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5.11 Tactical HRT Uniform

Written by Mick Williams

5.11 Tactical long has been a leader in the tactical clothing world. 5.11 Tactical pants are simply the standard clothing for instructors, detectives, FBI agents and operators around the world. While the clothing line has a great reputation, some end users wanted a uniform designed specifically for tactical operations. 5.11 Tactical looked for input from users and developed the HRT uniform for SWAT operators or those looking for a tactical uniform that goes beyond the standard surplus BDU.

All of the Velcro® closures are box-x stitched for extra support and security. The uniform is available in black, grey, dark navy and sage. The shirt is made of 5.5-ounce 100% cotton rip-stop. The shirt comes with a mandarin collar with a Velcro closure. The mandarin collar is a useful feature, not just a fashion statement. When fully closed, the collar prevents debris, or hot brass, from getting inside the shirt. And when used in conjunction with a protective balaclava, it gives complete coverage.

The shirt comes with standard chest pockets with Velcro closures. Also the napoleon pockets are deep enough to carry a variety of gear and documents and come with the standard Velcro closure. The pen pocket is on the left forearm instead of the usual placement on the upper arm for most 5.11 Tactical shirts and is sized for penlights and chem lights. This is due to the understanding that it is more and more common for tactical officers to have bicep armor covering the upper arm. The cuffs have Velcro closures to cinch the cuff closed.

On the elbow may be the most visually distinctive feature of the HRT uniform—the Armortex™ reinforcement on the elbows. The Armortex is a thick protective material that is textured and non-slip. It is a heavy-duty poly material that gives the elbows a lot of protection in prone positions and low crawling. The elbows also have pockets on the inside for the 5.11 Tactical neoprene pads for extra padding. The back of the shirt is a bi-swing design to give range of movement in the shoulders and back. The seams on the shoulders and other stress points are bar tack stitched for extra strength.

HRT Pants

The HRT pants are constructed with 8.5-ounce 100% cotton rip-stop and use the Prym button closure and YKK zipper fly found on all 5.11 Tactical pants. The waist has hidden elastic for adjustment. The belt loops are large enough for rigger belts and “instructor” belts. The pants come with the familiar front and rear slash pockets found on the standard 5.11 Tactical pants. The corners of the pockets are reinforced to withstand the wear of knives and flashlights with pocket clips.

The HRT pants also have two wallet pockets with horizontal openings on the rear of the pants. This allows a wearer to put a wallet in an easily accessible place, not in the bottom of the deep slash pants. The pants also have the recognizable carbineer strap. The cargo pockets of the HRT pants are of a unique design that was a result of end user feedback.

The pocket has loop Velcro on the inside to use in conjunction with 5.11 Tactical BBS pouch system for putting a back-up gun, baton, spare mag, etc and keeping them organized. Behind the Velcro panel are two pockets sized for M16 magazines. Theoretically, a user could use the cargo pocket in place of a thigh rig on the support side with this layout. The cargo pockets and the rear slash pockets have Velcro closures that are box-x stitched on the pants.

The cuffs of the pant legs have Velcro to cinch the legs down if the user wants. The pants have a couple of protective features. The most obvious is the Armortex reinforcement on the knees with the same features as the elbows of the shirt. The armortex protects against abrasions, scuffs, etc. The knees also have pockets for the 5.11 Tactical neoprene pads for extra cushioning. The pelvic area has a Kevlar® lining that can be seen on the inside of the pants.

The Kevlar gives two protective properties: puncture resistance and thermal protection. The puncture resistance is a nice safety measure if you are going through windows on breaching operations. The thermal protection is always good when working around flash-bangs, but also specific to the groin area is thermal protection during fast-roping or certain rappelling operations. When done correctly, neither of these operations should pose a risk, but the extra protection against unwanted friction is a good insurance policy. That area of the pants is also reinforced and cut for range of motion. Bar tack stitching is used at stress points.

Between their “traditional” tactical pants and shirts, the HRT line, and the TDU line, 5.11 Tactical continues to offer a broad line of clothing to meet user needs. The HRT line offers many features that go beyond the traditional BDU or even the class 5.11 Tactical clothing for those using the clothing for tactical operations. If someone is looking for a two-piece tactical operations uniform, they would be well-served to check out the HRT uniform.

Mick Williams is a patrol officer, SWAT team member and defensive tactics instructor with the Bloomington, IN, Police. He can be reached at williamm@city.bloomington.in.us.

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2006

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