|Model||Water Resistance||Features||Battery Type||User Rating (Out of 5)||Price|
Casio G9300-1 Mudman G-Shock
|660 ft||-Digital Compass|
Suunto Core Black Military
Columbia CT004-005 "Singletrak"
|330 ft||-Digital Compass|
Casio PRG-270-1 "Protrek"
|330 ft||-Low Temperature Resistant|
G-Shock Rangeman Master Of G
The 2017 Military/Tactical Watch Buying Guide
- The 2017 Military/Tactical Watch Buying Guide
- What is a Tactical/Military Watch?
- What to Look For in a Tactical Watch
- The Best Military Watches
- 1. Casio G9300-1 Mudman G-Shock – Best All-Around Military Watch
- 2. Suunto Core Black Military – Best ABC Watch
- 3. Columbia CT004-005 “Singletrak” – Best Tactical Watch Under $100
- 4. Casio Men’s PRG-270-1 “Protrek” – Best Affordable Military Watch
- 5. G-Shock Rangeman Master Of G Series Watch – Best G-Shock Watch
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a watch guy. I’m old school and a firm believer that
every man everyone should carry a watch. Sure you’ve got a phone that tells the time but what about when your battery dies? Or you can’t get into your pocket? Or you need to navigate without a compass?
I’ve got a small collection of timepieces from my daily Fossil to dressier ones for formal occasions. The important part is that, while I like all of them, each one has a function. And I’m not taking my Michael Kors out into the brush.
Whether you’re hiking, camping, geocaching, or bugging out, having the proper watch is important. A true military watch can do much more than just tell time; it could be the difference between life and death.
And before you start to say that you aren’t going to stop to switch watches if you’re bugging out, I keep mine attached to my bug out bag strap, so it’s always ready to go. Stop being so negative, geez.
Don’t forget you can use the table of content links to jump to different sections. If we’ve missed something, let us know in the comments so we can make this longer even longer/more helpful!
What is a Tactical/Military Watch?
If you hadn’t noticed from the title, I’ll be using the terms tactical watch and military watch somewhat interchangeably. For the most part, military watches meet military specifications (mil-spec) while tactical watches are a broader category. I can’t stand overusing words so I’ll be alternating throughout this article.
Basically, a tactical or military watch is a watch that has certain features beyond simple timekeeping that are useful in tactical or military situations and can withstand a lot of abuse. If you’re looking for a survival watch, you’re going to want to go with some sort of tactical or hiking watch.
What to Look For in a Tactical Watch
These watches offer a slew of features that can really save your butt in emergency situations. Here are a few options that you want to look for when choosing one:
Needs to be durable enough to stand up to a lot of abuse. This ain’t no wine tasting, this is the wild wild west.
The case and bezel can be made from a number of different materials ranging from titanium to carbon fiber to military-grade plastics. Each material has its own pros and cons but typically you’re going to want something light and sturdy.
The band material can also vary quite a bit. Silicone rubber is probably the best for the applications these watches will go through. But if you’re looking for more of a ‘survival’ watch, there are bands made with paracord for handy cordage when you need it. Personally, I’d rather carry a paracord bracelet and keep my watch on my wrist. Either way, it’s a good idea to steer clear from leather or metal bands.
Most watches these days are water resistant to a few dozen meters, but you may want something that can sustain higher pressures, depending on your situation.
Also, since you’ll be pretty active, I’d recommend looking for a shockproof model as well
You might not have the luxury of being able to charge or replace your battery in the field. And when it dies, that’s just a pretty bracelet on your wrist.
The better models are kinetic or solar powered, but these options may not be available for all brands.
For something like the Suunto Core, the battery will last around 12 months with regular use but if SHTF and you’re still around after 12 months, good luck finding a replacement battery.
A good military watch is purposely designed not to catch on equipment or clothing. Buttons don’t stick out beyond the case much, if at all, the bezel is more rounded than a typical watch, etc.
You don’t want to be worrying about snagging your sleeve in an emergency.
Some of the higher end tactical watches have a “negative display”, meaning the watch face is black and the text is in white. This allows you to read it without ruining your night vision or giving away your position. Watches with red backlights, just like tactical flashlights with red bulbs, are also useful for this reason.
If you’re coordinating plans with others, you don’t want to show up late. That’s good advice for life in general.
Your best bet will be finding a model with an atomic clock like the Casio Rangeman that calibrates itself every ten minutes via radio signals.
Things like a compass, GPS, barometer, altimeter, etc. You’d be amazed at what they can fit into a watch.
5.11 even has one with a ballistics calculator built in.
Sunrise/sunset times – When you’re out hiking, it can get dark fast. Good to know exactly how much time you have left to make camp.
Barometer – Watches with built-in barometers can alert you to upcoming storms, giving you time to find shelter.
Altimeter – For those of us in flat states, this won’t get much use but if you’re hiking in a mountain or, I don’t know, maybe jumping out of a plane, I’m sure you can appreciate this function. It’s also useful for navigation.
Compass – Speaking of navigation… Sure you can plot a course with an analog watch but it’s going to take a while and it won’t be as exact. A number of military watches are equipped with digital compasses to give you a precise reading at the touch of a button. Or, in the case of many G-Shock models, just a glance.
