Should You Wear Shooting [or Tactical] Gloves?
Tactical gear has advanced tremendously in recent years, so much in fact that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the latest trends. This includes shooting gloves, or tactical gloves as you may know them. Shooting gloves can be essential under certain conditions, so when should you wear them?
Well, gloves aren’t really necessary for all shooters, and whether you should wear them or not depends largely on your circumstances. Shooters who train for self-defence and concealed carry using pistols may not require gloves, while shooters, preppers and military personnel who train under field conditions will consider gloves to be a vital part of their gear.
Aside from the obvious function of a good pair of gloves; protecting your hands, they do come with additional benefits.
Protecting Your Extremities
It is common practice for the tactical enthusiast to wear boots or durable footwear to protect their feet, but it is far less common to find them wearing protective gear for their hands. Is this acceptable?
The decision on wearing gloves comes down to personal preference, however it is my belief that many survivalists, home defenders (under certain environments) and gun enthusiasts do not give enough consideration towards making a well informed decision on glove use. Military personnel tend to wear gloves most of the time, and for good reason.
Without full functionality of your hands, your ability to carry out tasks becomes severely limited. Shooting gloves are designed to protect your hands, just as boots are designed to protect your feet.
Using gloves during training and in real-word scenarios will offer protection to your hands in the following ways:
- Injury & Infection – a good pair of gloves will protect your hands from cuts, abrasions and even damage by tearing or crushing. These wounds would otherwise cause infection or disability, limiting your ability to operate, and may be as a result of thorns, rocky surfaces and even sharp edges of your firearm.
- Heat – when operating under extremely hot temperatures, firearm parts such as the barrel and forend often reach scorching temperatures. If handled incorrectly under the spur of the moment, the hands may face second-degree burns.
- Cold Weather – Raynaud’s syndrome is a condition that causes numbness and loss of feeling in the fingers due to cold weather. This obviously limits your ability to operate effectively, and wearing gloves may be your only solution.
Improving Your Grip with Gloves
Many shooters will agree (myself included) that gloves improve grip when handing a firearm. Now this one is a bit of a double edged sword, because while wearing gloves will improve your actual physical grip on the firearm itself and prevent slipping, they do also reduce dexterity and interfere with your natural “feel” of the firearm.
Dexterity: skill in performing tasks, especially with the hands. A reduction in dexterity increases difficulty in coping with small or fiddly items.
In order to overcome this issue of dexterity, plenty of gloved practice is required. In addition to range time and live fire training, dry fire practice is highly recommended and can be conducted at home.
- Shooters who are skilled using gloves will remain skilled when handling a firearm without them.
- Shooters who do not train using gloves will most likely feel uncomfortable handling a firearm when gloves are fitted, losing some manual dexterity.
If you suffer from sweaty palms or regularly train in wet weather, you may notice a drastic improvement in grip control when wearing gloves.
Choosing The Right Gloves For You
There are many good pairs of shooting or tactical gloves available on today’s market, and finding the most suitable pair will depend mostly on your intended use. You must understand that a glove is not simply a glove, but rather each glove is designed for a specific purpose, and the materials used in the construction of the glove must suit your application.
The following features may be desirable depending on your needs and requirements, but bear in mind that they may add considerably to the overall cost.
- Cut Resistant – often made from lightweight Kevlar, these gloves are extremely tough. Kevlar has an unmatched tensile strength-to-weight ratio; and is up to five times stronger than steel. If you are likely to end up navigating through arduous terrain or possibly going face-to-face against an edged weapon, then consider cut resistant gloves.
- Fire Resistant – constructed using synthetic materials like Nomex or Kevlar, these gloves do not melt and fuse to the skin under intense heat.
- Knuckle Protection – designed for heavy field use, recce operations and shooting off of barricades, these gloves offer hard or soft protection to the back of the hands.
- Breathability – an important feature for any shooting glove is breathability. This determines the glove’s versatility in regards to temperature and general weather conditions; allowing perspiration to evaporate in hot weather conditions while also keeping the hands dry in cold weather. Since most shooters are very active, I recommend selecting a breathable glove over a waterproof glove any day of the week.
