Protective gear for warfighters is continually evolving, but the need to keep fighter’s hands safe has been recognized for a long time. US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan wear gloves to protect against sharps, hot weapons’ barrels, and especially the sudden searing heat of detonating improvised explosive devices. Gloves for shooters are always tradeoffs. Adding additional layers of material gives the wearer more protection at the cost of flexibility. Some materials like Nomex have great flexibility and heat resistance, but little resistance to cutting.
During my recent deployment to Afghanistan, I found myself in situations where blast was a low threat, but in which I needed a glove that gave excellent protection against sharps, while retaining enough flexibility to work and manipulate my M9. The issued “combat gloves” did provide good protection against being cut, but were not very flexible or comfortable, and they retained a lot of heat, which was a bad trait in an area where summer temperatures during the day commonly reached over 115 degrees. My Nomex flight gloves from 2001 were flexible, but not designed for abrasion resistance. My problem appeared to be solved when an associate gave me a pair of Mechanix gloves.
The Original Mechanix glove is a flexible, abrasion resistant glove that has been around for about twenty years. It is made of a synthetic mesh material with a leather-like lining on the palm side, and velcro gathers at the wrist. These gloves are easily found through online retailers, or they can be purchased for less than $20 at military exchanges.
I used the Mechanix gloves from five to six days a week for two months, continually sorting through property to ensure that no controllable items were released to non-US personnel. I also used the gloves while escorting local nationals onto the base from “outside the wire”. I found the Mechanix to retain very little extra heat, and to be flexible enough to wear while working all but the most delicate tasks. I never suffered any cut or other hand injury while wearing the Mechanix.
The Mechanix Original gloves worked well for me as a general protective glove with a high degree of flexibility. After two months of frequent hard use, my only complaint was an occasional looseness in the velcro wrist tabs. I see no indication that the Original is designed to withstand very high heat, but it did protect me against brief less-than-flame heat, such as that encountered climbing armored vehicles and moving armor plate that had been sitting in the Afghan summer sun all day. The Originals do have very large and highly visible white lettering, but Mechanix now offers the same glove in a subdued coyote color pattern. For shooters who want abrasion protection and protection against hot brass, a high dexterity glove might be a good choice, but Mechanix offers a full line of gloves targeted towards practically any need. I found my Mechanix Original gloves to be extremely useful and a good value at their typical cost, and I think you will, too.