BLACKHAWK! Diversion Carry Racquet Bag Review

| February 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

There’s a lot to love about bags purpose built to carry firearms. They tend to be made out of more durable materials, have padded interiors that protect your firearm and break up its outline, and usually have heavy-duty zippers and pulls.

One problem with most “purpose built” bags is that they look like bags meant to hold guns.

If you’re carrying a rifle or similar in public, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself.

Several equipment manufacturers have started making purpose built bags that look like every day bags. As I’ve written about before, some companies get closer to “gray” than others.

BLACKHAWK! has an entire line of these trojan horse style bags called their Diversion line.

Here’s my review of their Diversion racquet bag, courtesy of one of my instructors who graciously volunteered his setup for my review.

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This is supposed to look like a tennis racket bag. Its shape is very non-threatening, as well as the colors. In talking about this bag with product manager (and product designer of the Diversion series) Chris Laack , he stated that BLACKHAWK! did a lot of research about common bag colors at schools, airports, and other public places. 

Exterior

The bag comes in blue, black, and red. All of them have the grayish-white stripe on the side. When I asked Mr. Laack about the stripe, he said that the bag is a few inches longer than a “real” racket bag, and that the stripe fools the eye into thinking the bag is shorter than it actually is.

The bag measures 29″ x 11.5″ x 3″. This is definitely long enough for an AR pistol or any side-folding SBR to fit in one piece. Some product / customer photos show a longer rifle broken down into the two internal compartments. It’s plenty long.

As expected, the quality is of high quality. It’s made out of 420 denier “velocity” nylon. The fabric is softer to the touch than typical “ballistic” nylon found on most military-style bags and messenger bags. The finish is slightly shiny, but nothing super obvious.

The bag comes with a padded shoulder strap, as shown in the picture above. The strap and attachment points are beefier than a common bag. This is helpful in offsetting a firearms’s weight.

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You can see the finish of the bag’s outer material pretty good in this picture.

There’s one exterior pocket on the racket bag. Frankly I wouldn’t use it for anything except maybe paperwork, as whatever is inside is going to print very badly. I wouldn’t store magazines in there, for example.

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Zippers and pulls

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These are the standard BLACKHAWK! Diversion bag pulls. They are awesome for two reasons:

1) You can lock the zippers together via that little interlocking metal loop in the two zippers. It’s not going to prevent a pissed off badger or determined thief from getting into your bag, but if you carry a rifle in public you should do your best to keep casual fingers out of your gear.

2) The pulls are longer than your typical ones found on other bags, and have a soft rubber grip on the end. This makes the zippers easy to open whether you have gloves on or not, or if the bag is wet. Regular metal zipper pulls are flat, harder to grab with gloves on, and can become slippery.

Interior

The inside of the racket bag is only slightly smaller than my college dorm room.

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This is my instructor’s AR pistol with a 20 round magazine inserted. As you can see, it has a Primary Arms optic attached, and there is still plenty of room inside the bag, height-wise. If you left the optic off you could probably fit a 30-rounder; depending on the height of your optic you might be able to squeeze in both.

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The racket bag also has an upholstered, rigid divider. My instructor keeps several spare mags in this partition. It would be feasible to put another SBR-length firearm on this side, or a few handguns.

There aren’t any internal tie-downs inside this bag, which I find unnecessary. In talking to several industry professionals at the 2014 SHOT Show, they stated they hated putting barrel loops, grip loops, magazine loops, loop de loops in their products, but some police departments and government agencies wanted them for “safety” reasons.

We all rolled our eyes.

There aren’t any interior pockets. I don’t consider this a problem, because I consider the Diversion racket bag more of a “transit” bag than a daily carry bag (more on that in a second). There are a lot of purpose-built bags that have interior pockets, more dividers, or even PALS webbing for modular storage. If you are the type of person who is super organized or who wants everything to stay put, you are going to want to look elsewhere.

It’s Gray, but you probably aren’t.

Would I buy this bag? No.

That’s not because it’s a bad bag. It’s a great bag, and I really like the Diversion line in general.

The bag does a good job camouflaging itself as a racket bag.

The problem is I don’t do a good job camouflaging a racket bag as part of my everyday life.

I’m interested in an EDC bag, and a racket-shaped bag won’t fit in anywhere I go.

I live in a place that is less than 60F for over half of the year. I spent almost seven months wearing a fleece jacket. Where the fuck am I going with a racket bag when there is 30″ of snow on the ground? Sure, I might be headed to the “gym,” but not during rush hour on a commuter train or walking to my office.

Now, folks I know that use this bag (or similar racket-shaped bags) use them as transport bags. Meaning, they carry their firearms from their homes, to their car, to wherever they’re going like the range, or my house or wherever. My instructor carried his AR back and forth from his apartment parking lot with this bag, and for that type of use I think it’s great.

I will say that it was weird one weekend when there were a bunch of racket bags in the corner of my home’s entryway; that wasn’t very gray either but we all know what everyone else is carrying.

Choosing the right bag for you has just as much to do as your daily routine, body shape, and environment as the product’s features and performance.

I like the BLACKHAWK! Diversion Racket bag, but I won’t be purchasing one any time soon.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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