The AR-15 is arguably the all-around best tactical rifle on the market. The rifle’s aesthetic is iconic and its construction is second to none. In fact, it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that the AR-15 is the most important firearm in modern American history.
Americans buy more than a million AR-15s every year, and there are currently more privately owned AR-15s in the country than there are M16s and M4s in the military. The relatively low recoil and lightweight build – as well as its ability to be customized to fit the shooter’s personal requirements – make it the best self-defense rifle money can buy.
At a Glance: Best AR-15 Cases
Comparison of the Best Hard and Soft AR-15 Case
Our Top Pick
|PELICAN 1700||View Latest Price|
Best Budget Option
|Flambeau Tactical 6500AR Case||View Latest Price|
Most Discreet Case
|Bulldog Cases Ultra-Compact Discreet Rifle Case||View Latest Price|
Why you need the best AR-15 case
If you’re going to invest upwards of $1,000 on an AR-15, then you’re going to want to protect it as well – not to mention carry it around conveniently. Having the best AR-15 case will help you to keep your weapon secure and allow you to comply with state and federal laws regarding the safe storage and transport of your gun.
Would you drive halfway across the state to a range or hunting ground with your AR-15 slung on the backseat, completely uncovered? That’s a scenario that’ll cause more than a little unwanted attention, and depending on your state, could have you facing legal consequences.
What makes a good AR-15 case?
It’s obvious that you need a case for your weapon, but with so many to choose from it can be tricky to settle on a final product. Here are some essential things to consider when choosing your rifle case.
- Protection: You want to ensure that your rifle isn’t getting damaged while you’re transporting it. Long journeys (especially flights) tend to involve a lot of knocks and bumps, so having sufficient protective coating is essential.
- Secure lock: Keep the authorities satisfied and prevent your rifle from being tampered with by having a secure lock on the case.
- Weather-resistant: Ensuring that your case is waterproof will stop your AR-15 from getting wet or filled with dust.
- Lightweight: The lighter the case, the less protection it’ll likely provide. That being said, a heavier case will become a burden if you need to carry it over long distances.
- Strong straps (soft cases): Reinforced nylon straps will keep your case attached to you while you’re moving around in the outdoors. The last thing you want is to be wading through a river and your rifle case falls off your back…
Finally, it’s important to choose the right case for your specific needs. The range marksman will likely have different requirements than the hunter. For the most part, hunters will prefer soft cases, while the casual range shooter might want something a bit more solid to put in the back of their car.
Note: Always make sure to check your local state regulations with regard to storing your firearms at home and during transit.
The Best AR-15 Hard Cases
Once you’ve considered which case style is best for your needs, you’ll be ready to narrow it down to a single rifle case. Here are our top picks for hard cases for your AR-15.
At a Glance: Best AR-15 Hard Cases
Case Club Pre-Made AR-15 Waterproof Case
For all-round convenience and value for money, the Case Club AR-15 Pre-Made Waterproof Case comes with a silica gel canister to remove moisture from the inside of the case, thus protecting your rifle from rust damage. It also comes with a removable waterproof accessory box, a knife, and a pressure equalization valve to deal with changing altitudes.
The foam inside the case is a high-quality polyethylene that is pre-cut to hold an AR-15 with a max length of 34.8-inches. Space for 3.7-inch optics has also been included, as well as a slot for a full-size or compact pistol, both rifle and pistol magazines, a bipod, and a foregrip.
The Case Club AR-15 Pre-Made Waterproof case is airline approved so you can check it in with your luggage – plus it’s secure enough for you not to have to worry about baggage handlers knocking it around!
- Waterproof and dustproof
- Airline approved
- Space for pistol and magazines
- Silica gel, knife, and box included in price
- Not convenient for those on the move
- Lid only opens 90 degrees and is prone to falling shut if you’re not careful
While some pundits prefer the Pelican 1750 over the more compact 1700, a recurring problem that many have faced with the former is that it doesn’t fit in the trunk of their car. The Pelican 1700 takes the same solid build and condenses it down into a more convenient size.
Pelican has built a solid reputation over the last 30-years for the incredible design and construction of their cases. The Pelican 1700 AR-15 case has been throw out of helicopters and driven over by trucks to test its durability. It’s completely waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, nitwit proof, and just about the most secure case on the market today.
The foam isn’t pre-cut, which means you’re free to custom cut it to your own specifications – although this could be a downside to some buyers. The inside of the case has enough room for your rifle, at least a couple of magazines, a scope, and a pistol. The box can hold a rifle up to 35.75-inches long and has a depth of 5.25 -inches.
