optics makers are the same thing in different packages, but snazzy ones like Zeiss that I used to find disappear a lot. These seem consistently available.

Speaking of field use, I am not a big fan of LensPens. They are too good at trapping dirt. I do keep on on my LBE when I need to brush off bad things, to avoid using my fingers just that once. I use it only when I absolutely have to, and first I flick it a few times once deployed so any schmutz it accumulated from previous cleaning or just being in the bag I have given a good chance of knocking off. 

Then use it pretty gently. More velocity than pressure, and the same spiral motion, center outward. Don't use the flat pad on the other end, at all. Ever. If yours comes off (some do) take it off and throw it away. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

We Supply Airsoft Pellets for Swift Fox 22

Yup, that's one of those questions we get a lot, so here's the details. You don't bring pellets, we do. Why? Two basic reasons: 

  • Logistics. CWG events are very concerned with operations, not just tactics. Ardean and Kitoy ammo is marked per side, and doesn't work in each other's guns per the rules. Each side's ammo is provided in labeled ammo cans that are stored on field and have to be moved around in the cans to simulate the real world logistics. 
  • Aiming. We don't use bright colored pellets (at least for rifles) so you cannot easily see and walk them on target. We want to simulate real weapons fire, so you must use your sights then either get an effect on target, or fire again. Issuing dark ammo solves this for us without you having to get specific stuff, and us checking on that. 
  • Teamwork. Everyone on your side (or at least a lot of them) uses the same ammo so again to the operations side, has to work together to handle ammo supply. 

Note that we aren't like most paintball games, and just provide the ammo. We don't sell it, but enough for the entire event is provided as part of the game fee. Some is not in convenient places, but it's all out there on the field. 

For those that really care, like who want to zero their guns and stuff, what are they? Well, it depends: 

  • Ardean rifles use the heaviest pellets, 0.30 for their .30-caliber 7.62 NATO rifles. 
  • Kitoy rifles use slightly lighter 0.25 pellets for their .223 caliber (it's close!) 5.56 NATO rifles. 
  • Machine guns are totally different, and use a mix of white and glow in the dark pellets, at a 4:1 ratio. Sadly a ratio, so there will be random bursts of each color due to the way feeders work. Unlike rifles, this simulates tracer, day (white) and night (GITD, since you DO have a tracer unit on your MG as required, don't you???) 

The pellet weights do even sometimes matter, so at extreme ranges the Ardean rifles will go a bit further. It's not a perfect simulation of the two cartridges, but every bit helps. We also issue twice as much ammo to the Kitoy for their lighter rifles and more magazines on the body. Remember, the unit of issue for Ardea is 4 mags on the body, 1 in the gun, 6 and 1 for Kitoy. 

The Initial Issue ammo is what we provide as a big pile to you at the Assembly Area to load mags after chrono (chrono is performed with white 0.2 g pellets we provide also). Unload the chrono pellets and load up your battle ammo. Ardeans get 300 rounds per player, Kitoy gets 600 each. Remember that spare ammo has to take up the space it is would in reality, so if you end up with half a bag of Initial Issue ammo because you use realcaps, do not stuff the little baggies in your pocket, but put them back in an ammo can for transport. You can also just leave them with your Ready Bag, as long as you use the ammo only for reloads there, such as when recovering from wounds at the Aid Station, and don't carry it around. 

Specially trained personnel with high tech equipment load your initial issue boxes, and place them into marked ammo cans.

What about the GDL? For now, we're doing that with minimal changes so they are using the same pellets.  That works as: 

  • No change to machine guns. If it simulates a belt-fed MG, then use the MG ammo.
  • 5.56 and less powerful (SMGs mostly) then use the 5.56 0.25 ammo. 
  • 7.62 M43 (7.62x39) or larger uses the 7.62x51 ammo. 

Don't steal ammo. Just like you don't take anything else when you ransack the enemy bases or kill them, don't take their ammo caches even if low on your own supplies. Pretend it's incompatible even if you are a GDL player using that ammo, and ignore it or "destroy" it with a note if time permits.   

Any more questions? 

Monday, April 4, 2022

What's a Ready Bag, and How Do I Use It?

Central War Gaming events lean hard into "light infantry" methods, for several reasons. "Light" is a reference to the weight and bulk of the total lifting and logistics tail required to move and support a unit. An APC is a lot heavier than the troops inside, and need ammunition, fuel, parts and repair centers; but the end result is the old joke that individual light infantry soldiers carry the heaviest packs. 

We also allow for a "ready bag," and it has been very helpful for many of us, but seems to still be a point of confusion for many participants. For many units at Swift Fox 22 — not least the GDL — this will be even more important than before.

There is going to be a supply point, for each faction. It may be at your basecamp, or near (but not quite colocated with) the aid station, or it may b somewhere else entirely. 

It will be a pallet with your resupply ammunition, at least one 5 gallon water jug and maybe other things. 

