Review: Hornady Rapid Rack

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There are numerous situations where firearms are required to be visibly marked as “clear” with the use of a chamber flag. Whether you’re at the range, taking your firearm in for repairs, or flying guns with you during a trip, you’re going to need one of those flags at some point. Some people even use them at home so guns are easily identified as clear. In those cases where you want to mark a gun as clear but would also like the option of loading a round quickly, you used to be out of luck. Using a chamber safety flag meant removing the flag prior to chambering a round, and sometimes those flags are awkward to remove. Now there’s the Hornady Rapid Rack.

The Hornady Rapid Rack was officially launched at SHOT Show 2016 and is now for sale on various gun gear sites and in some gun stores. It was designed with two particular scenarios in mind: to allow gun owners to keep long guns ready to go at a moment’s notice but with a clearly marked empty chamber and to allow members of law enforcement to carry long guns in vehicles with visibly empty chambers, but to go hot, fast. Of course, there are other times the Rapid Rack comes in handy.

Hornady manufactures the Rapid Rack from aluminum, so this is a far more durable product than typical empty chamber indicators. It’s L-shaped with the handle coated in red plastic which allows for a better grip as well as greater visibility for its job as a chamber flag. The handle also has a slight bend at the end, giving the user more leverage than would be otherwise possible. The upper portion, which is meant to be inserted into the gun, is silver and somewhat cartridge-shaped. It’s quite lightweight.

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Directions are included and are necessary given that this isn’t just another flag. There are actually two ways to place it in your rifle. You can either lock the bolt back, insert the device, and slowly release the bolt until it’s in place against the Rapid Rack, or you can pull the bolt back with one hand, insert the device immediately ahead of the bolt, and slowly release the bolt. What you do not want to do is allow the bolt to snap forward against it. You do, however, need to be sure the extractor engages. If it doesn’t, the process of charging the gun as the device is removed won’t work.

Once you’ve properly inserted the flag, place a loaded magazine in your gun. Now you’re ready to go; your rifle is clearly flagged as having an empty chamber, but your mag is loaded, so you can load the gun quickly.

To chamber a round, simply grab the red handle, pull it straight back in one quick movement, and let it fly. Literally, let it fly. The flag isn’t meant to be carefully pulled back and placed in your pocket, all the while keeping it in your tight grip. With this system you pull it back – a lot like a side charging handle, actually – and let it fall. When done properly, a round will be chambered and you’ll be ready to shoot.

I tried out the Rapid Rack on my Axelson Tactical Combat Series 5.56. It was simple to use and performed exactly as promised. I didn’t have any problems with the rounds chambering properly when I pulled the handle back quickly. Pulling it back slowly only resulted in the device sliding forward once again, back into its place. If there isn’t a magazine in place or the magazine in question is empty when you pull the handle back, nothing happens. It doesn’t jump from its position like it does when it’s making way for a live round, it simply stays put. Not to say you can’t easily remove it, because you can. Removing the device when you aren’t trying to chamber a round is just like the removal of any chamber flag: pull the bolt back, remove the flag, and either close the bolt or lock it open.

Basically this seems to act as a separate, detached charging handle. There are certainly scenarios where it could come in handy aside from those mentioned above. For example, there are some outfitters where a hunter will be asked to keep their chamber empty and sometimes flagged, depending on the situation. This is a great way to put guides at ease when traveling to a blind with a truck full of armed strangers while allowing guns to be quickly charged should game appear in a shooting zone. And when it comes to the home defense scenario referenced by the company it does make sense to use this if you prefer guns not actually have a round chambered, yet want them ready faster. Unless you already have a side charging handle the Rapid Rack would indeed allow you to make ready with greater speed. That is of course in addition to your gun being visibly flagged as having a clear chamber.

Bottom line: The Hornady Rapid Rack is a neat product, one worth having around for many gun owners and worth trying out for most. The cost is negligible; sites such as Midway are selling them for between $8.99 and $10.99 depending on the model. They’re available for the AR-15, AR-10, and some 12-gauge shotguns (a list of models is available on the Hornady.com site). It’s definitely durable, too. After going through the “let ‘er fly” chambering process more than 100 times in my Axelson AR-15 the only sign of use was a little smudging where the device met the extractor.

You can visit Hornady’s site for a closer look: http://www.hornady.com/in-the-news/latest-news/introducing-the-rapid-rack-by-hornady



katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • Jack Morris

    Well damn, that’s actually pretty nifty. I was convinced the AR market was too bloated and overplayed to see any products that offered a new utility with a practical application. Well done Hornady.

    • Drunk Possum

      It still is. This changes nothing.

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    I don’t understand how this behaves differently depending on whether there is a magazine inserted or not. Surely the thing that makes the flag flip out of the action is the fact that it pivots on the extractor when you are pulling the handle, right? Whether or not there are round in the magazine would have zero effect wouldn’t it? Also, just as a curiosity the flag would still extract and ejection using the normal charging handle wouldn’t it? I would personally trust this method more as it seems like there is less to go wrong.

