Traveling with an Air Rifle Tips
(Keith Knoblach started this based on his experiences in traveling to Italy
for the 2011 Worlds. Other content has been added as suggested. If
you have thoughts or suggestions, please
feel free to
- If travelling internationally, get all necessary forms from the host
country early. Also back that up with a call to the host county embassy here in
the US and make sure you're not missing anything. Event organizers can often
provide most of the required information for getting a rifle into their
country. Avoid any but direct routings if flying if your itinerary takes to
other countries where gun laws may require processes or permissions for which you are not
- You'll need to get a US Customs form 4457 signed in-person by a Customs
officer prior to leaving. This is so that you can get your gun back into the
US without paying duty (especially applicable to guns made outside of the
US; ditto for cameras and other foreign-made items). Once you have this form, hang on to it as it
reused. This is a 5 minute deal and can be done on departure day, BUT MAKE
SURE you have a Customs Office available at your departure airport. Call the
office directly, and DO NOT DEPEND on information from your airline regarding
- Get the best gun case you can. Get the best locks that are TSA-approved.
Sometimes, your gun can be inspected after you have locked the case and the
TSA inspector may be challenged in re-latching the case. The locks and case
locking tabs may be the only things keeping your equipment from spilling
- When checking an air rifle (in the US, at least), simply
declare, "I have a rifle to check." Do not say the word "air."
- PCP guns with attached tanks pass inspection with relative ease (again,
this is a "rifle" not an "airgun"). Extra tanks will cause problems in the
US so either live with a single, attached tank or ship extra tanks. The
regulations say that any tank must be inspectable -- in practice, attached
tanks are part of the gun and are not inspected. In any case, if possible
carry the tools to allow for TSA inspection.
- The gun is going to slow you down. It can take an hour just to find out
where you need to pick a gun up at an international airport. If the airline
tells you it's no problem, don't believe them and grab a tight connection.
Try to find out ahead of time if the ammo can be carried with the gun in
it's case. The gun may not arrive where you have been told -- while they may
tell you to go to the "special handling" area (think skis or oversize
luggage), it may just as likely arrive in baggage.
- Make sure you understand the host country's gun carrying
responsibilities. Some will require that you book a hotel with a gun safe.
- Know how to say "Air Rifle", in the host county language (unless the
host country is the US, then just "rifle").
- Some countries have strict rules on the power of airguns.
For instance, those guns with less than 12FPE may be legal, but guns over that
limit may require (very) special handling. Check before you travel!
Similar, but far lower FPE values, may apply to air pistols.