Comments on Flying with Guns & Gear

By John Farnam

Farnam Signature M4 Rifle
Farnam FSM4 Signature M4 Rifle
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- As I write this, I’m at DEN (Denver) waiting to fly out for a weekend course.

As always, I have two pistols (Walther PPQ and Kahr PM45) and my M4 (FSM4) in checked baggage. All in hard, locked cases, per TSA regulations.

SW, at least, never wants to see the guns themselves. They tape the declaration card to the outside, and I'm on my way.

For my M4, I have four 30-round Magpul Magazines, fully-charged, with the Magpul Dust Covers “cap” in place, all within a gun-rug. TSA thinks that is all just fine! For my pistols, I have a total of five fully-charged magazines, all in “magazine socks” by Hi-Viz, also within a gun-rug, which TSA also thinks is all just fine.

On my person, I have two tactical flashlights (Firstlight T-Max/LE and EAGTAC T25C2) and a DTI Trauma Kit. Flashlights are no problem, and the Trauma Kit is in my briefcase (along with my portable computer) and receives scant notice.

EagleTac T25C2 Compact LED Tactical Flashlight
EagleTac T25C2 Compact LED Tactical Flashlight : https://goo.gl/ybS56B

This is pretty standard commercial air kit for me, and I’ve been doing it this way for at least a decade. I don’t fly for my health, so I need a system that generates minimum delay and works every time. And, I need to be heavily armed, no matter where I go.

In most western and midwestern airports, this system works adequately. Would likely be a no-go in NYC and a few other airports in the northeast, but I don’t fly to any of those.

TSA/PRE status is a definite time-saver, and I recommend it. TSA/PRE passengers usually go through pretty fast and are asked far fewer questions than is the case for “general” travelers. Application process is easy, and it is definitely worth the effort, in my opinion.

Domestic commercial air travel is still fraught with stress, and sometimes surprises, no doubt. However, in my experience airline employees, even TSA folks, almost always try to be helpful. The key to minimizing delay and anxiety is to take a breath, don’t get excited, and don’t fail the attitude test. Just smile at everyone, be polite, and go through the process as best you can.

If I could afford my own jet (and crew), I would surely do it that way. On the other hand, if I could afford my own jet, I probably wouldn’t be working for a living and wouldn’t have to travel!

I friend who flies more than I do advised:

“If you’ve never missed a flight, you’re spending too much time in airports!”

/John


UPDATE: Additional information about flying domestically.

I apparently confused some readers with my Quip of this morning.

Each airline has its own version of a “declaration tag.” It is supposed to go on, or in, the hard case containing your gun(s).

SW likes to tape it to the outside of the hard container, and then the container itself goes inside the suitcase or duffel.

I may have mistakenly given the impression that the declaration tag goes on the outside of the suitcase and is thus in plain view.

I don’t fly with visible “gun cases.” I fly with plain-vanilla luggage, with gun cases inside!

Another point:

Always be polite, as I advised, but don’t be talkative, and don’t answer questions that weren’t asked. SW, for example, never asks about ammunition, and I never volunteer information.

There is no requirement that ammunition be “declared.”

The subject never comes up!

/John

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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    JayGregory RomeuDavid BentleyCharlesJames Bailey Recent comment authors
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    David Bentley
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    David Bentley

    I am also a retired Leo, and, I just happen to know Charlie, the other Leo above. I know full well he is someone you want around if you ever need help for yourself or your family. I think he would say the same about me. We just happen to bleed blue, we retired but never stopped being sheepdogs, people who would fight to protect the weak and oppressed.
    And, I don’t think most people look down on law enforcement, usually just the people referred to as perps!

    Charles
    Guest
    Charles

    Well, James, it sounds like you are one of those people that get told by cops to step out of the car and put your hands behind your head because of a disregard of respect for an officer. And, had you read between the lines which it seems you are totally incapable of doing you would realize that I was knocking the TSA for their incapability to realize what they handed back to me. They had no idea I was a cop and I gave it to the Port Authority Cop who was assisting me in getting locks for my… Read more »

    james
    Guest
    james

    Reminder to NEVER bring any firearms into NY Kennedy, LaGuardia or NJ Liberty Newark airports.

