Airsoft in extreme cold temperatures by Sergeant N.Ran

Dark. Cold. Snowing. Knee deep, even waist deep of snow in some areas. Temperatures dropping below -30C (-23F). Everything is frozen. Couple hours of daylight in a day. Welcome to Finland in the Winter!

I’m writing this in mid-January, which means winter is in full swing but the darkest hours of the year have passed and we are going towards light again. The winter season here sets certain limitations for Airsofting. Well, some people call them limitations, but for us, the sport just changes a bit and we need to adapt. Importance of right equipment and gear is emphasized. Most of the people are keeping roughly -15C (5F) as a limit for gaming, but there are us wackos who are going onto the field almost no matter what.

First thing that you notice is the lack of sunlight, which is pretty clear, you just don’t see. Our weekly Sunday games are commonly between 11:30 – 16:30, in the wintertime it’s pitch black at 15:30, so game days are bit shorter. If we go to the northern parts of Finland, the sun does not rise at all, so it’s constant darkness.

Second thing you notice is the snow and coldness, and this is not something to be taken lightly. Low temperatures are potentially dangerous, if one is not prepared. One needs to have good clothes to keep warm. I’m using multiple layers of clothes, technical underwear, merino wool, fleece, top layer etc. But at the other hand, when wearing a heavy plate carrier, I need to take care of sweat as well, so breathability (= quality) is important. Warm shoes and good gloves, naturally. Though, after running couple of games, your body gets warm and blood circulation takes care of cold, I’m using regular Oakley Factory pilots after warming up. Masks and glasses tend to fog really easy, so poor masks/glasses are useless. I’m using wire mesh goggles because of this. Your drinking water
and food is frozen, goddamnit! Also, if there’s lot of snow, it’s really difficult to move, you simply just can’t move in waist deep snow.

What about guns? Change is pretty dramatic in the cold. Gas does not expand enough below a certain temperature, so gas guns don’t work and are completely useless. Co2 is there and there, one may get few shots out of  mag before it’s frozen. Batteries do not work well, you get roughly 1/10 of shots out of battery compared to summer, LiPo batteries are performing a bit better. Biggest impact for AEG operation is hop up rubber, which freezes and does not give spin so well. You lose range and accuracy, unless you have changed to a suitable rubber that maintains elasticity. Low temperatures and cheap plastic do not go together, which means cheapo plastic guns break easily in the cold. Internals of the guns are also affected, cheap grease, dirt and seals tend to work poorly. Low temperature shrinks metal and plastic, expands liquids, this may affect to certain tolerances as

So is it all bad? Nooooo! There are lot of good things after taking care of proper gear. It does not get too hot easily, so you don’t need so much water to drink (it’s frozen anyhow). Snow makes everything soft, so you don’t need to be so careful when moving. You can walk over wet places like marsh, wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans (yep, frozen). You can move pretty silently, no sound from shoes, no cracking branches and snow dampens the sounds overall. Tracking is easy cause you see footprints. With the right camo, you can stay unnoticed pretty easily, just dive into
white stuff! It’s calm, white and beautiful, and satisfaction of surviving the challenge nature throws at you is something I like. War stories - war stories!

As an example from last Sunday games I hosted, it was -15C (5F), windy and
snowing lightly. Perfect winter weather! We started with 43 members participating. After two hours, half remained, and the last games I was holding for 14 persons. Lot of batteries died, guns stopped working or broke down, guys with poor clothes needed to move into warm cars and get home. As a
“funny” detail, after hour or so, I jumped onto the ice of the small stream on
my left side (well that’s a nice trench there, I thought), surprisingly the
ice broke and I fell into the water, it was not deep but still water & mud – cold as hell. I was laying there for fifteen long seconds until captured the point for the team. Half of my whole leg, my left side and half of my arm was soaking wet (like laying on my side and dipped to water, as I was). After getting a point, got up and ran to cover from fire, felt my clothes cracking and freezing over immediately. Surprisingly, I could play the rest of the day quite well. Wet parts of the clothes was solid ice, but ice layer kept body heat inside and good technical underwear insulated my skin. No harm done.

So this is really fast brief how we roll here at the wintertime. I envy you guys having the perfect warm weather, but at the other hand, I have pretty good war stories to share, right?

Take care, keep warm guys! Next time you will be hearing from me I will be
talking about selling your body and soul to the, well, gear. Gearwhoring!

Sergeant Nran

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