U.S. Special Forces on patrol

As an elite group of operatives, the Special Forces are ordered to perform different and more difficult tasks than ordinary troops. This could be things such as training indigenous people in warfare, performing reconnaissance, rescuing hostages or targeting specific individuals.

As a pretty secret branch of operations, a lot of their operations and equipment is classified, meaning Joe Public doesn’t really know what’s going on a lot of the time…

However, we have done some research and identified U.S. Special Forces-specific items, which you may want to replicate with your own airsoft loadout. We have many of the mentioned weapons available in airsoft gun format, so why not browse our full selection when you have finished reading?

Carbines

Special Forces seem to prefer short weapons such as the M4 carbine made by Colt, which is actually a smaller version of the M16A2. This is done for a pretty obvious reason, and that is the fact that short-barrelled guns are lighter and easier to manoeuvre in CQB.

Soldier firing an M4 Carbine - airsoft gun version available at Surplus Store

The M4 isn’t the only short-barrelled M16 style weapon favoured, with the CAR-15 coming before – more commonly known now as the M4 Commando. The Commando has an 11.5-inch barrel and was originally intended to accompany Air Force pilots back in the late 50s, in case they were shot down.

However, it was said that the Green Berets, Air Force Special Forces and Delta Force (as mentioned in our previous feature here) all picked up the Commando and liked the feel of it, so decided to use it more often. Colt classifies the Commando as a submachine gun rather than a carbine, which means it packs the full power and accuracy of a carbine, but in a submachine gun size weapon.

Submachine Gun

The Heckler and Koch Machine-Pistol 5 (or the MP5) is another favourite of the Special Forces, especially for personal protection operations, hostage rescue, counterterrorism and CQC. It’s a 9mm submachine gun which is very light, holds 30 rounds in a magazine, has next to no recoil and can have a sound suppressor attached to it.

Machine Guns

Now we move on to the bigger stuff… The U.S. Ordinance M60 machine gun was ‘the machine gun’ during the Vietnam War, but is rather obsolete in the U.S. military nowadays. For years, troopers complained that the necessary parts in the M60’s receiver, such as the feeding tray, were prone to bend and break. The barrel was also criticised for being, well, pretty naff.

As a result, back in the 80s, the military replace it with the lighter and more capable M240 and M249 SAW. But Navy SEALS wanted to give it one last chance to redeem itself, so they packed the M60 up and shipped it off to U.S. Ordinance. It was here that it got a complete makeover, including a new barrel and receiver made of stronger steel.

Marine with M60 - airsoft gun version available at Surplus Store

It returned, with a fresh name of MK 43 Mod 0, and the SEALS fell in love all over again!

Side Arms

Across the board, the standard service pistol for the U.S. military is the M9. A solid metal, semi-auto 9mm pistol which is both accurate and dependable, but the Special Forces like something with a bit more kick… a .45 calibre cartridge in fact.

We start with the MK 23, a Heckler and Koch HK45 complete with laser-aiming module made by Insight Technology and a sound suppressor from Knights Armament Company. The MK 23 has a lightweight polymer frame, and an ambidextrous safety and magazine release. The release on HKs is a lever beside the trigger guard rather than a button on the side, so you must push down on it.

It is also supposed to be corrosion resistant and water proof, meaning it can take one hell of a beating!

Another pick of is the standard issue side arm of Force Recon Marines of Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) – the Kimber Custom II 1911A1 with night sights. It’s a single-action pistol with an all metal frame and a seven-round magazine. It may be an oldie, but it’s still pretty effective.

Gear

Moving on to the gear used by the Special Forces, you might not be able to replicate this stuff with your airsoft gear, but it’s still pretty interesting to see the unique kit they need for their operations. The first lot of unique gear they require is for High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jumping.

HALO jumps allow Special Forces to infiltrate enemy territory without detection, as the plane they jump from travels at 30,000 so it looks like a commercial airliner or transport plane on radars. However, as you might well have guessed, jumping from this height can be a bit dangerous.

Soldiers making a HALO jump from 30,000 feet

At 30,000 feet, the temperature can be -50°C, the oxygen supply is sparse and when they jump, they fall at terminal velocity (122mph). It is also not uncommon for the jumper to pass out, so they must wear the proper gear to ensure they stay safe.

They wear a standard jump helmet with a mask linked to an oxygen tank. The tank must be filled with 100% oxygen, as at that altitude, it is difficult for your body to rid itself of nitrogen, and not having the proper balance of nitrogen and oxygen can result in Decompression Sickness. That may not sound like the worst thing in the world, but with symptoms ranging from you feeling a bit ill to death, it is actually quite bad…

To shield them from the sub-zero temperatures, they wear a Gortex suit and to make the jump successful, they are equipped with a MC-5 parachute which is made of a durable nylon. This parachute can withstand the freezing temperatures and won’t tear in the strong winds.

There are some missions which cannot be accessed from the air, these may require operatives to swim instead of jump. Instead of traditional SCUBA gear, they generally use a re-breather. Formally known as an Underwater Breathing Apparatus (UBA), it does not release bubbles like its SCUBA counterpart, meaning Special Forces can remain hidden under water.

The re-breather is a closed-circuit system which means exhaled gas is not released into the water. Instead, the exhaled gas is scrubbed (a process that removes carbon dioxide) and add oxygen. This system can provide up to 240 minutes of underwater breathing time.

As we mentioned above, the list here won’t be complete as there is not a great deal of specific information available, but if you think we’ve missed anything major from the list, please let us know on our social media channels!