Things I’ve Learned While Flying With A Handgun; Tips For The Armed Traveler


Flying with a handgun in your checked luggage doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and it usually isn’t. There are, however, a few things that should be taken into consideration when you’re doing this.

After flying with handguns for a few years now, here are a few things that I’ve learned to help make things as smooth as possible.

Have Everything As Simple As Possible

Let’s say I’m traveling with a Glock 26. I’ll place it in the manufacturer’s box. I will also leave the magazines (unloaded) in the same box, but not in the firearm. The slide will also be locked back so that it’s clearly understood that the firearm is unloaded.

These simple steps will help to make the process smoother, and help to snuff out any possible delays when it comes to packaging the firearm.

Arrive Earlier Than Normal

I’ve been to airports where the declaration of my firearm literally took 3 minutes. Then, there have been times when I’ve stood there upwards of 30 minutes waiting for a member of TSA to come check everything out.

Aside from that, you could be looking at a long line. Let’s say there’s one person working the check-in counter and isn’t all that familiar with checking firearms (this just happened to me last week). This will delay an otherwise quick check-in, so make sure you give yourself enough time for any hurdles.

Keep Handgun And Ammo Separate

While this isn’t an across-the-board rule, it’s recommended for an easier time at the counter. If one less question needs to be asked, you’re that much closer to the gate.

Typically, I’ll have my locked handgun inside the hard case. Then, any ammo that I’m traveling in will be inside the suitcase that’s holding the hard case as well. The suitcase has it’s own lock, btw. More on that next…

Locks And More Locks

Many airlines only require the gun box to be locked. Let’s say that you have your gun in the manufacturer’s hard case. That needs to be locked. But we’ll assume that the hard case is inside of your suitcase, as is with most scenarios. What about that? Yes, you want to lock that as well.

Even if it’s not a requirement to have the suitcase locked, it’s in your best interest to do so.

With that said, your suitcase will exchange many hands during the process, and it’s just smart to lock it as well.

Have Your Concealed Carry Permit

This goes without saying if you’re in a state that requires one, or are traveling to a state that requires one. While they probably won’t ever need to see it at check-in, it’s always the best practice to have it with you and easily accessible.

Check With Airline Requirements Prior To Your Trip

Airlines all have their different policies in place for transporting firearms. While most of them are pretty standard, some will vary. For example, one airline may allow loaded magazines inside the same case as your firearm, while others want them packaged separately.

Heading over to your airline’s website will provide you with all the detailed information that you need.

Make Sure Of Where You’re Traveling Through

While it’s not a concern for most, be sure to know where your layovers will occur. If, say, you’re traveling from Florida to Maine and have a stop in New York City, be warned. NYC has been known to arrest people for simply passing through with a handgun, even if they aren’t in actual possession of it.

While these cases are rare, they do happen. But what should be even more on the mind is this; What happens if you have a layover in New Jersey, handgun in checked baggage, and your next flight is cancelled? Unless you’ve got a NJ permit, it’d be illegal for you to take possession of your checked bag.

Just food for thought.


Whenever someone travels, I always ask them if they’re bringing a gun. Many people are hesitant to try the whole ‘flying with a handgun’ thing, but I assure you it’s easier than many believe.

Be mindful of the laws in the state that you are traveling to, secure your firearm properly, and you should be well on your way to being armed at your destination.

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About the Author

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP, with a Shield Sights RMSC Red Dot, that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in a Vedder Holsters ComfortTuck IWB holster.

Vedder Holsters
Vedder Holsters

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