JTT: Proper Pelican Packing

pimp pelican
| March 21, 2017
Categories: Learnin'


Just The Tip: Proper Pelican Packing

Dave Merrill

If you’re a frequent traveler with firearms or other expensive semi-fragile gear, there’s a good chance you’ve invested in a Pelican or similar ruggedized case. If you’ve been on the fence about it, I highly recommend you give it some consideration. The cases themselves are generally considerably less than the firearms you’re trying to protect, and even the big-box store Pelican knockoffs are better than a cheap, thin Walmart case. But today isn’t so much about reasons why you should buy a Pelican, but how you should pack it along with general tips, especially if you’re getting on a plane or otherwise traveling commercially.

Pelicans protect the goodies inside with shock isolation. The large hinges, locks, and reinforced corners are there to ensure the case itself stands up to all manner of abuse. The foam cushions impact and aids in keeping everything in place. While custom cut foam is sexy as hell, it’s rarely needed to isolate movement. Plus, if you want to place a different weapon inside or change your gun’s configuration…

Regardless, in order to best protect from shock, any objects placed inside should be immobile. The most fragile or delicate of items should be in the upper 50% of the Pelican (preferably right smack dab in the middle but that’s not always viable).  You wouldn’t know this from looking at the internet, however.

A random Google Images sampling shows more than half of the guns with optics on the hinge-side.


I’m fairly certain this is for one reason: It looks a lot cooler in photos. Never mind the fact that Pelicans are, you know, carried and tossed about by the handles and not the hinges.

Similarly, heavier objects should be placed closer to the hinge so the case will be more stable when it’s upright. If possible, try for equal weight distribution.


This is all especially important for when you’re flying–do you think that unionized baggage handlers treat your favorite things like fine China? Hell no they don’t. They grab that shit by the handle and throw.


During commercial transport I also remove all batteries from weaponlights, flashlights, and other electronic equipment. Not really because most of them are lithium-based and prohibited from being in cargo, but because I don’t want a WML knocked on and subsequently melting foam/setting the case on fire. To ensure I don’t forget that the electronics aren’t juiced up, I also detach tail caps and switch doors. I just crossload the batteries.


As far as locking, I prefer combination locks over keyed ones for one very specific reason: I’ve lost my keys before. While traveling. It sucked.


Another airline-specific tip might actually save you some money. Most airlines will bend you over hard when you check luggage. You can save space while keeping your guns secure by putting clothes inside the Pelican in lieu of extra foam. Just remember to ensure nothing shifts around.


[The 7.62N above should be closer to the middle of the case]


A piece of cheap insurance is a luggage scale. One of our Minions who shall remain nameless (Candice) is notorious for packing a Pelican too heavy and paying overage fees.


If you’d like to know more about flying with guns, be sure to read Traveling Armed Part 2: Airplanes, and the latest Traveling Armed Part 5: When You Get Screwed.


Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

Comms Plan

Primary: Subscribe to our newsletter here, get the RSS feed and support us on Patreon right here.

Alternate: Join us on Facebook here or check us out on Instagram here.

Contingency: Exercise your inner perv with us on Tumblr here, follow us on Twitter here or connect on Google + here.

Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.


  1. kingof9x

    Maybe don’t pack tons of extra stuff in the case, like clothing. The airline and sometimes TSA needs to verify that the firearm is not loaded. Some places will not allow you to touch anything in the case at worst and at best will make you unpack all the stuff you have on top of your firearm to show them that it is not loaded. I try to make it easy for them and less time consuming for myself by packing everything in a soft case inside the pelican case that opens up in the same direction as the case to make it quick and easy to get to the firearms and see they are unloaded quickly and easily.

  2. jbgleason

    Buy the Pelican, ditch the foam and put your rifle and accessories in a discreet carry case / rifle bag. The nylon bag does every bit as good of a job as the foam for protection, you can swap between weapons easily just by having different bags and you can leave the hard case in the hotel room on site and just carry the bag around. I flew all over the country for training and ops in my prior life and used this method exclusively. It works.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Browse Other Categories

Browse Archives