Overbuilt, but in a good way.
Let me be clear about something, I like good gear. Scratch that, I like great gear. Quality of craftsmanship, attention to detail, and well thought out design – these are the things that I look for in gear for my personal use. Where I get even more critical about gear is when it is a piece of support equipment. I am a rifle shooter and I spend my free time trying to make small holes in small objects at long distances. Precision marksmanship is what some may call this pass-time, I simply call it fun. My rifles are my tools to this fun and they are my escape. They are an investment and the weapon systems I choose to use in this type of shooting carry a price tag that gets increasingly higher and higher the better I shoot. It is a vicious cycle for me, but I love it.
Normally I prefer to transport my rifles to and from the range in large heavy cases to ensure that they will see no accidental damage. Cases like one might use on an aircraft to protect something of great value. These rigid cases serve a purpose, however they are typically a pain in the ass. They take up too much room in the truck and without the wheels they are a chore to carry anywhere. That being said, I choose them for the protection they offer to my rifle systems. I am not a fan of any wimp cases that could expose my rifles to damage.
Red Oxx Manufacturing of Billings, Montana is known for making some of the best adventure travel luggage and storage solutions on the market. All of their bags are made in Montana and follow time-tested methods of construction to provide high quality and value too each piece they produce. I recently got on my hands on their Varmint Master Rifle Bag. The case sells for $200 and is 100% US made in Montana.
In their own words, “This soft Sniper Rifle Case is worthy of your prized scoped bolt-action or semi-auto rifle.” Red Oxx was going to have to prove this too me as talk is cheap these days. Loading up the bag, I noticed that the interior is made from 400 denier nylon. This keeps your weapon from getting scratches, but also wicks away moisture.
The padding is generous, without being bulky, and feels very firm. Upon additional research, I found that it is made from a neoprene and rubber blend. This padding stays in place and should also keep the interior of the bag dry should conditions get a little wet in the field. Generous pockets with heavy-duty Delrin #10 YKK zippers adorn the outside of the bag. The pockets are big enough to hold most of my range gear, as well as magazines and spare ammo. Nice! I don’t have to carry a separate range bag with the Red Oxx.
There are three exterior pockets on the Varmint Master. The rectangular rear pocket measures 14″L x 7″H x 3″D and is suitable for sandbags or spotting scopes. The raised front pocket measures 9″L x 7.5″H x 3″D and works well for binoculars or rangefinders. The raised center pocket measures 7″L x 6.5″H x 3″D and is designed for storing ammo, ear protection, and other items.
One thing I did notice is that my rifle did not fit with the bipod in place. However, my optic is larger than most and is on a fairly high mount. I was just about a half an inch shy of a good fit with the legs on the gun. That being said, the bipod does fit perfectly in one of the outer pockets.
Another great feature of this bag is the twelve different color options offered by Red Oxx. From subdued colors like black or coal to bright options like amethyst and saffron, you can get a color that allows you to be unique or discrete depending on your personal tastes and needs. A full length shoulder strap on the rear of the bag, as well as sturdy grab handles, give you plenty of options for carrying the bag and make it much easier to move around with than the hard sided cases you’re used to.
All in all, I am VERY impressed with this bag and the build quality. It has replaced my big plastic box for day-to-day use. I will keep the hard case for when I need to travel on an airplane and such, but this one will be tucked away inside for use after I get to my destination. I like the overall size, shape, and use of the exterior pockets without being covered in webbing and hook and loop. This is a clean and elegant bag that serves its role exceptionally well.
It would be perfect in my mind if it were a half of an inch taller so that I could keep my bipod in place, but you can’t win them all without going to a custom-made case. Over the next few months I am going to put the Varmint Master Rifle Bag through some heavy use. Red Oxx has shown me that thus far that they have a solid chance of meeting my high expectations and I do not expect to be disappointed.