Rifles, hats, backpacks, pouches, scopes, gloves, holsters, eye protection, radio equipment. Everything we carry needs disguised so that it is not easily spotted in the field which keeps us going that little bit longer. In the real steel world, a tank crew at a few thousand metres might get away with not having a radio antenna camouflaged, but in airsoft we largely operate within 100m of each other and sometimes down to 10 metres or less under the scrutiny of the human eyeball, therefore the level of camouflage we need to apply is much higher.
This isn’t a guide on what to use in terms of materials which is covered elsewhere in The Ghillie Guide from the menu. It’s more a look at some basic principles to apply across all your bits of kit.
The worst culprits are flat surfaces and hard edges. Rarely in nature will you see anything of any significant size that is a smooth, flat finish. That’s a feature of our man made kit. Regardless of colour and pattern painted onto the surface, which may be intended to break up the shape and will to an extent, the plane is still very noticeable. A lot of the materials used contain plastic,, including polyester in clothing, and this also reflects light unnaturally giving off a very artificial sheen. Even matt effect spray paints still do nothing to hide the smooth, flat surface underneath.
Recently, I was reading a post on Facebook about spray painting the camouflage onto an airsoft bolt action rifle. We’ve all been there and done it at one point because it makes sense, but in any picture it is still easy to make out the rifle.
The way to beat it on any flat surface is pretty simple – interrupt that flat surface. Add 3D camouflage elements to break it up, although without affecting the workings of any buckles, bolts, dials, switches etc. It doesn’t need to be a total coverage, just avoid anything bigger than a 5x5cm square.
The same too for sharp, straight edges and shapes. the classic example is probably the rifle scope, which gives away around 90% of airsoft snipers in photos because it is all to often ignored. So too the end of the barrel or the silencer, which is another sharp, crisp circle shape that draws attention. On my own rifle, I’ve negated this by adding strips of cotton fabric, roughly cut, to mask any perfect shapes and hard edges.
This approach can then obviously be applied to all your kit, assuming you use it purely for the sniper role and don’t mind camouflaging it. For more temporary solutions, you can use camouflage fabric or tape (or fabric tape) to make a wrap that can then be removed. Obviously removing camo tape will mean having to rebuild the wrap when you want to apply it again, but does give a much tighter cover to something like a radio, that you might not want to have a big, loose cover on. However, where possible a loose wrap works better to disguise shapes. Of course, with a fabric tape on a piece of kit, you can easily then glue a few bits and pieces onto the tape without attaching directly onto the kit itself. Or try ripping up multiple bits of tape to layer it up. It doesn’t take much to quickly disguise artificial surfaces. Scapa sniper tape should be an essential part of the snipers’ toolkit.
My good friend Point6 has a superb short video where he added camouflage to the brim of a hat, taken from an experiment by Le Covert Sartorialist. Although there isn’t much else done in the way of adding camouflage, the breaking up of the hard edge hides the hat. Link to video here.
Hard edges and flat surfaces are as much your enemy as the enemy themselves. Obliterate them.