TSA Approved Gun Cases

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As you probably know, it is lawful to bring your firearm along in a checked bag when catching a domestic flight. However, what you may not know is how to lawfully go about declaring your weapon at the airport before you attempt to pass through the Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoint. To do this correctly, you will need to use TSA approved gun cases.

I mean, who can blame you for not quite understanding what to expect when checking your firearm? While the TSA website is jam-packed with information, most of the TSA regulations listed on it are a jumbled mess that is difficult, if not impossible, to decipher. 

In order to save you some major headaches before your next flight, we have created this guide to help you quickly (and lawfully) get your gun checked in with TSA. Whether you are going on an out-of-state hunting trip or simply want to have your EDC pistol at your side while on vacation, this guide’s for you.

What Is A TSA Approved Gun Case?

If you plan on bringing your firearm with you when you fly, you will need a “TSA approved gun case”. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you will need to special order a case before your next flight. Fortunately, the definition of a “TSA approved gun case” is pretty broad. 

According to the TSA website, firearms must be stored in a case that “completely” prevent them from being accessed. This means that you cannot simply slap a trigger lock on your handgun and shove it in your checked bag.

In addition, the TSA requires your gun case to be a “hard-sided container” that is stored in “checked baggage only”. The TSA further elaborates that “locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted”. 

As a brief aside, the TSA follows the United States Code (U.S.C.) definition of a firearm. This means that frames or receivers of firearms and suppressors must also be secured in a TSA approved gun case.

To recap, a TSA approved gun case must encapsulate your firearm, be hard-sided, and not be easily opened. However, the TSA does not specify that the case has to be made of metal, which means a hard plastic case will do. 

In order to meet the not “easily opened” requirement, your case will need some sort of locking mechanism. This means that you can either purchase a gun case with a built-in key lock or attach a cable or padlock to a latching container. Either option will do as long as you keep the key with you and do not store it in your bag. 

TSA-Approved Pistol Cases

Compliance with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations is essential when safely transporting firearms, especially during air travel. TSA-approved gun cases provide necessary security measures and offer peace of mind, knowing your firearms are protected from damage and unauthorized access. 

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler, a law enforcement officer, or a hunting enthusiast, choosing a TSA-approved gun case is crucial for hassle-free and secure travel with your firearms. 

The following cases have been meticulously reviewed and meet stringent federal requirements. They feature robust construction, secure locking mechanisms, and customizable interiors. In this article, we’ll explore five top-rated TSA-approved gun cases—Cedar Mill, SnapSafe, V100, V200, and V300—to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision for your next journey.

Cedar Mill Tactical Hard Pistol Case

Cedar Mill Tactical Hard Pistol Case
The Cedar Mill TSA-approved hard gun case has a bundled option with two locks.

The Cedar Mill gun case offers maximum security and durability for your pistol while traveling. It is constructed with a rugged, waterproof exterior shell and impact-resistant corners, providing optimum protection against rough handling and inclement weather. 

The case features customizable “pick-and-pluck” foam inserts to securely hold your firearms and accessories. It meets all TSA requirements, including a Dual-Lock System for enhanced security, allowing for safe and authorized inspections. The package includes earplugs for shooting range sessions or competitions.

SnapSafe Treklite Gun Safe Lock Box

SnapSafe Treklite Gun Safe Lock Box
The SnapSafe Treklite Lock Box has two available options, a combination lock, or a key lock.

The SnapSafe Gun Case combines strength and convenience for firearm transport. Its heavy-duty polycarbonate construction results in an extremely durable yet lightweight case that can withstand altitude and air pressure changes. 

The interior, which can accommodate a model 1911 handgun, offers foam padding that users can cut and fit for various firearm configurations. TSA approval is granted due to its secure locking system and compatibility with TSA-recognized locks, ensuring compliance with federal travel regulations.

The SnapSafe is not waterproof, and the lock requires a key, but it comes with a 1500-lb.-rated security cable to secure it at home or in a vehicle.

Pelican Vault V100 Hard Case 

Pelican Vault V100 Hard Case
The Pelican Vault V100 hard case is available in six colorful varieties.

The V100 has a reinforced, crushproof polymer construction that offers impact resistance. Its sealed case protects against moisture and dust even in the harshest conditions. The standard-density foam interior provides a customized fit for your firearms, keeping them securely immobilized. The dual-lock hasps, designed for use with TSA-approved padlocks (not included), provide secure and accessible protection throughout your flight. This case works well for compact, and subcompact pistols, but it can hold a full-size handgun and basic accessories if you pack it carefully.

TSA Approved Gun Cases: Pelican Vault V200 Hard Case 

TSA Approved Gun Cases Pelican Vault V200 Hard Case 
The Pelican Vault V200 hard case easily holds full-size handguns and accessories.

The V200 is a larger and heavier version of the V100, but it has the same rugged polymer construction that offers impact resistance. Also designed for durability and security, the V200 is ideal for those requiring reliable firearm transportation. The robust outer shell and reinforced hinges make it highly resistant to external pressures. Inside, customizable foam inserts protect your firearms from shock and vibration. The case’s TSA approval comes from its compliant locking mechanisms, which allow user-supplied TSA-approved locks, ensuring that security personnel can access the contents for authorized inspections without compromising your firearm’s safety. This case can easily hold a full-size handgun and accessories.

