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What orientation should a rifle be placed in a case? Scope up or scope down?

The ongoing gun case debate finally put to rest…

Some people will be quick to point out that a rifle should be positioned upside down in the case to avoid putting all the weight on the scope when carrying the case by the front handle.

Desert Tech Rifle with scope positioned towards handle

That may seem logical, but is actually a common misconception when custom foam is involved. If the foam is not custom cut then that advice can definitely apply, but if the foam is properly cut for the rifle then that assumption is completely false.

Properly cut custom foam will protect a rifle in any orientation.

If your foam is cut to properly contour the rifle then the rifle can be placed in any orientation you’d like. No matter what the rifle position is, as long as the foam contours the rifle then the weight of the rifle will be spread evenly around the gun. Alternatively, an equally effective method is to contour the foam around the rifle, but leave the scope area open, either method will serve the same purpose and keep your optic holding zero.

Case Club Precision Rifle Case with scope positioned towards hinge

This fact is further demonstrated when considering how the case is intended to be used. Whether you are taking it on an airplane or shipping it by mail, you cannot expect a baggage handler to always ensure proper case orientation. In fact anyone who has traveled anywhere will know how abusive baggage handlers can be on their cases.

In conclusion worry less about the orientation of your rifle and more about the foam that protects it because when all the cases fall off that conveyor it doesn’t matter what orientation your gun is in, but rather how the foam is configured.

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How can you prevent the TSA from going through your expensive luggage?

This one is more of a life hack. If you travel all the time with expensive equipment and want to ensure nothing is stolen or broken by the TSA buy a starting pistol. You know, the ones that are fired directly in the air to signify the start of a race. Track and field events use them all the time. They can be obtained for cheap and don’t require any background checks or paperwork however they are classified by the airlines as a firearm. That may sound scary, but in reality we can use the airline’s rule in our favor. Once you have the starter pistol throw it into your luggage. It doesn’t matter if your luggage contents consist of expensive camera equipment, a microscope or a delicate drone.

Once you check your bag in, declare the firearm with the clerk. A special inspector trained in firearms will check it out and verify the gun is safe. Then they will mark your case appropriately so no other TSA agents will be allowed in after that point. You will then be instructed to lock the case. At that point throw any lock on it. The lock doesn’t even have to be TSA approved. Any lock will do. In fact use a heavy duty non TSA Masterlock if possible which will make your luggage that much more secure.

So there you have it. Protect anything you have of value from the TSA when flying by purchasing a starting pistol. Please note: Airlines require your firearm to be in a hard-sided container so don’t try this trick with your soft sided luggage.

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What foam is best for guns?

Here at Case Club we do a lot of gun cases & often get asked which foam to go with. Obviously the answers depend on circumstances, but 90% of the time the best foam for gun cases is polyethylene (abbreviated PE) . Polyethylene is hands down the best for gun cases because unlike polyurethane, polyethylene is closed cell. What does that mean you ask? Closed cell foam prevents moisture from absorbing into it. Have you ever seen those foam noodles kids play with at pool parties? Notice that they don’t absorb water like a sponge would. The same can be true with the oils from your gun or the rain from the field. No matter how wet PE foam gets the liquid stays at the surface so it can be wiped clean.

On the other hand if you use open cell polyurethane it will get extremely gross over time. It will absorb moisture, oils, & cleaning solvents causing it to break down much quicker than PE. Hope that answers the question for all you gun lovers out there!

Case Club's closed cell polyethylene foam does NOT absorb water
Case Club’s closed cell polyethylene foam does NOT absorb water

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Do you need a TSA lock when transporting firearms on a commercial flight?

No you do not. It’s a common misconception that you must have a TSA approved lock when checking in guns on a commercial flight however that is not the case. If you choose to lock non-firearm baggage a TSA lock is required (or else they will cut your lock off). When it comes to guns however use a normal lock. In fact a normal lock actually prevents the TSA from tampering with your firearm after it has been checked. When you first check your gun in, the TSA agent will inspect it to ensure everything is safe. From that point no other agent needs to inspect the case hence a normal lock is the way to go.

With that being said how do you know what a TSA lock is?

Any lock with this symbol is a TSA approved lock:


For example these locks are TSA approved locks & can be used to lock any non-firearm luggage:

Click to view or purchase
But when it comes to guns be sure to use something like these instead:

Heavy Duty Master Lock
Click to view or purchase

Medium Duty Lock
Click to view or purchase