Rifle Holster/Scabard (for backpacking)


October 6, 2004, 10:40 AM
After doing a few backpacking excursions this summer up in the Rockies, I have decided to get deeper into it. One decision I Have made is to try carrying a rifle. I tried a few different handguns over the summer and was satisfied with none, as far a ease of carry, (all those backpack straps make it REEL hard to wear a holster anywhere), Power ( for dealling with wild critters) and accuracy ( for possible smal game hunting). I have decide to aquire/ build a lightweight rifle, either a lever or bolt and very short length. The carry method I picture (in my strange mind) is some sort of scabard or holster mounted to the side of my backpack, so I can draw the rifle over my shoulder (hence the need for a very short rifle)
Has anybody ever seen a product like that? Or do you have suggestions for carring a rifle on a long hike? Remember, When backpacking, your shoulders, waise and chest are all covered in straps, so a conventional sling would be very difficult to use.

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October 6, 2004, 10:59 AM
Cabellas has a couple you might want to look at. They aren't much for drawing it over the shoulder, but Cabelas has a pack here: Cabellas backpack (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/horizontal-item.jhtml?id=0014814515401a&navAction=push&navCount=2&indexId=cat20770&podId=0014814&catalogCode=QR&parentId=&parentType=&rid=&cmCat=search&hasJS=true).

Do a search there for backpacks, they have a couple others, including framed packs, etc.

I think with backpacks you are typically going to face a conflict between securely attaching the rifle and having the ability to draw easily over the shoulder. I've got a backpack I plan on modifying a bit to make it easier for me to carry the rifle, but I don't know that I'll be making it so that it can be pulled out quickly, as I tend to scrabble around too much, and my backpack winds up facing in various different directions, so I prefer having any rifle in there locked in place.


October 6, 2004, 11:00 AM
Tag...I want to keep up with this one.

BTW, have you considered an H&R or similar single shot? I was actually considering a .410 single for the same reason, I intend to pick up backpacking next year. Even a rifle/shotgun O/U combo gun.

October 6, 2004, 11:12 AM
There is a scabbard that goes with this little beauty. It would probably work with just about any other compact rifle. If needed you could probably cut a hole in the end for a longer barrel.



Bwana John
October 6, 2004, 11:19 AM
I use a extra long sling and carry the rifle "patrol style" over the top of one backpack sholderstrap and over my neck. The rifle can be slung horizonal or vertical. The backpack strap takes alot of the weight and abrasion, the rifle is accessable and can be better protected than mounted on the pack, and when bushwacking the rifle does not hang up. The downside to this method of carry is that if you trip, the rifle and scope gets bodyslamed by you and your pack (and the boned out deer in your pack) This has happened once and made me a believer in Leupold scopes. I like alpine hunting in the backcountry usually around treeline, hiking in ~ 10 miles with just a rifle, pack, knife, sleeping bag and some cold food.

October 6, 2004, 11:38 AM
Act, I have thought about a single shot, as it would be lightweight, but you get no follow up shot. rifle, shotgun combos tend to be heavy and expensive. That scabard you showed is just what I was thinking about, but it would need to be a little larger to accomadat any other rifle than a H@R Single. Great Idea.
Bwana, I am having trouble pictuing what you describe. Are you holding the rifle in your hands while doing this? Would'nt it bounce around alot?

October 6, 2004, 11:49 AM
I've imagined a right-side velcro-loaded panel on a pack which securely holds the piece in place muzzle-down, allowing one to grab the grip over the shoulder, pull forward peeling the velcro open, and down into position.

October 6, 2004, 11:50 AM
, but you get no follow up shot.
Practice, practice, practice :P
Its a good sacrifice to make, IMHO, unless you plan on shooting a fair bit while you're out.
After re-reading your post, one problem you might have is finding a powerful enough round for sd (especially against big critters) that won't absolutely destroy small game.

October 6, 2004, 12:02 PM
I've been down this road, er, trail, and I never really found a handy long-gun based solution.

Regardless of my choice of long gun itself (I carried either a breakdown/folding stock .22LR or a folding-stock cut-down 20Ga Mossberg shotgun), I had to scabbard it on the pack. And, of course, the times when I wanted the firearm (either for defense or snap shots at small game) were ALWAYS AND WITHOUT FAIL the times that my pack was NOT within arms reach.

I finally found a decent nylon shoulder holster that didn't interfere with my pack straps, and went with a long-barreled revolver. I also put a couple of Speedloader pouchs on the pack belt and kept alternate loads (snakeshot, hardcast wadcutters) available if needed. That seemed to work the best for me.

Bwana John
October 6, 2004, 12:11 PM
I put on the backpack, then put the sling over my head and right shoulder. The sling is very long, I dont have to hold the rifle in my hands. When I am hiking the rifle is slung horizonaly, upside down, pointing left. If I encounter someone else on the trail, I rotate the rifle so that the muzzle is pointed down, you almost cant see it behind my right arm. If you run it might bounce, but usually your hands kind of rest on the rifle while hiking, dampening any movement of the rifle. You do sweat and it drips on the rifle, and the finish is worn of on side of the rifle, but I have not found a better way to carry a full sized deer rifle while backpack hunting. I found that mounting the rifle on the pack made it hang up and get banged by everything, and made it hard to take off a big pack while protecting the rifle. Heres a pic of me hiking out with a boned out deer in the pack in the Sierra Nevada.

