This article covers the shooting bags that the top precision rifle shooters in the country are running in long-range competitions, which has changed a ton in the past couple years! It’s based on a recent survey I conducted of the top-ranked shooters across the country in both the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and National Rifle League (NRL). (Learn more about the PRS & NRL). This is a very unique data set, because it includes a wide sample size (170+ shooters) who also happen to be the leading experts in the field. (View all the What The Pros Use articles)
There has been a TON of innovation in shooting bags over the past 5 years. Gone are the days of the sand sock! Today we have the luxury to pick from a ton of feature-packed bags, that can help you get steady from just about any awkward barricade or position match directors can dream up. 3 years ago when I wrote about the bags the pros were using almost all of them were box-shaped (see that post). Today some of the most popular bags are shaped liked saddles and udders! Read on to see what I mean.
The ability to improvise and create a steady shooting position is one of the top skills that separates these pros from the rest of the competitors. A huge part of that is having the right shooting bag and knowing how to use it! But, trying to using too many bags can also cost you, in time and/or complexity. I’ve been in a squad with some of the top shooters in the country, and I was struck by how often they simply run one bag on a stage to make building an improvised shooting position quick and easy. I’ve also seen (and been) a shooter who tries to use too many bags and it costs them. There is an art to finding the right balance, and I’ll try to speak more to that later in this post.
How I Asked About Bags
I conducted two surveys, one of the top shooters in the NRL and one of the top shooters in the PRS a couple of weeks later. I asked the same questions on both surveys, except when it came to shooting bags. I thought it’d give a little more insight if I asked about shooting bags from a couple different perspectives. I basically asked the top shooters in the NRL who made their favorite bag, and just gave them the option to specify one brand. If they could only pick one bag, what would it be? Then for the top shooters in the PRS, I asked how many bags they typically carried in competitions, and then allowed them to select the specific combination of bags they used. My hope was varying how I asked about the shooting bags would result in more insight, and I feel like it did. So let’s dive into the data!
Favorite Shooting Bag
The results below show what brand of bags the top shooters in the NRL said they’d pick as their favorite, if they could just pick one. Note: I asked a slight variation of this question to the top PRS shooters as well, and the brands and order of popularity was similar between both leagues.
The various colors on the chart represent the rank of the shooters. The darkest green represents the top 10 shooters, medium green is 11-25, and light green are 26th to 50th.
Armageddon Gear was by far the favorite among these shooters, with 42% of shooters saying they make their favorite bag, including most of the guys in the top 10. That probably doesn’t surprise anyone who has been to one of these kinds of matches. Their Game Changer Bag lives up to its name. In fact, the match director for one the largest matches in the world told me they had to redesign some of their stages to make them more difficult after the Game Changer bag came out, because that bag allows shooters to get very steady from positions that used to be tough. Think about that statement for a minute! The Game Changer basically allows you to straddle a barricade and create a wide/flat, soft shooting platform from virtually any surface.
By adding a simple saddle design to a bag, the Game Changer brought a whole new level of versatility to shooting bags. I’ve seen it be used in matches and hunting situations to get a steady rest of just about anything you can imagine. The bag is approximately 6″ wide x 9″ long x 7″ tall. The latest version has straps that allow you to attach it to the rifle, and handles on both ends to give you something to grab and easily move to another position. The bag weighs around 5.5 pounds, which is heavier than bags have been traditionally, but the added weight helps it stay in place and naturally form around whatever you put it on. The latest version also features a zipper that allows you to replace the fill to adjust the weight to your preference.
I created the collage below to show a few ways the Game Changer bag can be used as a rear bag or up front under rifle’s forend. Notice the rifles are balanced in all of these photo, with no shooter there to hold it in place, which just shows how well these bags can support a rifle. (Note: Some shooters run longer, heavy barrels so the balance point of the rifle is just forward of the magazine.)
While Reasor Precision was the original designer of the Game Changer bag, Armageddon Gear is now the official and exclusive producer of the bag. There has been some confusion over that in the past, but Clifton Reasor contacted me recently to let me know he is merely a consultant for AG and he asked that the results for Reasor Precision be combined with AG. He said AG is responsible for the distribution and service of the current bag, as well as any legacy bags originally purchased from Reasor, so he wanted to ensure AG got credit for all their hard work. There are now several version of Game Changer bags in various sizes, features, and colors.
Other popular bags from Armageddon Gear are the Large Fat Bag, the Chinese Cheater Bag, and the X Wing Rear Bag.
