Tactical World - - Contents - BY DOUG JEF­FREY, PHO­TOS BY LUKAS LAMB

We strate­gi­cally made our way through the crowded hall and headed for the back of floor one. Some in­sisted that the SHOT Show was a lit­tle less crowded this year. On this par­tic­u­lar trek, how­ever, it would have been dif­fi­cult to con­vince us.

We ar­rived at the Vertx booth, and Dave Rho­den greeted us warmly. He led us to their small sup­ply room, where Ga­tor was munch­ing on some “fuel” to get him­self through the rest of the day. Af­ter a brief con­ver­sa­tion, we re­minded Dave that we wanted to see the new shirts we had heard so much about. His eyes lit up, as he led us to the Weapon Guard shirts by Vertx.


Rho­den grew up in Florida, where the mug­gi­ness was part of ev­ery­day life. Even­tu­ally, life took him to a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia beach com­mu­nity, where the hu­mid­ity was rare, ex­cept when Mex­ico’s trop­i­cal storms in­vaded the South­land in the sum­mer. Liv­ing just a few miles from the Pa­cific, Rho­den grew ac­cus­tomed to the cool ocean breeze that popped up vir­tu­ally ev­ery af­ter­noon. But that all changed. When he moved to Ten­nessee in 2015, he found him­self im­mersed in over­pow­er­ing hu­mid­ity again.

“On hot sum­mer days, no­body wants to wear ex­tra lay­ers,” he said. “Pis­tols can have ag­gres­sive stip­pling. If you’re not wear­ing an un­der­shirt, the grip rubs your skin and you’ll get a rasp­berry. Plus, you don't want to trans­fer your sweat to the firearm. That's just not a good mix.” That got his wheels turn­ing. When 2016 rolled around, he walked into Vertx with pro­to­types for the new shirts.

The in­ter­nal weapon guard has sev­eral ben­e­fits; It re­duces lay­ers while pro­vid­ing 360-de­gree pro­tec­tion for your skin, re­gard­less of the gear you're wear­ing. It also fea­tures 37.5 Tech­nol­ogy, said Rho­den, which is a per­ma­nent ap­pli­ca­tion to the fab­ric that helps man­age your tem­per­a­ture, keep­ing you cool in hot weather while pre­vent­ing odor from build­ing up. An added ben­e­fit is it also con­trols the fab­ric in­ter­ac­tion, pre­vent­ing that static-cling ef­fect you some­times get wear­ing mul­ti­ple lay­ers.

“Your skin is pro­tected,” said Rho­den. “There is no chaf­ing, and the shirts keep you cool.”

On top of every­thing else, the shirts stretch, so there is no re­stric­tion of move­ment. At all. The shirts are also “wired,” so you can wear comms for sur­veil­lance, and the but­ton-up shirts ap­pear to have but­tons, but they are ac­tu­ally snaps for quick ac­cess to your firearm. The shirts are also miss­ing the brand­ing, which is nor­mally a “dead give­away” that some­one is car­ry­ing. There­fore, you won’t see any brand­ing on the ex­ter­nal por­tion of any of the shirts.

When Rho­den pitched the con­cepts to Vertx, they were in. Af­ter some end-user vet­ting and a lit­tle re­fine­ment, they went way in.

Now you know why Rho­den’s eyes lit up.

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