Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best soft gun cases

If you’re traveling with your gun, you want to protect your investment with a case. But whether you need a soft or a hard case depends on a few factors, such as cost, size, weight, the type of gun, and the amount of abuse you expect your gun to take in transit. 

A good soft case has a number of advantages over hard alternatives. For example, if you’re transporting a pistol, the case is more compact so it’s easier to fit in luggage with your clothing. And its shape is closer to that of the weapon, so it provides better cushioning. Soft long gun cases are less bulky than hard versions. It’s unlikely you’ll want to take a hard case into the field when you go hunting, but a soft case can go anywhere.

A quick browse through the variety of soft gun cases on offer reveals a host of alternatives, something for every gun owner and budget. Here at BestReviews, we’ve been looking at them so we can help you with your buying decision.

Carry versatility is an important consideration. Some soft gun cases have shoulder or backpack-style straps so you can keep both hands free.

Key considerations

Size is obviously a key issue when it comes to soft gun cases. You can divide the cases into three basic types: handgun cases, long gun cases (shotguns and rifles), and combination cases.

Handgun cases

Most soft handgun cases are basically triangular, in many ways similar to a holster. They’re usually padded, with a zipper that runs along most of the edge for easy opening. They provide a low-cost, convenient way to protect your weapon while transporting it in luggage, camping gear, or a hiking backpack. Some are branded for popular handgun manufacturers. Larger models can accommodate two pistols.

Concealed carry: Also, in this category, you’ll find concealed carry soft pistol cases. They look very much like fanny packs with loops for attachment to a belt. At a glance, you’d never guess there was a weapon inside, but the interior is often custom fitted to take an automatic, spare mag, and even a silencer. The outside has pockets for a driver’s license, credit cards, and so on.

In either case, it’s important to check the dimensions. The difference in size between compact semi-automatics and full-size models is considerable, so you want to be sure it’s a good fit.

Long gun cases

Length: The length of the case is a prime consideration here. There can be a considerable difference between a compact bullpup, conventional rifles, shotguns, and long-range rifles and muzzle-loaders. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices, and you’ll often find several sizes offered by the same maker.

Capacity: It’s not uncommon to want to carry more than one weapon at a time, and this is where flexibility is important. You’ll need to check how the firearms are secured within the bag. A common solution is to position rifles or shotguns facing head to toe and hold them in place with hook-and-loop straps. Some cases provide separate pockets. Again, there’s plenty of choice, so it’s worth taking the time to investigate which one will suit your weapons best.

Straps and handles: How you’ll carry the case is another important aspect. Most soft gun cases have a pair of short handles. Some also have a shoulder strap, and with some it’s possible to use the case as a backpack.

Storage: A couple of other things to take into account are how ammunition/spare mags fit and how much can be carried. If you have a scope, you’ll want to know whether it will fit in the case while mounted on the gun.

Pockets are another area you’ll want to look at. The number and size can offer valuable extra storage for accessories. Some are lockable. Some, typically ALICE or MOLLE systems (see FAQ section below), offer tremendous customization.

Concealed carry: With many soft shotgun and rifle cases, the shape makes it pretty obvious what’s inside! However, as with handguns, there are a few long gun models that fall into the “concealed carry” category. Most are simply rectangular. You might guess a weapon was being carried inside; you might not. A few creative companies produce soft gun cases that mimic tennis racket bags and guitar bags. They are well designed and offer good capacities, but as with all concealed carry situations, you need to be aware of relevant laws. It’s important to check the sizes too. Many can accommodate assault rifles but perhaps not longer guns.

Combination cases

Though less common, there are soft gun cases that can accommodate rifles or shotguns in the main part of the pack and handguns in separate pockets on the front. This does make them quite big and bulky, but it allows you to transport a considerable number of weapons at the same time.


Leather: This is the traditional material for soft gun cases. It’s tough and ages well. However, weather can take its toll on leather, and it needs regular maintenance to keep it in good condition. It’s also quite a bit heavier than today’s alternatives.

