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WEAR YOUR GLOVES! Any service member who has ever been injured knows the important C-Y-A factor of wearing your PPE. We have all heard the stories of people getting injured and the first question being, “were they wearing their [eyepro, kevlar, gloves, etc]?”
Old sergeants’ tales aside, your hands are important, but so is grip. As shooters, that is the trade-off we navigate. On one hand, your hands are vital to shooting, therefore they must be protected from cuts, burns, exposure to lead or the elements, and/or infection. On the other hand, your grip is an important shooting fundamental, one that could mean the difference between a well-placed shot and a flier. Many shooters have calculated the risk versus reward and decided to go without gloves. Thankfully, we live in a world where the tradeoffs are minor. That is, as long as you pick the right pair of gloves for your application.
In this article, we’ll be examining the best shooting gloves for dexterity, hard use, cold weather, and flame resistance. There are tons of glove offerings on the market, so we sought out gloves from reputable brands with proven track records.
There are tons of shooting and tactical glove offerings on the market. In order to compile this list, I researched and evaluated more than two dozen options compiled by scouring internet forums and Reddit, speaking with both active-duty and veteran U.S. service members, and discussing the important criteria of shooting gloves with competitive shooters that I shoot with regularly.
We ended up with this performance matrix, with what we decided was important, and compared the list of gloves to the five attributes on the Shooting Glove Performance Matrix: grip, feel, dexterity, insulation, and durability.
Based on reviews, hands-on experiences, and manufacturer-published data, I evaluated gloves based on these five categories. When I had the list narrowed down to the top two choices per category, I ordered the gloves and put them to the test to confirm my hypothesis. The gloves on this list will serve you well as long as you use them in the correct application.
Don’t let the popularity with airsofters, tactical hypebeasts, and larpers fool you: the Outdoor Research Ironsight Sensor gloves live up to the hype. They are essentially a do-all glove that happens to be extremely well-suited for shooting.
From the full-hand grip modules to the materials used, it is clear that a lot of consideration for the end-user went into the creation of this hand sock. There are, however, a few considerations to keep in mind. As with any glove, these gloves will not last forever.
There have been reports of these gloves lasting anywhere from as little as two weeks to up to an entire year. Of course, how quickly they wear out depends on how you use them. They’ll hold up as a pair of shooting gloves, but not so much for more abrasive activities.
However, Outdoor Research offers an “infinite guarantee” warranty that covers manufacturer errors, such as seam or stitching tears, but not user-created issues.
- Type of glove: Middleweight
- Materials: Polyester, spandex, nylon, polyurethane
- Colors: Black, coyote
Whole-hand grip modules
Protection where it matters
Excellent glove at an excellent price
Wears out pretty quickly
Potentially the most prolific gloves in the U.S. military, Mechanix M-Pact’s track record in the field speaks for itself. Many people, however, may overlook it as an option for a shooting glove.
While this may not be the best option for precision shooting, it is a great value option in a wide range of shooting applications. This is especially true in events where the need for added hand protection (specifically in the palm) outweighs the need for dexterity and feel. When you switch shooting positions, the shock-absorbent Armortex protects your palm from impact. It’s not a ton, but some protection is better than no protection.
In my experience, these do require some break-in time, but after that, they’re good to go, whether you’re in harsh environments or doing some run-n-gun activity that could chew through your hands, these gloves make for a sleeper shooting glove.
- Type of glove: Middleweight
- Materials: Synthetic leather, nylon, thermoplastic rubber
- Colors: Black, coyote, MultiCam, grey
Accessible everywhere from PX to Autozone
Can easily be found under $30
Very durable (especially for the price
Jack of all trades, master of none
Lacking in dexterity and feel
I saw the Viktos Wartorn gloves all over social media, and I had to get my hands on a pair to see if they were worth the hype or just another passing fad. I think they are worth the hype, but some areas could use improvement.
These gloves do the job and they do it well. They have silicone in the fingers to help build grip, backside hand protection via padding and polymer knuckles, as well as reinforced wear points at the web of the thumb and index finger. This is especially useful for guns with sharper edges around the fire control group (i.e., cheap AKs). It’s clear that a lot of thought went into it.
However, the fingers are slightly too roomy, just enough to notice. There’s also a snake design embedded into the palm that could have been replaced with something more functional like more grippies. I think the Wartorn is a great shooting glove that could become even greater in future iterations.
