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5 Best Gun Case Locks for Traveling with Firearms in 2023

Ready to hit the road this summer? Make sure you grab a lock for your gun case to keep things safe and secure. What do we recommend? Come see!

    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.

    Summary of Our Top Picks

    1. Best Budget Pick

      Master Lock Commercial 3KALF

      Wallet-friendly, easy to use

    2. Best Bang for Your Buck

      Master Lock 1175

      Thick and strong

    3. Best Mid-Tier Lock

      Abus Plus 88 Series

      Double bolted, rugged

    4. Editor's Pick

      American Lock 5300D

      Sturdy, serrated pin system

    5. Elite Level Lock

      Abloy Protec2 PL330

      Reputable, tough to beat

    Table of Contents


    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 breakthrough 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 diameterPelican 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


    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 bit iffy. They are often easy to fool and can be 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. 

    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…that’s 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 quickly.

    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 that 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 7mm 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. 

    Best Budget Pick
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    2. Master Lock 1175

    The Master Lock 1175 takes on the role of a 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

    Best Bang for Your Buck
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

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

    Readers' Ratings

    5.00/5 (789)

    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. 

    Best Mid-Tier Lock
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    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. 

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    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


    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. 

    Elite Level Lock
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Final Thoughts

    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. 

    Need more tips on traveling out of state with guns? Check out the Brownells Daily Defense video below.

    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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    6 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      Watch the lock picking lawyer on youtube defeat many of these. I wouldn’t trust those Master locks one bit. On my first attempt after watching some videos l got one open in four seconds. Get Abloy, Abus and American locks, in that order, and yes l know Master owns American lock, they are their premium line.

      April 24, 2023 9:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I don’t my guns to be stolen.

      My father was a locksmith and always said “locks are to keep honest people honest”.

      A lot of truth in that.

      So Travis - if I have guns padlocked and cables in a Glock case - and someone smashes my window - lifts my rear seat and cut the cable to get the whole case and leaves - am I now RESPONSIBLE for arming a thief since I didn’t use a whiz-bang gadget safe?

      Portable lock boxes go only so far in impeding theft. Hell - my Browning ProSteel is certainly not impenetrable. I have a friend in Memphis who Libery Safe was entered with a blowtorch while he was at work.

      All you can do is slow someone down that is committed to stealing.

      Should we impose criminal penalties for people who can only afford to lock their house or vehicle when their property is stolen?

      Does Hornady or GunVault or any other maker replace my firearms if they are stolen from their product?

      All that I am responsible for is restricting unauthorized access to my property. Locking my doors and having items out of sight accomplishes this. Additional protection is great if you can afford it. But nothing is found to guarantee protection.

      But then I’m not trying to sell gun storage devices.

      April 24, 2023 3:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      skip the rest, and go with the American Lock 5300D. It takes a long time to get through it, absent a power tool (e.g. grinder) method (which will defeat any of the locks shown in the article anyway).

      But, for anti-theft, padlocks are basically useless. Although the idea of a pad lock on your gun case might somewhat give you piece of mind ... the majority of guns in cases are not stolen on scene by them getting though the lock. Thieves stopped doing it on the spot years ago, now they just take the whole case and then open it later. The same for that 'SentrySafe Biometric Safe'... its not going to keep your gun from being stolen, they just pick it up and run off with it and open it later.

      But, its a conditional thing too. For example; If you are going to fly somewhere and take your gun then you probably want a good padlock. And even though sometimes things do get stolen from 'luggage' still its a 'controlled space/place' and its less likely once the airport people start handling your case.

      Another example; If you are going to lock the gun up in the case at home to keep prying little ones out, then yeah a padlock might be a good idea.

      But for theft in 'uncontrolled spaces/places' (e.g. traveling and staying at a motel, in the car on the road and stop for a bite to eat, etc...), if someone sees your gun case and wants to steal the gun inside a padlock is not going to stop them as all they need to do is walk/run away with the whole case and open the padlock later when they have plenty of time or just cut through the case quickly at the pad locks section.

      April 24, 2023 3:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jeff H.

      A battery powered angle grinder will cut a hole in the top of any plastic carry case in 30 seconds...

      January 22, 2022 7:31 am
    • 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

      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
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