Range Bag Loadout: Long Range Shooting

Here's what Tom McHale hauls to the range for a day of long-range target ringing.

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or More Range Bag Load Outs, Go Here What’s in my long-range shooting bag? That depends. Can you define “shooting bag” as the entire cargo compartment of my Toyota Sequoia? If so, then here’s a look at the items I take most frequently on rifle shooting outings.

The author's gear for a long-range shooting session.
The author's gear for a long-range shooting session.photo by Tom McHale

1: Stanley SortMaster and Range Tools

Stanley SortMaster
The Stanley SortMaster is essential to keep everything organized.mfg photo

For dealing with scopes, mounts, rings, MSR rifle field repairs and just about anything else, I pack this Stanley SortMaster organizer box with a broad assortment of hex, Torx, flat, and Phillips-head screwdriver hits, a couple of adjustable wrenches, a Real Avid Gun Tool, and lots of small Allen Wrenches.

2: Quick Cleaning Supplies

Break Free CLP Wipes are great for a quick cleaning.
Break Free CLP Wipes are great for a quick cleaning.fg photo

For quick cleaning of exposed areas I keep a reusable container of Break Free CLP Wipes. For making funky guns work at the range without a proper cleaning, Hoppe's Gun Medic does the trick. Just squirt it into whatever area is dirty.

Hoppe’s Gun Medic cleaning supplies.
Hoppe’s Gun Medic cleaning supplies help keep your gun running after a long shooting session.mfg photo

3: Blackhawk Sportster Titan III Shooting Rest

The Blackhawk Sportster Titan III Shooting Rest.
The author prefers the Blackhawk Sportster Titan III Shooting Rest.mfg photo

The two-part rest shown here is a Blackhawk brand, but if you can't find that, sibling company Champion makes the same exact model. It's a rock-solid three-leg front rest and rear bag combination. Like the Duct Tape? Mine has seen some heavy use over many years.

4: Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph

The Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph.
The Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph helps you get precise data on your various rifle loads.mfg photo

If you shoot long range, you need to know the actual velocity of your specific ammo from your specific rifle. Otherwise, you're dealing in approximations. This Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph has served me well, even after being, ummm, shot a maybe a couple of times.

5: Graduated Targets

And example of a graduated target from Champion.
An example of a graduated target from Champion.mfg photo

Target with grids are really helpful for initial zeroing. Rather than guessing and spinning turrets while wasting ammo, you can see exactly how many inches you're off with a sighter shot and make specific adjustments to get you on the bullseye.

6: Mechanix Wear Gloves

The orignal Mechanix Wear gloves in coyote.
The original Mechanix Wear gloves in coyote make for great shooting gloves.mfg photo

I keep a pair of these Mechanix Wear Tactical gloves in my long-range kit not to be a Ninja Delta Seal Commando, but because I like to shoot with suppressors and they get hot. Really hot. Touching one with bare hands is a lesson you learn after making that mistake just once. Proper gloves will help you out.

7: Spotting Scope

The Bushnell Elite 20-60x 80mm
The author prefers the Bushnell Elite 20-60x 80mm 45° spotting scope.mfg photo

A good spotting scope will allow a shooting buddy to track your shots by seeing impacts on or around the target or even the bullet "trace" in the air. They're also useful for estimating wind conditions down range. The one shown here will remain unidentified because it's less than adequate. Was that a polite way to say "junk?" Take a look at the Bushnell Elite Tactical Spotting Scope. That's one I really like and am saving my pennies to get.

8: Etymotic GunSport Pro Electronic In-ear plugs and Howard Leight Impact Pro Electronic Hearing Muffs

The Etymotic GunSport Pro Electronic In-ear plugs are comfortable and effective.
The Etymotic GunSport Pro Electronic In-ear plugs are comfortable and effective.mfg photo

I like the Etymotic GunSport Pro in-ear electronic plugs. They're affordable and have a bunch of fit options, so they are all-day comfortable. For outdoor shooting of most calibers, they're just fine. For extra loud rifles, I keep a pair of Howard Leight Impact Pro electronic ear muffs handy too.

Howard Leight Impact Pro electronic ear muffs
Howard Leight Impact Pro electronic ear muffs are a good addition to any range bag.mfg photo

9: ESS CrossBow Shooting Glasses

ESS CrossBow Shooting Glasses
ESS CrossBow Shooting Glasses are the author's choice for eye protection.mfg photo

The ESS Crossbows offer excellent eye protection, and you only get one pair of eyeballs per lifetime, so spend the money on quality. This set has three different lenses: smoke, clear, and yellow for different conditions. If you want to save a few bucks, you can buy single-lens configurations too.

10: OTIS Kit and Real Avid Bore Boss

The Real Avid Bore Boss
The Real Avid Bore Boss is great to have on hand for quick cleanings on the range.mfg photo

For a quick bore cleaning, I keep a couple of Real Avid Bore Bosses handy. These pull-through cleaners have an embedded brush and are handy for getting rid of light residue. If more thorough cleaning or scraping is required, the super compact OTIS Cleaning kits do the trick. They pack an amazing assortment of cleaning and maintenance tools into a package about the size of a baseball.

The Otis Professional Rifle Cleaning kit.
The Otis Professional Rifle Cleaning kit is another good choice.mfg photo

11: Long Range Calculators

The Kestrel Ballistic Weather Meter.
The Kestrel Ballistic Weather Meter takes a lot of the guess work out of long-range shooting.mfg photo

Guessing at the right amount of turret adjustment for bullet drop is not all that effective, nor is it safe. That's why you need a basic ballistic calculator. I use a smartphone app called Ballistic AE. It's got a huge library of loads and projectiles, or you can define your own. I've found it to be surprisingly accurate in its predictions for bullet drop and wind adjustment, but you'll still need to verify with your rifle.

If you want to get fancy, check out the Kestrel Ballistic Weather Meter. It captures wind, temperature, pressure, and a million other environmental variables and automatically feeds that information to an internal ballistic calculator. The Kestrel then provides you with exact adjustments for windage and elevation.

Last, but not least, you’ll want a pen and notebook to record exact adjustments and on-target performance for your rifle and specific ammo at various distances.

12: Spare Parts and Back Up Sights

Magpul MBus backup folding sights.
Magpul MBus backup folding sights.mfg photo

In that nifty Stanley organizer, I keep a few spare parts for AR-type rifles like cotter pins, firing pins, and such. Just in case. I also keep a set of polymer back up sights. If a scope is acting weird, or I’m having trouble getting on target, it’s a great way to troubleshoot.

13: Bag of Lead

Caldwell Lead Shot Weight Bags.
Caldwell Lead Shot Weight Bags help keep rifle rests rock solid.photo from amazon.com

OK, so I only have a 25-pound bag of lead shot because I used to load a lot of shotgun shells. It comes in handy for throwing on top of that Blackhawk shooting rest to keep things nice and stable.

14: Stapler and Spare Staples

stanley stapler
If you use paper targets, you need a reliable staple gun.mfg photo

Gotta hang targets, right? And you always run out of staples at the most inopportune moment. Bring spares.

15: Blackhawk Shooting Mat

The Blackhawk! Pro Shooters Mat.
The Blackhawk! Pro Shooters Mat makes prone shooting a lot more comfortable.mfg photo

This one is a roll-up model which I like because it's easier to lug around. If you're going to be shooting prone from a concrete shooting bay you'll appreciate the padding. If you're shooting off the dirt, you'll appreciate the mat for other reasons.