Central War Gaming Blog

Central War Gaming Blog


Monday, May 30, 2016

Pull Forward to Tighten

Chest rigs and vests don't really work unless they fit you. That means they snugly grab all over your torso. If you need wider or padded shoulder straps, you probably don't have it tight enough.

But the makers don't encourage this behavior. They tend to have one or two side release buckles (SRs) which also adjust it if you pull to the rear, and are then secured with a triglide so they never change. You are apparently supposed to set it up in the squad bay, then never change it.

But we have fat days, cold days where we wear more clothes, etc. We change, and need to be able to change the size of our rig, ourselves and as we wear it, easily.

The principle, if there is one, is to switch to pull-forward-to-tighten. A single adjustment, ideally, that allows the user to change the diameter of the rig as they need. Since a front adjustment or anything else would be a massive redesign, all we need for the gear makers to do is change the buckles to have the adjustments on the front edge. Then we could reach just past our hips, grab the spare strap, and tighten (or grab the SR and loosen).

Well, we can't do that (easily: some will do it if you custom order), but we can re-rig the webbing sometimes. I just did it on my new Hellcat so thought I'd explain that in detail as an example for you all. If this ever bugged you, now you'll maybe be able to fix it.

First, don't cut anything. You can probably do this just by taking apart your adjustment bits and running them different directions. If not enough webbing or you want more hardware, then go buy it. I'd also keep the old parts and webbing so you can go back to the original config it you want, or you need to sell it.

Anyway, first, we take it all apart. My rig has 2" SRs on either side. Between the two runs a single piece of webbing, which passes through a tunnel in a hydro bladder I have on it. This is a good thing for what we will do.

In my case, I set aside the original webbing and am using 2" seatbelt webbing. It is slicker so reduces friction, but maybe too much so we'll see if it releases on it's own. But, I could have done this with the original webbing it came with. 

I secured the new webbing to the left SR. I sewed it down, but you can finagle it with just threading through and tape or maybe a few hand stitches so it stays put.

Then, I rant the webbing through the tunnel to the right SR, and wove it through the buckle like usual. The biggest trick involves this. We don't change how it works, but it will still pull to the rear to tighten.

Except, we now have a lot more webbing. So, take the long loose end and run it back through the tunnel. It will end up hanging loose on the left side.

I like to adjust things with the left hand, so the right can keep securing a rifle. Often I want to adjust this while actually on the move, so it allows that more easily. You can switch sides, of course. 

Put it on, and you will find you can easily reach right behind the rear-most pouch and find a hunk of webbing hanging. Pull and it tightens up the rig! Reach around the right side, and you grab the right-hand buckle and tilt it up to release and loosen.

Now, you don't want loose webbing so another thing is to secure it. I made a bunch of extra, and sewed over the end. Then, my left-most pouch is the IFAK, so not used much. I run the loose end up and across the lid of the IFAK. The sewn end should snag on the lid so it doesn't come out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Unit Position Insignia

We didn't think through all the real world consequences of giving your unit position insignia (rank) and it... didn't go as well as we hoped. Not that many epaulets, and it's hard to find time to sew in the field.

So while thinking about other changes, we came up with this:

As a leader or commander of any sort, you'll be given a brassard. Slip it over your arm, button or pin to the top of your shoulder. Left side in Woodland or DPM for Ardea, right in OD green for Kitoy. Instant, portable insignia!

Proper patches as well as your position are pre-sewn, and you just slip it on over your uniform, or cold/wet gear.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hellcat - Steven Hoober

Since you asked, we've promised to discuss equipment decisions, tips and tricks that we do. More are coming, but if you want to see something specific just ask us.

My normal chest rig is something I sewed up myself a few years back. It's got two problems for CWG events:
  • It is for 5.56 mags only
  • It is starting to wear out. 
Not to mention it's a mix of khaki and UCP. So I put together a battle belt rig for Swift Fox 16, and it worked okay. But I've been on the lookout for a replacement for both.
It was especially hard to use with one arm in a sling. 

