Flying with Guns: Best Hard-Side Travel Cases

mike gun caseYou’ve heard that airline baggage handlers are gorillas that throw bags and gun cases around, but in my experience that is not the case. I peek out the plane window whenever I can and watch those guys, and for the most part they are responsible with peoples’ bags.

Now, I understand that some people flying with guns have horror stories, and some of those have been posted here on the blog. But I’ve been lucky with my rifles over the last 30 years, and yes, I knock on wood.

I’ve always used a top-quality hard case.

With all those miles you fly and connections, plus the last leg of a journey to and from your destination, your case (and guns and scopes inside) will be subject to a lot of thumping, rattling and shimmying in the belly of airplanes, bed of trucks, boats, etc. Don’t skimp on a hard-sided case!

BEST TIP: Buy a quality hard case that will hold 2 rifles. Even if you don’t carry a back-up rifle, the case will be large enough to pack your binoculars, 2 boxes of ammo, shooting stick and some other stuff, which saves you room and weight in your other bag. Definitely buy a case with wheels that you can roll easily through the airport (all the best cases nowadays come with wheels).

Here are 2 great choices, both available from Cabela’s:

Pelican Double Rifle Travel Vault: This is one of the best hard cases I have ever used, and the one I carry now. These are the same type cases that traveling military and professional photographers use (on a typical BIG DEER TV shoot our cameramen might carry 6-8 Pelican cases). The exterior is made of polypropylene copolymer material that is fairly lightweight but thick, tough and durable. Available in black or desert tan, the latter my favorite.


Inside, the open-cell core foam and solid-wall construction absorb shock to protect your guns and optics and their zero. Easy-open latches combine a C-clamp with a secondary action that works like a pry bar so they lock tight but release with just a light pull. You can latch on 4 locks.

Case is 53 inches long, and can be checked as your second bag with no additional oversize fee (other than the customary second-bag fee). Empty, the case weighs 26 pounds; with two 8-pound rifles it still comes in well under the airlines’ allotted 50 pounds a bag.

I am not the only one who has had good luck with this Pelican case. In more than 100 Cabela’s customer reviews, it got 5 out of 5 stars. Cost is around $240; this case will last you for many years, probably forever.

SKB iSeries 5014 Double Rifle/Bow Case: This one is a no-brainer if you sometimes take guns and sometimes bows on a plane. The case holds 2 bows or 2 rifles or a bow/rifle combination that you stack inside. The high-density polyurethane shell closes tightly and is rugged. It has 4 trigger-release latches with TSA-approved locks, and 4 more holes along the case for your private locks.

skb case

Interior has thick foam and Velcro straps for securing bow limbs, something I have always liked in a case. This case is big enough for the biggest travel job, but still a good size to handle and roll (54 inches long and 26 pounds empty). So again, no oversize excess fee.

While I have not used this particular new case, I have used several similar SKB cases with great results and cannot imagine that the iSeries 5014 is not a quality one. This case retails for $280 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers up to $1,500 in damage. Green, black or tan.

Once you’ve got your case, read our ultimate guide to flying with guns before you take off.


Record Gun Sales Continue As Americans Fear Clinton Presidency

gun cabelasOver the past 7 years, a popular saying in the firearms industry has been, “Obama has been the best gun salesman we could have!” The President’s anti-gun rheteroic and actions have produced record gun sales that will no doubt continue, and likely increase substantially, as law-abiding Americans anticipate a win for Hillary this November.

As this article in the Washington Free Beacon points out, “Both President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have publicly expressed support for Australian-style gun confiscation measures. Clinton has also said the Supreme Court was wrong on Second Amendment gun rights protections…”

Let me repeat that: support for gun confiscation and wrong on Second Amendment gun rights.

“There is no doubt that the string of record monthly gun sales have been driven by the anti-rights agenda of the Obama Administration and the millions of dollars that Michael Bloomberg has spent assaulting the Second Amendment,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said. “Now add to that the fact that Hillary Clinton has doubled down in attacking gun ownership in her White House campaign and it is no surprise that we continue to hit new gun sales records.”

I repeat a third time: confiscation.

Regardless of your political stripes, remember that when you go to the ballot box in November.

There are 2 pro-gun candidates in the race. We blogged about Donald Trump’s position on the Second Amendment. The NRA endorsed Trump last month.

What about Libertarian Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico?

Johnson said in 2012, “I’m one of those who believe the bumper sticker: If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. The first people who are going to be in line to turn in their guns are law-abiding citizens. Criminals are going to be left with guns. I believe that concealed carry is a way of reducing gun violence.”

On the Second Amendment, Johnson believes the right to bear arms is a basic Constitutional right and expresses the democratic principle of self-defense against tyrannical government.

There are many issues in this messy and crazy election, but on our guns and the Second Amendment, the choices are crystal clear.


Virginia: Monster Buck (201 7/8”) to Appear on BIG DEER TV

va jimmy compress

The new season of Big Deer TV premieres in July on Sportsman Channel and airs through the end of the year. More later on days and air times.

