Building off the past success of its Savior Equipment Mobile Arsenal (SEMA) backpack, in 2019 Savior Equipment released a Compact variant of the same bag that was 30% lighter, but retains the same functionality of the original.
The SEMA-Compact, or SEMA-C, is made entirely from 600D polyester and includes a lockable internal polymer handgun case that secures and protects your handguns inside the pack. The double stitching throughout adds durability to the overall backpack’s design.
At the front, the SEMA-C has a laser-cut, MOLLE compatible field for additional accessories or pouches. At the top is a large (female) hook-and-loop field for identification of morale patches. Between these features is a zipper-secured kangaroo pouch for smaller, immediate access items.
Behind the front is a zipper-secured administrative compartment that includes; two mesh pockets secured via zipper, three accessory pockets (two of which offer shock cord retention), and three pockets with hook-and-loop flaps of varying sizes. It should be noted that the dual zippers to the admin compartment open along all three sides, thus allowing the front interior to lay completely flat for a convenient workspace.
On the bag’s left side is another laser-cut, MOLLE panel for smaller accessories, pouches, or IFAKs. Oppositely, on the bags right is a zipper-secured access panel that gives the user direct access to the hardened handgun case that includes three individual soft, lockable fold-over handgun cases. It should be noted the handgun case itself encompass half of the internal storage space of the backpack, but is removable if so desired. Both sides also include compression straps secured via slide-release buckles.
At the top of the SEMA-C is a reinforced nylon carry handle that includes X-type stitching and ends in a plastic D-ring on either side to hang carabiners or other hook-type items. An added bonus to the SEMA-C is a hidden rain cover that is stored in a concealed pocket just above the top of the shoulder straps.
The backpanel of the SEMA-C includes three, thick air-mesh padded zones (two shoulder and one kidney) that provide comfort and improved airflow. The shoulder strap themselves are contoured and similarly padded, and include an adjustable sternum strap. At the bottom of the backpanel is a removable nylon waist strap with large slide-release buckle.
The bottom of the SEMA-C has four aggressively contoured polymer pads for added retention of the backpack on slick surfaces.
The interior of the SEMA-C is accessed at the top via zipper, and has a storage space of only half the overall height of the bag (while the hardened pistol case is installed). At the back is a hydration sleeve with access through the top of the pack.
If desired, the internal divider between the storage space and hardened pistol case can be removed, as well as the case, to provide storage access to the full height of the backpack. Doing so however, means loss of the SMEA-C’s handgun storage case.
- External Size: 16” (H) x 11” (W) x 9” (D)
- Hardened Handgun Case Size: 8” (H) x 7” (W) x 11” (D)
- Individual Soft Pistol Case Size: 8” (H) x 10.5” (W) x 1” (D)
- Storage Space Size w/Hard Case Installed: 7.5” (H) x 10.5” (W) x 7” (D)
- 600D Polyester Exterior & Interior Shell
- TSA Compliant Zippers
The SEMA-C is available in Obsidian Black (featured), FDE Tan, Ash Gray, and OD Green.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): At $89.99 the SEMA-C has a fair enough amount of 600D material and the polymer pistol case to warrant the design and function. The closest competitor to the SEMA-C is the Talon Strong Backpack ($99.95) by Double Alpha Academy or the GPS Tactical Range Bag ($154). The market has further alternatives that are comparable to these costs, and in almost all of them the SEMA-C was one of the lesser expensive options, and thus gave it a good scoring for its place within the current market.
- Comfort – Average (3/5): Like most tactical backpacks, the thick air-mesh foam pads of the SEMA-C’s backpanel and shoulder straps gave it sufficient padding as found in other packs. When fully loaded with three handguns, ammo, and range accessories the weight of the SEMA-C bore on the lower back to some degree, but that pressure was offset by the kidney pad. It should be noted that users will want to keep the weight of the pack up high where it will be most comfortable, and not let the bag droop to where the weight would also pull on the shoulders. Otherwise the laser-cut panels and sleek exterior gave the SEMA-C a nice, low-profile and minimalist feel that could be easily built upon with either MOLLE-compatible pouches or accessories.
- Durability – Average (3/5): Given that the SEMA-C was made from the same 600D polyester material as other products in the Savior Equipment’s lineup, the material thus offered the same level of abrasion resistance. There was reinforced X-pattern and double line stitching noted at key stress points that ensured the pack was adequately strengthened. Internally, the divider between the main storage area and hardened pistol case could have used more attention as the threading and hook-and-loop didn’t fit precisely and took some manipulation to remove and then reinsert (however it was unclear if this was also by design). The zippers to the three pistol cases moved and felt smooth and did not bind at corners. Perhaps the biggest detractor to the overall durability score of the SEMA-C was the material of the admin compartment as it felt thin, and would likely not sustain longevity or abrasion if loaded with items that have hard/sharp/angled corners or were weighty thus limiting its usage.
- Functionality – Average (3/5): From a functional aspect the SEMA-C is much like its predecessor, the full-sized SEMA but was now is 30% lighter due to size reduction and less material. That said, the pack still had the same usage in transporting up to three pistols and associated range accessories. It should be noted however, that this reduction has come at a cost. While the SMEA-C retained the ability to transport firearms and accessories securely, the user must make the choice between what specifically is carried. The storage compartment is sufficient to carry electronic earpro, target pasters, gloves or other range items, but did not have sufficient space to carry those items and the associated ammo for all three firearms. This also does not include space if the user is also shooting a rifle and needs further space for those magazines and ammo as well. The designed intent for the SEMA-C makes it good for competitive IDPA/USPSA shooters, but not for general training or field use. It would have helped the SEMA-C’s overall score if there had been side loops for securing competition belts on the exterior, or had made the side MOLLE panel an elastic pocket to hold targets, a water bottle, or other items that otherwise had to go inside the storage space.
- Weight – Good (4/5): At 5.6 pounds (empty) a majority of that weight stems from the polymer handgun case and three pistol sleeves inside the pack. The 600D polyester material also had a slightly heavier weight to it than lesser denier nylon. In comparison, the Talon Strong Backpack came in at 5.7 pounds, and the GPS Tactical Range Bag was listed at 6.15 pounds. These alternatives all share the same overall design, but differences in materials were what made the SEMA-C one of the lighter options available.
Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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