SHOT Show 2014 Vendor Report: BLACKHAWK!

| January 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

The consistent theme throughout the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas was “gratitude.” I did not expect the level of cooperation and enthusiasm from as many vendors and firearms personalities.

One of the most generous was Chris Laack, Product Marketing Manager for Tactical Accessories at ATK (parent company of BLACKHAWK!).

We started talking with Chris at Media Day before the SHOT Show started in earnest. I had no idea who he was; he was just standing behind a folding table with a bunch of DIVERSION bags on the table.

I introduced myself, and explained that the DIVERSION series is popular with our readers and training group, especially the racket bag.

“That’s good to hear. I designed it.”

We talked with Chris for a bit and then met with him again each following day we were at SHOT.

Here’s our review of BLACKHAWK’s civilian concealed carry bags at the 2014 show.

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BLACKHAWK! didn’t introduce any new bags at this year’s SHOT Show. However, Chris Laack was able to talk about customer feedback, his own usage, and hinted at future iterations of the DIVERSION line.

Chris and the rest of the DIVERSION product line team did extensive research to determine the color palette for the bags. They studied public areas such as schools and airports, and discovered that there were many “fashion” bags in military colors. The two most popular colors in fashion bags: ranger green and khaki/coyote.

My personal favorites

I learned to respect their covert courier messenger bag the most.

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Chris’s personal 48-hour get-home bag is just like this one. Except his is full of awesome.

I admit it, I wasn’t thrilled about this bag when I saw it at first. It looked a little too tactical to me in coyote, and the over-built buckles further detracted from its “grayness” of blending in. I’m very concerned that purpose-built bags are hard to recognize until people know what to look for — at which point they become very obvious.

However, as Chris detailed feature after feature after feature I learned to respect this well-designed bag. It’s pretty pricey with a $145 street price tag, but holy shit does it have some cool attributes.

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There are two ways to enter the concealed portion of the bag: through the top as normal, or through a secret access zipper on the back. This makes drawing a pistol from concealment possible.

The front of the Courier pack features a configurable storage area. Chris’s own personal bag is set up with AR-15 mags for his AR pistol. The bag comes with dividers that you can use to create your own personal storage solution. In my case I’d need wider storage areas for US Palm AK47 magazines. The front of the pack also has PALS webbing on the front, in case you need to attach more bags to your bag.

There are two large zippered internal areas, and the zippers are the same great quality with the very accessible pulls as the rest of the DIVERSION line.

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There are also two zippered pockets on either side.

One really cool feature that is totally camouflaged from normal view is the zip off flap. One problem with using a “regular” messenger bag as a tactical bag is that the flap keeps getting in the way. I ran a cheap-o Rothco messenger bag for two years in rifle classes, and I always wound up tucking the flap behind the bag once our shooting drills started.

The BLACKHAWK! Courier flap just zips right off, turning your messenger bag into a dump pouch:

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My only complaint about the bag (aside from the colors) is that it might be too small for even our Glock SBR. The Courier makes for a great pistol bag and/or get-home bag, but it may not be big enough for the big guns.

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The board pack, on the other hand, isĀ plenty big. The bag is shaped like a skateboard pack and would easily blend in on the train I used to take to commute downtown. The bag is large enough to hold an AR-15, and definitely big enough to hold our AR pistol, SBR AK47 and SBR Glock in a KPOS enclosure.

The skate pack features two padded compartments to keep your firearm separated from your everyday contents. The firearm compartment also has PALS webbing on the opposite side for any additional cargo needs.

There’s a cup in the bottom for the firearm’s muzzle, and this helps solve one of the biggest problems with carrying a rifle or PDW: the printing of the muzzle at the bottom of the bag.

The skate pack has an MSRP of $149 and is available in black/red, black/gray, gray/blue and Ranger green / coyote tan. Chris said it was the most positively-reviewed bag in the DIVERSION lineup.

What’s coming up next

Chris wasn’t able to talk about the next wave of DIVERSION products, but he was willing to share the following:

  • There will obviously be a new line of DIVERSION products, since he couldn’t talk about the new models.
  • At least some of the bags will be offered in a different material, most likely the smaller handgun and messenger-style bags first.
  • Chris said there will be waterproof zippers, which leads me to believe the bags will be water-proof and not just water-resistant like the current lineup.
  • The new bags will be out this year, and I hope to get my hands on one before they hit the market.

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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