Parvusimperator wrote some about his gear, so it’s only fair that I do, too.
Blackhawk! four-pocket chest rig
From everyone’s favorite cheapest decent brand, this chest rig has four large pockets and two small pockets. Each of the large pockets can hold a pair of rifle magazines of your choice, and the small pockets will hold a pistol magazine each.
The design is patterned off of the Chinese Type 81 rig, but isn’t quite identical. In keeping with the Chinese design, the pistol magazine pockets are placed one on each side of the four centered main pockets. All the pockets are secured by velcro. The large pockets are great: they fit the magazines well, and if properly velcroed, secure them to boot. The pistol pockets do what you’d expect: hold magazines. That said, the strong-side pocket is a bit of a pain to get the magazine out of. (See my next item for more on that.)
Anyway, Blackhawk!‘s product seems well-manufactured. They made it out of a properly heavy canvas-y material, which seems to me like it should hold up well under heavy use. (Since I’m only using it for the occasional two-gun match, ruggedness doesn’t matter all that much, but if it comes to a zombie apocalypse, I’m more or less comfortable with it.) At the price I got it for, I certainly can’t complain, especially since it claims it’ll work with AR-15 magazines, too.
Closing out my chest rig thoughts, I had nearly the same experience as parvusimperator: reloads played even less of a role in my time than they did in his. I found myself needing to reload my rifle exactly zero times while running a stage, not counting the stage in which the rifle started unloaded on a table. I could get by with a belt magazine carrier, but I see two obstacles to that: first, nobody makes belt AK mag carriers; second, I like using my ‘duty gear’, as it were, for competition. I’m very unlikely to ever need to use my handgun in a high-pressure non-sporting situation, let alone my rifle chest rig, but my thinking is the same in both cases. I have a limited time budget for practice, in the same way that I have a limited money budget for practice. Why would I spend either on a setup I’ll never use.1
My left front pocket
Rather than try to reload from the strong side pistol magazine pocket on the chest rig, I put my second spare mag into my pocket. The pocket was a little too low for complete comfort, but it’s spacious—I could have put a bunch more mags in, if I was trying to carry my full load from the start—and relatively easy to access regardless.
Would I bother with dedicated pistol mag carriers? On the one hand, I could definitely use a few. On the other hand, my current setup is perfectly acceptable, and I don’t know that I would use mag carriers enough outside of competition to merit the expense.
Unlike parvusimperator, I had to dip into my pistol reload stash on basically every stage. The difference between 15 (and my pistol marksmanship) and 18 (and his) is significant enough to tell. I might have liked having another extra magazine,
Company-issue duffel range bag
It isn’t a range bag by design—it’s just a small duffel with my company’s logo on the front—but a few airplane trips as my personal carry-on item really tore it up. After the shoulder strap fell off, I demoted it to ‘range bag’. Surprisingly, it handles range duty better, and hasn’t gotten any worse since it switched jobs. Would I like something with more padding, more space, and better internal separation? Yes, but this came in at just the right price2.
Subpar eye protection, lacking in important qualities like scratch resistance. Ordinarily, your shooting eye protection doesn’t have to be scratch resistant, but I shoot with a wee, short-eye-relief ACOG-style 4x scope, so if my form isn’t perfect, the rifle whacks me in the glasses. My glasses don’t have quite enough anti-scratch strength to take that sort of abuse. I’ll probably get a set of over-glasses eyepro before my next go.
Howard Leight over-the-ear ear protection
I prefer earmuff-style earpro to in-ear things, for more attenuation and clearer indication to others whether your earpro is functioning or not. This one was inexpensive, relatively low-profile, padded over the head, and readily available at my local big-box sporting goods retailer. No complaints here.
1. Unless it’s interesting and historical, like the BritKit.
2. Namely, free.