Central War Gaming Blog

Central War Gaming Blog


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Irons, Dots, or Scopes? There's Data on That!

An all too common discussion, or argument, is what is the best category of sighting system for infantry arms. There are a lot of traditionalists who insist iron sights are best, and much discussion of whether red dots, fixed power scopes, or LPVOs (low-power variable optics) are best. 

Well, a couple years ago the US Army Research Lab (ARL) actually did a very relevant study. Their plan was to determine if a universal zero or soldier zero is best. Now while that's not the focus of what we care about, to avoid you being distracted we'll talk about that briefly. Soldier zero is what you do with your gun, or what the US generally does; the individual zeroes his gun for himself. A Universal zero means the armorer zeroes the rifle for you. For example, the reason the G3 has a weird sight tool is to make sure soldiers in the field can't mess with it, as only armorers are allowed to zero the gun. On purpose. 

But to get there, they did a test of how well each of those zeroes worked... on four different sighting systems! 

That means we incidentally got data on how well each of those sighting platforms work, on the same gun, with the same soldiers shooting, under the same conditions. For those not 1000% familiar, I'll summarize which is which: 

  • Standard M4 Carbine Iron Sight — The MATECH flip up BUIS (Back Up Iron Sight), but basically an aperture or peep sight, with a range dial. 
  • Vortex Razor 1-6x — I guess because 3 years ago, off the shelf, not type classified scope. The defining characteristic of the LPVO is the bottom end is 1x, and ideally is like not looking through a scope at all. Also usually with an illuminated reticle, bright enough to be seen during the day so it sorta operates like a red dot sight at 1x. Reticle is not specified but will likely have a way to hold off for range. 
  • M68 Reflex Sight — The Aimpoint Comp M... something. They use "M68" for all of the several generations. I assume nothing based on the photo, but all Aimpoints are pretty bog standard RDS, or Red Dot Sights. If you think the holographic EoTech is very different, it's not. All Reflex/Collimator/Holographic/RedDot sights are about the same. No reticle, just a dot. No ranging ability. 
  • M150 Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight — A normal 4x ACOG, the newer one (replacing the TA01) is this, the TA31 (Army) or PVQ-31 (USMC). Fixed power, illuminated via fiber optics and tritium and no diopter adjustment for the individual shooter's eyes. Has a BDC reticle to adjust for different ranges if fired off the expected platform (M4) with the proper ammo, and everything is as planned. 

And the results? Lots and lots of stats. Let's not worry about them, and don't agonize over the number of participants. I do some research for a living, and for the type of study, and the results and analytical methods chosen it is fine. These are valid results. 

Biggest takeaway: Irons are terrible. As we've known for individual programs back to the late 1940s, anything is better than irons. Even at 100 m on a range, notably worse results. As I was once told, "Falklands experience confirmed that at 400–500m, even when you had the ballistics to threaten the foe, iron sights and fear were a bad mix for getting hits (we didn’t do badly - after all we won - but we did take a hard look at what worked well and what could go better)..."

As range increases, the next most obvious thing occurs, in that the red dot begins to suffer. This is likely the direct result of no magnification, so the shooter's eyes are doing a lot of work. 

The M4 and ACOG are optimized for about 300 m distance, and it shows here, with a notable dropoff in accuracy, nearly to RDS levels, at 400 m. 

The LPVO is the best as range increases. Likely because of the small additional magnification, but there may be something else such as dialing vs holding ranges. It's unclear, and would be good to observe people shooting such a test. 

One last note is that they did not test a magnifier behind the M68. That should have provided similar results to the LPVO, but it would be good to try out. 

Read the whole study if of a mind:

Effects of Sight Type, Zero Methodology, and Target Distance on Shooting Performance measures While controlling for Ammunition Velocity and Individual Experience

ARL (US Army Research Laboratory) TR-8594 (December 2018) 

Or bookmark the whole CWG library of info like this.

Using this Info For Swift Fox and other CWG events: 

Due to the limited range of the simulation systems we cap all magnified optics at 4x. But even then, we've seen the reduced-range version of these results as everyone brings their own guns and so we see a broad range of sighting systems. This sort of thing (or classes, or so on) is one reason that these results are not at all confusing and in fact the conventional wisdom. 

Even at closer ranges, there's a notable benefit to optics. While a red dot sight would seem to be enough, the research also was on a flat range, but we've seen magnification be helpful at least as close as 50 m, to see through brush, or pick out camouflaged individuals moving slowly under partial concealment.  

