One of the strongest advantages of a purpose-built bag is that they are made of heavy, durable materials and have a lot of padding inside. These attributes protect your firearm and accessories inside, but also serve to break up the outline of your gear. There’s a famous picture on the Internet of a woman carrying an innocuous, black leather purse — with a clear imprint of a revolver inside.
In most cases, a “common” bag such as a laptop bag, backpack or even purse can help you stay off the radar by blending into your environment. However, they can also betray you, as they may not be built to support the weight or shape of a gun.
One thing I do to protect my common bags plus guard against printing is put my SBR / PDW in a laptop sleeve.
A laptop sleeve is not going to render your firearm completely invisible. There’s too much weight at one, maybe two points in order to do so. But it can disrupt the outline enough to avoid attention.
If you know what you’re looking at and looking for you can see the barrel of my SBR AK47 in this bag. But to most observers (seventeen months and counting) you can pass unnoticed.
There isn’t one brand I recommend over the other, but here are some attributes you should look for in a laptop sleeve:
- You need to buy a padded sleeve. You don’t want a thin neoprene one (although a padded neoprene sleeve would be fine).
- If you plan on carrying your firearm vertically (up-and-down) inside of a backpack, skate pack, etc you’re going to want a sleeve with a top opening. If you plan on carrying your firearm in a laptop bag, messenger bag, racquet bag, or similar you will want a sleeve with a side (long-edge) opening.
- Get the longest / biggest one you can find. Most of the time this means a 17” laptop sleeve.
- If possible, find a laptop sleeve with a rubberized, “grippy” exterior. This will help keep the sleeve inside of the bag when you draw.
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Images courtesy of Short Barrel Shepherd