TuffPak Questions.......

Discussion in 'Before & After the Hunt' started by sandman0921, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. sandman0921

    sandman0921 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    I have done a thread search, and I know this issue, or variations thereof, have been beaten to death going back to the advent of this forum/website, but I wanted to specifically re-explore everyone's experience with the TuffPak style gun case as it relates to recent interactions with the TSA and airline agents.....

    I have been a user, and overall fan of the TuffPak brand for several years now. These have been around for many years, and so I won't rehash all the pros and cons, but the main things that I've liked are:

    1) It's tough
    2) It gives the appearance of a hard-sided golf case, and thus is less conspicuous than a traditional hard-sided uncase such as a Pelican case, etc. I've even had people ask me where I'm playing golf at while waiting in the ticket line, or at baggage claim
    3) It's simple
    4) It's nice to be able to pack the soft-gun case with the firearm in it
    5) It serves as a case to put other bulky and/or fragile items such as spotting scope tripods, shooting sticks, boots, etc., and in fact it is designed to work with those items to fill space and prevent firearms from jostling around too much.

    All in all, the benefits of using the TuffPak have been numerous, and I have really enjoyed using it.....until recently......

    The biggest problem I have with the case is that, more and more frequently in my experience, the TSA agents, 1) have no clue how it works, 2) are not familiar with their own rules, 3) have no interest in adapting to it. Also, depending on the airline, some airline regulations do not allow for anything but the firearm in the case which negates the design of the case )somewhat) and the advantage of the extra storage for bulky items?

    Are any other TuffPak users out there starting to get a lot more grief at the airport from TSA or airline ticketing agents in regards to the unconventional nature of the case and the airport personnel's unfamiliarity with it and it's use? Or, is this simply a sign of the times, and indicative of what anyone that travels with firearms will be subjected to despite the type case he/she utilizes in their travels.

    I love my TuffPak, and it has functioned wonderfully to date, but it seems that every year it becomes more and more of a hassle to use, and has me considering purchasing an Americase 2-gun Safari case instead. I saw a thread on this before for a few years ago where @rookhawk was detailing the advantages of the Americase brand, and despite the bulkiness and weight (which the TuffPak has as well), I'm beginning to think it might be the way I go. It certainly would make inspection a much less stressful process......

    Anyway, thanks in advance for the input........
     
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  2. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Really dig mine for all the obvious reasons. That said, I have had a couple TSA agents look at it sideways and one actually admit he had never seen one before. The only weird experience I have had was in the Amarillo airport. I checked it in at the checking desk. After I got through security TSA paged me and had me go back to the security desk and asked me for the key so they could inspect inside it. I gave them the key and waited about 10 min. They brought the key back and all was good.
    I still have my traditional style aluminum case but have no plans to start using it again any time soon...
     

  3. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I've had no more issues than usual.

    Two trips ago I had the smart TSA guy tell me that since it has guns in it I needed to have a lock on it. I pointed to the lock and told him I agreed. :A Wacko: :A Way To Go:

    I have no intention of even thinking about changing.
     

  4. sandman0921

    sandman0921 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    @Mekaniks,

    I appreciate the response. My frustration has gone beyond the odd looks, and is more in regards to the potential for delay or issues with case security as a result of TSA agents that have no clue what it is or how to use it. My most recent trip to the NWT (Canada) took the prize. To expound a little, I've had the following happen while using the TuffPak:

    1) told by the inspecting TSA agent that it did not meet federal/TSA regulations because the gun wasn't in a hard case.....I'm sure my mouth stayed open for a while during the long pause trying to figure out if he was serious. What he meant was the firearm was in a soft case. Of course I guess he forgot that it was inside a hard case. After I questioned/argued with him to explain to me why this case was any different than a traditional, flat-sided case (i.e.. hard, lockable plastic surrounding a firearm), he couldn't justify his statement. I was polite the whole time, but firmly reiterated their rules in defense of the case, and he finally admitted that it was because it wasn't a "traditional" case and may raise eyebrows at other locations

    2) had to pull out clothing, boots, shooting sticks, etc., and repack those items in other luggage at the airline ticket counter because the agent said their policy was to only have the unloaded firearm in the case. I was in a hurry to make the flight, and didn't have time to argue with the lady, but ultimately it concerned me as the rifle was going to be able to jostle around in the TuffPak against the design of the case.

