• Mossberg Owners is in the process of upgrading the software. Please bear with us while we transition to the new look and new upgraded software.

Airline Travel: Transporting Firearms


Global Moderator
I'll be flying back home to visit the family soon and will be taking one of my pistols and a rifle for a range day with my Pop. I've had a few conversations with airport security and TSA officials on the S.O.P. for traveling with a firearm and it's actually a LOT simpler than I thought it would be. Just figured I'd share since I'm having to go through the process...

There are just a few basic requirements outlined in the following from TSA:

You may only transport firearms, ammunition and firearm parts in your checked baggage. Firearms, ammunition and firearm parts are prohibited from carry-on baggage.

Failure to adhere to the following regulations will preclude passengers from traveling with firearms, ammunitions or firearm parts:

* Travelers must declare all firearms, ammunition, and parts to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.

* The firearm must be unloaded.

* The firearm must be in a hard-sided container.

* The container must be locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from being accessed. Cases that can be pulled open with little effort cannot be brought aboard the aircraft.

* Travelers should remain in the area designated by the aircraft operator or TSA representative to take the key back after the container is cleared for transportation.

* TSA must resolve all alarms on checked luggage. If a locked container carrying a firearm alarms, TSA or the airline will make a reasonable attempt to contact the owner. If contact is not made, the container will not be placed on the aircraft.

* Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging that is specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.

* Travelers may not use firearm magazines/clips for packing ammunition unless they completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster or lanyard).

* Ammunition may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it follows packing guidelines described above.

* TSA prohibits black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder.

These regulations are strictly enforced. Violations can result in criminal prosecution and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Therefore, travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies. Also, please note that other countries have different laws that address transportation and possession of firearms. If you are traveling internationally, please check regulations at your destination about their requirements.

There are certain limited exceptions for law enforcement officers who may fly armed by meeting the requirements of Title 49 CFR § 1544.219. Law enforcement officers should read our policies on traveling with guns.

Above info cited from: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ ... _1666.shtm

Of course before you travel, you should always familiarize yourself with gun carry/transport laws in your destination state. For me, TX recognizes TN handgun carry permits and I've read up on proper transport of rifles according to TX state law so I'm good to go once I hit the ground.
Here's the travel case for my handgun...

Pistol and mags are empty, ammo is in the manufacturer's box, everything is secured in place, and the case locks up nice and tight. Good to go.

I'll post up pics of the rifle case later...
Wow man! I certainly didnt think thats all there was to it!!!
did you have to use a TSA approved padlock, so they have the master key to open it? I'm not liking that..but then again they probably treat firearms different then regular luggage the luggage handlers plan to rip off.

I flew from Netherlands to Newark, NJ....damn crooks was selective in what they took.
That was the only gray area and the primary reason I wanted to speak to a TSA agent in person. What they said was that you are NOT REQUIRED to use TSA approved locks.

However if you do not, and in the event that your luggage needs to be inspected for any reason, TSA agents will try to contact you to open the case. If you cannot be reached, then they will have to cut the locks in order to inspect the case. If that happens, your case is now considered unlocked and will not be put on the plane.

For that reason, I'm using TSA approved locks. The TSA agent I spoke with did state that once the gun case is declared and checked in that there is usually no reason for it to ever be opened. Some airline carriers may have different rules regarding locks, so it's a good idea to check with them first as well. So in the end, TSA approved vs. regular locks is up to the individual traveler unless otherwise required by the particular airline.
That's a nice pistol case SNIPER...

Would you mind posting a link as to where you bought it...?!

...would also like to see the rifle case you mentioned....Thanks !
I'm out runnin around with the Mrs. right now, but I'll post up the brand info on the pistol case when I get home. I got it from my LGS and don't remember the specifics off hand.

I'll also post up pics of the rifle case later today. Under normal circumstances I would transport my AR in my higher end Pelican 1720, but since I'm gifting the rifle to my Pop this case will only be making the trip one way. It's a cheap, but sturdy, plastic one from Bass Pro. Pics will be up later this afternoon...
OK, here's the case I'll be using to transport the rifle...

