Get Steady: A Buyer’s Guide For The Best Shooting Bags

Whether you’re a competitive precision rifle shooter or just need to zero a firearm, a shooting bag is one of the most useful and versatile pieces of kit you can own.

What Are The Best Shooting Bags?:

Shooting bags, also called bag rests, are exactly what they sound like. Essentially just small bags filled with some sort of media, they act as a gun rest to provide additional stability, precision and support. They can be used as an ersatz bipod or in conjunction with one, but they’re a lot more user-friendly and typically cheaper, too. Heck, the concept is so simple that you could make one with a sock and some sand, and people do. While homemade versions can work fine, they won’t be as nice as what’s available for purchase these days. 

They’re an incredibly handy accessory to have on hand, but there are a lot of different makers, models and types to choose from. So, let’s get into what kinds there are, how you’d use one and what to look for when choosing the best model for your needs. We’ll also go over our picks for the 10 best shooting bags on the market.

How Do You Use A Shooting Bag?  

The first and most obvious use is as a monopod, meaning that you rest the barrel, handguard or action on the bag to steady the gun.  

You can use one in place of a bipod or in combination with a bipod by putting a shooting bag under the butt of the gun. They’re great for benchrest shooting at the range, for zeroing firearms and for shooting groups, but they are also incredibly useful in more dynamic environments such as hunting and shooting sports. 

shooting-bag-monopod
Here a shooting bag is being used as a monopod in place of the bipod.

Front bags go under the barrel, handguard or action, while rear bags are designed to support the butt of the gun. There are also all-purpose shooting bags, typically a pillow or pad-like design, that can be used as a front or rear bag as the shooter desires.  

Some bags are designed to be used anywhere the shooter can deploy one, be it in the field hunting, off a barricade or obstacle in a competition or off a bench or the ground at the range. Others, however, were designed to specialize in only one type of shooting.

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Some are small and light enough to be easily carried in the field, but the smaller they get, the less useful they typically become for shooting as well. The larger ones are easier to use, but more cumbersome to carry. Like all things in the gun world, it’s a tradeoff.

Precision shooters also use rear bags for more than just a rest. By placing the rear bag under the stock, curling your support arm back to grip the bag and squeezing it, you can use the bag itself to refine your point of aim. This trick alone makes a shooting bag an almost indispensable accessory for precision rifle shooting. 

Brantley-shooting-bag-squeezeBrantley-shooting-bag-squeeze
Pro shooter Robert Brantley demonstrating the bag squeeze technique at a Vista Outdoor event in Wyoming.

The idea is to use a front bag or a bipod to get the reticle almost where you want it, and then refine your aim to a specific point by squeezing the bag. This will compress the media inside and micro-adjust the rifle on a much finer scale than you’d be able to by just moving it.

How To Choose A Shooting Bag 

As with anything else, start with your use case. Shooting bags can be used for both general purposes or specific purposes, and designs vary accordingly. Ergo, know how you plan on using yours.  

For example, pillow-style bags can be used almost anywhere, but some bags are made to shoot off a bench, such as the benchrest “X” or “H” bags.  

Fill media can also matter in some cases. The most common is polyfill, little chunks of rubber or plastic, and it works pretty well in most instances. Corn cob tumbling media and sand are also common, and you might find the odd small bag with lead shot. Different fill media can give the shooting bag either more or less compression, but that’s mostly a matter of the shooter’s preference. 

Armageddon-Gear-shooting-bagArmageddon-Gear-shooting-bag

A bag that’s going to be used in the field needs to resist moisture, so organic material is not the best choice unless the bag and the media are well sealed.  

So, consider what you’re going to use it for, and look at the fill material accordingly. The more you need good support and structure, the denser the fill should be. Also, consider whether you want a general-purpose bag, a dedicated front bag, a dedicated rear bag or a set of both.

Modern rifle shooters should pay attention to bag height as well. A lot of shooting bags aren’t tall enough to keep the bottom of a 30-round AR or AK magazine off the ground, so be aware of the dimensions if you intend to use your bag with 30-round mags. Of course, if you want a smaller bag, you could always just use smaller mags instead.

Armageddon-game-changer-barricadeArmageddon-game-changer-barricade
An Armageddon Game Changer shooting bag used on a barricade. This model also has straps for attaching the bag to a rifle.

Another feature of some shooting bags to consider is the ability to attach it to a rifle. If you plan on using one as a monopod, especially in a dynamic environment, it can be extremely helpful to have one that can attach to the front of your rifle. Different bags have different means of attachment, however, so pay attention to which style your rifle can use. Straps are pretty universal, but some come with other mount styles like M-LOK.

So, with that all in mind, what are some of the best shooting bags currently available?

