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7/12/2018 3:46 PM
 

I've been kicking around a bit of 'gear philosophy' in my head, and figure I'd head over to HPG for some wisdom.

Question: can a kit bag - properly configured - fill the role of the traditional 'battle belt'? What are the pros/cons of each option? Have folks experimented with both?

This question cropped up in thinking through my defensive firearm 'system' - within the realm of home defense, range practice, and SHTF. I typically keep a holstered firearm, extra magazines, and tac light in a bedside drawer. When I hit the range, everything gets dumped into a range bag and I end up grabbing reloads from the range bench. After taking a few classes and fumbling around with magazines in my pockets, I decided to build a 'system'.

The obvious solution is a battle belt: holster, mags, light, IFAK, multitool - done. However, I've been hesitant to pull the trigger on a battle belt setup for a few reasons:

(1) Limited range of use: too tactical to wear outside the range, or a true zombie-apocolypse scenario

(2) Bulky: hard to stuff it into a backpack or drawer

(3) Cannot integrate with a belted pack in the event of a bug-out-type situation

Of course, I started thinking of the kit bag as a possible alternative. Pros include:

(1) Compact package: I can keep the whole thing in a bedside drawer or throw it in a pack

(2) More wearable in public than a battle belt

The cons:

(1) The pistol is less accessible

(2) Drawing/reholstering is more dangerous/complicated.

(3) Ranges/classes may not even allow using the kit bag as a holster

My goal is to get an 80% solution set up that can fully support (1) range practice (2) classes (3) bump-in-the night kit (4) SHTF. I already have an Original V2 kit bag setup as a hiking/backpacking KB - the pistol rides along but the bag is mostly focused on possibles and comfort/convenience items. One idea I'm kicking around is to pick up a HRKB or RKB and set it up as a dedicated 'battle belt' KB. Then perhaps add a regular strong-side holster to the mix for classes/range work so that I'm not drawing from the KB.

I'm eager to hear everyone's thoughts on this one!

 
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7/12/2018 4:15 PM
 

I own the Runner's Kit Bag, an Original V2 Kit bag and the Recon belt and have used all a fair bit. Thoughts in no particular order: 

- A battle belt can carry significantly more than a kit bag, if configured properly. 

- The Recon (or Prarie Belt) can easily and quickly be mated to any HPG pack (aside from the Tara) for a higher capacity setup. 

- There isn't anything inherently 'dangerous' about unholstering/reholstering with a Kit Bag, if done properly. As for being slower, I would say it's about a half second slower after you've practiced at it a bit.

- A Battle Belt is certainly more "tactical" looking than a Kit Bag, but I think it can also vary, depending on what belt/kit you have, and how you set it up. I would say that my Recon Belt, with a M2016 butt pack on it and a few side pockets configured, looks a little tactical, but nowhere near as much as some other options. You can "dress it down," in other words. But yeah, if you hang a big 'ol knife, holstered pistol and a couple spare mags on it, you're definitely going to project a certain image.

- If a range doesn't allow you to practice from holstered positions, it's time to find a new range, imo. I know there are many that might take exception with that POV, but so be it. 

- I don't think either a Kit Bag or a Battle Belt can honestly be set up to "fully support a SHTF scenario," whatever that is. You're probably going to want more capacity than either can offer when virus VC321xb47 makes the leap to human hosts. 

- That said, I think a Kit Bag used in conjunction with a belt kit of some sort is really versatile and works well for extended day usage. 

 
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7/13/2018 8:52 AM
 

They serve two completely different roles.  The Kit Bag was desiigned to keep a handgun and sundries ALWAYS at hand and not interfere with the wear of a modern waistbelt equipped pack.  In many possible "get home" scenarios, the kit bag would augment your EDC pack perfectly, as discretion would most likely be preffered.

OTOH, personally I couldn't imagine NOT having something like my HSGI belt set up and ready to go, along with a plate carrier, for WROL scenarios, where I explicitly WANT my weapons in plain view as a deterrent, it is alway what I train with and go to matches with.  I also have a Safariland ELS belt set up.

