How to Choose a Weapons Case

Our firearms are often the most valuable pieces of equipment in the military, both in terms of overall expense, and purpose. We take care of them as if they are Crown Jewels, cradle them like small children, depend on them with our lives, and sometimes we even name them. It goes without saying that it is even more important that the care we give them when we have them, is the same care we should give them when they are being transported. Ultimately, a quality firearm case is a vital part of making sure our weapons continue to operate at the highest level.

Many people think of firearm cases as either soft or hard. While this may be true at the most basic of levels, it does not take into account the many variations available or the pros and cons of each. Ultimately, you need to determine which type of case is the best for the job at hand. Unfortunately, the wide number of variations available often complicates the selection process. Below are some of the more popular variations and important information to consider in order to assist you in making the most informed decision.

Hard Gun Cases

As you can gather by the name, these cases are comprised of a hard exterior designed to protect your firearm from damage from the outside elements and accidents (such as being dropped, stepped on, etc.). The interior is usually lined with a softer material that secures and protects the firearm from exterior damage. It is important to select a case with an outer shell constructed to provide optimal protection. When it comes to the interior lining, you can select either a generic “one size fits all” foam lining, or one with a model-specific cut out if that is your preference. You will also want to consider the thickness of this lining, as it will determine the overall protection provided to your firearm.

Hard gun cases have been constructed from a wide range of materials over the years, but nowadays you can expect yours to be made from either aluminum or a composite material. For many years, aluminum cases with reinforced corners and double-thick walls were considered the go-to for firearms protections, especially when traveling. However, there have been great advancements in composites, which has caused a shift in more cases being made with alternative materials. These are as strong as aluminum and even lighter in weight.

Soft Firearm Cases

The first-ever created soft-sided gun cases were little more than animal skin. They offered little protection from bumps, bangs, or falls, but did help prevent damage from scratching and the elements. Fortunately, the soft case has evolved over the years. Many modern soft cases are designed to be, or fashioned after, tactical equipment. This means they tend to have straps to secure the firearm inside the case. Typically, Velcro and additional padding are added, but fortunately they are often dense, so as to take up less space. These cases will almost always include additional pockets for securing extra magazines, or even a second backup firearm. Long gun cases will frequently include shoulder straps, allowing the case to be humped rather than toted. Although the original gun socks and soft side carry cases are still available, and may even meet your requirements, there are far more options with a modern soft gun case.

Additional Features

There is far more to selecting the right gun case than just its size and design. The list of considerations is as long and as personal as your imagination, but here are some of the more common features you will want to consider.

  • Security – both hard and soft cases have the option to be locked, but obviously a hard case will offer a higher degree of protection and security.
  • Water Resistance – if you will be subjected to wet conditions, it is a good idea to select a case that has is waterproof. However, if you choose to use a waterproof case, you will need to take extra care when cleaning and drying the firearm prior to storage. Water can’t get in, but neither can air.
  • Floating – although this a rather new concept for tactical cases, floating gun cases have been a staple among waterfowl hunters for years. While this is not a feature everyone needs, it is one you will appreciate if your firearm ever ends up the focus of a “man overboard” alarm.
  • Size – we touched on this earlier in terms of model specific or generic designs, but there is more to it. Will your firearm include aftermarket accessories? Do you need to carry accessories with you? Will you need to carry more than one firearm? Yes to any of these questions changes the size of the case you will need.
  • Warranty – many manufacturers make wild, sometimes unbelievable, claims regarding their cases. But what happens when you find out the hard way they are wrong? Do they offer a warranty? If so, does it cover firearm repair/replacement? Or, will you simply receive a new case? It is always important to review a vendor or company’s warranty policy prior to making any purchase.

Traveling with Your Firearms

Finally, while this is not a specific feature, one of the most important things to consider when selecting a case is if it is optimal for travel. According to the TSA website, “You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked, hard-sided container as checked baggage only…the container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted.”

Regardless of the regulations, anytime you travel and are required to leave your firearm in the possession of someone else, particularly a stranger, it is a good idea to get the most secure case possible. Also, it is important to research the regulations prior to traveling. For additional information and current regulations check the TSA website ( or with your airline.


A good gun case is something should do its job without much thought on your part. Hopefully, these tips will help you ensure your next gun case does just that.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *