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Invisible Off-Body Carry?

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

What’s more innocuous than a gym bag?  These days, even very large gym bags are normal.  Of course, many of us for years have carried weapons and tools of the trade in ordinary gym bags, but this was always a sub-optimal solution. These too weren’t built to distribute and support the weight of a long weapon, they “drooped” oddly when one was in it, and they didn’t disguise the fact that something as large as a rifle or shotgun could be within.  Blackhawk’s Diversion Workout Bag solves these problems.  This 420/500 denier nylon bag is multi-colored, which breaks up its visual length.  It’s two end pockets can be used as pockets or their inside wall can be sipped down to extend the length of the main compartment.  Employing this methods, long guns or broken-down components of them up to 29-inches can be stored carried with their weight properly supported and their outlines hidden.

The top-access main compartment is loop-lined and comes with a quad-folded padded insert that attaches to the loop lining.  This insert provides five secure, separate, padded length-wise slots for your weapons or gear.  Two flat exterior zip pockets and a hefty carry strap round out the deal.

Diversion Board Pack

Large packs aren’t at all uncommon in polite society nowadays.  If you see someone with one on their back, you naturally assume that the bag holds a athletic/sporting gear.  Maybe a skateboard, maybe climbing gear; heck, I spent a lot of time training dogs these days, and all my training gear would fill a large pack.  So yeah, they blend.  And this one can also covertly and securely hold a 29-inch weapon or weapon components.  The Diversion Board Pack has a single large interior compartment.  Both fore and aft sides are MOLLE/S.T.R.I.K.E. ®  lined, and a nice muzzle pouch is provided that attaches to the webbing and secures and protects the pointy end of the gun.  Blackhawk also includes a couple elasticized retention straps for securing your weapon to the webbing.  There is a hook & loop attached/detachable, full-width, padded liner if you want to carry multiple items.  Again constructed of 420/500 denier nylon, the Board Pack has side bottle pockets and three horizontal front straps for capturing other items. 

Diversion Carry Backpack

Everyone carries a daypack: kids, teenagers, young adults, middle-agers, geezers; punks, drug dealers, professionals, and blue-collar workers.  Nothing “disappears” line a daypack.  You probably already use one frequently.  Of course, you can stick a handgun (in a holster!) in any day pack, but purpose-built packs like this one have internal holster arrangements and access mechanisms.  From the front moving to the back, the Diversion Carry Backpack is much like any other practical pack on the market.  There’s an overflow compartment on the front for soft items, and two smaller, side access flat pockets in front of that, and a larger flat pocket between the two.   At the top front is an admin pocket for the usual do-dads.  The main compartment is  a full length/width affair with a padded back panel, so it’s suitable for carrying a laptop.  The rear compartment is also full length/width and padded, but contains two  loop panels on the rear for attaching hook-backed pouches and holsters.  The bottom loop panel is situated on a half-moon section that  zips out from the bottom rear of pack, thus also providing weapon access from that location (if you’re flexible, you could access a handgun from there while wearing the pack.  This is a pack that will truly be un-noticed anywhere.

All of these Diversion bags are available in multiple color combinations, and it’s worth  noting here that these different colors are used to implement a camouflage technique known as “boundary disruption”.  That is, the eye is drawn to the lines of the color boundaries, and not to the overall shape of the bag nor to any potential weapon printing.  In addition, the colors make the bags look more sporty than tactical.  Also, the 420/500 denier nylon used in these items feels very substantial – I had to check the specs because I initially thought a much heavier material was used.

All in all, these excellent quality Black Diversion bags will make 2013 the year of “beyond discreet.”  They will be popping up everywhere…and you won’t notice them!