DESTIN — Most people probably wouldn’t associate the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village with high-tech military equipment, survival training and high-powered weapons.
Destin is known for its beaches, shopping and, of course, fishing. But Kevin Camilli, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who spent most of his career at Hurlburt Field, saw potential for something else.
Less than a year ago, Camilli and business partner Eli Caison, also retired military, opened Grey Tactical Outfitters at 503-A Harbor Boulevard. It is Destin’s, and probably the region’s, first high-end preparedness and survival boutique.
“All of the gear that we have, either we used it or our friends are using it right now out in the field,” Camilli said. “If you can get it at Walmart or Bass Pro Shops, we’re probably not going to carry it, and if you’re looking for the cheapest stuff, this won’t be it. High-end stuff is typically a little higher price.
“We get a lot of people in here looking for used Army/Navy surplus, and we don’t do anything like that,” he added. “That leaves out part of the market, but … all of this stuff is just pure tactical, go to combat, survive kind of stuff.”
Grey Tactical Outfitters started as an offshoot of Camilli’s other business, Grey Aviation, an aviation training and consulting firm that started in 2007 and has clients around the world.
Among the many products at the store are guns, ammunition and suppressors of various sizes, as well as bullet-proof vests. Grey also sells combat-ready first-aid kits and other medical items such as field surgery kits, combat gauze and even products that stop air from leaving the lungs when someone has a sucking chest wound.
While virtually everything in the store is designed to be used on the combat field, a lot of the merchandise would come in handy during and after a hurricane.
The store sells a number of water purification products and has solar chargers and battery packs that could power a refrigerator, fan and lights all day as long as there is some sun.
Between Hurlburt, the Navy EOD school and the 7th Special Forces Group, Camilli said he knew there was a big market in the area for his products.
“The taxpayer is very good about giving the military, even the Special Ops guys, what they want,” Camilli said. “It still doesn’t matter. Everybody, whether you’re a flier or a ground guy, you still buy a lot of your own gear because your life depends on it and you want what you want.
“When I was on active duty, if I wanted any of that equipment I’d have to go to Fort Bragg or Fort Benning to get that,” he added. “We’d drive up there or take an airplane and get that stuff. It’s not that you can’t order this stuff online … but sometimes I can just feel something and know that’s not what I need. By the time it comes in the mail, you try it on, it doesn’t fit and you send it back, you’re ready for your next deployment.”
Camilli said military and law enforcement officers are his main customers, but he also gets civilians. He said many of them are 3-gun shooting competitors who use rifles, shotguns and pistols.
Grey Tactical Outfitters also offers a range of training courses for military, law enforcement and civilians in firearms, survival and medical practices.
“A lot of people that come here to visit don’t come here to shoot or train, but they do have resources and they have similar concerns,” Camilli said. “I can’t tell you the amount of equipment we’ve sent to Texas and out west with people saying, ‘Man, I wish I had one of these in Fort Worth’ or wherever it may be. The tourists, although they don’t come for this, they see it and they pop in. They were pretty good to us this summer.”