The Best Tactical Gloves

We tested nine tactical gloves for their comfort, durability, and utility
The author tested the best tactical gloves while shooting handguns and rifles.

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Tactical gloves need to balance protection and dexterity while using firearms on the range or in harsher, less controlled environments. I tested nine of the best options to determine which best performed that balancing act. Testing included using bolt action rifles, shotguns, gas-operated rifles, and pistols, as well as betting my own hands on the advertised protection like their resistance to fire, cuts, and hard impacts. Here are my picks for the best tactical gloves and honest feedback on pairs that failed to impress.  

How I Tested the Best Tactical Gloves 

I took many range trips and participated in countless dry fire sessions with these gloves, allowing me to fully grasp how they performed inside and out. For the gloves that advertised increased protection, like hard knuckles or enhanced materials, I added activities that would hurt your bare hands, like slamming your knuckles against a hard surface or scraping your hands on rough textures.

I evaluated each pair of gloves on protection, dexterity, comfort, and all-around usefulness. 

Protection

I tested each glove’s protection, such as hard knuckles, padding, and flame and cut resistance. I did that by bashing my hands on hard surfaces, using firearms/tools, putting a flame to the gloves, and dragging a blade along any cut-resistant materials.

Dexterity 

For dexterity, I performed tasks that relied on nimble fingers, like loading mags, typing on a phone, manipulating firearms (bolt actions, shotguns, gas operating, and handguns), and grabbing small objects.

Comfort

Comfort is pretty self-explanatory; how comfortable is the glove to me? Do the gloves have too little padding or not enough ventilation? Are they too constricting or too bulky?

Utility 

Lastly, how useful are the gloves? Are they clearly only made for a breacher on a SWAT team, or can a workaday shooter use them and still have a good time?

Best Tactical Gloves: Reviews & Recommendations 

Best Overall: Outdoor Research Ironsight Sensor Gloves

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Key Features

  • Touchscreen compatible thumb and index finger
  • Made of polyester, nylon, spandex, and polyurethane
  • Grip pads on the palms and fingers
  • Breathable
  • Outdoor Research Infinite Guarantee
  • Price: $38

Pros

  • Medium level of dexterity
  • Fantastic all-around glove
  • Breathability
  • Great comfort
  • Grippy palms and fingers
  • Reinforced thumb and index finger

Cons

  • Only available in black and tan
Testing the Outdoor Research tactical gloves
The author testing the Outdoor Research Ironsight gloves at the range.

Tanner Denton

These gloves quickly became my favorite for multiple reasons: they’re comfortable with stretch fabrics being in the right places and breathable while not sacrificing protection from the elements. 

Features like a wider opening for the hand and a paracord pull loop make these gloves easy to put on and take off. The palm and fingers have a grippy texture, much like football gloves, allowing you to maintain control of a firearm, tool, or even a water bottle.

The OR Ironsight gloves protected my knuckles with synthetic leather, and what seemed like shards of TPR placed on the back of the hand. The main hotspots are reinforced, like the thumb and side of the index finger where you’ll be grabbing things. 

These gloves provide everything I need in a tactical glove. They have moderate protection on the knuckles and keep your hands out of the weather, while balancing a decent level of dexterity and maintaining great comfort. The only downside I could find is the OR Ironsight’s aren’t available in colors other than black and tan.

Read Next: Best Shooting Gloves

Best Value: Mechanix The Original

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Key Features

  • Touchscreen compatible
  • Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR) wrist closure
  • Sizes from XXX Small to XXX Large
  • Price: $29

Pros

  • Medium level of dexterity
  • Versatile
  • Breathability
  • Great comfort

Cons

  • No additional protection

When someone mentions Mechanix to me, this is the glove I picture first. This glove has a lot going for it, the price, the build quality, and the simplicity. The Mechanix Original doesn’t impede dexterity, but it protects in terms of putting something between your hand and whatever you’re working with. They’re not too thin like the regular 0.5mm Specialty, but not too thick like a winter glove. These are good all-rounders for working gloves, tactical, or to keep in your vehicle.

You can use the Originals to their full extent, cut off the trigger finger, and get them dirty without worrying about buying another pair because they cost around $20. The only downside of the Originals is that the additional protection is lacking for those who need it. 