 
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7/13/2018 11:05 AM
 

@Take-a-knee - very true: the two are inherently different setups that serve different purposes. Here's the challenge (for me): the odds of fighting from the kit bag are much higher than the odds of fighting from a battle belt (assuming I'd have the KB on/near me far more often than a BB). However, everyone seems to train with their BB. I'm wondering if it makes sense to setup a KB with a little bit of BB 'flavor' - e.g. extra mags, some external mag pouches on a RKB.

 
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7/16/2018 12:46 PM
 
Broco you already answered you own question. The kit bag is what you are going to have.

When I first go into carbine/rifle training battle belts weren't a thing, but if you were serious about training you got a chest rig. I spent a lot of time researching, and finally got one. It worked great in that class, but I discovered that the only time I used it was in that class. In addition, I never pulled it out of the closet after that except to look at, and eventually sell. On the other hand I have/had a kit bag with most of the time for going on 10 years now, certainly every time I travel by car or am off pavement. I decided that I should use in training what I am actually going to have with me in real life, which is a kit bag. Since then every carbine/rifle class I have taken has been done using a kit bag. For a couple it was an Original with mags upright in the pistol pocket, since then I have used both a Heavy and regular Recon. For a long time the Heavy with a 3 mag SR25 Tenspeed on front was my go to kit bag. All I had to do for class was add the appropriate magazines. At this point, I have my Recon setup as a support chest rig with a couple of pistol mags and a rifle mag pouch and a few other things. It rides in the rifle case when I travel by vehicle. It is setup to augment my daily carry setup. I also have a belt pouch for a rifle magazine in the rifle bag two so I can have one on the belt too if I choose. I chose the Recon because I can fit it under a loosish jacket, it is flat and compact, and frankly it was in the drawer. I have my Heavy Recon setup as a lighter weight setup (used with pack or nicer weather = no gloves/beanie, binos, etc..), and the Original as a stand alone or heavier load out setup. Depending on the class I will be using one of those, and have use all three in a class with no issues. Most recently, I used the Heavy for the Recce Rifle Class and Buck Doyle pointed to mine in the class and said that is exactly what you need a few mags, a few other things, but nothing big and heavy.

As far as a pistol load out I have always used as close to my ccw setup as possible in classes because again that is what I carry and what I am going to have to use, so I should get in the most work I can with it. The exception is that depending on the instructor and class I will switch from a iwb to owb holster and of course add a few spare mag pouches. However, the holsters in the same location with the same cant and the additional mag pouches are copies of my carry mags, and I always try and run reloads out of the two mag pouches I do carry (location wise). I also try and run from concealment in all classes.

A number of years ago I setup a bump belt for the back of the bedroom door. Specifically because it would let me holster my pistol while checking on a bump during the night so I couldn't get accused of brandishing. I trained with it a couple of times and other then that it has never been off the back of the door. I re-set-up it right before the Recce Rifle class (mainly switched out the magazine pouches for tacos), but found that at least for that class I just ended up running out of the kit bag. I suppose I could have pulled the belt off the pack, oh did I mention it was a Prairie Belt, but I just never felt the need.

I just keep coming back to the idea that I should train for the likely and not the what if. That means I emphasis pistol training over rifle training, and emphasis training with the stuff I have with me and not with the what if stuff. That means I am unlikely to use a battle belt in lieu of my standard ccw setup, and I am also unlikely to use anything but a kit bag for rifle support. Therefore I should use those items as much as possible in training so I know how they will work in real life should I ever need them.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I have a real hard time picturing a situation as a civilian in the United States where I am going to say damn I need to be fully jocked up to go there, and I am going to go there, or where things have deteriorated to the point it is open warfare in the streets, when I am going to be rolling around out and about. If you look at pictures most of the Rooftop Koreans were using pistols or carbines with a mag or two shoved in a back pocket at most. True Members Only Jackets get you more street cred, or did at the time, but they got the job done with what was on hand.

Honestly, I am not sure that being fully rigged for combat doesn't make you more of a target in those situations as the larger groups (thinking a Ferguson situation) seem to be anti police/mil, so looking like you might be one of those might draw some attention.

I am sure that we can all what if and come up with a reason to be rolling in an up-armored vehicle with rifle plates, belt feds, etc... every day, but I prefer to instead look at what is likely (never needing it, or having to deal with a small group at most) and what I am going to have with me anyway.

The real question is if you know you are going to need all that stuff as a civilian are you going to go there, or hunker down and take care of your family and neighbors?

