BEAR or USEC – Starting Gear & Faction Choice FAQ

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Samuel Franklin

Your choice of BEAR or USEC faction primarily impacts your starting gear and is the first decision players need to make in Escape From Tarkov. With this selection being permanent unless you reset your account progress it is important to understand the faction differences in the BEAR vs USEC debate. This guide provides detailed insights into the starting gear, gameplay impacts and answers common questions to help new players make an informed decision on their faction choice.

Ultimately if you’re wondering does faction matter in Tarkov you’ll find that it has little gameplay impact and given BEAR and USEC can play together the choice is mostly up to your preferences. For more information on the small faction differences and answers to other common faction questions I’ve applied my knowledge of playing Tarkov since 2019 with countless raids with both factions below.

Table of Contents:
Bear vs USEC Differences Overview
BEAR vs USEC Starting Gear
Tarkov Faction Frequently Asked Questions
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BEAR vs USEC Differences Overview

Both the BEAR and USEC factions have their place in Tarkov lore that may impact your decision for a roleplaying focused player. For BEAR (Battle Encounter Assault Regiment) this means playing as a private military force with the backing of the Russian government as they attempt to disrupt the Terra Group activities. For USEC (United Security) these represent forces hired by Terra Group and defend their illegal activities from prying eyes (such as BEAR) while serving as the private military arm of the Terra Group company.

Here are the current gameplay differences between factions in the main EFT game:

  • PMC customisation (character face options, voice lines (Russian vs English) and Ragman clothing purchases)
  • Starting items (also influenced by your Tarkov game edition)
  • Initial faction relationship with AI Rogues on Lighthouse (Rogues have increased aggression to BEARs)
  • Quest requirement differences (hunting PMCs of the opposing faction)

For your BEAR or USEC For Arena decision only the PMC customisation elements are currently applicable.

The USEC faces are (listed below from left to right): Foreman, Hudson, Taylor and Mullen with voices: Chris, Michael and Josh.

tarkov-usec-facesThe BEAR faces are (listed below from left to right): Volkov, Vasilyev, Kulikov and Gavrilov with voices: Mikhail, Aleksandr and Sergei.

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tarkov-usec-inventory

BEAR vs USEC Starting Gear

Starting gear for BEAR and USEC is balanced to ensure players receive similar weapons, rigs, backpacks, and other items. These differences are based on the East (BEAR) and West (USEC) and there is no notable advantage between the starting gear given the amount players receive. While you might prefer certain weapon types offered by a faction’s starting gear I would recommend not placing much weight on this in your faction decision as your initial gear will not last long.

Standard Edition Tarkov Bear vs USEC starting gear:

Equipment/Items BEAR Starting Gear USEC Starting Gear
Melee Weapon 6h5 Bayonet ER Fulcrum Bayonet
Rig 3x Triton M43-A chest harness 3x Blackhawk! Commando Chest Harness Black
Backpack 3x Wartech Eagle VV-102 backpack 3x LBT-8005A Day Pack backpack
Armour 3x BEAR baseball cap 3x USEC cap
Headset 2x GSSh-01 active headphones 2x Walker’s Razor Digital headset
Weapon
  • 2x PP-19-01 “Vityaz-SN” 9×19 submachine gun
  • 2x MP-443 “Grach” 9×19 pistol
  • 2x AK-74M 5.45×39 assault rifle
  • 2x HK MP5
  • 2x M9A3 9×19 pistol
  • 2x Colt M4A1 5.56×45 assault rifle
Magazine
  • 6x 30-round 9×19 PP-19-01 magazine
  • 9x 18-round 9×19 MP-443 magazine
  • 7x 30-round 5.45×39 6L23 magazine for AK-74 and compatibles
  • 8x 20-round 9×19 MP5 magazine
  • 9x 17-round 9×19 M9A3 magazine
  • 7x 30-round 5.56×45 Colt AR-15 STANAG magazine
Grenade 2x F-1 grenade 2x M67 Grenade
Ammunition
  • 120x 5.45x39mm PS gs cartridges
  • 90x 5.45x39mm BP gs cartridges
180x 5.56x45mm M855
Food
  • 4x Iskra MRE
  • Bottle of Tarkovskaya vodka
  • 4x MRE
  • Bottle of Dan Jackiel Whiskey

In addition, Left Behind Edition Tarkov Bear vs USEC starting gear:

