A member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia emailed me with a simple question: what guns did the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 use to take out Osama Bin Laden? Obviously, that level of detail is classified. We won’t know who shot what until one of the team members leaves the forces and writes a book (vetted by the Navy ‘natch). Until then, I asked one of our writers (who shall remain nameless) to provide a list of the tools available to the SEALs. Make the jump for the inside dope on the guns of the Navy SEALs. Meanwhile, can someone tell me why Navy Special Ops got the green-light for a mission that was more than 200 miles inland?

What are they using currently? Depends on the situation. I don’t know their exact load outs, but weapons of choice of the past few years are listed below. Also, as of late U.S. SOF have more heavily adopted local weapons. Not uncommon to see AK’s etc. mixed in, but that’s not the “standard” load.

Knives / Blades

Mark 3 Knife

Mission Knives

MPK Knife
SEAL Knife 2000


M9 Beretta
Colt 1911
H&K Mk23 Mod 0
MEU (SOC) Pistol (1911 variant)
SIG Sauer M11  (P226 / P228)
Glock (various models and calibers)


Remington 7188
Remington M870
Mossberg M500 / M590
Benelli M1014 (M4 Super 90 variant)

Sub-Machine Guns

H&K MP5 (various flavors)


M4A1 Carbine (A whole bunch of variants, see M4A1 SOPMOD)
M4 Close Quarters Battle Rifle (Mk18 Mod 0)
Colt 723/725/727
Chicom Type 56 (AK-47)
FN SCAR 5.56 (Mk 16 Mod 0)
FN SCAR 7.62 (Mk 17 Mod 0)
M-14 (Mk 14 Mod 0 Enhanced Battle Rifle)
H&K 416

Marksman’s Rifles

SR-25 (Mk 11 Mod 0 / M110)
M-14 Designated Marskman Rifle
M39 Enhance Marksmanship Rifle
SPR (Mk 12)
H&K 417
M24 Sniper Weapon System (Remington 700 – 7.62, 338 Lapua)
M40A3 (Remington 700 – 7.62 only)
M82a1 / M107 Barrett

Machine Guns / Squad Automatic Weapons

M60 E3 / Mk 43 Mod 0 (E3 is the lightweight, chopped version. Mk 43 is the Vietnam Era style).
M249 Squad Automatic Weapon

Other Weapons

M79 Grenade Launcher
M203 Grenade Launcher (underslung)
Mk13 mod 0 Grenade Launcher (used with Mk 16 and Mk 17 SCAR variants)
M32 Grenade Launcher (multi-shot)
Mk19 Grenade Launcher (belt-fed, automatic)
Mk 47 Grenade Launcher (computer assisted)
M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon
M3 Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle
M136 AT4
FGM-148 Javelin
FIM-92 Stinger

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41 Responses to The Guns (and Knives) of the Navy SEALs

  1. United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG / DEVGRU) [formerly – “Team 6”] got the nod for the operation. They’re like SEALs on steroids (hrmm .. somehow that doesn’t seem far-fetched)…

    They got it because they’re one of the two Tier One Special Missions Units (SMU’s). Their primary role at creation was specifically counter-terrorism. Who better to do the deed 🙂

  2. “Meanwhile, can someone tell me why Navy Special Ops got the green-light for a mission that was more than 200 miles inland?”

    Because they are the best! 🙂

  3. Robert, the real answer is that none of these missions are truly “single service.” JSOC missions are almost always “Joint.” The SEALs may be getting the credit because they were the largest element present (or because the Navy has the best PR flacks in the armed forces) but you can bet that at least 3 services were represented in the operation (for example, the helicopters were almost certainly flown by the Army’s 160th SOAR and you can bet that there were Air Force combat controllers and possibly PJ’s – elite pararescumen – also involved.)

  4. “Meanwhile, can someone tell me why Navy Special Ops got the green-light for a mission that was more than 200 miles inland?”

    I think the area is a Navy command for some reason. The SEALs operate all over Afghanistan (and Pakistan). That is why the four guys from Team 10 were in a position to earn a Medal of Honor (Murphy, posthumous), Navy Cross (Dietz, posthumous), Navy Cross (Axelson, posthumous), and a third Navy Cross (Luttrell) in Operation Red Wings.

  5. More interestingly, they constructed a full-scale replica of Bin Laden’s hidey-hole in Aftghanistan, and practiced the breech/takedown for months before going in.

    To those of you who are big Wikileaks fans, THIS is a prime example of why countries need to be able to keep SOME things top-secret. If this had been published by that assclown Assange, Bin Laden would still be alive today.

  6. Didn’t they transition over to HK45C’s?

    The MSM is publishing stories that he was double-tapped in the face with a M11 after failing to comply with a surrender order.

    Hmm… maybe this will prompt a SIGSauer M11 replica sales frenzy the likes never seen since the S&W M29 was immortalized by Inspector Callahan…… except this time, it was for real.

  7. DEVGRU got the mission because they were free. Delta, Green Berets, etc. are more of the “train the locals” SF teams. While they are more than capable of pulling this op off, SEALs and DEVGRU don’t embed with locals as much, so they didn’t have to be extracted from whatever they were doing. In addition, they came off of a carrier so they didn’t have to contend with the Pakistani air-defenses on their border with Afghanistan. And as far as primary and secondary weapons go, smart money is on either the 416 or the SCAR, and the P226 or P228.

    • Delta are shooters, like older, awesomer Rangers. Very analogous to the SEALs. SF is train the locals, aka “Force Multipliers” or alternately “Peace Corps with guns.”