The Pelican 1700 also features a built-in automatic pressure release valve so that it can adjust to changing altitudes. This also helps to keep water out of the case.
The padlock holes are reinforced steel and the case itself is made of crushproof copolymer polypropylene. Pelican is often used by professionals in the military and elsewhere, and this case is certainly a great option for anyone seeking security for their investment.
- Indestructible build
- Everything proof
- Airline approved
- Has wheels for easier transport
- Can add a personalized nameplate
- Expensive compared to the competition
- Foam isn’t pre-cut/perforated
Plano All Weather Tactical Case
When it comes to case construction, the weight and thickness of the walls aren’t everything. The Plano All Weather case is designed to be sturdy and convenient, without packing on all the extra weight that the Pelican and Case Club options have. When you’re traveling, lightweight is always better.
The foam inside is performed to allow you for easy custom cutting. The Plano All Weather case comes in both 36-inch and 42-inch variations. Depending on whether your rifle has a fixed stock or long barrel, you might want to opt for the 42-inch version to allow more room.
Like our other top picks, this case is also waterproof, dustproof, and comes with a built-in pressure release valve making it ideal for air travel and guaranteeing that water and humidity cannot enter the case.
With five latches to secure your weapon, you can rest assured that no one is going to tamper with your AR-15. If you’re looking for something secure and lightweight, then the Plano All Weather Tactical Case is the one for you.
- Pressure release valve
- Airline approved
- Very cheap price
- Less solid construction than others on this list
- Latches aren’t the best quality
- Foam slightly lower quality than other options
Flambeau Tactical 6500AR Case
This case by Flambeau is purpose-built to store an AR-15 and two magazines. The foam isn’t pre-cut, but it is open-cell egg crate foam which means that it can easily hold your rifle in place. The addition of velcro straps also helps to keep your rifle from moving around during transit.
The Flambeau Tactical 6500AR case has two magazine dividers that separate your magazines from the rifle. These dividers also conveniently have Zerust on them to help protect your rifle from rust damage over time. If you need to store more magazines, then you can remove the foam in these sections for extra room and hold everything in place with the velcros provided.
If you’re looking for an affordable case that can easily store a single rifle with an optic, then this is definitely worth considering. The case also meets TSA regulations, so you can check it in when flying.
- Straps to hold your rifle in place
- No need to cut any foam
- Very cheap price
- Zerust to prevent rust
- Great magazine storage
- Purpose-built for an AR-15
- Latches aren’t great
- Quite bulky
The benefits of AR-15 hard cases
The main benefit of having a hard rifle case is that it can withstand significantly more impact and they’re better for traveling across states. They’re also more secure – most of them have several locks. If you’re going on long journeys or you want something that you can store your rifle in while at home, then having a hard case is ideal for you – especially when you consider that it’s not just your rifle that you’re protecting, but also all your add ons as well. Expensive optics don’t do well with being hit against hard surfaces…
Hard rifle cases are also necessary for anyone planning on bringing their rifle on a plane. You won’t be able to get away with taking firearms on an airline in a soft case, and some states won’t let you take firearms in without a secure case as well.
Another advantage is that hard cases are easy to wash and maintain. Even the foam inside them is generally washable. You can just spray the case down and voila, good as new.
Drawbacks of hard cases
The big drawback of the hard case is their weight and bulkiness. Hunters need to walk long distances and keep quiet. Carrying a heavy case around is just impractical in this situation, so they’re best avoided for the more outdoorsy shooter.
Another major issue with hard rifle cases is that they’re a lot more expensive than most soft variants. Not only do they cost more to buy, but you’ll eventually have to replace the inner foam, which can also be pretty pricey.
If you value security and safety above all else, or you want to travel with your AR-15 on airlines, then definitely opt for a hard case. If you’re looking for something more practical and you want to save money, then explore our top picks for soft cases.
The Best AR-15 Soft Cases
A soft case offers a lot more versatility in the field, although you won’t be able to check them in on airlines. Here are our top picks for soft cases for your AR-15.
At a Glance: Best Soft AR-15 Cases
Bulldog Cases Ultra-Compact Discreet Rifle Case
If you’re planning on carrying your rifle around with you and you don’t want to draw any attention, then this ultra-compact case from Bulldog Cases is the perfect match for you. It looks like it could be holding a musical instrument or sporting gear, so no one will suspect that you’re actually carrying around a tactical rifle.
The case is so compact you’ll have no choice but to break up your rifle when packing it away. There is more than enough room to store your rifle, optics, and even magazines in the dedicated magazine pouches.
