To become mission-ineffective does not necessarily mean being wounded by a bullet or hit by an IED. It could be as simple as having hands so cold that you can’t use them or having a minor cut on a finger turn septic during a long operation. Although an operation may start out warm and dry, it might end up freezing cold and wet with no relief in sight. To counteract harsh conditions, operators know the value of good gloves to protect and warm their hands.
Most operators want a general purpose tactical glove that can protect, grip and provide comfort to their hands during cold nights or rainy days, and yet be light and not lose any sense of feel. Several excellent companies provide a variety of tactical gloves designed with those needs in mind.
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The HellStorm S.O.L.A.G. (Special Operation Light Assault Glove) with DuPont NOMEX flame and flash protection has a dual-layer palm that features WR100X- and Armortan®-treated premium goatskin leather from the Pittards™ Tannery in England. The WR100X treatment instills excellent water repellency, keeping gloves supple after repeated exposure to moisture. The enhanced-leather Armortan® process provides 25 percent greater abrasion resistance for increased durability. Strategically placed 4 mm pads to protect the knuckles and fingers. The S.O.L.A.G. over-wrap fingertip design keeps the seam away from the fingertips to ensure excellent tactility and durability, preventing fingertip “blowouts.” A nylon loop on the wrist allows easy donning and hooking on carabiners. The S.O.L.A.G. series shells come in other synthetic materials, including models with KEVLAR for cut and puncture protection.
The S.O.L.A.G. had the best adjustability among the comparable gloves evaluated. It features a hook-and-loop flap on the back of the hand and a superb wrist-cinch system. The hook-and-loop, fumble-free tightening wrist strap can really be cinched up to prevent water intrusion and ballooning of the glove if immersed.
Manzella Gloves makes gloves for anybody who toils in extreme conditions. As a result of continual feedback, Manzella has gloves that are comfortable whether your hands are relaxed or grasping, and that grip whether wet or dry.
Manzella’s series of SWAT gloves is designed for operators who need dexterity along with protection from close-contact hand strikes. The SWAT-5, -10, -20 and -30 have different weights and cuff lengths, and are constructed with synthetics and aniline or deerskin leather. The all-leather, half-finger SWAT-5 has soft knuckle padding for protection while allowing maximum dexterity. The lightweight SWAT-20 features a heavy-duty Spandex shell that is breathable and water resistant with aniline leather covering the palm. As compared to the other gloves, the best knuckle protection was found on the Manzella SWAT-20, with a contour-molded knuckle panel covering its striking surface. The SWAT-20 also has scale-like overlapping leather knuckle pads that provide finger protection whether relaxed or closed. The evaluators judged the Manzella SWAT series the most comfortable of all the gloves worn.
Currently in use by Naval Special Warfare is Manzella’s Windstopper WSU-100. These gloves are made with Gore Windstopper soft-shell material and feature a sheepskin leather palm with Rubbertec patches for added grip and protection. The pores in the membrane of Manzella’s Gore Windstopper material are too small for wind to pass through, making the material perfect for duty use in a wet and windy environment that numbs unprotected hands with even brief exposure.
Whether it’s on a local range or the dusty trails of faraway hostile lands, you can find American shooters and warriors wearing 5.11 tactical products. The ever-growing line of 5.11 clothes and boots now include a line of tactical gloves that are designed by a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL, Jeff Gonzales. He designed them to counter the hazards and rigors of the varied conditions that he experienced during his years of service.
The Tac-A is Jeff’s basic black tactical glove with a synthetic-suede palm, PU leather grip panels, and a hook-and-loop wrist closure. It was judged the best buy out of the gloves evaluated.
For more protection as well as exceptional fit, the Tac-AK tactical application glove is constructed with puncture-resistant Kevlar and supple leather. The Kevlar protects against cuts and scratches while the cowskin-leather palm and gussets provide breathability and custom fit. Other features include enhanced leather grip pads, watch cut-out and TacticalTouch fingertips that provide exceptional dexterity. The glove is made for multiple environments, so sweat and water will not reduce its ability to protect and grip.
The Tac-NFOE is a full length, enhanced flight glove made with NOMEX fabric in black and coyote tan. The wrist is elasticized with a hook-and-loop closure to adjust snugness as well as a pull-tab to make getting the glove on easier. The glove features full cow-leather fingers and palm with leather reinforcements that increase the durability of the glove while maintaining dexterity. It also has a full leather fingertip wraparound design to prevent “blowout.”
Rough and Tough Choices
Sometimes, something a little more special-purpose than a generic tactical glove is called for. If an Op starts with a fast rope, then Jeff Gonzales’s FASTAC glove by 5.11 with a second leather cover for palm, fingers and thumb, or BlackHawk’s HellStorm Strike Force Heavy-Duty Fast Rope Glove are excellent choices.
If you will be moving into an overwatch position or snuggling behind a weapon in a sniper blind in the dead of winter, then either BlackHawk’s HellStorm E.C.W. Winter Operations glove or Manzella’s warmest Gore-Tex Typhoon with a water-resistant shell, warming insulation and a great grip would be a smart addition to your kit.
Waterborne operators hanging on to a bucking boat during maritime operations will want gloves that can stop both wind and water. Excellent choices include Manzella’s WSU-100 Windstopper and BlackHawk’s HellStorm S.O.L.A.G.
Overall, all the gloves tested would be a worthwhile addition to a warrior’s wardrobe. End users are in the enviable position of determining their individual needs and making a choice from a range of excellent options.