As a tactical precision rifle shooter for my agency, I am always interested in serious products that can help me do my job better. Over the years, my agency has bought large quantities of Galati bags for our rifles and shotguns. Many of these bags see rugged use along the border or in boats. Despite the fact that police officers are able to break the unbreakable, I have yet to see a Galati bag fail. With that reputation in mind, the Galati Deluxe Shooters Mat looked promising.
The mat comes in three tactical-oriented colors…OD green, tan and black. It is made of rugged Cordura nylon and is a tri-fold design. It does double duty as a drag bag. The bag comes complete with backpack straps that can be neatly stored away in a concealed pocket and a drag loop.
What differentiates this bag from other drag bags is the absence of exterior pockets. Once fully unzipped, the bag becomes a generously wide shooting mat and an additional flap at the end of the bag folds out for more length. The thick, half-inch closed cell padding in the bag not only protects the rifle inside but also provides a comfortable shooting platform and does a good job of mitigating the discomfort often caused by nuisance rocks and tree roots encountered when shooting under field conditions. The Galati bag has exterior ties for lashing on vegetation or other camouflage, and there are number of exterior MOLLE slots for pockets and pouches to be added if so desired.
First impressions of the bag were favorable. It is very well-constructed and lives up to the Galati reputation for toughness. It also has a very clean appearance and profile. The absence of exterior pockets helps to reduce the bulk of the bag and assists in its namesake function, i.e., a shooting mat. Exterior pockets may prevent other bags from lying flat, especially when the pockets are stuffed full of gear. As a result, these may not always provide a comfortable shooting platform. Additionally, the extra pockets can make it that much harder to get the bag in and through tight places.
Inside the bag, there are a number of pockets that are conveniently placed to store such items as dope books, binoculars, range finders, ammunition, etc. Elastic cartridge loops are also provided for those shooting bolt guns and want spare ammo at their fingertips. Non-slip material covers the front of the bag to allow a shooter in the prone position to anchor into a solid shooting position without having to worry about slipping or moving. The interior pockets, and cartridge loops are removable to further reduce bulk if one so desires, or the bag can be set up to accommodate left-handed shooters.
Another nice feature is an interior, full-length cleaning rod pocket that easily accommodates a 26-inch Dewey cleaning rod. A pouch on the inside of the bag serves as a muzzle protector, keeping the muzzle crown and rifle bore free from damage and debris. Straps further secure a shooter’s rifle to the inside of the bag during transport to further protect the rifle from unnecessary movement. A heavy duty YKK dual slider zipper keeps the bag closed and is silent in operation. Additionally, the zipper is protected from damage and debris by a full-length flap.
I used the mat/drag bag at a weeklong precision rifle school where I spent a great deal of time in a prone position. The shooting mat’s thick padding and rugged exterior provided relative comfort over five days of lying in the dirt and mud. Though not specifically advertised as water resistant, the Deluxe Shooters Mat easily shrugged off the effects of rain and mud. This was the first that anyone in the class had seen the new Galati Deluxe Shooters Mat, including the instructors. Everyone was impressed. I had so many inquiries that I ended up writing the Galati Gear Web site on the classroom board.
At one point during a live fire exercise, I was lying prone, firing my string of shots when an instructor came and lay down beside me. I paused, thinking he was going to give me critical advice. Instead, he told me I was shooting fine and that he was just looking for a product label, as he wanted a shooting mat like mine.
A few weeks after the school, I had the opportunity to use the Deluxe Shooters Mat operationally. Our team was going to be executing a warrant, and I had the task of stalking in and establishing a listening post-observation post and position of advantage in order to cover our entry team as it approached the building. I was able to easily pack my rifle in through some very thick, dense brush and get set up.
The bags slick profile helped me to slip in without getting hung up, and the shoulder straps were easily adjustable and comfortable to allow for ease of carry. Once in place, I was able to easily maneuver the bag into position, remove my rifle and get set up for the long operation. Again, the bag provided substantial comfort in a wet and thorny environment.
The Galati Deluxe Shooters Mat is a winner. It works equally as well for bolt guns and gas guns. If you are looking for a good shooting mat/drag bag combination, look no further. The mat costs about $180.
David Chesser is the pen name for a federal agent with the Department of Homeland Security.