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 22nd, 2019

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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November 16th, 2019

Five Worst States for Traveling with Firearms — Watch Out

Top Five 5 Worst states for Travel Guns Firearms

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. That means a large percentage of Americans will be on the road to visit relative. We know many of our readers have concealed carry permits or will otherwise be traveling with firearms. When crossing into different states with guns in a vehicle, you need to be mindful of all state and local laws and restrictions.

Five Worst States for Traveling with Firearms

This article appears in the Cheaper Than Dirt Shooter’s Log.
The U.S. is a patchwork of confusing and cumbersome laws that change the rules of what you can carry, where you can carry, and whether you can possess the firearm, ammunition of magazine at without running afoul of the local laws. Now, if every state was like Vermont, law abiding gun owners could freely travel with their firearms with no worries. Unfortunately, many states have a history of being hostile to traveling gun owners.

The federal “Firearms Owner Protection Act” allows travel through any state as long as the firearm is unloaded, in a locked case, and not easily accessible to the passengers. However, that is not to say that certain states that are less friendly to firearms have not created their own laws that would snare unsuspecting otherwise law-abiding firearm owners. This led us to name the Top 5 States to Avoid while traveling with a firearm this holiday season.

CONNECTICUT
Connecticut does not have any gun reciprocity agreements with other states. This means nonresidents are not allowed to carry handguns in Connecticut under a permit issued by another state.

HAWAII
Every person arriving into the state who brings a firearm of any description, usable or not, shall register the firearm within three days of the arrival of the person or the firearm, whichever arrives later, with the chief of police of the county where the person will reside, where their business is, or the person’s place of sojourn. GET Hawaii Firearms INFO HERE.

MASSACHUSETTS
Massachusetts imposes harsh penalties on the mere possession and transport of firearms without a license to carry. Prospective travelers are urged to contact the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau at (617) 660-4780 or contact the State Police. GET Massachusetts Firearms INFO HERE.

NEW JERSEY
New Jersey has some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the country. Your firearm must be unloaded, in a locked container, and not accessible in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that anyone traveling within the state is deemed to be aware of these regulations and will be held strictly accountable for violations. If you’re traveling through New Jersey, the N.J. State Police website provides information regarding transporting firearms within state lines. GET New Jersey Firearms INFO HERE.

NEW YORK
Use extreme caution when traveling through New York state with firearms. New York’s general approach is to make the possession of handguns and so-called “assault weapons” illegal. A number of localities, including Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Suffolk County, and Yonkers, impose their own requirements on the possession, registration, and transport of firearms. Possession of a handgun within New York City requires a New York City handgun license or a special permit from the city Police Commissioner. This license validates a state license within the city. Even New York state licenses are generally not valid within New York City unless a specific exemption applies. Possession of a shotgun or rifle within New York City requires a permit, which is available to non-residents, and a certificate of registration.

More Scary States for Gun Owners
Here are six other jurisdictions (five states and DC) where you need to be wary when traveling. California, for example, treats all handguns in vehicles as “loaded” if there is ammunition loaded into an attached magazine. It’s wise, when in California, to have handguns unloaded in a LOCKED case, with all ammunition or magazines in a separate section of the vehicle. These states (and DC) all have laws that can trap unsuspecting gun-owners. Be wary.

California
Delaware
Dist. of Columbia
Illinois
Maryland
Rhode Island

Top Five 5 Worst states for Travel Guns Firearms

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September 26th, 2019

Airline Travel with Firearms — What You Need to Know

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA
Airport photo by Politikaner under Creative Commons License.

With hundreds of readers traveling home this week from the 2019 F-Class Nationals in Raton, NM, and many others planning hunting trips out of state, we thought we’d repeat an article providing important information about air travel with firearms. If you will be flying with firearms this fall, 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 carefully. In addition, before your trip, 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:

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA

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

*SEE United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44. A “firearm” is defined as: 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; and any destructive device. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm.

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August 23rd, 2019

Flying with Firearms — Smart Advice for Traveling Competitors

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

We know that many of our readers will soon travel by air to attend major matches in Raton, New Mexico. The Spirit of America Match runs September 7-13, and the F-Class Mid-Range and Long-Range Nationals follow September 15-22. If you’ll be venturing to Raton, or to another destination by air in the weeks ahead, you need to be careful when transporting firearms through airports both in the USA and in other countries. 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.

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
The NRA F-Class Mid-Range Nationals (Sept. 15-18) and Long Range Nationals (Sept. 19-22) will be held at the NRA Whittington Center 1000-Yard Range in Raton, New Mexico.

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.

TSA Air transport safety locked bag declare firearm

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.”

Important TSA Tips on Firearms and Flying

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case
Ron 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 (e.g. to Montana or the Cactus Classic) 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.”

