Friday, September 27, 2013

Transporting Ammunition in Magazines on Airliners

I will be traveling by airliner a bit in the next few months, and I will be transporting a handgun.  Current TSA rules concerning ammunition require:
  • Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
Past experience is that ammunition in magazines is not allowed unless the ammunition is completely covered:
May I pack my ammunition in a clip or a speed loader?Yes, provided the magazine or clip completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the portions of the magazine where the ammunition is exposed with a metal, plastic, or cardboard sleeve).
But what magazine or clip does that?  Or does this mean that a magazine must be enclosed in a case that covers the ammunition?  The last time that I flew with a gun, the ammunition was seized from the magazines, and I was told that this was not legal -- yet this used to be allowed.


  1. It means that you can pack fully loaded magazines so long as the magazine itself is in a box designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Put your loaded magazines in an empty cardboard shotgun shell box (i.e., the box you buy from the store). This box is specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Bring along a printout of the TSA rule and the Q&A. Good to go. Alternatively, you could put all of your magazines in Kydex magazine holders (but only if no portion of any ammunition is exposed). Option 2 is (IMO) less clearly within the rule, but still falls within the scope of the Q&A.

  2. I saw a blog post from someone recently who forgot and left loaded magazines in their luggage. Some TSA employee, apparently feeling nice, folded some flyers over the top of the mags and duct-taped them in place. You could try calling the TSA or the local airport and ask for suggestions. (I'm not sure why loaded mags in a locked case wouldn't be acceptable, either.)

  3. I just re-read your quoted text. It sure sounds to me like taping something securely over the open end of the mag should be acceptable.

  4. Carry the ammunition in labeled cardboard factory load boxes. Pack the magazines separately. The loads can be handloads but don't confuse our masters with facts.

    If not factory boxes try the MTM or equal but labeled factory is best by test.

    TSA's gotcha is that not all regulations are published so there is no arguing with their ignorance.

  5. Cover the tops with duct tape.

  6. Why not just ask your contact person to purchase you a box, or have Cheaper than Dirt ship a box to your hotel or something. You can't load up until you are off airport property anyway

  7. I have never had a problem with the TSA (about ammo anyway), but some airline agents can be troublesome. Airlines can make rules more restrictive than the TSA, and at least one of them (can't remember off hand) does ban ammo in magazines period.


    I use a variation of Kukul's and Clark's suggestions. I use a .38 Special box, reinforced with clear tape. It holds two double stack 9mm mags easily, and a small sheet of foam to keep them from rattling. I also put the ammo separate from the gun box -- this seems to discourage the agents from wanting to see it, if the care at all they just want to see the gun unloaded. I usually put the ammo box in an old dop kit along with my knife and other things I can't carry in the plane cabin.

  8. I found it easier to unload the magazines. Keep in mind that in addition to the TSA regulations, the airlines may impose their own as long as they don't conflict with the TSA.

    I've found that it pays to print out the latest TSA rules and the policy of the airline as well. Most airlines allow the ammunition to be in the same hard case as the firearm, but Jet Blue does not.

    Generally the airlines are more concerned about firearms than the TSA. About half the time the TSA doesn't even inspect the case.

    Remember NOT to use TSA approved locks for the case or box that you put the firearms in.

  9. augustrrr,

    "you can't load up until you are off airport property anyway"

    What?? Unless you know more about Clayton's travel plans than he revealed here, you can't say that for certain. For example, if he were flying to SeaTac, it's perfectly legal to be armed in the non-secure areas of the airport, including baggage claim.

  10. Here in Idaho, it is legal to be armed in non-secure areas of the airport. I cannot imagine opening the case in baggage claim and loading up. It might be...misinterpreted.

  11. One TSA group had me LOAD the magazines. At the counter. In sight of everyone. I asked them three times if they were actually telling me to put THIS ammunition in THIS magazine. Every time they said yes. Magazines loaded and in the same locked flight box as the pistol. Sig 220.

  12. I also went all the way to France....and back with an unloaded magazine in an open pocket on the side of may carry-on.- no zipper- just an open slash pocket. Nobody noticed. I didn't remember it and found it when we were back home in Texas. My impression was that the French were a little better than the TSA in inspections, but nobody seemed to see this. It was an unknown, unloaded double-stack mag that I had taken to the TSRA convention the week before to ask around and see if anyone could identify it.

  13. Clayton,

    Neither can I imagine doing so (at least not if it can't be out of the sight of *everyone*.)

    My point was simply to challenge the casual misinformation.