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James G. pimping the Drop Zone Recce Smock in Baghdad

After publishing an article throwing some love to the classic M-65 Field Jacket the guys over at Drop Zone Tactical challenged me to try out their updated take on the Field Jacket, the Recce Smock.

So they were kind enough to shoot one out to me here in Iraq to try out, I had actually already heard of Drop Zone and the Recce Smock from our correspondent Rob Krott who has previously raved about them.

After looking it over on their website I was first concerned that it was a really heavy jacket, something I would have limited use for here in Iraq even during the winter. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised that it was not a bulky jacket like I had previously thought, but a well engineered unlined mid-weather jacket.

The first real thing I noted was the Recce Smock is designed around someone who would be wearing a full kit and helmet. It fit like a glove while I was wearing my armor carrier and chest rig allowing me full and unobstructed movement. Even the hood was designed for someone who is wearing a helmet, it is actually the only jacket I have ever known where I can wear my helmet with the hood over without feeling I am in a neck brace.

Wearing the Drop Zone Recce Smock in full battle rattle

The Drop Zone Recce Smock is stitched together by the boys at Drop Zone out of 65/35 Polyester Cotton [50/50 Nylon Cotton for CadPat and Multicam] using pull toggle equipped YKK® zips, note that I said it is made by Drop Zone, meaning that this is a semi-custom handmade jacket – not some cheap coat made in a sweatshop in China.

The Recce Smock starts off with the basic Field jacket design, 4 front pockets, mid-length [it goes past ¼ of your thigh] and zipper closure. But then it adds on tons of function and practical features to this old classic.

Let’s start from the head down. The hood is integrated [non-removable] that can be Velcroed shut about 50% of the way up [covering your mouth and nose] and then by using the drawstring you can adjust the remaining 50% opening.

Drop Zone Recce Smock – rear view

One of the clever features of the hood is the adjustment strap on the back that lets you adjust the hood angle, allowing you to have the brim lower so rain runs off easily or higher for a wider field of view.

The four front pockets are extremely roomy due to the expandable design used and are secured by a dual button closure. In addition to the four front pockets there are two additional zippered pockets behind each front breast pocket. I like to keep things like my ID, camera and other junk that I either want to keep secure or have fast access to in these.

one of the zippered pockets behind each front breast pocket

There are also two pockets on each arm that are also side-access and secured by a zipper closure. There are quite roomy, big enough to shove a paperback book into. And for the Velcro fans out there each arm pocket has a massive block of Velcro three rows deep for attaching all of you patches and such.

Zippered Arm pocket

The final pockets are the two upright interior zippered pockets located just inside the jacket; they are quite huge with more than enough room for folded maps or a couple entrees from an MRE.

Besides the above mentioned blocks of Velcro and pockets the arms have Velcro adjustable wrist closures that work great for keeping the wind and mosquitoes out. The sleeves also have a large pocket running from the elbow through the forearm for padding that is great for shooting prone or for urban ops. The elbow pad pocket is secured by a Velcro strip that keeps it securely closed; Drop Zone suggests Toolbox Drawer lining as effective and fairly inexpensive padding.

One of my favorite features of the entire Recce Smock is the zippered under arm vents located in the armpit area that allows you to get air in and circulating if you start to get a little hot without having to take the jacket off. I use this feature more than any other because I feel comfortable during minor movement but when I really start moving around I tend to heat up fast, so instead of having to constantly take my jacket on and off I just pop the under arm vents open until I feel comfortable and zip them back up when I am good.

”]The 65/35 Polyester Cotton is great for keeping the wind off of you without suffocating your entire upper body, it breaths enough to let some fresh air in without feeling drafty. The stitching and craftsmanship is excellent, you can definitely tell the difference between a mass produced piece of clothing and a handmade jacket like this.

While the Recce Smock is not waterproof it is treated to be water resistant, I wore it a bunch of times during some light to medium rains here in Iraq and it never soaked through. Due to the water resistant treatment water during light rains will bead up and simply roll off.

I wore the Recce Smock for a few months here in Iraq [and still wear it when we have cool days and night] while wearing my fill kit underneath and it was extremely comfortable and sharp looking at the same time. I had no notable issues with it at all and it continues to be a part of my “battle wear” for windy and rainy days.

Overall the Recce smock is an excellent modern recreation of one of the most classic of all military wear, the Field Jacket. Now this is not the cheapest of field jackets, but you get what you pay for, a handmade highly practical and functional Field Jacket that will last you throughout a careers worth of deployments or years of camping and hiking [or just hitting Starbucks].

