You might have seen that the color grey has become a bit of a trend, and a topic of conversation, in the tactical industry lately. So okay, I’ll be that guy who makes that joke…
But seriously, why has grey suddenly become so fashionable? Why is it suddenly ‘the new black’? Grey as a tactical or low-visibility color has been around for quite a long time. Remember the German soldiers in WWI and WWII? They predominantly wore uniforms of ‘Field Grey’, and in some cases ‘Mouse Grey’ in order to reduce their visual signature.
The ‘sea wolves’ of the German U-Boat forces not only painted their submarines in a low-viz shade of grey, they also wore uniforms in a shade of grey that bears a close resemblance to the ‘Wolf Grey’ of today (as seen in this still from the movie “Das Boot”).
The US Navy also painted all of their major surface ships a famous shade known as ‘Battleship Grey’, and to this day most aircraft in the US Navy and US Air Force are painted a subtle shade of low-visibility grey.
In the 1980’s and ’90’s ‘Urban Grey’ BDUs were quite prevalent as a low-viz / low-profile choice for Police SWAT units and other public service organizations looking for a more discrete and non-military look. Grey uniforms were also presented as the height of sci-fi military fashion in films such as ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Starship Troopers’.
Fast forward to the current day and it seems that everybody in the tactical industry has gone grey. Just do a casual search and you’ll come across a whole host of different shades of grey: Wolf Grey, Urban Grey, Glacier Grey, Shadow Grey, Storm Grey, MAS Grey, Ghost Grey….. I haven’t seen anyone come out with an ‘Alien Grey’ yet, but I’m sure its just a matter of time.
Even the old ‘Field Grey’ is back – in the form of ‘RAL 7013’ – through such companies as UF PRO (see photo below) and Claw Gear. By the way, the Austrian Armed Forces have for years used RAL 7013 as their standard color for everything from uniforms to vehicles and aircraft.
So, its no wonder then that some people are really scratching their heads about which color to use – MilSpec Monkey: A Real Urban Grey?