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How to Make Ghillie Suit

A Ghillie Suit is a suit of camo where it is covered with woodland looking stuff like leaves and sticks. Burlap strips dyed dark dark green or brown (well, browner than normal) may also be tied or sewed to the suit to give it a deeper blend in effect. Ever see “Clear and Present Danger”? The sniper going through the sniper qualification test was wearing a great example of a ghillie suit.

A Ghillie Suit is pretty much 3D camo. You know how you can usually spot a person with camo on because you can make out a 3 dimentional body with 2 dimentional patterns on it. A ghillie suit is made of strips of burlap sewn on a jumpsuit or coveralls. The strips overlap and stick out like real bush. It doesn’t sound like it would work but the suit blends in like nothing else can.

Marine sniper - How to make ghillie suit

How to make a Ghillie Suit:

1. Obtain an old pair of coveralls — this is called the foundation of the suit. In a pinch a fatigue blouse and pants will suffice.

2. Get some burlap from your local fabric store (about 4 yards). The more burlap you use the more effective (up to a point) will be the Ghillie Suit — however, it will rapidly become heavy (Army and Marine sniper suits weigh up to 20 pounds or more).

3. Dye the burlap some dark to medium green (Rit dye — try to match foliage greens). Instructions are on the dye package), Dye a little (half a yard) brown (use sparingly).

4. Cut the burlap into strips 2-3″ wide and anywhere from 6″ to 12″ long (mix up the widths and lengths)

5. Sew one end of each strip to the outside of your foundation — all over it. Space them so that the ends of the upper strips will overlap the attachment points of strips lower down. The sides do not need to overlap. Fill in by tying vines, small foliated branches, grass, etc. to the suit by knotting the strips around it, or sew strings or cord at random over the suit to tie these material in.

6. Crawl and enjoy!

Overlap the assorted colors like shingles on a house when you sew them on.

Wash it. Washing it makes the burlap fuzz up and blend better with foliage.

Homemade Ghillie suits are good when you are playing to kill and not to capture the flag. A ghillie suit requires you to stay in one place for it to work. If you are running around a lot, the suit will get caught on something, and then hours and hours of hard work is ruined. If you are serious enough about sniping, then chances are, your gun is already all black or a dark green. The ghillie suit will cover it up a lot too. This works for defenders in capture the flag. If you are a “paintball sniper” cammo is good. If you like to run around, cammo is less useful.

For all you people who are looking for camo, I have a tip for you. go to a local surplus store and buy that splotchy camo { I think it’s called woodland camo }. It works as good or even better than this high-tech camo that costs hundreds of dollars. Stick with the old fashioned stuff. It’s ten times better!

Real military camo Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs) are incredibly durable and have numerous pockets. And for people who keep saying that, “paintball is moving away from a military image…” I don’t know what part of the country you’re in. A large majority of walk-ons and team players that I’ve seen at the fields where I play (near Los Angeles) wear woodland camo BDUs. The second most commonly seen camo is tigerstripe, also real military. “Paintball camo” is a distant third.

Custom Concealment, Inc. Manufacturers of Ghillie Suits. While not often seen in paintball, as they are not allowed in tournament play, you will find (or not find because they are hidden so well) players in ghillie suits in some recreational games, and more often in scenario games where stealth, and ambush tactics come into play more often. This page tells about the history of ghillie suits, and includes photos of several designs made by CCI.

http://paintwar.tripod.com/index.html has tactics on sniping and concealment.

General Rules Of Thumb For Using Camouflage:

How to make Ghillie suit - Marine Sniper

1. Brightness difference with the background (contrast) is the initial detection cue to the human eye. Therefore, light colored camouflage will give you away in dark, shadowy foliage — however, it will blend well in rocky, sandy areas, or in dead grass. Conversely, light green single color BDU’s might blend well in short, green grass, and dark green night cammys might fit well if you crouch in the shadows at a tree line.

2. Patterns and shape are the next most important cues. Try to get a camouflage pattern that matches the “blobiness” of the range you fight at.

Too large a pattern — the color patches on your camouflage are larger than the average patch of color in the background — generally increases shape cues, while too small a pattern generally increases contrast cues.

General patterns — like the USA green BDU — are a compromise to try to give some reduced detection in as many scenarios as possible. Specific patterns, like tree bark, work very well in very specific locations, but not as well generally.

3. Avoid, AT ALL COSTS, being back lit. Do not allow brighter objects behind you, like sunlit patches, the sky (coming over a ridge, or boulder, or log, for instance), or a lighter colored bush, rock, or field. In such a case the camouflage pattern simply disappears to the human eye, and you appear as a human silhouette.

