Use Sunglasses to Maintain a Tactical Advantage

Sunglasses in a survival situation may seem like an unneeded item for some, and a frivolous extra for others, but I think taking a pair of sunglasses, especially in your Urban Survival Kit is a good idea, and not just to block the sun.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.  While that sounds like a cliche romantic line, there is some truth to that and it might just save you in a survival situation.

For example, do you ever wonder why Law Enforcement Officers almost ALWAYS wear sunglasses?  It isn’t because they have sensitive eyes.  Sunglasses put you in a position of power over someone that does not have them. Being able to look into someones eyes gives you a lot of insight into what they are feeling and thinking.

Think about how much you can read from a person’s eyes. Are they scared? Are they thinking?  Are they looking at what they are thinking about? Are they looking where they are going next?

Police OfficerImagine yourself as a police officer for a moment. As the officer you come up on a situation you are unsure of, and are somewhat nervous.  By having on sunglasses you hide an important part of your body language that might accidentally display fear to someone who does not need to see it. By covering your eyes you maintain the tactical advantage of hiding your fear.

Now imagine yourself as the civilian. The officer approaches and you cannot see his eyes. You cannot read what he is thinking but you can imagine what he is capable of.  Not being able to read him creates uncertainty, which means he has the advantage.

Can you think how this might be useful in a survival scenario? Especially in an urban environment where you are likely to encounter lots of people (and you might not be able to display real firepower), any tactical advantage you can gain immediately plays to your survival possibilities. At first contact you are immediately in a position of power, if only on the subconscious level of the other person. (Which can be the most powerful way.)

A word of warning: There is a flip side to this power. Covering your eyes with sunglasses also dehumanizes you. It might make it easier for someone to justify taking advantage of you in any number of ways. I am not saying you should use sunglasses to intimate everyone you meet, in fact often you shouldn’t, but having them gives you options. You get to chose to display this body language, as well as when. You get to analyze the opposition before showing your hand.

photo by: numstead


Joel Jefferson
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

44 thoughts on “Use Sunglasses to Maintain a Tactical Advantage”

    • Although I agree with it I believe in general a few Hyenas can easily stand their ground agonist a pack of wolves based off the fact that in their natural habitat full grown male lions choose to keep their distance with them

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  1. another thing that will help similarly to sunglasses when dealing with people you don't know is a good brimmed hat. if you look at pictures of police officers with and with out hats, and john wayne with a hat on and with out a hat on, you will find that people with a good hat on seem more important. if you find you're self in a leadership role haviing a hat on can give you instant street cred. plus you can hide stuff in it, you could make a paracord hat band and always have some paracord on you.

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    • the cop pictured above looks like somebody you could shoot without remorse ( sorry i got caught , NOT sorry I did it ) having a hat is always a good idea , but more for head protection from the elements . I have a straight brim gaucho hat ( I do live in the rural SW ) and a cpl of boonie hats rolled up in my gear . As far as it making you look more important ….. most likely not and actually could work against you depending on the situation and what you are wearing . somestimes its better not to stand out .

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  2. Sunglasses decrease your ability to see everything. It introduces a delay in seeing and comprehending that can work against you. On the plus side blu-blockers sometimes improves the visability of some things. For example a green shirt will stand out hiding in green bushes.

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  3. I think this post brings us to a category all its own. More discussion needs to be given to interaction in bad situations. Ive been a bouncer, bodyguard, and bartender most of my adult life and can say that the skills of threat asessment, reaction, and interaction are the single greatest assets you can possess in a survival situation. Especially urban survial situations. Lets face it, most of us live in the inner-city, in-fill, or the burbs. You are immediately at a disadvantage based on the fact that you will be surrounded by the flotsam/jetsam of the inner-city, suburban commandos, newly minted cowboys, and the totally frickin unprepared. How are you going t o deal with them? Who among you think you possess skills along these lines? I'd like some dialogue. Speak up guys.

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    • You are very intelligent,Sir.Being a security guard in a really dangerous location it is a must to use good sense.I wear shades often to throw people off sometimes to incite fear depending the situation.

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  4. I think you have a good point Rude.

    this also is in the subject of should I stay or should I go.

    If this was a small WROL situation I would just stay at my home, however if this was a more permanent situation in WROL, I would def bug out of my current location, reason is this.

    You will have 3 groups present during a WROL situation.

    Wolves: These prey on the weak, they hunt and have basic organization. These would be the ones to roll up on you and take everything you have given the opportunity.

