A few years ago, a friend of mine who is a fellow fan of “tacti-cool” gear emailed me a link to the then-new Brad Thor Alpha Jacket by SCOTTeVEST. I couldn’t whip out my wallet fast enough. Founded in Chicago in 2000, SCOTTeVEST is now headquartered in Ketcham, Idaho and specializes in clothing that features pockets and compartments for electronic devices (such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and other portable electronic devices) with built-in conduits for managing wires. Their clothing is marketed primarily towards travellers, but their clothing (primarily jackets and vests) also caters to military LE personnel — who are generally required to carry lots of devices and gear, sometimes surreptitiously.
The SCOTTeVEST Alpha Jacket got a splash of marketing help through its branding association with spy novel author Brad Thor. One of Thor’s characters even wears a SCOTTeVEST product in one of his books. The jacket boasted plenty of features a geeky gun nut like me would love, including ambidextrous locations for concealing a full-sized 9mm pistol (though I found my “slightly” compact pistols like the SIG Sauer P229 and Glock 19 fit the best). The jacket was durable, comfortable, and made carrying lots of gadgets and other stuff super-easy. It was my go-to jacket for a very long time. If I had any complaint, it was that I’d get too hot wearing it when the Seattle weather was nice. But for most of the year, it was the perfect jacket for a Seattle-based gun-and-multi-gadget wearing geek like me. I loved it.
All seemed peachy in co-marketing land until 4:34PM on December 18, 2015, when Brad tweeted “FTR. Am no longer involved w/ [email protected] Have asked their CEO @ScottevestCEO to stop using my name in any further marketing efforts.” The Twitter skirmish that followed (it didn’t last long enough or get ugly enough to properly refer to it as a Twitter “war” … and I actually kind of got sucked into it via a retweet…long story) made things clear that the co-marketing partnership was over, and at the same time, SCOTTeVEST alluded to the fact that they were soon to release a replacement to the Alpha Jacket, called the Enforcer.
SCOTTeVEST announced the Enforcer at SHOT Show 2016 (“the” gun industry trade show that takes place in Las Vegas every January), and the product was officially released in February. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the very first SCOTTeVEST Enforcers. It arrived two days after my 45th birthday, and truly was my favorite present I received that year. 🙂
As one of the few owners (so far) upgrading from the Alpha to the Enforcer, I find myself in unique position to evaluate the differences between the older Alpha and the newer Enforcer, tell you what I like about the new one, and maybe a thing or two I miss from the old one. Here we go!
SCOTTeVEST Enforcer Marketing Blurb
SCOTTeVEST’s official marketing blurb on the Enforcer says:
Encompassing features from SeV custom designs for elite forces and our popular Alpha Jacket (the epitome of style for espionage fans), the Enforcer is designed specifically for law enforcement, military and security personnel. The exterior is made of a durable and stylish softshell fabric. The water-resistant, cotton/nylon blend maintains a sleek appearance without unsightly bulges from pocket contents, which won’t print. Its 30 pockets hold all the gadgets and devices you need to stay plugged in wherever you go. The Enforcer jacket is engineered to allow safe and discreet carrying of a concealed weapon, plus all the lifestyle and tech items you expect a SCOTTeVEST to hold, all without adding bulk to your profile! The Enforcer includes pockets for your glasses, iPad®, passport, wallet, travel documents, phone, and much more. The four interior middle slash pockets are perfect for holding a gun, blade, or both. The pockets also include sub pockets for extra magazines. However and whatever you carry, the Enforcer from SCOTTeVEST will securely and comfortably manage the load while keeping you looking great! Wear it with the Hidden Cargo Pants 2.0 or over the Tec Shirt!
For more “official” info on the Enforcer, you can check out SCOTTeVEST’s Enforcer web page, or watch this brief marketing video clip:
Differences between the SCOTTeVEST Alpha and Enforcer
Some of the differences between the Alpha and the Enforcer are merely cosmetic, while others are functional. As I transferred my gear from one jacket to the other, I took notes on the differences, both on the outside and the inside.
