Uniforms That Are a Cut Above

A law enforcement officer who has received a uniform allowance can testify that officers need to get the most amount of bang for their clothing buck. "Law Enforcement Technology" recently tested the Magnum Stealth Spec shirt and pants. We determined these new products are ready for swearing in.

Constructed to climb and conceal
The Magnum Stealth Spec pants have double-stitched reinforcements, a flat front and VELCRO closure pockets. They are cut looser than conventional jeans but drape close enough to the body for tackling chain link fences without getting stuck. The Magnum Stealth Spec pants have two striking features. First, they have plenty of useful and strategically placed pockets. There are six obvious pockets and six not-so-obvious. It took about a month of wearing the product to find all of them. Second, the material is as heavy as most work pants, which differs from several other contemporary products.

The Magnum Stealth Spec pants have concealed knee pouches. Officers can actually use these pouches, as the material is durable enough to handle skidding on the knees.

The pant cuffs are wide enough at the bottom for a subcompact in an ankle holster. For uniform specifications that require blousing, Magnum provides holes for the cord.

The back pockets appear to be conventional rectangular seat pockets with VELCRO closures. The average wearer can go weeks reaching for his wallet and never realize Magnum's built-in bonus. In the same opening is a pocket channel large enough to hold a ticket book. These economy-sized pockets also add an extra layer of material that covers the entire backside.

Our wear testers experimented with the advantages of a huge pocket. They walked around with collapsible batons, full-size duty weapons and ticket books in the dumpster-sized pouches. Eventually we determined that what goes back there would be under the wearer when they sat down. These pockets are perfect for carrying a few extra evidence bags, gloves or flexible cuffs.

The front slash pockets are made of a lighter material than the exterior fabric. They are roomy enough for a J frame, sporting full-size grips. We were fortunate enough to have a southpaw tester who carries a pocket pistol for backup. No one burned the pocket out with his backup weapon.

Originally we thought Magnum probably used the lighter pocket material in the front slash pockets because it felt better against the body. Later, in the California heat, we found the pocket design aided in ventilation.

The side cargo pockets have center bellows, a bonus for urban officers whose climbing tasks are fences and buildings. The bellows are more resistant to snagging than the military-style pockets. Additionally, they do not get in the way of a tactical holster as they fold flat when not in use.

There are two hidden "key" pockets suspended from the inside waistband. The pocket in front of the right hip is approximately cell phone-sized with a VELCRO closure. The other, centered in the small of the back, is a hideaway pocket where one can conveniently stow a spare handcuff key. For the working officer reassigned to a street crimes unit, it will hold the handcuffs.

The belt loops are wide enough to accommodate a 1 3/4-inch gun belt and stiff enough to keep the gun there. They are subtly thicker and wider than casual belt loops. If the wearer uses an inside-the-waistband holster, Magnum is the correct brand of pants. We would prefer one more loop on the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position to lock the belt slide-style holster. However, this was probably a deliberate design for single-strap, leg-drop holsters.

Dressed for comfort and professionalism
The Magnum Stealth Spec shirt looks like a premium shirt from a fly-fishing catalog. Cut longer in the trunk area, it hangs a little lower than a dress shirt, which our testers appreciated. It has a short button-down collar with hidden button corners underneath the collar points. The shirt comes complete with matching epaulets and a badge tab, which are easily sewn in. Some of the seams are triple sewn with heavy thread. There is extra tacking at several wear points.

One feature will be attractive to any perspective customer: the back of the shirt appears to be one piece. It actually opens up to a mesh panel, allowing the upper back to be ventilated. For cooler temperatures, the wearer is protected. In the heat, the wearer is relieved.

The shirt also has a hidden key pocket. There are four pen pockets on the right and left shoulders. Our testers found them to be useful and unobtrusive. The two breast pockets have rounded corners and VELCRO closures. The bellows around the edge allowed real-world items in these pockets, not just index cards. The bellows caused the bottom edge of the pockets to curl up a little when used, but wearers easily folded the edges down, and they stayed down. The inside collar has taping with the Magnum logo. This type of taping would look good on all seams, including the pants.

The Magnum Stealth Spec shirt gave the same amount of freedom of movement as a karate uniform without the bagginess. The material is embedded with Arkofix Non-Iron Treatment, which really worked, even after weeks of washing.

Formidable fabric
The 8.5-ounce fabric of the Magnum Stealth Spec pants is tightly woven cotton and feels similar to coarse denim but is more pliable. The shirt is 6.5-ounce fabric of similar design. The fabric is quiet and the dye is deeply embedded in the threads, making it fade resistant.

We experimented with some of the embedded qualities of the material. First, we attempted to "sun tattoo" the shirt by placing a Spyderco flat on the back of the shirt and leaving it out in the sun for a day. The shirt was unaffected by the sun.

The material also has an antibacterial treatment. We wore them a while without washing, which should be accompanied by "don't try this at home." This quality will be especially critical for officers who don a tac vest over the shirt on call outs, then end up on overtime.

Ready for duty
Our testers worked hard to push the envelope with the Magnum Stealth Spec clothing. One tester spent several days on the range at Gunsite while another went hiking. We put the clothing on duty and took notes. For the working tactical officer, Magnum provided two generous sections of comfort elastic in the pants waistband. Both the shirt and pants proved to be stain resistant and easily washable. They were amenable to full gear, including a vest under the shirt, and were holster friendly.

Magnum Stealth Spec clothing comes with a six-month, no-fade guarantee. After dozens of cycles, neither shirt nor pant showed any color change. They still exhibited their wash-and-wear and wrinkle-resistant attributes.

We expect to see this clothing on tactical teams and special units such as gang intervention officers. The Magnum Stealth Spec line has proven to be a cut above.

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches Administration of Justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. In addition to freelance writing, Bertomen teaches military small arms and law enforcement firearms.