Is Tactical-Grey The New Tacticool Color ?

Over at Shooting Illustrated my buddy Jay suggests that grey is the new black, something sailors have known for decades …

With that in mind, it sure seems like gray is the new black. Talking to folks in the industry who manufacture and market a variety of products, from accessories like stocks, fore-ends and pistol grips to clothing and other gear, it appears gray—in predominantly darker hues—is today’s hot tactical color. 5.11 Tactical has lightweight TacLite Propants in “charcoal,” a darker gray, and RECON shorts in “scorched earth.” Where a few years ago you could get any color as long as you wanted black or khaki, now it seems tactical clothing comes in nearly as many shades as the latest offerings from LL Bean. Using the TacLite series as an example, there are currently seven different colors available.

I thought pink was the new black … just shows how untacticool I am. Do you think Tactical Grey, which is defined by CeraKote as a “medium dark grey with very fine metallic”, offers any camouflage benefits over black/brown/green?


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • nick

    I think grey is better compared to black in almost every environment.

  • schizuki

    It’s the color of concrete rubble. Plus it more closely matches the washed-out color palette in all of your best post-apocalyptic flicks.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Black is the color that most obviously shows up in night vision devices. We purposely paint targets black so they show up clearly. There is also nothing in nature that is black, black was in camo to try and add depth, not to blend in.

    The most effective color at night is a very dark grayish green color, Almost invisible through NV and with the eyes.

    This is the desert night camo the U.S. came up with for Desert Storm that was specifically designed to defeat Night Vision devices:

    WW2 night fighters also learnt this the hard way when they learnt that pure black actually makes them stand out against the background more than their regular camo patterns.

    • Michael Mabey

      In my experince unless you are in the far artic at during the winter months it is wise to have a white with kahkie cammo on top with OD or CADPAT pants as you will blend in with the vegitation. But above the circle Multi cam fror the summer and winter whites with greay for the winter

    • Samuel Suggs

      is not cool lookin and is therefore not tacitcitaical 🙁

    • MarkM

      Grey is commonly available, doesn’t look “tacticool” unless an overdone fashion is designed with it, and blends in urban or rural. It deflects attention, not attracts it. Military oriented drabs or camos identify the user, black makes them stand out, grey, he could be a HVAC repairman or parts clerk.

      Grey works precisely because it ISN’T tackycool. An operator quietly standing behind an entourage of grey suited businessmen blends – and he could likely wear the exact same outfit shopping in JC Penney’s, too. About all that would give him away would be the 6.8SPC SBR on a one point tactical sling. : )

  • 5

    I’ve used gray instead of tan in my hunting camo for years. I’ve found that it blends in better with tree trunks and the woods

  • Joe

    In the title you wrote ‘is’ twice

  • scriptmonkey

    Does grey work better than the normal accepted colors? Yes, it will make it easier to blend in with the other mall ninjas.

    • It’s better at night. In urban areas the grey setup does the best job in concealing a person.

    • ThomasD

      The ultimate mall ninja color is flat navy blue – people will assume you are on a lunch break from the Quickie Lube next door.

      • Samuel Suggs

        Ooo or the hilarious version of digicam the navy uses because they will assume you wasted all your money on something stupid and are therefore exstreamly impoverished

      • snmp

        In manies countries the Navy blue is color of Police force uniforms (include SWAT)

  • Jai

    This blog must be running out of things to talk about:)

    • meatballs

      lighten up, francis

    • This is the kind of comment I’ve talked about before. While it doesn’t bother me in the least it doesn’t add a thing to the topic or conversation.
      Negatives with no reason behind them just make people look angry. Like any other publication if this article isn’t something you like skip it and go on to the next.

      • Jai

        Okay, I will. Thanks.

    • Samuel Suggs

      They spent like 20 minuets max on this so we could have a discussion how dose this indicate Anything negative about this blog?

  • Tim U

    I think I’m going to deliberately go out of my way to get things in OD green, to try and take a “retro” step backwards. Way too many people out trying to be mall ninjas with the latest “tactical” colors.

    I bought into the Multicam stuff before it became the everyday ninja/paintballer/airsofter/”militia” choices, and well before the military looked hard at it. Now I think I’m just going to have to sell it all and start over with good old OD.

    • Cymond

      I agree, love OD green both for being retro, and because my best friend tends to accent her outfits with OD (and it works for her).
      Also, I don’t live in a desert environment, so tan is dumb for me. It is hypothetically possible I may find myself in a green forest.

    • Samuel Suggs

      Holy crap where becoming hipsters

    • Nick

      Tactical Hipster bought Multicam before it was cool.

