A tactical gear and apparel retailer specializing in clothing for law enforcement and other first responders plans to open a store in Bakersfield.

Tactical 5.11, based in Irvine with locations as far away as Hong Kong and Dubai, says on its website it has a store in Bakersfield, though the Wible Road address listed appears to be incorrect.

Bakersfield commercial real estate broker Scott Underhill, with ASU & Associates, said the retailer has signed a lease to open a location at the former Lifeway Christian Store along Wible Road at Valley Plaza mall.

The mall's general manager did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.

Tactical 5.11's motto is "Always be ready." Its product selection ranges from footwear and shirts to backpacks, firearm holsters and plate carriers, which are essentially bullet-proof vests. It carries heavy-duty products marketed specifically to law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

Bakersfield broker Vince Roche, with Pacific Commercial Real Estate Advisors, said he thinks Tactical 5.11 will do well in Bakersfield.

"We have a lot of prisons and law enforcement, so I think they have a good market for themselves," he said.

There are eight other 5.11 Tactical stores in California, the nearest of which is in Fresno.

Several existing stores in the Bakersfield area also sell Tactical 5.11 products, including Second Amendment Sports, where manager Justyn Vest said the company's pants, backpacks and belts typically sell well.

"It's a well-known brand. We sell a decent amount of it," he said. "It'll probably attract a lot of law enforcement."

Lifeway Christian Resources announced in March it would close each of its 170 stores and focus on online sales. The Nashville, Tenn.-based chain had told employees its brick-and-mortar stores were struggling against competition in the e-commerce space.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters about local business.

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