Active Shooter Equipment

The active shooter, and the response by law enforcement, has been the topic that has dominated police training for the past several years. For an active shooter situation, the duty handgun should quickly become a secondary weapon. Most of these situations have involved suspects who are armed with multiple firearms, and many times, some type of long gun. The primary reasons the duty handgun should be replaced as a primary weapon by a rifle or pistol caliber carbine are for better precision and accuracy.

By definition, the active shooter is moving among innocents, shooting as he goes. Officers who engage the suspect need the ability to quickly place shots on target with a higher degree of precision than what many are capable of doing with a handgun. This situation will no doubt involve firing when others are around, or downrange of, the suspect. With a rifle, an officer can attain a higher degree of accuracy than what he can achieve at the same distance with a handgun. While the weapons system is important, the support equipment for such a system is equally as important in the overall scheme of things.

Several companies have recognized the need for carrying this support equipment. They have developed options such as bandoleers, chest rigs, “tactical bags” and thigh rigs, all which can quickly be donned by an officer and which are all more viable alternatives than simply telling officers to shove a spare magazine in their back pockets.

BlackHawk Products Group

BlackHawk is a name well known to law enforcement. This mega-giant is able to supply just about any need from a very extensive catalogue of products. BlackHawk’s goal is to be able to equip the law enforcement officer or war fighter from head to toe. While BlackHawk does offer a full line of chest rigs, it also has brought to the table several other designs that have much to offer in an active shooting situation.

Many officers will find the “grab and go” concept represented by the BlackHawk Battle Bag the most attractive. The bag, which measures 11”x 5”x10,” is carried by a shoulder strap with an integral but stowable waist belt. It can hold up to six 30-round rifle magazines, two pistol magazines and other gear that may prove useful such as first-aid supplies. For officers who might respond in an off-duty or plainclothes capacity, the Battle Bag contains everything one would need from ammunition to communications and first-aid gear.

The BlackHawk Strike Bandoleer is a cost-effective option and can be configured to an officer’s exact needs. It serves as a load carriage system that one can quickly don while on the move. The Strike Bandoleer is meant to be slung over a shoulder, placing the gear firmly in the middle of the officer’s chest.

The MOLLE attachment points located on this unit allow for an officer to attach everything from a holster for an addition handgun to ammunition or first-aid pouches. In addition to the shoulder strap, the unit has a unique front side tie-down that is designed to be secured using the officer’s gun belt to form an anchor point. The strap is affixed in much in the same fashion as the keepers on a gunbelt are.


Buffer-Tech started out by making recoil buffer systems for a variety of firearms and continues to do so to this day. In addition, Buffer-Tech now offers a simple answer to the carriage of addition rifle magazines. The Mag-Cinch is a modern version of the jungle-clip concept that was employed to join two high-capacity magazines together as far back as World War II. Utilizing two straps that join at a central polymer core, the Mag-Cinch is offered for a variety of weapon platforms such as the AR-15/M16, MP5, and AK-47.

While it is not the “coolest” way to carry extra ammunition into a crisis site, it is, at less than $20 retail, a cost-effective and completely viable method to be sure that there is sufficient ammunition already on board the weapon.

Diamondback Tactical

Diamondback Tactical (DBT) has long offered a full catalogue of well-made, load-bearing equipment, tactical armor and one of the thinnest and most capable ballistic rifle plates available. For active shooter response, DBT has a complete line of chest rigs, ballistic plate carriers and other load-bearing gear, which will serve admirably as part of an officer’s individual equipment kit.

One of the best products for this type of response started out as a DBT original but has been copied by many others. While DBT produced the Escape and Evasion (E&E) bag for an entirely different purpose, officers rapidly found that it was perfect as a low-profile answer to their needs. Looking very unobtrusive, the E&E bag will hold a variety of equipment, including rifle and pistol magazines, and shotgun shells. The bags design, for which DBT owns the patents, allows for a significant amount of other gear such as first-aid equipment to be carried in a small package, allowing an officer to carry the bag as a complete load-bearing system for active shooter response.

In addition to the gear-carrying ability of the unit, the Escape and Evasion bag has a large flap that covers the top of the bag, concealing its true purpose. When the flap is down, the E&E bag looks like any of the other very popular civilian bags. This allows for the unit to sit un-noticed on the front seat of a patrol car and not offer a “scary” or “steal me” image for anyone in the public who might happen by.

In addition to the concealment offered by the flap, the reverse side has a clear window for maps or other important documents. The documents can be read while on the go—an important feature for officers who have the ability to pre-plan for high-risk target areas. The overall quality of the bag, as with all Diamondback Tactical equipment, is flawless.

