A guide to making 20th century loadouts, by someone who only uses 20th century loadouts.
Rather, most tactical shooters, and first-person shooters in general, seem to ignore the period between 1975 and 2003. Yeah, sure, there was Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, but they barely even followed the 1980s setting with all the anachronisms and whatnot, plus it’s a Call of Duty game. And you can barely even tell Metal Gear Solid V is set in the 1980s, because it’s a Metal Gear game and thus doesn’t count for period accuracy.
Thankfully, Insurgency: Sandstorm has a fairly diverse arsenal that includes a lot of weapons that saw frequent use in this era. Huh. Maybe this game isn’t ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ after all.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to arm yourself like soldiers and terrorists alike did in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, some fine few decades of the 20th century when the Cold War was ongoing/ending/over, peace would never come/probably arrive/last forever, and video games didn’t exist/were pretty good/were at the peak of graphics. Also, truly horrible war crimes and atrocities occurring worldwide on a monthly basis, backed in some way by every country and alliance under the sun. Man, maybe that’s why they don’t feature this era as much.
Believe it or not, from photos, popular culture from the era, and information on when weapons were introduced into service. It’s as close as I can get, or at least as close as I want to get, because I don’t feel like combing through military inventory listings from 1992 for this. I’m not going for the stuff Rambo was packing, but I’m also not going for exact military loadouts.
To make things simple, anything from before 2000 is allowed; some liberties may be taken, though. Even though you’ll see me talk about a 1980s/1990s ideal setting, that’s just me, and even stuff like the Welrod counts as long as it’s not overly modified. This isn’t just weapons, though; it also includes attachments.
I use them pretty often in Co-op, and they work very well from my experience. Turns out you don’t actually need most attachments.
I’ve recently been having a nostalgia run for Cold War and 1990s militaria—mostly because I learned the Rainbow Six novel and early Rainbow Six games (which are from the late 1990s) are good—but I was unsure why stuff from the time is often overlooked in media. Well, that and I wanted to challenge myself to stand out from the modern mall ninja loadouts and ♥♥♥♥♥♥ “operator” outfits that everyone else has. It was mostly the latter, now that I think about it.
Because I was bored and I wanted to.
This isn’t even a question, dude.
- M16A2 (✅) – In the U.S. military of the 1980s and 1990s, it was either this or the M16A1.
- M16A4 (✅) – Introduced in 1997, which actually surprised me, because I thought it was from the really early 2000s.
- SG 552 (✅) – A compact carbine variant of the SG 550. Introduced in 1998.
- SKS (✅) – Introduced in 1945, the SKS was late to World War II and was superseded by the AK-47 four years later. Its only lasting legacy is gunsmiths making bullpup variants of it to be funny.
- AKM (✅) – Not the AK-47, but the better one introduced 10 years later.
- AKS-74U (✅) – A carbine variant of the AK-74, but not really. Introduced in 1979.
- AUG A3 (✅*) – Even though the AUG A3 was introduced around 2009 or something, it’s otherwise the same as the A1 from 1978 and the A2 from 1997 (only difference is the addition of a Picatinny rail on the top), so I guess it’s allowed.
- G36K (✅) – Very obviously designed in the early 1990s and first issued in 1997.
- Mk 17 MOD 0 (❌) – An FN SCAR, the official gun of the late 2000s and early 2010s, but not the 1990s or earlier.
- QBZ-97 (✅) – The export variant of the QBZ-95, a Chinese bullpup introduced in either 1995 or 1997. China’s first self-designed service rifle. Note how the game makes it an exact copy of the M4A1 stat-wise.
- Alpha AK (❌ – Apparently not a real gun, the Alpha AK is based on kitted-out AKs used by Russia’s FSB Alpha Group (think the FBI HRT except they’re a kill squad that doesn’t actually rescue anyone). Though they’re likely just AK-74s, pictures of Alpha Group from the 1990s show they used normal AKs with plastic furniture, not this.
- AK-74 (✅) – The Soviet Union realized mass-producing a cheap assault rifle to win the class war wasn’t going to win the Cold War, so in 1974 they decided to produce an actual service rifle (this) only to never modernize it.