First, take a look at the Enforcer’s exterior and interior features, then scroll down for my discussion of their differences.
- The most noticeable difference between the older Alpha and the newer Enforcer is a much more tailored-looking fit. I wore a size L Alpha, which fit me great in the chest and shoulders, but I always thought it rode a bit “long” on me. I’m not a tall dude, so taller guys probably didn’t have any issue with this, but I always felt the Alpha looked a bit too long on me. The Alpha sleeves were almost too long on me, but not long enough to bother me — I’d have preferred them maybe an inch shorter (SeV fixed this issue with upgraded cuffs… discussed below). But when I ripped my size L Enforcer out of its plastic bag and donned it, my wife immediately said “Wow! That jacket fits you great. You look hot!” And isn’t that what it’s really all about, folks? Right from the get-go, even if the rest of the Enforcer’s updated features had sucked, it would still be an upgrade to me because my wife likes how I look in it. Thankfully, rest of the Enforcer’s new features don’t suck.
- The biggest change to the Enforcer actually isn’t visible at first, and I didn’t even realize the feature existed for a couple of days after I started wearing it: the sleeves can be removed from the jacket, converting it to a vest! This goes a long way toward solving my “overheating” problem mentioned previously. I can now wear the Enforcer in “vest mode” on days where the full jacket would be too warm. The sleeves zip out and back in quickly and easily. This feature is a mega-upgrade over the Alpha.
- The “feel” of the exterior fabric on the Enforcer is… different somehow. I can’t tell yet if that’s just because my Alpha is so well worn (and I wore my Alpha all the time) while my Enforcer isn’t even a month old, but I think the fabric is slightly different. The Enforcer looks slightly darker (again… could just be a difference in wear), but what truly leads me to believe that the fabric might be different is that it’s been raining nearly daily for the past month in Seattle, and I’ve noticed that the water-beading properties of the Enforcer seem even better than the Alpha’s… which weren’t that bad to begin with.
- The Alpha featured two small rubber Velcro-backed branding badges on the bottom front, flanking each side of the main zipper. I’d removed the original badges from my Alpha and proudly sported a rubber Geissele triggers morale patch on the left side and a swapped out a variety of other patches on the right from time to time. I miss this feature so much on the Enforcer that I’m considering sewing a small square of female Velcro in the same locations on my Enforcer. Most users might not miss this, but I do.
- The length of the toggle on the Enforcer’s main zipper is about 1/3 the length of the one on the Alpha (you can also see that comparison in the photo above). The one on the Alpha wasn’t too long, but neither is the new one on the Enforcer too short. No upgrade or downgrade here. It’s just different, without really changing the functionality.
- The Enforcer uses bright (I’d almost call it reflective) white stitching for the interior icons that indicate the suggested use for the pockets, while the Alpha used grey stitching in the same locations. If being able to better see and identify the pocket icons is a benefit to you, then this is an upgrade. If remaining as stealthy (non-reflective) as possible while opening the jacket is a consideration, then this might be a downgrade… though one that’s easily remedied with a Sharpie (which I happen to always carry in my SeV jacket).
- The Alpha’s inside liner was basic black, while the Enforcer uses a subtle light-grey repeating pattern of the SeV logo. This is a welcome visual upgrade, and gives the jacket a slightly more “upscale” feel over the Alpha.
- The two rear zippers (located at approximately 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock for quick access to right- or left-handed shooters looking to access hip-holstered weapons) are significantly shorter on the Enforcer vs. the same zippers on the Alpha. But as I mentioned above, the jacket itself rides shorter, so this is actually an upgrade because you don’t have to unzip as much zipper to access a holster in these locations. I normally carry a full-sized 9mm IWB at the 4 o’clock position, and had no trouble accessing it during my testing.