    Sheep: These are the unprepared and weak. They will scavage and steal if they can but only to stay alive, most of this group will not fare too well with a social breakdown.

    Sheep Dogs: These are the people that protect themselves and others. This group is around to help keep the peace.

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  5. I think sunglasses are extremely important. If confronted by someone who's trying to rob you of your goodies, you can analyze the situation without the person knowing. Another important thing is to try and paste a small piece of reflectable tape on the inside of your glasses on the bottom right. That would serve as rear view mirrors and give you eyes in the back of your head. A big plus for me!

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  6. I'm in Afghanistan right now, and wear my dark lens eyepro all the time. When on patrol, you can pretend to be looking at a local you're talking to him, while you're actually looking past him analyzing the situation in the area. You can also pretend to not look at someone, but really you're seeing what he's doing, and how he's reacting to you, when he thinks your not looking. Excellent article.

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  7. I agree that sunglasses will give you a tactical advantage and if you chose the right ones they will not interfere much, if at all, with your own tactics. Just look at our troops over seas and our law enforcement here at home. Most of them wear tactical sunglasses of one type or another, so use them as an example. If the man you are standing by is winning big, bet like he is betting and you should come out on top.

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  8. Old Scout- I have to say I have read a few of your responses and we have a similar mindset, I agree with you about the 2 additional classifications.

    As far as the sunglasses, I keep 3 different pairs in my JEEP Wrangler (which in an emergency would be the BOV with a small trailer). The first ones are simple "cheapo" polarized glasses which help when driving, the second are a pair of CAT safety/ welding glasses (courtesy of my brother the family mechanic), the third pair are the same as some of the local LEO's around here wear- Wiley X Roamer's. They cost me $80, and I lost the first 2 pairs I bought (always happens with the expensive ones for some reason), they are my "range" glasses. I also wear them hunting and fishing, they have never interfered with my use of a scope and they don't seem to reflect much light off the lenses like some others do. They are also very comfortable, I have a big head so it's hard for me to find ones that fit right. Another plus (sometimes), all my friends tell me they give me more of that "don't F* with me" look!

    RudeBoy also makes a good point, you need to know how to read people and deal with them in a manner that seems to fit the situation. In some cases having the "bad a$$" look might do you more harm than good. There maybe times where a veil or mask of equality or even submissiveness might mean the difference between walking away or being forced into a fight.

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  9. I just got done watching the movie "The Book of Eli", his sunglasses helped him (along with his sensitive hearing and ability to OWN somebody in a blade fight!) hide his secret. Won't give it away if anyone hasn't seen the movie, but YOU GOTTA SEE THAT MOVIE! Also does anyone know what type of glasses he is wearing in this movie? My 3rd pair of Wiley X- Roamer's is "missing" and I need to get a new pair with some ballistic protection for the range, those look like they might "fit the bill". Thanks if anybody can tell me!

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    • I really enjoyed the movie "The Book of Eli" but I was wondering if you caught the fact that the character of "Eli" is blind. Towards the end of the movie when the bad guy gets his hands on the book, it is in Braille. It also bring it out in a few other places also. Since I have found this out I have wanted to see the movie again to see how many clues I missed the first time.
      Also of interest is the fact that "Eli" was using Jeet Kune Do as his fighting style.

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      • Yeah I caught it pretty early actually. I started wondering when he lured the group that attempted to ambush him under the overpass to fight (the big clue for me was that he smelled them from a good distance). I have to say that was one of the best movies I have ever seen, has some good action scenes, has a good story line, kept me engaged (not an easy thing to do) and at least in my opinion was not the typical "Hollywood filth" we see so often these days. I have recommended the movie to everyone I know, even those with kids, since the movie is really more "clean" than most of the garbage currently on TV!

        I was not aware that he was using an actual "fighting style", I used to box and "street fight" (not something I am proud of these days) and have wanted to learn a martial since I was a kid, and Bruce Lee was awesome (I looked it up, he helped start that style). Now I am gonna have to see if there is a school for Jeet Kune Do around here! Thanks Old Scout!

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  10. I just got done watching the movie "The Book of Eli", his sunglasses helped him (along with his sensitive hearing and ability to OWN somebody in a blade fight!) hide his secret. Won't give it away if anyone hasn't seen the movie, but YOU GOTTA SEE THAT MOVIE! Also does anyone know what type of glasses he is wearing in this movie? My 3rd pair of Wiley X- Roamer's is "missing" and I need to get a new pair with some ballistic protection for the range, those look like they might "fit the bill". Thanks if anybody can tell me!

