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Smith & Wesson Range Jacket Wear Test Review

First, did you know that Smith & Wesson has teamed up with technical clothing vendor Wild Things to make a line of clothing?  The new line is for both professionals that demand high performance outdoor apparel, and other people who carry guns that want stylish, functional concealed carry clothing.  Probably not – but you will.  Both companies are starting to roll out the new products as you read this.

Second, the choice of Wild Things is as a partner here says a lot about S&W.  Unless you are a world-class mountaineer or a member of one of our top-tier Special Operations military units, you probably haven’t heard of them.  They are one of the quiet niche companies that has been making top-of-the-line outdoor clothing for decades but weren’t much known outside of the selective circle of athletes that they served.

The new line of clothing for S&W includes performance shells and pants, as well as more stylish gear for concealed carry and plain-clothes assignments, for both men and women.  I’ll be reviewing the men’s Range Jacket here (which is very similar to the more military-styled Shooting Jacket).  But first: just what should a jacket optimized for concealed carry do?

In my mind, such a garment should do three things. 1) Be long enough to cover a holster-carried gun on your waistline.  2) Have one-hand easily accessible pockets that can carry not only a possible small gun, but all the other gear you need (or should have) when carrying a gun: pepper spray, ID, spare ammo, flex-cuffs, notepad, pen, etc.  3) Ideally have a dedicated holster-accepting or holster-incorporated compartment to carry a small gun in (no jacket will comfortably carry a full-size service pistol or revolver in a pocket—that’s asking too much).  I’d also add a fourth criteria: it should be discrete, and not scream “gun”, “cop” or “tough guy” to the world. 

The Smith & Wesson Range Jacket meets all those criteria, and then some.  It’s a Western-style lined jacket that’s suitable for temperatures between those that call for just a light wind breaker and those that call for an insulated parka.  It’s not so Western in appearance, though, that wearing it on the East Coast will cause people to think you pretentious.  In other words it blends nicely everywhere; it’s stylish and distinctive without drawing attention to you.  The exterior is made from tough, 10-ounce, water-resistant cotton canvas with contrasting nylon canvas trim.  It comes in three primary/trim colors: khaki/brown, brown/blue, and red/brown.  It has both right and left internal chest-level concealment pockets (with both zipper and snap closures) with a sewn-in elastic holster that fits a small pistol or revolver, as well as a panel of combination hook and loop material.  Thus, you can use your own either hook- or loop-faced nylon holsters to carry a  gun in these pockets if you choose.  (I had no idea that there was such a thing as material that incorporated both hook and loop material, but there is!)  The exterior front flap (snap-closing) pockets are big enough to also carry a small gun, and they have internal organizers for the aforementioned gear that you should be carrying.  Behind these pockets are fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets.  The jacket also incorporates two exterior Napoleon chest pockets (with zip closure), back shoulder gussets with spandex , and snap-closing side vents.  Rounding out the features are exterior lower arm pockets for padding if you choose to put some in (for long-gun shooting) and snap-adjustable cuffs.  The arm pockets could also carry light items like latex gloves, pens, and nylon cuffs if you want.

Some cool features of the Range Jacket are the S&W logo snaps, the revolver-hammer zipper-pulls, and the lining print with reproductions of blueprints of S&W guns from the 1930s.  These are all very subtle touches that won’t draw attention, but they definitely rate high on the cool factor scale!  Finally the fit of the jacket is what I’d call “semi-fitted”. For comparison: I’m 6-even/170-pounds, and the large fits me perfectly; if I was still 180, I might need the XL.

The Range Jacket is very comfortable to wear – there is plenty of room in it despite its semi-fitted cut, and the back gussets provide freedom of movement for arm motion (something I’m sensitive to).  The gun I choose to carry in it was a lightweight j-frame.  The CC chest pocket worked well with this classic gun, using both the incorporated elastic holster and an after-market hook-faced nylon one.  You can place the gun lower in this pocket with an after-market holster than the elastic holster positions it, if that’s your preference.  The zipper closure on this pocket is orientated correctly – that is, you pull it down to open, which is the only practical way to open a vertical zipper one-handed.  This proper orientation provides fast, one-hand access to the CC pocket.

The front flap pockets are nicely sized for a small gun, too – they are not so big that a gun will swim in it, nor so small that you can’t get your hand onto a gun situated within it.  There are any number nylon holsters on the market that will allow you to position your gun vertically or at an angle in these pockets.  The organizers in these pockets are also well thought-out.  The three internal compartments sit flat on the back of the pocket’s inside, and don’t balloon out into it, thus interfering with your hand as it tries to access items in the main pocket (this is a complaint I have against many compartmented pockets on tactical clothing).  They are sized appropriately for a cell phone, nylon cuffs, OC, and many other items that you should be carrying.  Finally, there are sufficient other pockets on this jacket to carry the “stuff” you normally carry in a jacket, other than your tactical gear. 

My bottom line on the S&W/Wild Things Range Jacket: I like it!  It’s discrete, it’s stylish (but not attention-getting), and it’s highly functional.