Best TSA Approved Gun Case for 2023
Publushed by:Mathew R Reed
Last updated:October 15, 2021
Eylar Tactical Hard 1 Gun Case
- Designed for one standard pistol
- Pressure equalization valve
- Crushproof and waterproof
CHECK LATEST PRICE
Cedar Mill Hard Gun Case
- Impact-resistant polycarbonate construction
- Fo full size fit 1911 handgun
- Fits in a suitcase or under a car seat
CHECK LATEST PRICE
HQ ISSUE Tactical Rifle Hard Case with Foam
- Sturdy heavy-duty molded plastic
- Customizable foam padding
- Valve balances interior pressure
CHECK LATEST PRICE
You’re travelling, but you want to do it smart. You want your self-defense pistol on you, or your hunting rifles so you can visit an old friend out-of-state and finally go on that overdue hunting trip.
This is where most people just tend to say, “Good luck with TSA,” and then offer no real insight into how you can lawfully and effectively work through TSA to still transport your guns safely and securely.
This guide is going to show you the top five gun safes that you can use to lawfully pass through TSA and get from A to B without waiting in customs for the entirety of your trip.
Best For Handguns: Eylar Tactical Hard 1 Gun Case
Polypropylene is rather cheap to make, which is why it ends up getting a bad reputation. This plastic material is extremely thick and durable in Eylar’s case; you can tell when you knock on the side of it and feel the resistance.
Under the hood, you have the perfect molding to carry a standard 9MM pistol or equivalent sized handgun. The price tag for this sits around an average number, but the reason Eylar stands out above the rest is simple: attention to detail.
The gasket seal along the edges presses perfectly to create an airtight environment for your weapons, ensuring that moisture won’t seep inside during transportation and ruin your gun. We have no idea how muggy and humid the back room is where TSA is working. We don’t know if, for whatever mysterious reason, your case is going to be detained because their luggage system is terrible.
This ensures you don’t open up your case to a surprise of moisture and damaged hardware. This isn’t the only case that Eylar produces, as well, so this is a great introduction to their brand and ability to test their cases before you fully commit to buying more of them. From our experience, Eylar is also top-tier with their customer service and respond to questions in a timely manner.
Choose from a selection of colors for your case to help identify which weapon is in each. However, one thing to note is that it doesn’t come with a lock, so that’s where the caveat comes in regarding the low cost. There are two fittings that are ready to have a TSA-approved lock attached, so they’re primed for you.
While it is better to purchase separate TSA locks and make that an entirely separate purchase, Eylar could have also created an integrated TSA lock case as an alternative, even if it bumped the price up. That being said, this is going to get you through dTSA as long as you buy the right locks, and the triple pressure layers inside of this case keep your gun safe from harm.
- Closure Type: Latch
- Material: Polypropylene
- Size: 11.65 x 8.35 x 3.78 inches
Runner Up: Cedar Mill Hard Gun Case
Next, we get into another polypropylene case from a manufacturer that most of us know. First and foremost, you get four layers of foam here that keep your gun safe.
These are completely replaceable without having a proprietary cut, so you don’t have to buy specific foam from Cedar Mill in the future if you want to replace it or your foam gets damaged. The included foam keeps your gun safe and stable during transportation, so you’ll be in good hands.
However, one of the things we would have liked to see is a gasket. Since this is around the price point for Eylar, there’s no reason to have less to offer than your competitor. If the case was cheaper by a decent percentage it would make sense, but that gasket and moisture protection is a seriously big reason that Eylar won the day.
That being said, the entire point of this case is that it’s crush resistant and not prone to breaking, chipping, or cracking like a lot of other cases at this price. There’s countless stories online of gun owners retrieving their cases with chips and cracks, and some that even say TSA has turned them away for having cases that are too thin or easy to break (it’s TSA, that’s not an unlikely story).
It shines in protection and blunt force resistance for sure, but Cedar Mill also offers a double latch locking system with lugs, so you can really secure your case down. Again, there’s no integrated lock here, but that’s a normal thing you’re going to find when you look at TSA approved cases.
Between the dust protection, the integrated handle, and rugged exterior design, Cedar Mill makes a fantastic and lightweight gun case. As this is available on Amazon, you can bundle multiple Cedar Mill gun cases together and save, plus receive different colors to help identify which guns are in which case without having to pop them all open after you land.
- Closure Type: Latch lug locking system
- Material: Polypropylene
- Size: 12” x 8” x 3.5”
Alternative: SnapSafe Treklite Gun Safe Lock Box
SnapSafe is probably one of the first names you thought of when you started looking for a TSA approved gun case. First and foremost, we need to talk about durability.