One of the episodes we’re working on right now is a compilation of conversations and interviews I’ve had with regular hunters across the nation who have shot monster whitetails. I love to hear these guys tell their stories of the 180- to 200-inch dream bucks they shot, and I think you will too.

One of those stories comes from Virginia and really hits home. The giant was shot less than 30 miles from my house by a great old country boy, Jimmy Taylor. Actually Jimmy and his buck appeared briefly on my show 4 years ago, but in the new episode we expand the story, which goes like this:

On November 17, 2007, Jimmy, who works at the farmer’s coop and takes his vacation every year during the first week of the VA rifle season, climbed into his ladder stand about 4 PM. His brother had killed a good buck that morning, and he was riding Jimmy pretty hard about it, bragging and getting away with it as only a brother can.

Jimmy heard crunching in the leaves and saw a doe. “She was really small,” he remembers. He heard more hoofs—a huge deer was behind her, “just meandering slowly, taking his time,” Jimmy said. With more than 40 years of deer hunting under his belt, Jimmy knew the buck was big, so he raised his .270 and fired.

It was a 90-yard shot, and the 150-grain Core-Lokt dropped the buck on the spot. Jimmy walked over to it about fell over! “I knew he was big when I saw him, but man I didn’t know he was that big!”

Jimmy had never seen the monster before, nor had anybody else. That is takeaway #1 from this story. Isn’t it fascinating how a world-class deer can come out of the woodwork, never having been seen before, dragged out into the open one November day by a sweet-smelling doe?

This was an incredible deer from a region known for some good bucks, but rarely if ever a 200-incher. So remember, you might kill your dream buck anywhere, anytime. Don’t get discouraged if you’ve haven’t seen or shot a good buck in a while, maybe this will be your year.

Jimmy’s brother heard the shot and came running. He kept up his ribbing, “I hope you didn’t let the big one get away!” until he saw the rack, and then he and Jimmy went crazy.

Jimmy carried the head to a prominent VA taxidermist who has mounted some deer for my dad and me over the years. “Jimmy, that’s the biggest buck anybody has bought in here in 50 years!” he said.

Tale of the tape: total points 20…spread 22 4/8…main beams 27 7/8 (R) and 27 1/8 (L)…total mass measurements 44 5/8…final score 201 7/8.

No surprise Jimmy’s monster was first in the VA big-buck contest that year. It is currently the 23rd largest NT ever shot in VA.

Postscript: Several months after shooting his dream buck, Jimmy heard that a kid riding a 4-wheeler had found an enormous shed antler in the area. He tracked the kid down and after some wrangling, acquired the huge chunk of bone that had fallen off the buck’s head some 9 months before Jimmy shot him. You’ll see and hear all about that on the TV show.

Takeaway #2: The kid found the shed 500 yards from where Jimmy killed the buck. Proves once again that many old whitetails are homebodies, and the older they get the smaller their core areas get. Find a huge shed now and there’s a chance the huge buck will be living right there this fall.

Why Is Donald Trump on BIG DEER?


As Donald Trump is fixing to win big in more voting tomorrow en route to amassing 1,237 delegates and capturing the GOP nomination, I take you back to a post I wrote in 2011, in which The Donald was saying the same things: China is ripping us off… Make America great again…

Actually that post 5 years ago was more about Donald Trump Jr., who is one of us and enjoys hunting.

More to the point now, since Trump Sr. is on the verge of the Republican nomination, are his views foremost on guns and gun ownership, and to a lesser degree on public lands and hunting. While the latter two are obviously important issues for us, this will be the most important election ever regarding the Second Amendment; hard to believe, but Hillary is farther left than Obama on our right to own and carry firearms.

So what are Donald Trump’s views on guns? According to a recent interview in Petersen’s Hunting magazine:

On Second Amendment issues he was spot on… Gun-free zones create easy targets for criminals. If citizens were armed, there would be fewer casualties in mass shootings, and under his watch there would be no new federal gun laws.

As for protecting federal lands for hunting and fishing, a huge issue with sportsman especially in the West:

Donald Trump didn’t waffle, stating that a USFWS Director appointed by him would “ideally be a hunter” and under his watch there would be no sale of public Western lands.

So what do you think of Mr. Trump? Will you vote for him over Hillary?

VIDEO: How to Clean a Hunting Rifle

video clean deer rifleJim emailed me about the video we produced on cleaning a rifle. He said he watched it, followed our steps to a tee, let the rifle sit awhile and then went to the range to sight-in again.

“I have killed a lot of deer with this rifle over the years, but it never really shot all that great,” he said. “Two and a half inches is about the best group I could ever get. But after cleaning the barrel like John advised in the video, the rifle now shoots just over an inch MOA.”

A thorough cleaning can do that, especially if you have neglected your rifle’s barrel lately.

Our video, featuring the expertise of Remington’s John Fink, runs about 9 minutes. Watch and clean your rifle accordingly when you get a chance, and you’ll shoot better.