Consider a sling bag for everyday carry

| October 22, 2014 | 5 Comments

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Up until very recently I carried my SBR AK47 or AR15 pistol in a backpack. I carried the (much) smaller KPOS Glock enclosure for awhile in a “sling” bag, but that got appropriated by The She Shepherd and I started using a hydration pack.

For the purposes of transporting a rifle or similar weapon, the sling bag has several advantages over a traditional, two shoulder backpack.

These advantages include:

  • The ability to rotate the bag around the body, which allows for quicker access to the contents of the bag without stopping.
  • Since you don’t have to take the bag “off,” you can retain the bag more easily. A traditional backpack requires you to put the bag down and probably leave it there.
  • Sling bags are much more stable compared to a backpack when the backpack is worn on a single shoulder.
  • Sling bags are (as of this writing) trendy and fashionable, and may help you blend into your environment whereas a backpack of similar capacity may not.

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What to look for in a sling bag

A sling bag will feature a padded strap that runs diagonally across the bag. Better bags allow you to change how the strap attaches. This means you can change the bag from “right hand” or “left hand.”

The sling bag should have one large section with a zipper that extends the length of the section. Avoid sling bags with zippers that only extend, say, 2/3rds of the section. This will result in a smaller opening, and as you will learn with practice the bag opening can never be large enough once the shooting and screaming starts.

Double zippers allow you to lock the bag. Some of my readers don’t lock their bags; I do anytime the bag is out of my immediate control to curtail “exploration” by children or nosey coworkers.

I prefer bags with an adjustable padded piece on the shoulder strap.

At least one additional pocket is very helpful to carry your non-blaster related items. While I have developed techniques to discreetly open a bag with a firearm inside, it is better to never access the part of your bag that contains a firearm.

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Drawbacks

Traditional two strap backpacks will distribute weight better than a sling bag. An 8 pound AK47 SBR plus a loaded spare mag plus a laptop, tablet, trauma kit and other EDC items can wind up being deceptively heavy. A sling bag will concentrate all that weight on one shoulder. People with touchy backs should definitely practice carrying a firearm around for a few hours before committing to the sling bag concept.

The bag will move a lot more on your body than a traditional bag. This is great when spinning the bag to the front of your body to access the contents. This sucks if you’re sprinting. Some sling bags have a chest strap (such as the one The She Shepherd is wearing). However, what you gain in stability costs you in the ability to move the bag to the front of the body without detaching the strap.

Sling bags come in all kinds of sizes, construction quality, and features. Cheap zippers and thin materials are typical pitfalls. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find a wide assortment of sling bags in one store. You might find one or two, but it’s hard to comparison shop — especially different brands.

I have purchased several sling bags from Amazon.com so that I can easily return them. Two things to watch out for: buying from non-Amazon.com stores and making sure the dimensions listed are for the inside of the bag, not the outside. Some Amazon pages don’t specify what dimensions they use, so some bags are bigger or smaller than you expect.

Conclusion

Take a look at sling packs if you are carrying an SBR or PDW. The single strap will allow you to move the bag around your body for quicker, mobile access. Be aware that more weight will be on one shoulder, so if you have back or shoulder problems it might be an issue.

I am able to carry one of several of my SBRs or PDWs in the Adidas bag I currently use. However, it took some trial and error to get there, so be patient.

Also, be prepared to practice moving with the bag, moving the bag, and getting your weapon (and spare mags, trauma kit, etc) out of the bag. You’re practicing anyway, right? 🙂

Look for specific sling bag reviews coming up this fall.

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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5 Comments on "Consider a sling bag for everyday carry"

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  1. Redhawk34 says:

    Is that the Adidas Rydell sling pack? What is the “usable” interior length in this pack? Thanks.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Excellent eye! It is the Rydell. The length of the sling pack is 22″ straight from top to bottom, and 23″ diagonally from top to lowest corner.

      The width is 15″ at the bottom, 13.5″ at the middle, and 4″ at the top.

      I am going to review this bag next week, so please let me know if you have more questions.

      • redhawk34 says:

        Looking forward to the review. I’m really curious to see how well your side folder fits into this bag along with any other needed items (ie trauma kit or spage mags?). Do you carry all mags loose or do you keep a low profile 20 rounder inserted as carried? There are other slightly larger traditional backpack options like the COVRT18 that seem like decent solutions, but this low profile sling bag looks to serve a simple and discreet purpose for law-abiding permit holders.

  2. Kyliewyotie says:

    Thanks for the thought.
    I have been using a sling bag, and my only complaint (not really a big one) is that when I am walking for multiple hours, the weight gets a little annoying being only on one shoulder.

    I don’t do that on a regular basis without breaks so it isn’t something that will decide for me.

    I also have a set of soft armor, and I slide one in my bag, when spun to the front, I have a barrier of sorts.

    I look forward to your review of that bag.

  3. ndjinn says:

    As a matter of course I found “the bag from Transformers” for my 9 year old. It was $20 on Aliexpress.com and a POS. Some time later a co-working in EMS asked me my opinion on Hazard 4 gear. I was in the Maxpedition camp. Now I am in the Hazard4 camp. I purchased a Hazard4 Evac Plan B. It was cool, but being a photo/medic I should have gotten a Evac Photo Recon. I love it. I carry my Canon 7D and three lenses. There is a spot for a handgun with camera and the Plan B could hold a small SBR. I love slings but they are hard to use and get comfortable with. I even carried a Maxpedition Monsoon Gearslinger for a summer but couldn’t make it work for me. Keep up the insights. I personally carry the FNH Fiveseven and with 20 round or 30 round extended mags I don’t feel the need to carry my SBR daily, but I like the option to though- I have a few times give what I am Doing. I can only hope my 300BLACKOUT works on brown bears at close range, I know it works on bad guys!

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