Probably the most popular, misused, and overused word in the gun community. Tactical belt, tactical vest, tactical knife, tactical boots, tactical helmet, tactical patch, tactical glasses, tactical holster, tactical pen(seriously?), tactical pants, tactical gun, tactical OH MY GOSH! Let’s start by trying to define the word tactical according to the gun community. I have a Romanian AK-47. When I tell fellow gun enthusiast, they ask me if it is stock or tactical. Is it a regular AK with the wood hand guard and butt stock or is it black with accessory rails? So now anything that is black, can carry accessories, or can be modified is suddenly now tactical? But wait there’s more! Now anything you put on your gun’s accessory rails is suddenly now (you guessed it) tactical. Your gun has a rail for a flashlight? Just stick any flashlight on there and you now have a (tacticool word coming) TACLIGHT! Off the gun: flashlight. On the gun: taclight! It gets even better! Do you have cargo pants that have more than two side pockets? You now have tacpants! See how this works? Do you own something that holds a lot of stuff, serves more than one purpose, or can hide something in plain sight? TACTICAL! Anything being used by the military is tactical. Anything that is black is tactical. Anything that minimizes size is tactical. Anything that makes you look like an “operator” (oh gosh there’s another word) is tactical. The cap on your pen can now be used to hurt someone: tactical pen. The tactical laptop I’m typing this on has a tactical slot for the DVD remote control hidden under the keyboard. TACTICAL! Yesterday while browsing through pictures of “tactical” 1911s, I came across the worst tactical item yet: the tactical bottle opener. And we have reached a new low. “It’s okay Mr. Bartender, I can open it” as you pull out you handgun with your tactical bottle opener attached to the flashlight rail. Either panic ensues in the bar or your friends at the party think you’re the most tacticool person ever, you’ve just told everyone you have a gun and lost your tactical advantage (that was the proper use of the word by the way). You will also put yourself in trouble with the law because you now removed your gun from your holster, but I digress. Let’s consult the Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus to find the real meaning in all this tactimess. I will quote directly from their website so nothing will be lost in translation.
Definition: tactical (adjective) – of, relating to, or used for a specific plan that is created to achieve a particular goal in war, politics, etc. 1: a (1): of or occurring at the battlefront <a tactical defense> <a tactical first strike> (2): using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront <tactical missiles> b of an air force : of, relating to, or designed for air attack in close support of friendly ground forces 2 a: of or relating to tactics: as (1): of or relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose (2): made or carried out with only a limited or immediate end in view b: adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose The only thing closely relatable to the gun community definition is in 1: a (2) – “using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront.”
I don’t see anything about an item having to be black, have accessory rails,be modified, black, utilitarian, attachable, black, any article of clothing/uniform for that matter, or black. In its essence, tactical describes a form of strategy or how you execute your strategy. The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus lists synonyms for the root word “tactics” as: “approach, fashion, form, how, manner, methodology, recipe, strategy, style, system, tack, tactics, technique, and way.”
It is mostly how you do something but can also include the tools you use to do it. Like their example “<tactical missiles>” I suppose you could include your gun or knife as tactical. But let’s get real here. Just because something is used in combat or could be used in combat, doesn’t make it tactical. Just because you put all these accessories and “tactical” stuff on your gun, vest, belt, etc. doesn’t make you a more effective/better shooter (I’ll choose to avoid the word “operator” here (oh gosh I used it again)). Just because it looks flipping awesome in black doesn’t make it tactical. Something that makes your strategy effective is tactical. It has to do more with your modus operandi and not what you wear and accessorize with. So don’t go putting two bi-pods, two red-dots, two scopes, three flashlights, blah, blah, blah on you rifle and overall load out to make you look tacticool. Carrying your assault rifle shouldn’t feel like you’re carrying an M60. Your rifle and overall load out should be simple, purpose built, functional, and as light weight as possible so you can be effective as possible. If you worry about looking like a “tactical operator” (I give up) play more Call of Duty. If you want to BE an EFFECTIVE operator you should spend more time at the range and take training classes from real operators. Our veterans who have put their life on the line and will show you what works best based on real life experience. While you’re there, be sure to thank them and ask about their load out and rifle setup. That way when the SHTF you will be a prepared, effective asset and not fumbling around with your two scopes, three flashlights, and twenty-five pounds of rifle. As far as the word “tactical” describing everything in the gun community, I will just have to live with. The tactimarket is bigger than ever and everyone seems to be buying in. But my name is Eric Mavis, and I’m all tact-out.