- G3A3 (✅) – West Germany’s service rifle from 1959 to 1997, when the G36 replaced it. Its success prompted H&K to copy its design for other weapons, including the MP5.
- L85A2 (✅) – A funny British bullpup used since 1985. It really does look like it came from that era.
- Mk 18 CQBR (✅*) – The CQBR was introduced in 2000, but it’s apparently just a modified M4A1, and AR-15 variants like it date back to the Vietnam War. I’ll allow it simply because of that.
- QBZ-03 (❌) – A Chinese rifle probably designed after China realized suddenly fielding a bullpup after years of AKs is really confusing to the guys who have to use it. The “03” means “2003”, disqualifying it; thankfully, no one uses this anyway.
- QTS-11 (❌) – What China thinks a modern rifle looks like. Comes with a built-in airburst grenade launcher that doesn’t airburst for ♥♥♥♥ in-game. Despite its Star Wars-esque retro-futuristic design, it’s from 2015.
- ACE 52 (❌) – Actually the Galil ACE, a modernized Galil rifle, this has apparently been in the game for a long time now, but no one uses it. Introduced in 2008, to the surprise of no one.
- AS VAL (✅) – A Soviet suppressed assault rifle introduced in 1987, and a variant of the VSS Vintorez, a sniper rifle that you can sort of (but not really) emulate in-game with its unique PSO-1 scope. Seeing it’s Soviet, it probably barely existed until the late 1990s, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Apparently automatic fire with this is actually a burst, but I can’t tell how many rounds it fires; I think 5?
- FAL (✅) – The arms, legs, and ♥♥♥♥ of the free world. Intended to be the NATO rifle, but the U.S. ended up blowing it for everyone.
- M4A1 (✅) – Introduced in 1994. At this point, the M4 isn’t even a carbine, but its own honorary full-blown rifle.
- Tavor 7 (❌) – Israel/Palestine/the West Bank’s idea of a party, except this party was held in 2001, meaning we’re not attending.
- VHS-2 (❌) – A FAMAS (see below) but Croatian, this one has been redesigned to not look like the FAMAS. Unfortunately, the VHS rifle dates back to 2003.
- FAMAS F1 (✅) – In 1978, France began issuing the lasting effects of losing to decolonization and leaving NATO: a bullpup with a massive carry handle, an unnecessarily high fire rate, and a magazine that isn’t divisible by 3 despite the gun having burst fire.
- MDR (❌) – Look at this gun and tell me it wasn’t obviously designed and introduced in the mid-2010s.
- Sterling (✅) – Introduced in 1944, not actually fielded until 1953, and inexplicably used by the British for every role until the 1990s, when they finally realized World War II was over, at least on the military side of things.
- Grease Gun (✅) – I mean, it’s a Grease Gun. Still used in the Philippines, because if there’s any region where militaries just field whatever they want, it’s Southeast Asia. However, apparently the Advanced Suppressor is from Philippine service and was invented in the late 2000s, so try to avoid that.
- Uzi (✅) – The Uzi has seen service with faceless mooks across the film industry since its introduction in 1954. Oh, it’s also in active service with every single military in existence, even though you’ve probably never seen anyone break out the Uzi since the 1990s.
- MP5A2 (✅) – The MP5 has been used by every single armed group since 1966, and was honorarily a “machine gun” (no “sub”) until society moved on to boring rifles. I think the SAS used this one in the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege, so it’s automatically allowed.
- MP5A5 (✅) – This model of MP5 was introduced in 1975 or something and introduced ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ to the long line of MP5 variants. No grenade launcher because Half-Life lied.
- MP7 (❌) – Designed in 1999, sure, but was introduced in 2001. No grenade launcher because Half-Life 2 lied.
- Honey Badger (❌) – Introduced in 2011, in case you couldn’t tell from it being a totally spec-ops tacticool AR-platform PDW that’s only in tan (because we’ll be in Iraq and Afghanistan forever) and uses a unique ammo type it burns through quickly.
