By Aaron Burdenell
With the growing popularity of modern “sport utility” rifles comes increased public awareness and scrutiny. Among most firearm enthusiasts, a slung AR-15 is no cause for concern but there are numerous reasons to keep a low profile when traveling with such arms among the general public. An ordinary rifle case not only draws attention but does not aid the carrier in transporting a rifle long distances or maneuvering into a position requiring agility or both hands. Two products available to subtly transport such items are the 5.11 Tactical COVRT M4 Gun Bag and the Noveske Discreet Backpack available from First Spear, LLC. Each has different capabilities and their advantages and disadvantages are summarized here.
The COVRT M4 is a bit of a hybrid between a gun case and a backpack. It has one main shoulder strap with a small offside strap for a more secure fit and a padded ventilated back. Each of the straps is reversible and has a quick release buckle. There are also two carry handles positioned for both horizontal and vertical carry and the primary compartment opens with a pair of zippers that seal three sides so the entire case can be opened wide to position the contents. The main compartment is large enough to contain a fully assembled 16-inch AR carbine with the stock collapsed and contains a muzzle pocket at the bottom and Velcro strap at the top for securing and centering the rifle. Other firearms inside the 34 inch length will also fit equally well (a 16-inch barreled lever gun for example). There are two exterior pockets, the lower is large (21 inches long, 10 inches wide) and has no interior or exterior features or dividers. The smaller upper outer pocket (12×10 inches) has exterior loops and MOLLE and Velcro attachments inside and elastic loop and buttons to secure the flap at the bottom if the contents need to be exposed.
The Noveske Discreet Backpack is shorter than the 5.11 bag and is less likely to be viewed as a gun case by observers. It has symmetrical and adjustable shoulder straps as well as a quick release sternum strap between them. A full size 16-inch AR carbine must be disassembled into upper and lower receivers to fit inside, although a host of other firearms will fit intact and ready to deploy. The back of the main compartment has numerous MOLLE attachments and movable elastic quick release mounts and a muzzle pocket for securing the rifle and components. The front of the main compartment has more MOLLE and Velcro attachments as well as a zipper towards the top revealing a full length slimmer compartment capable of holding another item the length of the main compartment (such as a second upper receiver). The bottom of the main compartment is well padded to protect the contents. On the exterior of the pack are two bottle pockets, a small square zipper compartment at the bottom with a Velcro patch outside, and a large open top mesh sided pocket with quick release straps securing it to the top of the pack. On the inside of the open top exterior compartment is another zipper compartment running the length of the flap. The Noveske pack also has a padded ventilated back and a full length section of MOLLE attachment points on each side of the outer body.
Although both items have overlapping utility, the primary advantage of the 5.11 COVRT M4 is its ability to hold a fully assembled AR carbine and other similarly sized rifles in a deployable orientation. By fully opening the main compartment zipper, the padded side walls can double as a short shooting mat provided that the contents of the outer pocket don’t cause a problem. The approximate $140 price tag is lower than the Noveske backpack that goes for about $200. The most obvious disadvantage is the size and shape which does not resemble an ordinary backpack or other sports equipment – it looks more like a case for carrying a skateboard. Lastly, the lack of features or compartments in the large lower outer pocket tends to limit its utility.
The Noveske Discreet Backpack is more subtle because it looks more like an ordinary backpack than anything else. It has more custom features and a greater load capacity than the 5.11 bag. The interior compartment is versatile enough to hold both the upper and lower receivers of a 16-inch AR carbine securely or a number of other smaller rifles and shotguns in a deployable orientation. The lack of a waist belt or internal frame limits the comfort with a heavy load or long distance of travel.
Both items are offered in two color schemes and are of high quality construction and materials. Each has a design that is well thought out and functional for their respective tasks. They can be ordered on-line through the following web links:
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V18N1 (February 2014)|