Anyone who’s ever checked a bag on an airline knows that baggage handlers couldn’t care less about your luggage. Between the automated systems they use and the final toss onto the plane you’re lucky if your luggage arrives in one piece.
The AR is designed to be tough, but even the best AR-15 manufacturers can’t compete with what the airport and airlines can dish out. We’re highlighting the best AR-15 hard cases for those times when you need the ultimate in protection.
Here are top rated cases on the market specifically designed for rifles.
Top 5 Rated Hard Case for AR-15
|Name of product||Weight||Size||Number of snap latches||Foam height||Price|
|Plano All Gun Case||13.21 pounds||39.8 x 15.8 x 5.5 inches||3||1"||$$|
|Plano All Weather Gun Case||17.4 pounds||47 x 16.1 x 5.8 inches||5||2"||$$|
|Plano Double Scoped Case||20 pounds||6 x 54.2 x 15.2 inches||6||1"||$$|
|Case Club Case||14.6 pounds||40 × 16 x 5 inches||5||1"||$$$|
|Pelican 1750 Long Case||55.12 pounds||53 x 16 x 6 inches||4||1 5/8"||$$$|
The first best hard case in this hard case review would be from Plano. With outside dimension of 39-7/8in. x 15-5/8in. x 5-5/8in (Lx W x H) and inside dimension of 36-5/8in. x 12-5/8in. x 5.0 in. this is a watertight seal case for your AR 15. Pressure relief valve for air pressure equilibrium after a flight or any drastic change in air pressure and secure draw-down latches for added protection.
The foam inserts are customizable. The dimension of ‘pick and pull’ section of foam inside the case is 33.25″ x 10″. The foam that has the “precut squares” is 36 1/2″ x 13″ x 2 1/2″ thick. However, there is a 1″ border that is not precut. Therefore, you would have to cut your effective area to layout of 34 1/2 X 11.
The front two handles have integral locks. There are also holes drilled by each front latch for an external lock and/or cable lock. These external locks are not included with the case. There are 3 latches on the front of the case, one directly under the handle. There is also a slot to one side of each hole to allow a padlock to lie flat against the case. This could avoid any hindrance while carrying this case.
One of the advantages of this Plano hard case is that you can create your own compartments – to store ammo, clips, tools, bi-pod, etc. You could just simply remove the squares as needed. I rotated some of the removed squares and used them to pad the depth of openings for smaller items. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry to discard those foam squares.
The openings look suitable for most combination or keyed padlocks. This Plano hard case could accommodate 2 rifles so you could save some money rather than buying another case for your second AR 15. The case itself is extremely solid heavy plastic and is likely to take any abuse.
There is a 2.5″ thick layer of foam inside segmented into little squares to create cutouts for your gun. They are sandwiched between layers of 1″ thick egg crate foam on the top and bottom. Inside is heavily padded. So your rifle will be just fine and stay in place even if it is a bumpy ride in a plane.
Considering this Plano hard case has pluck and pull foam inside it, the best way to outline it is to layout each item individually and tear the foam as close as you can around it. The secondary option is by looking up at your local foam distributer and see if they offer laser cutting of foam slabs.
If by accident you have damaged any of the foams, you could search up for replacements at Plano. This is because the foam is hard to manage and probably won’t last very long. The water tight seals do not need to be inflated but the watertight seals are not working effectively as said to be. Some water still manages to pass through but fortunately, they are rare occurrences.
The next product in this best hard case review would be from Plano too. The case has watertight seal with pressure relief valve and secure draw-down latches. The main difference is the dimensions which are 43″X13″X5″ for interior while the exterior is 46 x 16 x 5.5 inches.
The customizable foam with rugged industrial strength construction and a continuous Dri-Loc seal provides watertight and airtight shields to protect your AR 15. With dual-stage lockable latches and a built-in pressure valve, this case is designed to withstand continuous bumping and jarring of airline travel. The foam comes whole but is perforated to make easy modifications.
The inner foam is roughly 2 inches thick. The additional layer on the bottom and on the lid is for added protection. I could travel up to elevations of 6k from sea level with this case. Nonetheless, I always have to release the vacuum on the case or it won’t open because of the pressure release valve.
