Tactical Games Loadout – Guns, Optics, and Rationale – Part I

   08.01.23

Tactical Games Loadout – Guns, Optics, and Rationale – Part I

There has been a growing fad within the firearms community to test your salt in new, creative, and dynamic ways besides static, bullseye paper shooting. “In the real world,” whether it is in relation to self-defense or hunting, it is extremely rare that you get to engage in stationary, calm, static shooting. It is much more realistic that you may be under duress, tired, and have a bit of adrenaline going. It could be because you just hiked 1 mile up a ridge and now you need to make a swift, ethical shot on an elk. Or, you could have been knocked to the ground in a parking ramp and now from the ground you need to present your concealed carry pistol against an unknown, violent attacker. Life can often be spicier than we expect. This is where such events as The Tactical Games have flourished. They make you engage in physical workouts and then ask you to shoot targets from distances of 5 yards to 400 yards. That blend of shooting prowess coupled with peak fitness is what many of us are chasing. Shoot well and be fit. At 36 years of age and having tried every fitness fad imaginable, I believed it was time. I competed in my 1st The Tactical Games event down in Iowa last month and I am going to share with you my Tactical Games loadout – the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, if you have decided to dive in on this burgeoning event across the US, hopefully you can arrive better prepared than I did. Let’s dive in!

Fitness/Competition Coverage on AllOutdoor

Tactical Games Loadout


The Tactical Games is a physically grueling competition that couples weapon manipulations with real-world fitness tasks. Accuracy and speed are paramount, but safety trumps everything. If you participate in The Tactical Games you are acknowledging the danger and difficulty that this competition demands of the competitor. Only participate if you can safely and effectively deploy the firearms you are competing with.

Herein, all of the information provided is the opinion of the author through his personal experiences in The Tactical Games as well as his background leading up to the event. The gear and tactics suggested ahead are a way, but not the way. Take it like a grain of salt.


Tactical Games Loadout – Guns

To compete in The Tactical Games, you need two firearms: a handgun and a rifle. That is incredibly vague and you are exactly right in thinking that, but The Tactical Games does give guidance on “legal cartridges” and states you need at least 5 handgun and 5 rifle magazines for whatever you are toting around on competition day. So, knowing that you need to be rich in that many magazines might personally dictate for you what gun to buy or what gun you own could work. You also are going to be asked to do a lot of squirrelly fitness with these guns hanging off of you. So, they will need to be able to accept a sling (rifle) and be secured in an actual retention holster (pistol); not a friction-fit one.

My chosen rifle was a Springfield Armory Saint VICTOR 5.56 NATO with B5 furniture. I picked this rifle specifically for several reasons. For one, it has a robust collapsible stock that I could get a good cheek weld on when my potato-butt was exhausted, falling over, but still needing to make a shot. Also, it had a long, sleek free-float handguard so I could reach out as far as possible to get leverage and control while shooting. Additionally, this rifle has a great factory trigger, removeable muzzle device (I removed the nice factory muzzle device to put on a boring A2 flash hider as the competition prescribed), and generally accurate. I didn’t grab a calipers and measure group sizes before competing, but the rifle easily obtained groups of 1 1/4″ – 1 1/2″ with my hasty shooting and boxed ammunition. If I actually cared to try harder, I believe this gun is capable of 1″ groups at 100 yards.

tactical games loadout

The handgun I chose to use was the recently released Springfield Armory Echelon 9mm. This is not a paid/sponsored Springfield post by any stretch of the imagination. I have always been a lifelong Springfield fan and both the Saint VICTOR and the new Echelon suited my needs for this competition. I liked the Echelon since its introduction and chose it for multiple reasons. The first being its trigger. This’ll sound like hyperbole, but the Echelon has the best factory trigger I have ever felt in a polymer handgun – bar none. When your bum is draggin’ and your slappin’ the trigger like it owes you money, the Echelon’s trigger still gave me a consistent pull, break, and accurate hits down range. Moreover, the Echelon is optics ready, high-capacity, and stippled well for when I had sweaty hands.

tactical games loadout

Tactical Games Loadout – Optics

Depending on the division you want to dive into (again reference The Tactical Games rules for further clarity) you may or may not be allowed to use optics. I don’t consider myself a Tier 1 operator or a space ranger so I opted for Men’s Intermediate. We were allowed to have optics on our handgun as well as our rifle. How Gucci or tricked out you make your gun can vary and I’m not going to crawl down the rabbit hole of sporting 7 optics at once (here’s looking at you, Nick Chen). For my Springfield Echelon, I went with a Trijicon RMR. This optic needs no introduction, but I’ll give it some cliff notes. The RMR is the gold standard for red dots. Beat the hell out of it and it keeps functioning. Good visible dot, ample window size, extremely common footprint for mounting, and widely accepted by holster companies. Its hard to be an RMR hater unless you’re a contrarian for no good reason.

tactical games loadout

For a rifle optic, I went with a much less common one in the Athlon Optics Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24mm. This LPVO (Low Powered Variable Optic) is something I have previously reviewed in depth on AllOutdoor, taken shooting courses with, and came away wildly impressed. This optic is extremely under-valued for the price they are asking for it. With it being able to run that 1x up to 8x magnification range, I could easily engage paper targets in my face at 5 yards as well as steel approaching 400 yards. If you’re curious about the minutia of turrets, durability, and quality, check out my prior review HERE.

tactical games loadout

Tactical Games Loadout – Final Thoughts

Again, for anyone looking to try The Tactical Games, the first thing I would suggest before spending a bunch of money on gear to LARP with the best of ’em is to read the rules. Super boring, I know, but if you’re an old Masters athlete, think you totally could have been on Seal Team 6 if not for that high school football injury, or whatever… the division you compete in will dictate a lot of the gear you run. Below is my Tactical Games loadout of firearms and optics I used – and as you can see – the money starts to pile up fast and I didn’t even go chase expensive, premium brands. Everything I ran I would consider mid-tier: good, if not, great quality stuff you’d expect to run without an issue. And spoiler, I never had a gun or optic break, fail, or none of that. After 7 eventS in 2 days of 90° heat, all the gear I chose – whether you hate it or love it – flatly worked.

My Tactical Games loadout was a mix of things I personally owned or am actively reviewing for AllOutdoor. If you’re contemplating any of them, I stand behind the statement that they are good quality with my own wallet. I am going to purchase all of these pieces in order to subject myself to more The Tactical Games events in the future. It was a good test of fitness and shooting that I authentically enjoyed. As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! Additionally, watch for future articles outlining my clothes, other gear, and the mistakes I made.

tactical games loadout

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Editor - AllOutdoor.com | Writer - TheFirearmBlog.com | Writer - OutdoorHub.com | Writer - TheArmoryLife.com | Writer - Tyrant Designs CNC Blog | Guest Writer - Boyds Gunstocks Blog | Guest Writer - NRA "Shooting Sports USA" | Guest Writer - Sierra Bullets Blog | Smith & Wesson Certified Armorer | Glock Certified Armorer | Firefighter/EMS | Instagram: strength_in_arms

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