Okay, so yes. This is the Gucci of Firearms Gear. I don’t know of any firearms gear more highly priced that is currently on the market. But is it worth it? The tl;dr is: Yes, with some caveats.
I am a pack connoisseur. I have a garage full of packs like my wife has a closet full of shoes–I have different ones for different occasions. And I have tried a ton. I have also wrecked a ton.
All of the range bags I have used are nothing more than cloth buckets, some with dividers and pouches, but all basically just a big area with little (or no) thought to organization. The rifle bags I have used are generally a zippered sleeve (5.11 Double Rifle Case the exception). The zippers are generally subpar. The stitching is weak. Just a general lack of quality. So when GORUCK announced that they were doing a line of Firearms Gear, I was definitely intrigued. I am a fan GORUCK (though not to the level of some of the “followers”). I’ll admit it. I love their packs. I own their two main packs the GR1 and GR2. I have a Bullet Ruck and also a Sandbag. All of their gear is solid, in my opinion. And they have an awesome warranty which has been heavily tested and vetted–over a thousand Challenges that have run their gear with very few returns/replacements. And that is the reason that I backed the Pre-Sale–I had enough faith in the company and the products to invest in an early release of gear.
The biggest downside to GORUCK products (pretty much all of them) is the price. They are definitely a premium product. But they are 100% made in the US (which of course will always be more expensive than something produced in Southeast Asia). And when you send a message (or have a question) they get back to you pretty immediately; sometimes it is even the owner (Jason McCarthy) making the contact. They also employ a huge number of veterans and do their best to “do right by people”. So, yeah, I’m willing to pay extra to support that type of company–especially when their products back up the hype. I’m also at the point where I am willing to pay more money to have a quality piece of gear, rather than take a chance on having to replace it every couple of years.
So, the GORUCK Fireams Gear. It was announced as a “pre-sale” to gauge interest–kind of like a Kickstarter, but run by GORUCK themselves. The hardcore fanboys, of course, jumped on it. I decided to throw in because I really wanted some quality gear to transport my firearms in. As I mentioned in a previous post, I destroy gear, and I’ve now been through my fourth range bag. The pre-sale had a breath-taking price; it was d*** expensive. The initial bags were all preconfigured with pouches (small/medium caliber or large caliber), or you could purchase the “Everything Bundle” and get absolutely everything (which is what I did, and I also ordered an additional Pistol Case). There were some promotional videos that demonstrated the gear. So overall I bought into the idea based on about three paragraphs of text, a couple of videos, and my history with their other products. The bags were loosely promised to ship around Thanksgiving of 2014, and GORUCK came through within a week of that, seeing a larger number of pre-sales than they had anticipated.
I got mine in and started loading all of the bags up. And immediately started getting annoyed. I even had a couple of my peeps play with the gear too, just to make sure I wasn’t completely daft. The initial conclusion was “Meh. It’s okay gear, but not for that price.”
So, I decided to reach out to GORUCK. This was my first experience with any of their products where I was less than satisfied with the purchase. I have a point of contact (at GORUCK Headquarters) that I hoped could put me in touch with the right people. He said he was forwarding my info to Tyler (the designer of the gear) and let me know that Tyler was pretty busy. Okay, no worries. After I week, I heard nothing back, so I followed up. Still nothing. So I posted on a Facebook GORUCK group I knew he was a member of and finally got a quick ping from him. He was traveling and would get with me the next day. And that was all I heard. I felt like I was, for the first time, getting the run around with a company that I had been an ardent support of for years. And I made that frustration known. And I finally got a response from Tyler which was commensurate with my level of annoyance. He called me directly and gave me an earful… 🙂
That has been, singly, the BEST conversation I have ever had with a representative of any company. The tone immediately told me couple of important facts. Tyler was not going to give me customer service fluff, and that I had touched off a nerve, which meant (to me) he was truly passionate about this gear. After a few minutes we had de-escalated, and he started breaking down the concept (and vision) for the Firearms Gear line. See, Tyler is a former SF guy, and he currently does a number of things including consulting for movies, acting small parts (Snitch and a CoD commercial as well being featured in a documentary: That Which I Love Destroys Me), training others in firearms skills, and contributing to the firearms industry in a number of other ways. His world revolves around consulting the topic of firearms. And like many others that spend more time with firearms than not, he identified a gap in his system.
