0241 Tactical Operator’s Pullover Jacket

During WWII the German Army maintained several interesting ideas concerning Light Infantry and Mountain Troops that were a natural evolution of the WWI ‘storm’ or shock troop tactic, which itself in many ways an outgrowth of the small unit thinking, many of which were rooted in European hunting traditions- one of which being the hooded archer’s shirt. The kampfjägers (German for ‘fast movers’) were one such unit that worked to effectively hunt communist guerrillas at the small unit level in the Balkans. Well documented in Elford’s The Devil’s Guard, the Jäger or Hunter approach to Light Infantry rendered the best aspects of Insurgents themselves- surprise, to the role of the Infantrymen on the ground. Such a paradigm benefits partisans far more than the contemporary bulky, noisy hybrid Light/Mechanized Infantryman of today. The success of such a decentralized model is one that seems to be re-recognized and thus forgotten once no longer needed, if the lessons and small unit developments of pre- and the post- WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan are closely examined. Disappearing once more are the Long Range Surveillance Units in the drawdown just as their forefathers of the Long Range Patrol (Corps level LRP and Division level LRRP) did post-Vietnam. Such units which focus on individual skill and small unit cohesion are less-than-palatable to big Army thinking which relies on macro-level maneuver and likes to work within a high-tech panopticon. It’s understandable if the focus is well supported Combined Arms…but we haven’t been in much of a Combined Arms fight in a while (and I seriously question the over-reliance on high-tech stuff, especially considering the negating qualities of EMP…but that’s another topic), and guerrillas never will be (except on the receiving end). Thus, the Hunter approach is far and away more favorable to unsupported Infantry, be it nation-state or Partisan.

wehrmachtGoing back to the German model, the specialized hooded field uniform was a strong example of the common-sense approach to warfare. One of the characteristics of their combat uniforms was a hooded shirt- both for wind protection and for concealment. Following the aforementioned traditional European hunters outfits, the combat shirts were worn with the hood up to break up the outline of the head and shoulders in an effort to obscure the human silhouette.

The Soviet Army continued this tradition with their field uniforms for the VDV (Airborne) and Spetsnaz which by doctrine would be expected to work unsupported for varying periods of time, both for an LGOP approach inherent to Airborne Infantry tradition and for stay-behind sabotage operations. VDV.jpegAs an interesting aside, sabotage and terrorizing an enemy’s rear were the primary focus of the Spetsnaz forerunners, with the bulk of the early training being centered around mine laying and partisan Sapper operations. These early Special Troops units were awarded the title Guards, which designated this role. Nonetheless, the German Jäger approach and lessons were not lost on the Soviet Special Infantry. And no surprise, their field uniforms included a hood…as it often still does. 45th special recon

We know of these shirts most commonly as anoraks, which is traditional in northern climates as an outer shell worn over several other insulating layers. For that reason, they’ve rarely garnered much attention in the warmer climate of the southern US- nonetheless, they make an excellent addition to a guerrilla’s outfit as a standalone item. There’s one reason amid all this history that this rudimentary uniform design has remained- the hood works really, really well at breaking up the head and shoulders outline in the woods. In short, the human eye can quickly pick out head and shoulders silhouettes, thus any masking of the natural outline does very well to obscure the wearer. Until the present, the only way to get one of these was to either make it yourself, pick up some Soviet surplus tops or repro German field shirts, both of which can be dicey at best, or wear the heavy nylon (like the old thick winter BDU) US surplus anorak- provided you can find them.

IMG_02890241 Tactical recognized this neat piece of kit and are custom making them in a bunch of patterns. I found out about these by way of my buddy Hawkeye over at UW Gear who highly recommended them to me. After playing with it for a while in the woods I can say this is nearly the ideal patrol shirt- it’s light, lighter than the ACU top (a MUST with the NC summer coming on), generous shoulder pockets, a very large chest pocket (which is really handy while wearing a light chest rig) and an oversized hood that makes very sure the head and shoulders outline is broken up.

