Your Guide to MILSIM for Airsoft

MILSIM Events are probably the most fun we’ve ever had while playing airsoft.

A properly hosted MILSIM (Military Simulation) airsoft event is just about the most glorious thing to do in your airsoft career. Take it from someone who has played well over 1,000+ casual games and have done to dozens of MILSIM events, you have to try it at least once.

One of the most common questions I got when I talk to new players is: What is a MILSIM event and how do you prepare for one? What tips do you have when going to your first event?

Well, let’s get into that – shall we?

your guide to what is milsim for airsoft

What is Milsim for Airsoft?

The term MILSIM stands for Military Simulation: it is a type of airsoft event whose focal point is the maximum search for realism. Normally is developed a file, called book, which outlines a precise war scenario, and each of the participants will have a precise role during the operation.

We will see in detail how this type of event is developed, and what distinguishes them from other types of airsoft experiences.

group of players gathering for an airsoft milsim event

Casual Airsoft Skirmish vs MILSIM – What’s the difference?

We’re talking about two very different worlds. Casual airsoft skirmishes are short-lived, often competitive and amateur sporting events in which a game mode is normally established (such as Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, single elimination, or King of the Hill) and you have fun eliminating opponents, earning points, capturing targets, and so on.

You don’t necessarily need sophisticated equipment, specific camouflage, or preparation of any kind to enjoy a casual event.

On the contrary, MILSIMs require a lot of preparation, both physical and technical. These events are often very long, in which you go to rebuild with the maximum possible realism a war theater, or a situation of armed intervention.

Players are not only required to pursue the objectives of the faction they belong to but also to equip themselves in accordance with that faction’s habit.

In fact, if you play the role of a Foreign Legion fighter, for example, you’ll need to use weapons such as the FAMAS, if you play as a US army soldier, you’ll probably use Multicam or OCP camouflage, and if you impersonate an African irregular militia, you’ll probably need to equip yourself like an insurgent and use an AK47 or other widely smuggled platforms.

It will also be necessary to behave according to the rules of engagement typical of the faction you belong to.

For example, it is very difficult for a UN soldier to open fire on contact, even if it is an enemy. The general rule is to try to put yourself in the shoes of the character you are going to impersonate and act according to this criterion.

milsim airsoft player aiming his airsoft m4

What supplies should I bring to a MILSIM event?

Since these are long-duration events, you will likely need a good amount of equipment to perform successfully during a MILSIM. However, the type and amount of equipment you need to bring are for the most part determined by the role you play in your airsoft team.

Let’s take an example: let’s imagine you are playing the role of a Border Control Operator (USBP, for instance). You are in friendly territory, you can take advantage of transport, facilities, and supply rations, ammunition, and equipment with total freedom since you are operating on friendly territory. In this case, your equipment will have to be calibrated according to your task.

A 6-hour patrol, for example, will require the classic 4-7 magazines setup, protective equipment, 1-2 liters of water, a small ration, and a radio. In short, nothing exceptional.

Let’s imagine instead that you are playing a raider who, with a few companions, is carrying out a reconnaissance in enemy territory.

Things change drastically. You can’t use the infrastructure to shelter or sleep, you won’t have reinforcements, you won’t be given any extra rations or ammunition.

So, you will have to carry everything you may need. This includes:

  • Plenty of water (min a couple of gallons per day)
  • Full rations for the duration of the operation
  • Communication devices
  • Tactical clothing suitable for weather changes
  • Spare lenses to adapt to changing light
  • A large amount of BB’s and spare magazines
  • Backup weapons

In short, if you don’t take it, you won’t have it with you when it will be needed, and no one will provide it. There will be no “timeouts” to resupply or retrieve equipment. In this case, manage your equipment according to the faction you belong to and the role you are going to play.

In any case, make sure that you never lack the protective equipment, water, map, and whistle (minimum survival equipment), and at least one weapon with an adequate number of magazines (minimum equipment to remain combat-ready).

Read the rules & requirements: this will let you know what kind of general supplies you’re going to need:

  • Do I need to sleep over? So, do I need a tent, sleeping bag, cot, lights, and a way to stay warm?
  • What if my stuff gets wet & dirty? Bring extra socks, underwear, and clothing.
  • Do I need to eat? (Yes, you do) – bring food to last the duration of the operation, snacks, hydration, cleaning supplies, and a way to eat.
  • Will I need survival gear? You may need to think about items like toilet paper, spare batteries, fire starting gear, cleaning supplies, and other items like that.
milsim airsoft players

What should I wear to a MILSIM game?

Again, it depends on the role you’re going to play. Try to get equipment used by the faction you are going to represent, to respect the simulation nature of the event.

As for general advice, it would be good to plan well in advance the type of clothing to be used, studying the weather forecast for the operational window, analyzing the shape and location of the operational area, taking into account aspects such as altitude, wind, humidity, lighting conditions, the presence of abnormal events such as hail or sandstorms.

Pay close attention to the clothing you are going to use because in all likelihood you will have to keep it on for a long, long time.

Try to obtain the maximum comfort possible but give priority to the realism of the equipment and the needs of the territory and the weather. In any case, bring with you a pocket raincoat (better if in line with the camouflage of the faction) and spare clothes, should you get wet or otherwise make your clothes unusable. The simulation obviously applies to the equipment.