It will also have room for you to put your ready bag. Another bag, or box, with extra stuff. 

The backpack/ruck/bergen is required for the Arden and Kitoy — and suggested for the GDL. In it you should carry everything you know you will need for sure in it, and some specific required things like water, first aid and so on.

But you don't have to carry literally everything you might need. Say, the spare uniform. If you think one is good enough, put the spare in the ready bag in case you fall in a pond. If it seems nice, and dry, you can put some of your more extreme cold weather gear in the ready bag instead of the ruck. 

It's airsoft, so the guns are terrible. If you want to bring a spare, you don't ruck it around, but leave it in the ready bag. You can bring stuff into the field, have available, but not have to carry it with you.

(Remember, there's no going back to the car for something you forgot once the game starts).

Also remember reloads. You can carry ammunition into the field, but cannot make more. A 40 mm shell, or rocket, can be loaded into the launcher, but to recharge it with gas, and load a new projectile is something that can't happen in the field. 

We pretend you are going back to the supply point to get more ammunition, but you may instead use supplies you left there to to recharge them all. 

(Yes, if your stuff leaks, you can bring spare gas into the field to top off. We're not monsters). 

The supply point and your ready bag is often near the aid station because then it's close to you when you are dead and recovering. I also bring some spare snacks, a water bottle, and anything else I might want for comfort in my ready bag. 

When killed, I can go rest in more comfort than I might otherwise. For example, in the aid station I'm static so a warmth layer just for this loction is useful to not get cold. You may choose to even have a spare meal and the required heating and eating gear, so you can fully replenish yourself even if your ruck is far away, or just to avoid using the portable ones. 

If any of this seems a little unrealistic, remember it is a game. Not in the sense that it doesn't matter, but that it is compressed in time an space, and that other resources are imaginary. You can't attack enemy aid stations not for morals, but because they are supposed to be actual aid stations, with medics, and guards with fixed machine guns.

Likewise, the resupply point is not really just a pile of stuff, but there are logistics staff, and maybe even — depending on your scenario — vehicles moving in and out of there bringing you more supplies through the event. That's why you can have a rocket launcher with three reloads only, but go get three more reloads as many times as you want. 

Technically the ready bag is not required. If you want to ruck in everything, go for it. 

For the GDL, there's even more room to maneuver. You will have a basecamp so as far as we're concerne you can carry ONLY the ready bag of stuff, and use LBE or assault pack for what's needed in the field. 

As always, talk to your chain of command and ask what else they require of you, and plan for other team gear you may have to carry before you decide for real 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

If You Don't Like Rifle Grenades, You Don't Understand Rifle Grenades

The rifle grenade is almost entirely missing from the mind of the American servicemember or weapons aficionado. That’s because of project SALVO, which went nowhere but did give us project NIBLICK which begat the 40x46 hi-lo 40mm cartridge and eventually the M79 (it took a while to get a useful launcher) around 1961. 

The 40 mm launcher has taken over the throw explosives over there role worldwide for some convenience, and a lot because of my usual argument for the prevalence of the M4/M16: the US became the only superpower. Plus things like consolidation destroying many entire national arms industries, the easy choice becomes “buy whatever mature system the Americans make.” 

40 mm is fine, but the one bad thing it has caused is a lack of imagination. We think rifle grenade technology stopped being developed in 1954 so Korean War rifle grenades are what is being talked about. No one even considers what else is possible, far too often. 

Japanese soldiers firing old school big steel ENERGA rifle grenades off their Howa Type 64 rifles in the late 1960s.That's over 50 years ago. 

The Mythology of Rifle Grenades

A lot of people dismiss rifle grenades because of beliefs that are out of date or wrong. Let's look at those first:

  • Inconvenient — You have to carry blanks. Turn off the gas system, maybe change other things about your gun to fire
  • Needs a launcher — In fact, that you can't just shoot them off the muzzle then, but you also have to carry the grenade launcher adapter and first mount it on the end of the rifle first 
  • Dangerous — If you use a live round instead of a blank, that will ignite the grenade and blow you or your squad up. This is not just a danger but a fear so troops ca be reluctant to use, or flinch more. 
  • Ruins the rifle — If a bad guy pops up close you can’t shoot them with your rifle. 
  • Recoil — Use it wrong and they knock you down or dislocate your shoulder. 
  • Heavy — Rifle grenades are huge and heavy. 

The MAS49/56, the french service rifle more or less from the post-war rebuilding until the FAMAS, had a standard 22 mm lug and a gas cutoff system integral with a grenade sight. The earlier MAS49 had a grenade launching adapter as well.

