Team Erhardt Project: It's In The Bag

Jul 1, 2011
Following last week's recap of my dismal performance at the local 1/2 Steel Challenge match there was no shortage of advice. Some of it from shooters who probably should have prefaced their remarks with, "I'm not a grand master, but I play one online." However, a couple of them spoke - or typed - with voices of authority. Paul Dandini, the match organizer and a solid speed shooter who can run the Steel Challenge in half the time it takes me, immediately questioned if I had sighted in the gun. No, not really. Shortly after Paul's email I heard the exact same thing from both Julie Golob and Kippi Leatham. If I have to tell you who Julie and Kippi are then all I have to say to you is: Welcome first-time Shooting Wire reader. So...apparently one of the things I'll be doing at this weekend's (The Other) 1/2 Steel Challenge match is sighting in my gun. Either that or suffer what I am sure will be lots of motherly nagging from the Women of USPSA co-founders the next time I whine about missing targets. For what it's worth, I think it's the trigger. Bruce Gray, aka 'God's Own Gunsmith', says the answer to all shooting problems is trigger control - specifically prep the trigger. We'll find out Saturday.
1776 Tactical's Rangepack bag is ideally suited for competition use.
When I do head out the door to the range this Saturday, I'll be hauling my non-sighted-in M&P Pro in a piece of gear that I am quickly becoming a fan of...the Second Amendment Rangepack from 1776 Tactical. Back in February at the Smith & Wesson Winter Indoor Nationals Tom Yost of S&W told me I needed to check out this new backpack range bag and then introduced me to Nathan Findley of 1776 Tactical, who walked me through the design, construction and features of the pack. Honestly, the walk through was like a Ron Popeil commercial with that but wait, there's more feeling. After each feature there was another, and another, and so on and so on. Fortunately, unlike with Ronco infomercials, I wasn't left with the sense that all the added pockets, pads, straps, buckles, reinforced zippers, removable gun bags, velcro, water-resistant cover, et cetera, was to convince me it really was worth the price.
With four pistol bags, I might have to shoot/win a few more divisions.
Just the opposite. All the features of the bag are the result of a well thought out design that benefits the shooter, and not some cheesy value-add marketing ploy. I already have a range bag, mind you. Make that bags, plural. But it's that ubiquitous oversized-box-shape style that, no matter how much or how little you carry, never really feels comfortable. It's like you're carrying a PGA tour bag. In fact, it feels EXACTLY like carrying a tour bag. And as proof, I offer you the endless parade of shooters leaning to one side as they trudge up the hill to shoot Outer Limits in Piru. It looks like the Steel Challenge equivalent of the Bataan Death March, minus the death part.
The generous padding on the back and shoulder straps makes it über comfortable.
Well, that won't be me, because first and foremost the 1776 Tactical bag is all about comfort. When I noticed at last week's match that another shooter, John Sardina, also had one, I cornered him to compare notes and see if he found it to be as comfortable to carry as I did. Sardina already had two big, bulky competition bags and loved them, but found they were uncomfortable to carry and would rub against his mags or his gun depending on what shoulder he slung the bag over. "With the backpack I can carry just as much gear without the bulk, and with all the padding I barely notice the weight," John told me before adding what I had been thinking. "The more I use it, the more I like it." Scott Folk at Apex Tactical Specialties has one too and he totally agrees. Which is kind of funny since his Shrek-like build makes him capable of carrying range bags for an entire squad.
Ammo. Because we had to complain about something.
The only area the three of us saw as having room for improvement - because let's face it, all shooters have their two cents to add - was easy ammo management. Make no mistake, there's more than enough room for ammo. For God's sake the thing has over 2000 cubic inches of storage space and can haul 60 lbs of gear and ammo. We'd just like a cool, special compartment for that ammo. Scott swears he's found the solution in Dillon's Border Shift Ammo Bag which he says fits neatly in the main internal compartment in place of one of the four removable gun pouches. Other than the easy ammo storage, there's very, very little to complain about with this bag. Except of course for the complete lack of a strap to secure your holster rig so you don't leave it behind, sitting on your couch when you drive off to the range. After three weeks to reflect on it, I blame the bag and not myself for that one. Sorry Nathan. If you'd like the chance to win a 1776 Tactical Rangepack, be sure to visit their website and enter the drawing that starts today. - Paul Erhardt Follow the Team Erhardt Project on Twitter at @TheShootingWire, use hashtag #TeamErhardt. Editor's Note: You can join, and beat, the self-proclaimed Mayor of Suckville this Saturday at the Harvard (MA) Sportsmen's Club (directions). Registration is 8:30am, shooting 9:30am. And the cost? 1st Gun: $10. 2nd Gun: $5. Embarrassing Paul: Priceless.