Gilly sniper suit, description, self-made Gilly suit, some of the limitations of such a sniper suit.

The best sniper camouflage that has ever been created is the “Gilly” suit, first used by snipers of British Lovat scouts during their great counter-sniper offensive in World War I. They unexpectedly discovered such a special protective outfit in their native Scotland, where foresters wore a “Gilly” to catch clever poachers.. 

Gilly sniper suit, description, self-made Gilly suit, some of the limitations of such a sniper suit.

As the legendary shooter Jeff Cooper told me during my visit to his Gansight ranch, “Gilly” in Old Scotch means “man” – therefore, the “Gilly” suit literally means “Scottish man costume”.

Description of the sniper suit Gilly.

“Gilly” sniper suit is a uniform, consisting of one or two parts, to which you attach hundreds of strips of discreet color fabric. Usually burlap or jute, and create a subtle texture and a blurry color that blends in completely with the surrounding area..

Gilly sniper suit, description, self-made Gilly suit, some of the limitations of such a sniper suit.

A properly made Gilly hides its owner so well that it never leaves a new observer indifferent for the first time. As a standard practice, our instructors slowly lectured in camouflage uniforms, then casually imagined a sniper dressed in a “Gilly” who grew out of the ground like a monster only a few feet away from us. Students did not need to be further persuaded.

Rules for creating a Gilly sniper costume.

Gilly sniper suit, description, self-made Gilly suit, some of the limitations of such a sniper suit.


Costume components include basic clothing, a 2-inch mesh net, canvas, and burlap. All this is connected only with the help of a large needle, a strong thread, and silicone glue. In the army, the main clothing is most often the overalls of mechanics. Nomex flying jumpsuits can be used, but they are hotter. You can make a two-piece suit from a regular field uniform.


Turn out the clothes so that the pockets are inside and there is access to them. You can even add pockets or bags if your jumpsuit lacks them. Some snipers stick a gun holster here.


You can add a bag on the back from the bottom, and the nylon screen is excellent at the top of the back for maximum ventilation, along the forearms and inside the hips.


Remove the shooting finger from the glove and camouflage carefully to complement the costume..


Burlap strips attach equally for a one-piece suit, and for a two-piece suit.


Glue rubber, thick tarpaulin, or artificial leather to your knees and elbows for reinforcement. For softness, place thin pads under them..


In the same way, attach about 15 inches of mesh to the hat, tie the strips of burlap, and create something like a curtain so that it falls freely through your scope. Cut out the center of the hat and glue the screen for ventilation.


As the Ranger Weber did, you can attach a 2-quart military flask or CamelBack water tank and sip from it while lying in position.


The net only covers the back, with allowances of 1-2 inches. It is sewn with a harsh thread and fixed every 4-5 inches. Cut strips of burlap 10-12 inches long and 2 inches wide, then tie at least one strip to each square.

The front of the Gilly costume remains relatively smooth to facilitate crawling; strips are attached only to the back side. For styling, I fold my suit with burlap inside to make a tight, neat bag, and tie it with lacing.

Since a quality “Gilly” requires from 40 to 60 man-hours of painstaking work, commercially made costumes are not cheap. At least those that are worth having. I saw the catalog for “Gilly”, the cost of which was $ 50, and was not surprised to learn that this is an old pair of workwear with stripes of burlap glued on it.

Sniper purists insist that every sniper should make his own suit, but some people have little time but a decent budget, so it makes sense to spend $ 600 or more on Gilly, which is worth it. My own Gilly is one-piece, but I also have a two-piece suit from Custom Concealment, based in Zanesville, Ohio.

They offer a good variety of styles and colors, including gun cover and caps, and they are truly well made. Dave Mallery from Portland, Oregon also produces high-quality costumes, but lately, I checked, he has more work to do than he can handle..

Coloring and materials for a sniper suit Gilly.

My “Gilly” suit is green in color and is oriented towards the use of forest, while the other, shown by us, is brown in color and oriented to use in the desert and desert. My costume actually contains six colors and three different textures, which were painted in a random way to soften the bright spots and mix everything together. On only one sleeve, probably 200 or 300 strips of burlap.

To hold the burlap in place, my suit uses a manually knitted mesh made from ordinary twine. I did this just to prove that it can work effectively. However, most of our cadets use a nylon hammock as a network. In any case, the resulting squares should be with a side of no more than 2 inches.

Sniper cape instead of Gilly’s suit.

In situations where it is too hot or you do not have enough materials to make a full-fledged Gilly costume, you can use the sniper cape, which is its abridged version, which only hides the sniper’s head and body above the waist.

Those that I saw were a simple pullover made from an army camouflage net. Known by the playful name of “monkey cloak,” this camouflage is popular at high temperatures in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. I also know civilian police snipers, who instead of the “Gilly” made capes and kept them in their alarming kit just in case.

Gilly sniper hats and veils.

A camouflage hat is just as important as Gilly himself, because it is the highest part of a lying sniper and must blend in with a suit and camouflage rifle. The same net is sewn to the hat as in the suit so that about 15 inches of it hang in front and back. To these squares, a sniper ties a burlap in the same way as to Gilly..

Gilly sniper suit, description, self-made Gilly suit, some of the limitations of such a sniper suit.

This creates a veil that will smoothly fall from the head directly through the scope to create an inextricable, indistinguishable silhouette. My hat has layers of a painted mosquito net to provide better observation than through burlap.

Some limitations of the Gilly sniper suit.

Providing superior camouflage, Gilly costumes, however, also have limitations, the largest of which is the accumulation of heat in layers of thick burlap. Because of this, you should wear it only during sneaking, and drink plenty of water to prevent heat stroke.

The Gilly costume is hot, bulky, and heavy — disastrously heavy when it gets wet. Due to these limitations, I consider its use as an exception, not a rule. When there is a large amount of vegetation around, I would advise against using such a suit. Although in autumn and early spring it is probably necessary.

Captain McBride, who called the “Gilly” suit “sniper clothing,” warned him not to be too cocky to wear it because the sniper “tends to rely too much on him if something goes wrong.” I agree with this opinion – everyone is practicing sneaking forward to produce a shot, but I have not often met to work out actions after a shot. But just what happens after a shot and leads to the death of a sniper. Have you ever tried running 500 yards in a Gilly costume?

Fireproof impregnation of a sniper suit “Gilly”.

Another, usually unnoticed, problem is fire hazard. The Gilly costume is like an old Christmas tree waiting for a spark, and this is exactly what happened to one of my former instructors, Ranger Weber, during a field lesson. All that was needed was a single spark of a smoke grenade to turn it into a human torch.

He escaped damage only by a fluke. If he had not been physically prepared, strong enough to break out of his suit, he could easily have been burned alive. That’s why you should use Velcro fasteners instead of buttons or zippers on your Gilly suit. And that’s why I urge you to process your suit with refractory products.

I only found one such drug, Burn Barrier FPR, manufactured by Fire Retardants, Inc. (formerly Minnesota Fire-Chem) from the city of Chaska, Minnesota. This liquid is applied to the burlap by spraying or as an impregnation. A number of tests have revealed that the liquid “slightly irritates open skin and causes corrosion of metals, but it is also defined as non-toxic, if you mean that you don’t drink it.

Spray it like an aerosol using at least one quart per suit. To make sure you have used enough fluid, remove a couple of strips and try to set them on fire. When used correctly, impregnation will prevent burlap from igniting, although it may char or smolder.

Based on the book “The Perfect Sniper. Study Guide for Army and Police Snipers ».
Maj. John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.)

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