If you love shooting, the chances are that there are things that are at the top of the list of priorities like acquiring a good gun, a rifle scope made with night vision feature or a thermal scope with good magnification but never a range bag.
After all, when on the shooting range, all you need is your gun, ammo, eye protection, target and hearing protection. However, adding a range bag to that equation adds to your convenience.
While you can use a backpack or your gym bag to carry your gun and other gear you may need, a range bag is specifically made for that. Think about it, the last thing you want is to make several trips to and from the range transporting your gear.
You need it in one place that is easily accessible and that’s what a range bag does. Additionally, the sharp edges of your gun and ammo may end up ruining your gym bag or backpack if you are not careful.
There are so many range bags on the market that you can choose from. Some are cheap, while some will force you to spend a little bit more. At the end of the day, range bags are different and it pays to know what you should be looking for before you make a purchase, but typically you will get what you pay for.
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- What Is a Range Bag
- Benefits of Using a Range Bag
- How Does a Range Bag Work
- Pros and Cons of Range Bags
- Types of Range Bags
- How to Choose the Best Range Bag
- What to Carry in a Range Bag
- How to Pack Your Range Bag
- How to Maintain Your Range Bag
- Most Popular Range Bag Brands
- Does More Spending Mean More Quality
- Do’s and Don’ts With A Range Bag
- FAQ About Range Bags
What Is a Range Bag
A range bag typically is an accessory that is necessary for the transportation of things that you may need at the shooting range as well as other things that you may want to bring with you.
A range bag that has the right gear is likely to make your shooting experience much more enjoyable and valuable. If you go to the range and mean to make a habit out of it, you will need a range bag to carry your pistol and other useful gear in.
Your choice of the range bag, however, is dependent on certain practical issues such as how much you are looking to carry and how discrete you want to be.
In regards to this, you may decide that you have no problem if your neighbors or co-workers regularly see you carrying an obvious range bag or you may opt for a little privacy and therefore go for a more common bag.
Whatever your choice is, as long as your pistol and gear are safe, you can use any bag, but a range bag is made specifically for this purpose.
Benefits of Using a Range Bag
Just as a compound bow conforms with archer’s draw power, there are certain benefits of using a specific range bag if you own a gun and like shooting.
You Can Carry All Your Gear in One Place
The most obvious reason why anyone would buy a range bag is to be able to carry all their belongings in one bag. Right from your gun to the bullets and other personal things, it will be more convenient if your stuff is safely in one bag.
That way, you don’t have to carry numerous bags and not to mention guns and their accessories are not cheap and need to be protected all the time.
Keeps Gear Organized
If you visit the range several times, you can choose to carry your gear in a gym bag or a dedicated backpack, but there is only one problem with that. Your gear will not be organized.
When it comes to the time you need to load up or dig through the accessories, you will be spilling your components on the hard floor, which can end up causing damage.
A dedicated range bag, on the other hand, is designed to keep your gun and other gear organized such that you won’t create a mess or ruin your things when you reach the range.
Protection From the Rain
Think of a scenario where you have taken your backpack to the field and it starts raining in between the session. The chances are that your backpack is not waterproof and your accessories will end up wet. Having a dedicated range bag means that your gear is protected from the elements all the time.
You Have a Dedicated Bag for Shooting
If you go to the range regularly for practice, then it is very unpleasant when you have to switch from one bag to another every time just because you don’t have a dedicated range bag.
Going to the range is more of a production number due to the many things that you need to bring with you. As such, you can’t just rely on a grab and go system every time.
Having a dedicated range specific bag makes things easier, such as cleaning the bag and putting it away after use rather than having a bag that you need to empty every time you get home from the range.
This can be tied to the point above. If you have to keep transferring things from one bag to another, it’s not only a lot of work, but you are likely to forget something in the bag, especially if you use the said bag for traveling.
Imagine having to explain yourself at customs when you are traveling because you forgot to unload ammunition in your bag. This obviously would never happen if you have a range specific bag.
How Does a Range Bag Work
If you own a gun and like going to the range to practice, then you need a dedicated bag that you can carry your gun and gear in. A range bag works as an accessory that helps you transport your shooting gear to the range and back.
Rather than carrying your gun and gear in a backpack or gym back and risk the sharp edges running your bag or misplacing something, you need a range bag.
The range bag that you get needs to carry everything you may need for a shooting session. It also needs to be highly durable so that it can be dragged across a concrete floor or pickup bed and still protect your contents.