We spend a ton of money on guns, optics and accessories, but we skimp on things in which to transport them. We expect high quality workmanship from the hardware itself, but then we store it in poorly thought out storage containers. We store it based on the design someone else thought of without any real ability to customize it for our personal setup (and if you scoff at the idea of custom setups, I implore you to visit a 3-Gun competition).
Working at GORUCK, Tyler had access to not only quality workmanship and materials but a wealth of manufacturing expertise, and as the Director for the GORUCK Firearms Training programs, he pitched the idea to Jason. This project became Tyler’s baby and he poured a huge amount of time and effort into the components.
The initial vision included at least five containers (rather than the three initially offered). The ones that made the initial cut were the “Discreet Rifle Case”, the “Pistol Case”, and the “Pistol Rug” The additional ones included a traditional bucket style range bag and a full length rifle case. Tyler also efforted out a huge number of specific pouches, anchors and accessory attachments as part of the umbrella that would encompass the “Firearms Gear”. Some of the items are sized to hold tools. Some are sized to hold certain sizes of boxed ammo. Some are pouches that can hold eye/ear pro. How about a holster insert? Magazine pouches? Somewhere north of 60 different individual components. The point is that no one person’s configuration is optimal for everyone. So why build something that forces a specific setup when you can design a system that can be adapted to a personal preference or use case?
So why did GORUCK do a pre-sale for the Firearms Gear? Well, GORUCK, being a “new” manufacturer (and not having a history with scaled production) got burnt in their early days. They overproduced certain styles of products they thought everyone would jump on, and ended up with a huge warehouse of stuff they couldn’t easily move. As Tyler had mentioned to me, the Firearms Gear has over 60 individual SKUs, multiplied by the color offerings. So based on lessons learned from previous experience it was decided that Tyler would need to come up with a set of “packages” that would match the greatest number of configurations possible to simply reduce the risk with an untested product line. And this is where it began to depart from his stated vision, in my opinion. Logistically, it would be a nightmare to try and guess what pouches, anchors, and attachments to construct in what quantities for an initial rollout. Not to mention that each item has a certain degree of complexity in it’s construction (meaning it would take an inordinate amount of the sewing resources for GORUCK to create enough of everything to cover all of the potential configurations–it has to be limited by some sort of feedback). So the instruction was to come up with something that should work for most people. And therein lies the initial problem. The offering was now not much different than what other manufacturers were offering–a pre-set idea (albeit more configurable), except at a higher price tag.
And that is where it broke down for me. It seemed a lot more configurable in the promotion videos. And some of the things demonstrated just did not “survive contact with the enemy”. The proverbial straw that broke it for me was not being able to seat the Pistol Rug in the Discreet Rifle Bag (as was demonstrated in the video and was actually one of the major tipping points that convinced me to invest in the gear). It just didn’t work. And that is ultimately what initiated my call to GORUCK. Sure, I could have gutted some of the other bags to get enough pouches and anchors to setup things as I wanted, but that was not the point. With my initial investment, I was locked into a limited set of configurations without the ability to remedy that by buying additional components. And the initial offering didn’t have exactly what I needed for a system for me.
The Pistol Rug is a simple case. Personally I’ve never used a rug prior the GORUCK version. It is definitely a simple and quick way to transport a pistol. While it folds open completely flat, it is deep so it can’t be easily used as a rest.
The padded compartment will easily accommodate small and medium pistols, as well as some large frame guns.
Just like all of the gear, it is completely lined inside with loop fastener so you can set it up how you want it.
Pistol bag is solidly made. It is actually reminiscent of MilSpec Monkey’s Mega Patch Book though it is nearly double the width.
It comes as a divided clam shell case. It opens flat and has a middle (removable) panel that has loop fastener on both sides. There is a shallow side and a deep side.
The loop fastener on the inside is that quiet “non-crinkly” kind (not sure what the actual product name is–readers can you help me out? Google has failed me…). It holds amazingly strong. I was initially afraid I was going to pull the case apart removing the pouches and anchors (though after a few dozen tear down and rebuilds it is still holding solid).