- P90 (✅) – Introduced in, well, 1990. Designed after militaries realized 9mm SMGs blow ass against body armor, but didn’t want to give the REMFs rifles.
- Vector (❌) – Very obviously designed and introduced in 2006.
- KS-23 (✅) – An extremely large-caliber shotgun made from anti-aircraft cannon barrels in the 1970s for “pacifying” prison riots, which is a good way of saying it’s from Russia.
- M870 (✅) – Dating back to 1953, it’s truly the shotgun of all time. If you need a shotgun, or have one, it’s probably this one.
- TOZ-194 (✅) – A Russian shotgun introduced in 1994. Only really used for hunting, people only know it exists from video games that needed a Russian counterpart to the Remington 870. Like this one!
- KSG (❌) – A bullpup shotgun with a confusing tube system designed by the known psychopaths at Kel-Tec. Introduced in 2011, meaning you can’t use it, which is either a good thing or a bad thing.
- M24 (✅) – The U.S. military designation of the Remington 700. The M24 was first issued in 1988, but the Remington 700 itself dates back to 1962, so we’re good.
- Mosin-Nagant (✅) – The only weapon in the game to originate from the 19th century. Has probably been in every single conflict since 1891.
- M1 Garand (✅) – It’s an M1 Garand, I don’t need to elaborate. Just be tasteful with it. Also, the flash hider is from the Korean War era, so if you’re going for a World War II loadout, keep that in mind.
- M82A1 CQ (✅) – Anti-materiel (big hole shooty) rifle introduced not in 1982, but in 1989. The “CQ” means “close quarters”, because it’s a variant for… close combat? What?
- M99 (✅) – Anti-materiel rifle introduced in 1999, so it barely makes the cut. I thought this was Chinese for some reason, but it’s also a Barrett.
- M110 SASS (❌) – Introduced in 2008. Was actually quite disheartened to learn this, because I like its custom suppressor.
- SVD (✅) – Better known as the Dragunov, even though that’s technically not its actual name.
- Mk 14 EBR (✅*) – So the Mk 14 was introduced in 2002… but it’s actually just a variant of the M14 rifle, which was pretty much the American battle rifle (and later DMR) of the entire Cold War. Because it’s basically the same thing as the classic M14 and only really differs in appearance, I’ll allow it.
- Galil (✅) – An Israeli/Palestinian/West-Bankian automatic rifle from 1972. This one has the original wood furniture, which is cool.
- Galil SAR (✅) – Literally the exact same thing as the Galil but with a shorter barrel and what looks like grey plastic furniture, which is less cool.
- M249 (✅) – Introduced in 1984. Oddly, I have nothing else to say about this gun.
- M60 (✅) – Introduced not in 1960, but three years earlier. You don’t have to always hipfire this, but it’s cooler if you do.
- PKM (✅) – Introduced in 1969 but based on the PK machine gun from 1961. Continues the Soviet tradition of remaining in service with half of the world.
- RPK (✅) – Really just an AKM with a bipod.
- M240B (✅) – Introduced in 1977, but really just the American version of the FN MAG, itself introduced in 1958. Together, they’ve been used by over a third of the entire world, which is kind of a given seeing it’s an FN from the late 1950s.
- MG3 (✅) – Introduced in 1959, with its design dating back to 1942 for ♥♥♥♥♥ sakes.
- Makarov (✅) – The standard issue sidearm of the Soviet Armed Forces and its successors since 1951. I mean, it made up the other half of the Cold War, of course it’s allowed.
- Welrod (✅) – A terrible silenced bolt-action used during World War II, this is old enough to be used, though I seriously don’t know why you’d actually want to use this.
- Browning HP (✅) – If the FAL is the right arm of the free world, then this is probably its left arm.
- Tariq (✅) – Actually the Beretta M1951 which, as its name suggests, it was introduced in 1951.
- L106A1 (✅) – Actually the P226, a gun from 1985, so no problem here.
- M1911 (✅) – I don’t need to explain why this is allowed.
