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September 12th, 2020

Traveling by Air 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 to Raton, New Mexico next month for the 2020 F-Class Nationals (October 25 – November 1, 2020), and with 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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November 29th, 2010

Competition Range Bags on Sale Today at MidwayUSA

As part of MidwayUSA’s Black Friday Week Sale, which ends today, Nov. 29th, MidwayUSA has discounted its popular Competition Series range bags. Both the compact version and the full-size range bags are deeply discounted for the remainder of today. The Compact Range Bag is just $29.99 in either black or olive drab, and the Large Range Bag, which is almost the size of a travel duffle, is $39.99 in black or OD. We think you’ll be very satisfied with either product (we like the OD color best). In April we field-tested the compact model and we were very impressed with the design and the quality. Below are highlights from our field-test. CLICK HERE for FULL TEST STORY.

MidwayUSA Compact Competition Range Bag
Measuring 16″L x 12″W x 10″H, this Compact Range Bag is definitely smaller than MidwayUSA’s popular Large Range Bag (22″L x 15″W x 10″H). However, the “Compact” version will hold plenty of gear — pretty much all a pistol shooter will need at the range. For a rifle shooter, it will haul ammo boxes, earmuffs, magazines, and other miscellaneous gear. The bag is made from a strong, heavy-duty PVC-coated polyester, with high-quality, large-toothed zippers. A comfortable, curved carry strap is secured by sturdy, all-metal clips. The “build quality” is visibly much better than most range bags on the market.

MidwayUSA Compact Competition Range Bag

Deceptively Large Capacity for a ‘Compact’ Bag
To test the carrying capacity of the MidwayUSA bag, we loaded it up with 100 rounds of rifle ammo, 600 rounds of centerfire pistol ammo, 500 rounds rimfire, earmuffs and FOUR pistols tucked in the padded side sleeves. All that gear fit nicely with room to spare. (We recommend putting handguns in protective sleeves if you load two per side). The padded, full-width, zippered main pocket keeps seven spare magazines organized and protected. On the reverse side of the bag, a similar, full-length padded pocket provides undivided storage space. The bag’s many pockets make it easy to organize miscellaneous gear such as staple gun, target stickers, small binoculars, timers, and radios.

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April 10th, 2010

Sturdy, Jumbo-Sized Midway Range Bag on Sale — $39.99

The MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag is on sale, through April 20, 2010, for $39.99. That’s $20.00 off the regular $59.99 price. With 14 total pockets or pouches, this 22″L x 15″W x 10″H bag has plenty of carrying capacity. This is a BIG bag, nearly twice as wide as some other range bags. We saw many of these Midway Range Bags in use by top shooters at the recent 2010 F-Class Nationals. Don’t be fooled by the discount price — this is a quality piece of kit that is very versatile, thanks to the removable components inside the large main bag. These include a removable stage bag/ammunition carrier, two removable pistol rugs and a removable fired brass or ammunition carrying bag.

MidwayUSA competition range bag

The bag has earned consistent “five-star” reviews from owners, who praise the bag’s ruggedness and ability to haul lots of gear. B. Schue of Minnesota wrote: “This bag is huge. The inside bag is bigger than most of those low-priced range bags sold elsewhere. I carry everything to the range in this bag. The zippers are top quality, and so is the stitchery.” Here are some other comments:

“I love the removable ‘bag’ within the bag. You can load up and take out only what you need at that moment. The material is light weight but very sturdy. I don’t think they make a bigger/better bag for the money. Definite buy!” – R. Sebastian, FL

“I ordered the bag after reading several favorable reviews. Other reviewers were right. Well-made bag with lots of pockets for magazines, etc. Even has a bag within a bag, outside water bottle pocket, a detachable mesh bag for brass, a couple of flat pouches that can double as gun mats, etc. — and it is big. If you can’t fit it in this bag, you don’t need it. A great value.” – D. Moard, WI

NOTE: The bag is currently back-ordered, but it should be back in stock by 4/18/2010. The $39.99 special price applies to black-colored bags. Also, a handsome new olive drab version will be offered for $59.99, with availability in mid-summer, 2010.

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October 14th, 2008

Soft Gun Cases for Long-Barreled Rifles

Typical soft cases for scoped rifles are 45-46″ overall. These may lack clearance for large, high-magnification scopes, and the front section may be too tight for rifles with a 3″-wide forearm. Our Assistant Editor Jason Baney recently posed the question, “Who makes a high-quality soft case for large varmint and BR-style rifles with wide forearms and barrels 27″ or longer?”