The 10 Best Shooting Bags

Precision Underground EL-Rx Rear Bag 

precision-undergroundprecision-underground

Specs:

Pros:

  • Extra grippy texture
  • Locking, stabilizing fill
  • Small and lightweight
  • Optional QD attachment option

Cons:

  • Pricy for its size
  • Only designed for rear bag use

Made for precision shooters, by precision shooters. The EL-Rx Rear Bag is a pillow-style rear bag with dual adjustable straps, an optional carabiner loop for QD attachment and enough compression to be wedged under a rifle stock.  

The nylon fabric shell resists tears, and the fill is Precision Underground’s proprietary locking blend for stability. The bag weighs 2 pounds and is easily portable at 6x1x8 inches. MSRP is $85 without the carabiner attachment, and $89 with it included.  

Armageddon Gear Python 

Armageddon-pythonArmageddon-python

Specs:

  • Weight: 1.5 pounds (nylon) Or 5.8 Pounds (waxed canvas)
  • Dimensions: 8x6x4 inches
  • Material: Nylon fabric Or Tanned waxed canvas
  • Fill: 50/50 heavy/ultralight Or Sand
  • MSRP: Starts at $49.95
  • Website: armageddongear.com

Pros:

  • Choice of light or heavy fill
  • Can be used as rear or front bag
  • Convenient carrying strap
  • Adjustable shape and size

Cons:

  • On the larger size
  • No means to attach to rifle

The Python is made to shoot off a barricade, irregular surface or rest, with cinch straps to fine-tune shooting position or stiffness. At 4 pounds and dimensions of 8x6x4 inches, it’s sized for use as a front bag but can be used as a rear bag as well.

You can choose 1000D nylon with a half-and-half ultralight and heavy fill blend, or waxed canvas with sand fill. MSRP is $49.95 for the standard and $54.95 for the waxed canvas version. 

Caldwell DeadShot Combo Set 

caldwell-bag-setcaldwell-bag-set

Specs:

  • Weight: 7.625 pounds (front bag)
  • Dimensions: 10x8x7.5 inches (front bag) , 5×5.4.5 inches (rear bag)
  • Material: Water-resistant 600D polyester
  • Fill: Corn cob
  • MSRP: $39.99 (filled combo set)
  • Website: caldwellshooting.com

Pros:

  • Front and rear bag set
  • Can save money by providing your own fill
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Large, not ideal for field use

The DeadShot Combo Set from Caldwell is a great, inexpensive, general-purpose set that includes both front- and rear-support bags.  

The bags are made with water-resistant 600D polyester fabric, a corn cob media fill and the front bag has a weight of just under 8 pounds. The smaller rear bag weight is not listed. You can get the set for about $40 online with the fill or get them unfilled for $20 and add whatever media you prefer.  

CrossTac X-Bag Shooting Rest 

crosstac-x-bagcrosstac-x-bag

Specs:

  • Weight: 2 pounds (x-bag)
  • Dimensions: 12x12x16 inches (x-bag)
  • Material: 1000D
  • Fill: Ultralight
  • MSRP: $119.99
  • Website: crosstac.com

Pros:

  • Versatile set, can be used for rifles and handguns
  • Tall enough to use with 30-round mags
  • Stable, easy to use shape

Cons:

  • Large, not ideal for field use
  • No means to attach to rifle

The X-Bag Shooting Rest is a bench rest bag set, including the main X-bag and a detachable pistol rest bag that can be used for handguns or as a rear bag for rifles. The main bag has adjustable bottom straps to set elevation, and textured ears to help hold the gun steady.  

The X-Bag Shooting rest is tall enough to use with modern carbines, has a lightweight polyfill and tips the scale at a mere 2 pounds. A more versatile bag set for static environments will be hard to come by. MSRP is $119.99.  

Wiebad DRC Fortune Cookie 

wiebad-fortune-cookiewiebad-fortune-cookie

Specs:

  • Weight: 6.2 pounds (standard) , 3 pounds (mini)
  • Dimensions: 8x7x5 inches (standard) , 7.5×4.5×6 inches (mini)
  • Material: 1000D Or Waxed Canvas
  • Fill: Polyfill
  • MSRP: Starts at $74.99
  • Website: wiebadgear.com

Pros:

  • Versatile, can be used as front or rear bag
  • Shape is ideal for both bench shooting and use off barricades/obstacles

Cons:

  • Rifle attachment provision sold separately

Wiebad’s Fortune Cookie series features bags with a quasi-rabbit ear shape beloved by PRS shooters, but they’re useful for almost anyone. It can be employed as a rear bag or front rest, and it’s available with a water-resistant 1000D Cordura shell or waxed canvas in both standard and mini sizes.  

Polyfill is standard, but Wiebad will make one with a different fill on request. Standard size is 8x7x5 inches with a weight of 6.2 pounds, while minis are 7.5×4.5×6 inches and weigh 3 pounds. MSRP starts at $79.99 for the standard and $74.99 for the minis.   

