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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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April 7th, 2019

Plano All-Weather 2-Gun Rifle Case — Airline Capable

Plano aw2 all weather 2-gun rifle case hard case FAA

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, 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 $270.00.

This 52″ case is available now on Amazon for $81.15. That’s a very good deal. This same 52″ Plano AW2 case sells for $169.99 elsewhere.

Specifications for 52″ Case:
Exterior Size: 53.5″ x 17″ x 7″
Interior Size: 51.5″ x 14″ x 5.5″
Dri-loc Seal and Pressure Release Valve
Dual Stage Lockable Latches for Travel
Customizable Pluck-to-fit Foam
Easy Glide Enclosed Wheels

Plano aw2 all weather 2-gun rifle case hard case FAA

These Plano All-Weather 2-Gun cases offer a water-resistant and dust-proof seal. NOTE: While Plano claims this case is water-PROOF, some buyers have observed slight moisture leakage from the ends. But as long as you don’t immerse the case or leave it out in intense rain for long periods it should be OK for most duties. You’ll have to pay three times as much for a much heavier, mil-spec hard case that is truly 100% waterproof. For most users, this case will do the job. The foam padding provides excellent protection.

Purchasers are generally happy with this top-selling case:

“Great value for the $$. From what I have seen on the range this is very well-built for the money. You will spend triple digits more to get better. Opens flat. Thick fiber-plastic case with formed ridging, good latches and spots for locks. Case has a fitted rubber gasket to ensure water resistance. Foam is dense and easy to use.” — The Critic, October 2018

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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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