SELCO: The Dangers of Looking “Tactical” When the SHTF

by | Jan 9, 2019 | Headline News | 70 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Selco at The Organic Prepper

    Every now and then I get into “rant ” mode, and then even I realize that I am being grumpy. I can’t help myself, I have to go through it, and usually, that means I have to write.


    My very good friend told me a story some time ago. This friend is into survival training, and he is a very good observer of people and events.

    He was traveling and landed in some airport somewhere.

    There he spotted a guy in tactical grey pants, 5.11 shirt, and dark glasses, tactical boots… the guy was looking like the “prototype” of “being tactical.” He was standing there with a “tough” expression on his face.

    He did not move.

    He was being all “tactical”.

    But being tactical means not standing out.

    The only problem is that he was sticking out badly because he was in the middle of hundreds of people who were in holiday mode; funny shirts, suitcases, travel bags, or business suits. Yet, he was standing there like a wannabe mercenary.

    I mean maybe the guy just likes to wear cool stuff, I do not have anything against that.

    The point is the concept of “looking tactical” went into some wrong and weird directions a long time ago for many reasons: books, Hollywood, survival industry, money… and that guy is a perfect example of how you can be dressed in tactical equipment and look tactical but still stick out ridiculously.

    Looking tactical at that airport probably means being dressed like you are going on a holiday, or business trip, or walking and acting like you are checking the arrival of a plane, or talking on the phone or whatever else.

    A problem with the tactical industry

    One of the cool things about taking physical courses is getting some equipment for testing in a “real” situation.

    It is cool because I like to check new things- survival items. It is also very good to discover some points in course situations when that piece of equipment works great or really sucks, because you may plan to improve it before you need it in real life.

    Examples are many.

    We have seen and tested in courses, good and high-quality tactical shirts, waterproof, lightweight, warm… with a very cool “tactical” patch on the sleeve. The only thing is that the patch is too cool, it “glows” in dark, which looks cool and tough, but not if you want to hide from someone who wants to harm you, or if you want to move unnoticed to harm someone else.

    Now, the shirt is still great, more then great, but we realized what needs to be improved (the patch).

    So, please memorize this: in survival business, cool does not necessarily mean good and usable.

    Test it first, no matter how cool it looks on first sight.

    How you act and look matters in an SHTF event.

    One of the main takeaways, from my experience, when we are talking about the first period of SHTF is mass confusion and disorder.

    You have (in urban areas) a whole bunch of confused and frightened people.

    Now, what is the main and most important point of blending in?

    It is the fact that you need to look and act like everybody else around you.

    So, as a result, no – in the beginning phases of any SHTF – you probably do not want to look like an overly tactical mercenary who is tough and knows what to do.

    You will want to look like everybody else around you until you figure out what to do and how to do that (bug out, bug in, etc.).

    People often do have fantasies of looking like a Delta Force guy driving a tricked out monster truck when the SHTF, but actually the reality is in the beginning phase you have a better chance if you like the average guy who does not have too much valuable stuff while moving away, together with other frightened folks.

    Otherwise everybody else around you will want to have your cool stuff.

    While everybody else around you is in panic, moving away from danger with whatever they have in a hurry – you being truly tactical means you need to look exactly like them. You have to be the gray man, and being gray always changes.

    Hide everything else.

    You are completely “tactical” then.

    The situation is fluid.

    People like easy and concise explanations and solutions, while in reality, life (when SHTF) has intentions to kick you in the teeth right at the moment when you set in motion your perfect plan about whatever.

    So yes, there are no easy and “all situation” solutions.

    A perfect example is a favorite topic, the BOB (bug-out bag).

    Whenever someone asks me about the “perfect BOB,” or what my BOB is I have a hard time answering.

    The reason for that is in fact that I do not have my one, perfect BOB.

    Now consider the situation when something bad happens and people are on streets, moving, rioting, running away and you go to bug out with a BOB that looks like it cost $500 dollars.