Plano Double Rifle Case Amazon Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is now just $111.64, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00.

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December 21st, 2018

Tips for Holiday Flyers — Rules for Firearms Transport

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

We know that many of our readers will be traveling by air this holiday season. If you’ll be venturing to another destination by air this month, you need to be careful when transporting firearms through airports both in the USA and in other countries. 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.

Important TSA Tips on Firearms and Flying

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.

TSA Air transport safety locked bag declare firearm

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case
Ron 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 (e.g. to Montana or the Cactus Classic) 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.”

Plano Double Rifle Case Amazon Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is now just $114.92, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00.

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.”

Permalink News, Tech Tip No Comments »
December 4th, 2018

Holiday Air Travel with Firearms — Know the TSA Regulations

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA

If you will be flying with firearms this holiday season, 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.

TSA Tips on Traveling with Firearms:

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.

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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February 1st, 2018

Traveling with Firearms — Tips for Road Warriors

Shooting Wire law Travel Shooters

If you plan to travel far from home this year with firearms, then you should research legal requirements before you head to the airport or hit the road in your car or truck. To help Road Warriors, The Shooting Wire website recently published an excellent article concerning Travel with Firearms. This helpful article by Joe Balog features smart advice from 3-Gun competitor Rich Yoder.

Here are Highlights from the Travel with Firearms Article…

Traveling by Road:
Regulations for transporting firearms in a vehicle vary from state to state. Some are quite lenient, while others are much stricter. Within many states, gun transportation laws also vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If possible, keep your gun cases locked in your vehicle’s trunk or truck bed, as long as your bed has weather-tight and lockable security. If your guns are outside the passenger compartment, in a case, unloaded, and kept separate from ammunition, you’ll be in compliance with all but the strictest of local and state gun laws.

Traveling by Air:
When checking in at the airport, travelers need to declare that they are traveling with a gun. At that point, airline personnel will quickly advise the traveler of the need to open his or her case and inspect the firearm. Always wait for the TSA inspector before unlocking or opening the case, and only do so when clearly directed to do so by TSA personnel. Never take a firearm out of its case in an airport.

Shooting Wire law Travel Shooters
You have the right to remain with your firearm at all times during the inspection process. Never leave your firearm until the inspection is complete, the case has been re-locked, and you are in possession of the key or combination.

Traveling Overseas:
There are additional steps during international travel. Specifically, guns must clear customs in the destination country, and once again when entering back into the United States. Multiple government forms may need to be completed and carried with the firearm, like U.S. Customs Form 4457. Be sure to check into all required paperwork well before traveling.

READ Travel with Firearms Article on The Shooting Wire

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November 18th, 2017

TSA Tips for Traveling Safe During the Holiday Season

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA
Airport photo by Politikaner under Creative Commons License.

Thanksgiving is almost here. We know many readers will soon be traveling to spend the holiday with family members. If you will be flying with firearms this November, 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 carefully. In addition, before your trip, 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:

Tom McHale flying with firearms guns TSA

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

*SEE United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44. A “firearm” is defined as: 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; and any destructive device. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm.

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July 27th, 2017

Gun Guy Air Travel Tips — How to Fly with Firearms

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

We know that many of our readers will be heading to Canada soon to attend the F-Class World Championships at the Connaught Ranges outside Ottawa. If you’ll be flying North in August, or venturing to another destination by air, you need to be careful when transporting firearms through airports both in the USA and in other countries. 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.

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.

Many readers will fly to Ottawa, ON, Canada in two weeks to attend the F-Class World Championships.
Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case
Ron 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 (e.g. to Montana or the Cactus Classic) 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.”

Plano Double Rifle Case Amazon Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is now just $111.19, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00.

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.”

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March 8th, 2016

Air Travel with Guns — Expert Advice from Security Professional

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

Before he retired, Forum member Ron D. served as a Police Officer assigned to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Ron offers some excellent 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.

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case
Ron 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 (e.g. to Montana or the Cactus Classic) 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.”

gun transport case

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.”

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September 22nd, 2015

Don’t Be Stupid at Airports . . .

TSA Security Airport Carry-On Seizure
This photo shows some of the handguns actually found by the TSA in carry-ons last year.

Here’s an important reminder to our readers who have concealed-weapon carry permits — don’t overlook your carry gun when traveling through airports. Many travelers with carry permits are forgetting weapons stashed in carry-on luggage. The TSA is encountering more firearms than ever, and those weapons are normally confiscated with their owners subject to penalties.

In 2014, according to TSA.gov, 2,212 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country (that’s a 22% increase over 2013). Of those, 1,835 (83 percent) were loaded. Firearms were intercepted at a total of 224 airports.

