This is Part 4 of the spotlight on Austin Orgain, the winningest precision rifle shooter of the past 5-7 years. Austin Orgain is a two-time Precision Rifle Series (PRS) champion and has the highest total accumulated PRS points over the past 7 years. The PRS is the major league of competitive long-range shooting. Austin was the PRS Overall Season Champion in both 2020 and 2021. He was the 2017 National Rifle League (NRL) Season Champion and won the 2020 AG Cup. Frankly, if you had to name one guy that has consistently dominated precision rifle shooting over the past 5-7 years – that is Austin Orgain. (Learn more about Austin)
The previous article covered how Austin Orgain tests and trues his ballistics, and also how he calculates and writes down his dope card at a match. In this article, we’ll look at every single item Austin carries with him at a pro-level match and share when and how he uses different items. This includes things like what shooting bags he uses on different stages, what he uses for ranging & spotting, how he decides what stages to use a rear tripod on, and WHY. So, let’s dive in!
First, I’ll just show you a photo of everything he carries laid out and itemize what each item is, and then we’ll take them one by one and share why he thinks each thing is worth him carrying on his back over a mile or more while he’s at a big, national-level, two-day rifle competition.
- Armageddon Gear Tripod Caddy
- Really Right Stuff Versa Tripod TVC-33 MK2 SOAR Series 3 Tripod with RRS BH-55 Ballhead
- Gray Ops CNC AMP Elite Arca Multi-Plate + WieBad Mini Plate Bag
- Armageddon Gear Waxed Canvas OG Game Changer with Poly Fill
- WieBad Wax Canvas (WC) Mini Fortune Cookie with heavy sand fill
- Kydex Magazine Holster with Tek-Lok clip (similar to SAP mag carrier) + AI AICS 10-Round Magazine with 2-Round Extension
- Kydex Magazine Holster with Tek-Lok clip (similar to SAP mag carrier) + AI AICS 10-Round Magazine
- MDT AICS Magazine + Mag Extension
- Wiebad Rifle Caddie
- Custom JTAC Precision Rifle Training Leather Match Book Cover with clipboard inside
- Champion Vanquish Pro Elite Electronic Hearing Muffs
- Swarovski EL Range 10×42 Rangefinding Binoculars
- Blank Dope Cards
- Under Armour QB Wrist Coach
- Rite In The Rain 3” x 5” Weatherproof Spiral Notebook
- Chamber Brush (originally included with Glock pistol)
- Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics
- Orange Flagging Tape for Wind
- Silicone Bulb Air Blower/Duster
- Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Wipes
- Chamois Drying Towel
- Microfiber Towel
- Sharpie Retractable Ultra-Fine Tip Permanent Markers + Pen
- Chamber Flag (similar to SAP chamber plug)
- SAE Hex Key Set
- Lens Cleaning Pen
- Harley Davidson Motorcycle Goggles
Austin Orgain carries 2 primary shooting bags at a match, along with a plate/bag combo for niche situations.
Rear Bag: Armageddon Gear Waxed Canvas OG Game Changer with Poly Fill. Austin uses an OG size Game Changer, which is the larger/original size, as his rear bag when he is prone or in a modified prone position. Austin: “I’ve learned that I prefer a little bigger bag in the rear when I’m prone. I like the Game Changer because you can get it pretty flat if you don’t need much rear bag, or you can turn it up on its end if you need to take up a lot of space. So it’s a very versatile rear bag.”
Why do you like poly fill in your rear bag instead of sand? Austin: “I don’t like sand fill for a rear bag. I like the poly fill that has the little plastic beads in it for a rear bag. I feel like whenever I’m trying to use a rear bag with sand as I try to squeeze it so it takes up more space, the sand always feels like it is trying to fall out on me. A sand bag in the rear just doesn’t make me feel super steady. With a poly bead rear bag, when you squeeze it, everything seems to stay there where you want it to, and you do not have to keep squeezing a little more to keep your rifle where you want it.”
Positional Bag: WieBad Wax Canvas (WC) Mini Fortune Cookie with heavy sand fill. Austin uses this bag under his rifle’s fore-end when shooting off barricades, rocks, or other improvised shooting positions where you can’t use a rear bag. Austin: “I use the WieBad mini fortune cookie with sand fill for any type of positional shooting. I really like sand in a positional bag, but I’ve also been playing around with Wiebad’s new edge fill, which they came out with fairly recently. The edge fill is supposed to be similar to sand but helps in wet conditions. Sometimes, when a bag with sand in it gets wet or waterlogged, it gets really hard and doesn’t work very well to shoot off of. Imagine a sand castle that is packed really tight and almost turns into a brick. The edge fill is supposed to be better in the water, but so far, I still like the sand fill better if I’m going to be in dry conditions. I feel like the rifle sinks into the bag a little better, and the bag forms to it a little bit better.”
