Shooting gloves are not a must have item for all types of shooting, unlike hearing protection, or glasses are. However, there are some situations in which they can improve your grip and shooting or just make the situation more enjoyable (by not getting your hands cut nor burned).
Because there are different types of gloves for different purposes, when listing the best shooting gloves, it’s important to break them down into categories – otherwise you’re comparing apples and oranges. Therefore, for this particular article, we’ve decided to break them down into the following categories:
- Best Tactical Gloves
- Best Gloves for Dexterity
- Best Abrasion-Resistant Gloves
- Best Basic All-Around Gloves
You could probably argue that there are even more types of gloves out there, but we felt that these four would suffice to represent the shooting gloves market, without getting all convoluted and such.
The Best Shooting Gloves by Type:
List of the Best Shooting Gloves
Best Shooting Gloves
|Gloves||Thoughts||Availability||Mobile bottom line|
|Oakley Factory Pilot Gloves|
|Magpul Technical Gloves|
Reviews of the Best Individual Shooting Gloves
Below is an indepth look at the individual shooting gloves and their respective grades for making our best shooting gloves list.
Oakley Factory Pilot Gloves
Best Tactical & Heavy Duty Gloves
FINAL GRADE : A-
Oakley Factory Pilot Gloves Background
For heavy duty shooting gloves, the Oakley pilot gloves are my personal favorites, and the ones I use. The goat skin material is tough and durable enough, without giving up too much in dexterity. Other shooters, as well as myself have seen them last long enough to legitimize the price tag.
Furthermore, these gloves do use a legitimate carbon fiber and have great padding underneath the fiber. There are many cheaper knuckle protecting gloves out there, but they usually use a fake ‘carbon fiber’ so as to reduce cost.
Oakley Factory Pilot Gloves Specs
|Season||Winter and Spring|
Another thing I love about these gloves over others in its class is that I think they have the perfect breathability balance. They are thick enough for winter or cold activity, but also offer enough breathability that I’m not too uncomfortable in a TN summer shooting with these.
What I Don’t Like About Them: There are a couple of things I don’t like about them though. First is the double seam in the fingertips. I don’t think that was necessary in the design and it causes me to lose sensitivity in my fingertips. A single seam would have been sufficient, although I do understand that would reduce durability a bit.
Another thing is that there is no added protection or added cushion in the palm of the hand. Other shooters might not agree with me on this, but with prolonged rifle shooting, having a little extra material there can help.
While these gloves do not have touchscreen capability, I’m actually okay with that. At first, when I was shopping for gloves, I thought that was a feature that would make one better than another. However, I’ve learned over time that when you’re using a heavy duty tactical glove like these, they’re a bit restricted in individual finger movements and so you won’t want to use your phone while wearing the gloves anyway. Therefore, in something like this, touch screen capability is a bit overrated.
If however, you want a cheaper option of tactical or heavy duty gloves, then you might want to check out Freetoo Tactical Gloves.
I cover them more in depth in the section below called “Didn’t make the cut.” But basically, these are cheaper version of the Oakley’s. They won’t last as long. However, with all that said, they are pretty impressive for their price and could be a good option for those needing to save a few bucks.
Oakley Factory Pilot Gloves Pros and Cons
- Best Knuckle Protection
- Excellent Material
- Wrist Pull Material
- Extremely Comfortable
- Great Breathability
- Double Seams in Fingertips
- No Cushion in Palm
- No Touchscreen Capability
Magpul Technical Gloves
Best lightweight shooting gloves
FINAL GRADE : A
Magpul Technical Gloves Background
The best way to describe these is that they really are a second skin. Form fitting and very comfortable. While using these, I haven’t lost any sensitivity to touch or feel of the gun. There is no extra padding or buffer. These are lightweight technical gloves.
I’ve owned these for 4 months now and have put them through some pretty heavy use (used them with my AK-47 a couple of times as well), and they are still holding up.
While these probably won’t last even near as long as the Oakleys, I’m okay with that. Buying gloves like that, you need to be prepared to lose durability, in order to gain as thin of a material to allow for such touch.
Magpul Technical Gloves Specs
|Season||Spring and Summer|
However, that being said, for such second skin feeling, they are lasting extremely well.
They do come with touchscreen capability and for a lightweight thin glove, this is probably an important feature. I still don’t like using my phone with gloves on. However, due to the excellent dexterity of these gloves, I can effectively use my phone without needing to take off the gloves.
