In the world of carrying a concealed handgun, having to travel on a plane can be a big deterrent for taking your firearm with you. Often times if I am going on a quick weekend trip, I will have the debate to fly with a handgun or just leave it at home for the sake of easy traveling. There are a few different obstacles and extra steps but in the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly easy to travel with firearms to carry. If you don’t want to take a firearm when you fly, there are still a few options out there for carrying when you decide to travel without your vehicle. Let’s dive into flying with a firearm and tips to make it easy.
What To Transport Your Firearms Inside
Probably one of the most important things to keep in mind is what you will transport a firearm in when going to the airport. First and most importantly, the case needs to be a hard case that is lockable. This can either be something like a small VaultTek lockbox or a larger Pelican with space for ammunition or extra magazines. I know plenty of people who will pack an AR pistol along with a handgun when they go on trips, but that seems a fair bit excessive to me. If you do that, typically it will take a little longer to get through security than something smaller like a handgun.
When you decide to travel, I can’t stress how important it is to check the local and state laws of your destination before packing a handgun to carry concealed. It’s not worth getting arrested because you violated local firearm laws or don’t have reciprocity in that state. Various states have magazine restrictions and different carry laws so it’s a smart move to review all the state laws before traveling with your firearms to the destination. The TSA website makes it pretty easy to see what’s acceptable and what’s against the law making it pretty clear-cut what you need to do.
How To Pack Your Firearm and Ammunition
Some people start to get into trouble when they pack ammunition with their firearms. I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s paramount to have your firearm unloaded without a magazine inside it when you pack the handgun. Typically I will unload my magazines and keep them empty next to my firearm with the ammunition in its original factory box. If you don’t have the original box, a plastic container that reloaders use is a decent alternative but life is generally easier through security when you just use the factory box. I know some of you like to carry a spare magazine, but TSA starts to get real grumpy when you have multiple boxes of carry ammo in your container. Just make sure to put the handgun container in your Check bag and not you’re carry-on bag, for obvious reasons.
Typically I will take one magazine and one box of ammunition. For me, I will either take a Glock 19 or SIG P226 when I travel so the double-stack magazines will hold 15-18 rounds of ammo in a single magazine. Now in the case of something like a Glock 43X or Smith & Wesson Shield where the round count is 8-10 rounds, it may make more sense to pack two extra magazines since they are single stack. You can fill both up from a single box of self-defense ammo so that makes more sense but with normal 15 round handguns, I will typically only take one magazine.
How To Transport It And What Locks To Use
Handguns and firearms in general are a bit different when it comes to TSA locks. Since it is a firearm, you are not required to use a TSA-approved lock and can use whatever lock you want. Once you get to the airport you will have to declare you have a firearm along with ammunition. TSA will take it and check it before locking it up in front of you and putting it back in your check baggage. The outer check bag lock should be a TSA-approved lock but the actual handgun case you use to transport the firearm inside should have whatever lock you want on it.
Alternatives To Taking A Firearm On The Plane
One of the best ways to conceal carry when you travel on the plane is to stay with someone who also is into firearms. Oftentimes I will stay with friends or family who are also shooting enthusiasts. If you have a good relationship with them and they trust you, a great alternative is to use a firearm from them for the time you are visiting so you don’t have to go through the trouble of packing your personal firearm. This shouldn’t be expected but if you have individuals in your life who are open to this, it’s way easier to travel than packing your own firearm.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s relatively easy to transport a carry gun in a checked bag when you are traveling. It may take a few extra minutes to check in at the airport but having the peace of mind that you’ll have a firearm is well worth the extra time at the airport in my opinion. If you have family members who can loan you a handgun to carry that’s always an easier option than transporting one, but that’s not super common for the majority of individuals. The best advice I can give you guys is to check local and state laws before traveling as well as the TSA Guidelines for transporting a firearm while traveling.
Let me know what you guys do when traveling in the comments below. Do you typically take a firearm in your checked bag to carry when traveling or do you just leave it at home? I’d love to hear what you guys do so don’t be afraid to drop your preferences in the comment section. If you guys have questions, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.
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