To the continent with firearms

Discussion in 'Shooting, Hunting and Fishing' started by stoatman, Jun 2, 2010.

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  1. I've now got information about a few of the Channel/North Sea crossing companies and how they deal with firearms, which may be interesting.

    Stenaline (Harwich -- Hook of Holland): firearms yes, ammunition no. must be declared in advance by fax with firearm details and permit details and declared at port. No requirement to hand in your car keys.

    LD lines (Margate-Ostend; Dover-Boulogne etc): firearms yes, ammunition yes. Must be declared at the port. Car keys must be handed in.

    Channel Tunnel: firearms yes, ammunition "reasonable quantity" (expect to argue it at check-in). I don't know whether this one has to be declared in advance since I've never done it myself.

    Anybody done the airlines?
  2. Airlines: ALWAYS CHECK, but basically the big airlines are perfectly happy to transport you, your firearms, and your ammunition. Give them enough notice, and smile sweetly at the check-in, and you might even get off your excess baggage.

    There are a few limitations:
    * The baggage hold must not be accessible from the cabin. Teeny-weeny airways may not be possible for just that reason.
    * Don't put firearm and ammunition in the same container/case. They X-ray the gun cases at the airport, not because they expect to find a gun, but because every year or two some mong tries to check in a firearm that has a round in the chamber. Yes, really.
    * No more than 5kg of ammunition, and it must be in a sealed metal container. This is the DS solution, learn this mantra and your life will be problem-free. The "200rds of 7.62" NATO liner is almost perfectly sized for 0.22RF. Don't expect to win any arguments over the weight of ammo, e.g. "only 5g of each bullet is explosive, surely I can carry 20,000 rounds"; if challenged, they are entirely likely to measure the weight of the whole container.)

    Here are a few hints to ease the stress, some screamingly obvious:
    * Tape down the latches on any gun case; if they're lockable, always have the key to hand. You will be asked to open it (possibly a few times), usually to make sure that the serial number matches your FAC; so carry more tape.
    * You don't have to have the full-on Pelican or SKB case to carry your firearm; but it helps. My Doskocil box has done lots of flying - unfortunately, it doesn't stand up straight any more because !&^%£$! Heathrow baggage handlers have progressively broken its feet off.
    * Make sure you've got your FAC on your person, not in your suitcase.
    * Turn up early. You can't just turn up half-an-hour before takeoff and expect a stress-free checkin. Learn where "outsized baggage" is for both drop-off and pickup.
    * Leave a long gap between any connecting flights. Don't expect to be able to check your bags straight through any transit airport; it depends, but you may have to collect your baggage and carry everything to your next check-in.
    * Warn the airline that you're going to be carrying sporting equipment, and that it's heavy; it may get you some leeway in the excess baggage stakes. I was typically travelling with 45kg of shooting kit, before anything else... my record was 80kg at check-in, long haul, no excess charges, thank you Emirates
    * Oil the rifle; perhaps even grease it. It's about to sit in an unheated baggage hold for an hour or two, and then be opened in a warm humid customs check. Instant condensation. If you're really lucky, the case will then be shut and taken away somewhere for storage, before you can remove the water.
  3. Do you keep the bolt in a rifle or carry it with you?

    Common sense dictates that the latter offers a more secure outcome but opinion varies, especially in these days of high drama airport security theatre where carrying a small metallic blunt object appears to be deemed an absolute evil.
  4. Keep it separate (I used to put it in my ammunition container). Do not try to take it in hand luggage, you will get the security staff rather excited; "But it's only part of a gun!" doesn't cut it as an excuse...

    There are some advantages. If your bag goes missing courtesy of Heathrow etc; you can call the airline, sympathise with them, and point out that you'll have to call the Police soon to let them know that firearm components have been lost. Instant bump to the top of the priority queue...

    ...although walking around an airport carrying a case with "FIREARMS" in inch-high white capitals on a dayglo orange background does make you feel a right berk.