As an owner of an AR-15, you want to protect your weapon from falls, tumbles or other damage when traveling or on the move. You already know that your weapon needs to be taken care of just like any other part of your body, and a weapon that is loved and taken care of will take care of you.
But what kind of case is best?
While your needs may be a little different, generally people are drawn towards cases that provide protection to guns and accessories while withstanding the rigors of travel.
Quick Take: Best AR-15 Cases
These are recommendations for the best cases for the AR-15:
What to Look for in a Case
Ideally, your rifle case will be durable, strong, waterproof and discreet enough to not draw attention. It will also have plenty of space to keep the guns and accessories you need to bring along on your next hunt or shooting trip. It should keep out dust, moisture and be secure against theft or tampering as well.
Your case should not only make it easy for you to bring your rifle whenever it is needed but also make it easy to remove the gun and put it back in place when not needed. A good case will hold the gun snugly within a foam rest to prevent it jostling and moving about while in transit.
Hard Case vs Soft Case: Which is Better?
You should buy a case that meets your own requirements for protecting your guns. If you travel into the woods or forest and require durability and toughness, a hard case will provide the best protection. If you want to travel light and only need a minimum of protection from scratches and rain, certain soft cases will do the job.
Some cases are heavier than others, which makes them less than ideal for carrying. Hard cases can be quite heavy due to their use of stronger materials and size. Some cases are designed for portability, including many soft cases that both protect the gun from scratches and the elements and can be slung over one shoulder.
Remember that no soft case can match the durability and toughness that a hard case can provide due to the materials used. If you want guaranteed protection for the delicate scopes and other accessories on your gun as well as the gun itself, you’ll definitely need a strong hard case. Some cases can hold multiple guns and have inbuilt pressure equalization valves that help in case of changing altitudes.
Hard cases also use multiple latches to keep the rifle safe and some models use steel latches that are compatible with padlocks, so you can increase their security.
Hard cases are easy to maintain since it can be washed on the outside using water and a mild detergent. The inside can also be cleaned with water and mild detergent. The lining made from high-quality foam can also be cleaned using a wet sponge or cloth. Ensure that the foam is dry replacing it, or you risk causing rust deposits in your rifle.
In short, a hard case is good for serious traveling where you gun needs protection. A soft case is sufficient when you don’t have to worry about a lot of banging around and just want to protect it from dust and dirt.
What to Look for in a Hard Case
A good hard case should be built of top quality materials such as high impact polypropylene and be designed to withstand shocks, bumps and rough usage. It should ideally be waterproof, dustproof and rust proof. Good cases have air pressure equalizers that can help protect against air pressure changes during air travel or in mountainous areas.
Good cases will come with foam padding to hold and secure your gun in place. Some will have silica gel inserts to keep all the accessories dry, which is necessary to prevent guns from rusting and ammo from spoilage. You can even customize some foam pads to hold more weapons, magazines or other items you’ll need when traveling.
Some hard cases stand out from the others by incorporating special features such as the ability to float. Cases made from aluminum are great choices since aluminum is able to offer extra protection compared to other materials.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Hard Cases
Plano Molding Company All Weather Rifle Cases
Pelican 1720 Protector Gun Case
Boyt Harness H-series Hard Gun Case
SKB Iseries Single Rifle Case
Reviews of the Best Hard Cases for the AR-15:
To make it easier for you to select a hard case for your AR-15, we’ve rounded up some of the best cases in the market, based on the criteria we outlined above. These cases come in a range of price points and offer sufficient protection for most situations.
The Plano name is one that is considered amongst the best in the industry. The case comes with a Dri-loc seal that keeps the case watertight and airtight under all weather conditions.
The heavy-duty construction, dual-stage lockable latches and built-in pressure release valve ensure that your rifles will withstand the rigors of airline travel. The cases come in two sizes, 36’’ and 42’’, and also contain pluck foam to cushion the rifles.
The dimensions of the 42’’ case are:
- exterior 40” x 16” x 5.5”
- Interior 37” x 13” x 5”
The dimensions of the 36’’ case are:
- Exterior 46” x 16” x 5.5”
- Interior 43” x 13” x 5”
- Adjustable padding, rugged, secure lock, waterproof, well padded.
- Somewhat heavy, but not as waterproof as claimed.
The case is made from unbreakable polypropylene structural resin which is lightweight yet tough. The case even floats, a major plus for water-activities enthusiasts.
The high-density polyurethane foam inside keeps guns safe from vibration and shock. It also has a neoprene sponge O-ring for an airtight, waterproof seal, and an automatic pressure equalizer. You can add padlocks for additional security and the case meets MIL-STD 4150J standards and has an Ingress Protection rating of IP-67.
Each case holds rifles or shotguns up to 42" long with extra space for handguns, magazines or other accessories. It comes in black. The case dimensions are 44-3⁄8’’long, 16’’ wide and 6-1⁄8’’ high.
