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TSA-approved handgun case?

Discussion in 'Gun Safes & Secure Storage' started by soberups, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. soberups

    soberups Newberg Well-Known Member

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    • I flew recently for the first time in 35 years, to a funeral in Georgia. I had originally planned to bring a handgun in my checked luggage, but delays in getting to the airport and intimidation regarding the whole TSA procedure caused me to leave the gun behind at the last minute. Is there an official TSA-approved, no BS handgun lockbox on the market that will prevent any sort of delays if I fly in the future? The TSA website only gives a vague description of what a suitable case for a handgun would be. Its about a 30-45 minute roundtrip on the airport shuttle to get back to long term parking if the TSA or airline wont let the gun through, so I need a case that will gurantee no hassles if I fly again.
     
  2. SHPD_Retired

    SHPD_Retired Saint Helens Well-Known Member

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  3. Tilos

    Tilos Idaho Active Member

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    Check the website for the airlines you will be flying.
    It will have specific details on how to pack/lock a firearm to check as luggage.
    Every airlines is a little different, usually once you check it, the ticket agent will walk with you to the TSA agent/baggage conveyer, after looking inside.
    The agent gave me a required (red) tag that must be attached, but told me it didn't need to be on the outside...so I put it inside:cool:

    I've used a standard suitcase, with a pistol case inside, and used a cable lock thru the pistol case handle to the suitcase handle frame inside.
    It's been a few years since I've done this, so somethings may have changed.
    Oh yea, I had my ride stay outside the terminal while I checked in/check my bags, just in case things didn't go right, and I could give the guns back to my ride.

    :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
  4. The Nothing

    The Nothing PDX Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    "TSA approved" locks are NOT acceptable for use boxes carrying firearms. A Pelican case with a couple padlocks or an inexpensive box like @SHPD_Retired linked are great. The main things to remember:
    -Only you get the key/combination.
    -Empty the chamber and remove magazines (TSA says loaded magazines are acceptable, but your airline may not)
    -Secure ammunition
    -Secure locked box inside your luggage
     
  5. robertg

    robertg Sandy Oregon Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Can you just leave the ammo in the factory box and put it in the suitcase? It doesn't have to be locked up does it?
    I'm flying to AZ in a couple of weeks on Alaska Airlines and taking my handgun for the first time. I have a Pelican Case for the gun, there isn't any room in there for the ammo.
     
  6. Tilos

    Tilos Idaho Active Member

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    Here the official info for Alaska Airlines:
    https://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/baggage/special-baggage/transporting-firearms.aspx
    You'll find the ammo answer there,
    :)
     
  7. robertg

    robertg Sandy Oregon Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Thanks, I read that awhile ago but forgot about the ammo part. :s0155:
     
  8. WillametteWill

    WillametteWill Willamette Valley Active Member

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    I fly with a firearm all the time. The last time was about six hour ago from PDX. Don't claim to know everything but here are the best tips I can give after about 50 armed flights in the past three years.
    1) The box must me sturdy, not the flimsy types that you get when you purchase your gun. If the TSA person can wedge open a corner and see the gun it will likely be a no-go. Many cases will work. I have a hard plastic Cabelas case and a slightly smaller Pelican 1170. Each of these accept two padlocks...use two with matching keys.
    2) As someone noted earlier, these are not TSA padlocks and only your are suppose to have a key. Have the key with you on the rare chance (three times in three years) where TSA will need to inspect the inside.
    3) Place this box inside of an unassuming suitcase. Not an expensive "steal me" model.
    4) Get a short bike cable (REI, bike shops) and use one of the locks to secure the cable to something inside the suitcase. Theft proof? No, but someone will make a scene getting it out. By doing this I actually don't lock the outside of my suitcase, but you can if you want.
    5) Ammo weights are limited, check with the airline. Best to keep it in original packaging or aftermarket plastic (MTM style) cases.
    6) Some TSA folks say it is okay but I would avoid loaded mags, speed strips etc. Just put it in a box and life is good.
    7) The ammo MUST be in the locked case.
    8) Check the airline's website for info, some vary.
    9) Super important! The firearm must be declared at the airline ticket counter (not curbside check in). Quietly tell the person you need to check a firearm in your suitcase. Unless the agent is new they will not freak out. After you check in as usual they will give you a card to fill out and sign. Airlines vary a little on their exact policies. Southwest is awesome, American has been fine as well. Again policies vary but typically they will have you place / tape (they have some) the card on the hard case inside your regular suit case. American places a "special handling" tag on the outside of your bag...not really cool. SWA does nothing on the outside if you pack as noted above.
    10) Depending on the airport the procedure varies from here. Currently (as of this morning) at PDX, after you are done at the airline counter they will send you to a location to meet with an almost always friendly TSA agent. They pretty much know when they see a person with a suitcase coming that they are there to check a firearm. They will swab and look in our suitcase, take about 2 minutes, and you are on your way. They take your back from there.

