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Review: Shooting gloves for winter, John Rothery

PUBLISHED: 10:30 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:30 19 January 2018

Seating the fingers

Seating the fingers

Archant

Russ Douglas dons some digital protection from the winter

I thought it made sense to review some shooting gloves for winter. Claire, at renowned UK shooting supplier, John Rothery, kindly sent through two samples, after I’d first measured my mitts against their sizing chart.

Hands are doubtless a nightmare for manufacturers to accommodate, due to the almost unlimited variations in human sizes and shapes. Mine are a decent size, so the measurement around my palm, angled slightly from the base of my thumb toward the heel, measured about 10”, making me an XL-fit. There’s also an XXL option. Incidentally, for your comparison, my middle finger length tip-to-web is almost 3.5”, and my diagonal span tip of little finger to thumb is also 10”.

That’s the best way I can describe them for you, short of including a paper hand outline. Ordering bespoke gloves would really be the only way to get a perfect fit, although individual fitting costs extra, of course, so is impractical for most of we mortals.

I should mention that my own experiences, being a permanent crutches user, are that sticky-palmed gloves are useful, and when winter gloves are too heavily padded they feel uncomfortable, due to my fists wanting to ‘open out’, and making gripping more tiring.

Camoflage glovesCamoflage gloves

Sticky waterproof

The first pair sent were ‘Sticky Waterproof Powerliner Gloves Green by Extremeties’, RRP £25.00. Described as ‘Stretch waterproof. Breathable. Silicone grip. Water repellent finish. Keeps hands dexterous, especially good for shooting, fishing and other outdoor/country sports and pursuits.’ The finish is matte dark green, with darker green sticky silicone.

They’re very light and feel soft and flexible – floppy, as you handle them, and make a faint rustling sound due to the several internal thermal and waterproofing layers. As we all know, multiple thin layers of clothes trap air, and that is the key to staying cosy. You notice the sticky factor straight away because the whole of the palm and finger surfaces are coated with a mesh pattern of sticky, silicone-type material.

I tried out these sticky gloves at the club this week and found them to be excellent at gripping every different texture and shape of rifle stock I handled. They even ‘stick’ to your hands as you pick them up. The 2” cuffs are elasticated, and they’ll also be perfectly discreet for hunting, with no bright colours or labels visible as you often see in everyday winter or ski gloves. Out of the two pairs tested, these are the more flexible, and easiest to pull on and off. My fingers fit them almost perfectly, and no doubt the fit will ease further with wear.

Sticky glovesSticky gloves

Neoprene

The second pair are ‘Neoprene Gloves by Bisley’, RRP £19.95. These are basically made from a single layer of camouflage pattern neoprene, with black, grippy rubberised, dotty panels on the inside of the thumb and the opposite side of the palm, but not on the fingers themselves. They also feel very light, although slightly stiffer due to the tubular effect of the neoprene fabric. We’ve all seen how a hanging wetsuit keeps the tubular shape of a diver’s limbs when off – this is the scaled-down version. Although one layer, these still have the cosy factor because the neoprene fabric inherently has tiny air pockets throughout its foam core.15

The generous thickness of the cosy neoprene fabric is such that you’re never going to get the same movement as you would ungloved, but it’s good to be able to feel the familiar metalwork of your trigger and safety catch without exposing your whole hand.

The cuffs have a single, slim, elasticated band to keep the fit airtight, and a generous Velcro closure flap on the back of each wrist for secure adjustment/fit – with the accompanying noisy Velcro ‘rasp’ as you adjust them. They’re a snug fit on me and so very difficult to remove without undoing the Velcro. Another trade-off here; leave the Velcro unfastened and they’re quieter on and off, but the back of your wrist is exposed to the elements. If I’d tried these on in-store I’d probably have gone for the XXL option because the finger-fit is just a bit on the tight side of comfortable. A few of the guys at the range couldn’t get them on at all.

Foldback index fingers and grippy palms, but not grippy fingersFoldback index fingers and grippy palms, but not grippy fingers

My verdict

Both gloves are very cosy and waterproof. I’d be happy to wear either set in sub-zero conditions.

The sticky-palmed gloves are easier to slip on and off, but don’t have the option of exposing your trigger finger, but they do fully grip the riflestock.

The neoprene gloves are snugger, a slight faff to fully seat over your fingers, and less flexible, but they have the benefit of exposing your trigger digit, then tucking it away again. I did notice my supporting fingers missing the grip on the fore end where there’s no sticky rubber.

Looking at their range of 13 pairs, I think most club shooters’ needs would be better met by one of their five brands of fingerless gloves because whether shooting HFT on the range or vermin in the woods, it’s usually preferable to load each pellet individually. The trade-off everyone needs to weigh up for themselves is between more enclosure or less freedom, and having peel-back fingers or fully exposed – as in ‘fingerless’ – with more exposure to the elements.

In winter, an ideal solution would be a combination of the two designs; fully enclosed gloves with the ability to fold back both the index finger and thumb of both hands, to account for southpaws. Perhaps with slightly thinner neoprene and more flexibility by peeling a little more of the finger covering back so the fabric doesn’t cover the finger joints themselves.

Visit the John Rothery website here.

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