Best with Knuckle Protection: Wiley X HYBRID Glove

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Key Features

  • Treated goatskin leather
  • Removable injection molded knuckle
  • Thermal and cut resistant
  • Nomex knit throughout finger and back of hand for flame resistance
  • Price: $94

Pros

  • Good knuckle protection
  • Ability to remove the hard knuckle
  • Flame and cut resistant
  • Good quality materials
  • Padding underneath hard knuckles

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not easy to put on/take off
  • Bulky feeling
  • Lower dexterity
The best tactical gloves of 2023
The Wiley X Hybrid has removable knuckle protection.

Tanner Denton

The Wiley X Hybrid Glove follows the same designs ethos of the more affordable CAG-1, but now features a removable injection molded knuckle, rather than having it permanently attached. This is the best feature of this glove, as without the hard knuckle protection, this glove feels much less bulky. The flame and cut resistance is continued on this pair, as well as the good quality materials and great soft padding on the knuckles. If I were given a choice between these and the lower-priced CAG-1, I would pay the extra $10 for these, as the power of choice is worth the extra money.

Mechanix M-Pact 0.5MM Covert

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Key Features

  • Touchscreen compatible
  • High dexterity
  • Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR) knuckle protection
  • Price: $50

Pros

  • High level of dexterity
  • Easy to put on/take off with velcro and rubber
  • Breathability
  • Comfortable for a “protection” glove

Cons

  • Rubber knuckles and fingers feel constricted

The Mechanix M-Pact 0.5mm honestly surprised me. They have great dexterity and protection while not sacrificing too much of one for the other. The 0.5mm AX-Suede fabric allows for easy manipulation and control, while the TPR knuckle protection lets you breathe easy knowing that if you hit your hand on a hard surface, most of the shock will be absorbed through the rubber. The hand opening is great and easy to slip your hand into, while the TPR closure lets you adjust how tight you’d like the gloves to be secured. Little features like the sweat wipe on the thumb or the breathable TrekDry material allows for great comfort while still being protective. The only downside I found with these is the constricted feeling when closing your hand, as the TPR knuckles really like to remain in the initial relaxed position. The TPR could provide some more give over time and longer wear and tear, but as they stand, these are pretty good for the money if you’re looking for a highly dexterous glove with a little protection.

Read Next: Best Shooting Glasses

Mechanix M-Pact 3 Covert

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Key Features

  • Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR) knuckle protection
  • EVA accordion padding on thumb and fingers
  • Touchscreen capable
  • Price: $60

Pros

  • Comfortable and flexible knuckle protection
  • Higher-quality stitching in impact-heavy places
  • Touchscreen capable

Cons

  • Bulky fit
  • Low dexterity

The Mechanix M-Pact 3 Covert’s are Mechanix’s flagship tactical protection glove. The glove features a TPR mold over the knuckles, allowing for great shock absorption, but at the cost of dexterity. This glove feels fairly bulky in places it shouldn’t be. The fingers are too boxy and there’s quite a bit of extra room in the gloves. 

The materials are of good quality and the stitching is great, but I couldn’t get around the oven mitt feel of these gloves. One of the major things I noticed with the M-Pact 3 Covert, is when compared to any other hard knuckle gloves, these were definitely the most comfortable given the amount of protection they provide. But, that comfort comes at the cost of finger dexterity. 

5.11 Competition Shooting 2.0 Glove

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Key Features

  • Touchscreen compatible
  • Added padding on knuckles
  • Sweat wipe panel on thumb
  • Four-way stretch breathable top
  • Price: $35

Pros

  • Medium level of dexterity
  • Versatile
  • Breathability
  • Great comfort
  • Good non-intrusive padding

Cons

  • Weird pointy thumb construction
The 5.11 tactical gloves
The 5.11 Competition Shooting Glove offers protection and dexterity.

Tanner Denton

Personally, I find 5.11 products to be hit or miss. I’ve had good experiences and bad with various products from them. Fortunately, these gloves were a welcomed surprise. The build quality and materials are good. They provide decent added soft protection in the knuckles, while remaining fairly dexterous. 

The comfort is solid, with a four-way stretch fabric allowing the glove to flex, and the breathability is good as well. There’s a nice sweat wipe on the backside of the thumb and a quality nylon loop on the underside of the wrist to pull on when equipping these. The only downside I found with the 5.11 Competition Shooting gloves are the tips of the thumbs have an unconventional two-pointed construction, making them not as comfortable as a rounded one. Overall, these are great tactical gloves that provide protection while still remaining dextrous and comfortable.

