Continuing on with our look at First Tactical products, we’ve got the Tactix Softshell Jacket to check out, retailing at £109 on the FT website.
Image courtesy of First Tactical
This jacket can be worn both as an everyday wear but is also designed for use in a tactical role (again, PMC / NGO, Police, etc) but is also part of the Jacket & Parka systems, designed to be used as an inner for the larger parka jackets. It does however, work perfectly well on its own.
The jacket is a mix of nylon for the primary with 15% spandex, which makes it quite stretchable, as well as making it generally more comfortable and forgiving to wear, and is classed as both water and wind resistant. In terms of wind resistance, it does the job admirably considering this last week has seen some fairly heavy storms hitting the UK in which I’ve had the pleasure of being out and about. The softshell has kept me warm throughout thanks to a very cosy lining.
When it has rained (which it has, a lot), I’ve not experienced that inner sogginess you can get from fabric that fails to keep the water out – it should be noted that the wind was beating most of the rain off me and so it never had time to settle. The difference between ‘resistant’ and ‘proof’ is an important one!
Internal lining and reinforced shoulder areas
The look of the jacket is very sharp and very clean; the only protrusions from the jacket are the Velcro straps at the wrist for tightening the cuffs and some zips.
There are four pockets on the outside of the jacket, one at each pectoral that are side accessed (the one on the right also has a pen sink next to it) from the main jacket zip and one each on the inside in the same location with the one on the left having a port for headphone / earpiece cables.
Right side chest pocket with pen storage Internal chest pocket with Mic loop and owner tag
There’s one at each side for your standard hip pockets, also side accessed. Everything is secured with YKK zips which are the go-to brand and the best zips on the market and so stand little chance of breaking or snagging.
The liner of the jacket is an extra layer of soft, comfortable material that keeps the warmth in and gives a very refined feel to the inside finish.
There are also zips at both left and right sides of the bottom of the jacket which go up towards the armpit, allowing you to unzip and gain access to either your holstered weapon or covert harness rig. I was able to successfully draw handcuffs from my rig having undone the side zip, which was handy as I was lying on top of the recipient who didn’t fancy being compliant. There are Prym snaps at the bottom of each of these easy access zips to hold the jacket together; this means you can roll out with the zip already up and the jacket won’t flap apart in two separate sections. I actually ended up using these as my default pockets so that my hands were on my rig for quick access.
Right side access zip with securing button
The whole jacket screams robustness in terms of feel and flex. The spandex element means that if you actively tug at two parts of the jacket, you’ll feel and see it stretch which is great when you’ve got a rig on underneath. Alas, as with any jacket, you’re never going to be truly covert with a rig on that has baton, cuffs, radio and Pava spray, but again the spandex really does make it that little bit more comfortable by giving that element of stretch.
The trend with First Tactical stuff seems to be strength through stitching, and the softshell jacket follows exactly this mantra. The liner which could easily have been one or two pieces, has instead been broken down into separate stitched areas. I counted 15 sections altogether of inner stitched fabric. This gives a far enhanced level of strength and resilience to the overall material and if a part goes, there’s a greater chance of saving it rather than having the rip continue through the entire jacket.
Unlike some other jackets, nothing is glued here, including the zipper sections for the pockets. Everything is stitched which gives that top end finish and extensive durability.
For the parka and jacket systems, this fits inside simply enough by just pushing the arms through the parka. After a bit of practice, you can take the parka off whilst leaving the softshell on which saves on phaffing around with tugging at arms, etc.
It’s always a wary reviewer who looks at multiple items from the same manufacturer and struggles to find a fault, but again, credit where it’s due – for the price of the jacket you are getting a very well-engineered, high quality, comfortable bit of outerwear that can keep up with the demands of the job.
First Tactical, even with their limited, refined range, look like they're set to become brand leaders for tactical clothing.