Essential Range Gear for 2024

— Corey RitterCADRE Dispatch

I’m a bit of a gear junkie and I love to get my hands on new range gear. As such, I’ve seen and handled a lot of gear over the years. I have some bits and bobs that I’ve used for years with no issue, but I’ve also seen some stuff that I wouldn’t carry with me if my life depended on it.

So, when the fine folks at Safariland asked me to put together a list of the best essential range gear of 2024, I knew it was right up my alley. Whether you’re a new shooter who’s just getting started or a seasoned veteran in search of the latest and greatest gear, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into it!

Safariland 4560 Convertible Range Bag: The Queen of Range Bags

Unless you’re planning on the range supplying all your gear for the day, a range bag is a must. But not just any range bag. No. You want the Safariland 4560 Convertible Range Bag. Trust me.

I spent too many years feeling like a pack mule as I toted around a flimsy soft-sided range bag with a single over-the-shoulder strap, multiple handgun cases, and targets under my arm.

With all that gear, you’re either subjecting your shoulder to an unnecessary amount of fatigue, or your range bag is bound to rip, break, tear, or otherwise fail with too much gear and not enough storage space. It’s frustrating and annoying, and you shouldn’t have to endure such torture.

safariland convertible range bag
The Safariland Convertible Range Bag is spacious, durable, and extra comfy to carry.

The 4560 Convertible Range Bag is the queen of all range bags, featuring a reinforced “bottom box” designed to carry heavy loads and a heavy-duty nylon shell. It’s strong (really strong) and the dual QD straps are easily converted for backpack-style carry or over-the-shoulder carry, and they can even be used as traditional carry handles, if you so please. Personally, I’m a fan of backpack carry, but that’s just me.

Safariland convertible range bag
The Convertible Range Bag goes wherever you go, no problem.

But aside from its construction, it’s the storage space that matters. The interior center carry compartment is fully padded with hook-and-loop side panels and comes equipped with multiple handgun compartments, eliminating the need to carry four or five of those pesky plastic gun cases.

Multiple zippered exterior pockets offer ample space for spare mags, eye protection, ear protection, and other bits and bobs. And they’re not small pockets either. They’re rather large, actually, and they hold most (if not all) of my gear with no issue.

Seriously, does it get much better than that?

Eye & Ear Protection

No range day kit is complete without quality eye and ear protection. Seriously, don’t put your health at risk. It’s stupid.

To start with, get yourself some quality shooting glasses, like my pair of Carhartt Carthage glasses. These suckers feature a padded and ventilated interior, making them extremely comfortable and resistant to fogging and sweat buildup on hot days.

You can find these, and similar pairs of safety and shooting glasses on Amazon for a few bucks.

carhartt carthage glasses
The Carhartt Carthage glasses are some of the most comfortable shooting glasses I’ve ever worn.

But if the Carhartt Carthage glasses aren’t your cup of tea, that’s okay. Just be sure to pick up a pair of quality shooting glasses or OSHA-approved safety glasses. These will have a “Z-code” stamped on the frame, which indicates that the glasses are impact-tested to withstand impacts from sharp, fast-moving objects. In the event of a catastrophic failure, everyday eyewear would fail to protect your eyes from flying debris, and instead, may pose a larger risk of injury should they break or shatter.

Next, spend a few extra sheckles on high-quality electronic hearing protection, like Safariland’s Liberator HP 2.0 earmuffs. They’re a bit more pricey than some of us would like, but man, they’re some of the best ear pro out there, combining the powers of high-definition speakers, omnidirectional microphones, Active Noise Reduction (ANR), and Active Noise Cancellation technologies into one, super-comfortable package.

Safariland Liberator HP 2.0 headset
The Safariland Liberator HP 2.0 headset work like a wonder on the range. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

Targets. All the targets.

Of course, you can purchase paper targets at the range when you check in, but I find that I prefer a specific target type for my range days – the B-27 Silhouette.

If you’re like me and have a specific target type you like, or if you like mixing it up with drills and shooting games, it can’t hurt to stock up on your favorite targets. This is especially true if you’re shooting at an unmanned outdoor range, or on a buddy’s private range as you’ll likely need to supply your own targets for those.

