Gear Review: 5.11 Tactical's New Jeans

These slightly stretchy jeans are made with shooters and concealed carriers in mind, plus a few little touches that add comfort on the range.

The straight-leg version of 5.11 Tactical's new jeans.
The straight-leg version of 5.11 Tactical's new jeans.mfg photo

If you’ve ever worn any of 5.11 Tactical’s pants, you know that they’re made with operators and shooters of all walks in mind. Often times, it’s the little things that make a big difference, and so it is with clothing meant for competition and the range.

With so many shooters and competitors choosing 5.11, the company has been expanding in recent years with less tactical and more every-day gear with a tactical mindset, if you well. That isn’t to say they’ve abandoned their tactical roots. They just have a deeper catalog now.

Recently, the company introduced a line of jeans, which means you can wear your 5.11 without looking like you are, and without advertising to everyone, "Hey, gun person over here, I might be armed."

At a glance, they pretty much look like…well, a pair of jeans. Right now they come in two fits, slim and the more relaxed straight-leg, and two colors, a dark indigo and the fashionably faded washed indigo.

So what makes them different than a pair of Wranglers or Levis?

First, it’s the fabric. These jeans are you’re regular denim, but an “innovative cotton/polymer (Lycra T400 ToughMax) mechanical stretch denim which stretches better, and recovers better. It’s also lighter than most jeans while still offering a substantial thickness and heavy-duty construction.

The unique denim means the jeans have some give, but they don't stretch out and get baggy.
The unique denim means the jeans have some give, but they don't stretch out and get baggy.mfg photo

I got my hands on a pair and tested them out to see if they were worth switching. I’m leaning toward yes.

As you might guess, the belt-loops are oversized and easily accommodate my 5.11 Maverick Assaulters Belt, which is pretty substantial and 1.75” wide with room to spare.

When I put my hands in the front pockets, I thought they were a bit shallow, but I soon realized this was for a reason.

When wearing any type of leg-platform, the bottom of the pockets won’t be pinched or covered by the platform or leg straps, meaning they can still be used as normal. The outer seam on the legs is also sewn without a noticeable ridge, so that makes long days in gear more comfortable.

There’s a change/knife pocket in the familiar place within the right front pocket and two substantial rear pockets, with an additional slash pocket over each that blends into the seam. They are sized to fit an AR magazine, but are useful for toting all kinds of extra things without adding bulk.

5.11 Defender tactical pants
They're also available in a slim fit, shown here.mfg photo

The cut makes it easy to kneel and crouch in the jeans, which is made even more comfortable by the slightly stretchy fabric that moves just enough to eliminate those harsh taut lines you sometimes get with denim that can really dig in if you have to hold a position for a long time—but they don’t stretch so much that you feel like you’re wearing something other than jeans.

The extra give also makes wearing an IWB holster a bit more comfortable as well. And the fact that they spring back into shape means they don't get loose and baggy after you've been wearing them for a while.

Overall they’re well-made, slightly overbuilt, and stylish while incorporating a few little features that make the shooting lifestyle a bit more comfortable.

They go for $69.95 on the 5.11Tactical site, but street prices should be a bit lower.