Compared to my old Woodland anorak, the pullover presents a few unique advantages. IMG_0291First, it has the ability to breathe with mesh panels sewn in under the armpits. Anyone who’s built and worn a ghillie made from old BDU or DCU tops knows that having a good run of mesh underneath the arms is a must to keep cool. In addition, allowing your body to breathe during long movements is critical to field hygiene (heat rash, especially once infected under your armpits will make your life an absolute living hell- trust me, I know). The cut is extremely generous, bordering on too big if you order in your normal t-shirt size. That’s a good thing- in the summer it’s loose and cool, in the winter easy to layer under. IMG_0290My old Woodland shirt is huge as well, but not cut universally as large as this top. The hood is also larger, being able to obscure the head outline but also creates shadow on the face.

The only thing I would like to offer as an improvement is adding a drawstring in the middle to keep the top close to the body in the midsection, but it’s a feature I could live without. While it’s nice to keep the fabric close to the body under your kit, it’s not exactly critical.

Moving onto the elephant in the room…how about a camo test? Woodland is pretty age-old stuff, often criticized for its large splotches and inclusion of black which easily creates an outline. While that’s scientifically true, many of us hold an affinity for Woodland camo…wearing it in lieu of ACUs in the field or bs-ing around Area J on an informal road march made you feel like a rebel (those of you who know….you know exactly what I’m talking about…) but these days a huge camo market created by the God-awful ACU has rendered some really good patterns.  ATACS-FG is one of them…it kinda reminds me of the camo jackets the rebels wore on Return of the Jedi. IMG_0286Either way, I’m not much of a pattern guru (when I play in the woods I wear multicam and/or Woodland…I was issued it and have lots of both) so this ATACS stuff is really new ground to me.

But as you can see from the close shot, the small splotches, although much lighter in tone, don’t have as much of a sharp contrast of lines. Up close it may do well to be just a tad bit darker, but that’s what a trip to Hobby Lobby is for- pick up some fabric dye and go to town. The light doesn’t quite do the pattern justice up close though…it’s a tad bit darker than it appears in the photo.

IMG_0287From an intermediate distance the real differences between Woodland and ATACS becomes a little more clear. ATACS really picks up its environment and I think it does a good job as a pattern.

The overly dark Woodland pattern really begins to become apparent here- as does the light-colored reverse fabric with the sleeves rolled up (A habit I have…I roll sleeves up on everything, I hate cuffs around my hands while I’m anywhere, but especially in the field) which is another advantage to 0241’s design.

IMG_0288From afar, with multiple layers of shadow in between the tops and the camera, ATACS really shows its superiority. Woodland is a bit overly dark in the woods, with the silhouette easily picked out compared to the 0241 top next to it. ATACS picks up shadow well, but not overly dark and ‘melts’ into the background, even with the contrast of the brown dirt of the forest floor.

The old Woodland pattern isn’t bad, but it’s definitely showing its shortcomings compared to the newer pattern. I’ve quickly become a fan of this newer pattern…and it seems to look pretty good with that Multicam AK rig I have from Hawkeye.

Overall, the build quality and design is top notch- this is an American made piece of kit that exudes quality. If your local patrolling philosophy is at all rural, taking into account the substantial history of this design and theory of use should definitely place it on your to-get list. At $85, it’s not cheap, but it is a big step beyond the basic military surplus uniform items that militia and Survivalist-types like to wear while also not looking like a tactical-toolbag. True to its European origin, it’s simple, functional and effective. I really wish I had had this top on my last trip to Afghanistan, but fortunately I have it now, with plans on picking up a couple more.

50 thoughts on “0241 Tactical Operator’s Pullover Jacket

  1. I didn’t see a link ncsount so here is one http://shop.0241tactical.com/

    I checked out 0241 Tactical’s site and was impressed with what they have to offer – Thank you.

    Using another gear but still driving forward…I am a ground deer hunter. I make deer blinds in the summer overlooking trails and food plots which blend in nicely by fall. It has been my experience that hunter hunts deer best when they look like a blob. Hence I do not use a hat but a hood and/or a shemagh combination. Straight lines that a typical hat provides really blows your cover if you move to fast.

    Never knew about the use of a anorak by special troops and why. Based on my experience deer hunting, makes total sense. Thanks for taking the time to share the history.

