One thing that many Airsoft Players tend to lack is tactical communication. One would not plan and execute a military operation without communication so why would you do it in Airsoft Games? Especially games where clubs play against other clubs, because coordination is so crucial.
Tier one communication is radio communication and tier two is tactical hand signals and drills. You would also assume the plan was discussed in detail beforehand because radio silence is also part of tactical communication. It does not help to have radios, and your opponents can find the same frequency and listen in. And when they do listen in, you should have prearranged code words they would not understand.
There are a number of considerations to think about when purchasing a tactical radio set and the correct equipment. The considerations are, added protection, quality and reliability, comfort, price, level of training and terrain.
Terrain is important because in open terrain hand signals suffice well enough for the radio to be used less if your team have been trained to look for and repeat hand signals. Level of training means that your team know the basic formations, radio discipline and that they know the hand signals.
Training also ensures that your team can give a proper indication of the direction and distance of incoming fire or of an opponent for the commander and team mates to know where to focus. Comfort is a consideration when you consider the headsets mount across the top of the head versus mounting them on a rail system on the helmet instead. Then there is the option of foam rubber or gel cups. Gel cups are more comfortable on the ears so consider them instead, but you will pay more, and they do not last that long.
All the headsets I will be discussing will have a two-way function and PTT systems, so I will not mention those. I will also not talk about dual comms systems (using tow radios, one up to your leader and one down to your team). Just keep in mind that they are an option with most headsets. Lastly, I will not discuss the actual radios. Go with quality radios such as Motorola, Midland, Kenwood, Cobra or even Baofeng.
Ops-Core Amp Headset
This headset combo is really all you need if you can afford it. It is probably the best set on the market.
The Ops-Core AMP (Adaptive Mission Platform) is what it says. A highly adaptive headset system for use in Airsoft or military scenarios. It comes with a helmet rail mount kit for mounting on Fast Jump and other types of helmets, eliminating the part that goes over the head and adds to discomfort.
The AMP Headset was selected by the USSOCOM (US Special Operations Command) so you know you are getting the best out there. It has advanced 3D hear-through and inner ear hearing protection by means of NFMI (Near Field Magnetic Induction) earbuds to ensure constant situational awareness. The outer ear protection has the added advantage of protecting your ears against those painful ear hits, especially from Airsoft sniper rifles.
The AMP standard set-up includes the stand-alone headset with a 22 dB Noise Reduction Rating. It features Ops-Core’s 3D Hear Through Technology that triangulates environmental sounds utilizing multiple directional microphones, preserving not only the player’s ability to hear clearly, but to determine which direction sounds are coming from as well. It feels you are not wearing a headset at all because the ambient sounds are not lessened in any way.
Note: The Standard variant cannot be used with or upgraded to NFMI earplugs.
The NFMI earplugs are utilised by using a control button on the side of the headset to transfer the audio channels to the NFMI earplugs. These earplugs are wireless powered by the headset itself. The earplugs are unique to the AMP and makes a phenomenal difference in hearing and hearing protection.
The system uses two AAA batteries.
3M Peltor ComTac VI
This is probably one of the better systems on the market and cheaper than the Ops-Core AMP. They are like a jack of all trades, quite good at many things, but not fantastic with a single element.
The features of this headset include Advanced VOX (Voice Operated Transmit), compatibility with most helmets, Impulse Noise Protection (active noise protection), NIB (Natural Interaction Behavior), and an IP68 noise cancelling microphone for clear communication in noisy environments.
The Omni Directional Environmental Microphone it has ensures Level Dependent Situational Awareness, just like with the Ops-Core AMP. Wearing this headset enhances the ambient sounds around you so you can hear someone sneaking up on you easier than usual.
The ComTac VI has been improved with new omni-directional microphones and high-fidelity speakers with greater sensitivity to project your voice more clearly and accurately to the rest of your team.
The NIB (Natural Interaction Behavior) function enables short-range, headset-to-headset communication in noisy environments, without the use of an external radio. The NIB function allows for up to four team members to speak simultaneously, and over 60 people within a 10-meter radius to listen at any given time. That simply means that you hear most external sounds until you press the PTT button, in which case the background sounds are cut out. The point is that it makes communication clearer. This headset also does not click out when you fire a gun. It just lessens the sound to comfortable levels.
The ComTac VI’s headset earpieces can also be attached to a Fast Jump helmet or similar headwear with a rail system.
Sordin Supreme MIL CC Slim
As with the previous headsets the name of the game is noise cancelling hearing protection and of course being able to hear what your team is trying to say to you. These headsets are not quite as good as allowing ambient sound through as the Peltor ComTac VI is. It basically picks up more ambient noise than necessary.
The features of the Sordin Supreme are, waterproof battery compartment, waterproof microphones for ambient hearing and optimal sound direction location, a battery save function, a low battery warning, auto shutdown after four hours and a battery lifetime of around six hundred hours (with Lithium batteries).
This system’s sound level limitation is at a maximum of 82 db. There are two speakers in each ear cup, one for surround hearing and one for radio communication. The system is fully waterproof. It has high amplification and natural sound mimicking without cutting out.
It can also attach to your helmet rail and uses two AAA batteries with about six hundred hours battery life. These headsets also have a reputation of being very sturdy.
Peltor and Ops-Core are the best, but on a budget the Sordin is still a great headset. A good commander knows they cannot enter an operation with no or Fawlty communications equipment. Make sure you use the best if you want to be the best.