    3) Picked up my case at baggage claim to find the lock through the latch knob eyelet and locked, but the knob not actually turned to lock the case. The case had been unlocked the whole time from the time it left the TSA inspection point all the way to baggage claim

    4) Same trip as #3, my Bog-Pod leg lock latch busted after the TSA agents had admittedly had a hard time getting everything back in the case. They actually told me this when they returned the key to me, and when I asked if I could make sure everything was OK, they said no. Once the bag is inspected, the owner cannot look at it again until it makes it to baggage claim (I understand this)

    5) The strap used to secure the top to the case being completely pulled out of the plastic tabs that keep it flush against the case, and then the strap literally tied in a knot around the side of the case with the top again not secured and obviously not locked. It took me at least 30 minutes in the Edmonton, AB terminal to un-tie the strap and reroute it back through the tabs.

    6) On a late night arrival from Norman Wells, NWT, the case fell off the conveyor belt during unloading of the aircraft and rolled over to a corner somewhere on the tarmac in Edmonton, AB. That was a big deal. It took hours for the agents to find the case, and almost lead to the shutting down of the airport by the RCMP because no one could tell me where my custom rifle was. I guess a "loose" firearm in a controlled airport is a big deal.....:(. In all seriousness, it was a major ordeal that was going to require me to miss my early AM connection back to the USA, or me abandoning my custom rifle in Canada. When they eventually did locate it several hours later, the ground crew had said it had rolled over a concrete ledge when it fell, and because of the black color, they didn't see it. The story still sounds fishy to me, but at least I did get my rifle back. Maybe a shiny aluminum case would have been more noticeable?

    The unfamiliarity of the case with the TSA agents has become so obvious that I've even offered to give them a tutorial on how to open it and lock it back. Most have thought I was being a smart-ass, and said "they would figure it out". I haven't insisted because I was afraid it may make them give me a harder time than usual.

    Anyway, as I've said before, I love the idea behind the case, but several incidents recently have me questioning whether I want to use something different in my international hunting travels......
     
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  5. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I never fly through the US with firearms, so can't comment on the TSA. But otherwise, I have never had a problem with the Tuffpak case. No one has even looked askance at it.

    One thing. As noted, it doesn't look like - at least not necessarily - that you have firearms. Except that most airlines, including SAA, put a big tag on it that says "Firearms."!
     

  6. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    All I can say is wow...

    I wonder if it would make any difference to them if the rifle was in a locked plastic "traditional" style case and then that was put in the Tuffpak? Then surrounded by soft case, clothes, etc. it would add some weight and take up some more space but they might like it better? I dunno...

    One thing I have done also, is I keep the Tuffpak brochure that came with the case in the inside pouch. Just in case anyone ever tried to argue that it's not a "gun case" I could use that as backup. Haven't had to do that yet, but I keep it just in case.
     
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  7. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    That's a really good idea.
     

  8. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I flew KLM with it from Toronto. They would not let me pack anything but the gun in it and I put the firearm accessories (cleaning kit, ear protection etc) and they were OK with that. KLM is affiliated with Delta and when I tried to plead my case about the clothing one of the agents was familiar with the case from her time at Delta. She agreed with me but her superior said no.

    I told the tuffpak folks about the problems because that little pink piece of paper has no weight with the authorities. I suggested they needed to spend so more time educating the airline staff.

    I love my tuffpak but I won't risk the inconvenience of mixing in clothing. I have also dismissed buying the case for the bow/gun out of the same concerns
     
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  9. sandman0921

    sandman0921 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    @Pheroze,

    The airline I was flying was Delta as well. Most of my problems with the case however have been with the TSA agents lack of knowledge with the case. I truly hope that I am a unique case but I fear that these problems will become more and more common. Time shall tell, but it has me seriously considering the Americase option.
     

