While the third and final test week of my Tactical Gloves Performance Endurance Test took place on August 13-17, 2002, due to a hectic travel/consulting schedule, I finally have time to post my results.
Week 3 Results and Observations:
During my Week 1 review, I posted photos of a small tear along the inside seam of the small finger. And while I first noticed the small tear during the first 300 tire flips I wore the gloves, due to its location, I believed the tear occurred during manufacturing and was overlooked during the quality control process. Wanting to be fair and allow 5.11 Tactical a opportuity to explain this apparent oversight, I spoke one of their customer service representatives (August 9, 2012) and explained my issue. And while the customer service representative was polite and offered to replace my gloves, I stated that I would be willing to post a reply/explanation from anyone within 5.11 Tactical concerning the quality control issue. The customer service representative stated they would forward my request to the appropriate personnel. Since I have yet to hear from 5.11 Tactical, I’ll take that as a “No, thanks.”
Small tear along the inside of the small finger, getting progressively larger.
During the three weeks of testing, I have performed over 900 tire flips wearing the gloves. As a reminder, I wore a 5.11 Tac A2 on my left hand and a Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. on my right hand. Here are photos:
5.11 Tac A2 glove after 900 tire flips
Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. glove after 900 tire flips
As the photos demonstrate, the synthetic leather of the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. held up better to the abrasiveness of the tire utilized for flipping. Additionally, the synthetic leather grip pads of the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. extend further along the fingers, providing a greater area of protection/reinforcement and better “gription” along the fingers.
And while the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. gloves are thicker, this is not necessarily a good thing, as I noted in my Week 2 review. A thicker glove increases the diameter of whatever object you grasp, increasing the demand on both your nervous system and forearm muscles. As such, a 2-3 week break-in period is required for both your nervous system and forearm muscles to become accustomed to the increased demand.
The Good & Bad:
The sweat panel on the 5.11 Tac A2 is the best feature of the gloves.
Sweat wipe panels should be mandatory on all tactical gloves
Conveniently located, the sweat panel is of adequate size and performed better than expected. At first, I did not expect to utilize the sweat panel, but after a few hotter than normal New England summer days, that quickly changed. It’s location facilitated its ease of use, without affecting performance or the glove’s structural integrity.
The wrist adjustment strap of Blackhawk;s S.O.L.A.G. proved to be bothersome. When tightening the strap around the wrist, one of the edges of the wrist closure would snag and bind within the plastic “loop.”
When donning the gloves, I had to ensure the wrist closure would not snag within the loop closure. And while not a major issue, it was annoying. During use, especially during activities which required me to curl my wrist back into extension, the wrist closure would inevitably find its way into the plastic loop. PITA.
Grip & Friction
Very few activities challenge your grip like weighted Farmer Walks. The loaded bars, due to their independent nature, require tremendous grip strength and control to maintain their parallel orientation and keep you walking in a straight line.
I utilized this exercise to test the “gription” of the synthetic leather utilized by Blackhawk and 5.11 Tactical. And while Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G. was constructed from thicker material, it provided a more secure and comfortable grip. At no time did I feel as if I was losing positive control of the Farmer Walk handles.
To test the protective element of the gloves against friction, I utilized overhead sledgehammer strikes. Due to the requirements of the exercise, friction burns due to your hands sliding along the sledgehammer are common.
Again, due to their thicker material, Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G. provided better protection against the friction encountered when performing sledgehammer strikes. Additionally, they also provided a more secure grip on plastic handle than the 5.11 Tac A2s.
So which did I prefer…the 5.11 Tac A2s or Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G.? Well…it depends. I would feel extremely comfortable wearing the 5.11 Tac A2 gloves on the shooting range. Their thinner construction, would offer protection while not proving cumbersome during weapon manipulation. However, if going into harm’s way, or a combat environment, I would much prefer Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G., due to their thicker construction. The thickness of the synthetic leather combined with the larger grip pads, would provide a more secure grip and protection against moderate impacts. So which pair you purchase, is dependent on how you plan to use them. But either way, both pair of gloves exceeded expectations. They withstood thousands of repetitions of exercises selected to test their material, construction, as well as their design, and suffered only minor wear ‘n tear. Regardless of which pair you choose, they’ll serve you well.
To everyone that sent emails offering suggestions and words of encouragement, I appreciate your time and effort.