A range bag also needs to have a shoulder strap and handles and should have enough utility such that you can keep any backup ammo in the car for a prolonged incident.
Pros and Cons of Range Bags
When it comes to shooting range practices, nothing makes the experience favorable than having a dedicated range bag that you can use to carry all your gear and ammo.
However, just like with any other accessory like the world’s best youth compound bow, a range bag has advantages and disadvantages that you need to be aware of before you even make a purchase.
- The most obvious is that a range bag serves that specific purpose; you have a bag that you can use to safely transport your gear to the range.
- It protects your equipment from elements and being banged since guns and their accessories are very expensive.
- A range bag is convenient in that you don’t have to keep transferring your things from one bag to another when you are done.
- Range bags have compartments that allow you to organize your gear in such a way that they are easy to retrieve when needed.
- The bag shouts that you own a gun, which is why so many people would rather use a gym bag or a backpack to transport their guns to the range.
- With so many range bags on the market, you might have a hard time picking out the quality ones from the not so quality ones.
- Some range bags have very tiny compartments that don’t work for a lot of people at the end of the day.
Types of Range Bags
If you have been shooting for a while, then a range bag is a must-have if you are to make the experience as favorable as possible.
With that in mind, there are several types of range bags that are available today and the one you buy will depend on its functionality and your personal preferences.
Range Bag Backpack
If you intend to move about on the range and shoot with a bag attached to you, the last thing you need is a shoulder sling or hand-carried type of range bag.
In such a case, a backpack that you can take with you anywhere, even when you are shooting, is what you need. Range bag backpacks are smaller, however, and you may not be able to carry full-sized rifles in them. They are ideal for small arms, ammo, attachments and maybe lunch.
They are also the ideal option when it comes to integrated hydration packs. A camelback is typically a water bladder that sits in the bag and has a hose attached to it. The hose exits through a small hole wrapping around one of the straps such that you have easy access to the water when on the range.
Shoulder strap range bags work better for longer rifles and when you want to carry a lot of equipment.
Most of them are rectangular-shaped and are ideal for walking from the parking lot to the range. They have a larger opening than backpacks, which makes it easy to access your gear when you reach the range.
Compared to backpacks, with a shoulder strap bag, you can easily sort through and find all you need at a go. They also have adjustable dividers and have more padding and protection than the backpack style ranges bags.
Pistol Range Bag
If you would rather use a hand cannon as compared to a broomstick, then a pistol range bag will work perfectly for you. These bags are usually smaller in size compared to the first two and they can be carried easily by hand.
They even come with foldable forms and inserts that will fit your handguns just perfectly. They offer better protection and have easy to reach pockets in case you want to bring spare magazines.
How to Choose the Best Range Bag
While you can carry your pistol in an ankle holster when going to the range, you may need to bring other gun accessories with you and that’s where range bags come in.
However, just like with every other product on the market, before you go making a purchase and calling it a day, there are certain factors that you need to consider to ensure that you get a bag that not only works for your guns but fits all your range needs.
This is the main thing that you need to consider when you are buying a range bag. Range bags come in different sizes and so do guns.
Before you buy a range bag, get out your tape measure and note down the dimensions of the longest rifle you have and then add extra spaces for things like water bottles, optics, ammo, brass catchers as well as extra magazines.
There are people who would rather keep their rifles in a bag or case of their own and use the bag for everything else. When you are deciding on the range bag size, you will need to think this through.
Do you need a five-foot-long bag that you can carry rounds, water bottle, ear, and eye protection and cell phone charge? Probably not. In such a case, a backpack style range makes more sense since your hands are free to carry your rifle.
The other thing you need to keep in mind is that most range bags will come as small, medium or large. Different brands will have their choice of sizes as well as size options, so you need to watch out for that.
This means that one brand’s small maybe a different kind of small from another, therefore pay attention to the actual dimensions. In short, when you are choosing a range bag size, the first thing you need to decide on is what contents you will be carrying in the bag and whether that bag has enough space to fit everything.
Guns and ammo are metal mostly and heavy metal for that matter. This means that the range bag you buy needs to be strong enough to support that weight. Look out for reinforced seams as well as solid material like nylon since these indicate a strong bag.
Range bags have a lot of functions as well as features. When it comes to the functionality of a range bag, it’s all about deciding what you will be bringing with you to the range. Ensure that the bag you get is large enough and strong enough to carry all your guns and other gear you may need to carry with you.
Guns and their accessories are not cheap and the first thing you need to consider is the padding of the bag.
