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How To: The Modern Grey Man Philosophy

Distrust man with hood iStock_000005413496Small


There are several explanations of the Grey Man Philosophy out there but I’ve found most of them to be a bit over the top and “tin foil hat” for my tastes.  But, since I’ve mentioned it a few times on this site and in past posts on various forums, I thought I should share my version of it.

First and foremost, being a “Grey Man” is all about keeping a low profile.  That includes how you act, talk, dress, and train.  Need more?  Here are the basic tenets of the Modern Grey Philosophy.


  • #1 – A Grey Man never stands out in a crowd.  He never wears or carries anything that would be deemed out-of-place for whatever environment he’s in.  He would never open carry a firearm on the street, even if it is legal in his jurisdiction, because he doesn’t want to lose the tactical advantage if he’s forced to defend himself or his family.  If he’s in military service, a Grey Man doesn’t wear his uniform off-base or tactical-looking clothing when he’s off-duty.  As a civilian, he might carry a military looking bag (because it’s more common these days), but he doesn’t load it up with offensive or gun oriented morale patches.  Think more “Joe the Plumber” than “G.I. Joe”.

For the Grey Man, It isn’t about 2nd amendment rights, free speech, or not caring about what other people think.  It’s about personal security in a world that indiscriminately targets those who don’t conform or otherwise would be perceived a threat.

  • #2 – A Grey Man doesn’t make public proclamations.  Especially among strangers or on social media.  He projects neutrality and makes every effort to “pick his spots” and not offend anyone when making his views known while working in the background to make things happen.  WSRA compared this tenant to imitating a duck, “which appears calm on the surface of his pond while paddling like hell under the surface”.

A Grey Man is never the most vocal person in a room, but he’s always the best listener.  And he is truly listening to what others are saying; not just waiting for his turn to talk.  By doing this, he gains valuable insight into the people around him.

He also works hard to control his emotions.

Do This To Control Your Emotions And Gain The Upper Hand In Negotiations

  • #3 – A Grey Man trains in private.  No, this doesn’t mean he has to find a secluded part of the range or pay for one-on-one instruction.  But, if he acquires “a particular set of skills“, a Grey Man doesn’t go out of his way to let people know that he has them.
  • #4 – A Grey Man avoids confrontation.  He doesn’t court danger by intentionally putting himself, friends or family in harm’s way.  He doesn’t feel the need to let people know that he’s a “bad ass” (especially if he is one).  A Grey Man with skills never starts a fight because he knows he might have to finish one.
  • #5 – A Grey Man maintains situational awareness at all times. Despite his carefully crafted “cloak of anonymity”, a Grey Man is always aware that he or others around him could be put in harm’s way at any time.  He understands “bad things happen to good people” and he is not surprised or shocked when it happens.  Because of this, despite the fact that we live in a connected world, he never walks around with his head down looking  at his phone like most people do.  His head is always “on a swivel”.
  • #6 – A Grey Man is careful about the company he keeps.  Because he knows that other people’s poor judgement could undermine his own efforts to keep a low profile.
  • #7 – A Grey Man strives to be as self-sufficient as possible.  In a SHTF situation, being able to survive and get home without having to rely on the charity of others, is essential because not everyone in a desperate situation will have the best of intentions.
  • #8 – In the Information Age, the Modern Grey Man understands that Privacy is becoming a rare commodity.  He knows how to go off the digital grid, if necessary.


I’ll leave you with a few comments.  First, although the term Grey “Man” is commonly used to describe these philosophies, they are not gender specific.

Also, they are presented here with the assumption of positive intent.  For instance, as mentioned in the PC Magazine article, a criminal could learn how to go off the grid to avoid detection but the same tactics could be employed by someone trying to avoid being found by an abusive spouse.  Hopefully, no one who reads this is in that kind of unfortunate situation, but my point is that the Modern Grey Philosophy has very real world practice applications for any law-abiding citizen and the tenets can applied to whatever degree that someone feels is right for their situation.

7 Responses so far.

  1. Matej says:

    Will you be expanding on this article with skills, programs and gear you would personally recommend to follow this philosophy?

  2. Steve Braswell says:

    Some random thoughts in response to the separate points

    #1 totally agree. I like to judge every information sharing opportunity by first asking the “need to know” question – does this person “need to know” this information?

    #2 does this preclude a modern grey man (GM) from taking a leadership position in an organization? Sometimes you need to sway others to your position and sometimes that can require a strong declaration of principles. I guess I’m bothered by linking GM philosophy with being in the background rather than being leading from the front.

    #5 while “situational awareness” is very important – there’s also a need to do a risk assessment. There’s a lot of places where being head down is OK, because I have judged the risk level and found it acceptable to be “less aware”.

    #6 it’s not just other peoples poor judgement. if you hang out with people with bad habits, their behavior will transfer to you

    #8 we’re really in the post-Information age. It’s actually the Surveillance / Big Data age. Privacy is dead. Unless you’re willing to go live in a cabin in Montana, you’re not getting “off the grid” – you will be surveilled. What you need to understand is that your data is a valuable commodity – don’t give it away for free – get value for it.

    Enjoyed the article – made me think.

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  6. C Childs says:

    Is it me or am I missing 3 and 4

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