Without a doubt, the worst part of a 3-gun competition is hauling all of your crap around the range. Not only do you have to move all three guns around, but you also need to carry enough food to keep them running, all of your spare gear, a set of tools, maybe a spare sweatshirt… the weight adds up fast. And keeping all of that stuff organized is an even bigger issue. Sure there are plenty of 3-gun bags out there from Safariland and Uncle Mike’s and even Voodoo Tactical, but they’re uncomfortable and prioritize room for the guns over room for the gear. And what if you wanted to take that same bag hunting, using it to carry your stuff while hiking into the wilderness? The existing options aren’t very good. What if there was a bag that offered you more room for your gear, and that you could use not only on the range or in the hunt, but could also double as a gear bag that you could check on airplane rides? The Eberlestock Gunslinger II is just such a bag.
Quick full disclosure notice here. For the last year I’ve been shooting with Team FNH USA, and Eberlestock is one of their sponsors. As such, the bag was part of the deal. However, now that the year is over and I’m no longer sponsored by FNH USA or Eberlestock, I can give a relatively impartial review to something I’ve used and abused over the last year. However, since that relationship did exist at some point in the recent past, I wanted to include this short disclaimer so you can keep that in mind as we venture into the review.
Eberlestock designed this bag specifically for military / law enforcement use, so 3-gun competitions are at best a tertiary use case for the bag. I could make fun of it for being “operationally operational for the operational operator,” but that kind of ridicule should be reserved for packs that are only styled to look like the “big boys” use them and marketed to mall ninjas. These bags, on the other hand, are actually used by the military (NSN 8465-01-548-9564) and law enforcement. And it shows.
Inside the bag is a vast chasm of space. The well constructed fabric shell is supplemented with a water resistant inner layer to keep your gear dry even when you’re not. The opening is ringed on three sides by MOLLE webbing for various and sundry attachments, and the internal pockets are just the right size to hold some AR-15 standard capacity magazines. I’ve found that the bag will fit three 25-round shotgun boxes across the bottom just about perfectly, with room to spare for a 9mm box or two.
The bag can be loaded from the front (as shown) thanks to some heavy duty zippers that do a great job of keeping rain and water out when closed, or from the top if you’re packing compressible items like clothing. That feature lets you use it as both a range pack and a travel pack, with more than enough room for a 3-day supply of ammo and gear plus clothing. Well, during the warmer months at least.
The top rain cover has some internal storage space as well, featuring a pretty well laid out admin section. It has space for all kinds of notebooks and pens, and even two slots for a standard AR-15 magazine. It’s great if you need to carry some stuff for record keeping or just keeping organized, and I used it as a place to keep my wallet and cell phone while on the range. The pocket is more or less rainproof, meaning that I didn’t have to scramble for cover if the skies decided to open up between stages.
The bag also comes with a lumbar strap for carrying heavy loads across long distances, but I never used it and so I appreciated the fact that it’s removable. If you’re going to be carrying your gear for long distances, though, it might be a good idea to keep it on and use it. The bag also has some compression straps that fit around the bag, so if you’re carrying clothes you can keep the cross section of the bag as small as possible. The last nifty feature I want to touch on before the main event are the handles — they’re everywhere. No matter where you need to grab the bag, there’s a handle right there for you to pull and grab onto. So if you need to get your bag out of somewhere in a hurry (like a burning humvee) it’s easy to do no matter how the bag is oriented.
Now, for the feature presentation.
The bag has an external compartment that is the exactly perfect size to slide a SCAR 16S in there. Or a Remington 700 with an enormous scope. Or a Tavor SAR if you’re wanting to be extra stealthy. Or whatever gun you want to pack. There’s an opening in the top of the pack and the gun slides down behind the rest of your hear, but with some nice padding between the gun and your back. There are two buckles to keep the gun in place or put a rain hood over the gun should you want to. It gives you the ability to carry a gun in a manner that distributes the weight on your body as if it were a normal internal frame backpack, but still gives you near instant access to your firearm should you need it. There’s a pocket on the bottom that folds up into the bag when not in use that extends the compartment to a length where the stock isn’t sticking very far out of the bag, and the center of gravity is just about on the center of your back.