      • I’m definitely not trying to say that Delta aren’t shooters; I personally believe that they are the best shooters this country has. However, they definitely do work with the locals. So my guess is that they were likely already of on a mission, while DEVGRU was shooting ammo in Virginia (DEVGRU’s ammo budget is larger than the ammo budget of the USMC). So you have them run the op, and let Delta continue to do whatever ops they’re running.

  8. I found out something interesting about Navy SEALs weapons. They aren’t limited. What I heard once from an ex-Navy SEAL is that need to know to pick up essentially any weapon and be able to use it within their well honed ability. That means that even though the AK-47 or PK machine gun were not on that list, the guy going into Osama’s compound probably would have been able to pick one up. When SEALs or other special-ops receive training, they learn what weapons they go up against and how they work. This is part of their edge.

    • All of SOCOM is like that. I don’t think the Rangers or PJs do it as much but they all train with foreign weapons.

    • All of SOCOM and even a fair amount of our conventional forces are receiving at least weapons familiarity training with the AK. Less so with the PK at the conventional level. But the foreign weapons training with the SF is nothing new. Back in Vietnam, an SF group called MACV-SOG used to run an RPD with a 250 round belt and a 10 inch barrel. The RPD shoots the 7.62x54R round, the same round in the Mosin Nagant. I don’t even want to think about the muzzle blast on that beast.

      • No disrespect intended, but the RPD shoots 7.62x39mm. The standard drum holds 100 round belts. It’s the Dragunov that shoots 7.62x 54mm.

  9. “Meanwhile, can someone tell me why Navy Special Ops got the green-light for a mission that was more than 200 miles inland?”

    Guys, guys no need to complicate this….they came out of a well

    • This wasn’t a “self defense” operation…

      Don’t be surprised when they are all packing 5.7x28mm side arms and SMGs soon. Much better offensive weapon line. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t like my .40 SW. As soon as some more (American!?!) manufacturers start coming out with 5.7x28mm, and the damn price of the ammo drops, expect to hear a lot more of these at the range…

  10. Your list is a little off. For 1, the knives…dont forget three of the Cold Steel models. 2, the p226 is not m11 its the mk 25 Its not my article so I’ll stop here. Do a little more research before posting a sight like this.

  11. My Dad made China Beach landing March 1965. Dad was a photographer in the Navy. White Elephant & Camp Town Share. Dad said the Navy Seals train him. What he learn saved
    His life.

  12. Better yet? I’d like too know what weapons were rejected and why!
    Politics in weapon choices kill more service men and the grunts have no say!
    the first M16 was a piece of crap because the Military wanted to go cheap!
    Some firearms procurement is NATO related, they want the 9mm! Personally
    having had bad experiences with both Cartridges {.223 & 9 MM} I will take battle proven .45 and .308 any day if having choice!

    • Oh come on. They are not that bad. The M16 is probably the easiest rifle in the world to shoot well. The A1 and A2 I used were light, accurate w/ iron sights, and pretty reliable. You need need to keep your weapon clean to avoid jams, so I carried an old wool sock to wipe out crap once or twice a day. No big. The M9 is also one of the easiest (and safest) handguns to teach a large workforce to use. No recoil, accurate, and reasonably easy to field strip/clean/maintain.

      Both are a joy to fire for prolonged periods of time. The first time I loaded live ammo into the M9 I qualified expert without familiarization fire or practice. While it isn’t a firearm I would purchase myself (saving my allowance for a FiveSeven and the new HK P30) the ergonomics are quite good.

      I was better than 75% at hitting the 500M target with iron sights with the M16A1. I have taught countless adults who have never handled a firearm before to safely and accurately use the M16A1.

      Both weapons are pretty easy to maintain. This is another huge issue when choosing a weapon you are going to deploy in hands of thousands upon thousands of people–most of whom will never fire a shot.

      Remember there is a huge difference between what the bulk of the Army/Navy/Marines/Air Force do and what a small group of elite commandos do.

      Choices of what works best for a million service members v. what is best for 20 person SEALS/Delta/SF team, or a Ranger/Recondo Company is quite a different decision. The 9mm and 5.56 are light ammo–meaning more bullets down range per ton of cargo. When you figure you need to fill 6 magazines x 30 rounds per M16/M4, or 3 x 15 per M9 for that many people, economics and logistics become really important. Don’t forget you have to pay the Air Force to fly all that lead, and gas ain’t cheap.

  13. McRaven, the head of JSOC at the time, was a SEAL. So to say that didn’t play a part is… ignoring the context.

    Also, I would like to point out that NO NAVY SEAL actually went into Bin Laden’s compound. They may have been SEALs a few hours beforehand, but they most certainly were CIA operatives while on the mission; they may have resigned from the CIA and rejoined the SEALs immediately after, but they certainly weren’t SEALs.

    Source: FOIA requests for information and pictures on mission.

  14. I’m drooling. Man I wish I had that kind of budget. I better keep working hard to increase my fun budget.

  15. I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010/2011, I hung out with the seals at my fob. It was a very small fob and we were next door neighbors. I failed to look at their m4s very well, I was too busy shooting them, but they used surefire surpresors. and I shot their sniper rifle, it was Acuracy International 300

  16. Seals ate level 2 air force has two level ones one was not even acknowledge until 1995 that unit list members as equipment to loan to other tiere ones delta and green are also ones most started from and old paper in late 80s calling for a millinium project or group.

  17. Civilian: Medium pocket knife, butcher knife, steak knife, meat clever, sharp pointed object, ash tray, football trophy, . Machete, 26 inch blade, (use both hands), hunting knife, 12 gauge 00 buck, 18.5 barrel, action of your choice. Hand firearm, take your pick .380 and up. Rifle, how far away do you really need to shoot? Identify and rectify the threat. Call 911. Seals are safer than you are.

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