5.11 Tactical

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5.11 Tactical
Industry Apparel
Founded Modesto, California, U.S. (2003)[1]
Founder Dan Costa[1]
Headquarters Irvine, California
Key people
Tom Davin, CEO
Products Uniforms, tactical clothing, tactical gear, knives
Revenue Increase US$300 million (2016)[2]
Number of employees
550 (2017)[2]
Parent Compass Diversified Holdings
Website www.511tactical.com

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 13 locations as of January 2017.


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 a lot of 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 USD$401 million.[2]


5.11 Tactical makes clothing, gloves, boots, holsters, knives, 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 plate carriers in the series Shooter.

5.11 is the official plate carrier of the CrossFit Games.

Retail stores[edit]

The company operates a chain of 41 retail stores across 18 US states, Germany, Australia, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Japan, as of May 2018. In 2018 they have continued their announced plan to open one to two stores per month in 2017, with multiple locations under development as of May 2018 and a plan to have 100 stores domestically by the end of 2020. [13][2]


  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%". Modesto Bee. 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, WA: 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". Modesto Bee. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  9. ^ http://www.beyondclothing.com
  10. ^ Hamanaka, Kari. "5.11 Tactical Acquires Performance Clothing Company". Orange County Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  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. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  13. ^ https://www.511tactical.com/locations/

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