A range bag is an essential piece of gear for any shooter, but strangely, it often gets overlooked. And that oversight can lead to some not-so-fun trips to the range. If you can't squeeze everything you need into your bag, and then realize you left a crucial piece of equipment behind, things can get frustrating really fast!
Before you go out and buy another range bag, we recommend taking a step back to think about what you really need. We want to make sure your trips to the range are memorable in a good way, so we put together this guide to help you figure out what size and type of bag will work best for you.
What to Consider When Choosing a Range Bag
The key to choosing the right range bag is to spend some quality time thinking about how and where you’re going to use it. Are you a competitive shooter who has to haul around lots of ammo and gear from stage to stage all day, or are most of your trips to the range short trips to the range? Maybe both. Here are some suggestions to help you make sure your bag will serve you well, no matter what you shoot.
Size and Capacity-This is a pretty obvious first step, but it’s easy to underestimate how much room you need. When you’re first starting out, you probably won’t have much gear, but that can change really fast. Some of us who have been shooting for a while end up with a pile of bags in a closet that are too small to be useful.
If you already have a range bag that you’re looking to replace, we recommend that you take everything out of your range bag and lay it out in one layer on a flat surface (using a towel is a good idea since the stuff in your bag can get dirty on the range). Once everything is out of the bag, put the items in different piles, including one pile for things that absolutely have to go the range with you, like your firearm and magazines, eye and ear protection, targets, and medical gear. Make a different pile for ammo, one for things that aren’t absolutely necessary, but helpful, like cleaning supplies, tape, paper and pens/pencils, and another for all those little things you stuffed in your bag just in case.
Now it’s time to take an honest look at everything. You can put your essentials back in your bag since you’ll always need those items. Then, put in your nice to have items back in. Then, go through each and every item in your just in case pile and decide if you really need to have it in your main bag. If you’re really not sure about an item, set it aside. It can always go with you to the range in a backup bag you leave in your vehicle. The idea here is to make sure you’re not sizing your bag to accommodate things you really don’t need to have with you.
Take a look at how much room you have in your bag without the extra items. Is the bag already overstuffed or is there a bunch of extra room? If your bag is already overflowing, it’s time to size up. If there’s still a lot of extra space, you get to decide if you want to size down, or keep the same size bag. If you don’t already have a range bag, do the same thing with your gear as above - lay everything out then sort it into categories. You probably won’t have a bunch of random stuff yet, so just remember to add some room for items you don’t know you need yet (but not too many items!). Find a bag you have laying around that everything will fit in, like a duffel bag, backpack, or even a small suitcase and place your items in it (don’t overstuff it). Measure out the size of that bag and use that as a guide when shopping for a range bag.
Durability and Material-Range bags are built tougher than regular bags like duffels and office/school backpacks because they have to endure repeated rough handling and exposure to various weather conditions and elements. They’re also built to take on more weight than the average bag. If you’ve tried repurposing a purse or regular bag and had it fall apart after a few times of use, you understand what we mean.
Shop for bags made from high-quality materials like nylon, canvas, or leather that are purpose-built for the range. It may be more expensive than using a bag you already have laying around, but a well-made range bag will last a very long time. We have several range bags we’ve used for over 10 years and while they might not be the prettiest things to look at because of range dirt, they’re still going strong.
Organization and Compartments-Efficient organization is a game-changer when you're at the shooting range. The less time you have to spend looking for things, the more time you can spend shooting Look for bags with adjustable dividers, pockets, and slots you can dedicate to specific items. The more, the better! Proper organization not only keeps your gear safe but also makes it easy to access when you need it most.
One Range Bag Is Probably Not be Enough
Not only is it ok to have more than one range bag, it’s actually a great solution that can help keep you organized. By having range bags for several different disciplines of shooting or types of guns, you’ll be able to keep your items separate and use the smallest bag possible.
Multiple bags also make grab and go really easy. If you stock each bag with all the small items you need (like UpLULAs and shooting targets), you don’t have to spend the time taking things out of one bag and putting them in another, which is how you can end up forgetting to take things to the range. You’ll still need to make sure to grab your essentials, but it will still save you time and keep you from lugging around a really heavy bag with a bunch of extra stuff.
Whether you opt for a range backpack, pouch, or traditional bag, remember your gear should suit your unique needs and preferences. Range bags are a relatively inexpensive piece of shooting gear, so we encourage you to explore different bag types, try them out if possible, and find the one that best aligns with your shooting goals. With the right range bag by your side, you'll be well-prepared to enjoy your time at the shooting range to the fullest.