How Much Ammo Can You Bring On a Plane?

How Much Ammo Can You Bring On a Plane?
How Much Ammo Can You Bring On a Plane?

If you’ve never transported your gun on an airplane before it’s a piece of cake if you follow these simple tips. In fact, I fly with my gun often and I’ve never had a problem. First off, before you leave your house to go to the airport, make sure the gun is unloaded. I would double and triple check this. Next, the gun needs to be locked in a solid case. Personally, I just use the cases my guns came in when I bought them and I use a padlock to secure them.

Once you’re satisfied that the gun is unloaded and locked up, simply throw it in your checked baggage (not your carry on.) As far as your ammo, I just leave it in the box and throw it in my suitcase too. However, I’ll put the ammo at the bottom of my suitcase and the gun at the top. I like to make sure they’re separated by several layers of clothes, but that’s just my own personal preference.

Once you get to the airport, you’ll walk up the counter and tell the representative that you need to declare a firearm and ammunition. And if I were you, I would use those words exactly. I would not advise walking up to them and saying “I have a gun.” That probably won’t end well and you might end up surrounded by airport police who’ll ruin your day and make you spend the next eight hours in a small dark room explaining yourself.

After you declare your firearm to the counter representative…

They’ll hand you a small card – about the size of a 3×5 index card – which you need to read and sign. The card basically says that your gun is unloaded and you’re following all safety regulations and that if for some reason you’re lying you could get a big fine and/or prison time.

Once you’ve signed the card, you open up your gun case, throw the card in the case and secure it again. Then you give your luggage to the representative and you’re all done. In all of the times I’ve flown I’ve never had anyone look at the gun or even ask me if it was unloaded. All they do is hand me the card, tell me to sign it and put it in my case.

Of course, I usually fly Southwest or Delta and I know their respective regulations. So before you fly you should go to your airline’s website or give them a call to see their requirements. However, I’ve heard that almost all airlines are the same with guns. But, one thing I have heard is that airlines are different when it comes to how much ammunition you can bring on a plane.

For instance, my brother just graduated from a police academy in Utah.

While he was in the academy one of his instructors said that they could order a couple thousand rounds through the academy and get a big discount. So my brother called me up and asked me if I wanted some ammo. (Do I want some ammo? Does Charlie Sheen want to crack?)

Of course, I told him I wanted ammo, and when I was in Utah a few months ago, I decided to pick it up. However, 3,000 rounds is a lot of ammo and there was no way I could carry it all back in my luggage at once. So I gave Southwest a call to see how much ammo I could carry on the plane and they told me 11 pounds.

Since it was a few months ago, I don’t remember how many rounds that added up to, but it sure wasn’t much. I think it was something like 350 rounds. I realize I could ship the rest, but right now I’ve got plenty of ammo in my house. Plus, I’m getting ready to head to Utah again soon, so I’ll just bring another 350 or so rounds home with me then, and continue this for the time being.

The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to fly with your gun and if you plan to carry a lot of ammo, know how many rounds you can bring. And, if you happen to be traveling from Utah to Virginia anytime soon, let me know if you’re interested in adding 11 pounds to the weight of your luggage.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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Yes 11 pounds … that’s right. In my case, I took 250 rounds of 357 sig and about 300 rounds of .22lr. You also have to let them know in advance–the airline company. And, make sure you come early! It will take a while. In case of JFK NY, it took me 2 police officers, 4 TSA agents, and 6 TSA agents on the back room. Otherwise, it’s your right.

Best, and enjor.


Thank your brother in law for his service to the community.


Well thought out article. I used to work for the TSA (Dont hold  it against me) some of them do not even know the rules about checked baggage and firearms.


