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In the world of elite military units, the United States Navy SEALs stand out for their bravery, skill, and the cutting-edge equipment they employ to carry out their missions. One of the most common questions about these soldiers is: What guns do Navy SEALs use? This question not only piques the curiosity of military enthusiasts but also highlights the importance of weaponry in the success of their operations. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of Navy SEALs, exploring their duties, the rigorous selection process, and, most importantly, the specific guns and equipment accompanying them on their missions.

Understanding the Navy SEALs

Before we explore the arsenal of the Navy SEALs, it’s important to understand who they are and what they do. Navy SEALs are the principal special operations force of the U.S. Navy’s and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command. Known for their versatility, SEALs are trained to operate in all environments—the ocean’s depths, the arid desert, and the dense jungle—making them unique among U.S. military units.

Their duties range from direct combat to reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense. With such a wide array of missions, SEALs must be proficient in various skills, including parachuting, diving, and guerrilla warfare, to name just a few.

Basic Requirements

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
  • They must be males aged 17 to 28 (though exceptions may be made for those with prior military experience).
  • They must meet the minimum Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score.
  • They must meet the Navy’s physical standards, including height, weight, vision, and hearing requirements.
  • A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Many candidates possess a college degree, although it is not mandatory.
  • Prospective SEALs must pass the Physical Screening Test (PST), which includes timed events such as push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, 500-yard swim, and a 1.5-mile run. Specific minimum scores must be met.
  • SEAL candidates undergo a rigorous psychological evaluation to ensure they possess the mental resilience necessary for the demanding nature of SEAL operations.
  • Applicants must undergo an extensive background investigation to ensure they meet security clearance requirements.

Training Process (BUD/S)

BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) is the initial training program for Navy SEAL candidates. It is notorious for its intensity and attrition rate. Here’s an overview of the BUD/S training process:

  • Before BUD/S, candidates may undergo an orientation period known as Indoctrination. It focuses on physical conditioning and preparing candidates for the challenges of BUD/S.
  • First Phase (Basic Conditioning): Focuses on physical conditioning, including swimming, running, and calisthenics. Candidates endure intense physical training, often in cold water conditions.
  • Second Phase (Diving): Emphasizes combat diving techniques, including open and closed-circuit diving. Candidates learn underwater navigation, demolition, and other diving-related skills.
  • Third Phase (Land Warfare): Teaches small unit tactics, patrolling, navigation, and weapons training. Candidates engage in simulated combat scenarios and live-fire exercises.
  • Hell Week: Occurs during the first phase and is a grueling five and a half days of continuous training with minimal sleep. Candidates endure intense physical and mental challenges, often in harsh weather conditions, to test their resolve and teamwork.
  • Other Training: Following BUD/S, candidates undergo additional specialized training, including language training, parachute training (if not already qualified), and SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training.

SEAL Qualification Training (SQT):

  • This is the final phase of SEAL training, focusing on mission-specific skills and team training.
  • Successful completion of SQT leads to the awarding of the SEAL Trident, signifying full qualification as a Navy SEAL.

Throughout the training pipeline, candidates are continually evaluated, and those who fail to meet the rigorous standards are removed from the program. The entire process can take over a year to complete, and even then, SEALs continue to undergo advanced training throughout their careers to maintain readiness and proficiency.

The Arsenal of the Navy SEALs

When it comes to the question, “What guns do Navy SEALs use?” the answer is both varied and fascinating. The selection of firearms and equipment is tailored to the mission’s specific requirements, but there are several staples in a SEAL’s arsenal.


One of the primary weapons used by Navy SEALs is the Colt M4A1 carbine. This 5.56mm rifle is favored for its reliability, accuracy, and versatility. The M4A1 can be fitted with various optics, suppressors, and grenade launchers, making it adaptable to a wide range of operations. Another rifle frequently used is the MK 18 CQBR, a compact version of the M4A1, which is particularly useful in close-quarters combat.

