The ghillie suit was originally developed by Scottish game keepers as a portable hunting blind. The camouflage was first used for military applications by the British army during the Second Boer War (1899).
The term ghillie refers to Scottish folklore tale, Ghillie Dhu, a solitary nature fairy clothed in leaves and moss.
Ghillie Suits are typically employed by military snipers as a form a 3D camouflage. A correctly constructed ghillie suit is constructed from natural materials that are found in the local area. Often, military snipers will construct and adapt their own suits whilst in the field.
So, are ghillie suits worth buying, constructing or modifying to use for airsoft?
Firstly, ghillie suits come with a certain ‘bad ass’ factor that means that in the – inevitable fashion show that is – airsoft field, you look and feel great. After all, looking awesome is, regardless of what some airsofters say, part of the reason why we do what we do.
Secondly, a well-built ghillie suit will absolutely work wonders for camouflage, if constructed from locally sourced materials. Luckily for airsofters, you can simply pick up a few twigs, ferns and leaf samples and tailor your suit to fit your game area. Military snipers, however, are not quite afforded the luxury of a stroll through their environment without a care as it tends to be in an active war zone – which leads us onto the reasons why ghillie suits aren’t worth it for airsoft use.
Engagement Distance and Timescale
A military sniper engages targets over 500 meters away and often gets into position days in advance to avoid detection. A ghillie suit allows them to move incredibly carefully through their environment and remain concealed, without movement, for days on end.
Airsoft games don’t often last for more than a few hours (during the day) and engagement distances are often below 80m. The gameplay is fast paced and fluid. It’s often very unlikely for an airsoft sniper to get into position whilst out of sight of the enemy and remain unseen whilst taking shots (which are easily enough traced back to source). It’s not impossible, but it doesn’t happen often.
Ghillie suits can be incredibly hot and sniping in airsoft is not always a leisurely walk through the woods. Play often moves on past your effective range and you’re forced to move quickly to a new position. Have you ever run 100metres whilst wrapped in a duvet? It gets hot.
Finally, safety is one of the primary issues with airsoft ghillie suits. As a quality ghillie suit is expensive, airsofters are often inspired to create their own. This results in a quality and effective, yet cheap, ghillie suit that will keep you concealed in the field. However, these ghillie suits are filled with dried twigs, leaves and burlap sack, which aren’t treated with flame retardant. This proposes a very serious fire hazard, especially considering the amount of hot-burning-pyro that gets thrown around on airsoft sites. If you were to strike some pyro whilst wearing an untreated ghillie suit, there’s a very real chance of a fire.
Ultimately, as with any military based specialty in airsoft, there are limited returns when compared to the real thing. This can be said for DMR rifles, SMGs, Plate Carriers, Helmets, etc. However, we do a lot of what we do for the impressions and the feeling. Only you can decide whether a ghillie suit is worth it based on the positives and negatives that we’ve outlined – potentially catching on fire being one of them.