Sunday, February 26, 2006

Target Barn Shooting Bag

For my birthday, my Sweetie (SWMBO) bought me a brand new red Range Bag from Target Barn.

While my bag is red (as is SWMBO's T.B. Professional Range Bag), it's available in four colors: Black Blue, Green and RED!

My old Dillon bag was green, and I was ready for a change. I have too many things in Dillon Blue already, and Black is so ... common. I had started campaigning for a red Target Barn range bag for my birthday as soon as I bought one for her, last year. This year she remembered and bought one for my very own, bless her heart. I'm not saying she feared that I would steal hers, but I did admire it and I'm sure she just wanted me to quit drooling on hers.

The "Professional" grade range bags from Target Barn come with a couple of great accessories. Included in the $69.95 price is a brass bag and a pistol sleeve.

The brass bag has a plastic snap-on clip so it readily attaches to your range bag. There's a drawstring at the top, so brass doesn't spill out when you unload it from the back of your Jeep, and the bottom is a mesh that drains foreign debris (such as dirt, sand, fir needles, etc.) and water. MAJOR factor in brass-bag selection in Oregon.

The pistol sleeve has a zipper on the side ... not on the top ... and is big enough that a STI Competition pistol with C-more sight and compensator fits comfortably inside and you can still zip it closed. I'm reasonably confident that any IPSC pistol will fit as well inside this commodious bag. There's a side-pocket which zips closed where you can store this pistol sleeve, although unfortunately you can't zip the side-pocket closed when the pistol sleeve is inside it ... in order to accommodate the oversized pistols, the pistol sleeve is too tall to allow the outside pocket to close with the sleeve inside it. However, it does fit completely inside the main compartment (see below) without interfering with the operation of the double-zipper that closes it.

If you don't want to store your pistol sleeve inside this pocket, it works great for storing two of the Dillon small utility boxes ... I use them for First Aid supplies and Tools & parts ... and a small timer.

On the outside wall of this zip-pocket is a smaller zip-pocket, perfect for storing flat items such as score sheets, match booklets, rule books or notebooks where you can record notes for your future memoirs.

Another feature of the T.B. Professional Shooting Bag is a side pocket with magazine loops stitched to the inner wall, holding as many as 7 double-stack magazines. I also use it for storing a small KleenBore Pocket Cleaning kit (PocKit), and a couple of granola bars for snacks. I get hungry during a match.

On the exterior wall (inside the pocket, protected from the elements) of that same zippered side-pocket there's a strip of elastic material with stitching at half-inch or one-inch intervals which allows you to insert pens, pencils, knives, screwdrivers, squib rods, chapstick (or lipstick) tubes, cleaning rods, etc.

The main compartment is the length of the bag (16-1/2" less padding) and easily eight inches wide. There's room for earmuffs, belt, ammunition, camera, gloves, snacks, a plastic zip-bag of cleaning rags and small towels, and a whole lot more. There are side-pockets, accommodating the pistol sleeve (with some difficulty) on one side and a large staple gun with a box of extra staples in the other side.

There are small zippered pockets on the ends. I keep a folded disposable rain poncho in one end, and the other end contains a "snake" bore-cleaner,
a small bottle of oil and a four-ounce squirt bottle of MP7.

ALL of the walls of the Target Barn "Professional" Range Bag are padded. almost everything seems to be double-stitched. The material is heavy Cordura (or ballistic) nylon. The padded shoulder strap is fitted with STAINLESS STEEL pressure clips for sure, easy removal and installation. The clips attach to large STAINLESS STEEL D-rings, which are triple-stitched to a heavy (Cordura or ballistic nylon) strip which runs under the bag from one D-ring to the other, between the double-walls of the main compartment, so the weight of the bag and its contents is supported not by the bag fabric, but by this heavy strip.

The large D-rings provide a place to hang the brass bag, and any other containers you wish. I have a couple of extra brass bags, and I use at least one of them for holding a bottle of water. I also have various protective eye-glasses in cases which attach with clips. Some of the clips aren't large enough to encompass the thickness of the D-rings, but I have circular key rings which I use as an intermediary link between the clip and the D-ring.

My Dillon bag had plastic clips between the shoulder strap and the bag, and didn't provide a place to hang brass bags, eyeglasses, water bottle holders, etc. I clipped them to the zipper pulls instead, and broke two of the zipper pulls and one of the zippers because I stressed them beyond the capacity for which they were designed. This is not a problem with the Target Barn bag.

The Target Barn puts two thick, heavy plastic strips at either end of the bag, to support it on whatever surface you choose to place it on. These don't really keep the bag out of the mud, but they look like a very sincere token gesture to protect the contents from ground moisture.


The bag isn't perfect. I would like to see it a half-inch taller. This would allow the pistol sleeve to fit easily into one of the interior side-pockets of the main compartment, and perhaps even into the large side pocket, without interfering with the zipper.

It might even allow 170mm magazines to fit into the magazine-carrier side pocket.

Even if this dimensional change isn't implemented, I can live with the pistol sleeve fitting imperfectly into the side or main compartment.

The biggest downside is the inability to accommodate long magazines in the magazine carriers. This could be resolved by either moving the series of magazine pockets lower in the side-pocket, or leaving the bottom of at least a couple of the magazine slots open at the bottom, so the long magazines could slide farther down and clear the zipper.

However, neither of these limitations detract significantly from the over all convenience and usability of the bag. It was designed to be a small, light bag that meets most of the requirements for most shooters, and it accomplishes that goal admirably.

For those who feel they NEED a larger bag, Target Barn also offers the Tournament Bag ($135) with larger dimensions (23x10x14" high!), greater capacity, but the same great durability, quality and accessories ... except the "pistol sleeve" is replaced with a "pistol bag", and the water bottle is included!

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