Drop Zone Tactical
Recce Smock
$369.99 to $559.99 [CAD Canadian Dollars] depending on Color/Pattern
NOTE: If you are not going to be wearing full kit underneath you should order one size smaller than you normally wear


~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and Staying Warm. James G. on FACEBOOK

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  1. Nice….very expensive though.

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  2. Looks Nice will have to try one Bro !

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  3. Love mine, but I got the Recon Jacket they offer, in Multicam. Their site says it only comes in ACU, but if you call them, they will make it in MC for ya.

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  4. The problem for when I wear a jacket under my kit is [like I said in the article] I heat up quickly so I end up sweating like a whore in church – and I cant take the jacket off because all my kit is over it, I tried wearing my jacket under tons of times and I just gave up.

    This is especially true for folks like myself that go from inside to outside, early morning cool to mid-morning hot weather [common in the Middle East], from vehicle to foot and being in sudden windstorms and sprinkles

    In those situations having a jacket that you can throw on and off over your kit makes sense

    Now if you were in the jungle or arctic I can see the need for wearing your kit under your jacket

    Basically it comes down to your operating area and Mission – for my AO and Mission having a jacket that I can wear over my kit works and is tactically sound

    ~James G

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  5. Nice Oakleys, new pair?

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    • Haha I don’t think he’ll be buying a new pair of Oakley Gloves for a looong time

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      • Waiting on a new pair, the Oakley’s now have 5 different holes in them, I fucking burned my hand on an RPK barrel last week cuz of that

        Than damn mail has been super slow lately, like 4 to 5 weeks for me to get something in Iraq, making me crazy waiting for my gloves and a bunch of other shit

        ~James G

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  6. I like the color, I’d like mine in olive drab.

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    • I like OD for Field Jackets, I was just trying to stay away from green for clothing here cuz it shows the tan dirt and sand here so easily – you end up looking all dirty all the time

      But I am thinking about a Green one for camping and hiking

      ~James G

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  7. That an AR Platform I see in the hands of James G? Come to the dark side James. Come to the dark side…haha

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    • Yep – I have 2 AK’s and my DVM Frankenstein M-4 as a back-up or for shots past 300 Meters handy al all times [also whe I am on-base I am not allowed to carry an AK for some stupid reason, but the AK is my choice outside the wire]

      ~James G

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  8. Dumb question: how would you compare this to a TAD(aka Triple Aught Design) gear jacket?

    Thanks, good read!


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    • I don’t own any TAD stuff so I don’t know – but I hear they make solid kit

      ~James G

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    • Dumb question: how would you compare this to a TAD(aka Triple Aught Design) gear jacket?Thanks, good read!-ZM  

      It’s kinda apples and oranges. The material alone is not typical TAD Jacket material (softshell, fleece and hardshell material typically). If we’re comparing construction, the 2010 TAD stuff (it’s what I own) and Drop Zone are comparable. The stitching is nice and tight and there’s no points in the jacket that bunch up or tug on you in an uncomfortable manner. The range of motion is comparable as well.

      I’d want to see a comparison of this and the SORD smock. They seem to be about equal in material and construction, but I’ve not had a chance to try on the SORD smock yet. I did get a chance to give a DZT Smock a wear and it was a very pleasant experience. I do have a few TAD products as well. The DZT Better BDU pants are amazing though, best pants I’ve worn evar! (pricey though, but better than TAD, imo)

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  9. Nice jacket, I’ve been looking at them for a while, and have been thinking of getting one when I have the money. I think I’d get mine in OD or possibly black.

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  10. WTF OVER? whats with the Oakley gloves? I thought you said they weren’t shit? Just an observation on my part! Other than that looks good.

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    • Hahahhaaa… Same shitty pair – See my Oakley response above

      ~James G

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  11. cool, wish I had a job where I could wear it.

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  12. terrain dicatates…

    …looks like a great jacket but for that price I wont hang up my M65 just yet!

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  13. Dumb question: how would you compare this to a TAD(aka Triple Aught Design) gear jacket?Thanks, good read!-ZM  

    Most of the TAD jackets are either “hard shell” meaning some sort of coated nylon, or “soft shell”, which is some variant of shoeller fabric. This jacket is Poly/Cotton. Each has their benefits. Coated nylon will keep heavier rains off you better, but won’t breath as well.

