Reader Akira posted the following review in the Free Fire Zone, which we sincerely appreciate. So much so, in fact, that we thought it should be posted here for general consumption:
I’ve always had bad experiences with products made by companies that are deviating from their normal area of expertise (i.e., knives made by gun companies, whiskey made by beer companies, etc.). So I was a little unsure about this Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement Fanny Pack (although I’m guessing it was manufactured by some other company and just stamped with the Ka-Bar name in some kind of joint venture). Whatever…$28 on Amazon isn’t a bad deal and it looked to be the highest quality out of all the gun fanny packs I’ve looked at. Plus, it was one of the only ambidextrous ones I saw, which is always a major selling point for a left hander such as myself . . .
The main compartment looks deceptively small. When I opened the package and saw how small it was, I thought they had sent me the wrong item, because the description clearly said that it can accommodate a full-size handgun. Turns out it does. Part of the internal “holster” actually extends outside of the pocket and into the belt portion of the pack. My Taurus PT92 fits in there just dandy (although trying to zip it up with my Ruger GP100 stuffed in there did cause the zipper teeth to separate). It’s a little trickier to draw with a large handgun in there, as the bottom of the grip seems prone to snagging on the pocket. “Compact” pistols (but not sub-compact or pocket pistols) such as my CZ-75 Compact seem to be the optimum size for carry in this pack.
But just to demonstrate how much room is in this thing, here’s my PT92 in there along with a spare mag, my flashlight, and Leatherman. It’s not really convenient that I have to open the big pocket and possibly expose the gun to get to that other stuff, but it’s still pretty impressive that it can hold all of it neatly.
The gun pocket is closed with two zippers. This holds it securely, but makes it a little slow to draw the gun. What would have been great is if there was the normal zipper closure, but then a velcro or snap-button opening on the side so you can draw the gun quicker. If you’re comfortable leaving a small opening between the zippers through which you could squeeze your hand, opening the zippers as you go, you might be able to get to the gun just about as quick as with any other carry method. I find that a good way is to put one zipper just below the top corner of the main pouch, then put the other zipper about two inches away from it, on top of the pouch. This enables you to “slice” the first zipper open with your hand and access the gun.
On the front “flap” which forms the main pocket, there is a zipper pocket which would be great for storing ID or a CCW license. There is also a smaller open pocket in front of that, which my cell phone fits into perfectly (even if sticking out the top a little bit). And finally, there is a mesh pocket in front of all that stuff. All that pocket space is nice, but be aware that if you actually put stuff in every single pocket, it’s going to be pretty hard to zip the pocket shut. Especially if there’s a full-size handgun, spare mag, multi-tool, and a flashlight in the main compartment. That thing is gonna be bulging at the seams.
There are two more rectangular pockets on either side of the main compartment. The packaging had a picture of a flip phone in there… But last time I checked, it’s not the year 2000 and hardly anyone uses flip phones anymore; we all have giant smartphones. It’s kind of a tight fit, but the one on the left can hold a spare mag from my CZ-75 Compact (14 rounds). My Leatherman OHT multi-tool also fits in the right side pocket perfectly. I actually put my wallet sideways in one of those pockets, so that if I’m stopped by a cop for some reason while jogging, I don’t have to put my hand anywhere near the gun pocket.
The zippers on this thing were pretty noisy. When I went out for my test jog with it, the jingling and jangling sounded like sleigh bells; neighborhood probably thought Santa was coming early this year. I tied some short lengths of para-cord around the inside loop of the zippers and that quieted them down. There are two metal loops on the main compartment also. Not really sure what those are for.
Another problem I had is with the pack wanting to self-orient so that the main pocket is in the front-center position. The belt is angled upward to facilitate this, apparently, as that’s probably how most people would wear it. However, since I take it jogging, the up-and-down motion causes the pack to flop around and bust me in the groin. Not tolerable for very long. Furthermore, I like to wear it with the main pocket at roughly a 10 o’clock position for an easy left-handed draw (righties would put it at 2 o’clock). The solution I found for this is to wear the belt low and tight. It’s somewhat less comfortable, but adjusting the thing every five paces is annoying as hell. This might not be such an issue if one were to use a lightweight pistol in there rather than my all-steel CZ-75 Compact, but I don’t have one to test it with so I don’t know.
The pack is a little “tactical” in appearance and may be a giveaway to any gun saavy people you might pass on the street. Maybe the manufacturer should offer it in some more innocuous color schemes, rather than just “Evil Babykiller Black” (the same color as an AR-15! THE HORROR!) I thought about putting on a pair of headphones and just running the wire down into the main pocket, so it just looks like my MP3 player is in there.
So what about non-joggers using this pack? Well it would definitely be convenient to carry a gun, spare mag, cell phone, and billfold in the same pack, but it would look pretty out of place. It’s fairly common for People of the Run (Get it? Get it? Like People of the Gun???) to have fanny packs of some kind, as we need to carry all that stuff as well, and pockets on athletic pants are uniformly shitty. So people probably wouldn’t give a second glance to a jogger with a fanny pack. But someone in normal clothes walking around the grocery store with this thing? Might be a giveaway.
While there is room for improvement in a few areas, I think this fanny pack is a great option for concealed carry while jogging. Anyone who exercises knows that athletic clothing is often problematic for those who concealed carry. I don’t think this should be the first choice for casual carry (just walking around town, going out to dinner, etc.) as it will look a bit conspicuous on someone who is not doing some kind of physical activity. But if for some reason you cannot utilize any other carry method, this is a good one. This pack would allow you to carry a full-size handgun completely out of sight, even if it’s a little slow on the draw. Just get that belt nice and snug to avoid repeatedly being smacked in the cojones by your gun.
If I were asked to redesign this thing, I would say:
– Use short loops of para-cord or rubber-coated zippers instead of the all-metal ones to reduce noise
– Give a little more room depth-wise in the main pocket so that if you put a gun, spare mag, wallet, and cell phone in the many layers of pockets, it’s not bulging at the seams
– Make the side pockets bigger to accomodate the large, flat design of modern smart phones
For some reason, Amazon pairs this fanny pack with a heavy-duty “tactical” belt (one of those “buy both together and save” deals) The thing is, the fanny pack itself already has a belt of it’s own (like most fanny packs). I have no idea why Amazon would do that. I assumed that because they paired them together, you needed to supply your own belt. My fault for not reading the product description thorougly; now I’m stuck with an extra belt. Don’t make the same mistake I did.