Gray Man Theory Truths and Misconceptions

gray man theory

There is a lot of talk about the gray man theory in the preparedness and survival community.  Unfortunately a lot of that talk is just hype and fan fiction of what is read in books and seen on movies.  In fact, much of that talk could potentially put your life in more harm than protecting you.

The gray man theory is a principal that has been adapted from the military and other professions that practice the gray man theory.  The concept is also practiced by undercover agents and intelligence gatherers.  Essentially it is a temporary disguise designed to assist you with remaining covert in order to not make yourself a target.

Examples of Gray Man Theory Applications

Undercover detectives can be considered practicing this theory.  They dress up and blend in with a certain group of people.  This is done in order to infiltrate their target.

Intelligence gatherers or spies are another example of this.  You even have spies that will infiltrate foreign countries.  They learn the countries language, mannerisms and behavior.  This is their disguise used to infiltrate their target.

The Focus of Gray Man Theory

The gray man is someone that blends in and you don’t pay attention to.  They are typically boring, average and not memorable.  Practicing being a gray man is going to be dependent upon your environment.  For example, if you are on a college campus and are well over the typical college student age then you are going to draw attention to yourself.

Being a gray man means you have to change and adapt to the baseline of your surroundings.  That not only means dressing the part.  Even your mannerisms can blow your cover especially if you are travelling abroad.  For example, in some countries it is offensive to show the bottom of your palm or to point at something or someone.

When it comes to being a gray man it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going non-tactical.  You can be dressed in tactical clothing if you live in an area where that it is commonly seen and still practice gray man theory.  Again, the theory emphasizes not drawing attention to yourself.  It is meant to be a tool for abating, moving and operating in an environment in plain sight.

Things that draw attention

The gray man theory is not something that everyone will be able to effectively practice.  Unfortunately, there are natural characteristics that you just can’t change or limit.  Some of those things include:

  • Being taller or bigger than average
  • Your accent
  • Birth marks, natural physical features like eye colors etc.

However, there are other things that can draw attention that we can change.  Those things include:

  • Being too fat or skinny
  • Being trendy or flashy
  • Identifiable marks like tattoos and piercings
  • Driving an expensive car or beater

Altogether, the gray man theory is all about eliminating identifiable traits that can associate you with something or someone.  So when you need to be the gray man you can eliminate flashy or trendy clothing.  Instead you can go with something that is going to blend in or not stand out.  You can cover up tattoos or remove piercings, etc.

How gray man theory applies to preparedness and survival

The fact of the matter is that gray man theory doesn’t apply to everyday life.  I understand that as a prepper you don’t want to draw attention to others that would identify you as such.  There is definitely the threat that those people could cause you harm in a survival situation.

Realistically, you shouldn’t be blabbing your mouth about being a prepper or try to let anyone know anyways.  That doesn’t mean that you are practicing being the gray man.  That just means that you are being covert or smart.

When it comes to preparedness and survival, the gray man theory isn’t used to infiltrate a target.  It is actually used to escape or evade when being a target.  So there are situations where the gray man theory can apply to preparedness and survival.  Some of those reasons or situations would include:

Escaping Social Unrest

Becoming the gray man would be ideal during a social unrest situation.  Let’s say if you get stuck in a city where violent protests or unrest is taking place.  You will most likely want to get out of that area as quick as possible.

Violent people during those times are not only looting, robbing and causing destruction but also causing harm to others.  This is especially true if they begin to think you are affiliated with their opposition.  So in that situation you would want to blend in with the crowd and get away.

Political Prosecution

Violent political prosecution isn’t something that we have seen in the United States.  There are many people in other countries who fell victims to governments being overthrown because they were affiliated with that government.  Some of have been fortunate to escape.

Of those people who were able to escape such a scenario probably practiced the gray man theory.  So this would be useful in the United States should we over come to such a time.

Travelling Abroad

There may come a time where you have to travel abroad to a country that is known for being violent.  There are some places in the world where Americans are targeted just for being American.  The fact is that many people hate our country.  Let’s say if you are foolishness enough to go to a country like North Korea, then there is a very strong possiblity that you will be in danger.  To help you discern which countries are safe to travel to as an American you can find the federal government’s travel advisories HERE.

So if you ever find yourself in such a scenario then the gray man theory would be useful to put into practice.  However, you may be limited on how gray you can be.  Unless you are really good, you most likely won’t be able to change your accent.  But there are things that you can adapt like the clothing that you wear which could be helpful to remain covert.

The Gray Man Theory Can Make You a Target

So we talked about how the gray man theory could be properly applied for preparedness and survival.  One thing that I want to address is the talk about practicing this in a bug out scenario.  The fact of the matter is that being a gray man in a bug out scenario or other extreme scenarios will make you a target.

You Can Become Predator to the Prey

A gray man during a collapse scenario is like being prey to a predator.  The gray man looks weak and average which is exactly what bad guys will be looking for in this type of scenario.  Instead, in these types of scenarios it is better to make yourself a hard target.

A few years back when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the gray man or average people were the ones being robbed and killed.  It was the hard targets who were able to survive that situation.  By being a hard target you deter the bad guys.

Be a Hard Target or a Gray Man?

In order to be a hard target you need to look threatening.  This can include your physical appearance.  This can be accomplished by being physically fit and strong.  Another way to become a hard target is by how you dress.  This is where tactical clothing could possibly give you an advantage.

When to practice gray man theory or being a hard target is going to be dependent upon the situation.  Essentially you will want to be a gray man when you believe that you or a group of people will be targeted.  The opposition is very specific on who they will be targeting.

In some situations you will want to appear average and weak to avoid drawing attention.  Then in other situations you will need to be a hard target. 


Altogether, this is my feedback about practicing gray man theory.  If you have any feedback or suggestions then please leave a comment below.  The feedback that you provide helps the community prepare the smart way now so that we can thrive later.

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