TRH: It’s a real honour to finally have you on the blog, F01! Thanks very much for agreeing to the interview.
Thank you for asking, big fan of the blog.
Gray Fox has been operating for an age. How did it all start?
11 years ago myself and Kieren (F03) created the team alongside F02 – my girlfriend/now wife. She dropped out of activity as we got more serious as a team and it’s grown from there. As people leave we retire their callsign – hence why we have OG active players (F03, F05, F08 etc) and newer players (F20+).
We are from the Wannabe forums generation and back then Milsim wasn’t as well known. We created Gray Fox as an anti-skirmish mentality team, about gear and tactics and themed around real units.
Milsim is an overused term now. I see a lot of supposed “Milsim” teams out there, that I think “really?” There is nothing wrong with being a casual skirmish team but it’s cooler to say you are Milsim
Where did the name Gray Fox come from?
We took the name from a real United States military unit. At the time it had a callsign of Gray Fox but it goes by other names. It is mentioned in the book “Not a Good Day to Die” about Operation Anaconda in 2002. The unit operates alongside Tier 1 units like DEVGRU and CAG and have signals and intelligence capabilities. At the time, it was referenced that they recruit their members from all other SOF units. I don’t know if that’s true, but it suited our idea for a theme at the time. US SOF, all units.
How many of you are active, right now?
11 active and we just took on a new prospect.
When I started using airsoft forums extensively, all Gray Fox members used the same avatar. I remember thinking, for the first time, “That’s a proper team.” Does Gray Fox have formal standards or a doctrine on how it presents itself to the outside world?
I’m the old guard, FOX 1, the original callsign.So I’m more about “the good old days” and rules. We used to have a very strict system on lots of things and it worked and helped build a positive profile (like the avatars you mentioned, that was a team rule).
It’s become more relaxed over time, but I think we are still a serious team that tries to do our best in what we do. As the Instagram team page admin, I try to put this across in what we post.
I think a good example of this is the recent Stirling game when we adopted bad guy load outs. It’s not our usual thing but I think in a short space of time we put together a great unified team look – as realistically as we could – for the benefit of the other players.
That’s the Gray Fox way.
You guys had a bit of a rest for a few months in 14/15, but came back to the game stronger than ever. What was the catalyst for the hiatus?
In hindsight I messed up and as a team we went too full on in early 2014.
Myself and Jimmy Pie fresh off the success of the Gray Fox milsim events just went a bit OTT on trying to get people involved and putting in effort.
We have always been hardworking, but relaxed enough internally to know that people drift in and out based on real life stuff. I got carried away and forgot that this was the real glue that was the secret of our longevity. I own my mistakes during this time and the result of the over-enthusiasm was pissing each other off. A lot of people needed to take a break.
The break affected everyone differently, but I felt like there was a piece of me missing. I found work more stressful and didn’t have an outlet. Coming back and gradually talking to, and getting everyone back, (including some older members who left earlier than 2014) has been great. Plus getting new blood on board makes the team seem stronger than ever.
What’s your style of play?
I’m an instinct player. I’m a big believer in being audacious, being creative, fast thinking and being aggressive when the time comes. Some of our greatest moments and best fireside stories have come from those moments where we out-think our opponents rather than out-skill them.
However, I’ve got massive respect for teams like Diablo and their highly trained, polished and refined tactics and weapon handling. I genuinely believe nobody in the UK Milsim community does it better than them.
Which leads me to my next question: which teams out there do you feel a synergy with?
Recently Gray Fox joined up with four Milsim teams we are buddies with and respect – Diablo, Cobalt, Black Scorpions and TF Copperhead. Together we formed Combined Task Force 226.
The concept is that we can create a super team wherever we go: great kit, similar tactics and mutual respect for each other’s capabilities.
If only a couple of our team can attend an event, no problem – we have a bigger brotherhood within CTF226 and there is always a good sized team attending.
