The Grey Man Directive

Grey man - an individual who possesses the skills, ability and intent to blend into any situation or surrounding without standing out, concealing his or her true skills, ability, and intent from others.



The grey man directive, some say, cannot be learned.  Some insist that being a grey man is just something you are--or you're not.  In this article and companion video, we take you inside the mind of a grey man, a man that understands the importance of blending in, careful to exist in the fringes between the pendulum swings of social paradigms.  In most urban survival situations we will likely face at home, being grey is your best course of action to avoid kinetic confrontation.  There is no complete manual on how to be grey; no written instruction to guide you.  It's instinctual, environmental, and situational dependent.

(fig. 1) - STT's graphical explanation of the Grey Man Directive phases (click to enlarge)
The Grey Man Directive is broken down into phases with Phase 0 being every day life in the United States and Phase 3 being an all out Road Warrior throw down in the streets.  The directive assumes you will be interacting with your environment outside your home.  We'd like to note that the term grey man refers to a man or a woman in context of this article.

In the first phase, or Phase 0 of the grey man directive (far right of fig. 1), there is little assessed clear and present danger to you, your loved ones or your property.  In most--but not all--areas of the United States, we currently remain at the Phase 0 level.  In this phase, we can afford to sacrifice firepower for stealth, as stealth is at the top of the grey man's lexicon.  Remember, generally the more "grey" you are, the less firepower and kit (equipment) you have on your person.  It's a trade off and a balance at the same time.

Warning: As of this writing, some regions of the United States are beginning to blur the lines of Phase 1 threat conditions.  Phase 1 will be explained later in the Grey Man Directive.

Agent - for the purposes of the Grey Man Directive, an agent is defined as anyone or anything that the grey man wishes to conceal his/her true skills, intent and survivability assets from.

Phase 0 (normal state) Apparel and Ethos

As you can see in fig. 1 above, Phase 0 is the most stealthy phase of the Grey Man Directive.  It is also the safest operating environment.  In this phase, your goal is to effect interaction with your environment and evade the detection of all agents as to what you really are--someone who will protect yourself and your loved ones with deadly force if threatened with congruent levels of force by a hostile agent (looter, rioter, thug, murderer, etc., etc).

A Phase 0 gray man will not wear compromising articles of clothing such as photographer's or tac vest (fig. 2 below), or any type of overt tactical clothing.  In this most strict phase of stealth, vests like in fig. 2, may cause unwanted delay and questioning by authorities (another type of agent). Clothing like this is a sure signal to authorities that you may be armed. Remember, you not only wish to avoid attention and contact with hostile agents, but also unnecessary contact with agents of the state.

(fig. 2) This tac vest is not recommended for Grey Man Phase 0 operations
Head gear: An unassuming ball cap is a great component of the Phase 0 grey man.  It is useful for keeping your face off  high mounted security cameras as it will conceal the upper facial features.  Remember, when choosing your Phase 0 clothing, stay away from target identifiers, like NRA insignias, Tea Party or Gadson Flag markings, firearms manufacturers, etc.  These insignias are an overt signal for the authorities to ask you questions like, "are you armed?" or my personal favorite, "Do you know why I'm stopping you?"

(fig. 3) Don't be tempted, leave the shallow bumper sticker politics to the non-greys
Overt political statements are not for the grey man.  We are men and women of quiet action, not bumper sticker politics.  Yes, this rule goes for your vehicle as well.  We recommend that you remove your target identifiers (fig. 3).

Upper body: Earth tones are always a logical choice in urban camouflage.  Avoid bright colors or faddish styles.  A earth tone or grey t-shirts with little or no brand markings are a good choice.

Belt: Don't skimp on your belt.  Purchase and wear a high quality full grain leather belt with tackle hardware, especially if you are carrying a concealed firearm.  In Phase 0, avoid wearing what we call in the firearms culture, "war belts."  They are thick tactical nylon rigger's belts capable of withstanding heavy lift loads, such as an emergency tactical helicopter extraction.  They are another clear sign that you might be carrying a firearm.  Besides, if you purchase a top quality leather belt from trusted manufacturers, you'll have all the utility strength you need for most survival purposes.  Belts have many uses besides holding your gun--and your pants--on.

Lower Body:  We recommend generic non-designer blue jeans or even khaki work pants, pending your operating environment.  Avoid expensive looking jeans.  People have been assaulted and murdered for less, even in the US.  In Phase 0, avoid pants advertised as "tactical" or "operator" as most of them have military looking pockets and zippers all over them, a dead give away that you are likely armed.