- Type of glove: Middleweight
- Materials: Synthetic suede, polymer, mesh, silicone
- Colors: Black, camo, coyote, grey, ranger green
Finger grips (silicone)
Reinforced at wear spots
Backside hand protection
Too much room in fingers
Aesthetics where the function could improve
The PIG FDT Delta are my go-to gloves for flat range activities or any time I care more about the purchase on the gun than protection. This is as close to not wearing gloves as shooting gloves can get. By that, I mean they provide enough tactile response to pick a lock with — literally. Additionally, the improved (from the last generations) grip shows thought behind the engineering. They put the grip where it matters most.
On the other hand, there is little to no insulation or protection for your hands. Additionally, the lack of Velcro adjustments could leave someone with weirdly in-between-sized hands in the cold. I’m nitpicking here, but the branding is a little overboard. Each glove features either the word “pig” or a picture of a pig at least 50 times.
I highly recommend these gloves for larping when the need for speed, precision, and dexterity take precedence over padding and insulation.
- Type of glove: Lightweight
- Materials: Nylon, polyester, polyurethane
- Colors: Black, coyote, ranger green, grey, MultiCam, MultiCam black
Majority hand grip module
Great fit, grip, and feel
Seamless fold-over fingertips
No sizing adjustments
Offers good grip, not much else
Along with the Mechanix, the Oakley Factory Pilot 2.0 gloves (or maybe Amazon counterfeits) are probably the most popular gloves in the U.S. military. I mean, as far as gloves go, they just look mean. These are the gloves of operators’ past.
The utility makes these gloves even more formidable. They’re water-repellent, which is a major plus in the field. But the real moneymaker is also its greatest weakness — the non-silicone grip. The Unobtainium grip is proprietary and doesn’t peel off the same way the silicone grip modules do. However, the gloves do have a slight longevity issue. For one of the most expensive gloves on this list, that’s a problem. Still, they provide a lot of utility for a reasonable price for mil/LEO. Also, they look cool, and that’s rule number one.
The general consensus is that these gloves look cool and work well, while they work.
- Type of glove: Heavyweight
- Materials: Goat skin, elastane, nylon, rubber, carbon
- Colors: Black, coyote
Shielded knuckles provide ultimate hand protection
Whole hand grip (non-silicone)
Not as durable as other hard use gloves
Can be fairly expensive
Gloves are a must in cold weather conditions. Otherwise, your movements become slow, which is especially bad when your trigger finger freezes and you start losing fine motor skills.
Shooting in cold weather generally sucks. Your nose is runny and the wind chill cuts right through you, but the worst part, in my opinion, is loading mags. With most cold-weather gloves, you’re going to have to take them off. They are usually too insulated (read: bulky). This also poses a problem with putting your finger in the trigger well.
This is where PIG Cold Weather gloves shine. They were built with the dexterity that PIG is known for. In fact, it has the same grip design and tech as the FDT Delta’s, which are my normal go-to gloves. This allows for familiarity when you switch between gloves. Other cold-weather gloves I have tried are either glorified ski gloves or a good balance of insulation and grip, but lack in dexterity and feel.
Unfortunately, the PIG Cold Weather Gloves suffer from similar problems as the FDT Deltas. There’s no Velcro enclosure for adjustability and there is little to no padding for protection. The price is fairly high compared to the FDT Delta, especially considering someone could add inserts to any glove and make them “serviceable” for cold weather. Conversely, you could always switch between heated gloves and shooting gloves. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do in a pinch.
- Type of glove: Heavyweight
- Materials: Nylon, polyester, polyurethane
- Colors: Black, white, grey, coyote
Wind-resistant and warm
Added material to wipe your nose with
Built with dexterity in mind
Full hand silicone grips
No adjustments for hand size
Pricey for what it is
What to consider when buying a pair of shooting gloves
There are a ton of options as far as shooting gloves go. The list extends beyond the ones listed in this review and, understandably, people prefer different things. If you choose to pick another offering, let this section be your guide on different categories of shooting gloves and key features to look out for.
Types of shooting gloves
I’ve categorized shooting gloves into three different types. There are lightweight, which are often specialized gloves; middleweight, which are well rounded; and heavyweight, which are meant for hard, specialized use. Each category has its distinct differences and uses. In fact, I often carry both lightweight and middleweight gloves.
These gloves are light. Though they are generally affordable, they are not necessarily cheaply made. Usually, these trade insulation (and sometimes durability) for dexterity, feel, and grip.
Consider these a specialty glove. A professional glove. Sleek and specialized. These gloves can sometimes hack it in the field but are not purpose-built to withstand harsh conditions. Mostly, I love these types of gloves for hot days at the flat range or shooting matches where I want at least some protection on my hands.
