ASK FATHER: 5.11 Tactical Clerical Shirts

From a deacon…


Anyway my main reason for contacting you regards the 5.11 Clericals. I was recently ordained a Transitional Deacon for the Diocese ___.  [Congratulations.] I am very interested in having a clerical shirt that I can play laser tag in and not worry about ripping, [Aren’t we all?] but I have absolutely no competence with tailoring or anything that involves arts and crafts, so to speak. Would it be possible for me to buy a 5.11 Clerical from you? [?!?] My size is XL and my neck is 17. If the shirt could be compatible with the plastic slide tab, that would be ideal, so that I could easily stow it in a pocket while playing a game in black light. [Yes.  I can see where that might be a tactical disadvantage.] I will take what I can get, however, if the wraparound linen collar is the only option.  [More on that below!]
I’m willing to pay you to compensate for the cost of the shirt, shipping, and what you feel is a fair price for labor. My current location for the summer is …


He is talking about these.  HERE  Tactical clerical garb for the serious priestly culture warrior and foe of Satan’s minions.

Okay… is this one of these St. Martin of Tours moments?


So, my responses is… Reverend Mister X, I’m not your tailor and I’m not your FedEx guy.

Here’s what you do!

1) Buy your shirts using this link.  Long sleeve HERE and  short sleeve HERE with helpful concealed carry pockets (for, say… a Roman Ritual or something else).  Great pants for the tactical cleric HERE (mag pouch useful for stole, oil stock and rosary or… a spare mag).  HINT: You will want more than one, eventually.  Believe me.  … I mean both 5.11 shirts and spare mags!

2) Find a shirt in your closet which has the collar that you eventually want your 5.11 to be like.

3) Take them both to a neighborhood tailor shop.  Show them to the tailor or seamstress. Say: “Make this one look like that one.”  It shouldn’t cost too much.  Leave the shirt which is the model for the 5.11’s eventual outcome.  Don’t forget to show how the collar works and leave it.

4) Pick up your new tactical clerical shirts when they are ready.

5) Contact 5.11 Customer Support and tell them that they should have taken Fr. Zuhlsdorf seriously when he wanted to discuss an option for clerics.  It could be good publicity for them.

That’s the best way.

As far as the tab collar is concerned… I hope you know the prophecy that, at the end of days, the Lord will try to pull priests into heaven by their collars.  Those with a tab collar on at that moment… well… as the Lord’s finger hooks in, the tab will slip out. Thus, the hapless priest will fall back into the void, the long drop to Hell, with the diminishing scream, “But I usually wear the cassoooooock…..”

Yes, I know that most priests wear them now.  Even the undersigned does once in a while. Just so you know, my young Padawan, what you are getting into with that tab thingy.

BTW… I am in my clerical 5.11s right now as I type, including boots.  And if the Lord hooks my collar… BANG … straight to heaven!  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. fishonthehill says:

    I am a big fan Fr. Z. and frequent wearer of the cassock… but I don’t get the whole 5.11 tactical pants and shirts? I think a pair of Haggar (expandable waist) slacks and a clerical shirt is more presentable and sharper looking than an EMT uniform. (BTW I don’t own a tab shirt) And as for tactical situations… as a NYC MTA Chaplain I have had to climb onto train tracks and tunnels, walk through dirty bus depots and bus accident scenes filled with debris (always in the wingtip!) IMO I think its more appreciated when the priest is dressed in business formal/casual than a member of a uniformed paramilitary unit. [Whatever.]

  2. LuraV says:

    Have you seen the tactical chef’s apron? Very handy for the upcoming grilling season. [LOL!]

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    I loved this deacon’s letter. Someone with seamstress skills who understands what is needed should offer their services online to convert these shirts and they would probably get customers from the Fr Z blog reader cohort.

  4. yatzer says:

    Not a cleric or anything, but married to a guy who likes this kind of stuff. I went through your link (I hope, not very techie) and got him some pants. They are on sale now, if that’s important to others.

  5. yatzer says:

    Given the current state of the culture, perhaps I should have mentioned I’m a Catholic woman, not an Anglican minister or in some sort of pretend marriage thing.

  6. robtbrown says:

    Does wearing a tactical shirt make it easier to pack heat? [If that is your objective, it would make it much easier. I assume you mean hand warmers.]

  7. sekman says:


    How does the black color hold up after laundering? It seems that so many clerical shirts fade so quickly after a mere few months of regular wear. [So far, better than the usual clerical shirts!]


  8. gramma10 says:

    This is why I like your blog Fr. Z! Very unpredictable and a real hoot!
    You have style! I like your shirt design. You have pizazz for an orthodox Roman Catholic priest!
    Many are writing in straight lines. You are writing all over the place and making being Roman Catholic fun and interesting.
    God created an incredible, amazing world. You appreciate it and use it for His purposes. I thank you!

  9. Supertradmum says:

    I now a poor seminarian who has to go into blacks this summer…maybe someone who reads this blog can get him one or two of these shirts. Let me know on my blog, please.

    Poor Fr. Z., we all think you are supermanpriest.

  10. robtbrown says:


    The East in general, and NYC particularly, is much more formal than the rest of the country. Some years ago when I was doing work, in two weeks I went from an office in DC-Virginia to one in Everett, Washington. The differences in office culture was considerable.

  11. Max says:

    Thanks for the laugh: from an old salt.

  12. benedetta says:

    Arts and crafts? LOL! One of the interesting tours at Gettysburg for young students involves going through an instructed process of “mustering up” which is quite good when visiting as a family with little ones. The park ranger on our visit indicated that all enlisted received something called “a widow”, a packet of needle and thread, essentially, for mending one’s own uniform as the need arose. It seems to me that craftiness was not an ability or talent or skill assumed going in. However, even if one has the rudiment of skill needed to do repairs in far flung operations, it seems wise in this instance to employ the knowledgeable skills of a good tailor.

  13. Moral_Hazard says:

    I still suspect this is some sort of long joke or masterful troll. Tacticlol.

  14. Fr_Sotelo says:

    LOL. You never know what you are going to get from the newly ordained.

    I must be out of it. I had never heard of tactical shirts. But you are right Fr. Z–clergy shirts are outrageously priced for the quality of clothing we get.

  15. Gaz says:

    As an outsider, I wonder why anyone who values life would indulge in parody shoot ’em eps when so many tragic deaths result from the violence of the gun in one’s country. That said, if publicans and tax collectors deserve special attention, laser taggers certainly need adequate access to a chaplain.

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