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.
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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