5.11 Range Ready Bag
I almost feel guilty about this bag - I bought it over 6 years ago while it was on sale for £80 - usually they retail around the £100-120 mark - especially here in Taiwan, as they have to be imported from the US and hit by tax etc.
The guilty part is for the fact that it sat idle for basically all those intervening years and that I almost sold it at one of the airsoft fayres because of the utter neglect I’d shown it. I originally bought it, as with most of my major purchases - to fill a specific need and after lots of research, pining over internet and publication photos and advertising videos of it being used by ‘prop-erators’ in the field which obviously appeal to the inner geardo in all of us.
I originally intended to use it to transport a very thinned out loadout on public transport for the purposes of doing evening games at a CQB site in Sheffield - my job at the time would allow me to leave earlier than most 9-5 workers and get to the site there from Nottingham just in time to play the evening games - just take a much lower profile kit bag to work and dump it under my desk until the end of the day then toddle off with it in tow. Just me, my Five-seveN pistols, SERPA holsters, belt kit, PPE/Eyepro and facepro etc, gas, ammo and some good CQB pistols only funtimes.
As it was, having spent a while deliberating about the purchase of the bag and logistics of getting to the games, right after it arrived the site in question shut down… so I was left with an awesome bag that I had little use for. Admittedly I did utilise it once or twice when we were filming adverts for ‘Zombie Infection’ and me & Lewis were only packing pistols and camera equipment to do the whole ‘embedded reporter’ gambit and put together some nice players-eye-view footage of the new survival-horror airsoft escape room experience that our friends at Skirmish Airsoft were putting together and invited us along to document. Aside from that, it lay largely dormant, a very nicely put together but underappreciated kit bag that was insufficient for handling my long gun or SMG setups of that era.
I am, however, most glad I didn’t part with it. Just seven weeks after I made landfall for my new life here, this great little range bag arrived in a care package from my folks (along with more clothes in my size, and some big boxes of Yorkshire Tea! ^^) - I’d already been to one shoot at Action Bunker Taipei and realised it was a perfect match for the original purpose I’d bought the 5.11 Range Ready Bag for - somewhere small and intense enough to do pistols only all session long and not worry about long range guns and gear.
So with the range ready here and having just received my ARC (Alien Residency Card - basically my long term permit to stay in Taiwan for work etc) I figured it would be a good time to get tactical shopping. The 5.11 Range Ready Bag is perfect for the kit I ended up bringing with me or buying out here. It has a drop down full width front panel that conceals a pocket for your pistols to slide down into, which also has 8 magazine pouches on the front of it.
The drop down pocket/flap itself folds down to lie on the table or surface the bag is left on, and offers you a padded place to put your pistols and accessories on during stripping, cleaning, loading or other preparations. This feature is most useful, especially if you want to keep all the usual culprit components from flying off or getting lost in the abyss as usually happens with errant springs, pins retainers or basically anything else small enough to go walkabout while you’re trying to fix something.
Moving around from the front compartment, to the left end of the bag there is a full height zip enclosed pocket that fills most of the front to back size of the main central compartment - this is ideal for storing medium sized items in - I found it ideal for spare MOLLE pouches, sewing equipment for repairing or customising equipment, lights/ torches, tape or tools and other such things you probably wouldn’t use all the time but are good to have with you and dump in one large all purpose pocket you can leave alone if needs be.
At the opposite end/ to the right side of the drop down pistol storage and servicing compartment is a pocket similar to the one at the other end, but narrower to account for the lost space used up for a built in drinks bottle holder; a nice feature which again I have made good use of - CQB games in Taiwan’s climate are sweaty to make a monumental understatement - it’s always good to have a chilled bottle of ‘ion water’ or similar isotonic drinks to hand after each game. The pocket itself is the perfect size for storing my GoPro 4 Hero+ Silver, its various mounting options, spare battery and its case, and the spare GoPro shell (not that I find myself doing much underwater photography when airsofting… but I like to keep things together anyway!) as well as my tactical gloves (which used to be my Oakley SI, but I left those in the UK and purchased some nice Mechanix MPacts when I got to Taiwan).
