Tips for Flying with Firearms

Going on a backcountry hunt for the first time? Or maybe you’re linking up with your relative across the country for your annual spring gobbler pursuit. Whatever the case may be, getting your firearm(s) from point A to point B is usually a seamless process; however, there are a few things you should remember so you don’t find yourself in a sticky situation. Did you know the Transportation Security Administration detects thousands of people trying to bring firearms as carry-on items each year? Not bringing a firearm as a carry-on item is a pretty obvious thing to do and should go without saying, but, to reiterate, firearms and ammunition are prohibited as carry-on items. Below we highlight some additional tips that will not only get your firearms to your destination with ease, but could help you avoid travel delays, fines and even criminal punishment.  

Checked Item Only

As mentioned, whether assembled or dissembled, firearms, parts of a firearm and ammunition may only travel as checked items. Even toy or replica firearms may only travel as checked items. The one exception is that riflescopes may travel as a carry-on item, but to be honest, you are probably better off leaving all of your hunting/shooting gear in a locked, checked case. That way all your equipment is consolidated, you can travel worry free and avoid potential awkward questioning as you go through TSA security checks.

Hard-Sided Case

There are countless colors, shapes, sizes and brands of hard-sided firearm travel cases. Most of these cases will suffice, but this is an area where you don’t want to be cheap. You paid good money for your firearm; make sure the case you pick protects it.

Be certain that your firearm is unloaded and the case is locked. You should be the only person with the key or knowledge of the combination, unless specifically asked by TSA to ensure compliance. Ammunition is also prohibited as a carry-on item but can travel as a checked item.

Check Airline Policies

In addition to the TSA laws and regulations, depending on which airline company you are flying with, you may encounter additional rules and regulations, including limits on the amount of ammunition and firearms allowed. Before you arrive at the airport, make sure you know the airline’s policies, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a printed copy of it on hand, too.

Inform Airline Staff at Check-In

While most airline employees will know just by looking at your case, it is always important to reiterate that you are traveling with a firearm and have followed all proper protocol. Make sure you declare each firearm and all ammunition, even if they’re all in the same case. Being as transparent as possible up front can save you potential headache in the long run.   

Be Aware of Varying State Laws

Try to avoid layovers or connections in states where your firearm may not be legal. While this is a rare occurrence, there have been horror stories of hunter’s traveling, having their connecting flight canceled, being stuck in a state where their firearm is illegal and, consequently, having to spend time in the clink. While this is rare, try to avoid layovers in states where this may be an issue.

Call Ahead of Time

If there is anything you are uncertain about when it comes to traveling with firearms, always double check ahead of time. It is much easier to ask your questions over the phone before travel, instead of being interrogated while trying to travel.  

Traveling with firearms is pretty easy and straightforward, but to avoid as much hassle and headache as possible, make sure you are well-prepared, informed and follow all laws and regulations. Adhere to the guidelines set in place to ensure the safety of yourself and others and to make sure there are no delays from hearing those early morning gobbles.

For more information on traveling with a firearm, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

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