Are you looking to travel with your firearms? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Traveling with firearms is a multifaceted subject. You gotta think about cases, foam cuts, and locks.
To me, locks are the most important part.
I want my guns cased and secured. It doesn’t matter if I’m flying, driving, or riding the shoelace express. Owning a firearm is as much a responsibility as it is a right.
Securing your firearm from theft and unauthorized users should be something taken seriously.
Today, our goal is to teach you all about the best locks for gun cases — how to pick them out, what to look for, and even a few recommendations!
So, the next time you hit the road with guns in tow, you’ll be ready.
Table of Contents
What to Look for in a Lock
I’m no locksmith, but I do know a thing or two about locks. I’ve traveled quite a bit with guns, and I have the benefit of being a bit interested in lock picking.
Oh, and I’ve been an idiot in the past and locked myself out of lots of things.
I’ve had to cut, smash, and break through layers of locks to gain access to a thing or two.
Through that process, I’ve seen the difference between a quality lock that requires a grinder to open and a cheap one that can be smashed open with an E-Tool.
So…here are a few things I’ve learned about choosing the best locks for securing firearms — and really anything else.
The shackle is the portion of a padlock that slips through the lock hole. It’s that U-shaped metal loop at the top of a lock. It’s also often the weak point of a lock.
Thicker is better with shackles. Thick shackles are tougher to cut and often create deep and more secure locking points.
However, when we talk about gun cases, we’ve got to compromise with size.
As nice as a 1-inch shackle would be, you’d be hard-pressed to find a gun case that accommodates a shackle that thick.
Locking ports on gun cases vary, but they seem to often be around 10mm in diameter — Pelican cases in particular use 9.4mm diameter locking holes.
Shackle thickness isn’t everything, though. Shape matters. Hexagonal shackles grant more strength than standard.
You might also discover that shackles can also be protected by a shackle guard, as well.
The padlock body creates another critical pressure point.
When choosing a padlock body, you want to think about the design as well as the material utilized in the body of the lock.
Here are all the most common materials designed to make padlock bodies.
- Plastic: No. Why?! Just stay away from it.
- Aluminum: Ahhh, Nah B, I don’t suggest it.
- Brass: Here we go. Brass locks can be strong enough to secure guns. Way better than plastic or aluminum. Also, weather-resistant, which is nice.
- Solid or Case Hardened Steel: Now we are cooking with gas. These bad boys are durable and cut and tamper-resistant. Most lock makers coat them with an anticorrosive material for weather resistance.
- Stainless Steel: Oh my, stainless steel is quite strong and very dashing. It’s also weather-resistant, tough to tamper, and requires several blows with a sledgehammer to beat, in my experience.
- Titanium: Titanium is my love language. Titanium locks are made from a premium-grade material. They are extremely strong and tamper-resistant, and weather-resistant, and even lightweight…but, they are expensive.
- Laminated: Laminated locks are not so much a material but a design style worth noting. Instead of being a solid piece of metal, multiple pieces of metal are stacked upon each other and cemented together. It’s often an affordable design that’s quite durable and rugged.
There are a few options for locks on the market, but key or combination locks are the way to go when it comes to gun locks.
There are some pros and cons to either type of lock style.
Keys are often simpler and require you to memorize nothing. They do require you not to lose a key.
These locks can be picked, but I don’t think a whole lot of petty thieves have the skills to lock pick. If they do, they probably want to steal something more than guns.
Combination locks cannot be picked.
Unless someone has unlimited time, the combo is going to be tough to guess.
However, combination locks do require you to memorize the combo. So, if you forget, you’ll need to break the lock.
If you’ve been paying attention to the world of securing guns, you’ve probably seen some really cool biometric locks that can be opened with a touch of a finger.
Biometric locks require a fingerprint to access. These are a big no from me, dawg. They are too easy to fool and often unreliable.
If a biometric lock opens every time you touch it without complaint, it’s not actually all that accurate about reading your fingerprint.
Highly accurate models will have you trying your print over and over until you find the sweet spot where it reads well.
Plus, you lose lock strength to shove tech into it.
Biometrics might be the future of security, but we ain’t there yet y’all.
Also, remember most gun cases are made from high-strength polymers.
Pelican, Plano, etc., also use high-strength polymers. Locks will keep people out and prevent casual theft.
A padlock can’t prevent someone from swiping the entire case and taking a hacksaw to it.
So choose your gun case carefully.
5 Best Gun Case Locks
The overall security of your guns and gun cases is on you. Locks are simply one component — an important component, but one component nonetheless.