Pelican Vault V300 Hard Case 

Pelican Vault V300 Hard Case 
The Pelican Vault V300 hard case can easily hold two full-size handguns and accessories.

The V300 offers top-tier security and comprehensive protection for your firearms. Manufactured with an ultra-tough outer that resists extreme impacts and harsh conditions, it features a customizable foam interior designed to cradle firearms securely, preventing movement and damage. TSA approval is assured with its secure locking points, compatible with TSA-approved locks, facilitating both the safety of your firearms and compliance with travel regulations. This case can easily hold two full-size handguns and accessories.

Comparing The Models

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the five TSA-approved pistol cases. Here are a few clarifications to help you decide.

  • The cases with a dual-latch lock system are TSA-approved if secured with TSA-approved locks, which are not included in the cases.
  • The SnapSafe Treklite Gun Safe is also available with a combination lock. It has a 4-digit combination and is also TSA-approved.
  • Note that the Cedar Mill model is the only one listed as waterproof, while the three Pelican cases are water-resistant. The SnapSafe case is neither waterproof nor water-resistant.

Cedar Mill






12” x 3.5” x 8” High

     10” x 7” x 2” High

12” x 12” x 5” High

15” x 13” x 6” High

17.5” x 14” x 7” High


1.2 Pounds

1.6 Pounds

3.47 Pounds

5.05 Pounds

6.7 Pounds







Lock System

Dual Latch

Keyed Lock

Dual Latch

Dual Latch

Dual Latch


If used with TSA Locks


If used with TSA Locks

If used with TSA Locks

If used with TSA Locks




Weather Resistant

Weather Resistant

Weather Resistant

Foam Interior

EPE Pick and Pluck

Standard Foam

Standard Foam

Standard Foam

Standard Foam


Cedar Mill





Price (Amazon)






How To Store Your Firearm In Your Checked Bag

a photo of TSA Approved Gun Cases
TSA approved gun cases can be either plastic, metal with key, or combination locks.

As noted above, you can use either a hard-sided plastic or metal case. Personally, I always use a metal storage container when flying with just a handgun. However, if you are checking rifles as well, then your storage cases will almost certainly be made out of a durable polymer material, which is just fine according to TSA regulations. Keep in mind that each rifle case will probably be tagged as a separate “checked bag”, so travel light if you are trying to minimize the cost of airfare. 

Regardless of whether you are checking a handgun, a long gun, or both, the basic procedures for storing your firearm are nearly identical. According to the TSA, all weapons must be unloaded in order to be accepted as checked baggage. This means that both the chamber and the magazine must be empty. 

If you are bringing additional firearms parts or accessories with you, they must be checked as well. This includes extra magazines, firing pins, bolts, or any other parts that you may be in possession of. Extra magazines must be secured in a locked TSA approved gun case with your firearm but may be left loaded if you choose. Other accessories do not necessarily have to be placed within the locked, hard-sided case, but I would recommend it.

Can Ammunition Be Transported When Flying?

Yes, ammunition can be transported in checked baggage when flying. You can leave your ammunition in your firearm’s magazines and secure them in the case with the weapon. However, the loaded magazines cannot be inserted into the mag well. 

If you are bringing extra ammunition with you, it may be stored in the same hard-sided TSA approved gun case as your weapon. If the additional ammunition will not fit in the hard-sided case, it can be stored in your checked baggage outside of said container. In these instances, the cartridges must be packed in a “fiber (such as cardboard), wood, plastic, or metal box specifically designed to carry ammunition”. Put simply, carry your extra ammo in the box it was likely sold to you in and declare it to your airline.

Are Firearms Accessories Permitted in Carry-on? 

Yes, but only one. The TSA states that rifle scopes are permitted in either checked baggage or carry-on. If some of your glass costs as much as my favorite scope, then this exception will elicit a huge sigh of relief as you prepare for your flight. 

Additional Considerations Before Flying

a photo of a glock 42 in TSA approved gun cases
IMPORTANT: Be sure to unload your firearm before bringing it to the airport.

If you’re planning to fly commercial, be sure to remember:

  • Purchase a TSA approved gun case
  • Unload your weapon in accordance with TSA regulations
  • Store your magazines and firearm in the aforementioned locked case and,
  • Declare your firearms/ammo when checking your bag

Then you will avoid any friction with the TSA when catching your flight.

With that said, it is vital that you do your research on local and state regulations before heading to your destination. This is particularly important if you are checking a handgun, as a handful of states have magazine capacity restrictions that may get you in hot water after you leave the airport. 

Another major concern is reciprocity. If you are a concealed weapons permit holder, ensure that the place you are traveling to honors permits from your home state or has a constitutional carry law in place that applies to non-residents.

As long as you take your time to do your homework, store your weapon in a TSA approved gun case, and follow gun storage and declaration regulations, then traveling with your firearm should be a seamless experience.