Everything You Need to Know About Flying with Firearms

Last Updated on January 12, 2021.

Flying can be a headache for the average traveler. Long lines, security checks, departure delays, and minimal legroom on modern airplanes are enough to make even the most optimistic traveler frumpy. Add traveling with a firearm to the mix, and you would expect the process to be absolute hell. 
















Packing Your Firearm

It should be common knowledge that you can’t pack your sidearm in your carryon. I mean, air travelers can’t even carry fingernail clippers! Those things are FAR too dangerous. 

Pack your UNLOADED firearm in a locked, hard-sided case. If necessary, more than one firearm can be stored in each case. You can choose a case with integrated combination locks or one that has holes for heavy-duty padlocks.

DO NOT use TSA locks approved for regular luggage. Not only are these locks against regulations for firearms, ANYONE with a TSA master lock can open them. 

Choose a case that’s well-cushioned and durable. That case is all that stands between your valuable firearm and rough housing baggage handlers. 

You can place the locked case containing your firearm inside your checked luggage. Or you can check the case itself. 

Be sure to keep the keys with you. You don’t want those keys in your checked baggage. TSA may require you to open the case for inspection.

Checking Your Baggage

Once you arrive at the airport, carry your LOCKED gun case inside to check in. Curbside check-in is not an option when traveling with a gun, because you need to declare your firearm. 

Declaring a firearm isn’t any big deal, so there’s no need to break out in a cold sweat over it. (That will just make you look suspicious.) Walk calmly to the ticketing desk, and simply tell the agent you need to declare a firearm. 

I promise the agent won’t look at you like you’re a serial killer. Plenty of people fly with firearms every single day. The person behind the counter has seen things far more unusual than your securely locked firearm. 

You will receive an orange declaration card to fill out. Sign it to verify your weapon is properly stored. 

After you have properly filled out and signed the card, the agent may check to ensure your case is locked. He or she may also ask a few questions about ammunition and accessories. Answer them truthfully. It is legal to transport your ammunition and any firearms accessories in the same container as your weapon. Just be sure your ammunition isn’t rolling around loose. 

After that, you’re usually good to go. 

In some situations, the agent may ask to see your firearm. 

If this happens, DON’T PANIC. 

Open the case yourself. Never give your combination to the agent. If you give your key to the agent, he should return immediately after opening the case. The agent will then visually inspect and the contents of your container. 

The agent SHOULD NOT handle your firearm. 

If your weapon needs to be further inspected, the agent should contact law enforcement.

Final Thoughts

Every state, country, and some individual cities has its own gun laws. Ignorance of local gun control regulations will not keep you out of jail if you break them. Before flying with a firearm, be 100% sure that you can legally possess your firearm at your final destination. 

Follow these guidelines and you’ll see that flying with a firearm is really no big deal. 

Happy traveling!