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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7/16/2018 7:11 PM
 

Some sort of chest rig is part of the kit that any carbine owner should have, and an HPG Kit Bag AIN'T a proper chest rig.    How could wearing something like a Tactical Tailor MAV "draw attention" any more so than running around with an AR?  You can't squat and crap what you need when and if WROL comes your way, you have to acquire it, and hopefully have trained with it, ahead of time.  Some sort of chest rig is a natural addition to an EDC concealed pistol. I don't understand a reasonable person trying to talk himself or someone else out of having one, just because you haven't actually needed it lately.  Got life insurance?

 
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7/16/2018 8:08 PM
 

Some great discussion - always get some a new angle on things when I come here.

I think there can be a lot of uniformty and polarity in the tactical/firearms community - but there's always shades of grey. Everyone has a different background and approach (at least in the civilian arena).

For me, a carbine isn't part of the gameplan for now - just a G19. I also do not EDC. My 'tactical' firearm is for training, home defense, camping/backpacking, and hypothetical danger scenarios (e.g. travel through dangerous areas, unrest in my local metropolitan area). I've reached the point where I want a quick-grab pistol-support package that gives me extra mags, IFAK, flashlight, maybe a multitool. Something to take to the range, throw on to investigate a night-time noise, or discreetly take into public in a heightened alert situation where I need to leave home.

So, for my purposes, a slim profile kit bag, sling bag, or minimalist battle belt might do the trick. The big idea for me is to gear up for your personal intended usage. I think it does a disservice for class instructors to tell everyone to go buy the same kit - be it a battle belt, plate carrier, chest rig, etc. There's nothing wrong with any of these setups, but it has to make sense at an individual level.

 
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7/17/2018 11:50 AM
 
TAK
As always we are going to have to agree to disagree. Expect for this point: "Some sort of chest rig is a natural addition to an EDC concealed pistol." I agree with that 100% and my kit bag (qualifies as some sort of chest rig right?) is a natural addition to my ED concealed pistol.

As far as the rest, if you feel that rolling around town in full combat gear is a legitimate scenario you have to contend with, then by all means you need the gear and experience with that gear to deal with that situation. I do not think that is a legitimate scenario, and therefore I am not worried about gearing up for it. Nor do I consider not having a battle belt (actually have one for the reason already stated) or "proper" chest rig the equivalent of not having life insurance. Instead I am going to focus on what I think are possible situations I might encounter and prepare for those (like choosing different deductibles and coverage and such to use your insurance analogy). Put another way I could have spent the last 10 years gearing up/training for the combat scenario ignoring the actual uses I have had for gear for the last 10 years as well as preparing for situations I might encounter that I think are realistic.

You are right just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it can't, but on the other hand it doesn't mean that it will. Every person has to chart the line, and make decisions on what they feel they need to prepare for and how. Only time will tell who is right.

Really two questions are being asked:
1) Will a kit bag work as support for my needs? My answer is yes, based on my experience it will, given Bronco' defined needs and goals. Especially the low profile part.
2) Do I need a battle belt or chest rig in order to be prepared? My answer is I don't feel I need one to be prepared. For the scenarios that I think are realistic to deal with I feel well served by my kit bag, and I have a lot of time using it in training and the field to know how it will perform. I am walking a bit of a line here since I do have a bump belt, but I could just as easily use a kit bag for this use. I chose to build a belt because folks said it was better, and I had a spare Prairie Belt to use, and at the time didn't have the Recon set up.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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7/17/2018 5:41 PM
 
bronco199 wrote:

.....I've reached the point where I want a quick-grab pistol-support package that gives me extra mags, IFAK, flashlight, maybe a multitool. Something to take to the range, throw on to investigate a night-time noise, or discreetly take into public in a heightened alert situation where I need to leave home.

So, for my purposes, a slim profile kit bag, sling bag, or minimalist battle belt might do the trick...."

Obviously, at the range or investigating a bump in the night in your house, you can throw on whatever you want with little concern for the image you may be projecting, and just go with whatever "pistol support package" is proven to work best for you in those circumstances. But as soon as you get into "discretely take into public..." territory, that's where it's hard for me to envision ANY type of battle belt being discrete. You're going to stick out like a sore thumb, and as Scot pointed out, potentially make yourself more of a target. I wouldn't consider any battle belt for that application unless you are deliberately trying to advertise for some reason, and honestly, I can't think of what tactical advantage that would in a public, heightened-alert situation. 