Bumps and dings are inevitable when you have to drag heavy gear and firearms to the range and back, thus the importance of a range bag having enough padding to protect everything from damage. Additionally, ensure that padding is in all the right places, especially where your firearm and optics will go.
Weight tends to add up with multiple-pistol bags, which is why you need to consider the carrying method of the bag you are about to buy. Rather than tiring yourself, you can go for a bag that has shoulder straps if you think the range bag will be heavy.
There are days when you will just want to pop off a few rounds before heading home and other times, you will want to run through all 500 rounds. In such a case, ensure that the range bag you get can accommodate both in which case adjustable dividers come into play.
The last thing you need is hard metal objects rolling around in the range bag. This can be avoided with adjustable dividers that you can use to hold things and free up space when needed.
Firearms come in different sizes and shapes; hence they won’t occupy the same shape. However, with adjustable dividers, you can accommodate different types of firearms in the same range bag.
When it comes to range bags, the more pockets there are, the better the experience for you. Range bags often come with one large central pocket and several others outside.
Before you buy one, consider what you will be carrying in the bag and get one that has enough pockets to accommodate all that.
For instance, you can have one pocket for eye and hearing protection and another one for spent brass so that they don’t get mixed up. At the end of the day, you would rather have too many pockets than too few.
Some range bags have accessories that can either break or make a bag for you, with some even having a beverage holder.
A good accessory that you need to look out for in a range bag is an ID pocket, especially if you will be shooting at a competition and need to leave the gear with other people. In such a case, an ID pocket will make it easy to identify your bag where several people have the same model.
When it comes to range bags, the last thing you want is your lunch sitting with the shooting gloves or the camera with the steel magazines.
As such, ensure that the range bag you get has several pockets to fit all the gear you will be bringing with you to the range.
A good range bag will have dedicated pockets for every attachment and gear for a more favorable shooting experience.
Integrated Water Storage
If you like collecting tactical stuff, the chances are that you have some type of water hydrating system or a camelback? But does the range bag you have to offer the same functionality?
If you are looking to get value for your money when you are buying a range bag, then one of the things to consider is an integrated water storage system.
When you are buying a range bag, zippers are important, but not just any zippers. Ensure that your range bag has a high-quality zipper that is highly durable.
The last thing you want is to be walking around the range with your rifle and accessories sticking out because the zipper got damaged.
While you don’t necessarily need straps, if you are using a shoulder or backpack style range bag, then straps are necessary.
Ensure that the straps are not only durable but adjustable as well. The bag’s weight will change from now and then and if you are to be comfortable, you need the straps to be adjustable to the weight.
At some point, you may also need to strap the bag down; hence strong hooks will come in handy and straps that you can tie off.
The last thing you need is your expensively acquired rifle or accessories to fall in the hands of an opportunist. As such, you need to do everything in your power to prevent this from happening and this means having a backpack that has a lock.
There are different types of locking systems in the range of bags. Some bags have the traditional zipper lock and others have mounts that you can lock to your vehicle. There are even bags that have combination locks, which is a great way of keeping thieves away from your bag.
This simply stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. Some range bags come with Molle technology, which is currently the industry leader in load-bearing bags as well as backpacks.
This is the same technology that is used by the military and is therefore customizable and durable. This particular webbing system makes it possible for you to attach pouches and other things to the bag, which means that customizing options are endless.
When all things are considered, what it all comes down to is your budget. Pricing is a very important factor to consider when it comes to buying a range bag.
Range bag prices can range from as little as $30 to as much as $100; hence it’s important that you are aware of the features that matter to you most. There are people who will opt for just a traditional duffle bag rather than buying a range bag.
While there is nothing wrong with this, a range bag offers specialization and has been designed specifically for range visits. Consider what matters most to you and ensure that you don’t pay for features that you don’t even need in a range bag.
What to Carry in a Range Bag
Now that you know the factors that you need to consider when you are buying a range bag, what do you carry in it when you get one?
One of the things that should go in your range bag is ammunition and ensure that you pack more than what you expect to use.
It’s very common to go to the gun range only to find that you either didn’t bring enough ammo or you forgot yours in the gun safe.
While you can always buy more ammo at the gun range, that is just an added expense that you can avoid altogether by making sure that you not only pack ammunition but pack enough.
While there is no problem in you spending a considerable amount of time filling up the magazine, you would rather avoid it altogether. As such, ensure that you buy extras and take some time when at home to fill up the magazines before you head to the range.