Specialty Plate Bag: Gray Ops CNC AMP Elite Arca Multi-Plate + WieBad Mini Plate Bag. Austin also carries a 3rd bag that straps onto a plate that can be attached to the arca rail on his rifle. The plate he has is the original model that Gray Ops CNC first came out with, and today, they call it the Gray Ops Amp Elite Multi-Plate – because it can be used in multiple ways.
Here are a few other uses for the Gray Ops Multi-Plate, which helps understand its name:
Austin said the way that he uses this plate/bag combo the most isn’t on his rifle or even while he’s shooting a stage. It is when it’s mounted directly to his tripod, and he rests his binos on top of the bag and uses it similar to a positional bag to steady his binos to find targets, watch wind downrange, and spot impacts for other shooters. Some people like to clamp their binos into a tripod, but resting them on top of a bag can make transitioning between targets faster and may take out more of the micro-vibrations from the tripod and help the optic be more steady.
But, Austin does occasionally use his plate/bag combo during a stage by attaching it to the arca rail on the fore-end of his rifle and using it as a front rest in places where getting a bipod steady on a barricade would be tricky or impossible. However, that doesn’t happen often during most two-day matches, so it’s a pretty niche scenario. I snapped the photo below at the 2022 Impact Foundation PRS match, and you can see Austin is supporting the front of the rifle with this plate/bag combo on the side of the truck bed. You can also see that he still has his Harris bipod attached and deployed just behind the plate/bag. On this stage, you had to shoot a few shots off the side of the truck bed, and then you had to transition to on top of the cab to engage additional targets that were way further and more in front of the truck. For shots off the side of the truck bed, Austin used the plate/bag combo in front and a rear bag on top of a tripod to support the butt. When he transitioned to the top of the cab, he used his bipod as the front rest and the same rear bag but simply in a modified prone position with the rear bag directly on the truck’s cab. While this is a niche scenario, I’d bet I see around 1 stage on average during a two-day match that you can approach like this. With practice, it can work very well, and it’s one way these pro shooters can pick up 1-2 points more on a stage.
It seems like the Gray Ops Mini Plate PRO is more popular at rifle matches, so why do you prefer the AMP Elite Multi-Plate model over that one? Austin: “I’ll be honest: I couldn’t tell you what model I had. It’s not necessarily that I prefer the one I use. It’s what I have! I got one pretty quickly after they released that original model, and it still works well for me.”
Tripod: RRS Versa TVC-33 MK2 Tripod with RRS BH-55 Ballhead
For a tripod, Austin runs the Really Right Stuff Versa Tripod TVC-33 MK2 SOAR Series 3 Tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ballhead. That is a tripod with 3 leg sections, so it is relatively compact when collapsed at 25.4” (excluding the ballhead). That means Austin’s tripod is an entire foot shorter when collapsed than the 38.2” collapsed length of the RRS TVC-22i MK2 Tripod, which is also very popular among precision rifle competitors.
Austin said during a match, he primarily uses the tripod for spotting when watching other shooters, but he does occasionally use it on the clock during a stage to help him get steady off certain props when shooting. When he uses it to support a rifle, that is almost always for some type of rear support and not necessarily locked directly into the rifle through an arca rail.
Do you think you use a tripod as a rear support more or less often than other pro shooters? Austin: “I’d bet I use a rear tripod maybe a touch more often than most pro shooters. But it really depends on the match. If it’s a match where shooters aren’t required to deploy the tripod on the clock and I’m shooting off a prop that has any wobble to it, then I almost always use a tripod as a rear support. But, if all of the barricades and props at a match are solid and not very wobbly, like at K&M, where they are almost all concreted in, then I probably won’t use a tripod on any of the stages. In some matches, the match director requires shooters to start a stage with a tripod fully collapsed, and then the shooter has to deploy it after their time starts. That can obviously eat up some of your time on a stage. So if a match requires you to completely deploy a tripod on the clock and it has 90-second par times on the stages, then it really comes down to a risk management decision. Would you get more points using the tripod to get really stable and risk timing out, or would it be better to go without a tripod and have more time to break shots? In that scenario, I might see if I could run the tripod in a low position so I didn’t have to waste time extending the legs and shoot a low position for the first 2-3 shots so I could really watch my impact and get my wind call. It is a lot harder to spot your shots on a wobbly prop because the prop moves as your rifle recoils, and it’s hard to recover and see anything. So in that kind of scenario, I weigh my options.”
