Best Shooting Bags for Rifles and Shotguns: 2020 Buyer’s Guide

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In the shooting world, shooting bags are considered one of the most underrated accessories. When done correctly, using the best shooting bags will enhance your ability in the field and on the bench, significantly. In fact, many of today’s top competitive shooters swear by this setup.

But if you’ve never purchased or used these bags in the past, then you may not know much in terms of use and how this type of setup can impact shooting accuracy.

I’ve created a buyer’s guide that delves into the different types of bags available, how to get the most out of shooting bags, and the benefits of using them to improve your shooting skills. I’ve also tested out several of the leading models on the market, narrowing it down to the top four that have what it takes to provide the support and the results you deserve. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the models that made it onto my list, the features they offer, and how they rated.

Shooting Bags Comparison Chart

ProductNumber of
Bags
MaterialFillingRating
East TN. Outfitters Tactical
Shooting Bags for Rifles

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3600D NylonUnfilled
Caldwell Universal
Rear Shooting Bag

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1Leather/PolyesterCorn cob
Caldwell Tactical DeadShot Combo

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1NylonCorn cob
Twod 900D Oxford Outdoor
Shooting Rest Bags

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2PolyesterUnfilled

East TN. Outfitters Shooting Bags


Our Rating: (5/5)

This set includes a front bag and a rear bag. The front bag measures in at 10″ L x 8″ H x 9″ W, with the rear bag coming in at 5″ H x 5″ W x 4.5″ D. These bags come equipped with Molle webbing straps and ammo loops, so you can neatly store your ammo and keep it highly accessible. The rear bag features an angled design that will help to maximize the contact with your firearm. This helps the user to maintain control for tighter groupings and increased stability. The rear bag is also angled for the same reasons. Both bags are made out of durable materials that are water-resistant.

Pros

  • Included ammo storage loops
  • Water-resistant
  • Includes two bags
  • Carry handle

Cons

  • Bags come unfilled

Conclusion

These bags are unfilled, so you’ll have your choice of filling material type, whether you opt for plastic pellets, sand, or some type of synthetic material. The bags themselves are very durable and made out of 600D nylon that’s water-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about the contents of the bags getting wet, which can promote mildew growth. The handles on top of each bag will make them easier to haul and transport, while the ammo storage loops are also a great extra since you can store your ammo and have it readily accessible. This rear and front bag setup is perfect for hunting or precision shooting practice.

Caldwell Universal Rear Shooting Bag


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This rear bag comes filled with corn cob material which provides a stable surface to shoot from, one that’s not too firm and not too soft. The bag is made out of polyester and leather and creates the perfect secure rest that will not sag or stretch. The bag weighs fifteen pounds and doesn’t come with a carry handle, which can make it difficult to carry the bag if you’re using it for hunting out in the backcountry. The bag is also not water-resistant, so you’ll need to avoid taking it out in inclement weather.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Made out of leather and polyester
  • Low price
  • Will not stretch out

Cons

  • No handle

Conclusion

This large supportive bag is filled with corn cob material that makes the bag stable and durable. During practice, this bag will be a total asset. The lack of a carry handle can make it difficult to haul this bag from spot to spot, but the overall durability is a big incentive to buy.

Caldwell Tactical Dead Shot Combo


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This bag is designed specifically for tactical rifles and comes prefilled. It’s also perfect shooting height, offering plenty of clearance for thirty round magazines. It’s made out of heavy-duty nylon that’s water-resistant and it’s designed to provide a stable shooting surface for all types of magazine-style rifles. This is a rear bag can be set up in two positions; reversed for A2 style stocks and oriented for carbine style stocks. This is  a tall profile style bag that will allow for clearance for thirty round mags and it’s designed to withstand plenty of wear and tear and can provide the type of stable surface you need to improve your shooting precision.

Pros

  • Rear bag can be used in two shooting positions
  • Water-resistant
  • Prefilled
  • Made out of heavy-duty nylon

Cons

  • Cumbersome design can make this model difficult to carry

Conclusion

This is a bag that’s built tough, versatile, and can be used with a wide range of rifle types. They come prefilled with corn cob material and weigh in at seven and a half pounds. The included carry handle is adjustable and will make hauling, storing, and transporting these bags a breeze. Built tough, designed to handle the elements and perfect for most types of magazine style rifles, these versatile bags will take your shooting skills to the next level and beyond.

Twod Shooting Rest Bags


Our Rating: (4/5)

These bags are water-resistant and durable. They’re made out of heavy-duty polyester and are designed to handle any type of extreme environment. These bags will provide a steady, solid platform for shooting and can support any type of shotgun or rifle. During use, you’ll enjoy wobble-free use, which is exactly what you need out in the field or at the range. The durable design also includes soft leather and oxford cloth at the points of contact, which will protect your rifle from scratches.

