Nick Irving, a longtime Loadout Room and SOFREP contributor, is a former Army Ranger sniper who served in the 3rd Ranger Battalion. He’s also the author of the book “The Reaper” and will be publishing a new book titled “The Way of the Reaper” in August, 2016. His new book can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.

The Reaper cover image

Nick will be starring in a brand new Fox TV show called “American Grit.” John Cena will be hosting the show and Nick Irving is one of four “cadre” responsible for coaching and training a four-person team as they attempt military-style exercises and challenges. The winning team will get a one million dollar cash prize. “American Grit” is premiering tonight on Fox.


The following is a recent interview with Nick regarding his books and starring in “American Grit.”

How did you get selected for the TV show?
I got selected pretty much by luck. As a Ranger, and being from a small community, we tend to look out for each other. Some former special operations friends who work at FOX said that “The Reaper” would be a great fit for the show, and I got an email. They remain anonymous; the way we like to work overseas applies to outside of the military as well. We hook guys up when we can and look out for one another, and no one needs to know. (Laughs)

How does your Ranger experience help you as a member of “the cadre” in “American Grit” compared to the other military services represented?

I think it’s more a personal experience and mindset. Throughout life up to joining the military, I was told that I can’t. Can’t be a colorblind sniper. Can’t be colorblind infantry, SEAL, etc. Having come from hearing that, to doing just that, is something I try to instill on my team. You put your mind to it, everything is possible. Being a Ranger gave me the exact leadership skills needed to lead a team of civilians on this show. I remember being a young 21-year-old kid attending Ranger school, doing that exact thing, then immediately being thrown into a team-leader position for both the weapons squad and sniper section.

Is it difficult trying to train people with no military experience to compete for the show’s challenges?

It’s a little challenging due to the fact that they are “not military.” You’re kind of constrained to a certain mindset. The Rangers I worked with all enjoyed “the suck.” We were trained to accept it and love it. If a guy in the team was not performing at his utmost, we addressed it. A little different with someone who has no military experience.

What is something you learned from your team on the show?
I learned that anyone is capable of anything! Odds, statistics, etc., whatever is put in front of you, we all have the capability to overcome a challenge.
How is the “Way of the Reaper” different from “The Reaper”?
“Way of the Reaper” is comprised of 10 of my most memorable life lessons learned and balls-to-wall untold missions. Stories that I’ve never talked about. It flows sort of in the way of our deployments—no break, just one right after the next. I want the reader to get through a chapter and say, “It can’t get any worse than that!” then turn the page and be right on the edge of their seat again. The short, shallow breaths you take when in a danger-close ambush, returning fire…I want the reader to feel that same way, all the way to the end.
What motivated you to write “Way of the Reaper”?
The motivation is the same as the last book. I’m not out telling stories of how great a guy I was. No. The stories I tell are about how great a team I was placed in. Stories that I look back on and have to smile and say, “Wow! we did that!”
How has being a military author changed your life since “The Reaper” was published?
It really hasn’t changed. To others it may have in their eyes, but to me, I’m the same guy who likes to wait until the gas is on E and the check-engine light comes on. Just a normal guy. On the other hand, writing and expressing thoughts on paper is a relief that anyone going through something can benefit from. It’s a release.
What are your thoughts on the Army moving to the H&K, replacing the M110 sniper rifle?
I personally have a bond with Knights, the SR and 110. But I think that the issues we had with them while deployed are addressed in the H&K. H&K products are stellar and definitely hold their own. The new rifle is more compact, and is based on the German G28. This new rifle is also three pounds lighter than the 110; that equates to a ton when doing an offset. I think this rifle will be around for a long time.
Even though the new female Rangers aren’t in the Ranger Regiment yet, if they were, how would their presence change the unit?
Hard question! I think that as long as they hold their own day in and day out with the guys, then there really isn’t much to talk about. If she’s doing the same exact thing as the male Rangers, on the same scale, no waivers, etc., what could anyone possibly say? Would some guys hate it? Of course. Can it cause a problem in a squad? Yes. With that said, I’ve had a great opportunity to travel outside of the country and work with various allies, some of which have female “war fighters”—snipers. My top five list of snipers are composed of two women (past and present). Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko and an unnamed female sniper (not American) I had the opportunity to work with after my time with the military. She outshot most of the guys during a course, and could stalk with the best of them!