December 8th, 2017

Affordable Hard Cases for Valuable Rifles and Optics

gun fire plano hard case rifle scopeThis photo was taken from my driveway at 12:23 am on December 5th. The fire was one mile away. In the darkness I packed essentials and valuables, and prepared to leave my house to its fate.

This past week this Editor was near a major fire zone in California, a few hundred yards from the mandatory evacuation line. In preparation for the evacuation order, I packed my station wagon with important items, including some valuable rifles and scopes. When I finished loading, there was over $7000 worth of optics in the car — more than the blue-book value of the vehicle itself. That made me think carefully about gun cases and how one would want to transport high value, optics-equipped rifles both on the road and by air. Here are two gun cases that offer excellent protection at a very good price. Both these Plano cases are strong enough to survive rough airport baggage handlers, while cushioning your firearms in customizable, thick foam interiors. No they are NOT fire-proof, but they’ll help cradle your precious rifles and scopes while you get to a safe zone.

Plano 52″ Double Rifle Case with Wheels, $112.74

Plano double scoped rifle case with wheels

This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case is an Amazon Best Seller for good reason. It offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is under $115.00, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00, so you can buy two Planos for the price of one SKB. The 51.5″ interior will fit most scoped competition rifles up to about 29″ barrels (measure your own rifle to make sure). If you separate the barreled action from the stock you can transport even ultra-long ELR rifles. The handles are convenient and beefy and the wheels make this case easy to move through airports and parking lots. This is a very tough, roomy case for the money (plus there’s Free Shipping for Amazon Prime members).

Exterior Dimensions: 54.625″ x 15.5″ x 6″
Interior Dimensions: 51.5″ x 12.63″ x 5.25″
Pluckable Interior Dimensions: 46″ x 10″
Features: Wheels, Secure Draw-Down Latches, O-Ring Seal, Pressure Relief Valve, Customizable Foam

Plano 43″ All-Weather Tactical Gun Case (43″ Interior), $45.80

Plano rifle all weather tactical case bargain

This is one of the best available medium-sized, hard gun cases under $100.00. But with Amazon’s sale price now just $45.80 (with free Prime shipping), you can get TWO cases for under $100.00. MidwayUSA is also selling this case for $45.80, but shipping is extra. While designed for AR15s and tactical-style rifles, you can also fit longer-barreled rifles inside if you separate the barreled action from the stock (which, by the way, may be a good practice for airline travel.) This case is very tough and strong — offering protection like an SKB case for less than half the cost. The foam in the 43″-long interior is “pluckable” so it can be configured to fit your rifle. This case is a favorite with Amazon buyers, earning a full FIVE STARS with over 1600 buyer reviews. Here is a recent verified review: “Awesome case for the money $$. As good as other manufacturers wanting 4X the money. Highly recommend.” Strong enough for air travel, this case is pretty heavy for regular trips to the range. Consider the lighter-weight, top-opening Plano Air-Glide Case for basic transport of your rifle from home to the range.

Exterior Dimensions: 46″ x 16″ x 5.5″
Interior Dimensions: 43″ x 13″ x 5″
Features: Secure Draw-Down Latches, O-Ring Seal, Pressure Relief Valve, Customizable Foam

Other Emergency Evacuation Tips
When you must leave your home in an emergency, you need to be able to collect key records and valuables quickly. I wasted time locating important documents in three different rooms. So, I recommend you have a small, totable fire-resistant safe for your most vital items. This could normally be kept inside a larger Gun Safe, but always ready to “grab and go”. Here are some of the items you’ll want to keep in the smaller safe/security box:

Passports and IDs
Birth Certificates
Medical Plan ID Cards
House Insurance Documents
Vehicle Titles/Registrations
Important Prescriptions
Recent Tax Returns
Cash and Travelers’ Checks
Valuable Jewelry/Watches
Family Photos
Flash Drive with Photos

I strongly recommend that you walk through your house and take photos of all the valuable furniture, electronics, and heirlooms. This will be proof for your insurance. Even better, make a video with your smartphone as you walk through the house. Narrate descriptions of your valuable possessions/furniture in each room. For example I have one antique desk that is worth more than my car. You need evidence of ownership and quality. If possible, copy these photos/video to a flash-drive, which is kept in your “getaway” file safe.

