Gray man theory – What is a gray man?

glock 43 in alex and ryan design master blaster holster, with boker ridgeback fixed blade knife, sunglasses, and a bottle of water.

Be sure to check out our entire series on being a gray man:

  1. Part 1: What is a gray man? (current article)
  2. Part 2: Practicing situational awareness
  3. Part 3: Gray man clothing and gear
  4. Part 4: Travel as a gray man
  5. Part 5: The communication style of a gray man
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We’ll be introducing the different aspects of a gray man, how to approach day-to-day situations as a gray man, exploring a strong Mental EDC and making recommendations on gear and tools.

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When founding a company dedicated to being prepared for whatever life throws at you, we settled on the name of Option Gray. Knowing that a lot of meaning can be found in a name, we wanted something to represent a mindset or lifestyle that lends itself to being intentional in the mundane of every day.

Merriam Webster gives a glimpse into the word “option” which is defined as an act of choosing; the power or right to choose (freedom of choice); or, an alternative course of action. Alternatively, “gray” can be defined as having an intermediate and often vaguely defined position or condition.

With that being said, what is Option Gray? We believe Option Gray is an all-encompassing term that indicates one’s ability to have options for all situations while maintaining a condition that does not draw attention. In other words, be ready for anything, but don’t broadcast it.

What is a “gray man?” 

Think about that question for a moment.

Move beyond what you hear, read or watch and think about it on a conceptual level: what does it truly mean to have the option to be gray and how does that apply to your everyday life?

A gray man is a person who draws little to no attention. On the most basic level, it means you have the ability to carry yourself in a state of vagueness or in a condition that draws little to no attention. You need to have the ability to be gray when needed, but it is not something that needs to consume your thoughts and actions.

You want to:

  • Avoid the extremes on both ends of the spectrum
  • Avoid taking on the appearance of a threat or a target
  • Avoid drawing attention for the wrong reasons

We strongly believe in giving yourself options, which is why we always talk about being intentional with what you carry and learning the skills to effectively handle what life can throw at you.

Options are what give us the capability to adapt to fluid situations that rapidly change from moment to moment. We believe that this concept applies directly to being a gray man.

However, with all of this being said, we also believe being gray isn’t a lifestyle that has to be practiced 24/7.

What does it mean to be a gray man? 

EDC pocket dump including: Spyderco PM2, Foursevens Quark Pro  QP2L, Hudson Design and Manufacturing beard comb, fisher space pen bullet pen, and victorinox knife.
Your everyday carry, or EDC, is just one of the many tools you can rely on to be intentional and prepared as you go about your everyday.

Having the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be gray is something you need to develop and carry with you every day. It should be part of your mental EDC.

You’ll want to pair it with tools and gear that you may want or need to have at your disposal if the situation calls for it, but we’ll get into this later on.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re reading this, you probably already have an interest in living an intentional life, carrying the responsibility of yourself and those you love, which is the first step.

But, becoming a gray man takes time and an intentional approach to life. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Deliberately think about the situation or task you may encounter, breaking out each item in your day. A typical day can include a variety of situations that need to be looked at as separate “things” rather than one cohesive day. This can ensure you intentionally prepare for your to-do’s as separate items. A typical day could mean:
    • Commuting via car to work
    • Walking to a restaurant to pick up lunch
    • Driving to pick up your child at daycare
    • Driving to and walking around the grocery store
  • Develop skills and abilities to cope with each situation efficiently
    • Basic car maintenance skills in case something goes wrong while driving
    • Knowing the neighborhood you are walking around in, having the situational awareness to observe anything out of the ordinary
    • Knowing the exits in a restaurant; sitting in a place that gives you a clear view of what’s going on; not spending time lost on your phone, unaware of your surroundings
    • Knowing who should be at your child’s daycare; knowing their safety procedures
    • Being aware of the people around you at the grocery store; aware of where any exits are
  • If items or tools are not available, you need to be able to use what’s available to protect you and your family (we’ll be covering more of this in future videos and blog posts. There is so much you can do here in terms of preparation, learning, and expanding your Mental EDC)
    • Make sure you always have water in your car; during the winter, make sure you have life-saving survival items for yourself and your family if you were to become stranded; not relying on navigating by your phone by having an up-to-date map
    • Carrying a concealed firearm, keeping it clean, and knowing how to use it
    • Being able to provide first aid or other life-saving treatments until help can arrive
  • Learn to manipulate your environment to gain an advantage in whatever situation you’re presented with. A big part of this is de-escalation and learning how to avoid or remove yourself from situations

All of this should be part of your tradecraft, which is being prepared for whatever life throws at you. Look for future videos and blog posts on tactics, thinking, and approaches that can help you become a gray man.

For Part 2 of our series on what is a gray man, we’ll cover situational awareness–what it is and how to begin practicing it.

What is a gray man to you? How do you practice the concept of it?

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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