The 2nd most popular brand was Wiebad shooting bags, with 17% of these top shooters saying they made their favorite bag . Wiebad makes a wide variety of bags, but the most popular among this group are the Pump Pillow, Todd Tac Pad, and the Fortune Cookie. The Pump Pillow is a larger bag that helps to fill large voids in your body position to create more points of contact, which can help you get MUCH more steady. While it is fairly large, it weighs less than 1.5 pounds due to Wiebad’s featherlight fill. Wiebad even offers a modular version of this bag that allows you to remove pouches of fill to adapt the size/tightness of the bag in the field. The Todd Tac Pad is a medium size bag that is somewhere between the Pump Pillow and a more traditional size rear bag, which makes it one of the most versatile bags in this lineup. It can be used as a rear bag for viagra or as a positional bag. The Tac Pad and Pump Pillow both feature elastic straps that allow you to wear the bag on your arm, or attach it to your rifle. Finally the Fortune Cookie bag is similar to the Game Changer, and is also very versatile.
Bison Tactical was the next most popular brand of shooting bag, with 15% of the top shooters saying it was their favorite. Their Tactical Udder Field Bag has taken the Game Changer concept one step further by essentially creating 4 legs with a flat top. That four-legged design makes the bag resemble an udder on a dairy cow, so I appreciate Bison Tactical calling a spade a spade. This is another versatile bag that can be used to create a stable shooting platform off just about any barricade. The Tactical Udder bag is relatively heavy at 6.5 pounds, but that added weight helps it stay in place on barricades, and it can be adjusted to your preference.
15% of shooters said the Short Action Precision Run n’ Gun Bag was their favorite. This is a super-lightweight bag at just 6.5 ounces. It is smaller (7″ x 4.5″ x 3″), like a traditional rear bag, but the adjustable buckle strap and grippy surface on one side make this bag more than just a rear bag. The flush cup tether is also a very handy feature, because it allows you to attach it to your chassis/stock so it travels with you hands-free, and because it weighs just 6.5 ounces you won’t even notice it’s there – until you need it. SAP also makes a traditional, cylindrical bag called the Solo Sack that one shooter mentioned.
Warhorse Development’s Saracen 4-Legged Bag was the favorite of 4% of these top shooters. It weighs 5.4 pounds and is about 7” tall and 8” square on top of the bag. It can be used in many scenarios: tank traps, fences, rocks, tires, regular rear bag, over the top of a tripod, fence post, logs, and the list goes on. The photo of it below shows a shooter employing a “free recoil” technique, which is a popular approach when using a big bag like this, or others like the Game Changer. To learn more about how it works, watch this instruction video from veteran Jim See on Free Recoil.
Those represent all the bags that were mentioned as a favorite by more than 1 shooter, but there were a few others mentioned among those surveyed that are worth checking out: TAB Gear Shooting Bags, and BLAMM Power Wedge Shooting Bag.
# of Bags They Carry
So how many bags do these guys carry during a match? That’s a great question! I asked the top shooters in the PRS that, and here is what they said:
Most shooters carry either 2 or 3 bags. More specifically, 52% of the shooters surveyed said they carry 2 bags and 32% said they typically carry 3 bags. Those combine to represent 84% of these top marksmen. One interesting point was that 80% of the guys who finished in the top 10 carry 2 bags. Only 11% of the shooters just carry 1 bag, and only 5% carry 4 or more bags.
Most Popular Combo Of Bags Carried
Finally, I asked the top 125 shooters in the PRS what specific combination of bags they carried in matches. I basically gave them a list of brands and allowed them to select as many as they’d like. Here are the results of that question:
That list should look familiar, because it’s largely the same bags and order of popularity we saw in the NRL towards the top of this post. You can see 63% of the shooters said one of the bags they carried was from Armageddon Gear (or Reasor Precision), which was most likely the Game Changer bag. In fact, 9 out of the top 10 shooters in the PRS were running at least one Armageddon Gear bag. Of the few people who said they carried just one bag, just over half of them were carrying the Game Changer. If you’re going to just carry one bag that design seems like a great option.
The most popular combinations of bags carried by these top shooters were:
- 1 bag from Armageddon Gear and 1 from Wiebad: Based on my experience at matches, I’d suspect that was an Armageddon Gear Game Changer for use as a rear bag and off barricades, along with a Wiebad Pump Pillow to help fill large voids and create more points of contact in improvises shooting positions.
