Recently, BLACKHAWK! released a new and updated collection of holsters, clothes and accessories. I was able to get my hands on the Tac-Life Softshell jacket just prior to it being “officially” available to the public. The mid-summer heat of the Carolinas was not the most ideal climate to test even the lightest weight jacket. Luckily, I was about to escape the heat and humidity of the south and head out to the more arctic climes of Norway and Iceland. By Gordon Meehl As expected the weather overseas was brisk with a daily rain shower so regular that you set your watch to. I had plenty of opportunity to evaluate how well the jacket protects against the weather. But, since the lands of the Vikings don’t feel the need to bestow upon their citizens the right to bear arms, I had to wait until I came back to the home of the brave to find out how it performed as a conceal carry jacket.
The jacket lived up to BLACKHAWK!’s claims. I remained warm and dry through every bit of weather that was throw at me during my time in the arctic circle. In all but the heaviest rains, water simply rolled off the jacket. There were a few times when the skies opened up that I noticed the jacket couldn’t shed the water fast enough but the polyester/spandex material of softshell never let water make its way to the interior brushed tricot lining. BLACKHAWK! says the jacket will also repel oils and stains but I’ll take their word for it. I liked this jacket too much to try to purposely trash it.
Not only did I want the jacket perform as claimed for corporeal weather protection, because it’s ultimately a shooter’s jacket, It had to be durable while being comfortable. The high density polyester four way stretch construction can withstand whatever you throw at it and be comfortable. Critical seams are reinforced with Bartack stitching. Closing up the jacket and shutting the pockets happen with the tug of super heavy duty YKK aquagaurd zippers. These Water repellant closers are coated in polyurethane and designed to be strong and operate smoothly. To further keep water from creeping in, the zippers are nestled in a rubberized seam.
Just as important as its durability, a shooter’s jacket must be functional. Articulated elbows ensure freedom of arm movement so your draw is not hindered. Solid, adjustable Velcro closures at the cuffs also help prevent loose sleeves from getting in the way of your draw. Side zippers open up the jacket almost chest high to provide easy access to your weapon whether it’s IBW or OBW.
The meat of any tactical jacket (tactical anything) is pockets, pockets and more pockets. The BLACKHAWK! TacLife Soft shell doesn’t disappoint in this regard either. Blackhawk! peppered the jacket with eight external pockets (including hidden exterior chest pockets) and three interior multi-purpose pockets. Inside pockets include a media pocket and media cord.
Other convenient features include an integral, adjustable hood with a water deflecting brim. A small exterior loop can be used to secure your shades safely and out of the way. Arm pockets are great for maps, ballistic charts or wallets. Spacious side pockets hold plenty of supplies and are big enough for MREs, extra magazines or bags full of reindeer jerky (I told you I was in Norway, right?).
The downsides of this jacket are few. Because of their construction, the zippers proved to be a little stiff and inflexible. The smaller zippers on the arms were a little difficult to operate without holding the sleeve tight with your free hand which happens to be the hand in the sleeve you’re trying to unzip. Lastly the strings used to snug up the hood have a locking mechanism that sometimes engages when tightening up the hood making it difficult to pull the hood tight until you get used to the how to lock and unlock the string.
All in all, if you are looking for a medium weight jacket to keep you warm and dry, that meets your tactical needs for weapons access, and that has the pockets you need for your EDC gear, then BLACKHAWKS! New TacLife soft shell should be on your short list.
What’s your favorite winter carry solution? Share it in the comment section.
Gordon Meehl is a Freelance Writer and Photographer specializing not only in Firearms but also the the American gun culture and lifestyle. A number of Gordon’s product reviews, gun tests and musing have been published in many of the industry’s most popular publications including Recoil, Offgrid, World of FirePower, GunWorld, Concealed Carry Handguns, Tactical World and Small Arms Review. Gordon is a long time shooter and competes in as many shooting disciplines as possible. He is known for his insightful yet slightly off kilter perspective developed from his time spent in the employ of major gun manufacturers combined with years spent as a stand up comedian. Gordon’s EDC is a Barnes Tac-XPD eating Sig P938 . His kit also includes an Emerson CQC-7 and Trayvax wallet. Gordon competes with an SMOSarms GFY 5.56, XDM9 5.25″ and a Mossberg 930 custom cerakoted by WickedGrips.com