Here are some types of rifles used:

Colt M4A1 Carbine

  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Length: 33 inches (stock extended), 29.8 inches (stock collapsed)
  • Weight: Approximately 6.5 lbs. (unloaded)
  • Preferred for its compact size, reliability, and versatility.
  • Can be equipped with various optics (e.g., EOTech holographic sights, Aimpoint red dot sights), suppressors, foregrips, and grenade launchers (e.g., M203).


  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Length: Varies (around 26 inches with stock collapsed)
  • Weight: Approximately 6 lbs. (unloaded)
  • Compact and lightweight, ideal for close-quarters combat.
  • Similar to the M4A1, it can be customized with different optics and accessories.

Additional options for rifles could include:

  • HK416: Known for its reliability and performance, it is often used by special operations forces worldwide.
  • SCAR-L (FN SCAR-L): Offers modularity and reliability, with the ability to switch between calibers (5.56mm and 7.62mm).
  • Daniel Defense MK18: Similar to the MK 18 CQBR, it is known for its compactness and reliability.

Machine Guns

For operations requiring more firepower, the SEALs turn to the M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) and the MK48 MOD 1. The M249 is a light machine gun that provides suppressive fire with its high rate of fire, while the MK48, a variant of the M240, is used when a mission demands a powerful yet more portable machine gun.

Here are some different types of machine guns that are used by Navy SEALs:

M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon)

  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Length: 40.75 inches
  • Weight: Approximately 17 lbs. (unloaded)
  • Provides sustained suppressive fire and is relatively lightweight for a machine gun.

MK48 MOD 1

  • Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO
  • Length: 39.75 inches
  • Weight: Approximately 18 lbs. (unloaded)
  • Offers greater stopping power than the M249 while still being portable enough for maneuverability.

Additional options for machine guns could include:

  • M240B/M240L: Belt-fed, general-purpose machine guns known for their reliability and versatility.
  • FN Minimi/M249 Para: Compact variants of the M249, suitable for special operations roles requiring mobility.

Sniper Rifles

Precision is often crucial in SEAL operations, and for this reason, sniper rifles are an essential part of their toolkit. The MK13 MOD 7 Sniper Rifle, chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum, and the Barrett M107A1, a .50 caliber long-range sniper rifle, are among the top choices. These weapons allow SEAL snipers to accurately engage targets from great distances.

Types of sniper rifles:

MK13 MOD 7 Sniper Rifle

  • Caliber: .300 Winchester Magnum
  • Effective Range: Up to 1,500 meters
  • Provides exceptional accuracy and terminal ballistics for long-range engagements.

Barrett M107A1

  • Caliber: .50 BMG (12.7x99mm NATO)
  • Effective Range: Up to 2,000 meters
  • Offers unmatched stopping power and penetration capabilities against hardened targets.

Additional options for sniper rifles could include:

  • Remington M40: The Bolt-action rifle is known for its accuracy and reliability and is often used by U.S. Marine Corps snipers.
  • Accuracy International AXMC: a modular rifle platform capable of chambering various calibers renowned for its precision and durability.


The SIG Sauer P226 MK25 is the standard sidearm for Navy SEALs. This 9mm pistol is chosen for its reliability in harsh conditions, accuracy, and the safety features it offers. In recent years, the Glock 19 has also become a popular choice among SEALs for its simplicity, durability, and performance.

Types of sidearms:

SIG Sauer P226 MK25

  • Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
  • Capacity: 15 rounds
  • Chosen for its reliability, accuracy, and proven performance in adverse conditions.

Glock 19

  • Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
  • Capacity: 15 rounds
  • Known for its simplicity, durability, and widespread use in law enforcement and military units worldwide.

Additional options for sidearms could include:

  • Heckler & Koch USP: Known for its ruggedness and versatility, available in various calibers.
  • Beretta M9A3: This updated version of the M9 offers improved ergonomics and features for combat use.

Why These Weapons?

