Cowboy Blob's Saloon and Shootin Gallery

I'm not a real Cowboy, but I play one in the movies.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Stuff to Stuff Your Stuff In

Reader Homebru asked me to do up an article on "trip to the range equipment," seeking advice on eye and ear protection, shooting mats, jackets, etc. I'm not going to be much help with a lot of what he's looking for, because I don't spend much time on the rifle range and when I do, it's often with improvised equipment. (Someday, I'll have to do a real range report on the SOCOM-16.) With that in mind, I'm writing this with a mind toward competition equipment and goodies for those of you who might be interested in gun games.

The two most vital articles of equipment are eye and ear protection. I guard my precious eyeballs with shooting glasses by Hoppes. They came with three lenses: dark tint for sunny days, amber tint for low-light (like twilight), and clear for cloudy days. I've never used the clear lens! Any glasses made to resist high impact particles are good, but I wouldn't wear shop goggles, because they'll fog up pretty quickly. Believe me, I know...I've played maverick paintball. I've got a pair of standard earmuffs and a broken pair of Dillon electronic muffs (gotta see if they can repair a small plastic piece), but in the long Arizona summertime, I don't like my ears bathing in sweat, so I use foamy ear inserts. The great thing about disposable foamies is that you can just throw them into the washing machine with the laundry and take them out of the drier as good as new! I keep mine in a small, clean container to keep them close to sterile.

If you're going to play the Gun Games (IDPA, IPSC), you'll need a holster and magazine pouches or holders to accomodate at least 30-40 rounds (more is good). Fobus makes a great, inexpensive paddle holster for just about any production handgun. Their belt-loop mag holders are hard to find, but I love them because too many paddles down my pants makes them slide down. If you're shooting Limited or Open class in IPSC, magazine extensions can delay or obviate your need to reload. Here is a Glock +2 bumper and an Arredondo +5 pad. The mags are Glock factory; the orange one is a police-surplus high-visibility training magazine. I so want to paint tiger stripes on it!

By the way, that's my nightstand and travelling gun, a G-23 with Trijicon night sights and extended mag and slide releases. I retired it from competition after I got a Glock 22. The mags shown are G-22.

If you're shooting Limited 10, you need more than one set of double mag holders. I have an odd set of Dillon (left) and Safariland holders. I usually start a stage with three or four Chip McCormick Power 10 mags and one MecGar 8-rounder to top the gun off before loading.

Again, I went with the cheap Fobus holster...because I'm cheap.

If you're a revolver enthusiast, now you're talking about some specialized stuff! You can clip the individual moon clip (or speedloader) holders to your pants belt, but the Safariland rigid outer belt here is the way to go! The belt carries the holders and holster and attaches by velcro to an inner belt (not shown) worn through your pants belt loops. The holster is Safariland and is made for the belt (though I've worn it on a regular belt). I keep the Brownell's de-mooning tool (upper right) in my range box.

Now that you've got the basic equipment, a range bag or box is better than carrying your other stuff in a cardboard box. Dillon Precision makes great bags purpose-made for the range, but long ago I discovered Borame camera bags at the Rose Bag Shop, Songtan, South Korea, right outside Osan Air Base. This is a camcorder bag with the velcro separators removed. It's semi-rigid and usually carries my knee- and elbow-pads, shotshell bandolier, and other bulky items. The front pouch can hold a handgun, but I packed mine with sunscreen, Q-tips, extra foamies, extra lens, Chapstick, cleaning rods, a Swiss Army knife, and packages of Wet-Naps for washing my hands. I don't use it for any handgun but my revolver, because I usually take advantage of Arizona's Open Carry law. No way am I wearing that revolver rig while I'm driving!

My hard range box carries heavy stuff like magazines and ammunition. This is an ItsaBox I won at my first Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun. It's another fine production available through Dillon Precision, who is the Big Name Sponsor for the event. Conceivably, you could even use a surplus .50 cal. ammo can for this purpose, but this box was free...and it's lighter!

If you're shooting 3-Gun, there are some nice accessories to speed up your game. Jon is a model for Buchanan Bagworks in this shot: he's wearing their double mag pouch with a T-bar extension to secure his M1A mags to his thigh. Though he's not shooting riotgun in this stage, he's found that their vertical shotshell bandolier makes a great suspender! All that stuff on your belt can make for an embarassing moment! Jon rounds out his ensemble with a chic desert camo boonie hat as he wisely avoids putting his super-duper muzzle brake into the barrel.

Having suffered droopy-drawers last month (all the weight I've lost was in my ass, evidently), I sewed some buttons inside the waistband of a pair of shorts and attached a set of my cowboy suspenders. They worked great! I'm carrying a spare M1A mag in my back pocket because I haven't bought a rig like Jon's yet. Maybe with all this big Blog exposure, Buchanan Bagworks will send me a free one?

The glove on my left hand is USAF-issue Nomex, handy for handling hot firearms and steel targets in the summertime and for preventing cuts to my hand while racking the slide of Box o' Gun.
Oh, by the way...I'm not drawing on some lowdown, mangy, varmint...I'm putting the brakes on after forgetting my rifle at the table. More on that fun after the scores are posted.

Since I'd brought half my Springfield collection on this day, I wore my Springfield Armory T-shirt. If representatives on any of the companies mentioned today wish to contact me for lucrative commercial endorsements, drop a line to cowboyblob--at--yahoo--dot-com and I'll reply with an address to which you can send the checks.

Postscript: Just because I use inexpensive match equipment doesn't mean I have no appreciation for fine gun leather. I own some Dillon, and several Galco holsters, and one nice Kramer IWB rig, but I prefer the simplicity of Fobus for my Limited Class guns. The above article in no way addresses my preferences for concealed carry, except on match days when I indulge in open or "sloppily concealed" carry.

Submitted to the Carnival of Cordite.


  • At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Excellent post. Thanks.

    I'll be on the lookout for a set of the Hoppes glasses. To date, all of my shooting has been outdoors and on impromptu ranges. But, times change, and the Forest Service with it, so those days are gone.

    I don't have a dedicated "gun range" bag. I have a canvas bag that I call my "day bag". Since it also goes on fishing trips and picnics, it has most of the non-gun accessories you listed as well as a paperback copy of "Birds of Texas", compact binoculars, a contact lens care kit, a plastic poncho, and a corkscrew.

    I normally draw ammo for the trip from inventory and, as you suggested, transport it in an old 50-cal ammo box.

    Glad to know that I'm not the only packrat. Now who else can we get to do this?

    Hey, your last picture - what is he holding out at arm's length? I see lot's of pictures with observers holding something like that.

  • At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hate Blogger. Keeps dropping my handle.

  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Cowboy Blob said…

    I've got three camera bags ranging from the big one shown (which I use for 3-Gun) down to a little one I use when I'm only taking out one to the range.

    If you're more interested in rifles, there are several "Boomershooters" on my Blogroll: Analog Kid at Random Nuclear Strikes or Benjamin at Reasonablenut. If you're really ambitious, try the forum at Nation of Riflemen or contact Kim du Toit himself.

    The range officer is holding a shot-actuated timer, which records the elapsed time of the the latest shot fired.

  • At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the referral, Cowboy. I'll take that as a compliment.

    BTW, I could find a track back for this post you got here, but I linked to it and wrote sort of an addendum of my own on range gear boxes.


  • At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    GRRRR, that should read 'Couldn't find a trackback'.

  • At 7:00 AM, Anonymous galco holster said…

    that's really a fantastic post ! ! added to my favourite blogs list.


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