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S.O. TECH - Sniper Pack, Drag Bag Shooting Mat System Print
Product Reviews
Written by SP Staff   

S.O. TECH
(Special Operations Technologies)

Sniper Pack, Drag Bag Shooting Mat System

Background

Over the last few years I have tried just about every conceivable drag bag / shooting mat system. I have used everything from the surplus Korean War jump bags from Cheaper Than Dirt, to the system I am writing about in this review. I have used pretty much everything Eagle, Blackhawk, and most of the major companies have put out over the years. About the only thing I have not done is build my own, and frankly that was just never in the cards for me. Many have done so, and that works well for them. For me, and what I do, I needed more. Everything seemed to be a bit of a compromise for what I needed, and nothing really did it all. Enter the Sotech system, and what I have found to be about the most versatile system available from one manufacturer. This is a complete system, and it is anything but cheap taken in its entirety, but picked up a piece at a time it is no different than trying all of the rest. What follows are my ideas about these systems in general, and my personal experience with the Sotech gear. And just in case anyone asks, I do not sell their gear, and I paid full price for every piece.

 

Drag Bags in General

There are many differing opinions as to what is needed and what is best as it pertains to a “drag bag”, “gun bag”, “shooting mat”, or whatever else you want to call it. This review is not about that discussion. That is another one of those discussions that just simply will never end. I'm not trying to answer any questions here, just share my experience with one of the best bag systems I have come in contact with.

I have tried everything from the minimalist, to the “everything in one bag” approach, and just about everything in between. I have done so deploying big bolt guns, little bolt guns, AR platforms, and M1A platforms. What I have found to be true is that it just flat out depends. What is good for one environment is not for another. What works for one operator does not for another. In many instances the “all I need is my gun and a bullet” system works fine. In many instances it does not. As a police sniper, I find the same is true in my business. There are times where I need very little, and times where I need everything I have. The trick has always been to have all of that gear at my disposal for any given deployment. Often that means you have more than one “kit”, and deploy what you need based on the circumstances. What I have found with this system is that it comes about as close as you can get to doing just that, and all from the same manufacturer. It surely is not for everyone, but it sure has worked for me.

S.O.Tech

My relationship with these individuals (all companies are comprised of individuals) started like most, with a bunch of time on the Internet. I was looking for a better bag, and what I needed (not what everyone else said I should have), and came across S.O. Tech. on the Internet. I liked what I saw; I was just a bit floored by the prices. As I looked more closely I noticed there was a ton of stuff for that huge price, not all of it necessary at the time. So, I decided to try a piece or two at a time over the years and see how it worked for me. I was at the time fielding an Eagle Hybrid bag and was plenty pleased, and what I really wanted was a sniper vest that met my requirements. There were many out there that made vests and called them “sniper vests”, but they were mostly just re-worked load bearing vests of some sort. I needed something I could crawl in, yet had the ability to carry the deployment gear I required. Their vest seemed to meet that requirement so I picked that up, along with the rifleman's pack that goes with it and the scabbard. I was also experimenting with the use of the ruck, and this again met the needs. It was also kind of handy that both would attach to the harness. As to the scabbard, I wanted to try some kind of sleeve / scabbard system. I had heard that LV Metro had experimented with this system, and it was just the ticket. Sure enough, S.O. Tech. had a scabbard system that fit my harness.

I used these systems for awhile, and attended a couple of schools. Finally about six months ago I decided to try the rest of the system. I received that about two months ago (yep it took four months), and have been using it ever since. So this has been a process that has taken years. I had the opportunity to actually meet the principals at SHOT this last year, and they are like most of us, hard working small business types trying to make a living. Their gear is all very solid, very well thought out, and they are a pleasure to deal with. As seems to be the case with all of these types of companies however, they are slow. Their stuff is not generally done right away, but hey, it is made in the USA , and to a very high standard. There is more attention to detail, and when needed their customer service is excellent. I was actually in the middle of a school and needed some buckles, and a couple of other pieces to put in to play, and they took care of me immediately, shipped the items next day to the hotel. They actually took the time to drop off the next day package on the way home, try that with some of the bigger companies. As is always the case, that is my experience, but my experience with SOTECH has been tremendous.