Shorts:  If it's hot outside, shorts are a good Phase 0 threat option.  No one said that being grey means you must be uncomfortable.  You will not blend well if you are the only one wearing jeans on a hot summer day.  Again, consider your operating environment.

Socks:  When applicable, we recommend wool socks.  Wool maintains warmth even when wet.

Footgear: Choose wisely.  We recommend comfortable tennis shoes or quality leather loafers with oil resistant soles (no leather soles).  In a survival situation, you may be walking many miles in your footgear, through bad weather.  When wearing shorts, the best option is something in which you can move quickly.  Flip flops offer no foot protection and slow you down.  Consider this when choosing footgear in Phase 0 operations.  Flip flops are not recommended beyond Phase 0.

Now that we've covered Phase 0 threat operation apparel from head to toe (literally) it's time to go over the kit recommended in a Phase 0, any-town USA environment.  Some of the Phase 0 kit will be applicable for future phases.

Phase 0 Kit

Note: follow all applicable federal and state laws pertaining to firearms.  We regret that many states do not recognize the Constitution of the United States and restrict firearms unconstitutionally.

Weapon system:  In today's day and time in the United States, we highly recommend any would-be grey man to legally carry a firearm for self protection.  As stealth is the hallmark of Phase 0 and the grey man's mantra, we highly recommend reliable polymer sub-compact pistols in 9mm, such as the very concealable Glock 26 shown in fig. 4.

(fig. 4) Sub-compact Glock 26 - 9mm
The Glock 26 is a favorite of many concealed weapon practitioners.  Its compact frame and respectable capacity, coupled with world renowned reliability (Gen III models) make it a solid choice.  You may carry the weapon in any concealed manor that you have trained and are comfortable.  We believe the stealthiest way to carry is inside the waste band (IWB) appendix carry (fig. 5, 6).  Grey men should note that this also adds a certain level of hazard. If you get your shirt caught in the trigger guard during reholstering, a negligent discharge could occur resulting in injury or death.  Be careful and train often if you intend to carry using this technique.  Remember, no one has ever won a gunfight by reholstering quickly!  Be quick to draw, but slow on your reholstering.

(fig. 5) A t-shirt and shorts Phase 0 Grey Man.  Is he armed?
(fig. 6) Yep.
The grey man philosophy on carrying a firearm is simple and has been repeated throughout generations: "I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it."

Smart Phone:  Many would argue that your communications device is your primary weapon in a Phase 0 environment.  Your smartphone is essential kit for Phase 0 for sure, but it won't save you from an active shooter, mugger, flash mob or over zealous Occupy Wall Street thug that wants to beat you to death for no apparent reason other than you being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Some prefer the flexibility of Droid phones as you have the ability to use external flash storage, keeping survival manuals stored for viewing anytime.  Some like the Apple iPhone platform for their numerous reliable and vetted apps.  The choice is yours.

(fig. 7) Smart Phone running a compass application
Folding knife: Carrying a quality folding knife with you is a good idea, but use caution.  Many Phase 0 grey men have been made by friendly agents because of the knife clip showing visibly on the outside pocket.  Some agents may see your knife clip and make the mental link that you are likely armed (which you are).  Paint your clips to match your pants, or clip your knife in a location that isn't visible by any type of agents.  See fig. 8.

(fig. 8) Something as innocent as this visible clip can shift perceptions, and perception is reality!
Flashlight: Although many smart phones have a flashlight function, a high quality hard anodized aluminum flashlight should still be considered as part of your Phase 0 kit.  Both Fenix and Surefire make good every day carry (EDC) flashlights.  The Fenix E01 clips to your car keys and is hardly noticeable.

Backpack/Courier bag:  The backpack is not recommended for the grey man in a Phase 0 environment.  Remember, you are carrying less gear in order to attain a higher measurement of stealth.  How many suspicious glances might you receive from store clerks when wearing a backpack while walking into a department store or other retail area?  Why?  The employees have been trained to keep an eye on you, as your backpack is a sign that you might be a shoplifter.  You are now a security threat and have just lost your grey status.  Exceptions exist (colleges, hiking trails, etc.).  Bags also invite unconstitutional searches by agents of the state in some major US cities.

Remember, your ultimate piece of kit for this phase is your good judgement.  Use it.