- Touchscreen Capable – an extremely important feature to have in todays modern era. Removing a glove each time you need to use a smartphone or tablet can become a pain in the arse. There are many modern shooting gloves which offer touchscreen capable synthetic leather, while still providing the perfect blend of dexterity and protection.
- Carrier Loops – often not considered when selecting gloves, and then regretted later on are carrier loops. These simple loops often located along the inner side of the glove’s wrists allow for attachment to a belt, daysack or plate carrier when not in use.
How Should Your Gloves Fit?
Determining the best fit of glove is an important task. If the glove fits poorly, enjoyment is lost and wearing the gloves can become a burden. Your goal is to ultimately find a glove that feels like a second layer of skin; the glove should be tight and allow for the maximum amount of dexterity.
Pay particular attention to the area of glove between the thumb and the index finger. Some brands unfortunately don’t allow for full mobility of these two fingers; the cut is often wrong and excess material in this area prevents a perfect fit.
Tip: thinner gloves offer improved dexterity but less protection, and in some cases less durability. Thicker gloves typically offer less feeling but more protection. Weigh up the pros and cons to each and determine which is best for you, making sure your glove will fit into your firearms trigger guard before making a purchase.
Glove sizing charts can be found on manufacturers websites, however in-store fitment is often your best bet.
Should I Remove My Glove’s Fingers?
This is a common question believe it or not, and also a common occurrence; whereby shooters will remove their glove’s fingers for better contact with equipment and firearm parts. Some remove the index finger only, allowing the finger to make direct contact with the trigger.
My advice is as follows: ideally leave your gloves intact, unless you have a legit reason to remove the fingers (or finger). While there are certain glove brands on the market with missing fingers, the majority provide full protection for your entire hand. Removing fingers compromises the glove and opens up room for injury and infection. Grabbing a piping hot rifle barrel with a fingerless gloves will cause you a world of pain.
But what about trigger finger contact? Well, as a fellow commando sniper myself, I can say this: firing a pistol or rifle in close quarters and in arduous conditions does not require an extremely sensitive relationship between your finger and your trigger. Enough training with gloves fitted will ensure perfect shooting at high speed, while keeping your hands and fingers protected. If your range grows and precision shooting comes into play, then you should have enough distance between you and your target to remove a glove and ensure the most efficient trigger control possible.
And when operating at night? This can be troublesome. The loss of dexterity combined with your loss of vision when operating in the dark can make simple tasks almost impossible when gloves are fitted. Finding kit and equipment and operating radios and other electronics in blackout scenarios without your sense of touch may not work. In most cases you should be able to remove a glove in order to carry out your task, but if this is not an option, then fingerless might just be your best bet.
How Long Do Shooting Gloves Last?
Unfortunately not as long as you might hope, when used routinely of course. You need to understand that gloves are expendable, just like shoes, and they do not last forever.
Heavy use may see a pair of gloves reaching the end of their life after only a few months, while light use may last years. A reputable firearms training instructor may find himself replacing gloves four or five times a year. Rock-climbing activities may wear a pair out even faster, but when compared to footwear, the price is almost on par; four or five pairs of gloves to one pair of combat boots is a comparable lifespan.
Tactical Gloves That I Would Recommend
The following gloves have been tried and tested by myself and my work colleagues, and come highly recommended. Some of these options offer improved dexterity, while others ofter superior protection and durability.
- Mechanix Wear FastFit Tab, $16
- Mechanix Wear The Original, $20
- Mechainx Wear M-Pact, $27
- SKD Tactical PIG (FDT) Delta, $30
- SKD Tactical PIG (FDT) Alpha, $45
- Oakley SI Lightweight, $30
- Oakley SI Assault Gloves, $70
There may be many other excellent brands to choose from, but these listed above are gloves which I have tried, tested and enjoyed, and can therefore recommend.
If you regularly train with firearms, wear a plate carrier, and see a pair of combat boots when looking down towards your feet, then gloves should form part of your gear.
If you train in firearms for home defence and concealed carry during regular day-to-day tasks, then you may prefer giving the gloves a miss.
Either way, I hope that this article has given you the knowledge that you need to make a well informed decision. And before we go, if you have some good shareable experience with gloves, please leave a reply below.