with Lindsey J. Bertomen
Product Review: Hatch HK9100 Handler
Although I was a cop, I’ve never been a K-9 handler. That said, I have a considerable amount of respect for the officers who are, so when I tested the Hatch HK9100 Handler glove, I relied heavily on the officers I knew could give me some input on what to look for in a glove designed for K-9 work. At the end of this review, I was certain the Hatch HK9100 Handle glove met the distinct needs of the K-9 handler.
Every officer I contacted told me the same thing. The glove worn by a K-9 handler has to have a reinforced palm that extends to the web of the hand. It also has to be able to grip rope and leads made of leather. They explained that gripping a lead is different than gripping an object with a predictable substance like a baton. The K-9 handling glove must be able to stay cool when exposed to a lot of friction and have enough tacky surfaces to quickly brake an alerted K-9.
There are dozens of different K-9 tasks, including search and detection, crowd control, as well as tracking and apprehension. The common denominator is the fact that law enforcement service K-9s save an agency time and money and most often, lives. The other commonality is the fact that, whatever their assignment, law enforcement K-9s pull hard on their leads. This is why the majority of handlers I know look like they visit the gym a bit.
The HK9100 Handler is a composite aniline goatskin, and synthetic material patrol glove. It has biased Sure-Grip palm patches double stitched in strategic places. The skin extends over the fingernails of the 2nd and 3rd fingers, which will protect the fingertips when searching. Turning the product inside out, I found the natural skin devoid of large pores, nicks or inconsistent color. The aniline goatskin in the palm costs a little more to produce because the raw product must be devoid of imperfections before treating. The resulting product has a supple feel and maintains contact with the palm.
Although it has a patrol glove design, it has the feel of an athletic glove. The Handler cinches above the wrist with a Velcro strap, covering vulnerable areas readily. I would have preferred a wider patch of fastener to provide more adjustment at the wrist. The reinforcements are double stitched and most seams are flat and unobtrusive.
This glove was designed to fit snugly. Officers trying it on should feel each fingertip seam touch the fingernail when it is stretched over the hand. The entire glove is very stretchy without wrinkling in the palm when flexing. I was able to pick up paper clips and pins from a countertop with my fingertips in both hands. There is enough “feel” in the protective material to use it for searching suspects.
I tested the abrasion resistance with some inexpensive climbing rope. While I wouldn’t try them for any kind of rope rescue, they did prove to be rope friendly and definitely improved the grip.
When trying this product in the store, officers should lean toward a snug fit. The goatskin did not shrink after being soaked and the Sure-Grip patches did exactly what they said they will do, especially when wet. After extended wet wear, I did not have the telltale dye stains on my hand, nor did the gloves get stiff when dry.
This glove is excellent for shooting, even without using the optional trigger finger cut out. The light knuckle padding in the Neoprene back is great for barricade work.
What else is the HK9100 Handler glove good for? There is a standing rule that when an officer is in foot pursuit, the section of fence that he climbs over after the suspect must have the sharpest or most abrasive edges. The additional palm and web of hand reinforcement makes this product good for fence climbing. After the adrenaline wears off, it’s nice to look down at one’s palms and not see splinters and cuts.
These gloves would also work for bike patrol in cool weather. Yes, I know Hatch makes bike gloves but these insulate and breathe well and the terry sweat patch on the thumb is appropriate for vigorous patrol work.
The Hatch HK9100 Handler glove is a job-specific law enforcement tool that fits perfectly in the K-9 patrol niche.