For some it takes years to perfect their range bag. There is so much to factor in; size, volume, configuration, contents, material, etc. that I have found the best way to manage is learn through doing. My range bag has gone through a few iterations but I have become comfortable and confident that I have settled into a method that maximizes effectiveness as well as ease of use. That is exactly what each sportsman should do as well. Just as we each have different interests, the needs of the range bag may differ from person to person. My bottom line is do not hesitate to throw the status quo by the wayside and start fresh from scratch. Even with this configuration every month or so I may take everything out and shift things and add or remove them as I see fit.
It seems that almost any tactical accessory company you turn to will offer a bag of similar design, all strappy and MOLLE’d up. For me the keys are as follows; backpack, scalable, at least two major compartments and two small to medium pockets. You can find a pack from most any company ranging from Condor to 5.11 to Blackhawk!. For me I went with a 40 dollar gun show special. I honestly don’t know the brand as it is not really branded from what I can tell. That being said after a fair amount of time being into the outdoorsy stuff I know what to look for in the construction of a pack. This seemed sturdy enough so i went for it. Some of the useful things that I find with this bag is its scalability. I can use it as a range tool and target bag with nothing but some ammo or let the straps out and fit two pistols in hard cases, two more in soft pouches, ammo for all, and much much more. This is of course adjusted by the 6 cinches located on this bag. Another thing I find incredibly useful to me is the velcro/molle. I have not taken advantage of the molle aspect put the velcro is awesome. I simply put some velcro onto my range id and voila it goes where i go no digging in my pocket for it, not hanging it around my neck, or dangling it from my pants. I can also put my dopey patches on it. The top carry handle is comfortable enough to carry this thing from home to car to range and back however why do that when it is a backpack. The straps’ comfort and fit of the pack are not critical in my opinion. Let us not forget that it is a range bag not a B.O.B. not a G.H.B. not a 72 hour pack its to get guns, ammo, and supplies to a from the range effectively. I say this to bring something to your attention. You can get something slightly less ergonomic for a relative steal however if you are not dedicating the bag to range duty you may want to go for something pricier and more comfortable that can serve more than one purpose.
The Main Compartment
This is in my opinion one of the greatest advantages of utilizing a design like this as a range bag. This compartment can do anything you need it to. You can cinch the pack tight and keep targets and other thin items of let the pack out and pack several handguns in this one compartment. I choose the latter typically I will bring one or two handguns in hard cases like my plinking .22 with red dot or my P226 with tactical light. Things stay in cases that are otherwise not able to be slipped easily into thin padded cases. So one might say well that seems full already… nonsense my experience in camping and backpacking has shown me that there is typically more vertical space than you initially realize. Even with two standard sized hard cases I typically slip in another 1-3 handguns in soft cases and gun socks on the sides or in front of the hard cases or even on top. The rest of the vertical space I have left I will put the corresponding ammunition as well as any rifle ammunition I intend to use on that trip.
The Middle Section
The middle section is thinner in design than the main compartment and thats fine considering we have placed the bulk of our load in the main compartment. This is a great place for many things since its a full length compartment I put all my targets within a big ziploc bag and that goes in there along with other longer items such as a 3 piece cleaning rod in case of obstructions or any other use. I use the little mesh pockets to hold my staple gun, extra staples, sometimes a marker is in and out of my range bag from time to time as well. This is also the place where I keep a medium sized nylon ditty bag for collecting my brass in, this is also the place the bag ends up at the end of the day.
Top Front Pocket
This is my smaller items pocket/tools pocket. In it I keep replacement batteries, a metric and standard set of allen keys a pocket screwdriver, a bore light, and a small bottle of gun oil.
Front Bottom Pocket
Eyes and ears and flags oh my!!! I keep one pair each of tinted and clear safety glasses, ear plugs and a pair of muffs, as well as a ziploc filled with assorted chamber flags.
This has been an overview in the philosophy and packing list of my range bag. I hope that it can be helpful in gaining mastery over your range packing woes. If you feel I missed anything mission critical don’t hesitate to comment.