Eagle Industries

Eagle has long been among the market leaders in tactical nylon for law enforcement and military applications. Ben Lennett, who heads Eagle’s Law Enforcement Division, is a former patrol deputy from a large Southwestern sheriff’s department. He has a knowledge base that gives him unique insight into what officers want and, most important, what they need in equipment of this type.

Designs that come from the Eagle shop are well thought out and are built to survive the rigors of life on a patrol, so there should be no concerns as to long-term durability. In fact, Eagle’s President John Carver offers a lifetime guarantee on the company’s products: “If you do not shoot it, cut it, or blow it up, I will repair or replace, at no charge, any Eagle product that ever fails to perform.” It just does not get any better than that.

While Eagle has a full line of products and offerings that would be useful in active shooting scenarios, there are several that stand out for patrol officers. In fact, Eagle officials are so concerned with making sure that officers have the appropriate equipment for response to these incidents, they have an entire selection of products on their Web site listed as “Active Shooter Response Gear.” Because belt space is at a premium on every officer’s gun belt, a place for addition magazines and other equipment will need to be created. Back pockets work, but they are slow, cumbersome, not secure against loss and do nothing to mitigate against damage to equipment.

Chest rigs have long been a favorite of the military and tactical law enforcement communities. The benefit of a chest rig for active shooter response is that it can be kept pre-loaded, stored next to the rifle and be quickly donned once the officer arrives at the location of the incident. These rigs, which vary in capabilities, can hold from three to eight spare rifle magazines and additional gear. While Eagle offers numerous styles of these products, a few stand out as the best alternative for patrol-based law enforcement use.

One is the Universal Tactical Vest, Chest Rig (Eagle product code CR-PHUTV). This chest rig was originally designed at the request of a military unit that is a “national counter-terrorism asset.” The rig has permanently arranged pockets that allow for an extreme amount of gear, including up to eight 30-round AR-15-style magazines and four pistol magazines. Two additional pockets, while originally designed for military radios, are useful for items such as water bottles or bulk first-aid supplies.

Two of the pockets on the rig can be used to hold an additional pistol with a tactical light attached. The unit is flexible in that its design allows for an officer to configure gear based upon perceived needs without having to resort to buying additional pockets or pouches.

Another product is Chest Rig M4, MOLLE, LE (Eagle Product Code CR-M4-MS-LE). While the UTV is set up with permanently arranged pockets, Eagle realized that this may not be optimal for all officers in all situations. As such, Eagle has developed the LE MOLLE Chest Rig, which has three permanently placed open-top pockets in the front of the rig, each carrying a single 30-round magazine. To either side of the rig is a MOLLE panel, which can be used to add additional pockets or pouches to fit a user’s specific needs. Developed expressly for law enforcement, the unit has found a home in many patrol vehicles and many tactical officers because it offers the ability to add equipment on an as-needed basis for specific functions.

Finally, Eagle has the Patrol Bandoleer, Double M4/9mm (Eagle Product Code PB-M4/4-M9/2-LE). While chest rigs are ideal for an active shooter situation, they may be more than what some officers want or need in terms of equipment carriage. For an even quicker and easier response, Eagle has developed the Patrol Bandoleer. This unit, which is carried by a simple strap that an officer can sling over his shoulder and run, holds up to four 30-round magazines as well as two additional pistol magazines. Simple, easy and rugged, the Patrol Bandoleer is an in-expensive way to keep spare ammunition with the weapons system.


Known to almost every officer as the largest holster and gunbelt accessory maker in the world, Safariland offers a series of products for use by officers responding to active shooter incidents that take a slightly different tack than other companies. Building upon the proven design of their wildly successful 6004 tactical holster platform, Safariland now offers the 6004-14 and 6005-10 Tactical Leg Shrouds, upon which can be mounted magazine holders, chemical and less-lethal device pouches and a variety of other much-needed equipment.

The male / female-style buckle system on the drop strap allows an officer to wear the female portion on his uniform pants underneath of the gunbelt, out of the way and unobtrusive until needed. When an officer needs to add additional gear for a crisis response, he simply snaps the male portion of the shroud’s drop strap into the female end.

The tactical leg shroud design has been proven with SWAT officers across the country who need to carry “sub-loads” of ammunition or other accessories on their legs, out of the way of body armor and other gear but readily accessible. This same technology is rapidly becoming of great use to patrol officers for the very same reasons.

Scott Oldham is a supervisory sergeant with the Bloomington, IN Police Department where he is assigned to the Operations Division as patrol supervisor, as well as being one of the team leaders for the department’s Tactical Unit. He and his partner, Sergeant Mick Williams, provide contract instruction on a wide range of subjects, including tactical and patrol-based skills. He can be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2008

Rating : 8.3

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