Carrying Your Rifle

I realize this subject is likely to only appeal to a few of our readers and that is a shame. But it’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Regardless, I know most of my fellow gun enthusiasts willfully ignore the subject: carrying your rifle.

Or as I almost titled this post, “Everything you need to know about guns after you figure out the manual of arms”. OK, what’s my point?

I feel that too much emphasis is being placed on the gear, name, model, iteration of a device and not enough sweat equity into actually using said device in the real world. If that phrase isn’t sexy enough, how about I up the derp-factor and say, “Deploy with your weapon”?

German G36 Slug and carried.

German G36 Slug and carried.

Some common examples: You have a bug-out bag but you’ve never even walked a mile carrying your rifle. Let alone this mythical bag. You have a Go-To-War rifle and the most it’s even been slung up is when you’re chatting with your buddies on a firing line. I could go on but I think the intellectually honest readers have already perceived my point.

You don't have to be a solider to walk a long way in life.

You don’t have to be a solider to walk a long way in life.

So what’s the solution? First of all, I think it starts with a realistic mindset. And no, I’m not talking about what some guy on the Internet-Carbine-Forum says about his experiences during 9 deployments to Ali-Baba province in Dirt-billie-stan. While interesting, how does that play in Peoria?

Look at all these photos from the 2016 Ft. Benning, Georgia Sniper Challenge. Not one single image shows anyone actually firing a weapon. That is not by accident. Because these competitors spent way more time, effort and sweat-equity carrying their gear than actually pulling triggers.

Ideally I would like to see more shooters putting time and effort into carrying their gear in the environment they are likely to use it. For most of you, that is in the continental United States. And if you’re honest, this is more important than room clearing, flash-bangs and load bearing vests. It’s not sexy but just as important, and for most, more realistic.

Some Ideas:

If shooting on a rifle range, have everyone unload their rifles. Insert chamber flags or remove bolts as needed by the safety rules. And then have everyone walk all their gear down to the target stands and then back when finished admin’ing (or is it admiring?) the targets. A few iterations of this and you’ll quickly learn some valuable lessons about your gear!

If you have the opportunity, go hiking or scouting while slung up with a rifle.

Like to walk in an urban area? Wear a backpack that equals the weight of your zombie gear and get moving! If you really want to be pushy, break that AR apart and stuff it in the same backpack. Even if the rifle is inert, you will get a weird sense of satisfaction carrying the actual rifle weight! Pro-tip: This suggestion is municipality dependent. Don’t derp this up.

If you are a hunter checking your deer stands anticipating opening day; bring your rifle along. Even if it’s not THE rifle you plan to hunt with. And if you really want to get better, bring an unloaded rifle and practice “carrying” that rifle into a stand. The hard way. Why? What if you get to your spot on opening day, and some squirrel has made off with the homemade rifle-hoist string? You going to walk back out and possibly lose the morning hunt?, Or are you just going ahead and climb anyway? I know what the DNR and Hunter Safety courses tell you to do. But I know in the real world no hunter is blowing his morning over this. He’s just going to sling, or carry, his rifle up the ladder. Figuring out how best to do that isn’t: on the fly, by yourself, in the early morning darkness!

Real world: Solution is higher than you...

Real world: Solution is higher than you…

Any of you skiers? Good news. Cross Country Skiing and long guns go hand-in-hand. Even today one of the few Olympic sports that still features firearms is the biathlon. Next time you are in a ski area, explain to the owners / staff that you are interested in biathlon and would they mind if you cross-country skied with a long gun over your back? Too old for the Olympics? Tell them you have a hunting trip planned and need same. Pro-tip: This is a great time to notice your “tactical drag bag” has TWO shoulder straps.

Solution is lower than you...

Solution is lower than you…

How about cross-fitters? This is super easy. Try it with your rifle. I guarantee if you state to your local CF gym what your goals are, some of them will allow you to have a long gun while you train. And knowing how cross fitters are always looking for new gimmicks to keep things fresh, don’t be surprised if they make it a thing and invite others to do the same.

Does exercise count if it's not super-secret-ninja exercise?

Does exercise count if it’s not super-secret-ninja exercise?

You have a treadmill at home? An expensive shrine to your previously failed attempt at a New Years Resolution? Instead of running on it, why don’t you sling up some of that expensive gear you used “that one time” at Tactical Response and start working up a sweat at home? Pro-tip: This is a great shakedown to discover “hot-spots” in your system. Pro-tip 2: Try it and soon enough you won’t need an explanation of the phrase, “hot spot”.

Exercise doesn't have to be this. It can be just a walk down the street.

Exercise doesn’t have to be this. It can be just a walk down the street.

I could go on and on. But the more in depth I go, the less it connects with individual readers. You’re going to have to figure out what’s possible and what’s not in your universe. It’s your life, not mine. All I’m suggesting is you live slightly more in the real world and slightly less in Call Of Duty.

And in closing, don’t DERP this up.


“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Marky Mark

Marky Mark

Writer at
Writer for Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

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  • Gary Tompkins

    Something about the phrase “hot spots” rubs me the wrong way. Well someone had to say it. Hahaha. Good suggestions for getting out with your gear. Never really thought about some of them. But I’m still not buying a treadmill! There is nothing wrong with being outside in the real world. I have run miles in blowing snow with 30 mph winds. Don’t ask if I enjoyed it or not, you may not want to know just how crazy I really am.

  • Terri Eckrode

    Good suggestions. Especially liked you pointing out whether or not extra equipment is really necessary. Some of the stuff I see people carrying on the range is ridiculous. Excellent read.

    • Mikial

      The South African team leader I worked with in Iraq for a time had a great technique. Some of the new guys would show up with all their ‘Gee Whiz’ tacticool gear, and he would take them out to the range for a couple of hours of drills. He would laugh as he related how after about 30 minutes of making them roll around in the dirt there would be a stack of gear behind the firing line that they’d either taken off or had fallen off during the drills. Seemed to be an effective reality check to me.

  • Fred

    I have forgotten my hoist rope before lol. actually truth be told i usually forget the thing. A couple or years back we had snow for muzzle loader season so i broke out the cross country skis. Makes falling a little more challenging when you have to protect the rifle. Made a few snow angles that year.

  • BigMike57

    Cross fit while carrying gear…that’s a great idea.

  • Mikial

    Good article. I think the term is practical training. I always get a kick out of people telling everyone about all the cool gear they own. I usually am able to resist asking them if they ever used any of it. Either way, walking or running with your ruck on is a time tested PT exercise that pays some real dividends.

    • Hoze928

      Great article!! My old body knows exactly where your coming from. I’m a back packer and you learn a lot about your gear when your miles from nowhere. I always train carrying my gear on my weekly walk around getting ready for a trip. I make it a habit to always carry a pack and fill that sucker up with gear I’m actually going to use. Amazing how quickly you decide you really don’t need that extra pair of pants or shirt or what ever after you humped it all over the neighborhood:)