Austin also runs an Armageddon Gear Tripod Caddy on his tripod, which was designed by PRS pro shooter to help you keep your match essentials organized (i.e., Kestrel, pens, matchbook, magazines, etc.). There is even a convenient fold-down workspace that provides a rigid surface where you can write down your dope as you calculate ballistics before a stage.
Rangefinder/Binoculars: Swarovski EL Range 10×42 Rangefinding Binoculars
For finding targets, checking distances, and spotting shots for other shooters at a match, Austin carries the Swarovski EL Range 10×42 Rangefinding Binoculars.
Austin: “I like having my rangefinder and optics for spotting all in one package, so I always have it together. The binos I carry are 10x, but I would really prefer to spot with 12-15x binos – but nobody makes a good rangefinder in binos with that higher magnification. We need a rangefinder with low beam divergence so we can precisely range long-range targets.” (Learn what beam divergence mean and why it matters.)
Austin: “I’ve tried and tried and tried to convince guys at Swarovski and Leica to make a 15x bino with their high-end rangefinder in them, which are both great rangefinders – but they don’t think they’d sell. But, I am thinking, ‘Dude, you just don’t know. This would be big.’ I think they’d sell. We have 7,000 PRS members now, and it’s not like you wouldn’t sell any to hunters. The 10x would still be more popular with hunters, but I bet you’d sell some 15x to some of them, too. So, what do the economics have to be for them to develop this? If I said you’d sell 1,500 of them, it seems like they’d turn around and do it right now. They already have all of the technology. They just need to develop something like the Swarovski SLC 15×56 with the rangefinder in it. With the manufacturing process they use, it doesn’t seem like that would be a huge challenge, and I think they’d sell WAY MORE than they needed to make the economics work. But I cannot talk them into doing it.”
- 15x magnification binoculars with high-quality glass
- Good rangefinder with low beam divergence (maybe <= 0.6 mils x 0.6 mils)
- A mil-based reticle offset to the side of the field of view so we can measure targets or give corrections
Someone will eventually make that product, and maybe this post will motivate someone to do it. I’m with Austin – I think it’ll surprise them how successful of a product it will be for them. I think the Extreme Long Range guys would also be another market interested in that product.
Do you range every target at a match? Austin: “I don’t range every target. If I watch 5 guys shoot a stage before me, and they’re hitting the center of a target, I’m not going to range it. But, I will range targets in a few scenarios:
- If I suspect there might be an issue with the range that’s in the matchbook. Let’s say that I’ve been watching another competitor shoot, and I know their data is good, and they’ve been hitting targets, but if they go over or under a target, I might double-check the range on it. If I see two guys miss over or under a target, I’ll absolutely check the distance.
- If it’s the first stage of the day, and none of the targets have been shot yet.
- If I wasn’t able to watch anyone else shoot the stage, and it’s getting close to my turn to go.”
Ballistics Solution: Hornady Ballistic App with 4DOF + Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics
To calculate his ballistics during a rifle match, Austin uses a combination of the 4DOF Calculator in Hornady’s free Ballistic app alongside a Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Station. Austin said he only uses the Kestrel to measure the wind at his position and gather all of the atmospheric data that he feeds via Bluetooth into the Hornady Ballistic app on his iPhone. Then, he uses the Hornady app to calculate his elevation and wind holds for each target on a stage because he says, “The Hornady app makes it super quick and easy to get the data I need.”
I published a ton of details in the last article on how Austin uses these and how he tests his ballistics and trues his velocity and bullet drag so his ballistic calculator lines up with his actual impacts in the field. It also covers exactly how he writes down his adjustments for elevation and wind for a PRS stage and how he uses it while he’s on the clock. I won’t rehash that stuff here, but it’s worth checking out!
Extra Bipod: MDT CKYE-POD Double-Pull Bipod
As mentioned in the article focused on his rifle setup, Austin primarily uses a Harris S-BRM 6-9” Bipod with RRS Harris Bipod Adapter & RRS Arca Mount. That is what he uses on most stages during a competition. But, he carries an MDT Ckyepod Double-Pull bipod in his pack that he pulls out in certain situations.