Phase 1 (Flash Mob/#OWS Frenzy Warning) Apparel and Ethos

Phase 1: In this phase, the hostility threat level has increased to the point that your safety is in question.  As you can see in Fig. 1 at the top of this knowledge base article, your stealth will be compromised to allow for more kit, and firepower.  Certain areas of the United States are in Phase 1 at the time of this writing; particularly areas with high incidents of flash mobs, Occupy Wall Street Protests gone bad (Oakland, CA) and racially motivated hate crimes.  Phase 1 is generally limited to specific regions, townships or events, but could spread far and wide quickly.  This article describes a modern day Phase 1 situation in which being a phase 0 grey man might not be enough to save your life and limb from hostile agents.

Headgear, upper body, belt and lower body: No change from Phase 0.
Footgear: We recommend you upgrade to a plain, dark mid-length leather boots with a steel toe and comfortable foot inserts.

Phase 1 Kit


Weapon system: In a Phase 1 environment, it's recommended that you carry a weapon system with higher capacity than your Phase 0 sub-compact.  You can accomplish this by using higher capacity magazines in your sub-compact or by purchasing a Phase 1+ pistol such as the compact Glock 19.  The Glock 19 has a 16 round capacity with standard magazines, five more rounds than the Phase 0 recommended Glock 26 pistol.  Not only is it recommended that you have the initial 15+1 rounds at your disposal, it's also recommended that you carry two 15 round back-up magazines on your belt, concealed by your untucked shirt.

Front pants pocket: pepper spray for those times that deadly force is not necessary or warranted.

Smart Phone: No change from Phase 0.  The smart phone is still must have piece of kit for Phase 1.  Note: Smart phones should not be considered a reliable means of communications beyond Phase 1 due to inherent Phase 2+ infrastructure vulnerabilities and law enforcement agent network kill switches.

Folding knife and flashlight: Recommended.  No change from Phase 0.

Backpack/Courier bag: During Phase 0, backpacks/courier bags were not recommended, but during Phase 1, they become more necessary to the grey man.  We recommend a low key, civilian looking grey man style bag with light to medium capacity (fig. 9).

(fig. 9) Timbuk 2 messenger bag, black
Bag contents: We recommend extra high capacity pistol magazines for your Phase 1 weapon system be kept in your urban style pack, along with extra water, energy bars, rain gear, socks, and phone/flashlight batteries.  Although you are wearing two magazines on your belt for reloads, it's not a bad idea to have more ammunition via 30+ round magazine in your pack (read the book Black Hawk Down).  Remember, you can always download from your high capacity 30 round magazine to your regular capacity 15 round magazines if you don't need/want to utilize the much larger 30 round magazines (fig. 10).

(fig. 10) Glock 26 with 30+ round mag.
This brings us to the end of Phase 1 and on to Phase 2.  From here on out, things get a little unconventional and bizarre.  We would recommend that folks simply stay fortified in their homes and ride out any Phase 1-3 scenarios, but that may not be possible in your situation. Ask the people of London, England during the 2011 Summer riots or the people of Oakland during the recent Occupy Wall Street/Oakland riots.  Many in England were burned from their homes, with no means of self defense because of draconian police state gun laws.  A definite Phase 2 scenario...

Phase 2 (Mass Rioting, Looting and Violent Protest) Ethos and Apparel

Well, the crap has hit the fan and the situation has retrograded into chaos.  Welcome to Mad Max (not quite, but almost).  This phase discusses the Grey Man Directive as it pertains to Phase 2, or all out flash mobs, rioting and looting on a massive scale in the major cities.  During this phase, local, state and federal governments have lost much of their control of the cities, leaving you in charge of your own destiny, but wasn't that always the case?  In this phase, the grey man sacrifices a little more stealth for a substantial upgrade in armor and kit.  You're going to need it to defend your family and your property from the hostile agents--ravenous zombie-like looters and murdering home invaders.

Headgear: Major upgrade recommended.  We strongly recommend an upgrade from your ball cap to a protective helmet resembling a bicycle helmet (fig. 11).

(fig. 11) To the untrained eye, a bicycle helmet.
Although to the trained eye, it's clear this is no ordinary bicycle helmet, it is stealthy enough to fool most violent miscreants into believing you are just a bicyclist trying to get back to your bike or even back home.  It will protect you from most blunt force trauma to the head, but not small arms fire.

Upper Body: Major armor upgrade recommended.  During a Phase 2 scenario, level IIIA body armor becomes a necessity (fig. 12).  Do not imagine for one second that you are the only person on the streets with a firearm during a "without rule of law" (WROL) scenario.  We also recommend you wear the armor underneath your clothing as to not attract unwanted attention.

Level IIIA body armor and carrier by First-Spear.
A flame resistant long sleeve shirt is another recommended upgrade from Phase 1 to Phase 2 on your upper body.  A cotton shirt will not melt to your skin if you are forced to run through a molotov cocktail party, but that fancy "sweat wicking" exercise shirt will likely become fused to your skin in a matter of seconds.

