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Flying with your Precision Rifles?
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Author:  Montana [ Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Flying with your Precision Rifles?

At the end of the month I’m flying with my daughter to Ft. Benning for the Army National Junior Championship (Precision) and we will be bringing both the air rifle & small bore rifle. Since this is our 1st time flying with rifles, I need some direction.

While I’ve been reading up on TSA guidelines, I am in need of helpful ideas, advice, or any thoughts to make our travel uneventful.

Author:  lyoke [ Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

I have flown quite a few times with my smallbore rifle and service rifle. I know other people will have their advice but my experience has been really good overall with flying.

The TSA procedures actually seem to be extremely airport specific.

I would fly out of Indianapolis for example, there I would have to do the regular check-in of the rifle in a locked case. Use the big silver locks with a key. Then sign the slip that confirms the firearm is unloaded, this would have to be slipped into the case and they would give me another slip. After that, they would take the rifle and I would have to go through security then talk to the head of security at the desk and they would take my slip and key and go double check my rifle case (I guess?) then would come back 20 minutes later and tell me I have a really cool looking gun and I would be on my way.

Flying out of the Ft. Myers airport, I would just sign the unloaded slip, check-in the rifle and be along my way. No second security check.

Like I said airport specific, the same thing happened each time I flew out of each airport.

When collecting your rifle after the flight it shouldn't be on the carousel like the other bags it will be at the luggage office for your specific airline. You go to their office and show them your ID and you are free to go. Sometimes they take their sweet time getting the rifle case from the plane to the office, especially if you have two.

I packed my spotting scope in my carry on. I took it through security and they took it for extra screening and did their testing on it. The guy said there was gunpowder residue on it, luckily I was wearing my rifle team jacket and he let me right through.

The only issue I have had with flying with rifles was not having enough locks on my case. It was fine flying one way but flying back they wanted more.

Give yourself some extra time just in case but it is normally a fairly painless experience.

Author:  dschaller [ Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

Depending on the airport, the air cylinder on the air rifle could be a problem. There are many horror stories about the air cylinders not being allowed leaving Colorado Springs.... You should empty the pressure out of the cylinder, and leave it on the gun. Spare cylinders are a no-no at many other airports. Many people have gone to shipping an air cylinder to the match location ahead of time and back home afterwards, or having someone carry it if they are driving to the match. At DFW I was allowed to have an airpistol with attached cylinder, but the spare cylinder was refused. Unfortunately there is no standard used at all airports, so hopefully someone familiar with the airports you will use will respond.

Author:  ShootWithStyle [ Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

As was stated earlier, the initial process is pretty standard. Bring your locked case(s) to the check in counter and let the agent know you are declaring a firearm(s). Some airlines will direct you to a specific counter for firearms handling. At United at LAX, they send you to the Oversize Luggage counter which is actually nice because there is almost never a line to check in. If you are unsure of where to go, ask an airline representative prior to getting into line so you don't waste your time queuing up in the wrong line.

Fill out the Firearms Unloaded certificate and place it in the case when they tell you to. Sometimes they ask if it is unloaded (it should always be), but I have never had to physically show them an empty chamber on my firearms.

Some airports will have you leave the key with the TSA agent, others will have you hold on to it and open it only if they have to check something. And please don't use TSA locks. Use regular key or combination locks that only you can open.

Each airport is different. Here are my experiences with the ones I have flown through.

Los Angeles Intl Airport (LAX) Domestic Flights - Declare at counter. Case is taken to closed screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are unable to observe. You hold onto the key. Case is not opened.

Los Angeles Intl Airport (LAX) International Flights - Declare at counter. Case is taken to open screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are able to observe as screening takes place. You hold onto the key. Case is not opened.

Orange County / John Wayne Airport (SNA) - Declare at counter. Case is taken to open screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are able to observe as screening takes place. You hold onto the key. Case is not opened. (One time the TSA agent let me stand right next to him as he screened my case)

Colorado Springs (COS) - Declare at counter. Case is taken to open screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are able to observe as screening takes place. You hold onto the key. Case is not opened.

Denver Intl Airport (DEN) - Declare at counter. Case is taken to open screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are able to observe as screening takes place, but from a distance. You hold onto the key until they ask for it. Case is opened as you watch screening. They don't pull the rifle(s) out, but they will push and squeeze the foam to see if anything is hidden inside of it.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) - Declare at counter. Case is taken to open screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are able to observe as screening takes place. You hold onto the key. Case is not opened.

Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Georgia (CSG) - Declare at counter. Case is taken to open screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are able to observe as screening takes place. You hold onto the key. Case is not opened.

Memphis Intl Airport (MEM) - Declare at counter. Case is taken to open screening area to be swabbed for explosive residue. You are able to observe as screening takes place, but from a distance. You hold onto the key until they ask for it. Case is opened as you watch screening. They don't pull the rifle(s) out, but they will push and squeeze the foam to see if anything is hidden inside of it.

Flughafen Hannover, Hannover Airport, Germany (HAJ) - Declare at counter. Case is taken to closed screening area to be examined by local Police. You provide copy of your Import Permit issued by the German Authorities so they can verify the rifle(s) you are leaving with are the same as the rifle(s) you originally arrived with. You open the case at their instruction and pull out rifles to verify serial numbers. At no time will they physically handle your rifle, you handle it the entire time in the presence of the Polizei.

All of the above is only the initial screening. The cases are still x-rayed but usually after you have already departed the initial screening area. I put my phone number on all luggage tags and write it as well on the case so they can call me if anything else is found during the x-ray. This has happened to me once where the x-ray tech saw something strange and i was called.

You may encounter a ticketing agent who will ask you how much ammo you are checking in as well. The limit if i recall correctly is 5.5 kilos (about 12 pounds). I often just say it's less than the maximum allowed weight. Only once have I had to take ammo out of my check in luggage and have it weighed.

Check your airline for specific rules on sports baggage. Many airlines waive the dimensional restrictions but will still charge you if your case is over 50lbs. My case with both air and smallbore rifle comes in at 49.9 lbs.

Lastly, in regards to air cylinders i have not had any issue leaving the cylinder in my rifle when traveling other than from Denver or Colorado Springs. For those two airports I will remove the cylinder. One thing that some shooters do is take the cylinder and tape up the ends with painters tape and then tape the cylinder to whatever offhand stand they are taking with them. If you have an aluminum cylinder and an aluminum offhand stand of the same colour, the cylinder just looks like a section of the offhand stand.

Hope this helps.

Author:  Mike M. [ Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

I've been traveling both domestically and internationally with firearms since the early '90s. My suggestions:

1. Get the strongest case you can afford. Pelican is good. KK Air is better. Make sure it's got wheels.

2. Get some cheap trigger locks. This makes the Nervous Nellies less nervous.

3. Do NOT use TSA locks. Good padlocks are required.

4. When you check in, allow 30 minutes more for check-in. Ask for "a firearm card for this (point) case". If possible, make sure the case clears TSA inspection before you head to the gate.

5. When you get to the destination, your case may be either on the regular baggage claim, or you may have to collect it as outsize baggage. With rifles, most likely the latter.

Author:  Montana [ Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

Kudos to everyone, that is great information that definitely helps a ton!

A couple more questions: someone told me recently to loosen the stock to receiver bolts as someone’s stock broke traveling & was attributed to the pressure changes. Any thoughts on this or anything else to do to the SMB or Air rifles in preparation? We are traveling with both rifles. Additionally I have an aluminum 2gun case with wheels that was custom made for the original owner of the SMB gun, would an aluminum case be an issue?

Author:  rtucker6508 [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

Let me add a question to this... I have a 16 year old daughter that I want to send to JO's on her own. She has to take both air and smallbore. I am reading from the airlines that to check a firearm you have to be 18, but I cannot find that requirement on TSA....

Any suggestions or a way around this???

Thank you!

Robert

Author:  jhmartin [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

I've seen many wood stocked Anschutz "club" stocks broken during airline transit. Even in very good cases.
"Toss the gun case as far as possible" or "Run over the gun case with the cart" seem to be a very popular pasttime for luggage handlers.

Stocks like: http://www.champchoice.com/store/Main.a ... tem=014235
They break right at the "wrist" where your hand grips it.
I have my shooters loosen the action bolts.

I also like my shooters with 1912 stocks to do the same.

But caution ... the threaded pillars are fairly "soft" and to not take well to a cross threading or an over tightening.
h
If you are going to do this make sure you have a torque wrench to tighten them down. Whether the one from Anschuts or I like these as they support a variety of manufacturers.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0018 ... UTF8&psc=1

Excellent tools and make sure you turn them back to zero after use.

