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Posted: 1/22/2024 8:57:09 PM EDT
Hey all,

I was [tentatively] selected for the opportunity to go through firearm instructor school through my department and have a few weeks to gear up for ten days of outdoor shooting in potentially frigid temperatures.

Monday - Friday middle of February in the Northeast and the range is out on an island and experiences significant temperature drops. About 10-15 degrees colder than the reported temperature for the city with the wind chill.

I'd rather be over prepared than under prepared and was hoping to get some outdoors advice on what gear is good enough to get the job done standing out on the line for several hours in frigid temperatures and blasting wind.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
Link Posted: 1/22/2024 9:17:46 PM EDT
[Last Edit: intheburbs] [#1]
Link Posted: 1/22/2024 9:24:07 PM EDT
Dress warm.
Link Posted: 1/22/2024 9:29:22 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By intheburbs:
Most I've ever done is 5 days.  10-30°, 10 hours a day.  It fucking sucked.

This was my "loadout"....

Long johns - top and bottom
wool socks
insulated/waterproof boots
two pairs of gloves (to switch between shooting/not shooting) - I'd use thinner gloves/no glove while shooting, then thicker while listening/teaching/on break
layers - 4-5 on torso, I usually have at least three on my legs and arms
hoodie/balaclava for neck/face
knit/wool hat
Outer coveralls or similarly waterproof if rolling around in the snow
A case of hand/foot warmers

make sure whatever head warmth gear you choose works well/easily with your hearing protection
make sure your layers make it relatively convenient to take a piss
make sure your boots are comfortable and broken in
Make sure you still fit your boots with your thick socks.  If buying new, go a half or one size larger
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I'll start from the top and work down...

I'm thinking of just going with foam in-ear protection over the earmuffs to utilize a beanie easier. I tried doing some courses the other day with the muffs over the beannie and they basically slipped right off.

The layers for the upper and lower are essentially what you've laid out with tons of thermals and long johns. I don't know if we'll be running out full duty belts or if we're allowed to have different loadouts on the belts. Last year I had to wear a monstrous Carhartt that get getting in the way of my radio and wasn't a pleasurable experience doing drills in that huge puffer.

The gloves are one of the main things I'm concerned with now. Any good and trustworthy brands that, if I were to keep gloves on during shooting, would suffice for warmth/maneuverability? I have a couple pairs of Mechanix but those were for when I was on SWAT and they don't have much to them.
Link Posted: 1/22/2024 9:29:50 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By RuggedProof:
Dress warm.
View Quote

Almost won't be able to move with what my gameplan is for warmth...
Link Posted: 1/22/2024 9:35:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: Urimaginaryfrnd] [#5]
Must have some type of long underwear as a base layer. (not cotton - cotton kills). The problem with the heaviest layers is if you go inside they are too much but even the lightest weight is very helpful outside and tolerable inside. Wool warms even wet.

The best gloves you can find. Mil Spec if possible. “The North Face Montana Ski Gloves for Men”
Neoprene diving gloves might work.

Turtle Fur Neck Gator and or Winter Balaclava ( you loose most of your heat at the neck. Amazon and others have it “Turtle Fur
Shellaclava Chelonia 150 Fleece Neck Warmer “

Wool Socks and extra socks in a zip lock bag. You may need to double up on socks depending on what foot wear you have. Your hands and feet get cold first. Take some hand warmer “Hot Hands packs from a sporting goods store they are air activated . If it’s going to be really bad single digit or below Carhart makes Insulated coveralls the legs have long zippers and large enough to wear your regular gear under. Leg zipper can adjust open enough for a holster to hang out. “YUKON EXTREMES™ INSULATED COVERALL “

Insulated boot 1200 to 1600 gram insulation if possible if not really good wool socks.

Winter survival kit including axe or saw and means to start a fire, tourniquet and quick clot.

