In the military, do soldiers have to disassemble and assemble their weapons blind folded?

In the military, do soldiers have to disassemble and assemble their weapons blind folded?

We didn’t have to but we would sort of challenge each other on how difficult conditions we could come up with for disassembling and reassembling the rifle – while not dirtying it of course.

Eventually we were lying on our stomachs and the rifle was on our back and we were trying to disassemble and reassemble it without any parts touching the floor.

And it was doable although very, very slow.

Also one handed, blindfolded – it isn’t that hard when you put yourself to it.

I mean, it’s just a rifle. It’s not rocket surgery.

We’re not talking about dropping from a helicopter to near freezing water and diving in dark water and disassembling live mines or so. We’re not talking about mastering numerous instruments and flight physics in order to land to a carrier in a storm.

We’re talking about a small number of pieces that each fit only one place, an incredibly simple mechanical puzzle.

Even a crappy half wit armored jäger like me can do it.

I never understood why assembling something blind folded is a “thing” for civilians. Probably because they don’t know anything about assembling rifles and it sounds exotic.

Kind of like it may initially sound exotic that someone can type without looking at keyboard – and even instinctively error correct wrong pushes without even having seen the output. Anyone decent with a keyboard can type almost flawless long texts with a blindfold on.

In fact anyone can with minimal training learn to turn on a computer blindfolded, start a text editor, write an essay and save the file and then turn off the computer – without removing blindfold for a second.

Things like these are like solving the Rubik’s cube. It’s all in the amount of effort you’re willing to put into it.

In military your life can depend on your rifle and your ability to maintain it. You might be lying at the bottom of a trench unable to stand up with all sorts of dirt all over the place having to quickly do some disassembly to clear the rifle of dirt that is causing it to jam. You need to do this before the enemy can kill you and until you do so you’re essentially naked.

So yea, it is a good idea to be able to maintenance your rifle even with one arm completely numb and disabled and without using light sources that could reveal your position.

For the U.S. Military it’s my understanding that it was a stunt the noted gun inventor John Browning came up in 1918 to demonstrate to the Army how comparatively simple his new Browning Automatic Rifle (1918 BAR) was, particularly compared to the competing and more complex Lewis Gun, Chauchat, Pedersen, etc.. where complexity was causing major problems in field use. As the inventor and then building the prototype with his brother Matthew in their Ogden, Utah sporting goods shop (where the Army’s pistol, light, medium, and heavy machine guns, and trench shotgun had already been invented by Browning) he was intimately familiar with every part and how it went together.

The Army officers he demonstrated it to (in multiple demonstrations) were so impressed with the idea of being able to assemble one’s weapon in poor or no light, a common circumstance, that it became parts of various training for decades.

I’ve never run across earlier references to it but it certainly could predate that as performing complex or dangerous tasks blindfolded wasn’t uncommon in 19th Century circus acts (like knife throwing at a human assistant.)

It was never a requirement.

The Army never encourages anyone to strip a weapon in the dark because recruits were losing parts.

However, there were certain ‘standards’ we needed to adhere by.

Plenty of us (at least in Singapore) practice it blindfolded in a room with the lights on because the bolt cam pin is a sneaky lil’ bastard that’ll crawl away when no one is looking.

Combat reloading must be achieved in under 1 sec with most of us doing barely above 0.5 sec.

Wasn’t hard. Slapping a fresh mag into the well right after dropping the previous one. There is still a round loaded in the chamber from the previous mag. Thus no pulling of the charging handle needed.

Blindfold assembly and disassembly trains your mind to be intimate with the workings of the rifle.

As indicated by several people already, yes this does really happen and yes there is a damned good reason for it. As indicated in my short bio, I served in Infantry and reconnaissance units in the Australian Army so to start this answer, I’ll quote the “Role of the Infantry”: –

The role of infantry is to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground and to repel attack by day or night, regardless of season, weather or terrain.

You’ll notice I highlighted the word ‘night’.

The Australian Army has something of a penchant for conducting operations at night. To be able to effectively operate at night, you need to know your equipment, how to use it, how to clean it, how to fix it – by day or by night, regardless of season, weather or terrain. You don’t have the luxury of requesting everyone stop the war until daylight because you need to fix some part of your gear. The Infantry lives or dies on its ability to operate its weapons.

To that end, every single regiment I have served in (three all told) stressed the ability to operate and care for your equipment at night. We practiced the strip, clean, assemble, load, unload and Immediate Action/Stoppage drills of all the weapons the Section would be required to use as well as other items such as radios and night vision gear (yes, night vision gear because it’s pretty bloody useless if you can’t make it work because it’s night time and you couldn’t see the controls or locate the battery compartment). We practiced these activities in the daylight, in the twilight of dusk/dawn and particularly in the dark of night (either by doing it at night or by simulating darkness by use of blindfolds or goggles painted black).