  10. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    In August I flew from Louisiana to Whitehorse, Yukon. I took one rifle, in a soft case, and then put it into a two rifle SKB lockable, hard case. I left the foam divider at home, since I was taking only one rifle. I put a few clothing items in the case (pair of blue jeans and a shirt for the trip home at the end of the hunt). When I was filling out the firearm form at the United ticket counter, the agent told me I had to remove the clothing items, as TSA would not allow it. New one on me and I immediately thought of folks with a Tuff Pack. Thankfully, I had enough room in another bag to move the clothes, but can you imagine the problem if TSA told you that no other stuff was allowed in your gun case.
     

  11. sandman0921

    sandman0921 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Yep, I can because it happened to me. It was aggravating to me, and I am sure for the passengers behind me, to have to pull the stuff bag out of the case, and start sorting through gear at the ticket counter to find places to stuff it at in already maxed out bags. Plus, I was just waiting for airport security to show up and arrest me for having a rifle out in plain view of the ticket counter and other passengers.

    I agree with Pheroze that once the "authorities" have made their mind up, good luck.........It would be nice if Nalpak would have a session with the TSA screeners to educate them on the pack. However, these packs have been around for many years, so I know that the TSA has to be aware of them.......

    Anyway, this is not a TuffPak bashing thread. Like I said, I've used mine for years and really liked it. I'm just trying to ascertain if my experiences have been unique to me (a.k.a., crappy luck), or more of a general trend that is in-line with what other international hunters are experiencing with the TuffPak case over the last 2-3 years. Before I drop another $500+ on a hard-sided gun case (Americase 2-gun safari), I am trying to see if it's necessary. As usual, for each user I guess it really boils down to whether it's worth the potential hassles associated with this "non-traditional" case for the many positives associated with it's use. If my experiences are fairly uncommon, I'll probably ride it out. For me, the inability to utilize the case for other items other than just firearms will significantly sway my opinion of it. We'll see..........
     

  12. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I hope it's not necessary to buy another. This tuffpak is a great case. I carried one gun but had all of my rifle accessories in a cheap software stuffed beside my rifle in its softcase. Actually worked very well. I opened on softcase to show the gun and then unrizzped the second to show I was just carrying cleaning supplies, ear protection etc. In the other. If you get a new hard sided case then you need a suitcase anyways.
     

  13. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I haven't had any problems since I started using a tuffpak, I bought mine due to a thread on this subject here on AH, everyone was singing praises, I love the case. Since I bought the case last May, I have flown united, Lufthansa, SAA, Southwest and Alaska Airlines and have not had any issues, even had one gal at TSA at IAH comment on how cool the idea was to pack other gear in there. All flights except to SA had two rifles and my 329PD revolver in the case along with my hunting cloths. I have not flown Delta nor do I plan to, I would much rather drive, walk or swim to my destination after my previous delta issues.
    I also keep the brochure in the case for educational purposes.
    Cheers,
    Cody
     

  14. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Enthusiast

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    NEVER underestimate the level of stupidity and ignorance when it comes to TSA. They are government employees that cant be fired. They have to pass a civil servant exam thats on an eighth grade level. TSA is Kabuki Theater. NO Doubt there are good TSA Agents, and they must all hate their idiot co-workers. Thank Diversity and Hope for the substandard security and luck AND thank who ever it is you pray to in the dark that nothing bad has happened on airlines in a long time--its not TSA

    I actually felt safer with Zimbabwe security, they asked good questions-in clear English. Flying out of Dulles, I had a TSA agent seize one steel pen but let two others pass. He also let pass a steel water bottle pass and titanium chop sticks (I like sushi), and two rolls of quarters (for pay phones) in a sock, and a spare pad lock with a bandanna (in case my lock broke and I got sweaty) BUT not one pen... He said it was a "self defense" pen because it was pointy (have you ever looked at a pen--its F-ing pointy on purpose)...I think he wanted the pen???

