January 30th, 2020

Airline Travel With Rifles — Important Advice for Travelers

travel air berger SWN southwest nationals rifle transport
Berger SWN Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher

The Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN), 2020’s biggest centerfire rifle match west of the Mississippi, is coming up next week. We know that many of our regular readers will be flying to Phoenix to attend the SWN. Here are some travel tips from experts in the industry.

If you’ll be traveling by air in the days ahead, be careful when transporting firearms through airports. It is important that you comply with all Homeland Security, TSA, and Airline policies when transporting guns and ammunition. Following the rules will help ensure you (and your gear) make it to your destination without hassles, delays or (God forbid), confiscations.

berger SWN Air Travel FAA TSA rules

Good Advice from an Airport Police Officer
To help our readers comply with rules and regulations for air travel, we offer these guidelines, courtesy “Ron D.”, a member of our Shooters’ Forum. Before he retired, Ron D. served as a Police Officer assigned to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Here Ron offers some very important advice for shooters traveling with firearms and expensive optics.

gun transport caseFirst, Ron explains that airport thieves can spot bags containing firearms no matter how they are packaged: “Don’t think you’re safe if your guns are placed in cases designed for golf clubs or trade show items. Baggage is X-Rayed now and cases are tagged with a special bar code if they contain firearms. It doesn’t take long for bad guys to figure out the bar coding for firearms.”

Carry-On Your Scopes and Expensive Items
Ron advises travelers to avoid placing very expensive items in checked baggage: “When traveling by air, carry on your rangefinder, spotting scope, rifle scope, medications, camera, etc. You would be surprised at the amount of people that carry-on jeans and shirts, but put expensive items in checked baggage. Better to loose three pairs of jeans than some expensive glass.”

Mark Bags to Avoid Confusion
Ron notes that carry-on bags are often lost because so many carry-on cases look the same. Ron reports: “People do accidentally remove the wrong bag repeatedly. I frequently heard the comment, ‘But it looks just like my bag’. When de-planing, keep an eye on what comes out of the overhead that your bag is in. It’s easy to get distracted by someone that has been sitting next to you the whole flight. I tie two streamers of red surveyors’ tape on my carry-on bag.” You can also use paint or decals to make your carry-on bag more distinctive.

General Advice for Air Travelers
Ron cautions: “Keep your hands on your items before boarding. One of the most often heard comments from theft victims was, ‘I just put my computer down for a minute while I was on the phone.’ Also, get to the baggage claim area quickly. If your family/friends can meet you there, so can the opportunists. Things do get lost in the claim area. Don’t be a Victim. Forewarned is forearmed.”

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case

Forum member David C., who will compete at the 2020 Berger SWN, offers this advice: “If you plan to fly with your rifle, a 55″-long case such as the Pelican 1770 may be too big and heavy. The 1770 is 36 pounds on its own and is quite unwieldly to move around. I would recommend going with a smaller case such as the Pelican 1720 with 42″-long interior. It weighs 19 pounds and if you separate your stock from the barreled action, everything fits just fine, as you can see below.” Editor: Note that you can also store a full-size spotting scope in the case along with your rifle:

travel air berger SWN southwest nationals rifle transport

Retired Airport Police Officer Ron D. advises: “Buy the best [rifle case] that you can afford. Don’t cry when your $3,000+ Benchrest rifle has a cracked stock or broken scope. Think about what it would be like to travel across the country and arrive with a damaged rifle. Baggage handling is NOT a fine art. There is no guarantee that your rifle case will be on top of all the other baggage. Then there is shifting of baggage in the belly of the plane. Ponder that for a while. Rifle and pistol cases must be locked. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that a simple pry tool will open most case locks. There is not much that you can do to disguise a rifle case. It is what it is, and opportunists know this. Among thieves, it doesn’t take long for the word to get around about a NEW type of case.”

Great Deals on Plano All-Weather Cases at Amazon

plano tactical rifle case

Match season has begun, and that means hauling gear either in cars or on planes. Either way you need good cases for your firearms. We found the Plano All Weather Gun Cases at bargain prices. These are well-built and designed to protect whatever you put in them for a third the cost of some other brands. No Plano cases are not as refined as Pelican or SKB cases, but if you’re on a tight budget, the Planos can do the job. Read this article for more information on Plano cases.

