Tag Archives: 5.11 gloves

TACTICAL GLOVES PERFORMANCE ENDURANCE TEST: The Final Week

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.”

PITA nuisance

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.

The Verdict

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.

Quick Links:

Week 2

Week 1

Testing Intro

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Tactical Gloves Performance Endurance Test: Week 2

Week 2 of my endurance testing continued with more tire flips as well as hanging pull exercises, such as numerous chin up/pull up variations.  Fortunately, the learning curve for my nervous system was shorter than expected and my speed and efficiency in the tires flips improved dramatically.  And while the gloves definitely protect my hands from the abrasive tire surface, my grip still doesn’t seen as secure as it does with skin on tire contact.

Some additional concerns and observations:

  1. A rougher or textured finish to the gloves, whether natural or synthetic leather, would greatly enhance the “gripability” factor and increase confidence while wearing the gloves.
  2. Sweat panels should come standard on ALL shooting/tactical gloves.
  3. The 5.11 TAC A2’s synthetic leather is considerably thinner than Blackhawk’s S.O.L.A.G., making them especially useful when precision or fine motor control is needed or for wearing in high temperatures.
  4. The thicker synthetic leather of the Blackhawk’s gloves would serve well in cooler environments or where the risk of hand injuries are high: climbing walls/fences, barber wire, etc.
  5. 5.11 TAC A2’s “reinforced saddle” between the thumb and index finger would extend the life of the gloves if you repeatedly carry small diameter objects: ammo canisters, buckets, shovels, etc.
  6. Much like tactical pants having a “higher cut” rear waistband, to keep from exposing your backside while bending over, the 5.11 TAC A2’s have a higher cut on the inside of the wrist.  Not only will this offer greater protection for the inside of the wrist (chafing from uniforms or gear), but prevents a gap from forming and keeping debris out, while moving your hands.  Plus the reinforced/synthetic leather tab on the inner wrist cuff is a nice detail.

Inside Wrist Coverage: 5.11 Tactical TAC A2 left hand, Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. right hand

As I stated last in last weeks update, allow for 2-3 weeks of wear for your hands and nervous system to get used to the effects the gloves are going to have on your coordination and strength levels.  Initially, your shooting times and the amount of work you can perform in them will decrease, but as you continue to wear them, your times and workloads will return to normal.  This will mostly impact activities which require speed (weapons manipulation) or the carrying of heavy implements (ammo cases).

Quick Links:

Week 1

Testing Intro

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Tactical Gloves Performance Endurance Test: Week 1

Unlike my Vertx Tactical Pants Endurance Test protocol, where I wear my Vertx pants for the duration of an entire training session, I am only wearing the gloves for tire flips and upper body dominant exercises.  However, as with my Vertx testing, the tire flip remains the main exercise to test the performance and manufacturing capabilities of the gloves.

For this first week, I performed over 400 tire flips wearing the gloves…and what a difference they made!  The majority of my previous experience with gloves, dealt with the kind worn during deep-sea diving operations.  And while I have spent over 24 years training in gyms, I can only think of a handful of occasions where I wore gloves in the gym.  However, having worn gloves all this past week (which consisted primarily of modified strongman exercises) I can say wearing gloves for load bearing exercises was a learning experience for my nervous system.

One of my favorite training protocols, is to perform 100 tires flips for time, trying to beat my previous time with every session.  My personal best is 23 minutes 45 seconds, while wearing Vert tactical pants and Magnum Cobra boots. However, wearing the same clothing with the addition of tactical gloves, increased my time to 34 minutes 40 seconds.  And if that wasn’t enough, the gloves drastically increased both the physical and mental effort required to complete the 100 tire flips.

