So you wanna fly with your airsoft gear...

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With the holidays coming up and people hopping on planes to travel across this great land, there may be an instance where you ask yourself: "Can I fly with my airsoft gun?" Will TSA bounce me off the wall? Will I end up in Guantanamo Bay with my mug shot on CNN? Well the answers to these and other questions you may have on this are up ahead.

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Can you bring your airsoft gear on a plane?

The answer to that question, according to the TSA itself, is yes, and no. You see even with the heightened security that followed Sept. 11th which led to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) itself, you can still fly with actual "real steel" firearms--provided you follow the guidelines. They just need to be checked in your luggage, unloaded, and declared when you arrive at the airport to the ticket agent.

With airsoft, paintball and other replica guns, according to the TSA's official blog advice you can also pack them in your checked luggage but you don't have to declare them to the ticket agent. However, it may be a good idea to give them a heads up, especially if something happened along the way and you no longer have the orange tip on the muzzle.

What you cannot do is take it in your carryon bag.

Why no carry ons?

Well the thing is, you have to remember when you go through the controlled entry point, you know, where the anxious TSA screeners are watching your every move for signs of a terrorist or smuggler, if they look in your carry on and see a pistol-like object, things may get rather tense.

It happens all the time.

In fact, people forget they have real firearms in their carry-ons to such an extent that the TSA has seized a record 1855 guns at checkpoints in the past 11-months which is something of a record. If you do the math on that, you are looking at one real gun found in a carry on somewhere at an American airport every four hours or so.

Try to bring a real hog leg past one of these checkpoints on purpose can lead to a $7500 fine. Plus, as the agency states, "each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested."

Now with these actual guns coming through so often, if an overworked and on-edge TSA screener sees your gas-blowback KJW Sig P-226 stuffed in your backpack that you just picked up as a gift for someone back home, guess who isn't going to be thrilled? Odds are, all involved.

It happens. Check these below out seized by TSA in baggage screening areas. They kinda take a dim general view on gun-like objects.

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Aisoft M4 discovered in carry-on bag at Sacramento in August

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1911 Picked up by TSA at Las Vegas.

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I know it's not a gun, you know its not a gun, but hey, check it, don't carry it. This stuff still freaks people out. Recovered by TSA at a checkpoint at John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA)

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Airsoft grenades are not a hit with TSA baggage screeners when you are trying to board an airplane. Just saying. These were found at Denver airport.

Also, with any sort of gas cartridges and cans, even if empty, you generally cant fly with those, so don't bring them to the airport overall. Sure, this leaves you having to ship them or buy new ones where you get where you are going, but at least you don't have to surrender them at the gate with Homeland Security looking over your shoulder.

As with everything, just use some common sense and check your gear. Overall, be safe, and as always try not to be "that guy" who brings negative attention to the sport.

Have you had an experience good or bad flying with airsoft equipment? Drop it below.

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November 16, 2014  •  06:41 PM
this also varies between different airliners. generally yes airsoft firearms replicas can be transport on planes with you in checked bagged. but some airliners apply different policies. I fly on Jetblue and they want your replicas in a separate checked bag, and also count as one checked baggage. the checked bag that the replica is in have to be hard case with locks (no soft case, no zippers). You will need to provide the code for the locks if you use such types.
so check with tsa is one thing, but also remember to check with whoever you're flying with. they have all the rights to deny you to board.
November 17, 2014  •  10:37 AM
Good article to start a conversation. Above all I will say, regardless of what you read or what you over-hear, contact the TSA AND your airline to confirm ALL inquiries. Rules/laws change fairly often and sometimes with very little warning.

One thing that has remained virtually the same is as hard fully enclosed case, with a minimum of 2 locks. Gun AND mags are to be unloaded. Gas mags should be emptied of gas.
It also should be said the TSA can and will not hesitate cut your lock(s) if the contents in your case set off an alarm. Furthermore, they can do this before informing you.
Travel with your firearm as if it were a real steel weapon, because - well it IS a replica weapon.

Btw, Author, great call on the grenades and related rounds. Those are quite often forgotten about.

-mobile device-
November 18, 2014  •  08:25 PM
Oh man TSA scare me when your going through the line
December 9, 2014  •  05:02 PM
Good article. I fly often armed and sometimes check my weapons in the belly of the plane if I don't feel like being awake the entire flight.

A couple pieces of advice for those who may be flying armed with airsoft or real steel.

1. Prior to leaving for the airport, insure that your weapons are in hard containers that cannot be pried open. The "rule of thumb" among airline ticket clerks is if you can touch the weapon in the case, it can't be checked. It also MUST be locked.

2. With a real firearm, they require the bullets to be carried in box within the case or in a separate case. They cannot be in a bag, loose, or in the magazine. (This seems to depend on which airport I fly out of).

3. When you walk up to the counter, let them know that you will be declaring a weapon (s). They will have you fill out orange declaration forms and inspect the weapon and case.

4. Once completed either the clerk will take your bag and walk it to TSA or they will escort you to TSA. Ordinarily, when you check normal baggage, the ticket clerk takes the bag and puts it on the belt. When you are checking a weapon, it goes directly to TSA and they will x-ray and/or inspect it.

5. You must remain at the TSA inspection station until they give you the all clear. Once that is finished, you are good to go. Once you arrive at your final destination, you claim your weapon at the luggage turnstyle as you would any other bags.

Hope this helps.

Federal Task Force Officer - DHS-HSI