My normal range bag is a Columbia back-pack that has the S&W logo all over it. Not exactly incognito, it broadcasts “I likely have a gun in here” to anyone even passingly familiar with the firearms industry. I’m obviously okay with that, but sometimes I want a little more discretion with how I transport my gear – but I still want to be able to carry a lot of stuff without necessarily throwing up a flag that says “I have guns”. Enter the stealth range bag; perfect for those occasions where you need 9 mags, 300 rounds of ammo, ear and eye protection, your gun, and holsters and mag carriers for everything.
Start with a mild-mannered lap-top/messenger bag. Bonus points if it has boring branding on it, such as my Nationwide branded bag. Bags like this are ubiquitous in today’s professional environment. Given out at trade shows and conventions, they’re usually all the same flat black nylon bag with a decent shoulder strap and most importantly, lots of pockets. Fitting quite nicely in to the “gray man” strategy, someone wearing business casual with a bag like this slung over their shoulder will attract precisely zero attention from nosy passerby.
However, when the bag gets cracked open, well you can see that it’s quite a bit different from what a lot of people would have in their messenger bags. I’m not a huge fan of “off body” carry, but when the choice is “having a gun in a bag” or “not having a gun” I’ll put the gun in the bag every single time. That’s where I’ll also make use of an easy on/off paddle holster like the one from Comp-Tac that’s pictured (no, you don’t have to get it in red). That bag has everything I need in it to shoot an IDPA match, or hold off a small group of zombies until reinforcements arrive. 9 17 round magazines give me 153 rounds of ammo on tap, and I’ve got enough mag carriers in the bag to carry 6 on my body.
I really like all my “branded” gear. S&W bags are great for the range and matches, but sometimes you’ve got to fly a little bit under the radar. With a little thought and some ingenuity, you can turn an ordinary convention chotchkey into a useful CCW and every day carry tool.