DEFTECH: The Art of Urban Camouflage


URBAN CAMOUFLAGE: If you look like the guy on the right ... you're doing it wrong.
Carlos Roman is a veteran federal law enforcement officer, firearms and martial arts instructor with over 35 years of experience.

The concept of Urban Camouflage has been a longtime point of contention in both the civilian law enforcement markets. When I ask most people what they think is “Urban Camouflage” the most common response I get is that weird white-grey-black camouflage pattern that makes you look like cattle.

No, Urban Camouflage (or UC) is just the art of blending in and disappearing in a crowd.

If you ask most anyone who’s been deployed in a combat zone, or had to deal with guerillas, they’ll tell you one of the reasons they’re so hard to fight is because they blend in, they look like everyone else. If you walk in a village and see a guy decked out with the latest Blackhawk gear, guess what? He’s getting shot first. No, they don’t walk around with tactical gear. If you walk into a village of sheep herders, I guarantee you the resistance fighters are going to dress like… yup, you guessed it! Sheep herders! That’s the point of Urban Camouflage, to look like everyone else and not stand out.

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You can dress practically without looking like an off duty commando. Yes, 5.11, Proper and Vertex makes those tacticool pants that are all the rage but they also scream “Hey, I’m Mr. Sheepdog! Look at me!!!”. I like cargo pants also, but I wear the more common brands like Wranglers or Levis. Please, for the love of everything that’s holy, avoid the vests…. No, just no. The “why” goes without saying. Also be conscious of printing when you carry a concealed (key word: CONCEALED) weapon. You’ll hear me say many, many times “dress around the gun, not the other way around”. That might mean going a size up in pants and/or shirt -I know, so unflattering!- or even wearing a jacket in the colder months. Another thing, gun considerations for UC, say “no” to the Desert Eagle .50 and the S&W .500. Carry something that it’s easy to conceal and fast to deploy. Personally, I often carry a Glock 43 appendix. It disappears under a t-shirt and it’s a “one second gun” (draw-to-first-shot from concealment in a second or less).

Adapt UC to the occasion and location. Remember, the goal here is looking like everyone else. If you are walking around in Minnesota in December, that neat, warm Carhartt hoodie jacket helps conceal that 1911 nicely. Now, if you are in southern Arizona in May wearing that same jacket, yeah, that’s what the FBI calls “a clue”. Also, if you’re walking around in the Bahamas wearing your cargo pants and button up shirt, you’re not exactly blending in. Avoid logos! And I’m guilty of this myself because I love my Glock hats but, if I’m going to be flying armed as a Law Enforcement Officer, the last thing I want to advertise to a potential bad guy in a flight is that I like guns, ergo, I might be armed. I study what people wear during flights and try to match that so I don’t stand out.

Lastly, practice with what you wear every day. I know, I know, “But when am I going to have a chance to play with my super-tacticool Voodoo-Tactical plate carrier and drop-down holster???”. There’s a time for that, but mainly, focus on running drills with what you’re wearing. Chances are you’re not gonna be wearing all that stuff if you’re at your local Walmart if it gets shot up plus during most home-invasion scenarios, you’ll be lucky if you have time to grab your gun a light and some pants.  Let’s be real, at the range we like to play an expensive game of dress up; it’s fun, but nevertheless, it’s just that: dress up. Keep it real and blend in.

Mark Wolf
Author: Mark Wolf

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