Thermometer – In extreme temperatures, it’s important to keep an eye on your thermometer to know when to get out of the elements. Keep in mind that, since it’s on your wrist, your body heat will affect the reading.
GPS – Who needs maps and compasses when you have GPS?! Just kidding, you should always have a backup. But having a GPS on your arm is exceptionally handy in a number of situations.
The Best Military Watches
Of course, there is no best military/tactical watch, it all depends on your needs and situation. These are our top picks:
1. Casio G9300-1 Mudman G-Shock – Best All-Around Military Watch
I’m pretty sure this thing has more computing power than my eMachines computer from high school.
Just look at that bezel. There’s so much going on!
At a glance, I know what day of the week it is, what the date is, which way is north, and what phase the moon is in. Oh, and it tells the time too.
Not only do you get a data mine of information but it’s packaged in a case that can withstand whatever you dish at it.
Shock resistant, water resistant, mud resistant, baby proof, gluten free, and solar powered to boot!
I’ve paid a lot more for watches that do a lot less. If you’re serious about being outside, the G Shock Mudman is a very good choice for you.
I have no idea what a “moon graph” is but I’m sure it’s useful as well.
Verdict: If a tank and a weather station fell in love and had a baby, this is probably what it would look like. Don’t you want to strap that on your arm now?
2. Suunto Core Black Military – Best ABC Watch
If you’ve researched military or hiking watches at all, you’ve probably run across the Suunto Core before.
While they come in a variety of colors, our choice is the Suunto Core Black Military model. Sure you can get one in race car red but that kind of defeats the whole “gray man” idea, doesn’t it?
The amount of sensors, processors, gizmos, and doohickeys packed into the Core is staggering. Not only can it sense weather patterns, it can actually track and record them to give you the most accurate storm alerts possible.
Wow, I’m pretty sure I heard my weatherman say that exact phrase… maybe he has a Suunto Core.
For those of you information junkies who put an emphasis on the Know in Know Prepare Survive and don’t mind spending a bit more (depends on the model but typically less than $200), this is the watch for you.
Verdict: The Suunto Core is the most advanced thing you’ll ever wear that isn’t loaded with iOS or Android software. It gives you every bit of information you need at a glance, can stand up to quite a bit of adverse weather, and doesn’t come close to breaking the bank. What more could you want?
3. Columbia CT004-005 “Singletrak” – Best Tactical Watch Under $100
And it does it for a pretty good price.
The Singletrak may not have the most features or be voted Most Likely to Survive a Nuclear Winter but it does what it needs to in quiet efficient form.
I’ll be honest, the CT004-005 (that’s a mouthful) wasn’t my first choice. But this isn’t all about me, is it? I polled military and police colleagues of mine and was pretty surprised when the Columbia made the list.
For everything it’s not, the Singletrak is a solid military watch and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
And if you’re a runner, the lap timer on the Singletrak has a 50 lap memory. 50. I only have a three lap memory and that’s laps around the buffet…
Verdict: If you hadn’t noticed, we crowned the Singletrak the best tactical watch under $100. And that moniker doesn’t come lightly. It does what it needs to in an understated package and is extremely affordable.
4. Casio Men’s PRG-270-1 “Protrek” – Best Affordable Military Watch
While it can’t withstand the stupid amount of abuse that the G9300-1 can, the PRG-270-1 can take its fair share of licks and keep ticking.
And unlike its brute of a cousin, this Casio has some upgraded features like an altimeter, barometer, sunrise/sunset timer, and it even washes your car for you!
Ok… one of those isn’t true. But it’s still a lot of calculations and information sitting on your wrist.
And, just to make the pot a little sweeter, the Protrek is a bit cheaper than the Mudman.
Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the looks on this military watch but if you’re using it right, you won’t be doing any turns on the catwalk.
Verdict: More features than almost all of the other watches on this list for a very reasonable price tag. Not the prettiest girl on the block but does its job well.
5. G-Shock Rangeman Master Of G Series Watch – Best G-Shock Watch
I saved the best for last.
It’s one of the most expensive military watches on the list but good heavens, look at that thing (click on the image to see more pictures).
With the exception of whatever the hell a moon graph is, the G Shock Rangeman can do everything that the Mudman can do and more. And look like a total badass doing it.
Probably why the Rangeman is the preferred choice for military personnel around the world.
Also probably why it’s called the ‘Master of G’. Because out of all of the G-Shock watch models (and there are a lot), this is the king of the bunch.
Some other notes about the Rangeman: It’s got a negative display, it’s lighter than you think it’d be (in a good way), it’s specifically designed to not snag on clothing or equipment, and it can be used for self-defense. Because anyone wearing one of these is way too hardcore to even think about robbing.
Verdict: You already know what I’m going to say. This is my top pick. Altimeter, barometer, thermometer, digital compass, atomic clock, solar powered, and tougher than nails made out of adamantium, coated in unicorn tears, and blessed by the pope. This G-Shock is so manly, I think I just got pregnant writing this review.
Little known fact; the Casio Rangeman would have gotten the Purple Heart Award except nothing has ever hurt it.
Well, there you have it. Our top picks for the best tactical/military watches of 2017. What do you think? Do you have any to add? What do you wear?