On the back end of the bag - opposite the pistol pocket - are two equal sized utility pockets that take up the full height of the bag’s main body and are ideal for other PPE storage - my old BOLLE wrap around goggles and their rigid case fit perfectly in either and I could then put my ESS ICE 2.4 shooting glasses and related spare lenses on top of them in their soft case, as well as my soft elbow pads, and gel kneepads that I wear under my trousers in their tube sock style fabric retention bands, as well as my mesh and fabric lower face-mask. I also found these the perfect size for Blackhawk SERPA holsters and their related attachment plates/ belt clips/ paddles/ QD units, as well as my newly purchased TMC FMA Scorpion Gen 2 pistol magazine taco hybrid style pouches.
In the centre of these peripheral pouches is the main compartment - the core and guts of the bag that everything else is attached to - this is a great space for general purpose storage - along its long sides it also has full length internal padded pockets like the one on the back face of the front drop down panel - so you can store even more pistols or other objects in a cushioned and separated fashion - they’re also ideal for holding documentation or other such things.
And in the middle of these is the open expanse of the main compartment which is just the right length to store Gas Blow Back gun gas canisters or even a HPA tank in, or a mixture of spare clothes, bagged or bottled ammunition, electronics such as radios, chronographs or other such accessories. This whole section is covered over by a double zip closure flap with a strap/handle to open and close both zips simultaneously.
Above this the double carry handles emerge from their anchor points between the outer pockets and main bag - like most of the other 5.11 range they can be attached by a velcro closure wrap which keeps the handles together for ease of carriage. At either end of this top surface are reinforced metal D-Rings which the main shoulder strap can be attached to using flap clips if required - this itself also has a padded section for spreading the weight over the whole of your shoulder, which obviously increases comfort when carrying the bag intercity like I have been.
In addition to this central compartment, there is a removable ‘ammo tote’ - predominantly for real steel use; it pulls out of this main compartment and offers the perfect companion to take your bare essentials to the firing line, with adjustable dividers to form compartments for ‘eyes & ears’ PPE, boxed live rounds, spare magazines, lubricants/ cloths and even a dedicated spent brass bag with a breathable net bottom and drawstring closure.
This removable tote had to be left in the UK unfortunately, to make space for other things my folks packed into the bag to make better use of it during its shipping for carrying all the bottled goodies and toiletries they were sending me from home. I have to say I don’t miss it much as it really is more useful in a real steel shooting environment and the extra space I have in the bag for not having it there is put to good use.
To top off the utter utility of this bag - quite literally - I have found that without the ammo tote in place, the slightly lower side pocket walls and the overall bag dimensions are perfect to allow me to store my new slimline plate carrier on top of all the other gear and still close the main zipped flap - so the whole bag fits my needs like a glove, which is really satisfying after having it sat around so many years making me feel like it was a useless guilty purchase.
Now I can take basically everything I need for my CQB gaming in a single, convenient carrier, without even needing to store my plate carrier outside it as I feared I would have to, so I’m more than happy with how things turned out - there’s even still enough free space to accommodate the KWA MP7 GBB SMG and a couple of spare magazines that I’m contemplating for my next purchase. That and the possibility of a KWA USP Compact and four magazines to help make use of that front pistol compartment that only has the KWA HK45 and three magazines occupying it so far!
All in all, whether you are a ‘soft shooter or a real steel noise maker, this is a well thought out, designed, manufactured and executed bag to cover the needs of many users, as is usually the case with 5.11 brand merchandise in my experience. Admittedly I do feel I am already overloading it a little, but I can perhaps leave some of the optional extras at home once I have my loadout tuned to how I want it, and the main shoulder strap is adjustable so I can perhaps find a more comfortable position for it during my next shooting trip to avoid the backache of my last one!