    Most out there will probably be some folks who will want to hurt you in order to take it away from you.

    In that situation, it makes more sense to have a bag with you that looks like a simple gym bag, or maybe something a bit more complicated than a shopping bag? Maybe nothing more.

    Remember you need to adapt.

    Adapt your BOB to the situation outside

    So do I have my perfect BOB?


    I have several of them that look different, some of them are nothing more complicated than a school bag, others are really “tactical.”

    I do have things and equipment that are ready to be put in a bag very fast, and in layers on me, but BOB alone is going to be chosen based on the situation outside, just like my clothes for example.

    I cannot be ready for everything but I can try to adapt to the situation outside.

    SHTF is “fluid,” there are usually phases of it.  While having an assault rifle in your hand and full camo and night goggles makes sense in some situations, in others it will clearly make a target out of you in split second.

    You need to feel how the situation changes around you right from the first signs of SHTF to the full extent of it.

    It is nothing spectacularly smart, it is just careful observation of how people around you react in events (when SHTF), and you need to adapt to those reactions. If you fail to do that, you’re simply going to fail to recognize the new rules outside.


    About Selco

    Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution.

    In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

    He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

    Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

    The Pantry Primer

    Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.

    Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her websites, The Organic Prepper and She is the author of 4 books and the co-founder of Preppers University, where she teaches intensive preparedness courses in a live online classroom setting. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter,.


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      1. Tactics the science and art of disposing and maneuvering forces in combat within a specific engagement.

        Yet somehow,some weird obese Doomesday preppers started using the word “tactical” to describe everything they own…from a Sykes Fairbairn commando knife to their freakin’ water bottle.
        It’s ridiculous.

        Tactics has a specific military meaning

        • Don’t forget all the tactical glasses
          [-0-0-]you can buy on the internet or Walmart…

          • A tactical mess kit because somehow that pan with the folding handle and dish inside somehow adds to the science and art of disposing and maneuvering forces in combat within a specific engagement.

            Oh Brother.

            • Tactical Bob bought all the cool gear
              From his couch he had little fear
              He had camo this and camo that
              He had XXXL because he’s so fat
              He read all the fear porn and bought shit from the ads
              The world will end soon good god and eeegads!
              He had freeze dried water and freeze dried beer
              For any day now the end would be here
              With a pallet of chips and onion dip too
              He was pretty sure he could make it through
              His nails were chewed right down to the bone
              What’s that I hear, I think it’s a drone
              His pants were filled with a big mighty mess
              He wondered how they got his address
              A big heart attack took out the old slob
              And so goes the story of Tactical Bob…

              • Genius,

                Was not Tactical Bob, assigned to Meal Team 6? 😉

                Getting the Baofeng setup with all the channels I could possibly think of, and the local repeaters.
                Using the Chrip software has made it very easy.
                Y’all use GMRS/FRS freq’s when using your comm’s?
                (day to day, chit chat)

                Thanks again for the info. 🙂

                • funny as hell….LMFAO!

                  • off topic- remember back in May Starbucks started its “open bathrooms” policy?

                    Well it didn’t take long at all before the predictions came true:

                    ht tps://

        • Sure if you are homeless on the street and unprepared like Selco was, scrapping for food, sure be the Gray man. On my BOL Property, I don’t give a rats ass if I am in full digital mossy oak camo’s carrying a fully armed 5.56 SWAT Battle rifle guarding my fence line. Fuck em’. Shoot to kill. S-S-Shut-up.

          BTW/ Those with Night Vision rule the night. Don’t be on the losing end. Go get yourself a NV Scout monocular for about $550.

