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Best Rifle Cases: What Makes a Good One?

With so many options on the market, choosing the best rifle case can be overwhelming. While most of the best rifle cases share some common characteristics, finding the best rifle case for you will depend on how and where you plan to use it. Generally speaking, the right case will protect your rifle and make it easy to transport. But what elements will you be protecting your rifle from, and what mode of transportation will you be using? Those and a few more considerations will help guide you to the best option.

Manufactured with premium full grain leather, durable waxed canvas, and meticulous attention to detail, these heirloom quality items will last as long as your gun–and you’ll be proud to pass them down to the next generation.


4 Factors in Choosing the Best Rifle Cases For You


man walking to red truck with waxed canvas rifle bag


Transportation mode

Ease of transport is one of the primary purposes of a rifle case. Consider the mode of travel you’ll use most often when transporting your rifle. Car? Plane? ATV? On foot? This consideration will help identify whether you need a hard case or a soft case.


Regarding the question of hard rifle cases vs. soft rifle cases, one is not inherently better than the other. It wholly depends on how and where you will use it. For example, TSA approval for air travel requires a hard-sided and lockable firearm case. (The same applies for Amtrak travel.) A hard case also provides the durability and security you’ll want for your rifle under those transport conditions.


On the other hand, if you don’t plan to use the case for air or train travel, a hard case can be impractical and cumbersome. High quality soft cases can be a much better solution as they are easier to handle and are more lightweight. Generally speaking, if you’ll be heading out to the range or the field, a good soft-sided case will be much more practical. Lighter-weight and more comfortable to carry, well-made soft gun cases include reliable carry handles and padded, adjustable shoulder straps.


Do you plan to carry your rifle on long hikes into the field? Look for a rifle case with sturdy carry handles and the option of an adjustable shoulder strap with good cushioning for the shoulder. Additionally, while a lightweight rifle case will certainly be easier to carry than a heavy case, consider that lighter cases may come at the cost of interior cushioning and protection. (More on protection below.) Bottom line: look for a good balance between cushioning and weight.





Another primary purpose of a rifle case is to actually protect your gun. The best rifle cases have sufficient padding to hold a rifle immobile, providing shock absorption while securing the firearm inside the case. This prevents the rifle from bouncing around and possibly altering your zero.


As mentioned above, if you’ll be traveling via plane with your rifle, you will want the protection offered by a hard-sided case (and regardless, it’s required). But in most other cases, a soft-sided case is much less cumbersome, offering sufficient protection balanced with lighter weight and ease of use.


On the subject of protection and security, it’s important to note that a gun case is a smart way to transport a gun but is not the best place to store a gun in your home. Storing a gun at home in a locked, hard-sided case can be secure, but it is bad for your rifle. That secured case does not breathe, so if you’re storing your rifle between hunting seasons, you should actually leave the case open, which makes it – obviously – not secure anymore. And among the soft-sided variety, even the best rifle cases are difficult – if not impossible – to lock in a way that is truly secure. Bottom line: buy a rifle case for transporting, and keep your rifles in a gun safe at home.



In addition to protecting the gun, the best rifle cases will hold up to hard use themselves. The required durability of your case depends mostly on what you intend to put it through. What kind of conditions will your case be exposed to? Assuming you’re not strictly limited to an indoor range, you want to choose a rifle case that can take a beating outdoors.


For a soft rifle case, the fabric should be tough, like asturdy waxed canvas or ballistic nylon. Waterproof or water-resistant fabric will not only keep the moisture out of your gun, but will also ensure that the case itself can hold up to wet conditions.


Details like straps, hardware, and stitching are also important. Make sure the handles and straps are reinforced and attached well. An adjustable shoulder strap with a sliding pad (that you can adjust depending on how you're carrying the case) will make trekking long distances with your rifle much more comfortable. Reinforced nylon or tough leather make fantastic materials for straps and handles.


man loading ammo into a full grain leather rifle bag



Be sure the case will fit your rifle, scope, and other needed accessories. In order to choose the right length for your rifle, measure from the butt to the end of the barrel, and add 1 ½ to 2 inches. (A good rule of thumb is to choose a case that’s a couple of inches longer than your rifle to be sure it fits inside easily.)


Remember to also check that the case is wide or tall enough to accommodate any optics you have mounted. If your rifle has a mounted scope, measure the rifle’s height together with the scope to be sure it will have a wide berth when the case is shut.


Finally, consider space that you’ll want for extra gear and accessories. One capacity-related advantage of going the soft-sided route is that the best rifle cases have pockets on the exterior that can be easily accessed without taking down the case and opening the main compartment.

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Hopefully, you’re zeroing in on the best rifle case for your needs. Regardless of the case you choose, be sure to buy a case crafted with quality materials from a reputable retailer. If you’ve decided that a soft-sided rifle case is what you need, be sure to check out our Dakota Waxed Canvas Rifle Case.


Sure, we’re biased, but we’re also outdoorsmen who know a good gun case from a…not good gun case. With its water-resistant waxed canvas, vegetable tanned leather straps, and soft sherpa interior, well, THESE ARE darn good cases.  

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