Wiley X CAG-1 Glove

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Key Features

  • Treated goatskin leather
  • Injection molded knuckle
  • Flame and cut resistant
  • Price: $85

Pros

  • Good knuckle protection
  • Flame and cut resistant
  • Good quality materials
  • Padding underneath hard knuckles

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not easy to put on/take off
  • Bulky feeling
  • Low dexterity

Following along with hard protection and high quality is Wiley X with the CAG-1 glove. This glove is following in the footsteps of the Oakley Factory Pilot 2.0 gloves with hard knuckles and high-quality materials. Goatskin leather is used on the palm and wrist, as well as lining the injection molded knuckles. These gloves provide an extra layer of protection with flame and cut resistance, which I tested, and an ample amount of padding underneath the hard knuckle shell. The donning of these gloves is difficult, as unlike most gloves, these utilize the goatskin leather around the opening, which doesn’t stretch much, and the materials used give a bulky feeling. These are more usable than the Oakley version, but you’re going to be paying $85 for the extra protection.

Read Next: Best Shooting Ear Protection

Oakley Flexion 2.0 Glove

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Key Features

  • Flexible molded TPR knuckles
  • Touchscreen Capable
  • Padded/ventilated palm
  • Breathable Exterior
  • Price: $50

Pros

  • High level of dexterity
  • Breathability
  • Great comfort
  • Good non-intrusive knuckle protection

Cons

  • Low quality stitching
  • Materials may be too thin for “tactical” glove
Poor stitching resulted in a rip.

Tanner Denton

Oakley is known to be a higher quality brand and have higher quality products in the tactical world, but it seems like they didn’t apply that same level of design to the Flexion 2.0 Glove. The first time I put on these gloves, the seam on the right side of the glove ripped. 

Now, I would love to say I have massive manly hands that ripped through the medium gloves effortlessly, but it wasn’t the size of my hands, it was the subpar stitching. Upon further inspection, I’ve noticed multiple stitching points in the palm and wrist coming undone. 

On a positive note, the dexterity of these gloves is fantastic, providing extreme comfort and ease of use thanks to the breathable stretchy fabric used. The protection is sufficient with TPR knuckles and reinforced hotspots, as well as padding in the palms. If it weren’t for the subpar stitching, these gloves would be a great contender for high dexterity protection gloves, but unfortunately, they may not hold up past the first couple of range days.

Oakley Factory Pilot 2.0 Glove

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Key Features

  • Goatskin leather palm
  • Touchscreen Capable
  • Carbon Fiber knuckle plates
  • Four-way stretch on top of hand
  • TAA Compliant
  • Price: $70

Pros

  • High level knuckle protection
  • Breathability
  • Good quality materials

Cons

  • Uncomfortable hard/sharp knuckles from the inside
  • Lower dexterity

Oakley quality is definitely present with the Factory Pilot 2.0 Glove. These gloves are TAA-compliant and made for those operating under extreme conditions. The Factory Pilots have goatskin leather palms and carbon fiber knuckle plates, all connected by a 4-way stretch material. Those features would make a hard-to-beat tactical glove, right? In theory, yes, but in practice, these gloves were almost unwearable when handling a firearm. 

The carbon fiber knuckles dig into your hands straight through the padding on the inside of the gloves. If the carbon fiber knuckles were replaced with something softer or allowed flex, the Factory Pilots would be a great, high-quality tactical glove, but as of right now, that’s not the case. When the glove is so uncomfortable for this specific application that wearing no glove at all is a better choice, something may need to change.

How to Choose Tactical Gloves 

Purpose

Your intended use should be the first and foremost decision maker. Maybe you don’t ever see yourself needing a pair with hardened knuckles. Perhaps protection is the most important thing for you. Or you might want a next-to-skin glove that still offers some protection and durability. 

I always advocate for thinking of your own personal reasons for any type of gear, rather than just copying someone else’s because they use it. Think of your end goal, and apply that to narrow down what glove is right for you.

Also consider the weather and places you’ll use your gloves. For example, pick a breathable material for swampy conditions and insulated gloves for cold environments. 

Preference

Personal preference always seems to trump everything else. I believe that if you want something just because you want it, get it. It may not be the most practical or the best in its class, but maybe it just looks cool. Despite that, you’ll be happy that you got the pair that you wanted.

Final Thoughts on the Best Tactical Gloves

There are some great contenders out there for best tactical gloves, but some of them left me wondering how they got past initial R&D. In the end, my choice for the best tactical glove may not align with your needed categories, and that’s just fine. Find out what your top categories are and narrow down from there, as there are some fantastic options that prioritize protection, dexterity, or comfort.

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Tanner Denton

Contributor

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