What's in your range bag?

This month, Law Enforcement Technology considers what each of us should have in our range bag. I knew I would get a dozen different opinions from my firearms instructor friends on this topic. The common answer: it depends on where one is training, and on what one is training for. I started out with my short list, but the list grew longer and longer the more I thought about it.

First, we need to start with the range bag itself. It has to carry all the necessary items for a good shooting session. It has to be durable enough to be dragged out of a pickup bed or across a concrete range floor and still protect its contents. It has to have carrying options like handles and a shoulder strap. It should have enough utility to keep backup ammo in the patrol car for a prolonged incident. The logical choice is Brownell’s Signature Series Shooting Bag. This is a medium sized bag as far as range bags go. It has a double zipper top which allows the entire main compartment to be displayed. This compartment has dividers for shooters who keep their cartridges in one side and throw their brass in the other. Side compartments hold cleaning equipment and training devices.

When I’m headed to my shooting bay, I am generally carrying portable target stands, a carbine case and photo equipment. I need to be able to sling my range over the back and out of the way. Sometimes, it is the only rifle rest or pistol rest available, lest I hike back to my vehicle. The Brownell’s Signature Series Range Bag works for this.

I have two training devices that generally stay with me on the range all the time. One is an ASP Red Gun, the other is a Crosman pellet gun. They sit side-by-side in the bag. The shotgun shell loops in my Brownell’s Signature Series Shooting Bag hold some slugs and several CO2 Powerlets. When I need to teach new techniques, I start with the Red Gun, then follow through with the Crosman. After that it’s live ammo.

Some of the items in my bag are simple. It’s a no-brainer to carry a Sharpie to mark targets (for target analysis) and range training items. I also put my name on the bottom of my magazines. I recommend carrying a silver Sharpie as it writes clearly on matte black items.

Other items might need a little explanation. Many of my friends carry nail polish in their bags—not the clear stuff, but something bright and fashionable. When a shooter uses any kind of optic, a drop of polish on any knob or screw will ensure it stays where it needs to stay. What’s the reason for the bright color? Any changes will crack the polish. The bright color makes the crack more obvious.

I always have a few Ziploc baggies on-hand because I keep my brass after I pick it up. These are also great for keeping small parts together when field stripping guns.

A Pact timer is a staple for anyone doing any type of skill improvement drill. For general use, I like the Pact Club Timer III. I use a timer for my shooting in the same manner I use a GPS heart rate monitor for running and cycling. It’s a simple way to monitor improvement. As you know, a Pact timer records multiple shots and can be used for a variety of timing tasks.

I used Safariland’s new 7TS holster, my Glock 22 with a Lone Wolf Distributors .357 SIG barrel. The 7TS has a locking system (The ALS) and I was shooting with shooters with simple scabbards. Could this be one of the fastest duty holsters ever? We’ll have to explore this in 2014.

Medical Kit: Chinook LEMK-PO

I talked to Mark Givens of Chinook who told me the overall medical plan is the most important component of range training preparation. This includes having someone designated to preform care and having communications support. The type of evacuation support, type of training and overall terrain conditions will often dictate the type of medical kit one carries to the range. Givens wasn’t the first person to tell me a tourniquet and tools to control major hemorrhage should be in every kit. I used to carry equipment that can be employed to make a field expedient tourniquet. Now most experts will tell you that every law enforcement officer should carry a tourniquet.

Chinook Medical Gear Inc. provides custom medical kit solutions for first responders, military and adventure/travel use. Their kits range from IFAK (individual first aid kits) to a Mass Casualty Critical Intervention Kit (LEMK-MCCI). Givens’ recommendation is the Chinook Law Enforcement Medical Kit (LEMK-PO). This kit has the SOF Tactical Tourniquet, a compact folding device made of webbing and a windlass of solid aircraft aluminum. It can be deployed with one hand and was designed for hard use environments. The kit includes an assortment of bandages in compressed packages.

The LEMK-PO pouch has a VELCRO face on one side, MOLLE attachments on the other and came with a patch to match the face, designed to mount the it somewhere for rapid deployment. It can be mounted in the vehicle when not in the range bag or on the vest.

I also carry several types of cleaning kits, and their names all begin with Otis. I don’t just carry my Otis Technology Deluxe Law Enforcement Cleaning System in my range bag, it stays in my car. This kit covers most law enforcement calibers and looks like a hockey puck when stowed. The Memory-Flex Cables are designed for pull through cleaning, but I have used them to remove a barrel obstruction and a stuck case before.