    I also blame the Airlines. They are supposed to train their employees AND they are supposed to have employees that can use a little reason. Blame the Airlines for hiring employees who have an anti gun/anti hunting agenda--which ultimately translates into an anti airlines/anti travel mindset for customers.
     

  15. rookhawk

    rookhawk AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    In the past few years we've noticed a change in political behavior globally. Namely: if you are in an undesirable class/interest/group I may cause harm to befall you without feelings any moral misgivings. Think Social Justice Warriors.

    That global phenomenon appears to have focused on air travel with guns. Years ago a gun would have been treated with extra respect at airports but today it makes you a target. I've seen cases dropped 12+ feet from an aircraft. Certainly the conveyors they fall off of at major airports are more than 20' overhead.

    For these reasons, whatever you select, it needs to isolate the weapon from shock near completely. The tough pack does that imprecisely based upon the volume of crap you throw in for balest so your rifles don't bounce around. As mentioned, most airlines don't like non-weapons in with weapons so you're really SOL if they make you take out everything but the guns from a tough pack.

    If money were no object: an Americase gutted and French fitted by FEI to the exact gun for total encapsulation.

    If money is an issue, a standard Americase with extra foam to lock the gun in place precisely.
     

  16. sandman0921

    sandman0921 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    @rookhawk,

    Who is this FEI of which you speak? And I don't mean to imply that money is no object, but certainly when you're traveling with high-dollar rifles a lot of us travel with to hunt, it might be worth looking into.....
     

  17. rookhawk

    rookhawk AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Feiguncases.com the finest case makers in the nation. (And 1/4 the price of Huey)

    They'll take an aluminum case exterior and line it internally like a best English case for very reasonable money. They'll make sure every piece is fit to exacting tolerances.
     

  18. sandman0921

    sandman0921 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    @rookhawk,

    I just searched them out with Google, and all I can say is wow!

    I wonder how much it would cost for them to French fit say a double rifle in an Americase break-down case? Also, could they take, say an Americase Safari 2 or 3-gun case, and fit the interior of one of those? My biggest problem is I have several bolt-rifles of varying dimensions. I'm sure with each African trip I make, I'll want to use a different rifles/combos.....I'm going to be heading to Tanzania in 2018 for my first African safari so I may just have to look into something like this.

    I've never heard of these guys, but again I am very impressed by looking at their website. Thanks for the heads up.
     

  19. rookhawk

    rookhawk AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    John and Kelly are two of the nicest, kindest, talented people you'll meet in the gun trade.

    A 2gun Americase won't really have the right look when lined by them. Personally, I'd have a two rifle case made that presents them in the conventional manner. The bolt separately encapsulated, cleaning kits, scopes, etc.

    They can do a proper baize wool lining, oak face to the wainscot, and oak edges. I betcha it would be under $1000 if you have the case.

    I also think they could make a leather exterior to the case and a canvas cover so it looks like an oak and leather case with brass corners, etc.
     
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  20. sandman0921

    sandman0921 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    @rookhawk,

    One question I have about upgrading the Americase interior to a fine, custom fit such as what FEI can do is does it degrade the support/shock absorption that the original foam provides? In other words, does the fine wool lining, encapsulated fit, and the like provide as much support and security to the firearm as the foam that the Americase originally comes with. I realize that the vast majority of the support and "crush mitigation" will come form the heavy-duty aluminum walls the case is constructed of, and for a double rifle without optics that is securely encapsulated by a custom fit interior, I would think that would be just fine. My question would apply more to say a bolt-rifle with optics. Would the wool interior supply adequate shock absorption to prevent the optics from being jarred out of zero? Of course the obvious answer is to have QD mounts on all the rifles, and take the optics in your carry-on bags.

    It's more of an academic exercise, if you will, but might play into how the interior of the case was customized for bolt-rifles (i.e. without the optics mounted vs. mounted).

    I plan to email them in regards to a double rifle case and see what they can do......

    Thanks again for the advice.
     

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