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December 14th, 2019

Great Gun Cases for Long-Distance Transport

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Now that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on the new benchrest, PRS, ELR, or hunting rifle (and thousands more on optics), how are you going to get it to the range and/or hunting grounds? It’s important to transport your valuable firearms in high-quality gun cases. Good padded soft cases can work, but for long-distance hauling (and all air transport), we recommend hard cases with quality foam inside.

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case

Before he retired, Forum member Ron D. served as a Police Officer at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Ron offers some very important advice for shooters traveling with firearms and expensive optics: “Buy the best [rifle case] that you can afford. Don’t cry when your $3,000+ Benchrest rifle has a cracked stock or broken scope. Think about what it would be like to travel across the country and arrive with a damaged rifle. Remember the Samsonite commercial. (For you younger shooters, it shows a monkey throwing the suitcase around in his cage at the zoo.)

Baggage handling is NOT a fine art. There is no guarantee that your rifle case will be on top of all the other baggage. Then there is shifting of baggage in the belly of the plane. Ponder that for a while. Rifle and pistol cases must be locked. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that a simple pry tool will open most case locks. There is not much that you can do to disguise a rifle case. It is what it is, and opportunists know this. Among thieves, it doesn’t take long for the word to get around about a NEW type of case.”

Customizing the Foam Interiors of Gun Carry Cases

For the best fit of your firearms and accessories in a foam-interior hard case, you should customize the foam to fit. Some cases have “pluckable” foam. With these you remove small squares one an a time until the stored items fit. With other cases with dense foam interiors, you’ll need to cut the foam to fit. Here are two videos that show the process of tailoring foam to a rifle using an electric cutting tool. Watch these videos carefully — they can really help create the best custom-fit for your firearms.


firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Pelican 1750 Waterproof Travel Vault Case

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Guncases.com, an Optics Planet company, offers a wide selection of quality, durable gun cases. One of the best units offered is Pelican 1750 Waterproof Rifle Case – Travel Vault Protector. If you’re headed to a very rainy/snowy climate, or transporting your rifle on a boat, consider this option. The waterproof Pelican 1750 case measures 53.00″ x 16.00″ x 6.12″ outside and weighs 25.5 pounds unladen. It features an O-Ring Seal, Pressure Relief Valve, and a lifetime warranty. It is offered in three colors, OD Green, Black, and Desert Tan, starting at $284.49. This is pricey, but it is one of the highest-rated cases you can buy.

Pelican Vault Series Rifle Cases

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Pelican Products, known for premium hard-shell transport cases also offers a more affordable VAULT series of cases. Pelican’s VAULT cases offer durability and security at a lower price point. VAULT cases range in price from $39.99 to $199.99 and are backed by a 1-year guarantee. The VAULT rifle cases all feature wheels, easy-to-use push-button latches, and four stainless steel lock hasps for security. There is also a brightly colored Hi-Viz strip on the front of Pelican’s VAULT cases. This will make it easier to spot your case at airport baggage areas. The model V800 double-rifle case features a 53″ x 16″ x 6″ interior. That’s long enough for F-Class rifles and tactical rigs with brakes. The model V770 single-rifle case is 50″ × 10″ × 6″ inside. That’s still big enough for most hunting, varmint, and benchrest rifles.

SKB Double Rifle Case

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

GunCases.com also offers SKB Gun Cases. The SKB model 2SKB5009 Double Rifle Case is an excellent choice carrying two rifles long distances. This has a very tough exterior with a metal middle frame for extra strength. Priced at $289.99, this case has exterior dimensions: 56″ L x 16.5″ W x 9.5″ H. This photo shows the case carrying both an M1A and an M1 Garand. NOTE: The foam is not really customizable. This is not the best choice if you plan to carry a single rifle and a spotting scope and a second barrel.

Plano Two-Gun Tactical Case

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

This Plano two-gun case is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in wheeled, heavy-duty firearms cases. This is offered in three sizes: 36″, 42″, and 52″. We like the biggest 52″ version, ($96.21 on Amazon), as it is long enough inside to fit most scoped match rifles. Alternatively, if you have a really long F-Class, ELR, or Palma rig, you can detach the barreled action from the stock, and run the two sections in the shorter 42″ case. The big case lets you easily carry TWO scoped hunting rifles. That’s great because this case is strong enough for airline travel, meeting FAA requirements for checked baggage. This Plano case offers a good balance between strength and weight, all for a reasonable cost. Yes a Pelican 1750 is somewhat better, but that will cost about $285.00 — three times as much.