- The Enforcer adds the ability to, and I’m not kidding here, carry a laptop computer in the left side rapid access panel! My size L Enforcer easily fits my 13″ MacBook Air (on which I’m typing this review). As for how comfortable it is to walk around with a laptop in your pocket is a matter of opinion. The Enforcer (like the Alpha) is specially designed in the shoulders to support a fair amount of additional weight. My MacBook Air is relatively light, so the weight wasn’t really the problem. What I noticed was that I could feel the weight differential on my left side, especially since the laptop sits at the bottom of the jacket. Carrying a firearm in the upper portion of the same left-side panel didn’t create this same weight differential issue, probably because the gun was sitting higher in the jacket, and possibly closer to my body. Adding some counter-weight to the right side would have probably made things a bit more comfy. I walked around for the better part of a day with my laptop in my pocket, and enjoyed the funny looks I received when I whipped it out while sitting in the waiting area of a Trapper’s Sushi waiting for my to-go order. And while there’s plenty of room in the Enforcer for a MacBook power cord and accessories throughout the jacket, I still feel like my Tumi backpack (coincidentally named the Alpha 2) is at no risk of losing its job as my daily travel companion for the time being. Still, the mere ability to stash my laptop in my pocket is a big time upgrade, even if I probably don’t do it very often.
- The Enforcer uses SCOTTeVEST-branded Velcro (which runs perpendicular to the cuff) that allows for adjustable sizing of the cuff. The Alpha’s cuffs featured a zipper (running perpendicular to the cuff) which helped conceal two additional pockets, designed for concealing a sheathed dagger, such as the Benchmade SOCP. In fact, I highlighted the sleeve pockets on my SeV Alpha when I shot my Benchmade SOCP review video on YouTube. I miss these pockets, because I thought it was pretty cool to be able to carry a concealed dagger there… but the laws in Washington State don’t allow individuals to conceal-carry a double-edged knife (even those with concealed weapon permits… yeah, don’t ask), so I shouldn’t miss those pockets… but I do. These two photos show the differences:
- The phone pocket situation on the Enforcer is a massive improvement. The Alpha had a single phone pocket on the inside left side with a shiny plastic cover that allowed you to use a touch-screen on the device inside. The problem was that the pocket was too short for my iPhone 6 (especially with a Magpul iPhone case), and cut off the top part of the screen. The Enforcer’s phone pocket is perfectly-sized for taller smartphones, and the mesh interior pocket on the inside right has been replaced by a second smartphone pocket… so you can carry multiple touchscreen devices or simply choose the side that’s most comfortable for you (lefties rejoice!). The plastic covering the smartphone pockets is more matte on the Enforcer, but still works just as well allowing control of a touchscreen through the plastic. Mega-upgrade.
- The Enforcer’s lower right inside pocket has an additional “nested” pocket that wasn’t on the Alpha. Upgrade.
- On the Alpha, the TEC logo and QR code linking to the SeV website is hidden inside a lower interior left-side pocket. On the Enforcer, it’s not hidden by any pockets and is crazy visible if the jacket is opened. I’m certain this was a decision made by the marketing guys, but I find it a bit too brash and preferred it more subtly placed inside the Alpha’s pocket. It’s a minor one, but still a downgrade in my mind.
- The business-card pocket on the inside-right of the Alpha was a mesh pocket with “landscape” orientation (wider than it is tall), while the Enforcer features the same matte plastic on the phone pockets, and rotated this pocket to “portrait” orientation.
- The configuration of the main “Rapid Access Panels” (the main pockets accessible without unzipping the main zipper) is drastically different on the Enforcer… in a great way. The Velcro pad designed for holding a holster is stiffer in the Enforcer than it was in the Alpha, and the Enforcer adds true MOLLE attach points that were missing in the Alpha. Mega upgrade on these all-important pockets.
- The Alpha’s zipper toggle for the Rapid Access Panels were small and thin, while the Enforcer has changed these over to the same larger toggle as the jacket’s main zipper. This is a big upgrade, especially since if you ever “had” to unzip these pockets in a hurry to grab a concealed weapon, anything that makes that motion quicker and more reliable is a good thing.
