20 Sept 13

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on nearly a dozen commercial flights (domestic). I normally have a rifle (my RA/XCR-M at present) and two pistols. In fact, I’m in an airport right now, about to board my flight!

I have three 20-round rifle magazines (308), fully charged, and three pistol magazines, also fully charged. I have additional ammunition in factory boxes.

Rifle magazines are Mag-Pul, as their “cap” is perfect for air travel. TSA thinks “capped” magazines are just fine!

Hi-Viz, makers of wonderful light-tube sights, also make a pistol magazine “sock.” It is a padded, elastic “sock” that fits over most pistol magazines. I put magazines in, head-first, so no cartridges show. Again, TSA thinks they are just fine.

My pistols are in a hard, locked case, inside my luggage. SIG makes the best case for air travel, as it is easiest to lock-up to TSA’s satisfaction.

My XCR-M, stock folded, also goes into a hard, locked case, which then goes comfortably inside my REI roller-duffel. Inside my duffel, I also have a guitar-case for low-profile transport after I get to my destination.

So, I travel with two pieces of drab, plain-vanilla luggage, nothing that looks like a “gun case.”

During the fall season, many hunters travel with guns, so this time of year it is best to get to the airport early, as TSA’s “gun-check” section will likely be busy, particularly in western states. And, like bureaucrats everywhere, they go about their duties with no particular sense of urgency!

TSA screeners love to “poke” the foam padding (with their fingers) around guns after cases are opened for “inspection.” What such poking accomplishes is apparently a closely-guarded secret, as I’ve asked them many times, and all they call tell me is that it is “standard procedure.” I suspect all it really accomplishes is “myth-maintenance,” but I never say that out loud!

In any event, TSA folks never handle, nor even touch, the guns themselves.

I’ve seen many hunters get jammed-up, and even miss their flight, because they have only one external lock on their long-gun case. TSA insists on at least two.

In any event, it all represents an extra hassle at airports, and many don’t bother with it for that reason. However, for one, I’m unwilling to be unarmed, so I endure the extra effort and diplomacy necessary.

Some airports, like those in NY are probably best avoided altogether. However, two days ago, I flew out of Baltimore, MD with no problem.

Commercial air travel today is, in general, far from enjoyable, much less glamorous. Personally, I’d rather drive! However, when commercial air travel is necessary, traveling with guns is surely doable, but you need to know how to make it work and be prepared to allow for the extra time.

It’s a matter of priorities!

“Who claim to be ‘sharks,’ yet curiously confine their venue to gold-fish bowls, are well advised never to swim in deep water, with real sharks!”