|Best Overall||Pelican Vault Series||SEE IT||
Pelican’s Vault Series of gun cases offer industry-best protection, both from impact and the elements.
|Best Value||Eberlestock Sidewinder||SEE IT||
Eberlestock reputation at a bargain price, this no-frills option gives you a reliable case at a cost that won’t break the bank.
|Honorable Mention||Grey Ghost Tactical Rifle Case||SEE IT||
A simple, straightforward rifle case of superb construction and quality design. Barebones, it’s a perfect case for a day trip or quick jaunt to the range.
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There are plenty of options for rifle cases in the world. Sure, you can throw your rifle in a shopping bag or a tennis racket case, like some people. And as cool as that looks in that one low-budget John Wick knockoff you saw that one time, it doesn’t do much to protect your rifle in transit. That’s why I took the time out of my day to sit down with the cases I own and what the market offers to narrow down the best options for you and what you need.
We’ve lined up some of the best rifle cases on the market today to help you sort through the nonsense and make the right purchase. A good gun case isn’t just going to be a bag to stuff your rifle into, it will protect it in transit, support accessories, and carry your mags — and more — without breaking the bank.
When selecting a rifle case, it’s important to keep in mind the purpose of the case. Whether it’s just a day trip to the range or a three-day hike into the woods for that perfect hunting spot, you need a case that’s going to suit the job. So, I tried to approach this exercise from a position of meeting the needs of the mission rather than just the weapon.
To select rifle cases for this guide, I started out by searching Google Shopping and Amazon to find the most common results. Next, I narrowed my search to items I either own or have handled, and I also included items from reputable companies I have worked with before. I read through customer reviews as well, looking for basic issues and ideas I’ve encountered on my own.
At this point, I reviewed the features and functionality available to the individual options. I considered things like materials, design principles, and ease of use. I compared items I already own or am familiar with, or, in the cases of items I own, handled personally. I tried to think through how cases would handle in the real world, flaws I’ve encountered myself, and features I know make a product better.
When possible, I reached out to manufacturers directly, raising any questions or concerns I had developed through my research process, trying to resolve those concerns. I spoke to fellow gun owners and enthusiasts as well, trying to get outside input on features and issues I’d encountered. Insofar as the items I had access to myself, I put them to the test, carrying them to the range, through the woods, and putting them through the ringer as much as possible before developing an opinion. I did everything possible to explore the quality and means of the products as much as possible, through whatever avenues available.
Furthermore, it’s of the utmost importance to the Task & Purpose team that our readers know our commitment to open, fair product recommendations and reviews, and that you can trust us to provide you with unbiased, balanced information.
The Pelican Vault Series is the premier weapon protection option. More than just rifle cases, this line runs the gamut from pistol, rifle, ammunition, and other cases able to carry and protect just about everything you need it to.
Pelican has a sterling reputation for hard cases. It’s considered the standard for both government and private markets and it continues to live up to that standard with each product release. It is well-known for making some of the best rifle cases available. The Vault Series in particular is an excellent demonstration, with superbly constructed hinges — the largest failure point with most hard cases — ergonomic, tough latches, and the typical over-engineering we’ve come to expect in the walls.
If there is any negative, the fact that the interior doesn’t feature cutouts for the items inside right out of the box would be it, but generally is an unnecessary extra, as the existing foam more than does the job and can take whatever you toss into the case. This can be a minor concern if you plan to use it as a scoped rifle case, but generally should work just fine regardless.
- Case type: Hard case
- Material: Polyethylene
- Locking: Yes
- Purge valve: Yes
Extremely rugged construction
Comes in a variety of styles (2-gun, 1-gun, etc)
Superb, lockable latches
High-quality internal foam protection
Doesn’t come standard with cutout foam
Limited color options
Eberlestock is well-known as a provider of quality rifle cases, field bags, and other storage options, and finding a product in its catalog at this price is a pleasant surprise. Originally designed to be attached to the side of other bags with MOLLE webbing, the Eberlestock Sidewinder-AR works very well as a standalone soft rifle case.
While extremely limited in features due to the design intentions, it’s hard to beat grabbing the Eberlestock name at such a low price, and it will do phenomenally well as a simple, straightforward bag for carrying a rifle to the range, in the trunk, or somewhere easy to go. And, with the MOLLE webbing, you can always attach it to a larger bag or case as an expansion option, giving you some flexibility both as your best soft rifle case or as an attachment.
- Case type: Soft case
- Extra pockets: One
- MOLLE webbing: Limited
Simple, straightforward design
Cleaning rod pocket is a unique feature
Mountable to other bags
Lacks features of other products
Grey Ghost’s entry into the rifle case game is a worthwhile look. Very simple, no-frills design belies what is actually one of the better soft cases on the market. A spacious, roomy interior is made even better with the hook-and-loop Velcro lining the entirety of the bottom side of the case. Combined with the provided attachment panels, this gives you a gun case that can securely attach any variety of firearm/accessory combos with confidence.
