Sometimes the most inspirational stories are not of overwhelming victory, but simply of someone being snatched from the jaws of death itself…
A Bridge Too Far, Saving Private Ryan, Tears Of The Sun, Blackhawk Down…
The last stand of a few brave men is a tale as old as time, from the Spartan’s last stand at Thermopylae to the battle of Robert’s Ridge we appear to be drawn to the final moments of a desperate group of men, fighting against a larger force with no hope of resupply and timely reinforcement an unlikely outcome.
Lone Survivor documents one such “last stand”, an insight into a fight between 4 SEALs on a recce mission and the larger Taliban force they fought against. There have been a number of different accounts of what happened, from Luttrell’s own account to that of local villagers, Naval Intelligence Investigators and even that of the Taliban themselves.
I’m not here to debate what actually happened or even Marcus’s own account in his book, If backed into a corner I’d suggest that there’s truth in all the accounts and inaccuracies too. Stressful times create a funny perspective on things and important details can become distorted. But let’s not digress, we’re here to look at only the equipment used by the actors in the film and the film alone.
The film follows the events of the book relatively closely up until the point Marcus is separated from the rest of his team, the events after this moment were changed from the actual events for the sake of having a climactic finish to the film.
If your not aware of the background behind the real life Operation Red Wings, then I’d suggest reading Luttrell’s book. It’s got your typical “Texas, God, Country” that appears in a fair amount of US Military literature, but cut through that and you’ll find a book detailing both the operation from Luttrell’s perspective whilst dealing with the issues about moral battles, brotherhood and loss.
So without further ado, let’s look at the gear used in the film…
Lieutenant Michael Murphy (Medal Of Honour) – Team Leader/Spotter
Murphy (Played by Taylor Kitsch), like the rest of the team wears “raid cut” BDUs. Murphy has both shirt and pants (Along with a boonie) in the Desert Combat Uniform 3 colour pattern, some of the others choosing to mix it up with Desert/Woodland combinations.
The primary load carriage used by Murphy in the film is a tan (or possibly khaki) Pantac RRV (Rhodesian Recon Vest), Pantac being a cheaper stand in for the Eagle Industries rig SEALs commonly used at the time (See below pic of the real Mike Murphy).
This doesn’t mark the only time for airsoft gear being used in a major Hollywood production, both American Sniper and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi used repro kit to fill in for the real deal.
Pouches and accessories on Murphy’s RRV are selected based upon his role and weaponry, like with the other guys… A great deal of attention was put into the equipment used in the film.
The make up of Murphy’s RRV is as follows:
- 4 x M4 mag has pouches along the centre front (possibly 2 x doubles).
- Admin panel on the chest.
- MBITR pouch on the left side.
- Horizontal Admin on the bottom.
- Double 40mm pouch on the right side.
All the pouches are presumably Pantac copies of Eagle Industries originals, Condor and Flyye also make passable copies of the pouches should it be difficult to source.
In addition to the pouches, several accessories are attached to his RRV:
- SOFT-T Tourniquet rubber handed onto left shoulder.
- AN-M8 Smoke Grenade (Also strangely banded onto left side).
- PRC148 Radio (assume it’s a 148 as it’s never seen, it would fit the period though).
- Adventure Light VIP Strobe on right shoulder.
- TEA PTT on chest leading to a covert earpiece.
On Murphy’s belt he wears a Beretta M9 pistol in what looks like a Bianchi type leather pancake holster, an odd choice in both sidearm and holster as SEALs were using Sig P226 pistols at this point and leather holsters wouldn’t be a suitable option, certainly not given the options available at the time. A better look would be to go for a Blackhawk! Omega Drop Leg, Safariland 6004 or possibly just leave the pistol out of it.
To complete the load-out… A pair of Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ Glasses, a black and white shemagh, black covert Mechanix Originals with the trigger finger cut off and finally… Suitable footwear, Oakley Assault Boots were purportedly used during the filming but Merrell Moabs or early 2000’s era Desert Boots would be period correct choices.
Patch wise… The most prominent is the “Engine 53 Ladder 43” FDNY patch worn in real life by Murphy, add a Stars and Stripes to the other arm and that’s pretty much it for Murphy as far as patches go.
- Murphy’s main weapon in the film is an M4A1 SOPMOD Block 1 with Underslung M203A1 (Short Barrel Version), if looking to keep your load-out simple, Murphy’s is arguably the easiest to reproduce.
Hi s M4A1 is set up as follows:
Trijicon ACOG TA01.
Docter mini red dot sight.
AN/PEQ2 mounted on the 3 o’clock rail.
KAC Rail Cover on the 9 o’clock rail.
LE type stock.
All finished off with a sandy brown paint job.