          • the point is, very few people live on a multi-acre compound 100+ miles from any population center. Some of us have to GET there.
            Then of course theres the localized shtf event… I have a guy on a local CERT team that shows up to tornado cleanups and ham radio field days dressed like he’s parachuting into Fallujah, carrying nine different assault bags full of crap and running his mouth about how much he knows about… well, everything. Coincidentally, he’s about 375#, breathes heavy when lifting anything larger than a big mac, and never had a steady job outside the temp agency. I’ve already marked him as a potential “walmart” if the ball goes up. Sadly I think his only real issue is he wants to be accepted as something more than he is.

        • agree maranatha

          it seems the weird meat head body building types are the ” new tactical ”

          had one come in to a shop i frequent and ask if any one had a Israeli automag in gold finish and of course the answer is no

          when i asked why he said so i can wear it and show everyone how big my balls are !!

          big dumb jock types are now the go too guys for everything tactical NOT !! but they think they are


          • Or the college aged kiddies coming into a FL gun shop, and asking if they sell “assault weapons”…bwahahaha.

        • “tactical” legitimately applies to some products and has meaning outside the military. to be fair:
          1) relating to or constituting actions carefully planned to gain a specific military end.
          2) done or for use in immediate support of military or naval operations.
          3) showing adroit planning; aiming at an end beyond the immediate action.

          Unfortunately, its been applied as a marketing term to everything even remotely related to the outdoors. My favorite is the tactical toiletry bag.

          The good news is one can apply it like a litmus test to new products. If “tactical” is in the product name, its probably crap

          • Toiletry Bag? Sure hope it has camo toilet paper, don’t want them thinking I’m waving a white flag. Trekker Out

      2. I went to my prepper group meeting recently wearing a full length fur coat. They asked me what the heck I was wearing and why? I said I read an article that said you should look and act like a “gay man” to blend in during a SHTF event. I was promptly informed that it’s “Grey Man”, unless I’m in San Francisco.

        Later in the meeting they started to compare their EDCs, so I pulled out my flashlight. They asked what is that? I explained that every war movie I’ve seen they always say, “light’m up”. Needless to say I was kicked out of my prepper group.

        • Ha Ha Good One LOL

        • Now THAT’S funny, Justice. Thanks. I’m borrowing the grey man one.

          • Those were in honor of Eppe!

            • i salute the both of you! been awhile since we posted eppe stuff…..gotta git on that. thanks for the reminder!

        • 😀 😀 😀


      3. great advice, as usual from selco….MY car is FULL of sh t that will be useful when the bell rings. and i know that i will need to take a few of the useful things out and haul ass for home, if the vehicle is disabled. one thing i have a SLIGHT disagreement here with selco is that camo is EVERYWHERE nowadays, and i’m not so sure that camo is such a problem here in amurca…..everybody wears it. join a scout organization and learn how to survive is my best advice to anybody sittin’ on the couch eatin’ their potato ships, suckin’ on a soda-pop……and have LOTS of assets to choose from when the time comes……and MOST important, be willing to leave most of it all behind to save yer ass from the golden hoards.

        • buttcrackofdoom, last year I bought a blue camo jacket. My brother asked me why would you ever use that? I reminded him of the Simpsons episode where the dolphins kicked Springfield’s but and drove the citizens into the ocean to live. Given the Simpsons penchant for accurately predicting the future I said that I am now prepped for such an eventuality!

          • LOL, he does have the knack…not sure i spelled that right……i dint, but i went back an currected it….i pride muhseff in noin’ how tuh spell stuff.

        • I was in Walmart last month when I saw a whole family starting with the baby all the way up to the grandmother in a combination of camouflage and pajamas there were seven of them,so you may look abnormal in Walmart if you don’t have camouflage on.

      4. Forget about the ‘Golden Hordes’.
        Your local ‘friendly’ neighbors will be showing up long before that.

      5. My ‘uniform’ after SHTF is a scruffy beard, worn out shoes, and my oldest garden clothes.

      6. The best camouflage is on your home. Put up quarantine signs and quarantine tape around your house to discourage visitors. Answer the door from the upstairs window in a bio-hazard suit and ask any visitors “Are you here to pick up the corpses?”. It won’t fool everyone but it should discourage some visitors looking for food.