- 2 bags from Armageddon Gear (like a Game Changer and a Fat Bag for positional shooting)
- 2 bags from Wiebad (like a Fortune Cookie or a Tac Pad along with a Pump Pillow)
How About You? What’s Your Favorite Bag?
There are so many bags on the market, it’s hard to keep up with all of them! Have you found a bag that you love to use? Share it in the comments!
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So I’m guessing all of these bags (when used in competitions) are filled with plastic beads to keep weight down but still maintain stability. No?
I dunno if I can see myself using something as large and heavy as the A.G. Game Changer bag.
Plus, I think a rules change limiting size and weight pf bags should be adopted. Things are getting a bit crazy now.
Certainly no hunter (without a gun bearer, that is) or soldier would carry a big bag into the field. If a pack for a rest can’t cut it then something’s wrong. Jus’ sayin’…
Hey, Eric. The weight of the fill that is used varies wildly. They were primarily featherlight fill, but the Game Changer, Rifles Only bags, and a few others come with a heavier fill (maybe more appropriate to call a mid-weight fill, because it’s not like lead shot or anything). You can change out the fill on some bags. I’ve personally bought a big bag of Micro Bead Filler off Amazon, which is SUPER-lightweight. It feels very similar to what comes in the Wiebad bags.
There are plenty of bags that are super-lightweight and can absolutely be carried in the field for applications like hunting. I personally carry a Sand Sock Gear Medium Bag with me when hunting, which weighs just 8.8 ounces! It can be used as a rear bag, a small positional bag, or can also be used under the forend across a tree branch, on a window sill, or fence post to help you get steady.
The Wiebad Todd Tac Pad would be one size up from that, and that added size can help you get steady from a few additional positions. I just ran out to my shop and weighed mine, and it is just 13 ounces. If someone scoffs at a pound, I’d suggest they consider losing a pound off their mid-section and then they could add this to their pack!
It’s funny how we debate over ounces. I’ve noticed even the Gunwerks guys have started carrying small rear bags with them in the field hunting. Now, they aren’t carrying a big, 5 pound bag … so I agree with you there. I typically don’t do that either. I did carry a Game Changer with me when I took my daughters to hunt out of a blind, because it is pretty ideal for getting a steady rest out of a window. But I don’t hunt out of a blind typically, and don’t carry a heavy bag with me on a spot-and-stalk hunt.
A pack can be a great bag for positional stuff, and could replace something like a Pump Pillow or the Large Fat Bag to fill voids in body position and create additional points of contact, especially if minimizing gear is the goal. I totally agree with that. But you should try out one of the Game Changers, and use it at a few matches in a row … then tell me you think you’ll just use your pack. It can be surprising how steady those bags allow you to get. I went to practice today and I was hitting 2 MOA targets on-demand at 600 yards in 12-16 mph winds, standing and just resting my rifle on top of a T-post … good luck doing that without a bag like the Game Changer! And that isn’t one of those crazy, unrealistic positions match directors think up. That is something I could totally use hunting coyotes out here in West Texas. Often times a T-post is the only thing standing high enough above the grass to get a clear shot, and I have confidence making that shot if I have a Game Changer with me … or my tripod. I could smoke a dog a long way off either way.
I get that competitors can go overboard with huge bags. When it comes to the highest levels of competition, there will always be specialty equipment that may not make sense in real-world applications. But, I’d be cautious to think some of this couldn’t be applicable to practical, hunting scenarios … or even in military applications. At the very least, don’t dismiss the idea before you try it. It could be a Game Changer. 😉 (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
So now you’re getting to the stuff I need to buy. Cal, me and a buddy are taking a long distance class in April and among many things, I need a better rear bag. I was thinking of a rabbit ear bag. All shooting will be from the prone position, no positional shooting. Distances will be from 100-1000 yards. From your first comment, you would seem to be in favor of the Armageddon Gear bags. Could you distill your recommendations and experience and recommend a bag or two for only a rear bag in prone shooting?
Also, I’m interesting in a scope/picatinny rail level and a holder for a DOPE card. Thoughts on those products?
Thank you for the time you put into this blog. There is more information here than can be consumed.
If you’re just going to be prone, I’d probably suggest the SAP Run N’ Gun bag or the TAB Gear Straight Laced Bag. Those would be my pick. I also know lots of guys prefer a simple bag like the TAB Gear Rear Bag or Accuracy 1st Shooting bag, if you’re only going to use it as a rear bag.
