4 Ways to Protect Your Guns from Airline Baggage Handlers

A few tips to ensure your firearms make it to your destination in the same condition as when you left home

Pelican
A good way to ensure your equipment makes it to your destination, is to buy the toughest case you can afford.Pelican

There’s an urban legend that states airline baggage handlers refer to themselves as “throwers.” I don’t know if that’s true, but air travel can be hard on gear. The last thing you want to find after flying out to your dream hunt is that your rifle no longer shoots straight. Here are a few tips and cases that will keep your gun safe in the cargo hold.

TSA Approved

Pelican 1750 Rifle Case With Foam (Black)
Make sure whatever gun case you buy is TSA approved.Pelican

This piece of advice is probably obvious, but your firearm must be transported in a case approved by the Transportation Safety Authority, known simply as the TSA. Odds are good that the case your gun came in won't cut it, and any soft case is a definite no-go. Make sure the case you buy is sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of air travel, but doesn't weigh a ton—you don't want to pay overweight charges on top of everything else.

Locked Down

plano all weather tactical gun case
Don't unlock it until you've arrived.Plano

The lock shouldn't be one of the TSA-approved models, however. Once locked, you're supposed to be the only one that can open your gun case, and the TSA models allow anyone with a master key in. Pocket the key and don't open the case until you're clear of the airport and arrived at your destination.

Go Full Service

Plano Gun Guard AW Tactical Case
Don't take the short line when checking in firearms.Plano

Avoid using curbside check in when you get to the airport. It may be convenient to hand off your bags and continue on your way, but that is not the right play when traveling with a firearm. Go to your carrier’s ticketing desk and declare your firearm to the agent there, and follow their instructions to “T.”

Store Ammo in Durable Containers

Flambeau Outdoors 6500AR Tactical AR Case
Store ammo in a plastic box inside a checked bag.Flambeau Outdoors

You can store ammo in the same case as your gun, but if you’re heading out for a week of snow goose hunting there’s probably not enough room for all your shells. Luckily, most airlines will allow about 10 pounds of ammo in a checked bag. Use a plastic box designed for the specific ammo type to make sure it’s always contained and not scattered throughout your bag.