If you’re going to be backpacking far distances for your hunting trip, the ease and comfort with which you can carry a gun is something to consider. If I was going to go hiking through the woods to try and kill something I don’t think there’s any other way I’d want to carry my gun.
If one gun isn’t enough, Eberlestock offers a scabbard for this bag that latches on to the side MOLLE webbing and lets you carry your shotgun as well. For me, a 3-gun shooter, it’s perfect since I can just throw my handgun in the internal compartment and chuck the whole shebang into a truck to get to and from the range in comfort and style.
Needless to say I really like the pack. So much so that I didn’t even offer to send it back when the season was over, I just asked them how big the check needed to be to keep it. For a 3-gun competition or a short hunt through the woods, it’s just about perfect. But there are some drawbacks.
First is the price. Eberlestock wants $299 for the bag, which is about twice the price of a similar internal frame bag from REI or some other outdoors equipment manufacturer. However, given the firearms related details (like the MOLLE webbing and the specially designed firearms pouch) I think it’s worth the premium. Then again I’m more of a “buy once cry once” kind of guy when it comes to gear that I need to rely on to get a job done. Which is why my very first AR-15 as a starving college student used a Noveske barrel, receiver and rail.
Second is the internal capacity. Eberlestock lists it at 2,700 cubic inches and that’s almost exactly how much space my gear takes up for a weekend of shooting, sans guns. Throw some gats in there and it gets real cramped real quick. It’s good enough for a weekend trip, but anything more and I run out of space. That’s the reason why I’ve ordered the much larger Operator bag (yes, I can hear the snickering over the name from here) for my upcoming jaunts to Europe. It gives me the same features I love about the Gunslinger II, but with twice the internal capacity. And 50% higher price tag.
At the end of the day, whether this bag fits your personal shooting or hunting style will determine if it’s the right pack for you. But for me, I love it. And I’m not paid to say that. Anymore, at least.
Eberlestock Gunslinger II Bag
Weight: 8.2 lbs.
Capacity 2,700 Cubic Inches
Colors: UNICAM II (In Stock), Dry Earth, Military Green, Black, Crye Multicam, various Mossy Oak patterns
Overall Rating: * * * * 1/2
Give me either a hair more space or a hair lower price and you’d have yourself a five star review. As-is, it’s close.
Thank you, this just made my list.
Looked at their stuff at the sportsmans show. Never thought of using it at matches. Pricey, but very well made.
why do 3-gunners and IDPAers wear those ridiculous shirts?
Same reason I wear Camo….to fit in….:)
I’d assume it’s because they’re sponsored. I’m sure they don’t choose to look like retired soccer players.
When you are a sponsored shooter, or on a team, part of the deal is you wear their hat, shirt, or shoot their guns, or wear their holster, etc…
I always wore mine proudly.
And money is nice. Ammunition is good. And if they’re paying me to wear a flagrantly PINK!! shirt to go shooting in, well, as long as the price is right i fail to see any problem.
These are all NSNs for beer, mostly Coors and Budweiser and some off-brand domestic stuff
This is one of the dozen or so NSNs for condoms
… Just because it has an NSN doesn’t mean it gets issued much. It USUALLY means “overpriced and built by the lowest bidder.” Glad to see that that isn’t always the case, though.
If you where trying to make the point that it was rarely issued why did you use NSN’s for beer and condoms? That stuff was requisitioned all the time before .mil went all PC and forced troops to buy their own BC (liability mostly but pc killed beer on most bases) so what’s your point their? Also if it doesnt get issued a lot then why would it be produced by the lowest bidder? It’s in their because the non-USSOCOM extra special people asked for it to be an issue item (Ranger divas)
My point was that “It even has an NSN” is hardly a selling point. NSNs are still assigned to gear that has been supplanted in the military logistical process, and to gear that might make it INTO the military supply process. They are also given to things that some group with a special role maybe orders a dozen of, and no one outside that group ever bothers with it. But since it has been ordered (or perhaps since someone wants it to be an orderable item) it gets an NSN.
