Flying with an expensive firearm


December 28, 2012, 01:56 PM
So I am curious about flying with a firearm. Santa brought me a desert eagle for Christmas and I am currently in the process of moving to Texas from PA. I know to fly I would need to lock the case and declare the firearm. I guess my question is should I be worried about my expensive pistol "walking off"? Has anyone flown with an expensive firearm?

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December 28, 2012, 01:59 PM
You trust the TSA ?

I'd either drive or ship it to an FFL in the area.

December 28, 2012, 02:34 PM

I think there is less handling of luggage compared to parcels.

Airport security systems are far more sophisticated than UPS / FedEx Depots. It is considerably harder to steal in an airport.

I pack my firearm in a bright yellow pelican case and lock it to the luggage with aircraft cable.

December 28, 2012, 02:45 PM
I've flown AA with 5 more or less expensive handguns (incl. a custom shop Kimber, some HKs and a SIG P226 Elite in stainless) when I moved from Dallas to Seattle.

- get a proper gun case from Cabelas with TSA locks
- place the gun case into a hard-sided suitcase and put TSA locks on that as well
- GET ALL the insurance you need. I took $5k insurance out from AA at the check-in counter (wasn't cheap... ) and hope that nothing goes missing.

alternative: go to FedEx and check out their rules/regulations regarding fire-arm shipments. I do trust FedEx and their packages can be insured and can be tracked AND they are not opened by the TSA. you might be able to ship the gun to your new location. for cheaper than flying with it and it's less hassle as well.

December 28, 2012, 02:56 PM
No TSA locks! I once misspoke on here about that and then realized what I said.

Putting a TSA lock on a Pelican is like leaving the keys in an unlocked car. Only you are supposed to have the key, not everyone with a TSA master...

December 28, 2012, 03:02 PM
Good point about the locks, and I forgot that in my post.

December 28, 2012, 03:06 PM
Our cousin got his elk rifle stolen between O'Hare airport and the airport in Montana. I don't know how he stored it. You could ship it from FFL to FFL (it would probably cost $100, between shipping and trf fees), or from yourself to an FFL (I've done that with a warranteed handgun before).

December 28, 2012, 03:09 PM
I'm pretty sure that a lost firearm case sets off a ton more alarm bells than your usual lost luggage. Sturdy case, non-TSA locks, good to go.

December 28, 2012, 03:12 PM
Hmmmmmm.....I guess my ar-15 will shoot hogs just as dead. I suppose it would be best to wait until I move the family down and drive it. Thanks for the advice.

December 28, 2012, 03:29 PM
I often travel with guns.
Put the gun in an approved case along with an extra set of locks left unlocked.
Leave enough room in your luggage if you are taking pistols to slip the locked Pelican case inside your luggage.
Leave for the Airport with enough time to spend a half hour getting your guns through TSA.
If you are travelling with a long gun, same thing but I have found that the luggage handlers will give you your case and never look at your ID in most cases. Thats probobly how most long guns get stolen.
I was a bit upset that they would hand me my case without checking my ID and let them know about it.

December 28, 2012, 03:39 PM
it would probably cost $100, between shipping and trf fees
You don't have to do a transfer of a firearm you already own. You can ship it to yourself. Personally, I'd get a Pelican case and fly with it. Not a big deal, people do it all the time.

December 28, 2012, 03:51 PM
no TSA locks??? Lol..

you are violating airline and TSA policy with that. also: when you check your firearm you have to walk it over to a TSA guy who will make sure that you have TSA locks and that he can inspect what's inside. without TSA locks the TSA won't accept your gun suitcase.

December 28, 2012, 04:00 PM
no TSA locks??? Lol..

you are violating airline and TSA policy with that. also: when you check your firearm you have to walk it over to a TSA guy who will make sure that you have TSA locks and that he can inspect what's inside. without TSA locks the TSA won't accept your gun suitcase.
Wrong. Check the TSA website, they recommend that you use a lock that only you can access, if they need to get into the case they will page you. You can use a TSA lock if you want but, personally, I don't want anybody accessing my guns without my knowledge or permission (especially the TSA). I've flown numerous times with guns over the last decade and have yet to have an issue with my non-TSA accessible gun case.

December 28, 2012, 04:23 PM
First a DE is not an expensive firearm - a custom made English shotgun is. Follow the airline regs for lockable container and go on your trip - thousands of people do it every single day without hassle

As top locks, you do NOT use a TSA lock on the gun case itself. If it enclosed in a regular suitcase, that suitcase will have the TSA lock, but the gun can only have a lock that YOU have the key for

December 28, 2012, 04:28 PM
I still think shipping with FedEx and the proper insurance is cheaper and more hassle free.... FedEx probably ships thousands of firearms every day... every online gun I bought was shipped with FedEx to the dealer and every warranty repair was FedEx as well...