  2. LFMayor

    Just to pick hairs, but those woodlands look new. They do better after they’re faded a bit.

    Were you wearing the hunter shirt as an overgarmet, or thinking or wearing FLC over the top of it?

    1. Actually it’s not new at all. I just don’t wash it.

      Different colors stand out differently over the number of times it gets washed with detergents.

      I only clean it by rinsing it off with a water hose outdoors, that’s why it’s not faded.

  3. Thanks for showing this. I remember seeing some reproduction reversible SS smocks online and thought it was an awesome idea. The ATACS camo is very similar to the camo they used back then, and they had an arid camo side and a woodland side. I’ve got a British surplus smock in their version of multicam made by Helikon. I think I paid around $100 with shipping from the UK. I absolutely love it, and it shares alot of similarities with the smock you shared, including put zips. How is yours for water repellency? Although mine is wind proof, it absorbed water about the same as a BDU top so I hosed it down with camp dry, works good now. I definitely have a thing for European surplus field gear…

    1. It is very similar to the fleck pattern. The 0241 is not water repellent- it’s like wearing a standard uniform top, but with a hood.

      I have a second woodland smock I sprayed with camp-dry, which works pretty well.

      1. Camp-dry was applied to the older, thick anorak.

        0241’s version is for hot weather. A point I believe, although there was quite a bit written about it being designed FOR HOT WEATHER, some folks missed.

    2. Jovan

      You’re probably writing about an SS-Camo-Pattern named “Eichentarn” which works remarkably well.
      It was usually used on a reversible Smock called “Knochensack” with a summer-version and an autumn-version on the inside.
      It’s kind of a more organic version of a today ( at least in Europe ) very popular Pencott Pattern.
      Personally I like to use the really effective Pencott Patterns since wearing the old SS-Patterns over here in Germany would obviously be a little bit problematic .

      In regard to the mentioned “Kampfjägers”, I’ve not heard of them, maybe it’s the “Feldjäger” the Author was writing about.

      As for ATAC FG, there was a german pattern named “Sumpftarn” that comes quite close.

  4. Henry Bowman

    Nice review, good looking, well made kit….

    I am wondering your thoughts how it would perform in an urban/suburban setting, where one might be scouting/patrolling from a Deciduous wooded setting, like the outskirts of a major city like Charlotte, say a neighborhood, that abuts urban/suburban built up areas?

    Just from what i can see from various pics, the AU pattern seems to be the best compromise between wooded camo, and urban/suburban “blending in or disruption.”

    Of course, i ahve alwasy been a fan of plain old slant pocket OD”s and Woodland BDU’s as that is what we were issued back in the day, and OD seemed to work well in most situations…

    I don’t envision walking around my AO all camo’d up, tactical tommy’d out w full multicam, etc., but a smock like this seems to make much sense, as it is easy to don and remove…

    My approach is more grey man/carharrt kit, with this as an added layer?

    What say you?

  5. Camo patterns do matter…
    I use camo for hunting regularly.
    Other than the various Realtree and Mossy Oak patterns- which are the second best I’ve found- the various patterns of this stuff are hands down the best patterns I’ve found…

    Other than that there is a WWII camo pattern that is blotches of shades of browns and greens- that stuff is the third most effective I’ve found.

  6. Pingback: Brushbeater: Tactical Operators Pullover Jacket | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  7. NCScout… Are you familiar with the terrain and vegetation of NW Florida at all? Do you have a recommendation for patterns in that area? We’ve got a lot of slash pine forest around here near the Florida-Alabama border. I have a lot of multicam issued by the Army (and some of that ridiculous ACU-UCP crap) and the multicam isn’t that bad out here, probably a little better than the woodland. Woodland seems a bit too dark for our vegetation.

      1. When I was looking at all the camo patterns 0241 offers, they’ve got one that looks a lot like smokey branch- kinda like that and the old French Lizard pattern.

      2. I was told that the smoky branch was a U.S. military pattern that only saw limited use. I got mine from a local surplus store,known the guy since I was in high school-a looong time ago-so I believe him about the smoky branch being a military pattern.

