Pack A Pistol When You Pack Your Bags

Sick of your luggage being lost by airlines? Start packin’ a gat. This is just an awesome tip, courtesy of the Bruce Schneir, via The Boing:

A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols – those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets – are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.

I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.

That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.

Here’s one you can buy for $25.99. 26 bucks is a great investment to make to avoid a lifetime of lost luggage hassles.

Expensive Cameras in Checked Luggage []


Edit Your Comment

  1. chagasi says:

    This is not a good idea. Most airports do not have the capacity to make this seamless. I shoot skeet/trap often and it is a huge pain to go through airports. You are escorted, you can’t use the automatic check-in kiosks, you have to guess at each airport how they will handle the weapon. Will it be brought out to you, will the bag show up with the regular luggage, will it be waiting in the luggage room, will it come out with oversized baggage? who knows, maybe this part is fun for the poster… Believe me, this isn’t worth the hassle at all. I fly ca 60,000 miles a year and my luggage has beem lost exactly three times in my life and was returned within 24h each time.

  2. TheChaz says:

    I’ve got a better idea. Pack light, and never check a bag. It’s not that hard to manage a week-long trip with one carry-on and a backpack. If you’re willing to wash clothes, this can easily extend to multi-week trips.

  3. Jay says:

    I get the sense that this advice isn’t intended for the average traveller. Reading the source, it seems like this got brought up initially in a discussion about what to do with expensive camera equipment, and when you’re talking about moving around thousands of dollars worth of stuff (which the airline won’t insure for you, and even if it’s insured, that doesn’t help you when you’re on-location without a camera), then the inconvenience is worthwhile. And before we say, “Don’t check bags”, bear in mind that sometimes we’re talking about too much stuff to put in an overhead rack. When you’re talking about professional equipment, carry-on isn’t always an option.

  4. Brian Gee says:

    Chagasi: Most airports don’t have the capacity for any of the BS “security” efforts they’ve made since 9/11. I’m so tired of having to remove my shoes. My slip-on, checkered Vans have no metal in them, have never triggered the detector, and only cause “significant delay” when TSA morons insist that I remove them. Ditto for flip-flops (dead f’ing serious… neoprene with a plastic strap… wtf?).

    My personal favorite is San Jose’s C Terminal. The security checkpoint is right behind the checkin counters, which used to be very convenient. With the security theater “enhancements”, the line for security can extend practically to the terminal entrance. When you get to the airport you have to maneuver past the long security line to get in line at the check-in counters, then weave your way back towards the entrance to get in line for security. Its a freaking mess of a bottleneck (or it was last time I was in SJ).

    The “inconvenience” of having to be escorted through with your firearm might actually be better than dealing with normal process.

  5. benko29 says:

    this may not be a viable circumvention of procedure any more, given the influence the blogosphere has on companies these days. companies can change policy like this just as fast as the public can learn about loopholes.

  6. Nancy Sin says:

    So in order to avoid the incident of missing luggage, just buy a fake gun (but a real weapon!) and go through more hassle at the airport. What a truly novel idea! I’m sorry, I already have an “ethnic” sounding name, I don’t need any more reasons to get profiled.

    I’d rather them lose my luggage and cut me a check for my missing camera. My very expensive, top of the line missing camera (wink wink, nudge nudge).

  7. Mr. Gunn says:

    Ok, so they might not lose the case the gun is in, but what about your actual suitcase, which is handled completely separately?

    • Jfielder says:

      It is not handled seperately. When you travel with a pistol it must be in an approved locked box which then must be placed inside of your own checked suitcase.

  8. shortarabguy says:

    I have to agree with the suggestion to pack light. I don’t know if it was noteworthy for anyone else, but I’ve certainly noticed that packing a majority of my clothing( mostly comfortable because I don’t like being in a foreign place without at least Something going my way) leaves me with random sweaters from Christmas and oddly colored pants when I return, with no comfortable clean clothes because I was “too good to do laundry while on a trip”.

  9. Toof_75_75 says:


    This was my question as well. What does a small hand-gun case or even a shotgun case, as mentioned by chagasi, have to do with making sure my suitcase makes it to its destination? I guess if I wanted to make sure my wallet made it ok, I could stash it in my pistol case…???

  10. perfectfire says:

    This does not work because it is a federal offense to mark luggage as containing a firearm. I always print out a copy of this: to take with me to the airport in case they try to tag my luggage. That’s just asking to be robbed.

  11. CowPie says:

    I’m a baggage handler for a major airline at a midwestern city and I can tell you that once a gun leaves the ticket counter, at least at my station, it’s treated like any other bag. I believe that the only thing TSA is concerned about is if the gun is loaded and if any ammo is in it’s originial box. At my station, TSA does take down the bag tag # of bags they check, but once it goes to the airline, they have no idea of what flight it goes on. So, all you really do is take longer to check in for you and the people waiting in line.

  12. Papa K says:

    Didn’t I post this as a reply a long time ago?

    It’s interesting to finally hear real world answers about whether it works or not (and even more so from CowPie – great to know the TSA cares!)

  13. mc_pee_pants says:

    Guns are VERY COMMONLY stolen at airports. Packing a firearm in your checked luggage ensures the bag will be treated differently and thus be more likely to be rifled through.

    • Sian says:

      Won’t be rifled through if it’s hard-sided and secured with 2-3 un-cuttable puck locks.

  14. ishootfriendlies says:

    Whenever I travel with any expensive camera gear (which is whenever I travel), I always pack a pistol. That keeps the bags locked, and the TSA is not allowed to have a copy of the key. I have traveled with many thousands of dollars of camera gear and never lost a single piece.

    Of course, you might get hassled at the airport, particularly when you fly out of a NYC airport. However, the hassle is worth it because it keeps the TSA from stealing your cameras.