By Phillip Nelsen

Transporting Firearms on Aircraft

If you are planning on traveling with your firearm through an airport it is essential to know the rules. You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. If you are traveling through an airport, make sure to follow these steps:

  1. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.
  2. When traveling, comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments.
  3. If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel.
  4. Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  5. Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. Remove the magazine from any firearms even though the magazine is unloaded. Under federal law ( 49 CFR 1540.5) a firearm may be considered “loaded” if it has a magazine inserted in the firearm.
    • NOTE: The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.
  6. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations. You may use any brand or type of lock to secure your firearm case, including TSA-recognized locks.
  7. Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  8. Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only.
  9. Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

Relevant Statute: Title 49: Transportation – Part 1540- Civil Aviation Security – §1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals

Transporting Ammunition

Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage. Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm.

Small arms ammunition, including ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm.