Personal Security Detachment (PSD) work isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. The idea that you’re always wearing a black suit with a curly earpiece hanging out of your ear like the Secret Service in the movies isn’t accurate in most cases. The point is to offer close protection of a client or high-value individual. You don’t want to look like a gang of heavily armed goons surrounding someone very important like the rings of the archery target encircling the bull’s-eye. The more attention you bring to yourself, the riskier you make your unprotected movement in public areas.
During my time doing PSD work overseas, we had to protect quite a few high-value personnel. While armor plates and a pistol aren’t necessarily hard to conceal, a carbine and a chest rig will make you stick out. In those situations where we were trying to be less conspicuous, we’d put an MP5 or similar PDW/SBR (Personal Defense Weapon/Short Barreled Rifle) in a backpack with a Rhodesian or similar LBE (Load Bearing Equipment) kit. This was an option we could deploy quickly if needed, but it let us blend in with any group of tourists simply walking around viewing the sights. These backpacks would be civilian in nature as to not draw attention with excessive MOLLE attachments and camouflage nylon.
Above: It's essential to carry a pack that looks discreet and can easily blend in with the local population and/or tourist groups.
Many of these events required us to sit and observe during a dinner or meeting that may last most of a day. If we were already carrying a backpack, why not use it to expand our ability to respond to violent threats, medical emergencies, or various daily inconveniences? While loading the backpack with required tactical gear took a lot of space, it could be loaded efficiently to minimize bulk. When I had to do this work years ago, we simply didn’t have access to the enormous number of options we do today for backpacks and low-vis equipment.
For my more modern take on this requirement, I started with a Vertx Gamut 2.0 backpack. I’ve had this specific bag for a couple years, and I use it every day. Its contents are typically set up in this specific configuration, but the PDW and chest rig are removed when necessary. The bag itself is 20.5 H by 11.5 W by 7.5 D inches and has an internal capacity of 25 liters. This bag is designed specifically for the carrying of a PDW and accessories while maintaining a very discreet external signature. The Gamut is built with a quick-access rear weapons compartment with a large pull tab. The bag can also utilize ballistic panels and complement any body armor you may already be wearing.
Make & Model
Vertx Gamut 2.0
The purpose of this bag is to bring a bigger gun than a pistol into the fight if needed. I chose to use a B&T APC9 Pro Pistol with brace, which fits perfectly with stock collapsed and a 30-round magazine inserted in the back compartment. I’d imagine similar guns like the MP5 or its clones, or a SIG Rattler or MPX, could also fit in a very similar fashion. The main compartment has a specific laptop (or armor plate) sleeve and multiple zippered pockets to keep all required equipment organized.
I loaded my internal main pocket with a beanie, light jacket, notebook, three pens, a Multitasker Twist, and a Haley Strategic DC3RM Micro with four additional 30-round magazines and assorted smaller items. The design of the bag allows rapid access to the weapons compartment, and only takes slightly more time to get the chest rig out. The idea is to deploy the bag’s contents after using your sidearm to handle any immediate threats. Going from a pistol with 15+/- round magazines to a PDW with multiple 30-round magazines increases the defense capabilities of any protection detail in a high-threat environment.
I used the external pockets to stow quick-access items, so I won’t need to open the main compartment. The Gamut features an external flap that can be opened and attached with two hooks to hold a jacket or helmet if needed, but I left it zipped up and used it for medical gear instead. I was able to insert a Dark Angel Medical kit and a SOF-T tourniquet with room to spare for easy access. In the two external side pockets, I have another SOF-T, trauma shears, a Leatherman multi-tool, knife sharpener, two cigars, a torch, and a cutter. Those last items are for my positive mental attitude more than any tactical “need,” obviously. I developed my love of cigars overseas, so it only seems fitting.
Finally, in the top smaller pocket, I keep mosquito repellent, sunscreen, a couple pens, all of my required chargers for cell phone and comms equipment, extra batteries, a small headlamp, and a handheld SureFire flashlight. Slide a Nalgene bottle on the outside and a couple Clif bars, and you’re set for a full day of sitting around and ensuring someone stays alive. When fully loaded, the bag isn’t light, but for what you’re bringing to the fight — especially without causing mass panic in a public environment — this is a very capable option.
Looking back at what we used in the past and what we’re able to purchase, configure, and carry today is astounding. This bag and setup would’ve worked great for what I was doing in my past life, and hopefully the men and women currently serving in that capacity are able to use the best equipment for their given environment. There’s something to be said about making do with what you have to accomplish a task, but if given the opportunity, always take the time to acquire the best tools for the job.