- M45 (✅*) – Actually the M45A1. This presents a problem, as the M45 dates to 1985, but the M45A1 variant was introduced in 2012. However, as they are basically the same gun (and it’s named the M45 in-game, though I distinctly remember it being the M45A1 before), and the actual manufacturer even said “Yeah, this is the same gun, just better”, I’m going to rule that this is allowed, but if its modern additions irk you, don’t use it.
- M9 (✅) – The standard issue pistol of every military, police force, and film protagonist from the 1980s to the 2000s.
- PF940 (✅) – Actually the Glock 17, because Glock got really mad that NWI wanted to add their pistol and bullied them into renaming it after a frame sold by a company that basically legally sells illegal guns. The Glock pistol originated in 1982, and the Glock 17 just so happens to be the original production model.
- MR 73 (✅) – A revolver, meaning I have to allow it. This is probably one of the few weapons where every attachment is actually period accurate. Even the oil can.
- Desert Eagle (✅) – Though no one actually uses this, it’s pretty much been the popular culture gun since 1983.
Won’t even list them: all of these are allowed, because they all just so happen to date back to the Cold War, and even if they didn’t, I’m not going to just lock these things out seeing they’re basically crucial items.
- Gas Mask (✅) – The Insurgent gas mask is one I can’t identify, but it seems old enough. The Security gas mask is the M50 from 2006, but it somewhat resembles the MCU-2/P from the 1980s, plus prohibiting a team’s gas mask for that would be a ♥♥♥♥ move.
- Tier 1 NVGs (Mil-Spec, Civilian) (✅) – Based on older models of NVGs, so these are pretty much allowed by default. God, I’d kill to have the Civilian NVG available for Security.
- Tier 2 NVGs (Military, SOF) (✅*) – While the Military NVG is fine I think (would also kill to have it available for Security), the SOF NVG is more of an issue. I don’t believe these multi-lens NVGs existed at all in the 20th century, seeing by the 1990s proper two-goggle NVGs were more or less new. However, for gameplay’s sake and solely gameplay’s sake (because the Tier 1 NVGs are insufferable), I’ll say it’s allowed.
Also, it doesn’t matter what color you use for the night vision itself. Apparently green is the original one and white phosphorus is the new one they’re trying to replace it with (not sure about amber but I’ll just say no one actually uses it), but whatever. I use multicolor for Security when I can because it’s just better.
I’m not even going to list these, it should be pretty obvious all of them are allowed. However, it’s better if you not run armor, both because it seems soldiers back then didn’t wear those bulky bulletproof vests all that often, and because armor is more or less useless in this game.
I’m not going to list these either. They’re all allowed.
- Iron Sights (✅) – Duh. Flip-up sights, if available, are also allowed.
- Factory/Unique Sights (G36K CH Sight, L85A2 SUSAT, Mosin-Nagant PU Scope, etc.) (✅) – Most of these were introduced with their respective weapon, so as long as the weapon itself is within bounds, these sights should be fair game. The only one I would warn against is the AUG A3 Scope seeing its namesake AUG variant is too new, but it’s barely distinguishable from the A1 Scope anyway.
- Holographic (✅) – EOTech sights have existed since at least 1996. I personally feel these make the gun look too new, but if you want to use these regardless, I just gave you a good excuse.
- Kobra (✅) – Coincidentally, the Kobra was reportedly also introduced in 1996.
- MARS (❌) – While I don’t know for sure when the MARS was introduced, I can’t find anything suggesting it was before the turn of the millennium.
- MRO (❌) – From what I can find, the MRO was introduced around 2015, which is a decade and a half too far into the future. Like, bin Laden wasn’t even alive at that point.
- OKP-7 (❌) – Supposedly, “OKP” is actually a line of sights, and the first one came out in 1999. However, I have basically nothing to prove this aside from a Russian site that my antivirus deems a threat the second I open it.
- Red Dot (✅*) – Though this is based on the Aimpoint CompM2 (or some other similar Comp model), which was introduced in the 2000s, similar sights have existed since, I dunno, the early 1990s? In fact, from what I remember red dot sights in general date to the late 1970s. So while this specific model is just a tad too new, I’ll let it slide seeing things exactly like it existed before.
