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13 Hours and GRS Rifles

The film 13 hours takes viewers through the harrowing tale of September 11th, 2012 in Benghazi Libya. The events are based on a true story surrounding a group of security contractors protecting a CIA Annex during a relentless attack. The men there were armed with a variety of weapons, and here at AR-15 BUILDS we are going to be taking a look at the rifles used by the Benghazi GRS operators.

When possible we are going to breakdown the rifles, and provide you with the parts and pieces you need to build your own GRS rifle.

Primary Fighting Rifle – The M4

The M4 is the primary weapon of the GRS operators and are used hand in hand with the combined arms of sniper rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers. These appear to be M4A1s, or at least excellent M4geries. They do appear to be fully automatic, and they could be actual fully automatic rifles, or they could be movie magic. Minus the full auto feature, you could easily build this rifle at home.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

The Receivers

The base upper and lower are standard Forged Mil-spec style receivers. The standard style upper and lower are proven to be reliable, and the majority of the AR-15 internals are designed to function with these parts. The upper receiver is railed to allow the mounting of optics, and the lower seems to be quite mil spec. It features a standard safety, and A2 style grip. No Ambi controls or flared magwells here.

Barrel

To make them match an actual M4s, you need to use a 14.5-inch barrel with a permanently attached A2 flash hider that’ll bring the barrel length to 16 inches. The BCM Extended A2 Flash suppressor is probably the best choice. It’s slightly longer than a standard A2 flash hider but brings the barrel length to a perfect 16.1 inches. It’s also pre-drilled to allow permanent attachment to a 14.5-inch barrel. A 14.5-inch barrel without this flash hider would be considered an SBR when equipped with a stock.

The 13 Hours guys also use a Standard front sight base. This fixed, A-frame, front sight base is extremely durable, and my personal choice for a front sight. It’s not a sexy option, but it is a dependable, and durable front sight design.

Rail System

The movie avoids going with the newer and light Keymod or M-lok systems and sticks with the old fashion quad rails. This makes a lot of sense since the rifles are likely U.S. Government issued and at this time no one in dot gov was using anything besides quad rails. A quad rail may not be as sexy or as sleek as a modular system but they are reliable and offers enough room to mount all sorts of goodies.

John Krasinski 13 Hours

John Krasinski 13 Hours

It’s impossible to watch the film and try to pick out the exact manufacturer because most quad rails look alike. I’m suggesting the Troy Battle Rail system, in the 7-inch variety to match mil spec rail length. Troy makes solid rails and I run one on my SIG 556R. They are much better made than a cheap Chinesium rail system. It’s got enough room to mount the accessories we’ll be listing later.

The Gear On The Rails

Flashlight – Surefire M952V

The GRS operators are locked and cocked with the Surefire M952V. Surefire is pretty much the only name in serious rifle lights. The M952V is a very powerful light that is quite compact and runs both an infrared and white light. For the GRS operators, the addition of infrared light makes sense due to the heavy use of the night vision optics they run.

The character Jack Silva makes heavy use of his Surefire M952V when searching the ambassador’s home. The guys keep their lights mounted pretty far rearward, which make them hard to use when utilizing their forward grips. I’d blame this on the big differences between actual operators and the actor’s playing them.

Flashlight - Surefire M952V

Flashlight – Surefire M952V

The Laser AN PEQ 15

The operators are running AN PEQ 15s as primary weapon lasers. These laser aiming modules are used by nearly every combat arms force in the United States. They have a variety of features including a red, and IR lasers for shooting at night. They are the most valuable at night in my experience. When combined with night vision the IR laser makes shooting at night very easy and accurate, almost a point and shoot system. You see the operators use these systems quite a bit at night, and it really does allow them to own the night. We see the operators use the IR laser to both aim and mark areas for friendlies. These laser systems are a must have when rocking night vision.

For the movie, these were likely airsoft versions because they were filming overseas and these items are ITAR controlled and regulated. Actual military models are not available to civilians due to their restricted lasers. However, L3 makes a civilian variant with non-restricted lasers. These laser aiming modules cost a little over a grand and if you are just chasing the look the airsoft versions are a good choice.

Actors Training AR-15

Actors training for their roles Courtesy of Tactical Life

The Foregrip – Magpul Rail Vertical Grip

The Magpul RVG is present on all of the standard M4s in 13 Hours as the VFG of choice. It’s a stubby style grip that’s simple but effective. The colors range between black and FDE depending on the operator. The Magpul RVG is a simple and stable foregrip that is almost a necessity with this rifle. Due to the short rails and abundance accessories trying to use a traditional grip would be nearly impossible. The placement of the RVG and how far back the flashlight is would make it nearly impossible to activate the light while using the grip. Magpul RVG’s are affordable and they are dependable. I’ve been rocking one on my Shotgun for some time without issue.

The Stock – Magpul MOE Stock

The Magpul MOE stock takes the place of a boring old standard M4 stock. This A-frame design is strong, dependable, and one of Magpul’s most popular designs. The Magpul MOE stock is collapsible so it’s adjustable to different sized shooters and makes it easier to work with armor and in and out of vehicles.

The operators in the movie utilize either black or FDE stocks. The Magpul stock is tighter than most standard M4 stocks so there is less wobble. Less wobble means it’s more stable and easier to shoot accurately with.

Optic – EOTech Holographic Optic

The GRS operators are all using EOTech optics. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact model, but it is a full sized model. I’m betting if they were real they’d be model 558s. The 558 is a night vision compatible EOTech designed for military and police use.

13 hours the secret soldiers of benghazi

13 Hours EOTech Holographic Optic

The EOTech optics are excellent close quarters combat optics and are designed to be easy to use and versatile. They can be paired with a magnifier to get a 3x magnification range to help with reaching out and touching someone. In terms of why they were in the movie, well they are small and you can easily see the actor’s face while he’s using them.