The Truth of Rifle Grenades

So one by one, let's discuss each of these points: 


Nope, they don’t use blanks anymore. Most rifle grenades are what is call the Bullet Trap style. Exactly what is printed on the tin, there’s a trap, you fire live ammo and the gas AND bullet impact force are used to propel the grenade. Some — like the TELGREN and the JAPANESE WHAT??? are Bullet Thru, which also is entirely explained. Self- sealing hole down the middle, snags all the gasses and I presume a bit of bullet inertia also. Means you can’t accidentally use some AP round that might go through the trap but mostly lighter weight, as no trap. It does make the payload design hard, apparently, as you can imagine. 

Needs a launcher 

Nope. Not a thing. I mean, maybe for commies but let me introduce you to: 

...the 22 mm muzzle device. 

You ever noticed how all NATO rifles have the same diameter muzzle device? G3, M16, same basic outer shape. Why? Rifle grenade launching. Sure, dedicated orgs like the French have additional stabilizers back on the barrel for /better/ grenade launching, but all normal rifles, with normal muzzle devices, can launch normal rifle grenades for like 50 years. Grenade launching adapters are not a thing. 

The spring is like a gasket or detent, which the grenade snaps on to so it has force to overcome to launch and doesn't fall off, but still can be removed by hand if not fired. 


No such thing as explained above. So blanks needed so normal ammo will do fine. Safety has increased for ordnance generally so if somehow you shoot an API round it still should not ignite the grenade primary charge. 

The current French issue AP-58, a bullet trap rifle grenade

An early bullet trap, before and after firing, from a Mecar rifle grenade.

Ruins the rifle

Besides being old (no adapters, no gas system shut off anymore) this is an armchair commando comment because in wars what do you bring: All you friends with their guns. See this guy walking around with a rifle grenade mounted? Because he’s got friends with rifles without grenades mounted. 

Some KNLA forces in Myanmar maneuvering in a city, one with a rifle grenade on his M16 for an extended period of time.

Also, how’s an M79, M320, or even just the weird grip of an M203 give you the instant ability to shoot someone with a rifle? Even if you notice (aiming at someone far away, etc) my favorite solution in the very unlikely case this comes up: shoot em with a grenade! 


Again very old information and also sort of irrelevant. If you are a WW2 soldier with a big adapter and heavy steel rifle grenade you also had what they call Training. You know this essentially turns your rifle into a mortar so you place the butt on the ground. 50s-60s soldier? You are told to let it free recoil. Hold it at the waist and not let the butt touch anything. 

A re-enactor unloads the ball ammo from an StG-58 and rapidly fires two training anti-tank rifle grenades at a tank target. Between the mortar-style butt on ground and modern shoulder methods were many of these free recoil methods. 

And in both these cases, hard to forget as the grenade sights don’t work if you try to shoulder it anyway! But today, no danger. Mostly because the grenades are amazingly light. Some lighter than an M203 round. You know recoil is mass+speed so light rounds going not that fast is not that much recoil. The plastic construction also is like plastic stocks vs wood on a shotgun; they flex and soak up recoil. Yes, that works. The heavy payload end being squashily attached to the gun spreads out the recoil impulse to the gun, then, to your shoulder. 

A Marine tries launching a rifle grendade off a FAMAS. This is someone unexperienced, at full recoil. He's just fine. 

Some appear to have elastomeric attachments and the TELGREN telescropes. You extend it to fire, but on firing it collapses back down, which is super duper spreading out the recoil impulse over time. 


Again, old data, like saying all American guns are heavy compared to modern Chinese guns and using a BAR as an example. Exactly the same. Modern rifle grenades are crazy lighweight, and as compact as they can be so easy to carry.

Things Rifle Grenades Excel At

Mostly, being spigot launchers. Fundamentally, that’s the most important one to me. You are’t restricted to things that fit into a barrel, the requirement the outside of the projectile be able to handle in-a-barrel forces, or carry around a cartridge case or otherwise propellant to launch that. 

The full range of rifle grenades from one maker. Note how they are all different sizes. The size needed for their capabilities. 

So, rifle grenades are available in different formats, like HE or AT. Flares and smoke. BIG flares; need some illum? You can parachute flare rifle grenades with similar properties to 60 mm parachute illum.

You can do really weird things. I can’t find one this moment, but “Ambush Breakers” used to be issued to a few armies. A rifle grenade, but it doesn’t launch. Instead it fires a claymore-like wide-dispersion shotgun blast off the end of your rifle! No special weapon system, just second in line in your jungle patrol has this mounted and is part of the immediate action drill. 

A favorite of mine I SIMON, adopted with minor safety changes by the Army as the M100 GREM. It fires a moderately low-explosive charge at standoff, so you can knock down doors entirely, and with a reduced chance of destroying the whole room (and all occupants) beyond. Wide, long, odd shaped. Don’t need to make a new giant launcher for it as it’s a rifle grenade. Just stuff on the end of your M4. 

The French and Japanese (two who issue rifle grenades to their entire armies) both use HEDP rounds. They blow up and can destroy equipment and kill troops in the open, but also have a shaped charge that is large enough in diameter they can defeat armor of anything short of a fairly modern tank. 

