How do you carry all your gear? Not just during your shift, but when you're going to the range, when you're driving your personal vehicle around town, and when you're traveling for business or pleasure? For some trips a run-of-the-mill bag will do, but who wants to worry about it tearing at a critical moment?
Most civilian packs aren't up to the task of handling a cop's multitude of weapons, accessories, and random must-have items securely and without falling apart after some rough use. Read on for a selection of storage options that can fit a bunch and take a tumble with no trouble.
For those times you need a more discreet way to carry a handgun and other accessories, 5.11 Tactical's PUSH+R+PACK is a viable option. This pack's numerous pockets and zippered pouches can secure a water bottle, radio, small medical kit, food, etc. The rear zippered pocket is large enough to fit a Velcro holster or various equipment pouches.
The PUSH is a shoulder bag, it can be secured with a waist strap and a belt loop to ensure your gear stays at hand. You can choose the PUSH in a fire version (red with a reflective strip) or LE (with Velcro in lieu of the stripe; available in black, tactical OD, and flat dark earth). Both versions have several MOLLE attachment points and a Velcro ID panel on the strap. The interior of the main pouch has several pockets to organize pens, magazines, small tools, etc.
I chose the fire version because of the reflective stripe and to use in my vehicle as a medical bag. I would choose the red even for discreet summer carry because it would be more "summery" than "tactical" colors, especially when playing tourist.
Armortek's virtually indestructible Double Pistol Case feels substantial despite its light weight. The zipper is solid, the pull tabs lock to the inner hidden metal frame, and the handles are riveted to this frame. This is like having a gun vault in a brief case.
The interior of the case is velour-covered dense memory foam. The foam helps prevent scratching and wraps around your weapon or other item to prevent shifting but returns to its original shape once the item is removed.
The Armortek Double Pistol Case was easy to operate and once I figured out how to thread the cable I realized this was a slick system. It will allow you to secure not only your weapons but also other valuables when you travel or are at home.
There are some items for duty that defy being categorized; the BigFoot Bag is one such item. It serves multiple purposes from being a ground cloth, to hauling gear, to being a weather-resistant rooftop cargo carrier.
The BigFoot Bag is available in sizes small, medium, and large, and in several colors. Made of UV-treated polyester with vinyl coating or reinforced 18-ounce vinyl, the bags are weather resistant or virtually waterproof.
It's easy to load the BigFoot Bag because it unzips flat and can be laid on the ground, on the bed of a truck, or in your department's garage. The bags have two pairs of carry handles and Fastex-close reinforcing straps to keep your heaviest loads in the bag, even if you drop a full BigFoot.
If your agency has odd gear for rappelling, SCUBA, WMD, etc., BigFoot Bags could be the answer to your transportation and storage needs.
BlackHawk's Covert Carry Messenger Bag looks like a messenger's bag or over-the-shoulder carry bag used by students, business people, and messengers. The difference is this bag is designed to support law enforcement's needs on and off duty.
The Covert Carry is built to tote your laptop and your handgun, magazines, and other support gear. The strap encloses the bag for security and strength and a removable waist belt adds security and stability when moving or in hazardous environments.
This bag's main compartment measures 19 x 11 x 5 inches, while the overall dimensions are 20 x 14 x 8 inches. It's available in both military (1,000-denier nylon) and civilian (velocity nylon) designs, and in a variety of colors.
CamelBak is known for its military and law enforcement hydration packs. But the company manufactures a number of packs from a simple hydration bladder to the gargantuan BFM 500, capable of carrying more than 3,100 cubic inches of gear.
The BFM 500 has six exterior pockets to carry your small gear. The main pocket will accept a medical insert and hydration tubes can be routed out the top or bottom of the BFM. This pack is surprisingly comfortable to carry thanks to thick padded straps, sternum and waist straps, and a removable internal frame.
Camelbak's BFM 500 makes a good duty, roll out, or travel bag. It can handle an awful lot of gear to fit your needs.
If you are in charge of training you might need a way to carry a number of handguns and their magazines to the range. Elite Survival Systems' Four Gun Pistol Case seems to fit that bill. Not only can it carry four full-sized duty pistols, but it packs magazines, targets, and even a couple boxes of ammunition. I was surprised I could carry all that in a package not much bigger than my laptop bag.
The Four Gun Pistol Case is two sided, each opening secured with dual zippers and loops to lock the case. Inside the lid of each side is a snap divider where you can slide targets or a box of ammo. The pistol area has several elastic loops to secure magazines and two adjustable "holster" straps to secure your handguns. These can be moved to adjust for barrel and frame length.
The Elite Survival Systems Four Gun Pistol Case is durable, padded, and the handle makes carrying it comfortable.
I have a Springfield Armory M1A with a McMillan A4 stock and 4-16 scope that needed a happy home. For it I chose to use Pelican's 1750 case. It's constructed of heavy-gauge polymer with four double-throw latches so the case stays closed. It also has two reinforced points for locks so the case stays secure. The interior is closed cell foam padded with a customizable lower insert.
Since I am a trained professional (those who aren't should not try this) I tested the case by tossing it off of a shooting bench with my M1A in it, several times. The scope did not lose zero nor did the rifle shift in the case. While I don't suggest you try it, I have found the 1750 makes a good chair or elevated nap platform; the walls and locks are that tough. If Pelican's case can survive me, it will survive the trunk of your car and protect your firearm.
Safariland's 4552 Double Rifle Case is designed to carry and protect full sized AR-15s, M4s, standard precision rifles, M1As, and police patrol shotguns. The case comes in two sizes: 36 inches and 46 inches. I tested the 36-inch Double Rifle Case.
Multiple carry options make the 4552 extremely versatile. You could use the wrapped carry handles, a single shoulder strap, or a pair of straps that make the 4552 into a backpack. A profusion of pockets in different sizes allow you to stow lots of magazines and accessories. MOLLE straps on the front of the main pouch allow you to add pouches to meet your needs.
Another versatile pack is the Mission Go Bag (MGB) from Special Operations Technologies (aka S.O. Tech). Built from tough Cordura, this pack is big enough to use as a medical trauma bag, range bag, active shooter bag-pretty much anything you can think of. Thanks to its configurable strap, the MGB is also designed to be used as a shoulder bag, waist bag, attached to a tactical vest with MOLLE-most any way you prefer or the mission requires.
The MGB is a tough bag. I have used it as my range bag for ARs and it's been tossed in and out of the truck more times than I can count over the last couple of years. Numerous special operations units are using this bag in Afghanistan where it's surviving the rigors of hard use in the armpit of the world. The MGB can carry 20 AR magazines no problem and loads of assorted gear, which is why the special operations teams are using the MGB. This bag will adapt to your mission, too-that's what S.O. Tech built it for.
Spec Ops Brand's "The Holds Everything" (T.H.E.) Pack is one of the largest in the company's line. It holds more than 2,500 cubic inches of space to carry your daily duty gear or specialized callout equipment. It consists of three sections.
Yellow nylon lines the interior of the main body so you can find those small items in the deep corners. A small mesh bag built into the front of this section holds items such as keys. The back of the main section contains a closed cell pad to give the T.H.E. Pack flexible rigidness, and can store a hydration bladder. You can route the drink tube for the bladder out the right or left of the bag.
On the front flap of the bag are two pockets-the other two storage sections. Should you need more room for gear, the pack has numerous MOLLE straps to attach additional pouches or carriers. Spec Ops Brand's T.H.E. Pack is ready to carry your callout and daily use gear.
Scott Smith is a former federal police officer for the Department of Veteran's Affairs who currently serves as a reserve officer and is a contributing editor to POLICE.