G.P.S. Tactical has a knack for making compact range bags and backpacks that can fit a ton of weapons and gear. How does their Handgunner Range Backpack stack up? Let's dive in with an in-depth review.
Handgunner Backpack at a Glance
All buttoned up, the Handgunner Backpack is unassuming. The exterior pouches on the bag use hook-and-loop fasteners, so you can stick just about any Velcro ammo pouch or range gear back on the outside (note the GPS rubber logo velcro'd to the top-front compartment).
- Exterior dimensions: 19" tall x 16" wide x 10" deep
- Made from 1000D ballistic nylon with Velcro exterior
- Dense foam gun shelf holds up to (4) full-size handguns
- Capable of storing long-slide automatics and revolvers
- Shell is water-resistant, pull-out rain fly covers entire bag
- Internal frame keeps bag rigid when empty or shelf removed
- Visual I.D. storage provides compartments for all your range gear
- Smooth YKK zippers with pull strings for easy access
- Twin side pockets with (6) extra magazine pouches
Gear and Guns Tested
To test out fitment with the gun shelf in the backpack, we loaded it it up with an assortment of 1911s, a Glock 19 (gen 4), a Smith & Wesson M&P9c, and a Walther P99AS. These larger handguns put the capacity of the gun storage shelf to the test. We also included plenty of magazines and range gear (eye pro and shooting muffs) to try out the various compartments.
Gear Loaded: In-Depth Review
With all our pistols and gear packed in, the Handgunner Backpack manages to stay surprisingly small in overall size and shape. The relatively thick nylon shell, internal frame, and semi-rigid cover for the handguns' foam shell work together to keep the bag's shape and prevent it from getting sloppy or bulging out with a lot of weight stored inside.
The straps on the Handgunner are pretty comfortable. They're not too thin and they come stitched with plenty of reinforcements to handle high amounts of weight. There's no cummerbund, but the yoke on the straps keeps weight distributed across the top of the shoulders nicely, and the adjustment straps let you get the bag synched up high with a good center of gravity. A molded rubber handle provides easy carrying when the bag's not shouldered.
The back of the bag is comfortable, too. It features a softer Neoprene-like material that wicks moisture, and there are mesh vents on the sides and bottom to keep the bag breathable when it's pressed up against your back for longer periods of time.
Visual I.D. (What's Included)
If you're not familiar with G.P.S. Tactical's universal bag design, all G.P.S. range bags use the Visual I.D. storage system. This system uses specifically sized and shaped compartments to hold certain range gear and equipment without taking up too much space. This system also provides easy organization, labelling each compartment with these small rubber icons.
The Handgunner Backpack incorporates many of the available Visual I.D. compartments, including:
- Rainfly cover pouch
- Target tape and stapler pouch
- Rolled paper target straps
- Shooting glasses pouch
- Shooting earmuffs pouch
- Earplugs pouch
- Binoculars pouch
- Tool pouch
- Ammo pouch
- Lockable zippers
Starting up top, the pull-out rainfly provides full coverage for the Handgunner if you're shooting outdoors and get caught up in some rain or snow. The shoulder straps can still be used with the rainfly installed, making this is a good gear bag if you're hunting in rough weather and have a long trek to the blind or tree stand. The rainfly stows away inside the zippered flap for the main compartment, which is large enough to store your shooting muffs and a few boxes of ammo.
Top Compartment Storage
Even with full muffs stored away, the top compartment offers enough room to get at least two or three 50-round boxes of cartridges stuffed away for your handguns. The inside of the compartment is also lined with water-resistant nylon and some padding to protect your gear and ammo inside.
Front Compartment Storage
The top compartment provides Visual I.D. storage for your shooting glasses and a few pairs of earplugs. The compartment containing these pouches affords some extra space for generic gear, and the zippered flap also contains a small internal zipper pocket for things like keys or personal items.
Foam Handgun Shelf
Moving toward the bottom, the main attraction for the Handgunner Backpack is the removable foam handgun storage shelf. The foam is inctredibly dense and firm, but soft enough under light compression to keep a firm, safe grip on your pistols during transport. Of our four guns, none had an issue fitting comfortably inside the bag. Our longest firearm, the 5"-barreled 1911, didn't make a fuss or wind up sticking out of the compartment to make a tight fit. The shelves are wide enough and flexible enough to hold a typical revolver, too.
If you prefer to carry something else in this compartment -- like ditching carrying any handguns altogether for more boxes of ammo or magazines -- the foam shelf is removable and the internal frame will still keep the bag standing upright. There's a small pouch on the inside of the zippered flap for this compartment, and the flap is semi-rigid to protect the mag wells and grips on your handguns from impacts while stored.
Pistol Magazine Pouches
Moving to the left and right side, the Handgunner's bottom compartments each contain six handgun magazine pouches, for a total capacity of twelve magazines. They're wide enough to hold any double-stacks you may be using, and we found you can probably squeeze two single-stack magazines into each pouch. There is extra space in each compartment outside the pouches, so you can shove even more magazines in there if you're planning on a long range day.
Behind each ammo pouch compartment are two more zippered compartments. One is labelled by Visual I.D. for binoculars, and the other provides generic space for whatever extra gear or ammo you're bringing along.
Top Side Compartments
Each top compartment is generic and affords extra "stuff" space. One's labelled for storing ammo while the other's labelled for your target stapler, tacks, and tape. Obviously, either compartment can be used for whatever gear or extras you're bringing shooting. G.P.S. also threw in a cup for keeping your spent brass in one spot.
Elastic Paper Target Loops
This has been one of our favorite features found on many of G.P.S.'s range bags: These elastic loops provide easy storage for your paper targets without having to fold and crimp them. If you use reactive or "color-bleed" targets, you've probably seen them bleed color when folded. Rolling your targets makes for easy storage and frees up valuable bag space. Plus, you don't have to be that guy weighing your targets down on the shooting bench with ammo boxes while the wind tries to carry them away.
Rucking it: Field Test
The Handgunner Backpack has one thing going for it that most other range bags don't: Carry comfort. As in, a proper shoulder yoke and padded, adjustable straps that make a day's hike enjoyable. So, we decided to hoof it out to public shooting lands on a hot summer day in Utah.
Although we only took it out with two handguns in the shelf, it was loaded with plenty of 30-round magazines for a 300 Blackout-chambered AR-15. Relatively heavy stuff. Nonetheless, the straps and relatively breathable backside made the trip easy. The design of the bag keeps its center of gravity close to your back, reducing the felt weight and strain on your shoulders. For being lightweight, it's also surprisingly rigid, which stops all that weight from sloshing around inside.
The G.P.S. Handgunner Backpack is a great range bag. It's compact, lightweight, and supports four handguns and plenty of ammo without taking up too much space. It affords a nice, all-in-one way of carrying all your shooting equipment, and it'll go the distance in the field without becoming uncomfortable. The Handgunner's capable, to be sure. We would've liked to see some MOLLE straps placed on the exterior for supporting additional pouches or bags, though the velcro shell on the exterior top compartment can still hold some additional mag pouches with hook-and-loop fasteners. Given the Handgunner can hold at least twelve magazines and plenty of extra mags and ammo boxes, this is a relatively minor miss.