Gloves: All Summer Long

Multiple colors and patterns

As I reacclimate myself to the jungle, a forgotten bit of wisdom comes back to me. Very underrated as a tactical necessity, the time is now to start training with gloves on. Yes, even in the woods. Perhaps especially in the woods.

Any of us that spent time fighting in cities over the last 20 years can tell you immediately why you need gloves in urban combat. Abrasion is very common in the Concrete Jungle (see what I did there?) just due to the environment. Glass fragments are going to litter any urban battlefield, not to mention bits of brick and the less obvious problems. Like maneuvering around machine guns with very hot barrels. I’m still packing a scar from forgetting my gloves on a simple training day, much less the heat that comes from a prolonged firefight.

Fast fit vs original in wolf grey.

Very early on, the ground fighting forces instituted a strong policy of always wearing gloves. And learning the dexterity of doing every task in gloves takes some time. But it can be done. If it can be learned to do things like attach primers to explosive breaches or load shotguns, anything else should be a breeze. But it does require the investment of some hours.

Fast fit top, original bottom.

But I’m not doing any of that, you say? Well, it also applies in the woods. Gloves help in two key areas. First, if you are really playing tactical, you have the option of either grease paint on your hands or gloving them up. Grease paint wears off, especially on a high wear area such as a hand, and must be reapplied often. But that isn’t the only reason.

The second has to do with long-term survivability. Vegetation, as anyone familiar with dense green areas will tell you, will cut you to ribbons. Even without something as crazy as elephant grass, the little abrasions and thorn pricks of the swamp will leave you with all kinds of small injuries. Which is annoying in normal times. But during extended periods with limited hygiene, those can turn downright deadly. A small infection not only degrades your ability to use a hand but without access to modern medicine and rest, can actually put you down.

Note thicker leather on the original. The closure isn’t the only difference.

In the late ’90s, anyone in a Recce troop often used Nomex flight gloves. And while they weren’t perfect, they did work. As we stepped into the GWOT where perfect camouflage was a bit less of an issue, a new contender really took the lead. Troops all over adopted Mechanix Wear brand gloves, despite the fruity color scheme. While Mechanix provided an absolutely perfect mix of dexterity and protection, they weren’t really made for soldiers. They were made for, as the name implies, mechanics. Grease Monkeys. And because of that, they were made in colors that either didn’t show filth (black) or were easy to find in the toolbox (red and blue). The running joke on teams was which members were Crips or Bloods depending on glove color. And it was usually a mix because guys bought what they could find on the shelf at the time ahead of deployment.

Old school white lettering on left, new “covert” on right.

Mechanix Wear finally figured out there was a huge amount of warfighters using their product and adapted to a bit better color scheme for us. Years down the line now, you can find Mechanix gloves in a wide variety of licensed camouflage patterns. There are also now other styles than the original Velcro closure, such as the fast fit models. And for my money, they remain the gold standard in ninja gloves.

Your grip will suffer with gloves, but you can train through it

At $24.99 down to $14.49, these gloves are really hard to beat. Now, they do wear out. That is part of the price of dexterity, so I recommend you stockpile a few sets. The originals are a bit thicker on the leather than the fast fit, so they wear longer. The fast fit, however, offers the absolute best tactile feel. I have had both, and I like both for different occasions. If you have never trained in gloves, it does take a little bit away from things like grip on your pistol. But it pays off big time in injury prevention and heat resistance. I recommend you start today.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

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  • Ken J September 10, 2021, 10:08 am

    Would you consider doing a tongue-in-cheek review of a (non) “firearm” that I designed as a gag? We presented one to Jerry Miculek at the NRA Annual Meeting and he got a good laugh out of it. I’ll be happy to send you one of the remaining two, that you can cherish (or discard) LOL.

  • Tim August 31, 2021, 6:29 am

    I work in construction year around, Pipefitter/welder, and most contractors now require gloves to be worn 100% of the time. I can tell you from personal experience that the mechanix gloves are overpriced and overrated. Tillman true fit with goat skin work better and last much longer and are cheaper.

  • DJH August 30, 2021, 12:34 pm

    I agree with you 100%. I’m a landscape architect. I don’t just design a project. I Manage the project and help the crew with installation when necessary. We work with plant materials big and small including trees. Small rocks to large boulders etc. Sometimes the ground is littered with hazards. We’re working up close around buildings and stone walls. I wouldn’t think of going to one of these jobs without my Mechanix gloves. I keep at least 3 pair in my truck. Both fit styles as well. I live in Texas and I also carry. Great article, and one that isn’t often discussed.

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