It is very difficult to see a DEVGRU operator going on a mission with a South African tactical vest and to see a militiaman with a Blue Force Gear tactical belt. Dress and equip realistically.

Be sure to be able to tell the difference between an airsoft plate carrier vs a real plate carrier.

airsoft militia member running in milsim event

Do you need a specific airsoft gun?

Yes, but up to a point. Military organizations, regular armies, and terrorist groups each use specific weapons, but they usually provide some leeway.

Again, try to be realistic: it is certainly more common to see a terrorist with Tavor than with an MP5, and a Navy Seal with an MK17 than with an MG42. But a navy seal could just as well use a standard M4 or M416, and a terrorist could also use an AK47, SVD, or other contraband weapons.

In short, the rule stays the same: use equipment that would be used in real-world situations by the faction you are going to represent.

Finding out about the type of equipment of specific factions is quite simple, just a quick search on the internet to get a general idea. We actually have several blogs on how to build a specific loadout:

Let’s say that if you own an M4 and an AK47 it will be easy to go to cover the most common roles, given the wide use of these weapons by operators all over the world. The same goes for the Beretta 92, or the Glock (17/18/19), which are widely used by many armies around the world.

If you can, pick out equipment that makes sense within the role you are going to play: reconnaissance roles will require long-range scout weapons, supporting roles will require heavy machine-gun equipment, and undercover situations will require compact, easily concealed weapons.

milsim player with airsoft gun prepping for attack

Where can I play MILSIM?

MILSIM events don’t happen very often, given the amount of work that goes into organizing these simulations. You have to create the story, choose the location, assign roles, think about logistics, and much more.

You will likely have to search the internet for organizing events of this type and travel some miles to get to the location.

However, the organizers of this type of events usually aim to welcome a high number of players, and to do so they tend to choose as their operational area destinations that are easily accessible and well connected, so you shouldn’t have to travel too far to be able to participate.

airsoft player going prone in military simulation operation

Most important tips for your first MILSIM event

This is a common request we get. What are the most important tips for someone’s first MILSIM event? See below:

Enter the simulation dimension: understand what you are going to do, how you should behave, what consequences your actions would have in a real context, what kind of obstacles you will find, what you might need, how it would be appropriate to act in certain circumstances. Enter the simulation dimension and don’t leave it. When the simulation begins, you’re no longer yourself.

Have an open mind: Drop what mental baggage you have at the start of the operation and don’t be afraid to role play.

Study: Find out about the operating area, the weather, the rules of engagement, the allowed and forbidden equipment, the book, the possible behavior of the opponents. Understand how to organize with other players, how to divide the equipment, how to manage the roles, and so on.

Most MILSIM organizers will provide a tacops document or briefing notes – you should read these in depth so you know the rules of that particular op.

Figure out if this is the type of event that suits you: Let’s face it, MILSIM it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot of hard work to get done, and depending on the event, requires overnight equipment. Sometimes, it is necessary to remain in the role, and hours can pass without a single leaf moving. The simulation may end without having fired a shot (as a matter of fact, in the perspective of realism, it can also be desirable).

These are events about which passionate players care a lot. Think well about it, because if you decide to participate in this kind of event, you are assuming several responsibilities.

Have fun and stay safe: always the golden rule. Remember that the point of all this is always to spend time doing something you love, safely. Try to have fun, and don’t do anything stupid that might endanger your safety or that of other players.

Check out our 14 airsoft safety tips – just to get the basics down.

airsoft players patroling forest in milsim operation


How old do you have to be to join a MILSIM event?

This is usually regulated by the association promoting the event. Normally, the participation of players of age is expected, with an exception for underage players up to 14 years old who have been authorized by a parent or legal guardian.

To be sure, read carefully the poster of the event you are interested in or contact the organizers directly. They will surely give you the answers you are looking for.

How long are MILSIM Events?

There is no specific duration. Often these are very long events. It is not very likely that one of these simulations lasts less than 12 hours. The average duration of a MILSIM event can go from 24 to 72 hours, with exceptional cases that can be protracted for longer periods.

There are also itinerant events, in which the game grounds are prepared and dismantled according to the movements of the players, that can also last entire weeks. However, these are exceptional situations, organized very rarely.

Learn more about how to pack for a milsim event here.

How do you revive in a MILSIM game?

Looking for more? Check out our list of essential airsoft protective gear.

Did you know: you do not need the best performing airsoft gun at a MILSIM event (although it helps to have something reliable). Check out our article on the best beginner airsoft gun for help in choosing a budget friendly AEG.

Riccardo "Black" Mariconda
Riccardo "Black" Mariconda

I’m an Italian MILSM and airsoft player, and also trekking and survival enthusiast. I like spending my spare time out in the woods, shooting firearms at the range, training FOF with airsoft guns and learning and training new skills about survival, both in urban and wild scenarios. I’m a Psychology graduate, and I’m studying to get a Criminological and Forensic Psychology degree. I had the opportunity to train with Italian Special Forces during survival courses. I’m also into SERE programs, stealth camping, mantracking and other disciplines of the kind. My aim is to get better and better in those disciplines that I love, helping others to develop their own skills.

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