Author:  Montana [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

One man, that’s a great question Robert! I am having a 16 year old teammate travel with us & without her parents. We have this same issue upcoming in a couple weeks. Hopefully someone has good insight on this.

Author:  jhmartin [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

rtucker6508 wrote:
Let me add a question to this... I have a 16 year old daughter that I want to send to JO's on her own. She has to take both air and smallbore. I am reading from the airlines that to check a firearm you have to be 18, but I cannot find that requirement on TSA....

Any suggestions or a way around this???

Thank you!

Robert
Various airlines have different rules. When my daughters were younger going to advanced camps, traveling by themselves, we had to ship the smallbore rifles to an FFL in the area.
Under 18 with a smallbore rifle or pistol will most probably need an adult to travel with her. See if there is a group going w/ an adult where she can tag along if you cannot go w/ her.

I'd post a question regarding that in the youth forum .... now is a good time to start making those arrangements.
One adult traveling with the group is fine

Author:  Hemmers [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

Can't comment on TSA, only bounced around Europe, but I would say that every airport is different, and every airline is different. And airlines will vary from one airport to another... I was once stood at the check-in desk for over an hour in Manchester (UK) because the terminal we flew from literally had no customs staff available. Basically all the flights out of that terminal were to Germany and France, and were "not of interest". Customs were generally more interested in the other terminal where flights from the Caribbean and South America landed and generally any drug smuggling was going to end up there. The airline staff were excellent and gave me a fast-pass through security once Border Force had finally deigned to show up and check my serial number.

Conversely at Birmingham (UK), Border Force and I had to convince the airline rep that really, no, my wooden stock was not supposed to have a serial number engraved on it. Only the action has a serial!

Leave yourself at least 90 minutes extra. So if they say to allow 2 hours to check in, give it 3-3.5 hours.

The bonus is that you will often get diverted to the oversize baggage or VIP line because they typically have one or two staff who deal with "awkward" stuff like firearms so you're not blocking out a check-in desk whilst you make your declarations and sort any paperwork.

Montana wrote:
Kudos to everyone, that is great information that definitely helps a ton!

A couple more questions: someone told me recently to loosen the stock to receiver bolts as someone’s stock broke traveling & was attributed to the pressure changes.


This is generally good advice.

I use the Peli 1720 - an Anschutz 1913 Supermatch (Wood Supermatch Stock) will sort of just fit but with about 5mm of foam at either end... so I actually ended up dropping the action out the stock entirely and cut the foam so they each had their own separate cutout section. You have to reassemble each time you shot it but this is fine so long as you have a torque wrench and your kit is organised sensibly. Torque the bedding; bolt in; foresight; rearsight; handstop; buttplate; Go.

The Peli 1750 (a.k.a. the "TravelVault") will swallow up 1913s and larger rifles but it's much bigger and heavier, which will eat into your weight allowance.

With my new Grunig it has a shorter barrel and the tube obviously comes off, so it easily fits in the 1720, but I would always loosen the bedding bolts a bit. Wood stocks are notorious (as were the original Anschutz Alustocks because they were cast not machined, and so were a bit brittle, cracking around the neck by the handstop/cheekpiece) but also consider that aircraft holds are generally unheated unless they're carrying live animals, so metal stocks could undergo significant temperature change.

You will definitely want to be checking the torque settings at the other end before training/competing.

Author:  ShootWithStyle [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

rtucker6508 wrote:
Let me add a question to this... I have a 16 year old daughter that I want to send to JO's on her own. She has to take both air and smallbore. I am reading from the airlines that to check a firearm you have to be 18, but I cannot find that requirement on TSA....

Any suggestions or a way around this???

Thank you!

Robert


Last year I was at the OTC for the Rocky Mountain Invitational, now known as the Robert Mitchell match. There was a junior shooter there (I believe he was under 18, still a high school kid) who had flown from Florida with his smallbore and air rifle unaccompanied.

It was something worked out with the airline and USA Shooting. I'm not sure what airline he was flying with.

I was on the shuttle with him when we left the OTC. When we got to the airport in Colorado Springs, Alex Szabliewski from USA Shooting met with him and the airline agents with some sort of paperwork to get him checked in and on his way.

You may want to contact Alex to get details on how this was arranged.

Author:  rtucker6508 [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

Quote:
Last year I was at the OTC for the Rocky Mountain Invitational, now known as the Robert Mitchell match. There was a junior shooter there (I believe he was under 18, still a high school kid) who had flown from Florida with his smallbore and air rifle unaccompanied.