CVLIFE Shooting Rest Bag

cvlife-shooting-bagcvlife-shooting-bag

Specs:

  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dimensions: 4.13×1.38×5.7 inches
  • Material: 1000D
  • Fill: Polymer BBs
  • MSRP: $30.79
  • Website: cvlife.com

Pros:

  • Portable size and weight
  • Affordable
  • Easily replaceable fill

Cons:

  • Subpar fill material
  • No means to attach to rifle

Another good budget offering, CVLIFE offers a lightweight, general-purpose mini bag that won’t break the bank with an average price of about $25.

The shell is 1000D nylon, with four choices of color/pattern. The fill is poly BBs but they come in a removable inner pouch if you want to change the fill to something more substantial. The bag includes a carry strap for use as a rear bag or as a loop over the barrel. The bag is 4.13×1.38×5.7 inches and weighs 1 pound with the plastic bead filler.  

CrossTac Big Front Bag 

crosstac-big-front-bagcrosstac-big-front-bag

Specs:

  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.5×9.5×7.5 inches
  • Material: 1000D
  • Fill: Ground walnut
  • MSRP: $49.99
  • Website: crosstac.com

Pros:

  • Large, easy to use
  • Very stable due to weight and shape
  • Can use with 30-round mags

Cons:

  • Only usable as front bag
  • Too large and heavy for field use

The Big Front Bag is a tall, heavy front bag perfect for shooting or zeroing any firearm. It has a pyramid shape to minimize wobble, textured ears and a non-skid bottom.  

The BFB is 9.5 inches tall at the ears, making it usable for any long gun including modern carbines. The shell is 1000D Cordura, with a coarse-ground walnut fill that’s a little more flexible than corn cob media, but it also makes the bag heavy at 13 pounds. The shell is zippered if additional fill is desired. This is a great option for static shooting, but you won’t want to carry it around. MSRP is $49.95.  

Armageddon Gear X-Wing Large Enhanced Rear Shooting Bag 

Armageddon-x-wingArmageddon-x-wing

Specs:

  • Weight: Not specified
  • Dimensions: 8.5×7.75×2 inches
  • Material: Waxed canvas
  • Fill: Not specified
  • MSRP: Starts at $44.95
  • Website: armageddongear.com

Pros:

  • Small and portable
  • Three bag attachment options
  • Non-slip waxed canvas

Designed as a squeezable rear bag, the X-Wing has an X-shape and a tacky waxed canvas shell to be gripped by the support hand. It’s available in multiple colors and with your choice of a nylon web loop, a QD socket or an HK clip for attachment options. MSRP starts at $44.95. 

Birchwood Casey Tactical Tac-Match Bag Set 

birchwood-casey-shooting-bag-setbirchwood-casey-shooting-bag-set

Specs:

  • Weight: Not specified
  • Dimensions: Not specified
  • Material: Abrasion-resistant ballistic nylon
  • Fill: mid-weight
  • MSRP: $44.99
  • Website: birchwoodcasey.com

Pros:

  • Versatile bag set, can be used multiple ways
  • Tall enough to be used with 30-round mags

Cons:

  • No means to attach to rifle
  • Too large to be ideal for field use

An affordable front and rear bag set that’s tall enough to use with modern carbines. The rear bag also has two sets of ears, so it can be repositioned as the shooter needs. 

It features a woven nylon shell with textured fabric ears and a mid-weight fill. This is a good all-purpose front and rear bag set for a shooter who wants to cover multiple firearm platforms without breaking the bank. The dimensions and weight aren’t listed, but it’s tall enough to use with modern carbines and 30-round mags. MSRP is $44.99, but it can be found for as little as $30. 

Armageddon Gear Game Changer Shooting Bag 

Armageddon-game-changerArmageddon-game-changer

Specs:

  • Weight: 5 pounds (polyfill)
  • Dimensions: 9x6x7 inches
  • Material: 1000D
  • Fill: Polyfill or SpexLite
  • MSRP: Starts at $119.95
  • Website: armageddongear.com

Pros:

  • Incredibly versatile shape, ideal for most environments
  • Small and light enough for field use
  • Straps for attaching to rifle

The Game Changer is a favorite among top PRS competitors, as it is incredibly versatile. It works on irregular surfaces, off barricades or as a rear bag. The Game Changer has top straps that loop over the action/barrel too, so it can be left attached if desired.  

At 9x6x7 inches and a weight of 5 pounds with the standard polyfill media, it’s only as big and heavy as it needs to be. The bag is zippered to adjust or replace the fill. Multiple color options are available, and MSRP is $119.95 for standard fill or $169.95 with the SpexLite fill material. 


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