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5 Best Gun Case Locks for Traveling with Firearms

Are you looking to travel with your firearms? Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

Traveling with firearms is a multifaceted subject. You gotta think about cases, foam cuts, and locks. 

So many things to remember!

To me, locks are the most important part. 

I want my guns cased and secured. It doesn’t matter if I’m flying, driving, or riding the shoelace express. Owning a firearm is as much a responsibility as it is a right. 

Securing your firearm from theft and unauthorized users should be something taken seriously. 

However you travel, you need to keep your guns secured!

Today, our goal is to teach you all about the best locks for gun cases — how to pick them out, what to look for, and even a few recommendations!

So, the next time you hit the road with guns in tow, you’ll be ready.

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What to Look for in a Lock 

I’m no locksmith, but I do know a thing or two about locks. I’ve traveled quite a bit with guns, and I have the benefit of being a bit interested in lock picking. 

how lock picking works
We’re trying to avoid this!

Oh, and I’ve been an idiot in the past and locked myself out of lots of things. 

I’ve had to cut, smash, and break through layers of locks to gain access to a thing or two. 

Through that process, I’ve seen the difference between a quality lock that requires a grinder to open and a cheap one that can be smashed open with an E-Tool. 

melting a lock
Keys? Who needs ’em?

So…here are a few things I’ve learned about choosing the best locks for securing firearms —  and really anything else

The Shackle 

The shackle is the portion of a padlock that slips through the lock hole. It’s that U-shaped metal loop at the top of a lock. It’s also often the weak point of a lock. 

Thicker is better with shackles. Thick shackles are tougher to cut and often create deep and more secure locking points. 

parts of a padlock
Parts of a padlock

However, when we talk about gun cases, we’ve got to compromise with size. 

As nice as a 1-inch shackle would be, you’d be hard-pressed to find a gun case that accommodates a shackle that thick. 

Locking ports on gun cases vary, but they seem to often be around 10mm in diameter — Pelican cases in particular use 9.4mm diameter locking holes. 

breaking padlock with wrenches
The shank is usually the best part of the lock to attack if you’re trying to break in.

Shackle thickness isn’t everything, though. Shape matters. Hexagonal shackles grant more strength than standard. 

You might also discover that shackles can also be protected by a shackle guard, as well. 

Padlock Body 

The padlock body creates another critical pressure point.

When choosing a padlock body, you want to think about the design as well as the material utilized in the body of the lock. 

rusty laminated padlock
Also, no matter what kind of lock it is…when it looks like this, it’s time to replace!

Here are all the most common materials designed to make padlock bodies. 

  • Plastic: No. Why?! Just stay away from it. 
  • Aluminum: Ahhh, Nah B, I don’t suggest it. 
  • Brass: Here we go. Brass locks can be strong enough to secure guns. Way better than plastic or aluminum. Also, weather-resistant, which is nice. 
  • Solid or Case Hardened Steel: Now we are cooking with gas. These bad boys are durable and cut and tamper-resistant. Most lock makers coat them with an anticorrosive material for weather resistance. 
  • Stainless Steel: Oh my, stainless steel is quite strong and very dashing. It’s also weather-resistant, tough to tamper, and requires several blows with a sledgehammer to beat, in my experience. 
  • Titanium: Titanium is my love language. Titanium locks are made from a premium-grade material. They are extremely strong and tamper-resistant, and weather-resistant, and even lightweight…but, they are expensive. 
  • Laminated: Laminated locks are not so much a material but a design style worth noting. Instead of being a solid piece of metal, multiple pieces of metal are stacked upon each other and cemented together. It’s often an affordable design that’s quite durable and rugged. 

Lock Styles 

There are a few options for locks on the market, but key or combination locks are the way to go when it comes to gun locks.

There are some pros and cons to either type of lock style. 

Keys are often simpler and require you to memorize nothing. They do require you not to lose a key. 

Keyed locks use…well, keys.

These locks can be picked, but I don’t think a whole lot of petty thieves have the skills to lock pick. If they do, they probably want to steal something more than guns. 

key in lock gif
Keyed locks are incredibly simple — but can be really, really hard to open!

Combination locks cannot be picked.

Unless someone has unlimited time, the combo is going to be tough to guess. 

There are different styles of combo locks including numbered and word variants!

However, combination locks do require you to memorize the combo. So, if you forget, you’ll need to break the lock. 

how a combination lock works
How a combination lock works

Biometrics? 

If you’ve been paying attention to the world of securing guns, you’ve probably seen some really cool biometric locks that can be opened with a touch of a finger.

SentrySafe Biometric Safe
SentrySafe Biometric Safe

Biometric locks require a fingerprint to access. These are a big no from me, dawg. They are too easy to fool and often unreliable. 

If a biometric lock opens every time you touch it without complaint, it’s not actually all that accurate about reading your fingerprint.

Highly accurate models will have you trying your print over and over until you find the sweet spot where it reads well.

Biometric Gun Safe Intro
The tech isn’t quite there yet!

Plus, you lose lock strength to shove tech into it. 

Biometrics might be the future of security, but we ain’t there yet y’all. 

Case Material 

Also, remember most gun cases are made from high-strength polymers. 

Hard Gun Cases
Hard Gun Cases

Pelican, Plano, etc., also use high-strength polymers. Locks will keep people out and prevent casual theft. 

A padlock can’t prevent someone from swiping the entire case and taking a hacksaw to it. 

So choose your gun case carefully.

Locks are only as good as the cases.

5 Best Gun Case Locks

The overall security of your guns and gun cases is on you. Locks are simply one component — an important component, but one component nonetheless.

Let’s look at some gun case locks I’ve found work really well.

Locked hard case

I chose these based on their security, online recommendations from Deviant Ollam and the Locking Picking Lawyer…and their ability to actually fit gun cases. 