Austin: “There are certain matches where you have a lot of terrain that you have to deal with, and at that point, I run an MDT CKYE-POD bipod. Specifically, I like to carry a Ckypod Double-Pull bipod because it’s super versatile. Any time you can figure out a way to get the rifle on a bipod and a rear bag is good, and often, that Ckyepod Double-Pull will help you do that. Any time you are shooting down a lot of slopping grade, or you have to shoot up a steep hill or something like that, you just have a lot of adjustability with that Double-Pull. It’s just a good tool to have in your bag.”
Check out the article about Austin’s rifle setup for more details on Austin’s view of bipods, what feet he runs, and what he likes about each bipod.
Austin: “So I have some custom-molded, in-ear plugs, but for some reason, my ears seem to get super-waxy whenever I use those. So I don’t feel like I can wear them for long periods of time. So most of the time, I’m wearing the Champion Vanquish Pro Elite Electronic Ear Muffs, which are their higher-end ear pro with the softer ear cups and Bluetooth capability.”
Optics Cleaning Accessories
If you can’t see clearly out of your optic, your match is over. Pro shooters are trying hard to see every bullet impact so they can fine-tune their wind call and place the next shot even closer to the center of the plate. Austin carries a few things to clean his optics lenses.
Chamois Drying Towel & Microfiber Towel: These are to keep his gear clean and dry. The chamois will hold quite a bit of water and keep drying, and he said he might use the microfiber towel to wipe down his action and bolt at the end of the day.
Lens Cleaning Pen: This is a handy tool used by photographers. It has a soft retractable brush on one side to sweep away light dust and dirt and a natural chamois tip on the other to remove fingerprints and smudges. You’ll find lots of manufacturers that brand these, but typically, it always has the name “Lens Pen” somewhere in it.
Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Wipes: These are wipes with a little alcohol on them, so you can wipe lenses clean without leaving streaks or residue, and they’re guaranteed to not scratch lenses.
Silicone Bulb Air Blower/Duster: Austin said he’s found that using this “puffer” to blow air on a lens in order to remove dust or even get rain drops off your scope lens can often work better than trying to wipe off your lenses. If it’s raining, this is probably the tool he’s going to use most to keep water off his scope lens before a stage. Austin: “It really works better than anything.”
Tools & Spare Parts in His Pack
Here are all the tools Austin carries in his pack:
Chamber Brush: Austin uses this to clean his chamber if the match is really dusty. He said this nylon brush with the wire-looped handle that he carries was originally included with Glock 34 MOS pistol that he bought. Austin: “What you can do with that is if you ever get a case-head separation and part of a case gets stuck in your chamber, you can actually push that nylon brush into the chamber and pull that case out. I’ve never had that problem personally, but I’ve used it to help out guys who had issues with that. And you can also use it to clean out your chamber if it gets really grimy or dirty, but it’s more of an emergency tool.” (Learn about case-head separation.)
Do you normally clean your chamber during a match? Austin: “Not normally during a match. If it’s a really, really dirty/dusty match, occasionally I might clean it out with that chamber brush, but usually it’s between day 1 and 2 that I will use it to clean out the chamber. If it was dirty during day 1, I’m not going to clean my barrel between days, but I will probably clean out my chamber. And when I clean it between days, I don’t use that brush. I typically run a patch on top of a bore mop and run it up in my chamber to clean it out. I don’t put any solvent or anything on the patch. I may run it dry, or I sometimes I might put a little bit of lighter fluid on it to get any oil out, but for the most part, it’s just a dry patch to get the dust and stuff out of the chamber.”
SAE Hex Key Set: Austin carries an SAE hex key set (aka Allen wrenches).
When you travel to a match, do you carry a backup rifle or any spare rifle parts? Austin: “I almost always have an extra trigger and a hanger. Sometimes, I carry an extra bolt if I think about it. Realistically, if you have a trigger and a bolt, there isn’t much else that can go wrong with a rifle – other than maybe a scope. When I am flying, I don’t take an extra scope because I don’t want the extra weight. Generally, if you did have a scope go down, there is usually someone else there who might have a scope that you could use in a pinch. Other than those things, there isn’t a lot you can break on a rifle anyway. So I mostly just carry a bolt and a trigger.”