A 40 mm can't do that no matter how hard it tries. HEAT warhead penetration is a function of diameter and 40 mm simply isn't big enough around. 

Cultural norms vary even to things like understanding rifle grenades. Japanese comics have Type 06s mounted pretty regularly, and otherwise rifle grenades are used in pop culture combat, not just 40 mm grenade guns. 

Rifle Grenade or 40 mm? 

A lot of this is about mindset. How does your army want to work. Like claims the MG42 is better than the 1919 or BAR are… asking the wrong question. They were each fine for the ways the armies worked, and switching guns would have been bad. 

The US seems to like having grenadiers. IF we’re fine with 40 mm payloads, that works then because they carry what like 2 dozen grenades? But what if you don’t like grenadiers, and want most of your squad to have the ability to fire explosives to 300 m range? Then, rile grenades are a much better choice than a grenade gun.

Similarly, rate of fire is often brought into the conversation, for the relatively fast reload speed of M203/320, and the immediate firepower of the Milkor MGL (M32A1-MSGL in US service, finally), but of course it's the same conversation. If only one person is firing grenades, then their firing speed matters; if the whole squad is firing, then you can either mass fires or have everyone fire serially with discussions of wind and range, to adjust fire for each follow-on shot in the same way. 

Weight alone, you can carry 10-11 Telgren (for example) for the same weight as 10 M203 and an M203PI. Over that load, the M203 gets the benefit. Under it, the rifle grenade. 

Then it’s how you approach it. If you like having a grenadier designated, then a standalone 230 or Milcor with 36 rounds on him is likely a good idea. If you want everyone to be able to lay explosives, then everyone with 1-3 rifle grenades is good… OR, mix and match. Which is what we’ve lost with so so very much emphasis on the 40 mm. Why not have both, so you can carry not just breach grenades, but redefine what “organic” fire support means and bring bigger boom, smoke, or illum to the platoon or squad level.  

Future Concerns — Suppressors: 

Since I like to think systems, one issue that is going to be arising is suppressors. French love rifle grenades but I have also see whole platoons issued with small suppressors. 

They may bring us back to all grenade guns or maybe… adapter like issues? You can’t shoot rifle grenades from suppressors or brakes. This seems solvable though, for example just put a 22 mm flash hider on the end maybe? But, worth keeping in mind if planning on equipping your army with rifle grenades as you may also want some to be suppressed. 


An idea that was actually fielded for a while in the 70s was the polyvalent grenade. That is just a big word that means it's configurable and multi-mode. 

See?! You can carry a hand grenade, and add a tailcone to it, now it's a rifle grenade. There are a number of other multi-configuration grenades around, like those with removable fragment sleeves, and now there are a few that are stackable to change how much they go boom or even become Bangalore torpedoes. So... it makes me wonder if things like this may come back some day. 

A similar French one spanned the introduction of the bullet trap and became suddenly 2" longer with a big, obvious steel trap screwed between the tail and grenade. While it was a bit clunky, it also points to another value both rifle grenades in general can have, and polyvalents specifically: they can be any shape so things like this can be done. 

Other Photos: 

Too much to choose from for the article above, so I tossed more of them down here. 

The formerly French issue APAV-40, with the shape charge and bullet trap visible in the cutaway

A French soldier from the 1st Regiment Marines Infantry (RIMA) fires an anti-tank grenade from an assault rifle FAMAS during a training session at the Forward Operating Base Tora in Surobi district

Monday, February 28, 2022

What Uniform Can I Wear to Swift Fox 22?

The three factions each have their own requirements, but the first principle is that they are uniforms, and allow identification so you avoid fratricide. 

The rules we have are specifically to avoid even accidentally thinking the enemy is a friendly — or vice versa — sometimes based on experience. While mistakes happen and you are under no obligation to tell your opponents who don't shoot at you that they really should be, deliberately looking like the enemy is not an allowed tactic, and is grounds for dismissal.


Ardeans all wear Woodland, British Woodland Pattern DPM, or immediately related items patterns such as French CE, Russian LES, or anything else that can be easily confused with it. If not sure, ask us but very different shapes in similar colors (like Multicam Tropic) are not permitted. 

Left is USGI "M81" Woodland, right by contrast is UK DPM on top, but with Woodland pants and hat, and a commercial Woodlan-ish pack cover. but at a glance, they give the impression of a uniform appearance.

That's it! As far as strict rules, nothing else. But do remember to not ruin your uniform impression or you may be perceived as cheating, or become fodder for fratricide. For example, if you want to wear a plate carrier, and it's Multicam... that's probably a bad idea. It may even escalate to prohibited because you are covering too much of your body with the color of the enemy. 

