Photo by A.J. George.

Photo by A.J. George.

Blue Force Gear focuses primarily on gear for the military and tactical units. Its new Hive Satchel is a clear departure. Through a partnership with Chris Costa, Blue Force recently introduced the new single-strapped backpack with the sole purpose of allowing officers to discreetly carry everything from knives and magazines to compact submachine guns. Nothing screams, "That guy has a gun!" like an OD Green pack covered in MOLLE loops. Blue Force and Costa both recognized this and after a little brainstorming the Hive was born.

A few key features set the Hive apart from most other concealed carry packs. First, the color is anything but a standout. Subtle gray blends well into the environment and does not draw the eye's attention. Next is the shape. Its semi-rigid domed construction looks more like a turtle's shell than a tactical pack and works well to break up the dead giveaway shape of what's inside. There is a wide entry strip running down the center with a zipper pull on either side. A strap allowing the wearer to pull them together connects both zippers, but the strap can be removed for independent entry. Overall, the appearance is clean and stylish and the construction is top-notch.

The interior of the pack is one large compartment covered in loop material. This allows the satchel to be almost endlessly customizable through the use of Blue Force's wide variety of "Dappers" or other hook-backed pouches. Blue Force was nice enough to send me three Dappers: triple M4 and pistol magazine pouches and a large zippered utility pouch with a clear plastic front for smaller items.

With all of the pouches installed there wasn't enough room for a sub-gun, but I was able to carry a pistol, radio, and handcuffs with even a little room to spare. Single M4 and pistol mag pouches would likely be a better configuration, as these would free up some valuable space for other gear.

Between the main compartment and the shoulder strap there is a second, smaller zippered pouch, again lined with loop material, which is a semi-triangular shape and perfect for a pistol. The strap and pouch can be connected to either side, making this a true ambidextrous pack and suiting the needs of the wearer. I added a hook-backed soft holster and was able to carry and draw a Glock 22 with ease. On the shoulder strap itself is a single strip of Blue Force's MOLLE-Minus webbing. This allows you to add any MOLLE pouch. Left unused, its black color and geometric pattern make it look more like a part of the pack's stylish design than a functional anchor point.

I loaded up the Hive as my daily work pack for a couple of weeks and found it to be very comfortable. The padded, rigid back panel and wide shoulder strap distributed heavier loads well and never dug into my neck or fatigued my back. I also spent some time manipulating the pack as it was designed: for quick entry and weapon draws. I found the pack to be very maneuverable and stable. While I wore it slung over my shoulder, it easily spun to the front and stayed put while I grabbed for what was inside.

I was a little less impressed with the main compartment zippers, finding them a little stiff and difficult to manipulate when tethered together. I expect this to improve over time, but on a concealed carry pack I'd want them to be smooth off the shelf. When operated independently, the zippers worked well and felt very sturdy.

To further the goal of remaining discreet, the Hive will be produced in limited runs of only a few different color schemes, one batch at a time. My example was number 217 out of only 300 so I don't expect to run into any other Hive wearers with the same model anytime soon. With a retail price of $195, the pack is competitively priced. Considering the quality, limited lifetime warranty, and distinctive style, I think it's a great value. I recommend you also check out the rest of Blue Force's high-quality gear. I think you'll be as impressed as I am.

Blue Force Gear Hive Satchel Specs:

Construction: Cordura and Tweave fabric, unusual semi-circular shape, stiffened back panel, padded for added protection and concealment of contents

Pockets: Loop-lined main compartment with zipper pull, removable loop-lined zippered side pocket

Water resistant

One-shoulder sling for ambidextrous carry

Ever-changing color and pattern options

Price: $195

A.J. George is an officer with the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Police Department currently assigned to the advanced training unit as a firearms and tactics instructor.