I fly Southwest between upstate NY and FL with a handgun in checked luggage.   When
leaving FL, it’s exactly as Jason described.  NY is a different story.  In NY, the airline agent immediately summons a deputy sheriff and a TSA agent.  I’m required to show my NY pistol permit,  unlock the carrying case, show that it’s unloaded and that the ammunition is secured in “a package designed for ammunition.”  I then sign the required form which is taped to the locked box and packed in my checked luggage.  I am then required to wait at the check-in counter until my luggage clears the scanner in case they need to talk to me. 

David William Loeffler

Five kilograms of ammunition per traveler, about 11 pounds, in containers designed for ammunition.  This usually means factory boxes or hard shell boxes, e.g., MTM ammo boxes, if you’re a reloader.  When  the family went on a hunt in Africa we were pretty close.  The PH recommended 100 rounds per gun for check and hunt so for three guns that added up especially the 416 Rigby!

Check with the TSA AND your carrier’s web site, print out the instructions, especially if you can’t make an earlier recce trip to get all straight.


Flown out of MCI, LAX, TUS, PHX, ORF with my handgun, and never had a problem. “I need to check a firearm.” All on Southwest. I would never ever ever ever ever ever ever buy a flight that even connected in a nutjob communist anti-gun state like NY, NJ, MA, etc. That poor guy who had a forced layover in NJ got charged with a felony just because his flight got messed up and he had his gun case with him when he went to a hotel.

Billy Masters

Makes me nervous, but not for the reason you might think.  It’s because of the relatively few times that I’ve flown, TSA has come up with some reason to search my bag when I’m not around to watch and something of value turns up missing (so far, my $300 camera, a $50 flashlight, and a $40 knife).  Always with a nice little tag letting me know they searched my bag and always with a big midddle finger when I make a claim for the missing property.  Maybe a gun would be different since they are tracked somewhat uniquely through the registration system?  I don’t know.  Just when I swear to never put something valuable in my checked bags again…


used to work for TSA also, resigned due to so much BS, butr anyway.  The TSA website information states “do not use a TSA lock”.  This protects u even more from sticky fingers in the airport.  I’ve even used a cable lock to connect the gun case to the inside of my luggage.  most large checked bags have a metal frame inside the bag.  run cable through this frame and then thru handle of gun case.  keep it safe out there.


So I am flying out of LAX to alaska and want to take my handgun with me. I am curious if it matters that my handgun is from Oregon(where I bought it)? Does that matter with California laws on out-of-state guns? I heard california laws on out-of-state guns are ridiculous. Will I get in trouble cause I didn’t but it from a California dealer and it’s not registered in California?


Having flown many times with guns and ammo. Keep in mind that ammo must be transported in its original box.


I don’t know if it has already been covered in the replies. But I have had some trouble with locks. I flew out of California a few times ( I know I know its califrnia, enough said. But it was home and I still prefer the anywhere north of redbluff to that of anyother state) but only have had trouble with it once. It was out of Sacramento and when I presented my gun the Baggage checkers told me I had to change my lock because they were not TSA approved. Essentially what it boiled down to was you wouldn’t easily be able to break into my gun case with the locks I had used. However the “TSA mandated locks” could easily be opened with a cut out tab from a soda can. Much to their dismay I brought up the plain and simple fact that If I were to use their locks and someone had gotten and my firearms and injured someone with it, I would be the one to blame. And that did not bode well with me. Suffice to say my original locks stayed on my case and I have not had problems since.

Todd McLaughlin

I work in North Dakota and I Live In Alaska. I can get Ammo down in North Dakota alot easier and cheaper but I want to know how much I can carry on Delta Airlines.

Manuel Flores

Thanks for the information. I flew armed all the time when I was an active federal agent without any problems. However, I am retired now and I just want to make sure I follow regulations so I wont run into any issues at the airport. My daughter works for SWA and she told me that it’s not a big deal. The main thing to remember is that the gun case has to be of good quality (solid steel case is better but tough plastic will do) which can be secured with a padlock or even better with its own key. My gun case is solid steel and it has its own key and in addition to that, it has a combination.


11 pounds isn’t airline specific. It’s the FAA’s maximum allowable amount.