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August 03, 2007

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Why You Need A Good Gun Case

Flying these days is about as pleasant as pulling your own teeth. For your money you get behaviorally-challenged kids, endless lines, the TSA, delays, being squashed like a canned herring, and your gun case getting bashed.

Most gun cases can't take it, long-term--even the expensive ones. They do all right for a dozen trips or so and then something gives. I've had two Americases go bust. On one, the handle cracked, and the other was dropped on its corner and the weld gave out. One Halliburton was smashed out of alignment and another was simply battered beyond usefulness.

There are only two cases I've used that have not eventually been put out of action. One is the Pelican gun case which is sold by Cabela's. The other is the Bear Track, which is made and sold by Freedom Arms. The Pelican (the big two-gun model) weighs a ton and is made out of some kind of super-strength plastic with very simple, strong locks and handle. Even if you don't need a two-gun case it's a good idea because you can put other stuff in it and the ramp apes can't throw it as far as they can a single-gun case.

Bear Track Cases are made of aluminum and stainless steel, and are ungodly strong. They were developed by an Alaska bush pilot, and have camming locks, a fold-flat handle that can't be broken, and a general air of indestructibility. Mine has eight trips through the airlines, and its sole souvenir is a tiny chip of paint that was knocked off. Beartrackcases.com.

And a tip: If your case uses padlocks, take an extra one. If your locks use keys, take an extra. Take an extra tag for the gun case.

Years ago, the very famous publisher of a gun magazine had his rifles sealed in a big PVC pipe, which had "DANGER. MEDICAL WASTE. HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE." stenciled on it. No one screwed with his guns. But I don't think you could get away with that any more.


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Mike Diehl

I can only hope that one day I will have to be concerned that after a dozen or so out-of-state hunts I will need to replace my gun case.


Awesome article, thanks

Mike Diehl

I agree. Good article. Dave, don't these things have to be openable for inspection just like (allegedly) every other checked bag?


I have a pelican case from an EOD buddy in Iraq and Dave your right, they are virtually indestructable and come with the pressure release for altitude.

If you can afford one, pick one up.

Good Call and great article Dave.




I don't travel far to hunt except my yearly trip to the u.p.,500 driven miles where my 2500chevyHD make a real good gun casealong with the soft one but if I ever was to take a gun on the airlines to a distant I agree the pelican case would be the right choice,they seem pretty tough.

Clay Cooper

You know when a hunter is having a bad day?

When he has his gun scabbard bungee corded across his rear rack and swoops between two trees of narrow path!


Ed J

Why did you do that?
I had a store brand case it survived one trip but not the second trip.

Thanks for that info Clay. It really added a lot to the discussion on gun cases.


I have a good experience with tthe SKB double rifle case, heavy but tough and durable.


Why did the famous publisher assume the "ramp apes" could read...?


Odd, I normally don't like having problems but I wish I had the kind of money it takes to have such problems. You famous outdoor writers live the life!

Dr. Ralph

Yeah, I've only traveled by air to one hunting destination so I haven't encountered this problem. My friends and I even drove from Nashville to Colorado. A big hard air case does help when you throw it in the back of your 4X4 and terrorize the woods though...

Clay Cooper

That my Sportsmen Friends was a been dar, seen dat story!

Dar We wuz, just a swooping thru the tundra of Alaska. I wuz on My Suzuki 250LT 4X4 and Mark wuz on his Honda Forman with his Ruger M-77, 300 Win Mag, with a Leopold Vari-X II in his Koplin gun case bungee corded across the back rack, just a swoopin! I looked up in front of him. Dar it wuz, two trees close together and I screamed stop! To late, he just decapitated the butt end of the stock clean off His rifle! Fortunately it was a composite stock and he had his original in the truck. We where only a mile from the truck. Lucky him, the area to hunt is 87 miles in!

Hey folks! Spend the extra buck to get the right setup. No-JOKE! You spend all that money in equipment, licenses and all that other stuff. Don let the item you thought you can do without or could have upgraded that costs you a few bucks more, destroy the hunt of a lifetime! I wish I had all the bucks those hunters I witnessed spend, just to go home empty handed!

Remember, “KISS”? Keep It Simple Stupid!

Know how to use your equipment in advance before leaving to go hunting. Make sure it works and be able to use it when Mother Nature starts having tantrums and start blowing snow and frigid cold at you!

And by the way, if you going to use iodine pills to purify your drinking water? Be sure your not allergic to it! It happened to one of the guys in Alaska on a 4-day fly in hunt. Talk about one sick puppy! Fortunately they were camped at the landing sight that’s fairly busy.

