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Hey everybody, Chris Baker here from gunzforsaleonline.com. A few months ago, I showed you guys my backpack gun project. The idea was to set up a long gun that was compact enough to fit in an unassuming everyday type of backpack that does not look like it’s got a gun in it.
The combo I chose was a super-short-barreled 9mm AR build with an Evergoods CPL24 backpack. At the end of that video, I asked if you guys would be interested in seeing some of the other guns and backpacks that I had experimented with for this project. The answer I got was a resounding “yes,” so that’s what we’re going to do today.
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I’ve got four more guns and four more backpacks to look at. These guns are all very different from each other. People have a lot of different reasons for wanting to own a backpack or bag gun and they have to fill all kinds of different roles.
In that first video, I explored the potential of a bag gun as a self-defense tool and when it may or may not be appropriate. If you’re thinking in terms of everyday carry of a long gun to supplement your carry pistol, something like that might be useful and legal in a very narrow set of circumstances. It’s still mostly theoretical at this point. It’s an interesting thought exercise, but the practicality is questionable.
If you’re looking for ways to stay safe in today’s climate, there are a multitude of training opportunities and gear that will probably get you a lot closer to that goal than buying a backpack gun will
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But if you’re going to buy one anyway, you might as well get something good. And, of course, it’s always fun to learn about some cool gear you might not have seen before. Guns don’t have to be practical to be fun, and I think all four of these are pretty fun.
So this time around, I’ve taken some different approaches to the bag gun concept. There are lots of other use-cases, and they’re not all self-defense related. If you’re trying to come up with an excuse to justify that cool thing you don’t need, consider me your enabler today.
The one common theme is that we’re looking for everyday, travel to work, walk around in public kinds of bags that happen to be able to accommodate a compact long gun if we want them to. We’re not just looking for a dedicated rifle case disguised as something else. All the bags I chose have a spot for a laptop and plenty of storage space for stuff that you might want to carry on a daily basis or an overnight trip in addition to the gun.
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Be aware that state and local laws vary quite a bit as far as whether it is legal to carry a long gun in public. In some states it’s fine. In others, it’s only okay if the gun is unloaded or in your car or when you’re engaged in certain activities. Long guns might be covered by your concealed carry permit in some states. In others, they are not. Be sure to read up on the laws that apply to your area and any place you might be traveling to or through.
One more quick disclaimer: there is no paid product placement here. All the gear you’re about to see is stuff that we either bought or borrowed. One of the guns was loaned to us by a distributor at our request. I’m under no obligation to say anything nice about any of these products. I haven’t necessarily had a chance to thoroughly vet all of this gear, but if I say I like something, it’s because I actually have tried it and liked it so far. So, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the first alternate backpack gun setup.
The No Compromise Surprise
I’ve come up with dumb nicknames for all of these. This one I call The No Compromise Surprise. It’s a very generic-looking North Face Surge backpack, but inside, there’s a surprise! I’ve got a BCM 9” AR chambered for 300 Blackout with a LAW folding stock adapter. When you want to make as few compromises as possible to get a rifle that’ll fit in a backpack, this is the way to go. This one is for all of you guys who hated my 9mm AR. As far as short-barreled ARs go, this couldn’t be any more different from that one.
For the optic, we’ve got a Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x scope on an ADM quick-detach mount. I’ve got a set of Magpul MBUS Pro backup iron sights. A basic Magpul MOE SL Stock. And the light is the Modlite OKW with the Modlite remote switch. Some of you might remember this light from the review I did of the Henry X Models. It makes a lot more sense on this gun, though. I’m using a 20-round Lancer magazine and I got some identifier bands so I don’t accidentally load a mag full of 5.56 in here. I’ve also got a Blue Force Gear sling. In this case, I’m storing it in a separate pocket in the bag to retrieve if needed rather than keeping it on the rifle.
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The LAW folding adapter is what really makes this gun work as a backpack gun. These have been around for a few years now. It’s a clever system. It works with any standard AR lower receiver. The adapter attaches to the rear of the receiver. Then you screw a standard buffer tube on the other side of the adapter. There’s a hinge in the middle with a button to unlock the two halves. And you just stick this little plug into the back of the bolt carrier to make up for the extra length. It only takes a few minutes to install if you already have the correct tools to install a buffer tube assembly.
The only major downside to the LAW adapter that I’ve discovered so far is the weight. It adds about 11 ounces to your AR, which is definitely noticeable. It makes the balance of the rifle feel a little awkward. Of course, this rifle feels extra awkward because I’ve also got two pounds worth of optic and mount on the top, so all of the weight is at the rear of the gun.
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Other than the barrel and the 20-round mag, everything on this gun is full size. I didn’t go out of my way to get any especially large or heavy components or accessories, but I also didn’t get any special compact or lightweight stuff for it.