As for beer and prophylactics, I notice you concentrate on the prophylactic end as well. When I was in beer was not ordered by NSN, even on the rare occasions that a unit DID buy everyone (who was legal to partake) a round.
My point was that “It has an NSN” cannot be used to determine the quality of a product, its usefulness, or any other attribute.
8.2 lbs!!!!!!!! WTF.
you got 20lbs of rifle in that pack, and you have no waistbelt. WTF.
i don’t believe the gunslinger 1 even had a frame.
As some youtube guy would say, it depends on you POU, but I would never want to hump such a thing for an extended trip through the woods. If I’m paying $300 and feel that i need an 8lb pack, i’m going Mystery Ranch. Most people who actually backpack have a base weight (pack + supplies minus food) of less than 10 lbs.
For some reason this reminds me of those humorous cats with bug out Alice packs that will end up Bugging In because their whole setup weighs 50lbs, and they wouldn’t get 1 mile with that on their backs.
Carrying a rifle or two is no joke either, but nothing a couple of cinch straps won’t take care of on a quality 3-4 lb backpack.
If you can’t get farther than 1 mile with a 50 lb pack you won’t survive any situation requiring a bug out.
Perhaps, perhaps not. Even so, carrying 50lbs is no picnic, and if you can get away with a lighter load, that might be preferable. The trick with Alice is that she’s not a fun pack to wear if you’re only carrying 20lbs of gear. About 30-50lbs is her sweet spot.
The less you have to carry and the better you can carry it, the further and faster you can go.
In the case of this bag, it appears that it’s useful for keeping a 3-gunner’s gear all in one place, free from rattling around in the back of some truck. Judging from the look of him carrying it, it doesn’t look to be really suited for a long haul, but he might just have it overloaded with heavy stuff. As someone else pointed out, there’s a lot of iron strapped onto and inside that thing, and if you’ve ever carried it, a thousand rounds of ANYTHING is pretty damn heavy, even 5.56 NATO.
Usefulness as a bug-out bag? Who knows? the damn thing looks like you’re gearing up for war. Old Alice at least has a comfortable frame and the look of “I can’t afford fancy high speed gear so I buy milsurp.”
The pack does have a waist belt. In the article it was referred to as a lumbar strap I believe. The lumbar strap (waist belt) is removable, and Nick chose not to use it. You would probably know this if you actually read the article before posting a comment.
Amen! Compare this to a hardcore backpacker gear enthusiast pack of the highest quality like the Zpacks Arc Blast: carbon fiber external frame, waterproof tough cuben fiber fabric with polyester overlay, 3650 cubic inches (60 liters), 17 ounces. Eberlestock makes a high quality backpack, but they weigh far too much. 8.2lbs? Dismissed! I would never take a 8.2lb 2700 cubic inch pack afield! I think that’s far too much for a pack that has twice the storage capacity! My last backpack purchase, a Kelty Tioga Classic (5500 cubic inches) is the biggest external frame Kelty makes, aluminum frame, weighs 4lbs 4oz. You can ably carry a long arm or two in the side pockets of a normal “non-tactical” large well-built backpack. I like Glen Eberle but I think his packs are low value for the cost and for most purposes way over-built. Get rid of some of that MOLLE and lower that denier to half the weight and I’ll reconsider. Good thing companies like Blue Force Gear and KUIU are innovating in this sphere, making tough gear in camouflage patterns that isn’t loaded down with unnecessary 1000-denier nylon and extraneous MOLLE covering the entire exterior. Those who actually go afield on foot-based expeditions know that against a lighter pack that offers the same hauling capabilities and comfort, the extra 5-7 pounds of this pack is a generally a very poor investment. Carry more ammo, gear, food, upgrade the capabilities of your weapon system (go from 5.56x45mm to 7.62x51mm, etc.) or simply be less encumbered!