If this is going through TSA, it’s going to need all the help it can get to not get destroyed from being moved around. SnapSafe rates this with immense resistance, so when you think about three stacks of luggage sitting on top of it, you don’t have to panic.
On top of that, you get a 1,500 lb resistance rated cable included with your purchase. This helps when you’re putting a gun safe in a car when you land (we have another guide on car gun safes, but suffice to say this is similar enough), or attach it to your luggage to keep things secure. It’s not going anywhere.
This has a simple key lock, and nothing more. This means that you’ll need your key, and the TSA can access it with their key as well. There’s one upgrade to be had, but it will bring you outside of the price point just a little bit. Still, you end up with that same level of protection, but with a combination lock to give you faster access to your weapon without needing a key. And let’s be honest, we’ve all lost keys before.
The main benefits to SnapSafe are the durability and the ease of installation, if that’s what you need to do, and being completely TSA compliant of course. It’s a quick way to stow your guns and not have to worry about packing quite as much. The reason it made it to our third spot instead of stealing the crown on this list was because it is a little more expensive, and it only locks in one place, unlike having a dual lug locking system that we saw earlier.
- Closure Type: Key lock
- Material: Polypropylene
- Size: 10” x 7” x 2”
Best For Rifles: HQ ISSUE Tactical Rifle Hard Case with Foam
If you’re transporting your rifle, you’re looking in the higher price range, around triple the cost of what it takes to transport a handgun lawfully through TSA.
We’re not talking about pistols anymore; it’s time to discuss actual hunting weaponry, not just self-defense. HQ ISSUE is here to make it as inexpensive as possible and simple, with their hard-molded plastic rifle case. Apart from being fantastically durable on the exterior and having a thick shell, the locking system and handle offer you something different.
Two heavy latches lock into place when you close them with excellent force, compressing in the inside of the case to cushion your weapon and keep it safe from harm. Additionally, the handle comes with four attachment points on either side, making for eight in total. When you pull the handle and carry the case, it doesn’t swing or sway; everything stays rigid so you’re not getting smacked in the knees with hard molded plastic.
The exterior is excellent, but what matters is under the shell. HQ ISSUE features a nice seal on the gasket that ensures moisture won’t seep into the case. Again, as we mentioned earlier, that’s super important because we don’t know what conditions your case is going to go through once it’s in the hands of TSA.
Protection is key, which is why we need to look at the foam insert. On top of the egg crate foam in the top portion of the case, which we all expect, there is slotted foam in the bottom to hold onto your rifle. The reason this is important is that there are so many rifle shapes and manufacturing methods out there, that you’re not likely t o just find a perfect case to match your gun at random.
The foam moves and contours to the shape of your rifle, so you don’t have to worry about your rifle fitting; there’s a good chance that it will fit as long as it’s around the same shape and size. Overall, this is a high level of protection with TSA compliant slots to put a lock. If you’re transporting something larger than a handgun, HQ ISSUE is there to guide you through the airline with full protection and compliance.
- Closure Type: Dual latch system
- Material: Molded plastic
- Size: 43” x 16” x 7”
Alternative: Cedar Mill Hard Rifle Case for Lifelong Use
Last but not least, we come back to Cedar Mill with a fantastic rifle case. This is more expensive than HQ ISSUE, but there’s plenty of good reasons for that. The internal dimensions of this case and the foam really help you understand exactly what you can fit inside.
Cedar Mill calls out a lot of manufacturers that inflate the numbers of their dimensions to include the case, but they’re specifically talking about internal dimensions here. They want you to know exactly what you’ll have for gun storage.
Beyond just having room for your weapon, there’s room to store barrels, scopes, and modifications that you may have on your rifle. The case offers more versatility and crush protection for sure, but then there’s the level of security with the latch system that we have to mention.
Four latches keep this case closed and compressed. When you have more width to your case, you really have to account for bending and tension and what it can do to those latches, and Cedar Mill did not drop the ball on this one.
Furthermore, those latches are stainless steel, so good luck to anyone who tries to break into this case that shouldn’t be there. TSA compliant, of course, Cedar Mill also made this stackable. If you have two or more rifles that you need to transport, you can stack them on top of one another so they interlock, making it much easier when it comes to getting everything through TSA and keeping your luggage together.
