Every winter I seem to face the same problem. The temperatures here in Ohio are unpredictable, but they start to drop substantially in the latter part of October and don’t reliably warm up until sometime in March. Say what you want about my determination or toughness, but that’s roughly five months of cold weather and there’s no way I can go that long in-between range trips. In the past, I’ve tried to fight the elements with varied success. A heavy jacket will keep my body warm. North Face boots work fine to keep my feet cozy, and a couple layers of pants will do the trick for my legs. The only thing I haven’t been able to find is a pair of gloves capable of adequately protecting my (cold-sensitive) fingers from the wintery weather.
I recently received a pair of Mechanix Wear Original Insulated gloves as a Christmas gift from my family. After using them for around a month, I’ve had the chance to try them in various weather conditions and situations. Read on to see if they’re finally the answer I’ve been seeking for cold weather range time.
Possibly the most impressive aspect of the Original Insulated gloves is their fantastic quality. Every seam is double-stitched and the seamless, synthetic leather palms are very rugged. The hook and loop closures lock together snugly and the only real issue I’ve experienced as far as glove quality is concerned is that the spring clip that holds the gloves together caught on something one day and fell off. Overall and with the admission that I haven’t used the gloves as long as other pairs I own, I feel that they’re very solidly built.
As I mentioned, the palms of each glove are made of durable and somewhat stiff synthetic leather that is seamless across the hands and fingers. This same material also covers the tips of each finger. On the backs of the gloves is a SoftShell outer that apparently is intended to repel moisture and ward off wind. The insides of the gloves are lined with insulating fleece and the back of each hand is protected by an extra layer of the insulating material.
I don’t exactly have large hands, but I typically wear either a medium or large size glove. For these, I asked for mediums and I am glad I did. I’ll talk about dexterity in the next section, but close-fitting gloves are absolutely crucial if you want to be able to operate the sometimes-small controls of most firearms. I feel that the mediums fit very true to size. It might be banal to say they fit me “like a glove”, but the saying seems to hold true in this case. If you’re unsure about sizing, Mechanix does have a useful chart on their website.
When it comes to the sorts of activities I would expect to perform on most range days, the Original Insulated gloves fare very well. For anything above .22 LR, it’s still rather simple to load magazines when gloved. I’m not sure any gloves would work well with a round as small as little Long Rifle pills.
Firearm manipulation remains very manageable with the Mechanix gloves. Unless you have unusually large hands or fingers, standard trigger guards should be no problem. Pistol slides are easy to grip and charging handles on everything I own are totally usable. These factors were paramount to me before selecting a new pair of gloves so I’m very happy to find that they work so well for shooting.
Mechanix claims that the gloves are usable with smart phones and other touch-enabled devices thanks to the TouchTec material in the index fingers and thumbs. While it is true that phones will register a touch through this material, the force needed to achieve one is enough that I’ve generally resorted to removing the gloves before using either of my phones. This decision is only further supported by the lack of precision offered by the gloves (or any gloves for that matter).
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering, “well, are they warm or not?”. The answer, as you might have suspected, is both yes and no. No, they’re not appropriate for scaling Everest, hanging with the penguins at the South Pole (during winter), or sub-zero range days. In fact, I’m not sure that there is a glove that works well for that last use case. However, they do work well on days when temps creep below freezing, but stay above 20 to 25-degrees Fahrenheit.
The real issue is that while the synthetic leather material that covers the palms and fingertips is very warm, the more flexible SoftShelll fabric on the backs of the gloves doesn’t quite muster the same performance. The gloves feature a thin layer of fleece throughout their insides and an extra layer covers the back of each hand, but the insulation doesn’t make up for the SoftShell’s mediocre performance on extra-cold days. The SoftShell suffers most against wind and on occasions where temperatures dip into the teens. Once the cold air penetrates this thin layer, the insulated sections and faux leather palms become mostly useless.
The Original Insulated gloves are advertised as water resistant. In this regard, I’ve found them to be relatively strong performers. If dunk my hand in standing water, they’re not going to help me, but they’re excellent on rainy or snowy days. You might feel the chill of the snow through the gloves after some time, but moisture is unlikely to penetrate.
The Original Insulated gloves from Mechanix may not be perfect, but they’re very solid choices for cold weather shooting. They offer plenty of dexterity to manipulate firearm controls and load most magazines and are durable enough to withstand classes or other outdoor use cases. Just don’t count on using them with your cell phone.
If you live in an area where temperatures frequently drop below 20-degrees Fahrenheit, it’s likely that you’ll find that the Original Insulated gloves simply cannot muster the warmth necessary to extend your days outside, on the range or otherwise. However, if you live in a slightly warmer locale, the gloves will likely be perfect. My fingers are admittedly sensitive to the cold, but here in Ohio, they’re comfortable most of the time and are very usable in almost any temperature between my arbitrary 20-degree floor and warmer 60 or 70-degree days. They’re also well priced at around $25. With realistic expectations, I have absolutely no problem recommending the Original Insulated gloves from Mechanix Wear.