We have two CTF226 patches of different, very cool designs incoming – so look out for them on the battlefield soon.
It’s an exciting concept and I don’t think it’s been done before like this. Our motto is “No brakes” and that describes the CTF226 effect when all of us go on the attack.
You mentioned Black Scorpions NLD. Are there any other teams outside the UK who particularly impress you?
The team represents a relatively broad church of impressions – F23 has recently gone LE-ish, for instance – which ties into the original Gray Fox mantra of recruiting from a number of different units. Inside this framework, what rules do you set down to make sure loadouts are acceptable?
Team members like F23, F05, F15 have little side projects with specialist themed loadouts and they are all great, but ultimately Gray Fox is a U.S. Special operations forces themed team.
Nowadays you have two camps of thought within this overiding theme: the original “team concept” guys who have a unit they like and buy kit around that, and the more generic guys who buy gear that SOF would use but mix it up based on personal preference, rather than what a specific unit is commonly known for using. I’m in the first group of thought.
There are no rules as such, but if something sucks we will share it. We have that bond and openness within our small brotherhood.
As for your own impression, why NSW?
I like Tier 1 units. They are the best and I want to copy the best. So SEALS, in particular DEVGRU is my primary interest.
I’ve always followed a personal concept that I call, “SEAL Locker”. My loadouts are never copied from one source or picture. I’ve never been the minute detail picture copying guy. I make my purchases based on what I’ve seen or read about, and always from my unit of choice. I then take those items and create loadouts of my choice, based on my preference for that game. From that you can create multiple setups and looks, but always remain loyal to the original unit choice.
What was the most game-changing or cathartic piece of kit you’ve ever got hold of?
I’m an LBT whore. It’s by far my favourite brand, but that’s my SEAL influence coming out. One of my coolest buys, that is still my “go to” plate carrier, was my LBT 6094UW in MAS Grey. I bought it direct from LBT before MAS Grey went mainstream (and was still called MAS Grey). It wasn’t advertised, I just rang them up and asked about it, as I’d seen one that an Asian collector had sourced. They had a few leftovers from a bulk order by the Dam Neck guys and they were willing to sell to me. It’s my favourite carrier, comfortable and suits my needs. I recently got an LBT ULV in MAS Grey too, so another DG-specific LBT rig.
How is your PC and belt structured?
I use a kangaroo insert and then nothing else on front apart from a GRG (I run 4 mid caps total, 3 in front – one in rifle). I want to keep a slick front. I use a utility pouch, pistol mag pouch, impact grenade and tourniquet pouch for looks on the sides. I keep the rear of the sides slick, just in case I run a backpack – so no strap snags. Radio goes in an integrated carrier pouch and I run a hydro pouch on back, if no pack. Very simple, but just what I need.
If I don’t run my 6094, I run an LBT chest rig. I run an LBT Jumpable Pack or a Kelty MAP 3500 pack in conjunction with either, based on space needed.
On my belt I run a blowout pouch, pistol holster and winkler knife. Again, simple and light.
What’s the current highlight of your loadout?
I went back to a MICH 2001 from an Ops Core Maritime. One of my favourite gear things is modifying lids. There is something personal and creative about it that I love. I guess some people like paint jobs on their primaries, but I’m a lid guy. I love how the 2001 worked out. As with everything I do, it’s a mix of influences to embody my take on a SEAL 2001 setup.
How did it feel when you discovered that Dam Toys had produced that figure of you, from your “On a Boat” pic?
That was weird. In many ways it was uncomfortable, as my hobby is make believe and I didn’t want to come across as pretending I’m something I’m not.
Dam Toys mistook that pic as real and they copied it for their figure under the misunderstanding it was a genuine SEAL pic. That pic (+ 1 other) constantly appear on IG and web, mistaken as real. Although funny in one way, it also creates that feeling of discomfort.
These were the pics I did for Dam Toys in 2013. Unfortunately I didn’t have all the same kit still to replicate the loadout (plus I had a short time to regrow the beard I’d shaved off!)