Belt: No change
Pants: No change, but avoid flammable materials
Footgear: No change

(fig. 13) The Phase 2 Grey Man with helmet, body armor, knee protection, messenger bag, & a Glock 19.
Phase 2 Kit


Most items from Phase 0-1 apply to Phase 2.

Weapon system: In a Phase 2 environment, it's recommended that you carry a weapon system like the Glock 19 with a 15 +1 round capacity and upgrade to at least four 15 round back-up magazines (not including your 30 round magazine backups in your bag).  For this phase, we recommend an outside the waist band holster (OWB) with retention as you will need to be able to deploy your weapon quickly and will likely be forced into situations where someone may attempt to reach for your weapon.  Most inside the waistband holsters (IWB) do not have retention capability.  In fig. 13 above, you can barely see the bottom two inches of the multi cam OWB holster.


Smart Phone/Comm Note: In a Phase 2 and 3 Grey Man scenario, normal cellular and data communicates may be degraded or denied by agents of the state.  It is now an open secret that some paramilitary government law enforcement agencies possess a capability to disrupt civilian communications networks via "kill switches."  Expect your personal communications to be somewhat degraded and ensure you have a proper communications plan in place to mitigate the degradation.  Another likely reason for disrupted cellular and data communications is damage to infrastructure incurred by civil unrest or rolling blackouts from plant worker walkout.

We recommend you utilize a backup communications radio, but be aware that it is not a secure means of communications (but neither is your mobile phone).

Knife/Flashlight: Upgrade to a high quality fixed blade knife and hard anodized aluminum LED flashlight with spare batteries.

Backpack/Courier bag: Stick with the low key, civilian looking grey man style bag with light to medium capacity (fig. 9).  You will upgrade to a larger pack during Phase 3.



Phase 3 (Mad Max, Rioting and Looting Nationwide) Ethos and Apparel

We are now in the final phase of the four phase Grey Man Directive.  We now find ourselves in the midst of calamity during a full blown social and economic collapse.  Hyperinflation has run its course and the populous as a whole has devolved to animalistic behavior.  Bands of rioters, looters and bandits control the cities and roam the countryside.  There is all out rioting and looting on a national/continental scale.  It's quite literally a war zone in the United States during this level of the Grey Man Directive.

Phase 3 Kit

Most Items from Phase 0-2 apply to Phase 3.

You are now on your own, there is no credible government apparatus.  The Phase 3 Grey Man has only limited control of how he is perceived.

Weapon Systems:  Firepower!  M-4 carbine with 200 rounds in magazines, Glock 19, with 200 rounds in magazines.  There is no hiding now.  To the casual 200 meter observer you may still look like a Grey Man, but anyone inside of 100 meters will know what you are about (to a point).

Communications:  Mobile phones are down.  Radio is the only means of rapid communications over long distances.

Backpack: Messenger or trekking (hiking) pack filled with essential supplies.  Be ready to move at a moments notice.  In this phase, molotov cocktails could be raining on your home and bullets might be flying in your direction.

Tactical note: Most modern vehicles offer no protection from small arms fire.  You're better off on a motorcycle as we touched on in our Motorcycle Bugout video.  It's much easier to get around a pileup in a motorcycle, not to mention the obvious fuel economy advantages.


The major differences between a Phase 2 and Phase 3 Grey man are the upgrade in firepower with the M-4 carbine and more survival kit in the pack.  In the photo below, the Phase 3 Grey Man strikes a balance between commando and normal dude in blue jeans.  This appearance is a lot less threatening than someone dressed like a SWAT storm trooper during a major collapse scenario.

(fig. 14) Phase 3 Grey Man with M-4 carbine
In summary, we don't feel we need to point out that the world is in turmoil.  European countries are on the brink of collapse and the western economies are not in much better shape.  The #OccupyWhatever movement is growing in intensity and in some cases has devolved into savagery.  We assess that these Occupy-esque protest will continue well into 2012 and beyond with a high probability of resulting in violent civil unrest.  We recommend that you prepare and begin thinking about what "Grey" phase you might find yourself in the coming years and what you can do to stave the impending onslaught of self appointed have nots.

18 comments:

  1. Outstanding information! I just completed my basic motorcycle course after viewing the motorcycle bug out video and I'm in the process of choosing a bike. I'm not taking any chances and nothing for granted. By all appearances, the President himself is actively supporting these anarchist protesters and there's no telling how empowered they feel at the moment or how far they're willing to take their violence. An ounce of prevention is very appropriate in these uncertain times.

