Have Gun Will Travel… On the Cheap


Traveling with firearms can be easy and inexpensive. Have the weapon unloaded (duh), use a hard lockable case, and store your ammo in its original carton in a separate bag. These three precautions will handle most airline requirements. Selecting a protective case can be just as simple and can save you money in the long run. I’m a cheapskate and take every precaution to avoid extra baggage fees, so if you’re filthy rich, you won’t like my advice. Otherwise, keep these variables in mind as you choose:

$(KGrHqZHJBgE7)tnv!D3BO-UopN8k!~~60_35[1]Weight: Airlines allow 50 lbs. per bag. If your case weights 25 lbs., you may have leeway for two rifles, but little else. Personally, I want a case that weighs 15 lbs. or less and only want a protective shell and a good locking system.

Space: Your case should be long enough to handle your rifle without breaking it down unless it’s an over/under or a model designed to do so. I always carry a rifle in a soft case inside of a hard case. This way I have a soft case for vehicle travel and extra padding in flight. Use a double-gun case and you and a buddy can share the baggage fee.

Material: Aluminum is stronger, but plastic weighs less. On my first flight to Africa, in at5216b[1]1994, I transported a fiberglass case containing two bows, a Remington rifle, and two muzzleloaders. The weight limit back then was 70 lbs., yet today I routinely carry one or two rifles and a bow in one case, using my hunting clothes as padding and to save weight. I’ll put a hunting boot over the butt and muzzle of the rifle inside the hard case.

Consider a Bow Case or Hard Golf Bag: Some airlines are known for their rough handling of gun cases, often purposefully, but baggage handlers may be less aggressive toward a bow case or locked golf box. Avoid putting “Eat more Bambi” stickers on the outside.

Here are three excellent choices for your next hunting vacation:

Plano Protector Double Gun with protective pillars | Americase AT5216LW 2-rifles w/scope & wheels | Pelican iM3300 Dry Box (water tight and guaranteed for life)

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.