Different members of that same team in a different situation. The far troop is wearing French CE, but you have to know to look for the difference. Note how there's a coyote brown ruck and OD green LBE. Doesn't matter as the overall impression is Woodland. The pack is, when carried, covered with a CE pack cover to make double sure they are hidden, though.  

If not sure, try it all on, get a photo, and ask your chain of command, or just us directly. We'll advise if it is fine, you can get away with it with caveats (e.g. for the plate carrier: only if you keep the LBE on over the top), or is simply No Go. We do this a lot, and often it's easy to shift the impression with some tape, spray paint, or changing a pouch or two only. 


The basic summary of what you can wear as a GDL insurgent is: almost anything you want. You can show up in a clown hat, polka dotted shirt and red pants for all we care. Your chain of command may tell you to go change and certainly no one will want to be anywhere near you but it's not illegal. 

You can't however wear a red jumpsuit, because suitability and sanity aside, there's really only one rule:  

No matching tops and bottoms. 

That means two piece uniforms are also required, though we're pretty loose on what "two piece" means. A camoflaged poncho like a zeltbahn is fine, as long as the pants are different. All in all this is designed to allow you to buy few or no pieces of clothing. 

Some typical mismatched example insurgents

Grab your favorite outdoorsy clothing, camouflages or not and wear that. I could wear my gray Vertx "jeans" and a Multicam combat shirt with an OD green plate carrier. Non-matching, works great, and I am comfortable.   

These three on the right, part of a Ukrainian civil defense force getting refresher training, are good examples. 

Hats? We don't care about hats. Hats are most identifiable by shape. By the second CWG event we realized there was so much helmet use that attempting to differentiate by shape (one side used to be patrol caps, one boonies) was pointless. 

I'd wear better shoes, but activewear bottoms, military issue jacket, camouflaged LBE, muted color keffiyeh / shemagh 

Camouflage pattern on hats and helmets is not terribly important so for the GDL: wear what you want on your head, or nothing at all. You don't even have to be consistent, and can have your favorite comfortably worn tan baseball hat with the Surefire logo, but switch to a USGI boonie for sun or rain. 


Kitoy uses two distinct patterns, OD Green, and Crye® MultiCam™ and related patterns or close copies are permitted. This includes US-issue OEFCP, OCP, and Scorpion W1, UK-issue MTP, Australian-issue AMCU, Polish-issue Suez, and others with the same basic pattern and color scheme. Both commercial and military issue versions are permitted.

Even in classic as-issued Multicam-everywhere, green or woodland accents like the scrap of camouflage netting on the helmet, is entirely permitted as it doesn't change the overall impression of the uniform. 

We're not picky about what we mean by "OD Green" so any muted greenish color darker than khaki is permitted. 

Three different OD greens (uniform, boonie, LBE) and it looks fine. Everyone would say he's wearing OD green. 

Same as for the Ardeans — but assuming you didn't read that if going Kitoy — That's it! As far as strict rules, nothing else. But do remember to not ruin your uniform impression or you may be perceived as cheating, or become fodder for fratricide. For example, if you want to wear a ballistic vest, and it's an old Woodland IBA, that's probably a bad idea. It may even escalate to prohibited because you are covering too much of your body with the color of the enemy.

We don't generally care much about accessory equipment like assault packs. Here is khaki/CB and Pencott Greenzone, and... that's fine. The overall impression is still OD Green. 

If not sure, try it all on, get a photo, and ask your chain of command, or just us directly. We'll advise if it is fine, you can get away with it with caveats (e.g. for the plate carrier: only if you keep the LBE on over the top), or is simply No Go. We do this a lot, and often it's easy to shift the impression with some tape, spray paint, or changing a pouch or two only. 

From the CWG point of view, we added Multicam a few years ago because hardly anyone incidentally had an OD green uniform, but nearly everyone has some Multicam; at least some people have showed up with their work uniforms and equipment, just switched to airsoft. From the Kitoy, in character, point of view the army is a third world army in a somewhat eternal transition period, so individual units may have a mix of both uniform types. 

Since OD green is official Kitoy uniform, insignia, and brassards are still green, and LBE in green works well with Multicam uniforms as well.  

We also have been deliberately loose on mixing these as long as there's a good faith effort to wear matching uniforms. But if you want to wear ODG but your only GoreTex is Multicam, that's permitted. But with the identifier for GDL being mismatch, be very careful if you do this. Think about stuff like MultiCam GoreTex overpants, for example 

Dress for the Weather

Much of the plains around here, and especially north-east Oklahoma, is great for training because the weather should see a doctor and take some mood stabilizers. You might see 70's, sunny and humid during the day and freezing rain that very night. Literally. 

Make sure whatever uniform you bring has all the components to allow you to be comfortable in all likely weather. Becoming a heat or cold casualty is one sure fire way to make sure you have no fun at all. 

See the full set of rules for uniforms and equipment for more, or ask us if you have any questions at all. 