It was something worked out with the airline and USA Shooting. I'm not sure what airline he was flying with.

I was on the shuttle with him when we left the OTC. When we got to the airport in Colorado Springs, Alex Szabliewski from USA Shooting met with him and the airline agents with some sort of paperwork to get him checked in and on his way.

You may want to contact Alex to get details on how this was arranged.


Thank you. I know who you are talking about (there is only 1 junior from Florida - until now - who has been travelling to the OTC). I will reach out to Alex and to Matt's dad and ask.

Thank you!

Author:  redschietti [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

Like many we have flown a lot.

Dont say any more than you need to.
Dont call it an air rifle, just call it a rifle. Air cylinders scare them more than 'real' guns.
Sumbody over 18 will be in possession of the gun untill airline takes possession and sumbody over 18 will be on the other end picking minor and gun up too. So the minor is never in possession.
Be polite, be confident.
The form 123/abc you hafta sign is really just a 4 by 6 index card you sign, no big deal

Author:  rtucker6508 [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

redschietti wrote:
Like many we have flown a lot.

Dont say any more than you need to.
Dont call it an air rifle, just call it a rifle. Air cylinders scare them more than 'real' guns.
Sumbody over 18 will be in possession of the gun untill airline takes possession and sumbody over 18 will be on the other end picking minor and gun up too. So the minor is never in possession.
Be polite, be confident.
The form 123/abc you hafta sign is really just a 4 by 6 index card you sign, no big deal


Very good. Thank you!

Author:  jhmartin [ Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

Flying into Colo Springs is OK with an air cylinder, but you won't get back out.
USA Shooting will have containers you can ship the cylinder home in.
Does anyone know how much they charge for that .... $10 is what I recall.
(i'm a lucky one in that I am just 5 hours south via I-25 ... never had to worry about that)

Author:  gwsb [ Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

I haven't flown with my rifles in a while so I don't know what new and interesting methods of torture the TSA and airlines have come up with.

However above all the number one thing to remember when flying with a bolt action rifle is:

TAKE THE BOLT OUT.

The torque on the stock when some knucklehead from the TSA or airlines abuses your case and the force is transferred to the bolt handle can cause serious damage to the rifle. I have seen it several times when someone gets to a big match and his gun is broken.

Author:  ShootWithStyle [ Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flying with your Precision Rifles?

gwsb wrote:
I haven't flown with my rifles in a while so I don't know what new and interesting methods of torture the TSA and airlines have come up with.

However above all the number one thing to remember when flying with a bolt action rifle is:

TAKE THE BOLT OUT.

The torque on the stock when some knucklehead from the TSA or airlines abuses your case and the force is transferred to the bolt handle can cause serious damage to the rifle. I have seen it several times when someone gets to a big match and his gun is broken.


A quick story about taking the bolt out....

I have always done this when flying with my smallbore rifle. I have always put the bolt in it's own protector and I put the cleaning rod guide in place of the bolt to just add some extra protection. My most recent international match was in Germany and I flew out of LAX. Went through the initial screening just fine and headed off to my gate while the rifle case went off to another area and got in line to be x-rayed with hundreds of other pieces of luggage.

Got to my gate and was greeted there by two LA Airport Police officers after being called to the counter. By all accounts, it looked like I was being arrested. The TSA x-ray tech who screened my case notified police that I had a loaded shotgun in my case. So i had to be detained for a time, while they sorted everything out.

What the TSA x-ray tech thought was a shotgun shell was my cleaning rod guide. I have a KK500 so it's short and red, but obviously the colour doesn't show on the xray and my cleaning rod guide is also missing the metal portion, the primer, the powder, and the lead or steel shot that normally would be part of an actual shotgun shell.

The LA Airport police just shook their heads when they saw what it was. They apologized and let me go on my way.

But the story doesn't end there.....

Coming home from Germany I had to be detained again at Customs when going through secondary screening. I have a Form 4457 for Registration of Personal Items taken abroad that i use for my smallbore rifle and air rifle. I hand over my form 4457 to the CBP officer so he can verify the serial numbers, etc. Turns out the serial number on my LG400 is the same serial number of a rifle reported stolen in the ATF database. So again, detained for a bit while i explain that my LG400 is an air rifle and not an actual firearm, etc, etc, etc. Thankfully, things went well and they let me go on my way.

If you fly long enough...things can happen.

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