Gloves… One of the most important things you can invest in for manual work. Whether it’s shooting or climbing, landscaping or working in a warehouse… You need to find a glove that’ll allow you to carry out your job effectively but also protect your hands from your environment.
Amongst the professionals in the shooting world, Patrol Incident Gear have been a popular choice for some time, although they offer a number of lines for specific purposes (from women’s fit to sky diving) their two core lines are the Alpha and Delta Full Dexterity Tactical gloves. Their different approach to the market has won them acclaim and praise from the real world to the small screen (notably Ray Perry of SEAL Team wears PIG Alphas) and from there its led to commercial success with that large but strange market we all know and love… Airsoft.
In terms of the shooting world, we’re quick to dismiss Airsoft as “not real shooting” but for the most part we have the same requirements no matter the discipline. Grip is grip and comfort is comfort, when I grab hold of a window frame and pull myself through I’m under no illusions that I’m anything but playing soldiers but I do expect my gear to fulfil the same criteria as that if a real gunslinger.
It must keep me safe, comfortable and it should hopefully allow me to complete my task with minimal disruption and hopefully a little help along the way.
Durability • Comfort • Grip • Dexterity
It’s these four areas that define a gloves ability to do its job, so let’s look at each in turn.
Durability, a controversial point for many. But let’s not forget that any item of clothing is considered a consumable… Something with literally a “hands on” job shouldn’t be expected to last forever. Airsofters are notorious for expecting miracles out of their gear, often foregoing high speed at the expense of weighty durability.
The new design of the Multicam/Multicam Black patterned Alphas has apparently changed from their original pattern, much alike the changes in their Delta Gloves where the original pattern (PIG Delta Utility Gloves “Mk1” Ranger Green Reviewed here) was modified considerably to their newer design (PIG Delta Utility Gloves “Mk2” Multicam Black Reviewed here).
Whilst a balance has always been made with the gloves design, the emphasis has always been strictly on dexterity and comfort. What it created was a glove that was adored by its users and with a comfort factor and dexterity rivalled by none but at the expense of having to buy another pair on a more regular basis than say a Mechanix M-Pact or Oakley Assault Glove. This is the payoff for having the range of movement and comfort that allows you to focus on the task at hand… There has been a subtle shift however, the newer Alphas appear to be that little bit more durable than their older brothers, but the big question you’ll want to know is: Have they sacrificed dexterity for durability? Well the answer isn’t a simple one but the short version is, Not as much as you might think.
Please bear in mind that I’ve not had any personal experience with the older Alpha gloves so I can’t comment too much on the differences in design between their first and current generations but I can assume with fair insight that the changes are pretty much in line with those made on the Delta series.
Rich at The Reptile House has also reviewed the latest generation Multicam Alphas (Read it here) so I’d steer anyone his direction for a more experienced perspective. From initial looks the Multicam/Black gloves look awesome with the plain black bringing out the Multicam pattern and making it pop, who says tactical gear can’t be fashionable darling?
Sizing is the one area that has been amended as with the Delta series, be sure to check your hand/glove sizing is measured correctly before buying as once you’ve completely removed them from the packaging (tags etc), they’re non returnable. PIGs sizing guide is accurate, I’m usually a Large with older PIG or other manufacturers gloves but I’m a close fitting XL with the new Alpha and Delta models.
The durability appears good in initial inspection, I’ve played a couple of games so far with the Alphas and have used them for the odd task at home and work with no noticeable wear, that’s not to say they’ll last forever but gloves in particular will generally show you quickly how they’re built… these feel as solid as any I’ve had before.
The quality in materials and stitching is good, the gloves being made of predominantly polyester (90%) with nylon (8%) and Spandex (2%) making up the remainer. The gloves are also made in Vietnam, you’d think this might conflict with the ever present “Berry Compliance” but from the sheer amount of reference photos the guys on the front line are being issued or buying PIGs (Deltas and Alphas) with their own money.
Moving on from durability, the most immediate thing you notice when you put on a pair of well sized PIGs is their comfort. The Alphas follow on from a line of gloves that have excelled (in my opinion anyway) in comfort. The wrapped over finger tips stop that infuriating seam under the nail feeling that plagues other, cheaper gloves that really should have seen the light by now.
