Some years ago, we released an article in the ‘A Closer Look At’ series which went into detail about the company 5.11 Tactical, and generally acknowledged that their kit was robust and good quality. It will be interesting then to know that the founder of 5.11, Dan Costa, has since moved on to a new project in the form of a company called ‘First Tactical’ which was launched on April the 1st, 2015.
With a UK arm now operating, we’ve had the chance to get our hands on some of their kit. It’s worth nothing that their use is primarily Emergency Services / Law Enforcement, however as with lots of this kind of thing, there are cross overs in some areas.
For this, we’re looking at the First Tactical Tactix Tactical pants. These are available in black, khaki and navy and go for £64.95 on the FT website here: Men's Tactix Tactical Pants | First Tactical Europe and their primary remit is Law Enforcement / PMC / NGO. This review seems them in the Law Enforcement environment.
Image courtesy First Tactical
The first thing to note out of the bag, is the quality. 5.11 was known for quality machining of their kit, and Dan has clearly brought the same principles with him to First Tactical. I had actually bought a pair of 5.11 trousers only a month or so ago and they didn’t quite hit the spot for a variety of reasons, but these fit the bill perfectly.
The trousers are a polyester / cotton blend with a stretch capability, which gives that durable but light feel that you don’t get with an all-cotton trouser and they’re also reinforced with double ripstop fabric. Ripstop if you’re not aware, is the faint horizontal and vertical cross-hatching effect. The purpose is simple – if the fabric rips, it’s stopped by the interwoven ripstop fabric, meaning a hole doesn’t become a split doesn’t become a tear, doesn’t become a problem.
Normally, this results in a heavier garment, but again, clever machining and design means the trousers stay light but durable.
They also, unlike some cargo / khaki style trousers, don’t flare out around the thighs for that MC Hammer look, and stay fairly straight-line, creating a good, sharp look about them.
My big thing about them is the pockets. It’s as if someone looked at them during the design phase and had a list of features, one of which was, ‘lots of pockets’, which I love. You can never have too many pockets!
On the front, you’ve got map pockets either side, within which you’ve then got two further pockets on the inside wall of the leg. These map pockets also have little loop fasteners under the lid flaps, which are perfect for securing anything on a cord to, such as a torch, which would then fit into the pocket. For the NGO or PMC, the internal leg pockets can also take a pistol magazine if needed.
The flaps are diagonally Velcro sealed, which is more effective that horizontal Velcro as you’re more likely to make contact with the strips when closing in a hurry and don’t have to worry about a pocket half closed.
Tactix Tactical - Left, frontal view of pockets, right, internal view of map pocket with securing loop and inner pockets. Great for everyday carry storage.
Directly above that, you’ve got a slit pocket on each side and then your standard front slash pockets, both with a gear loop in them as we saw in the map pockets.
More pockets, yay!!
On the back end, you’ve got two slit pockets and then around the back of the thighs just on the other side of the front flaps, you’ve got yet another slit pocket on either side – 13 pockets in total.
Each one is spacious and has a purpose and use, unlike some brands which are more decorative or stylised.
Belt loops are stitched but the two on each leg side are also riveted, as is the one center-back. This gives increased security and also allows emergency tow should you go man down - the risk of the loops ripping free greatly minimised with this feature.
Rivets securing the loops with reinforced stitching - should
withstand the force if you need to be dragged out of a situation.
and in various parts, the seams are triple stitched. I did check, but it’s only double stitched under the crotch which in my experience is the one area most likely to give. Time will tell if this was an oversight. There is running gussets in the groin and upper thigh area though, which give you greater freedom of movement and less restriction when running / climbing / etc.
There’s also knee insert slits at the bottom of each leg, again Velcro sealed, allowing you to slip in the padded insert of your choice to give that extra comfort and protection, although FT don’t as far as I can see, sell these in the UK – they’re available on the US site
Insert point for the knee padding. Not available in the UK but you should be able
to find something suitable elsewhere.
It’s a functional, high spec bit of kit, and it feels and looks the part too. Sharp, neat and not OTT like some brands tactical trousers, you could pass this off without raising an eyebrow as everyday wear.
To actually wear it? Incredibly comfortable. The running gusset makes a huge different in terms of flexibility and comfort. There’s no need to hitch up the legs before you crouch or kneel, which is a massive benefit, and you feel that it does provide that layer of protection which some trousers don’t – on a pursuit they moved with the legs rather than fighting against them and didn’t hinder during a haul up over a wall. They clean easily enough as well, being marketed as stain resistant with a coating of Teflon.
Central running gusset - designed to stretch and move with you.
Also note the triple stitching for the backside, moving to double for the front.
Finally, YKK zipper and Prym snap for the popper ensure the mechanical parts of the trousers will last the length of the wear; again I’ve come across brands where the snapper eventually starts to fray out of its stitching or riveting, causing problems.
I’ve been using these trousers on patrol in place of my standard issue trousers (lowest bidder from China anyone?!) and the 5.11 trousers I bought last month, and it is leagues ahead. I would suggest attention is paid to sizing – I got a 36” but I’ve either lost a lot of weight (yeah, that’s it, yeah) or they’re generously sized. With an elastic waist anyway, I should’ve gone for the 34” – even with a belt they’re probably just a bit too slack for me, but that’s not a showstopper.
The pockets alone are able to carry the vast majority of kit and equipment I need out with me, which means I get to minimise my upper body load, increasing my comfort and resilience.
There’s nothing that concerns me about these, the price is average for a decent pair of working trousers (it's often higher for even less suitable trousers elsewhere) and the level of quality is frankly outstanding. When it comes to everyday wear in an environment that’s tough and demanding, there’s no such thing as over-engineering if it results in a stronger, more resilient piece of clothing that’s ultimately designed to protect and provide you with comfort. I'm a right fussy sod when it comes to tactical working trousers - they're either too baggy, pockets are not suitable, they're heavy, etc, etc, whinge, whinge, but these trousers from FT are pretty much as near to perfect as you can get for everyday tactical workwear.
As First Tactical grow their reputation, it makes sense to follow the man that brought us some of the best kit from 5.11, and these show that the reputational integrity will be as strong here as with 5.11, if not more so due to the more streamlined approach of FT. 5.11 was great, but it became jack of all trades, master of none as some might say – FT seems to have a smaller, more precise product line which will allow them to focus more on the quality and integrity of their kit.
No bad thing, and these trousers are a great sign of things to come.
UPDATE: So a few months on and numerous washes later and I've noticed that the trousers have started to lose the depth of blackness, with shiny patches around the seams at the pockets, and an overall greying of the fabric. The trousers after only a couple of months now look somewhat worn and tired, and create a two tone effect with the black top I wear for work.
Clearly, not acceptable and not something you'd expect given the price bracket of the trousers.
However, with a reputation for quality built up over the decades, Dan Costa the CEO of First Tactical doesn't muck around. After we raised our concerns with FT, they went straight to the production line and tested a variety of different dye techniques, settling on a double dye system. This was tested with fifty industrial washes and showed no signs of colour loss.
We've been assured that the new production trousers will be available with the next stock delivery, so if you're buying make sure you request a pair from the new production line with the double dye technique.
The measure of a company comes in its response to customer concerns, and with that, FT knocks it out the park every time.