Written By
Published Sep. 15, 2021

The best gun cases of 2021 cover a lot of territory. There are heavy-duty cases for traveling with rifles, cases that protect your firearms from rust, cases that transport your firearms discreetly, and cases with modular elements to attach various accessories. Your specific needs — both in terms of the type of firearms you’re looking to protect and where and how you will be using them — will dictate the best type of case to purchase. 

We analyzed the quality, value, design, and function of each of the gun cases in this roundup. We tested the zippers and latches for durability, the overall ease of use of each case, the amount of environmental protection they offer, and their value for the money. At the end of the test, these ended up being the best gun cases of 2021.

Best Hard Gun Case: Pelican Vault

Key Features

• Holds two full-sized rifles

• Injection molded polymer and resin shell

• Excellent protection against damage from impacts and environmental conditions

Why It Made the Cut

Pelican’s gun cases set the industry standard for hard-core protection. The Vault series maintains that quality, but at a more affordable price.

Pros & Cons

Pros

• Padlock holes reinforced with metal

• Gasket seals the inside against moisture and dust

• Roomy interior with ample foam to cushion against impacts

• Latches operate smoothly and are recessed for protection

Cons

• Double-gun configuration is bulky

• Rear hinge pins not secured

Product Description

In the world of the best hard gun cases, Pelican has earned a reputation for utter reliability. The one knock is that you pay for that performance. With the introduction of the Vault series, Pelican addressed that concern without compromising on protection. 

As with their flagship cases, the Pelican Vault double-rifle case seals the interior against moisture, dust and impacts. It comes with a pressure-release valve to cope with changes in altitude, and the smooth-operating latches are among the best out there. 

Whether traveling with guns via airline or just protecting guns on the way to the range, the double-rifle Vault gets the job done at a price that won’t break the bank.

Though this gun case is bulky, I appreciate that it weighs less than the standard Pelican offerings. I’ve used Pelican cases to protect my most valuable firearms for many years, and while I was reluctant to try this offering that’s a step below their top tier I must say I’ve been impressed with how good a job it had done.

Best Gun Case with Lock: Plano Rustrictor

Key Features

• Durable resin shell with integral rust inhibitor

• Customizable foam interior

• Two latches with integral locks

Why It Made the Cut

This is the best gun case with a lock that will protect firearms from scuffs, dust, theft, and rust — no other case can make that claim. The resin impregnated outer shell is tough and the cases in the Plano Rustrictor series are a good value for the dollar. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

• Blocks corrosion on metalwork

• Lockable latches for extra security

• Pluck-and-fit foam for a custom fit

• Wheels are oversized for smooth rolling

Cons

• Somewhat bulky

• Padlock hasps not reinforced with metal

Product Description

This particular gun case is the largest in Plano’s line of rifle cases. For that reason, it is equipped with wheels, which makes transporting the case and its contents much easier, especially when traversing smooth ground like at the airport. Two of the four latches on the case have integral locks, so there’s no need to add padlocks to discourage unauthorized access. 

The foam that’s attached to the top and bottom of the case is ventilated so that the rust inhibitor can permeate the interior and protect the metalwork on the firearms.  

The rust inhibitor that’s incorporated into this case really separates it from the rest of the field. When I lived in the Northeast I had to give each of my guns a thorough cleaning and wipe down after each use in order to prevent blooms of rust from appearing. Even on rifles that were touted as “weatherproof” rust will form on scope cap screws, action screws, the trigger face, and other metal that is covered by the stock. Having something like this Plano offers a lot of piece of mind, especially for those living in humid regions.

Best Pistol Case: Eberlestock Undercover Brief

Key Features

• Versatile bag for daily use that includes a hidden pocket for concealed carry

• Has padded pocket to accommodate a 15-inch laptop 

• Intelligent layout of interior pockets keeps items organized

Why It Made the Cut

No other bag does as good a job as concealing and protecting a handgun, while offering a smart layout for everyday use and tasks. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

• Compartment for concealed carry closes with quiet magnetic fasteners

• Low-profile design gives it a non-tactical look

• Excellent stitching, zippers and materials provide durability

Cons

• Bag can look out of place in casual non-work environments

Product Description

Eberlestock Undercover Brief, the best pistol case is an excellent solution for someone looking for an EDC carry bag for toting a handgun along with daily essentials such as phone, electronics, wallet, etc. 

