Ghillie Suit Photo by Trasher
The pre-made suit vs. The home-made, custom 40-hour suit:
What shall I do?!
Well, once again, that depends. First. How much effort do you want to put into this project? Second and sort of tied to the first question, how much time do you have to build your suit? If the answer isn’t, “a lot!” to either question, you should probably go with a pre-made suit. HOWEVER, you still ought to modify that suit to work better at your home field. No suit will come perfect, right out of the box, nor will it likely be as good or effective as a fully home-made suit, built from scratch. But anyway, if the pre-fabricated ghillie suit is the route you’re going to take, I would start with a lighter-colored suit as a base platform, and then add darker greens, browns, and tans in. It’s a lot easier to darken the ghillie suit than it is to lighten it. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to tie some 550 cord loops in various spots of your suit so that you can attach some natural vegetation to your suit when you are out in the field to further assist you in blending in with your surroundings. You can find some nice pre-made suits on Google shopping for between $100-$200.
Mmmmmmkay. I have something special for you. For those of you that want to do it right, from the get-go,
I have the ultimate guide to building a ghillie suit right here!
It was written by a friend of mine, Cpl. Xxxxxx, who is currently on active duty in the United States Marine Corps.
Here’s the back-story behind this tutorial, as written by the Corporal:
“One of my friends (currently a sniper with 3/5 out of Pendleton) finally got his slot for Sniper School…on his list of things to bring was a ghillie suit. Now…I’m sure everyone has seen the pre-fabricated ghillies that you can buy online, but they are pricey and, in my opinion, not as good as the hand-made suits. Anyway, he needed help making it (they’re easy in terms of skill level but hard when it comes to the amount of work necessary to make them), so he met up with me, showed me what to do and 5 days later we had one of the better looking ghillie suits I’ve seen. There’s lots of cool stuff you can do to make these things work awesome.”
So here is what you need.
– One Set of Cammies (Including boonie cover)
– One C-Bag (Green Military Duffel Bag)
– One Laundry bag (the small mesh netting type)
– One large piece of netting: 1 inch squares, like volleyball netting and big enough to be cut in three pieces. One for the lower body, one for upper body and one for the boonie cover.
– Lots of sand bags (the brown burlap ones)
– 550 Cord (AKA Parachute cord) in any color you want.
The first thing you’ll want to do is cut up the c-bag and make patches that cover the upper thigh, chest and forearms, then sew it to the cammies. This creates a tougher material that will allow you to crawl belly down without wearing down the fabric in the cammie. These patches can then be taken off and replaced when they become too worn to keep you from having to make a completely new suit.
The next thing you’ll want to do is cut a large square out of the back of the cammie blouse and replace the material with the tightly knit mesh by sewing it to the blouse around the edges of the hole you’ve just cut out. This creates a “window” and allows for ventilation (a very good idea whether it be in Iraq or the wicked summers in summers in various parts of the U.S.).
Ghillie Suit Photo by Trasher
Now, place the cammies face down so that the back of everything is facing up (essentially, how it would lay if you were to put it on and then lay face down). Now, cut out the panels of the large square, volleyball netting to fit from the waist to the feet on the pants, the back of the neck to roughly the “bung hole” level on the blouse, and one smaller square to attach to the boonie (it should be long enough to produce a “veil-like” effect). Each layer (boonie, blouse, pants) needs to overlap the other. Make sure that the overlap is long enough to keep everything concealed when crawling around and rolling about. Once all the large netting is in place, it’s time to start the most time consuming part of the whole shebang.
Keep in mind that although I said to use burlap sand bags, anything can be used, for example, the ghillie suit fabric sets sold online or what not. This is the most inexpensive way to do it, but just as effective.
Ghillie Suit Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Taking the sandbag now, cut the seam out (where it’s sewn together) so that the bag opens up and lays flat. Now start unraveling the bag so you are left with burlap fibers instead of a bag. Once you get a bundle of these long fibers (think anywhere from a nickel to a 50 cent piece in diameter), start tying it to the large square volleyball netting in chunks. Continue this until the whole ghillie suit is covered with the burlap fibers. Keep in mind this makes a hell of a mess and you would be advised to do this either outside or in your garage. Once this is done, go through the suit randomly tying or sewing loops of 550 cord to the netting. This allows you to attach plants and natural camouflage found in your AO to better help you blend into the environment.
Ghillie Suit Photo by Right Hook Fabrication
Now here comes the fun part. Once you are done with the ghillie suit, it should look like a big shaggy dog (not very concealing). So you gotta break it in to get that worn look to better help you melt away into the background. How do you do that? Well, I’m glad you asked…put it on, go jump in a lake, roll in the mud, roll in the dirt. Put this suit through it’s paces. In Sniper School, they take their new ghillie suits and spend all day running the mud course in them to break ’em in. Literally run this suit into the ground and next thing you know…you’ll be all set to be invisible.
Thanks for sharing this awesome info and thank you for your service, Cpl.