What I Don’t Like About These: While I think they are very durable for their class, I’m not a fan of the lack of extra material in the thumb to finger part of the glove like some of their class have. That area gets the most wear and tear for shooting, and I’d have preferred MagPul to have some extra material in that area. This would probably increase durability, and not cause a loss of grip or sensitivity.
But as you can see, after trying out many, these are the ones I kept for myself and thoroughly enjoy.
Magpul Technical Gloves Pros and Cons
- Second Skin Feeling
- Touchscreen Capable
- Breathable Material on Top
- No Thumb-to-Finger Extra Material
5.11 High Abrasion TAC Gloves
Thicker, durable, but less sensitivity
FINAL GRADE : B+
5.11 High Abrasion TAC Gloves Background
These make the list because they’re a very good, heavy duty workman’s gloves and are exceptional for the price. They don’t beat out the Oakleys in the heavy duty arena because they aren’t as technical, nor as high quality. And to be honest, personally I’d rather pay an extra $20 to get all of that. However, they deliver on placing material in the right spots and don’t fail in any particular area. Basically, they’re a decent pair of gloves, but nothing really too special beyond just taking a lot of wear.
5.11 High Abrasion TAC Gloves Specs
|Season||Winter and Spring|
I personally like the bit of padding in the knuckles and the use of material around the thumb to finger area. Also, the material on the top of the glove allows for venting which helps with controlling sweat, which can be important for those who sweat a lot or who shoot in hot climates.
What I Don’t Like About Them: However, while these are durable, the type of material causes the reduction sensitivity and feel of the gun and make it a bit harder to shoot with. The moment I have to shift my hands around to grab a mag, or to switch something on my rifle, these start to lose a grade with me. They are very dextrous, however, I’m just not fully a fan of the synthetic material they used over the finger tips.
But, overall, these gloves are thick, strong and well made and well priced to boot.
5.11 High Abrasion TAC Gloves Pros and Cons
- Well Priced
- Durable Workman’s Gloves
- Low Sensitivity
Blackhawk A.V.I.A.T.O.R. Gloves
Best old school pilot gloves
FINAL GRADE : B+
Blackhawk A.V.I.A.T.O.R. Gloves Background
I’ll admit, the old school aviator gloves are not my kind of shooting gloves. However, talking with Ryan Cleckner, another editor of Gun University, pilot gloves are his glove of choice….leave it to Rangers.
He prefers these because those are what he trained with while in the military and therefore, are the ones he continues to choose.
But he’ll be the first to say, that doesn’t mean they’re the best…especially for normal every day shooters.
So, what’s important about the aviator gloves?
Blackhawk A.V.I.A.T.O.R. Gloves Specs
|Season||Winter to Summer|
Well first, these are made out of nomex material which is designed to be flame- resistant, and not melt.
That’s not to say that the Oakleys above couldn’t handle a hot muzzle. However, out of them all, these are the only ones I’d trust to brush up on a hot suppressor…for a bit of time.
The thickness of these make them good for most seasons. However, they don’t have much breathability, if any (I get it…they are meant to be flame retardent so…yeah). So those of you who have sweaty hands, might find these uncomfortable.
What I Don’t Like About These: When it comes to pricing, these can be a bit much. There are some cheaper nomex aviator gloves out there like these military uniform supply ones. However, you’ll find when comparing those to the Blackhawk, the Blackhawk’s quality is above and beyond.
So, if you’re looking for a legit, high quality nomex pilot gloves, these get our vote.
Blackhawk A.V.I.A.T.O.R. Gloves Pros and Cons
- Flame Resistant
- Won’t Melt
- US Military Specs
- A Bit Pricey
- Loose Cuff Area
Gloves That Didn’t Make the Cut
There are a lot of gloves that were tried that didn’t make the cut. Some of them are really popular with other shooters. However, for the reasons listed below, each one had something about them that caused them to be beat out by our list above:
Definitely a great competitor to the MagPul Technical gloves, however, there were a couple of features I didn’t like that ultimately gave an edge to the MagPuls. First, I wasn’t as much of a fan of the chosen material. It does seem sturdier, but it also reduced hand sensitivity in the fingers. Second, the cuffs didn’t really fit well. With the slit in them, I felt like it caused them to move around a bit more than I’d of liked. Finally, these cost more than the Magpuls.
Great rugged durability. However, didn’t like the rubber grip pads on them. Furthermore, based on the price, I do not think they provide a good value considering it lacks many other features that gloves in its price have. I also don’t like their extremely long cuff band – would interfere with my coat cuff, but I’ve heard the new version did correct this issue.