The bag has three main compartments, one up front for pens, wallet, phone, and other small items, a padded compartment in the back to hold a laptop or tablet, and a hidden compartment in the middle that’s accessed underneath the carry handle. The bag also has a pass-through sleeve that slips over the handle of a rolling carry-on piece of luggage for air travel. 

I’ve used bags for off-body carry for years. The system has a lot of advantages, the main one being that it allows one to carry a larger handgun comfortably for hours at a time without fatigue and without worrying about printing. 

This bag from Eberlestock is certainly capable in this regard. The size of the bag gives it a lot of utility for everyday tasks, but it is so large that it can look out of place in some environments. If you don’t mind the purse look, the Undercover Brief is a great choice.

Best Tactical Rifle Case: 5.11 36-in. Double Rifle Case

Key Features

• Central compartment has padded divider to protect carbines placed on either side

• Innovative straps securely hold rifles in place

• Backpack-style straps allow it to be carried on the user’s back

• Exterior pockets and Molle webbing allow for ample storage of accessories 

Why It Made the Cut

This soft-sided case is portable and well built and will store and transport two carbines and various accessories with ease. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

• Designed for quick access and smart organization

• The fabric and fasteners are all high quality for durability

Cons

• Not built to protect contents against heavy impacts

Product Description

This rectangular bag has two generous compartments that can each handle a full-sized and scoped carbine which is why it’s the best tactical rifle case. The ends of each compartment have pockets where you can tuck the muzzle of the rifle or the buttstock for extra protection.

The quick-release nylon buckles that secure the carbines in place are well designed and come with bungee-cord style elastic straps that stretch to fit around the handguard and buttstock. Should the cord wear out, it is simple to replace. Smart touches like this are found throughout this double-rifle case.

There are a lot of clever products on the market among soft gun cases designed for hauling around carbines, but not all of them are constructed to handle the wear and tear of consistent hard use. This 5.11 rifle case has double rows of stitching reinforce key parts of the bag’s structure and the rip-stop style outer fabric is as tough as nails. 

The shoulder straps that let you sling the bag make hauling two tricked out carbines (along with accessories) a much easier task than a bag with just a shoulder strap. These are a couple of the reasons this product earned the top spot among tactical rifle cases. 

Best Soft Case For Pistol: Browning Pistol Rug

Key Features

• Stitched canvas and leather exterior

• Single zipper enclosure

•Red flannel padded interior

Why It Made the Cut

The simple design of this case makes it a great choice for storage and transportation of any handgun, whether a pistol or revolver. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

• Soft interior won’t scratch or mar metalwork

• Lays flat when unzipped to serve as a rug

• D-ring allows user to lock the case to prevent unauthorized access

Cons

• Guns and case must be dry to prevent rust

Product Description

Sometimes simple is better and that certainly applies when looking at the best soft case for a pistol. The teardrop design of this Browning case has withstood the test of time, and offers a great balance between protection and portability.

The gun case itself is lightweight and isn’t bulky, yet offers ample padding to protect against dings and scratches from normal handling. The way the case opens and lays flat is a great feature that lets it do double-duty as a rug so that even when at the range or workbench you have a protective surface on which to place a pistol or revolver. 

I’ve always been a proponent of “buy once, cry once” when it comes to spending money on quality products. But some items don’t need to be over-thought, over-engineered, or over-priced, and this pistol rug falls squarely in that category. The outer shell will wear well over the years, the stitching is solid, and the interior lining is soft and snag-free. 

As long as you keep whatever handgun you store in it protected against rust, this bag will do everything it is designed to. 

Best Shotgun Case: Boyt Harness Signature Series Shotgun Case with Pocket

Key Features

• Tough 20-ounce canvas exterior and padded 40-ounce canvas interior

• Leather trim made from harness leather

• Padded exterior pocket

• Brass hardware

Why It Made the Cut

The Boyt Harness Signature is the best shotgun case because it is both stylish and functional and offers excellent protection while transporting shotguns.

