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Old April 14, 2013, 10:04 PM   #1
Big-Blue
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What does "tactical" refer to?

Pardon my ignorance, but I keep running across posts that say things about a gun being tactical, or someone wanting a gun that was tactical. What are they referring to? Does it mean the gun has a rail? Does it mean the gun has a camouflage paint job?

Thanks for educating a newbie.
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Old April 14, 2013, 10:47 PM   #2
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It has come to mean any gun that is particularly suited to para-military, SWAT or weekend commando use and most often refers to all the goddies and giz-whichets it may or may not have. In my opinion this leaves the real definition up to considerable interpretation and remains quite vague.

In reality, something that is tactical would normally be a tool or item that supports a tactic. If you wanted to be a survivalist who could dig a spider hole to evade the enemy then a folding shovel could be "tactical". If you wanted to remain concealed in a wooded area then camo netting or a ghillie suit could be tactical. If you wanted to prepare for night fighting or defending your position in a dark house, then a rail on your gun for light mounting and night sights could be considered "tactical". Modern concealed carry holsters are tactical since they support the tactic of concealed carry for self defense. Heck, my Hawaiian shirts are tactical.

It has become a buzzword for marketing all manner of firearm modifications, some good and some not so much, to the tacti"cool" crowd. Whether a rail or whatever is "tactical" to you should depend on the use you have for the tool.
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Old April 14, 2013, 11:56 PM   #3
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Tactical is a term attached to firearms and related accessories and equipment to add the "cool" factor for the ninjas.

Also means they can jump the price up.
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Old April 15, 2013, 06:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Tactical is a term attached to firearms and related accessories and equipment to add the "cool" factor for the ninjas.

Also means they can jump the price up.
Once again, Kraig nails it.

Substitute the word "practical" for tactical and if "it" fits your need and is in fact, practical, give "it" the consideration it may have in your own application. Sometimes, it is (practical), sometimes, maybe most of the time, it is not.
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Old April 15, 2013, 06:45 AM   #5
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I have a tactical fishing vest.
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Old April 15, 2013, 07:05 AM   #6
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Adding the word "Tactical" allows you to charge $20 for an 'UZI' ballpoint pen that according to Amazon's site can be used in many ways, one of which is "in everyday life as a normal pen". Who would have thunk?

http://www.amazon.com/Rothco-UZI-TAC.../dp/B003N3D6H0
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:21 AM   #7
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The term "tactical" is about as vague as the term "assault weapon." VERY generally speaking is usually means the weapon has been designed in a way that would make it suitable for use by special forces, SRT's or SWAT or something like that. Taken to the extreme, we have "tacticool" which means you're adding stuff to your gun just to make it look cool.

A really good example of tacticool is a threaded barrel on a handgun when you don't have a suppressor or comp on it. Some will try to argue that it gives better performance than a non-threaded barrel, but really they're just arguing that way because they're too embarrassed to admit they just like how it looks. Let's see, another good example is a quadrail on an AR with some kind of sight, light, laser, etc on most or all of the rails. Usually all of that is unneeded, but people think it looks cool.
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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Heck... you can buy tactical underwear.
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:47 AM   #9
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Gaerek,

I mostly agree with you, yet I have a quad rail on my AR. I find it equally comfortable as the original handguards (actually, with my long monkey fingers I find it more comfortable than the OEM handguards, as it fills my hand better), and I like to have the option to mount things on the forend.

Of course, all I currently have mounted is a MagPul angled foregrip (I find it points more comfortably), and an EOTech sight. But if I ever decide to add a light or a laser, I can.

Odds are I won't, but
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Old April 15, 2013, 11:01 AM   #10
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PR word.

I suggest we go back to definitions such as from Liddel-Hart about Grand Strategy, Strategy and Tactics.

I wear only grand strategic underwear. Tactics, BTW, is supposed to mean the operational procedures for a given combat incident.
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Old April 15, 2013, 11:01 AM   #11
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I suppose my point wasn't the quadrail, it was the quadrail with some accessory on each rail.

I personally like quadrails also, for the same reasons, but it's rare for mine to have more than one accessory (a sight) on it. I threw a light on it once a few months ago for a night shoot, but that's about it.
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Old April 15, 2013, 11:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
What does "tactical" refer to?
It's black.
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Old April 15, 2013, 11:04 AM   #13
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I'm confused as I see pink EBRs and assault semiautomatic handgun for sale.

They aren't tactical?

At IDPA matches, we see folks who aren't in the military or law show up in rigs that look like space commandos from the Galactic Patrol - they are tactical.
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Old April 15, 2013, 11:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
At IDPA matches, we see folks who aren't in the military or law show up in rigs that look like space commandos from the Galactic Patrol - they are tactical.
Oh yeah, you see that all the time and they normally can't shoot worth a hoot.