So for some Armies, no, it is not something “just for special forces” and no it is not “just something done as a bit of a competitive exercise” and no it is not “done only at basic and never again” .

If you can’t fix a basic problem with your weapon (and other gear) when it’s dark, you are worse than useless to your comrades, you are a dead-set WOFTAM. Your inability to operate effectively at night is a liability that will probably get some of them killed.

In WW2 they did, at least the Marines did, my Dad talked about it, and you were timed. Most enlisted didn’t carry sidesarms in those days, just officers and FMF Hospital Corpsman. My Dad did, because he was an FO/FAC .

Heavy weapons squads (machine guns, mortars) had to learn their rifles and their heavy weapon.

He told stories about how “for fun” they’d sneak up to .30 caliber M1819 position, while they were getting chow or whatever and dislodge the firing pin at dusk, and an hour or later start yelling “Banzai! Banzai,” from down the line so they could all laugh while the poor gunner and A gunner tried to get their weapon working to lay down probing fire.

Some fun.

I asked him what would happen if it was a real attack. He said it didn’t matter, the gun would be up and firing in 30 seconds anyway, and there were multiple heavy weapons squads, and they wouldn’t mess with all of them the same night, because that would be stupid.

I remember thinking “ Oh that would be stupid, but taking only one of your machine guns wasn’t.”

A different breed those guys.

Contrary to the assertions of some supposed experts here this concept is neither “pure Hollywood” nor is it “a completely useless and pointless skill that has little merit or application.”. It also has nothing to do with “an eye injury or blindness”. Some people need to realize that because they’ve never experienced something does not mean that, in the history of the world, it has never happened.

I can swear to the fact that from 1 Jun 71 to approximately 6 Aug 71 in the U.S. Army, E-4–2, Ft. Dix, New Jersey, it was a requirement to graduate basic training. In the immortal words of SSgt. Kornegay, a man I will never forget, “You people will do this until every swinging dick can disassemble and reassemble their weapon blindfolded.”. There was a time limit involved but that was over 45 years ago and that fact escapes me.

Pure Hollywood” my ass. It was a necessary skill and I find it hard to believe they ever stopped training the troops to do this. Why was it necessary? Does anyone really need me to explain that? Here’s a hint. It has nothing to do with “an eye injury or blindness”. Almost everywhere on the planet Earth it gets dark for a large portion of the day. We call that dark period “night”.

We were being trained to field strip and clean our weapon no matter what the conditions were, day or night, even in total darkness. That is possibly part of a well placed reaction to the fact that way too damned many good soldiers died with a jammed M-16 in their hands.

Every “swinging dick” had to accomplish this skill. Even troops like me who were going into the Signal Corps had to accomplish this.

Pure Hollywood” my ass. Whoever said that owes a great many troops an apology for his know-it-all attitude.

The whole military? No.

Parts of the military? Yes.

You aren’t REALLY familiar with your weapons until you can walk up to a box containing several different disassembled weapons (parts all mixed together), and assemble them blindfolded.

There is logic to this. It is a measure of familiarity and you MAY be doing weapons maintenance in the dark in a Patrol Base. The “priorities of work” in the defense generally go: security, position improvement, weapons maintenance, chow, personal hygiene, and finally “rest plan.” I personally have spent many a night fumbling around with an M240 bolt in the dark.

In the Infantry units I was in it was pretty common, but it wasn’t like you didn’t get to eat until you beat a certain time. It was just a good, fun measurable goal to do now and then.

That being said, there isn’t a formal Army requirement in the Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks, it isn’t part of the ARTEP and is not a “supporting task” under any unit’s METL that I’m aware of.

Random videos I found, not mine. But I’d be hard-pressed to do the M2 blindfolded these days.

That is pure Hollywood. We never did it during 11B OSUT and never had to do it elsewhere. Some units do it after basic & AIT just for shits and giggles, but ours never did.

It doesn’t really make sense anyway, b/c if it ever got to the point where you were blinded in a combat situation, or were no longer in possession of your visual faculties, you would immediately be hustled to the rear and rendered combat ineffective.

And even if you couldn’t be evacuated from a combat zone due to an eye injury or blindness, the last thing you would be doing is assembling random weapons, so no, the ability to field strip and reassemble your weapon blindfolded — while it might look cool — is actually a completely useless and pointless skill that has little merit or application.

That said, some persons might argue that being able to do such a thing blindfolded would help in establishing a touch-feel sensibility with your weapon when operating during blackout or light-restricted conditions. Fair enough. But having done so myself, you would be amazed at how adept your eyes become at seeing in the dark with a bit of acclimatization.