CaseCruzer Handgun Cases

CaseCruzer gun pistol case revolver magnum 6-pack 5-pack 4-pack 3-pack

A California company, CaseCruzer, makes the nicest multi-pistol hard cases we’ve ever seen. With capacities from 3 pistols to 6 pistols, these lockable range cases hold handguns securely in angled “quick-draw” slots. In addition to the molded pistol carriers, there are slots for magazines together with a separate compartment for muffs, ammo, and other accessories. Starting at $240.00 MSRP for the Quick Draw 3-Pack, these boxes are expensive, but they offer great protection with great usability. Water-tight and dust-proof, CaseCruzer cases are airline approved (ATA 300).Now that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on the new benchrest, PRS, ELR, or hunting rifle (and thousands more on optics), how are you going to get it to the range or hunting grounds? It’s important to transport your valuable firearms in very high quality gun cases. Good padded soft cases can work, but for long-distance hauling (and all air transport), we recommend hard cases with quality foam inside.

Video Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.

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December 3rd, 2017

Handgun Hardcase — Lots of Carrying Capacity for $39.99

Sportsman's Guide HQ Issue Handgun pistol hard transport case lockable sale

Do you often take multiple handguns to the range? Here’s a large (16″ x 13″ x 8″) handgun hard case that will easily haul your arsenal. The HQ Issue Case can hold up to eight (8) handguns, or six with room for magazines. Since the foam is customizable, you can also use this case to carry cameras, rangefinders, binoculars, Kestrels, or other valuable hardware. While we wouldn’t drop this in the water, the case does have an O-Ring seal for water resistance, and a manual valve for pressure modulation. This case is on sale at Sportsman’s Guide for $39.99, or $35.99 for SG Buyer’s Club Members.

Sportsman's Guide HQ Issue Handgun pistol hard transport case lockable sale

Good Value Compared to Other Hard Cases
This HQ Issue case is a good deal, offering lots of capacity and quality protection for a good price. Consider that a similar but smaller 4-pistol handgun hard case sells on Amazon for $105.00 and customers rate it 5 Stars at that price. Though it is less than half the price, the $39.99 HQ Issue case holds a LOT more than the Amazon alternative. The Amazon case is 14.90″ W x 12″ D x 9.6″ H, compared to 16″ W x 13″ D x 8″ H for the bigger HQ Issue case. With the Sportsman’s Guide case you get more capacity, and the “pluckable” foam can be customized for your handguns. That’s important if you have long-barrel revolvers or short carry pistols. Verified SG purchaser says: “Case exceeds my expectations… the right size for a range trip. I can put 5 handguns, 4 Glock magazines, 3 pf9 magazines and 3 single stack 9mm magazines in it. It is also very sturdy. Very, very happy with the purchase.”

NOTE to READERS: Use foam-lined hard cases for TRANSPORT ONLY. Do not leave your handguns in foam-lined cases. The foam tends to trap moisture, making these a “rust magnet”. We recommend silicone-treated fabric Bore-Stores for storing pistols in your gun safes.

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July 8th, 2016

CaseCruzer Quick Draw Fitted Handgun Cases

CaseCruzer gun pistol case revolver magnum 6-pack 5-pack 4-pack 3-pack

A California company, CaseCruzer, makes the nicest multi-pistol hard cases we’ve ever seen. With capacities from 3 pistols to 6 pistols, these lockable range cases hold handguns securely in angled “quick-draw” slots. In addition to the molded pistol carriers, there are slots for magazines together with a separate compartment for muffs, ammo, and other accessories. Starting at $240.00 MSRP for the Quick Draw 3-Pack, these boxes are expensive, but they offer great protection with great usability. Water-tight and dust-proof, CaseCruzer cases are airline approved (ATA 300).

4-Gun Case
CaseCruzer gun pistol case revolver magnum 6-pack 5-pack 4-pack 3-pack

The smart design of the “Quick Draw” CaseCruzer cases lets you keep your pistol locks in place during transport. There is enough clearance to stow the pistols securely even with bulky trigger-guard locks.

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