    Reply
  11. Good article and a refreshing perspective on the subject of survival. Just a heads up, there's a typo in the last paragraph of the article, "I am not saying you should use sunglasses to intimate everyone you meet…" I believe the intended word to be intimidate 🙂 Keep up the great work!

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  12. Where would people go? If something big happened, where would be the safest place? depending on what happens many people in large cities, near "LEO's or mill itary basez… Who is really the enemy. I just stumbled upon this and I agree with many things you are all saying. I like to think of myself as somewhat stealthy methodical and almost eager for that day… I'm 3 hours from the larger majority of those I trust. I get good mpg but… that wont necessarily be the best. I do have a large atlas instead of electronic stuff. and my car is from the late 80s.

    Reply
  13. Where would people go? If something big happened, where would be the safest place? depending on what happens many people in large cities, near "LEO's or mill itary basez… Who is really the enemy. I just stumbled upon this and I agree with many things you are all saying. I like to think of myself as somewhat stealthy methodical and almost eager for that day… I'm 3 hours from the larger majority of those I trust. I get good mpg but… that wont necessarily be the best. I do have a large atlas instead of electronic stuff. and my car is from the late 80s.

    Reply
  14. I guess I dont have much of a point to make of this except that, in the event of catastrophe, everyone is going to have to deal with eachother some way or another. The more peaceful and close knit the survival society, the better the chances of survival. I analyze everyone I meet for qualities, technologies and common sense and calmness. oh and I see that everyone pretty much agrees with sunglasses. I thought of that as well. In case you need to blend. it's just as easy to take them off.. I'd just keep them handy anyways if I didn't lose them tubing in the river last year…does anyone know a good 3-day pack under $60 and hopefully subdued cammo?? also… What is the most reliable and durable compass for under $50?? I think this site would make more informed survivalists if it had an acronym guide…Thanks again. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog or w/e. Heres a video I made if any are interested. It's about 3 minutes long on utube… its called Down The Road (HQ). at- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2J3QBDpzw2U …anyways… dont forget the matches…

    Reply
  15. I guess I dont have much of a point to make of this except that, in the event of catastrophe, everyone is going to have to deal with eachother some way or another. The more peaceful and close knit the survival society, the better the chances of survival. I analyze everyone I meet for qualities, technologies and common sense and calmness. oh and I see that everyone pretty much agrees with sunglasses. I thought of that as well. In case you need to blend. it's just as easy to take them off.. I'd just keep them handy anyways if I didn't lose them tubing in the river last year…does anyone know a good 3-day pack under $60 and hopefully subdued cammo?? also… What is the most reliable and durable compass for under $50?? I think this site would make more informed survivalists if it had an acronym guide…Thanks again. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog or w/e. Heres a video I made if any are interested. It's about 3 minutes long on utube… its called Down The Road (HQ). at- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2J3QBDpzw2U …anyways… dont forget the matches…

    Reply
  16. Tell you what, I am an Air Force loadmaster and I'm on the road constantly. We use a black Camel back backpack. I dont know the name if it , but its the perfect size for just about anything. Its not heavy, not super big, and is SUPER durable. I love the thing. The best smaller sized backpack I have ever had. It also comes with a water bladder and hip straps if you want to use them. If not you can remove both.

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  17. Anybody with half a brain will know what your doing . Case in point , some supervisors at a place I worked at started the sunglasses BS , until all the WORKERS started wearing them also to make a point ……. they were banned by the owner soon afterward for everybody . And as pointed out above , it makes it easier for somebody else to be willing to kill you if you look like an @$$hole . Depending on the place they are also banned from a lot of high stakes poker games . Another mistake people make is looking at a persons eyes too much instead of their HANDS . Trying the 1′ away from your face intimidation ploy may well get you a knife in the gut because you were staring them down instead of watching what they are doing by somebody who is not impressed .

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  18. An added bonus with the sunglass is the help in keeping stuff from getting in your eyes. Can't do alot of stuff when your blinded!

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  19. I just got this amazing pair of sunglasses. Miami ink is the brand. They block out the sun really well but i can still see fine. My little bro likes to chuck stuff and one time he missed his target.The rock hit my sunglasses but my eyes and my sunglasses were fine. Yes it was rather a small rock but it hit really fast and hard. My shades are also verey comtarable to have on. they are very well padded on the nose and the ears.

