Basic Gear List

By Ellis

     New competitors to The Gun Run often wonder what kind of equipment is essential to make it through the course. Unlike most shooting sports, centerfire biathlon competitions are almost always very accommodating when it comes to gear selection. The most basic rule for The Gun Run is that you must have a centerfire rifle and pistol, eye and ear protection, a time keeping device, and a way to carry your ammunition for the entirety of the course. That's it. Want to run with your M1 carbine? That's fine. Want to run with a red dot on your wheel gun? That's fine too.

     While a good quality holster with adequate retention is highly recommended, you can even compete in The Gun Run without a holster if you carry the gun completely unloaded when not shooting. It is not uncommon for new competitors to the sport to carry all of their equipment in a backpack. There are no separate divisions based on gear. Sometimes there are side challenges for specific types of rifles, but everyone’s individual score is still in the overall rankings. The simple truth is that bad guys don't give a lick what you are carrying. So the objective is to come out, train with the equipment you have, identify deficiencies in skills and equipment, and improve from race to race.

    Generally speaking, to stand the highest chance of passing all the shooting stages, you will want a semi auto rifle with an optic and a semi auto pistol. The majority of competitors tend to run an AR-15 with a variable power optic and a 9mm polymer pistol. They also tend to carry their magazines in either a chest rig or battle belt. Some competitors choose to run these events with their SHTF setup while others tend to use more of a stripped down, competition orientated, setup of only essentials. I have seen TONS of other weapon and gear configurations work very well for experienced competitors, so don't let this discourage you from running what you currently have or even trying something unique like vintage military surplus.

     If you look at the picture above, you can see this competitor has chosen to carry their gear in a mixture of positions. They are also carrying some additional gear that is most likely due to the specific match they are competing in.

  • Rifle: This looks like a 16in AR-15 carbine paired with a low power variable optic and 5 magazines (most likely for a higher round count match). The rifle has a sling and a weapon light. You don't actually have to have a light attached to your rifle for Night Ops but it is highly recommended.
  • Pistol: A Glock of some kind with 5 extended magazines in a Safariland holster with Level 2 retention. You must have some kind of retention on your pistol if you are going to run it loaded at The Gun Run. Uncle Mike's type inside the waistband holsters and similar styles are simply not safe in a dynamic environment where an unsecured pistol can come out of the holster and therefore will not be allowed for safety reasons.
  • Kit: This battle belt is simple and does not have extra padding, which is fine if you aren't carrying much on it. Once you load it up with a ton of weight, extra padding or suspenders can help to support the weight more comfortably. This particular belt is an inner and outer system that velcros together keeping it securely in place. The chest rig is simple and minimalist but has extra storage for any additional gear like extra ammo, batteries, snacks or a med kit. The magazine pouches are open top “taco” style. These allow fast access but can also cause you to lose magazines when crawling over or under obstacles so you might want some that have greater retention.

     As for the other items you must carry, I recommend foam in-ear plugs. They are lighter weight and are less bulky than muffs; so they won’t get caught on anything when you are in an awkward position. I also recommend using a wrist watch instead of a cell phone to keep track of wait time because they are easier to operate in muddy conditions.

     Additional items that can be very helpful are: WATER!!! sweat rag, medical, multi-tool, cleaning rod, lube, and maybe a high energy snack if you know you could be on the course for more than an hour.

     One final note, Pistol Caliber Carbines can be used as your rifle, but you must only engage rifle targets with it. This works well for Night Ops where the engagement distances are generally shorter but not so well for day time events with 300yd targets.

     Hopefully this gets you pointed in the right direction on gear. You can always send questions to and I'll give you the best advice I can. See you on the course!

"There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy." -Washington