And over the past few months have concluded that doesn't exist. Universal rigs sacrifice too much to carry all types of mags. So, over time I'll be looking for two rigs, and eventually will do things like duplicate all the accessories, so I don't have to reset from one to the other, but both are just on hangars, waiting to go.

If I didn't change between blanks, live and airsoft, they'd be on the hangars loaded with mags, even.

Hellcats of the Ozarks

On the way to the work weekend for Least Weasel, we hit up a few surplus stores, and long after I got bored with the fact nothing interesting was there, I stumbled across an old SoTech Hellcat for a steal. Actually, it's a full MACHS, but that's just a Hellcat MkII with some med pouches. I love surplus store finds like this. It's not all used up, but seems to have been set up, maybe used in the schoolhouse, and then abandoned. Almost unused. And the front split was entirely unused. People do this sometimes; they like the front-center to be a pouch, or like over-the top rigs so bridge a center-open rig with a pouch. Works for me, as I like split front rigs, and get that primary wear point, unused.

Here it is pretty much finished off. Keep reading to find out how and why I got it there.

While the MACHS is pretty recent (and current I think) issue, the Hellcat is an old school design. Okay, not ALICE old, but it was the cool guy thing around 2004. So why the hell do I want something like that? Well... because of the way the world went, with all plate carriers and load on the armor. Aside from CWG banning that, I personally agree with why, and want a rig I can use without armor.

I also like front opening rigs, as they are easier to get on and off, and can be opened up for comfort in prone and elsewhere like a traditional belt load. And, I like that the shoulder straps are wide, flat webbing. Padding gets soaked, gets full of thorns, and more. Tired of those.

To a certain degree, "lightweight" is a state of mind. If you go look at OIF I photos, you'll see people with rigs like this, stacked with mags and other stuff, looking all Michelin Man. For that intense fight, when some people legitimately seemed to need 14 mags as basic load, that worked. But me, I am going to restrain myself, and have lots of empty MOLLE webbing.

Which is a key reason I like this style of rig. It has integral mag pouches, and some other organizer pockets sewn in. So with no pouches it does a fair bit of work. And that also means it's not particularly heavy, even compared to modern rigs. I suspect a Fight Light 2-Piece MAV (a rig I often suggest to people) with Helium Whisper mag pouches would be lighter than my Hellcat slick, but not by a lot, and there's still the same bulk, or more.

Setting up: 

So, this is my 5.56 rig, and aside from that being my primary actual shooting LBE, I'll (almost certainly) be Kitoy for the next Op, so spent the day working as little as possible, and configured it.

That means first I have to pull out my last two rigs, and make stuff to optimize it.

Almost first, you must adjust to fit you. Seriously, do this, a lot. Get helpers to find gaps and floppy webbing. Most LBE and armor carriers I see are not fitted right; yours probably isn't right, either.

Color, Name, Glow

I like khaki as a color of accessories, but this is pretty sandy, so a bit light. You'll see later I put green pouches on, which helps, but I still wanted it a slightly different color. Dye is a bit of a slog, and I don't necessarily want it OD green, either. So, I did the next best, dusting.

The shoulder strap nearest the paint can is duster. The other is not. Compare. It's subtle, but it helps.

Spray paint can be used on fabric in very light... layers. I hesitate to call it a coat, as you want about 1/5th of a normal coat. Further away than usual, tap the nozzle, while moving to get even coverage. 2-3 times is usually enough to change the color just a bit. It is subtle, so do it by sections or keep a pouch or something to compare to, so you don't go overboard.

Once that's done, the next thing I do is label, and add cateyes. In this case, there's velcro, so it's mostly just a matter of sticking them on. I am out of green name tape, so just used an old UCP one here but will replace that eventually. I also had no cateyes suitable for the space. So I made them.

Adhesive glow tape is readily available. Go get some adhesive velcro, cut the cateyes to size (it's more expensive) and a larger piece of hook side velcro. Peel the backing off both, and stick them together. Cut to size. Get some Teflon coated scissors or use something you don't mind gooping up.

