There’s no getting around the fact that having a gun bag or pack with you throughout the day can ensure you have the gear you need in any situation, from an unexpected client meeting to a disaster scenario. Consequently, more and more people are carrying packs and sling bags to move gear around.
Modern Gun Bag Options
If you are headed to the range, a good gun bag or pack is a must. However, backpacks can also serve as a great foundation for your get-home preparations and are valuable in day-to-day use. If you don’t have a good gun bag, or you are looking to upgrade, here’s a look at some great options.
1. 5.11 Tactical AMP24
Looking for a backpack that will cover the majority of your needs? Part of 5.11 Tactical’s All Missions Pack (AMP) series, the AMP24 was designed with modularity to meet the needs all of the different activities in your life. One bag can easily be used as a tactical bag with all of your police gear, converted to a day bag when you head out with the kids and then set up as an overnight bag when you are camping with your buddies.
5.11 Tactical accomplishes this through a multiple-layer system that uses hook-and-loop fasteners, straps and webbing so you are able to attach, move and remove pouches and gear sets. One of the interesting features the company uses is a hex-shaped attachment ladder that allows you to set up MOLLE gear in traditional alignments or at an angle for improved ergonomics. That 45-degree angle can drastically improve your comfort when it comes to reaching for important gear.
The AMP24 is a 32-liter pack with a large main compartment that can be fully opened for easy packing. It has compartments for both a 15-inch laptop and a handgun. The CCW compartment is lined with a loop panel and webbing strap for the secure placement of your holster at the perfect angle.
Offering a balance of durability and light weight, 5.11 uses 500-denier Dobby nylon with a 1,050-denier nylon bottom for increased wear resistance. The packs are available in four colors, including black, tungsten, Ranger green and a tan color called kangaroo. For more info, please visit 511tactical.com.
2. BlackHawk STAX EDC Pack
BlackHawk was founded by a U.S. Navy SEAL whose standard-issue pack fell apart in the middle of an Iraqi minefield. That, I would expect, is motivation for building a better bag.
Covering the front and sides of the STAX EDC are laser-cut MOLLE attachment points. These are said to be as durable as standard PALS webbing, but with the benefit of being very lightweight. They allow you to customize your pack with external pouches for your needs.
When your main compartment is loaded, the heavy things at the bottom can be hard to reach in a hurry. To solve this dilemma, the company added a zipper-opening front port that allows you to reach straight into the lowest portion of the main compartment. Additional functionality is created with the internal shelf. When in place, the lower part of the main compartment is isolated from the top. The entire compartment can be completely opened up if you choose.
The side pouches are set up for rifle magazines and a CCW holster, and the rear compartment is large enough for a 15-inch laptop or hydration bladder. It also includes a fleece-lined valuables pouch for your phone, watch or other small items. And the bag features a 500-denier nylon make with YYK zippers. For more info, please visit blackhawk.com.
3. Copper Basin Takedown Firearm Backpack
Discreetly traveling with a long gun can present a challenge. For example, you don’t want to carry a rifle case through a hotel lobby before heading out to dinner. Separating the upper and lower on an AR or using a takedown gun like the Ruger PC Carbine can help, but you still need a good case or bag that doesn’t scream “gun.” Copper Basin’s low-profile backpack was designed for these weapons and deserves your attention. Now in its third generation of evolution, the Takedown Firearm Backpack looks like a trendy sports pack and offers circumspect transport of your takedown or compact gun.
Copper Basin uses materials and colors that avoid the clichéd law enforcement or military look. For example, you can get the Takedown Firearm Backpack in vintage green waxed canvas or in a blue and orange pattern that gives it a snowboarder look. To enhance the low-profile nature of the bag, the company elected to use an exterior bungee cord and multiple zippered compartments to eliminate the need for MOLLE and loop panels. Structural foam helps the pack maintain its shape and not give away the nature of the contents.
The Takedown Firearm Backpack completely opens and lays flat to allow for complete access to all of the interior gear. There are interior pockets for the gun’s receiver and barrel assemblies, magazines, ammunition and more. Copper Basin reinforced each of the pockets for improved durability and long life. For comfort, Copper Basin uses a mesh backing with a lumbar support pad. For more info on this gun bag, please visit copperbasingear.com.