- PK-AS (❌) – From what I can remember, the PK-AS is a special variant of a longer-range sight that was introduced in the early 2000s or something, and to top it off, I think the PK-AS came out a few years after that sight was released. So it’s not happening.
- M150 (✅) – Turns out the ACOG has existed since 1987. I actually didn’t know that before researching this stuff.
- C79 (✅) – Shockingly, the C79 was first adopted in 1989, not 1979; still counts, though. Do note that while Canada puts the C79 on everything, other militaries use it for machine guns only.
- SU230 (❌) – Actually called the Spectre, this was invented and first issued in the mid-2000s.
- x2 Variants of x1 Sights (✅*) – Not sure if these sight magnifiers (or whatever they’re called) existed back then, seeing the sights they pair with weren’t really used often in the first place and mostly only began existing in the late 1990s. I discourage using them, but I’m not going to stop you, especially if you need to use them.
- BUS Variants of x4 Sights (❌) – I sincerely doubt this stuff existed at any point before the 2000s, let alone before the 2010s.
Pretty much all of these are allowed. Just be tasteful with them.
- Flashlight (✅) – Flashlight attachments have existed since I believe the 1970s, but they were massive. But they did exist, and became smaller over the years, so I’ll count it as acceptable.
- Laser Sight (✅) – Laser sights have existed since about the 1980s but, like flashlights, they were massive. Remember how in The Terminator the T-800 had that pistol with a really big scope on the top that was longer than the slide? Well that wasn’t a scope, dumbass, it was a laser sight. Like the flashlight, they’d get smaller over time, and by the 1990s, the AN/PAQ-4C (sleeker predecessor to the AN/PEQ-2 and similar) was in American service, albeit I believe only with special forces. So yeah, I’ll say it’s allowed, but just don’t throw it on everything.
- IR Flashlight (✅*) – I don’t know if this technology actually existed in the 20th century, but I’m going to say you can use this.
- IR Laser Sight (✅*) – Ditto.
By the way, the Picatinny rail has existed since about 1995, and the Weaver rail is even older. Even though smooth shrouds were far more common, don’t fret over visible rails on your gun.
- Foregrips (all) (✅*) – From what I can tell, foregrip attachments existed back then, but weren’t very common at all, probably because most guns didn’t come with rails to attach them to. I, personally, would discourage using foregrips—they make the gun look too modern, plus you honestly don’t need them—but I’m going to allow you to choose for yourself, seeing again, I’m pretty sure they did exist, but just weren’t very common.
- Point Shooting Grip (✅*) – Obviously, I don’t think this type of combined laser and grip existed back then. But during the Cold War era, point shooting apparently was the shooting tactic taught and used for close-quarters. However, it resembled action movie hipfiring more than the weird “hold the gun sideways in front of you” thing shown in-game, and was pretty much the go-to for shooting when you didn’t want or need to use sights, which was I guess any distance below 100 yards based on how shooters acted in films. I’ll allow it because point shooting is really cool and actually hipfiring in-game is horribly inaccurate.
- Grenade Launchers (✅) – Pretty much every grenade launcher in this game was designed and fielded in the middle of the Cold War. It’d be cruel if I prohibited them anyway. Grenade launchers are fun.
- M26 MASS (❌) – Designed in 2002, produced since 2003, and only really adopted since 2013, the M26 MASS is unfortunately too new for what we’re doing here.
- Masterkey (✅) – Apparently designed in the 1980s, proof of the Masterkey being in actual military service has existed since the early 1990s (there’s an image of a Delta Force guy with one somewhere), so it’s allowed. I hear the Masterkey is also the better of the two underbarrel shotguns anyway.
I’m fairly certain Extended Mags and Drum Mags have existed in some capacity since the invention of magazine-fed firearms, so these should be fine. I personally don’t run them most of the time because they usually weren’t standard issue, but I’m not going to stop you if you choose to load your M16A2 with a drum mag. It’ll look goofy, but if it gets the job done.