Extra Eye and Ear Protection
Every gun range requires you to have both ear and eye protection, so having a stash of your own is always a good idea.
Even if you don’t have a firearm, you won’t be allowed to step onto the range without eye and ear protection, so ensure that you pack some in your range bag.
If you have a dedicated range bag, it makes sense to pack a multitool in case you need to unscrew, bend, pool or pry something while at the range.
While at the range, a knife can come in handy hence ensure that you don’t leave the house without one. You would rather have a blade that you won’t need at all than need it and not have one.
First Aid Kit
Anything can happen at the shooting range and having a first aid kit in your range bag is a good idea. If you have bandages, saline, and gauze, you can effectively deal with minor injuries without leaving your shooting lane.
When hunting, you need to pick the right red dot sight for your needs and it’s the same thing with shooting ranges. Since you will be spending a lot of time at the range, then you need to bring shooting targets with you.
You can buy some at the range, but it’s cheaper if you bring your own. Paper plates are usually cheaper options that work perfectly for anyone.
Staple Gun or Double-Sided Tape
Since you already have your shooting targets in the bag, you need something to hang them. A staple gun or a double-sided tape works wonders and you shouldn’t leave home without one of them.
When you are done and ready to pack up and head home, you need to wipe off. Wet wipes can be used in this case to clean gun residue that may be left on your hands.
If you are spending hours at the range and don’t have a camelbak backpack, you will be in need of some serious hydration. Always ensure that you don’t leave the house without bottled water in your range bag.
A flashlight is not that necessary, but it may come in handy if the range doesn’t have a lot of light. You can use it when you are going through your bag for items or peeking out at an empty breach.
Batteries for Hearing Protection
If you are using electronic hearing protection, having extra batteries with you is an excellent idea. Should your batteries die before you are done, then you don’t have to call it a day if you have extra batteries with you.
Masking Tape for the Targets
A roll of white or black masking tape will come in handy should you want to reuse your targets. This ensures that the extra money you have is spent on other things like ammunition and weapons.
If you are shooting at an outdoor range, especially during summer months, you will need a sweat towel to help you cool off and avoid sweat from dripping into your eyes, affecting your vision.
Additionally, sweaty hands at the range are not ideal since they end up creating grip problems, which is the last thing you want to deal with.
If you want a way to keep track of your shots, then a sharpie marker will come in handy. With it, you can easily track your progress within the drill.
Logbook and Pen
A majority of range visitors keep track of data and a logbook and pen are the best ways to do that. From the range, you can easily know how many rounds your weapon uses and also helps you avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
You can save yourself a lot of frustrations by ensuring that you pack a gun mat in your range bag. A gun mat offers a soft surface that you can use to rest or strip the weapons as well as magazines without worrying about dropping some parts on the floor.
Just like you would use a bow sight with adjustable brightness to easily see your target, a spotting scope will come in handy at the range.
A quality spotting scope can help you avoid guesswork as well as squinting when you are trying to determine where you hit your target.
If you are into long-range shooting, a range finder will come in handy when you want to make easier calculations. While you can do it on your own as an acquired skill, the rangefinder offers confirmation of the findings.
Another great choice for any long-range shooter is a wind gauge. This is another great skill that you can develop, but the wind gauge helps you confirm what you determine while helping with the estimation skills.
Just like golfers record their swings, as a shooter, you can use a video camera to improve your shooting. It can give you more insights into the parts of the firing sequence you need help with.
A target camera is probably the coolest thing on the shooting market right now. The way it works is you set up the camera on the target, up to a mile away to see where the shot hits. Additionally, there is software that you can download on your phone or tablet to show your shots in sequence.
How to Pack Your Range Bag
Step 1 – Choose what you need
If you visit the range often, then there is the necessary gear that you need to bring with you like a rifle or pistol, ammunition, additional magazines, eye and ear protection, multitool, a knife, first aid kit, shooting targets, staple gun or double-sided tape, wet wipes, and bottled water if you will be spending hours at the range.
There are also items that are more of a luxury than a necessity like flashlights, extra batteries, and a video camera. What you pack will be determined by the functionality of the item as well as the space you have in the bag.
Step 2 – Start packing
Once you have decided on what you want to bring with you to the range, it’s time to start packing them in the bag. Most range bags have compartments for different items, therefore ensure that you make use of them to prevent the different equipment from mixing.
Step 3 – Secure the bag
Once everything has been packed, you can now close the zippers of the bags and different compartments and be on your way.