No velcro on your rig? Write your name in sharpie or something, and glue on the glow tape. Adhesive won't work, but if you remove the adhesive backing (rub it till it peels up, take it off) and use some good contact cement, they will stick forever. The plastic doesn't sew well, so I always glue them on.

Wire and Tube

Lots of stuff we want to add to our rigs is not simple clip on stuff. It isn't a pouch or other accessory designed to go on, or to go on permanently. Without resorting to wire ties and speed tape (please! no tape!) there's a lot you can do.
In the center, Grimlocs are great. A little plastic carabiner, that loops through webbing. DO loop the slop through the MOLLE webbing, so it is oriented right. I discuss how I use these a little more later.

Top left, clockwise:

  • D-Ring adapters. I actually cannot find the ones I have so the link is different, but the principle is the same. Turn D ring sideways, pass through MOLLE, and you have a loop to hang stuff on. I use them for all sorts of odd stuff, like upside down to make battlebelts hang off shoulder straps. 
  • Velcro onewrap ties. They make a variety of these, and you probably have some on a laptop charger or something. I use these thin ones because they are dirt cheap and thin. They don't stick as well, and aren't super re-usable, but for semi-permanent modifications are better as they lay almost totally flat, pass through things, and you don't mind ruining them. 
  • Velcro onewrap tape. Onewrap is just velcro with hook one side, loop on the other. You can buy it as roll of straight webbing, also. Useful to velcro things to other things, wrap around a cable or item to make it stick to velcro, and more. 
  • UV keychain light. Good to carry to charge up cateyes, compasses, etc. I have it in a little sock of tubular webbing, and it hangs by gutted paracord. But it's here because hard things like this can make noise. Instead, cover them in fabric like that to keep them quiet. When hanging the light is way back inside the cover. 
  • Annex Clip. Temporary, quick detach MOLLE clips. Want a pouch to be super easy to remove? Use these instead. Note they mostly sell a sew-on version where it's permanently on one pouch. You can't use that unless you sew your own gear. Get the temporary one. 

Today I'll show you how I attached my hydro tube. I use an old school SDS carrier as it's square, so has no wasted space or bulk in the hydro pocket, but is a little insulated. The extra tubing is... complex to explain. Ask me later. 

I passed it through the proper port, then ran along the side of the shoulder strap. My old rig had a pass through along the shoulder strap, but that gets tedious and can gather junk, water, etc. This is exposed, but better overall I hope.

I used the OneWrap ties to attach it. Note that I did not tighten them up too hard, so it wouldn't bunch up. the velcro means it grabs the webbing a bit, so it can lay flat. It works.

Note that I also have a funny clip down there, too. That's... something I found. But it works. Keep spare plastic bits you find on broken packs and rigs. This one has a loop in the back side, which the OneWrap tie is attached to. Then since it's so thin, I ran that under the webbing, pulled the clip into it and kept goes around. I ran out of tie so... attached another to extend it, like doubling the length of a wire tie. Works great.

Radio cables would be run much the same, but since I am not a dedicated radio guy anymore, I didn't actually put any of my PTTs on. However, I did make sure to leave plenty of the shoulder MOLLE for them. That's why I anchored the hydro tube where I did. Do plan ahead.

I am using the map pockets behind the mag pouches for my notebook, compass, pens and some lightsticks. Sadly, no organizers for pens, so I need to come up with something for that. There's enough velcro, I am thinking of making some little elastic-on-velcro pads just for that. Could work.

Note the Grimlocs on the front. Dummy cords go through there, so you can remove the item to use it if needed. My compass is the only thing corded on now. I specifically do not do that with the pace beads as they have a tendency for me to get lost anyway, so I have to permanently anchor them to a piece of webbing. Note that I have things like this hanging below the mag pouches, so they cannot get tangled in them.


Okay, I am not running this slick. If I was just a gunner, I might, as I have my mags, the map pockets can store the notebook and snacks, and I have a hydro carrier. But I am me, and have sensors, and tools, and... stuff. I tend to carry too much stuff as an admin/leader, so I put on more pouches.

