Insights with Sticky Holsters
Tips for Traveling with Firearms
Written By: Eric Rice and Mike Tussey
Holiday season is here, and many of us will be traveling all over the country to visit family and loved ones. Most of us will choose to take a firearm either on a hunting trip or for protection. Traveling with a firearm, either driving or flying, can be a confusing and complicated ordeal. Each method of travel has its own set of hurdles and things travelers need to be aware of.
When flying, you should understand TSA rules, as well as the individual airline’s and airport’s policies regarding firearms. You will have to allocate extra time at the airport to go through the TSA procedures for flying with a firearm. This includes, but is not limited to, keeping it in a TSA approved lockable case and having locks for the case. The firearm must be unloaded, and all ammunition must be in the original box, but the ammo can be checked in the same case as the firearm. Most airlines have a weight limit on how much ammo can be transported. Make sure you check with that individual airline. Link to TSA website regarding checking firearms and ammunition: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition
The general procedure for checking a firearm when flying is as follows:
- Arrive at the airport and proceed to the airlines ticket counter.
- Declare that you are checking a firearm. You will have to sign a card saying the firearm is unloaded and place inside the case (most airline ticket counters will make you open the case in front of the ticket agent).
- Ticket agent will escort you and the firearm to the TSA security search area (not the TSA gate security location).
- The TSA agent will open your case and search the case and foam. After completing the search, he or she will let you repack the case and lock it. He or she will then inspect the case to ensure it cannot be opened. I recommend having a lock for each lockable point on the case (TSA locks are not required. I choose not to use TSA locks, as anyone with a TSA key can open it).
- The firearm will then be loaded on the conveyer belt to be loaded with the other luggage.
- Upon arrival at your final destination, the firearm will most likely NOT come out on the conveyor at baggage claim. You will have to pick it up at the corresponding airline office. Usually the airline offices are located near baggage claim, but you should check the airline map.
I asked Mike Tussey, the owner/operator of Osceola Outdoors, to share some of his tips for flying with a firearm. Osceola Outdoors is the premier hunting outfitter in Florida that caters to people of all walks of life and experiences, including celebrities like Donald Trump Jr. and Brian Urlacher. Osceola Outdoors specializes in Osceola Turkey hunts, but also offers Hog, Gator and Duck hunts. In addition to owning Osceola Outdoors, Mike is also the Community Leader for Nomad and Huk brands. Mike’s Big 5 for flying are:
- Check your firearm and ensure it is not loaded. Unload the magazine and lay it in your case.
- Check airline policies to ensure they allow you to check firearms. Purchase a quality gun case. The case will be abused and thrown around. You don’t want the shock and abuse damaging anything or throwing off your zero. Pelican is my favorite.
- Carry extra locks, most airlines require four locks. I carry four TSA locks and four non-TSA locks. Once the gun is checked by TSA you can put your non-TSA locks on.
- Once at the ticket counter, inform the agent that you have a firearm to declare. Be patient, and stay with the gun until TSA has cleared it.
- Ammo may be carried in your gun case but must be in the original packaging or in a secure ammo box. Most airlines only allow a maximum of 11lbs of ammo, so weigh it before you pack it.
More information regarding Osceola Outdoors, Huk and Nomad can be found below.
Remember to follow all laws pertaining to firearms of that country, state or city where you are visiting. Ignorance is not a defense.
Driving with firearms can be more challenging than flying with them. Remember, when you are in possession of firearms, you must follow the laws of each state. Each state will have its own laws regarding how firearms must be transported. You may find yourself stopping at each state line and moving or unloading firearms to comply with those laws. For example, if you were going to visit relatives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the Holidays, you will likely have to drive through Maryland if coming from the east coast. Before you get to Maryland, you will have to ensure the firearm is unloaded and stored in the trunk, or stored in furthest possible place from the driver, in a lockable case. You will need a second lockable case for the ammunition, which must also be stored in the trunk or furthest possible place from the driver.
There are additional steps required if you are transporting a NFA item (suppresser/silencer, SBR, SBS, AOW, etc). If you are planning on transporting a NFA item, you will need to have filled out and received a returned signed copy of an ATF Form 5320. Be proactive on this because it could take a few months to get this form back. Finally, always keep a copy of your ATF Tax Stamp with this form.
Transporting firearms can be confusing and a hassle, but there are plenty of resources to get you the information you need. As a USCCA (United Concealed Carry Association) Member, I have found that their website is a great source of valuable information. In addition to their self-defense insurance, their website is an amazing resource for all things concealed carry related. They have a section of their website dedicated to traveling with firearms in vehicles, planes, cruise ships, busses and trains. You can find that page here: https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/resources/traveling-with-firearms/
I hope this article helps you better understand the process of traveling with firearms. Happy Holidays.
Osceola Outdoors: https://osceolaoutdoors.com/
Huk Gear: https://www.hukgear.com/
Nomad Outdoor: https://nomadoutdoor.com/