Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bags VS Chest Rigs/ LBE's

Bags that are expressedly built to carry the necessary stuff for a rifle fight (but not fit the rifle itself) have started popping up over the last few years. I got to thinking about them today because I saw someone talking about them on some blog. After some reflection here are my thoughts.

As a replacement for a chest rig/ lbe rifle bags are junk. They are hard to carry under less than casual walking around conditions. Seriously when was the last time you tried to run a couple miles with a fairly heavy duffel bag flopping around all over the place? Bet it wasn't real comfortable. What about trying to overcome real world type obstacles with a duffel bag getting hung up on everything?

I know that no matter what I am doing with a chest rig/ rack or to a slightly lesser degree an LBE (they flop around more) I know exactly where my mags are and can get them out quickly. My IFAK is in the same place also, not burried in a small duffel bag flopping around someplace.

If I saw a realistic chance of anything happening I would toss a legit chest rif inside of a duffel bag to carry it around conveniently and discretely if need be. So a 'rifle bag' does not replace a chest rig/ rack/ lbe for likely combat type situations. I would not say that doesn't mean they cannot have a legitimate nitche. What is that nitche exactly?

To me that nitche is as more of a tactical equivalent of a range bag. There is not a known or likely scenario where you see yourself using your rifle. You are just going camping or on a road trip or like to keep a gun in the trunk or whatever. While you aren't planning on anything really bad happening having 4-6 mags, a few extra boxes of ammo, maybe a tourniquet or two and some misc gun stuff just makes sense. Instead of having junk all over the place it is desirable to keep everything nicely organized in a purpose built bag.

A bag of this type is on my long list of gear.


Chris said...

I think it makes sense as a truck bag. When I was deployed we had such a "bail out bag" loaded up with extra mags, the truck-sized CLS kit (bigger than your IFAK), extra comms, and other essentials. The tactical idea was that if you had to exit the vehicle, someone was assigned to grab the bag and bring it with them to the nearest cover.

The same idea maybe makes sense to me for cops who may be faced with an active shooter situation. However the bag to me implies a defensive mindset, i.e., you're going to head to cover then hunker down and want your supplies on hand.

I have civilian Bail Out Bags in our cars now. Everything I'd need to survive and help others as a first responder to a vehicular accident, a rampaging bear, and so on.

Chris from AK

Anonymous said...

I have a couple rifle bags set up as BOB's in different ways for a couple different rifles. And I really don't like them for all the reasons Ryan indicated. Plus, they look just exactly like what they are, which is not good unless you're trying to attract attention.

So I'm going to build up a small backpack in some kind of subdued color to haul all this stuff around. I figure for a BOB, the whole idea is mobility, and also avoidance of conflict. Couple mags stashed in an outside pocket of the backpack that can be quickly shoved into a pants pocket and the carbine carried in some kinda banjo case or something, still working that out. Couple more mags stashed deeper in the backpack. If I need more that that to extract myself from any difficulty, well, probably more won't help much. Frankly if I gotta walk home, I'm more concerned about hydration, caloric intake and meds. You walk around looking like you're ready to invade Mexico or something, you're gonna attract a whole lot of attention.


AZRedhawk44 said...

I think it still boils down to a tacti-toy and not a very useful piece of kit. It's inherently a way to spend gun-toy money on something to carry a rifle and all the ancillary gear (mags, ammo, FAK, etc) without "looking like a Red Dawn wannabe" to folks near by.

If you really need the rifle and gear, you need the gear on you.

I think the best solution is a rifle in a soft-sided rifle case with shoulder carry strap (or perhaps dual-backpack straps), and LBE/rig folded up into a small duffel for concealment from casual inspection if necessary, but still available if the situation dictates.

A rifle "drag bag" with pockets for a bajillion things (and a bajillion things stowed in those pockets) then makes that drag bag a cumbersome yet necessary piece of equipment to try and carry around.

However, once the rifle is out... it needs to stay at-hand. Seeking cover/concealment while handling the rifle and the bulky drag bag sounds like a very difficult task.