- The Enforcer adds a lumbar pocket that wasn’t part of the Alpha. It’s basically a wide and shallow pocket inside the rear lining. It’s a new pocket, so it’s an automatic upgrade. But a word of warning: don’t leave this pocket unzipped and then try to remove your Enforcer jacket whilst sitting in your SUV at a stoplight by grabbing the rear collar with both hands and trying to pull the entire jacket over your head and down… because the open lumbar pocket will act like a kidnapper’s hood and people behind you will honk when the light turns green. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Features That Haven’t Changed
Not everything is different between the two jackets. Many of the features that worked great on the Alpha still remain on the Enforcer and work just as great: like the RF shielded internal pocket, internal wiring channels for cables and headphones, the removable keychain and water-bottle elastic strip in the “hand warmer” pockets, etc. It’s also still possible to fit two dollars worth of quarters in each of the small Velcro’d pouches in the hand warmer pockets, which adds weight to the lower front corners and allows you to more quickly sweep an unzipped jacket to the side to access a holstered firearm, which is particularly useful for left- or right-handed shooters who carry on the front-side between 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.
One big thing that hasn’t changed is the obvious quality of this jacket. It’s comfortable, functional, doesn’t “print” your gear, doesn’t rustle or make weird noises when its material rubs on itself, and all of the secret hiding places for your stuff is sensibly and easily accessible. I don’t have to go looking for my sunglasses, because they have a dedicated pocket in my Enforcer. My lip balm and spearmint gum are always ready to deploy.
The overall design of the Enforcer is, like its Alpha predecessor, rooted in function… but the form is still stylish without being trendy. The Alpha is only “outdated” by the Enforcer’s features, but not its looks. Both jackets retain classic styling that can be enjoyed for years.
Features I Wish Had Changed
If I didn’t complain about something, one might accuse me of writing a fluff piece. So in the spirit of the objectivity that I hope are a hallmark of all my reviews, I must declare that there are, unfortunately, a couple of things I wish SeV had changed on the Enforcer, but which remain the same as the Alpha. Hopefully, after reading this review, the honchos at SeV will add this to their Enforcer II list. 🙂
Up first is the length of the USB stick holder on the right-side interior. It’s still barely too short to fit my Ironkey USB stick and allow the pocket to stay closed. And anyone who values the features of this jacket is probably the kind of person who values the features of an Ironkey.
I also wish the opening for the pen pockets on the left-side interior were slightly larger. There’s a large pen pocket on the right-side interior, where I carry a King Size Sharpie Pro. But I carry a CRKT TPENWK tactical pen in one of the left-side pen pockets, which are both slightly too tight to allow its cap to easily slide down all the way into the pocket — which also means it’s tricker to extract the pen when I need it. I’d much prefer a single pen pocket here, instead of a dual one. I may even remove the stitching here to allow for this.
Apart from those two issues, and the couple of minor things I’ve mentioned I miss from the Alpha, I’m having a really hard time coming up with things I wish were different on the Enforcer. SeV really got it right on this jacket.
As for whether the SCOTTeVEST Enforcer is an upgrade over, or merely a replacement for, the discontinued Alpha is a matter I’m happy to officiate: it’s a definite upgrade. Some of the new features I like, and some I straight up love. Sure, I miss a couple of the old features, but none are deal-killers. The removable sleeves alone are reason enough to demote your Alpha jacket to “backup” status and purchase a new Enforcer as your “primary” — and the additional upgrades simply make the decision a no-brainer. Yes, it’s a $300+ jacket, but it’s money well spent.
Oh, one thing I neglected to mention in the section on things that “haven’t changed” is SeV’s commitment to customer service. If you have a question or concern with your SeV product, their customer service rockstars are all over it — and I have to give a special shout out to Gavin (who handles SeV’s social media) and Maggie (who’s official title is, seriously, “Pocket Expert”).
A number of SCOTTeVEST’s products are available on Amazon, but for now, the $325 Enforcer can only be ordered directly from them through their website. You can pick any color you want… as long as it’s black. But you do get to choose between ten (!!!) different sizes, ranging from Small to XXXL Tall, and the interactive sizing chart on SeV’s website will help you pick the right one.
As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback below.