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Active Shooter Deployment Bags

The active shooter response is very different from a barricaded suspect scenario. To stop this crime in progress, you must be both quick and effective. This short time to the target requires that your equipment to be both accessible and mission specific.

In the bygone era of the muzzle-loading rifle, shooters carried a cloth or leather bag around their shoulder, which held their rifle ball and patches. Take the concept from days past and apply it to law enforcement’s response to active shooters, and you have a piece of equipment that can be in the patrol car within reach of the patrol carbine and quick to deploy.

To supply additional ammunition, some officers and agencies affix a spare magazine to the side of the carbine or on a butt-stock carrier. I have always found that this additional weight makes the carbine unwieldy and, with the butt-stock magazine holders, slow to reload. To answer the question of spare magazines and other gear for the active shooter, we turn to two modern solutions.

Active Shooter Bail Out Bag

The Active Shooter Bail Out Bag is manufactured by 5.11 Tactical and available exclusively through GT Distributors. Made from 1000-D black nylon fabric, this reasonably priced shoulder bag is designed to be carried around the support side shoulder and can carry as many as six spare magazines in the hook and loop secured pouches.

The main compartment can carry hemostatic (blood clotting) agents such as QuickClot® or Celox®, trauma dressings, flex-cuffs, spare flashlight, etc. The inside of the main bag is set up to accept the 5.11 Back-Up Belt System (spare pistol, mags and various other holders) on one side and has PALS webbing on the other interior side.

Hawkepak Rifle BugOut Bag

A larger version of this is the Rifle BugOut Bag by Hawkepak. With pouches for six carbine magazines and much more inside carrying space, this stoutly designed, padded shoulder bag comes complete with a thigh strap that can firmly affix the bag down to your thigh. The Rifle BugOut Bag is 9 inches wide by 10 inches high by 5 inches deep. It comes complete with a holster that can be positioned to your preference anywhere on the hook and loop interior. Exterior end pockets are designed to carry three pistol magazines on one side and a 1-liter bottle of water on the other. The Hawkepak BugOut Bag comes in a variety of colors.


Both bags can be easily donned in a couple of seconds, a vital concern when seconds count. With little practice, I was able to reload my Armalite M-15 from either rifle bag in less than 3 seconds. Furthermore, the bags allowed me to use the same motions I use when reloading my carbine from my tactical belt gear. By stocking the bags with first-aid trauma supplies, flex-cuffs, water, spare pistol magazines, and up to six spare rifle magazines, both bags fulfilled their intended use. They provide easily accessible and lifesaving ammunition and equipment in a bag that is quick to don in the field.

Klebold and Harris at Columbine, Cho at Virginia Tech, Robert Hawkins at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, all planned, prepared and were equipped and trained. Like every mass shooter, all intended to inflict maximum body count in minimum time. These two rifle bags are the modern equivalent of a centuries old concept. They enable a well-trained lawman to deliver effective violence to stop murder in progress. Now, once properly equipped, it is your job to train like lives hang in the balance…because they do.

Kevin R. Davis is a full-time officer with 25 years of experience. Assigned to the Training Bureau, he is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency’s SWAT team. Visit his Web site at He welcomes your comments at

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2008

Rating : 7.6

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