December 28, 2012, 04:38 PM
No TSA locks on gun cases. The TSA does not want anyone but you to be able to open the gun case. This is why you go to the luggage TSA people and let them inspect the item if they need to before putting it on the plane. You will be directed to the TSA people by the gate agent. After this step is completed you will lock the case WITH YOUR OWN LOCK in their presence and then the process is complete. TSA locks are required for all else unless you don't mind the possibility of having a broken lock in the event they need to open your other bags.

Chevelle SS
December 28, 2012, 04:39 PM
You trust the TSA......................?

December 28, 2012, 05:05 PM

December 28, 2012, 05:35 PM
A few months ago I had to travel with a pair of irreplaceable German WWII rifles. I looked into shipping them separately, and concluded that checking them as baggage was more secure, as well as far less expensive. The TSA never asked to look at them, just to have me put the "unloaded" signature card in the case and then lock it up (with locks they did not have the keys to). I had no trouble at all.

I think the theft of a firearm in an airport would be treated much more seriously than the theft of a gun in the mail. Having had to deal with lost package claims from the USPS and FedEx, I know for sure that if they lost a gun you would basically just be SOL. On an airline, it becomes a federal matter, and hopefully that would at least be more of a deterrent.

December 28, 2012, 05:44 PM
My brother is a sales rep in the industry and flies dozens of times each year with firearms. Never had a problem with guns walking off. Stealing a gun is much worse than an ipad. You're better served with laminated copies of TSA regulations and regulations of the airline you will fly. Most of them do NOT know their own policies and will tell you contrary, technically illegal things. You'll need the printed regulations to firmly, but politely educate.

December 28, 2012, 08:05 PM
So.... you work for the TSA?

December 28, 2012, 08:19 PM
Or in my case, the TSA threw my bag on the X-Ray belt (going into checked luggage) ...never noticed the 2 pistols in it. Bag was was unlocked for their inspection. They said "sorry, it's already gone"

December 28, 2012, 08:29 PM
So.... you work for the TSA?


December 28, 2012, 09:03 PM
They said "sorry, it's already gone"

As in you can pick up your luggage at your destination?

How do you know they didn't see the firearms with their search equipment? Firearms in secure stowage are not necessarily a threat. Did you ask for a supervisor?

December 28, 2012, 10:10 PM
I've flown several times with my expensive (to me anyway) shotgun. The best advise is to get a high quality case. For a pistol, I would go with a good Pelican case as these are used for all sorts of sensitive equipment and are not easily ID'ed as a pistol.

December 28, 2012, 10:23 PM
I have traveled with my gun without a TSA lock. Just make sure they put the paperwork in the case stating that you declared it. Put your lock on the gun, not a TSA lock. The policy does not say TSA lock.

If you arrive at your destination and your gun is missing, call the cops immediately and file a stolen property claim. It is your property and if you check it in the airline and it is missing, that is a felony. Make sure you have your serial number handy and don't take any crap from the airline or TSA. Make sure a supervisor is present when the police arrive.

From the policy:
"If a locked container alarms during screening and is not marked as containing a declared firearm, TSA will cut the lock in order to resolve the alarm."

why would they cut a lock if it supposed to contain a tsa lock? Think about it. You do not want anyone with a master key pilfering your items.

December 28, 2012, 10:29 PM
I toss it in the back of my plane along with a case of beer, some energy bars, and plenty of ammo. Then I jump in, fire up the engine and fly to where I am going. No TSA. No problems. I just have to be careful about where I land for fuel.


December 28, 2012, 10:49 PM
no TSA locks??? Lol..

you are violating airline and TSA policy with that.

Texasgun, not trying to be argumentative but please read the guidelines and think it through again before giving bad advice someone else may follow (I mean that in the most respectful way possible).

The TSA locks are so they can easily search your bags without breaking your locks. It's for "convenience."

Flying with guns is a different experience.

Only the passenger is supposed to have access to the gun - they make you open and close the case when you arrive. They specifically advise you not to reveal the combination or give anyone else the key or access without you present. Why would you want to both disregard the letter and spirit of their guidelines and make it more convenient for anyone at the airport with the very rare TSA key (that opens any one of millions of dainty little locks...) access to your guns?

As I said, I once misspoke on this very topic and was promptly (and accurately) corrected by fellow members. I've flown with a few handguns and the procedure was as I described above.

December 29, 2012, 08:56 AM
Hit Factor - I know because I was standing there watching them from 6 feet away (small airport - Colorado Springs). The ticket agent handed them the bags with me standing there - they threw it on the belt - there was a guy watching the X-Ray machine with his feet up. I assumed this was their procedure - to run it through the machine first.

The ticket agent then said "we need an inspection - there are firearms in the bag" - both TSA workers looked shocked. I was standing right in front of them the whole time with a bright orange tag in my hand. No-one else around but me and the ticket they weren't busy.

They then said "it's too late, it's already gone". I said "the hard case is unlocked and the bag is unlocked waiting for your inspection". The TSA guys said "there's nothing we can do".

So, I spent the whole flight worrying about my 2 pistols being stolen, but they were in the bag when I arrived at the airport.

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