I am on vacation in Russia and was given several spent .38 bullet shell casings as a souvenir. They were fired recently and presumably still have residue on them.

I'll be flying domestic within Russia and the United States, and international from Moscow to San Francisco with a layover in Frankfurt. I would like to bring the shell casings home with me, but only if they are unlikely to cause any problems.

My plan is to put them in a ziplock bag, all alone in an outside pocket of my checked suitcase.

Is this likely to cause any problems either within Russia or the US or on the international flights? If so, is there anything I can do do mitigate the issues?

  • Having lost items out of outside pockets from check-in luggage, I advice you to use something to prevent the pocket from opening by accident. (It will not stop a thief but it might cause him to look for easier prey.)
    – Willeke
    Jul 9, 2015 at 14:29
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    @Blackbird57 probably they would, but if the items are permitted it does not matter whether the dogs can find them.
    – phoog
    Jul 9, 2015 at 15:46
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    bullet-proof vests, gold ingots, bullet shell casings....what next ?! Jul 10, 2015 at 1:33
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    I wanted to take spent ammo and shotgun shells from SFX to HAJ through CDG with Air France in my check-in luggage. I asked at the check-in desk if that would pose a problem. They didn't know, asked their superior and came up with that it is probably OK, but advised not to do it. They offered to take the plastic bag and dispose of them. I never learned if it would have been ok.
    – simbabque
    May 26, 2016 at 8:14
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    I had a big hassle in Dubai airport because I had spent casings in my checked bags from LAX. Funny part was Dubai was a layover both the US where I departed and my final destination didn't care. The casing were even in my checked bags. The security delayed me so much I missed my flight. Had to wait 8 hour for the next flight after already having a 5 hour layover. Not worth the hassle Jul 25, 2019 at 22:55

4 Answers 4


The TSA website does not list casings as a prohibited nor restricted item. Given than live ammunition is listed as being allowed as a checked-in item (given it is packed correctly), i doubt spent casings are an issue at all.

I couldn't easily find a list from IATA, but that could be helpful for the international and Russian domestic legs of your trip. IATA does mention that restrictions apply to "items [that] may endanger the safety of an aircraft or persons on board it".

Spent casings do not meet this criteria, nevertheless to remove any doubt i suggest you can call your airlines to confirm.

I also agree with Willeke. I'd recommend putting your casings in the middle of your clothing to avoid losing them and being damaged. If you're worried about security breaking your luggage open to inspect your casings, i suggest you keep it unlocked and carry all your other valuables as hand-luggage. I've been doing this for years in many countries without "losing" anything.

Another option is to send it via mail (or courier if you can afford) to yourself.

Good luck!

  • 4
    +1 for the suggestion to just mail it to yourself. Least amount of hassles.
    – RoboKaren
    Apr 5, 2018 at 14:54
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    If they are seen on x-ray or sniffed by dogs, TSA will open the bag to inspect. When they open a bag, my experience is that afterward, it looks like the contents were put back in by a dump truck. My laptop had been removed from it's padded bag the first time, and not put back, and the second time other things were broken.
    – WGroleau
    Jul 25, 2019 at 23:15

You can put almost anything in a checked luggage that you can normally carry with you outside the airport. You're even allowed to carry a gun on planes, in fact, it gets you past the lines since they have to check you in separate...

I've done Cabin check before where you clean the planes and get them ready for the next passengers and I would find live ammunition in the seats all the time, casings shouldn't be an issue at all especially if it's in checked in luggage.

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    This may apply in the USA, but definitely not in Western Europe (not sure about Eastern). Jul 30, 2015 at 13:05

Flew Air France from Johannesburg South Africa to London U.K. on 27/9/2016, was not allowed to take spent or new empty cartridge cases in my checke-in hold baggage. I think the security at Johannesburg haven't a clue what to do with empty cases so they say 'it is ammunition and has to be in its own secure lockable box' if you want to take it with you.

I had 100 7mm bullets and 200 243 Win bullets and these went through no problem. Note - BULLETS not ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION.

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    So if one person brings the bullets, another brings the shell casings and a third brings the powder and primers.. Sep 29, 2016 at 17:35

I dont know about other countries. but bringing bullet shells (even in a medallion form) is totally illegal in United Arab Emirates and apart from its confiscation for sure, the person responsible will be facing strict scrutiny by Police. Ammunition, Weapons, accessories which are not only dangerous but that can cause security alert also is illegal. Not worth any chance...

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