^An absurd waste of time and mythical activity falsely attributed to basic training or infantry AIT. It may happen in some individual units afterwards —albeit purely for fun — however, it is not done during basic or OSUT.

Yes, this is to encourage familiarity with your weapon and is to do with stripping, cleaning and reassembly in the dark.

It wasn’t a formal test but was intended to show you the necessity to be organised, not lose small parts like the gas plug and to reassemble correctly (with some weapons it is possible to insert the gas plug incorrectly which prevents the weapon from functioning correctly).


Maybe guys in Special Operations like the Navy SEAL’s, Marine Raiders (MARSOC), or Green Berets……maybe.

Speaking from a Marine perspective, the most you have to do in Recruit Training and beyond, is show that you can disassemble and reassemble a rifle. If you are in the Infantry and your job involves other weapons systems, you will be expected to know how to disassemble and reassemble said weapon system be it a M240B machine gun, 60mm mortar, etc.

You can be timed during these sessions, but I have never seen or have been blindfolded while having to do all this.

We never used blindfolds, but DID use similar techniques it in “intramural” competition.

#1: IMO, with the M16 needing to ensure that the bolt split-ring gas checks were offset – something that is very hard to feel – reassembling an M16/M4 blind is a bad idea.

But we DID do relay races with squaddies carrying a dummy 8″ projectile 50 yards, then run back to rapidly reassemble an M2 while other guys hauled ammo/powder to the gun positions.

It was my way of making the SMCT/SQT into a competition without dealing with an ARTEP.

This is a movie trope more than a reality these days. It is a convenient method to demonstrate a ideal state of preparedness. With the old style M-1 Garands Of WW II and the M-14’s about the early era of Viet Nam were finely machined close tolerance parts (and a bunch of them too) with wooden stocks. Those were suitable for that degree of skills and knowledge. They had more parts per rifle.

The M-16A1’s had fewer parts that needed disassembly and cleaning. As a matter of fact the original M-16A1 did not even have a cleaning kit available. It was thought that they would not be necessary. Wrong. Several jammed in a firefights in 1964–65. A improved design was reissued with better features, better ammunition and finally cleaning kits.

It isn’t an official training requirement (at least not in the U.S. Marine Corps). It is a good skill to have and practice, though. If your weapon goes down, it will likely be in the worst circumstances. Training in austere conditions establishes muscle memory and builds confidence in your own abilities. That way, when problems present themselves, you can easily overcome them. Many small unit leaders (team leaders and squad leaders) will drill these skills into their junior Marines in down times.

Not in the whole of the military but some. Usually the Special Forces have to do it and are timed either blindfolded or in complete dark. This is because they want them to feel and know all parts of a weapon.

We encourage our recruits to be able to strip and assemble their basic weapon platforms by touch alone – blindfolding isn’t a part of this process. We do, however, have a maximum time to strip and assemble our weapon platforms along with the jamming drills.

Frankly, half the jamming drills involve stripping the weapon platform anyway.

I’m from Brazil, non military, but had to undergo military mandatory training for 1 year.

Yes, we had to assemble and dissassemble blind folded in front of other peer with timing.

Also naming all the parts of gun.

It was really easy after a lot of training, just like typing in keyboard looking at screen, you just know/see where letters/pieces are.

If you have the weapon stripped for cleaning and suddenly you need to reassemble it then the less flapping around the better. Training yourself to do it without looking is useful. I could get a Bren gun back together in less than 10 seconds because of this, most people were still trying to get the butt group into the receiver after that time.

I have heard this occurs in some elite formations, but we never did it in Basic Training
or in ROTC. One funny incident happened in ROTC summer camp. We were all sitting down striping our weapons and an officer came into the room. Correct procedure was to sit there and the instructor would come to attention and report. This was a new guy and he yelled “Attention”. We all jumped up, springs, bolts, magazines, stocks-everything went flying to all parts of the room. The officer said, “Now you see why only the instructor comes to attention”. Good point.

I learned to field strip and clean my weapon blindfolded. Then again, I was part of an army that trained to fight in places where the longest night of the year is four months, and standard practice requires you to field clean your weapon in the middle of the night while stoking the tent stove.

I was damnably happy to have learned to do it blindfolded before we went on field training.

One exercise I engaged in while serving in Germany was to enter dark hut at night and assemble one of three weapons, the parts for which were intermingled on the floor.

I lucked out and got the pistol, which had the fewest parts. But by feeling the parts of these unfamiliar German weapons (machine gun, G-3 rifle and pistol) we quickly segregated the parts and got everything together.

It’s intuitive, really.