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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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December 24th, 2016

TSA Tips for Traveling with Firearms — What You Need to Know

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA

If you will be flying with firearms this winter, you should read this article. You need to familiarize yourself with current Federal Regulations on gun transport before you get anywhere near an airport. Thankfully, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a web page that states the important requirements for airline passengers traveling with firearms and/or ammunition.

You’ll want to visit the TSA Firearms and Ammunition webpage, and read it start to finish. In addition, before your trip, you should check the regulations of the airline(s) with which you will fly. Some airlines have special requirements, such as weight restrictions.

Here are the TSA’s key guidelines for travel with firearms:

1. All firearms* must be declared to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
The term firearm includes:

    – Any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, or is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.
    – The frame or receiver of any such weapon.
    – Any firearm muffler or firearm silencer.
    – Any destructive device.

2. The firearm must be unloaded. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 – “A loaded firearm means a firearm that has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm.”

3. The firearm must be in a hard-sided container that is locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be pulled open with little effort cannot be brought aboard the aircraft.

4. If firearms are not properly declared or packaged, TSA will provide the checked bag to law enforcement for resolution with the airline. If the issue is resolved, law enforcement will release the bag to TSA so screening may be completed.

5. TSA must resolve all alarms in checked baggage. If a locked container containing a firearm alarms, TSA will contact the airline, who will make a reasonable attempt to contact the owner and advise the passenger to go to the screening location. If contact is not made, the container will not be placed on the aircraft.

6. If a locked container alarms during screening and is not marked as containing a declared firearm, TSA will cut the lock in order to resolve the alarm.

7. Travelers should remain in the area designated by the aircraft operator or TSA representative to take the key back after the container is cleared for transportation.

8. Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.

9. Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm.

10. Small arms ammunition, including ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it follows the packing guidelines described above.

11. TSA prohibits black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder.

12. Rifle scopes are not prohibited in carry-on bags and do not need to be in the hard-sided, locked checked bag.

NOTE: The 12 guidelines are reprinted directly from the TSA web page here: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition.

More Airline Travel Tips from Tom McHale
Tom McHale has written an excellent article for the Beretta Blog, Ten Things You Need to Know about Flying with Guns. We suggest you visit the Beretta Blog to read this informative story. Here are two of Tom McHale’s Travel Tips:

Weigh your gun case and ammunition
Most airlines will allow up to 11 pounds of ammunition. And, like any luggage, you will be charged more for any baggage weighing more than 50 pounds. This sounds like a lot, but when traveling to the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun competition last year, my case with shotgun, rifle, pistol and ammunition tipped the scale past the 50 pound mark.

Pack ammo in the same locking case
This is another area that’s misunderstood and full of internet myth. Your ammo just needs to be stored in some type of safe container and not loose. Technically, you can keep ammunition in magazines, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It meets the letter of the law storage requirement, but too many airline and TSA agents will give you grief. Use a plastic ammo box or original cardboard packaging and you’ll be fine carrying that in the same lockable case as your gun.

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA

*Please see, United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44 for information about firearm definitions.

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May 15th, 2015

Helpful Hints for Shipping Your Guns and Gear Safely

Gunsmith Nat Lambeth (“RustyStud” on our Shooters’ Forum) offers the following advice for readers who need to ship rifles or major gun components (actions, barrels etc.) to gunsmiths or repair facilities.

You have several options when shipping your guns to and from a gunsmith. Nat Lambeth has tried them all and had problems with them all. Here are some pointers:

1. Always package your unloaded firearm so that it is not loose and can’t work itself loose during transport. I recommend, at minimum, you use a hardcase inside a cardboard box. You can order a hard case from any of the major gun gear web vendors or get one at Walmart. It will come in a nice cardboard box. Just open the end and slide it out. Put your gun in the plastic hard case (after oiling the metal parts) and slide it back into the box. Then tape and relabel the box. Make sure marking on the box does NOT identify the contents as a gun. (You may be required to identify the contents to the shipping company or U.S. Postal Service clerk however.) For a very expensive gun, consider using a wood shipping crate. I will be making some shipping cases from plywood and foam line them. I will have to charge my customer a deposit and when they return the shipping crate I will return their deposit.

2. Pack individual components carefully, and enclose them in separate bubble wrap (or styrofoam) if there is any chance the parts can contact one another. Your editor had an experience where the finish of a fine, blued handgun was ruined because the repair facility had placed old, replaced trigger parts loosely in a foam-lined case with the handgun. During shipping these spare parts worked back and forth, gouging and scratching the pistol.

