That seems to be the dilemma with the season change. The Smith & Wesson Shield is probable the most popular firearms right now because everyone is getting them with a $75 rebate and from a local gun shop. It’s still cold this May of 2017 in Pennsylvania, but as soon as it gets hot, it’s pretty much shorts and a t-shirt for most of our customers. We’re actively researching new products lines because many of the pocket carry friendly clothing brands we use to sell are no longer available. It’s also getting harder and harder to find real CCW vests because so many of them are overly designed and tactical.
The Rothco Under Cover Travel Vest and the Rothco Concealed Carry Softshell vests are exactly what caught our eye that we knew our customer base would like. We’ve only been selling their products for a few months but they are reasonable priced and cut for CCW. There are other Rothco Concealed Carry Vests, but I wish there was a 100% cotton version of the Rothco Professional Concealed Carry vest because it looks exactly like the Eotac 102 lightweight vest that so many IDPA competitors wore, but it is slightly heavier weight which might be an issue with some of our customers.
We have always had a very strong presence in the competition shooting sports, primarily because an enormous number of people that shoot IDPA, 3 Gun ect. wore the extremely popular Woolrich Elite 4424 Light Weight Tactical Vest, and we are proud to have attended and watched people use them at the IDPA Nationals that were hosted 2 times here in Pennsylvania several years ago. There are plenty of vests out there that you can wear on the range, but can you wear it on the range and wear it with your EDC? 5.11 Tactical has always had several options, but some of their vests are too tactical or they design them and discontinue them before you can get around to getting one. Tru-Spec had 2 vests and discontinued both of them and were not seeing a new one yet, even though we heard rumors they were working on one. We’ve recently picked up the Rothco Vests and the majority of the Rothco product line because it really seems to have grown in the concealed carry market which, compared to many other tactical clothing lines, they don’t do CCW very well.
I can speak for the long term quality control of the entire product line, but seeing that Rothco has well over 100,000 Facebook likers, they have a lot of people where their stuff. It still amazes the number of Rudy Project Competitors that were still wearing the Woolrich Elite 4424 and Eotac 102 Vests were have long ceased to exist, but in 2017 we really only can suggest people consider the 5.11 Tactical or Rothco Vests for competition sports or Concealed Carry. There is always going to be issues and complaints about the material that is used, in hot weather, people want 100% cotton ripstop, but good luck trying to find a manufacturer for that, the majority of them are going to be 65/35 Polyester Cotton Ripstop or the Rothco 60% Cotton 40% Polyester. The stiffer material sweeps better but it doesn’t breath as well as the all cotton.
In 2013 we saw the launch of the Tru-Spec Simple Tactical product line and considering how well it has sold so far I expect that there will be a womens line and possible a few more colors. The Simple Tactical product line is basically a mild tactical pant that probable has 40% fewer pockets if you compare it to 5.11 or other Tru-Spec tactical pants, namely the 24/7 series. That’s a really nice pant for $39.95 and sometimes you can get them cheaper especially during the 1,2,3 sales that Tru-Spec has done atleast 2x’s. Some people don’t like particular waistbands and the Simple tactical is more stretch. You will notice that those will be tru to your waist size and you won’t be able to stow gear is pretend you are really a smaller waist.
This year we took on a few 5.11 products which we normally stayed away from but now that Woolrich Elite Series Tactical is no longer making their product line, we brought in the 5.11 covert Khaki 2.0 which is a good improvement over the regular Cover Khaki. These pants are now the least tactical pants we (looking that is) and after washing an wearing I didn’t notice any of the shrinkage that so many of our customers complain about. I guess 5.11 put a little more quality into their white color tactical clothing. We’re still testing out various types of shirts to see if we can find anything anywhere near as nice as the Woolrich Elite Series concealed carry shirts. We really missed that product line.
This year was a very successful year for us in the Delaware County area in launching our tactical store and we double the size of our business in the first 6 months. People are still finding out about us via word of mouth whenever they need a new holster, police boots or even just Ambulance companies hiring and people needing to get a pair of pants. Much of the product line we stock in our store is for people to checkout instead of buying it online. Duty gear like handcuff keys and various police belts are things that people in the Law Enforcement industry lose or wear out over time and are always in need of. Police vests, tactical pants, uniform pants, belts, hydration unites, SWAT team bags are things that are always wearing out and need to be replaced.
We’ve learned there are so many types of handcuffs, swivel and hinged doesn’t always narrow it down, some are different weights and types of metal. The items we have brought in this year are the Safariland lightweight handcuffs and in our region there are no Philadelphia Police Supplies shops around here and many of our Law Enforcement Officers are very happy to see a business like this open up. Tactical vests, body armor are all things people need to be sized up on and this is something that has to be done right so that there are fewer returns. We stock a large number of Blackhawk serpa holsters, safariland products, pepper spray, mace, tasers, batons, police badge holders and more and more duty gear.
It looks like Woolrich Elite Series Tactical is no more and the clothing has been drying up for some time now. They never seemed to be able to move on and market their products after Backyard outfitter ceased marketing their products. Even after all of these years of selling things that competed in the market against the 5.11 products, we still have customers coming in and bashing the 5.11 product line as having sub-par quality control. It’s one reason why we don’t stock their clothing in large quantities. Much of the fabric shrinks or falls apart and we don’t want to deal with the customer complaints for tactical pants, tactical shirts, tactical vests or jackets since this happens so much. They are truely a monster of a company but there are better quality products out there for less money.
