If you value your rifle at all, a quality hard case is a must. We checked out some brand new cases for 2016 to see what we'd want to haul around all hunting season. Here are the top four choices from our case study.
Pelican | 1770
Pelican has become our de facto go-to case as they are well made and extremely durable. Between our various staff members, we have logged over a million air miles with Pelican cases, and so far there have been zero failures of any kind. Sure, the tested cases now look horrible — scratched, scuffed, and marked up all over, but they have done their job in every environment around the world.
Completely water-, dust-, and crush-proof, no contents have ever been damaged, and for the most part, scopes stay sighted-in as well as can be expected. Pelican cases are also covered by a lifetime warranty (that will likely never be needed).
Bottom Line: The sturdiest case we tested. Extensively field-tested and proven by our staff. No complaints other than the squeaking of our wallets. The MSRP is $229-500.
SKB | iSeries
I tested SKB several years ago and absolutely loved it. However, I may have spoken too soon. One extremely cold winter morning, I grabbed the top handle and it snapped in half. Ticked, but figuring it was just a flawed handle, I reached for the side handle; this one sheared in half as well and dropped the case onto the frozen ground.
Yes, the handles are replaceable, and covered under warranty, but they never should have broken. Other than the handle issue, however, the iSeries is a solid case- — strong latches, heavy-duty construction, O-ring sealed, and multiple locking points for security.
Bottom Line: Well-designed case with great features, but a brittle (when cold) polymer caused two handle failures during long-term testing. The MSRP is $115-250.
Cabela's | Armor Xtreme
Cabela's really pulled out the stops with its Armor Xtreme case. Durable injection-molded design at a price that is pretty hard to beat — in fact, easily the best value of the cases in our test. I liked the wide handle for comfortable carrying, smooth rolling (and replaceable wheels), plus the airlock and dustproof and waterproof O-ring seal.
The all-metal, draw-down-style clasps, while slow, are extremely secure and rugged once latched. I also liked the small details like the space to write owner name/info on the outside of the case. Like all Cabela's products, the Armor Xtreme case carries Cabela's Legendary Guarantee.
Bottom Line: Expect Cabela's quality, attention-to-detail, value, and durablity backed up by their Legendary Guarantee. The MSRP is $79-199.
Plano | Mil-Spec Field Locker
The first "quality" gun case I bought (over 20 years ago) was a Plano, not very different from the Mil-Spec Field Locker I tested here. I still use that case today, and it is as good as the day I bought it. While the Mil-Spec Field Locker flexed more than the other cases in this test and the seal between the top and bottom was not as tight, it is still a quality case and features items like a pressure relief valve, ball-bearing wheels, and a heavy-duty overmolded handle.
Both the wheels and latches are easily replaceable should an overactive baggage gorilla take out his frustration on them. While we like the case, the price is no longer the super-great value it once was.
Bottom Line: Good quality, however, not as rigid as other cases tested. Unfortunatley, the price is comparable to all but the Pelican line. The MSRP is $189-229.