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Thread: Flying with Firearms, first timer

  1. #1
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    Flying with Firearms, first timer

    Hello Folks,

    I'm flying to Phoenix from Denver soon, then back to Denver. I've never flown with firearms before. I'm a little nervous about this, as I've heard horror stories. Like gun got lost, confiscated by TSA or LEO, stolen by baggage handlers, etc. What are your experiences flying with firearms? And the process and any pointers to help me get through this.

    I plan on flying with either my S&W Sigma .40 or Ruger LC9, and possibly maybe a .22 rifle (Marlin 60 or a 10/22). Going to see a friend and plan to do some target shooting. Don't plan on taking my good babies for fear they will get lost, then I would cry. If these ones I plan to fly with got lost, I would still cry lol. But not as hard as one of my pretty babies I had to work really hard for.

    Ammo requirements? I have HP's I was planning to take and have had the same SD HP's, even loaded into my mags after target shooting so I'm sure they have GSR on them. Should I buy new HP's for the trip? Or will I be ok? I really don't want to spend $$ on a few new fresh box's of Hydrashocks. I do plan to buy a couple boxes of either .40 or 9mm target rounds for when we go target shooting.

    Just a little nervous, a family member recently flew, no firearms, and TSA picked him up for GSR and scanned him further. He works with firearms and regularly shoots. So do I! I don't like that lol.

    Your input on flying with firearms is greatly appreciated!

    Blessings,

    Keens

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    I first call the airlines (not the TSA or gov't agency as the airlines control the stuff going into their planes) and get the information needed...and then follow their directions. Never any problems. I always lock my guns up though, regardless of any instructions.

  3. #3
    Regular Member zach's Avatar
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    What type of case are you using?

    My suggestion would be to use something other than a case that scream "firearm". Funny how a case with the Glock logo comes up missing, but a case with "trombone inside" never disappears.

    Also, if you're worried about the ammo, you can purchase in Phoenix. Cabelas, BassPro and tons of guns shops.

    One more thing. Document,document,document. Get the name,ID number of anyone you deal with at the airline. They handle firearms in flights all the time, lots of folks coming here to hunt.

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    I've flown multiple times with firearms - barring state-level issues, it's actually easier than flying without them.

    You'll need a hard-sided, locking case that can't be pried open with your hands. Walmart sells a cashbox for $15 that's exactly the right size for Glock tupperware to fit inside Otherwise, a small safe works great. This case should not be locked with a TSA lock - TSA may not open this case without you present, and you retain the key.

    Ammunition must be stored in original packaging, or in a "hard-sided container designed for carrying small amounts of ammunition". Geeze, I have several of those for each of my pistols... they're called magazines.

    When I fly, I have the above locking cash box in my suitcase. Inside is my Glock 31, wrapped in a T-shirt. Next to it are 3 loaded magazines, themselves wrapped in a tube sock. Note that it is policy for some airlines to prohibit loaded magazines (I forget which), but it is 100% compliant with federal law. I've never had anyone ask to inspect my ammunition.

    At the counter, you declare a bag to check and that it contains a firearm. They may ask you if it is unloaded, which of course it is. Occasionally they'll ask you to demonstrate that it is in fact unloaded. You'll get a red tag that needs to be placed inside a the bag containing the firearm. I scotch tape it to the outside of the cashbox.

    That's it, you're done. Your bag will come out on the carousel with everyone else's at the destination. There will be no external markings on your bag indicating that a firearm is inside, nor will there be any markings on your ticket showing you are traveling with a weapon. I've never been subjected to additional security because I had checked a gun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zach View Post
    What type of case are you using?

    My suggestion would be to use something other than a case that scream "firearm". Funny how a case with the Glock logo comes up missing, but a case with "trombone inside" never disappears.

    Also, if you're worried about the ammo, you can purchase in Phoenix. Cabelas, BassPro and tons of guns shops.

    One more thing. Document,document,document. Get the name,ID number of anyone you deal with at the airline. They handle firearms in flights all the time, lots of folks coming here to hunt.
    IMO, that's overkill. I've flown in and out of Dallas, Nashville, Little Rock, Charlotte, Dulles, Austin, and several other smaller airports and have never had a problem at all.