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  2. What kinda knee pads are those? Great info man! Thank You

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  3. Dang, Christmas shopping just got a whole lot more intense.

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  4. You gotta love how OWS protesters are "thugs" yet it's the cops usually cracking their skulls in more than windows being smashed by a minority of probable provocateurs.

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  5. You always provide great information - been a Youtube fan for a long time - but little seems to be tailored for folks with families. It's easy to blend in/bug out when you're a young single guy, but what about the rest of us? Our BOV is the family van or sedan. In a Road Warrior scenario we're together or not at all.

    I'm just saying it would be great if, as an aside, you included more family oriented info. Translate some single guy stuff into family stuff. Keep up the great work!

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  6. Mooky--Great suggestion. I'll keep that in mind!

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  7. What about a bugout bicycle? Would rather have an apc, truck or motorcycle. A bicycle is good in a pinch. A shotgun would be a low cost alternative to a tactical carbine. Things have really gotten bad in this country when we need to have discussions like this. Thanks traitor Obama.

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  8. Good video. Where did you get that helmet from? Its actually a nice looking helmet and would make a rocking bicycle helmet. I try to practice gray man tactics. I carry a black molle sling bag. No one really notices. I wear normal clothing with the exception of a boonie hat which is pretty much normal in LA. Woodland camo pants or shorts is also normal for this area. Try not to draw a lot of attention to myself and blend in. Keep my mouth shut. No morale patches on my backpack or clothing. I carry a switch and wesson HRT bootknife that rides underneath my t-shirt since CCW's are almost impossible to get in the PRC. Though a glock would be preferable.

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  9. For all phases I like my little RayoVac made in China bought at Walmart solar powered key chain flash light. Minimal weight, no batteries and tough. Conventional flashligts I always end up droping on a hard surface, afterwards they are always intermittent likely due to damage to the battery contact points and springs.
    It probably won't shine for half an hour before recharing and is not much brighter than a cell phone but no requirement for batteries, little weight and almost immune to drop damage are big pluses.
    This is good for all the way from phase 0 through "The Fall of the Roman Empire" type scenarios.

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  10. I like the "low key" clothing concept. One way to achieve camoflauge clothing without looking military or threatening is to wear plads. In the military we were taught that anything that broke up our out line was good and made us less noticeable.
    This is also probably why undercover cops often wear pattern "Hawaiia" style shirts.
    Secondly staying in the shade makes you much less noticeable even if you are in plain sight. That's were the ancient phrase "a shady character" comes from.
    I almost hit an old man who was standing on the asphalt once. He wore a greed plad suit jacket and was in the shade.
    Another thing is to go to an eye confusing back ground. It's better to stand near the corner of a building that along the middle of a wall. The more "busy" your back ground is the less you will be noticed. This is similar to the radar terminology of "back ground" noise.
    Also anything that is close behind you helps. You don't want to be shilouted against a sky line.
    There used to be a technique before night vision equipment called "reverse slope defense" in which we set up our positions at the bottom of a hill at night rather than the top, so infantry coming over would be shiloueted against the night sky.

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  11. I would not recommend bugging out to any who does not practice serious survival on a regular basis. My reason? Most people wouldn't stand a snowballs chance in hell out in the wild. All the exspensive nifty gear in the world and all the best intentions won't make a fire start any faster or put food on the table. Bugging out should only be used when it is 100% positive you will not survive if you stay.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db6v7YGizPk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGCMSLxSar8&feature=related
    the guy in these links knows what he is talking about.he has been there and wrote an excellent book on what REALLY happens during a serious economic collapse and isn't just going off speculation.

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  12. Who makes that helmet? Been searching, can't find.

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  13. Found it. It is a FAST Helmet from Ops-Core. The model pictured (FAST Base Jump Military) has no balistic protection and is around $240. The FAST Balistic Helmet is $882 for military, $980 otherwise, and does not have the ventilation holes. These helmets are made to have communication equipment attached, hence the rails. And many accessories exists (covers, cables, side protection covers, etc.).

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  14. OpsCore Fast.

    http://www.ops-core.com/FAST_Ballistic_Helmet_P7C6.cfm

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  15. Fantastic article! Today more than ever, I see Blog and website preppers writing about OSPEC and Grey Man, then turning around and asking people to 'Like" their page on FB!

    The future isn't the their biggest threat. It's their ego's that will be their downfall.

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  16. Just curious, what are your thoughts on revolvers and how they would play into the grey man directive?

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  17. Good info. Grey is about to become the new green.

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