Ensure that the bag is not too heavy, especially if it’s a backpack that you will be wearing the entire time you are at the range.
How to Maintain Your Range Bag
Step 1 – Empty the bag
When it comes to maintenance of a range bag, ensure that you empty out everything before you clean it.
Step 2 – Check for tears
While most range bags are built to last, sometimes tears happen without knowing it. If your bag has a tear, ensure that you repair it before you use the bag again.
Step 3 – Wipe dust on the surface
If you are not cleaning the entire bag, ensure that you wipe the bag to remove surface dust both on the inside and outside.
Step 4 – Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning the range bag, how you clean it will depend on the material. Follow the directions of the manufacturer to avoid damaging your bag.
Step 5 – Avoid overloading the bag
While you may be tempted to bring everything you think you need to the range, only take what is necessary with you. This way, you avoid overloading the bag, which will not only make it hard to transport, but your gear could end up being damaged.
Most Popular Range Bag Brands
When it comes to range bags, there are four popular brands that you can choose from if you are not sure about your choices.
Explorer Tactical usually focuses on gun bags, tactical backpacks, rifle cases and anything bag like that you can use for a gun.
This narrow focus is excellent since you are assured of quality because they focus on one thing, something that they have been doing for over two decades and even has a factory of their own.
The company aims to keep its bag production simple, in which case prices don’t inflate way above the value of the products.
GPSPS is the first part of a range of products produced by G-Outdoors, a company that was founded by Patrick Gee, who drew inspiration from how GPS is used to accurately find a position.
This is the reason why their G.P.S. Handgunner Backpack has symbols that help you to visually identify the intended components for every pocket. The idea is to spend as little time as possible fumbling through your bag and spending more time shooting.
When it comes to firearms, NcSTAR doesn’t always have the best reputation. The company began rebranding no-name Chinese products like optics and then added a level of quality control.
Despite this, their products were usually cheap and most of the time not worth the money. Fast forward to today; the company has improved and now the company innovates and designs products in a style that no other company does, especially their VISM division.
They are still producing budget category firearm accessories, but over the years, they have produced a number of winning products.
Their range bags and other softs are today worth the price. Their products also have great warrants should quality control issues arise.
Osage River is not a firearm accessory company specifically but rather an outdoor equipment company.
Their customers range from shooters, fishermen, campers, hunters to hikers and even their employees use the same gear they produce.
They produce quality outdoor equipment and their range bags are no exception. They sell other firearm-related gear like tactical backpacks in MOLLE and Velcro webbing.
They have a limited lifetime warranty, which is good news for anyone who wants to purchase their products.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to range bags, just like with any ergonomically designed recurve bow, in some way, more spending does mean more quality.
At the end of the day, guns and their accessories are made of metal and heavy metal for that matter and you need a bag that is highly durable and can support that weight.
High-end bags are usually made of high-quality material, which includes high-quality zippers that you will need. However, rather than getting stuck on the price, ensure that the bag you are about to get is of the right size, weight and can accommodate the gear you will be taking with you to the range.
Do’s and Don’ts With A Range Bag
- Do label your bag as well as the gear when you are going to the range, especially if you will be competing and have to leave your bag with someone else.
- Do use plastic bags to pack loose items like ID cards and anything else that you wouldn’t want to get wet or lost.
- Do prepare for anything, therefore, pack extras like black firing adapters, holsters, skills and drills books, range finders, timers and the like.
- Don’t overload the range bag since this may end up damaging your gear as well as the bag.
FAQ About Range Bags
Why should I buy a range bag?
A range bag will come in handy when you need to transport your rifle and accessories to the shooting range. Rather than use a backpack that you have to empty after the range, a dedicated range bag ensures that your equipment remains where it is minimizing any risks of forgetting something at home.
Why should I use a range bag instead of a backpack, laptop bag or tool bag?
Range bags offer an added advantage compared to backpacks, laptop bags, and tools bags. For one laptop, bags are not rigid and their compartments are too big while laptop bags are designed to carry large flat objects like a laptop. Tool bags are the closest you can get to a range bag, but these are designed to carry tools like hammers and not rifles and hence have a different design.
When it comes to finding a good range bag, what it all comes down to is how you intend to use the bag and the activities you will be engaging in. At the end of the day, however, you shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a range bag since there are so many high-quality bags on the market that are affordable.
They can be bought anywhere from online shops like Amazon to sporting goods stores. A range bag is important if you visit the range every now and then since it ensures that your equipment doesn’t get damaged during transportation.
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