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Which TSA-approved gun cases are best?

Traveling with a weapon has always been a tricky affair. There are a number of requirements that you must comply with, and any weapon must be declared to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in advance. 

Even if you are flying with a vintage rifle or a professional handgun, it must be stored in the correct way. There are severe penalties if you don’t, so you have one chance to get it right. Consider a quality gun case, like the Cedar Mill Hard Rifle Case if you want to transport your long guns.

What to know before you buy a TSA-approved gun case

Key or lock combination

Any gun case that will be used for air travel must comply with a number of TSA specifications. The most important aspect of these specifications is that you must have the key to the gun case or the combination of the lock. You are also not allowed to have live ammunition in the gun case, and even replica weapons need to be stored away.

Different cases depending on the firearm

It stands to reason that not all firearms will fit in the same gun case. Long rifles and sidearms, for example, are vastly different, so their case requirements will be different as well. For small arms, the best method of transport is to pack them in a foam-lined briefcase. Other weapons, like hunting rifles, easily fit into a specially designed case that is much longer.  

Strict TSA requirements

Buying any gun case for travel simply won’t do, as there are strict requirements that must be met. Incorrect storage of a firearm can lead to a minimum fine of $2,000, which can be escalated to a maximum of $10,000. The case must be hard-sided with a key or combination lock, firearms must be unloaded, and the case must remain locked at all times.

What to look for in a quality TSA-approved gun case


Handguns and rifles are rather expensive, so you want to protect them as much as possible. Ample foam on the inside will protect your guns and provide safer containment in general. A quality gun case will have thick foam padding on the inside, and depending on the type of weapon, may have pre-cut compartments for each gun. 


A hard-sided gun case is both required and a more durable option. The quality of a case is often related to the cost, though. Where possible, don’t buy the cheapest case that meets the requirements. Better options will last for many years, and that often means spending a bit extra up front.


It’s the last thing that you want to see while on a flight, but a good quality gun case will have open-alert locks. That means an alarm will sound when your gun case is open. In most cases, your gun case would have been inspected by TSA agents and shouldn’t be anything to worry about, but it is still good to know when you have been inspected.  

How much you can expect to spend on a TSA-approved gun case

The average price of a gun case depends on several factors, including the size of the case and the manufacturer. A small case for handguns can retail for between $20-$30. A much larger case suitable for long guns retails for between $120-$250.

Gun case FAQ

Can you store ammunition in your gun case?

A. Yes, but only if the gun case is checked-in. You are prohibited from storing ammo in your carry-on luggage, even if it is locked in your carry-on gun case. You must also check with the airline for their ammunition limits.

Is there a difference between a polymer case and a stainless steel one?

A. Both cases provide the same level of protection to your guns, and should both comply with the TSA requirements. It’s a personal choice whether you want the black or the stainless steel, but the polymer will last longer overall.

What are the best TSA-approved gun cases to buy?

Top TSA-approved gun case

Cedar Mill Hard Rifle Case

Cedar Mill Hard Rifle Case

What you need to know: This is the perfect case for long rifles like an AR15.

What you’ll love: This hard-sided case is 48-inches long, 9-inches wide, and 4-inches deep. For locking, it features four corrosion-resistant stainless steel clasps with locks that are TSA-approved. The case itself is made from DS2TeK polymer, allowing it to flex under stress. This inside features 1-inch thick foam and is suitable for rifles like the AR15, scoped weapons, or a shotgun.

What you should consider: The case is only big enough to fit small-scoped rifles.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top TSA-approved gun case for the money

Lockdown Handgun Vault

Lockdown Handgun Vault

What you need to know: This is a sturdy case to keep your handgun safe.

What you’ll love: Approved by the TSA and the California Department of Justice, this steel lockbox has a resettable combination lock. The interior foam has been designed to protect your weapon from bumps and drops. The case measures 8.5-inches long, 5.75-inches wide, and 2-inches deep.

What you should consider: The interior padding isn’t very thick, and it can only store one handgun at a time.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Eylar Tactical Hard Gun Case

Eylar Tactical Hard Gun Case

What you need to know: This is the best gun case if you have a lot of handguns or weapon parts. 

What you’ll love: Made from sturdy high-pressure polypropylene plastic, this handgun case from Eylar is water- and shockproof. The inside measures 11.81-inches long, 8.87-inches wide, and 5.18-inches deep. The case is designed to carry two handguns or tactical gear. Perfect for flying, it also features a pressure equalization valve and two TSA-approved padlock fittings. 

What you should consider: The padlock fittings are TSA-approved, but locks aren’t included. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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