I know a lot of you guys are 5.11 Tactical fans, and many of you love flight gloves, so here’s a chance to see how the 5.11 Tac-NFOE flight gloves hold up to some abuse and see the overall quality of them.
Tac-NFOE is an abbreviation for Tactical NOMEX Flight Ops Extended. Now that seems like a mouthful. These were designed by Jeff Gonzales, the Direct of Training for Trident Concepts, LLC and a former US Navy SEAL. I have to say that a large portion of the quality tactical gear on the market comes from former special operations members, but when it boils down to it… it has to work to be worth anything.
Construction / Materials
This glove is designed in the manner of many flight gloves in that it extends 4 inches up the arm from the wrist. Its build is comprised of Nomex, elastic, hook and loop fasteners, and leather.
The quality of workmanship is above average to excellent. I did not find frayed or excessive threading, nor did I notice material that was not adequately trimmed away. Each of the fingertips are seamless in construction, again adding to the quality of fit and aiding tactile touch when wearing. Instead of ending the leather at your fingertip, the leather from the palm wraps across the top of your fingertip and is stitched near the first joint of each finger. All of the stitching appears top notch, as all of the leather is double stitched.
I was pleased to see that the palms themselves feature two layers of leather on the areas most likely to be in contact with hard or rough surfaces. This should make for a long wearing glove and add to the comfort. 5.11 even included leather pull tabs at the base of the gloves to aid pulling them on snugly. The back of the gloves feature leather over the knuckles near the back of the palm to protect against cuts.
Along the back of the glove at the wrist, is an embedded elastic strip to keep the glove in place and prevent the material from hanging loosely about the wrist. Again, the stitching of the elastic appears to be good quality, and the elastic should last a good while.
When looking at purchasing gloves for a tactical environment you need to know what features you need, and what “features” can get in the way of performance. I originally purchased these for year around use, but you’ll see my opinion about that as the review progresses.
Initially I needed a replacement for an old set of Mechanix brand gloves that I had used for a long time (well past their prime). I love the tactile feel afforded through the Mechanix gloves and wanted to retain that in my next purchase. I also liked the hook and loop wrist strip and snug feel, but I wanted something that would be warmer in the winter.
Not long after getting these flight gloves I had a chance to try them out. Skirmishing in the North Georgia mountains in 95+ degree weather is rough. The earth was dry and clay like with lots of dust and the heat and humidity unforgiving.
After hours of use, I found the tactile touch of these gloves to be slightly better than most, as the lack of a seam around the finger tips made picking up small things easier. Now notice I said easier… if you’re trying to pick up small objects (say the size of 6mm ball bearing), it still isn’t easy. The lack of a seam did make for a better trigger feel, and increased comfort.
I did find that these gloves were excellent at protecting your hands from sharp objects (twigs, branches, brushes with thorns, etc.), but heat was another issue. These gloves are made of Nomex. Nomex is built to protect from heat and flame, but does not keep you cool. After several hours of play in the Georgia summer heat, I found that my hands felt hot. It wasn’t unbearable, but it was really warm, and had it been a multi-day non-stop game, I would have felt compelled to take my gloves off after 3-4 hours to let my hands cool back down.
I did find that the fit was good. My hands are hard to fit, as I’ve got short fingers, but thick palms. There was minimal excess length in the glove, and the areas between my fingers fit well. The over all fit was snug, but not tight. The elastic at the back of the wrist, and the hook and loop closure, worked well.
I had a few goals in mind when picking out a new set of gloves. Given the tactile feel, construction quality, and durability of these gloves I must say that in those areas my expectations were met. The gloves fit well and did their job as they were built to do. My only reservation is the heat issue. Now, this is no fault of 5.11 Tactical, as these are Nomex gloves, they are not meant to be cool or breezy. If I had it to do over again, I’d buy these for fall and winter use, and pick up a set of Mechanix or a different 5.11 glove for spring and summer.
Overall I would recommend this glove to anyone looking to purchase flight gloves. Just remember, know what you need out of the glove before making your purchase,and then look at the features, construction, quality, and materials before buying.