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5.11 Tactical Zone Assault Pack (Z.A.P.6) Review

5.11 has been making some off-body concealed carry bags the last couple years that meet my definition of “beyond discreet”; that is, they contain no MOLLE, do not look tactical, and are available in non-tactical colors.  In other words, they look completely innocent, blend in to any environment, and do not draw any attention to themselves.  These are the kind of invisible or “gray” packs that you want to carry your weapons and gear in if you have to carry off-body while off-duty or undercover, or even in many plain-clothes assignments (such as narcotics work).  The Select Carry Sling pack came out a few years ago and is a good “invisible” option for carrying a folding AR or sub-gun.  The COVRT 18 concealed carry pack came out just a couple years ago and is one on the best options for invisible, quick-access, back pack pistol carry.  The COVRT M4 is a recent addition, and this completely non-tactical looking bag, which  looks a little like a snowboard bag, is outfitted to carry your M4 or AR “beyond discretely”.  Also new to the lineup is the Zone Assault Pack (aka, the Z.A.P.6), which is kind of like a non-tactical appearing version of 5.11’s popular RUSH MOAB 6 bags.

Now, the Z.A.P.6 sling (single-shoulder) bag is distinctive-looking.  It does not look like a typical student’s or tourist’s bag, or a usual everyday bag.  However, I still consider it “beyond discreet” in that it has no “target indicators” at all: no MOLLE, no “I’m a tough guy” styling, and it comes in nice, civilian colors (not coyote brown, OD, or the other usual military/LE colors).  The distinctiveness to its styling is sporty, not military or tactical.  It looks like a cool bag you bought at a high-end sporting goods retailer rather than something you bought at a cop shop.  So yeah, it blends and it carries your gun securely and appropriately for fast access.

The Z.A.P.6’s single shoulder strap is ambidextrous in that you can unthread the bottom of the strap from a buckle on one side of the pack and thread it into a buckle on the other side; it takes less than a minute for the change up to opposite-side carry.  The strap has a quick-release buckle at sternum height, which is a nice touch and is faster than the usual bottom buckle-release in case you need to dump the pack pronto.

The main compartment is iPad size, and measures 11.5 x 10 x 6.5 inches, providing 736 cubic inches of volume.  The front admin compartment is complete and functional, thankfully without overwhelming you with little pockets (too many pockets is a much of a problem, in general, as too few).  A small “comms” pocket on the top of the strap measures 6 x 4 x 2, and is iPhone size.  The CCW compartment is between the admin and main compartments and is accessible from either the right or left side (as the pack is carried), meaning that when you pull the pack to your front it is accessed from the top, no matter which shoulder you carry the pack on.  The CCW compartment is loop-lined, and accepts 5.11’s Back Up Belt System (or any other) hook-faced holsters.  It carries my full-size S&W M&P with a spare mag comfortably.

There is a glasses pocket at the top of the pack and a hydration/ballistic-panel compartment at the rear, and it includes a very clever ID panel and attachment scheme.  A mesh bottle holder on either side, padding on the rear with air flow channels, hidden quick-access zip-tie/quick-cuff channels, and 5.11’s QuickTact attachment system on the straps round out this small/medium-sized “invisible” pack.  Its two-tone color scheme (either black/gray or blue/gray) is reminiscent of 5.11’s COVRT 18 back pack, and helps a lot in making this CCW bag not just “low-key”, but “no-key”.  All-in-all, this is yet another well thought-out piece of kit from 5.11, and you can see the input of a battery of experts in its design and features.

Loading the Z.A.P.6 with gun and magazine in the CCW pocket, and a normal day’s outing of gear in the other compartments, the bag carries comfortably across the shoulder, low by the beltline.  The Z.A.P.6 does come with a detachable and adjustable cross-strap if you want a higher or more secure carry.  (I personally don’t like cross straps and don’t use them, so consider my observations in this light.)  Since the CCW compartment is in front of the main compartment a heavy gun carried there will cause the front of the pack to lean out a little from your body unless the main compartment is full – something that a spare jacket carried there will do nicely without adding any real weight.  Just as designed, the Z.A.P.6 spins around your shoulder quickly, placing one of the CCW access zippers at your sternum, and making gun access fast and easy.  The shoulder strap is very comfortable, and if you want even quicker pistol access the compatibly-styled COVRT Pistol Pouch from 5.11 can attach directly to it via the QuickTact system.

Carrying a gun off-body is never as good as carrying it on your body, but sometimes it is necessary or the most practical thing to do.  In those situations it is almost never going to be the case that a bag or pack that can be “made” as a gun bag is a good thing, or even a neutral thing.  It will almost always be better if your gun bag is completely innocent-looking, and the Z.A.P.6 from 5.11 is one of the few options here – and it’s also very well designed.

Remember the movie My Cousin Vinny?  Well, as one of the main characters said in it, this bag blends.