Anyone know anything about flying with a firearm?


March 8, 2010, 10:30 PM
I need to fly from raleigh north carolina to Bangor maine and I need my rifle to get there also.

Can I just walk into the airport with a gun case and check it in? What about ammo?

There is one stop in philadelphia.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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March 8, 2010, 10:45 PM
Read TSA's rule and regulations.

John Q. Pirate
March 8, 2010, 11:13 PM
I've done it many times, although with a pistol; never a long gun.

But yes, you bring the firearm (in a locked, hard-sided case) to the ticket counter and tell them you'd like to declare a firearm. They'll give you a "Firearms Declaration" tag which you sign & date, which goes into the firearm case.

Depending on location, they'll occasionally have you open the case right there in front of the ticket agent (in order to demonstrate the weapon is unloaded), at which point you slip in the tag, lock it back up, and then go over to TSA (accompanied by the ticket agent), whereupon they open it up again (ostensibly to confirm said tag is present, and never outside your presence), close it up, put it through the x-ray machine and send it on its way.

This has been my experience, anyway.

However, D94R's advice is well-heeded. You can find their info here:

Print yourself a copy and bring it with you

You should also check with the airline and the airport for any additional rules/regulations, or modifications thereto.

March 8, 2010, 11:29 PM
It's not as big a deal as you might think.

Unloaded, in a locked hard-sided case. They can make a stink about ammo being in the mfg packaging. Obviously read the rules. They change little details all the time.

I love the expressions on the faces of the reps at the check in counter when you declare the firearm. Some of the agents at O'hare act like you have a live snake and visibly cringe when you show them the gun.

March 8, 2010, 11:54 PM
Again, not a big deal. You can have up to 11 pounds of ammo in factory containers. If they're in magazines, you need to seal the tops of the magazines to the satisfaction of the TSA agent to prevent the ammunition from coming loose. Weapons unloaded. If you have a rifle case, it will not go through normal baggage handling at the receiving airport but will instead be carried to you (in the baggage claim area) and your ID will be checked before you're given the case.

Various airlines have limits on the number of firearms you can carry, but nobody's ever counted mine.

The case itself must have a lock that is not a TSA lock. This means locking latches or a masterlock, with the latter prefered.

March 8, 2010, 11:57 PM
Not to be rude, but a quick search would have brought up numerous threads discussing this exact topic, many with detailed explanations of what has to be done in order to fly with firearms.

March 9, 2010, 01:44 AM
Having traveled a number of times, here's how I go at it:

Review to understand TSA policies and procedures. Have a copy with you when you reach the airport.
Put the unloaded weapon(s) in a lockable hard-sided case with locks only you have the keys/combination to open. TSA locks are not allowed.
Steps that will make it easier to show that the weapon is unloaded - especially when x-rayed.

If the weapon is a:


lock the slide open
put a cable tie through the barrel and out the breach to show that the chamber is empty

revolver, flip the cylinder out
Do not put the magazines in this locked case with the gun(s):
it invites questions about them being loaded
if the gun case is "liberated" from the checked bag by a Criminal Entrepreneur, the lack of magazines frustrates the "Liberator", since the weapon is now initially a single shot one
Check the airline(s) you are flying on:

To determine if the ammo

MUST be in boxes (plastic reload boxes work)
can fly in loaded magazines

If loaded magazines are permitted, make sure the pouches fully cover the magazine top where the cartridges are visable.
The round(s) from the chamber(s)/cylinder(s) must be in a box, not loose

Secure and protect magazines (separately from the weapon) and ammunition boxes from possible damage.
Put the lockable hard-sided case with the weapon and the ammo/magazines into a cheap, non-descript bag - with clear labeling outside and inside - for checking in.

If possible, develop a way to attach - in a lockable way - the hard-sided case to the piece of luggage it has been placed into.
The labeling should be limited to:

Your Name
Your Cell Phone - if you have one, or your home phone if you do not
Your personal email address - if you have one

Other stuff - like shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc, could be in this checked bag also.
Have the rules for the airline in hand when you check this non-descript bag at the airport.
Make sure you have the keys/combinations to the lockable hard-sided case with you and you alone (Per Federal Regulations 49CFR 1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals - at all times. You will have to open the lockable hard-side case:

to demonstrate to the airline that the weapon(s) are not loaded at check in (a signed form/tag indicating that will go in with the weapon(s))
if the TSA wants to see
Have the serial number(s) and descriptions of your weapons on you, so if they "disappear" you can report the loss/theft immediately to the:

FAA Regional Office
ATF Regional Office

Other things to consider:

Check and/or to determine:

If you can possess the weapon at all your stops
Where and how you can carry at all your stops
What are the deadly force rules in each state you are visiting
Have a copy of the Don Young Transportation Letter on hand - This covers changing modes of travel - car to plane to car - in a single journey.

