Guns and Gear

Concealed Carry Corner: How To Fly With Your Carry Gun

Welcome back to another edition of Concealed Carry Corner. Last week, we discussed training like we fight and the importance of consistency. If you missed that article, be sure to click the link here to check it out. This week, I want to talk about a subject that most people who carry concealed either avoid or are just too nervous to attempt. Flying with a firearm is one of those things that most aren’t willing to do because they feel like it’s either too difficult or just not worth it when traveling. Over the last few years, I have flown a number of times commercially with a firearm, along with just recently private as well which is certainly a completely different experience. Let’s take a closer look at how to fly with your carry gun.

Concealed Carry Corner @ TFB:

Flying Commercial

When the vast majority of individuals who carry concealed firearms think about traveling, they oftentimes want to drive instead of fly when taking a gun with them. I will admit I am guilty of this most times as well but flying with a firearm really isn’t all that scary as some make it out to be. With the correct gear and following a few simple steps, you can start flying with no problem. The first thing to consider is your gear.

Hard Case And the ammo

When looking at a case to put your carry gun inside, it’s important to find one that is a true hard case with lockable points on the exterior. Companies like VaultTek and Pelican make some fantastic small options that fit right into your checked baggage. It’s never a bad idea to get some sort of small cable lock to wrap around a mount on your checked baggage. Most checked baggage have a spine or locking point where you can fit a small cable lock around it.

This ensures that your gun isn’t able to easily be taken out of your bag. Adding this extra layer of security is just additional peace of mind. I often use a smaller green Pelican case with its pluckable foam to create a fully modular layout no matter what gun I’m carrying on a given trip. In terms of ammo, I will typically take 1-2 boxes of my preferred self-defense ammo with me. The big takeaway to remember about ammo is the fact they have to be new in the box. Taking your 34-year-old box of Federal Hydra-Shoks just isn’t possible, but anything new in the box is acceptable to bring in your locked box.

Magazines

All of your magazines must be fully unloaded and ammo must be in its original box. When traveling, it’s important to make sure everything goes into your checked bag and not your carry-on bag. No ammunition is ever allowed inside your carry-on or personal items which some do forget and have to answer to the local police officers. Every time I fly, I put my unloaded handgun inside the IWB holster I pack with the magazine removed. I put the empty magazine as well as my box of ammunition and if you follow those steps, you should be in the clear.

Pad Locks

One of the biggest misconceptions is the idea you have to put TSA-approved locks on your firearm case. This is 100% NOT TRUE. The beauty of declaring the firearm and having TSA inspect the firearm in your checked bag is the fact you can use a personal padlock that TSA cannot open. This ensures agents cannot check your firearm or mess with your carry gun in any way after inspecting it initially at the beginning of the trip.

For an extra layer of security, I will put my personal padlocks onto my case along with a cable lock through the handle and TSA-approved locks on my check bag to keep everything safe. There are debates online about only using TSA-approved locks on your firearm cases and it is absolutely not true. Make sure you put your own locks on to keep your carry guns and everything will be easy going.

Restrictions

Whenever you’re flying into restricted areas of the country where you can only have 10-round magazines or other laws, it’s extremely important to check local laws ahead of your trip to make sure your firearm is legal and you have carry reciprocity with the state you’re traveling into. Many people will forget to check the firearm laws of their destination and carry standard capacity magazines in restricted states. Often you will be alright, but if you’re stopped there will be some explaining necessary and probably some uncomfortable conversations to follow with law enforcement so it’s important to check before you leave on your trip.

Check-In Process

Once you head to the airport, it’s important to check in with your airline desk to check your bag and declare your firearm. When arriving at the desk, it’s really as simple as saying you are traveling with a firearm and saying where it is. Once they have the bag, the airline employee will often times take it to TSA, where they will ask you to unlock the case in order to inspect the firearm. Once they inspect the firearm and make sure it’s unloaded, they will put a tag inside saying it was cleared and unloaded and have you lock the case back up. After that, you lock the case back up as well as your checked bag, TSA will give you the all-clear and the airline attendant will give you a ticket to keep to claim your bag.

Once you get to your destination, I usually head to the airline baggage desk and ask where the checked bags with firearms typically go and they can give you further instructions. In most cases, I have gotten my bags first because firearm bags are typically escorted by TSA to make sure they are moved safely without any issues. I’ve never had any issues traveling with a firearm and once you show the TSA agent your ticket receipt for your checked bag, they will hand over your checked bag and tell you to have a good afternoon. It’s really that simple and most people will overthink the process since it’s such a new experience for most.

Flying Private

Recently, I had the opportunity to fly on a private jet out to South Dakota for a group hunt. When talking about firearm policies, it’s truly the wild west on the private side of things. Depending on the flight, all you have to do is unload your firearm and just reholster it on your body. The biggest concern when it came to the firearms was just making sure they were unloaded during the flight for obvious reasons, but there was no TSA check or even questions. We drove right up to the plane and unloaded directly onto the plane which was a far cry from flying commercial.

Overall Thoughts

Everyone gets really worked up when it comes to flying with a concealed firearm on a plane, but if you follow these simple steps, it’s really a painless process that allows you to travel and be armed when flying domestically. The biggest takeaways from this article should be to purchase a solid hard case, use brand-new ammo, use your own padlocks, and just go through the process correctly. If you follow these steps you will see exactly how easy it is to fly with your carry gun and it’s not as scary as people make it out to be.

What do you guys think? Is it worth the hassle to fly with your gun or do you just travel by car or go without a firearm? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you have questions about flying with guns or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there and we will see you in the next episode of Concealed Carry Corner.


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