I just saw the Lone Survivor (2013) movie. Greate scenes, actors, theme and director! Very very emotional film. Most of scenes seems very realistic.

But, please, does anybody know if the soldiers were wearing bulletproof vest?

It seems that they did NOT wear them. It turns out that they were very vulnerable.

2 Answers 2


Bullet proof vests are not worn as standard in military operation, they are used when they will be most effective: often in anticipation of the type of ordinance likely to be used against them.

They are bulky and cumbersome, and due to the fact they aren't very breathable, they leave soldiers prone to overheating. This still from the movie shows that they are wearing webbing, but seemingly not kevlar.

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When this image is compared to a soldier wearing actual body armor, the differences are immediate.

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That second photograph isn't strictly military issue, but it still serves the point. Look how much bulkier it is, and how much more restrictive it would be.


OP says:

does anybody know if the soldiers were wearing bulletproof vest? It seems that they did NOT wear them. It turns out that they were very vulnerable.

They were not, they were wearing recon vests suitable for the mission. These can however be fitted with plates if required.

Their way of operating for this mission is to be quiet, observing, and to move swiftly. You cannot do that with heavy, energy-draining, body armor on you. Body armor is extremely heavy, and yes, it can be useful, but they did not wear it because they did not expect to come into heavy contact with the enemy, that was not their intention.

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'Lone Survivor | On The Set Gearing Up'

shows that they are using Rhodesian Recon Vests, without plates.

IRL it was harder to see if they had plates or not as once you fill ou tthe pouches it gets pretty bulky anyway.

But you can run the vest with or without.

A personal bugbear of mine in movies is they run plate carriers (so called bullet proof vests) empty, so you see these vests on actors and they're flopping around, or are very thin (plates are heavy and bulky), or are worn too low, and just aren't very convincing. They probably also bought replicas for production, as its often cheaper and doesnt have to do the real job if it came from the real deal makers like Eagle, TT, paraclete, LBT, etc.

But the RRV's in the movie are probably run empty for the reasons above, but also IRL probably did too, as for a recon role you need to be moving faster - high speed, low drag - so to speak; RRV's tend to be heavier anyway.

IRL, the soldiers gear is always evolving, even moreso during ongoing operations. At the start of the war in the sandpit, the then standard Interceptor body armor was going out, replaced by modular tactical vests - which meant moving from large immovable chunks of material covered plates that surrounded you and took your teeth out if you sat too quickly or too hard, to a system that allowed you to tailor how and where you put plates and pouches - the plates being a much smaller design, but you had more choice in how you installed them.


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Then MTV (also termed plate carrier):

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At the time of the movie setting, the MTV (or plate carrier; and now in recent years this has been replaced by the 'lightweight' plate carrier - much lighter but with less protection) was the standard type of body armor issued but you would only wear it in whats called direct action - you knew you were coming into heavy contact. For the mission portrayed in the movie, it is a reconnaissance and surveillance mission, so not direct action at all and not requiring heavy plates to be installed in their vests.

Real team, no plates:

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plate type used in plate carrier:

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These days you have the lightweight JPC (smaller plate, covers vitals only):

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Real life v movie:

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