5.11 Tactical is an Irvine, California-based brand of clothing consisting of uniforms and tactical equipment for military, law enforcement and public safety personnel. The company also operates a chain of retail stores, with 13 locations as of January 2017.
5.11 Tactical started in Modesto, California as a clothing line created by mountain climber Royal Robbins. Upon reaching the top of a climb in Yosemite California, he noticed that the trousers that he was wearing were not suited to climbing. Robbins decided that he needed to design something more durable and with better functionality. He owned a boot and clothing company and began manufacturing pants by the name of "5.11" that had a trademarked tactical strap and slash pocket design in 1968.
The name “5.11” comes from the highest rock climbing difficulty level that was listed in the Yosemite Decimal System at Yosemite National Park, which was developed by Robbins in the 1950s. The difficulty level is somewhat jokingly defined as, “After thorough inspection, you conclude this move is obviously impossible; however, occasionally someone actually accomplishes it".
Robbins sold a 51% stake in his company to Dan Costa in 1999, who, after a lot of streamlining, noticed that the 5.11 Tactical pants were becoming popular at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Costa bought the entire company in 2002 and ended up selling Royal Robbins Clothing back to Robbins in 2003, but kept the 5.11 Tactical brand and spun off a whole new company called 511 Inc or 5.11 Tactical. Partnering with the FBI, Dan Costa and his co-partner and creative genius Francisco Morales began creating additional tactical apparel and improving on the existing line. In 2006 5.11 Tactical was ranked No. 211 on Inc. magazine's list of the 500 fastest- growing companies in the nation.
TA Associates, a Boston private equity firm, bought a majority stake in 5.11 Tactical for $305 million in 2007.
In 2012, 5.11 Tactical purchased Seattle-based outdoor apparel manufacture Beyond Clothing LLC for an undisclosed amount. An April Fool's joke that same year resulted in production of the Tactical Duty contemporary kilt. Also in 2012, the company announced it was moving development jobs to Irvine, California, while leaving some functions in Modesto.
In 2014, the company expanded into retail and opened pilot locations in Riverside and Las Vegas, and the following two years it opened stores in California, Colorado, Texas, Australia, Florida and Utah.
In 2016, the company was acquired by Compass Diversified Holdings for USD$401 million.
5.11 Tactical makes clothing, gloves, boots, holsters, knives, slings and packs for law enforcement use, but is popular with civilian shooters and private military contractors.
Actress Jennifer Garner and her co-stars wore 5.11 watches in the 2007 film The Kingdom.
Actor Ryan Philippe wore 5.11 plate carriers in the series Shooter.
5.11 is the official plate carrier of the CrossFit Games.
The company operates a chain of 13 retail stores across six US states and Australia, as of January 2017. In 2017 they announced plans to open one to two stores per month in 2017, with 11 locations under development as of January 2017, and signed leases in Phoenix, Honolulu and Boston.