  • Bill

    This has absolutely no application in law enforcement, or defense for that matter. All I see is the potential for misuse or malfunction, and the creation of training scars for the deployment of a rifle on duty. If it’s carried with the chamber empty, properly cycling the action is the way to train and deploy the rifle. If the user can’t successfully clear the chamber, check the chamber visually an physically, drop the hammer, and insert a magazine and lock it in, they shouldn’t be issued a rifle.

    It may be fine for competitors in a competition, but why not use a plain flag?

    • Oregon213

      Maybe it shouldn’t have application, but if you work at an agency where policy mandates an empty chamber in any long rifle – it’s a great option.

      • Bill

        Every agency I’ve worked at required that long guns be carried chamber empty. How does this improve on just cycling the action as one would do anyway? Why cycle a chamber flag instead of a charging handle? Why train two different ways of charging the chamber when one has been working perfectly fine for decades?

        • Tritro29

          Because like for lawyers, you need useless terminology and/or tools to do a simple job in order to add to the “seriousness” or “professionalism”. It’s called mystification. Pro’s this and pro’s that.

          • iksnilol

            Comrade is right, personal experience with lawyer brother confirms everything you said.

        • While I am not using firearms for any professional manner, I do have an AR and semi-auto shotgun with the bolt back, loaded with ammo in the safe. Orange chamber fladgs in them just to find quicker, and to know “THESE ARE THE GO-TO GUNS” if ever needed.

          Wouldn’t throw2ing the bolt down instead of racking be more efficient? I’ve also had a shot or t2o of bourbon, so…. yeah….

    • USMC03Vet

      The only purpose this serves is peace of mind for people afraid of others holding loaded firearms. It’s utterly ridiculous.

      • Billy Jack

        First year in office new prez will mandate these in all firearms. Second year they’ll send people around to weld them in place.

        • Bill

          Or they’ll only be available thru Sharper Image or the Trump University Bookstore.

          I know he writes them, but does anyone know if he’s ever read a book? Never mind; rhetorical question.

          • Billy Jack

            Officially, his hair does the reading.

  • Patrick

    The Tapco Chamber Safety tool does the same thing, doesn’t involve metal in the chamber, and only costs about a buck.

    • Billy Jack

      I got some Ergo orange ones too for a similar price. A little beefier than the Tapco but still plastic. Maybe there are some anti-2nd states that have laws about having rounds chambered in weapons you aren’t holding? I know Cali passes all types of weird useless stuff to discourage ownership. If that’s the case then being able to rack immediately is good. Those flags I have would bend or snap if I tried to use it like the Rapid Rack (Rapid Rape? Rapes your wallet faster than a speeding bullet).

      I’d feel better about it if it were black and had a Hornady stamped in the metal and maybe a famous special forces guy’s name on it.

  • This is a very expensive chamber flag.

    • Badwolf

      Not true. Katie says the cost is negligible.

  • Sianmink

    Unlike some products, this looks really useful for certain setups. And the price is good too.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    I can’t help but wonder if this might put too much stress on the extractor or extractor insert. It would be a significant emotional event if you charged your AR with the Rapid Rack and broke the extractor or insert. Assuming none of the broken bits caused a stoppage, you would only get one shot and then a definite stoppage.

  • Edeco

    I was skeptical first I saw it, still worried it might damage the
    chamber somehow, wouldn’t let one anywhere near my varmint AR. But now I
    kind of like it. I look forward to some very flamboyant manipulations in YouTube vids using this! Too bad Carnik Con is no longer operational.

    • Send an email to phuc long ;P

      • Edeco

        Yeah, really, I’m too lazy, but I give it about 50/50 he’ll end up hooking this over his shoulder and racking by pulling the forend with both hands or hooking it behind a leg…

  • USMC03Vet

    More not trusting people holding firearms products.

    Following the basic safety rules entirely negate the purpose of such ridiculous products.

    • schizuki

      I’ve been to gun shows, gun stores and shooting ranges. I most definitely DO NOT trust people holding firearms.

  • YS

    And exactly how many people keep their SD/HD weapon in condition 3 with a chamber flag? Seems overly paranoid. I keep my SD/HD weapons in condition 0, 1, or 2, depending on the weapon.

    • My SD/Hd’s are cond 1 / 0 at home.
      Backup long guns are loaded with bolt held back, with cha,mber flags just to be able to find them quicker in safe. Easy to see the little orange dangly things when staring at more long arms than fingers.

  • You pose some pretty valid points! My flags are primarily to recognize my firearms quicker, but reflecting upon this, I could just put a wrap of neon electrical tape or something to recognize one AR/shotgun from another in a crowded safe and just rack it~ 😀

    • Bill

      Surveyor’s flagging tape tied around a gun or colored electrical tape is perfect for this – it’s how I marked deadlined guns, prop guns or guns that had been neutered for dry-fire or marking rounds only.