1. Master Lock Commercial 3KALF

Sometimes your gun case has several different locking points. Rifle cases, in particular, require a multitude of locks to properly secure, and this can add up quick.

If budget is an issue, the Master Lock Commercial 3KALF is the way to go.

It’s a good lock for the price, and it’s secure enough I feel confident recommending it.

Master Lock Commercial 3KALF
Master Lock Commercial 3KALF

Make sure you get the commercial variants. Commercial grade Master Locks offer better drill resistance and a hardened steel shackle. The 3KALF shackle is 7mms in diameter and quite long. 

Its laminate design keeps things tough without upping the price.

You can cut through this shackle, but you’ll need a rock-solid pair of bolt cutters to do so. The 3KALF resists picking, prying, and smashing with ease. 

It’s one of the more common, budget-based locks and works in that capacity. Getting through multiple locks will take time, and they limit opportunities for theft. 

13
at Aamzon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Master Lock 1175

The Master Lock 1175 takes on the role of beefy lock at a relatively affordable price point

At twice the cost of the 3KALF, the 1175 helps solve the 3KALF’s biggest weakness — the shackle. 

Hexagonal shackles, like the one on the 1175, are much harder to cut with manual tools. A power tool might chew its way through this lock, but bolt cutters be damned.

Master Lock 1175
Master Lock 1175

A hexagonal shackle distributes the force over a bigger area and makes manual cutting much more difficult. 

The shackle is 3/8-inch thick, so it might be just a tiny bit bigger than some gun cases, but most will accommodate it. 

This 57mm thick body deserves its spot in the WWE. It’s thick and strong like Stone Cold in his prime. Prying, smashing, and drilling won’t be easy. 

Stone Cold Steve Austin

The body is made from brass, and as we know, brass is good to go for gun case locks. 

Instead of a key, you do use a four-digit combination lock which means over 10,000 possible combinations

24
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Tried the Master Lock 1175? If so, give a rating below!

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (59)

Your Rating?

3. Abus Plus 88 Series 

Abus makes some outstanding locks that vary widely in design, size, and use.

The Plus 88 Series are padlocks but designed to go beyond basic. Abus made the Plus 88 Series for serious tasks. 

This Teutonic Lock features a hardened steel shackle built into the brass body’s lock. The 40mm body lasts and resists brute strength attacks. 

Abus Plus 88 Series
Abus Plus 88 Series

Thieves would have more luck breaking the case the lock is attached to than the case itself. 

The lock is double-bolted and quite rugged. It’ll take a dedicated attacker to get through this lock. 

When you are using several of them on a gun case, a thief will need a ton of time to get through the locks — which buys you time for them to get caught!

Abus designed the plus disc cylinder to resist lock picking and manipulation in general. It’s a solid little lock from Germany that’s well made, and Abus sets the European standard for high-quality locks. 

34
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. American Lock 5300D 

When you really want to deter a potential thief, go with the mighty American Lock 5300D.

The 5300D is a big lock; it weighs half a pound and is manufactured from steel! 

You can’t get close to this shackle due to the shackle guard. A shackle guard makes it impossible to get a manual tool in there to cut the shackle. 

American Lock 5300D
American Lock 5300D

You have to attack it with something like a grinder, and it’s gonna take some serious time (and noise) to get through. 

This 5300D lock will resist prying (duh), smashing, and general hooligan attacks. Hooliganism is deterred by a dual ball bearing locking mechanism. 

The serrated pin system makes picking tough, and you’ll need to be a talented lock pick to get through it. 

Ultimately this keyed lock provides a ton of security while still being able to fit a gun case. That’s the tough part overall, finding a super secure lock that will still fit a gun case. 

35
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. Abloy Protec2 PL330 

Abloy pops up every time you start researching locks. Lock snobs love them for their extremely high-quality design

The Abloy Protec2 PL330 provides a brilliant level of security while easily fitting onto rifle and pistol cases. 

A case-hardened boron steel shackle makes cutting difficult and will work the biceps and back of anyone with a pair of bolt cutters.

Deviant Ollam PL300 lock cut
You tried, TSA. You really tried. (Deviant Ollam)

Seriously, these things are tough to cut, and you can see attempts at Deviant Ollam’s website where TSA tried to cut through his

TSA

Its brass body makes it rugged and waterproof but keeps the lock affordable enough to buy several of. 

The PL330 keeps weight and size low and isn’t obnoxious by any means. Once locked down, it will take a skilled lockpick to get through it. 

Abloy’s reputation among lock nerds is what drove me to this lock. It seems to be used by frequent flyers who seek to protect their most valuable firearms. 

106
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

Do not skimp out on a good lock. If you can smash it off with a hammer in a blow or two, then it’s not the lock to secure your gun. 

If it comes from the dollar store, it’s not a good lock. You can purchase good locks for a reasonable price. 

A final note — don’t use a TSA approved lock. You should be the only person that can open your gun case!

When you consider the cost of your firearms, optics, lights, etc., purchasing a hundred dollars worth of locks doesn’t seem so bad. 

Good locks go a long way, friends. 

How do you secure your guns when traveling? Let us know below! Traveling with guns? We’ve rounded up the Best Car Safes to keep your gun secure when you can’t have it on you!

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2 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Locks guy

    ABUS TITALIUM™ Padlock 64TI

    I give these a strong recommendation. I have used several locks for traveling and took these to Africa. Worked well and extremely lightweight.

    May 25, 2021 6:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    CP93

    Good article.
    A comment, and a question:
    1. Comment: Those cable locks that come with most guns are a joke, and can be cut with a simple pair of pliers.
    2. Question: I've read that tubular pin tumbler locks, despite popular perception, aren't really harder to defeat?

    May 25, 2021 6:25 pm