Recon Redefined by Recon Recruit
There seems to be a lot of confusion about what a "recon" haircut is suppose to look like. I'd like to take this opportunity to offer an exact definition.
I must start by saying that I have never known a barber who would know what you wanted if you ask for a "recon" -- this term seems to have been create by the BuzzBoard faithful to differentiate it from other cuts. Most barbers would just assume that a "recon" was just another term for a military cut and whatever your barber's version of a military haircut is is what you would get. Yes, it is true that reconnaissance forces have adopted this particular haircut -- but it's not a professional barbering term. It derives from in-field haircutting.
Imagine giving yourself a haircut somewhere in the middle of nowhere with whatever barbering tools were available -- maybe a hand mirror and a razor. You have a limited time to achieve some level of inspection readiness. When you're able to get to a real barber, you usually keep a flattop, but it's difficult to keep it up in the field.
It's easy enough to shave the majority of your head to achieve "high and tight" sides and back, but the horseshoe section of a flattop is not that simple to achieve with limited time and resources. You cut here and shave there- the front looks OK and you shave a little airstrip down the center as you like but it is a lot easier to shave down the corners a bit than to balance mirrors and scissors to create that perfect horseshoe.
It's not as slick as your barber back home might do it, but it looks pretty cool. The horseshoe does not extend farther behind your head as it usually does -- it's more like a crescent moon sitting atop your head than it is a horseshoe -- but it's still flat-looking in the front and it feels real sharp. This is a "recon" haircut!
The "recon" is a more severe variation of the flattop than of the typical "high and tight." Many of the "recon" cuts I have seen posted on this and other sites have simply been higher "high and tights", not the "recon" look. Whenever I have returned to the civilized world and sought out a professional barber for a flattop after one of my self-inflicted "recon"-type haircuts, they'd always work to restore the back corners which I had shaved down . Unless a barber receives specific instructions to do otherwise, it is not a natural part of their training to shave up the back and so high upon the crown.
In my experience, those who maintain this extreme "recon" look are home haircutters -- the price is right and if they cut it that way out in the wilderness, they can certainly cut it the same way at home. It's more labor-intensive than a rounder cut. The top is not all the same length as with a rounder "butch" cut because the center strip is taken right down to the wood and the front hairline is often kept at a longer length as you would with a flattop.
I hope this info provides a clearer definition of what the "recon" cut should look like. I am sorry not to have a proper photo to include but maybe one of the helpful recruits on the BuzzBoard could lend a hand.