September 23, 2021

A New Start – A Five Week Lockdown Project

Lockdown has affected each of us differently. As well as giving me the chance to run more and gain a bit of fitness (and then get injured), it’s given me the chance to work on a new impression. 5 weeks ago, I decided to build out a national CTSFO kit.

Obviously any excuse to wear more Arc’teryx is a good thing. The Sig MCX is also a lovely wee thing I already had so that’s no great problem, either. It also makes a change to the infinite multicam I see everywhere. I’m also a massive fan of what the CTSFOs do. A huge amount of their work is really quiet and low key. In addition to the CT mission, they do a load of work against drug gangs, people trafficking and other areas of serious and organised crime making arrests at the very pointy end of policing against seriously bad people. I’ve been lucky to see a small amount of this in my day job and like most impressions, it’s fun trying to at least replicate the look if not the skills of people you admire.

Overall, I’m just blown away by how full an impression I’ve been able to build in a few weeks with a pretty limited budget. Overall spend here is less than a couple of hundred quid. This is mostly thanks to the incredible accessibility of replica stuff, in no small part thanks to things like Ali Express and Weapon762. This is a massive change to only a few years ago where it was much more about good timing, mates in the know and ebay alerts – that’s certainly how I sourced my UKSF impression kit. Forum purchases and a bit of luck with folk on Instagram also came into play here. Anyway, on with the kit:

Leaner rather than meaner

My primary kit is a UKSF-style set-up. This means lots of Crye Precision, a bit of Arc’teryx, all multicam, dual comms and a distinctive L119A2 RIF. The biggest difference going to a CTSFO is that it’s much leaner, even than a CT style UKSF kit. CTSFOs expect to be out for hours rather than days. This means much less kit. Main weapon, secondary, uniform, body armour, comms and limited ancils (eg speed cuffs, IFAK, Taser) are the order of the day. This is a nice change.

The helmet set-up is actually pretty similar to the UKSF option, albeit in black. This is probably down to the close relationship between UKSF the CFSFO doctrine, especially in the early years when teams, kit and tactics were being developed.

Where it’s at

While hopefully passable, my rapidly assembled CFSTO set-up is far from perfect. Obvious flaws are the missing laser unit on the MCX, the lack of black boots and, perhaps biggest of all: the wrong plate carrier. I just haven’t been able to find a C2R carrier available anywhere. I’m really regretting not getting one when they were £250 a couple of years ago.

I am pretty chuffed to have found legit POLICE and CTSFO patches, as well as the right Safariland 6004-6305 holster and to have assembled the helmet set-up so quickly. The foldably cap was also a good find but there’s some debate about whether authorised firearms officers use a black or high-viz version. Either way, it’s a nice addition for any events when I’m playing something spooky or otherwise low profile.

Ebay was, as always, the hero for most things, but the Police & Security Services Airsoft Impressions Group on Facebook was a great source of info and materials as well. Other bits arrived from shops in Spain (Weapon762 for the helmet), Poland (headset) and Hong Kong (helmet cover, a £5 bargain until I get the actual C2R one).

I was lucky that I already had the Sig MCX Virtus and the NVGs (FLIR NBVDs), as well as the TM G17 pistol.

I’ve ended up with two holster options. I didn’t think I’d find a Safariland at a decent price so I went for a Kydex Customs. This is my first folded kydex holster with passive retention. I’ve previously used a RADAR, SERPA or Safariland 6354DO holster so it’s a bit different. I actually really like it – while I need to spend more time with it to trust the retention, it’ll be nice to use it for lower profile kits. It also has the added bonus of working for both my TM G17 and VFC G19 pistols.

But, in the end I found an absolute bargain on the Safariland so I ended up with both. Not the end of the world but the duplication is the only real waste of cash on this little project.

Getting Spendy

The main bits I’d like to pick up now are the C2R plate carrier, some black salomons and some helmet call sign patches. I’d also like to get the correct IFAK and pyro pouches and some Bolle goggles which seem more common than safety glasses. Also on the list is a more fitting radio set up other than the Beofeng and UV94 but first I need to play some games and events and enjoy the kit.

Overall Kit List

  • Arc’teryx Combat Uniform*
  • Police and CTSFO patches
  • Helmet*, cover*, Wilcox Mount, FLIR BNVDs, Manta Strobe*, Earmor Headset
  • Safariland 6004-6305 Holster
  • Velocity Systems Law Enforcement Plate Carrier and Placard
  • FMA Replica restraints* (not visible in the pic)
  • Generic radio pouch* (not visible in the pic)
  • C2R IFAK (not visible in the pic)
  • Arc’teryx Assault Balaclava
  • Police High Vis Folding Cap
  • Sig MCX Virtus AEG with Aimpoint T2* and x3 Magnifier, vertical grip*, Inforce WMLx light (White & IR version)
  • TM G17

* denoted replica kit.

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