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Hard rifle cases or soft rifle cases? Which one is better? You can find these types of questions on every hunting and shooting forum. Not only that but since this is the Internet and everybody is always right, people will start arguments on which type is better and why.
In the following article, we won’t tell you if hard rifle cases are better or worse than soft rifle cases. We will simply explain what each of them can do, and we will provide enough information so you’ll reach your own conclusion.
We will review the best 6 hard AR rifle cases and the best 6 soft AR cases available on the market today, and reveal a pro and con for each of them so you can find the right model for your needs.
Table of Contents
- Best AR 15 Hard Rifle Cases
- Best AR 15 Soft Cases (Top Picks)
- Best AR Cases Comparison Chart
- Wrap Up
Best AR 15 Hard Rifle Cases
If you’re looking for a durable case for your rifle, or you’re looking for a case you can use to transport your rifle cross-country, you should take a closer look at the hard rifle cases. These cases are great for protecting your rifle against the weather and they can be very secure.
Overview: The Best AR Cases
|Plano All Weather Rifle Case||Check on Amazon|
|Flambeau Safeshot Gun Case||Check on Amazon|
|Pelican 1700 Rifle Case||Check on Amazon|
|SKB Corp Rifle Case||Check on Amazon|
|Boyt H-Series Rifle Case||Check on Amazon|
|Case Club Rifle Case||Check on Amazon|
|VooDoo Tactical Rifle Case||Check on Amazon|
|Condor Rifle Case||Check on Amazon|
|BLACKHAWK! Carbine Gun Case||Check on Amazon|
|NcSTAR VISM Carbine Case||Check on Amazon|
|Bulldog Cases AR-15 Carry Case||Check on Amazon|
|VooDoo Tactical Deluxe Weapons Case||Check on Amazon|
1. Plano All Weather Rifle Case
The rifle case produced by Plano has a simple, yet effective design. The case is large enough to fit an AR 15 with a scope attached, as long as the scope is not overly large. The case is lockable, and it comes with a dual stage locking system. The locking system uses both spring loaded latches and padlock tabs. This makes the rifle case very secure, and you don’t have to worry about someone opening it by mistake.
The case is designed to be weatherproof, and it will keep your rifle nice and dry, even in extreme conditions. The high-density foam coating in the interior will protect the rifle against drops and bumps.
- Solid – The case has a solid built that’s designed to last
- Clunky – The case might be difficult to handle in tight spots
2. Flambeau Safeshot Gun Case
The Flambeau gun case is advertised as large enough to hold not one, but two rifles at the same time. The case comes with four locking points for increased security, and it’s tough enough to withstand anything you throw at it.
If you’re planning on carrying your scoped AR 15 in a hard case, you can do so with this model. However, if you carry a scoped AR in it, the remaining space won’t be large enough to fit an additional rifle. You will still be able to fit some extra mags, ammo pouches, an AR 15 laser and handguns in the remaining space.
- Cheap – This gun case is pretty cheap, so if you’re looking for a case to transport your rifle to the range, it might be the right choice.
- Foam Inserts Might Fall – Some customers complained that the foam inserts might fall when you open the case.
3. Pelican 1700 Rifle Case
The Pelican 1700 is a strong rifle case that comes with an open cell core and a solid construction. The case is very durable, and it can withstand anything you might put it through. The case is also waterproof, and it uses a polymer o-ring and a tongue and groove design to keep the water out. Not only that, but this water tightening system also makes the case dust-proof.
This case is large enough to fit a regular AR 15 with room to spare. In fact, you can fit two AR 15 rifles if you arrange them barrel to butt. If you plan on using it for a scoped AR 15, you will have enough spare room to fit your extra mags and ammo pouches as well.
- Very Durable – The case has a very durable build
- Replacement Foam Is Expensive – Be careful when you carve the foam.
4. SKB Corp Rifle Case
The SKB rifle case has a nice strong shell case which is not too heavy to carry. The case has a strong construction that should be very durable, so you will be able to use the case for a very long time.
The case is both waterproof and dust-proof. The interior foam padding has a nice quality, and it comes with some contouring for the positions of the stock, the receiver, and the barrel. The padding is thicker in the barrel area so it won’t shift during transport.
The case is large enough to fit an AR 15, but it won’t fit a scoped one unless the scope is small.
- Not Heavy – This rifle case is durable, but unlike other models, it’s not heavy
- Customized Foam – The case’s foam is customized for a rifle. This can be problematic for people who want to transport handguns
5. Boyt H-Series Rifle Case
The hard case produced by Boyt uses an O-ring seal to keep the interior both watertight and dust proof. The case has a durable construction, and it can withstand the usual wear and tear you’re going to put it through.
The case uses powder coated steel draw latches, and it’s also compatible with steel padlocks, so it’s very secure. You won’t have to worry about anyone opening it if you don’t want them to.
The internal foam is not customized, but you can easily cut it to fit your rifle. The case is large enough to fit an AR 15 and three 30-round mags beside it.
- High-Quality Latches – The high–quality latches will ensure the case won’t open accidentally, even if you don’t use padlocks.
