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 gun case or similar ruggedized carrier. If you’ve been on the fence about it, I highly recommend you give it some consideration. The cargo cases themselves are generally considerably less than the firearms you’re trying to protect, and even the big-box store Pelican case knockoffs are better than a cheap, thin Walmart case. But today isn’t so much about reasons why you should buy a Pelican case of any kind, but how you should pack it along with general tips, especially if you’re getting on a plane or otherwise traveling commercially.
Pack a Pelican Gun Case
Pelicans provide protection for the goodies inside with high impact polymer. The large hinges, locks, and reinforced corners are there to ensure the case itself stands up to all manner of abuse. The protective foam insert impacts 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…
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Properly Packing Pelican
Regardless, in order to best protect from shock, any objects placed inside should be immobile in transport. 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 heavy duty 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 for extra security.
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 weapon lights, 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. Thankfully, you can find padlock specifications for Pelican gun cases on their website. Or look into their Personal Utility series for everyday carry of the important things.
In That Case
Another airline-specific tip might actually save you some money. Most airlines will bend you over hard when you check your 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.
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. In this case, you might want to check the Air series of Pelican gun cases. For example, the 1535 Air Carry-On Case weighs 9.98 lbs (4.5 kg) with foam and 8.69 lbs (3.9 kg) empty. Compare that to the Pelican V730 Vault Tactical Rifle Case that weighs 22.07 lbs (10 kg) with foam and 17.30 lbs (7.8 kg) empty.