But I cheat here. I use floppy pouches. My favorite is the Spec Ops X6. They make X2 and X4 also. The number is how many M4 mags they carry, and the X6 is also the size of a SAW pouch. But they have one layer of fabric, and no other structure so weigh very little, and collapse to nothing when not used.

So, I stuck two of those on the right side. The forward one is about where my old rig's right side one was, but to provide room for water bottles, or if I am a SAW gunner again, one can be the reload pouch, one the admin/utility pouch.

By default, I put... nothing in there. Not a thing. They are spare space for the way I run my rig, and everything else has a home elsewhere.


The last thing is the IFAK. I carry a larger one than you might, but all based on actual problems we've encountere. It's not full of chest seals and spare TQs as we don't get blow up or shot. There's a TQ, Izzy and gauze, but it mostly has supplies we are likely to need like a half SAM splint, Aleve and bandaids.

I have been carrying my IFAK items in a clever quick-detach, fully-opening pouch I sewed. But I just said we don't get shot at. So, it's overbuilt, bulky, heavy and in UCP. So, I'm canning that. I have made a sort of halfassed pullout instead, using a CP Gear organizer in yet another X6 pouch. One advantage of a pullout is I'll be able to transfer it between rigs, or carry it as a general FAK when not carrying the LBV at all. I also need to get a label on the pouch.  

Now if I was likely to be shot, not only would I have something easier to open, I'd also stick the CAT in a holder near the center of the rig. Why? Because you might be trying to tie off an arm; if I loose my left arm, I am not going to get anything out of the IFAK way over to the left.

Fit and Test

Now, try it on again. It won't fit as things have changed. Move stuff as needed. Then strap down the loose webbing bits.

I am not big on cutting off spare. This has yards of spare webbing as I am wearing it crazy high, but maybe I change my mind, sell it, gain lots of weight. Cutting cannot be fixed, so I prefer to loop them off and secure them.

Don't use tape. It is not permanent, and ruins the webbing anyway with adhesives. I like rubber bands.

Or more specifically, old bicycle inner tubes. Cut slices to make indestructible rubber bands. They work by tension, so arrange them near hardpoints like triglides and SRs, or just back it with a bit of plastic card so it doesn't bunch up or fold.

I also slightly re-rigged the back panel adjustment to pull-to-tighten. Basically, all LBE is designed to be fitted, then never changed. But we fluctuate in size, if only due to clothing, armor, etc. If you don't wear the LBE (or an armor vest...) fairly snug around the torso, all the weight goes to the shoulders. That's wrong.

So you need to be able to tighten and loosen while wearing. I took off the lockdown triglide and ran the extra strap for the right side through the tunnel to hang down the left side. I can reach under the IFAK to grab the strap and tighten, or reach to the right to release and loosen. Works. Not optimal, but this is all done without replacing straps or sewing, so I may do more later once I try it a bit. Example: Replace the right side SR with a Camloc so I can change adjustment without any tugging and cursing, then lock it down. Maybe something like that.

Next, I need to try this all out. Sometime, I'll find an excuse to walk around in the woods, and get time to go to the range and shoot from it as well. I will find issues, as there's no way to tell in your house or squad bay if everything worked perfectly.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Least Weasel 16 Work Day

Your CWG staff visited the Operation Least Weasel 16 field over the weekend, talked with the land owner, inspected some items, got the boundaries nailed down on the map, and more that we won't tell you about right now.

Don't forget that special early bird pricing ends soon. Sign up by the end of May to pay only $100 — that's $25 off the full event fee. Act fast!

P.S. While down there, we also made some additional arrangements for the super-special winter event, Operation Inca Dove 17. Stay tuned for announcements on that soon as well.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Changes: Machine Gunners

We've made some changes to encourage use of machine guns at CWG events. Hopefully you'll all bring your MG now that you've seen how useful they can be, and with these changes to make it easier on you.