As for ammunition, again, just use whatever you want.
I honestly just wouldn’t use these.
- You don’t really need attachments. They were pretty uncommon at the time aside from the most basic additions (e.g. additional bipod, maybe a laser, perhaps a grenade launcher, but nothing else). I usually throw a Compensator on most of my primaries with the Quick Draw Holster on my secondaries, but you can leave a gun entirely unmodified and it should work fine.
- You don’t need armor, either. Like I said before, most soldiers at the time didn’t seem to regularly wear armor—no seriously, look at pictures, they’re mostly just in their blouses with ALICE gear and whatnot, but no vests—but even outside that, armor doesn’t do much in this game. Do whatever you want with carriers, but I would recommend light carriers only unless you’re Demolitions or something and actually need the extra ammo.
- Bring secondaries that match. For example, if you’ve got a Grease Gun, try bringing an M1911. If you have an L85A2, bring a Browning HP. It’s fun and authentic, and you don’t need to spend much supply points seeing (if you haven’t heavily kitted out your gun or yourself) you probably have like, 10 left over.
- Don’t force yourself to follow this. If you feel running a bare M16A2 is going be a detriment to your team, or you feel a bare M9 isn’t doing the job, throw some attachments on it or switch it out, whatever. I’m not gonna teamkill you if I see you’ve got an M1 Garand with a Holographic and a Point-Shooting Grip, no matter how ugly and ♥♥♥♥♥♥ up that is.
- Know what was common or existed back then. Stuff like the PASGT, Patrol Cap, Beret, Turtleshell, Bump, and even the Headband came pretty standard. Stuff like the MICH-2000, however… well, didn’t even exist. Most soldiers wore what were essentially the Blouse and Trousers, with varying sleeve lengths. Mouth covers such as scarves and bandanas were mostly up to one’s preference. Face paint was also fairly common. Look at pictures of soldiers from the 20th century for examples.
- Don’t stress about Insurgent outfits. They’re terrorists and militants, and terrorists and militants wear pretty much whatever they want. In fact, they mostly wore shades of green, tan, brown, and black, and sometimes even wore camouflage; however, seeing almost all of that is locked to Security, you can’t really do that. I will give one pointer, though: ski masks were the masks, though they were baggier than the Three Hole Balaclava seen in-game.
- A lot of Insurgent cosmetics are just old military gear. Make that of what you will.
- Coppice – Sort of. Doesn’t appear to be a real camo, but resembles a green-tinted ERDL (from 1948), and camos similar to it have existed for a while. I think Russia actually used something similar to this in some capacity in the mid-1990s, so make of that what you will.
- DCU – Introduced in 1991, too late for the Gulf War but just in time for the rest of the 1990s.
- DBDU – Introduced in the 1980s and used predominantly by the U.S. military throughout the Gulf War.
- Desert DPM – The arid variant of DPM, a British camo from 1968.
- Desert Night – Apparently invented in or before 1991. Known for reportedly being completely ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ useless because it was designed to confuse older Soviet NVGs but was completely useless against newer ones. Looks funny, though.
- Desert Smear – This is really just a tan or khaki uniform, which has existed to some degree since before the 18th century.
- Flecktarn – Dates back to the bad guys in the 1930s and 1940s, but was brought back for the good guys in 1990.
- M81 – The late Cold War camo of all time, used by the U.S. and borrowed or copied by a ton of other countries. Also very similar to several other camos from the 1980s and 1990s, as well as ERDL, of which this is really just a zoomed-in variant.
- M90F – Swedish camo from the late 1980s.
- Tigerstripe – American camo designed in 1962 and used in the Vietnam War by the U.S. military and the ARVN.
- Tropentarn – Arid variant of Flecktarn, introduced in 1993.
- Woodland Smear – Like Desert Smear, this is really just an olive green uniform, which was very, very common before and during the Cold War.
- Insurgency Sandstorm: Guide & Tips for Co-op
- Insurgency Sandstorm: Secret Equipment Camo Guide
- Insurgency Sandstorm: How to Get Hard Achievements Easily