3. Confirm the recipient’s address BEFORE you ship. Individuals and businesses change locations all the time. Don’t assume an address you used a few months ago is still valid. It’s tempting to use old addresses that are pre-configured in the UPS or Fedex web-based shipping programs, but you should always confirm address validity prior to shipping.

(more…)

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February 13th, 2015

Chariots of the (Gun) Gods

Ben Hur

Ben Avery

Was this Ben Hur or Ben Avery? With all the wheels rolling around the place, the Berger SW Nationals looked a bit like the Chariot scene from the 1959 Hollywood blockbuster movie.

Folks attending a big match such as the Berger Southwest Nationals must haul a lot of gear — both to the range and from vehicles to the firing lines (and then back again). This transportational necessity has inspired shooters to develop a wide variety of modern chariots. Here’s a selection of the “wheeled contrivances” we found at Ben Avery This week.

Don’t mess with Texas. That kind of says it all…

Folding carts were the favored mode of transport. Yes there are TWO carts in the back of this SUV.

Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia, appropriately enough, customized his cart with ursine artwork.

This rig had a custom bracket to support a rifle vertically. This clever invention preserves space in the main cargo section.

Felix Solis of the U.S. Veterans’ Rifle Team customized his travel van’s interior. Rifles are secured upright in the left compartment, with shooting coats on the right.

The little red wagon offers four-wheel stability. This one even has its own license plate.

Wait a minute — is that a stroller? Actually these rigs can be easily adapted to hold rifles and rests. Check out Craigslist for low-cost, “previously owned” strollers.

Past F-Class Nat’l Champ Larry Bartholome was seen rolling around with a familiar cart. This cart used to belong to our good friend German Salazar. Hey German, we all miss your presence at Ben Avery…

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March 28th, 2013

Starlight 8″x14″x54″ Gun Case Fits Large Scoped Rifles

Many of our readers ask: “Where can I find a top-quality rifle case that will hold my scoped, long-barreled F-Class, or Benchrest rifle?” Most of the cases you’ll find at retailers are only good for guns with max barrel lengths in the 27-28″ range. And many of these cases are a tight fit if you have a large scope with big tall turrets and side parallax knobs.

Well here’s good news for owners of rifles with long barrels (up to 32″ in length). Starlight Cases offers the SC-081454 Double Rifle Case featuring a deep lid that measures 3″ from top to bottom. The increased clearance provided by the 3″-thick lid provides additional protection, without creating side loads on your scope that can cause reliability issues. What’s more, making the lid taller allows the hard case to better fit wide-forearm rifles and rifles with attached bipods.

Starlight double rifle case

SC-081454 cases are currently on sale at StarlightCases.com for $288.00 (10% off). That’s not inexpensive…. but when you’re hauling up to $7000.00 worth of rifle and optics, that’s money well spent for the added protection it provides, particularly during airline transport.

Starlight double rifle case

Internally, the SC-081454 Double Rifle Case is 8″ Deep X 14″ Wide X 54″ Long. That’s long enough to hold rifles with barrels up to 32″ — so this case can hold Palma, Long-Range Benchrest, and F-Class rifles. Case weight, unladen, is 26 pounds. You can custom-fit the interior to your rifle by cutting the layered foam with a hot knife. The SC-081454 hard-case also includes a molded-in recessed wheel kit for ease of transport. These cases are offered in black, Olive Drab, and “flat dark earth” colors.

Why the Deep Lid is a Good Thing: We’ve seen issues with bulky rifles (with large scopes) jammed into cases with insufficient clearance from top to bottom. This can put side-loads on your scope turrets that can lead to problems down the road. While you don’t want your rifle to shift during transport, at the same time you don’t want the case lid and bottom pressing on the rifle optics. We do recommend cutting the foam to create a fitted recess for your rifle.

Starlight double rifle case

The patented Latch-Lock™ System (with O-ring seal) on Starlight Cases ensures an airtight, watertight, chemical resistant protective case. Fitted with a pressure equalizer valve, Starlight cases are tested watertight and airtight to 400′ pressures. These durable hard cases are temp-tested from -65° to 200°. ATA-approved Starlights exceed the stringent Military MIL-C 4150J testing standards. All Starlight cases are Made in the USA and backed by an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. In addition, If for any reason you are not satisfied with your case when it is delivered, you have 7 days to return the case to the manufacturer for a full refund.