  1. The machine gun can now be your primary weapon. No need to carry a rifle anymore. 
  2. Likewise no need to have a rifleman's LBE. Machine gunners can set up their load bearing gear to carry MG ammo, not rifle magazines...
  3. Which is the last clarification. Machine gunners can carry ready to load ammo on their body. It works just like all other spare ammo or munitions; it just has to be the right size and appear to be machine gun ammo. 
Just get some SAW pouches on your LBE, and block them up with cardboard or foam so they are as bulky as if you have them loaded with 200 rounds of link. You can then carry as many pellets in loaders, baggies or whatever, as you have onboard the gun when full. 

You can also do things like get the cheap and readily available SAW boxes, and put the same amount of ammo in those. Real feed boxes and bags have snaps, zippers or removable endcaps making it easy to get inside, but keeping the contents pretty safe. Toss your pellet bags in there, then you can fit in in the SAW pouch, leave it at your patrol base, or just let it be carried around by anyone on the team as spare ammo.

Remember there can be up to a machine gun per fire team so there's lots of opportunity to field these. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Changes: Explosives

As a result of your feedback, and the actual performance of individuals at Swift Fox 16, we have updated, clarified or in a few cases changed rules. These are not all in place, but as we finish them we'll review each important change in turn here. 

There were some conflicts, un-helpful details and unclear rules about grenades, mines and other explosives before.

We've now cleaned them up, and the basic rules for heavy munitions and explosives are pretty simple:
  • If it goes boom or bang, it will cause casualties to anyone within 5 feet. 
  • If it also expels BBs, it is better at causing casualties as it also expels BBs which go further. 
  • If it doesn't go boom or bang, it cannot kill people. The inert TAG, Nerf or other rounds required to attack vehicles have no effect on people. If you shoot one into a crowd of enemy, no one pretends it explodes, and nothing happens. 
There are a few edge cases; if you actually manage to get hit with an inert round, you are still hit and become a casualty. But that does not give you permission to try to shoot at people with rockets.

Land mines have also been clarified. Not in rules, but in the equipment requirements. This all takes place in the modern world, and neither of them are pariah countries or over-run by terrorists. So we abide by international law and are signatories to compacts such as the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

Anti-personnel land mines are therefore generally not allowed. However, anti-vehicle and other types of self-initiating mines are permitted. There is still some use of anti-personnel mines, due to the consideration that they can be employed defensively within your own country. Check with your chain of command before using any mines to assure they are allowed, and safe to use.

Command detonated explosives such as Claymores are not considered land mines, so are always permitted.

Read more:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Changes: Casualties

As a result of your feedback, and the actual performance of individuals at Swift Fox 16 we have updated, clarified or in a few cases changed rules. These are not all in place, but as we finish them we'll review each important change in turn here. 

Ardean medics were not very effective because they died a lot, going to help casualties where they fell. Kitoy medics did much better, because they worked to have casualties brought to them. We've added explicit information about moving casualties now in order to encourage this behavior. Partly, we discuss proper ways to move casualties so players do not actually get injured, but we have also add a tiny bit of buddy care. While being moved or otherwise closely paid attention to by another player, your 5 minute timer is paused so there's a chance to get you back to the medic.

The medic is probably at a Casualty Collection Point, which we're now allowing to be the name for an actual tactical location the medic sets up near the battle.

The old CCP is now called an Aid Station. The Company (Kitoy) or Troop (Ardea) Aid Station is also notionally a staffed mini hospital, with doctors, nurses and guards. Therefore, it cannot be attacked or raided in any way. We'll also be sure to more carefully use universal red cross markings on them, as we all abide by the laws of land warfare so wouldn't attack a marked medical facility.

You cannot hide munitions in the Aid Station, so there are better specifications for how close people and equipment has to be to be getting recovered, and how far away bases and ammo dumps have to be.

We've also added some other details about borrowing equipment, and clarified the way some rules were written.

Read the Hit, Medic and Respawn rules for more details.

Questions, comments? Ask them here and we'll answer them or clean up the rules further as needed.

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