Looking to build out a reliable load-out based on one of the most elite special operations units out there? We wouldn’t blame you. You’re going to save yourself a reasonable amount of time sourcing individual components as professionals have already done the work for you. Be wary, though. The type of equipment you’re likely to see a navy seal rocking doesn’t come cheap. One of the downsides to using state of the art technology and equipment is that an insane amount of money has to be spent on research and development. As such, it often comes bearing a pretty high price tag.
Seal Team Six – Are They Still Around?
Technically, no. But also, yes. That may seem like a confusing proposition, so allow us to explain. The original unit that was commonly referred to as “seal team six” was formed in the 1980s in order to satisfy the need for an elite, global counter-terrorist fighting force. Specifically one that specialized in maritime operations that could provide a rapid response in water-borne environments. Some examples of these environments could include oil rigs/tankers, large ships and a variety of other niche targets.
At some point in 1987, seal team six was disbanded. They had gained such notoriety in popular media that people continued to refer to their replacements as “seal team six”.
When the original outfit broke up the vast majority of their responsibilities went to their newly formed successors. The naval special warfare development group (or DEVGRU as it’s commonly abbreviated.). Some responsibilities also went to another newly formed unit known as “seal team 8” – who’s name doesn’t appear to have as much traction in popular culture.
Rest assured, though, this article will not be addressing outdated load-outs from the 1980s. It will be addressing some of the gear you’ll potentially see in use by their modern successors. Both in DEVGRU and Seal Team 8.
DEVGRU Operator Loadouts
For the purposes of stopping this article from getting too confusing, we’ve ommited some less relevant equipment. This is traditionally more specialized equipment that isn’t necessarily relevant to what you’d be looking for in an operator loadout. We’ve tried to keep our list limited to specifically what you’d deem to be the “essential” equipment.
Bare in mind that the vast majority of items utilized by special forces will be custom made. They will generally select a handful of companies that are the forefront of research and development and ensure production stays private. As a result of this,
Helmet / Head Area
Ops-Core Fast SF Ballistic Helmet
If you consider yourself an enthusiast for militaria this may not be too shocking for you. FAST (Future Assault Shell Technology) helmets are incredibly popular with a wide variety of special forces units across the planet.
These helmets are designed to provide the wearer with solid ballistic protection whilst still maintaining a high profile and a good amount of mobility. High cut helmets allow for the use of a much larger variety of complex comms systems and generally grant the wearer a greater level of freedom versus mid and low profile helmets. They’re also generally a lot more comfortable, so if you think you’re going to be wearing your helmet for extended periods of time then this is a solid choice. The trade off is of course that a small amount of ballistic protection is sacrificed – which is why special forces units tend opt for these over general infantry.
New helmets are constantly being developed, but the most recent variant to supercede its predecessors is the Fast SF ballistic helmet. The complex blend of carbon, PE and synthetic fibers (aramid) have resulted in an eight percent reduction in overall weight from the previous design without endangering the user. It also features a slot above the forehead to assist you in mounting night vision goggles and has plenty of ventilation to keep operators cool when using this equipment for long periods of time.
Mounted Goggles – EOTech GPNVG
As we already mentioned – there’s a slot for night vision goggles above the forehead. In many cases an operator will use this particular variant. The EOTech GPNVG – they offer a much wider field of view and provide an incredibly high quality image to users. They’re very restricted – with general sale to civilians being completely prohibited. That means these goggles are only available to active law enforcement or military members. They’re also illegal to export.
Don’t worry if you’re a civilian reader, though. Luckily these are priced so incredibly high that even if they were totally unrestricted it would be pretty hard to obtain them. They currently seem to be resting in the region of $42,499 dollars, which isn’t exactly pocket change.
The communication systems commonly found in seal load-outs are always top of the line and very, very expensive. Communication is obviously imperative to how seals conduct themselves so the ability to guarantee consistent and effective communication is absolutely critical to how they operate.
L3Harris provide a complex array of battlefield communication devices. One particular notable piece is the RF-7800V-HH handheld radio which provides military grade (obviously) encryption and a great band of different frequencies to transmit across. It operates in the VHF (very high frequency) band, this means longer wavelengths. As such the transmitter and receiver are better suited at dealing with obstructions and can also operate across much wider distances than radios in the UHF (ultra high frequency) band.
It has its own GPS system integrated internally and USB/Ethernet support.
Modular Plate Carrier LBT6094A
This is potentially the most important part of any seals loadout. Whether an operator is encountering trained opposition or not. Center mass is the largest target available, so your odds of getting tagged in the chest versus getting tagged in a smaller area such as the head are significantly higher. Plate carriers and the plate inlays used along with them are often sold separately. There’s also a handful of other additional pieces of equipment that you’ll normally see someone scoop up alongside a plate carrier. The more popular plate carriers have compatibility with modular ammo pouches, often granting you a great deal of freedom in how you choose to build your load-out.
This particular variant – the LBT6094A – has been in use for a long time across various branches of the military. It has full plate compatibility – meaning you can insert plates into the side panels as well as the front and back panels for full coverage.
It’s manufactured from a 500 denier cordura to guarantee that it can withstand some heavy use – it’s not uncommon to see years of use out of a plate carrier provided you pick a reliable one. It also has some padded shoulder straps – further complimenting the ongoing theme of maintaining comfort when you have to wear your kit for extended periods of time.
This is probably the most accessible plate carrier you’ll see on the open market that has been in use by the DEVGRU. You’ll also commonly see some CRYE plate carriers and other privately manufactured equipment.
It also has a drag handle for emergency situations. If you’re interested in reading up on plate carriers we have a full article about them right here.
It’s difficult to get reliable data on the type of plates that seals use – and for very good reasons. Different types of plates are manufactured in different ways. Both in terms of the individual materials used to manufacture these plates and also the specific manufacturing processes involved. These can make them more resilient to different types of rounds or strategies and less resilient to others – so SEALS aren’t going to exactly advertise the specific plate inserts they use.
In terms of plates available on the open market – there’s quite a lot to choose from. Generally speaking if you’re looking for an insert that’s even remotely comparable to those in use by a real military outfit – you’re gonna want to opt for a level IV plate insert. These are plate inserts that are rated for ballistic protection against larger caliber firearms such as rifles and submachine guns. You would never see a DEVGRU guy role up with the absolute minimum level of protection, so you probably shouldn’t either.
One particular company that manufacturers plate inserts is spartan armor systems. They manufacture a level IV plate insert that’s rated by the national institute of justice – the governing body in charge for categorizing and properly designating the appropriate classifications for each insert. It comes as a pack of two (front and rear insert) but you can also splash out on some side inserts if you’re looking for additional coverage. Conveniently they’re also surrounded by a 600 denier fabric which will assist in further waterproofing your plates.
Don’t feel confined to one particular brand or manufacturer, though. There’s plenty of great manufacturers out there building high quality inserts. Just double check they’re rated by the NIJ and all the paperworks legit before you make any kind of investments.
Pouches are generally pretty much dime a dozen. With that being said, you don’t really want to cheap out on something that you may potentially be relying on to save your life. As such, costs are not cut here either.
Modular pouches with support for multiple magazines are always a plus. What’s the point in unnecessarily restricting your capacity?
Other common additions found on plate carriers include first aid pouches, pistol magazine pouches and pouches for storing incendiary devices.