    Lastly, watch where you are going. Some states and other locations prohibit high cap (sorry standard cap) mags, hollow points and other "normal" things. When I go to these places I carry a revolver and have different ammo.

    Sorry for the very long post but I hope this helps. Not legal advice, just what I have found works for me. Easiest airport I have visited BTW...PDX.
     
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  9. pdempsey1097

    pdempsey1097 West of McMinnville Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    EXCELLENT post. I've only done this a half a dozen times, but this is VERY representative of the experience. Good job.
     
  10. robertg

    robertg Sandy Oregon Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    OK, good to know about the ammo being locked inside the case, that's what I needed to know.
    Thanks.
     
  11. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Will covered almost everything, but there's a few things:

    If you fly with rifles, a rifle case that's less than 60 lineal inches (L + W + H) and less than 50lbs is covered by your standard "checked baggage" policy.

    Pelican cases are awesome for flying with, I have a 1510? model (looks like a very large briefcase), I usually stuff this full of my high value luggage and my handgun. The thing here is the gun inside allows you to lock it. Also, airlines and the TSA have gotten fairly sensitive about guns being stolen, so the question "What did you do with my checked firearms" has been a fairly good threat when dealing with missing baggage. I've only had to pull this once, and when I got the run-around I said "well, I need to call the ATF and let them know you've lost my firearms" (I may have said machineguns for dramatic effect)

    Most of the time, your checked bag doesn't end up on the conveyor at baggage claim, it's held at the customer service counter, unless it's really late and they're closed.

    I've noticed that some places get weird about lose ammo in the case, make sure ammo is in a box, if you're using plastic ammo boxes, tape them closed, they have a habit of coming lose. I've never had anyone check mags, high-cap, loaded, or otherwise.

    One note: DO NOT FLY TO NEW YORK CONNECT THROUGH NEW YORK OR NEW JERSEY. The port authority there has a bad habit of prosecuting people who are passing through with firearms, charging them with breaking their silly laws. I don't know if this has happened recently, but avoid it in every way possible.

    https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/uscca-member-arrested-new-york-city-airport/

    There has been at least one case where port authority found the gun in a checked bag during screening (it was never in the person's possession) but was charged anyways. I highly recommend just avoiding all of yankeedom entirely.
     
  12. WillametteWill

    WillametteWill Willamette Valley Active Member

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    On another note for long guns...Southwest has been somewhat quietly stating golf bags (oversized) fly free as well. (For those of you who don't know your first two bags fly free on Southwest.) I have asked a few ticket agents if this would apply to a similar sized case for my shotgun. All of them have said it would. Cool. My plan is to get a large duffel bag to put the locked, hard case into the bag and try that sometime.

    Good information above as well. New Jersey is one of the states that has issues with hollow points as well. New York...I don't understand why any gun manufacturer would stay in this state yet there are a bunch of them.
     
  13. robertg

    robertg Sandy Oregon Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    So, could you get a large Pelican Case and use it for your suitcase and pistol?
    It would be cool to be able to lock it.
     
  14. PDX1953

    PDX1953 Active Member

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    I had a run in a few years ago with a Delta counter rep in Hartford. I could tell from the moment I saw her that she was a B**** but according to Delta's website you could pack a handgun inside hard sided luggage, which I did. I declared the firearm & she went into a fit about it not being locked in it's original container. I calmly explained that per Delta's regs it could be transported inside hard luggage and that's what I was checking. Her comment of, "Well, the luggage isn't hard enough!" was enough for me to TELL her to go get her manager NOW! I stepped out of line with my suitcase, walked about 30 feet away where the TSA guys were scanning luggage & calmly told them the situation. They said my luggage looked OK but Delta made the policy, not them. A few minutes later a nicely dressed woman came over & said the regulation information on the internal Delta system was outdated & that I was correct because I'd done everything per their website. She said she'd approve everything & as we were walking back to the ticket counter she said in an excited voice, "I've been learning how to shoot - it's fun!"
     
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