    The shoeller fabrics breath better than the coated nylon, are generally more robust (depending on the specific fabric–shoeller makes two or three blends with kevlar in them that Motoport makes into motorcycle gear that is track certified and racers crash multiple times in before they need repair) than either coated nylon or poly/cotton. They are also more stain resistant than poly/cotton. Lastly, unless you get some with a good bit of nomex in the blend the shoeller stuff is NOT what you want to be wearing next to your skin when an IED kicks off. Unless you’ve got a good wool or nomex layer between it and you skin (or whatever good melt proof blend they’re now using). Lastly the shoeller/softshell fabrics and weaves are slightly to moderately stretchy (which is part of what ruins their waterproofness), so they can be a little snugger without restricting movement, and they are much quieter than coated nylon.

    Poly/Cotton, depending on the weave and coatings will deal with light rains (remember the old Waxed Cotton stuff? Handled english rains well) well enough and might breathe a bit better than the shoeller stuff, is probably not quite as abrasion resistant, and is (depending on the cotton chosen) cheaper material. Note that economies of scale are very important here. The Recce Smock is most useful to a fairly small number of people, and if it does what it does as well as James G is claiming, it’s going to be moderately useless to, say, Joe Tactacool in Chicago on his way to the office M-F as it is going to look like a football jersey does when you aren’t wearing pads. This is born out by the photos on DZTs site–the guy modeling those coats SHOULD be wearing body armor and/or a tac-vest under them.

    If you’re crawling around the mountains or jungles outside of a war zone (or not wearing combat gear in one) or you’re in an urban environment the TAD stuff is definitely going to fit better, and is going to work in a wider range of climates than the Recce Smock. If you’re wandering around in a tactical vest and want something you can throw on over it to deal with changing weather, then I think the Recce Smock is going to be a better bet.

    However, I’m not a tough guy contractor, I’m a motorcyclist, bicyclist, and I do IT work in austere environments from time to time, so my perspectives and experiences are not the same as James.

    IMO the cost on the Smock is a little high, unless they’re either using a really special blend (which certainly is possible, shoeller and probably some of the other technical fabric types are coming out with “natural” fibers in a lot of their cool shit) or basically custom building these jackets, $450 is a little much. Oh, wait. Those prices are Canadian. Yeah, that’s probably about right for a small-batch jacket with those features.

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  14. I have one in CADPAT desert; one in ACU; and one in Black…

    James– ask Brian what the drawstring cord is called… i also take credit for the improved take up on the neck roll (hood).

    yeah, it’s pricey if you compare it to mass-produced junk and you can (and will) buy a couple of them for the price of one DZ Smock… and they’ll all be int he garbage when you’re still wearing Brian’s gear.

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  15. full battle rattle underneath… first time I saw this combo: an open smock. Here in Europe we usually wear body armour underneath the smock, but the chest rig above it.
    We use the smock as an outer layer with the combat loadout outside the smock, even in summer. When it gets wet or cold we wear a gore-tex liner or some down-filled thing underneath. Even in summer the smock is our outer layer.
    The entire kit that the British carry in their “webbing” is in our smock’s pockets. We got way more pockets in our smocks though. If you guys ever see pictures of German infantry in A-stan you’ll see.

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  16. But most importantly: will it look as cool when worn with a pair of vintage Randolph sunglasses? Or is it more a practical piece of kit better not worn when telling war stories in a sleazy bar somewhere in Bangkok?

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  17. James,

    Nice review. That looks like a nice jacket. Sure is spendy. I like my Woolrich Algerian Field Jacket. It is similar in a lot of respects, and is less than $100.

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    • Where’s it made? Woolrich used to be a respectable brand, then they went to China like half the other f’wits and now I wouldn’t buy most of their shit with your money.

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  18. Has anyone tried the Eotac field jacket? Looks a bit short on the pictures, but otherwise interesting.

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  19. I received my Drop Zone Recce Smock today, after only ordering it last Monday. Yeah, less than two weeks from door to door, with an easter holiday thrown in there.

    It was a custom made job, the first they ever produced out of 100% nylon in cadpat. This smock has more than met my expectations. I easily am able to wear all my gear underneath, with still tons and tons of easement to go. If you’re concerned about price don’t be, this is a high level item when it comes to quality. It’s meticulously made!!!

    I did a ton of research before I decided to push the button on this one, and after now having it in my hands it’s a clear no brainer.

    And just try to find one used for sale out there, good luck on that one!

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  20. How does this reflex sight work?

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  21. Now that you have worn and used the jacket for a while, how does it stand up? I have a TAD Gear shell and fleece jacket that I am looking to ditch as the quality is of the poorest calibre imaginable. Nothing but problems from that company. And the bonus for me is that they are located in Canada, so no shipping costs.

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