I was going to say that this would be a great bikepacking bag for me, but for $300, well….. F-That.
I’ve heard many good things about Eberlestock, but the main problem for me is that it is simply way over my budget. Also, and I realize this is a fairly unusual mission envelope, but it’s not compatible with a motorcycle seat. Maybe bicycle dude here can run it, but I can’t. The passenger seat is too high and the scabbard rides at least a foot too low.
Nick, can that scabbard be adjusted upwards a foot and still hold an M1A/M14 or a Mosin 91/30 securely, in combination with a shotgun and handgun?
If you’re worried about carrying a moisin nagant, this isnt the pack for you. Go get some surplus alice pack and some duct tape. This is a bag for people with higher expectations and like nicer things. Penny penchers and FUDDs need not apply to anything like this because it’s too ‘speensive. That being said, I’ve enjoyed my gunslinger 2 for years, had has accompanied me many times into the wilderness, at about a 50lb weight. I’ll take a heavier bag if it means my rifle is carried in a better manner, because, well, it’s not like it’s a m91/30 😉
I think you may have missed the part where I said “M1A/M14” or just merely forgot it after “Mosin 91/30” when framing your reply. I may indeed be a penny pincher but a Fudd I ain’t. Also, no one has yet answered my original question as to whether or not it can be used atop a motorcycle….in this case a Kawasaki ZRX1100, which is one of the quinessential UJM’s of its’ era. Most cruisers are simply impossible because of their gyno exam chair riding positions (thus the odd sissy bar) and sportbikes are kinda awkward as well.
I might have been tempted to a look at the pack if I had not purchased a large 5-11 pack last year. It is half the price and i can pack enough stuff for a week in it. It would be nice to have pack system that I could put a rifle or shotgun in though.
But… Would Leonard Embody operate with?
Got one of these. Love it. Fits my Scar 17S perfectly with Leupold Mark IV scope. Get one or bigger.
Bolt 2 cheap $20 shotgun scabbards to some equally cheap hard sided rolling luggage. Bam, roll your heavy ammo, shotgun, and AR along behind you without hurting your back. You could even paint it camo and stick some sponsor stickers on there if you want. $80-90 tops. If you really want to be fancy you could bolt some backpack straps on there too. Be like a mall ninja turtle.
Are you going to be shooting on a different team now or are you going freelance?
I’ve owned this bag for about three years now excellent bag.
The Gunslinger pack goes for $179 at Cabelas.
I got the Dragonfly. One step up with a zipper and straps that converts from Gunslingr daypack size to meat hauler @ 4500 cu.
A pack is like your boots. Having bot cheap gear that fails when you need it I dont mind paying more if I can use it for a lifetime and Eberle is so sturdy and reliable I’ll probanly hand it off to my son one day.
Google it and read why hunters give it high ranks and specops guys used it in OIF and elsewhere.
PS I can lose far more than the 3-4 pd diff between this and someones ultralight rig if I need to carry less…and I do!
I love my gunslinger but never thought it would make a good 3 gun bag, I use my cart for that.
I’ve just been readying my new GS II with the new Intex II frame and I’m not impressed.
Why they changed this design I don’t know, but it’s obvious it’s not well thought out. It’s an aluminum frame kinda like an external frame but it slides up between the main compartment and the back face. When slid all the way up into place it’s obvious it doesn’t fit well. At the bottom the cloth is wider than where it fits between the tubeing and where the tubing curves outward to make the shelf part. When it’s pulled tight it obviously puts a lot of stress on the cloth right there. Kinda’ hard to describe but this “improvement” is really not well done at all. I wouldn’t reccomend this pack until they fix this.
Hope you are doing fine
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does anyone know if you would be able to pack a whole deboned deer out with this pack in one trip?