Last but not least, we have to look at the O-ring seal on the gasket that really keeps moisture out, but it’s so powerful that it even keeps dust out. If you have to store your guns like this at home, you’ll be able to preserve them in cushioned foam, and ensure nothing seeps its way in while it’s high up on a shelf in the garage.
For rifle cases, Cedar Mill offers the same level of protection as cases twice this price, but without all the gimmicks, without extending dimensions and embellishing their case capabilities. This is true protection and TSA compliance for your weapons.
- Combination: Combination lock only
- Material: Carbon steel
- Weight: 2.75 lbs
TSA Approved Gun Case FAQ
Do Gun Cases Require TSA Locks?
Yes If you want to fly with your guns and transport them, then they need TSA locks. These ensure that TSA can access your luggage if need be, so there’s no way someone can sneak something onto a plane that shouldn’t be there.
In theory, these allow TSA to keep luggage moving more quickly since they can access cases with their keys at the moment, but as we all know from experience, the luggage department in air travel is anything other than speedy.
TSA will not allow you to fly with weapons unless it is unloaded and has a TSA compliant lock so that they can inspect anything fishy that comes up on their scans. It sucks, but it’s a necessary thing to keep in mind when travelling.
What Kind of Case Do I Need to Fly With a Gun?
You need a hard-sided case with a TSA approved lock, as we mentioned in the previous section. If the case isn’t hard-sided, then the TSA will not allow you to fly with it. This is for a couple of reasons:
This prevents your guns, which are expensive, from getting damaged during the flight. The last thing that they want is a claim that your luggage was handled improperly or was crushed.
Nobody is going to quite literally tear into it. They know that if someone decides to try and go through luggage, they can’t just crack open a hard-sided case. It’s all about keeping the gun, despite being unloaded and overall harmless, away from people who may try to go through your luggage
Lock resistance. If you put a lock on the zipper of a basic luggage bag, you could, with enough force, just rip the lock right off the bag. It wouldn’t make sense. Again, they’re trying to make sure that your gun doesn’t get into someone else’s hands, and making it near impossible to break into the case without going through the lock is the way to do it.
You can use small handgun cases, or rifle cases, as long as the locks are on and the case is compliant. You can find an ever-revolving list of guns that they allow through TSA through government resources.
But how effective are TSA cases? Well, in protecting your guns, they’re very effective. The egg crate foam you find in most of these cases will cushion your gun, and the case itself isn’t easy to break into. However, when it comes to the locks…
What’s the Point of TSA Locks?
TSA locks allow TSA agents to inspect the contents of your bag. These are usually used on simple luggage to help keep a person’s belongings safe, but if the TSA scans that bag and finds contents inside that are not allowed on a plane, they have to access it to ensure their scan was correct and proceed forward.
If they can access and inspect luggage, they can, in theory, do their jobs better. If they scanned guns in a case and it had a standard padlock in it, and they couldn’t access it, then there would obviously be an issue.
TSA locks allow them to access any luggage with their keys as long as the lock is TSA compliant. Now, what that means is any TSA agent has access to these keys, and we have something in that regard that may shock you in the next section of this guide.
Can Anyone Open a TSA Lock?
This article isn’t about how the TSA is awesome or anything like that. We’ve all had our run-ins with them and they’re never pleasant experiences. Well, someone actually posted the TSA master keys online and then, folks began making CAD files.
CAD files are used in the 3D printing process, so anyone with a 3D printer and the knowledge to use it can technically print out TSA’s master locks for TSA-approved luggage.
Yeah. TSA really dropped the ball on this one. The thing is, anyone can download the CAD files and replace TSA’s keys, and gain access to your luggage. But this isn’t something people just go around doing. At the end of the day, stealing from the TSA by going through your luggage is going to land them in more hot water than it’s worth. There are security measures in place.
This means that while people who are not in the TSA can technically open up the lock on your luggage containing your guns, it’s so unlikely and specific to a group of people with criminal intent and the means to work a digital printer, that the risk level is extremely low. Still, this is a necessary evil to get your guns through TSA, so we carry on under the TSA’s ruling to travel without incident.
Note: CAD files aren’t something that just anybody can use, and for keys, they tend to require really powerful 3D printers.
Locked Up Safe and Secure
Now that you know what safes you can use to please the folks at TSA and travel lawfully, within your rights, there’s nothing stopping you from planning that trip 2,000 miles away in the hunting grounds with your old friend.
The world of air travel is open to you once again. Each of the safes we featured today offer a host of benefits and really come down to what best fits your current needs and weaponry.
Be sure to come back if you expand your arsenal and need to pack everything away safe and secure to get from A to B.