If there was ever proof to the age-old adage, “You get what you pay for,” the Pnuma Outdoors Hunstman Defender Rifle Case is it.
I was at the Dallas Safari Club Annual Convention when a friend of mine texted me and asked if I wanted to go duck hunting later that day at the Skyfall Reserve. The answer was yes. If it’s about duck hunting, the answer is always yes. And why not? I had a change of clothes and my shotgun in the truck for just such an emergency.
But I needed a new gun case. I’d be hunting in a place I’d never been. The weather was turning south for people and perfect for ducks. I didn’t know how far I’d be walking, how much time I’d be in a boat, what water I’d be wading in or what mud I’d be driving through. I just knew I’d be hunting in a place I’d been hearing about and my shotgun case was trash.
Not that I should have expected better. I paid barely $60 for the case and that was years ago. The main compartment zipper was broken, one of the outer compartments was torn, and I kept the whole thing together with boot laces. But it was cheap. It was cheap, and the results showed.
Getting a new one was easy enough. There were plenty of vendors at the convention. The first case I found was a gorgeous luggage-style double gun case made of giraffe hide. There wasn’t a price tag on it and I wasn’t rich enough to ask.
Then I headed over to the Pnuma Outdoors booth. I’ve been very happy with some of their gear over the last year, and I knew they made a gun case. Turns out it’s a $200 soft case. I bristled more than a little bit at the cost. After all, my last case was dirt cheap.
Right. That case. The broken one I had to replace.
I bit the bullet on the Pnuma Outdoors Huntsman Defender Rifle Case, threw my shotgun in it, and threw that old trash case away. That turned out to be one heck of a trade up.
The Huntsman Rifle Case starts out with the simplest thing done right…how the case opens. Is the zipper up, or down? Neither. It’s on the end and opens scabbard-style like the quality soft cases made from saddle blankets and leather from a century ago. This is how they all should be.
The case isn’t for opening up and showing your friends how pretty your gun is. By keeping the opening at the end, there’s no chance of the zipper breaking and spilling your gun out, no matter how roughly it’s handled. I wish they were all this way.
Next is the padding. If anything, Pnuma went overboard here. Each side has one-inch thick padding, covered in a soft micro-fleece. Given that the case is only three inches thick, that means your gun is squeezed in tight, for full protection with little to no movement.
My Remington VersaMax is my widest shotgun, and it snuggled in the case just fine. There’s also a full-length zipper on each side of the interior so that you can — for some reason — remove the padding entirely. Alternately, it’s a great place to store copies of NFA paperwork or import/export permits if you’re traveling overseas.
The case features a polyurethane waterproof coating throughout, and YKK AquaGuard zippers with a water repellent zipper hood on the main compartment. This particular feature would become valuable on that first duck hunt.
I had borrowed a set of waders, and the integral boots were way too big. As I walked across flooded timber to another blind, my boot stayed down in the muck while my foot, and the rest of my body attached to it, drove forward and into the water. I took a dip, but my gun didn’t. My shotgun and my ammunition stayed dry, floating near the surface of the water. If I had kept my old cheap case, my shotgun would have been sunk.
There are five different kinds of fasteners on this case.
There are two accessory pouches that attach to the case, one short and one long. Each of these include YKK AquaGuard zippers, and are attached to the case via both a simple button and clip-in Fidlock fasteners.
Each of the accessory pouches is padded and has its own carrying handle. The clip-in fasteners are smart. If it’s dark, wet or cold, if your hands are tired or frozen, you don’t have to try to thread MOLLE or try and get buttons to stick together. The clip-in fasteners themselves will hold the pouches on the gun case without the button snapped.
Inside the short accessory case are a dozen cartridge loops. These may be a little big for .223 or similar small bores, but they hold most any other rifle cartridge well, from .243 to .300 Remington Ultra Magnum.
The suitcase-style carrying handle is padded and solidly stitched into the case’s body.
The other way to carry the case is with the included shoulder strap, which introduces yet another fastener. This time, there are slide-lock magnetic Fidlock closures at each end of the shoulder strap. These straps click together almost by themselves. They slide open easily, but the magnets click them back together with almost no effort at all.
Once together, they can’t be simply pulled apart. You have to deliberately slide them against each other again. This is another well thought-out design that prevents accidentaly opening and allows for ease of use, even when cold, wet, or when the user is wearing thick winter gloves.
The fifth and final fastener highlights yet another little extra. Plastic carabiner-style fasteners on two compression straps allow you to click them open and closed around a vehicle roll bar or other structure. This kind of system is especially welcome for long hunts in West Texas via Jeep, or in southern Africa by Hilux and Land Cruiser.
Oh, and there’s a short daisy chain on the front too.
This is, by far, the best soft case I’ve seen, much less owned. If I have any complaint about the Pnuma Huntsman Defender Rifle Case, it’s that it’s a rifle case. With an internal length of 46 1/2″, it’s great for any modern hunting rifle, but not quite long enough for a few of my favorite shotguns.
My old long action scoped Winchester Model 70s with their 24″ barrels fit with a couple of inches to spare. My 26″ barreled magnums fit well too, but several of my 28″ barreled shotguns, both autoloaders and pump guns, are just a wee bit too long.
Since I got it, I haven’t thought about the price tag again. This is the case for me. If I’m driving somewhere, this is the case my rifle (and usually my shotgun too) is going in. If I’m traveling by plane, more often than not, this is the case I’m throwing in a lockable hard case for the flight so that I’ll have the smaller, better soft case for the hunt.
When I hunt in southern Africa now, this is the case I’m bringing for my rifle. As turkey season is upon us, it’s the case my Henry Single Shot Shotgun is nestled in behind the seat of my truck right now.
Specifications: Pnuma Outdoors Huntsman Defender Rifle Case
- CORDURA® 560D Tactical Nylon with PU waterproof coating
- YKK® AquaGuard® Water Repellant Zippers
- Structured hybrid soft case with rugged polymer sheet impact protection
- Plush 1” padding with ultra-soft microfleece interior lining
- Integrated lash straps with buckles to secure case to roll bars or racks
- Luggage style padded carry handle
- Detachable shoulder strap with Fidlock magnetic snap buckles.
- Oversized padded comfort shoulder pad for shoulder or cross-body carry with non-slip silicone printD-ring hanger at muzzle end(2) removable pouches with Fidlock Magnetic snap connectors
- Internal dimensions: 46 1/2″ x 10″ x 3″
- Silicone ID holder
- Price: $200.00
Rating (out of five stars):
The best soft case I’ve ever owned. It’s all I need, and more than I though possible. Worth every penny. Pnuma, please make one to fit a 28″ A5.
As an aside, the Skyfall Reserve was everything I was told it was. It was a first class duck hunt, put on by some dudes who are truly fanatical about it. I’ll be there a lot more come next season.