Two bags and dozens of pounds. Each time I head to the range for gun testing, I carry a large Blackhawk duffle and a no-name piece of rolling luggage. Inside are all of the pistols, targets, ammunition, cameras and chronograph parts I need to record data for my articles.
Personally, I hate lugging all of that junk around.
Some of the ranges I use are indoors, so the roller bag works great. However, the large duffle hanging off of a shoulder tends to bang into doors and such. If I use an outdoor range, the roller bag doesn’t do well in Florida sand.
Sure, I’ve tried other things including backpacks, sling bags and rolling carts. But all suffer from either mobility problems with non-paved surfaces or a lack of ability to access small bits of kit that get lost in the bottom of the larger bags.
Thankfully, I was recently contacted by the founder of Hackett Equipment (HE). Erik Hackett, the owner of HE, said he had a solution to my problems. Boy, was he right. This wound up being the best range bag I’ve ever used.
Hackett’s Range Bag
I get a lot of e-mails, many from people that would like me to review their products. In most cases, I have to turn these down due to the limited amount of time I have. But when I come across a product that appears to be innovative and offers shooters something new, I am compelled to jump on it.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Erik Hackett, the owner of Hackett Equipment. He told me he designed a perfect range bag. Based on how he described it, it sounded like something that many shooters would be interested in.
“I was looking for a specific bag to hold things in a specific manner,” said Hackett. “When I realized that the bag I was looking for didn’t exist, I made it. Over the last year I’ve developed, patented and mass produced the bag.”
As with many American entrepreneurs, Hackett saw an unfulfilled need in the market and has taken a stab at filling that hole.
“Most of the range bags on the market are over the shoulder duffle bag styles,” he said. “These bags may have a spot for one or two guns and a couple magazines but mainly large open pockets where all your gear is loose.”
“First of all my bag is a backpack which allows you to carry a ton of gear and have both hands free. From the outside it appears like a normal backpack which I think is great; everyone doesn’t know you’re headed out with a bunch of guns and ammo.”
The bag has two major compartments with several smaller compartments. The two large compartments are fairly specific in their intended use, though still very flexible. The smaller compartments are more generalized in nature.
“Most of the bag is compartmentalized,” Hackett said. “There is a pocket, pouch, sleeve or holster for everything from guns, mags, targets, tools and ammo. There’s a place for everything and everything [stays] in its place.”
Both of the large compartments have zippers on three of four sides and can be unzipped to completely open the bag – laying it flat on a bench or table for full access to gear.
There are a lot of nice features in this bag, but it is easiest just to show you:
Testing it Out
As I mentioned at the top of this review, I carry a lot of gear with me to the range when I am testing a gun. In addition to the gun, I bring a lot of ammo, targets, cameras and measuring equipment.
The same day I received the bag, I also took possession of a new PPS M2 that Walther sent me for review. I figured it was a good time to load up the HE bag and see if it would suit my needs.
I was genuinely surprised that it easily loaded all of my gear with a bit of room to spare. Moving from two bags down to one – without leaving anything behind – was great.
Loaded down with ammo, the pack was heavy, but very manageable. Normally, all of my ammo goes into a roller bag. This works fine for heading to an indoor range with sidewalks.
However, when shooting rifle, I have to go to an outdoor range. The one I most frequently use has a sand parking lot with a long flight of narrow stairs to get down to the shooting area where there is more sand. As you can guess, the roller bag is garbage for this.
I found the HE Range Bag, on the other hand, is ideal for both situations. I toss it on my back and have no worries about the terrain. I can carry it short or long distances without any problem. Also, the backpack frees both of my hands up. I cannot describe how happy I am to just have my hands free to carry a rifle case, sign in and do any number of other activities.
On my first range trip, this is what I carried:
- Walther PPS M2 in factory hard box (using the built in pistol holsters would have been a much better use of space, but I needed to bring the box for reasons unrelated to this article)
- Cleaning Supplies: Hoppe’s Bore Snake in factory package, Breakthrough gun oil, cleaning rag
- 9mm Ammunition:
- 100 rounds Remington UMC 115 gr JHP
- 200 rounds Blazer Brass 115 gr FMJ
- 100 rounds Blazer Brass 124 gr FMJ
- 50 rounds HPR 115 gr JHP
- 50 rounds Federal 124 gr +P HST
- 50 rounds Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP
- 50 rounds American Eagle 124 gr FMJ
- 40 rounds SIG SAUER 124 gr V-Crown
- 40 rounds SIG SAUER 147 gr V-Crown
- 40 rounds Liberty Ammunition 50 gr +P JHP
- 25 rounds Hornady Critical Defense 115 gr FTX
- 25 rounds Hornady American Gunner 124 gr +P XTP
- Chronograph: Competition Electronics ProChrono chronograph, Competition Electronics Indoor Lighting kit, Competition Electronics Bluetooth Adapter, 25′ heavy duty extension cord, (4) AAA batteries, (2) 9v batteries, ball head for tripod mount
- Camera Gear: Canon T4i SLR with 18-135 lens, iPhone 6s, micro tripod with smart phone mount, medium sized tripod, spare battery packs and SD cards
- Misc: Howard Leight Impact Pro ear muffs, Revision Sawfly eye pro, three ring notebook, package of Champion VisiColor targets, Kensington keyboard for iPhone
I still had room left over to pile in additional ammunition, targets and guns.
Subsequent trips changed the guns and ammunition, but the items in the bag were essentially the same. When I took a pair of 5.56 rifles to the range, I also packed in a stack of AR magazines and tool kit.
Accessing all of the equipment in the bag was so easy, it was almost silly.
I knew that all of the ammo was in the central compartment, and unzipping it allowed me to grab all of it easily. Ditto for chronograph and photography gear. Everything had a logical place and was easily accessed.
Wear on the bag was non-existent in three fully loaded trips to the range.
If there is any problem with the HE Range Bag, it is that it may be too large for some people. If you are headed to the range with your concealed carry handgun and a box of ammunition, this backpack is overkill. The good news is Hackett Equipment will have something for you in the near future.
“I am working on a pared down two gun version of the same bag,” said Hackett. “It’ll be more of a messenger style with only one cross strap.”
I look forward to seeing what the new bag looks like.
The Hackett Equipment Range Bag is without peer for its ability to carry gear out to the range. It is large enough to support a full day’s shooting, yet keep everything well organized and easy to reach. Since it is in a backpack form, it is also easy to carry heavy loads long distances over uneven ground while leaving your hands free for a rifle case or anything else.
The quality of the bag appears to be very good, and with several range trips – fully loaded – the bag showed no obvious signs of wear.
Compared to other quality backpacks, the company’s asking price is reasonable. However, I’ve never found any other bag that was as well suited to carrying all of my shooting gear. Therefore, for me, the bag is a great bargain.
I value you as a reader, and I want you to be able to trust my reviews. So, I include a disclaimer with all of my reviews where I reveal any and all potential biases that may affect how I’ve written this article or tested this product.
First off – I was not paid to write this article. No form of renumeration was offered, tendered or accepted to produce this review or add any of the links in it. Hackett Equipment did not ask for any links.
I did not promise to write a positive review of this product. The conclusions and recommendations in this article are the result of observations I have made during the testing of this bag. I’ve done plenty of reviews where I have recommended against purchasing a product, and I’ve pointed out flaws in some very expensive guns. If I like something, I tell you. If something is garbage, I tell you that as well.
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