I need to do some airline regulation checking to see if magazines need to be separate or not.
No airline, nor the TSA requires ammo and/or magazines to be in a separate case from the firearm. The gun cannot be loaded, but it can all go in the same case.
I personally separate my ammo in a different locked case from the gun, but that's only due to extreme paranoia and my assumption that the person checking me in at the counter will not know the law, so I try not to give them any piece of data they can **** up. I've got too much stuff for one small case, so I just got two, and they both go in my checked bags.
From what I understand about some airlines and checking firearms, most I've read about accept non-TSA standardized locks. Personally, I'd ONLY fly an airline that allows such locks.
Maybe fedex would be a better option?
For those that don't know, the TSA has the right to search your bags. They may need to do this after the bag goes through the scanner. Bags are randomly checked at various points in the custody chain once you hand it to them at the counter. If your bag gets selected or there is a "hit" on your bag by a dog or scanner, the WILL open it. I can't find any guidance anywhere that currently says "You can use any kind of lock you want"... but if you use your own lock, and the bag gets searched, they'll cut it off.
So... you can buy special TSA LOCKS that can be opened with a key that TSA personnel have. They're available everywhere and are very light-duty stuff. I've personally never felt the need to lock my luggage.
HOWEVER, YOU CANNOT USE TSA LOCKS ON YOUR FIREARMS CASES. This is Federal Law. The owner of the guns/case is the only person who shall have access to the contents. I use regular Masterlock brass stuff currently, and put a lock on every hole each of my cases has.
For smaller cases that are going in your checked luggage, you put your regular locks on your firearms case, and then you can use a TSA lock on the bag itself... that way they have access to the bag, but not the case. If you've got a huge double-rifle Pelican case, or another large case that isn't going inside another piece of luggage, your are not allowed (via Federal law) to use TSA locks on it.
Under no circumstances should you give your KEY or COMBO to your regular locks to any TSA employee. TSA personnel are not allowed to open you firearms cases, nor handle any firearm. If your checked baggage gets tagged for a search, and the TSA people for whatever reason feel they must search your firearms case too, they will contact you (hopefully via your cel phone) and bring you to a secure area to open it for them. I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU REQUEST THE PRESENCE OF A LEO when you open the case. They should have no problem accommodating you. It is almost a certainty that the person who needs you to open the case is simply following a protocol, but has zero clue about guns. They won't have any idea what they're looking at once you open the case, so have a LEO there so there is no misunderstanding. I would also insist that the opening of the case be done while under video surveillance.
This is another good reason to ensure your gun cases have your contact information on them, even if it's just your initials and a phone number.
That's some VERY good information Sam, Thanks for clarification!
I was not aware of the federal law regarding locking gun cases, only assumed from minimal research it was recommended by select airlines to use non-TSA locks. That's absolutely good news as I don't trust any of those ******* in the least bit.