Buyer’s Guide to Shooting Gloves
Gloves aren’t just for the snow. In fact, when it comes to shooting, there are some situations where you wouldn’t want to be without a suitable pair of shooting gloves. Furthermore, there are many features to consider when buying them and just because a pair is higher priced, doesn’t mean it is necessarily better.
It’s for this reason, we’ve developed this buyer’s guide to shooting gloves. To supplement the list of reviewed gloves above, we’d like to showcase and help explain why they made the list. Furthermore, we’d like to help you decide which type of glove you should get for your purpose, what features you should look for, and how to save money where possible.
Hopefully, combined with the information in this shooting gloves buyer’s guide along with the and the list of gloves above, you’ll be set to find the best shooting gloves for you.
What are Shooting Gloves for?
Gloves are for one thing: protecting your hands.
Previously, you may have only worn gloves before to protect your hands from the cold, however, shooting gloves are also great for protecting your hands from your gun! That’s right, shooting gloves can actually help protect your hands from your gun in certain situations.
Depending on the type of firearm and the style of shooting, bare hands can either be burned or uncomfortably hot (some guns can get VERY hot), they can be cut or scraped operating the gun, they can slip on the gun when wet (sweat, rain, or blood), and for some shooters, they can be exposed to excessive recoil.
Of course, a good pair of shooting gloves can help protect you from the elements as well whether you are in cold weather or you are at risk of cuts, bangs, and bruises from objects (e.g. broken car glass, sharp edge of a metal door, etc) or even potentially fighting in a tactical environment.
Cold Weather Shooting
There are two main problems with shooting in cold weather that a good pair of gloves can solve: discomfort and poor dexterity.
First, the cold can be miserable on your hands!
And it’s not only uncomfortable to have really cold hands, it can also be dangerous. Frostbite is no joke!
Second, even if the temperatures are above freezing, cold hands can be stiff to move and you can lose a lot of your feeling. These symptoms can often result in poor shooting performance. After all, if you can feel your firearm (and you trigger) well and you can’t move your hands well, how do you expect to shoot well? Honestly, it can be downright unsafe in some situations.
However, be careful here. I prefer to have gloves that may not be as much insulation as I’d like for comfort as a trade-off for not having gloves that are too thick to properly manipulate my firearm. Only you can decide the right balance – perhaps consider a thin set of gloves for shooting underneath a larger set of gloves for warmth in-between shooting?
Hot Weather Shooting
Shooting gloves can be useful in hot weather too.
First, guns can get hot when you shoot them. They can be even hotter when they’re sitting out in the sun on a hot day (especially steel guns). Second, if it’s a really hot day, sweat can really cause a problem with effectively controlling your firearm.
In hot weather, you’ll want burn protection but not insulation.
All guns heat up when you shoot them. If you’re shooting a lot (or quickly), they’ll heat up even more. And, some types of firearms can cause more of a problem with heat.
For example, a Glock pistol slide can get hot when the pistol is shot quickly for quite a few rounds. However, it’s not too hard to not touch or get burned by the slide of a Glock and the polymer frame does a great job protecting you from the heat. Also, if it gets too warm, hopefully you have a quality holster to hold the firearm for you.
However, if you’re shooting a semi-auto rifle, like an AK-47 [link to best AK-47 article] for example, the gun can get very hot on your hands quickly! On your second magazine out of the gun with only fairly rapid fire, you’ll quickly wish you had a pair of shooting gloves to protect your hands from the heat.
This is even more true if you are shooting a firearm with a silencer/suppressor – they can get much hotter than the gun (and much quicker too).
Again, depending on the style of firearm and your style of shooting, your hands can get cuts and scrapes without shooting gloves.
Even on a pistol, an improper grip can expose you to “slide-bite” wherein the reciprocating pistol slide can cut into the web of your shooting hand between your thumb and trigger finger. Also, I’ve cut my have more than once on fumbled (but forceful) magazine changes or firearm manipulations.
When it comes to shooting long guns in “tactical” situations cuts and scrapes are even more prevalent. Manipulating the firearm, magazine changes, and some guns with particularly sharp edges (we’re looking at you again, AK-47s) can all cause scrapes. Heck, we’ve even seen cuts when trying to operate a “tactical” shotgun quickly.
Minimizing Felt Recoil
Gloves can mitigate the shock felt from the gun’s recoil through your hands–especially for steel guns.
The right set of shooting gloves can help you keep a better grip on your gun and improve follow through for pistol shooters.
Also, new shooters in particular tend to be more sensitive to recoil which can negatively affect their learning experience.
Remember, confidence is one of the keys to good shooting. Wearing a pair of the right gloves can give new shooters a higher degree of comfort and control.