And, unless you’re only planning on shooting through a single box of ammo or running a single drill or qualification, you’re going to want multiples. Paper targets wear out rather quickly, so it’s always a good idea to have a few on hand for each trip to the range.

You can purchase most targets as singles or in packs of 5, 10, 25, or 50 from your favorite local gun shop or online retailer.

Dummy Rounds and Training Accessories

I don’t care if you’ve been shooting for 25 years, continuing your training is a must. And I don’t mean just stationary target training. No. Get out there with some dummy rounds and training aids, like the Type3MalfuctionRound from Live Fire Tactical Training, that force real-world malfunctions and help you train for those real-world problems in a safe and realistic way.

Type3MalfunctionRound by Live Fire Tactical
Train for real-world scenarios, including malfunctions.

Don’t just train for malfunctions, though. Train yourself in reloading with spare mags or mag couplers, but don’t be afraid to take it a step further with a shot timer.

Shot timers are designed to measure how fast you can shoot, and the time between shots. While that may sound like it’s more for a competitive shooter, shot timers can also help you determine how fast you, as an individual, can draw your weapon and deliver an accurate shot on target, or how fast you can reload and fire in a self-defense scenario.

Combined with forced malfunction-clearing training, a shot timer can help you improve your times, which could end up saving your life in a real-world scenario.

Don’t Forget The Ammo and a Few Spare Mags

Whether you’re just planning to spend an hour shooting your new 9mm handgun, or you’re headed out for a full day of gunpowder and lead therapy (those are my favorite days), stock up on ammo. And don’t forget to bring a spare magazine or two, as well as a speed loader.

I mean, a single mag will work just fine if that’s all you have, but who really wants to spend an exceptional amount of time reloading after firing through a single mag? Not me. I like bringing at least five mags, and I’m always sure to bring a speedloader.

I’m a big fan of the Maglula reloaders, but any speedloader will do. They save your fingers from cuts, scratches, and fatigue, and they just speed up the reloading process, so you can spend less time reloading and more time behind the trigger.

If your range day includes shooting a revolver, you can’t go wrong with the Comp series of speedloaders: the Comp I comes in two sizes for small J frame and large N frame revolvers, the Comp II for medium (K) and Medium large (L) frame revolvers, and the Comp III for medium (K) and Medium large (L) frame revolvers.

First Aid Kit

One range day item that can be easily overlooked — but shouldn’t be — is the IFAK (Individual First-Aid Kit). While most of us are extremely well-versed in gun safety and range safety, things happen.

Whether it be a minor case of slide bite from that new Ruger Security-9 you just picked up, or a full-on four-alarm emergency that requires wound packing or a tourniquet, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

small IFAK
An IFAK isn’t just for tactical applications. They’re great for everyday carry and trips to the range.

Non-Essential Essentials

How’s that for an oxymoron?

Anyway, there are a few other things I keep in my range bag that I’d recommend you add to your gear checklist this year.

It’s a good idea to pack a hat, some sunscreen, and plenty of water if you’re headed to an outdoor range. Nothing ruins a range day like dehydration and lobster-red sunburns. I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous, but you can thank me later. Stay cool, hydrated, and sunburn-free.

Lastly, I always advise folks to pack some sort of anti-lead soap or body wipes for post-trigger clean-up. Believe it or not, lead can cause a whole host of health issues. Many reputable indoor ranges will stock anti-lead soap in the bathroom, but it can’t hurt to have some of your own.

I typically keep a pack or two of my favorite mint-scented Klean Freak wipes in my range bag. Not only do they remove lead residue and other potential health hazards from my hands, but they also leave my skin feeling (and smelling) minty fresh.

Final Thoughts

Range days are the best days. I am rather partial to my regular trips to the range for a bit of lead therapy and quality time in nature. And having the right gear for the job makes it all the better.

Invest in a quality range bag, and fill it with the best safety and training gear you can afford. I promise you it’s worth it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a new Shadow Systems MR920P to put to the test.

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