First Gear | Range Bag Recommends

posted on March 19, 2017
Photo by A1F Staff

The weather is taking a shooting friendly turn across the fruited plain. Whether you “hang ‘em up” in the winter or have a hospitable indoor clime to keep your hand in, now is still a good time to get the range bag ready for the great outdoors. With that in mind, here are some modest items that are session- or match-savers in our experience, belong in every bag (we posit with only slight immodesty), and can be added for a true pittance.

Burris Lens Pen 

Lens pens aren’t a new item by any stretch. If memory serves, we encountered our first in the last century, a slightly disheartening recollection in itself. The interval has done nothing, however, to reduce our appreciation for these clever gadgets–in fact, quite the opposite. 

But to convince you that you probably ought to have three or four of these requires we go back a bit before going forward. Back, as it were, consists of considering the now-ubiquitous “microfiber” lens cloths we get like lawn care, roofing or house painting flyers at this time of year–and about as useful, too. 

We know these are well intended, but they’re turning out to be an ineffectual little geegaw in our opinion. Right off the bat, we hope you’re having better luck than we keeping the (supposed) cleaners clean–two uses, we think, are the maximum before the coefficient of laid-down smear exceeds that of picked-up smear. 

Also, how do you keep straight which side to use? Think it doesn’t matter you may, but consider that while one side rubs (and, mayhap, actually cleans), the other side is dutifully receiving skin oils (this applies to the glasses bag versions too). With apologies to Miss Hood (Little Red Riding, that is), “All the better to slime you with next time, my dear.” 

We’re holding out for “cheaper by the dozen” packaging, but try never to go without anyway. A really useful bargain from Burris . Photo by A1F Staff

Then there’s washing them. Please, please, please tell us there is a secret we’ve somehow missed. We’ve tried dish soap, laundry soap, alcohol, and even cotton-picking Irish Spring (we think), all without success. Such measures seem only to increase the friction of cloth on lens to a whole new level of ill-utility. 

Last but not least are the miseries of unsuspected, hard, particulate schmutz adhering to the cloth itself–once attached, it can be ground across your lens with unparalleled ease. 

One tiny knock: The brush end is not capped, so we keep it in a plastic bag when it’s not in use. 

All of which gets us back to the Burris gem. Small–about the size of a woman’s lipstick, light–too light to even register on our office scale, and bimodal–retractable brush for particles and chamois pad for moisture, oil or fingerprints. We’ve also had no problems using the system on both glass and polycarbonate lenses. 

Pay special attention to instruction #2 when you’re using it on your eyeglasses. Start the recommended circular motion over the “center” relative to where your pupil looks through the lens–other patterns work, but the as-directed method works better. Another benefit here, by the way: If you have a set of frames where lens removal seems barely worth it because added fingerprints replace removed grime by the time reassembly has occurred, the pen is really a boon. Intact cleaning of all but the smallest corners makes the remove/replace process all but unnecessary. 

And at about $10, try one, at least? Just saying: We have one in nearly every rifle case, and a half dozen or so more scattered around our life. 

Visit Burris at  

Speaking Of Optics … 

Here are a trio that don’t fit your wherewithal, but may keep it running when nothing else will: Magnifiers. 

Your won’t go far in a gun guy’s (or gal’s) work shop without finding a way to look closely: Whether it’s a “glass,” light, or headmount/visor, many care-and-feeding tasks are nearly impossible without such aids. 

With apologies to Miss Hood (Little Red Riding, that is), “All the better to slime you with next time, my dear”

In the field, however, these are tough to, well, field. Power requirements, bulk or three-handedness conspire against practical utility, to say nothing of costs that no one would call “sacrificable.” 

Take a look at our main image, and you’ll see a favorite. Not just well-advised safety for those peepers (you’re still on the range, after all), but magnification, too. These run as little as $10, but put diopters up to 2.5x on the same lens. Not coincidentally, they’re a great shop backup, too. 

If you’ve compounded a task with über bright conditions on the range–utterly routine here in the high West–these are fabulous too: tinted, sunglassess versions with the same bi-focal capacity. In a pinch, both are stand-ins for shooting safety too–Z81 impact spec’d, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Five levels of magnification, a strap to supplement the glasses-style bows, and two LEDs right where you need ‘em. Easy to love. Photo by A1F Staff

For the certifiable over-achiever, we happened across these not too long ago. They aren’t quite as compact for obvious reasons, but give multiple magnifications via swappable lenses, all while adding supplementary, steerable light. Whether they wind up in your range bag or doing front line service in the shop is a coin toss, but our set is doing nicely, and apparently without the “mount” weakness that doomed a predecessor. Never can tell when an extra light source will be handy, either, even if you’re not using the magnifier.

An almost unbelievable $13, expect to see these reappear when we recommend stocking stuffers around Christmas time. 

Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has also been a competitive shooter and firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, though he won’t admit how many more than 20. 


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