      7. If I lived in the city then yes I can see blending in. I might even ‘drop Trowel’ and take a crap on the sidewalk if I had time. Since I’m out in the boonies, I’ll wear what I need no matter if its out of “Vogue”.

      8. I would say 95% of the people our there have never heard of 5.11. To the average joe (snowflake), I would think the guy at the airport would look like a hunter and nor some delta force super soldier. Unless the guy was in all camo or some such, I would say he was somewhat gray. Just because he was not wearing an ugly sweater doesn’t mean he wasn’t gray as he could be just some guy going on a holiday hunting trip.

      9. I find it interesting that you refused to keep my comment on the site.

      10. one bit of tactical gear is sunglasses…..sunglasses are very useful because it makes people un easy…they don’t know for sure if u are watching them or not….i agree with the rest of what selco said…i remember one article where a pistol shooter warned his readers to never take a shooting class from some dude all dressed in camo……at the indoor range….camo has its place but grey man is safer….

        • In Iraq and Afghanistan those five packs of wrap around safety glasses with sunglass versions included became a number one request item to be sent from home. They helped with the sandstorm issues, and the strong sunlight.

          I wonder how many guys had their eyesight saved from the little crap shrapnel by those glasses.

          Dark glasses can set up your low light vision if you are about to move indoors.

          • thanks for the heads-up on the glasses, plan. i got a gorilla box full of those that i can’t seem to sell at the gun show….maybe i will dig ’em out and take another shot at sellin’ them……and usin’ em too….one exception. i sold the first few pairs for 10$, and a buddy pointed out that i had sold all the oakleys…DOH!

            • Hang a sign over the safety sunglasses that says: “most ranges require eye protection.” Even if it’s your own basement and a BB gun, don’t put your eye out…LOL

              But seriously anyone that may need to make entry into a darkened building, should be wearing the darkest glasses they can. Once inside pull them off and you’ll be able to see in the dark.

              I have an auto darkening welding helmet, strike an arc and you never see the flash, finish the weld and when the arc goes out, a half second later the lense is clear again. I’m astounded military and police don’t have a tactical version for flash bang protection etc against other forces.

              Anyone suspects night vision is targeting them, have some magnesium flares, dragons breath 12g or similar. An ultra bright light source can turn a $10000 night scope into a paperweight.

      11. Everyone in my area wears camo, selco would stick out like a sore thumb

        • Same here. Camo everywhere. I even have camo tennis shoes. And yes, selco would stick out like a dick in a disney movie…

          • Same here also. Everybody wears MIL surplus.
            Most of it the older USA type jungle camo.
            It is cheap. Most people even wear basic
            training Mil style web belts. I do not polish
            my buckle.
            I wear Jungle MARPAT USMC issue
            as my farm work pants and locally around town.
            But that is all the camo I wear. The only
            attention I get is the occasional
            Where do I get a pair of those?
            Answer is Navy exchange.
            Since I’m white, have a white beard, and
            buzz cut my hair, I stand out
            like a sore thumb no matter what I wear.
            But I certainly would never be
            confused for a Tourist or a
            Mercenary wanna-be.
            Just some old guy, that walks
            with a slight limp.
            That is the trick.

            • Nice

            • Hey rellik I’m watching Dog the Bounty Hunter. He lives in Hawaii and wondering if he is a big deal around there.This is the stupidest piece of crap I’ve seen in a long time.

            • there’s a lot of camo here too, but he DO have a point….you git caught AFTER the bell rings wearin’ TOO much camo, and you mite just git shot/mistaken for the enemy.

              i am OFTEN mistaken for a homeless person while riding my mountain bike, even though it’s an expensive one…..i very seldom ever wear camo, except for the woodland field jacket, or the urban grey marshmellow coat….or the fleece jackets……oh, sh t!…..and then there’s the goretexes, and combat boots……daaaamn!