Ventilation holes in the fingers and palms help Wick that moisture away from your hands, the last time I used these gloves it was a damn hot day, none of the sweat was on my hands though.
A low cut Cuff, an absolute must have for a tactical shooting glove in my opinion. The gloves feature a Velcro closure in the root of the wearers thumb but it’s placement and ultra low profile design doesn’t impede movement and feels as comfortable as the Deltas with their fast fitting design.
The key thing that aids comfort in these gloves though is in the use of a single layer in all but a few places and the cut of the gloves itself. As mentioned, the fingertips are a best in class as far as I’m concerned… but it goes further than that. The seams that are a necessary evil have been placed in such a way that you rarely notice they’re there. This not only helps comfort but also leads directly into my next point, Grip.
The Alphas noticeably lack the grippy panels that made the Deltas such a great glove. Admittedly they had a habit of wearing away quite quickly but they were welcome for the brief period they were there. The newer Deltas have changed the implementation of this grip section considerably but the Alphas are rather plain in comparison.
Having used these gloves to load and fire my Gas Blowback MWS M4A1, I can attest to these being no slouch at keeping what’s in my hand nice and secure. Even slick, heavy gas STANAG mags do t budge and I’ve yet to see any issues with fumbling or lack of grip.
The single layer of Clarino synthetic leather used is of varying thicknesses on the glove and whilst other makes will use a single thickness doubling up in key areas of wear, PIG have approached the problem be saying “hey, if we double layer we’ll need to make a seam anyway…. let’s keep these gloves as thin as possible and just use the right thickness for the right job”. I have to say it works very well, the single layer gives you that gossamer fabric feel but with the areas that need a bit more durability such as the palm all the strength they need.
The final topic is Dexterity, something so intrinsically linked with PIG it’s in the name of the glove… Not only that but the promise of “Full Dexterity”.
Now having come from the thinner and lighter Deltas I was expecting a glove that was noticeably more clumsy and more akin to something made by another manufacturer, I was surprised to find that the Alphas don’t feel massively more bulky that the new Deltas I bought a few months ago. The main areas of difference are on the back of the glove itself, the back of the fingers being covered by additional material to help with abrasions with the knuckles having a split design known by PIG as flex joints to aid Dexterity and range of movement.
The rear of the hand also has a degree of padded protection but this area has zero impact on the gloves ability to move with the wearers hand.
The inter-finger webbing or Forschette is made from an ultra light and breathable mesh, this not only assists in the cooling and drying of the wearers hands but keeps the material elsewhere from bunching up and causing a loss of Dexterity. The outer forschettes (between index finger and thumb/ thumb/bottom of pinkie) are made using the same Clarino synthetic leather as the rest of the palm.
Other little points to note are that the Alphas also retain their touchscreen capability, especially important for that mid game selfie.
The hanging loop has also undergone a small buff in the form of being bar-tacked into place (although this is only visible from inside the glove).
Finally, a suede effect nose/glasses wipe sits on the rear of the glove (near the thumb), an addition I don’t use much but in a pinch it’s useful for cleaning a smudged lens.
Overall I’m impressed, it’s not a cheap glove… the retail price for the UK market is around £50 from the guys at Tactical Kit who were kind enough to supply these gloves free of charge for the review. Now I’m sure that will make a couple of you suspicious of my enthusiasm for the product but I can assure you, PIG gloves are something of a personal favourite of mine.
I’ve had Deltas for the last couple of years and have paid full retail for both previous pairs, I looked at the Alphas with an opinion of “what benefit do they have over the Deltas I know and love?” Well the truth is that people will have a natural favourite, but with the little extra protection on the back of the hand coupled with the minimal decrease in Dexterity I’m now firmly an “Alpha” man with the Deltas being kept as a loaner or spares should I need them.
Picture credits other than those taken personally by me.
Born To Lose/Live To Win @btl_ltw
• Greater Manchester Police Armed Police
• USSF Drugs Seizure (reposted from Operator As Fuck @oafnation_actual)
SKD Tactical @skdtactical
• Sizing Guide
The Reptile House @the_reptile_house
• Multicam Alphas
Neil Brown Jr. @neilbrownjr
• Ray Perry SEAL Team CBS production still
Spartan Airsoft @spartan_airsoftuk
• Various in game photos