The SOTECH System

I have pictured the entire system here, but I have also broken it down into the sequence in which I purchased it. So I will start with the items I purchased first, my experience, and my thoughts. Although this is a complete system it can be used in pieces and parts. It just depends on what you need.

The Vest

I had always liked the idea of a vest for use as a police sniper. I had tried the old Eagle sniper vest, and although it was fine if you were standing, it was not useful at all if you needed to low crawl. I tried a few others, and they all seemed to just be re-worked tactical vests. When I came across this vest it seemed like it was just about the ticket. It allowed for a Camelback, had the ability to attach pockets, but it also did not cover the chest. So, if you needed to low crawl, it would do the job. At the same time I picked up their “rifleman's pack” that conveniently attached to the vest, and the scabbard. You could also carry the pack alone, but it would attach to the vest as well. The scabbard would attach to the harness. I will talk about the pack and the scabbard in a minute. I received the vest, a radio pocket, the scabbard, and the pack with the two pouches. I had a bunch of other pouches of differing designs already, and attached those as needed. I started using it in training, and also used it quite a bit during PT. I found I was able to carry just about anything I really needed for a deployment on the vest. That allowed me to carry a very light bag, and just the gun. I had ammo, water, food, pistol, coms, notepad, rangefinder, and a small pair of binos. I could pretty much grab the harness and the rifle and go. I spend about three or four months putting everything where I needed it, and prepared to go off to two weeks of training. For those who are not familiar with these classes, they are not the typical lay down on the deck and shoot for a few days. They are intensive, fast paced, and geared towards the operational police sniper. You run, crawl, and deploy in as close to actual situations as you can. It was the perfect test. I used this item pretty much 12-15 hours a day for 10 solid days. I crawled in it, performed stalks, deployed in an urban environment, and it never failed me. There are two “belts” that you use. I used an actual duty belt at the bottom so it would not ride up, and there is a strap that goes across your chest. I found that I could release the top strap when crawling, and had no issues at all. Believe me we crawled a bunch, and in all kinds of stuff. I carried everything put the pistol, and in fact never used a shooting mat or bag throughout the entire two weeks. If you are of the minimalist mindset, this is the ticket. This would be easy to use on any kind of an active gunman scenario, or any fast breaking situation where you needed to deploy quickly. You could easily carry anything you would need at least until your first rotation out, where you could go back and get the rest of your gear.

Rifleman's Pack

It was at this time I was making my first attempt at making a move to bag or ruck deployments instead of the bi-pod. I had always used a bi-pod, but many had advised me the bag was “better”. Again, that is another discussion. As deployment bags go, this one is pretty well set up for these kinds of deployments. This is especially true if you want to carry other optional gear as well. It allows you to access the items either from the top, or the back. So, if it is being used as a rifle rest, you can still access all of your gear without moving the bag. Again, everything in this system seems to be very well thought out. It is certainly clear that someone actually tried it out, and made adjustments from the shooters perspective. That is certainly not always the case. That being said, for me at least, I found it to be a bit too big for what I would use. If it is your intent to use it as a rest for your rifle, and that is all, then I personally prefer the smaller bag put out by Iron Brigade Armory, or just a regular but pack. As a system it worked fine, and if you wanted to carry cold weather gear, or a spotting scope, or other larger items this bag works well. I have seen a number of operational police snipers deploy a completely full ruck with their drag bag, so if that is you, this will meet your needs. Used in conjunction with the harness it would allow you to carry a bunch of stuff. I have used it often as a shooting bag, and if packed correctly it is extremely stable. Once again, it depends on your preference, but the bag is extremely well made, and durable. The pouches attach like anything else using the “ alice ” clips, or their fancy new replacements.