Finding shirts that fit you is something you are going to have to try out for yourself, the Blackhawk and Tru-Spec product lines have very good quality control, but sizing and fit are going to be different. Everyone asks us how the cut is and every shirt and even some styles are cut differently. TruSpec tactical apparel has uniform and tactical shirts as well as concealed carry shirts and the fabric, lightweight and ultralightweight tactical shirts are very different. The gunny tactical line gives a different angle to the product line and the Tru-Spec 24/7 Series clothing and the Tru-Spec Simple Tactical clothing is going to really cut into Blackhawk and 5.11 tactical market just based on quality control and price points.
Lately I have been carrying different gear with me at work and during classes. Recently I was on a road trip and re discovered ankle and shoulder holsters and forgot what it was like to carry in those positions while driving 8hrs in a day. There are plenty of reasons to consider ankle carry holsters but they are really meant for backups. One thing I have noticed with various tactical pants is the cut of the pants near the ankles. Not that I think people need bell bottom pants but this is something to seriously consider when you are carrying in this position. Some styles of pants will not give you the movement you need and you will end up with your pants riding up on you.
When it comes to carrying handcuffs and batons, wallets and other paperwork, you are going to see huge differences in the types of pants out there. Call me an old timer but I still don’t have Vertx tactical pants in my wardrobe although in 2013 I plan on getting some. I have found I have learned to love the Blackhawk lightweight tactical pants because they are holding up very well to all of the useage I have given them and the only negative I have so far are the lack of a left side wallet or ID pocket. The pockets are a little too deep for a wallet and I often feel like I lost it because it’s about 2-3 inches lower than it normally would be. It’s not just about the material like 100% cotton ripstop or 65/35 poly cotton ripstop.
Nobody eats the same food every day unless you have a bad diet or are just a down right boring person. There are different seasons and different lines of work and every ones tolerances are different. Yesterday we had a few more guys walk in here and tell us they heard that Woolrich is now making tactical pants just like the ones they had when they were in Vietnam. The funny thing is Woolrich has been making them for almost 7yrs. I have no idea what other companies are making anything like this but the demand for something other than 35/65 poly cotton blend tactical pants is definitely there. I am a big fan of the material but there are some improvements Woolrich should have done to the tactical pant and some of our customers have asked for it. Re-enforced ripstop pockets and a gussett crotch would be a good idea.
I personally where mostly Tru Spec tactical pants because they are very comfortable and in all honesty I’ve been wearing these pants for almost 9 months to test them out. I have seen absolutely zero abnormal shrinkage and for these lightweight tactical pants I am very happy with them. Most Tru Spec pants are priced under $40 and that’s not something we see across the market. Blackhawk, Vertx and a few others come to mind and are you getting that much more performance for $10 more? Well, it will depend on your line of work, but for utility purposes and every day use, I will have to say that Tru Spec tactical pants are hands down the best lightweight tactical pant for the money.
I just got off the phone with a customer that asked me if we sold clothing that was “true to size” i informed him in the last 7yrs of selling tactical apparel, that I can’t answer that question because the times that I did, it was usually a customer looking for an answer so that if the clothing didn’t fit, he’d blame me for tell him that it would fit him. We’ve sold many Wilderness belts over the years and although we never get complaints about how the belts hold up, there are so many sizing issues with these belts that even The Wilderness has a disclaimer on the end of their order processing about not taking back returns.
The differences between Blackhawk, Tru Spec, 5.11 tactical, Woolrich Elite and even the rare inventory of Eotac clothing that is floating around can sometimes have more to do with quality control than original design differences. We’ve pruned much of our tactical clothing product lines and discontinued much of what got too many complaints about. The differences in fit between such things as tactical polos is considerable and we’ve always been a big fan of the Woolrich Elite product lines although tru-spec has gained some ground with us.
We have just got word that their were riots in the Apple factory in China and another one of our product lines is having trouble getting stuff made over there because of some of the flooding. What the heck is going on with that place? Everyone seems to think we have to tip toe with China because they own so much of our debt that they can pull the rug out from under us. The truth of the matter is we actually still own them. They won’t get anything out of us if we go down and right now they are actually having the rug pulled out from under them. We are at a total of 4 of our major product lines has pulled out of Chinese manufacturing beacuse of the labor costs and price increase on raw products.
I have no idea what is going on with the clothing industry. We have done some really big promos with Tru Spec and Blackhawk products as well as the Woolrich Elite tactical pants product line and we’re under the impression they are all having some issues. We are testing out some of the new products form Tru Spec this summer because one of our favorite clothing makers, Woolrich Elite isn’t making the 44905 shorts at the moment and that is something that really concerns us.
When we first got into the tactical clothing market it was pretty much all 5.11 tactical pants. The stories about Royal Robbins becoming 5.11 and some of the changes that occurred left many customers disappointed. I don’t know how a company can make 5.11 tactical pants in 3 different Countries and expect the quality control to be there but I guess they don’t. We’ve watched several companies attempt to cut into the market and fail and much of it was about production issues and quality control. If you buy a pair of pants and like them and buy them again later, the same thing, and the sizing is different or it shrinks and rides up on you, you look for something else.
Some people just don’t understand what it takes to do business in foreign Countries. It’s not just about a manufacturers ability to make a consistent product, its also about being able to make the product the right way and things like tactical pants sometimes need to be modifed if customers demand this. I have witness such minor product fit changes that were welcomed and the sales went up. Other companies were asked to modify their products and they didn’t and lost out to the competition. 5.11 has a real Winner with the Tac Lite Pro pants.