September 19, 2022
By Richard Nance
Failure to make use of available cover is often cited as a contributing factor in police line-of-duty deaths, but it’s not just cops who overlook the importance of cover. We should be mindful of cover and utilize it if confronted by an assailant armed with a firearm. However, the unfortunate reality is that cover may not be available when the bullets start flying.
Since we can’t necessarily control where we will be in relation to cover in an emergency, why not bring cover with us? Many of us carry a laptop and other personal belongings in some sort of pack anyway. If we can replace that pack with one that could potentially save our lives by stopping bullets we’d be crazy not to consider it.
As a police officer for over 25 years, I’m no stranger to body armor. I’ve worn a ballistic vest either under or over my uniform shirt every minute of every patrol shift. Donning it is as much a part of policing as strapping on a badge and gun. However, vests can be uncomfortable, and I don’t know anyone who would even consider wearing one off duty. Fortunately, you don’t have to wear a ballistic vest to benefit from the protection and peace of mind that body armor provides. Thanks to companies like Premier Body Armor, a stylish sling pack can offer the same level of ballistic protection in a much more comfortable and convenient configuration. The company offers several highly customizable packs in a wide range of colors and styles, each designed to provide concealment and rapid gun access.
Recently, I got my hands on the Vertx Commuter Sling 2.0. This pack was a collaboration with Premier Body Armor, and it is quite impressive. At the heart of the pack is a lightweight 10x17.5-inch Kevlar panel rated to stop most handgun rounds, including 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .44 Magnum. Despite being less than a quarter-inch thick, the panel can also withstand 12-gauge shotgun buckshot and slug rounds. The panel and 500-denier Cordura outer shell are even slash- and stab-resistant.
Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of carrying a gun in a pack. A gun in a belt-mounted holster is far more accessible. That said, a well-designed, purpose-built concealed carry pack can facilitate a surprisingly quick draw. A pack also allows you to have spare magazines, a flashlight, a knife or multitool, and a first aid kit on hand—along with more mundane items like pens, device chargers and the like. Try fitting all that on your belt. The Commuter Sling 2.0 is designed to be slung across your left shoulder. The padded shoulder strap is contoured and adjustable for maximum comfort and functionality. I was impressed with how quickly the pack could be pulled around to the front of the body, where you have ready access to your firearm and other equipment. And at the same time you benefit from the ballistic panel covering your upper torso.
With the Rapid Access Tab staged along the lower right corner of the pack, grab the tab and pull the pack around to the front of your body. While maintaining your grip, pull the tab in a clockwise motion to open the pack, providing access to your handgun. The pack’s gun compartment is roomy enough for the largest pistols at 20x11.5x2.5 inches with a 20-inch diagonal length.
The pack has plenty of MOLLE webbing, yet it doesn’t scream “concealed carry” pack. The hook-and-loop interior and Vertx’s Tactigami system enables you to customize your pack with accessories, including holsters, pouches for spare magazines and other equipment. But the big selling point to me is the presence of the pack’s Kevlar ballistic panels. Even in areas where carrying a firearm is prohibited, the fact that a pack could provide a degree of portable cover from handgun rounds—along with its slash- and stab-resistance—is reassuring.
A sleeve in the back of the pack enables you to slide your arm through and use the pack as you would a shield. This allows you to change the orientation of the ballistic panel to correspond to the threat, as opposed to it only protecting you from frontal threats when worn and deployed. Should you come under fire, a sound strategy would be to place the ballistic panel between you and the threat and beat feet. In situations where creating distance is not an option, such as in the aisle of an airplane, this TSA-approved pack can be used to fend off an edged weapon the way a lion tamer would use a chair.
In a home defense scenario, the Commuter Sling 2.0 could be used in much the same way as a police officer would use a ballistic shield – to lead when coming around a corner. “Slicing the pie,” or moving around a corner one slice at a time, is a much safer proposition when your upper torso and much of your head is protected by Kevlar. And like a crusader’s shield, the Commuter Sling 2.0 leaves your dominant hand free to counter. Only instead of a sword, you’ll have a handgun. I have a feeling after all these years of belt carry, I’ll be utilizing this sling pack quite a bit. I’m always on the go, and my laptop is always with me. Might as well have lightweight Premier Body Armor, a gun and other potentially lifesaving gear in one easy-to-access pack.