But as I think about it, The CMP encourages shooters in GSM (vintage military matches) to wear period cloths using period equipment.

Some say that may be the same thing, I don't know, but there is something to be said loading from a Garand Clip pouch or a Ammo belt from the Spanish American war. (Kind of like a Mexican Bandit).

Maybe I'm being hypocritical, should have stayed out of this one.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:10 PM   #15
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Nothing hypocritical about it, IMHO.

There's a big difference between wearing clothing that's appropriate to, and in some way respectful of, a piece of our history while competing with historic weapons, and pretending to be something you're not. The folks in "full tactical regalia" are trying to claim some sort of status they don't actually have. Someone who's wearing a period costume -- from the Spanish-American war, say -- isn't trying to fool anyone.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:12 PM   #16
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Kraig, that being said, I really dig that Spanish-American war period tactical goodies, like denim, big hats and the .45 Colt. I even have a .45-70 and an old 7mm around here somewhere.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:15 PM   #17
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Why am I suddenly picturing a Renaissance Fair with a tactical archery competition?
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:15 PM   #18
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I would go so far to say that someone running a three gun or IDPA match with "tactical gear" isn't trying to be an ultra-secret commando, he or she is just running whatever setup helps them compete better. Nothing wrong with that.

I'm sorry, but when I think tactical, I think of F-15Cs opposed to B-52Hs.

If I were to run an IDPA or three gun match today, you can bet that I would cannibalize my MOLLE vest for pouches and such. Does that make me a mall ninja?

That being said, I still inwardly cringe when I see something marketed as tactical or hear some refer to something as tactical, especially mundane objects, like boots, pants, pens, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MLeake
Why am I suddenly picturing a Renaissance Fair with a tactical archery competition?
Beacause it would be awesome to pretend to be Hawkeye from the Avengers and prance about in tights, that's why.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:20 PM   #19
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Vanya, depending on how I look at it, I could agree with you or disagree with you.

For instance, if I were going to compete in 3-gun, the odds are I'd look at what equipment (slings, ammo carriers, sight setups, etc) the people who perform well are using, and I'd try to acquire that. It might make me look like a ninja, but if it had an actual purpose, then it would be silly not to use it because it made me look like a ninja.

On a similar note, I know some SOF guys who get annoyed with guys who wear 5.11 or Arcteryx gear, Merrell or Salomon hiking shoes, etc, because they think they are trying to look high-speed, low-drag. Personally, I like Arcteryx pants because I like cargos, and I have found first-hand that the Arcteryx fabric stands up well to rocks, thorns, sticks, and even on one occasion a badly handled knife. (Actually, the knife opened up in my pocket, I wasn't handling it at the time; cut me, but barely nicked the pocket.)

There's a reason a lot of the SOF guys like some of that gear.

So, if it looks "tactical" but serves no purpose, I can see the complaint. If it looks tactical, but actually does something useful, I can't.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:21 PM   #20
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SPEMack618, that was almost spooky.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:23 PM   #21
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MLeake, that is something I've noticed too. I got ragged on pretty good for wearing Merrell hiking boots by various guys in my section.

I'm sorry, but I've been wearing Merrell boots since 2003 when I went to Philmont, didn't know the Boy Scouts led the way in tactical footwear. Best lighteight, waterproof hiking boot out there.

Very similar to the perception of North Face gear as either a wanna be spec-ops guy or yuppy frat boy. Granting I am a frat bot, but I was using North Face stuff long before it had the brand recognition it has today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MLeake
SPEMack618, that was almost spooky.
Sorry, saw that and I had to jump on it and didn't want to clutter up the thread with a junk post so I just tacked it on with what I had just posted.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:24 PM   #22
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My ex-wife's uncle founded North Face.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:25 PM   #23
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It's a marketing word now.

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Old April 15, 2013, 12:38 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLeake
My ex-wife's uncle founded North Face.
Between me and my sister then, we certainly contributed to his fortune.

I thinks she North Face socks and such.

Bumnote, those peeps will obviously be the objects of desire for the pink lady Peeps.

I find it telling that in Licensed To Kill several Blackwater contractors told Mr. Pelton that the reason they hung so mch crap on thier AR-15s and wore the black wrap-around sun glasses was that it had a "high cdi." Or "chicks dig it" factor.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:39 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLeake
So, if it looks "tactical" but serves no purpose, I can see the complaint. If it looks tactical, but actually does something useful, I can't.
Agreed. And I'm sure there are people who'd say that if they "dress the part," they're more confident and it helps them shoot better.

But "dressing up" to look like an expert doesn't only happen in our sport... I remember one wilderness canoe trip where one of the participants turned up with both a wetsuit and a drysuit, and wore them, saying they were "more comfortable." It was August in Southern Quebec, and the rest of us were wearing shorts and T-shirts. She ended up with heatstroke, but at least she looked cool.
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