Magazine – Magpul Pmag

Front and center on the Operator’s rifles are the Magpul Pmag. The Pmag is basically the new standard when it comes to magazines. Pmags are polymer based and designed to last and last. They are well built and extremely durable. Magpul Pmags are quickly replacing the standard USGI aluminum magazine. Pmags come in a wide variety of configurations, but we are seeing the standard 30 rounder throughout the movie.

Rone’s Rifle

The character Rone uses a very unique and high-end rifle compared to his fellow operators. He is rocking a Salient Arms International GRY rifle.  Salient Arms also provided a Glock 19 to the movie. It’s impossible that a GRS operator would have a GRY rifle. The rifle wasn’t introduced until 2014, 2 years after the incident took place. The rifle was likely added because it looks cool. Salient Arms was also likely very happy to loan one to the production for the free publicity.

GRY rifle with Bravo Furniture

Current Incarnation of the GRY rifle with Bravo Furniture

Rone uses a lot of the same equipment as the other GRS operators. This includes the EOTech AN PEQ 15, and Magpul Pmag. It does, however, differ in a wide variety of ways.

Stock

Rone’s rifle uses the Magpul SL stock, another item that wasn’t produced until 2014. The SL stock is a bit more robust than the MOE or CTR stocks. It offers a wider and in my opinion more comfortable cheek rest. It’s also designed to be used with body armor and tactical gear. It’s an overall excellent stock, and it’s very comfortable and durable.

Handguard

The Handguard is an all metal, full-length handguard that ends at the muzzle. This means there is no fixed front sight. The Jailbreak muzzle device gives the rifle the appearance of one solid handguard all the way to the end of the barrel. The handguard also features M-LOK rail attachment zones and allows the individual to customize the rail system to his or her preferences.

Rone and His GRY rifle

Rone and His GRY rifle

Again this is a proprietary handguard, but M-LOK rails are abundant if you needed or wanted one.

Grip

The grip in the movie is the standard Magpul rear pistol grip. It differs from the standard A2 model by removing the knob and giving a smooth grip. It’s also more round in profile and lacks the square blockiness of the A2 style pistol grips. This is another item I use on my rifles for comfort and better ergonomics.

Bolt Carrier Group

The rifle uses Salient Arms SAI BCG. This is a Titanium nitrite coated bolt carrier group that’s smooth and friction free. Titanium coated BCG’s are a lot like nickel boron, they run smoother longer and are easier to clean. Titanium Nitrite is also more durable than nickel boron. This particular Bolt carrier group also features a one piece carrier and gas key construction. This particular bolt is proprietary, but TiN bolts aren’t uncommon and can be used here.

Charging Handle

The charging handle on Rone’s rifle is also an extended model, it’s designed to be easy to use with either hand. The actual handles are far enough outward this rifle could be charged with one hand. This would be more valuable when using a larger, and more powerful optic. This is a Salient Arms marked design, but it is just a Radian Raptor charging handle with slight cosmetic differences.

The Trigger –
Geissele Super Dynamic Combat Trigger (SD-C)

The name Geissele is basically synonymous with high-quality triggers at this point. This particular model isn’t designed for a 2-pound pull with a quarter inch trigger distance. That’s too light for combat operations. The SD-C is designed with combat in mind, and for use in military DMR rifles, law enforcement rifles, and self-defense models. It does provide a very smooth and crisp trigger pull and the flat facing 1911 style trigger gives you excellent control of your break. This is honestly one of my favorite triggers for duty use.

Safety – AXTS 45/90 Short Throw Safety

The GRY rocks an ambidextrous short throw safety from AXTS. This design gives the shooter either a short 45-degree movement or a standard 90 degree depending on the receiver you’re using. Of course, the GRY uses the shorter and more intuitive 45-degree angle. The AXTS safety comes in either black or FDE.

Modern GRY Rifles

The GRY rifle we see on screen has been updated and they are available in slightly different configurations. Instead of Magpul gear, they are outfitted with Bravo Company stocks and grips. This is still high-end gear and is still good to go.

Running Rifles

It’s undeniable that what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy that resulted in the death of good Americans. What isn’t deniable is the fact the GRS operators on scene fought their asses off. The film only gave us a very modest look at what these men went through. The men who actually went through this hell were consultants on both the book and movie and while we don’t know the extent they consulted. As much as I would love to detail the actual weapons used by GRS that information simply isn’t available. However, we do know the weapons used in the film. If you haven’t seen 13 hours it’s streaming now on Hulu.

Build Breakdown


  1. Lower Parts Kit ($69)
  2. BCM Extended A2 Flash Suppressor ($35)
  3. AR-15 .750″ Standard Front Sight Base Black ($20)
  4. Troy Battle Rail System ($149)
  5. Surefire M952V ($300)
  6. L3/ Insight ATPIAL (AN/PEQ-15) ($1329)*
  7. Magpul RVG Rail Vertical Grip, MAG412 ($24)
  8. Magpul MOE Stock ($38)
  9. EOTech 558 Holographic Optic ($589)
  10. Magpul 30 Round PMAG GEN M2 MOE ($13)
  11. MAGPUL MOE-SL Stock Collapsible Mil-Spec ($457)
  12. Fortis AR-15 REV 2.0 Free Float Rail System – 12 MLOK ($209)
  13. Magpul MOE+ Grip AR15/M16 ($23)
  14. Iron City Rifle G2 COMPETITION ENHANCED BCG ($238)
  15. Radian Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle ($86)
  16. Geissele Super Dynamic Combat Trigger – SD-C ($240)
  17. Talon Safety Selector Ambidextrous ($60)

* Items may have been out of stock or discontinued at the time of this writing.

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