Flying with a gun? Here's what you need to know

Thinking about flying and taking your gun? Here's everything you need to know, provided by the Transportation Security Administration. 

Travelers may only transport UNLOADED firearms in a locked, hard-sided container as checked baggage. All firearms, ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are prohibited in carry-on baggage.

Realistic replicas of firearms are also prohibited in carry-on bags and must be packed in checked baggage. Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked bags.

In addition to TSA security rules on transporting firearms, airlines, as well as state, local and international governments have additional rules that may vary by location. Please check with your airline and with states and cities you will be traveling into and out of to become familiar with their requirements and ensure you are compliant with their laws. Before traveling outside of the United States with firearms and/or ammunition, you should also read U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s guidance .

Law Enforcement Officers: There are certain limited exceptions for law enforcement officers who may fly armed by meeting the requirements of Title 49 CFR § 1544.219. Read TSA policies  for law enforcement officers traveling with firearms.

To avoid issues that could impact your travel and/or result in law enforcement action, here are some guidelines to assist you in packing your firearms and ammunition:

  • All firearms  must be declared to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
  • The term firearm includes:*Please see, for instance, United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44 for information about firearm definitions.
  • Any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, or is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.
  • The frame or receiver of any such weapon.
  • Any firearm muffler or firearm silencer.
  • Any destructive device.
  • The firearm must be unloaded.
  • As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5  - "A loaded firearm means a firearm that has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm."
  • The firearm must be in a hard-sided container that is locked.   A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be pulled open with little effort cannot be brought aboard the aircraft.
  • If firearms are not properly declared or packaged, TSA will provide the checked bag to law enforcement for resolution with the airline. If the issue is resolved, law enforcement will release the bag to TSA so screening may be completed.
  • TSA must resolve all alarms in  checked baggage. If a locked container containing a firearm alarms, TSA will contact the airline, who will make a reasonable attempt to contact the owner and advise the passenger to go to the screening location. If contact is not made, the container will not be placed on the aircraft.
  • If a locked container alarms during screening and is not marked as containing a declared firearm, TSA will cut the lock in order to resolve the alarm.
  • Travelers should remain in the area designated by the aircraft operator or TSA representative to take the key back after the container is cleared for transportation.
  • Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
  • 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 for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it follows the packing guidelines described above.
  • TSA prohibits black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder.
  • Rifle scopes are not prohibited in carry-on bags and do not need to be in the hard-sided, locked checked bag.

CLICK HERE for more information from the TSA.

NOTE: Check with your airline or travel agent to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply.

*Permitted in checked baggage only if it does not contain lighter fluid.


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