March 9, 2010, 06:25 AM

there's another thread here about it.

March 9, 2010, 10:34 AM
Check this article, it'll tell you everything you need to know.

So, what's bringing you up this way? I moved from NC to Maine in 2000, the only thing I miss is the food.

March 9, 2010, 12:39 PM
Allow extra time. In a busy airport this can be a hassle. I fly out of St. Lous and it is usually not a problem. But coming out of a busy airport like Ft. Lauderdale you need to add at least an hour. I am leaving MO for FL a week from tomorrow. Here we go again!

March 9, 2010, 02:18 PM
Be careful and check your airline's web site, as not every airline allows 11 lbs. of ammo.

March 9, 2010, 02:41 PM
I'd recommend on spending money on a nice hard case. Kalispel Case hard cases are really nice, probably the last case you'll ever have to buy

March 9, 2010, 05:26 PM
Allow extra time. In a busy airport this can be a hassle. I fly out of St. Lous and it is usually not a problem. But coming out of a busy airport like Ft. Lauderdale you need to add at least an hour. I am leaving MO for FL a week from tomorrow. Here we go again!
FLL is easy. I live right down the street and have flown with the guns many times. an hour is a bit more than you'll need. Specially if you fly out early in the morning.

try doing it out of someplace like Philly. :( actually it was still pretty easy but WAY busier.

BTW,what brings you to SFL?

March 9, 2010, 05:34 PM
You should check your airline beforehand. I have flown only with a handgun. I had it in a locked hard case that was in my luggage UNLOADED with the ammo in the factory box. You just walk up to the baggage counter and tell them you have a firearm to declare. Get your firearm box out of the luggage and unlock and open the case. You sign a declaration paper and put it in the case. Lock it and put the case in your luggage. It is that easy. I've never declared a long gun or travled with a lot of ammo...just a handgun and a box of ammo for self defense. I've heard the airlines take good care of your luggage and will do whatever possible to find it if it doesn't get to its destination because there is a gun in it.

March 10, 2010, 09:59 PM
Alaskan Airlines allows up to 50 pounds of ammo on their domestic flights. I am taking 25 pounds with me to Vegas tomorrow. I have had two problems when flying with firearms the last 20 years. The airline lost a suitcase with several hand guns in it for three days. I got it back intact with no guns missing.

When I flew to Vegas last year the TSA man did not notice the silencers in my rifle case until he X-rayed it, then he had a problem. By the time I got back to the ticket counter, he had called the airport police and picked my locks open. I ended up showing them my ATF form 1's and educating them on the fact that I did not need a license and there were no WA State restrictions on owning or traveling with silencers.


March 10, 2010, 10:48 PM
I've flown with firearms dozens of times and this was my only issue.

Coming back from the Tulsa show about 5 years ago, I declared 4 old Winchesters and a Smith Model 60. The ticket agent wanted me to open the case and demonstrate that each firearm was in fact unloaded. I suggested we do this behind closed doors to avoid issues with gun shy travelers, but she insisted right here, right now. As I lifted the Model 1876 out of the case, I heard behind me "he's got a gun". Those four words made their way across all the ticket counters in a matter of seconds. I set the gun down and backed away quickly just as 2 armed officers with their hands on their holstered weapons burst through the crowd. I am pretty sure that I would have been in danger had I still been holding that rifle.

TSA showed up and quickly took control of the situation, admonished the ticket clerk and demanded her supervisor be called "right now!!". We then took the case behind closed doors for a better look.

Delta 0, TSA 1

bottom shelf
March 10, 2010, 11:52 PM
No problem. I fly out of RDU all the time with various long guns and handguns. Never had a problem, although I always use Delta. I would imagine all airlines at the same airport would have pretty much the same awareness, so it'll probable be easy.

March 11, 2010, 07:56 AM
Alaskan Airlines allows up to 50 pounds of ammo on their domestic flights. I am taking 25 pounds with me to Vegas tomorrow. I have had two problems when flying with firearms the last 20 years. The airline lost a suitcase with several hand guns in it for three days. I got it back intact with no guns missing.