For Swift Fox 23 we'll be back on the ground, in the woods of Oklahoma. Try out your weapons systems and skills April 21-23. Sign up today.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Least Weasel Off but Training ON

We really tried to squeeze in an in person event in the fall of this year, but the schedule is tight. Fall is always busy and this year, everyone else is doing the same thing. Instead of fighting the schedules and having low turnout as well as causing agony to everyone in the community, we're going to try to help.

CWG has cancelled Least Weasel 21, our Force-on-Force event for the fall, and instead has two events planned, that we hope you'll all attend. The first is set up specifically to allow you to plan and prepare for your other upcoming Fall tactical activities. 

Fall '21 Fieldcraft

Keep your skills sharp or specifically prepare for force-on-force, re-enactment, training, or other field events by attending our short fieldcraft weekend. Starts mid day Saturday, and ends as early as the next morning, giving you 18 hours of tactical movement, bivouacking, communications, communication, observation, and concealment. As long as you can be comfortable, safe, and effective, bring and wear whatever you want, no uniform requirements. Sunday will be day of AARs, a chance to fix your gear and get familiarity with other CWG equipment and procedures.

11 - 12 September 2021 in Farmington, Missouri

Only $25 if you Sign Up Today

Operation Swift Fox 22

Our regular springtime force-on-force event will take place at the normal time, place, and duration, come hell or high water. And we mean it. We fight day and night, in all weather. And this time with a new twist, with insurgents to confound the battlefield with different tactics, as they do. Come prepared for anything.

April, 2022 in Wyandotte, Oklahoma

Watch for announcements of dates and when we accept signups.

Learn More

Sunday, March 28, 2021

What Weapons Can I Bring to Swift Fox 23?

One of the most common questions we still get is about suitability of individual guns. Can I bring my [whatever]. Adding the insurgents who are allowed to bring "anything," we expect it will get even more confusing. 

We don't want you to wonder, to assume it won't work because we're hardasses about all this, or to show up with the wrong thing and we have to work it out (or you start trying to borrow one) moments before the start of play.

Always feel free to ask us questions, but for your reading, here's an extended guide to weapons for CWG events. 


We have all used many simulation systems, but CWG force-on-force events are always — so far — airsoft. This naturally limits the range, but no more so than other projectile firing systems (UTM or Simunition), and it offers a broader experience. 

There are cheap, simple, and safe, plus are legally not guns so we can have: machine guns, rocket launchers, mortars, land mines, and hand grenades. Other systems simply do not have these, they are impossibly expensive and hard to obtain, there can be safety issues, or they are restricted by law at the federal or more local level. 

The vast majority of participants bring their own airsoft gun, which they often configure like a real gun they own, or have used in the military or so on. If this will be a hardship, such as because you are traveling, ask us and we may be able to provide rental guns, provide support (like chargers or batteries), or make other arrangements such as pre-shipping items to avoid the complexity of travel with what appear to be weapons. 

The 10-Foot Principle

CWG events are Force-on-Force. You shoot at people as a war game — not a real battle — which means you inherently want to not actually kill or seriously injure anyone. That also means the guns are at least a little fake, and we must wear some Personal Protective Equipment at all times. 

However, we want to maintain a sense of "immersion," and not feel like the event is clearly fake. There are a lot of specific rules about what weapon system, barrel length, and realism of accessories, but a good guideline before you ask us is the 10-foot principle.

If the gun, when carried around by you, looks real at a range of 10 feet, without looking too terribly close, it is probably fine. Since you shouldn't be shooting the enemy closer than that for safety (it is a rule, as well), this also works well in the heat of the action.  

If there is something clearly impossible, or fake, or wrong when standing 10 feet away, then it fails the test. For example: 

  • External gas guns with hoses coming off them: clearly fake. Not allowed. 
  • Many airsoft FALs and most AKs are simply wrong in a few ways. Some FAL grips/triggers are too far forward, AK receivers are too wide. But at a glance, even a short distance away, they look fine. Allowed. 

We have a number of other guidelines for weapon accessories, and sights, right under the allowed weapon types details:  

Let's dive into the specific weapons for each side now. 


Ardea issues 7.62x51 NATO self-loading rifles. Like many countries, they use several rifles, purchased over time, as budget or availability permits. In reality, units would tend to coalesce around one rifle even if the next one over uses a different rifle, but we've let that slide and within small teams different rifles may exist. 

