Why run your guns with unprotected mitts when you could be wearing purpose-built shooting gloves?
Why get shooting gloves?
Keeping the lead and carbon off your skin (lead is bad!), protecting yourself from heat, providing a better grasp on your gun and taking a little sting out of recoil forces are all good reasons. That, and some of them look cool too.
LARP, after all, is life.
Let's go over the different kinds of shooting gloves, what to look for in a pair and then some excellent choices that would be worth investing in.
Shooting Gloves Through The Years
Since the advent of firearms, it’s certainly true that many people have happened to be wearing gloves while shooting them. For most of that time, however, nothing differentiated them from ordinary gloves.
The English gentry and nobility (the American gentry as well) would wear gloves while hunting, and art from the late Classical period has many examples in portraits, but there's little evidence that these were anything other than typical outdoor gloves.
Obviously, gloves during hunting season are still a good idea in temperate regions.
Soldiers have also worn gloves for millennia. Military gloves in U.S. military history have included simple knit woolen gloves and mittens (some with a trigger finger) as well as padded leather gloves and canvas gauntlets. The U.S. G.I. glove of World War II had leather palms over wool, a working style of glove that offered some protection as well as warmth.
Specialized gloves for the shooting sports were developed over the 19th and 20th centuries, with some designed for specific sports such as support hand gloves for rifle matches and shooting gloves for shotgun sports.
All this to say, “shooting gloves” have been and continue to be an ill-defined concept. While there are plenty sold today that are specifically designed and marketed towards various types of shooting, there are also still plenty of shooting professionals who opt to use a generic variety. If a pair of gloves has features that lend themselves to being worn while shooting, it’s fair to call them shooting gloves.
Types Of Shooting Gloves
A lot of shooting gloves are little more than typical light working or light outdoor gloves that are marketed for shooting or are frequently used for that purpose.
Modern combat gloves or “tactical” gloves (whatever that word actually means anymore) are also common, often offered in black or some form of tan. These will often have a nylon shell body with a textured palm and sometimes will also have injection-molded knuckles added to the gloves.
What the marketing materials will tell you is that they're impact-rated for doing tactical things. What the marketing materials do not tell you is that they were really invented to keep you from skinning your knuckles during a brake job.
Some modern hunting gloves have a fabric hinge on the index finger, allowing you to take the tip off to have skin contact on the trigger.
As far as sport-specific shooting gloves, there are fanning gloves—heavy leather gloves for quick-draw single-action shooting competitions—and then you have support hand gloves for high-power rifle events.
Support hand gloves are often completely fingerless, many just covering the palm and having a double leather pad. This is to provide as much of a rest as the support hand can in conjunction with the rifle sling. ISSF rules only allow the support hand to be gloved, so you'll only buy one!
If there are any design differences between many shooting gloves and regular ol' outdoor or work gloves, it's some minor padding in the palm (especially the web of the thumb) along with an aggressive texture on the material for grip.
Shooting Glove Features To Be Aware Of
There are a few things you'll want to be aware of when selecting a pair of shooting gloves.
The fingers and palm must have enough texture for a secure grip. If looking at leather palm lining, rawhide or something textured is preferred to smooth.
The glove should be thick enough to provide the protection or warmth that you need (or at least some), but that comes at a cost. The thicker the glove, the less dexterity and tactile sensation you'll have, and it will be that much harder to fit the trigger finger into the trigger guard.
Try to find winter shooting gloves that have a shell with a thin but warm liner. The more wind and water you can keep out, the less lining you need to keep your hands warm.
Most pistols are all but impossible to use with many winter gloves (it's one of the reasons John Fitzgerald cut the trigger guard of Fitz Specials in half) and long guns are seldom much easier.
Therefore, selecting thinner gloves or gloves with a removable trigger finger is good practice for hunting or shooting outdoors in winter.
If you shoot AK- or AR-pattern rifles frequently and at high volume, look for gloves that have some heat resistance. AKs in particular are known for getting hot, leading many shooters to either wear gloves or hold the magazine to support the rifle.
If you're getting some of the sport-specific shooting gloves, get the same ones as everyone else. Chances are, there's a reason why they're popular.
Fingerless gloves have a role as well. They're beneficial in cold weather hunting, either with a fingerless or trigger finger-less design (or with a flap trigger finger) over a pair of thin liner gloves, so you can keep your hands a little warmer.
They're also beneficial for rifle shoots and competitions (where allowed) to have some grip on the rifle but preserve tactile sensation in the trigger finger.
How To Choose Shooting Gloves
So, how to go about choosing shooting gloves?
Start with your specific use case. What you need for general, casual use is different than what a competitive shooter will need, what a police officer or soldier will need or what a hunter in temperate to subarctic climates will need.
For general use to protect your hands while shooting, pick the thinnest gloves that give you the most grip on the gun. Heavily textured work gloves or work-style gloves are a good choice, and, as mentioned, you can probably find a decent pair at the hardware store.
By now, the sport-specific shooting glove development has already peaked. There is no great leap forward left to take, so you should find out what the most frequently used models are and get them or a facsimile thereof.
For hunting gloves, get the thinnest gloves that offer the greatest amount of wind and water protection, as well as texture to maintain dexterity and tactile use of the fingers. The right balance is tricky; big game hunters and waterfowlers have been trying for decades to find it.
Tactical gloves, if you have a real need for them or if you want them just because, should have aggressive texturing for grip, should be thin enough to fit in the trigger guard and should fit as skin-tight as possible to prevent any slippage. A breathable shell is also a good idea to keep the skin as dry as possible.
If you feel that fingerless gloves are right for you for rifle events, choose a pair with good padding in the palm and thumb but with enough texture for a positive grip. For hunting, opt for a shell (such as Gore-Tex) to block wind and moisture. Get a set of thin but warm (merino wool is outstanding) liner gloves for the later season to keep the trigger finger warm.
So, what are the best shooting gloves to get?
The Best Shooting Gloves:
Sitka Gunner WS Glove
The Sitka Gunner WindStopper Glove is a goatskin outer shell with a Gore-Tex Windstopper liner. The palms are padded and textured for grip, with Velcro closure to seal the wrists.
Thin, lightweight and breathable with decent wind and water protection. They're ideal for winter shoots and hunting through mid-season with an excellent balance between warmth, weather barriers and tactile sensation. MSRP is $109.
Mechanix M-Pact gloves have generous padding in the palm with a multi-layer shell that reduces impact. The thumb and trigger finger are heavily textured for grip, and the breathable top layer is bonded to a Thermoplastic Rubber shell over the knuckles and fingers.
The M-Pact glove is 0.8mm thick, which is a pretty much ideal blend of impact and heat protection without compromising dexterity. MSRP is $39.99 and they’re available in multiple colors.
5.11 Caldus Insulated Glove
The Caldus is a cold-weather tactical glove, with reinforced goatskin palms, fingertips and knuckles and 40-gram Thinsulate insulation. Stretch panels in the synthetic upper shell give these gloves excellent dexterity while not being too thick. The gloves have a waterproof shell, with a wind cuff to keep out the elements.
These are the warmest gloves you can get before the insulation starts to overwhelm dexterity. MSRP is $60.
Magpul Patrol Glove 2.0
Magpul Patrol gloves have a padded goatskin palm for grip and protection, touchscreen-compatible thumbs, and a breathable outer shell with knuckle panels for increased dexterity with knuckle padding for impact protection.
They're designed for a snug fit and are an excellent choice for a lightweight tactical shooting glove. MSRP is $49.95.
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