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December 5th, 2010

Amtrak to Allow Guns in Checked Bags Starting December 15th

Starting in mid-December, travelers on Amtrak will be able to bring their firearms in checked baggage. With airport security and airline baggage fees becoming more burdensome by the week, rail travel may become more appealing to shooters and hunters. The new Amtrak gun transport policy goes into effect on December 15, 2010. However, firearms transport will only be available between stations where checked baggage service is currently available. Amtrak has modified 142 baggage cars “to provide a secure, safe location for the firearms.”

guns on Amtrak trainsRequirements for Firearms Transport
You can’t just walk on an Amtrak train with a holstered gun or a rifle in a gun case. Far from it. Advanced notice and special packing is required. Here are Amtrak’s gun transport rules:

  • Advanced Notice: At least 24 hours before departure, travelers must notify Amtrak of their intention to transport firearms. Notification must be by phone (not online), and firearms must still be declared upon check-in.
  • Declaration: When checking-in, you must tell baggage handlers that you are transporting firearms.
  • Locked Container Requirement: As when transporting guns on a commercial airline flight, gun owners should pack firearms unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided container. NOTE: handgun cases must stored inside a suitcase or other checked bag.
  • Ammo Transport: Ammunition should be stored in a manufacturer’s box or in “fiber, wood, or metal boxes … or in other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.”

Gun-toting travelers with questions should call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit www.amtrak.com. Federal legislation mandated this Amtrak policy change.

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August 11th, 2009

Travel Securely with TruckVault Arms Storage

This time of year, many of our readers are traveling far and wide to shooting events, including the National Championships at Camp Perry. Security is vital on those long trips when you’re hauling lots of guns and shooting gear. A custom, high-end Benchrest, F-Class, or High Power rifle can cost upwards of $4000.00. And that’s without optics, which can run another $2000.00 per rifle. If you’re transporting three or four match rifles with premium scopes, you could be hauling $16,000 worth of firearms. Bring along a rangefinder, Co-Axial rest, spotting scope, and chronograph, and that could push the total closer to $20,000.

How do you safeguard that kind of investment? One of the best storage systems available is the TruckVault, built in Washington state. TruckVaults are custom-fitted, locking storage cabinets that fit in a pickup truck bed, SUV, or station wagon. Various designs are available, including a waterproof “Extreme Series”. Both single-drawer and multi-draw layouts are offered with lengths up to 60″ overall, and top-load capacity of 2000 pounds. A variety of interior configurations are available.

For transporting scoped match rifles, we suggest TruckVault’s “Magnum Line”, which has two drawers with 10.5″ of vertical clearance. This offers two primary sliding compartments (on roller casters), plus smaller storage boxes where you can keep valuable gear securely out of sight.

TruckVaults carry a big price-tag. SUV models start at $1485, but expect to pay closer to $2000.00 for a unit with all the bells and whistles. That’s serious money, but you have to balance that against the cost of the firearms and accessories you are transporting. If you spend much time on the road with a pricey collection of guns, optics, and accessories, a TruckVault may be a wise investment. This editor first saw a TruckVault on a Chevy Suburban belonging to an Arizona gunsmith who does work for the military. It was not unusual for him to haul $50,000 worth of Class III weapons. For him, the TruckVault was an essential security feature. For more info, visit TruckVault.com or call (800) 967-8107.

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July 25th, 2009

Bargain Travel Cases for Long-Barreled Rifles

Our readers often ask where they can find bargain-priced, well-constructed soft cases that will hold rifles with 28″ or longer barrels. Right now Sierra Trading Post has two heavy-duty Allen soft cases on sale at very attractive prices. Both these bags are more heavily padded than the typical soft gun case. The 52″ version features plastic side panels to provide extra padding around the center section of your rifle.

AccurateShooter Allen Rifle Case

The 52″-long Allen Elite Cross-over Utility case (above) will fit shotguns and rifles with barrels up to 31″. This features a nylon shell with molded composite panels at impact points and thick, 1″ foam padding inside. You may have to remove very large scopes. Sierra’s price is just $27.96, and these cases typically sell for about $40.00 retail.

AccurateShooter Allen Rifle Case
AccurateShooter Allen Rifle Case

Shown above, the tan-colored Allen Scoped Rifle Case is 49.5″ long, so it will fit rifles with barrels up to 28″ in length. It is marked down to just $24.95, 44% off MSRP. There are two padded side pockets which can hold iron sights, cleaning accessories, or ammo.

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