Driving traveling

Tips For Traveling With Your Firearm By Land And Air


To most avid concealed carriers, traveling with your firearm can be an annoying and troublesome task when crossing State lines. Most career carriers have the necessary permits to travel to and through most States without worry. However, for those who only hold their State of Residency’s permit, many precautions and steps have to be taken when traveling.

The most basic form of traveling is by car, so we’ll start there. Each State has its own requirements when it comes to traveling with a firearm. If your current permit doesn’t hold reciprocity with a particular State you’ll be traveling through, it’s up to you to know and understand that State’s requirements when traveling through it. A general guideline I tend to follow seems to work well for most States.

When traveling through a State that doesn’t honor your current permit, the most effective way to store your firearm is by keeping the firearm in a locked hard case, separate from the ammunition; which should be stored in its own locked hard case and kept in a separate location from the firearm. If you can’t keep the ammunition case separate from the firearm case due to the type of vehicle you’re in, then keeping the two cases as far away from the driver seat and separate is your best course of action. I will stress that most State’s don’t consider the glove compartment to be a locked container, so shouldn’t be used as a method of storing your firearm.


As I said before, some States have different laws regarding traveling with a firearm. The responsibility is yours to check and verify these laws to insure you’re in compliance. Another route you can take instead of being forced to store your firearm when you cross State lines; is to research and apply for a non-resident concealed carry permit from a State such as Utah or Virginia that will cover more States bordering your own. This could eliminate the need to take such action if you hold several permits that cover the surrounding States of your residency.

Traveling by air is a different story entirely. A few years back I was taking a long weekend from Fort Carson, Colorado and traveling by air with an Army buddy to his hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; and we were planning on taking our AR’s with us to shoot that weekend. Since this was post 9/11 we wanted to be very sure of the Airlines rules and regulations regarding traveling with firearms before showing up at the airport with our weapons cases. I highly recommend to anyone traveling by air with their firearms to do the same. Call ahead to the Airline and let them know what your intentions are. Find out what their specific rules and regulations might be. There are always general guidelines, but individual Airlines might have their own set of specific rules regarding traveling with firearms.

The guidelines for my specific situation which may vary given the Airline and time of travel were rather simple and straight forward. The Airline was quick to state we’d be automatically subjected to a baggage search and have our check-in bags inspected. Our firearms were required to be in a lockable hard case. The ammunition was allowed to be in the same case, as long as it was in the original sealed factory container. After the firearms case and other luggage was inspected, we were allowed to check in and proceed as normal. Again, I must remind that this occurrence took place several years ago. I stress the need to check on current and up to date information, Airline specific, if you plan on traveling by air with your firearm.

Also, if you’re planning on bringing your concealed carry firearm with you for whatever reason, and are flying by air; it should be obvious that you need to check reciprocity with the State you’ll be landing in. Additionally, I feel it necessary to mention, given most airports don’t allow concealed carry within the building. Considering this, I wouldn’t recommend trying to remove your firearm from its case while still on the airport grounds. Get to your vehicle, whether it your personal vehicle or rental, and then proceed accordingly with your firearm once inside and away from the airport.

Whatever method of travel you embark on, it’s always a good idea to research accordingly. There are many apps and websites available that will give you reliable and up to date information regarding State and Federal law in whatever location you’ll be traveling to and through. Make sure you check on these laws far in advance of your travels. The last thing you want is to get caught up in a situation you could have avoided by doing a little research and proper planning.

Categories: Beginners Guide, General
About Daniel | View all posts by Daniel

Shellshocked is a 13 year Active Duty Army Veteran with a broad experience and knowledge of all things firearms and ammunition related. A resident of Ohio, an Open Carry State…

Shellshocked is a 13 year Active Duty Army Veteran with a broad experience and knowledge of all things firearms and ammunition related. A resident of Ohio, an Open Carry State, but prefers to remain among the ranks of the Concealed Nation. Although you will occasionally find him Open Carrying his FN 5.7 in a BlackHawk! Kydex retention paddle holster. His every day carry is a Beretta Storm PX4 Compact 15+1 in a StealthGearUSA ventilated Kydex IWB Holster. Spare Magazine, flashlight, and knife always on hand.

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  • Darrell

    Currently, when flying, you are not aloud to keep the ammo in the same case as the weapon, although that was the case a few years ago. It must be in a factory container and can be placed somewhere in your check-in suitcase.

    • law-abiding-citizen

      It depends on the carrier. Last time I flew, Southwest didn’t care if the ammo was in the same case as the firearm, as long as it was locked. And even though their published guidelines said otherwise, the agent said the magazines had to be empty.
      Your best option is to print the carrier’s published rules, along with the TSA rules, make sure you’re in compliance with what is published, & take the hard copies with you when you check in.

  • Rufus Jones

    Nationwide Concealed carry permit.

    • Zak

      No. Bad idea. The Federal government doesn’t need to be making any more gun laws. If they make that a law then they can ban it, too.

    • Chris Lee

      I think what you are referring to is national Constitutional carry. A carry permit is still a violation of our Second Amendment Rights and offers the Government a quick means of regulation.

      For example, if there was a Federal carry permit, I can promise you it’d be as hard to come by as a carry permit for California or New York, perhaps even harder. This would then cause many States to abandon their carry permits in favor of a fiercely regulated Federal system.

      As it is now, more and more states are supporting and passing Constitutional carry, many other states including my own have at least a “shall issue” policy. Lets keep the Fed as far out of State business as possible and instead continue to support Constitutional carry at a state level.

      If each of the states passed a Constitutional carry act then we would not have to fear traveling with our firearms, after all, it is our Right as American’s.

      Remember America, the Federal Government’s ONLY purpose is National Defense. All of your ridiculous social programs are the State’s issue. We have allowed our Federal Government to become so bloated that it touches nearly every aspect of our lives.

  • tyeo098

    I’ve flown Delta and Frontier with an AR and handgun. Aside from the checked baggage fees, everything was pretty much SOP. “I need to declare an unloaded firearm” is a lot better than telling the attendant “I have a gun!” Then they run it though the xray machine… to make sure it contains a firearm? Tell you everything is good and off you go.

    TSA regs state ammunition can be in the same container as the firearm, must it must be in factory boxes or magazines with the tops covered. (Think magpul mag covers), but the carrier can be stricter if they choose (I haven’t found one

  • time for change

    Better idea if the law of the land is in direct conflict with the god given rights then change them. I’m trying are you?

  • Rob Rawlins

    Also print out federal law, as it states that only YOU can have access to said locked container. I’ve had TSA demand I give them a key to open the pistol case (which I refused) got tense for a few moments, then they escorted me to some random door and they brought the case out for me to open. TSA lady had a few choice words to which I responded with a printout of federal law, she acquiesced, thankfully.

    leave extra time to, calmly and patiently, teach people there jobs on your way through check in.