Who has the better training: US Navy SEALs or British SAS?

Special Air Service - SAS operators are posing with their weaponry
The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. (Photo: XY)

Who has a better training experience? Who suffers more? Navy SEALs vs SAS! Do the British officials have more expectations from their candidates than the U.S or vice versa? Who is faster at being deployed, who has better firepower, what is the difference between the two? What can one do that the other can’t do? What kind of equipment do they use and to what account?

Who’s better to get a degree from?  Harvard or Oxford?  Yale or Cambridge? Navy Seals vs SAS?

Ultimately there may be some chest-beating when members of any of those meet in the marketplace, but they will all recognize the hard work it took to achieve the degree. Both units are Tier 1 units in their countries.

The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action, hostage rescue and human intelligence gathering. The corps presently comprises 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component, under the operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, and 21 (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and 23 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), which are reserve units under the operational command of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.
British Special Air Service (SAS)

The same with elite forces of the world.  When a SEAL and SAS meet each other, they acknowledge a kindred spirit.  Sure, there may be some chest-beating and bragging but they almost always relish the opportunity to work and train together.

They train in different ways and for different things. Better training will always be subjective.

Navy SEALS would rather be tied down in a marine environment (where they feel most comfortable) rather than land. Whereas the SAS would prefer to rat it out on land, rather than sea.

Navy SEALs focus on maritime operations, direct action raids (a.k.a. shooting fuckers in the face) and special reconnaissance operations. They excel at all three of these fields. But they also focus extensively on the Team part of SEAL Team. Their training, operations, and daily life revolve around the Team. Everything is for the Team, for the Unit. It’s their way of life.

Navy SEALs during BUD/s training in the pool
Navy SEALs during BUD/s training (Photo: U.S. Navy)

SAS Training

British SAS focus on a lot of the same things, minus the maritime operations. A better comparison would be between the SEALs and the Special Boat Service (SBS). But when comparing these two, it’s apples and oranges. SAS does more hostage rescue/CT operations than the SEALs do unless you count a special SEALs department – DEVGRU.


In the domain of selection, it still hard to compare it on the SAS vs Navy SEALs level. Because their selection process is largely individual-based, with long-ass ruck marches and individual events. The argument could be definitely made that the SEALs work better in the Team environment, but I’m not gonna go out and say that. I’m currently serving in a Law Enforcement Tactical unit (SWAT) and not planning to join the military yet, but it’s publicly known that both units are among the most highly-trained, elite units in the world. So I’ll leave it at that. And remember the SAS selection course has a 90% dropout rate compared with a 75% dropout rate for the SEAL course if that means anything.


Remember, SEALs, SAS, Spetsnaz, Special Forces, Delta Force or any others around the world are extremely professional and lethal organizations.  Let me say that word again, “professional”, so they are not suitable for wrongdoings. Capable and deadly, that’s what they have in common.

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