Gloves in this category include the PIG Full Dexterity Tactical Alpha and Delta, Mechanix Fast Fit, and Magpul Technical gloves.
Middleweight is usually where the well-rounded gloves can be found. Unless you require carbon-fiber knuckle protection or extreme insulation, this is probably about as high in protection as you need to go. Your hands are well-protected against minor scrapes and bumps at this level, but do not go grabbing suppressors or expect to punch through drywall. In this weight class, you might get some weather protection and insulation, but not enough for the arctic.
Gloves in this category include the Outdoor Research IronSight, Viktos Wartorn, and Mechanix MPact gloves.
Personally, I own both middleweights and lightweights to give me options on days where the weather might change or I might have to move splintery target stands.
These, like the lightweights, are specialized. They just exist on the other end of the spectrum and can be specialized in any number of ways. The tradeoff here is usually in the dexterity and feel categories.
These are for hard use and will protect your hands, whether from physical dangers or the elements. In this category, there’s a wide range of gloves for a wide range of applications. While these may not be the best shooting gloves for flat range, these are usually the best shooting gloves for situations they were designed for.
Gloves in this category include the Oakley Factory Pilot 2.0, Viktos Cold Shot, and a variety of tactical gloves.
Key features of shooting gloves
Remember, shooting gloves do not necessarily have to be marketed as “shooting gloves.” I’d even venture as far as to say that mountain bike and wide receiver gloves would make better shooting gloves than some shooting gloves. Nonetheless, there are key features to look for when choosing a pair of shooting gloves. I’ve narrowed it down to four essential features for the sake of simplicity: closure, fit, dexterity, and protection.
This refers to the way in which your gloves are secured to your hands. Gloves come with several different types of closures. Whether Velcro, zipper, or integrated elastic, it is important that you have some sort of mechanism to keep the gloves secure on your hands.
There is a reason the idiom “fits like a glove” exists. You essentially want your shooting gloves to be a second skin. Too tight and you’ll lose dexterity and maybe even blood flow, and too loose and your grip becomes sloppy. Fit also lends itself to comfort. In my experience, if gloves do not fit well, I tend not to wear them. Therefore, uncomfortable gloves are a waste of money.
While you want your gloves to fit, remember, shooting still requires a lot of fine motor skills. Shooting gloves should enable dexterity. From reloads to trigger pulls, you should be able to work the firearm as if you weren’t wearing gloves.
Protection is the main reason for wearing gloves. The material or design of the glove should incorporate a layer of protection against hazards such as burns, cuts, and even environmental factors. Whether hardened knuckles, padding, insulation, or simple cloth protection, make sure your gloves have something that can protect your hands.
Shooting gloves pricing
No matter the material, features, or cost, gloves will wear and tear during hard or consistent use and you’ll have to buy more, so it’s difficult to categorize gloves into price ranges. With that said, good-quality shooting gloves cost around $30 and can get up to as much as $60. The price of the glove increases when you start adding in features like insulation, waterproof or fireproof fabrics, knuckle protection, etc.
FAQs for shooting gloves
You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.
Q: Can anyone use shooting gloves?
A: Anyone can, and (in my opinion) should, use shooting gloves. No matter which glove you choose, having that added layer of protection will protect you from potential lacerations, burns, the elements, and,most importantly, lead poisoning. Besides, training with gloves on enables you to shoot well with them on or off, while training without doesn’t.
Q: How tight should shooting gloves be?
A: Most manufacturers publish a sizing guide to help you pick what size is right for you. Personally, I prefer my gloves tight enough where it moves with my hands (and not away from them), but not so tight to where blood circulation is getting cut off.
Q: Are shooting gloves easy to clean?
A: It depends. If you’re like me, those suckers go into the washing machine and then hang dry or sit out in the sun. If you are the type to care a little more about your gear, I recommend the gentler approach: hand-washing.
Q: Are shooting gloves worth it?
A: Definitely! As a recent convert from the “no glove gang,” I have seen/endured enough pain in my hands to tell you that shooting gloves are worth every penny. Have you tried shooting barehanded in freezing rain? Extremely unpleasant.
Q: What shooting gloves does the military use?
A: The U.S. military historically issued pretty unremarkable leather gloves, generally speaking. However, if you happen to stumble on any given field exercise, you’ll almost certainly find several pairs of Mechanix and/or Oakley (or Oakley knock-off) gloves.