- Heavy – This case is pretty heavy, and it doesn’t have wheels
6. Case Club Rifle Case
The rifle case produced by Case Club is specially designed to hold an AR 15 rifle. The interior foam is pre-cut to hold the AR snugly, and it’s large enough to fit a small scope as well.
Besides the scoped rifle, this hard case can hold a full size or a compact handgun, another optic system, rifle attachments, extra ammunition clips, and accessories. The foam insert is made out of high-grade polyethylene, so you can wipe it clean if necessary.
This rifle case is compatible with padlocks, it’s waterproof and dustproof, and it is Airline Approved.
- Easily Adjustable – The foam is pre-cut for the AR 15, but you might need to adjust it to accommodate a modified stock or a larger optic system.
- Scope Sits Down – The foam is pre-cut so that the scope sits on the bottom of the case when you carry it.
Advantages/Disadvantages Of Hard Rifle Cases
Just like every other product on the market, hard rifle cases have both pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Protection – There’s no arguing that hard rifle cases offer more protection than soft cases. They have a strong outer shell, and some of them are extremely durable. Most cases are made out of polymers, and some of them even incorporate aluminum in their construction.
The cases also use a foam interior to protect the rifle against bumps and falls. The shell and the foam make the hard case waterproof and dustproof. Having a waterproof case can be very important, especially if you enjoy hunting. If the weather turns bad, you have to make sure your kit won’t get damaged. A hard case can usually accommodate both the rifle and its optic system, so you’ll have nothing to worry about
- Safety – Whether you’re planning on buying a case for transport cross-country, or you’re looking for a case you can store your rifle in until you reach the range, you have to make sure it is safe.
Hard cases use several latches to keep the rifle safe. Some models use steel latches, so nobody will be able to open the case unless you want them to. All hard cases are compatible with padlocks, so you can increase their security.
- Transport – If you’re planning on taking your rifle with you from one state to another, and you’re planning on going by plane, you will definitely need a hard case. However, you should know that not all hard cases are approved by the Air Transport Association, so be careful when you buy one. You should also know that the case will still follow the same size and weight restrictions as the rest of your luggage when you’re going through the check-in.
You should also check the local laws before you plan on traveling from one state to another with the rifle. Some states require a lockable hard case, while others require only a soft case.
Whether you’re planning on traveling by plane, or you simply want to drive to your next shooting location, a hard case will be better than a soft one. Hard cases protect the rifle and your rifle accessories during transport. If you enjoy hunting, chances are you’re going to drive on some dirt roads now and again. What’s the point of buying an expensive optics system if you don’t take care of it?
- Storage – Hard cases can be used to store your rifles for a short or a long period of time. These cases are better suited for storage than soft ones because they’re both waterproof and dustproof.
- Easy Maintenance – Hard cases are easy to maintain. Every hard case can be washed on the outside using water and a mild detergent. For the inside, you should take out the foam lining and make sure it’s dry. High-quality foam can also be cleaned using a wet sponge or cloth. Clean the interior of the case with water and mild detergent. Make sure the foam is dry before you replace it. Otherwise, you risk causing rust deposits in your rifle.
- Heavy – No matter how lightweight the manufacturers claim them to be, hard cases are still heavy. In fact, some of them are too heavy to carry around comfortably, so they come with wheels to help. This might be an inconvenience if you’re planning on going hunting in a remote area because you’ll have to drag the case behind you until you reach the hunting location.
The weight might also be problematic if you’re planning on traveling by plane with your rifle. While airlines strictly require a hard case for firearms, some models are so heavy that their weight combined with the rifle’s will take up most of the allowed luggage weight.
- Bulky – Hard Cases are large. Some of them are actually very large, too large to comfortably handle in a tight space. This can be a problem when you want to store them, but the good thing is you can use them as storage boxes for your rifle and accessories. Another downside of their size is that they might be uncomfortable to carry when you go on a hunting trip.
- Costly – Hard cases are expensive. Some of them can even be more expensive than your rifle. They are very good at protecting your rifle and its accessories, but you might wonder if the protection is needed, after all. If you only take the rifle with you when you go to the range, and then you store it in a gun safe, a hard case might not be necessary.
On the other hand, if you buy an expensive optic unit for your rifle, it might be better if you protected it with a hard case, even if you spend more to buy one.
- Expensive Maintenance – While keeping the hard case clean is an easy enough task, it might be more expensive than you think. Hard cases come with foam linings. Some linings are pre-cut to fit a specific kind of rifle, while most of them are not customized, so you can adjust them to any rifle you want. The downside of the adjustable foam is that it can become loose over time. If a foam becomes loose, the rifle will begin to shift during transport, so you will have to change the lining. Some models use foam that’s very expensive to replace.
Best AR 15 Soft Cases (Top Picks)
If you’re looking for a practical lightweight rifle case you can use every day, you should take a closer look at the soft rifle bags currently available on the market. These bags are sturdy, but they don’t weigh much. They can be transported easily, and they won’t take up too much storage space.
1. VooDoo Tactical Rifle Case
The VooDoo Tactical rifle case has a good strong build and uses thick padding to protect your rifle. This tactical bag comes in four different colors, so you can choose one that suits your other gear.