I'll admit to having room for improvement, but my "truck kit" when I put it in my vehicle, consists of my M14 in a soft rifle case, one loaded magazine in a side pocket of that case, and a 4-pack of 20rd mags in an old Viet-Nam era M14/M16 mag carrier with shoulder strap. Then my truck get-home-bag with FAK, clothes, water, etc.

My mags could be more accessible, sure. Those old GI mag bandoleers are slow to extract from.

But, if I put it all on I don't look like a militant Red Dawn guy if I'm walking through the woods or desert with M14, spare mags and GHB.

Ideally, I'd augment it with 1 belt-mounted M14 single mag pouch (a kydex one) for at least 1 mag change that is more nimble than those other 4 in the cloth bandoleer.

My point is, there's much better ways to carry gear than in a rifle case. I've hiked/hunted with my M14 like this. Hunters have commented a little disparagingly on the M14 as a hunting rifle choice, but aside from that I've had no problems.

Commander_Zero said...

I've got one of the Maxpedition 'Active Shooter' bags with the MOLLE panel. I have it configured with five .308 mag pouches on the outside for the PTR-91. Inside the main pocket I keep the drum magazine. The slightly smaller secondary pocket gets ammo and a cleaning kit. I basically just wanted something to keep a bunch of loaded mags handy and in one place for a grab-and-go package. The bag is more for convenience of transport and carry rather than tactical usage. For a one-stop-shopping to keep all your ready mags in one place and ready to go, its pretty good for that. For actual carry and usage of magazines, Id prefer either the belt or vest mounted magazine carrying systems.

Anonymous said...

Turns out that Chris Upchurch has a few things to say about trunk guns and rifle bags at Gabe Suarez' place:


If you ain't on Gabe's mailing list, you really ought to get on it.


Ryan said...

Chris, That idea makes sense to me. I would have to think of what the composition of it would be. Likely for me any first aid gear (it would be purely trauma focused, not boo boo's) would be suplimentary to the first aid kit in the car already. The other stuff would mostly blend into my GHB. Maybe having a weapon specific bag for a gun I usually don't keep in the car (like a rifle) would make sense as it would be modular and independent of the stuff I currently keep in the car. Got to think about this one.

Chris said...


My kit has:
- Trauma first aid kit (basically, an IFAK -- bandages, quikclot sport, israeli bandages, etc). Oriented towards stopping severe bleeding and starting CPR.
- Bear mace
- Fire extinguisher (kitchen size). Thinking car accident here.
- Personal protective equipment. Wool hat (warm, somewhat fire resistant), high vis traffic vest, leather work gloves, safety glasses
- Road flare
- Surefire with headband
- Multitool
- Phone card (probably should throw an expired cellphone in there for "911 only" purposes)
- Space for a few carry pistol mags. I don't always keep them in there. I don't regularly carry a "trunk gun" but if I did I'd toss in a few rifle mags or shotgun shells.
- Water bottle
- Sharpies

Basically, it is everything I'd want in the first 60-90 seconds in most common vehicular emergencies. I can prevent further accidents/injuries (PPE/road flares/light), secure the scene if necessary (bear spray/ammo), start life-saving first aid, and start getting help (phone card/cell phone). I came up on a car accident once before (saw someone hit a bike) and when adrenaline kicks in, you default to your training and need everything to be in one handy place. You don't want to root around in the first aid kit, then dig out a road flare from the trunk, and then look for leather gloves in the glove box...

When I was in a war zone obviously the contents were somewhat different... We all had IFAKs so the Bail Out Bag had the CLS kit. We had more emphasis on ammo; we kept an extra eight rifle mags and an extra four M9 mags. We had more water and more commo (an extra handheld radio and PLB). Same principle, though.

The idea is to have a convenient, easy to store kit with no straps to catch on anything as you rapidly egress the vehicle. It facilitates short movement to a nearby incident or to immediate cover.

You could use a backpack for easier movement but I find a small rectangular bag stows nicely in the back seat, has fewer straps to get caught, and has more pockets to stash stuff in and keep it accessible. To me, a backpack implies movement over longer distances. I have a backpack stowed in the trunk with warm winter clothes, more first aid stuff, an MRE, etc... But that's not for the first 60-90 seconds.


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