Packing and the Friendly Skies: Your Guide to Flying with Firearms

I’m flying off to Louisville Kentucky on Thursday to cover the Knob Creek shoot for you folks. And while that’s going to be amazing, the part of the trip I think I’m most interested in will be trying to travel with a firearm for the first time. As I was preparing for the trip I pulled up this video by Deviant Ollam, a hacker and fellow presenter at the last couple HOPE conferences, who had a very detailed and entertaining presentation on how to fly with firearms. If you’re looking for a way to kill some time he also maintains a website full of stories submitted by people who had some interesting adventures with firearms, the TSA and ticket agents.


  1. avatar Drew says:

    Ideally use a metal case and a high security padlock with an enclosed shank so tampering will be immediately obvious. My buddy welded me up a steel case with internal hinges and protective wings which when combined with aforementioned high security padlock means they would need power tools to open it or they would need to outright steal the whole case. Haven’t used it yet tho.

  2. avatar KWAL says:

    I’ve flown a few times just as suggested in the video and web site and so far no problems. It’s a great site. I even carried laminated copies of the FAA rules and the individual airline’s guidelines so I could cite them if I had any difficulties. I never had to though.

  3. avatar Aaron says:

    I’ve heard that the JFK, LGA, and EWR are hazard zones where you can either have a fairly smooth experience, or be arrested and charged with unlawful/unregistered firearm possession, FOPA notwithstanding.
    If someone has contradictory information, please let me know. The people I’ve met while traveling have been more than willing to let me shoot their stuff (especially if I supply them ammo), and I’d like to reciprocate one day.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      Same deal at O’Hare. You will be arrested for violating Chicago’s gun ordinance even if you are in full compliance with FAA rules and 18 USCS § 926A.

  4. avatar Rabbi says:

    TSA is notorious for not knowing their own rules. If you encounter a problem and know that you are correct, ask to speak to the airports “Ground Security Coordinator” to assist.

  5. avatar Rich says:

    In general at NY/NJ airports if you take possession of the firearm you can be arrested. Passing through without the firearm in your possession you should be okay, but note the should. Last year someone had a forced stop over in Newark and the airline gave him his luggage including his firearm and when he went to check in the next day he was arrested and eventually convicted. I have been told it is safer to ship UPS or Fedex than take the chance through those airports.

  6. avatar Lina Inverse says:

    And don’t forget that if there’s a chance weather or whatever might divert your plane to one of these airports, you might be faced with the same problem. Is refusing to take custody of the luggage with your firearms a possible solution?

  7. avatar Barry says:

    Be sure to cable lock the weapon container to the suitcase frame so the gun case cannot be removed. Saved two of my weapons from airport baggage theft.

  8. avatar DCP says:

    Sorry, I hit enter by mistake.

    If you get to the airline check-in desk and your guncase is NOT LOCKED, you are in violation of federal law.

    Period. No arguments. It will be up to the TSA officer on the scene to decide how deep in doodoo you are.

    Some of them will just ignore it, but others will hang you out to dry.


  9. avatar PMain says:

    You will certainly notice a difference in how you are treated in gun friendly cities or states. Live in CA. Had to explain the TSA’s rules regarding touching & verifying the AR15 & checking whether it was loaded to TSA. They still managed to lose 1 of 4 matched key locks. When coming home, they spent about 30 seconds & never batted an eye. CA took 1.5 hours, gun friendly state under 2 minutes total.

  10. avatar NewJerseyThomas says:


    I flew from Newark to Phoenix and back last month with an Jersey legal AR-15. I had no problems. I’ve heard the horror stories too, but I found TSA to be polite and helpful.

  11. avatar Roy says:

    I’ve never had a problem in maybe a hundred flights (even international, a whole nother story) so long as I was polite and didn’t go around demanding my ‘rights’. Go with the flow and politely suggest the correct course of action “Last time we did…” if you run into somebody uninformed. The vast majority of my TSA interactions have been good to great.

    Oh yeah, Secure Firearms Products makes a great metal pistol case with an internal lock and cable option to lock it to the outer bag.

  12. avatar Monica says:

    Moral of the story: Read the small print!

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