A well-stocked range bag can often make or break a trip to the range. With the right tools and gear on hand, a day slinging lead can be an enjoyable and successful experience. On the other hand, under packing can cause plenty of headaches and heartaches, not to mention wasted time and money. Knowing the essential supplies to pack is vital to ensure pistol shooters get the most out of their day at the range; therefore Guns.com has put together our list of top items to pack in your range bag when pistol shooting is on the agenda.
1. Hearing and eye protection
Though hearing and eye protection seem like an obvious choice for range bag essentials, the number of shooters that show up without is striking. A necessity to protect both eyes and ears from the effects of shooting, hearing and eye pro come in many shapes and forms.
While foam inserts will certainly do the trick and offer an affordable means of protection, electronic earmuffs — like the Impact Sport by Honeywell — do an even better job to prevent that all too familiar ringing after a couple hours on the range. Despite their improvements, electronic earmuffs do suffer a fatal flaw in the way of batteries, so don’t forget to pack a spare set.
Eye protection, like hearing pro, comes in a variety of styles and lens colors so users can customize what looks and feels best for them. For those of us sporting regular glasses, prescription range glasses by SportRX offer a prescription-based alternative to standard, every day glasses. Alongside eye protection, a few packages of eye glass cleaner thrown into the range bag will help keep lenses clean from oil, dust and grime while on the range.
2. Pistol cases, ammo and spare mags
With eyes and ears packed, it’s also a good idea to bring a pistol case, ammunition and spare mags along for the range ride. If possible, I prefer to tote my unloaded handguns in their original case so as to keep all necessary parts together; however, for guns that ship in cardboard boxes, I forgo the cardboard for a small pistol case. Lugging the guns in an actual gun container keeps firearms in place and prevents any scratching or scraping from other accessories I might have packed in my bag.
Ammunition is also a good idea to bring unless you plan to shell out top dollar prices at the range (that is, if your range even has ammunition on hand). Planning ahead and estimating the amount of ammo you need, as well as the type, will make any range trip go much smoother.
We can all agree that loading mags is the worst part of heading to the range but tossing a few extra mags into the mix allows for mag change drills and longer stints of shooting in between loading. Plus, it gives you one or two extras should a problem arise.
3. Portable cleaning kits and multi-tool
A portable cleaning kit is handy to have for times when you need to do a quick emergency cleaning. Stocked with the bare essentials, kits like the Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit, usually offer a small assortment of brushes and rifle rods. Paired with a small bottle of Hoppe’s or other cleaning oil, shooters can efficiently take care of cleaning on the go. Best of all, these portable handgun cleaning kits are affordable with most coming in under $25.
In addition to a cleaning kit, a multi-tool is also good to stow in a range bag. Sporting a variety of useful tools in a compact package, multi-tools like Leatherman or Gerber provide shooters with the means to tweak accessories or even cut packaging while on the range.
4. First aid kit
Whether you purchase a pre-made kit or make one yourself, every range bag should house a small first aid kit that is decked out in orange or red for easy visibility and is readily accessible. A good first aid kit should include the following supplies: band aids of various sizes, gauze pads, medical tape, gloves, antiseptic wipes, first aid cream, CPR mask, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen.
In addition to standard first aid gear, it’s advisable to also pack a CAT tourniquet. Relatively easy to apply, these simple devices have been shown to greatly increase the chance of surviving a gunshot wound to the extremities.
A must have if you intend on seeing exactly where your shots are landing, targets are easy to come by. From zombies to silhouettes to shapes, there’s plenty of variety in the world of targets; however, if you prefer to save a few bucks, there’s templates online so you can print them off at home. Colored paper and/or paper plates also make great DIY targets on the cheap.
When shooting outdoors, and with the permission of the range master, other household items can be used as targets to spice up practice. Aside from water bottles and fruit, which make an impactful display when shot, balloons are also an excellent way to get outside the paper target routine.
Bonus: UpLula, holsters, mag pouches, belt
Though the above are what we consider must have items, there’s a few other supplies that can make a shooting trip more efficient and fun. The UpLula by MagLula is a great addition to a range bag, helping shooters easily and quickly load magazines. Bringing along a sturdy gun belt, holster and mag pouches allows shooters to practice drawing and concealment drills, if the range allows. At the very least, mag pouches come in handy to keep spare magazines at the ready.
Though Guns.com has painstakingly compiled our list of top things to bring, it’s important to remember that our list is not all inclusive and will not reflect the needs of shooters in adverse conditions. It’s always recommended to study up on the environment in which you’re shooting to ensure no extra supplies (such as sunscreen, hats, or gloves) are needed.