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  20. Being a retired Police Officer I agree with a lot of the comments but one important advantage to a good (not neccessarily expensive name brand) pair of sunglasses is that of eye protection from flying debris, sand, and even pepper spray. Look for ones that are polarized and ANSI rated as safety glasses. Sunglasses will not stop the effects of pepper spray however having been exposed to pepper spray way more than the average person I can personally attest that it is not as bad if you don't get it directly in your eyes. Remember it is hard to fight and defend ones self if you cannot see! YMMV.

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  21. Great article.

    I had a boss in the past that would allways wear sunglasses. Whenever he got upset or mad he was pretty intimidateing becouse i didnt know him well at the time and could not tell what he was going to do becouse I could not read him with the glasses on.

    And I am not easy to intimidate.

    But the day I saw him with the glasses off he was no longer intimidateing at all. I allmost couldnt take him serious anymore when he was mad.

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  22. I've given up wearing cheap sunglasses that you can buy on the street or in drugstores, etc.
    For one, I don't know how much I trust the UVA/B/C protection. Secondly, for just a few dollars more, or quite often even for the same price or less, you can get comparably styled safety glasses with safety ratings.
    I suggest AT LEAST ANSI Z87.1-2003, suitable for "high" impact. When available, I also opt to meet MIL-PRF-31013 clause 3.5.1.1 (and MIL-V-43511 clause 3.5.10). (I _think_ the mil spec basically amounts to a BB shot at close range. The Z87+ is for things like flying rocks/debris).

    Additionally, these generally come in an assortment of lens shades/colors to suit just about any situation.

    I carry 3 pairs now. One pair with Visible Light Transmission (VLT) of 20% (with retention straps for quick removability when it gets dark quickly) for sunny conditions. One "indoor/outdoor" lens at about 50% VLT, anti-reflective which is a great general-use lens, even in sorta low light conditions (in spite of what you might read about anti-reflective (AR) lenses, not helpful for nighttime glare, IMO). And a pair of clear lenses (which by their polycarbonate nature also cut UV).
    The dark glasses no one can see your eyes… just deep black pools like a shark. The indoor/outdoor lenses have a mirror finish. Your eyes could be seen from someone up close. On camera, they are perfect mirrors.
    All of them are wrap-around style, which can increase fogging, so get anti-fog if you want. I just smear with liquid soap, let dry, then buff clear. Works better than commercial products.
    I generally only wear the clear lenses when it gets windy and dark as I hate getting crap blown off the streets into my eyes.
    I alternate between the shaded pairs depending on the weather and have gotten into the habit of wearing them as often as possible, even when it seems silly… like indoors. I don't care what T.Rapier thinks… 🙂
    I'm also considering a yellow (not amber) tinted pair and trying them out for nighttime driving to cut glare. The AR lenses are just too dark. Perhaps the yellows will make things better (yes, I understand that any lens is actually decreasing light to the eye. But I'm getting old (like other famous SC posters) and the oncoming headlights in new super-blue techno colors are really starting to bother me).
    Without endorsement, I use safety glasses from Edge/Wolfpeak, Pyramex and Elvex. My most expensive pair was $16 shipping included. The cheapest, about $3.

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  23. I like to use sunglasses to take care of my eyes when I'm outside for traveling or anything else. Sunglasses are very effective for eye protection from sunlight and dust. Thanks.

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  24. Great points on the sunglasses, most people wouldn’t think about including them as BO gear. I never leave home without them. Thanks.

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  25. Cops often wear their dark shades to intimidate, but this can back fire on them; nudging them into the foe not friend category, especially after SHTF! In martial arts, we are often taught to look, not stare at your opponent's (or potential opponent's) upper chest area as no move (punch, kick, etc.) can be started without moving this area. Looking at their eyes can deceive or misdirect (often on purpose) your attention; if he/she suddenly looks over your shoulder, flairs or raises their eyebrows, then most people will be distracted thinking maybe someone's behind me, giving your opponent that split-second advantage! I wear corrective lens with side guards, and keep a pair of clip-on sunglasses on the bill of my hat (handy and help get rain, sun, etc. out of your eyes). Also, I keep a spare pair of glasses and clip-on sunglasses in a hard case in BOB, and a pair of 'granny' over-sized sunglasses that go completely over regular glasses and can also be used by someone else who doesn't wear glasses normally! In addition to protection from direct sunlight, and some wind (especially with side guards), if you're in an snow-covered open area even on cloudy days; snow-blindness is a definite hazard! Googles may at times be a better option, especially with high winds blowing dirt, dust, snow, etc., and combined with a face mask and/or hood will help control your bodies temperature!

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