Pros

  • Made out of heavy-duty polyester
  • Easy to transport
  • Shoulder carry straps
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • Bags are unfilled

Conclusion

The durable design makes these bags a must-have for the precision shooter. The adjustable shoulder carrying straps, and oxford and leather material at the points of contact clearly indicate quality, with a design that will both protect your rifle from damage and provide a stable shooting surface.

Shooting Bags Buyer’s Guide

Shooting bags are available in all different weights, shapes, and sizes, designed for different stabilizing setups. Many of these bags come with features that will aid in shooting quality, such as synthetic materials that provide friction that prevents a bag from sliding around if it’s placed on a slippery surface. This same type of material is often used inside the grooves and is designed to cradle the fore end of a rifle to ensure that its securely anchored in place when you shoot.

Design

These bags are filled with heavy sand that ensures a solid resting point. The deep grooves are designed to envelope the majority of the fore-end for the best stability. The more of the gun that is bedded onto a rest, the less room there will be for inadvertent movements. Because these bags are often very heavy, most will come with a handle that’s designed to make transporting and storing them much easier. Some will also come with a small pocket or two that can be used to store tools and accessories.

Benefits of Using Shooting Bags

ammunition belt

  • These bags are often used for long range shooting and are designed to help deliver a hit down range.
  • These bags are an affordable solution that offers many benefits for precision shooters, mainly in the form of stabilizing the rear of a rifle. This leads to improved precision and accuracy.
  • While these bags are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, all of them are designed to provide a rest for the rear of a rifle and fill up the space between the ground and stock.
  • Instead of having to balance and hold the rifle with your hand, the bag will spread the weight, making it easier to maintain a secure hold on the gun, instead of the shooter placing the rear of the gun on the ground.
  • The stabilization of the rear of the rifle will increase precision and consistency when shooting. With this type of increased stability, improved follow through is often noted.
  • Using a shooting bag can also help you shoot tighter groupings, making a more precise hold on a target.
  • Bag use will also allow you to see more of what is happening downrange.
  • With a shooting bag, you will be able to make precise adjustments to windage or elevation with a slight release or squeeze of the bag.
  • They can also be used for non-firing tasks, such as ranging with a riflescope with the gun resting on the bag or observing a target for long periods of time.
  • Aside from rifles, the bags can also be used for other equipment including lasers and cameras, since they can provide a stabilizing effect for other types of equipment as well.

Other Important Features

Many people who are just getting into precision or long-range shooting don’t know too much about these shooting bags or how they work.

In the past, people would fill an old boot sock with sand. This option worked well enough for prone shooting, yet it was very heavy and had a tendency to absorb water. It was also not the most durable shooting bag. The precision rifle competitor must lie on their stomach and on obstacles when they shoot, so a bag is used to cushion certain parts of the rifle. Minimizing wobbling on an obstacle can have a huge positive impact in terms of hitting a target when the shooter is under a time constraint. Over the years, shooters began to explore and improve upon the design, creating methods using synthetic materials at different weights. These days, you’ll be able to find bags available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and weights.

Sizes

Since every shooter has their own shooting preference and style, not to mention the different types of rifles out there, these bags are available in different sizes and styles ranging from medium barricade style bags that are utilized for positional shooting, and larger bags that are designed for obstacles and creative positions. Many shooters will usually favor a certain style of bag, based on what they find the most effective and comfortable to use.

There are also several types of smaller bags to choose from, many of which feature a cylinder shape. This type of shape will allow for a couple of different rear heights by using the bag on it’s side or standing it upright.

Rifle Type

The type of bag you buy should also be based on the model of rifle you use. Some bags will only work for certain types of rifles. When you’re shopping around, read the spec sheet to make certain that it will be compatible with your weapon.

Sets

If you’re new to shooting or you’re a seasoned shooter but you’ve never used a bag for your rifle, then your best bet may be purchasing a set of bags, instead of a single front or rear bag. A set will give you more options in terms of how you set up and support your rifle. In this way, you can do a little experimenting with different bag setups and choose one that’s comfortable and allows you to take the best shot.

Weight

Take weight into consideration as well since you’ll be hauling the bag around if you’re practicing at a range or out in the field using it for a hunt. Ideally, the bag should be portable and light, but in some cases, a heavier weight can be a better option since it can add to the stability of the bag.

Adjustable

The bag should also be adjustable for the required elevation or height. A model that’s adjustable will make it much easier for you to manage a shot, via the adjustment tool.

Recoil

You’ll also need to look for a model with decreased recoil because it can affect your shooting accuracy. The shooting bag must align with your specific needs.

Functionality

A bag that’s multifunctional will allow you to adjust it for different shooting positions. Additionally, you can also use a rear or front bag, or use a combination of the two.

Filling

Some bags will come filled with sand, plastic pellets, or corn cob. Other bags will come unfilled, allowing you to choose the type of filling to use. This will give you total control over the weight of the bags and how firm or soft the surface is. Typically, bags that are unfilled are more affordable than models that are filled. The type of material you’ll use should be based on preference, however, many pros recommend using plastic pellets.