Plano Protector Series Pillar-lock model 1511-01

Thanks SNIPER !!

As far as the TSA approved locks shown in the photos, I wonder if you would mind letting me know where those are available also...

Thanks again pal !
SHOOTER13 said:
That's a nice pistol case SNIPER...

Would you mind posting a link as to where you bought it...?!

I bought mine locally, but here are the specs and info on the pistol case...

Guardforce Classic Model 26C Handgun Gun Case

*Holds one handgun with inside dimensions 12" x 8 1/2" x 4 1/8"
*Strong aluminum alloy frame with impact resistant side panels and steel reinforced corners
*Airline approved
*Pad lock receptacles (padlocks not included)
*Eggcarton foam interior with velcro tie-down straps
*Outside dimensions: 12 5/8" x 9" x 4 1/2"
*Inside dimensions: 12" x 8 1/2" x 4 1/8"
*Actual weight: 3.31 pounds
*Shipping weight: 6 pounds

http://www.exploreproducts.com/guardfor ... n-case.htm

It's a nice little case. Great quality compared to a lot of others I've seen out there. I added a 1/2" thick layer of foam that I cut to fit the pistol and other items inside. It'll help hold everything in place during the trip.
SHOOTER13 said:
Thanks SNIPER !!

As far as the TSA approved locks shown in the photos, I wonder if you would mind letting me know where those are available also...

Thanks again pal !
No problem Shooter,

Here's the info on the locks I'm using. Bought both sets in the hardware section of the Kmart right down the street from me. I've seen the same ones at WalMart as well...

Master Lock TSA-Accepted Combination Lock Model# 4688D

Product Features:

Allows TSA screeners to inspect and relock baggage without damaging the lock
Unique flexible cable resists abuse from baggage handling equipment
3 dial, set-your-own combination convenience
Easy to set & reset
Matching lock and cable coordinate with popular baggage colors
Bright colors simply baggage identification
1-1/8" (29mm) wide durable metal body
Each package contains one lock

http://www.kmart.com/shc/s/p_10151_1010 ... ckType=G53

Master Lock TSA-Accepted Mini Fusion Lock Model# 4689T

Product Features:

Allows TSA screeners to inspect and relock baggage, without damaging the lock
Keyed alike - same key opens both locks
Convenient front access keyway
Bright colors simply baggage identification
1" (25mm) wide durable metal body
Each package contains two locks

http://www.kmart.com/shc/s/p_10151_1010 ... ckType=G54
Thanks Bro !!

Good info for me and anyone else on this board who may have to travel with firearms...!!

(On an unrelated item...PM sent)
Those are great cases, a friend of mine has one, but is double sided. Keeps an AR in one side and an AK underfolder in the other!

Great info on all the travel stuff!
Yeah, I like the pillar-lock design compared to other basic hollow shell cases.

The rifle is surrounded by the interlocking supports so I feel comfortable that it'll be good 'n secure during the flight.
Spoke with the Southwest Airlines this morning for further clarification on transporting my pistol case.

* According to the airline's gate agent, handguns CAN be transported inside your suitcase as long as they are securely locked in a hard-sided case as described in the OP. Of course other airlines may have different policies, so it's crucial to check with your carrier for their specific rules and regulations.

I feel better knowing that my pistol case won't be handled as individual baggage.
Just an update,

The transport of my pistols and the rifle went off without a hitch. The gate agent was thrilled to find out I has TSA locks on the cases and explained that it makes the process much easier. Without TSA locks, you may be asked to wait 30 minutes or more until the bags are cleared for entry to the aircraft before you are allowed to go through security yourself. With the TSA locks though, it was smoothe sailing...
Pellican makes a heck of a good case. Actually, I guess they make a lot of them. I think the model number I used was a 1720.

It's a $200 case but you can't beat pellican. Besides, sometimes you can catch them on sale for 150 and if you're going to pay 100 for a good pillar locked case anyway why not get a pellican for 50 more.

By the way, you're right about the pillars. I have a some cases that are not pellicans and the pillar lock models are definitely worth the extra investment.