Most officers are conscientious about wearing a protective vest. Many of you are similarly vigilant about having disposable gloves available. But most of you don't give patrol gloves a second thought.
It's time that you did. Gloving up can mean much more than protecting yourself from inclement weather. Today's patrol gloves can also protect against microbes, bacteria, blood-borne pathogens, needles, and even knives. They can help you scale chain-link fences, keep your extremities warm, and give you a better grip when you need it.
But can one glove fulfill each of these disparate needs? As with most tools, there are trade-offs. For example, some patrol gloves offer you better weapon control because they're not heavily lined and therefore not very warm. Then with some gloves if you have to search someone's pockets you might not be able to identify the items therein because they are too thick. And gloves with armor-like knuckle protection and cut-resistant materials will reduce dexterity to some degree.
The right tool for the right job is very much the case here. As Laura Burgess of BlackHawk Products notes, "You want something that's ergonomically designed for the task at hand."
Let's take a quick look at some of the options for hand protection that are available for a variety of law enforcement applications.
A relative newcomer to the patrol and tactical glove market, 5.11 Tactical has hit the ground running with its TacticalTouch design.
When 5.11 decided to launch a glove line, chief designer and former Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales and 5.11 CEO Dan Costa challenged themselves to create gloves that would incorporate everything tactical teams need in the field but would also work for everyday law enforcement needs. They researched materials, reviewed scientific studies about the anatomical features of the human hand, and visited glove production factories to design gloves that protect your hands without sacrificing performance.
The TacticalTouch line incorporates extra reinforcements in typical wear areas to ensure durability, cut-outs in the palm that eliminate bunching, and rolled fingertips to ensure excellent fingertip feeling.
"To test the dexterity of each glove we had to be able to pick a quarter up off the table," says Gonzales. "That's not something you'd necessarily need to do in the field but that's how high we set the bar."
One of 5.11's premier patrol gloves is the Praetorian Insulated Patrol Glove, which is made with a material called Primaloft that provides warmth in extremely cold conditions. Primaloft is identical to down with the exception that its warming properties don't break down when it gets wet. And because it is a synthetic material, it doesn't get weighed down when wet like wool does. "Users in northern states appreciate the dexterity combined with warmth," Gonzales says.
The Gladiator Patrol Glove is lined with Spectra knit, a cut- and slash-resistant material designed to perform in law enforcement's day-to-day environments yet retain a high level of dexterity. Like all of 5.11's gloves, the Gladiator includes the TacticalTouch finger design for maximum dexterity.
"We really went out of our way to look at design so that our selection of gloves will accommodate the majority of users in law enforcement," Gonzales says.
BlackHawk Products has a line of top-drawer gloves that provide a wide array of protection from weather, fire, fluids, and weapons.
The HellStorm PatrolStar glove has a viral/fluid barrier lining that protects against saliva and blood-borne pathogens. The glove's soft leather outer cover provides comfort, warmth, and dexterity. This glove has easy-on capability for excellent year-round and daily use.
BlackHawk's HellStorm Peacemaker glove is specifically designed for patrol duty, driving, and shooting. This stylish glove will take you from the street to the range to parade dress.
Finally, there's BlackHawk's SOLAG (special operations light assault glove) line of gloves. Made of advanced synthetic composite materials, the SOLAG glove is breathable, quick drying, and lightweight, and it provides durability and dexterity. The SOLAG gloves are designed with full wrist support, Velcro adjustments, and multiple stich layers for enhanced gripping power.
CamelBak's glove line (acquired from Southwestern Motorsports) includes nine models that not only address the basic needs of patrol officers, but also incorporate enhanced features and ergonomic designs.
The Vented glove for use in hot and humid environments is lightweight and wicks moisture away from the hand. As with many of CamelBak's other gloves, the vented model also offers an anti-static carbon fiber for safety around explosives, fuels, and electronics.
Two-way stretch spandex material and elastic cuffs support the easy-on and easy-off Fast Fit glove. Its seamless palm design also provides a firm grip and ventilation between the fingers adds to finger dexterity.
CamelBak's Impact CT glove features two-way stretch spandex for a snug fit and anti-static carbon fiber for industrial safety. It also has extra padding on the palm to protect the wearer from impact and vibration. These gloves are particularly useful for motor officers.