CLICK to VIEW Actual Weapons Seized by the TSA at U.S. Airports.

Another problem is that Carry Permit holders may enter an airport with their guns still on their person. Here are actual examples:

A 94-year-old man attempted to enter the checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport with a loaded .38 caliber revolver clipped to his belt.

A loaded .380 caliber firearm was discovered strapped to the ankle of a passenger who walked through a metal detector at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

A loaded .380 caliber firearm was discovered in the rear pocket of a San Antonio International Airport passenger during advanced imaging technology screening.

TSA Security Airport Carry-On Seizure

If you are traveling by air, make sure you remove all firearms from your person (or carry-on luggage), unload the firearm(s), place any weapon in a locked, hard-sided container, and declare them as checked baggage. Anything else can land you in jail.

Here are the TSA guidelines for transporting firearms as checked baggage:

  • Comply with regulations on carrying firearms where you are traveling from and to, as laws vary by local, state and international governments.
  • Declare all firearms, ammunition and parts to the airline during the check-in process. Ask about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. Firearm parts, including firearms frames and receivers, must also be placed in checked baggage and are prohibited in carry-on baggage.
  • Replica firearms may be transported in checked baggage only.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked bags.
  • All firearms, ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are prohibited in carry-on baggage.
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June 3rd, 2014

Flying with Firearms — Tips from an Industry Security Expert

Shooting Industry Magazine has released a helpful blog article concerning airline travel and firearms. Written by well-known shooting instructor, gun writer (and part-time police officer) Massad Ayoob, the article covers key points travelers must understand before carrying firearms into an airport zone. In his article Flying with Firearms, Ayoob warns travelers that “State gun laws change frequently” and that “our country is a 50-piece patchwork quilt of gun laws”.

Massad Ayoob, Flying, FAA, TSA, airport security

Here are some of the recommended resources gun-toting travelers should consult before they head to any airport in the United States:

Flying with Firearms — Familiarize Yourself With The Laws
by Massad Ayoob
State gun laws change frequently, including reciprocity on concealed-carry permits even in the gun-friendly “red states.” Here are a few sources I recommend for you and your customers.

Online, the best and most up-to-date source of gun laws I’ve found is www.Handgunlaws.us. For smart phones, the best app I can recommend is Legal Heat (www.mylegalheat.com).

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are the authoritative sources on flying with firearms.

The controlling TSA regulation can be found at www.tsa.gov, search “Firearms.” The FAA’s controlling regulation is 108.11. To view the FAA’s controlling regulation, visit the U.S. Government Printing Office: www.gpo.gov/fdsys, click “Advanced Search” and enter “14 CFR 108.11” — the first result contains the report.

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April 1st, 2013

Homeland Security Authorizes $50,000,000 for New TSA Uniforms

DHS TSA uniformThe federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now has over 200,000 employees and spends upwards of $59,500,000,000 (59.5 billion dollars) annually (See DHS 2013 budget*). Recently, in response to Sequestration cutbacks, DHS released thousands of illegal immigrant detainees, citing budgetary reasons. However, just before the Sequestration went into effect, the DHS managed to find $50,000,000 for new Transportation Safety Authority (TSA) uniforms. With 58,400 TSA employees at present, that works out to $856 per uniform — enough for some mighty fine outfits, as you can see.

We wondered what our $50 million tax dollars were buying, so we researched the TSA uniform bid solicitation. Here are exclusive photos of the new TSA uniform designs which have “passed muster” so far. These illustrations show the handsome uniforms selected from the final round of bid submissions, pending Agency approval. We think they look pretty sharp!

Read More about TSA’s $50,000,000 “Sequester-Eve” Uniform Purchase


DHS TSA uniformDHS TSA uniform

*The $59.5 Billion-dollar DHS budget works out to $297,500 per worker (for 200,000 DHS employees).

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June 18th, 2011

Who’s Stealing Guns Checked With Airlines? (Gun Talk Topic)

This Sunday on Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk radio show, the discussion is about traveling with firearms when flying, how to protect your property from disappearing while in the care of airlines, and what to do when a gun is stolen in transit.

One of Tom’s friends, a well-known firearms instructor, will tell his story of how one of his pistols was recently stolen while in the custody of Southwest Airlines, after he had declared the firearms with the airline and had them checked by TSA. When his locked case arrived, the padlocks had been cut off the case, and one of the pistols was missing. He filed a police report, contacted the airline, and also talked with the Transportation Security Administration.

Neither the TSA nor Southwest Airlines will take responsibility for the stolen firearm. No one wants to talk about who cut the padlocks off the case. Southwest says it isn’t their responsibility. TSA says it’s the airline’s responsibility. The police don’t appear to be very excited about the fact that a pistol was taken in the airport environment.

