Updated: Oct 25, 2020
There is nothing quite as satisfying as opening the package on that long awaited, much anticipated new piece of the new firearms hotness! If you're a gun guy or gal, it's likely, at some point you'll be searching for the perfect "(insert your wish list here)"! And when it shows up you may be urged (as I am) to give quick and loud..."QUIET EVERYONE - it's time for.... THE UNBOXING!!!" No.. I don't yell that out... I have an 18 yr old son who is beast on the range and I just need to beat him to the Amazon, Brownells, or other package that's just hit the door. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what happened in our house this week!
Joking aside, the urge to go get the newest sights, optics, trigger, surface controls, holster, belts, pants, shoes, eyes, ears, and a bag to hold it in is enticing. But, before you do that, let a couple of range warriors and round pounders give you a couple of tips that will hopefully make sure you're making the best purchases at the right time.
Let's start from the beginning
Gear selection can be and usually is a very personal process by which shooters search out equipment that they believe is the best for them. Color, size, weight, contour, thickness, price, who recommended it, and ultimately the purpose for the gear varies widely. Let's keep it simple and keep to the basic that you should have:
Firearm - Yes, this is the most important piece of gear! It should fit you, your purpose, your goals, and it should be something you have experience with prior to the purchase. Ladies - don't buy small and cute. The felt recoil is increased with smaller the platform.
Holster - Sigh...As instructors nothing makes us cringe more than seeing a $500 - $1500.00 firearm in a $15 dollar holster. Especially if it's one of those - one size fits all and let's hope this strap keeps it from bouncing out special holsters! That said, you'll likely end up with a few holsters depending on the purpose. Our training/range holsters are often different than our EDC (Everyday Carry) holsters. I recommend Kydex due to the strength, rigidity, and ability to keep it shape, opening for reholstering etc. FYI - Fully covered trigger, adjustable retention, and if you're a new shooter - stay away from mechanical retention (buttons or levers) to release the gun.
Personal Protective Gear - You have a limited number of eyes and ears, protect them well. There are standards for shooting glasses that differ from just cheap safety glasses you can pick up at the big box stores. Here's a blog post that details some of the differences (How To Identify Ballistic Eyewear). Don't go cheap - it's not worth it. Same for the ear pro - invest the money in some decent range ear pro and your ears/head will thank you for it! Expect to pay $50 to 300 or more for quality ear pro, and another $35 to $150 for quality eye pro.
Belts - If you've been with me for a while, you knew this was going to hit the list! I covered the importance of the the belt here in a recent blog post. Short version, don't go cheap here - get a quality belt that will stand up to the rigor of the range. If's a belt on a budget mission - here's another blog post covering options. ** SPOILER ALERT ** My review of the Titan EDC belt from NEXTBELT is coming soon!
Looking to grab one now - Check them out here! www.Nexbelt.com
Magazine pouch - If you're going to put in the work on the range, and speed and efficiency is important to you, this is an easy call! Make sure you find one that fits you, your firearm magazines, and your new sturdy belt. I'd recommend having a dual mag pouch, kydex with adjustable retention. Keep in mind, this too is another piece of equipment that can and will vary depending on the application. On the range, I use kydex, or form fitting expandable pouches. For my EDC, I have different options. One of my favorites is.... respond to this thread and I'll drop a link for you! :)
Case/Bag - Depending on your state, and travel restrictions - you'll need to follow the guidelines stipulated by the governing authorities. Check with your local sheriffs department, state police, TSA etc based on your mode of travel. But, in general, make sure you have a means to carry your equipment to and from the range safely, possible locked, and if you can carry with ammo in the same compartment, make sure both the ammo and the gun is well protected from bouncing around, hard stops, etc.
Tourniquet / IFAK - If you've been on the range with us, you've seen these on our belts, and in multiple med kits around the team. Having the ability to save a life with the appropriate gear is as important as responding to lethal threats. It's cliche, but, the life you save may be your own! ** SPOILER ALERT **. Range day training will include some drills here as well!
There are other items you can add to the above list like shoes/boots, pants, shirts, hats, gloves, knives, multitools etc that will round out your gear. But, at the bare minimum, if you're hitting the range the above should be in your inventory and matched for each gun in the case headed to the range!
Sneak peak to the next post - The Titan Belt review, and we'll cover some of the other gear options to consider and how to prioritize your investments.
As always, comment below, or shoot us an email, find us on Facebook, or Instagram to leave comments and questions!