Equipment/Items BEAR Starting Gear USEC Starting Gear
Weapon
  • 1x MP-443 “Grach” 9×19 pistol
  • 1x M9A3 9×19 pistol

In addition, Prepare For Escape Edition Tarkov Bear vs USEC starting gear:

Equipment/Items BEAR Starting Gear USEC Starting Gear
Armour
  • 6B13 assault armour (Flora pattern)
  • 2x 6B47 Ratnik-BSh helmet
  • Tactical glasses TGlass
  • Highcom Trooper TFO armour
  • 2x UNTAR helmet
  • 2x Tactical glasses TGlass
Headset 1x GSSh-01 active headphones 1x Peltor Tactical Sport headset
Weapon
  • SV-98 bolt-action sniper rifle
  • Remington Model 700 Sniper rifle
Attachment
  • KMZ 1P69 Weaver mount
  • KMZ 1P69 3-10x rifle scope
  • 30mm ring-mount Remington integral for model 700 rifles
  • March Tactical 3-24×42 FFP optical scope
Magazine
  • 4x 10-round 7.62x54R polymer SV-98 magazine
  • 4x M700 7.62×51 magazine for 10 rounds
Grenade 2x F-1 grenade 3x M67 Grenade
Ammunition
  • 40x 7.62x54R LPS GZh cartridge
  • 40x 7.62x51mm M80 cartridge

In addition, Edge of Darkness (EoD) Tarkov Bear vs USEC starting gear (note that Edge of Darkness is no longer available for sale):

Equipment/Items BEAR Starting Gear USEC Starting Gear
Armour
  • ANA Tactical M1 armored rig
  • LZSh light helmet
  • Crye Precision AVS plate carrier
  • MSA ACH TC-2002 MICH Series helmet
Weapon RPK-16 5.45×39 light machine gun DT MDR 5.56×45 assault rifle
Attachments Valday 1P87 holographic sight Eotech 553 holographic sight
Magazines
  • 4x 30-round 5.45×39 6L23 magazine for AK-74 and compatibles
  • 4x 30-round 5.56×45 Colt AR-15 STANAG magazine
Grenades 2x F-1 grenade
  • 1x M67 Grenade
  • 3x RGD-5 grenade
Ammunition 120x 5.45x39mm PS gs cartridges 120x 5.56x45mm M855

tarkov-usec-select

Tarkov Faction Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the common new player questions regarding the faction mechanic and my recommendations based on my own extensive Tarkov experience:

Is BEAR or USEC Better? Which Faction Is Better?

Most players in the Tarkov community opt to play as a USEC and this is also my recommendation due to the slight advantage on the Lighthouse map currently as the AI Rogues faction only shoot at the player when they get close to their base while they will fire at BEAR players from hundreds of metres away.

If you attack the Rogues as a USEC you will be treated similar to a BEAR for several raids though so this advantage is primarily to help you move around the map and complete Lighthouse quests. BattleState Games intends to introduce other factions that have different reactions to BEAR and USEC in time to provide better balance to faction choice although these are yet to be implemented. As a result the AI Rogues behaviour is currently the only notable long term impact of the choice between BEAR or USEC given starting gear is quickly used and only changes your first few raids.

Some players opt to go BEAR for the extra challenge on Lighthouse or because it makes the small number of quests to hunt the opposing faction easier as there are more USECs than BEARs.

Can USEC and BEAR Play Together?

Yes players of different Tarkov factions can play together in a squad so you do not need to choose the same faction as your friends.

Can You Change Faction?

Yes, players can change factions, but it requires a reset of your account progression through the BSG website. Given this erases any progress you have made you should treat your initial choice of faction as a permanent decision. After each wipe players have the opportunity to reselect their faction.

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms.

Sam (Seelyon) is a seasoned Escape From Tarkov player with over 1,000 raids across multiple Tarkov patches while accumulating thousands of player kills and maintaining a 50% survival rate who favours a calculated playstyle. During these wipes he has earned the coveted Kappa secure container, proving his determination in the unforgiving world of Tarkov. His passion for the punishing game goes beyond personal accomplishment and he is driven by a desire to guide new players on their own Escape From Tarkov journey one raid at a time.

Through countless firefights, strategic flanks and exhilarating boss encounters, he has accumulated a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics and nuances that allows him to offer valuable insights and strategies to those seeking to navigate the complexities of Tarkov.

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