Let’s look at some gun case locks I’ve found work really well.
1. Master Lock Commercial 3KALF
Sometimes your gun case has several different locking points. Rifle cases, in particular, require a multitude of locks to properly secure, and this can add up quick.
If budget is an issue, the Master Lock Commercial 3KALF is the way to go.
It’s a good lock for the price, and it’s secure enough I feel confident recommending it.
Make sure you get the commercial variants. Commercial grade Master Locks offer better drill resistance and a hardened steel shackle. The 3KALF shackle is 7mms in diameter and quite long.
Its laminate design keeps things tough without upping the price.
You can cut through this shackle, but you’ll need a rock-solid pair of bolt cutters to do so. The 3KALF resists picking, prying, and smashing with ease.
It’s one of the more common, budget-based locks and works in that capacity. Getting through multiple locks will take time, and they limit opportunities for theft.
2. Master Lock 1175
The Master Lock 1175 takes on the role of beefy lock at a relatively affordable price point.
At twice the cost of the 3KALF, the 1175 helps solve the 3KALF’s biggest weakness — the shackle.
Hexagonal shackles, like the one on the 1175, are much harder to cut with manual tools. A power tool might chew its way through this lock, but bolt cutters be damned.
A hexagonal shackle distributes the force over a bigger area and makes manual cutting much more difficult.
The shackle is 3/8-inch thick, so it might be just a tiny bit bigger than some gun cases, but most will accommodate it.
This 57mm thick body deserves its spot in the WWE. It’s thick and strong like Stone Cold in his prime. Prying, smashing, and drilling won’t be easy.
The body is made from brass, and as we know, brass is good to go for gun case locks.
Instead of a key, you do use a four-digit combination lock which means over 10,000 possible combinations.
Tried the Master Lock 1175? If so, give a rating below!
3. Abus Plus 88 Series
Abus makes some outstanding locks that vary widely in design, size, and use.
The Plus 88 Series are padlocks but designed to go beyond basic. Abus made the Plus 88 Series for serious tasks.
This Teutonic Lock features a hardened steel shackle built into the brass body’s lock. The 40mm body lasts and resists brute strength attacks.
Thieves would have more luck breaking the case the lock is attached to than the case itself.
The lock is double-bolted and quite rugged. It’ll take a dedicated attacker to get through this lock.
When you are using several of them on a gun case, a thief will need a ton of time to get through the locks — which buys you time for them to get caught!
Abus designed the plus disc cylinder to resist lock picking and manipulation in general. It’s a solid little lock from Germany that’s well made, and Abus sets the European standard for high-quality locks.
4. American Lock 5300D
When you really want to deter a potential thief, go with the mighty American Lock 5300D.
The 5300D is a big lock; it weighs half a pound and is manufactured from steel!
You can’t get close to this shackle due to the shackle guard. A shackle guard makes it impossible to get a manual tool in there to cut the shackle.
You have to attack it with something like a grinder, and it’s gonna take some serious time (and noise) to get through.
This 5300D lock will resist prying (duh), smashing, and general hooligan attacks. Hooliganism is deterred by a dual ball bearing locking mechanism.
The serrated pin system makes picking tough, and you’ll need to be a talented lock pick to get through it.
Ultimately this keyed lock provides a ton of security while still being able to fit a gun case. That’s the tough part overall, finding a super secure lock that will still fit a gun case.
5. Abloy Protec2 PL330
Abloy pops up every time you start researching locks. Lock snobs love them for their extremely high-quality design.
The Abloy Protec2 PL330 provides a brilliant level of security while easily fitting onto rifle and pistol cases.
A case-hardened boron steel shackle makes cutting difficult and will work the biceps and back of anyone with a pair of bolt cutters.
Seriously, these things are tough to cut, and you can see attempts at Deviant Ollam’s website where TSA tried to cut through his.
Its brass body makes it rugged and waterproof but keeps the lock affordable enough to buy several of.
The PL330 keeps weight and size low and isn’t obnoxious by any means. Once locked down, it will take a skilled lockpick to get through it.
Abloy’s reputation among lock nerds is what drove me to this lock. It seems to be used by frequent flyers who seek to protect their most valuable firearms.
Do not skimp out on a good lock. If you can smash it off with a hammer in a blow or two, then it’s not the lock to secure your gun.
If it comes from the dollar store, it’s not a good lock. You can purchase good locks for a reasonable price.
Good locks go a long way, friends.
How do you secure your guns when traveling? Let us know below! Traveling with guns? We’ve rounded up the Best Car Safes to keep your gun secure when you can’t have it on you!