October 6, 2004, 12:14 PM
Since you probably don't want to scare all the other people, you won't want to carry the gun on a giles sling, or otherwise out in front. Another option like this is here:

Scroll to the "Hands-free weapon carrying with the Combat Gunbearer" photo. Its the MM site, so I can't just link to the photo.

I should think this is a good choice for two guns. A handgun always on you, and I mean always, and a rifle readily accessable from the top of a pack. You can get it out when the pack is grounded in camp, or by dumping it if something bad happens. Use the pistol to get the time to get to the pack. Many packs have things like ski slots; mine has such things, and will fit a short bolt gun just fine.

Andrew Wyatt
October 6, 2004, 12:33 PM
consider chest webbing.

I hse a tactical tailor MAV (modular chest webbing) to carry some water, comms, food, and shotgun ammo when i backpack.

my shotgun is either in my hands, slung, or broken down in a pouch (it's only broken down when travelling to the trailhead).

I haven't found a satisfactory way of carrying a pistol yet. i'll probably just toss it in a pouch or something.

October 6, 2004, 12:48 PM
Having backpacked in Alaska, IMO if you want the long gun available for defense, then carry it in your hands. That's the only place that it will do you any good if a bear charges you.

OTOH, when crossing steep snow covered and rocky slopes, I just firmly strapped the shotgun on my pack, as mobility and use of both hands was more critical than defense from bears. A little farther on and off the steep stuff and into the brush, I just carried it again - though stupidly at that time not cocked and locked. I had this bizarre idea that I could pump a shell into the chamber if a bear showed up. Fortunately, we didn't meet anything, although there were fresh dinner-plate sized bear tracks in the trail we were walking on. :eek:

In MT now I usually just carry a handgun in a belt holster. With a backpack the biggest problem seems to be getting it on and off without hanging up on your gun. Just run the load bearing waistband (hip-band, actually) under your holster. It works even with a backpack weed sprayer here on my own place.

If I thought I needed to carry a rifle for defense when backpacking, I would carry a handgun also. You have to lay the rifle down to set up camp, cook, and other necessary functions ;)

October 6, 2004, 01:24 PM
As far as carrying a handgun AND a rifle, well that would be alot of weight. and I cannot imagine a situation on the trail that would require me fighting my way back to my pack with a handgun to get my rifle out and continue the fight.
This is NOT a SHTF thread, just a realistic, practial question. I am not preparing for battle, just recreation. weight savings are important.
Now Act, I have never hunted small game with powerful rifle before so I never thought about that. What would, say a .308 do to a marmot or a jackrabbit? I usualy try for headshots if posible, to destroy less meat.
Also as shoobe said, I don't want to scare other hikers, and hunting is not my primary interest in the mountains, just a side diversion to get dinner.
Thanks for all the suggestions. keep 'em comin'

Andrew Wyatt
October 6, 2004, 01:30 PM
if you're after small game, why not carry a .22 pistol?

a bolt gun doesn't seem like a good choice for defense, and is probably overpowered for small game.

October 6, 2004, 01:36 PM
I have done some backpacking in the past. My favorite rifle was a stainless Ruger 10/22. Put a Butler creek folding stock on it. I straped to the side of my pack fairly high up. I suppose you could pull it over your sholder that way as you expressed. You can get the 10/22 in magnum or now the .17 which would cover a lot. If you needed more power, you could get something like a Mini-14 or SKS and still put a folding stock on it but that is getting a lot heavier.

October 6, 2004, 01:37 PM
This is a subject dear to my heart. I've experimented with all methods of carrying a long gun while hiking in Alaska. The best options are these.

-For a slab-sided levergun or carbine-length bolt action, rig a leather scabbard to your backpack so that it's straight up and down the center, with the top of the scabbard just above the top of the loaded backpack. Secure the rifle in the scabbard and attach a leather lanyard to it, ideally via a ring on the rifle--like a saddle ring. You use the lanyard not to yank the carbine all the way out, but to guide it to your hand as it reaches around to grab the buttplate and lift it out.

--For longer rifles, rig German-style across your front with the barrel pointing down to your left side. Attach the front of the sling to the front band with a quick release swivel snap. You can find these in tack and harness shops as they are used for dogs and horses. To release the rifle, simply snap open the quick release with your left hand. With practice you can snap the rifle right up to your shoulder, with the off hand following up for support. This method is VERY fast and because the action is kept right at your chest, it's also very safe. The trigger and and safety are never out of your immediate sight and control. I've used the method with K-31's and Mausers with good effect.

--For VERY long rifles, such as Mosin-Nagants, Mauser '91's and Schmidt Rubin 1911's, the best method is often an over-the-shoulder carry. If the rifle is well balanced, it will ride very nicely resting on the shoulder with one hand over the barrel.

October 6, 2004, 01:47 PM
I'm not sure if you're interested in a new pack or even if this one would be large enough, but....


This is a Swiss rifle pack that has a harness in the middle of the pack allowing a bolt or lever rifle to be holstered there. Hope this might help.


October 6, 2004, 02:13 PM
The Swiss pack is excellent, and surprisingly mild on the shoulders for a military pack. I used it all summer to carry my shotgun and fishing gear around the salmon streams. My one complaint is that when loaded it's not always a smooth extraction. These were not ment for quick draw, but for long duration carrying over the alps. It was apparently intended that soldiers take their packs off before pulling their rifles out. Also, because of the way the K-31 fits I suspect they were typically loaded with mags taken out.

To smooth out extraction, you could insert a hard cardboad tube down the hole.

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