If you have half of this stuff you will be light years ahead of the rest. Main thing is best possible gloves + neck gator + base layer of long underwear. Most will have a good jacket but anything you can do to keep hands and feet warm is money well spent. 
If your boots are not waterproof put plastic trash bags in to stay dry.
Link Posted: 1/22/2024 10:33:52 PM EDT
Sounds windy, wet and mucky in addition to frigid.
Lots of standing around waiting to shoot or low activity stationary shooting.
I'd bring the headphones anyway both for extra hearing protection while standing around and for the warmth option.
I'd get some loose mittens to go over your shooting gloves for standing around, a neck warmer/balaclava, and maybe some rubber boots if it's really wet. Cheapos from Walmart salvaged my calm one year at the range.
A windproof option head to toe, plus rain gear.
At least one thing with a hood.
I bought a wool baseball cap that's very warm and adjustable enough to wear over a beanie. They're 15-20 bucks on Amazon and come plain black, blue or brown.
A couple of different weight fleece/wool vest options to help thermoregulate.

Link Posted: 1/22/2024 10:44:32 PM EDT
I’ve done a fair amount of shooting (as well as tons of general outdoor work) in those temperatures with army surplus wool fingerless gloves. They’re my go-to gloves for pretty much anything outside, unless I’m going to be grabbing onto cold/wet objects repeatedly, or need more physical protection. Put a pair of nice big mittens on overtop of them when you’re not shooting. Once your fingers acclimate, its amazing how long, and how much you can do outside before they start getting cold.

I’ve tried shooing in mechanics type gloves, and don’t like it. Same with neoprene gloves. My favorite, by far, is the wool fingerless gloves from the army surplus store. I think I paid $8.00 a pair last time I bought some.
Link Posted: 1/23/2024 7:53:07 AM EDT
We often talk layers in our clothing but you can layer your gloves as well.   I don't recall the year but a lot of years ago I learned that I could layer my isotoner, insulated gloves with some much thicker and fluffy gloves when hunting.   The isotoners always stayed on no matter what I was doing and the outer gloves were worn any time that I didn't need to do anything that required dexterity.   I have kept my hands warm at -20F for most of a day with this approach.   Isotoners don't hold up to hard use but they are cheap enough that they can be replaced often.   I think the idea would work even better with cold weather mittens that can be worn over the gloves.  

I was trying to remember if I learned about the Isotoner thing before or after my time in the Marine Corps.  When I was in the Marines they issued me two pair of gloves.   One was a knit/wool type type glove and the other was a heavy work glove.   I thought "Great.   Garbage for gloves."  My Dad always wore the knit style glove and the wind blew right through them.  I usually tried to find anything else.   But I never realized how well the two gloves worked when worn together.   The knit provided the warmth and insulation and the heavy leather kept the wind and water away.   I don't think that I ever saw Dad layer his gloves.  

Zippo makes a "Pocket warmer" that if you learn the trick to lighting them, they can really help when you are cold.   It is like putting a hot water bottle in your shirt pocket under your coat.   I have a couple and I can get them to work well enough to keep a couple in my truck for if/when I get stranded.   When you light them they get warm quick but if the catalyst doesn't actually light then they go right out.   They still provide a bit of warmth when that happens.   When the catalyst lights they stay warm for hours.   You control how warm by how much air that you give them.   They have a bag that they stay in that has cinch opening.   If you cinch it up tight the unit won't get much air and won't be as warm if you take it out of the bag.   It will get downright hot if you take it out of the bag completely.  

Since this is multiple day thing and appears to be away from your home, I would advise a way to dry your gear out between days.   Nothing is worse than starting a cold day two wearing clothes still wet/damp from day one.  It is noisy but in a pinch, a shop vac with the hose on the "out" side will move a lot of air and dry things out fast.   I have been known to stuff the hose in a water soaked boot and have it dried out in an hour.  You can do the same thing with gloves, coat sleeves, or about anything.   Hopefully you are driving and can take a one or two gallon shop vac, or something with you.

