Gear Review: 5.11 Hard Time Gloves
For the longest time I was not one to wear gloves. I hated the loss of touch, dexterity and the sizing of most gloves. Despite being educated, throughout college and law school I worked construction and landscaping jobs and spent a fair amount of time in the gym. As a result my hands are thicker than normal for their size and fit poorly in many gloves. However, the value of gloves became apparent after burning them several times on an run n’ gun last summer. In addition to barrel burns, sweat made it nigh impossible to properly manipulate a weapon in the heat. Anyone who has put a couple of magazines downrange in a hurry knows how hot the barrel can get on an AR-15, not to mention the lovely feeling cheese grater…er, picatinny rails many run. Thus, began the search for a proper pair of gloves. The three most important criteria for me were 1) minimal heat protection from barrel burns, 2) minimize slippage from perspiration during hot weather, and 3) hand protection from abrasive surfaces such as barriers or rails, and sharp objects.
A good pair of gloves in many ways is similar to a quality belt, holster or flashlight. At some point you see diminishing returns for your dollar, but to get a quality product you will pay for materials and craftsmanship. I ultimately chose the 5.11 Hard Time gloves because the fit seemed to be better than the competitors. All hands are different, so I highly encourage you to try several brands on before making a choice. Most of the better brands use comparable materials and construction methods, so the ultimate deciding factor should be fit.
The Hard Time has a goatskin leather palm. While not as durable as other materials, I liked the dexterity and tactile advantage the leather palm offers. The goatskin is tough enough to prevent cuts and scraps on the palm of the hand, but thin enough to avoid that detached feeling of many gloves. This is especially important during reloading or clearing the weapon when dexterity is paramount. The primary material used on the top of the gloves is woven Kevlar. The fabric is breathable, but provides serious protection for the wearer. The Kevlar shields from cuts and scratches that are likely to occur when going prone or when shooting from a barrier. The knuckles are two plates of thermoplastic that are covered with a proprietary laminate on the business end and padded on the hand side with a layer of dense foam. The laminate will scratch off with hard use, but it does not affect the function of the gloves at all. I was unsure if the two plate design would work or is just a marketing gimmick, but after using them I am convinced it is a sound design. Close your hand into a fist and watch the knuckles on your hand. The two plates spread apart slightly to mimic the shape of your knuckles when the hand is closed. Putting my life and limb on the line once again for ModernSurvivalOnline readers, I took it upon myself to personally assault some drywall, wood, brick and other objects with the gloves on. While not boxing gloves by any stretch of the imagination, the gloves do an effective job of preventing abrasions to your knuckles. Rest assured if you ever hit someone with these on, it will hurt them MUCH more than it hurts you. I highly advocate trying the gloves on before purchase. The Hard Times were a little tight on me (size L), but the goatskin stretched out over time and now they fit perfectly.
At the end of the day, I consider these a good investment. At $74.99 retail, they are not cheap, but deals can be found on them if one looks. The quality and materials used are superior to cheaper gloves and I feel the price reflects the materials used and craftsmanship more than the brand name. The gloves are built to last and provided you are not Jason Bourne on the weekends, should last many years. While not essential, gloves provide good protection from cuts and scrapes while enabling the wearer to effectively operate a weapon in wet or hot weather, and operate a hot weapon longer. Cuts and scrapes are an inconvenience now, but in a SHTF situation a cut or burn on the hand could become a problem. Cuts on your hands effect the ability to shoot, and make you less combat effective in addition to being an avenue for infection. Oakley, WileyX, Vodoo Tactical and Camelbak make similar gloves to the Hard Time, with slightly different designs. 5.11 and the others make gloves identical to the Hard Times without the hard knuckle protection and others with nylon or similar material on the top. There are a vast number of options available out there, and I suggest you find one that provides the proper fit and construction for your primary needs. Below are some links to quality gloves from the aforementioned companies.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
-Jesse James, Esq.
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