Pros

• Bombproof zipper is easy to open with even gloved hands and will work in all environments

• Built with a level of attention and quality that will last for years

• Main carrying strap maintains balance and is not bulky

Cons

• Leather hanging loop at muzzle end can tend to come untied

Product Description

The main compartment will comfortably hold an over-and-under or semi-auto shotgun up to 44 inches in overall length. Dual zippers let you control how you case and uncase the shotgun. The gun case is reinforced with brass hardware at vulnerable points to improve durability. The exterior pocket offers enough room to store choke tubes and a choke-tube wrench and other small items you might need during a day of shooting.

When you think about classic soft shotgun cases, the canvas and leather offerings from Boyt are what come to mind. Using time-tested design and materials, Boyt’s cases set the standard for the category. They can protect even the most delicate shotguns from damage and are at home at the gun range and in the field. When not in use they store flat and can be hung from hooks to keep them out of the way. 

Methodology

All the gun cases listed here have been tested in the field under varying environmental conditions — and most of them are ones I’ve used for years. In the case of the hard cases, we assessed the degree of protection against the elements by hosing them down with water and driving along dirt roads to see if any dust or moisture was able to penetrate the interiors.

We paid close attention to the quality of the stitching and fasteners to look for any weak points in the design. During the test, we opened and closed all the fasteners numerous times to make sure they worked smoothly. Extra points were awarded to those that operated one-handed without difficulty. Extra features, such as the ability to configure the interior of a case to the profile of a specific firearm, were weighed as well. When assessing a case, here are the key things to look at:

• Environmental protection (Does it protect against dust and moisture?)

• Impact protection (How will it protect the firearm against knocks and falls?)

• Durability (How well will the case last with regular use?)

• Ergonomics (How easily can the enclosures be accessed?)

• Extras (Any unique value-added features?)

• Value (What kind of bang for the buck does it represent?)

Things to Consider Before Buying a Gun Case

The purpose of a gun case is to protect the investment you’ve made in your firearms. The type of damage you’re trying to mitigate with a case mostly revolves around transportation of the firearm from the house to either a range or to the place you’ll be hunting. An unsecured firearm is subject to scratches, dings, and exposure to the environment that can cause cosmetic damage, or worse: a malfunction or more severe damage. This is especially so with rifles with optics mounted on them.

In some instances, gun cases can also be used for long term storage in the home.

The manner in which your firearm is to be transported will dictate the type of gun case to purchase. When traveling via airline, a hard sided and lockable gun case is required. These cases are built to the toughest standards, are heavy and bulky, and tend to be the most expensive as well.

Hard cases are also the right call when transporting firearms in the back of a vehicle where they might be exposed to the elements and impacts from traveling down uneven roads. For firearms that are transported in the interior of a vehicle, gun cases don’t need to offer the same level of protection. Padded soft cases are often the best bet. There’s another type of protection that cases can offer, however, and that is protection against detection. These cases are designed to look like everyday bags and not give away their contents.

Final Thoughts on Gun Cases

When it comes to picking among the best gun cases, you need to select the right tool for the right job. The field of cases we tested here covers a lot of the requirements that gun owners might encounter. Our goal was to assemble a variety of quality cases to choose from.

FAQs

What else you need to know to pick a gun case that’s best for you.

Q: Can you fly with two guns in a case? 

Yes. You are allowed to check multiple firearms in a gun case when traveling by air. 

Q: What type of gun cases are TSA approved?

To meet TSA requirements, gun cases must be hard-sided and lockable. 

Q: Is a Pelican case worth it?

Pelican cases offer best-in-class protection against elements, such as moisture and dust, and against damage from impacts and rough handling. 

Q: How much does a gun case cost? 

Quality basic soft-sided cases can be had for about $50 while higher-end hard-sided cases can cost from $200 to $400, depending on features and level of protection.

Outdoor Life Values

Outdoor Life editors don’t just enjoy hunting and fishing as hobbies—the pursuit of these passions make us who we are. Our writers are diehard outdoorsmen and women, too. For more than a century, OL has been evaluating the latest and greatest outdoor gear and providing our readers with no-B.S. reviews. We test products in the field under real-world conditions. We write about the pros and cons of every product we review so that you know exactly what you’re getting if you decide to purchase the gear we cover. Only the best hunting, fishing, backpacking, camping, and survival gear will make the cut in our reviews and roundups. If we’re covering it, you know it’s legit.

MORE TO READ