I recently changed my competitive weapon of choice in my martial art (TKD) to a Gum Do, or sword. The sword is basically katana sized, unsharpened but it does have a point, as seen below (Although my scabbard and hilt are black).

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I also compete with a three sectional staff, which is rounded and foam covered. My thought was to get a rifle travel case, and hollow out the foam slightly to accommodate both weapons, and the mini sound system that I use for the creative divisions.

Is there any rule about using a firearm case for other than firearms? How likely is it that this would get stolen, or do you have to go to a special place to pick up those cases?

  • 2
    I thought you were going to ask if this was liable to be allowed as a "carry on" item :-). I have no formal knowledge of the answer but I'd expect informal packing within the confines of a larger container to be acceptable BUT if it were mine I would house it in such a manner that the baggage handlers exercising their art upon it would be ineffective.. Checking it in as a "fragile" item would make good sense - but onlyafterhousing it in such a way that it was anything but fragile. Doing this brings it totheir attention that it is special, allows ease of discussion re handling with staff, .... – Russell McMahon May 14 '15 at 22:58
  • .... allows customs and security people to see that you have made it very visible - and as a "downside" ensures that you have no prospect of claim for damage from the airline if it does get damaged - they even attach a sticker that says so as well as what the fine print will say. In numerous international journeys I have not had items vanish from baggage and I'd expect that a stand alone clearly identifiable item that was checked at check-in and verified for presence immediately on arrival would have a very good chance of not being stolen. YMMV. – Russell McMahon May 14 '15 at 23:03
  • In the good old days, about 20 years ago, i did carry a real sword as a carry-on, simply wrapped in cardboard! I did so several times even. – Itai May 16 '15 at 3:41
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I did exactly this - put competition swords in a firearm case and check it as baggage - when travelling through the US, Hong Kong, and China a few years ago.

It's completely legal, as long as you aren't violating local weapons laws regarding personal carrying at any point, and isn't a violation of terms of carriage for any airline I'm aware of, as long as you don't do something silly like try to bring them on as a carry on.

I went through the nothing to declare line everywhere. TSA will ask you whether it's a firearm, and probably want to immediately x-ray your bag. At HK customs they stopped me briefly so they could have a dog sniff the container. The only problem I had was disembarking at ORD where two baggage handlers (not any kind of security or authority figures, just some wankers who wanted to feel important) gave me grief about using a rifle case. Nobody anywhere cared about the swords.

I did need to go pick up the bag at the oversize counter in the US, even though it wasn't oversize. They didn't care in Asia. Just pack things nicely and check your bag. It shouldn't be a problem, but a nondescript black case will attract less attention than the camo affair I used. A case is just a case at the end of the day.

  • Thank you. As far as I am aware, at least US domestically, martial arts weapons are allowed in any state if you are on your way to/from a school or competition. I'm off to shop at Cabela's, wonder how they will react to me coming in with a sword. :p – JohnP May 16 '15 at 18:10
  • Plano brand cases are reasonably priced hardshell affairs. Do measure the case before buying though, I had trouble finding a hard case that was long enough for my weapons but not oversize. I ended up using a soft case, which drew additional scrutiny because you can't check firearms in a soft case. – Esoteric Screen Name May 16 '15 at 18:29

Is there any rule about using a firearm case for other than firearms?

A firearm case without the firearm is just a case. Put anything you want in it.

Swords of any description are fine in checked baggage, airport security sees knives, spears, arrows and various other pointy things daily, it won't surprise them at all.

and the mini sound system

Mind how you pack this one. Boxes with wires and batteries can often look like bombs on an x-ray. Boxes in one corner, neatly wrapped wires in another, and batteries in a 3rd corner will look much better.

  • It's a rechargable battery. Think a mini version of a 80's boombox with an iPod connector. – JohnP May 16 '15 at 0:16
  • Some airlines forbid out restrict checking rechargeable batteries, @John so you might want to double check the policy. – Esoteric Screen Name May 16 '15 at 18:34

It will likely be treated as a weapon, enhanced by the fact that you are packing it in a gun case. Weapons are handled with a bit more care and are delivered at the end point either by hand or at a different baggage claim (often at the oversized claim door).

For the case itself, I would get a custom made Pelican case (just google it).

They are sturdy, safe, lockable, come with foam padding.

In any case, contact the airline you wish to travel with and make certain they are aware you will be carrying weapons at the airport and will be checking them in properly.

Also be prepared to get at the airport earlier than used to.

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