It’s “chilly” as I write this on the last day of January 2013. My WeatherUnderground unit lists the temp as 4.5F with a wind-chill of -16.5F. A day long blizzard has given way to a clear skies and wind speeds in excess of 25mph. Perhaps butt-assed cold would be a better descriptor. Still – sadly when I went out to clean off the cars and fire them up – it didn’t actually feel all that cold. That means it’s time for Spring . . . . SOON!!
Still, regardless of the temps – I need to stay “operational” outside. And, part of the gear I use to adapt to cold are gloves. Let’s chat about them from the perspective of everyday use and then from the particular viewpoint of being a shooter.
I break down my gloves into both seasons and use. For this post let’s call the categories:
Summer Work Gloves, Winter Work Gloves and Shooting Gloves – each have different characteristics, in some cases their purpose may over-lap depending on the particular use and time of year. Finally, there is a specific “test” I have that determines whether the Shooting Glove I am looking for will work for me.
Summer Work Gloves: Leather – pure and simple. I have a fondness for Wells Lamont leather work gloves. I like the grain gloves – providing a rougher surface that, to me, provides a better grip. As you can see by the photo – I have a tendency to wear them “into the grave”. This pair is now relegated to the garage for a quick cover while moving trash, boxes, lumber. They have been retired from day-to-day use. However, I really hate to get rid of a pair of gloves just when they are starting to fit really well!
How do these gloves – and their replacement – fit into the shooting side of my life? In a lot of ways actually. Range “work” has many components including building target stands, reshaping berms, raking leaves in the Fall, sweeping sidewalks and a shooting deck . . . . to list just a few jobs where a little extra protection for my hands is a plus.
And, working my weapon with summer work gloves on isn’t a bad way to work on gross motor skills. Because they are simply not supple, your fine motor skills are of little benefit. So, try your draw stroke, clearing malfunctions, magazine changes and magazine reloads using gloves like these – it can be good practice. Oh, one other thing . . . practice dry fire FIRST! If you draw your 1911 and you aren’t used to the “feel” of it with these work gloves on – life can go sideways quick. Dry Fire, Dry Fire, Dry Fire . . . . any new part of your range routine FIRST – then move to live fire.
The replacement set of these gloves lives in the well beneath my Jeep driver’s side seat on the left side – along with their Winter “cousins” and an AF Survival Knife.
Winter Work Gloves: Again, I am very fond of Wells Lamont leather gloves. Though, in winter I like their deer hide, fully lined gloves.
This is the second pair that rides in my Jeep. They are supple, great for driving but they’re also just fine for ax and saw on a winter campout. As you can see – after two years or so, these are beginning to show their wear. This morning, when I went out to face 5F with -16F wind-chill – this pair protected my hands. And, when I go to the range and set targets and shooting tables, these more than keep my hands warm. I do some practice with these as I do with the work gloves above. They are typically on my hands when we hit the single digits and, as such, I want my draw stroke to be as efficient as possible. So, I practice with them.
Yet, the majority of the Winter I don’t wear gloves – and that includes the shooting portion of my range trips. The desire to be “warm” can come into direct conflict with the need to defend myself – so I wear gloves as little as possible. And, honestly – it has to be pretty darn nippy before my hands notice the cold.
Shooting Gloves: There have been times though, in very cold weather, where extended exposure begins to take its toll. An hour or two on the range is fairly easy to “suck up”. Past that – a half day, full day, multi-day, honestly that’s a different story. Add in snow or rain and not only does cold become an issue, so does grip. In these instances I am looking for a true “shooter” glove. I have found my pair with 5.11’s TAC A2 gloves.
They are light weight, very flexible, have course grain leather in the palm as well as the weapon-side of the fingers, a Velcro tab insures a snug fit and they pass my only real test for shooting gloves . . . . the “dime” test. Can you pick up a dime from a flat, smooth surface while wearing your gloves?
Why Yes – yes I can. That is my test to see if I can perform the fine motor skills during draw, engagement, mag changes, tactical and speed reloads, loading mags, clearing the full range of malfunctions. I should not have to give up the ability to properly control my weapon by using gloves over a prolonged period of time. These gloves fit the bill perfectly for me.
So, is there a place for a pair of gloves or two in your range bag?? Sure. Find gloves that work for you, that allow you to perform all the tasks you wish too on the range. Work with them, practice with them, get to know them . . . .
Because if it’s -11F outside (that’s where we’re headed tonight) and you are caught in an engagement outside your home . . . . a little added warmth and protection will truly be welcome!
Gloves – Summer and Winter work gloves, shooting gloves . . . . there to help your hands do their job longer and better.