So you don’t carry a backup rifle with you to a match? Austin: “If we drive somewhere like the AG Cup or the PRS finale, I will take a backup rifle. But realistically, at least for me, if I had a rifle go down and it cost me an entire stage, then I’m probably not going to gain useable PRS points from that match anyway. Not that I’d quit the match, but if I had to borrow someone else’s gun, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But, at the AG Cup or the PRS finale, if I feel like my rifle isn’t shooting right during the sight-in day before the match starts, I may switch over to my backup rifle. In fact, when I won the AG Cup in 2020, I switched to my backup rifle on the sight-in day and won it with my backup rifle. They both shoot the same ammo, so I could take one batch of ammo for both rifles. It is just so hard to fly with two rifles because of the weight. I usually almost have 2 rifles ready to go, so if we drive, I may take them – but not if it’s a match that I need to fly to.”
Other Pack Items
2 Kydex AICS Magazine Holsters with Tek-Lok clip: Austin carries 2 of these on his belt at a match. He bought them when he first started shooting matches in 2015 and couldn’t remember the exact brand. They look very similar to the Short Action Precision mag carrier. (Note: Austin carries different magazines depending on if he’s using a 6 Dasher or 25 GT. To learn more about what magazines he uses in different scenarios, see this previous article.)
Wiebad Rifle Caddie: This product is designed to wrap around your rifle to keep the elements off your scope, action, and trigger.
Custom JTAC Precision Rifle Training Leather Match Book Cover: This is a custom leather cover with a clipboard inside that is the perfect size for a match book. Austin said someone else ordered these for him, and he thought they were made by someone locally in western Oklahoma but couldn’t remember who it was.
Under Armour QB Wrist Coach & Blank Dope Cards: This is the system Austin uses to write down his elevation and wind adjustments before a stage and then reference those while he’s on the clock.
Sharpie Retractable Ultra-Fine Tip Permanent Markers + Pen: For writing down his dope card before a stage.
Rite In The Rain 3” x 5” Weatherproof Spiral Notebook: If you’ve ever shot a match in the rain, you know how tough it can be to keep your stuff dry and have something to write on. This notebook is designed to work in the rain.
Chamber Flag: The chamber flag Austin carries is similar to the Short Action Precision chamber plug but is branded Hornady.
Orange Flagging Tape for Wind: I asked Austin if he tied this to his tripod, but he said he actually ties it to the lanyard hole on his Kestrel and then can more easily determine the exact wind direction.
Harley Davidson Motorcycle Goggles: Austin: “Those are actually Harley Davidson motorcycle goggles that I bought at the Harley Davidson store in Amarillo as we were headed to a match in New Mexico, back when there was one put on around Albuquerque. That fine dust would blow around so bad there. I use those for those kinds of matches where the wind blows really hard. It sucks whenever you are shooting into the wind, and you get dirt blowing in your face. It can make it really hard to spot your shots or even recover for the next shot if you get dirt blow in your eyes. So I’ll put those on and shoot in them in really dusty matches.”
Match Backpack: Eberlestock FAC Track Pack F3F
Austin uses the Eberlestock FAC Track backpack and said he has a couple of small pouches attached with molle to the outside to help him keep things organized.
Rifle Case: Pelican 1750 Rifle Case
If Austin is flying or needs to throw his rifle in the back of a pickup, he said he’d use this Pelican case. He has the foam cutouts inside for:
- His rifle with a Harris bipod attached
- A couple of magazines
- Double-pull Ckyepod
- Cleaning rod + chamber mop
Austin said if he’s just putting his rifle in the back seat of his pickup, he usually will just put it into the Armageddon Gear soft case he got as a gift at the AG Cup match two years ago.
Other Articles From Austin Orgain’s Shooter Spotlight
- Part 1: Intro to Austin & His Recent Experiment with the 25×47 and 25 GT
- Part 2: Austin’s Complete Rifle Setup
- Part 3: How Austin Trues His Ballistics & Calculates His Dope At A Match
- Part 4: Everything He Carries At A Rifle Match (this article)
- Part 5: Austin’s Reloading Setup & Process
- Part 6: Strategy & Shooting Tips
This is part of a series that is taking a deep dive with 6 of the most dominant precision rifle competitors in the world over the past several years. I’m calling it “What The Pros Use: Top Shooter Spotlights.” We’ll learn what gear they run and why they feel those things give them the best chance of winning. They also share lots of shooting tips and strategies along the way! (View which 6 shooters and what all will be covered.)
You also might be interested in checking out the shooter spotlight I recently published on Austin Buschman.
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