50 lbs? Doesn't leave much room for clothing. Most airlines havea 50 pound limit on baggage per passenger and after that you get charged extra.

March 11, 2010, 08:20 AM
Money talks. The limit on a suitcase is 100 pounds. Up to 50 pounds it is free or a nominal fee, they charge an arm for 50-75 pounds and an additional leg for 75-100 pounds. Carry-on is for clothes. Can't take the money with you when you die, so you might as well blow it on something worthwhile, like checking hand loaded subsonic ammo that is avalable no where but my reloading bench. Hell, I had to search high and low for 22lr subsonic, and no one was carrying 7.62x39 and 338 rum locally.

Ever since TSA geared up, I have never seen a ticket agent touch my gun case. When I collapsed under the weight of my gun case near ticketing, she just asked how much it weighed. She did not question my "50 lbs" claim. I had to take my wife's purse out of the suitcase with the ammo in it to reduce it to less than 50 pounds, but I will carry a damn purse to make sure the ammo gets through. :) Sacrifices must be made when leaving the oppression that is WA for a weekend of suppressed gunfire in Vegas.


March 11, 2010, 10:05 AM
wow-I thought hauling 11 lbs. was a big deal. Guess Not. Unfortuntely when I fly to Vegas, I go on United. They have an 11 lb. limit.

cool beans. have fun. you're right-you only go around once. Might as well go armed !!

March 12, 2010, 05:25 PM
Anyone know anything about flying with a firearm?

Gotta flap your arms REAL hard. :)

Shadow 7D
March 13, 2010, 05:26 AM
Not sure, but I believe that the 11 pound (5kg) limit is per CFR 49 and the transportation of hazardous materials on passenger planes, as there is a total limit for the plane, been 4 years since I read the whole damn thing, and it's in a sub section, but referenced in the UN listing for ammo, main point being, don't violate the airline policy or tsa policy, it will just be a huge pain.

March 13, 2010, 10:03 AM
That is why I picked Alaskan. Their policy was 50 pounds on domestic flights. I have heard that Allegiant restricts a passenger to 120 rounds of center fire ammo


March 13, 2010, 10:29 AM
Did it out of LAX one time with a handgun on Southwest. I was concerned but both the ticket agent and the TSA treated the situation as if it were routine and were very professional and polite. Indeed, the young TSA fellow was very friendly.

March 17, 2010, 05:12 PM
I got home on Monday. Las Vegas handles gun cases a bit differently than SeaTac. The TSA inspects in an unsecure area while TSA in Las Vegas brings the case back to a secure area and requests that you wait 10-15 minutes. This time one of the TSA employees came to me and requested the lock combos to open the case for inspection as the swipes (smears) came up positive for nitro (no kidding!). I was reluctant to give the combos while not being present , but he assured me that the place was well monitored by security cameras. As I did not want to return home without a gun case full of rilfes pistols and silencers, I gave up the combo and the case went on its way a few minutes later.

The ticket agents as usual do not handle the gun case at all, so it was never weighed. :)


March 17, 2010, 05:14 PM
Sure do. I keep a firearm in my flight bag all the time. ;)

March 17, 2010, 10:46 PM
Yeah, I know a little about transporting firearms on airlines, but TSA and the airline agents know even less. I wrote Delta a letter about being detained and abused by TSA agents when I attempted to legally transport a Remington 870 and Makarov pistol. After two months, they replied without EVER answering one of my questions:

Dear Mr. XXXXX,
Thank you for writing about your recent airport experience while
traveling with us. On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I sincerely apologize
for the lack of customer service you encountered and appreciate your
taking the time to share the details.
As our customer, you are in the best position to point out areas that
need attention. Our goal is to provide consistent and accurate
information to our passengers at all times. I am truly sorry you did
not receive the service you expected and should have received from one
of our team members at the time of checking your firearms. We also
expect our employees to be helpful and professional persistently. This
includes furnishing courteous, understandable explanations and doing
everything possible to hold inconvenience to a minimum.
Your letter makes it clear that we did not demonstrate the dependable,
responsive service our customers have a right to expect. We fully
realize that the true test of customer service excellence is how we
perform when things go wrong. Feedback like yours will help us improve
our airport process and overall customer experience. Please know I will
be sharing your comments with our Airport Customer Service leadership
team for internal follow up.
In an effort to show how truly sorry we are, as a gesture of apology for
the lack of assistance you received, I have issued an Electronic
Transportation Credit Voucher (eTCV) in the amount of $50.00. Please
note the voucher number and associated Terms and Conditions will be
arriving in a separate email. Please keep the voucher number and the
Terms and Conditions since the number is required for redemption. It is
also important for me to mention that no charge is assessed for
reservations confirmed online at
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. By bringing forth
your concerns, you give us an opportunity to improve our services.
Please accept my sincerest apology and rest assured that we will make
every effort to ensure things are handled differently in the future.
Your future business is important to us, and I hope you will continue to
choose Delta for your air travel needs.
Raymond M. Taylor
Customer Care

