When you're in the market for a good gun case, what should be your biggest considerations?
Gun storage is as much about the safety of your firearm as it is about the safety of those around you.
Whether you're looking for a shotgun case for your waterfowl gun, a rifle case for the AR you take to the range, or a pistol case you can leave on your bed stand, these essential items come in all kinds of basic shapes and sizes.
Of course, not all gun cases are created equal. It doesn't matter if you're in the market for a handgun case or a long gun case; there are still a few things to consider.
Products such as a tactical gun case that is lockable, or a single pistol case with a fingerprint recognition system have proven how far this market has come. The idea of a biometric gun safe was once a futuristic dream, and now it's the reality we live in.
A good gun needs a great gun case to protect against drops and scuffs, but it should also protect your firearm during transport and while it's stored. Foam inserts and sturdy construction are the norm. Silicon impregnated, sock-style soft gun cases can shield a gun from scratches and moisture, but not a hard drop.
You'll also want to think about the number of guns you want to protect. A double rifle case will not only fit two of your favorite long guns, but they generally have a centralized handle and sometimes even wheels for ease of carrying. There are double sided range cases for handguns as well.
Size, as always, matters. You're going to make different decisions for storing a carbine than you would storing a quail hunting shotgun.
Whatever gun case you choose, it's important to choose something that fits your style of firearm use. Your gun is an investment used for hunting or other shooting sports, and it should be kept in top condition at all times.
Firearms deserve the same care as any of your other hard-earned equipment. Here's a primer on the types of gun cases available, and what you should ask yourself before buying one.
The Soft Case
It may be obvious when discussing the difference between a hard case and a soft gun case, but then again it may not. A soft case is typically made of some combination of nylon, cotton, canvas, leather, or cordura on the outside, with foam, cotton, flannel, fleece, or sheepskin on the inside.
The aforementioned gun sock has its best use as a storage device for your gun, but can work in a pinch for transport.
If online reviews are to be taken seriously, the Savior series of tactical rifle cases are among the best. With many varieties of soft rifle cases for your long guns, thousands of reviews, and high ratings, your search may start and end right there.
There's room for accessories, ammo, and just about any range gear you'd ever need. The prices are more than reasonable and some of these bags hold not only two rifles, but two pistols as well.
Before opting for one of these or any other soft case, there are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself.
Does it have anti-theft zippers or other locking mechanisms? Does it include tactical pockets for ammunition and other accessories? Does it have multiple carry options such as a simple carrying handle along with padded shoulder or backpack straps? How much movement will your gun experience when secured inside the case?
It behooves any gun owner to treat their own personal firearm as they see fit, and that's why we want you to do your due diligence before committing.
Perhaps most notably, soft cases are typically less expensive than hard cases, so that should weigh in on your decision as well.
The Hard Case
When you consider the difference in protection levels between soft and hard, then think about the attachment of scopes and other accessories, hard gun cases are a more secure choice.
Here are a few questions to ask when referring to the inimitable hard case: Is it all weather protective (waterproof, crush proof, and dust proof)? Does it offer a system with wheels for those that may travel to hunt? Does the foam insert allow the user a cut-to-fit operation? What are the dimensions? Do you require a single rifle case or a double gun case?
There are even clandestine hard rifle cases for those who want a more covert method of transporting their firearm to and from the range, such as the guitar gun case.
These are pretty sturdy and can even double as a travel case, particularly when flying, as they are often lockable to TSA standards. Be sure to double check the regulations before you fly, as different airlines, airports, and locations have different rules.
The foam inside hard cases can often be cut to form to your firearm with room to spare for optics, an addtional handgun or pistol, or extra magazines. Another popular stye is the Pick N Pluck system. Some models may have a limit to the length of the firearm, usually falling in the range of 45 inches maximum.
The Handgun Case
Handgun cases, at times, are the most used and desired of all the gun cases due to the fact that handgunners everywhere inevitably need one. They come in both hard and soft case designs and also include travel versions. Here are some common questions:
How many pistols do you need to store? Is there room for optics, laser sights, magazines, and other accessories? Is it lockable? Does it come with custom foam for the user to make personal items fit, or is it a Pick N Pluck system that forms to your own shapes without the need for cutting?
The real heart of the matter is this: handguns are most often used at the range, and there are not only common courtesy considerations, but regulatory requirements as well.
The fact is that most (if not all) gun ranges require members and guests to bring their firearms to and from the facility in a gun case, usually a locking one. In fact, U.S. Concealed Carry says,
"Every range will prefer that you bring your firearms into the facility unloaded and cased. Don't worry if you don't have the plastic case that came with your pistol. Most range bags have handgun compartments. You can also pick up an inexpensive soft or hard case at a local gun or sporting-goods store. The important part is not to walk in the front door carrying an exposed firearm."
They also suggest that "If you have a concealed carry permit, you should also ask about the range's policy. Some may not want you to carry a loaded firearm, even if holstered and concealed."
There are a wide variety of handgun and pistol cases available. Manufacturers include Pelican, Plano, Allen Company, Blackhawk, Boyt, Ruger, SKB, Beretta, Flambeau, Smith & Wesson, Uncle Mike, and Bulldog cases, Glock, and Kryptek just to name a few.
Rating Some of the Best
Flambeau Outdoors and Plano offer competing all-weather long gun hard cases for under $50 and under $100 respectively. With almost 3,000 reviews for both brands you will simply have to look at the specs for each, you can read some of the reviews and then decide for yourself.
Both Tacticon (a combat veteran owned company) and Savior offer two of the most desirable soft guns cases out there and at very competitive prices. Tacticon's double rifle, double pistol bag is waterproof, lockable, and padded and starting around $70. The difference for Savior's version of a similar bag is that it has over 4,000 reviews and still carries a five star rating, starting at about $65.
Handgun cases can come in a multiple firearm case or in a single version. One of the best of the former is the GPS Handgunner Backpack at around $124. It holds four handguns vertically in a foam pistol cradle, while the specialized pockets have room for extra gear and at least six magazines. For a smaller version, the Pelican 1170 is hard to beat.
Both Smith & Wesson and Allen offer soft handgun cases, with the exception being that the Allen Company version is a silicon-treated sock that can cover up to a 14-inch pistol, but comes highly rated and is just a mere $4.39. The S&W version has a five star rating with hundreds of reviews and is only a little more money at $10.89.
As with anything, rating products are best limited to those that we have owned or used, but being that neither you or I can afford to buy them all, we must them rely on the word of other users and their experience.
Some or most of us own a single rifle gun case or some other form of double gun case, a hard case or even a gun sock. If they aren't being carried with a sling or a holster, they need to be taken care of without burning through a credit card.
Keep an eye out for special offers or rebates at outdoor and sporting gods stores around the fall hunting season, and consider using gift cards from the holidays to help knock the price down even further.
Above all, put some thought into your gun case decisions, because you'll be glad you did.
For more shooting accessories, check out Amazon.