As usual, I was anxiously waiting for my SKB double-rifle guncase to appear after my flight from Johannesburg into Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. I breathed a sigh of relief as the agent brought it into the check-in room on the other side of the glass partition.
If my brother had not grabbed my arm, I would have been pounding on the glass a few seconds later. Instead of placing the gun case in the empty spaces on the shelf, or setting it down on the floor, she raised it up to chest height and dropped the case onto the concrete. I guess she was making it crystal clear that she wasnt a fan of hunting.
That episode made me start wondering if there was another option available that might better camouflage my firearms than my beloved SKB carrier (see the review of my SKB double-rifle case here).
Fast forward a year and a half and my brother told me of his decision to buy another type of firearm carrier from Nalpak, the supplier of the SKB cases that he and I have used for decades. The product Randy was purchasing was the Tuffpak 1050 Gun Case. He told me that his motivation was the same as mine — to use a carrier that disguises the contents a bit better.
To quote the Nalpak website:
“The Tuffpak’s Unconditional Lifetime Warranty is a testament to the durability designed into each case and the commitment of Nalpak, Inc. to produce the world’s best transport case. Refinements are always on the drafting table; some recent upgrades include wheels,
custom logos, several designs in key and combination locks, internal pouches
and tow handles just to name a few.”
After checking out the Tuffpak, both online and with friends who have been using them, I made the decision to have one sent my way.
Empty, the case weighs 18 pounds, with the space inside being ~10 x 12 x 51 inches. The outside dimensions are ~11 x 13 x 52 inches.
The Tuffpak is made from a rotational molded high-density polyethylene. The manufacturing process apparently yields about 20% more material in each corner compared to the sides, leading to a more durable carrying case.
The lid is secured with a nylon, webbed strap and a tubular steel key lock.
In addition to the padded tow handle on the top of the lid, there are inbuilt handles along the side of the Tuffpak.
A Roadtrip Test
I wanted to test the accuracy of Nalpak’s claim that the Tuffpak would not only provide plenty of space to transport my firearms safely (within soft-sided cases), but would also provide additional space for clothes and other hunting gear.
My immediate motivation for switching to the Tuffpak is an upcoming trip to Mozambique. I will be hunting with Mark Haldane’s Zambeze Delta Safaris. My hunt will be for various ‘plains game’ species as well as Cape Buffalo.
Frances and I will be flying from Beira, Mozambique into the remote Zambeze Delta Safaris’ camp via a small airplane with limited space for gear. That means we’ll need to leave our hard-sided carrier behind in Beira and carry the rifles in soft-sided cases.
Since they will already be packed in their soft cases inside the Tuffpak 1050, we won’t need to carry these cases in our dufflebags, a significant saving of space. However, the Tuffpak should also provide the opportunity to carry clothes and equipment to be stored in Beira while we are on Safari.
Again, if the claims about the space in the Tuffpak are correct, it will allow us to transport gear that we will be using on other legs of our Africa trip.
Nalpak says the Tuffpak 1050 is designed to “carry up to three scoped rifles (or as many as five shotguns) up to 50″ in overall length.” We do not yet have the 7mm Remington Ultralight from MG Arms, however, we do have the .416 Taylor.
We were also heading back to the Government Training Institute and were carrying, in addition to the .416 Taylor, two more full-length rifles plus a PDW pistol. The three firearms would fill the ‘three rifle’ carrying capacity of the Tuffpak, and the PDW would act as a surrogate for additional clothes and gear.
The following video gives some idea of the ease of unloading firearms and gear from the Tuffpak. It’s also a good illustration of the volume of firearms, soft-sided cases, and equipment/clothes you can pack in the carrier.
The first question of secure space was answered in the affirmative. As the following photograph shows, all four firearms fitted easily. We could have carried additional clothes, including a second pair of boots either below or on top of the firearms.
What’s not shown is how easy it was to transport the Tuffpak. The weight of the loaded Tuffpak was about 47 pounds. The two molded handles allowed us to move the carrier in and out of the back of my extended cab pickup with relative ease.
The padded handle on the top of the Tuffpak 1050 and the wheels made transporting the firearms in and out of our hotel and on the uneven surface at the range very manageable. I wont say that the loaded Tuffpak was any easier to transport than my SKB double-rifle case, but I have never carried this amount of guns or weight in my current carrier.
Frances and I were really impressed with the Tuffpak, both in terms of the space available for firearms and gear, and also in how easy it made transporting so many firearms. We look forward to using this product to get our firearms + equipment/clothes from our home in Georgia to Beira, Mozambique and back again.
At approximately $400, the Tuffpak 1050 will provide us more space for firearms and other essentials than my beloved SKB double-rifle case. It will do so in a shape that looks more like a carrier for tripods, golf clubs or surveying equipment. I hope this keeps the [overfed] airport agents from taking out their frustration on my firearms.
Mike Arnold writes for a number of outlets; links to other articles can be found here.
[All photos and video courtesy of Frances and Mike Arnold.]