Remember to keep it simple, easy to operate, easy to fix and make sure if lost it’s not a show stopper!

Clay Cooper


Ramp Apes?

I'm Retired Military, Retired truck driver and now my Wife and I own a business.

The answer is easy.

Ramp Apes? No brains required!

Clay Cooper

What’s the deference between Swooping on an ATV and Flying?

You’re still flying!

If can survive one, It can survive the other!

Mike Strehlow

This condition may hasten the development of takedown rifles that do not cost $4500. You can pack a takedown rifle in something that looks a lot more like a suitcase than a gun case, so the ramp ape who dates PETA's area secretary may have less motive to fling it as hard as he would a gun case, because he may not know what's in it. And if he does, the smaller case is more likely to maintain its structural intergrity. Remington, Savage, Ruger, Marlin, how about it?

Chev Jim

Clay is right on with his comment that we need more takedown rifles that will fit in "regular looking" cases.

Also, I take a soft gun case with me while hunting. I go up into my tree stand when it is dark. The tree stand is typically constructed of angle iron and plywood. Well, climbing up the ladder, stepping into the tree stand and turning around present all kinds of opportunities to scrape your rifle against the angle iron. But when your rifle is in a soft gun case slung over your back, it is protected from this kind of abuse. Ditto when you are climbing down--and yes, the rifle is unloaded before it goes into the case. I also don't come down until dark, so there's no worry about missing a buck to or from the tree stand. And, yes, you had better pack an lunch and figure on having a way to "contain" calls of nature!

Clay Cooper

It's Mikes idea on the takedown rifles.

A soft gun case?

That’s Scary!

I would prefer something like the Koplin, hard plastic case used for ATVs. A soft case would allow direct blows to your equipment. Not good!

I rolled my ATV big time two seasons ago and the Koplin protected it. I repaired the ATV in 30 minutes. I was out of work for a week and couldn’t do any hunting for a month. Go really banged up on that one.

Mike Strehlow brings up a good idea. When air traveling, you can still remove the stock from the rifle for shipping. Put the stock screws in a large zip lock bag with a sheet of paper with your name and address in it. This makes it a smaller package and less of a target for the ramp apes. It’s always recommended to check your sighting with 3 shots once you get into the field so taking the stock off the rifle is a good idea. A laser bore sight with pre-sighting measurements just might work as well if you can’t shoot any sighting shots upon your destination.

Clay Cooper

I had a gun case when I was on the U.S. Air Force High Power Team. I had a AFTO Form 9 on it. A radioactive warning sign/sticker about 8x8 inches. On the bottom of the sticker it read. Warning Leadonium. Hazardous to your health if shot. Everyone including the Boss thought it was funny, but he knew that someone would take it seriously. So the Boss Laughing at the idea, asks me kindly to remove it.


You have made a new description, it just might make Websters (Ramp Apes) perfect! I had a SKB that couldn't take it.

Clay Cooper

By the way,

If you insure your rifle against damage and loss. It’s best to use an aircraft aluminum or steel case with no dings or bings. The reason for this is, if your firearm gets damaged so would the case. No evidence of damage to the case, your claim will be denied, bottom line and end of their discussion with you, PERIOD!


In hunting Alaska my gun cases served well until I made it to the point on getting on the bush plane. There my gun cases were taken away, rifles…and my Beretta o/u… manhandled as they were stuffed raw into the Beaver. All I could think, “Virgins no more.”

I also noticed a good quarter of the warehouse had gun cases piled like cord wood

Clay Cooper


I bet you don't recommend those folks any more!

First I’ve herd that one!

Bernie Kuntz

About a decade ago I bought a used Browning case for about $100. It is made of some sort of black, fiberglass material that has proven to be indestructible. I transported rifles several times to Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories and once to Africa with absolutely no damage to the rifles or the case.

Always bring a soft case along too so you don't have to jam your rifles into a Supercub, unprotected next to the cookware and camp tools.



Must be you didn't get around much. What those " bush transporters" did in taking away the gun cases prior taking the clients into the bush seemed S.O.P. Saved space and weight since the Beavers could take 1 ton of gear along with four passengers/crew. I don't know what Otters or Supercubs could haul.

It was pretty active place of depature and return. Recollection is vivid on all the moose and caribou racks and smell of meat. Then there was the sight of bear pelts....and then all those gun cases piled 15-ft high in the corner.

Not quite the bar scene out of Star Wars, but approached it.

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