The mesh pockets inside the lid of the case are a little lackluster but can hold a cleaning case and some magazines, or other similar items, making this overall a fantastic option at the price point.
- Case type: Soft case
- Extra pockets: Two, internal mesh
- MOLLE webbing: None, internal hook-and-loop
Internal hook-and-loop means custom configurability
Detachable shoulder strap for easier carrying
Quality padding for excellent protection
Few extra pockets limits storage ability
The only double-entry on this list, Eberlestock hits it out of the park for the hunting crowd with this backpack case. With phenomenal storage and an almost-universal scabbard on the back, the Eberlestock J34 Just One Bag is perfect for those who are carrying their rifle deep into the woods or field without the strain of carrying an extra case the entire way.
One great feature of the backpack is the modularity of the design, specifically engineered to take accessory packs and other products from the Eberlestock line (including the aforementioned Sidewinder case). It also compresses and expands, allowing for a secure load no matter how much is packed inside.
The sheath itself is straightforward, securing a rifle in place between your back and the bag, protecting it well. Overall, it’s an excellent option for anyone who needs a multi-day option for overlanding or more.
- Case type: Hunting pack
- Internal volume: Up to 4,200 cubic inches
- Scabbard length: 34 inches
Modular, adjustable design
Large carrying capacity
Classic Eberlestock quality
More of a backpack than a typical rifle case
Modularity requires buying additional products
The Bulldog Tactical gun case is a phenomenal choice for a trip to the range. With such a large number of pockets and storage options, it can single-handedly replace a smaller range bag on its own, while still leaving room for the rifle itself. It serves as an excellent option as an AR-15 rifle case, being a little more flexible with accessories and attachments, and holds up well to abuse. The padding inside leaves a little to be desired for impact protection, but the quilted lining protects the finish of your tool of choice, and it’s more than enough for regular everyday use.
The backpack straps and carrying handle mean the case is easy to lug around, and internal Velcro tie-downs mean you don’t have to worry about the weapon sliding around inside as you do with some other soft cases. With enough storage for plenty of magazines, boxes of ammunition, hearing protection, cleaning cases, and anything else you might need, Bulldog’s case is about as perfect as a range-day option gets.
- Case type: Drag bag
- Extra storage: Numerous, large exterior pockets, interior mag pouches
- Length: 43 inches
Immense storage space
Interior, bungeed magazine pouches for retention
Spacious interior fits most firearms
Less protection than some other options
For those who travel the country to three-gun competitions, bringing everything you need can be a hassle. Fitting all three weapons in a single case can be cumbersome, and rarely leaves room for other accessories and tools of the trade. The SKB iSeries is an answer to a question that few people realized needed answering, and does so spectacularly well.
Able to take a TSA-compliant padlock out of the box, the interior stackable design fits a rifle, shotgun, and pistol, with room for magazines, slings, tools, and anything else you might think to cram in there. It protects everything very well with cutout foam, and the polypropylene case is tough, meeting military standards for drop safety, dustproof, and even withstands submersion.
Extremely pricey as such a specialized case, it’s still hard to ignore the way in which SKB delivered on the concept. Anyone who spends a lot of time traveling to competitions should seriously consider this as their go-to rifle case.
- Case type: Hard case
- Material: Polypropylene
- Locking: Yes
- Purge valve: Yes
Designed with 3-gun comp in mind
Meets MIL-STD 810G
Stackable interior fits everything needed for a competition
TSA locking latches aren’t standard (but accepts padlocks)
Our verdict on rifle cases
All in all, it’s hard to beat Pelican at the game it practically invented. The Vault Series is built by masters at the trade, purpose-built to satisfy all your needs as someone carrying a rifle. And, when you don’t want to spend $100 or more, Eberlestock has the reputation to back such a great value. You can’t go wrong with these two options. If there’s anything we missed, please, throw it down in the comments, because every new gun case is an excuse to buy a new gun
What to consider when buying a rifle case
When buying a rifle case, it’s important to remember the key features and what you need the case to do. Shoulder straps, hard or soft, long-term storage, TSA compatibility, and extra storage space are all important features to keep in mind.
Types of rifle cases
These are your classic tough, box-style, hard-sided cases. Usually made from injected-molded plastics and clip shut, they can run the widest range in quality. Many rifles will come in their own cheaply manufactured hard cases, with flimsy clips that barely latch and hinges that are prone to break, but on the other end of the spectrum, you see enormously well-constructed bunkers with pressure relief valves, dual wall construction, and laser-cut foam cutouts on the inside. Pelican famously used to drop its rifle cases out of a helicopter to demonstrate the ruggedness of construction, and there are now several competitors in that range of high-quality construction.