We’ve done some research and identified some affordable options. While there are dozens of possible choices, the products shown below all offer some nice features and cost less than $45.00. NOTE: The Plano case offers a plastic-reinforced rubberized muzzle protector box. These are found on many Kolpin soft cases as well. We think a rubber/plastic nose guard is very important. This ensures your gun can’t slip out of the case muzzle first. A nose-guard also shields the delicate crown against hard objects and metal zippers. (Sooner or later you WILL drop a rifle, and they usually fall nose-first.) Remember that even the finest soft case is no substitute for a sturdy hard case. Also, hard cases are mandatory for airline transport.

48

48″ Length
Plano’s model 64860 (Brown) or 64800 (Gray) are nice cases that feature hard nose protectors and high-density foam padding. At 48″ overall, the Plano is 2″ longer than most cases. It boasts interior tie-down straps, two external zippered pockets, and an adjustable, padded shoulder strap. Users report the padding is excellent and the 600 dernier material and zippers are very durable. Price is $25.95 at PyramidAir.com.

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49″ Length
The Gamo case (item 6212374) is very inexpensive (just $12.99 at AirGunWarehouse), but owners report it is a “great value for the money”. The 48″ interior length should handle most rifles with a 28″ barrel, and there is ample space for a large scope. The case has one large pocket and a fabric shoulder strap on the reverse side. The interior has a soft, fleece-like lining and there is a rubberized, protective layer on the front, rear, and bottom. However, we warn that, because there is no hard nose box, if you leave a gap in the zippers near the front, the muzzle could exit the case. There are two zipper pull-tabs, front and back. Zip them up so they meet near the middle. Also we suggest putting a small rubber cap on the muzzle so it doesn’t catch on the zipper. The same advice applies to any soft case without a plastic nose guard.

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50″ Length
The Allen “Euro” is a quality 50″-long case with enough interior space to handle 29-30″ barrels. This deluxe case features a fatter/taller front section to fit guns with wide forearms or attached bipods. This would be a good choice for a long-barreled varmint rifle. It features very thick foam padding (1.5″ per side) and multiple, velcro-closed external pockets. Midsouth Shooters Supply offers this case in hunter green (item 168-91550) for $35.66. A similar Allen-made case in blue or tan sold as the Remington Yukon. The Yukon is $33.66 at Cheaper than Dirt.

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52″ Length
Among the ultra-long soft cases, the Kolpin Deluxe Soft Armor Gun Boot is one of the best you can buy. It has the nose-guard we recommend and is very thickly padded. A molded EVA foam bottom with a rubberized “track” allows the case to stand on its own. What are the negatives? Because Kolpin’s Soft Armor Gun Boot is designed for both scoped rifles and shotguns, the width of the front third of the case is pretty narrow. Also there is less clearance at the top than with some other soft cases. However, unless you have an extremely high scope mount or very long stock, this case should work for those long rifles with 30-32″ barrels. The Soft Armor Gun Boot is typically priced from $40-$55.00. Natchez Shooters Supply lists it for $45.50 but they are currently out of stock.

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Bulldog Cases offers a bargain-priced 52″ soft case. If your rifle has a 31-32″ barrel, this Bulldog case should handle the length. The 52″ Bulldog features 2-1/4″ total padding thickness, a zippered slash pocket, and a shoulder strap. The 52″ Bulldog is offered in tan (BD242-52), green (BD241-52), or Mossy Oak camo (BD244-52). This case is available directly from Bulldog for $29.99. It is also sold by other vendors on the web for similar prices. NOTE: This case has no nose guard and has less padding than the cases listed above. It’s a “bare-bones” case, but if you have a super-long barrel, there aren’t many other inexpensive choices.

Battle Lake Predator Case — Plenty Long, but Pricey
Battle Lake Outdoors makes a 52″-long “Predator” rifle case that “has the best protection possible in a semi-soft case” according to one of our Forum members, Ron G. (aka “Radar”). The “Predator” case has an impact resistent .070″ plastic shell topped by high-grade 1000 Dernier Cordura nylon. The linining is soft “Chambrelle” fiber, which wicks away moisture. Overall, it is an impressive product, but it lacks a plastic nose guard and it costs $89.95. That puts it out of our list of “under $45.00″ products, but this case is worth considering if price is not a major factor.

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