Gun Case Foam

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Dec 1, 2005
I have some nice sections of foam I'd like to cut, so specific guns will fit nicely in the cutout. I've tried cutting foam in the past, but got lousy results. Looked really chopped up & uneven.

Anybody have any experience doing this?

If you're married, ask your wife about craft knives. They make these knives you plug into the wall and the blade gets hot. They're perfect for cutting foam.

Also, do a web search for pick-and-pluck foam. That stuff can save you the effort of cutting it, but if you take the gun in and out of the case a lot the pick-and-pluck stuff will disintegrate on you eventually.

Lastly, make sure the foam you're using is water resistant. The better craft stores sell some that's really dense and heavy and works great for that. If your gun is damp or wet (like after a day of hunting in the rain, for example) and you put it in a case with foam that can't handle water, the stuff gets really nasty.
....Also, do a web search for pick-and-pluck foam. That stuff can save you the effort of cutting it, but if you take the gun in and out of the case a lot the pick-and-pluck stuff will disintegrate on you eventually....
After much field observations and ponderings, I am of the opinion that pick-n-pluck foam just plain stinks.

The main problem I've seen is that if you drop the case, the foam can suffer large tears that can leave the item inside with a lot less protection than you think. This effect is multiplied by how heavy/dense the item you are trying to protect is. Also it seems to be multiplied by how expensive the item inside is....

For heavy/expensive equipment, the better way is to use several layers of plain high-density 1-inch foam and just cut holes in each layer in decreasing sizes, as you need them. The solid foam is a lot more resistant to tearing from drops, and if dropped--it is much more obvious upon inspection that the foam has torn and needs to be replaced.
...Just remembered another friend used an electric carving knife. He said it worked well, and did not cause fumes like the soldering iron.
I would try and get some of that "hard form" foam or whatever they call it. the stuff that takes a permanet imprint. I see it used in some gun cases and I bought a pair of arch supports for my boots while I was in the service where they used thes type of foam to make a mold of my foot on which to base the shape of the supports. Anyone know wnat this stuff is actually called?
Xacto knife + scissors. I used the 3" thick foam to make a pistol case out of an old camera case. I use it to carry by Buckmark and spotting scope for bullseye matches.
Standing Wolf,

What else would you recommend instead of foam?

I too am looking into getting a pistol case and had been thinking that I would go with the solid foam that I could cut out. The pick and pluck stuff always seemed like it would fall apart over time, and this thread has confirmed that suspicion.

How do you store your firearms? I've just never felt that the standard plastic case in which my beretta came was a good way to store it. I've seen guys using pistol rugs, but I was concerned that they don't offer much in the way of drop-protection.
I store mine in a safe with desicant. The modified camera case is just to take my stuff to the range for bullseye. Otherwise, it's a good range bag (i.e. Dillion Precision) + gun rugs work fine. If you are wanting something more secure it might be quicker/cheaper/easier to buy an aluminum case. Either way, I don't recommend storing the firearm in the case.
Built my own cases using 2" thick Ethafoam inserts. Same dense material used for archery targets, available either from sporting goods stores or commercial plastics suppliers. Does not absorb or retain moisture. Easy to cut out using a wood router bit inserted in a drill press. Draw out a silhouette of the firearm and start cutting, take 1/4" deep cuts, reset depth and take another layer until desired depth is achieved. This allows you to relieve or step each pass and fit the profile of the gun.

Cases filled with two layers of guns have been stored in the safe for over ten years, no wear to finishes. (Note: I do have a Golden Rod in the safe) You may want to drop in a packet of desicant if high humidy is a problem. I prefer the Zero Haliburton cases that use an "O-ring" gasket to seal the lid.

As far as cases are concerned, I won't use anything but Pelican boxes for my cameras and firearms. They're a little expensive, but I spent a few years working as a whitewater raft guide on the New and Gauley rivers (Class V+ whitewater) up in West Virginia, and I've seen those Pelicans stand up to some punishment that still amazes me when I think about it - not just staying intact, but waterproof as well, you know?

On the pick-and-pluck... it's fine if you're storing an item that you're not going to be using a lot. For example, I have a multi-gas monitor in my truck. I have to keep it in there, because if I need it I'll need it with me, but I only use it two or maybe three times a year. It's been in a Pelican box packed in pick-and-pluck foam for 3 or 4 years and the foam is in great shape. For things like my cameras and guns though that are taken in and out of the case on a regular basis, the stuff just comes apart after awhile.

Good tip on the ethafoam, though. I might give that a shot.
Monkeyleg, The freezer idea sounds good. I'm gonna give that a try. I'll let you know how it goes.

Rembrandt, Those cases & inserts are great. I already have the foam to experiment with. But if I bung it up, I'll give the target foam you suggest a try.

Thanks all,

I work in a profession that often customizes wheelchairs. We use electric carving knives for all of our cutting of foam. You can even get different blades for the knives that are useful for keyhole cuts etc.
Foam can be purchased from many sources. Uphostery and fabric shops, are the easiest to find. If you want some heavier (more expensive) foams, you would be well served by contacting a DME dealer (someone who sells wheelchairs, hospital beds and the like). They will have many sources of various foam densities. But most importantly, they may have a store of foam that they will sell you one sheet from, instead of you making a minimum order from one of the wholesale dealers.
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