And we're less than 2 months to the start of Swift Fox 22, so sign up as soon as you can! 
Operation Swift Fox 22
22 - 24 April 2022
Force-on-Force FTX, Airsoft
D-Day Adventure Park Oklahoma


Monday, January 3, 2022

Everything lightsticks!

Here at CWG we love lightsticks. Glow sticks, Cyalumes, whatever you call them, they are just neat, but we also use them a lot because we just do training and landowners, residents, and local fire protection districts don't like it when you set the training ranges on fire. 

If you come to Swift Fox 22, you'll be loaned or given some stuff, like little bags of mini lightsticks for marking trails and campsites, and a few Cyalume flare-replacements. 

Operation Swift Fox 22

Wyandotte, Oklahoma

April 22-24, 2022

Sign up today!

"Minis?" "Flares?" Read on for more about all the various glowing products there are. 

Sizes, Types, Runtimes, etc. 

There are lots of versions and variants of many products, and while I am sure Cyalume has a neat Powerpoint explaining it all, they sure won't share with us. 

So, just the "lightstick" products (they make some other chemical light up things) and with some cross-brand info:


Much like tritium, the phosphors have varying output. I don't have a solid list but my impression is, brightest to least:

  • Yellow
  • White
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Pink

IR is only made by Cyalume itself AFAIK, and is hard to put on the brightness scale but seems plenty bright, similar to the yellow/green range, through night vision, but has no visible output so... not really a 1:1 comparison.

I think Cyalume doesn't make pink. it is often identified just by colored stickers which look like (or may be SOLD AS) red. It's not. They also look closer to purple to my eye, but it's called Pink. 

Colors when illuminated have no obvious relationship to colors when not snapped. If it matters what color a lightstick is, DO NOT take it out of the wrapper. There is no marking ON the stick and the color of a non-cracked stick has a very tenuous relationship to the glow color. The chemistry is what it is, so these colors for the knockoff minis shown are typical but... I wouldn't try to memorize, this is just for fun:

Left to right, lit colors: Yellow, Orange, Blue, Aqua, Lavender, Violet 

Passive Lit
Yellow Yellow
Orange Orange
Clear Blue (IR also looks clear un-snapped)
Yellow-green Aqua (but also can be... yellow-green!)
Pink Lavender (did not come through in the camera, but I promise: lavender)
Red Violet

I'll add more as I find additional colors like red. 


  • 0.20 x 1.5"
  • 0.20  x 2"
  • 0.20 x 8" - Party or Bracelet or so on, novelties
  • 4" — Never seen one, but NSN milspec Cyalume product in the same foil packaging as the 6", same shape of light, with the hook and all, seems the same diameter I think, just shorter.
  • also 4" – Don't have one now, not sure of diameter but close to 6" size, just shorter and straight cylinders with rounded ends. These are always low quality, often don't all light up, or light brightly. Usually have a thicker ring around one end with a loop but often not fitted so falls off, can't be used to hang it without glue or tape to retain the ring.
  • 6" - The standard size, tapered, has become smoother over the decades but still faceted at the small end, transitioning to round, with a hook or loop at the smaller end and a round cap at 0.70" diameter. 8" is the overall length to the tip of the hook Mostly sold individually foil wrapped but bulk packs for special purposes are available. There are also 6" length ones that are shaped and built like the 4" ones.
  • 0.70 x 8" — Flare Replacements — 8" overall, but a rounded-end cylinder of 0.70" diameter over the whole length. No hook. Taped-on wire feet. Can be removed but be careful and you then have to take it out of the wrapper so use it soon enough.
  • 10" (not sure diameter) — Some in or integral with a plastic cylinder with flat ends. Sold for escape, and for marking of emergency scenes, evacuation sites like CCPs, etc. Also sold as a flare replacement like the 8" with two feet on the end as a bipod, also as the Self-Standing Baton, with an integral wire tripod to make it stand straight up about 4" off the ground.
  • 12"  (not sure diameter)  — Heavy duty, but not clear what that means. Similar marketing to the 10" but not as well cataloged (i.e. "shop by length" doesn't have a 12" size on the Cyalume site though they sell them)
  • 1 x 14" — No-name import that is broadly a 15" cyalume competitor. Seem to be reliable, beloved by divers for example, and seems to be reliable enough they tolerate them, at the $15 they are apiece.
  • 0.70" x 15" — Same size and appx shape as flare replacement, just longer. Often as high or ultra-high intensity. Often as impact. Some individually wrapped, some in 5 pack cylinders. Impact come in a resealable bubble wrap bag in the tube when in bulk, when individually... be careful? Available in IR in 3 hour mode but while they may exist I have not seen longer timeframes available in any colors.

