Gathering your shooting gear shouldn’t resemble a cat-herding operation

by Rob Reaser

You know the feeling. Admit it. You do.

It’s Saturday morning. No domestic chores on the menu. The weather forecast is calling for a bluebird day. You whip up a robust breakfast or plan a stop at your favorite diner that’s on the way to the GUN RANGE!

Yep, it’s range day, and life is good except…the back of your truck resembles a jumble of junk stacked precariously across the floorboard. You want to run through two or three firearms, which means multiple gun cases, multiple boxes of ammo, assorted tools and supplies, targets, an oversized and overweight target stand (unless you’re one of the “just bring an old cardboard box” types), a soft-side cooler for drinks… The list can be, and usually is, a long one. Then there’s the fun of toting all that stuff from the parking lot to the bench — two or three or four times before everything is where you want it. And once you’re done shooting for the day, you get to do it all over again in reverse.

We can commiserate because we’ve been there, done that. We’ll also tell you that, once you take advantage of some organizational products that are available, you’ll say to yourself, “I should’ve done this a long time ago.”

Over the years, we’ve picked up numerous items from the folks at MTM Case-Gard. This company has a serious knack of coming up with solutions for problems we all have and doing so in a way that is affordable and leaves money for all the other stuff we need…like more ammo and guns. Earlier this year, MTM introduced a couple of items that have had a solid impact on our “for fun” range days.

Range time for the Shoot On staff is usually firearm-specific and lean as far as what we need to bring. Because our focus is on one gun at a time, we don’t need much support gear — the firearm, sufficient test ammo, a minimalist target stand, targets, bench support, and a radar unit if we’re shooting rifles. We can usually move it all from the truck to the bench in two trips, sometimes less.

When it’s the weekend and we’re going to the range for training or just to spend a few quality hours, it’s often a different story. Part of the reason is we shoot multiple firearms — a rifle or two, and always a handgun.

This year, we’ve deployed MTM’s new Tactical Rifle Case 42″ for almost every range session. So far, we love it not only for its features, but also for its price.

MTM calls this a Tactical Rifle Case, and appropriately so. It’s 42 inches long and wide enough to fit a couple of ARs or similar-sized “black guns.” You may also find it suitable for shotguns, bolt-action rifles, or combinations thereof. As you can see here, the Tactical Rifle Case easily accommodates our AKM and AR pistol with room to spare. We’ve also used it to carry two ARs at a time.

We’re always leery of budget-priced plastic rifle cases because most of them tend to be super flimsy, with thin-wall construction and equally flimsy latches. Not so with the MTM Tactical Rifle Case. The hinge system is robust, the case halves align properly when closed, and there are four snap latches (two in front and one on each side) to keep contents secure. Integrated padlock holes allow you to employ locks to further secure the case.

A forward-thinking feature of the Tactical Rifle Case includes molded-in strap loops. These let you use two straps to help secure the case on an ATV. It’s perfect for hunters and long-range shooters who use 4x4s to get around in the field.

Another feature we like is the internal tie-down system. Transporting two guns in a single case can be tricky, especially if one firearm is larger than the other. That can permit the smaller one to shift during transport and possibly be damaged. The Tactical Rifle Case takes a cue from some of the hard-side bow cases we’ve used. Bosses molded into the case allow you to screw in four supplied hook-and-loop straps in various locations. Slits that are pre-cut in the thick foam accept the straps so you can wrap them around the firearms to prevent shifting. Multiple attaching points provide customization for different-sized and shaped firearms.

We mentioned earlier that the Tactical Rifle Case is not flimsy like other cases we’ve used in this price range. Without mic’ing the case walls for comparison, we can’t speak to wall thickness, but we’re guessing the overall design of this case has a lot to do with its sturdiness. The expansive ribbing you see here undoubtedly reduces the potential for flex (verses non-ribbed case halves) and contributes greatly to the case’s sturdiness. Again, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better at this price.

The other nifty product MTM introduced this year is the Tactical Pistol Case, available in compact and sub-compact designs.

Toting handguns to the range has always been somewhat annoying. Factory boxes are a hassle, and most handgun cases on the market are unnecessarily bulky. MTM’s Tactical Pistol case is designed in a vertical orientation instead of the traditional flat clamshell, so we find it much easier to carry between the vehicle and the shooting bench, and it’s easier to place in the truck cab.

The Tactical Pistol case has cut foam inside to accommodate a handgun in the muzzle-down orientation along with two slots for holding magazines. It has an O-ring seal around the inside of the lid, so you can use this for long-term storage, if necessary. As with the rifle case, the Tactical Pistol case exhibits no flimsiness in either the box or the latch designs. There are also two padlock tabs, allowing you to lock the case.

In addition to the new rifle and pistol cases, MTM makes a host of other range-friendly products. This is what our typical range day loadout looks like.

We have several of the company’s ammo cans that we use to haul ammo, of course, but also to tote ancillary items, such as ear pro, gloves, magazines, rangefinder, and the like. For cleaning, optic work, or emergency field repair, the Shooting Range Box can’t be beat for holding all necessary tools and supplies.

Finally, forget about repurposing cardboard boxes for targets! The MTM Jammit Target Stand coupled with the All-Weather Target Backer is the absolute way to go for portable target solutions. Unless your shooting range is made of rock, you can stick this stand into the ground easily enough and the backer withstands hundreds of shots before you’ll want to swap it out for a fresh one.

The key to getting the most fun and efficiency out of your range day is organization, simplification, and ease of transport. From our years of using MTM products, we can vouch that you’ll find no better range of range gear that gets the job done without blowing up your wallet.

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