Not critiquing your motives by any means, just choice of kit. Based on the criteria you've outlined, I would say that an emphasis on low-key concealed carry would serve your purposes much better. I'm not even sure if a Kit Bag would be what I would opt for in that situation either. I would have as much as possible concealed on my body, and if I'm carrying any sort of bag, it's not going to look even vaguely tactical. 

As for "SHTF" scenarios, a kit bag or gear belt might, at best, offer some implements to aid in getting to a more hardened location. But I would simply look at that as a minimal "get home" kit, not any sort of adequate sustained SHTF setup, largely just due to capacity limitations.  

 
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7/18/2018 10:47 AM
 
@ Smithhammer - some more good points. What works at home or on the range likely won't work in public. As someone who doesn't EDC - the gun typically lives at home or comes to the range and hiking/backpacking in a kit bag - I haven't really dialed-in a discreet EDC setup. It may be time for me to figure that out and train with it.

Another alternative I've toyed with: stashing the loaded-out kit bag in an regular-looking messenger bag. That way I have a complete package that can quickly be taken into public without raising alarm. Then when I get where I'm going (trailhead, range, etc), I just don the KB. This also solves the problem (for me) of transferring the pistol from a belt holster to the KB when I get to the woods (then back again on the way home).

I'm also pondering Scot's 'bump belt' idea a bit more seriously. It solves the rather practical problem of getting a holster on your body in the middle of the night.

Anyhow - plenty of food for thought.
 
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7/18/2018 12:17 PM
 
bronco199 wrote:
"....Another alternative I've toyed with: stashing the loaded-out kit bag in an regular-looking messenger bag. That way I have a complete package that can quickly be taken into public without raising alarm....."
 

That's basically where I'm at these days. I have a Patagonia messenger bag that fits a Kel-Tec Sub 2k and a range of other goodies. But walking down the street, anyone would think I was just another mountain town yuppie on their way to the over-priced coffee shop with my laptop.  ;-)

 
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7/18/2018 3:19 PM
 
TAK - curious what attributes a "proper chest rig" has? Are you talking about a plate carrier with plates? What are the exact items that you think should go on the chest rig?

I've seen chest rig trends go from Rhodesian (4x 7.62x51 mags for an entire mission), all the way up to crazy (8x AR mags, pistol, spare pistol mags, flashlight, admin, blowout kit, etc.), with everything in between. Mostly the choice seems to be driven by the user's emphasis on mobility relative to their mission. As I understand it, even people doing direct action missions these days are emphasizing mobility more than they used to.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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7/18/2018 4:09 PM
 

Evan, I consider a proper "civilian" AR loadout to be 4 30rd mags.  My choice is the Tactical Tailor MAV.  It has a velcro pocket behind the mag pouch where I keep maps, protractor etc.  A GI Lensatic in a pouch is a must have, along with a flashlight, my choice is a First Light on the little MOLLE holder they sell.  Two canteens/pouches, water tabs, small hank of 550 etc.  This sounds like  the Vietnam era 11B loadout because it is, minus two magazines (6 and 1 for the old web gear).  The RH canteen can and does interfere with a 3 o'clock handgun on the belt.  I also have a bandolier with six mags to outfit those who will show up with one.

I also have an old Eagle Rhodesian Recon chest rig set up similarly, it has a pocket for a plate. It has a pistol holster and six mags.

Early in the war everybody overloaded plate carriers, and our spines.  Most don't run double mag pouches now, just one deep.  Battle belts caught on because of spinal x-rays (takes weight off of the shoulders) and green-on-blue shootouts with our "allies".  ODA members are NEVER without a handgun anymore, and an IFAK, 2-3 AR mags etc

I've taught a one-day TCCC for every deputy in my county.  If things got really bad in my locale I will be asked to show up.  I'm ready

I worked a T1G gig a year ago with some 5th Gp guys, they were all using Blue Force belts, pouches, carriers etc.  Weight reduction is key now, we ain't getting any younger, and most have figured out regular barbell work is essential.

