ATFEH: Fanny Packs & Bags

[This is an archived post from Mad Science Defense, currently on indefinite hiatus, and may not reflect the usual tone and content of Author J.R. White and/or the Storyteller at Large Blog. If you have arrived here via links from a website elsewhere in the tactical and combatives training community, we wish you the best in your skill development journey.]

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This is Part 4 in a series. Be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Now that we’ve talked about Appendix Carry and traditional Strong-side Carry, we need to talk about “Off-body” carry. This is when the weapon is carried in a fashion other than a holster secured to your person. In particular I want to talk about bags and fanny packs.

“…when it comes to revealing the shortcomings of a carry system under stress, the zipper fob is a ruthless little bastard …”

I’m not a big fan of the fanny pack or bag (or any off-body carry method for that matter). They’re not nearly as discreet as people think, they’re clunky and unfashionable, and they provide zero access to your tools at contact distance.

Plus a lot of them have zippers. Zippers with tiny little fobs. Rest assured that when it comes to revealing the shortcomings of a carry system under stress, the zipper fob is a ruthless little bastard with zero concern for your safety or ego.

So if I dislike the bags and fanny packs so much, why bother to include them? Because they remain popular. A google search for “Concealed Carry Fanny Pack” renders nearly 60,000 hits. “Gun Fanny Pack”? 351,000 hits.

And while I don’t find them to have many advantages, the few they do have are worth discussing. One of those advantages is capacity. While the carry methods we’ve discussed so far allow a gun, knife, tourniquet and reload, with a bag or fanny pack you can carry much more. Additional medical supplies being a good choice.

Another advantage of fanny packs is that they’re essentially grab-and-go, and can be worn with clothes that wouldn’t normally conceal and/or support the bulk of a handgun. This makes them a decent choice for jogging and some other fitness activities.

“You want to have a weapon that will be consistently oriented so you can access it from a variety of fighting and grappling positions.”

The biggest disadvantage of bags and fanny packs is how truly horrible access to the weapon becomes at contact distance. When you’re hands-on with an attacker, catching the zipper fob becomes nearly impossible, assuming you can reach the bag at all. If you insist on keeping your gun in a bag, then you need to take some steps to account for that.

One way to deal with poor access to the gun at contact distance is to keep a knife readily accessible on your waistline or even on the strap of the fanny pack or bag. The differing advantages of knives versus guns at contact distance is worthy of its own post, so I won’t get into it here. The main point is that you want to have a weapon that will be consistently oriented so you can access it from a variety of fighting and grappling positions. If you’re wearing your gun in a fashion that prohibits that, then you’d better be able to get to the knife.

Take a look at the photos below and see if there’s something that works for you.

Until Next Time!

Justin White

A bag can be tempting if you're just running to the gym or beach, but don't forget to keep a tool wear you can reach it at contact distance. Using a folder? Make sure to practice accessing and opening with either hand.
A bag can be tempting if you’re just running to the gym or beach, but don’t forget to keep a tool where you can reach it in a hand-to-hand fight. Using a folder? Make sure to practice accessing and opening with either hand.
One of the advantages of a bag is capacity. All the gear shown here can fit in the pictured bag.
One of the advantages of a bag is capacity. All the gear shown here can fit in the pictured bag.
This configuration allows access to the gun, tourniquet and knife with either hand. Since access at contact distance is very limited, the knife is staged accordingly. Just remember to check your local knife laws.
This configuration allows access to the gun, tourniquet and knife with either hand. Since access at contact distance is very limited, the knife is staged accordingly. Just remember to check your local knife laws.
The odds of grabbing that little zipper fob while physically fighting off an attacker are about the same as your chances of catching Ebola as you are struck by lightning while riding a shark that just won the lottery.
The odds of grabbing that little zipper fob while physically fighting off an attacker are about the same as your chances of catching Ebola as you are struck by lightning while riding a shark that just won the lottery.

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