5.11 Tactical

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5.11 Tactical
Privately held company
FoundedModesto, California, U.S. (2003)[1]
FounderDan Costa[1]
Irvine, California
Key people
Francisco Morales, CEO
ProductsUniforms, tactical clothing, tactical gear, knives
RevenueIncrease US$300 million (2016)[2]
Number of employees
550 (2017)[2]
ParentCompass Diversified Holdings

5.11 Tactical (pronounced "five eleven tactical") is an Irvine, California–based brand of clothing consisting of uniforms and tactical equipment for military, law enforcement and public safety personnel. The company also operates a chain of retail stores, with 69 locations as of September 2020.


5.11 Tactical started in Modesto, California as a clothing line created by mountain climber Royal Robbins. Upon reaching the top of a climb in Yosemite California, he noticed that the trousers that he was wearing were not suited for climbing. Robbins decided that he needed to design something more durable and with better functionality. He owned a boot and clothing company and began manufacturing pants by the name of "5.11" that had a trademarked tactical strap and slash pocket design in 1968.[1][3][4]

The name "5.11" comes from the highest rock climbing difficulty level that was listed in the Yosemite Decimal System at Yosemite National Park, which was developed by Robbins in the 1950s.[5] The difficulty level is somewhat jokingly defined as, "After thorough inspection, you conclude this move is obviously impossible; however, occasionally someone actually accomplishes it".[6]

Robbins sold a 51% stake in his company to Dan Costa in 1999,[7] who, after much streamlining, noticed that the 5.11 Tactical pants were becoming popular at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.[1]

Costa bought the entire company in 2002 and ended up selling Royal Robbins Clothing back to Robbins in 2003, but kept the 5.11 Tactical brand and spun off a whole new company called 511 Inc or 5.11 Tactical. Partnering with the FBI, Dan Costa and his co-partner Francisco Morales began creating additional tactical apparel and improving on the existing line. In 2006 5.11 Tactical was ranked No. 211 on Inc. magazine's list of the 500 fastest- growing companies in the nation.[1]

TA Associates, a Boston private equity firm, bought a majority stake in 5.11 Tactical for $305 million in 2007.[8]

In 2012, 5.11 Tactical purchased Seattle-based custom outdoor apparel brand, Beyond Clothing LLC,[9] for an undisclosed amount.[10]

An April Fool's joke that same year resulted in production of the Tactical Duty contemporary kilt.[11] Also in 2012, the company announced it was moving development jobs to Irvine, California, while leaving some functions in Modesto.[12]

In 2014, the company expanded into retail and opened pilot locations in Riverside and Las Vegas, and the following two years it opened stores in California, Colorado, Texas, Australia, Florida and Utah.[2]

In 2016, the company was acquired by Compass Diversified Holdings for US$401 million.[2]

Retail stores[edit]

The company operates a chain of 69 retail stores across 25 U.S. states, Germany, Australia, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Ireland and Japan, as of September 2020. In 2020 they have continued their announced plan to open new stores with multiple locations under development and a plan to have 71 stores domestically by the end of 2020.[13][2]

In popular culture[edit]

5.11 Tactical makes clothing, gloves, boots, holsters, knives, flashlights, slings, and packs for law enforcement use, but is popular with civilian shooters and private military contractors.

Actress Jennifer Garner and her co-stars wore 5.11 watches in the 2007 film The Kingdom.[1]

Actor Ryan Philippe wore 5.11 tactical plate carriers in the television series Shooter.

5.11 is the official plate carrier of the CrossFit Games.

5.11 plate carriers are featured in the video game Escape From Tarkov.

5.11 products are featured in various Ubisoft video games[14] including Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands,[15] Far Cry 5,[16] Tom Clancy's The Division 2,[17] and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f van der Meer, Ben (2007). "A tactical decision by Costa leads to sale of company He sells majority ownership of booming 5.11 uniform company, buys back 20%". The Modesto Bee. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "5.11 Tactical's Target: Fast Growth at Retail". ocbj.com. 2017-01-09. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  3. ^ McGowan, Elizabeth (1985). "Royal Robbins". Backpacker. Active Interest Media, Inc. 13 (3): 17–18. ISSN 0277-867X.
  4. ^ Woodward, Bob (1985). "Short Cuts". Backpacker. Active Interest Media, Inc. 13 (3): 38–39. ISSN 0277-867X.
  5. ^ Graf, Mike (20 March 2012). Yosemite National Park: Harrowing Ascent of Half Dome. FalconGuides. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7627-8409-7.
  6. ^ Graydon, Don (1992). Mountaineering Freedom of the Hills. Seattle, Washington: Mountaineers Books. ISBN 0898862019.
  7. ^ Gitman, Lawrence J.; McDaniel, Carl (2008). The Future of Business: The Essentials. Cengage Learning. p. 187. ISBN 0-324-59075-X.
  8. ^ van der Meer, Ben (2007). "Costa's Six". The Modesto Bee. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Beyond Clothing - Cold Weather Clothing Systems - Made in the USA". Beyond Clothing USA. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  10. ^ Hamanaka, Kari. "5.11 Tactical Acquires Performance Clothing Company". Orange County Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-23.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  11. ^ "No Joke: How 5:11's Tactical Duty Kilt Was Born". officer.com. 2014-04-16. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  12. ^ "Modesto 5.11 Tactical Jobs Move To Irvine Is Another Blow To The City of Modesto". modestopress.com. 2012-05-01. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  13. ^ "5.11 Locations - 5.11 Tactical". www.511tactical.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  14. ^ "FPS gamers can now look the part with 5.11 tacticoolness". Military Times. 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  15. ^ "5.11 Tactical Teams Up with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands Tactics -". The Firearm Blog. 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  16. ^ "5.11 Tactical Bridges the Gap with Tactical Apparel from the Real World to the Digital -". The Firearm Blog. 2018-03-27. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  17. ^ Johnson, Duncan (2019-03-14). "5.11 Announces Partnership with Ubisoft for Tom Clancy's The Division 2". AmmoLand.com. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  18. ^ "Ghost Recon Breakpoint - The Gear". 5.11 Blog. 2019-09-27. Retrieved 2020-07-20.

Coordinates: 37°42.1′N 121°0′W / 37.7017°N 121.000°W / 37.7017; -121.000