4. Hackett Little Bertha
Designed as a two-pistol range bag, the Little Bertha is the latest innovative design from Hackett Equipment. When I head out for some informal practice or fun, it’s the Little Bertha I carry. Hackett designed this backpack with specialized compartments for a pair of handguns, extra magazines, ammunition and more. It has plenty of space for everything I need for an afternoon on the range with my CCW guns.
The Little Bertha has two large compartments that completely open and fold flat, and two smaller ones that do not. The largest compartment has a divider. On one side is a pair of adjustable holsters that have held every kind of handgun I’ve tried, from a long-slide .45 to J-Frame .38s. Even a KelTec SUB-2000 rides in this compartment without issue. On the other side of the divider are two rows of elastic for magazine storage. The divider acts as a buffer between the two sides, and it also has its own storage compartment for targets or other gear. Alternatively, you could load a ballistic panel into the divider storage compartment.
Eight permanently attached ammo pouches occupy the second large compartment. These pouches use hook-and-loop fasteners to securely store 50-round boxes of ammunition. However, there is plenty of additional room in this compartment for more ammo you can stack in the center area. I’ve carried bulk bags of 9mm FMJ rounds in the center area.
The larger of the smaller compartments is perfect for all of my tools, pens and other bits of gear I carry to the range. The smallest compartment is still rather large and can be accessed when the cinch straps are in place. I store my emergency medical gear in this pouch. If I need a tourniquet, QuikClot combat gauze or compression bandage, I don’t want to fiddle around with a bunch of straps. The compression straps can cinch a lightly loaded bag down to a relatively thin package. With a heavy load, the compression straps work well with the 900-denier polyester construction. Altogether, the Little Bertha has proven more than strong enough to handle everything I’ve loaded into it.
The padding on the shoulder straps is ample and comfortable no matter how much I load into this backpack. The pack has a sternum strap and D-rings on the shoulder straps, and the backrest has internal padding. On the exterior of the bag, Hackett Equipment added a loop panel for patches or a small admin pouch. The bag also includes two rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing on the front.
Hackett Equipment backs the Little Bertha with a lifetime warranty, but I doubt you would ever need it. Mine is a solid build with little visible wear after several months of use. For more info on this gun bag, please visit hackettequipment.com.
5. Maxpedition Entity 23
For several years, I’ve carried a Maxpedition Condor II backpack everywhere. From Disney World to martial arts classes, the bag is my regular companion. But the new Entity 23 from Maxpedition has a more low-profile appearance while being just as tough and holding a remarkable amount of gear for its size.
The concept of the “gray man” is someone who blends into the background of any situation. The Entity 23 is the bag for that man. It is literally only available in charcoal or ash—two shades of gray—with an outward appearance of being a college backpack or laptop bag.
Maxpedition includes a CCW pistol compartment that has a security lockout strip. Depending on how you set it up, the handgun can be accessed from either the right or left side of the bag. Side compartments are easily accessible with interior pockets that neatly hold AR magazines or other gear. Inside the main compartment, the pack has an interior wall of loop lining for attaching hook-backed accessory panels or pouches. It also has a separate padded laptop compartment that is lockable. Additional features include magnetic closures, YKK zippers and soft straps made out of seatbelt webbing. For more info, please visit maxpedition.com.
6. Vertx Last Call Pack
Unassuming but fully loaded for any situation, Vertx designed the Last Call Pack for high flexibility and affordability. It can move a lot of gear, keep a pistol at hand and is even usable as a ballistic shield, if needed. Yet it proves that living the prepared lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to look like Tactical Timmy.
Vertx built a lot of great features into this bag. First off, the main compartment is cavernous with a padded 15-inch laptop pouch, mesh and a loop panel for additional organizers. Moving outside, the front panel conceals multiple rows of MOLLE/PALS webbing; it can hold larger items such as a helmet or jacket. Should you prefer to expose the webbing, the front panel can be tucked under the MOLLE panel.
A special compartment for your pistol is readily accessible via the company’s Rapid Access pull tab. Inside is loop material for attaching a holster at the exact angle you want. The back panel is made of molded foam for good airflow and comfort when you’re on the move. Both the shoulder and sternum straps are adjustable. The shoulder straps also have tie downs for your hydration tube if you opt to add a bladder to the pack. For more info, please visit vertx.com.
This article is from the October/November 2019 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Physical and digital copies are available at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
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