The other two items Murphy is seen using in the film are the Iridium Sat-Phone used to call in his final sitrep, also the pair of binoculars used briefly to ID their primary target.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz (Navy Cross) – Radio Operator/Spotter
Danny (played by Emile Hirsch) has a slightly different loadout to Murphy, The core elements are the same but with a few minor variations.
Danny’s clothing is a raid modified US Woodland shirt and Tan BDU trousers, A Woodland boonie is worn as well ti complete the uniform. The brand of trousers isn’t clear but any BDU cut trousers should give the correct impression, it’s been suggested that they’re Tru-Spec 24/7 Combat Pants but the jury’s out as far as I’m concerned.
The RRV makes a return with Danny, albeit with some minor tweaks due to his role. This individual one used in the film was apparently made by Condor not Pantac so at the very last it gives you another possible choice when replicating it.
The pouches and accessories on the vest are as follows:
4 x M4 magazine pouches centre front
Triple 40mm grenade pouch
Large admin/SAW pouch on left side
MBITR on right shoulder
2 x Frag pouches on right side
SOG SEAL Pup Knife across centre of rig secured with zip ties
VIP Strobe on left shoulder
Blackhawk Carabiner on left strap
His backpack is an unusual one and something I had no prior knowledge of before researching this article, initially I thought it was a modified olive ALICE pack but it’s apparently made by a company called Lion Industries. It features a frame design and has a very similar look to the USGI pack, so the ALICE wouldn’t look too out of place if sourcing the Lion pack prices too challenging. The toggles for the shoulder adjustment have been taped into balls, this makes adjusting and releasing the pack much easier with gloves on.
Danny’s primary weapon is similar to Murphy’s M4A1 but with the addition of a vertical grip in his M203 that completes his weapon and adds a touch of cool (and a hell of a lot of bulk). The M203 grip isn’t seen often as it’s reportedly a piece of shit but it does signify that you’ve paid attention if you add it to your build and you’d get a knowing nod from other Lone Survivor aficionados if your build has it.
Other touches to Danny’s loadout are his ESS CDI Max Glasses, a tan and black shemagh, suitable footwear and the same black Mechanix as Murphy (without the cut off finger).
As a footnote, the section radio he is using appears to be the Raytheon AN/PSC-5D Multi Mission Terminal, not something you generally see airsofters recreate but for the uber-serious impressionist it would look awesome.
Navy Hospital Corpsman Marcus Luttrell (Navy Cross) – Medic/Sniper
Marcus (Played by Mark Wahlberg) is the titular “Lone Survivor”, as one of the teams two Marksmen/Snipers he is set up with a rather different load-out to Murphy and Danny’s.
Luttrell’s clothing is similar to Danny’s, Woodland shirt (Raid cut as before), Tan pants (make unknown) and a tan boonie (trimmed down).
His RRV is set up with a few minor variations, being the lead in the film his rig is given a bit more flourish with Marcus’s own input being obvious.
The make up of his RRV is as follows…
SOG SEAL Pup Knife on right shoulder.
Full colour small Texas patch on front admin panel.
Admin pouch on chest.
4 x 5.56 magazine pouches on front (left offset).
MBITR Pouch (right side of ammo pouches).
SAW/Large Admin Pouch on left side.
Horizontal admin along bottom front.
Frag pouch on right side (possibly two as per Danny’s rig)
TEA PTT on right side next to knife linked to a PRC148 Radio.
SOFT-T Tourniquet on left shoulder.
His backpack might seem familiar if you’ve seen the American Sniper Anatomy, It’s the same Kelty MAP 3500 used but with a medical kit strapped to the top. A small roll of camo netting is seen rolled up below the pack (as it is on all of the teams patrol packs).
Marcus uses the Mk12 Mod 1 SPR as his primary weapon, his set-up is fairly minimal and skewed towards the precision long range end of the weapons capabilities…
Leupold MR/T Scope on ARMS #22 High Ring Mounts
Ops 12th Mk12 Suppressor (wrapped with sisal twine).
KAC Mk12 Quad Picatinny Rail
AN/PEQ 2 Laser/Illuminator
Harris Bipod (Seen on and off as the film progresses)
KAC Vertical Grip and Rail Covers
Full M16A2 type stock
Hogue Overmold Grip
A nice balanced set up for an airsoft DMR but a little on the heavy side (trust me), in addition the full stock added to the suppressed 18″ barrel make it a damn long rifle. Meaning it’s not the most practical weapon for FIBUA, if you’re heading to a rural op it’s a solid choice though.
The twine wrapped Suppressor might attract the attentions of any cats nearby, but it’s a touch that although impractical (and a potential fire hazard in the real one) will get a nod of appreciation from those who know.