Soft rifle cases are your classic soft, handbag-style carry cases, usually complete with padded interiors to protect the rifle from impact. They’re lighter, easier to carry around, pack in a trunk and work with in general, at the cost of less protection. These can often overlap with drag bags, especially when enough extra storage pouches are slapped on. You’ll also see backpack-style soft cases, usually for hunters who need to travel long distances into the woods with all their gear, in addition to a scoped rifle they want to protect from the elements.
Drag bags started off as a military rifle carry option where it was necessary to have a durable soft case bag that carried all the assorted accouterment associated with the weapon stored inside. Called so because of their ability to literally be dragged behind a crawling sniper in the field, they have evolved into a reliable rifle case option in their own right. The hallmarks of a drag bag are extensive storage and high-quality protective construction. Think of it as a go-bag for the gun inside, bearing all the magazines, accessories, and maintenance gear the weapon needs to function in the field, and you’ve got the right idea. Many drag bags even still bear a loop at the top, used for the dragging that gave this class its name.
Key features of rifle cases
The most important feature of a rifle case is the ability to protect what’s inside. Otherwise, you may as well be carrying the rifle without a case at all. Quality soft cases use thick padding to protect the rifle from external impacts, but also often have internal padding to protect rifles from each other (in the case of multi-gun cases). Hard cases will have hard, molded exteriors, foam interiors, and even be constructed to keep dust, moisture, and other elemental features from reaching the guns inside.
Having the ability to carry everything you need is also key when it comes to selecting the right rifle case for you. Sometimes, you just need something that’s going to hold the rifle itself, and that’s good enough. But there are times when you want to be able to carry more; magazines, hearing protection, maintenance and cleaning tools, and more. Some hunting cases even have the ability to carry game after a successful trip. Make sure you know what you’re going to need from the gun case, and bear that in mind when choosing which case is right for the job at hand.
Last, but still very important, is transportability. Handles, shoulder straps, wheels on a hard case, all of these are great features to consider when choosing between similar cases. No matter how great a case might be, it’s not that great if it’s a hassle to haul from your car to the shooting stand, or wherever else you might be taking it.
Rifle case pricing considerations
Rifle cases can run a huge range of prices, from several hundred dollar items priced for government sales, to the cheapest of dollar store quality products. It’s important to understand what you’re getting for your money in order to avoid overpaying, or worse, buying something that won’t do the job.
The typical cut-off for a reasonably priced budget bag is around $100. Items less than $50 to $60 are likely to be of extremely poor quality, so you want to fork out a little extra to make sure it’s a good product, but you don’t have to break the bank to do so.
Around $100 to $250, and you’re seeing the bulk of decent rifle cases, be they hard or soft cases. On the lower end, you’ll typically see decent soft side cases that will hold up to abuse, while at the upper end, you’re getting quality hard side cases with some good features.
Over $250, and you get the top-of-the-line gear, the cases that can hold up to tremendous abuse, or have such a glut of features as to be useful for almost any activity. This is also where you’ll see extremely specialized cases from reputable, specialized manufacturers.
Tips and tricks
As mentioned above, the most important thing to consider when choosing a rifle case is what you’ll use it for. The case you would use to transport your rifle across the country in your trunk is probably not the same one you’d want to use for a hike out to your favorite hunting spot. Think about the things you’ll need the case to do, and go from there. Some key features to remember:
- Purge vents for atmospheric changes and releasing moisture can be important for longer trips, airline travel, and long-distance storage, and are common on higher-end hard cases.
- If you plan to fly with your rifle, TSA requires that you use a hard case that locks with a padlock. For more TSA rules regarding travel with firearms and ammo, click here.
- External storage pockets and internal storage spaces can allow for much greater flexibility in what items come along with the rifle, meaning fewer bags to carry on a range day or other similar trips.
FAQs about rifle cases
You’ve got questions. Task & Purpose has answers!
Q: What type of gun cases are TSA-approved?
A: TSA requirements for a gun case are that it be hard-shelled, locked, and the firearm must be unloaded. The firearm must also be declared at check-in, and cannot be in carry-on luggage — checked baggage only. Note that ammunition must not be accessible, meaning you cannot store the ammunition in the same case as the firearm.
Q: Is a hard rifle case better than a soft rifle case?
A: This depends entirely on your needs. For TSA purposes, a hard rifle case is mandatory, but for other day-to-day uses, a soft case might better serve your needs. For scoped rifles, a hard case is usually preferable, as it better protects the optics from being rattled out of zero.
Q: Do rifle cases lock?
A: Not all rifle cases are lockable. If you’re going to purchase a case for flying, make sure you check this first. Most manufacturers offer lockable TSA-compliant firearms cases.
Q: Can I fly with two guns in a case?
A: There are no rules against multiple firearms in a single case. As long as the case is locked, and no ammunition is present in the case, you’re clear to fly.