Yes, they are a bit on the heavy side but it works with an AR 15 night scope. There are areas for padlocks but they are not reinforced with metal. The latches are pretty stiff but they seem pretty strong. I’d infer that they are hard to push over so it holds well with the water seal.
The rifle case has 2 key locks and could easily fit 2 AR as long as there are no attachments. Though, bear in mind that they would be a bit tight fit. The diameter of the plucking foam is 3/4in square and 2 1/4in deep.
It goes slightly past 90 degrees when opened and the empty weight of the case is around 14lbs. If you are carrying around a scoped rifle in your case, the scoped rifle should be setup to the right-side up. This would ensure that no pressure is on the scope while carrying it. This is also better for keeping the zero on the scope.
My only displeasure is that the case has only one hand grasp and carry handle. If you have a heavy rifle inside the case carrying it can be hard with only the one hand grasp.
Hard case has five snap latches. Two of the snap latches have key locks and the case comes with two identical keys. There are holes provided for user supplied locks.
The latches are kind of a pain. The center one is harder to get to than it should be. They open way too easily. They get in the way when opening and closing the case. Therefore, you have to take the extra step to put them in the fully open position or else they will catch the lid when opening or closing.
Overall in hard case review, if you are looking for a case to protect your gear from rain, snow, or dirt while not feeling guilty for it getting wet or dirty – this case fits that bill.
The third best hard case in this best case review is also from Plano. The exterior dimension is 54.625″ x 15.5″ x 6″ while the interior dimensions are 51.5″ x 12.63″ x 5.25″. The pluckable interior dimensions are 46″ x 10″. This best hard case is designed for the most extreme conditions whether it is for rain, snow or while in an expedition.
This rifle case could hold two scoped rifles. The easy-glide wheels and swivel handles make transporting easy; for example to the field or airport. This case features a continuous Dri-Loc seal. It ensures the case is watertight, airtight and dust proof. Its rugged construction is designed to withstand any damage during airline travel. On a side note, this case is airline approved.
The Plano hard case comes with “pluck foam” which allows you to remove foam in pieces about 1/2″ square. Foam is precut into 1×1 squares. There is also a pressure relief valve for the advantage during your airline travel. The wheels do protrude from the case, but not that much.
Another issue is that this case is only 51.5″ long on the interior at best while the pluck and pull interior is only 46″ long. Two ARs with optics fit, however with the attached foregrips, it may not. There are also two holes for pad locks if you wish to add them in addition. On side note, if you’re the type to construct your own AR-15 rifles, you can check out the top rated AR-15 lower receivers, upper receivers, and triggers.
The wheels roll smoothly but are very heavy. Therefore, it is in my opinion that the case would hold fine during heavy usage. I might want to suggest to you to leave a very small pack of desiccant inside the case if you intend to put your AR back in immediately after shooting it in humid weather.
The first layer on the bottom is a solid piece of foam that is about 1 inch thick and contoured to the bottom of the case. The top layers are the pick and pull foam. This layer is about 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick. The pick and pull foam is could be taken out easily.
It is very easy to shape your foam according to your firearm. Just follow these simple steps. Place your weapon and accessories on top of the foam. Then, trace it with chalk and then pick and pull the foam. In case you make a mistake or want to put pieces of the foam back, you could just use some good clear super glue.
There are six latches on this case but the one behind the pull handle is a pain to open with and it is in the way all the time. You can probably imagine that each time you try to close the lid, there will be at least one latch blocking it from closing properly.
Overall in this case review, you could purchase this Plano hard case just for its wheels!
- Heavy usage
The fourth hard case in this best case review is from Case Club. This waterproof case comes with precut foam to hold AR-15 Rifle. This case could also hold extra magazines, a pistol, optics, rifle attachments, and various other accessories. This purchase might save you some bucks as moisture removing silica gel canister and waterproof accessory box & knife are included for free.
Foam insert is high grade polyethylene which can be wiped clean which eases some of your effort for cleaning it. Case is airline approved for checked luggage and padlockable so no worries for your travel.
The case itself is waterproof, dustproof, and has a built in pressure valve for changing altitudes. It is heavy duty enough to ship or check on an airplane. On top of that, the case could also handle all the abuse from TSA agents which is another one of our worries during travel cleared up.
