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How To Pack Ammo For A Flight – 11 Painless TSA Packing Tips

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There are national and international shooting competitions worldwide, and as a responsible gun owner and enthusiast, you probably get some invites. Or maybe you are headed on a hunting trip with your buddies. We will discuss some rules you need to know about how to pack ammo for a flight and a bit on how to travel with a gun.

Flying on commercial airlines with your firearms and ammo can be incredibly intimidating if you have not done it before. Have no fear; we are here to help.

I am a travel enthusiast, but to be honest, I do not travel with my firearm or ammo. However, I completely support the right to carry, and I do have a vast knowledge of TSA regulations. When you put these two together with my understanding of regulations for TSA and FAA, it equals a whole world of information.

Together, let’s dive into your world as a traveling firearm enthusiast and navigate the rules to answer the question, “How to pack ammo for a flight?”

How To Pack Ammo For A Flight?

I could give you a list of how to pack ammo when flying, but it is much more involved than that. However, I can say that there are specific ways to pack and declare your ammo to fly within the TSA regulations. If you want to skip straight to the list, just click on the list link, but I encourage you to read all of the articles to pick up on all the regulations.

Can You Fly With Your Gun And Ammo – TSA and Airline Firearm Travel Rules

There are TSA rules and also airline rules on how to pack ammo for a flight. We will cover both.

TSA Rules

According to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), in 2021, the TSA recorded 5,972 firearms detected at the TSA security checkpoints. Additionally, TSA officers intercepted 6,301 guns, of which 88% violated the rules of packing firearms.

While gun ownership laws vary by state and local government, TSA does not allow firearms and ammunition in carry-on bags at any TSA security checkpoints. However, TSA will allow firearms packed in checked baggage, including firearm parts, clips, bolts, firing pins, magazines, and even replica guns.

I hope you don’t carry a loaded gun through the security checkpoint. The same goes for an empty gun. You can’t take it or the ammunition to the security screening area, or you may face strict punishment. Therefore, you should know how to pack ammo for a flight to avoid consequences.

TSA has no concerns with passengers flying with firearms as long as they pack them properly and declare them at the airline counter.

Airline Rules

Do individual airlines have rules on how to pack ammo for a flight?

Airlines may have different rules on carrying firearms and ammunition on a flight. Therefore, before you book a flight, call the airlines to check their requirements.

Generally, if you are 18 years old and above, you can travel within the U.S. with your unloaded firearms and ammunition, and there are similar airline rules on carrying ammo. However, you can only put your ammo in your checked baggage. In addition, you must securely pack your firearm clips and magazines in boxes or devices designed for carrying small quantities of ammo.

How to pack ammo for a flight puts an amount on the maximum number of bullets they allow. It is 11 pounds or 5 kg per container per passenger. Some airlines do not accept loose bullets or pack them in magazines or clips.

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TSA-Approved Ammo Boxes – What Are They?

TSA specifies that you pack your small arms ammunition in a hard-sided box. In addition, your ammo box must have locks to prevent anyone from having access to the bullets. You may also put the ammo box inside a hard-sided case with your unloaded gun.

The hard-sided cases for firearms and ammunition must use locks, but you cannot use TSA approved locks. However, you and only you can have a key to the locked gun case; if you use TSA approved locks, the TSA personnel have a key.

Fly with Your Gun And Ammo Safely And Legally – Avoid The Penalty

To avoid a civil penalty for violating TSA and airline rules on how to pack ammo for a flight you must follow the easy TSA tips on how to pack ammo for a flight, which I summarized below:

  1. Pack your ammunition as checked baggage and not in your carry-on bag.
  2. Securely pack the loaded or empty firearm magazines and ammo clips in an ammo box or include them within a hard-sided firearm case with TSA-approved locks.
  3. You must store ammunition in its original packaging or an ammo box with separate compartments. Loose ammunition should not be kept in pockets or vests.
  4. Pack small arms (up to 0.75 calibers), ammo, and shotgun slugs of any gauge in an ammo-designed box (maybe wood, metal, or plastic) and declare them to the airline.
  5. The airlines have different rules for how to pack ammo for a flight and the quantity of ammunition you can carry on a flight. However, as a general rule, TSA and some airlines allow a maximum of five kilograms of ammo per case per passenger.
  6. You may transport the ammunition in the same locked, hard-sided case as a firearm, provided you pack them properly.
  7. If you use your firearm clips and magazines to transport your ammo, they must fully encase the bullet.
  8. When you approach the airline’s check-in counter, you must declare that you are flying with a firearm and identify the box that contains the gun and the one for ammo.Z
  9. Your hard-sided cases must have locks and should always prevent access to firearms or ammo. At the TSA security checkpoint, the inspecting TSA officer will ask you to unlock the case so they can adequately examine what’s inside it. TSA will not ask for the keys to the locks.
  10. As I mentioned earlier, when talking about how to pack ammo for a flight you cannot use TSA approved locks. You and only you can have a key to the locked gun case and ammo case. If you use TSA approved locks, the TSA personnel have a key.
  11. Wait to lock the gun case or the ammo box until all the paperwork (declaration) and inspection are complete.
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Flying Internationally With Ammo

It is a different set of rules for how to pack ammo for a flight if you travel outside the U.S. with your firearms and ammunition. First, you must complete Form 4457 of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The US CBP Form 4457 is a Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad. The form will contain your personal information and the description of articles you have in your firearm or ammo case. The CBP official will sign the document and return the form to you.

You will show the signed form to CBP each time the described articles are back in the country. To see what CBP Form 4457 looks like, click here.

The same rules on how to pack ammo for a flight apply.

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Regardless if you have a concealed weapon permit, TSA will not allow any weapon, including ammunition, in your carry-on bag. In addition, TSA increased the penalty amount for a violation to $14.950. This increase intends to reduce the threat of firearms at TSA security checkpoints.

Who determines the penalty amount? TSA will base the penalty amount on the form of violation in each case.

TSA will revoke your TSA PreCheck eligibility for a minimum of five years if caught with a firearm. In addition, you will undergo enhanced screening to ensure there are no other threats.

Hence, if you know how to pack your ammo for a flight, you eliminate the risk of getting penalized.

How To Pack Ammo For A Flight – FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about How to pack ammo for a flight.

Can I put bullets in my checked bag?

The only way you can travel with your ammo is to pack them as checked baggage. TSA will not allow guns and ammo in your carry-on bag. You must follow the instructions on how to pack ammo for a flight according to TSA rules.

What are the essential tips for transporting firearms?

The firearm must be unloaded and empty. In addition, you must put it in a hard-sided case with a minimum of two locks to prevent access to the gun at any given time.

Do you have to declare ammo before you board the plane?

When you’re flying with firearms and ammunition, be sure to declare them at the check-in counter. You’ll need to fill out a declaration form, and the airline staff will attach a case or box tag with your gun or ammo.

Additional Resources on TSA Approved Items

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting on TSA items, here are some additional posts about TSA items:

How To Pack Ammo For A Flight – Conclusion

Traveling with your firearm and ammunition is not a big deal. TSA allows these items as checked baggage.

Awareness of the correct way to pack ammunition for air travel is essential to avoid extra scrutiny by TSA. You don’t want them to see you as a threat to the safety of the other passengers.

Following the tips I summarized above, you can take your firearm and ammunition case when you fly. But you must declare them as checked baggage at the airline check-in counter, and you’re good to go.

Happy travels, my friends.

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Laura Fuller

Hello, I am a luggage and travel fanatic. With a vast knowledge of TSA regulations, I am here to assist you on your journey. Please join me, and together, we will navigate the world of travel. From TSA and air to cruising the high seas, we will explore the best accessories and tips for smooth travel.

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