The man who killed Bin Laden may be a controversial subject with more than one person claiming credit for the deed. However, what’s not especially controversial is the rifle used to do the deed. The HK 416 found its way into the arsenal of the SEALs after a lengthy testing procedure. Mark Owen, Navy SEAL and author of No Easy Day, posted a photograph of a rifle used in his service, likely the rifle. Larry Vickers shared the photograph on his Facebook feeds. This is likely the same configuration or the same exact rifle used in the raid. Until some documents and photos become unclassified, this is likely the closest we’ll ever get.
The base rifle itself is an HK 416. The HK 416 and the M4 could be brothers. They look a lot alike, but once you take a closer look, you’ll start to see differences. The biggest difference being the HK 416 isn’t a direct impingement gun, but a piston driven model. HK shoved the G36 short stroke gas piston system in the HK 416 and had had incredible success.
In military testing, the HK 416’s piston system resulted in a more reliable and overall stronger firearm than the standard M4. In 2004 the HK 416 was adopted by Delta Force, and the SEALs followed shortly after. The USMC adopted a modified version of the HK 416 as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle.
The HK 416 has proven to be an extremely successful rifle. Reportedly SEALS, Delta, and the USMC are all very happy with the weapon. The USMC is even flirting with making the HK 416 the standard infantry rifle going as far as to conduct a test with an entire battalion equipped with the M27.
The HK 416 may be the star of the show, but the weapon has clearly been upgraded significantly. Let’s break down this build and see what it’s rocking.
We’ll start from the front and work our way back.
The Suppressor – AAC M4-2000
AAC proclaims the M4-2000 to be the most effective M4 suppressor in the world. There are a series of indentations around the back of the can that give it away as the AAC M4-2000. The M4-2000 is an excellent choice from one of the most reputable suppressor manufacturers in the world. It’s perfect for the HK 416 and the SEAL’s mission profile. It’s full auto rated, weighs a mere 17.6 ounces, and reduces sound profile 34 decibels. Under the can is likely the AAC Blackout flash hider. This device makes it possible to instantly detach and attach the can. At the end of the can you probably notice an odd circular piece attached to the end of the can, that is an AAC glass breaker.
The Laser – L3 ATPIAL
ATPIAL, it’s a mouthful of an acronym. It stands for Advanced Target Pointer, Illuminator, Aiming Laser. It’s designed as a laser aiming device. From personal experience the red laser is nice, but the real difference is at night. The infrared laser only appears through night vision devices and allows a shooter to aim and fire accurately in the middle of the night. It’s faster and easier to use than an optic at night and can be used while moving. It’s absolutely necessary for fighting at night in close quarters. The L3 ATPIAL is incredibly well made and the choice of both the SEALs and Marines. It’s simple to use and is quite effective. It’s also tough as nails and serves a variety of purposes outside of shooting like target designation.
The Light – Surefire Scout Light
The light is interesting. Most Scout lights seem to have a larger bell for the bulb. However, the gun’s owner does confirm it’s a Surefire Scout. Which model, in particular, is difficult to assess. If I were a betting man, I’d say it was the M600 Ultra Scout Light. It appears to be around the right size. It’s very light at only 5.6 ounces and gives you 600 lumens of brightness. The run time is less than 2 hours on full batteries, but it's bright, and powerful for close quarters use.
The Foregrip – Magpul MOE Vertical Grip
Simple is good, and the Magpul Vert grip is simple. It’s comfortable, fills the hand and helps control the weapon’s muzzle rise. A lot of gear on this rifle is expensive, and the Magpul gear is by far the most affordable stuff on this gun. It’s also tough as nails though and is incredibly reliable. This isn’t the only piece of Magpul gear on this rifle.
The Rail System – Remington RAHG
The Remington RAHG is an interesting choice for a rail system. It does make sense, as it is lightweight, tough as nails, and a model is made from the HK 416. The HK 416 is like the M4, but not exactly the same. The RAHG has two models purpose built for either an M4 or HK 416. It’s a lightweight rail that was adopted by all of SEAL Team Six, the very team that got Osama. Like a modern rail system, you can attach rails where you need them, instead of just having them anywhere.
Optics – EOTech and Magnifier
The exact EOTech optic isn’t exactly known as it could be one of many from looking at it. It’s not one of the full sized models like the 512 or 518. It appears to be a compact variant, likely the SU231A, which was issued to the SEALs. The commercial version of this optic is the EXPS3. EOTech optics are actually really intuitive, and easy to use. This optic has a number of night vision settings and is designed for rugged use.
It should be noted the raid was done before the EOTech’s wandering zero issue was discovered.
The magnifier is the EOTech G23 3x magnifier. This allows the SEAL using the rifle to transition from close to long range engagements. The flip to side mount makes things simple and allows quick and easy transitions from short to extended range combat. This setup would be perfect for the Bin Laden raid since it offers a wide variety of versatility for combat ranges. It’s a solid combination of optical prowess.
Stock – Magpul Carbine Stock
The next piece of Magpul gear is the Carbine stock. The Carbine stock is an excellent choice, and it’s a rock solid design. In 2011 this was a very modern stock and was smaller and lighter than the HK 416’s standard stock. It’s another affordable, but tough as nails Magpul product. The Magpul Carbine Stock is quickly replacing the standard M4 stock with commercial firearms.
Sling – VTAC Padded Sling
This is purely speculation on my part. There isn’t anything about the sling mentioned in the post. My hunch is the fact the sling features a little paracord tail and that separates it from a lot of the other slings on the market. To the bottom left of the picture, you can see a small section of wide padding included in the VTAC padded sling. The VTAC is an excellent choice, and is well made and designed for combat.
The Magazine – Magpul Emag
Not pictured is the magazine used during the raid. How do we know it was an Emag? The magazine itself was on display at Shot Show’s 2017 Magpul display. It’s an interesting piece of history that I was pumped to see. Here are a few photos of the mag,
The EMAG is the evolution of the Pmag and designed to function in the HK 416. At the time the current generation of Pmags were having reliability issues in the HK 416. The Emag fixed those problems and gave the operators a lightweight and reliable magazine option.
Who am I to judge the rifle of an experienced Navy SEAL? This guy probably knew exactly what he needed for this raid and planned accordingly. The ten-inch barrel is perfect for compound clearing, the ATPIAL is necessary, and everything is honestly high-quality gear. If I were building the rifle today, I’d likely ditch the Eotech due to the wandering zero issue and replace it with an Aimpoint and magnifier. Other than that this rifle is perfectly suited for a rapid raid style mission.
- AAC 5.56mm M4-2000 Rifle Silencer ($998)
- L3/ Insight ATPIAL (AN/PEQ-15) ($1329)*
- Surefire M600 Ultra Scout Light ($231)
- Magpul RVG Rail Vertical Grip, MAG412-, by Magpul Industries ($24)
- Remington RAHG ($625)*
- EOTech EXPS3 ($615)
- EOTech G23 3x magnifier (Discontinued)* New Model EOTech G33-STS Magnifier ($494)
- Magpul MOE Stock ($38)
- VTAC Padded Sling ($48)
- Magpul EMAG (Export MAGazine) is a lightweight 30-round 5.56 NATO ($19)
* Items may have been out of stock or discontinued at the time of this writing.