Five built in heavy duty latches ensure the case to be secured tight. Two latches are even keyed for extra security and a set of keys are included. You can customize the foam as needed with the included knife since the foam is perforated above and below the cutout.
The two cutouts for the rifle magazines can hold 10, 20 or 30 round regular or pmag magazines (223/556). Reusable silica gel canister is included to ensure the moisture is removed from within the case. Once the silica gel is saturated just pop it in the oven to heat away the moisture. Once done, you can use it again.
The included waterproof accessory box is perfect for storing your cleaning supplies and small tools. The lid holds a foam combination of convoluted (egg crate) and closed cell polyethylene which is specifically engineered to hold everything down perfectly.
This Case Club hard case is compact, organized, and uses all available space to the fullest. The case has three layers of foam. The foam in the center is just wide enough for a typical AR setup and the foam above is soft and will compress easily. The padded protection on the top will not cover areas that are changed. Meanwhile, the lower foam could be adjusted to fit almost any style.
There are two keyed latches and places for padlocks if you need them. The rifle case is also lockable with a built in lock with keys provided. The exterior dimensions are 40″ × 16″ x 5″.
The downside of this Case Club best hard case is that the placement of the carry handle makes working the middle latch a bit tricky. Also, the lid does not open past 90°. Therefore, if the case is sitting at less than perfectly level area when it’s opened, the lid may fall.
Furthermore, the center clasp is located between the carry handle anchor points. This makes it very hard to manipulate. Other than the aspects mentioned this case works just perfectly fine.
The last hard case in this hard case review is from Pelican. When your life depended on the case if you deploy into military styled scenarios or you’re going on an expedition where rescue teams would need days to find you; this is the case. That’s what a Pelican is famous for and why it costs. With the height of 16” and 6.12″ wide, this watertight, crushproof, and dustproof is strong and lightweight.
It has easy open double throw latches and open cell core with solid wall design. The seal is O-ring seal and this Pelican case is equipped with automatic pressure equalization valve. The fold down handles and strong polyurethane wheels with stainless steel bearings brings ease for your daily travels.
The manufacturer provides personalized nameplate service and lifetime guarantee of excellence. For the locking system, it has four holes to place locks in. Two of these are metal reinforced.
There are three layers of grey foam, each around 1 5/8″ thick, for a total thickness of about 5″. The three layers are interchangeable. So, if you cut out a section for an item in the middle layer and keep the removed part, you can put that slab of foam on the bottom and cut out the new middle section differently.
It has a layer on the top and bottom which is 1″. Then, the insert is around 2.5″. If you want the shape the foam according to your AR 15, you need to trace the object and then cut the foam out.
There is no lock included with the rifle case so you need to provide the padlock(s) yourself. Now, let me continue on to the downside of this case. This case is huge and heavy, even without any contents but on the bright side, I have plenty of room to expand.
The replacement foam pads are expensive but the quality of the material is in par with it. Do take note that there are three pieces of foam included with this case, which you only cut the middle piece. The bottom piece is not as large as the middle piece to accommodate portions of the case frame. So, it will not serve as a direct/swappable replacement for the middle piece of foam.
The handle is not padded but still quite comfortable to hold. It is nice to put it on its wheels but it is tough to wheel it over quite uneven surfaces like you may find at some ranges. Wheeling it over rough gravel is sometimes just plain tiring rather than easing up my burden as it is supposed to be.
To sum up this case review , I would recommend a Pelican to anyone looking to protect their AR 15. This is the perfect answer for hunters or travelers who need to throw it in a vehicle frequently or to travel under extreme weather.
- Protecting your AR 15
- Anyone seeking high quality hard case
Choosing the Best Hard Case
The top 5 hard case are decided by certain factors:
- Number of snap latches
- Foam height
Since we are bringing our hard case along, we surely don’t want an exasperatingly heavy hard case. We all prefer lightweight cases over heavy ones for carrying as it makes us indirectly comfortable while travelling and carrying the case at the same time.
The optimum size ensures that the rifle case fits your AR 15 snugly. Meanwhile, a bigger size may provide more space for any attachments for your AR 15 which you may want to bring along.
Number of snap latches
A high number of snap latches ensures your case is secured tight but on the other hand, it makes opening and closing the case a hassle.
The thicker the foam height, the more protection it gives for its contents during travel especially when travelling on a bumpy ride.
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