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April 20, 2004
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Clothes Make the Man

By Cameron Hopkins, American Handgunner

Royal Robbins is to tactical apparel what Brooks Brothers is to business attire. Thoughtfully designed and impeccably executed, the Royal Robbins 5.11 Tactical Series of pants, shorts and new Tactical Vest compromise the ultimate wardrobe for the well-dressed urban warrior. If you carry a concealed handgun -- along with the usual assortment of related gear -- then you need to know about Royal Robbins.

The 5.11 Tactical Series got its start as the "official" pants of the FBI, where the ruggedly constructed, 8.5 oz. khaki canvas trouser developed a reputation for toughness and comfort during the boot-camp-like atmosphere of the FBI Academy. Especially thick yarn is used to construct the 5.11 tactical trouser, complete with double-layered knees and seat.

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There are ample cargo pockets, all closed by Velcro-secured flaps. The right thigh sports a small pocket originally designed to hold a spare Glock G23 magazine, standard issue for the FBI. The tiny pocket also works perfectly for a cell phone or a couple of Bianchi Speed Strips.

The seven pockets of the 5.11 pants are all reinforced with heavy-duty bar tacking at pocket openings and seams. Indeed, I''ve carried a Smith & Wesson Model 342 in the right front pocket for over a year without any hint of wear. Best of all, the generously proportioned pockets hide a small snubnose very well without any tell-tale printing or bulging.

The knees come with inside pockets for inserting a protective pad and a football knee pad works perfectly. The ability to drop to kneeling -- making yourself small or taking cover behind a mailbox -- is a significant advantage and one considerably easier to achieve with knee pads. "For SWAT training, it''s more convenient to have internal knee pads than Velcro strap-on pads. They don''t constrict circulation," says Detective John Buehler.

But the real signature feature of Royal Robbins 5.11 pants is the short strap above the right rear pocket that is a trademark of the brand. The designer was a mountaineer who invented the strap to hold his carabineers. I find the strap perfect for retaining the muzzle end of a hip holster down, keeping it sucked in tight to my body when I bend at the waist -- an excellent feature. Royal Robbins 5.11 Series pants come in my three favorite colors: olive drab, black and khaki.



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