Whether the bag is filled with a lightweight material or sand, a bag must have a base that’s stable and should be water-resistant and able to maintain its shape in order to hold your gun in place securely.

Some models will allow you to adjust the level of the filling in the bag, so it has enough give to support your weapon.

Durability

A bag can tear or become damaged due to sharp objects on the ground such as glass or rocks. It can even become damaged by the rifle itself. High-quality bags will be made out of material that’s abrasion resistant.

Long Range

If you need to practice long range shooting, then look for a model that will allow you to easily position it for this purpose.

Bag Materials

Models that are made out of natural materials will be the most comfortable to use. Of course, bags that are made out of water-resistant materials will also be important. Make sure the type of material you choose is also designed to provide plenty of protection for your firearm. These bags can be made out of nylon, leather, or polyester. Bags that are made out of leather are usually not coated with a waterproof treatment, which can make them a poor choice for outdoor use. Bags that are made out of nylon are very durable and rip-resistant, making them better suited for outdoor shooting.

Padding

Some models will come with padding that’s made out of micro-suede. This type of material is designed to prevent any damage to a rifle at the points of contact. The padding can also be made out of oxford cloth or leather, or a combination of these materials.

Stability

Models with an effective shape and solid base will keep your gun secure and improve your chances of making a shot. How stable a bag is can be impacted by the type of fill used or the rigidity of the material the bags are made out of.

Price

These days, shooting bags are reasonably priced, so you should have no trouble finding a top of the line model even if you’re on a tight budget. On average, you can find these bags priced at $12-$100. In some cases, you’ll note a higher cost, but these bags will usually come in a set.

How to Use Shooting Bags

A hunter is not a bench shooter, and you won’t find any shooting benches out in the backcountry. However, there will be times when a shooter will need a bag in order to use their sight or test their ammunition. If you don’t use the proper shooting technique with one of these bags, then you’re only going to end up wasting your ammo. You’ll also become pretty frustrated. Below, you’ll find some tips that will help you to get the most out of your bags so you can learn how to use them properly.

  • You’ll shoot from a bag for a couple of reasons, to eliminate human error and for a solid platform. You’ll need to find a solid bag, such as a model that is comfortable, solidly built, and covered in an abrasion-resistant material. The important thing is to find a model that’s tough enough to keep your firearm stable.
  • These bags make it easier to hold your rifle, which is why they’re considered such an important piece of gear. However, the bag shouldn’t be pillow soft, which will cause your rifle to sink into it. To test out how soft a bag is, try poking it with your finger. If it doesn’t leave an indentation, then the bag is too hard. If you place your rifle across it and it doesn’t stay put, then the bag is way too soft.
  • Some shooters prefer using a bag that’s adjustable. These types of bags are not recommended for hunting rifles. A hunting rifle usually doesn’t shoot well from a rigid bag because of the transfer of vibrations.
  • Many pros recommend looking for a bag that’s filled with plastic pellets, which makes the bag lighter and more durable compared to bags that are filled with sand.
  • Whether you’re practicing precision shooting or kill shots, make sure you experiment with the bag’s setup before you enter a competition or take the bags with you on your next hunt. If you’re a beginner, then purchasing a set of bags of different sizes and one that includes a front and rear bag will be your best bet and will give you the most shooting options.
  • When you’re shooting, if you find that the bags are not helping with precision, make the necessary adjustments and only use what you’re comfortable with. If the bag feels too hard or too soft, then you’re using the wrong type for your rifle. If you’re not sure which type of bag will be compatible, then head online to a shooting forum, ask your buddies, or head to your local gun shop for recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Shooting Bags Used?

A shooting bag can be used to help stabilize your rifle, which in turn, helps to improve the precision of your shot. Without a bag you would have to rest parts of your rifle on the ground, which can have a negative impact on your shooting, depending on terrain. A shooting bag will provide the stability you need to get the most out of every shot.

What Are the Benefits of A Shooting Bag?

As I mentioned earlier, a shooting bag is designed to help improve your aim and shooting precision by giving you a stable surface to rest your firearm. They can also be used for camera equipment or any type of application in which you need to utilize a stable surface.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy A Shooting Bag?

The price of shooting bags will vary depending on the size, weight, material, and durability. In most cases, you’ll find a great bag for under $100. Of course, like with most products, a higher price tag often indicates improved durability and quality, so if you’re looking for a bag that’s durable and designed to last, then you can expect to pay more.

Final Thoughts

The best shooting bags will be stable, made out of protective material, and will come in a shape and weight that will work the best for your shooting style and the type of rifle you own. Durability is key, as is a rest that’s stable and comfortable to use. This guide and my top product recommendations will help you find the perfect bag or bags based on your shooting needs, rifle type, and your budget.

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