This is easily my favorite of all of the Firearms Gear. It has become my “go-to” bag for housing all of my tools and gear I need for the range. The only thing it doesn’t hold well is a package of targets…
Discreet Rifle Case
The Rifle Case is what annoyed me about the GORUCK Firearms Gear. Generally GORUCK first runs of gear have gone through dozens of iterations and been drug through all kinds of hell and abused in all manner of awkward ways. By the time the product hits production the bugs have been worked out. The problem is that this is a different (more specialized) type of product and it is not meant to endure the same type of abuse (though I am willing to bet that it would hold up fine during a challenge). As a result there were only a few people testing and evaluating the gear.
First off, does it match the advertising? My initial impression was no, not exactly. The biggest thing that I thought departed from the marketing was that it could not accommodate a 20″ barrel (it barely fit my 16″ with a muzzle device). After talking with Tyler, he said “Did you try in diagonally?”. Well, uh, um, uh, no? So yes it can accommodate a 20″ barrel.
What threw me off, and really what blinded me based on how it was shipped, was trying to use all of the components and trying to match the configuration as demonstrated in the video. Just because it shipped with all of the bits doesn’t mean that they are necessary for all configurations, and I, stupidly, was trying to make it work with everything that it came with. For example, it ships with two padded dividers; one full length along the long axis of the bag and one short one half the width of the short axis of the bag. Tyler even intimated to me that they had already figured out that the dividers were too tall (unfortunately after the initial production run).
This illustrates what I was saying about the original marketing materials not fully explaining (or emphasizing) the versatility, which I think is the true strength of these products.
One of the other issues they promoted was being able to put the Pistol Rug inside the Discreet Rifle Case (and this was my biggest pain point) and it looked easy in the video. My first attempts were stymied. You can make it work if the Pistol Rug is not full and you are not fully loaded with eight rifle magazines. But the rifle case is fully lined with loop fastener. So instead of putting the Pistol Rug in it, you can just anchor a pistol in place with the holster and some mag pouches.
Ultimately I think my biggest complaint with the Rifle Case is that I wish that it had come with a few more anchor straps. The straps it came with were 3 different sizes, and I felt that the small ones are too short (again, just is my opinion). It would have been nice if they were consistent sizes, or, again, if you had the ability to purchase them individually. I think as a “pre-set” configuration, it would have been better with 2-3 of their elastic straps, 3-4 pouches, and equal length anchor straps (that are about 2 inches longer on each tail). Kind of making it more like the Pistol Case.
After talking with Tyler, he explained that he had actually tried the case in it’s configuration with like twenty different rifles, and even then it only worked well with about fifteen of them. But again, the goal was to come up with an initial package that would fit the majority of configurations. And based on some of the feedback on the Facebook group where some of the discussion took place, it does work for a number of people.
For the price I would like to have seen the stitching more consistent throughout (using columns rather than single stitches on everything rather than just the shock points), but the gear shouldn’t be under load, and the areas that will get some wear are solidly sewn (and really that is very “nit-picky” on my part).
I would like to have seen a few more of the anchoring straps included in the Rifle Case.
I would like to see the pouches, anchors and attachments offered individually, but failing GORUCK offering them, there are a few vendors out there that do have hook and loop components. My favorite holster is the ITS Holster Insert offered by ITS Tactical as well as their Shock Cord Insert both of which are constructed by Zulu Nylon Gear. Blackhawk also makes a number of accessories (though they are not US made).
In my opinion, the gear is not a failure–the initially marketed expectations were. A little more time publicly explaining the vision and showing a number of different configurations lets the gear sell itself. And that is the overall intention of this post. I like GORUCK’s gear. I really like the vision for the Firearms Gear and want it to succeed. While the initial price was high, it has since dropped considerably.
Now four months into using the gear, I can’t imagine going back to something else. I have all of my tools neatly organized (and know where they are at–I can get to them without looking or direct someone right at something). My range trips are much simpler–I can just grab my rifle case and ammo box and I can be confident that will have everything I need (though it obviously takes discipline to reset the gear after a trip). If I’m going to T&E something I can grab my case loaded with tools. At 3-Gun, I can have everything I need (except for the shotgun) fully contained in the Discreet Rifle Case.
I think there is long term promise for this product line for people that want a highly configurable system for managing their firearms. I know a number of people are not going to be able to get past the price point, but if you can (and want a very durable and configurable set of gear), you should consider GORUCK Firearms Gear.