Civilian Equipment that has Received an NSN from the Military

The civilian firearms industry has done a lot to fill the needs of our servicemen and women. While the United States Military does a lot of its own innovating, it also heavily relies on the industry to create effective equipment, including firearms gear. Today, much of this equipment has gone through the lengthy process of being approved for a National Stock Number (NSN) and available for purchase with the military. Below are some of the top pieces of equipment that civilians trust and can now be used by large military units.

What is an NSN?

The easiest way for the military to purchase equipment is through a National Stock Number (NSN), and not through a private purchase. For a piece of equipment to receive an NSN, it must go through many different steps within the Defense Logistics Agency. There will also be steps taken within the military entity that is pushing the adoption of it.

This is a rigorous process. However, it’s worth it in the long run as it makes it much easier to purchase the equipment that has an NSN rather than a private purchase. Private purchases are basically the allowance of unit money to go towards something on the private market. This will need sign-offs from the higher echelon due to it not having an NSN, thus not proving the safety and compliance of the piece of equipment.

nsn explanation
An NSN is how the military runs its supply chain. There are options to buy things through private purchases. However, an NSN is a much simpler way to purchase items that will often get approved a lot easier as well. (Photo: Defense Logistics Agency)

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling and Hardware

  • Vickers Combat Applications Sling
    NSN: 1005-01-604-0627 (Coyote Brown, As issued with the M27)
  • Rail Mounted Fixed Loop (RMFL)
    NSN: 1005-01-589-7062 (As issued with the M27)

The sling is a necessity for those handling firearms. However, many branches of the military have not updated their 2-point non-adjustable sling for decades. It is almost reminiscent of the old leather slings. Not only are these slings impractical, but they create a safety hazard.

In the Army, for example, many soldiers will simply sling the gun over their back, leaving them unable to grab it quickly or allowing others free reign to grab it themselves off of the soldier’s back. The lack of adjustability also keeps soldiers from tightening them to their bodies correctly.

Meanwhile, civilians are running around with quick-adjust slings and easy, quick-detach buttons for sling mounting points on the gun. However, after many years, there is finally an NSN for the Berry-compliant Blue Force Gear Vickers sling.

Note: “Berry-compliant” refers to the Berry Amendment. This amendment requires the Department of Defense to purchase items that are domestically made.

advanced sniper advanced kit
The Sniper Tripod Advanced Kit (STAK) is a $2,000+ kit. This expense is way too much to purchase privately, thus the NSN is very important to obtain. (Photo:

Really Right Stuff Tripod

  • Sniper Tripod Advanced Kit
    NSN: 1005-01-702-7501

Snipers received the short end of the stick when it comes to precision rifle equipment. Civilian long-range competition shooters have a lot of high-end gear, including their tripods. Carbon fiber tripods are slowly taking over the tripod market due to them being lightweight but still strong enough to not collapse under the weight of a gun. Snipers need tripods both to shoot off of and to glass off of, i.e. use binoculars on a stable platform. These tripods are used both in real operation and in competitive precision shooting matches. Currently, snipers are buying tripods through private purchases and not NSN, making it hard to obtain a quality tripod through the Army.

Really Right Stuff (RRS) has been a leader in the carbon fiber tripod market. The RRS kit includes the tripod, a high-performance ball head, versatile clamps, various adaptable mounts, and a carrying case.

m110s with b5 buttstock and law folder
Above are M110s kitted out with the B5 adjustable buttstock along with a LAW Tactical folder. This has an NSN as well. NSN: 1005-01-672-4614. (Photo: CR2 Solutions)

B5 Adjustable Buttstock

  • B5 Systems Collapsible Precision Buttstock
    NSN: 1005-01-701-3527

Keeping with the precision rifle theme, one of the largest issues with snipers was a non-adjustable buttstock that is on their Knights Armament M110 sniper rifle. Many would modify these stocks by adding tape or foam just to get a good cheek weld. A cheek weld is very important to have a proper shooting position and field of view within the optic.

Civilians have access to many options of adjustable buttstocks that allow them to get the perfect cheek weld. Thanks to B5 Systems and the hard work they put in, their collapsible precision buttstock is now a part of the U.S. Army’s Advanced Sniper Accessory Kit.

military with rifle shooting pmag
When a malfunction occurs one of the first things to verify is that the magazine is not the problem. With P-Mags now being allowed across all branches, servicemen won’t have to worry about aluminum magazines bending and causing those malfunctions. (Photo: Magpul)

Magpul PMAG

  • Black Magpul PMAG
    NSN: 1005-01-615-5169 
  • Coyote Tan Magpul PMAG
    NSN: 1005-01-659-7086 

Probably the most influential piece of equipment to receive an NSN was the polymer PMAG magazine from Magpul. Before the PMAG was adopted, the military was using metal magazines exclusively. The feed lips would easily bend on these metal mags, causing failures to feed and double feeds. With the PMAG, though, the lips will break before they bend. While this seems worse, it is actually better that the magazine breaks instead of bending as it is a clear indication to the user to dispose of the magazine before malfunctions can occur.

kestrel screen
The screen of the kestrel shows data for both elevation and windage that was gathered using the environment of the kestrel and ballistic solver from applied ballistics. With a price tag of over $600-$800, it was very important for this tool to receive an NSN.

Kestrel Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics

  • Kestrel Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics and LiNK
    NSN: 6660-01-656-4810

Military snipers are known for being very good at using hard data to make their long-range shots. “Hard data” refers to the data written on an armband that was verified prior. Nowadays, we have ballistic calculators at our fingertips, and civilians often use them in matches. The most popular weather meter system is the Kestrel which has finally received a well-deserved NSN.

Anne Smith is a Veteran of the full time MNARNG force as a Small Arms Repairer and worked to bolster their marksmanship team. Mainly a technical writer and gunsmith within the Federal world she comes with many armorer classes under her belt such as KAC, Glock, every FN weapon in the book, and Small Arms Weapons Expert (SAWE). So, sorry to bore you with the knowledge that actually make firearms shoot. Currently heavily into the long range world she competes in National Rifle League Hunter and various Gas Gun Precision Series.

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