For many law enforcement, security, and intelligence agents, dressing well in a tactical suit is just as much a part of the job as being prepared for engagement. Of course, traditional suits aren’t exactly designed for easy access to a sidearm or communications units, let alone for running or combat.
Thankfully, a handful of boutique companies have developed to help you get a suit that’s as indestructible as the kinds that James Bond or John Wick wear.
Tactical suits look as formal and stylish as a traditional suit, and from the outside no one would be able to tell what tricks you have hidden up your sleeve. But on the inside, tactical suits have a number of adaptations that make them much more formidable than the average set of jacket and pants.
For anyone who needs to move seamlessly between formal event and high-speed chase, a tactical suit is an absolute must. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about tactical suits: what they are, whether you need one, and where you can get one.
Key Tactical Suit Features
On the outside, you might have a very difficult time telling a tactical suit apart from any other custom suit. But tactical suits are designed from the first stitch to offer unparalleled performance.
The first thing that sets tactical suits apart from standard suits is what they’re made out of. Traditional suits are notorious for being non-breathable, inflexible, and generally uncomfortable in hot or cold environments. That’s not going to work when every ounce of performance you can pull from your suit matters.
Tactical suit makers typically turn to some of the same materials you’ll find in athletic clothing. These suits feature stretchy synthetic fabrics that are easier to run, jump, and fight in. Importantly, tactical suits ensure that the back panel has enough stretch that you can stand squarely and shoot from a stable isosceles position.
They also put an emphasis on breathability and moisture wicking, so you’re not left dripping sweat into your jacket as you’re chasing down a suspect.
Another key element to tactical suit materials is that they need to be protective. Some manufacturers incorporate rip-resistant materials that can hold up to small knives and switchblades. To be sure, the suit isn’t body armor – it will still puncture from a stabbing motion – but it can offer some level of protection against cutting strokes.
The rip-stop material is also much more likely to survive a high-intensity event than traditional suit materials, so you can still show up well-dressed for your next engagement.
A common complaint within the law enforcement and security communities is that stowing a handgun securely inside a traditional suit almost never works as well as it should. The holster weighs down and eventually tears the waistband strap. In addition, it’s difficult to quickly access your sidearm if your suit’s buttons are done up.
Tactical suits tailors take these problems seriously. Most tactical suits feature reinforced waistbands with dedicated holster attachments. The holster points are positioned at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock, ensuring that your sidearm grip is in an easy to grab spot while also keeping your weapon concealed under your jacket.
In addition, tactical suits swap out traditional jacket buttons for quick releasing magnetic buttons or snaps. On the exterior, these buttons look just like standard jacket closures. But when you need to access your weapon quickly, you can simply rip back the jacket and grab your sidearm.
Another thing that traditional suits lack are pockets that are actually useful. Typically, there’s either little organization or the pockets are hard to access easily underneath the hem of your suit jacket.
Tactical suits tackle this problem by giving you more options with easy access. Many tactical suits have pockets sewn into the inner lining of the jacket, giving you a place to store radio units, sensitive information, and other small items like tactical pens. They also move the pants pockets forward around your waist so that they’re not covered up by your sidearm holster.
Another thing to look for when choosing a tactical suit are protected pockets. For example, some suits feature RFID-blocking pockets that prevent anyone from scanning your passport or ID card. Others feature hidden pockets in the pants waistband or the collar to help you keep small, sensitive items from being discovered.
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Who Needs a Tactical Suit?
A tactical suit is ideal for anyone who needs to blend a formal dress code with active preparedness.
Often, that means intelligence agents who attend formal events, but also need to be ready for engagement with a hostile enemy. Of course, you don’t have to be James Bond to need a tactical suit in this situation.
Just having the ability to stow communications devices or a sidearm can be an important factor in tactical readiness at a formal dinner party or a high-end event.
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A tactical suit can also be useful for law enforcement officers. High-ranking officers frequently wear formal clothes to the office or to public events, but are on call in case of an emergency. When duty calls, you can run towards the problem without taking valuable time to change clothes.
High-level security agents can also use tactical suits. For example, Secret Service agents and personal security teams frequently wear formal clothes, but need the ability to engage with a threat on a moment’s notice.
For anyone in these positions, many of the adaptations that tactical suits offer are critical to response time.
The Top 3 Tactical Suit Makers
Tactical suits are highly specialized garments – chances are you won’t find one at your local tailor shop. In fact, there are only a handful of companies in the world making tactical suits right now. Here are the three best companies you can use to get a custom-made tactical suit.
1. Grayman and Company
Grayman and Company is one of the best sources for tactical suits. This Toronto-based suit maker builds fully custom suits that are perfectly fitted to your body and designed to your specifications.
The company has a number of tactical features available, which you can mix and match depending on your needs. For example, you can add adaptations to your suit like quickdraw buttons, cut-resistant sleeves, and RFID shielded pockets.
Of course, some features are standard: every suit comes with communications loops in the cuffs and collar plus covert pockets for items like handgun magazines and knives.
2. Tactically Suited
Tactically Suited offers a wide range of tactical formalwear, including bespoke suits. What’s nice about this company is that they have tactical suits for both men and women, and a selection of two-piece and three-piece suits.
Tactically Suited even offers tactical dress shirts, which are custom designed so that you can covertly and comfortably run communications equipment through your shirt.
Tactically Suited’s suits are definitely aimed more at law enforcement officers than international spies and security details. Many of the adaptations are simply reinforcements in areas that wear out quickly when you’re carrying a gun or need to stow a lot of items inside your jacket.
That said, Tactically Suited does have some features that are very attractive for anyone who is putting their suit through the wringer. For example, all suits feature flexible shoulders, breathable wool fabric, and reinforced waistbelts.
3. Suit Man Tactical Suits
Suit Man Tactical Suits got its start making suits for detectives, and it’s tailor-made suits are still built with a law enforcement audience in mind. You get a custom athletic fit, while the suit jacket easily hides items like handguns, magazines, and handcuffs.
Notably, though, Suit Man doesn’t pay as much attention to providing space for radios and other communications equipment as other tactical suit makers.
Suit Man only has a single men’s suit design, which is available in four colors. You can choose between a silk tri-blend or a more breathable wool fabric option.
The Best Tactical Suit
If you’re in a profession where formalwear and readiness go hand-in-hand, you need a tactical suit. For law enforcement agents, security professionals, and intelligence agents, having your suit work with you rather than against you can make the difference between life or death or between catching a suspect and having them get away.
To dress like you’re ready for anything, turn to three bespoke tailors for a feature-rich tactical suit.