Traveling with Firearms
Traveling with firearms can be a time consuming process requiring many hurry up and wait hours – whether flying across America or Africa. I have never traveled with handguns only shotguns and rifles worldwide. I average hunting in ten to twelve states plus, at least one international safari a year which makes for a lot of travel time from Dallas, Texas. Thank goodness I have Port of Dallas-Fort Worth and an International Airport with a US Customs and Border Protection Port.
Being aware of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and/or Homeland Security rules will make traveling with firearms easier and with confidence when flying to your next hunting adventure. Contact TSA Contact Center, if you have any questions regarding TSA firearm regulations and/or clarification. Traveling with firearms is a serious decision we make when participating in shooting sports or hunting.
After booking your domestic or international flight, contact the airlines and inform agent you are traveling with a firearm. Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage ONLY. ONLY you should retain the key and/or combination lock. I never allow the TSA agent to lock my gun case. I am always in charge.
I aways witness the procedure of checking and locking the gun case, even though one is never allowed to touch the firearm at the TSA station for sending the gun case to checked baggage. My favorite hard gun case is TUFF PAC. It looks like oversize bag for golf clubs. It’s lock is very easy, sturdy and difficult to tamper with by a third party. TUFF PAC rolls and is easy to manage in airports worldwide. Plus, they have extra room inside for packing hunting boots and down jackets for extra padding and protection. I have packed as many as three shotguns or three rifles with waders.
Important Information when Traveling with Firearms
- Gun case is considered as checked baggage and can not exceed 50 LBS
- Shotguns must have the action locked open
- Rifles must have the bolt removed and placed in soft case
- All ammo must be locked in a hard case and only 100 rounds in original boxes and stored and shipped in a separate checked locked bag. The bag can be a soft canvas or duffle bag (I have a beautiful ammo belt that holds 10 rounds & I loaded my ammo belt with my ammo in my locked hard case, when I arrived at my destination…yes, you guessed it…ammo was removed)
- Firearm parts, including magazines (limited to 10 bullets), clips bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage and MUST be transported in checked baggage
- Rifle & Shotgun scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage
Flying with Firearms – Domestic
When traveling with firearms in the US, arrive at least two (2) hours prior to departure at checking-in agent (smile and use your best manners). You are required to fill out a FIREARMS(S) UNLOADED declaration form requiring passenger signature, flight number, date, airlines employee number and signature and place in hard gun case. (sometimes agent wants to see firearm). Agent gives porter firearm and take you to TSA agent to X-Ray gun case and check for gun powder. (use your best manners)
Gun Case must be unlocked and after the green light is given, you will be asked to lock hard gun case or give them the key…this is where I suggest I lock the gun case. I NEVER allow anyone else to lock my gun case. NOTE: Many guns have been stolen out of gun cases during this maneuver. Dallas is NO exception. When picking up firearms at destination…ask for over-size luggage area and present your baggage claim number to pick up your firearm from agent. (use your best manners)
Flying with Firearms – International
When traveling with firearms internationally, you need to register your firearm with US Department of Homeland Security at least 45 days prior to departure. An official Seal will be stamped on certificate. Registering Shotguns, Rifles and Scopes on declaration form you MUST copy the serial number exactly! Check and ReCheck! If a number is out of sequence your gun may be confiscated at the country you wish to enter. (I strongly suggest you make a copy of this and place in your important papers) When traveling abroad, this original certificate should be placed with your passport.
I recommend Air 2000 when traveling to South Africa which costs approximately $150. Your gun is declared and checked by serial numbers in a professional manner upon entry by licensed agents for declaration. (I have seen many hunters not using this service detained up to 12 hours and pulling out hundreds of dollars to South African agents just to be allowed to enter their country with their firearms.) Sounds simple, but requires a lot of patience. (Smiling is NOT an option but manners are required) Remember you are in a foreign country and subject to their rules and regulations. YOU have NO rights. You are NOT a citizen. Once cleared…your safari begins.
Traveling with firearms Internationally poses a couple questions:
- Should I take my own firearm?
- Should I rent a firearm?
I have a lot of confidence in my Remington custom model 700 series 300 win mag firearms with NIKON Monarch scope. I have spent hours at the range plus, having the perfect shot placement with my Barnes Bullets.
I encourage you to follow my 24th African safari as I introduce the dark continent to three DIVAs – Carol Adams, Myrna Cypher & Mary Holsenbeck – on their first hunting and photographic safari with me. This seasoned huntress will feature pictures and daily blogs on The Soul of the Dark Continent. For more tips and information on hunting and traveling, just search #HuntingwithJR.