What’s interesting is the “On a Boat” pic is something of a justification for my “SEAL Locker” concept. If I’d posted that loadout on Wannabe back in the day, it would have been picked apart as not 100% authentic to a particular picture or timeline. It was a mashup of SEAL inspired kit, but that randomness is what makes a good themed load out work. That’s why it was mistaken for real (helped in part by being on a real boat with the real sea behind me of course!)
It’s cool though. I tried not to make a big deal out of it, although I have used it in at least one job interview (tell me something interesting that happened to you…)
I have one of their figures (it was free although I probably should have pushed for royalties instead!) and it will be passed down to my son one day. It was definitely something to tick off the bucket list.
The team’s primaries are basically split between NGRS and PTW. How are you finding the NGRS platform?
Love it. Won’t ever look back. I had the Spectre BTS fitted by Cage Airsoft (TF Copperhead/CTF226) and it’s a must have for the platform. The sound, recoil feel, trigger response, programming etc., make it a joy to use. Then there’s Tokyo Marui’s legendary efficiency and accuracy. I could sit in a room shooting a cardboard box instead of going to a game and still finish the day with a smile on my face.
I’m currently running it with the Night Force replica for recce and the Eotech on a GG&G riser for DA. I accompany it with the LA5, AFG and Scoutlight bolted direct to the RAHG (not on an S&S Lo Pro Mount).
Tell me about your approach to blaster painting, because it’s a bit different.
I painted my RAHG after some good old fashioned peer pressure (that, “It sucks” honesty from the team that I mentioned earlier). They were right, the original rail colour was not accurate so it had to go. I also tend to paint or dust accessories.
The rest I’m not painting. The why is simple: most DEVGRU pics you see they don’t actually paint their primaries and that’s my theme. I will let real dirt and wear do its magic in those areas.
You’ve mentioned blending multiple pics as influences. However, if you had to choose one pic, which would encapsulate your blaster’s look best?
The pic that was posted on IG this year by Arsenal Democracy, of the current DG and STS guys in shorts. One guy has a 416 (STS) and the DG guy has a Remington MSR sniper rifle. I love that pic. It is 100% American Badass and I made the assumption that an attached STS guy’s 416 would be similarly setup to those of the DG boys.
Lastly, what’s Milsim at its best?
Keep pushing the boundaries of the sport; so event organisers need to start focusing on the game concepts and themes. Milsim doesn’t get better the more you make it physically suck for the players, we are still civvies. The structure of the game and the immersion you create within your story has more merit to a Milsim player in the end.
And to each player and team, this is escapism at its finest so invest in the theme for yourself and for the people around you. Make the effort every game to add your creative flair to the mix.
Be audacious and creative in the way you tackle your objectives.
One year at Copehill for Stirling, we had a teammate captured and he was known to be detained in Shrewton Street which was locked down! So many bad guys on that street and in the buildings, with a road block at the entrance to street.
We took a moment of inspiration and hijacked their ambulance at gun point. We explained we wanted them to drive into the street with us hidden in the back, and work their way down to the building of our choice. So off the cuff we decided to use their ambulance as a Trojan horse. We got through the road block, up to the target building that intel had pointed us to. We charged out of the vehicle and raided the building; to their complete surprise.
Problem was…it was the wrong building. Our teammate was next door! So it swiftly turned into Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We got massively overwhelmed. No plan, NO SCRIPT. Just crazy ideas and audacity. Sure it didn’t work out in the end, but it’s still a moment in our team history that makes us smile.
So the point is, we sometimes don’t do what we are supposed to do. We try and take different paths towards the endgame. When you do that, you often end up with crazy stories which you can look back on with pride 🙂
Many thanks to Adz (F01) for a thrilling tour de force of an interview!
Some pics have been borrowed from Guy Butler Photography. A big thanks to Guy, too!