People are beginning to get back into the routine of travelling. Like you, this includes gun owners who want to safely and comfortably travel with arms and ammunition.
And it's becoming something of a trend: the number of gun owners who traveled with firearms on flights has more than tripled from 2019 to 2020.
Choosing the right gun case is essential to avoid being detained by law enforcement or TSA officers. Not only that, the case will protect your firearms and ammunition from being damaged in checked baggage.
Here's what you need to know about choosing a suitable gun case for your trips on domestic flights and abroad.
How to Fly With a Gun
Before we talk about TSA approved gun cases, it's vital to cover the basics of flying with a firearm.
When you’re traveling, the last thing you want is to be delayed because you didn’t store your gun properly. Besides being hit with delays, you could be slapped with a massive fine; a minimum of $2,050 for an unloaded gun in your carry-on luggage, up to a statutory maximum of $10,250.
That's an expensive vacation!
Luckily, we wrote a detailed guide on flying with firearms and staying out of the TSA's crosshairs.
Here are the main takeaways:
- Your firearms must be unloaded and stored in locked, hard-sided gun cases or containers
- They can only be stored in checked luggage
- Firearms must NOT be loaded
- The owner of the gun must either have a key or combination to the gun case lock
- Replica firearms, toys, components of firearms, including firing pins, bolts, clips, and magazines must also be in checked baggage
- Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on luggage
- Small arms ammunition must be placed in a fiber, cardboard or metal box designed to carry ammunition. This ammunition can be transported in the same hard-sided locked case.
- Check with your airline as to their ammunition limits
- Declare each firearm in your checked luggage at the desk
- If you’re traveling abroad, check the laws of the country you’ll be visiting
The characteristics of an ideal gun case for travel
TSA regulations prevent unauthorized access to your weapons at any point in the transit of your luggage. They are designed to protect you and your fellow travelers - not your guns.
The secret life of checked-in luggage is a mystery to travelers. The moment your baggage disappears from view, one thing is certain: it will most certainly be mistreated. Expect bumps, knocks, throws, criminals, collisions, extreme changes in temperature and pressure and just a general lack of duty of care.
That’s why the gun case that you choose is critical.
Here's what you should look for in a gun case - it should:
This is fundamental: your traveling gun case has to be securely locked with a key or code.
From the point of view of the TSA, there are no specifically TSA approved cases - only cases that meet their requirements of security.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you do not want a TSA-approved lock on your gun case - and neither does the TSA. TSA locks can be opened with a master key, so the only way to truly secure the case is if only you hold the key or combination to open the case.
Have a hard shell
Baggage handlers have a tough schedule. They lack the time to do anything other than load and unload hundreds of pieces of luggage as quickly as possible. The stereotype of baggage handlers wantonly throwing luggage around like footballs is a reality at all airport terminals in the US and abroad.
A hard-sided, tough and durable gun case will protect your firearms and ammunition from the bumps and collisions that will invariably occur during transit.
Have a tight seal
The temperature and humidity levels inside airplanes and baggage carousels change quickly. An ideal gun case needs to seal tightly to prevent damage caused by extreme shifts in air pressure, temperature and humidity.
Dustproof seals also prevent microparticles from getting into your firearms and ammunition, where they can degrade the metal.
Have (the right) foam
The foam-padded interior of a gun case should insulate your guns and ammunition from shakes and bumps. A custom cut, specifically for your firearm of choice, offers the best protection.
For longer-term storage the foam should be bonded to the case with an adhesive that will not attract moisture or cause rust damage to your firearms.
The ultimate gun case solution
At UWK we believe we have created the complete handgun storage solutions (with rifle storage coming soon - stay tuned) in the form of our DoubleTap Handgun Cases collection.
In particular, the DoubleTap 2 model meets all the TSA requirements for travel and so much more.
- Cutouts for two handguns + magazine clips
- 4 Padlock holes provide the security that the TSA requires
- A braided steel cable tether is included to meet CA SB-1382 compliance
- Dual-purpose, pressure-equalizing latches and a silicone gasket ensure a tight seal that keeps air in and water and dust out
- High-impact ABS casing protects against bumps and crushing
- Three layers of foam absorb shocks to keep your firearms protected
- 2 Desiccant cartridges and specialized adhesive glue for the foam provide rust protection
- A heavy-duty handle in the form of a rugged woven nylon strap with easily attached clips and comfort-contoured grip
We will soon be offering the DoubleTap-4 and DoubleTap-6, which provide space for 4 and 6 handguns respectively.
In 2020, 80% of the firearms coming through checkpoints were loaded. And 12 firearms a day were found in carry-on bags. The TSA are known for missing guns in bags, but be warned - if you are caught, the fines will be steep.
To avoid the headache and the expense, simply follow these four key steps to stay on the right side of the rules for domestic travel.
Step 1 - make sure you place your unloaded firearm and ammo in checked baggage.
Step 2 - that baggage should be a hard-sided case, preferably designed for firearm transport.
Step 3 - declare your firearms at the check-in counter
Step 4 - the firearm case must have a lock, and only you should have the combination or key.
Follow those steps and you’re well on your way to a hassle-free travel experience. Happy flying!