Review: To the firing line and back with the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag
A range bag to defeat all other range bags, perhaps?
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I must admit that I have a love affair with Vertx products. I have always viewed them from afar with envy and gear-lust, just wishing I could justify the price tag. As it turns out, the Vertx bags justify their own price tags. Quality manufacturing, strong materials, and a drive to actually solve some problems, rather than just make another generic bag with their branding on it, is what makes Vertx bags different. There isn’t obvious MOLLE on the outside of their bags, and instead of super tactical colors, they use patterned materials in a variety of colors more fitting to a luggage company than a tactical environment. They don’t want to be tacticool, they don’t want to stand out in a crowd, and they don’t want to be what gets you noticed as the “gun guy” while walking around. And that matters.
Editor’s note: the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag also made Task & Purpose’s list of the best range bags of the year.
I’ve tried several different bags at the firing range, from schoolbags to lower-end range bags, which either don’t fit all that is needed or are completely disorganized, single-compartment bags which makes the range trip more an exercise in patience while packing and unpacking. The Vertx Course of Fire (COF) Heavy Range Bag solves all the issues I’ve ever had with getting my stuff to the range and keeping it accessible, and it looks good doing it. Not having to dig around to look for a piece of kit and being able to separate out the essentials make this bag well worth the relatively high price of around $200. If you’re hitting the range on a regular basis, this bag is a worthy investment of your hard-earned dollars and time.
You might expect, given the price tag, that this product would show up in a thick cardboard box. You’d be wrong. What showed up on my doorstep was something of a Russian nesting doll setup, with the range bag inside the usual Vertx plastic bag, which was inside a generic Amazon plastic bag. Once removed from the shipping bags, the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag looks a lot like a carry-on luggage bag for getting on a plane. Around 26 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 14 inches tall, and weighing in around six pounds when empty, this is a hefty bag, for a hefty day at the range. Constructed from a high strength nylon fabric, with bonded nylon thread, and reinforced points throughout, this bag is made to endure.
First things first, I read through the tags hanging from the carry straps so I understood what the manufacturer intended for the various pockets, flaps, and compartments included with the bag. They specifically mentioned the cable carry/locking cable which runs along the bottom of the container and is designed for locking the bag in place inside a car should this bag be overloaded with something heavy, like ammunition. Also noted were the various Velcro surfaces, intended for use with Vertx’s Tactigami holster and mag pouches, which are available at an additional cost.
One of the other things included on the info tag was the use of a hard shelf in the middle of the bag, which separates the lower compartment, made for ammo-bearing and dunnage collection post-shooting, which I found to be a very unique but useful addition for a range-specific bag. The bag comes with two semi-rigid ammo boxes in this bottom section, each with a removable mesh-bottomed bag usable for collecting brass after the fact,and allowing debris and dirt to fall free before being packed away at the end of the trip. These containers also have carrying straps for moving live ammunition up to the firing line.
The large flap which opens to reveal the ammo carriers also folds down flat, for use as an impromptu cleaning mat, should it be needed, and reveals a pair of zippered, mesh pockets for tools or small containers of lubricant, chewing gum, cool rocks you find at the range, or anything else which needs a home. Additionally, the flap itself contains a Velcro-closed flat section, inside of which is a plastic sheet lined on both sides with a closed-cell foam to protect any firearms placed in this area for transport from having the triggers caught on anything from the outside. This is a feature commonly found in Vertx bags in locations where firearms may be concealed so as to protect the user from negligent discharges.
Moving on to the upper section of the bag reveals a long u-shaped zipper flap on top which opens to reveal a spacious interior main cargo pocket for fitting your eye and ear protection, gloves, spare mags, more ammunition as needed, and any range snacks that don’t fit into your M16A2 stock or pistol grip. A pair of mesh pockets line the upper flap, for things like ear plugs and pens. To the side opposite the fold-down exterior flap is a vertical space with more Velcro for tactigami pouches and holsters, paperwork, or a place to put AR magazines vertically. This side also has a built-in plastic sheet to protect the items inside.