 
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7/18/2018 5:19 PM
 
Are you carrying all of that on just the MAV, or some of it goes on the belt?

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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7/18/2018 7:08 PM
 
evanhill wrote:
Are you carrying all of that on just the MAV, or some of it goes on the belt?
 
Four mag pouches and two canteen carriers on the MAV, compass pouch on support side on a mag pouches' MOLLE, small sundry items in the velcro pouch behind the mag pouches.  I need to put some IFAK items on the MAV.  The Rhodesian Vest has a full IFAK.  When the MAV came out, just about every ODA member at 1st SFG at Lewis bought their own.  Since about 1990 when I bought mine I've worn it just about every time I've trained with an AR, civilian and military, and wasn't required to wear armor.
 
I'm in no way dissing you or Scot's choice of running a Kit Bag with an AR, especially considering WHERE you live (RURAL West).  I just think if you're gonna own an AR, it should have a proper load carrying setup for those times when you just might need a bit more.  I can't imagine NOT having an HPG Kit Bag, I just don't think its optimal for an AR, not that it is "wrong" to do so.

 

 
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7/18/2018 7:24 PM
 

The messenger bag idea is basically what cops have been doing for years to support a rifle when responding to a mass-shooting, magazines and tourniquets.  Most departments are buying plate carriers now, for obvious reasons.  I think a plate carrier is a good idea, but realistically, the same money spent on a Cain or LAV carbine class and ammo is much more of a priority.  If you REALLY need plates where you live, consider moving, soon.

 
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7/18/2018 10:08 PM
 

Take-a-knee wrote:

I'm in no way dissing you or Scot's choice of running a Kit Bag with an AR, especially considering WHERE you live (RURAL West).  I just think if you're gonna own an AR, it should have a proper load carrying setup for those times when you just might need a bit more.  I can't imagine NOT having an HPG Kit Bag, I just don't think its optimal for an AR, not that it is "wrong" to do so.

I've got 2 different chest rigs (one with no armor, one with soft armor) and also a plate carrier and plates (thanks to Alpendrms). I've worked with the soft armor chest rig and the plate carrier in conjunction with a pack and those things have drawbacks that a KB doesn't when it is time to move out. It's hard to prepare for an unknown scenario... anything rural and I *will* be carrying a pack so a KB with 3 mags on the front and any more I think I need on the pack belt fits the bill nicely. I've got a side plate that will go in the pistol compartment of a KB to cover down on that base if I need to. And the beauty of the KB is that it already has all of the normal backcountry stuff in it too. Not just collecting dust but getting used, tuned, rotated, and refilled on a regular basis. Truly ready to go. Right now the soft armor chest rig is fully set up, but I've been meaning to set up the plate carrier instead. Haven't gotten to it yet. Who knows the status of the flashlight on that rig because I haven't even touched it in a couple years... ergo the point about the kit bag.

To the original poster -- I put together a "ccw support KB" a while back that goes with me when I travel. Sometimes it's even in my daypack in big cities. It's a Recon KB with 4 spare pistol mags and a TQ on the front. The rest of the trauma kit is in the slot pocket along with some surefire ep3s and a slot pocket survival kit. The rifle rated side plate lives in the pistol compartment. I've always got pistol, flashlight, and knife on body. So the idea is I throw on the KB and I'm as ready as I'm going to be with nothing more than a pistol. As Scot said, it conceals from the casual observer under a jacket or even shirt if you need to. And of course it's easy to drop into just about any kind of bag. If I wanted the same thing, but backcountry capable, I'd use a Heavy Recon KB instead so the center compartment could be all my first line backcountry gear.

 

 


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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Yesterday @ 7:34 PM
 
You can pick up or piece together a decent chest rig super. I picked up a used, like new Tactical Tailor MAV for $20 shipped recently. The seller threw in 6 quality (TT, ATS) bungee-style AR mag pouches, excellent condition, for another $25. You can get new, surplus, USGI MOLLE pouches super cheap too, they will at least start you off.

$50-100 and you have an upgradeable piece of gear that isn't re-producible in a seriously bad situation. Like TAK said above - there is no substitute for a decent chest rig if you actually need it.

What are the odds any of us will get in that kind of scenario on the continental USA? Hopefully close to zero. But a one time $100 isn't a huge investment.
 
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