What type of firearm will you be shooting?
It’s very important to consider what firearm you’ll be shooting when choosing the best shooting gloves. Gloves come in all shapes and sizes each of which are better for different types of guns.
Rifles and Shotguns
If you’re shooting long guns you’ll need to base your chosen style of glove off of the type of shooting you’re going to be doing.
For example, when hunting, if you’re going to sit up in a blind all day waiting for deer in late fall, you’re going to want something with warm enough insulation. These will keep your hands warm all the way up until it’s time to shoot. However, if you’re hiking around on the ground, you’ll likely want a pair of gloves with less insulation so that your hands don’t overheat and with enough dexterity to easily manipulate your rifle and other gear like binoculars or game calls.
The problem with heavy gloves is that they may not offer as much dexterity as you may want. When choosing heavier gloves, be sure to pay close attention to the material that they are made of. Opting for high-insulation but thin enough that you can safely operate your firearm is key. There are countless stories of negligent discharges of a firearm when someone was wearing thick gloves and they couldn’t feel the trigger.
In “tactical” or competition situations where you may be shooting your rifle or shotgun quickly enough to get it hot and you’ll be manipulating the firearm rapidly, you’ll want to focus more on protection from burns and abrasions. Having gloves made from a thick material, but not extra insulation for warmth, are ideal here. Thick enough to protect but thin enough to safely operate your firearm are key here.
When shooting a handgun, you’re going to want much more dexterity than when firing long guns because the controls on the handgun are typically much smaller and most of your aiming and control will come from one hand. Sure, your support hand helps a lot but some shooting situations require one hand and you’ll only have one hand when drawing from a holster or reloading. And, although your support hand helps, your firing hand is doing most of the work and you don’t have other parts of your body involved (like your shoulder for long guns).
In addition to smaller controls (and magazines) on handguns, feeling the trigger well can even be more important. No, we’re not saying that trigger control is necessarily more important with a handgun. However, it is MUCH easier to move the aim of a handgun off target with poor trigger control than a rifle. Any extra material and insulation can alter your grip and finger movements when aiming and squeezing the trigger.
Some people think that fingerless gloves are a good compromise here between hand protection and dexterity. If that’s you, we don’t want to stop you. However, we only recommend full-finger shooting gloves. Regardless of the reason you’re using shooting gloves, it is to protect your hands from something – why not protect the most fragile part (your fingers)?
What type of glove features are best for you?
Shooting gloves each have their own individual features. But it’s up to you to determine which will suit you best. Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly found ones.
These gloves are known for their ability not to melt or burn under extreme heat. And fire-resistant does NOT mean that they are fire-proof or will protect your hands from fire..
Military/police/tactical shooters often like them because they offer a melt-proof variable against hot gun barrels or suppressors. A hot suppressor can reach temperatures in excess of 500 degrees. You don’t want to touch these, even accidentally, without some form of heat protection. Fire resistant gloves are often made of materials such as Nomex or Kevlar.
Cut resistant gloves are commonly found in use by tactical or law enforcement units due to the possibility of sharp weapon encounters and protection from sharp parts of gear. But that doesn’t mean everyday gun owners shouldn’t have them too. Cut resistant gloves are great for hunters who travel through heavy vegetation–especially thorny or otherwise sharp brush. They’ll protect your hands and not cut open if they get snagged. Cut resistant gloves are normally made of Kevlar or Dyneema.
Cold Weather Insulation
Thick cold weather gloves will limit your hands and fingers’ movement and thereby your ability to shoot a firearm. But so will freezing them solid. Fortunately, recent advances in glove technology have allowed these gloves to be much thinner than ever before. Cold weather gloves are often made with synthetic blends such as polyester, spandex, and neoprene.
Hard Knuckle Tactical
If you need some real knuckle-busting protection, you’re going to want a pair of hard-knuckle tactical gloves. These are great for law enforcement or other tactical situations where you’re breaching or shooting off barricades. But avid outdoorsmen might want to consider these as well especially if you’re going to be shooting out in rocky terrain. These gloves can be constructed out of many different materials; however, the knuckles are often constructed out of Kevlar or polycarbonate.
Soft Knuckle Tactical
These knuckle protectors are the less intense version of the hard-knuckle above. They provide back of the hand protection while providing more dexterity to the wearer. These are great for anyone looking for bump and bruise protection without the added bulk of hard knuckles. The knuckles on these gloves are generally made of thermoplastic-rubber or high density foam.
What glove material is best for you?