The guns that Navy SEALs use are chosen for specific reasons: reliability, versatility, and effectiveness. The harsh environments in which SEALs operate and the variety of their missions require weapons that can perform in any situation, whether it’s underwater, in a desert, or during a covert urban operation. Each firearm is selected to offer the best balance of firepower, accuracy, and portability, ensuring that SEALs have the upper hand in any combat scenario. Here’s a breakdown of “What guns do Navy SEALs use and why?”

Reliability in Harsh Environments

SEALs often operate in extreme conditions, including underwater, desert environments, and dense jungle terrain. Their firearms must withstand exposure to water, sand, mud, and other environmental factors without compromising performance. For example, the Colt M4A1 and SIG Sauer P226 MK25 are renowned for their ruggedness and ability to function reliably in adverse conditions.

Special attention is paid to materials, coatings, and construction methods to ensure that firearms can endure prolonged use in challenging environments without experiencing malfunctions or degradation.

Versatility Across Mission Profiles

SEAL missions vary widely, from direct action raids to reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and hostage rescue. As such, SEALs require firearms that can adapt to different scenarios and operational requirements seamlessly. The Colt M4A1 carbine, for instance, can be configured with various accessories such as optics, suppressors, and grenade launchers, allowing SEALs to customize their weapons based on the specific demands of each mission.

The modularity of certain firearms, like the HK416 and SCAR-L, enables SEALs to quickly modify their weapons to suit changing mission parameters, whether they’re engaging enemy combatants in a rural setting or conducting covert operations in an urban environment.

Effectiveness in Combat Situations

SEALs rely on firearms that offer optimal firepower, accuracy, and lethality to dominate combat situations. The MK 18 CQBR, with its compact size and maneuverability, excels in close-quarters engagements where speed and agility are paramount. Conversely, the MK48 MOD 1 provides superior firepower and penetration capabilities, effectively suppressing enemy positions or engaging fortified targets.

Sniper rifles like the MK13 MOD 7 and Barrett M107A1 are chosen for their precision and long-range capabilities, allowing SEAL snipers to neutralize threats with surgical precision from significant distances while minimizing collateral damage.

Training and Familiarity

SEALs undergo extensive training with their firearms to develop proficiency and confidence in their capabilities. Familiarity with weapon systems is important for operating effectively under stress and in high-pressure situations. As such, firearms selected for SEAL use are often chosen based on compatibility with existing training protocols and standardization across special operations units.

The adoption of certain firearms, such as the Glock 19, may also be influenced by their widespread use in military and law enforcement communities, facilitating interoperability and logistical support during joint operations and training exercises.

Continuous Improvement and Innovation

The selection of firearms for SEALs is an ongoing process that incorporates operator feedback, technological advancements, and changes in operational requirements. As new firearms are developed and tested, SEAL procurement officials assess their suitability for meeting the demands of modern warfare, considering factors such as ergonomics, modularity, and ease of maintenance.

Research and development efforts focus on enhancing weapon performance, reducing weight and size, and integrating advanced features such as improved sighting systems, enhanced suppressors, and lightweight materials to further optimize SEAL capabilities on the battlefield.

Navy SEALs ensure that their firearms can meet the demands of their diverse and dynamic operational environment, empowering them to execute missions with precision, lethality, and confidence.

Read More: What Knife Do Navy SEALs Use?


Once you get the answer to the question, “What gun do Navy SEALs use?” you will get a glimpse into the highly specialized world of naval special warfare. The careful selection of their equipment shows the danger of their missions. Speaking of dangerous missions, Robert B. Marcus Jr.’s The Far Side of Silence is filled with thrilling action sequences and clandestine operations. When Air Force One is shot down over the Mediterranean Sea, with no survivors left, the new President orders the U.S. Navy to prepare the Sigonella Naval Air Station on Sicily for an experimental operation: save the life of the Russian President, the man believed to be responsible for the downing of Air Force One. Intrigued? Grab a copy and read on.

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