Guide: Camouflage

World Camouflage Patterns and BDU’s
by Moondog

Camo is one of my favorite parts of airsoft. I’d like to share some of my links and resources for camo history and references. A good camo is a contradiction. It functions to both conceal you and to identify you. Nothing makes your team look more like a team than when all of your members wear the same pattern.

There are hundreds of camo types. Each country’s military has its own and even within a country’s military, it’s not uncommon for different branches, divisions, and units to adopt their own uniqe type. Some countries have adopted camo patterns of other contries (ie. the Iraq military uses our phased out 6-color desert “chocolate chip” pattern) or in some cases copies another countries design and modifies it (ie. CADPAT and MARPAT).

There really is no ‘best’ camo. Just like football teams or AEG’s, everybody has a bias for their camo pattern. But we can talk about what camo works better for the time and place.


US Woodland is the most common and most copied pattern in the world. It’s so common that even the bad-guys wear it due to it’s broad availability (even Bin Ladin wears it in his vidoes?!) It is also the most common pattern used in airsoft.

Woodland relies primarily on tonal contrast (dark and light shapes) to break up the wearers silhouette. It’s brown, green, OD, and black colors were chosen to best blend in with the landscape of Germany and central Europe (developed at the end of the Cold War). In the varied terrain of North America it’s best used in late spring and Summer in heavily green and wooded areas. A liability in dry arid fields and during winter/late fall in seasonal fields.

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3-Color Desert (TriColor) and 6-Color is the second most common airsoft camo due to its surplus supply. DCU 3-Color was developed as a cheaper replacement for the earlier 6-color ‘Chocolate-Chip’ desert camo used in the Gulf War. It was desiged for the Arabian desert and arid MOUT environment. Somewhat more useful in the fall/winter than Woodland, it can stand out in very lush greeen folliage of Summer.

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MARPAT the US’s first fielded ‘digital’ camo. The USMC’s MARPAT (short for MARine Disruptive PATtern) was based on the success of Canada’s CADPAT (though some argue how much) Digital patterns rely on small color shapes and variations to create a blending texture to the background. A similar effect is achieved using non-digital means by Flecktarn.

MARPAT comes in woodland, desert, and urban (not officially deployed) variants. All more effective in blending in with the environment than either traditional Woodland or 3-Color. DMARPAT is slightly more useful for fall/winter woods, arid and urban terrain. The Marine’s did a much better job than the Army in choosing colors for the specific environments.

UNIVERSAL CAMOUFLAGE PATTERN (often mistakenly referred to as ACU) is the US Army’s new all-in-one pattern of tan-grey-foliage derived from the MARPAT pattern. It was was chosen under the assumption that in future conflicts the US Army would be fighting in urbanized environments. There have been prototypes of UCP in other colors but there are no plans to produce it.

UCP has become a very popular airsoft camo because of it’s standard use by the US Army since 2005. In field games it blends well against rocks, gravel, buildings and deadfall. But in the lush greens of summer folliage, it tends to stand out. ‘Commercial’ and early batch ACU has a slightly blue/grey tint compared to current Army issue has a tan/pink tint. It works very well in winter and on CQB fields. ACU stands for “Army Combat Uniform” which actually the name for the design of the uniform.

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TigerStripe utilized by US Speical Forces since Vietnam, it’s longevity proves its effectiveness. Commercialy availiable in both desert and standard ‘jungle’ colors. TigerStripe thin and rougher edged shapes better blend in with the folliage than Woodland. A new digital variant is the new camo pattern of the US Airforce. Contrary to myth, TigerStripe was not designed to simulate a ‘blur’ to allow a soldier to be concealed while moving through jungle, nor is it designed to be only used prone to simulate tree trunks. Desert TigerStripe contains hints of OD green that allow it to be used year round in many environemnts. Visually, it shares similar properties to Brittish desert DPM. In summer woods, it blends well against tree trunks and wood bunkers.

MultiCam is known as the Gucci of camo partly for its exceptional cost. But it is more than worth its price due to its effectiveness. Made only by New York’s CRYE Precision, it has become bootlegged by Chinese knock-offs. MiltiCam was an outgrowth of an earlier ‘Scorpion’ pattern that Crye developed for the US Army’s Future Warrior Program. The Army instead chose UCP because of a misguided desire for a ‘digital’ pattern to keep up with the USMC’s MARPAT. It is utilized by SOC units and is has now been issued to US Army units entering Afghanistan.

Its small pattern size and active blending of browns to light greens throughout the fabric allow it to blend in with the broadest range of enviroments of any camo I have seen. It works effectively year round in seasonal fields and is quite effective in urban CQB as well.

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DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material) is the pattern used by Brittish Armed Forces. An early version was used by Brittish paratroopers in WWII. Though similar in color palette to US camo, DPM’s paint brush shapes better blend in with folliage. Desert DPM has gone through some variants from 2-color to the current 4-color. Safariflage is a commercial version of DPM with a more ‘universal’ color palette. Actually quite effective year round but some question its MilSim authenticity.

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Flecktarn is the camo of the German Army (Bundeswehr). Its small colored dots work in the same way as digital camo’s in breaking up a silhouette through visual texture. Tropentarn is the desert variant. It is fairly easy to find Flectarn uniforms in US surplus retailers. Flecktarn is an exceptionally good camo pattern for woods year round.

Type03 is the Chinese Army ripped-off version of Flecktarn. Exact same pattern but with a brown/grey color scheme, used by PLA troops in Tibet. Difficult to get, it is insanely good for blending in with winter/fall foliage.

RealTree, Smokey Branch, Mossy Oak Also known as NOOBCAM. Don’t wear ‘hunting’ camo to an airsoft game. Airsoft is a military simulation game and you will not earn much of a rep for wearing hunting or paintball clothing to an airsoft game. You’re better off wearing kahki cargo pants and a black polo shirt (at least you’ll look like a contractor.)

An exceptionally broad database of world camo patterns, with background info and a very usable thumnail gallery.

A Pennsylvania based surplus store that specializes in hard to find camo types from around the world.

Henrick’s Camoflage of the World
A friend from Denmark, Henrick Clausen’s website shows off his amazing private collection of camo.

Military Morons
A personal site created by a fellow military geek and gear whore. Featuring some great articles on MARPAT and Multicam as well as real steel weaponry.

Dusty’s Depot
This guy does a decent job of comparing different US camo types in different environments. Some of the photography could be better.

A great web article on the history of camo and various US camo types.

A UK surplus retailer that sells DPM and…you guesed it, Flecktarn.

MARPAT on Wikipedia

ACU on Wikipedia

TigerStripe on Wikipedia

DPM on Wikipedia … n_Material


Flecktarn on Wikipedia

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