Guns and more
March 18, 2010, 11:05 AM
Alaskan Airlines allows up to 50 pounds of ammo on their domestic flights.
Holy Smoke! Most airlines would be overweight by the time you put 50# in a suitcase.

Shadow 7D
March 19, 2010, 12:11 AM
Ranb, from my reading of the TSA regs, it is a major NO NO to have gun in the secured part of the airport, IE what the agent did isn't right, now when I flew out of Ptsburb I went to the oversize/special handling luggage area and I had to stand behind the red line while the TSA guy did his thing, then I relocked the case and the TSA guy did the final tag/external check, including that it was locked, and asked me who had the key, (correct response is me and only me). No disappearing gun or back room checks.

March 22, 2010, 03:07 PM
When I said secure, I meant it was a part of the airport that I was not allowed to enter. Las Vegas Airport has been doing this for at least a few years now. SeaTac used to inspect out of view of the gun owner too, but not anymore.

My luggage is normally opened after I check it in with the ticket agent at any American airport I fly through; it does not seem to matter if I am carrying ammo or not, or if I am flying international or domestic. I know this because I have a TSA inspection slip in the suitcase, and if I locked it, then the TSA locks are broken. I do not bother to lock my luggage anymore as I am tired of buying new locks. The "TSA approved" locks that were supposed to be able to be opened by the TSA without cutting never work after the TSA is done with them. If I buy good locks and do not get back to the ticket counter quickly, the locks will be cut or picked anyway. Locking a suitcase seems to be a waste of time and money for me now. I have never had anything stolen while flying, so I think a lock will not discourage any thief.

The locks on my gun case are strictly for show to get me through security. TSA has told me that the puny little locks integral to the case that can be opened with a small fingernail file are enough for them. Stupid isn't it?


March 24, 2010, 11:29 AM
It really depends on the airline and the ticket agent. If I fly Northwest airlines out of Philadelphia, the agents are used to having firearms since a lot of the passengers are going to Montana and Idaho. If I fly USAIR out of Philadelphia, I bring a copy of the TSA rules because I know that the agent is a total buffoon and will tell me something that is totally opposite to what the rules really are

Ruger Redhawk
March 24, 2010, 01:23 PM
We went to Alaska last August and I took a handgun with us. Like mentioned put your gun in a hard case locked and put it inside you luggage.It requires two locks on the hard case. Go to the ticket counter and tell them you want to declare a firearm. I was in Raleigh NC.I'm sure it varies by locations. The lady at the ticket counter asked me to take the hard case out of the suitcase and open it up. That surprised me being people were waiting in line.I was afraid it would cause a panic attack.I asked her open it here?She said yes. I opened it up and she took a quick glace. I signed a Red ticket saying it was unloaded.Locked it back up and back in the suitcase. From there I was sent to TSA. They had me open it again and they just looked at it. I asked if they wanted to see that it was unloaded. He said no that's fine, don't touch it. He had me relock the hard case,put it back in the suitcase and they took it from there. As for the ammo W*M has these small strong boxes that lock.I bought one for about 13.00 if I remember right, That's where my ammo was shipped. When you get to your destination your luggage will be put on the luggage conveyor.

Leaving Alaska was different. The same routin basically. TSA wasn't open yet,so for a hour or two I was walking around with the handgun in my suitcase. Once they opened they visually looked at it. I locked it back up and they sent it through the X-Ray machine. There's really nothing to it but it takes a little time. If they are really busy I would suggest giving yourself plenty of time to jump through the hoops.

March 24, 2010, 07:29 PM
Suggest you keep the firearm on your lateral CG as keeping it to your 'strong side' may create an "imbalance in the roll axis" leading to divergence......

OTOH, if you're flying commercial I haven't a clue ! They make up and change the "rules" almost daily, it seems....... >MW

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