Cordura: This is a tough synthetic fabric with very good resistance to tears and abrasion. It is often made to look much like canvas so it has a more natural feel and appearance. It tends to be used in high-quality soft gun cases.

Ballistic nylon and polyester: These are the most common materials. They are cheaper than others, but they are still very durable. Material thickness is measured in denier (D), with 600D being common.


Stitching: Great materials can be let down by poor stitching, so that’s an important area to check.

Closures: You want strong zippers. Cord pulls make them easier to open and close when you’re wearing gloves. Quick-release buckles are convenient on outer pockets.

Did You Know?
Current Transport Security Administration (TSA) guidelines do not allow soft gun cases on airplanes. All firearms must be in a locked, hard-sided container.


Lock: Zhege Combination Lock
Many soft gun cases don’t come with a lock, but for under $10 you can give yourself that extra bit of security. Having a steel cable means there are no problems with the shackle being too short to fit through handles, and you can set your own combination.

Gun cleaning mat: Gunmatt Gun Cleaning Mat
A gun cleaning mat is a low-cost item that’s surprisingly useful. It gives you a padded area for your weapon, and the anti-slip neoprene material keeps small parts from rolling off. The nonabsorbent surface shrugs off oil and water, so when you’re done you can just wipe it with a cloth, roll it up, and put it away.

We’ve heard of people carrying disassembled assault rifles in tennis racket bags. It’s a short-term solution if you have one, but a proper soft gun case is more durable and often cheaper.


Soft gun case prices


The cheapest soft gun cases, not surprisingly, are those for handguns. You can get simple protective padded models for under $10 and concealed carry pouches that look like any other fanny pack for under $20.


You’ll find an enormous range of soft gun cases between $30 and $60. Attaché-style pistol cases, gun range pistol bags, shotgun and rifle cases all fall into this bracket. Many allow a scope to remain mounted.


Few soft gun cases top $70, but for the investment you’ll get the ability to carry two or more guns and often benefit from interchangeable MOLLE pockets to carry ammunition and accessories. Concealed carry models are structurally more complex and run from $140 to almost $200.

Did You Know?
Soft gun cases that use the ALICE or MOLLE system are tremendously versatile and can be customized to your exact requirements.


  • Figure out how you plan to carry your soft gun case. Many offer multiple options that can make carrying it on your back, for example, easier and more comfortable. And some of these are “rapid deployment” packs, with a zipper almost the whole way around so you can access the weapon without taking off the pack.
  • Check how the firearms are secured within the bag. You want to make sure they won’t move around and knock against each other.
  • Check out camouflage cases for hunting. You can find plenty of soft gun cases in camouflage patterns, so the gun case blends in with the surroundings.
  • Check the warranty. Twelve months is common, but some soft gun case makers are so confident in the quality of their products that they guarantee the cases for life.
Some soft rifle cases offer more than just protection for your firearm. They can also be opened out and used as a shooting mat.


Q. Are soft gun cases waterproof?

A. Most offer a degree of protection, but the level of water resistance does vary. You need to be careful of phrases like “water repellant” which generally means showerproof. Heavy rain will eventually get in. There are certainly models that are properly waterproof if you look around, and some designed for wildfowl hunters even float if dropped in the water.

Q. Are covert soft gun cases legal?

A. There's nothing illegal about designing a soft gun case that looks like ordinary luggage or a guitar bag, for example. So the easy answer is yes. However, gun carry laws vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to check local statutes. Some form of lock is often required.

Q. What are ALICE and MOLLE systems?

A. The acronym for All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment is ALICE. The acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment is MOLLE. Both were originally designed for the military. MOLLE has largely replaced ALICE, though some branches still use it.

These systems are now widely used on rucksacks and backpacks. They comprise a support webbing or stitching plus separate interchangeable pockets of different sizes and carrying capacities that can be added or removed to suit particular purposes. Some soft gun cases employ one or the other system to allow for different combinations of pockets for ammunition and accessories.

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