We hit the rifle range on a week in February in North Carolina.   It sucked.   Temp about 35F, raining all day.   We were soaked to the bone.   Normal drill was "Breath, Relax, Aim, Stop Breathing, Squeeze, Start Breathing".   That day it was "Breath, Relax, Aim, Stop Breathing, Try to Stop Shivering, Squeeze, Start Shivering, Start Breathing".   Fortunately we returned to the barracks every night to dry out our gear for the next day.   It was miserable.   I heard a few people say that they didn't care what points they got.   They just wanted done and out of there.   Points are a big thing for Marines.  

I hope that helps.
Link Posted: 1/23/2024 8:54:23 AM EDT
If there isn't a suitable building nearby, set up a warming tent with a torpedo heater or some such. Being able take short breaks and warm-up makes a huge difference. They can be rented.
Link Posted: 1/23/2024 9:46:25 AM EDT
[Last Edit: intheburbs] [#10]
Link Posted: 1/26/2024 4:18:29 AM EDT
Lots of good info, I just spent a week training on the range in Temps that got into the low teens. Multiple thin layers are going to be better than one super thick jacket. Make sure you stay dry.wear the thin layers under your duty/range gear and have a jacket that's short enough to go on top but not block access to the gear on your belt. I have a couple different weights of arcteryx atom/leaf cold weather hoodies I wear on top. A thin skullcap that can be worn under the helmet is very nice. I love my 4d tactical helmet pads but even with the heat from my head they were freezing solid. A buff can fit under a helmet and cover your neck as well.

None of the thin liner and tactical gloves are going to keep your hands warm. Some might be better than others like thin neoprene ones but none will be good enough. The thinnest glove I've found that still provides decent insulation is the SKD pig fdt cold weather glove. (The mechanix coldwork glove is similar and cheaper) For the most part I was fine in these all week in the low 20s. Last day in the shoot house and it was low teens I had to switch to a much bulkier outdoor research glove. A trick to increase the warmth of a thin glove is to wear nitrile/latex gloves underneath. As a complete vapor barrier they may make your hands sweat but they do help.

Link Posted: 1/26/2024 4:31:33 AM EDT
It sounds ghey but women's tights things are great for warmth. I used some of the wife's (thought I was going to rip them open) but they stretch a lot. They are super thin and don't bulk up under other layers.
Link Posted: 1/26/2024 10:50:03 PM EDT
Couldn't tag everyone who repsonded for some reason (getting an "Internal Server Error")...

I ended up getting several items from Carhartt with the discount. Luckily I have a store down the street from me and was able to try everything on and it was surprising how some of the sizes varied between jackets, hoodies, etc.

I have enough base layers to supply a small army and am going to roll with the Smartwool socks I use when skiing.

I'm the lookout for the surplus fingerless gloves locally and have about a thousand handwarmers for the pockets.

As far as I know, we're going to be setup with our duty belts (full loadout as it is a department run training) so I'll have to do some plug-and-play with having easy access to the mags for drill changes.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and input. It definitely made me a lot less stressed about the upcoming training.
Link Posted: 1/27/2024 1:59:21 AM EDT
Muck boots or Baffins for your feet, Peet shoe dryer for the hotel room. There’s nothing like putting on a warm, dry pair of boots in the morning. Wear thin liner socks under mid-weight socks, preferably wool. Have handwarmers and toe warmers with you.
Link Posted: 1/28/2024 7:29:52 PM EDT
even though you have a lot of base layers, consider silk.    silk > wool > various technical fabrics like under armor > everything else > dog poo > cotton

regarding gloves...   there are a couple of approaches, but it kinda depends on what you're doing.   if it's the typical "5 min of shooting followed by 55 min of standing around" then use a glove liner and ski gloves (swany can't be beat).   take your outer gloves off for 5 min, then put them back on to warm up again.

but also realize you can modify gloves too.   take a pair of warm gloves that are mostly usable but just a little too big to fit in the trigger guard, and cut the inside of your trigger finger just before your first knuckle.  sew a small square of velcro to the back of the tip and second knuckle.   wear the glove like normal til it's time to shoot, then just pop the end of your finger out and use the velcro to hold it out of your way so it isn't flapping around.    

