Whether you’re headed to the range, the gun shop, or out to the woods, chances are you’re going to carry your firearm(s) in some sort of gun case. But how do you choose the one that’s right for you? What do you look for? There is a wide variety of options out there in a wide range of prices with all sorts of features. From pockets for extra magazines to cases that can carry more than one gun at a time to basic sleeves that offer minimal protection, there are all sorts of options for whatever you need. Let’s look at a few choices and some of the pros and cons of each for both rifles and pistols.
Two more modern – and more common – options in the hard shell category are metal and plastic. Metal cases are often made from aircraft aluminum, making them not only light but also incredibly strong while looking professional. With reinforced corners for extra rigidity, the new generation of metal cases are highly durable yet lightweight but tend to run on the pricier side. Plastic and plastic composite compounds are the most popular lightweight solutions because they are not only easy to carry but offer top-notch protection at an affordable price. Lined with dense, closed-cell foam, these cases combine the outside protection of a hard shell with the scratch-resistant softness of either customizable foam or a conformal foam bed that protects the finish of the gun.
A fairly new trend in the gun case business is the waterproof case. Playing on a concept spawned by the photography industry, some case makers now offer a waterproof solution similar to the cases designed to keep high-priced camera equipment free from water damage. There is a good and bad to this design. The good side is your gun will get all the protection it needs if you carry it through the rain. The bad side is you will need to be extra diligent in cleaning every drop of rust-causing moisture out of the gun before you put it away, since any water left inside the gun won’t evaporate while it’s inside a waterproof case. No water in, no water out.
The ultimate lightweight solution is a soft case. Often made of nylon or ripstop material, soft cases offer great protection in an easy-to-carry package. The inside is lined with soft foam and accommodates a variety of guns and accessories. The outside is usually adorned with pouches for extra magazines, ammunition, and cleaning supplies with quick access hook and loop or zippers. While these cases do not protect the rifle or pistol to the extreme degree that a hard case will, they are a great solution for carrying to and from and standing upright inside a gun vault. They also can eliminate the need to carry an extra range bag along, as many of the commonly needed supplies can be stored in the outside pouches.
Features You Want
Aside from the decision of what type of exterior you want, there are a few other features you should look for when selecting a gun case. For example, for security the case should be lockable. This can be as complex as a combination suitcase-type lock found on many hard cases to a small keyed padlock that can hold the zipper pulls together on a soft case. This is required by the TSA if you ever travel with your gun, and it’s a good idea to have a lock the rest of the time.
Look for a case that you can easily carry. This may sound elementary, but try it out before you buy. Heft it for weight, including throwing it over your shoulder to see how the strap feels. How is the carrying handle? Does the case feel secure?
If you want a more customizable case, find one with MOLLE and hook and loop on the outside where you can add dump pouches and other accessories to make the case more usable to the way you like it.
Whatever type of case you choose, be sure it’s the right size for your gun. Too big or too small isn’t good. For example, do you plan to throw your pistol case into your range bag? Make sure it’ll fit. Is the case big enough for a full-sized pistol or designed for a compact? Is there room for extra mags inside? A good rule of thumb is don’t get anything smaller than the box the gun came in. Don’t try to cram too much gear into too little space.
A good gun case can keep your weapon protected while offering all the convenient features you need.