Otis Technology has a new product that I’ve been running through my AR-15 lately; it’s called the Ripcord. The Ripcord has a molded rubberized core with a Nomex sheath. This design allows it to be put through a pretty hot barrel. I also like it for a pre-shooting session pass through.

CamelBak

I’m a snob when it comes to my hydration gear. I can’t stand plastic drink containers that make water taste like plastic. They work fine when the shift starts, but all it takes is a prolonged traffic investigation and a little sun and the plastic taste is embedded. For the first couple of years in a patrol car, I experimented with every kind of water bottle I could get my hands on. Eventually, I discovered the CamelBak Eddy. The 0.75-liter bottle fits in almost any patrol car console and my range bag.

CamelBak upped the ante with two products I checked out just for this article. The first is the Insulated Eddy, which is a double walled version. Not only does it prevent condensation on the outside, it keeps my water cold. The other product is the CamelBak Groove, which has a replaceable inline taste and odor filter. Users should be clear that this was designed to filter already potable water, but I found the results to be remarkable.

I put the Eddy and the Groove together. CamelBak does too, as the Groove Insulated. This gives me filtered cool water for an extended period.

I took the CamelBak Eddy and filled it with ice water, then set it down on my Sniper Data Book, outside, in almost 90 degree weather. I checked it at one hour intervals. Four hours later there was still ice in the bottle and not a drop of water had run down the side.

Froglube

I clean my guns before I shoot them and I keep them clean by treating my guns with Froglube. Froglube is a bio based, non-petroleum food grade CLP that forms a rust proof, lubricated coating on firearm surfaces. I have tested this product since it arrived on the market, and I have used it for high volume shooting, several competitions and my everyday carry gun. Since Froglube is a food grade product it is non toxic and actually smells pleasant. It washes out of clothing and doesn’t seem to stain anything. I recommend that users keep the stuff inaccessible from pets because it smells like food to them.

Froglube is applied by warming the firearm a little (I use my wife’s hair dryer—with permission) and allowing a thin film to be absorbed into the metal. It is safe for most polymers and easily wiped off. I recommend users clean with Froglube Solvent if this is their first treatment. I have tried some unorthodox uses for Froglube, too. It does not degrade cartridge powder like some petroleum-based solvents. I have sized rifle cases and lubed bullets with it. Now I am using it for black powder guns, some of the most rust vulnerable environments on the shooting range.

For law enforcement officers, I have run 500-plus rounds through my Glock 22 on a single treatment. When I finish my range sessions, I run a dry patch through and wipe my gun with a microfiber cloth. In my range bag, I carry a Froglube Frogtube.

Laserlyte Bore Sight .22-.50 Caliber - MBS-1

Every kit bag should have a boresight product. My favorite is the simple, inexpensive Laserlyte MBS-1. This is a pocket sized tool that also belongs in the precision shooter’s rifle case. I use it to do a last minute zero confirmation. It’s a press check that ensures user confidence. The Laserlyte MBS-1 is simple. It fits down the muzzle of the firearm and projects a laser beam. One uses the dot downrange to roughly zero a scope, and then fine-tunes the zero. Since I know where the dot lands in relation to my actual zero at a given distance, I can confirm my zero any time.

Binoculars: Bushnell H2O 8x25 Compact Foldable Binocular

In general I have a spotting scope when I shoot rifles, but when I’m looking at my 25-yard pistol target, a pair of binoculars works best. I carry a compact 8x25 pair, which are tiny, but far superior and more durable than similar sized binoculars.

If I am working closer to dusk, I use Swift Eaglet 8x42 binoculars. These are a bit larger but have the brightness and coatings of a low light binocular. These are likely the best bird watching binos in the business.

Brownell’s Multitasker

I used to carry a common folding pliers/tool combination. One day my friends and I were at the range and we needed to adjust a castle nut on my shotgun. I didn’t think of bringing a castle nut tool with me, because I was shooting shotgun, not AR-15. A Mossberg 590A1 has an AR-15 style stock. The range is in the middle of nowhere, like most ranges. Henceforth, I carried a Brownell’s Multitasker. It actually has six AR-15 specific tools.

I can’t possibly carry enough sandbags. Sometimes I get on the range and wish I had. I carry an MTM Pistol Rest in my bag. Yes, it fits inside the bag. I use it for field expedient rifle shooting, too.

Above all, stay safe.

 

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He has a BS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Online Teaching and Learning. He welcomes comments at lbertomen@letonline.com.

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