The essence of this piece is prove to you that dressing “Tacti-cool” is not cool… if you carry a legally concealed weapon or want to remain “anonymous” in public so as not to alert strangers to your interest or training. Dressing “loud” or in other words dressing as to attract attention and notify other people that you are possibly armed and part of the “Concealed carry/tactical training/gun” sub-culture gives the aware criminal or “less than honest” person a heads up of what type of individual you might be…. In poker terms, dressing like this “Shows your hand”.
Law Enforcement already use this technique to ID potential violent individuals. A great example of this is the time I got stopped for speeding on my way back from a rifle training class..I was fully decked out in Multi-Cam camo and tacti-cool items with drag bags and shooter mats thrown in the back…as soon as the cop walks up to my door and see me in the camo the first question out of his mouth was “Do you have any weapons on your person or in the vehicle today?” I considered it logical for him to assume this since I looked like I was about to invade Grenada… So that brings us to the first rule in Dress Down Essentials:
1. Camoflauge clothing will typically trigger the “Potentially Armed” Mentality.
Try to stay away from any camo in public if at all possible. This being Texas, hunting camo is more accepted than military styles, especially during deer season (November thru January). A person that is sporting military style camo and not obviously active duty military personnel will automatically raise the suspicion that they are either (a) Former military veteran or (b) A “gun nut” or one of the many sub-classes of such (ie airsofter, paintballer, plain wanna be poser, etc..) Unfortunately, both of these choices de-note a stereo-typical belief of a love for weapons and weapons training, which is in itself, not a bad thing, but will depend on the ethics and morals of the individual and how they choose to use those. Unfortunately, because of recent active shooter events, the societal dogma that “all of us must suffer for the bad choices of a few” is magnified in regards to weapons and training, thus, “discretion is the better part of valor” on the issue of dress.
2. Weapons themed prints on T-Shirts and Caps
This is a delicate subject for me and alot of fellow readers I am sure, as some of my favorite shirts are “gun” shirts. A great example is my friends who wear nothing but NRA “Don’t Tread on Me” caps and shirts, which brings us to an interesting point. There are some who feel that by wearing such clothing they are asserting their 2nd ammendment rights and showing those in authority how they feel. They are quite passionate about it and understandably so..our rights are on the chopping block. The flip side of this argument is that by doing so, you are easily identifying yourself to the “authorities” as the “gun guy” and also identifying yourself to the criminal, which by default, elects you to be singled out in a bad way. My advice is go subtle but still promote your opinions. My fellow Texan and friend John at RAA produces some really cool “alternative” themed gun prints that fit that category.
3. Tactical Clothing
This is another hot button issue with alot of people. 5.11 brand type clothing is very popular with most “gun” guys…the pants are cargo type, typically in drab earth tones (we will get back to that), which makes them utilitarian and easy to wear anywhere. They are very popular with off duty (or on duty detectives) Law Enforcement. The down side is anyone who wears these types of clothes easily identifies themselves as either a cop or “gun guy” who may or may not be carrying a concealed weapon. It is worth mentioning that alot of these companies (5.11 & Woolrich Elite) have realized this error and have started making pants without any tell-tale outer pockets, but several inner ones..basically “tactical chinos”. Regarding Shirts, alot of what they call “Concealed Carry” shirts are basically full cut, short-sleeved, square bottom hem plaid dress shirts. The colors for most of these types of clothes are drab earth tones; typically khaki or some shade of green, typically Olive Drab or Sage. The same objective can be achieved with bright, bold colored shirts with vertical stitiching to hide the “print” of the gun. For pants, dark colored full cut blue jeans do the trick. I have found Levi 569 “Loose Straight” style to be excellent for AIWB carry.
4. The “Fanny” Pack
This subject will not require alot of comment..I think it is obvious that wearing a fanny pack equals wearing a holster in today’s world unless you are 75 years old and on oxygen or something. Stay Away from them, they are a huge red flag and scream “GUN!!!”
5. The “Shoot Me First” Photographer Vest
This is another piece of illustrous gear that I do not think needs alot of comment. I mean when I see one of these I am thinking “Does he have a pistol of sub-machine gun on a loop sling?” Stay away from these goofy things.
Stay away from the obvious: Combat boots. I mean what screams “gun nut” more than a guy wearing a pair of Vietnam era issue Jungle Boots or the latest mil-issue Coyote Tan? (Typically with his pants tucked into them for the added “nuttier than usual” effect).
What we want is a shoe that will support dynamic movement but are comfortable and can blend in with any outfit. I like a mid, ankle support shoe and/or boot. High end Hiking type shoes and boots and casual workwear are the best choice IMO. I say “High end” because typically your lower end hikers look like toned down “clunker” combat boots. Shoe brands such as Merrell, Wellco, Mephisto and Clarke make a great product. Choose standard colors such as brown and black to make them as versatile as possible. One final note here: Take care of your feet! Wearing cheap shoes with poor arch support can lead to back and knee problems later on. Spend the money!!
Stay away from BDU & Sam Browne types! Stick to a good, heavy leather black or brown belt with a modern buckle. My friend Mark at Garrity’s offers some of the best I have ever used. I quote from his web site:
“My belts are constructed from two pieces of 6-7 oz. leather glued together and boarder stitched, using thinner thread than my holsters so they look like dress belts and do not shout “Gun!” They are very gradually tapered in the billet and tongue for a more streamlined, aesthetic appearance.”
The choice in what clothes you wear is a deeply personal issue. For most people, comfort and style dictate their wardrobe , for others, it is a matter of utility; we at HCS just want you to think out the pros and cons. The world we live in today dictates discretion and safety in every area, and not drawing attention to yourself with your wardrobe is a good place to begin for the Civilian Operator.