Lastly, the bag comes with a Vertx six-magazine holding pouch, with a pocket for each pistol magazine. This does fit snugly into the side pocket, or the main upper compartment, and means not having to dig for the magazines when you get to the range.
How we tested the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag
I used the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag for one trip out to my usual training spot, down a long gravel road in the Hawkeye Wildlife conservation area. It is a wild place, with no range safety officers, and where the ground is a mixture of steel casings, shot shells, trash that has been shot up, and mud. It is a lawless place where microwaves and small electronics go to die their warriors death. I first checked if the rubber feet would slide on the dew-covered steel shooting benches. There was no issue with a lack of grip in this case, and the feet kept the bottom of the bag from getting soaked through.
I had packed my rifle rounds into one of the bottom drawers, and my handgun rounds into the other, which kept everything easily accessible. I used my side slot in the main compartment to hold my pre-loaded AR magazines, and the main compartment to hold my (fairly large) full cleaning kit, a Glock 17 dummy training weapon, electronic ear protection, several sets of eye protection, a bag of foam ear plugs, spare batteries, various pens and markers, plus a gallon bag full of my company patches, stickers, and business cards. Everything I could have needed for a range day fit inside except targets, stands, and my range trauma kit, though an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) would fit additionally, no problem. The plastic shelf inside did not flex at all, even when I loaded the top up with the ammunition to check this, and there appeared to be no issues with stitching failures.
What we like about the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag
The construction quality and the materials used in the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag are top-tier, and for what this bag is, I like the way that it organizes and protects all the equipment inside. The reinforced stitching is very strong, the interior panels are well-placed, and there appears to be not a single defect in the construction. I am a big proponent of most gear not looking super tactical, and the fact that this looks like an airline carry-on is a huge selling point to me.
This is a top-tier range bag, for a single or pair of shooters, particularly if only using handguns, as it will fit everything you need. It has a place for everything, and everything has its place in the bag. It has the steel cable for locking it down when not in direct line of sight, such as in your vehicle, though I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that your vehicle is not a safe, and neither is this bag. Any determined thief can get past the lockable zippers and the steel cable insert.
What we don’t like about the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag
This bag is fairly heavy at nearly six pounds, and that’s before loading it full of weapons and ammunition, but there’s no denying that a bag that weighs the same amount as a fighting rifle is excessive. This leads to the next point, which is the price: at nearly $200, this bag is not for a brand new shooter looking to scrimp and save after purchasing their first gun and ammunition. I would say that a casual shooter does not need such a bag, but your average USPSA or IDPA shooter that needs the organization and functionality of a good range bag will be extremely happy to spend this amount.
Another issue is that this is very much a single-purpose bag. If you needed to store a plate carrier, laptop, or something else large, you would not be able to use this bag to do so. Most bags are multi-purpose, but this one is hyper-focused on being a range bag, and cannot fill other roles.
The Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag is a very high-quality bag for organizing your range gear and ammunition, plus anything else you may need that can fit inside. But at the price point, and the weight of such a bag, I would not recommend this bag to a casual shooter that doesn’t need a dedicated bag. However, if you know when your range safety officer’s birthday is because you spend so much time at the bench or the firing line, this may very well be the bag for you. You won’t be disappointed in what it can do inside the margin of what it should be expected to do.
FAQs about the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag
Q. How much does the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag cost?
A. This bag is nearly $200 on Amazon.
Q. What is the inside dimension of the upper compartment of the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag?
A. The inside dimensions of the upper compartment are approximately 16 x 7 x 5.5 inches.
Q. How much does the Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag weigh?
A. The Vertx COF Heavy Range Bag weighs in at a hefty 6.25 pounds.
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Joel Mason did six years in the Iowa Army National Guard as an infantryman, with one tour in Afghanistan. Now he does firearms courses through his business, Libertas Instruction, as a USCCA Certified Instructor.