  6. #6
    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Agreed. I've checked one or more pistols or long guns on dozens of occasions. Never had anything stolen, and some of my cases look like gun cases.

    If you're actually worried, video yourself packing the guns and checking them, and video yourself opening the bags. Use your cell phone.

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    Transporting Firearms on Commercial Aircraft

    I travel a lot with firearms. I think the following will get you started right.

    1. Check the airline or airlines web page for their requirements.
    2. Firearms must be transported in a LOCKED case in CHECKED baggage.
    3. Place your UNLOADED gun in a LOCKABLE HARD SIDED case that CAN NOT be easily pried open. I use a SIG case and Pelican cases.
    4. Lock the hard sided case with locks that only you have the key or combination (NOT TSA LOCKS). TSA may ask you for the key if they need to inspect the contents of the case.
    5. Normally approximately 11 pounds of ammunition in boxes that hold each round (NO BULK AMMO) separately can be placed in the outer luggage.
    6. Place the locked hard sided case inside your regular luggage (assuming you are carrying short guns).
    7. Secure your regular luggage with TSA compliant locks.
    8. When you get to the airport quietly ask the airline attendant which line you need to be in to declare a firearm.
    9. When you reach the airline check in quietly tell the clerk I NEED A FIREARMS DECLARATION FORM. DO NOT SAY I HAVE A GUN.
    10. They will give you the form to fill out and may or may not check to see that your gun is unloaded. Lock you gun case and normal luggage.
    11. At that point they will either take your luggage or direct you where to take it for TSA inspection.
    12. Hang around for a while until you are mostly certain that there is not a problem. They will page you if there is a problem.

    This seems like a lot; however it is relatively simple. For more information I like the following sites:

    http://deviating.net/firearms/packing/
    http://deviating.net/firearms/packing/accounts.html

  8. #8
    Regular Member Beau's Avatar
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    I use a regular hard sided case that can be locked with a padlock. When you fly out of DIA it can add an extra 10-15 minutes as you have to follow someone to a screening room where they scan your bag and then give you the go ahead. I assume they are checking to make sure nothing is loaded or has a magazine in the firearm.

    Southwest has a policy that a magazine can not be inserted into the firearm whether unloaded or not. I assume that applies to all airlines but am not sure. Southwest also says no more than 11 lbs. of ammunition. Not sure if that's federal or just their rule.
    Colorado Gun Owners - COGO
    http://www.ColoradoGunOwners.com

    A discussion forum for Colorado Gun Owners.

    Colorado Firearm law.
    http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/colorado/
    Lexis Nexis: Colorado law pertaining to firearms.
    Title 18, Article 12

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    Glad I saw this thread. I'll be flying out of town in a few months, and this is extremely helpful - especially the link that RedRuger posted (I'm printing out the PDF guide).

    Quote Originally Posted by Beau View Post
    Southwest has a policy that a magazine can not be inserted into the firearm whether unloaded or not. I assume that applies to all airlines but am not sure. Southwest also says no more than 11 lbs. of ammunition. Not sure if that's federal or just their rule.
    From what I've found, the no-loaded-firearms is federal. The weight limit on ammunition does appear to be a Southwest policy, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackrockblc View Post
    Glad I saw this thread. I'll be flying out of town in a few months, and this is extremely helpful - especially the link that RedRuger posted (I'm printing out the PDF guide).



    From what I've found, the no-loaded-firearms is federal. The weight limit on ammunition does appear to be a Southwest policy, though.
    I know that the no loaded is federal but Southwest doesn't even allow an unloaded magazine to be inserted into the firearm. Even when not flying Southwest I don't leave unloaded mags in the firearm. I figure why give them something to freak about.

    I've also noticed that procedure can vary between airports even with the same airline. Last time I flew from DIA the Southwest Clerk wanted to visually inspect firearms. When I flew back from Milwaukee they didn't have me open the case.
    Colorado Gun Owners - COGO
    http://www.ColoradoGunOwners.com

    A discussion forum for Colorado Gun Owners.

