HOW TO FLY WITH GUNS – Flying with guns can be very intimidating. There are so many rules and regulations when flying with a firearm, and it can be easy to get yourself in trouble in a hurry. In this article, I’ll share some tips and tricks on how to correctly fly with your firearm. This article doesn’t replace reading the rules and regulations for both the TSA as well as your particular airline.
You are required to have a hard gun case when flying. There are many different types of gun cases out there, but you will get what you pay for. I use a Pelican Vault double rifle case. Even though it’s a double case, I only carry one gun in it. The reason I like the double case is because it allows me to carry many other items in the case with the gun. For example, you have to have the bolt out of your gun when transporting it. I have a cutout in my foam specifically for the bolt. I also have cutouts for magazines, ammo, etc.
When you’re flying for a hunt, you have a lot of equipment you’ll want to take with you. But with the 50 pound baggage restriction, you’ll want to use your rifle case to carry as much as you can. So I recommend putting other items in your rifle case, like rangefinder, gloves, shooting sticks, etc.
There are differing opinions on how many locks you need to put on your gun case. Some TSA agents will tell you that all you need are 2 locks on the case. That may be true, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. If your gun case has 4 holes for locks, put locks in all 4 holes. I know this may seem excessive, but I actually feel more comfortable having several locks on my case. I know that when I declare my firearm, no TSA representative is going to give me a hard time. And I know that my case is securely locked up.
Ammo must fly with your firearm. However, it CANNOT be in the firearm. As I stated above, the bolt must be removed from your firearm. And, there can be no ammo in the gun. Ammo must be in a TSA approved case. TSA approved cases included manufacturer boxes, plastic bullet cases, and they also include magazines. So if your gun has magazines, you can load those up and you’re good to go.
I am a hand loader, so I’ve always been nervous taking ammo that’s not in the original box. The TSA doesn’t require that though. Go to Sportsman’s Warehouse and grab one of those blue plastic ammo boxes, and you’re covered. You do need to be aware that you are limited on the amount of ammo you can take though. I recommend looking up the updated weights, but at the time of this writing it is 11 pounds of ammo for most airlines.
Walking into an airport with a firearm can make anyone nervous. But if you know what you’re doing, there’s nothing to worry about. Make sure you give yourself extra time by arriving early to the airport. You never know what’s going to delay you when declaring a firearm.
Upon arrival, go straight to the desk of your airline. Let the airline agent know that your are declaring a firearm. They will then have you open your case and show them that the gun isn’t loaded. They’ll also ensure the bolt is out and that you don’t have more than 11 pounds of ammo. Once it’s all checked off, they’ll give you a declaration slip to leave inside the case. Then they’ll have you close it up.
You’re not clear to go to security just yet though. Stay with your gun case until it is checked by TSA. The last thing you want to do is go through security just to have them call you back and open your case for them. Once TSA has checked it off, then you’re good to go.
Although it can be intimidating to fly with a firearm, don’t let it deter you from going on the hunts of your dreams. If you know what you’re doing, the process really is quite simple. Again, this article doesn’t take place of reading the TSA and airline rules and regulation, but this will give you a head start on what you need to do to be prepared.