As you can see in the video, I appear to be struggling tremendously…the sad part, I was only 30 flips into the 100 rep challenge.  Once completed, I had to sit down and contemplate which specific attribute of the gloves increased the difficulty of a challenge I usually have no problem performing.  After considerable thought, I came up with 2 answers:

  1. The gloves material/protective spray: the gloves kept slipping off when attempting to lift the tire off the ground.  At first I was perplexed by this, as the tire’s surface is extremely coarse and usually tears into anything it contacts.  Apparently, this excludes both the 5.11 and Blackhawk gloves.  I’m not certain whether it’s due to the type of material utilized and/or the protective (water-resistant?) spray applied by the manufacturers.  The slippage encountered by BOTH gloves (left hand – 5.11 TAC A2 and right hand – Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G.) caused my forearm’s muscles and hands to expand greater force than usual.  After 5 years of flipping tires without gloves, my central nervous system had a difficult time adjusting and learning how to deal with this new development. And while it may seem like a small issue, this learning curve, of my nervous system learning a new technique, is anything but a small issue. Remember, while it’s the muscles which contract and act on your bones to generate strength and movement, the intent is generated from your brain/central nervous system.  And since the gloves cover your hands/fingers, they negatively affect the mechanoreceptors (respond to mechanical pressure and distortion) and the sensory imput or feedback they relay to the brain.  Ultimately, this interrupts the hand’s fine motor control.  Which is not something you want to experience when manipulating firearms.
  2. Due to the altered feedback of the mechanoreceptors and the interrupted motor control of the hands, the muscles of both my upper body (biceps) and lower body worked harder as compensation.  This explains why I seemed to have trouble not only lifting the tire off the ground, but in maintaining it against my right thigh, while changing my hand grip to flip it over.  My central nervous system “realizing” the lessened motor control and strength of the hands and forearms, expanded greater neural drive to other muscles groups to complete the action of flipping the tire.  The increased neural drive, considerably and quickly drained both physical and neural resources.  Additionally, this also affected my tire flipping technique, causing me to further lean into the tire and resting my biceps against it.  This resulted in small bruises slightly above my elbows, which has never occurred prior to using the gloves.

However, it’s not all bad news.  The key is realizing that anytime you try new gear, there is a learning curve, or process of your body adjusting to the new equipment.  So when using new gear, it’s vital for the breaking-in period to not coincide with any life threatening or challenging situations…especially if fine motor control is required.  Ensure you allow for at least 4-5 weeks of using the gloves before wearing them in any dangerous/threatening environments.  This also goes for when switching to a different brand of gloves or model.

Additional thoughts:

5.11 TAC A2 glove – slight tear along the small finger seam

At some point within the first 300 tire flips, the 5.11 TAC A2 glove developed a small tear/split along the stitching at base of the small finger, where the leather finger joins the elastic material.  Since it’s not located at a stress point, I attribute this to the manufacturing process, rather than mechanical stress.

Visible wear of over 400 tire flips

The 5.11 TAC A2 is displaying signs of wear on the fingers.  This may have been expedited by the “cut” of the synthetic leather utilized.

5.11 TAC A2 sweat wipe panel

The sweat wipe panel was extremely appreciated and worked well, especially during the “heat wave” experienced in Connecticut.  The cut, location and size of the sweat panel facilitated its use and didn’t interfere or affect performance of the glove.

Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G.

Compared to the 5.11 TAC A2, the Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. displayed  less wear and the seams appeared to be better constructed during the manufacturing process.

A sweat panel would have appreciated and donning/doffing the gloves takes some effort, as the wrist openings were obviously designed for osteoporotic anorexics.

Conclusion

While both 5.11 and Blackhawk promote a secure grip in their marketing literature, they may want to rethink the synthetic material and/or any protective coatings they utilize.  Old and worn heavy earth moving equipment tires are some of the most abrasive objects you’ll encounter…and if your gloves have problems “biting” onto the tire, there might be some issues.  And while they don’t have to be as tacky as a pair of football wide receiver gloves, they should prevent slippage across a wide variety of surfaces.

However, in all fairness, they might need a breaking-in period to “wear down” any protective coatings.

It’s still too early to draw any conclusions, but I’ll keep plugging away and see what develops.

For a review of my testing requirements and protocols, visit here.

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