(Sizes are nominal guesses, actual measurements are a bit under or over on average IME)

Other products probably use existing sizes above but are not sold by sizes, and it's unclear what they are:

  • SOS Signal Light. Light in a cardboard tube, extend and it comes out on a short string. Pre-made buzzsaw in a box.
  • PML, Personal Marker Light, permanently mounted to a case with a big clip, for putting on life vests, etc. USCG Approved.
  • PML Dual Personal Marker Light, two of the above in a rigid V shape. I am sure like cateyes the shape/size helps tell how far away, azimuth changes, etc. USCG Approved.
  • Marker panels ... flat adhesive things in square and round
  • More! I will add more as I notice and have spare time, give tips on the tripflares, for example. Ask if you have questions...

Illumination Times

Time correlates to brightness. Apparently it's pretty close to correct to think that all of the same volume have the same energy, and the mfg can tune how fast it all releases.

  • 5 minute "ultra high intensity" – This is practically a flare in all but the brightest condition. In moonless dark, is hard to look at
  • 30 minute "high intensity" – Also very, very bright. Versions are sold with little wire holders to keep off the road at a 45° angle, as "Flare Replacements" by Cyalume themselves. These are often quite cheap, but BE CAREFUL of the wire bit. There's exposed wire ends, so don't throw them at others in training or you can put an eye out. 
  • 3 hour — Apparently only for IR output lights. Cyalume 1.5" minis are labeled as 3 hour output. No idea if this is because of a mil request for that output level or IR phosphors are weird so they had to do that for chemistry reasons.
  • 4  hour — Cyalume rates their visible 1.5 minis at 4 hours
  • 6 hour — Many Cyalumes, but also my guess as to what would be the official rating for many third party 2" minis, and party sticks. They talk about a range of times, but including the tail end brightness, this seems right
  • 8 hour — Sorta the "standard" lightstick but mil issue ones also in 6 and 12, with no obvious reason why. IR is only apparently available in 3 and 8 hour.
  • 12 hour
  • 24 hour — I have never seen one, but reportedly true


  • Crack. Manually break and shake or (more effectively) break across the entire length. Even minis will get more output from breaking the entire length. Break multiple places, or run your fingers along the length, cracking as you go. 
  • Impact. Almost entirely only available in the 15" sizes, throw or drop from a height onto hard surfaces and they activate themselves. 

Cyalume Military catalog, including NSNs:


Mini Lightsticks

These are pretty common for trail marking and so on, but there's a bit to know about them. First, unlike knockoff full size ones, some are different diameters. Here the bottom one is from an $11 tube of 200 no-name, color assorted ones. Visibly fatter.
Top to botton: Cyalume, Lumistick, No-Name.

Note that Lumistick has the characteristic pointy end on the minis and party-size (as shown to right of the mini). They are FOR SURE not rebranded Cyalume but clearly from a different factory as much as quality and packaging often appears to be identical.

The larger size is notably larger. Won't fit into things designed for the Cyalume-spec diameter like the helmet mounts I've mentioned we're (slowly!) prototyping but a few of you have, or I presume the MARCO but I don't have one.

Also, to make these useful (such as for Swift Fox 22) I am sorting them by color, then bagging and labeling. The colors have already been discussed above. 

Tactical Markers

Mini glowsticks are very useful individual ID markers. I've had full size ones fussed with in the wrapper, and stuffed into webbing or helmet bands with varying degrees of success, and as I said they still generate far too much light. Minis work better stuck into bands, bungees, etc. and there are holders (all those shown are the 3D printed ones under development, absolutely NO ETC) to make them work better.

While these happen to be yellow/green, one good use is color. Aside from trying to color code your side to tell apart from other lights, you can code units. We've done that lately and it worked very well for a large movement; the scouts were blue, so everyone in the assault unit could find them, and could know to follow blue people.

Markers of any sort can be overkill. This (on the right) is brighter than the (left) cateyes, but is that necessary in the woods?

Often no, and it can even get troublesome, to glaring out NODs, harming night acclimation. But there are different environments. Built up areas have lots of light that can make cateyes disappear, so you can loose at least immediate orientation on your team. Distant lights as below can be even worse as the distant lights are so distributed and so many small points appearing and disappearing behind branches et al they are easily are confused with moving individuals closer in. 

The glowstick here helps make your team-mate pop, and (when you look under the NODs, etc) color can again help with more positive ID:

I haven't done it much, but suspect the long "party" sticks might further be able to help if the light environment gets really confusing, as they can act like cateyes, provide not just more light but a shape, so it's easy to tell how far away, and what angle your team-mates are facing. 

I have done this on the kid's bike helmet, both for more markers when biking at night, and to follow him around at night playground time and it seems to work. More to investigate there. 

"Party" Lightsticks

One of my favorite tricks is the party or bracelet. As thin as minis, but longer so when used as a marker they indicate direction or shape. You can indicate direction on a trail, or when taped to a guyline. Minis are too small so read as point sources so it's hard to tell how far away they even are.