I also kind of took the middle-road in terms of cost — I didn’t cheap out on anything, but I did try to avoid the super high-end “Gucci-tier” accessories. You could argue the Modlite is maybe an exception to that.
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Either way, weight and cost add up quickly, so the end result is still heavy and not exactly budget-friendly. It weighs 10 pounds loaded, and the final price tag comes to just over 3000 bucks. Minus the optic, light, and tax stamp it’s more like $1700 and 7.5 pounds.
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If I was going to use this long-term, I might try a different optic, optic mount, and stock. That could help shave a few ounces off the weight. On the plus side, it should be almost as reliable as a standard 16-inch carbine. Recoil is mild. And, for the most part, out to about 200 yards, it’s just as effective as any 16-inch intermediate caliber AR, both in terms of ballistics and in terms of how easy it is to get hits on target.
I think, theoretically, something like this wouldn’t be a bad general purpose do-everything carbine. You could run it in a carbine class. A lot of people use them for hunting and pest animals. It’s an ideal barrel length and cartridge to run with a suppressor. The fact that it’s only 19.5 inches folded makes it a lot easier to travel with, whether you’re throwing a backpack in your trunk for a road trip or you have to use a hard-sided case to check it at the airport. If you don’t want to register it as an SBR you could set it up as a pistol with a brace, at least for now, anyway.
A 9-inch barrel still gives you plenty of real estate on the handguard for a mostly normal shooting grip and stance. Compared to other short-barreled black rifles, it’s a nice balance of easy to store, easy to shoot, and ballistic efficiency.
But in reality, a 300 Blackout SBR doesn’t usually work out as a general purpose carbine as well as you might hope. That’s simply because of ammo cost and availability. Even when the ammo market isn’t completely nuts like it is right now, 300 Blackout can be difficult to find, especially if you’ve got a specific load in mind. 5.56 range ammo is always a fraction of the cost in comparison just due to the economy of scale. If you do a lot of shooting and you’re looking for something like this to be your One Rifle to Rule Them All, you’re probably going to end up getting a 5.56 upper to go with it.
Let’s take a look at the bag for a second. The other bags I picked out were recommended by backpack enthusiasts. They are made by companies that only make bags — that’s their specialty. They’re sleek and well made and thoughtfully designed. And they also tend to be more on the expensive side of the spectrum.
This one is not cheap either, but the North Face Surge is just a backpack. It’s a decent name-brand backpack, but it’s not exceptional. It’s a lot like any of the dozens of other small-ish backpacks made by The North Face and the other big outdoor companies. And that means it doesn’t stand out. It looks completely boring and normal. Nothing about this suggests there’s a gun in here, and that’s what we want.
I have made two small modifications. The first is the addition of these velcro cable ties to keep the straps from dangling freely. This is something I’ve actually added to all of these backpacks except for one that already has something similar built into the straps.
The bottom of the bag is not very well reinforced and it couldn’t handle the 10 pound gun resting on it without sagging on one side. So I cut out a piece of a hard rubber floor mat and stuck in the bottom to create a kind of platform for the gun to rest on. That definitely made a huge difference.
The main thing this bag has going for it other than looking ordinary is that it’s got a ton of pockets. That’s good because we can leave the gun in a pocket by itself and put our other stuff in the other pockets. You don’t want to have to expose your miniature AR to the public every time you get your sunglasses.
The Cult Classic Plinker
Our second of four alternate backpack gun setups is The Cult Classic Plinker. This is the almost-legendary GoRuck GR1 21L — a backpack with a cult-like following. It’s holding a Ruger 22 Charger Takedown, which is, of course, the pistol version of the classic 10/22 rifle. I’ve got it set up with an SB Tactical folding triangle brace affixed via a FarrowTech picatinny adapter.
Since it’s based on the Ruger 10/22 there’s no end to the accessories and aftermarket parts available to customize it. But I’ve gone with a minimal approach here. I put this one together to have a more accessible option. It’s fun and easy to use for shooters of any skill level, and it’s a lot more affordable than the other options. Not including the backpack, the gun with all of these accessories runs about $850 total.
So for the moment, this option is not quite the budget option I had intended to be. That said, even at 2021 prices, it’s still more affordable than most backpack gun setups you’ll see. Another alternative would be to get just a vanilla Ruger 10/22 Takedown model and then pick up one of the Magpul Backpacker stocks. It won’t break down as small as the Charger with a brace, but it’s still a super slick setup and it solves the problem of securing the two halves of the gun in storage.
GoRuck makes high quality, extremely durable bags and the GR1 is probably their flagship product. They used to only come in black, but they’ve expanded to other colors in recent years. Since it’s got this MOLLE webbing all over it, I wanted a color that would make it look less tactical. The blue — sorry, “Midnight Navy” — I think, accomplishes that well. There is a special non-MOLLE version that comes only in black and is only sold by one retailer. But the blue one was on sale for almost half price, so we went with that one.