Boyt Harness Company has been in business since the turn of the 20th century. Starting with saddles and tack for industrious midwesterners in 1901, they expanded into military contracts with holsters and gun cases for US servicemen in WWI. Through WWII the company added backpacks, haversacks, and a slew of other gear. While maintaining production and development of military gear, the company continues to add to their line of law enforcement and civilian equipment. I had the pleasure of testing two of their current products.
Boyt LERB (Law Enforcement Range Bag)
Let me start off by saying that I have a love/hate relationship with range bags. I'm a creature of habit when it comes to what gear I take shooting, so I appreciate having everything "good to go" in a dedicated bag. On the other hand, most range bags I've used are either gigantic - more like an "armory bag" - which can literally fit a squad's worth of supplies, or resemble an oversized wallet capable of carrying little beyond a mag or two. Now, each type has its place, based on situation and personal preference, but I just have not found the "one".
Enter Boyt's Law Enforcement Range Bag (LERB). Not too big, nor too small. Neither too hot, nor too cold . . .you get the point. Fully loaded, the outside dimensions are approximately 15"L x 11"W with a depth of 8". The bag itself appears to be well made of tear and scratch resistant material with heavy nylon carrying straps. Just as important, most critical seams have double or cross stitching, greatly increasing the useful life of the product. A full length, double zipper at the top allows easy access to the contents while a plastic bottom insert keeps the bag expanded. The zipper teeth are a good compromise in size - sufficiently large and strong to prevent bending while small enough to seal well and not be ornery in operation (This may not sound like a big deal, but I've broken enough tiny zippers, rendering the object useless. Conversely, I've fumbled for five minutes in sub-zero cold to get a "military oversized" zipper zipped on - A good design is appreciated) . A detachable shoulder strap is included, with the option of using the velcroed handles, instead. Two large (fitting a full size-1911 with ease), removable pistol pads are an added bonus.
This is what Boyt had to say about their LERB:
Constructed of 1000-denier heavy-duty ballistic nylon
Two individual handgun pads
Nylon coil zipper
Large accessory pouch
Padlock included for additional security
Durable handles made of military-grade nylon webbing
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of gear you can fit in the LERB while still maintaining a small enough size to fit just about anywhere. To give you an idea, this is what I put in:
1 set of ear protection muffs
1 Package of foam ear plugs
1 Full size stapler with two boxes of staples
2 kydex holsters
2 kydex magazine carriers
1 Small bottle of CLP spray
8 Magpul M16 mags
6 Springfield XD45 mags
1 Brass cleaning rod (broken down to three pieces)
1 Pair of eye protection in accompanied soft case
2 Sharpie markers
All of this only takes up about 2/3 of the available room, with all items being easy to find. The two interior pockets, running the full length of side, also aid in organization. I chose not to use the included pistol pads, but their use would allow the bag to become a dedicated pistol range bag, holding just about all the necessities for pistol practice. All the essentials in a relatively small package and none of the fluff.
That's not to say the LERB is without its faults, perceived and otherwise. After the fifth trip to the range, the velcro attachment holding the handles together began to come off. Upon inspection, the velcro has only single stitching around the border. This is not critical to overall function, but the location is still a high use area which should warrant double stitching at least.
The included pistol pads are well made and padded, and I would have no problem transporting my "safe queens" in them were they the correct size. Lengthwise, however, they are a few inches shorter than the interior of the bag. Combine this with an open pad design secured by a single velcro strap and the result is your pistol tends to fall half-way out of the pad during transportation. While the pad and weapon are located in the bag - presenting no issues with them falling out - a few scratches may occur from the normal rubbing and jostling with other contents. Not a big deal for a working gun, but something to be aware of. The pistol pads are certainly useable as long as you put gear around them to prevent any sliding of the weapon, but, I just prefer to transfer the weapons on my person or in a separate hard case.
My final complaint, is, admittedly, completely personal preference. I would like to see a few collapsible outer pockets incorporated into the design, more for organizational purposes of small items than anything else. That lack of these pockets does make the overall bag more discrete to the average eye, but why carry a range bag around if the purpose isn't to shoot?
Despite these minor issues, the LERB is a solid addition to any shooter's equipment. I've already adopted it as my all-around range bag. Functionally, is a very solid bag that should survive many years of normal use. It's been to competitions and practices alike, holding all my essentials with enough spare space to fit in that special item of day. The price is also a winner in my book, with many comparable bags going for more. If you're in need of a smaller mid-size bag, give the LERB a try.
Every man-made object out there has some intended purpose. For some people, nothing more is expected as long as the item gets the job done. Then there are people like me. Does it get the job done and look good doing it? Hey, don't judge me I know you accessorize your AR like a eight year old girl with a barbie, but I won't tell anyone. My point is, function should come first, but form never hurt.
Fortunately, Boyt came out with a pistol case that works well and looks just as good. With rounded corners for most edges, the case lacks the foreboding features of many handgun cases. A large pocket accentuated with a smart-looking leather Boyt patch sits one one side while the other side holds six magazine compartments and their corresponding large velcro flaps (one flap services two magazine compartments). Each magazine compartment is large enough to fit either one double stack magazine or two single stacks.
A wraparound zipper allows the case to be opened fully. Best of all, the internal lining never gets in the way, ensuring that the zipper never snags. The lining itself almost feels like cotton microfiber soft enough for your most pampered handguns while the padding will keep any weapon safe from the standard jostling. Attention to detail continues, with nylon coiling along most edges, greatly increasing longevity by reducing the chance of snags and tears. One carries it all with two heavy cotton-webbing handles coming unobtrusively from the top.
A quick look at Boyt's website gives us this description:
For storage and transport of compact or full-frame autoloading handguns
Heavy-duty 22 oz. canvas with dry-wax finish repels water and resists mildew and fading
Interior cotton batting and flannel lining cushion handgun
Self-healing nylon coil zipper
Durable, cotton-webbing handles
Padlock included for additional security
Two padded interior pockets for two handguns
Front accessory pocket
Six magazine storage compartments
Granted, the beauty is subtle, which may be a good thing. Nothing about the Signature Series Double Handcase screams I have a gun! Recently, I've been out looking to buy a house which involves a lot of getting in and out of cars and the occasional squeeze to inspect an odd nook in the design. My conceal-carry method of choice is an in-the-waist holster at my 3:30, which simply doesn't lend itself well for a day of house-hunting in the Arizona summer heat. I took one look at the Boyt handgun case and realized the solution to my problem. My handgun, a Springfield XD-45 compact, fit securely in one of the interior pockets, though a full size auto would also fit just fine. I threw in a pencil and a sheet of paper for notes in the large outside pouch and was good to go. Through many days and more houses than I care to count, no one looked twice at my oversized day planner.
Now, a word of warning about the above situation. Obviously, know and follow your local laws. Fortunately, in free AZ, we still enjoy our right to keep and bear arms. Boyt also cautions via a warning tag inside the case to never store a loaded firearm in the handgun pouch. Personally, I see very little issues with keeping a properly functioning modern pistol in the case, but that is something you will have to decide for yourself.
Regardless, I am very happy with Boyt's product. After two months of regular use there are no signs of wear and zero functional issues. Its been thrown in the dirt and simply wiped off, then sat outside (with no firearm, of course) several days with no signs of fading. Boyt has successfully created a handgun case that is completely functional for the range while meeting the occasional storage need in everyday life. Function, form, and value in one package.
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Written by 2LT Reid I.
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