Off-body carry of a handgun – usually in a bag of some sort – isn’t the best option in terms of preparedness -- you give up some weapon security and access time. But it is necessary on occasion. Sometimes the only other option is to not have a gun handy at all, and in some parts of the world, it may give you the option to suddenly “lose” an incriminating item (this, of course, isn’t an issue for law enforcement personnel state-side, but it is relevant to other folks). Similarly, covert long-gun carry is really only practical in an off-body bag, whether the weapon is broken down or intact. Often times this is a necessity for the good guys in populated and/or hostile territory, such as Bogotá, Columbia or Cambridge, Massachusetts.
So good, purpose-built, quick-access, covert carry weapons bags and packs are a necessity in the inventory of a well-rounded, well-prepared armed professional. I’ve been railing lately (here and here) about how, until recently, the so-called “discreet” bags on the market were not really. Yes, they weren’t covered in MOLLE/PALS (usually), nor were they shaped like the gun they held. But they hardly disguised the fact that a gun-sized object was inside them, and the fact that they were inevitably in the tactical colors of tan, black or OD only added to their lack of effectiveness. They were plain and, OK, maybe more “discreet” than the usual alternatives, but they were not covert. They were not “invisible.”
And invisible is what you want to be. Not only in the sense that no one will see or suspect a weapon in your bag or pack, but also in the sense that no one will even notice it or you. You, and the things you carry, want to be “gray” -- not in color but in that you want to blend into the scene. You don’t want second looks, even from other cops (if I want another cop to know that I’m armed, I will be the one to tell him or her!) and certainly not from the bad guys who are pretty good at spotting this sort of thing. Whatever you are carrying your gear in should look like something that’s carrying books or gym clothes or something otherwise innocuous. (This rules out guitar cases, camera bags, and other weapons packs disguised to look like they are carrying high-value items, since these would actually invite attention and theft.)
Well, 2013 seems to be shaping up as the year where weapons-specific “beyond discreet” bags are coming in to their own. There have always been some of these items on the market, but now the major manufacturers are putting a focus on them. Blackhawk has recently introduced an entire line of them – their “Diversion” line -- and we look at four items from that line here.
Diversion Carry Racquet Bag
It has been a long-time trick of the trade to carry a folding rifle or other items in a tennis racquet bag. This was hardly an ideal solution, though, since these bags tended to be fairly thin and thus 1) not support the weight of the weapon properly, and 2) let the weapon print through the bag in a way that a racquet didn’t. The Blackhawk Diversion version, however, is purpose-built to carry a weapon and both support and distribute its weight properly. It has a thick padded interior with a removable, thick, padded length-wise divider. These liners are loop-lined and will mate to hook-backed holsters, pouches, and so on. It will accept a weapon (or components thereof, if you break down a rifle) up to 28-inches in length. The exterior is made of substantial 420/500 denier nylon (depending on the color), and the main compartment is zipper-accessible. There is also a flat exterior pocket for small items.
Essentially, this bag just looks like your basic no-name tennis racquet bag, one that doesn’t even seem to hold high-value racquets. Moreover, if you get the bag a little dirty, it will “blend” even more into your scene.
It will even hold and carry tennis racquets!
Diversion Work Out Bag