    NY NJ Port Authority police do not recognize FAA rules for firearm travel.

    Charles
    Guest
    Charles

    Never had a problem they’re at all. Being retired Leo they were more than helpful. One time at LA Guardia I got through with pepper spray.

    James Bailey
    Guest
    James Bailey

    Yeah, being a retired Badge may be a nice thing, but here’s a news flash from the world of reality: 99 percent of us are not retired Badges!

    The sheer elitist concept inherent in your post amazes me: you think it’s fine that you get to operate under a different and better set of rules and the rest of this!

    If you ever wonder why so many people have a bad attitude towards cops, re-read your post a few times and consider what the ninety-nine percent of us go through on a regular basis.

    Charles
    Guest
    Charles

    James, maybe if you had read my post a little closer you would have read between the lines which is obvious you are too uneducated to do as I was knocking TSA for their abject failure to find it.I gave it to one of the Port Police Officers and he couldn’t believe how they let it through. Maybe someday you will be out of state and some ass wipe will be beating the crap out of you or your family and it will be someone like me that stops and helps your unappreciative ass from getting killed. So go sit… Read more »

    Colonialgirl
    Guest
    Colonialgirl

    Please NOTE that according to ALL regulations that once the TSA has X-Rayed/inspected your baggage that yiou CAN LOCK it with a NON-TSA padlock and it then sent down to be loaded onto the aircraft; It is NOT subject to ANY other inspection with out your presence to open YOUR pad lock. IF they have opened it with out YOUR presence, then file for damages and claim items have been stolen; That should make it loads of fun.

    Gregory Romeu
    Guest
    Gregory Romeu

    Watch the video and pay attention!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mGjddG5OwscmGjddG5Owsc

    Charles
    Guest
    Charles

    I have always been told that the ammo has to be out of the magazines and in a separate container, preferably an ammo box. I have also encountered TSA agents who had no clue what to do and I had to show them what was required. I have also found notes that my luggage has been gone through once I get to my destination, not all the time just on occasion. As inept as they are they should be call Totally Stupid Aholes.

    Gregory Romeu
    Guest
    Gregory Romeu

    It is against the law for the TSA or anybody to rifle through your luggage without you being present.

    Jim Macklin
    Guest
    Jim Macklin

    You don’t need a jet to be faster than airline jets since you are not going anywhere while you check baggage, check-in, get screened, wait at the gate and pass TSA . Then after an hour or two at 500+ mph you wait again for your bags and then get a rental car for the hour drive to where you really want to go. A General Aviation twin or even a single engine airplane at 150-250 mph goes directly to the city where you really want to be. If you are not yet a pilot, you can charter a professionally… Read more »

    Gregory Romeu
    Guest
    Gregory Romeu

    Also be aware that the law dictates that if TSA wants to root through your luggage after it is checked and on its way to the belly of the airplane they must come and get you and escort you to your luggage and observe YOU opening and closing your luggage and gun case(s).

    Gary Wells
    Guest
    Gary Wells

    In practice this has never happened with me. Instead I find a notification inside my bag informing me my bag was searched.

    Boz
    Guest
    Boz

    Same here.

    Jay
    Guest
    Jay

    2011-2015 flew out of Indianapolis three times with a gun case containing a shotgun, a rifle and four handguns. At Indy your case goes into the secure area before it is swabbed. My case alerted each time. A TSA office would come ask me for my keys. I would say I’m not supposed to surrender them. He’d say, you’re not going into the secure are and we’re not bringing the case out here. So I was presented with three options (never explicitly stated but obvious). Stand my ground and miss my flight. Stand my ground but catch my flight (leaving… Read more »

    Gregory Romeu
    Guest
    Gregory Romeu

    Bow down and accept the shackles because you just gave up your Liberty.

    Jay
    Guest
    Jay

    And you expected me to do what? Leave my firearms behind? I did file a complaint.