Not any 7.62 rifle is allowed, we only accept: 

  • G3
  • FN-FAL
  • FN Mk17 SCAR-H
  • HK417
  • SIG 716
  • M14

They can be any issued rifle or carbine with any issued barrel length. No commercial, gunsmith-only, or airsoft-only variants. For example:

  • G3, or G3K, but not the HK51 as those were not real, factory guns
  • FAL, FAL Para or L1, C1 and other issued guns, with 21" or 16-17" barrels
  • SCAR-H, not the SCAR-L (5.56), and only with barrels from 13-20"
  • HK417, not HK416 (5.56), and only with barrels from 12" to 20"
  • M14s may only have the original 22" barrel, and may not use any railed chassis or folding stocks

No longer-barreled machine gun, sniper, or automatic rifle variants are allowed, even if actually issued. This is to be an individual rifle, not a specialist or support weapon of any sort. 

Only actual issue-style stocks used on service rifles are allowed. HK rifles should have the fixed original stock, any of the sliding stocks, or can have any of the Spuhr stocks if you have the money. FALs cannot use SAW stocks, or any of the adjustable sniper stocks, and neither can have adapters to use AR-15 stocks.

HK 51s aren't production guns, so not issued to any army. Too short.

Bog standard HK G3. All good. 

Same basic gun, with sight, railed forearm, Spuhr buttstock. All typical of modern military use of this platform.

Too much barrel, too much scope, stocks configured for sniping. The PSG-1 is a sniper rifle not a battle rifle. 


Kitoy issues AR-15 variant rifles or carbines. While more standard than Ardea, they are also — as with all small countries —do not have a single style. They buy or acquire through gifts small numbers from one maker, or to one technical specification, as budget allows. They may even mix and match parts from these. 

This of course means you can bring most any AR-15 variant that is a carbine or rifle. That means all the way down to short things like the "CAR-15" Colt Model 733, or the Mk18, with barrels as short as 10" and up to 20" M16s

No shorter length SMG guns, no 9 mm versions and none if the longer machine gun, sniper, or automatic rifle variants are allowed, even if actually issued. Remember this is your individual rifle, not a specialist or support weapon of any sort.

Any buttstock that uses the original receiver extension may be used. No side-folding stocks are allowed. Yes, even though there are actually folding stock variations based on the AR15, they are not especially reliable, and are far too specialized for general military use, so are not allowed. 

Way too small. While very small guns are issued for specialized forces sometimes, not a general issue rifle. 

Completely standard M4, with a 4x scope. All good.

A bit shorter, festooned with lights, lasers, and a red dot instead of scope. All good still.

Rifle length, more precision optimized, but (as long as the scope is not more than about 4x) then this slightly DMR-configured gun is also just fine. 

Too much scope, but also a weird, non-standard receiver. No armies issue odd receiver patterns. 

Way too much scope, too much barrel, and too configured to be a sniper rifle. Oh, and also not an AR15, but a 7.62x51 "large frame" AR instead. 

GDL Insurgents 

GDL is an insurgent force, so what do insurgent forces carry? Well it depends. They might get support from a third party. They might buy weapons on the open market. They could be using older weapons saved — or donated — from previous wars and squirreled away for just this. And many insurgent actions are raids. 

The main news or threat reporting about raids is their lethality (how many soldiers or civilians were killed), their ability to disrupt government and NGO operations, and how much the risk of raids changes how the war is fought, how aid is provided, or how civilians go about their daily business. But a key factor in many insurgent raids is the shopping trip. Insurgent forces steal everything, from boots to weapons. 

Since we see too much of the Middle-East and North Africa terrorist threat, and think of them as always equipped with an AK47, that's by no means always true. AUG, FAMAS, SA80, AR18, SS2, and many more have all been seen in insurgent hands or for sale in conflict zones. What is used often varies based on what is available. For the GDL, we're specifically not going to make too much background, and decide which guns are allowed and not based on the region or supporters. Basically you can carry anything as long as it is: 

  • Real. No science fiction guns or otherwise fictional weapons. 
  • In reasonably current use. We generally only want guns issued to armies since 1955. This doesn't mean their first introduction, but their last date of issue; M1 Garands were in service through the 1960s at least so if you really, really want one of those, you can bring it. Remington Rolling Block? No. Too old. 
  • Realistic, and functional if a real gun. You can't — for example — simply take the buttstock off an AR15 as the mechanism of real ones goes back into the stock. 
  • Production guns. Despite their prevalence in some regions, we want to avoid overly gunsmithed or entirely craft produced arms. We'll just say guns aren't that hard to find in this region, so there's no need. 
  • Must be — when real — in a useful military caliber. Pistol caliber SMGs are allowed, but not .22s or airguns. 
  • Look like a real gun at a glance. As mentioned above, meets the 10-foot rule. 

As for the weapons used by Ardea and Kitoy, they also have to have working sights that are zeroed (and you have to use them), meet the velocity requirements, and use only the issued pellets. 

So now is the time to break out your AK, MP5, UZI, or anything else you haven't been able to bring to CWG events. And yes, you can also use an AR15, SCAR, G3, FAL or anything as issued to the Ardeans or Kitoy as well and declare it was just captured. 

If you want a little inspiration — for weapons, uniform, LBE, and more — here are some insurgents in the Philippines their location and changing support over the decades gives them a very wide variety of weapons: 

AR-15s some with carry handle scopes.

Old school M16, and a Galil on the right.

Grenade launchers are always a good force multiplier.

FN-CAL (no, not FAL) with improvised mount for M203.

An M16, and an M4 with M203.

Steyr AUG. 

Galil Ace. Yes, brand new guns make it to conflict zones also.


There are no snipers. We don't mind scouts and use them all the time, but snipers more or less do not exist in airsoft due to the technology, and also tend to be disruptive, due to inappropriate adherence to fictional tropes of the movie sniper. 

There are other reasons we restrict these having to do with the effective range and functional reduced scale of the war game, so scopes over 4x are still not allowed for GDL weapons and bolt-action rifles are somewhere between discouraged and banned. If you really want to bring an iron sighted K98, because someone issued them into the 1960s, ask us and we'll discuss why you have it though. 

While lower barrel length limits are removed so an HK51 or Colt 633 is allowed for the GDL, the opposite way — a very long barrel — might not be as it becomes no longer a general purpose individual weapon but a specialized sniper rifle. 

Machine Guns and Heavy Weapons

Want to bring a machine gun, rocket launcher, or something else? Please do! As long as it meets the basic principles of being plausible, reasonably modern, realistic, and having sights (no PVC-tube rockets!) then for all the armies, there are none of the per-side restrictions on weapon platforms. 

Machine guns and other heavy weapons have even fewer options in airsoft, and most armies are not too picky about these systems, so if effective will keep them in service for decades longer than they would rifles, and use odd mish-mashes of such systems instead of standardizing. 

Machine guns must be machine guns for the Ardeans and Kitoy. Only belt fed (if a real weapon) guns are allowed, not automatic rifles. The GDL can, again, use anything. Automatic rifles are fine, but note that high cap mags (the hopper fed wound style) are disallowed unless they represent a drum or belt feed container. You cannot have a high cap magazine that looks like a 20 or 30 round box mag.  

If you want to bring an RPK or some other automatic rifle that's probably fine for any GDL players, even with the high cap drum. But please don't stuff a drum in your AKSU74 no matter which faction. 

Operating Systems

All airsoft weapons may use pretty much any operating system or principle. AEGs are easiest, but GBBs and onboard HPA systems are great for the sound and realistic manual of arms. HPA tanks as buttstocks can be used if they pass the 10 foot rule. A handful have shown up at CWG events, and work. A few others have not, but could be pretty easily made to work by borrowing parts and adding some speed tape. 

No weapons will be permitted on the field which allow for adjustment of velocity without tools or disassembly. Any guns with easily-changeable spring rate, regulators, or the like must be able to be locked out (tournament locked), and will be locked by CWG event staff after passing chrono. A cut or broken lock during game play will be a bad thing (gun will become disallowed and player may be ejected) so keep it safe, don't cheat and don't let anyone else cheat as this is a safety issue. 

All guns must be free-standing weapons systems, just like real ones. That means no external (hose fed) gas systems. As with all other accessories, all weapon accessories must be as they purport to be, and all airsoft gun specific mechanisms must be concealed. This means no PEQ battery boxes, no visible gas tanks, no visible wires, or visible battery packs are allowed. This is not an exclusive list, and feel free to ask us for approval or assistance in making your gun suitable for CWG if you have any concerns. 

Note that one (rare and older) system is not allowed under any circumstances. Pyrotechnic (cap firing) systems are not allowed as they present additional risks, including legal ones. 

Read more about weapon systems: 


And we hope to see you in Oklahoma in April: 

Operation Swift Fox 23
21 – 23 April, 2023
Wyandotte, Oklahoma


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