5 Things to Know About TSA Approved Gun CasesBy Jodi Thornton-O'Connell; Updated June 08, 2017
What to know about flying with firearms
Whether you are traveling with your rifle for a hunting trip or you like to carry a firearm for personal protection, you can pack your gun along on a plane as checked luggage. Know the rules and restrictions before you enter the airport, though, or you could face fines of more than $12,000 and possible jail time.
Packing heat the TSA way
Secure your unloaded firearm in a hard-sided container you can lock. The case you bought your gun in may not be adequate, according to Transportation Security Administration guidelines. And don't use TSA locks on your firearms case. They're not approved for the task, and the TSA requires that you are the only person with the combination or key to your firearms.
You can pack your hard-sided, locked firearm case inside your suitcase if you wish. Although it's not required, you can use a cable lock to secure it to your suitcase's interior frame for extra security.
Can you fly with ammunition?
You can bring shotgun shells and ammunition less than .75 caliber in your checked baggage, providing it's packed according to TSA and airline regulations. Ammo can't be loose, even if it's in an ammo can. The easiest way to carry your ammo is in the original manufacturer's box inside your checked baggage. Magazines and ammo clips can be loaded or unloaded, but they must be inside a box or the hard-sided case with your unloaded firearm.
Tape ammo boxes shut to prevent them from opening and spilling loose ammo inside your luggage.
Can you bring a gun on a plane?
You can never carry your firearm on a plane unless you're a law enforcement officer authorized to have a weapon in the course of your assigned duties. You must complete a TSA Law Enforcement Officer Flying Armed training course and get verification through your employing agency that you need the firearm accessible during the flight.
How do you declare your gun?
Bring your unloaded, cased firearm to the main ticket counter to check it in. TSA will ask you to unlock the case for inspection. You'll sign a firearms declaration form that must go inside the case containing your gun. Any gun found in checked luggage without this form will trigger felony charges for its owner.
Speed along the screening process with a cable lock or nylon cord on your gun to show security officers at a glance that it's unloaded. For bolt action rifles, remove the bolt and stow it in the locked case alongside the rifle.
Can you take a gun across state lines?
The Safe Passage Act of U.S. Code Title 18 allows gun owners to transport their firearms from one state where they can legally possess guns to another, even if they must cross through states where a firearm is illegal. Your firearm must be unloaded and locked in a compartment or case inaccessible from the passenger area. Prepping your firearm to travel on the airline meets the requirements of the Safe Passage Act, even if you have a layover in a state where guns aren't allowed.
More Travel Content
- TSA: Civil Enforcement
- S.W.A.T. Magazine: Have Gun, Will Travel – Flying With Firearms
- TSA: Transporting Firearms and Ammunition
- TSA: Law Enforcement – Flying Armed
- Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: Exceptions for Passengers, Crewmembers, and Air Operators
- Cornell University Law School: 18 U.S. Code 926A: Interstate Transportation of Firearms