Other little touches on Marcus’s load-out are as follows:
Gatorz Radiator Black Glasses with Grey Polarized Lens.
Texas Patch on left raid modded pocket.
Protec Classic “Bump Helmet” with subdued Texas flag painted on it and ratchet USGI NVG mount.
Mechanix Black on Black Originals.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew “Axe” Axelson (NC) – Sniper
Axelson (Played by Ben Foster) has arguably the most interesting primary weapon, certainly the set up I’m personally drawn to. His load-out also has a little variation in the theme we’ve already seen, adorable with a big bias on ammo carriage.
His clothing is the typical raid modded BDUs, Desert 3 Colour “DCU” for both shirt and pants with a tan boonie hat. He wears both an IR and woven Stars and Stripes patch on his left arm in that double patch configuration that looks odd and cool in equal measures.
His eyewear is another Gatorz item but not the Radiators that Marcus wears but the Magnum frames with Smoke Lenses, A cool looking choice and one that SEAL Team CBS obviously liked the look of later on (Mark Semos interestingly worked as a technical advisor on Lone Survivor before writing for SEAL Team, It’s not the only crossover either…).
On his RRV we see the following accessories:
- Double pistol magazine pouch on right chest
- 3 x 5.56 magazine pouches on front
- Single 5.56 magazine pouch on left strap
- 2 x Single 5.56 magazine pouch on left and right of rig (right one used as sidearm holster).
- 2 x frag pouches on left side
- MBITR pouch on right side
- Horizontal admin pouch on bottom
- Blackhawk! Carabiner on right shoulder
- SOFT-T Tourniquet on left shoulder
- VIP Strobe on left strap
A staggering amount of pouches are on his rig but it wouldn’t feel too bulky unless you decided to fill the whole lot with Mars Bars and Ammo, you’d be better off carrying what you need and spreading the load.
Interestingly he opts to use an ammo pouch as a holster, not an ideal application and given the weight of a fully loaded M9 it’s not one I’d risk.
As he is the one member of the team who used his sidearm in the film, I’d have just figured on him having a more suitable holster for it.
The backpack worn is a Kelty MAP 3500 as per Murphy’s, Danny probably being the odd one out due to his radio equipment needing a bit more room.
Again we see the camo net rolled up under the pack, a nice addition and a particularly useful one if on a recce op.
His primary weapon is one that I’m extremely familiar with, having built my own from a Tokyo Marui Recoil Shock base.
The Mk12 Mod 1 SPR… Axe having a particularly sexy looking set up with a sliding crane stock, micro red dot mounted atop the scope and a very nice looking paint job.
For an in depth look I’d suggest hitting the above link but the parts list used on the film are as follows.
Crane SOPMOD stock.
CQD Rear Sling Loop Plate
Leupold MR/T Scope on ARMS #22 High Rings.
NC Star Micro Red Dot (Standing in for a Docter RDS as on all weapons in movie) on a modified ARMS Tactical Ring Rail And Cap.
Hogue Overmold Grip
KAC Foregrip and Rail Covers
Ops 12th Suppressor
AN/PEQ 2 Laser/Illuminator
The rifle is finished by a liberal amount of Krylon in a brown and tan paint job.
There isn’t much else to Axe’s load-out, a green and black shemagh is worn and so are a pair of Mechanix original gloves in US Woodland.
Overall, any of the four options are a good load-out for rural games taking place over an extended period. The RRV works well in conjunction with a backpack and offers a lot of storage for the user, certainly enough for a weekend in the woods.
I’m not sure I’d wear this to an urban game but for somewhere like Stirling Airsoft’s “The Trees” or UCAP’s old Sandpit site, this load-out would be perfect.
When playing airsoft we often overlook the fact that we’re playing dress up, sometimes we look like those we portray but unless you’ve earned an insignia or badge you should avoid wearing it. This load-out is devoid of SEAL or other military insignia so your pretty safe wearing this without the issue of Stolen Valour, however you should consider the following…
When wearing anything to re-enact a particular group or unit, you take on a responsibility. Not just to act within the best morals of those people and to seek their approval but to remember that the uniform and gear doesn’t turn you into what they were. Respect is a two way street but the onus is on he who has yet to show he is worthy of respect to show they are respectful themselves, if we consistently show ourselves to be respectful to those we portray then airsoft might find itself better thought of by the military community.
With that said and done, I’d summarise on the load-out by saying that my personal take on this would be to tailor the pouches to your own needs, getting the look right relies on you becoming comfortable with your kit.
Another essential element that I often talk about in the anatomy posts is the absolute need to get the gear worn in, nothing looks more artificial than flash brand new gear… Get it worn and washed a few times and it’ll take on a lot more character.