            • My Favs are Marine Marpat or Digital Woodlands Camo. Its blends well in my wood environment with Oaks and Spanish Moss. I also have several 40 Ft parachutes that are camo’ed and can throw over vehicles. Works if the engine compartment is cold not to reflect a heat signature.

              • You could line the inside of the chute with survival blanket to cover the engine compartment, hide the heat sig.

          • Down here in FL if you are dressed wearing a necktie, you are not trusted. lol Look like you just came from the boating or the beach, fully trusted. lol

          • “I even have camo tennis shoes.”

            Yes, but do you wear it all at the same time?
            Selco is not talking about wearing the odd Woodland Field Jacket over blue jeans and a T-shirt.
            I think most everybody here has seen the tactical type – usually at gun shows. Back in the day we called them Wuffos… which is basically the military version of dipsh*t. Stay far away from them. They will attract incoming fire.

      12. Be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.. not in the spiritual sense

      13. I’ve always found the word “tactical” to be grossly overused in the prepper world . Anyone ever tried planting seeds for their fields while wearing level 4 plates, 90 rounds of ammo, a pistol, IFAK, and an AR slung over their shoulder?

        While I certainly appreciate the authors experience and opinions on the matter I don’t believe “Grayman” to be the dominant persona for safety in any collapse. Sure, if you’ve just arrived in a location where you need to assess the climate, or maybe riots have come to your area then you should activate your grayman mind and fieldset.

        Other occasions may require you to present yourself as a “hard target.” That means your threat is known and you need to posture. You wouldn’t walk away from a bear that has its eyes set on you right? Same thing. Make yourself as big and scary as possible.

        However, I prefer a third philosophy rarely discussed in the world of prepping. “Community leader” or basically just being a good neighbor. A lot of the internet tough guys pitch this dystopian tactical nonsense like they’re going to be some elite solider. Well guess what guys and gals, community builds more trust, respect, intel, and security. And not to disrespect Selco, but we’re Americans. So when that day comes I expect to see everyone being mighty neighborly and showing some good old fashion America spirit. Hearts and minds people. ?

      14. In case of shtf while driving,I have a soiled ,smelly,full of holes pair of jeans,falling apart sneakers,and dirty seldom washed shirt in my truck,which is dirty,dented,and banged up. Just in case things really go sideways,a hidden .380 and box of ammo.

      15. My bug out attire is a pair of Carhardt overalls and a long sleeve T-shirt along with Danner boots. I choice the overalls because they built to last and I don’t have worry about my pants falling down due my gun belt. Plus I won’t look like G.I. Joe .

        • Hard to conceal a gun with overalls though.

      16. Hey, if you consistantly wear “tactical” clothing does that lead to wearing “strategic” clothing?

        • Is “strategic” clothing mean you know how to cover your own arse?

          • Strategy a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim, the art of planning and directing overall military operations.

            Is that personal or corporate ie for the general overarching troops under one’s command?

            Now consistantly applying proper tactics over many engagements and winning the war ie covering all of their asses is strategic.

            Now some dudes will start talking about strategic mess kits for all.

      17. i sure as hell don’t PLAN on bein’ out long once the bell rings….imma gonna be headin’ fer indoors, and stayin’ there……pfft! mite just be this WEEK!

      18. If you look like you have everything needed to survive, someone that does not have everything needed to survive will try to take those things away from you.

        • That’s when you shoot them.

          • Then you give them a kick. If they moan, put another round into them.

          • Nope, that’s when they shoot YOU first. You will never see it coming mr. badass.
            You have completely missed Selco’s point – don’t look like a target. Targets get shot. That’s what they’re for.

            • Of course you shoot first but you must wait to see who comes to take you shit. I don’t really want to shoot everyone, Stuart. Mr. Badass.

