First, if you have not read OldNFO’s Grey Man series, go do so. JL Curtis Amazon Web Page

What is a “gray man”? He is the man or woman that you don’t notice. He is the man you walk by every day and he is just part of the background. He doesn’t stand out in anyway. He isn’t overly loud in voice, character or looks. He is equally comfortable in his Dickies work pants with grease under his fingernails as sitting in a fine restaurant, dressed correctly for the place.

He is the guy sitting at the bar, nursing a drink and paying no attention to anybody or anything that hears everything that is said and notices all that happens around him.

He is the unnoticed.

It is difficult to be that person. Sometimes you want what is comfortable and not what is gray. Sometimes you want to be tacticool or the gal that wants to be in the 3 in heels looking like a million dollars with every eye focused on her.

Sometimes it is difficult to understand that gray doesn’t mean the color. You would stand out much more at a beside the street in “gray” clothing than wearing a high vis safety vest and hardhat.

The gray man is able to walk into a secured dorm because he feels like just another student in the rush of students going in. The backpack on his back is a student like backpack. He walks into the office building and nobody notices because his computer bag is just a computer bag. His briefcase is just that.

His lunch bag doesn’t attract attention either.

How do you become a gray man? You start by shutting your mouth and listening. You open your eyes an observe.

If you want to be noticed, stare at somebody. Learn to watch somebody without focusing on that person. Don’t stare. The last thing you want to hear is “Are you looking at me!?!? What are you looking at old man/runt/pussy?” Or “Are you looking at MY girl?”

Learn to observe.

Keep your ears open. If you are sitting at the bar or in the dinner or restaurant, what is the conversation going on around you? Are they talking about the amazing touchdown that happened or are they talking about something else entirely?

Learn to sit where you can observe yet not be seen observing. You don’t sit in the back corner. You sit near the back. You sit with your back angled towards the wall. You choose where you sit so that your firearm is protected yet you can still reach it.

For high speed low drag people, have you ever tried to draw your weapon while sitting at your kitchen table? How about when you are sitting on the sofa or in the easy chair? When was the last time you sat in a chair with arms? The chair arms at many dinning room tables will interfere with your ability to draw your weapon. That appendix carry is nice, how about when you are sitting? Are you carrying in the small of your back? Can you reach your gun with out drawing attention to yourself?

Driving down the streets of my town, one in five vehicles is a pickup truck. 3 out of five are four wheel drive. One in 100 is a sports car. One in 1000 might be an expensive sports car.

The guy in the Ford Crown Vic with tinted windows stands out. Panel vans on the street stand out. Dark Suburbans with dark windows stand out.

In DC, a pickup truck stands out. A Prius does not. There are more four door sedans rolling around than you can shake a stick at.

What you drive needs to be gray. In NYC, for the longest time, the best gray vehicle was a bright yellow cab.

What you wear needs to be gray. If you are walking into an office building where they wear suits and ties, wear a suit and tie. If you are walking into places that require a hardhat, wear a hardhat. It use to be that the most invisible man in the building was the guy with a hardhat on and a clipboard.

Stay away from the tacticool clothing. You are carrying an IFAK, make sure it is not obvious. Ankle kits are a good choice for not showing your IFAK.

Your EDC firearm needs to be concealed. If what you are wearing doesn’t allow a full size weapon, then don’t be all mocho and refuse to carry a smaller gun. A little 7 shot 9mm pistol in a pocket holster is a good start.

If you carry a knife, make sure you carry two. One that doesn’t freak the mundanes. My boss once stopped at my desk and asked me to open a box that had just arrived. I was busy and just took my primary and did the wrist flick thing and a 3 1/2in blade was suddenly in my hand. It sort of freaked my boss.

I have a very practical swiss army knife that I should have used.

My briefcase is a Hazard 4 “Ditch” laptop/soft briefcase with the Removable flap. It is a little tacticool but not so much that people notice. It has a main compartment which has a hook and loop holster for a full size firearm. It has a hook and loop where I have a first-aid kit. It has all the little pockets along the side for spare mags and other things. There is a couple of tetra paks of flavored tuna. Along with a Ka-Bar “spork”. There is a full size padded pocket that holds my laptop.

With the flap closed and latched you can open a zipper and gain access to the side compartment to pull out the laptop. Push to quick release buckles and the flap is free and you can then gain access to the double zippered main compartment.

It has places for moral patches, and I do have some on my bag. But they are silly things. Like “Rub dirt in it, sooner or later everything stops bleeding”. Them’s that know can guess there is a first aid kit in that bag.

For my Truck Gun I went with a NC Star Vism Discreet Carbine Case.

It is designed for a 16″ AR-15 broken down. All of the separators and tie down loops can be moved around. With a little bit of fiddling there is room for a Glock in a OWB holster, the PC 9 Carbine and easily a dozen mags. I’ve also used it with a broken down AR-15, that same glock pistol, three AR 30 round mags, one 20 round AR mag, 6 Glock mags

When closed it looks like a slightly oversized laptop bag. Given the size of laptops today, it gets no attention.

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By awa

6 thoughts on “Gray Man at large”
  1. Great information awa, appreciate you posting it. I’d like to add one thought that I believe ‘The Gray Man’ must consider. And that is, that the criminal element of society, and especially the seasoned veteran of the criminal element of society, knows when they case their potential victim’s surroundings-area, they notice everyone who doesn’t not ‘fit in’ to the overall picture. For instance, the guy who looks like a Marine, the big guy with who sits with his back to the wall, and the guy who isn’t looking at his phone, but instead occasionally scans the area in a relaxed manner.

    Now, the local street punk who is driven by desperation and emotion, the Gray Man goes unnoticed. But to the skilled criminal a Gray Man sticks out like a man with a badge in uniform. Many criminals have a discerning eye, based on experience. So being a Gray Man is good, but it comes with some risk of being noticed by the most educated members of the criminal element of society.

    1. My attire doesn’t, generally, stand out nowadays… but ever since I was a teenager I’ve been unable to do the “gray” thing. I seem to be highly recognizable – and apparently I have an aura (entirely spurious, I assure you) of Authority. Something about standing up straight and looking like I’m at least somewhat aware of my surroundings, I guess.
      This is a good thing in terms of not looking like a promising victim, but it would be bad should I happen to be on the scene of, e.g., an armed robbery or terrorist attack where the perps decided to shoot the scary people right off the bat.

  2. My favorite fictional “gray man” is Repairman Jack. He doesn’t repair things, he repairs situations. But, as I said, fictional — he eventually gets noticed by Lovecraftian horrors.

  3. The urban yuppie trend has been a blessing for many people. Merrill’s and a backpack don’t really stand out anymore even in a professional office setting, a stadium chair bag in your car does an awesome job at hiding a long gun especially if it has local sportsball team logos on it.

    Something I’ve been in love with is the E.L.S.A armor, its a plate carrier that folds up into a laptop or projector bag sized footprint. One lives in my locked work desk drawer I just wish it came in blue or green instead of only black.

    The other boon is quality holsters such as the phlster holsters. They can make a compact to medium sized gun disappear in anything from business casual to scrubs so long as you take the time to set it up right. Working on losing the tactical tummy has made it even more comfortable.

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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