- Waterproof, airtight, rugged and secure.
- Plenty of space for extras and it floats.
- Large size makes it bulky.
The line of hard cases from Boyt are tough enough to meet or exceed law enforcement, military and airline standards. They also have a lifetime warranty.
They have an eggshell foam interior, dust proof O-ring seal and a pressure relief valve. They support padlocks and have heavy duty latches. The interior dimensions are 48" x 9" x 4" and external dimensions are 50" x 12.5" x 5".
- Very tough and durable
- high-quality materials.
- A bit on the heavy side.
This tough case from SKB is made from injection-molded ultra-high-strength polypropylene copolymer resin and features a dustproof design. It can accommodate scoped rifles up to 49" in length and uses high-quality EPS and ELE foam inside to ensure cushioning and protection for your firearm. The dimensions of the case are 51 x 12 x 6.5 inches and it weighs 3.25 pounds.
- Solid construction
- medium weight
- reasonably priced.
- Doesn’t have extra space for ammo and accessories.
What to Look for in a Soft Case
If you’re thinking about getting a soft case for your rifle, you may be wondering what to look for. The main concern when looking for a soft case is the size, followed by materials and features. Obviously, you want the rifle to fit inside the case. However, some cases will fit your AR-15 snugly and others will have some room for more guns or extra pockets. Smaller cases may be easier to transport, but you’ll be sacrificing the extra room for carrying accessories or other features. Bigger cases may also offer more protection, but this is not always the case.
The second aspect to look at is the material, which will determine the durability and protections offered to the gun. Most manufacturers use a combination of synthetic materials such as nylon. Nylon can be a tough and durable material that holds up well through wear and tear and can handle abuse. The seams and stitching should be checked carefully as they are the most likely point of failure for soft cases.
The final thing to check in the soft case before purchasing is the extra features offered. This includes pockets, pouches, straps and slings. Some people prefer a soft case that conceals rather than advertises the fact that they have a gun on them. A good case distributes evenly over the body by placing the straps properly for the sling to fit the body. Carrying the case should be easy and practical.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Soft Cases
Blackhawk Industries Tactical Rifle Case
Bulldog Cases AR-15/M16 Ultra-compact Discreet Rifle Case
NcStar CVG2907 Series Rifle Case
Bulldog Cases Pit Bull Rifle Case
Reviews of the Best Soft Cases for the AR-15
Just as hard cases should offer a rigid shell to house your gun, the best soft cases will be easy to carry, provide sufficient protection and be durable enough to resist the elements. Here we have listed some of the best soft cases available today.
This soft case from Blackhawk is made from abrasion- and mildew-resistant Nytaneon nylon. The padding surrounds the top and bottom of the case, ensuring that your rifle and accessories do not get scratched. The nylon carry handle is double-stitched and multi-reinforced and the case has an adjustable, padded sling.
The rifle cases come in 34", 37", and 41" lengths and all cases accept rifles with mounted optics and fully unzip to be used as a shooting mat. Each case comes with four high-capacity magazine pouches with hook-and-loop patch closures, plus zippered compartments in the front for additional storage.
- Rugged Exterior, Well Padded
- Magazine pouches don’t work with all sizes of magazines.
This discreet-looking case from Bulldog provides both protection and concealment for your AR-15. The outer shell is made of durable, water-resistant Tetron and is padded with 2½" thick foam. The inside is lined with brushed Tricot that won’t sag, billow or deform.
It has two magazine pouches as well as heavy-duty zippers and comes in navy blue or tan. The case dimensions are 29" x 3" x11".
- Quality Construction
- It can only fit a short rifle or you have to disassemble your rifle in two halves to fit.
This case is reasonably priced compared to the competition and is made of tough Cordura Nylon. The interior is made of soft cotton to protect the gun and other items. On the side of the bag is a windowed ID pocket to hold an ID tag. The other side of the bag has five pockets that can hold AR-style magazines.
The zipper has two pull-tags with locking rings which can be locked shut. The zippers are double-stitched to make them stronger. The inside dimensions of the case are 40" x 12 1/2", and it comes in both green and tan colors.
- Great quality
- great value.
- Five pockets share one flap
- the shoulder strap is at the bottom of the bag.
This tough case is made of Ballistic Nylon and is water-resistant. It contains 1 1/2" of soft padding and an inner lining of soft scratch-resistant brushed Tricot. The case can fit both scoped and non-scoped rifles and comes in sizes of 40’’, 44’’ and 48’’.
- Good value for money
- Quality and build are not very high.
Purchasing a robust and durable case for your AR-15 is a worthwhile investment in order to keep your rifle and accessories safe while traveling or transporting it from place to place. In order to decide what kind of case to select, keep in mind your need for portability, protection, security and discretion.
Some cases are pricier than others, but they offer toughness and protection along with extra features that add to their appeal.