The advanced Hi-Tec Impact II CT glove incorporates the same materials and padding used in the Impact CT glove and adds Kevlar to the palm heel for greater strength and tacky fingertips for increased sensitivity and control.
Damascus Protective Gear
With more than 50 years of experience in glove making, Damascus is well known in the law enforcement market. It was the first company to introduce the rolled fingertip design to allow for maximum dexterity when searching or shooting, and it has now incorporated this design into other styles within its extensive line of gloves.
Damascus' Nexstar model is an excellent lightweight all-purpose glove for police work. Its breathability and nonslip palms and fingertips make it suitable for year-round use. The company also offers a number of gloves for working in cold weather such as the ARTIX glove, which combines a Thinsulate lining for warmth with Kevlar-lined palms for cut resistance. For superior cut resistance, the V-Force line utilizes a special fabric that combined with Kevlar provides full hand and finger protection.
For protection against bloodborne pathogens, Damascus has added a Hipora liner to some of its gloves. This is a waterproof, windproof, and breathable membrane that guards against blood and bodily fluids.
Other models are available to meet specific needs, including high-visibility neoprene gloves for traffic enforcement, unlined gloves with nonslip fingertips for shooting, molded knuckle protection for riot and cell extraction, and advanced features for tactical situations.
Since 1967, Hatch has designed gloves for law enforcement that provide dexterity and tactility.
The product line runs from patrol to tactical, with models for cold environments, traffic duty, cut resistance, and disturbance control.
"We've got gloves that are 100-percent leather," notes Susan Kohout. "Others are made out of neoprene for all weather use or sheepskin for warm weather conditions, with a three-dimensional spacer fabric on the backing that allows for comfort and breathability."
The company also makes puncture-protective gloves designed for searches and slash-protection.
"Recently we had another success story from Riverside where local officers successfully chased a suspect over chain-link fences without getting their hands mutilated in the process," Kohout says.
Hatch works closely with police agencies to develop and evaluate the gloves they sell.
"When it comes to cut protection, we have actually taken it a step further. Since the European standard is fast becoming the global standard-even more so than the National Institute of Justice standards-we take them to a European testing facility that has the most stringent quality controlled tests available for slash protection," Kohout explains. "We have only two hands, so if I needed something for cut protection, I would want to have the best."
In business for 25 years designing and manufacturing gloves for outdoor sports, Manzella entered the law enforcement market three years ago. The company now offers more than 20 glove models in varying degrees of warmth for all manner of assignments-from tactical, to duty, to motorcycle, to SWAT.
Engineering to the human shape is important to Manzella. All of the company's gloves feature curves that follow the natural lines of the hands and fingers. This design enhances comfort as well as performance.
In the same vein, Manzella makes women's sizes that are specifically designed for female hands, not just miniature male versions. "It took four years of research to get it right," says Rose Berendt, Manzella's uniform and tactical market manager.
Known best for its sporting equipment, Oakley gloves have also found use in law enforcement.
Designed originally for mountain bikers, the Factory Pilot Glove features Kevlar-reinforced knuckles with padding for comfort, moisture absorption material built into the palm, and high friction surfaces on critical finger zones.
Another model designed specifically for the U.S. military is now available to the public. The Standard Issue glove has micro fleece lining for warmth, triple ladder lock on the back for a secure adjustable fit, rollback fingertip construction for durability, and geometric panels to maximize tactile feel and flexibility.
Uncle Mike's Law Enforcement provides a large array of products for law enforcement from holsters and belts to gun cases and shooting accessories. The company's neoprene gloves are made from thin, moisture-resistant stretch fabric with nylon inside and out. The Lycra panels between the fingers let the gloves breathe and flex, and the synthetic leather palms provide a non-slip grip for driving and shooting. Unlike leather gloves, these gloves are fully washable.
Wiley X began to manufacture shatterproof eyewear for the military 19 years ago. Since then, the company has expanded its eyewear line to serve the sporting community and its tactical line to include gloves and hats.
Wiley-X's high-end gloves come in a variety of colors and features. All models have Injection molded Kevlar knuckle protectors that provide superior impact and abrasion resistance. The Coyote CAG-1 glove also has a Kevlar weave throughout the fingers and back of the hand for added protection.
Called the Cadillac of protective gauntlet gloves, the TAG-1 glove features the same "protection first" philosophy. Its main fabric is made with a Nomex/Kevlar weave, which allows the glove to provide both thermal protection and cut resistance.