      19. It takes not only remarkable physical fitness, but mental acuity, courage, and honor to be a soldier. It’s based upon respect and discipline and actually sacrificing out of patriotism. Then accomplishing practical goals that are measurable using military science.

        Well dressing like a soldier doesn’t make you a soldier. Nor does it impart ability, discipline, skill, courage, fitness, and TACTICS!

        If the SHTF, looking like a soldier will not make you a soldier. This is rather like buying an axe and then expecting to wield it and cut sufficient firewood merely by possessing it.It becomes an ornament.

        • 1980. Hard to believe that was nearly 40 years ago.

      20. tactical versus not depends on where you are, and what’s going on.

        where i live in rural minnesota, outdoors lifestyle is a big thing, and that includes hunting. getting out of a large suv with gun rack, those deer protector things on the front, winch, etc, then walking into a store wearing cammo clothes won’t be a big deal, particularly in-season.

        do the same in an airport, golf course, or an urban/urbane location such as new york, and someone will call the cops on you.

        my own standard for day-to-day: flannel shirt over minecraft tshirt, jeans, hightop nikes… -OR a shirt/tie/suit combo. you could have an armory under all that, but there’s no need for the rest of the world to think you do.

        dressing for day to day, what will get you thru any checkpoint/chokepoint/plain old business (mall entrance, airport, courthouse, drunk driving, etc) without some cop or guard talking on their radio ABOUT YOU just because of how you look?

        as far as shtf? well, no plan survives first contact with the enemy.

      21. In the absence of rule of law, there is only cowboy justice. That means it’s practically a war situation where IF you were foolish enough to let crazed assaulting psychopaths do as they will, then every innocent will die and many who are caught unawares.

        So you know what you must do, if you have the stomach for it. Nothing is fair about conflict under those sorts of engagements with nonprofessional soldiers defending property.

        To even have a trial would be nearly impossible and you obviously have no jails and oversight. Swift justice follows based on the exigent realities of the moment.

      22. See the commentary here.
        htt ps://

        • ht tps://

          This is even more clear and discusses soldiers and Christianity.

      23. Being tactical vs situationally aware. It doesn’t matter where I go, I’m the guy that stops for just a second before I walk into a bank or a jewelry store, I’ve already looked around, but I look through the window for threats before going through that door. I go into any building and size up the people, exits, things that can be used as weapons or cover, I look like everyone else, except to ex cons, cops, the paranoid, and a few others who think the same way. When I’m noticed, the one that notices gets special consideration. Ex cons are the creepiest and easiest to spot, I’m not aggressive, I try to remain gray, but they never get to see my back.

      24. I find it so funny so many people say it will never happen or this or that or I’m going to cover all my bases. Being truly tactical is being able to adapt to any situation on the fly its adapt or die. I love hearing well ill just shoot anything or one that comes by. Really your a idiot that would probably die in the first coming days or months of something. You why you should fear the Asians because there patient and do not fly off the handle they wait for there chance and strike with deadly force all the while finding ones weakness.. God help us all

      25. Selco, when you were in the shtf scenario was it common for you to get shake down from brown shirt types? Were you safer from them in the day as you went about your business? Did they want your id or papers? How did you deal with them in such scenarios? Were they more dangerous than other typical thugs out there running around?

      26. With brown shit types is it better to look respectable or are you trying to look more like a lowly street person without much wealth?

      27. The term is Golden Horde unless you are making a pun on American urban consumers.

        It originally meant the Mongol Horde which invaded Europe 1236-1291.

        Far later, white nationalists were concerned with unchecked immigration of asians into California and Hawaii. They mislabeled them the Golden Horde so they switched it to the “Yellow Peril” circa 1899.

        Then in the 1970s, early preppers and survivalists theorized a horde of fleeing city folks would flee whenever disaster struck as the food trucks would stop coming in supplying groceries. This got called the Golden Horde.

        See how much it changed?

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