When it comes to shooting gloves, there are two different categories of materials: synthetic and natural materials. And each of these styles have their own advantages.
Advantages and Comparison of Natural Materials
- Often made to a higher standard of quality
- Can be more dexterous while offering protection as a thinner glove
- They often last longer .
- Many times they feel nicer to the touch
Examples of Natural Material: Leather, Suede, Goatskin
There are some pretty big differences between natural materials. For example, if you’re looking for something soft and lightweight, goatskin is the way to go. It’s not as insulating or shock absorbent as other materials, but it does provide the best finger dexterity. However, if you’re looking for something heavy duty and built to last, nothing beats good old-fashioned cow leather. Treated suede on the other hand can provide a bit more insulation for colder temperatures.
Advantages and Comparison of Synthetic Materials
- Often less expensive
- Normally they’re lighter-weight
- Can get advantages of high performance fabrics like quick drying or flame resistance
- Can provide warmth even when wet (polyfill insulation vs down)
Examples of Synthetic Material: Nomex, Nylon, Poly Blends, Synthetic Leather
Synthetic materials have a really unique advantage when it comes to using high-performance fabrics. For instance, Kevlar is used for many different reasons in shooting gloves–the two most common being for hard-knuckle gloves and cut resistance. Nomex, on the other hand, is great for heat and flame-resistant gloves.
How to Determine What Size Glove to Get
The best way to determine what size glove you need is to try them on. However, you may not always be in the position to do so such as when ordering online. But that’s no problem as long as you know how to measure your hand for a proper fit.
When measuring your hands for gloves, you always want to measure your dominant hand. Your dominant hand is almost always marginally larger than the other. And by measuring the larger hand, you’ll ensure that your gloves aren’t too small.
The first step to measuring your hand is to take a flexible measuring tape (like one a tailor uses) and measure the widest part of your hand. But be sure to exclude your thumb. The measuring tape should wrap around the outside of your hand and between your forefinger and thumb. Record this value in inches as the circumference of your hand.
The next thing you need to record is your hand length. This is done by measuring from the tip of your middle finger down to where your hand meets your wrist. Again, record this value in inches.
Now, you’ll make the determination for your size. Look at your two values. Which one is bigger? That’s the value you need to be most concerned with.
For example, let’s say your hand circumference is 10” and your hand length is 10.5”. If your glove of choice comes in half-sizes, then you’ll need to pick up a 10.5 because your length is the bigger size. But if your hand circumference is 9” and you have a hand length of 8.5”, you’ll need a size 9.
However, not every glove manufacturer has a numbered size standard. Many will just have XS, S, M, XL, and so forth. If that’s the case, the glove company should have a sizing chart you can compare your measurements to. And if not, be sure to call or email and ask. While most sizes are transferable between companies, it’s not always the case. One company’s large is another’s medium. So, make sure you reference the manufacturer’s specifications and read reviews to see how others find the fit.
Other Features to Consider When Buying Shooting Gloves
And while the above considerations are among the most important, there are some other factors that may be important to you.
You should be able to comfortably don and doff your gloves. However, it can get difficult once you’ve got one glove on–especially with thicker cold weather gloves. Finding a pair of gloves that have draw tabs or loops can alleviate this problem. Also, if the tabs are loops, this makes a super handy method of securing your gloves to your gear with a small carabiner. Ryan admits to poking holes in the wrist of his nomex shooting gloves and adding his own loops with paracord for this purpose.
Adjustable Wrists and Top Closing Gloves
Not everybody’s wrist size is the same. And unless you’re willing to pay boatloads of cash for custom designed gloves, you’re stuck with a standard size. However, you can maximize your comfort by finding gloves that are top closing or have adjustable wrist straps or drawstrings. A well fitting glove should fit snugly at the wrist. However, gloves with wrist adjustments take longer to put on and take off.
In today’s modern era, touchscreens are everywhere. That includes phones, tablets, and cameras. But generally, you’re not going to be able to operate those screens unless you pull off your gloves. However, there are gloves out there that have special filaments sewn into the fingertips that allow you to work your touchscreens while shooting. And while you might not want to answer your phone, you may want to track your shooting data via a tracking tool like MantisX.
On that note, here’s an important tip: if you’re going to shoot with gloves, you MUST practice with gloves!
If you’re looking for a quality pair of gloves that’s built to last, take a look at the stitching patterns used. Are they double stitched? Or single? While lighter weight materials don’t require heavy stitches, you may want to consider it for leather or suede. Also, is the stitching in a bad spot? We hate when the stitching interferes with our feel and control of the trigger.
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About Roy Chesson
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