The interior of the case is made of soft material, meaning your rifle won’t get any scratches, although it won’t be held in place unless you install some velcro straps. There is a soft divider in the case to separate the two halves of your rifle.
If you’re looking for convenience, discretion, and a bargain price, then the Bulldog Cases Ultra-Compact AR-15 case is the one for you.
- Very discreet
- Super lightweight
- Very cheap
- Can hold rifle and magazines
- Comes in various colors
- Your rifle isn’t held in place
- Limited protection from bumps
- Not ideal for long journeys
- Not TSA approved
Voodoo Tactical 36″ Deluxe Padded Weapons Case
The Voodoo Tactical 36″ Deluxe Padded Weapons Case can carry two rifles, two sidearms, and up to 12 magazines. There are few soft cases that offer as much space and such a solid build. The outside of the case is made of ballistic fabric giving you extra protection against knocks and scratches. Overall, the case is sturdy enough to last a long time – although, don’t expect it to hold up well on long, off-road journeys.
You could easily fit two rifles in the Voodoo Tactical Deluxe case, but only if they don’t have optics attached to them. Still, the case has enough room to store optics once they’ve been detached from the rifle.
This is definitely an option for someone who is specifically looking for a good soft case, seeing as you could easily get a reliable hard case for the same price.
- Room for two rifles and two pistols
- Can fit six 30-round magazines plus six pistol magazines
- Strong construction for a soft case
- Looks the part
- Not TSA approved
Savior Equipment Urban Warfare Tactical
The Savior Equipment Urban Warfare Tactical case is one of the best-selling soft rifle cases on the market. It has enough space to hold two AR-15 rifles, as well as two pistols and magazines. The outside of the case is constructed with heavy-duty 600D PVC nylon and heavy-duty zippers, meaning that it can withstand more damage than most soft cases.
Inside the case has protective ¼ poly foam to ensure your weapons aren’t scratched. There are also straps inside so that you can hold your rifle in place. Outside, the case has a MOLLE grid so you can attach more pouches to it, meaning that it could be used to carry even more sidearms and magazines.
It comes in varying lengths from 36-inches to 55-inches, so your rifle will fit in here without having to be dismantled. As with any soft case, it’s not ideal for super-long journeys, but it knocks most of the competition out of the ballpark.
- Fantastic construction
- Storage for two rifles and two pistols
- MOLLE grid for extra pouches
- Not TSA approved
- Very large
Condor Single Rifle Case
The Condor Single Rifle case has enough room to store a rifle up to 36-inches long with optics. It also has a 26-inch secondary compartment with two internal pockets that could fit an SMG or a second rifle if it were broken down first. There are three pockets on the front to store pistols or up to 14 AR magazines.
The interior has a foam padding to prevent your rifle from getting scratched, while the exterior is rugged enough to stop your rifle from taking damage from light bumps.
While this isn’t the most heavy-duty case out there, it’s enough to keep your rifle stored securely when on the road. For the cheap price, it’s difficult to complain.
- Good storage
- Can fit plenty of magazines
- Padding inside for protection
- Very light
- Cheap price
- Not very secure
- Less rugged than other options
- Not TSA approved
The Benefits of Soft Cases
Soft cases are best suited to those who’ll be carrying their rifle around a lot on foot. They’re lightweight but can still offer some protection for your AR-15 by coming with padding inside. They tend to have pockets that come in handy for storing extra magazines, kit, or just some jerky to keep your belly full on a long hunt.
Soft cases also tend to be more affordable than hard ones. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but as a rule, the most expensive rifle cases are all hard cases, and the cheapest are soft. If you’re looking for convenience and a good price, then you can’t go wrong with a decent soft case for your AR-15.
Drawbacks of soft cases
The big drawback of the soft case is that they offer less protection – although, for the careful marksman, this won’t really present much of an issue when out in the field. The main point to consider is that it’s essential the case is made of durable materials.
Soft cases aren’t TSA approved, meaning there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to bring them on a flight. On top of that, they’re not ideally suited for off-road trips, either.
If you want to be able to carry your rifle around while outdoors, then soft cases are more convenient. They’re lighter, more maneuverable, and a lot cheaper. Having a soft case will allow you to make less noise when out hunting, and they’re just generally easier to carry around. Think of it as being like taking a backpack on holiday as opposed to a suitcase.
Hard cases are:
- More secure
- TSA approved
- Offer more protection
- Keep your rifle in place
- Airtight and protect your rifle from rust damage
- Ideal for long-term storage and long journeys
Soft cases are:
- Easier to carry around
- Better for hunters
- Offer less protection
- Not always waterproof
- Not TSA approved