M*CARBO Brotherhood

Flying with guns

I’m gonna be flying to Montana soon (Glacier National Park) and was considering bringing my Shield .40 for carry. It’s not the ideal gun for theoretical angry beasties, but it’s the most practical to concealed carry while hiking and such for several days.

Anyways, having not flown with a firearm I figured I’d check for any tips y’all might have. I was gonna get a basic Pelican handgun case and solid locks (and a backup set incase TSA decides to cut the first). Ammo separate, gun unloaded and flagged.

RTIC is selling their handgun cases super cheap right now but supposedly the holes for padlocks are a bit small. Pelican also has their Vault line that’s slightly cheaper. Anyone have experience locking either?

Also open to any general recommendations or tips.


the last time i went out to the Salt river canyon I shipped mine via a buddy that had a FFL to another friend that i had at the destination that had a FFL. they are a couple lil hoops to jump thru but it was easy. shipped sidearm, 3 knives, holsters sheaths and 150 rnds of ammo in magazines in a large pelican lock box. leave a week before i go, and ships out the day i leave. no muss no fuss. Ive shipped rifles that way as well.


I would get or print out a copy of the T.S.A. regulations for shipment of firearms. Get the rules for the airline you will be using also. Keep them with your firearm case. You never know when you’ll run into a mentally challenged employee and have to explain it to them.


check airline and TSA.
Pelican is a nice case, Each airport has different guidelines.
I packed my ammo in the same case with mags but mags were kept unloaded.


have a safe and successful trip buddy @TheThreeLaws


Say “I want to declare a firearm” not
“I have a gun”!

The curbside skycaps can’t take the luggage with firearm, that goes through the ticket counter.

They will ask a few questions. I put my pistol in 1 locked container and mags and ammo in another.
Then both in a suitcase.

First time the airport separated my bag with pistol and picked it up separately from my luggage. 2nd time it was altogether with regular luggage.

4th time we missed the flight because of TSA lines and luggage was home awaiting our return.

I would suggest you take it in the baggage claim office and tell them you want to check the bag before you leave to assure the firearm is still in its container.


An FYI - Most airlines limit you to 10kg (12.2#) of ammunition. Must be in original boxes, or ammunition boxes. Ammunition and mags (unloaded) do not need to be in a secure (locked) container.

Make sure you have your cell phone number on the card you fill out at the airline checkin counter so TSA can contact you if necessary. Some airlines will have you open your suitcase at the check-in counter to inspect the case, and locks, and sometimes weigh the ammunition. Have them tape the card to the outside of the firearms case. Do not let them put it inside the firearms case. If TSA needs to get into the case (remote inspection), and the card is not on the outside of the firearms case, they will cut the locks to get to it.

Most airports I’ve travelled thru, the airline check-in person will give you the card, and send you to a special TSA check-in point for inspection. I always take a couple zip ties with me. When the TSA Agent is finished swabbing your firearms container, and inspecting your suitcase, if you ask them they will put them on your suitcase where those useless suitcase locks go. Gives you a real quick indication if your suitcase has been tampered with when you go to claim it at your destination.

Do not put suitcase locks on your suitcase. They will be cut off.

Pack your firearms suitcase with clothes you don’t mind having wrinkled or not re-folded back up. Some of the TSA folks root thru the suitcase like a hound going after a rabbit down a hole.

Put the gun case “nested” on top with other packed items around it so little else needs to be removed to take the case out.

At some airports, the airlines put the suitcase on the conveyor with with the rest of your luggage. Most of the ones I’ve travelled thru you have to take your suitcase seperately to a TSA inspection point. Have your firearms case keys handy when they inspect in case you need to open the case. Of the 20, or so, times I’ve had mine inspected in my presence, I’ve only had to open the gun case once.


i’ve never been swabbed but that show each person each tsa,each airline is different…


Good advice Don68. The Airlines may have company requirements in addition to TSA regulations.

I would also pull up the concealed carry laws for the city, state you are visiting. I use an app (Concealed Carry Laws) that shows the laws in each state and reciprocity CCW shared with the state you have your permit. You do not want to land only to be held by TSA and the police for breaking the law. I have never had an issue flying to states that had reciprocity CCW with Tennessee, and was only asked once to go to a private room and unlock my handgun case for inspection.


As far as the case is concerned, I bought an inexpensive case on sale at Bass Pro Shop for about $8 that had two holes for locks to prevent someone from easily prying open the case. I then bought two locks that took the same key. You can also use your gun case the handgun came in with pad lock(s) if it is secure. I had just enough room for 1 box of ammo, empty magazines, and my handgun.


One other thing I’d recommend - I use a small metal case with a cable inside my suitcase to hold my Shield when I’m checking it for air travel. I loop the steel cable around one of the metal support poles inside the suitcase so someone can’t just grab the gun case and take off. If you have a hard-side suitcase you may not have the support poles, but you could epoxy/rivet/bolt a metal tie-down somewhere inside to run the cable through. Just another layer of security.