  • Cymond

    Apparently I’m some kind of tactical hipster, because I started wearing a lot of grey about 5 years ago.

    I think it has something to do with this fella coming in to my life. He’s a Flemish about 2.5 feet long. Also, arthritis sucks.

    • Bill

      Tactical rabbit.

      • ThomasD

        Can’t be. No web gear. Put on a black nylon collar (with carabiner buckle) and now we’re talking!

        • Samuel Suggs

          Ow dam i wish i wasn’t traveling I would so photoshop that together

        • Cymond

          Who needs photoshop? The sign is 11 inches wide.

      • MOG

        A real thumper.

    • Samuel Suggs

      steve johnsen as a bunny

      • Steve (TFB Editor)


      • Steve (TFB Editor)

        Actually it is a happy grin. I think that Photo was taken the day before SHOT Show.

        If I was a bunny I would be a very cool funny. Think Joe Camel but with fluffy ears 😉

        • Samuel Suggs

          When was that picture taken?

        • Samuel Suggs

          I am seeing the resemblance also quiet down or you first amendment rights will get stomped on in the name of public health and CUZ the children just like what happened to joe

  • dmcc1964

    This mean my SL8-1 is now cool?

  • Cobalt-60

    Good thing those Manganese and Zinc phosphating processes have been around since 1912 to fill our need of grey firearms.

  • j

    I still like OD

  • Anonymoose

    Tactical Feldgrau.

  • Lance

    NO!!! grey like the grey ACU are problem prone and dont blend into any surrounding except a brick wall. People who chooses whats tacti cool dont do it on real capability just what they think looks cool. I said in late 05 that ACU sucked because its grey every one said your wrong till last few years then every body agreed with me. Drop the tacti cool people go with what GIs say.

  • Samuel Suggs

    You can pry my OLIVE DRAB FROM MY COLD HANDs!

    • Samuel Suggs

      also I like woodland digicam becuase its stylin

  • ThomasD

    Many forms of hunting camo have used grey.

    The human ‘eye’ will often add some nearby color – greens, browns. Black often stands out in low contrast light conditions (lack of appropriate shadow makes it seem anomalous.)

  • Savz58

    So, original sa vz.58 paintnig was right?

  • snmp

    Simply, with moderne nighvison black is like fluo color. Grey is an old camo color with khaki

  • Man pippy

    Khaki or flat dark earth is a good compromise since it blends into most environments but is better than black under nightvision. That’s why the SCAR, Steyr Aug EF88 and probably the Tavor are flat dark earth.
    OD Green is another option but only blends into areas with alot of green vegetation, in desert and urban concrete locations not so much.

  • Frosty_The_White_Man

    Magpul needs to add “Soviet green” to their color catalogue. Even Ivan likes rails now!

    • Samuel Suggs

      So like his shirt?

    • Tim U

      Comrade! This would be perfect to accompany my AK.

  • Lee Morgan

    I own a black Kifaru ZXR covered in PALS webbing and no one ever notices or refers to it as tactical. Black is still the new black.

  • Anosynum

    So the new tacticool flavour of the year is what the Germans adopted pretty much exactly a hundred years ago at this point?

    • snmp

      In fact, German is Feldgrau (light grey-green) et Autro Hungrian is Grey (near mousse grey) . The mousse grey is very effective in mountain

  • Waq

    Where I am you can spot the tourists and out of towners in the cooler months because they aren’t wearing black . Blending in means looking like everyone else, if that means red teeshirts and yellow shorts that’s what you wear

    • MOG

      Blue jeans, shirt, and tennis shoes. I am non-combat ready most anywhere. Mostly grey or brown shirt. OD was my favorite color in the 60’s. Seemed to do well in VN, but we had a tendency to get real small real quick.

  • Samuel Suggs


  • Aaron E

    I agree with Nick and Phil – grey is much better than black!

  • Hunter57dor

    goes back to the days of vietnam.
    they produced the m16-a1 in this nice black color that was supposed to be “low key”

    black doesn’t blend with anything except pure darkness. and in that case, it doesn’t matter anyways what color it is, its not gonna get seen.

    grey is just a low key, general purpose color that blends with various things, and doesn’t immediately attract the eye. can be used in varying light conditions to good effect.

  • MOG

    My main concern, Will it make my butt look too big?

  • i’m not really into grey so i don’t really find it as a cool color. I will always opt for black. Black will always be cool for any type of tactical gear but it’s nice to welcome new options and i guess it actually depends on the person wearing it.

  • dude

    Preachin’ truth since ’83