Home News Stories 2008 November Tools of the Trade - SWAT
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Tools of the Trade - SWAT


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SWAT Team Member Full Screen

All FBI agents train for serious encounters with criminals, and all are required to carry a firearm. But when there’s an extremely high-risk situation—a special mission, a dangerous takedown, a dignitary that needs protection—that’s when SWAT gets the call.

All 56 of our field offices have a SWAT unit. Becoming SWAT-certified is a highly competitive process, and team members must pass rigorous fitness tests and be expert marksmen—in addition to carrying out their regular investigative duties as agents.

SWAT stands for “Special Weapons and Tactics.” Each team has specialists, such as snipers, breachers, and assaulters. See below to learn how an assaulter may be outfitted for a mission.

Click on each picture below for a larger version.

SWAT HelmetHelmet/Goggles
  • Helmet: Made with Kevlar for maximum head protection
  • Goggles: Rated to withstand blasts and to stop flying debris

SWAT VestVest
  • Bullet-proof, standard military-issue
  • FBI-identifying patches on shoulder and chest
  • Equipped with MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) weaving to attach pouches and other equipment, based on mission profile
  • Holds magazine pouches for extra ammunition

SWAT RadioRadio
  • Package consists of ear piece, microphone attached to shoulder strap, and transmitter in shoulder pouch
  • Two channels: command net (monitored by those in charge of the operation) and assault net (accessed by all team members)

SWAT Weapon

Primary Weapon
  • H&K (Heckler & Koch) MP5 sub-machine gun with collapsible stock
  • Fires a 10mm bullet and holds a 30-round magazine; can shoot one round, a two-shot burst or be set to fully automatic firing
  • Equipped with flashlight on front, and a laser-pointer sight

SWAT Extended ProtectionExtended Protection
  • Adds additional Kevlar for pelvic protection
  • Medical pack attaches here as well as Flexi cuffs—heavy-duty plastic, flexible handcuffs designed for one-time use

SWAT Sub LoadSub Load
  • A waist belt with a thigh harness, designed to keep a pistol stationary
  • Also supports pouches for extra ammunition and other gear such as metal handcuffs and a night stick

SWAT Pistol

  • Springfield .45 caliber, equipped with an 8-round magazine and one bullet in the chamber

SWAT Uniform AccessoriesFatigues/Gloves/Kneepads/Boots
  • Fatigues and gloves are standard military-issue, made from flame-resistant Nomex fiber
  • Flight gloves have leather pads on palms
  • Kneepads are heavy-duty plastic, and cushioned for kneeling
  • Boots are standard-issue climbing or utility boot

SWAT Gas MaskGas Mask
  • Military-issue, used for a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incident; air filter can be exchanged for one that filters various chemicals or bio weapons
  • Equipped with valve for a drink tube that allows for hydration without removing mask
  • Voice box amplifier enables unimpeded communication

SWAT Additional ToolsAdditional Tools
  • Breacher, or battering ram (top)
  • Hallagan Tool: firefighter tool similar to a crow bar; used for breaching and entries (center)
  • Collapsible sledge hammer (bottom)