I had some airplane trips scheduled and wanted to take my S&W M-66 snubie along.
To transport the pistol I needed a sturdy hard-side pistol case. Looked at a variety of pistol cases in the Big Box stores and didn’t see anything that seemed to really suit the situation. Either they were plastic and seemed not all that sturdy, or were generic internally and had a lot of wasted space. Even though a lot of people fly their firearms inside plastic cases, the plastic cases just didn’t give me a warm, fuzzy, and secure feeling.
Made a pass through You Tube to see if someone else has created something similar (no need re-inventing the wheel). With minimal searching I ran across some Canadians that, by law, have to lock up their ammo. There were several videos adding a simple locking mechanism ( common bolt / nuts / washers) to a metal military ammo can.
I had an extra 30 cal metal military ammo can that seemed perfect for the project.
For the locking mechanism, in my junk box was an old car part ( thick metal bracket with a threaded stud). It took a little measuring and some cutting/grinding, but it worked great and was very secure.
For the padded interior, I visited a foam store to see what kind of material was available. They had a sheet of firm foam that was one inch thick.
The foam sheet provided enough material to make a custom insert for this pistol / small ammo carton. Plenty of foam left-over for inserts for other pistols that I may travel with in the future.
Used an exacto knife to cut out the outline for the pistol and ammo carton.
Used spray adhesive to glue the solid bottom layer to the middle layer (had the outline cuts). To attach the solid top layer to the bottom/middle layers I used a piece of very heavy cloth that also served as a hinge.
The finished insert fit inside the metal box with minimal clearance.
United Airlines does not require a soft-side suit-case, containing the firearm, to be locked; so I wanted to secure the metal box inside the soft-side suit-case.
Drilled a hole in the bottom corner of both sides of the box. Bought a short link of medium metal chain at Home Depot. Wrapped the chain around the interior struts of the suit-case. Then threaded the ends of the chain into the box. Used a medium sized key lock inside the box to secure the ends of the chain. Had to cut chunks out of the foam insert to make room for the lock/chain. Very secure.
United’s check-in procedure at both Houston and Memphis was totally un-eventful. No questions – no hassle. The Agents knew exactly what do with a “declared firearm”. I placed the signed/dated orange declaration card on top of the locked box. The Check-in Agents didn’t ask me to open things up to verify the pistol was unloaded. The TSA x-ray machine was very close to the Check-in Counter. It took TSA about 2 minutes to scan the suit-case and give me the thumbs-up.
I tried to keep the project description at a summary level. Hope this provides some useful food for thought.
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