4. If you are not found, stay still, or move as slow as possible when advancing. Movement is a great give away — equivalent (to the human eye) to increasing your brightness about an order of magnitude. Of course, once discovered, this advice goes out the window.

5. If you mainly just run and shoot, pick camouflage that you like, and look cool in, because then none of the stuff I’ve discussed matters.

What should be worn where?

  • In the U.S. and Europe, most deciduous forested areas will need a general pattern like the USA green BDU.
  • Tiger Stripe in subtropical areas (heavily forested with undergrowth, vines, etc) like the southeast and northwest.
  • Grassy lands, use overall olive drab fatigues (live grass — California in winter) or, belive it or not, 3-color desert (dead grass — like California in summer).
  • Desert and rocky areas (southwest U.S.) use the 3-color desert BDU (this is the new desert pattern– not the the old 5-color ‘chocolate chip’ pattern).
  • Tree Bark patterns can be used anywhere there are large enough trees, but I think most of the patterns are for pine or oak forests (which mean they blend in well in temperate and alpine forests such as in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

What about Tiger Stripe?

The camouflage pattern most familiar as Tiger Stripe was developed for U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam era (circa 1965) for jungle fighting. It is an adaptation of an earlier British design developed during the Malyasian “difficulties” (1950’s). It is for ultra-close range (50 yards or less) fighting in heavily foliated jungle. Again, it should be effective in similar areas like the heavy subtropical areas of the southeast U.S. and pacific northwest. If you have trouble walking through the forest, and it is impossible to walk a nearly straight line, Tiger Stripe might be appropriate

What difference does the size of the “blobs” make?

The average size of the “blobs” (actually known as the predominate or average spatial frequency of the pattern) is directly proportional to the expected range of engagement AND the expected envrionmental background. The spatial frequency of the camouflage pattern should match the spatial frequency of the background at that range of engagement. It is possible, using fractal patterns, to match the spatial frequencies over some span of ranges — but no one makes a good fractal pattern yet — and that is a hot area of pattern research.

More info on Ghillie Suits and Camoflage

A “Ghillie” is a Scottish game-keeper. Pronounce the word “Gee’ lee”, starting with the glutteral gee (guh), not a jay sound (jee). These guys found that they could sew strips of burlap to their clothes, then wait patiently for poachers to come by — as long as they remained still, their game would nearly step on them.

The real professionals at making Ghillie Suits are military snipers. Making a suit and using it to stalk your instructors is part of the graduation from sniper school. I was once stalked by a special forces sniper from 500 meters across a field of grass, bushes, and general scrub — at the end of 4 hours, he stood up TEN METERS BEHIND ME! — I never saw him — even though I knew he was out there somewhere. Good, professional-looking Ghillies can be seen in the movies “Shooter” with Mark Wahlber, “Sniper”, and “Clear and Present Danger”.

In most lighting conditions, detection is a result of both brightness and shape contrasts with the background. Most camouflage fatigues do a pretty good job of matching the general brightness level of foliage, desert, etc. The camouflage pattern printed onto the material attempts to match the shapes inherent in the background as well. Unfortunately, all camouflage fatigues follow the human form pretty closely — resulting in an overall shape that looks like a human, not natural background.

The problem lies in the fact that the fatigues are trying to duplicate a three-dimensional pattern of shapes (foliage, usually) with a two-dimensional camouflage pattern applied to a sheet of fabric. In most lighting conditions, it don’t work very well. Now, camouflage fatigues and jackets and such certainly blend in much better than blue jeans and T-shirts, but they aren’t totally effective — and cannot be without adding three-dimensional noise to the essentially two-dimensional form of a human.

A Ghillie Suit is a very effective camouflage technique that uses strips of material to break up the outline of the wearer. This fools the eye of the enemy — the brain sees no recognizable shapes. By adding strips of burlap, or camouflage netting, or branches off bushes to your clothing, you create the three-dimensional pattern disruption I was talking about above. The advantage comes from creating patches that are nearly the same color as the environment, while simultaneously creating ultra-dark shadows alongside. Printed fabric cannot create black patches as dark as real shadows — the shadow is about 2 orders of magnitude darker than the darkest printed black fabric.


Ghillie Suits are used for stealth — move as slowly as possible, if at all. If one hides in bushes, and uses single shots, the enemy won’t be able to find you unless they are looking almost directly at you when you fire. Be careful that muzzle blast doesn’t disturb foliage or raise dust.

An effective technique is to hide in the base of bushes near a path, let the enemy go past, then pick them off with single shots from the rear. A gun cover can be made using the same techniques and should be used to disrupt the shape of the weapon.

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