i used to cut halfway through the first knuckle of the glove liners so i could stick my finger out to operate my phone or other touch devices but most glove liners now have phone stuff sewn in.

one other thing that i haven't seen mentioned is managing gear around your waist.   if you're going to be drawing from a holster and reholstering with half a dozen layers on, that can get annoying fast.  it will also potentially let a lot of cold wind in.   one potential solution is to use a battle belt, but you'll want suspenders most likely because the waterproof outer layers are often slick and your belt will sag and slide around.  so try not to use tight belt / compression to keep the battle belt up.  let the weight hang off your shoulders.

sometimes you'll want to be able to put your shell outside your gear too, kinda poncho style.   if you're going to be standing around in cold rain/sleet/snow all day, this can be a good idea to keep it off your gear until you need it.  but if you're repeatedly exposing it and shooting and then trying to stow it, then you may as well just let it get wet.    and one more related tip: if you have optics, don't keep them inside your shell where it's warm and humid, then pull them out into freezing temp.   you'll get a layer of frozen fog on the lenses that will be super annoying to remove.

i'd recommend being prepared to adapt.  try all these things before you go.  make sure you can get to all your mag pouches, dump pouch, etc with every combination of layers.
pay special attention to using the sling with all the layers.    when i use a chest rig/plate carrier, i switch to a single point sling, and run the sling through molle on my plate carrier so that it's not going around my neck/armpit.  it's short, and simple and doesn't get hung on everything or get in the way of mag changes, or compress my insulation when i'm wearing 4 layers of jackets

speaking of layers some of the $$$ systems have zippers that run around your waist and connect your jacket to your pants.  those are awesome for keeping you warm and dry, but add another dimension to accessing any gear you may have on inner layers or pants pockets
Link Posted: 2/2/2024 12:11:27 AM EDT
The other day I saw these at the sporting goods store, might be useful for heat on your core or legs https://a.co/d/5SgaN2d

Also, they make battery powered electric heated clothing. Not sure if it's worth having another piece of gear.
Link Posted: 2/4/2024 11:34:44 PM EDT
I'm hoping that the instructor recognizes that this time of year they need to get people off the line and warmed up more than would be the case in warmer months
Link Posted: 2/5/2024 8:37:08 AM EDT
Link Posted: 2/5/2024 12:27:17 PM EDT
Skimmed the thread, lots of excellent tips.  I'll reiterate and add,
-No cotton
-Thermals like polypro and a shell outer works very well, but noisy with the swish-swish.
-Amber Goggles, because glasses will hasten frostnip and Amber is useable 24/7-ish.
-Neck gaiter/half face mask works great with goggles and knit hat. Windproof knit hat is tits.
-Have a set of thin gloves, keep all skin covered.
-Minimal amounts of lube on the blaster, and you want a set of pliers with a needle nose small enough to hit pins.  
-Get the metal off your skin, strongly recommend belt/suspenders, or split chest rig.  Airflow around the core is important for warmth.
-Fllip canteens upside down, ice forms at the top and some is better than none.  
-Don't chew ice, it splits your teeth.
Link Posted: 2/5/2024 7:21:32 PM EDT
Nothing specific, but being a tad bit cool is way better than being too warm. Sweat is a huge problem.
Link Posted: 2/10/2024 11:12:21 PM EDT
Nothing to suggest, but we did an Appleseed on a lake in a COLD blowing wind.  It whipped my butt!  Walked into the hotel room afterwards, collapsed on the bed and slept till the next morning.  Shocked at how bad that cold took it out of me.
Link Posted: 2/13/2024 8:19:52 PM EDT
They ended up compiling everything over seven days.

Surprisingly enough, it was only disgusting today. The average temperature range for the week was about 35 F-40 F so it was actually not as unbearable as we had all imagined on the line.

Good news is I have some good gear for a tactical course scheduled in December of next year.
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