    Colorado Firearm law.
    http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/colorado/
    Lexis Nexis: Colorado law pertaining to firearms.
    Title 18, Article 12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beau View Post
    I know that the no loaded is federal but Southwest doesn't even allow an unloaded magazine to be inserted into the firearm.
    Gotcha. I misread the post, originally. Sorry 'bout that.

  12. #12
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    I've found carrying handguns in a pelican box, packed inside my checked bag - the ticket agents are not concerned about weighing your bag when you tell them you need to check a weapon - the skip weighing the bag for the 50# limit. As such can carry a good amount of ammo, boots, etc. I carry ammo in a small (taped shut) cardboard box if I don't have the original boxes.

    Want to there is a high level of confidence the airline will not lose your bag - they will catch all kinds of hell if they have to report they lost a bag with firearms inside the secure area.
    “Men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them"
    -Thomas Hobbes 1651

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    Regular Member zach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyndsy Simon View Post
    IMO, that's overkill. I've flown in and out of Dallas, Nashville, Little Rock, Charlotte, Dulles, Austin, and several other smaller airports and have never had a problem at all.
    It's overkill till they lose YOUR gun....

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    Another Security Tip

    Flare guns are considered firearms for airline transport. If you have valuables (documents, jewelry, electronics, etc) that you want to protect; throw them in a hard sided firearms case; toss in an UNLOADED flare gun, lock the hard sided case with real (not TSA) locks, and then declare the luggage as containing firearms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zach View Post
    It's overkill till they lose YOUR gun....
    Its always overkill until it happens to you ; then its a treaty violation, human rights violation, most horrible thing that has ever happened in the history of mankind !

  16. #16
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    I normally travel with 6 pistols in one box and have (knock on wood) never experienced a problem to/from Denver (15 trips a year) or flying to Washington state and back to the east coast.

    get there early!!

    1. flying out of Denver, leave your locks on your gun box unlocked until you get to the check in counter.
    2. declare your suitcase as requiring special handling when you get to the check in counter. (counter personnel may ask to verify it is unloaded ~ do it safely is all I can advise!!
    3. fill out the paper work and put the little piece of paper you filled out in your gun box & LOCK YOUR box, with non TSA locks, assuring the box has lock capability on both sides of the case to assure it can not be pried open. TSA has been known to reject carriers if they feel it isn't secure.
    4. the counter personnel will hand your suitcase to an individual of foreign origin to take to TSA inspection in the middle of the terminal floor. FORCE (Yelling in a loud voice works well!!) the little individual to wait for you to walk along.
    5. TSA will inspect your suitcase and hand it back to the individual of foreign origin, again, INSIST (see above) the little individual wait for you to accompany him as he walks outside and puts your suitcase on the down conveyer belt. WAIT and WATCH it disappear into the bowels of the terminal.

    6. aim downstairs to go through physical inspection to get to the terminal. if TSA gets cranky due to reside, smile sweetly and remember they have a job to do and it is the reason you got there early!!

    11 pounds is federal limit. http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-informat...and-ammunition

    enjoy your flight

    upon arrival, open your suitcase immediately in the terminal pick up area to verify the contents have not be tampered with. if so immediately head to terminal baggage personnel.

    I can not provide insight to fly out of phoenix...

    ipse
    Last edited by solus; 09-10-2014 at 09:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by solus View Post
    I see nothing in that page that specifies a weight of any kind, much less a limit on ammunition. Searching the page for "pounds", "11", or "lb" revealed nothing.

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    Ammunition Quanties

    As far as I can tell MOST domestic airlines allow 11 pounds of ammunition. Alaska Air allows 50 pounds of ammunition. http://www.alaskaair.com/content/tra...-firearms.aspx

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    Document

    Quote Originally Posted by zach View Post

    One more thing. Document,document,document. Get the name,ID number of anyone you deal with at the airline. They handle firearms in flights all the time, lots of folks coming here to hunt.
    I carry a voice recorder. Be aware voice recording laws vary by state. Conversation might be something like this:

    Me to myself: Los Vegas airport Southwest airlines 9:41 am waiting on ticket agent

    Me to ticket agent: Good morning Mary B... I need a firearms declaration

    Ticket agent: Here is the form. Please sign the back and put it in your gun box. Take your luggage to the TSA counter.