“All this leads to the question,” said show host Tom Gresham, “does this happen so often that no one really finds it to be unusual? Both the TSA and Southwest Airlines have been invited to appear on this Sunday’s national broadcast. At this time, it’s uncertain whether either will provide a spokesperson.

In its 16th year of national syndication, Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk Radio airs live on Sundays from 2:00 to 5:00 pm Eastern, and runs on more than 115 stations, plus on XM (Ch. 165) Satellite Radio. All Gun Talk shows can be downloaded as podcasts via the GunTalk Archive site.

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November 18th, 2010

November Issue of Shooting Sports USA is Available

The November 2010 digital edition of Shooting Sports USA has been released, and it’s definitely worth reading. The lead story explains the correct positions for 3-P smallbore and air rifle shooting. This is a well-organized, easy-to-understand article, packed with large photos from start to finish. If you are a three-position shooter (or want to be), you should definitely read this article.

Silhouette Competition History
In addition to the position shooting story, the current edition of Shooting Sports USA has an excellent article by Jock Elliot on Metallic Silhouette shooting. Elliot covers the evolution of the sport from its origins in Mexico, to today’s popular rimfire and centerfire silhouette programs that attract thousands of shooters throughout the USA. Elliot explains the silhouette courses of fire and interviews top silhouette shooters including 11-year-old Mallory Nichols, the youngest master in the history of silhouette shooting.

Traveling with Firearms — Helpful Tips
Both competitive shooters and hunters can benefit from Shooting Sports USA’s guide to traveling with firearms, found on pages 9-10 of the November edition. There, you’ll find short reviews of recommended travel cases, plus travel tips from experienced shooters. Carroll Pilant of Sierra Bullets explains why he now marks his ammo: “I color code my primers with a Magic Marker. I was on my way to Brazil for the IHMSA match and TSA dumped all my ammo into a pile to weigh it. If they hadn’t been all the same loads, I would have been in trouble.”

In addition to the November issue, you can read previous editions of Shooting Sports USA. Click on the “Archives” tab at the bottom of the page, after you’ve launched the November issue in your browser. Visit ShootingSportsUSA.com to request a free Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA each month.

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April 17th, 2010

Important Rules Governing Shipment of Firearms and Air Travel

NSSF VP and Gen’l Counsel Lawrence Keane has analyzed the laws governing transport of firearms and ammunition. Here Keene explains long-standing restrictions as well as some new rules that affect firearms owners who ship guns by Common Carrier or who bring firearms when they travel by air.

Disclose to the Carrier if Contents Include Firearms or Ammunition
In a recent case, an individual was criminally prosecuted by the federal government for shipping two guns and some ammunition via a common carrier. The federal government also seized and forfeited the firearms and ammo. Why? Because the shipper “knowingly” failed to disclose to the carrier in writing that the contents of the package contained firearms and ammo. He violated Section 922(e) of the Gun Control Act. This case provides an important lesson for all of us who may, for example, ship a firearm to ourselves for an event rather than check the firearm as luggage.

You MUST declare the contents to the common carrier in writing (on the carrier’s form, check the box/fill in the line). It is a crime to “knowingly to deliver or cause to be delivered to any common or contract carrier for transportation or shipment . . . to persons other than a licensed [importer, manufacturer, dealers, or collector], any package or other container in which there is any firearm or ammunition without written notice to the carrier that such firearm or ammunition is being transported or shipped.”

Transportation Safety AgencyName on Airline Reservations and Picture ID must be Identical
An important new change is taking place for everyone who travels. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has launched a program called “Secure Flight,” which will require travelers to provide their full name as it appears on the government-issued identification they will be traveling with (i.e. passport, driver’s license) when making airline reservations. With this change, you will no longer be able to travel under an abbreviated name or nickname (i.e. Scott vs. W. Scott, Liz vs. Elizabeth or Bill vs. William). This change in airline procedure may affect you and require you to make changes to how your name appears in your travel documents including profiles with your travel agency.

Transportation Safety AgencyEducate Yourself About Restricted Items
The TSA offers a comprehensive list of all prohibited items on its website, www.TSA.gov. The lengthy list explains which items may be carried on and which must go in checked luggage. The exhaustive list of items barred from carry-on includes many things you might not expect.

For example, it is illegal to have drill bits or even screwdrivers (more than 7″ in length) in carry-on luggage. Scissors longer that 4″ must be checked. Hammers must be checked. Gel shoe inserts must be removed and checked, and even snow globes may not be carried on a plane. Because its hard to remember all the restrictions, we recommend you download the TSA’s digital PDF brochure on restricted items, and use it for reference before your new airline trip.

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