Full sized Cyalumes CAST light. They illuminate an area, so in camp can give away your position by lighting up the trees above, etc. Even when you cleverly arrange the wrapper, they emit too much light. Just use smaller glowsticks if you can get ahold of them:

Both the small diameter sizes put out so little light you can make a patrol base so bright from paths and trip hazard markers you worry you won't be able to get to sleep, yet they only work in line of sight, so 10 m away you can't see it at all, even on NODs.

Minis can become lost. Toss one in tall grass or even a normal forest floor, and they can disappear under the leaf litter. In a sandy area, become buried within minutes. The party sticks you can stick in the ground so they protrude up.

If there is anything bad about the 8" mini-diameter party sticks it is their fragility. You can't put them in the loops of your MOLLE vest as they break instantly. They also come in 100 packs so tend to be campsite or very deliberate use. And, lightsticks expire, so out of wrapper they have only a couple years left.

But, to go down even further to consumer mode, they sell 8 packs! Foil wrapper, cardboard case.

I have had 100% success with consumer brands when trying them. I assume like many products, there is no cheap lightstick factory, just Lumistick makes them under contract so they are +/- as good.

Anyway, here's a video demonstrating the relative brightness, and how minis turn into dots at even a few feet range, while the "bracelets" are visibly lines at some distance.

Next, I have to find (I swear I have one) or make a demo of 5, 30, and 8/12 hour brightness Cyalumes. It's neat!

Extended Life

Before the next bit, I guess worth mentioning the context of why I know so much about weird lightsticks. Because we do training not war, and over time it's become hard to get pyro, it's expensive, and many places we use as training ranges can be both flash-flood and red fire hazard. We've experienced range fires with snow on the ground. So, aside from normal team tactics stuff (lane marking, working with your gear at night, setting good patrol bases and OPs...) and being a nerd, finding better solutions and spreading it to our students, we also have found these weird replacements to use as flares, of a sort, for training. Also... we've found some stuff because we use the same ranges over and over again for years.

Q: How long do lightsticks last?

A: Not the time on the label.

It's best to think of them as radioactive. They have a half-life. It is not that straightforward, but the rated time is /close/ to the full-output time. Then, they do not turn off, or drop off rapidly, but persist at a lower and slowly decreasing rate but emitted light is going to be there for long after the rated timeframe.

For how long? Well, it depends. And my observations are either purely anecdotal or from excessively small numbers of samples even when experimental. 

  • Normal 6, 8, 12 hour ones reduce to about 1/2 dimness for say... 50% more time, then slowly degrade further, giving dim marker-level light for another full time period. Say: 12 hours of full bright, 6 hours of dimmer but still "that's a lightstick" and use it to light up an area, and then another 12+ hours at least as bright as a party stick.
  • The 5 and 30 high intensity ones drop off to normal 8/12 hour lightstick level when they expire their time, then slowly over a several hour period get dimmer yet. I have picked them up after an assault (used as flares) to mark CCPs, set parking for relief vehicles, etc. After it's a flare, it's a good normal lightstick for a long while.  
  • Party sticks placed at dusk to mark campsite safety things are bright enough to see into dawn even in the winter (long nights). Not as bright, but bright enough to not trip over lines in the weird morning light. 
  • Actual minis are usually more dead by morning, to the point that you should consider timeframes when emplacing. Don't set minis out at dusk for a pre-dawn attack, but send someone after midnight to emplace or refresh them, for example.  For close range work, like marking where the handmic is in the OP: they work fine into the next night; almost like tritium, they are better after a few hours for this sort of stuff.

Here are the sticks from the video I shared above. Right about 24 hours after breaking the minis and the 6", about 30 hours for the reds, and the yellow party stick (look close, it's above the very dim mini) is from three weeks ago. This is about what they look like to the eye in my normal life, after walking out of the lit house minutes ago:

And adjusted to gather more light, not far from what you'd get more night-acclimated for the reds, but the yellow somehow disappeared, sorry:

The 12 hour red is still casting light; I can read things with it, if held close. The red party sticks are still marginally useful markers in dark conditions at least. The mini is very nearly dead, but is not much brighter than the weeks-old yellow party stick, which pans out. They seem to just keep going and going and going at their dimmest for... ever?

Here, I have thrown the mini into the darkest place I could find in my yard:

It's not that dark out here in the suburb, so a bad test and is clearly visible still. On training range time, we've seen sticks we know are YEARS old that stick out like a sore thumb, a series we can follow as trail markers under NODs when it's moonless under the forest canopy. Years old. How? I don't know. They must be cycling, somehow charging during the day a bit, but... I'll be damned if I understand the chemistry.

Nevertheless this is important to know if you revisit the same territory, use them to mark dangerous items you then clear (like IEDs) or jsut run on the same training range. Pick them up when done if you can. And if lightsticks are important safety markers then don't assume they are all found, and be especially careful about it with processes like color coding or similar (then you ignore that dim red one if blue is the color of the day. 

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