      3. I can’t speak to that, but it might’ve been at some point under trial.

        It looks similar to the old French variant that tiger stripes are based upon.

      4. It’s been a few years, but I think he said a few select SF units tested it and lived it but the higher ups said no. Probably when ACU came out. Replace something that works great in multiple environments with digital crap that makes everyone look like a man sized target.

      5. On the point of ACU though…you can get a ton of it cheap and ‘fix’ it with light brown or light green (depending on your area) to help it naturalize a bit better.

        I’ve done this with a few older uniforms and it works.

  8. Atlas Shrug

    The hooded shirt idea does have merit. I’m a big fan of hooded garments in general, and for field garments in particular.

    I bought in big time to the wind proof smock approach. I learned of it from reading Max Velocity posts at his forum. A couple of years ago they were available from some surplus places, and I jumped on a few of them. The British MTP pattern smocks in particular are pretty good in our AO (if you see SFMedic or his wife wearing one, they came from me). They have armpit zippers, but still are a bit warm for NC summers. Something lighter sounds like a good alternative for warm days.

    Keep your powder dry,
    Atlas Shrug

  9. Matt

    I’ve always thought, walking through the hunting sections of the various stores, that the 3D hunting camo that has the leaves sewn onto it looks especially effective at breaking up shapes. If you hang one of them next to a standard camo, the standard camo just looks flat.

    Of course once you start hanging gear on it the effect would be lessened, but it would seem like a 3D hat/head/shoulder veil would be pretty effective.


  10. Not long ago WRSA had a post on camo-comparisons done by U.S. Armed Forces. Unfortunately I only bookmarked one of the sources, not the actual article, and as “camo” is HyperStealth’s business, it was taking too long to find the specific post. However, even on their home page you can see many of their worldwide clients in order to find the type of camo that’d work well in your geographic area. Hopefully the pullover-makers have illustrations of their pattern choices, rather than simply a text dropdown.


  11. Hi everyone – ncscout thank you for the awesome review of our Tactical Operator’s Pullover Jackets! The lizzard looking pattern is called DEPSOC and 0241Tactical has a great partnership with DEPSOC. After 20 years service and seeing tons of camoflauge patterns used I am totally behind DEPSOC. Thats another story for another time. Anyway ncscout please email [email protected] for any gear you wish to review in the future! Great write up. We loved the historical background.

  12. Multipurpose Man

    Being a pullover with pockets only on the arms (i.e., it’s basically a cloth sack with arms, and no buttons or zippers), there is an easy option to turn it inside out.

    And, since it looks like the ATACS-FG version is very light colored on the inside (like BDUs), you’d basically have expedient snow camo. Seams would show, but you can use a little bleach to whiten these. Not perfect, but it might do in a pinch. Beats being green in the snow.

    Makes it useful in another environment. One less thing to carry.

  13. s6cnrdude

    Excellent information! I would think the hood would help w/ mosquito protection as well. I want to get one and try it myself.

    1. It will.

      I was referencing some material earlier today for a buddy- several Vietnam-era Recon illustrations. The poncho was VERY popular at night because of the hood and obscuring of the human outline. I can’t help but speculate that mosquito protection was part of that too- it was common practice to wear mosquito headnets on LRP patrols too.

    2. anonymous

      Remington sold a mosquito net jacket with 3D leaf camoflauge attached to exterior. Pretty nice camo, but did not appear to be able to be durable enough for military action.

  14. PRDos

    Too much of survival writing is about gadgetry. Finally something I can use. I’ve frozen my ass off many times outdoors and don’t like it. A post on your layers would be very interesting. So would a post on shelter and sleeping outdoors.

  15. Jovan

    The 0241Tactical TOP-Jacket is a good product, I have two of them, one greenzone, the other snowdrift.

    All in all I am quite happy with them, though.
    Unfortunately the newer version is made wither a smaller hood, as I read on 0241’s facebook-site.
    That is not an improvement as far as I am concerned.
    I recommend it anyway because it’s a lightweight and simple way of concealment for any kind outdoor-use.

    By the way, my compliments, a quite interesting blog! 🙂

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