When I generally carry my gear to the range, I just throw all my various rifle cases, range bags, toolboxes, and other loose gear into the truck bed. I am fortunate enough to use a shooting facility where I can just pull my truck right behind the firing line, or into the shooting bay, and access all my gear directly at the truck. But when I shoot at a facility or match where I shoot at points in far proximity from my truck, I use my shooting cart to store my necessary gear.
Shooting carts are a common sight at Across the Course High Power Rifle competitions because they are a very convenient way to transport a rifle and all the supplementary gear involved in the match (shooting coat, spotting scope, scope stand, gloves, ammo, ammo carriers, magazines, etc) between the vehicle and the firing line, and from firing line to firing line (200, 300, and 600 yard lines and the pits).
But I have found that in NRA Mid-Range and Long Range matches such as the 3×600 (yards) and 3×1000 courses of fire, I have slightly less gear and less equipment movement (no shooting coat; no moving to different distanced firing lines; same firing line the whole match).
Carrying a rifle in a scabbard on a backpack has always intrigued me so I started researching these style of packs as a way of carrying a rifle and equipment during a match. Eberlestock came to the forefront of all my web research. After much thought about whether or not I wanted to try such a pack as a replacement to my trusty Ray-Vin shooting cart for non-Across the Course / National Match course of fire events, I analyzed all of the Eberlestock options and ordered the Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II backpack in Dry Earth. This pack has actually been out for a few years now, but it is one of the few pack systems with integrated long gun carry on the market.
The Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II is a 2700 cubic inch pack measuring 22″ (height) x 10″ (width) x 8″ (depth). It is composed of three compartments: the main compartment, the top flap compartment, and the rifle scabbard. The pack is designed around the Eberlestock Intex-II frame system which comes included. The Intex-II frame system is the one significant design change from the original Gunslinger pack.
The top flap compartment flips up to give access to the main compartment which can opened through the top cinch enclosure or via the zippered opening.
The main compartment is pretty much a single large compartment with a couple of small, short pockets on the side and rear walls, as well as bladder pockets on the rear wall.
The flap and side walls of the main compartment have PALS webbing on both the interior and exterior sides to accept MOLLE compatible accessory mounts.
The top flap compartment has several pockets for securing smaller items including rifle magazines, pens, notepads, tools, etc.
The individual magazine pockets can hold 30 round AR-15 magazines, but it just barely holds an AICS magazine. The retention bungees can be adjusted via hook and loop.
Note that there is a zipper at the bottom of the flap compartment, which opens up to reveal a very thin, padded compartment that can best be described as being able to hold an iPhone 6/6s (not a Plus). I will occasionally throw a random item in here in a pinch, but otherwise, I don’t really use it for specific items at this point.
The scabbard itself can be run for a deep or shallow carry configuration. In a shallow carry configuration, the bottom portion of the scabbard is folded up into the pack and secured via a buckle.
The depth of the scabbard from the start of the opening to the bottom in the shallow carry configuration is approximately 20″.
When needed, the buckle can be released to extend the bottom portion of the scabbard to accommodate a longer rifle and/or allow for deeper carry of the rifle, with a depth of 31″ from the start of the scabbard opening to the bottom.
The Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II does come with a buttstock cover which is 13″ long, but has a 13″ pull out extension. This cover goes over the top of the scabbard opening and attaches via quick release buckles to fully enclose the rifle (up to 60″ long) if desired.
In the above photo, the pull out extension was not pulled out/down. The buttstock cover without pulling out the extension will cover about a 45″ rifle, but a 47″ rifle such as my Remington 700 with 26″ barrel and ATAICS (with default buttplate spacers) will be slightly exposed. Pulling out the extension is recommended for full coverage, especially in wet conditions.
As far as carrying the rifle, it can be done muzzle up or muzzle down. The original Eberlestock Gunslinger had a more tapered bottom portion, which meant rifles usually had to be carried muzzle down. But the G2 has a wider taper on the bottom end to allow for muzzle up carry.
The decision to carry muzzle up or muzzle down is going to vary based on rifle type, personal preference, and the situation. I can go either way on this.
It is important to note that the scabbard cannot be removed from the G2 Gunslinger II. The Eberlestock G3 Phantom offers a attachable/detachable rifle case system.
The pack has adequate padding and can be adjusted for height on the back by moving the attachment point of the pack straps. Although, the waist belt is too large for me. It appears to come with Eberlestock’s large contoured belt which is for 33″-40″ waists (based on their product page specifications). I cinched it down as much as I could and it is still loose, which means I should get the Eberlestock small contoured belt which has a range of 29″-44″ according to their specifications.
The weight of of the pack is probably one detracting factor of the G2. As I mentioned earlier, the Gunslinger II weighs 8.2 lbs, which is about 3 lbs heavier than the original Gunslinger. If you look for opinions regarding Eberlestock online, some people will cite the weight of the packs. It is important to note that the G2 Gunslinger II does include the Intex-II frame and scabbard, along with extra padding as part of its weight.
There is one pack mounted Eberlestock accessory that I did buy for the novelty and that is the Eberlestock shooting rest in Dry Earth. It is quickly attached to PALS webbing using built-in MOLLE compatible attachment clips, and you can basically use it as a field expedient front rest point when you have to use your pack as a rifle rest.
It actually works effectively and is a nice addition to the pack, particularly for hunters, PRS-style match shooters, and anyone that wants a stable field expedient rifle rest platform
As I mentioned at the start, the impetus for acquiring the Gunslinger II pack is to function as my rifle and gear pack for an NRA Mid-Range or Long Range match (shooting F-Class). I attended a 3×1000 Long Range match at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and was able to get all my necessary gear (with two exceptions) into the pack.
The Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II pack is actually comfortable to wear. The frame helps solidify the pack, as a frame should, but as heavy as the G2 was at the aforementioned 3×1000 match, with the ATAICS rifle and all the gear, I was still able to move fluidly.
This isn’t exactly what I had in the pack at the 3×1000 match, but the following photo is an example of what I carried.
Generally, all you truly need for an F-Class match is the rifle, front rest, and ammunition, while everything is supplemental based on shooting style and desired comforts. My rifle with bipod attached was carried in the scabbard, while I kept my ammunition, two rear bags (switch between the two depending on firing point conditions), and spotting scope in the main compartment. I also had a 32 ounce water bottle and two extra bottled waters in the pack, an Eberlestock rain cover, and some other cloth netting (shade in sun if needed) in the pack folded up.
The ammunition in the above photo are retained in Tab Gear Bullet Binders. Read my Mini-Review at https://www.ocabj.net/mini-review-tab-gear-bullet-binder/.
A quick aside regarding the Eberlestock rain cover. While this serves specifically to cover the pack if it is raining, I also use it to cover the rifle between relays to keep it out of direct sunlight (if I don’t put it in the scabbard) by stretching it over the muzzle and the back of the scope. This helps keep the barrel cooler than if it were being hit directly by sunlight.
In the small compartment I carried some snacks, a small clipboard, notepads, armboard, and my Fix It Sticks tool kit (with torque limiters).
This was pretty much everything I needed (and them some) for the match, except for two specific items: my scope stand and shooting mat. I ended up carrying my scope stand by hand, with my BLACKHAWK rollup shooting mat over the shaft of the scope stand.
I also used the Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II at an NRA ARM (America’s Rifle Match) which is a rifle-only action match, where I carried my rifle and gear from stage to stage (bay to bay) in the Gunslinger II. I carried my 16″ AR-15, magazines, ammunition, and other supplementary gear (spare sling, HSGI Leg Rig, water, snacks) easily.
After using the pack, I do have one specific gripe and that is towards the secondary top flap. The problem is that the items inside the secondary compartment will spill out when you open the zippered compartment if the backpack is laying on its back.
The root of this problem is that the flap compartment doesn’t have enough slack material to place it away from the main body of the pack. This means that if the pack is full, particularly at the top half of the main compartment, the top flap can’t go over the pack body and be at front of the pack. It is resting more on the top of the pack at an angle.
Eberlestock could have mitigated this in a couple ways. One could have been to use more material that attaches the flap compartment to the main body. This would give the secondary compartment more slack to get over a stuffed main compartment and will allow it to sit correctly at the front of the pack.
The second way (my preferred choice) would be to have the secondary compartment open from the sides as opposed to the top, or have an additional zipper on the bottom of the flap to access the flap compartment. This way, if the pack is on its back, the flap compartment can be accessed from the bottom and not have the contents spill out.
With regards to the color pattern, Dry Earth is a specific Eberlestock color. It is not quite Flat Dark Earth nor is it Coyote Brown or Coyote Tan. Eberlestock had several sample photos of their Dry Earth pack and I thought it appeared to be a nice all-purpose color. It is not overtly tactical as Multicam and more subtle than Coyote Brown. So I opted for Dry Earth because it seemed like a color that could go well in all types of situations (non-shooting or shooting, urban or field, desert or forest).
Most of my photos already shown in this article are fairly representative of the Eberlestock Dry Earth color assuming your monitor is calibrated. But the following photo should help provide context to the Dry Earth color scheme.
The above photo was taken in directly sunlight with a pair of Mechanix Fastfit gloves in Wolf Grey, a Tab Gear Bullet Binder in Mulitcam, and an ITS Tactical Fatboy IFAK pouch in Coyote Brown. As you can see, there is a a stark contrast between Dry Earth and Coyote Brown.
This photo taken in the shade further displays the contrast between Dry Earth and Coyote. Note the Accuracy International Pale Brown of the AT AICS which isn’t too far off from Dry Earth.
I do not have any true Flat Dark Earth nylon gear to compare against this. But FDE should run closer than Coyote Brown to Eberlestock Dry Earth.
Multicam actually compliments Dry Earth quite well and I regret not getting a Multicam ITS Tactical Fatboy pouch instead of the Coyote Brown.
Given all this information, I can say that the Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II is a viable solution for my original intent: a rifle and gear transport system other than a shooting cart for use during an NRA Mid-Range and Long Range match.
Note: Pictured in the above three photos is my Ray-Vin classic scope stand, but I swapped out the original 48″ single piece shaft (rod) with a short 24″ base shaft. Since I am have not been competing in NRA High Power Service Rifle, Across the Course with a 200 yard standing stage of fire, I don’t have a need to use my scope from the standing position. Thus, going with the short shaft will allow me to carry the scope stand on the outside of my pack without it being too unwieldy.
The Gunslinger II will also serve as a viable pack for field use and other scenarios. While Precision Rifle Series style matches are not common here in Southern California, I have been considering participating in that format of competition when the opportunity arises.
Is the Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II perfect? Not at all. The top flap storage compartment could be redesigned and the weight of the pack might be on the high side for some. The inclusion of a large waist belt as opposed to smaller waist belt is a bit annoying. Assuming their product page specifications are correct, providing the small waist belt with an adjustment range of 29″-44″ makes more sense than the large with a range of 33″-40″.
With these minor deficiencies, the Gunslinger II does get the job done for anyone that wants a pack system to carry a rifle and extra gear.
The Eberlestock G2 Gunslinger II starts at $329 USD MSRP with slightly higher prices for different color patterns. It can be found in Black, Coyote Brown, Dry Earth, Multicam, Military Green, and UNICAM II. For more details on Eberlestock product color patterns, definitely check out their website at http://www.eberlestock.com/.