The Gray Man concept has been around for some time and is frequently discussed on prepper boards. But exactly what is it we are talking about here? There is a lot of good information on the web for people preparing to survive life’s disasters, but there is a lot that leaves me scratching my head in wonder. Lets see how to keep your gray man from turning orange.
I’m not sure who exactly coined the term ‘Gray Man”, but it has been used by the intelligence community for some time. In the prepper community it tends to describe the prepper who is able to survive by not bringing attention to themselves. Sounds like a simple concept right? Maybe. Depends on you.
You Gray Man persona needs to begin well before SHTF. We discussed many of the issues here in our OPSEC series but some things bear repeating. Do you prep under the radar? Do your neighbors know you are prepping (unless you deliberately told them)? When you go to the range to practice, do you use discretion in loading your equipment into the vehicle? Or do you wear camouflage clothing and have NRA stickers and Cold Dead Fingers bumper stickers on your tricked out HUMVEE that has the endearing name of “Battle Bitch” stenciled on it? Do you stack up cases of MRE’s in front of your garage when reorganizing your equipment? (BTW, I am a Life NRA member, I do have a common looking 4WD vehicle I fondly call Battle Bitch, I do store MRE’s as well as other supplies. I do go to the range frequently to both practice and train others. I just don’t advertise these things to the whole neighborhood where I live. My neighbors wouldn’t have a clue). If your entire neighborhood knows you are storing food and equipment for SHTF, guess who is going to be “Mr. Popular” for all the unprepared, hungry neighbors.
So How Do You “Fit In” ?
There are two major components to being the Gray Man. Appearance and Demeanor. The Gray Man is the person who never stands out. He could walk through a crowd and no one would remember him because neither his appearance or demeanor would cause anyone to take a second look. Plain. Average.
Look around at your local community, and take note of the prevailing dress. Then imagine the people of your community in a long-term SHTF situation, and think about how they will look. That’s the appearance you want to give. Many people will say that tactical clothing, camouflage and tactical gear are a total give away as a prepper and makes you a target. I say it depends of where you live. If you are residing in a major metropolitan area in the United States or Europe such as New York or London, obviously cammo and tactical will make you stand out and you become the Orange Man. But there are many parts of the Southern United States where camouflage is normal clothing because of the number of hunters and because to some degree it is simply custom. In much of the Western United States field clothes and work boots are commonly worn. It simply depends on your environment. Having a tricked out 4wd in downtown New York will stand out. In Phoenix Arizona, it would be run of the mill. (Unless you stencil “Battle Bitch” on it.)
If you are bugging in during a long-term SHTF situation, you may find yourself having to traverse areas outside your home for various reasons. The whole idea is that you do not want your appearance to stand out in any way. You don’t want people to have any reason to either notice you or remember you. If it is a grid down situation with electricity non-existent and water scarce, people will wonder why you and your clothes are clean and you are clean-shaven. Because they won’t be. Keep your defensive firearms hidden. Pistols are easy. Anything larger requires that you be creative. A folding stock M-4 or AK should fit in your grubby plain rucksack if you feel you need that kind of firepower while away from your abode. Don’t assume that since your handgun is covered that it is unnoticeable. Police and security professionals are trained to spot badly concealed firearms from “printing”. They can spot the bulge or “print” of your firearms if your clothing doesn’t conceal it correctly. Practice now on how to properly wear a handgun that is properly concealed. Also consider the possibility of alternative weapons that do not look threatening such as a walking stick or cane. And learn how to use them.
This is about what you do and how you go about doing it. This is the difficult part. Don’t be loud in either speech or actions. Notice the tempo of the people around you and try to follow it. Learn when it is appropriate to make eye contact and when it isn’t. Go to a shopping mall some weekend day when you have time and just sit and watch people. Notice how people interact. Look at the people who stand out because of their demeanor and ask yourself why. Then try to notice the people that you wouldn’t have normally noticed if you were not trying to. See any differences? Notice people’s body language. A tremendous amount of communication goes on through body language and it is often perceived at the subconscious level. Ever walk into a room or even a bar and suddenly realize something wasn’t right? You couldn’t describe what it was, but that “not right” feeling persisted. Well, something wasn’t right. Your subconscious was noticing something. It may have been the “tension” in the air, or the unnatural way people were standing. Or something as simple as a flower arrangement not quite right. Learn to trust your instincts. And also learn not to give off those sub conscious tickling signals.
When Gray Man Stops Working
There are many points of view on this and not everyone agrees with me. But I think that in certain circumstances Gray Man stops working. If the SHTF situation goes on so long that you are in a WROL (Without Rule of Law) situation all the way up to TEOTWAWKI, then everyone is subject to be perceived as a potential victim or even meal regardless of how they look. Organized gangs or other groups of people are going to victimize anyone not in their group. In that case, the tactical badass look might be more productive. Predators are called that for a reason. If you look armed and dangerous, many predators will pass on you for an easier target. Hopefully you were able to move on before your local situation got that bad. So when do you make the transition from Gray Man to Blaze Orange Man? Thats going to be a judgment call on your part. Until it is necessary to change, stay Gray.