    TSA Person: I need to inspect your luggage. Please give me the key.

    Me to TSA Person: 9:51 am Good morning Byron .... here is the key

    If nothing unusual happens then I just delete the recording when my recorder fills up. Otherwise I have a record with times of what transpired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyndsy Simon View Post
    This case should not be locked with a TSA lock - TSA may not open this case without you present, and you retain the key.
    That is what the rules say. In some airports TSA inspection of luggage is in a public area and you can watch them scan and inspect your luggage. In some airports TSA has a private screening room where you can watch them inspect your luggage. In some airports TSA has no public access to the screening area. They will ask you for the key and disappear into the bowels of the airport. You can quote the rules to them if you want. Their response will probably be " OK YOUR LUGGAGE DOES NOT GET ON THE PLANE".

    My advise: Give the TSA Agent (and only the TSA agent) your key and make sure that he understands that you know what his name is and what the date and time is.

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    Regular Member OC Freedom's Avatar
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    Ever since 9-11 and how a person rights are violated to get on a plane, I refuse to be treated like a criminal and therefore refuse to fly. Just drive to Denver. Take all the liquids, guns and ammo you want without being violated.

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRuger View Post
    That is what the rules say. In some airports TSA inspection of luggage is in a public area and you can watch them scan and inspect your luggage. In some airports TSA has a private screening room where you can watch them inspect your luggage. In some airports TSA has no public access to the screening area. They will ask you for the key and disappear into the bowels of the airport. You can quote the rules to them if you want. Their response will probably be " OK YOUR LUGGAGE DOES NOT GET ON THE PLANE".

    My advise: Give the TSA Agent (and only the TSA agent) your key and make sure that he understands that you know what his name is and what the date and time is.
    I have always used a (non-TSA) combination lock. Then you only have to tell the one guy the combo, and only if he asks (they sometimes don't in my experience).

  23. #23
    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Freedom View Post
    Ever since 9-11 and how a person rights are violated to get on a plane, I refuse to be treated like a criminal and therefore refuse to fly. Just drive to Denver. Take all the liquids, guns and ammo you want without being violated.
    I literally can't afford to do anything but fly cross country.

    Drivers' licensure violates my rights as well. Frankly, considering all those who need to drive to feed their families, I consider this the greater infringement.
    Last edited by marshaul; 09-11-2014 at 11:40 AM.

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    Regular Member OC Freedom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marshaul View Post
    I literally can't afford to do anything but fly cross country.

    Drivers' licensure violates my rights as well. Frankly, considering all those who need to drive to feed their families, I consider this the greater infringement.
    You make a good point about licenses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Freedom View Post
    Ever since 9-11 and how a person rights are violated to get on a plane, I refuse to be treated like a criminal and therefore refuse to fly. Just drive to ....
    Yep. I've racked at least 250,000 driven miles since I quit flying. I take anything I want, and I'm 400 miles away by the time anyone else gets on the plane, if we leave the house at the same time. I don't care how much more it costs.

    That said, I've flown many times before I quit, and always took firearms. Indeed, I sometimes got through ticketing more quickly because declaring a firearm must be done with an agent, while the normal sheep had to use the self-serve kiosk.

    I had thought I'd seen the 11-pound rule on the TSA pages before, too, but I don't see it now. Regardless, it is still the normal requirement imposed by most airlines, so be prepared. That said, I've flown with much more. They don't take it out and weigh it. They don't even look for it, only the firearm itself; but you are playing the odds.

    Airlines can also impose more rules than TSA. Allegiant limited passengers to one handgun that last time I flew, though I don't know if they were actually enforcing it.
    Last edited by MAC702; 09-11-2014 at 03:29 PM. Reason: punctuation
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