On the Dope Card, I like Hawk Hill’s dope card holder. For a level, I prefer the Accuracy 1st scope level. It’s curved design makes it more precise and responsive than other traditional/flat bubble levels.
Hope this helps, Joe!
Thanks for another great article. I really appreciate your data driven, in other words fact based approach.
On an off subject I’ve noticed noticed you have recently changed to “Protected Content” web pages. I’m sure there is a good reason for the change but for the user it’s a PITA. An example is in order to use your useful web links throughout the article I can no longer right click on the hyperlink and open it in a new tab or window. It requires leaving your web page and then reloading the page to return. A minor inconvenience but worth mentioning. Can’t even correct a misspelled word here in the comments via right click. There are many features that are locked out.
Thanks again. Can’t wait for the next article.
Hey, Capt. Thanks for the kind words. As for the “Protected Content” stuff, I hope to find something that is a little less invasive at some point … but long story short, I’m having problems with people copy-and-pasting my posts and republishing them on their own website. It’s actually pretty inconvenient for me too, so I get it! I provide a little more context in this comment: https://precisionrifleblog.com/2019/01/28/best-gunsmith/#comment-67977
First bag I bought when I got into this game a couple years ago (only regional thus far) was the Gamechanger from AG. In fact, I ordered it shortly after my second match. Since then, I’ve added a Traust pump pillow/satchel and rear bag to my kit and couldn’t be happier. Eventually, I would like to add a Blamm Powerwedge for the narrower barricades where a Gamechanger isn’t usable. Another advantage would be that it doesn’t add any weight or bulk to my pack since it can be left on the rifle in most scenarios.
Thanks for taking the time to do these surveys, it’s fun and interesting to know what others are using, as well as hearing about some products that aren’t as well known.
Thanks for the comments, David. Sounds like you bought right the first time! I have a pile of bags in my shop that I’ve tried over the years. To me, this is kind of like a concealed carry holster … you will probably have to try a couple before you find the one that you prefer.
And I love looking at this stuff too. It’s educational for me! To me it’s like walking down the line at the range and talking to guys about what they’re running. It just starts interesting conversations, and in the end I always end up learning something. Sometimes I haven’t heard of some of these products, and have to do some research or talk to the shooter who mentioned it to get some insight. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can contact these guys directly, and while I try to be very respectful of their time, I also am trying to share what I can with the community.
Glad to hear you’ve found it helpful. Thanks for taking the time to share what you’re running.
Awesome write up as always. I always carry my trusty AG Game Changer for positional stuff and my old TAB Gear rear bag for prone. Hoping to try to new XL X-wing from Armageddon Gear here soon. Carrying those 2 bags always worked great for me.
Thanks, Robert! I appreciate you chiming in. That sounds like a great combo to me.
Of these bags, do you have a set you’d recommend which could be filled and emptied on the fly? I’m thinking a rear and front bag set that can double as pouches for clothes, etc, on an ultralight hike.
That’s an interesting idea, Derek. There are some big bags that have a zipper, so you could probably use them like that. I use the modular pump pillow, which features 5 pouches that you could add/remove to customize the size of it. My idea was that you could take a few out and it’d be the equivalent of the Todd Tac Pad. Now, it would still have a lot of extra material, so it’s not quite that ideal … but it works as a pretty flexible solution. I’m sure there are other big bags with zippers, so you might look around. I’d think that would be just about all you’d need to be able to do what you’re talking about.
Thanks! It’s pretty awesome to make the list. Especially, for a hard headed Marine in rural Montana to make it, that’s pretty dang good in my book.
Hey, Chas! Yeah, man. That is a cool looking design you have. Crazy to see how much bags have evolved over the past couple years! I appreciate you contributing to that, and giving us all another good option.
Thank you for the recommendations Cal.
As usual, this was a great research article. I have been waiting on this one and really appreciate your efforts and the details included in your writing.
You bet, Al! I appreciate you taking the time to give me the feedback and let me know it hit the spot!
Cal, This is a well written article. Great job!
Congratulations to all of the shooting bag manufacturers for making this very competitive list. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to produce great products that lead to positive results. If you are looking for an Ultra Light Filler Bead that is Made in America to fill your bags, check out http://www.spexlite.com. SpexLite(R) Ultra Light Filler Beads are water resistant, dust free and very durable. We have various fills that will stand up to all of your shooting requirements. If you are interested in reducing the weight of your shooting bag so you can focus on executing the perfect shot, email us at email@example.com or call us at 440-462-1500.
Best of luck,