Rifle Sleeve / Scabbard

Many teams will have their snipers carry their rifles on deployments where they are either on the entry team, or on the perimeter. That is done for many reasons, and is becoming a more regular practice as of late, especially with teams that are smaller in number, and have to cross train. If as a team you already use standard body armor, with LBV's then this rig would work pretty well. The sleeve is actually made to fit your system, so you will need to provide some measurements. It is designed to attach to the harness, or could attach to the back of another LBV given some adjustments. Carried in this manner, if the deployment turns into a barricade the snipers can deploy from there without having to go back to a truck or other place to get their gear. The sleeve is padded, and attached with the typical buckles. It can be moved around a bit, and I was able to place the rifle such that I could remove it from the scabbard. Since it attaches with the plastic quick release buckles you can even just release it and remove it from your back all together. If this is something that you would use, again, this system is pretty well thought out. I played with it quite a bit, but have since changed my method of deployment back to the “everything in the bag” method so I have not used it much. It is however an option that many other systems do not provide.

The Rest of the Bag

Just a couple of months ago I finally picked up the rest of the system. I was putting together a deployment bag that had all of my needed equipment. I new what I wanted and needed, and Sotech lets you to that. For me, this will never be a drag bag, I have one of those if I would ever need it, but it is just of no value to me and my job. That being the case I did not order any attachments for ghillie stuff or little pieces of nature. If you want that, they can attack it. The idea was to have this specifically directed towards the typical long and drawn out deployment where you need everything. It means for me at least, two choices for deployment. I either grab the M21 and the harness for immediate deployments, or the bag with the Awp, and the kitchen sink for the longer engagements. I have seen many do the same thing with other bags, but again, none are as well set up as this system in my opinion.

There are two things that describe this gear. That is well thought out, and versatile. All of the added pouches detach and can be removed. You can use any or all of the pieces, it is up to you. You can use just the bag, and it is just like any other “drag bag”. You can add your binos, rangefinder, and even the spotter (with tripod) if you like. The best part about this system is they all fit IN the bag, and not ON the bag. Even better, when you lay out the gear, it opens up and allows you to use the entire bag as a mat. You are not lying on your equipment. Most of these bags put everything on the outside, and you end up removing it, or lying on your spotter, or whatever else is on there. It has an attachment that gives you protection from muzzle blast to the ground, and it has an extension so those of us taller guys can actually get most of us on the mat. For those of us that deploy on the snow, in the heat, or anywhere else where what you lay in can cause injury, it can be incredibly valuable. Once again, all of it is detachable so you can use what you want. Although the system is clearly heavy with all the gear, it still deploys very quickly. The rifle is pointed in the correct direction so when you set the bag down you need only open it, set up, and you are good to go. I actually can deploy faster with this system than I could with the Eagle Hybrid system. Once deployed I have access to all of my data, my full sized binoculars, my spotter with the tri-pod, my gloves, some hand warmers, two spare magazines and even an MRE. All of this gear fits in there along, with the AWP with a 20” barrel and a Jet Suppressor attached. It all closes up into one bag with very nice cushioned back pack straps. I have already done a couple of runs with this set up, and it carried like any nice back pack. If you wanted to you could add a Camelback to the outside, in fact, if you wanted to you could put the attached packs on the back. Again, it is about as versatile as any system I have ever seen. It is the “paraclete” of my drag bags. It offers the ability to use or lose just about anything you want, based on your needs. A cookie cutter bag it is not, it is incredibly well thought out, and useful. It was clearly designed based on operational need, and not convenience for the maker.

Conclusions

This system is certainly not for everyone, but it most certainly will work for anyone. It is all very well made with the best materials. Everything is simply top notch. It is not cheap by any means, but it is not that much more expensive than any of the other top notch systems out there. If you get the entire package you are going to pay $715.00, and yep that is a bunch of money. I have heard many compare that to the Eagle or others and if you just take the numbers they are correct, there is a big difference. You just have to look at what you get with that. Just the bag alone is only $250.00, just like most of the other high end bags. However, unlike the other bags, you can just pick up what you need, and what you will use. But, if you are looking for a versatile and do everything package, where everything works together, this is about the best there is. For me, it just ended up over a couple of years that I have most everything that is offered. I have found this to be the best system for me, and certainly the most versatile I have ever used. I would not hesitate a second to recommend any of their gear to anyone.

 

Acknowledgements

S.O. Technologies
800-615-9007
www.specopstech.com