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In Plain Sight: The Gray Man – Part 1

Covert : made, shown, or done in a way that is not easily seen or noticed : secret or hidden

In this multi-part series, it is our intention to discuss the principles of going about your day in as low profile a manner as possible. What are the advantages of going “Gray?”

For the record the image above is NOT “Gray”.

For the record the image above is NOT “Gray”.

Being gray has several distinct advantages to those of us who want to provide a protective buffer for ourselves and those around us. Much in the way one might have items they carry in case of an emergent situation, going gray is another tool in the arsenal. As you move into the preparedness culture, call it EDC, prepper, whatever. You will find mantras like “your responsibility to be ready for the fight never ends” and “Two is one, One is none” and “Stay frosty, keep your head on a swivel.” I agree with many of these statements but they project and encourage a certain level of aggression to those around us. This is not necessarily negative aggression, just that it may in many situations produce an outward appearance that is counter to the statements being made. What do I mean by this? For example, you roll into the coffee shop in your lifted SUV with roof racks and lights festooning its exterior. Hop out of the vehicle with your drop leg rig strapped on and 1911 in condition one inside. Three spare mags and a flashlight adorn your riggers belt that is holding your multicam cargo pants on your waist. A freedom is not free t-shirt adorns your chest, you grab your black tactical backpack covered in molle and head in the door. What is the impression of those around you? Not how you make them feel, not pro gun anti gun, what is their impression? You’re prepared? A force to be reckoned with? Someone to perhaps keep an eye on. You just failed at being ready for the fight.

Why did you fail? Well to start off you may not have failed at being ready. If your goal is to be a the knuckle dragger in the corner ready to get it on, bingo hoss you got it. There is a certain attraction to being the biggest baddest meanest dude in the room. Much like going to jail for the first time. Pick the biggest dude in the room, stroll over and punch him in the jaw. But, and this is big, be ready to take the reprisal. He is going to hit you back if you don’t knock him out. So why does this have anything to do with being gray? Well perhaps there is a different path. A more covert, less in your face approach.

For the guy who is in the first example, which by the way nonsensical exaggeration of a real person but used to illustrate a point. You broke rule number one of low visibility. You stood out from those around you. Now if that was your intended purpose good on you. But why did you fail to be ready for the fight? Well hear me out on this. If you happen to be in a position where someone wanted to do harm in the above mentioned coffee shop. They are either, A) going to recognize you as an obstacle to achieving their goal and either wait for you to not be there, or B) shoot you first. You’re a threat to them and not all motivated criminals are stupid. In fact, many of them are smarter than we give them credit for. They spend time researching soft target and analyze the who, what, when, and where. They will neutralize you, and use your weapons against others. And guess what, they don’t care about laws, rules of engagement, or collateral damage. So they start off with the advantage. They don’t have the same rules to follow as you (the good guy) and they know what they are planning and have you at a major tactical disadvantage, SURPRISE. Therefore you’re less ready for their fight than they are.

Now, for those of us that want to go gray, let me offer a different scenario. You are in the same shop, enjoying your mocha frappa lappa ding-dong at 180 degrees. Two shooters walk into the shop to act a fool. They scan the room, and begin to take action, rob,maim or terrorize the coffee shop. You blend in by hitting the deck, use your training to move to cover, and then engage the evil doers with the violence of action they do not expect. Once again, like the other example, you better be ready to bring the pain. You have turned the tables to your advantage. Where you once were an average citizen of the world, now you are a threat and expect to be treated as such. However, this time around you gain seconds, and that is what really counts.

But lets face it, being gray is not about the Pipe Hitters Union, Article 15, Tactical Response culture we have come to embrace. Its more subtle than that. It’s not just about the shooter looking to do you harm. It’s about the hipster next to you looking to call the local PD about your gun poking out of your t-shirt. Drop the false bravado. We, the meat eaters of the world are in a position where we do not feel safe. We do not feel safe for those around us, and we do not feel safe for ourselves. Blending in is a way to make who we are and what we stand for count. If you don’t get that then perhaps your reading the wrong article.

So what do we (you) do. You go gray, not wolf, MAS or any other color. You go gray in the sense of blending in. This is going to take some research, homework, and attention to detail. So get ready, because it isn’t going to be easy …

Homework Assignment #1: Establish And Understand The Baseline For Your Primary Environments.
– Create a list of the top ten places you frequent.
– Go to these places and take a notebook.
– Observe people, clothes, mannerisms, hairstyles, etc.

Homework Assignment #2: Make a plan.
– Now compare this to your attire, hair, behavior.
– The goal is to blend in.
– Make a plan of how you would modify your dress if you wanted to hide in plain sight.

The best thing about being gray is its situation dependent. The statements above about the MultiCam and such are completely different IF you are in a situation where thats the “norm.” For example, if you’re heading to the range with your buddies, or if you live in a rural area where hunting is prevalent, or you’re in in a foreign land surrounded by meat eaters. Remember – the goal is to not stick out, not to be easy identified, and to not be remembered. In the upcoming articles, we’ll discuss how carry options for application of force will vary based on your clothing and surroundings. We will also discuss things like bags, weapons, and how to spot someone who is trying to blend in.

I also think it is more important to say this. Going gray is not for everyone. Going gray is not for everyday (for most, actually). However, using the skills on deception and camouflage in an everyday environment might save your life. Creating a lower footprint, attracting less attention, have huge advantages. This moves the tactical advantage of surprise back to you and away from those who may wish to do you harm. And before you go screaming about open carry and our rights and standing up for what you believe in, spare me the rhetoric because I’m already a fan of the constitution. I will however challenge you. If you find that you are surrounded bearded, skinny pant wearing, pomade pompadour sporting hipsters. Go on over to Amazon and get yourself some tight pants and a form fitting flannel. Put on a single stack 9mm or a shield in a discrete location. Remove the tactical folder with lanyard from your pocket and replace it with a Victornox. Drop the molle laden pack and pick up a messenger bag. Then head down to the local coffee spot and test the theory. See if the conversations change and see if your outward persona has a different impact on those around you.

It’s okay to make a statement about your beliefs by the way you dress and the things you carry. It’s okay to follow your own personal style. However, when the time comes for covert, understand that the choices you make have an impact. Try going gray. It’s actually a challenge and can be entertaining. Blending in and hiding in plain sight has certain advantages. Next time we’ll discuss what to carry and why if you’re the gray man. Until then, you probably wont notice me if you see me …

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