This soft rifle case has high-quality stitches, and you won’t see any degrading even after you use it for a long time. The exterior material is waterproof, and it will protect your rifle and optics from the environmental factors.
This rifle case is large enough to fit a scoped AR-15, and it can even fit two AR rifles if they don’t have scopes and they’re placed muzzle to butt.
- Good Storage Capacity – This rifle bag comes with external pockets. You will be able to store at least 12 30-round mags in the pockets.
- Interior Is Not Heat Resistant – So you have to be careful when you load a rifle after you fire it. Wait for it to cool down first
2. Condor Rifle Case
The Condor rifle case is large enough to accommodate most rifle models, and it’s certainly large enough to fit an AR 15 with a small scope. This soft rifle bag comes with thick firm padding that’s very good at protecting your rifle.
The case’s external pockets are MOLLE compatible, so you can use them with your other MOLLE gear. The pockets have large zippers that are easy to use, and the quick-release buckles are very solid.
- Fine Stitching – This case has some fine stitching, so you won’t have to worry about it ripping apart or becoming undone.
- Plastic Buckles – The buckles are made out of plastic, and that can prove to be a weak spot in the case’s design.
3. BLACKHAWK! Carbine Gun Case
The BLACKHAWK! soft gun case is made out of tight-weave heavyweight polyester and PVC laminate. The gun case has a soft interior fabric that will protect your rifle and optics system from scratches and external factors.
The case uses a dual density interior foam. The open cell foam will protect the rifle from scratches and bumps, and the closed cell foam will absorb part of the shocks affecting the case.
This case is large enough for an AR 15 with a collapsed stock. The side pockets can be used to store ammunition, and each pocket can hold one 30-round magazine. Most optics can fit under the stock with room to spare
- Sturdy Design – This soft case has a sturdy design that makes it more durable than other models
- Zipper Can Get Stuck – Sometimes the zipper can get stuck between the padding and the case’s front end.
4. NcSTAR VISM Carbine Case
The soft rifle care produced by NcSTAR comes in eight different colors, so you’re bound to find one that matches your other gear. This rifle bag is larger than it seems at a first glance, and you won’t have any problems fitting an AR 15 with a large scope in it. In fact, you could probably throw in another rifle, a handgun, some extra ammunition clips, and still, find room to spare.
The case has a soft interior lining that will protect your rifle’s finish. The interior straps are well designed, and they allow you to divide the space within the case as you see fit.
- Adjustable – The pockets, straps, and webbing allow you to adjust the case’s storage capacity as you deem fit. This will help you organize your gear.
- Shoulder Padding Could Be Better – The shoulder straps have a thin padding that might make carrying a full bag not too comfortable
5. Bulldog Cases AR-15 Carry Case
This soft case was specially designed to fit a standard AR 15. The case might seem very small at a first glance, but it’s actually large enough to fit rifles of up to 27”. However, unlike other models, this case is shorter, so you will need to disassemble the AR before fitting it in.
The case’s interior is made out of soft fabric, so it will protect the rifle against scratches. The case’s small size will make it easier to store and carry, and it provides enough storage space for additional ammunition.
- Good Quality Webbing – All the webbing used in this case’s construction has a good quality, so it will be very durable as well
- Content Is Not Secured – Once you fit the rifle in the case, there’s no way to secure it. This can be remedied by using some Velcro straps.
6. VooDoo Tactical Deluxe Weapons Case
The VooDoo Tactical Deluxe soft weapon case can hold one or two rifles and additional handguns at the same time. The case can easily fit a scoped AR 15, but not with another rifle in it. You will still be able to carry additional pistols, ammunition clips for both the rifle and the pistols, and other accessories.
This case is well-designed, and it should last a very long time. All the stitching and webbing have a good quality, and the bag offers a lot of storage space. The zippers used are very sturdy, and they are large enough to grasp easily.
- Good Storage Capacity – This soft case has a good storage capacity, and you will be able to store most of your gear in it
- Carry Strap – This case has a good storage capacity, but the carry strap makes lifting it slightly difficult. Backpack straps would have been better.
Advantages/ Disadvantages Of Soft Rifle Bags
Soft rifle bags are very good, but like every other product, they can have their pros and cons.
- Portability – Both hard rifle cases and soft rifle cases are designed to allow you to transport your firearms from one place to another comfortably. Besides you will need an AR 15 sling. Unlike hard cases, soft ones are easier to carry. They come with shoulder or backpack straps, so you can easily fill them with gear and take them with you to remote locations.
Hard cases can be bulky, so carrying them around can be tiresome. Soft cases are more user-friendly, and they can still fit a lot of gear.
- Versatility – Unlike hard cases that come with an internal foam you have to carve to fit your rifle, soft cases use straps, pockets, and webbing to hold your firearms. This makes the soft cases more versatile than the hard ones because you can use them for any rifle, or for multiple rifles at the same time, depending on their capacity.
A soft rifle case can be used to store any kind of firearm, not necessarily a rifle. You can use them to transport your collection of handguns to the range, or you can even use them to carry your rifle and an AR bipod if space allows it.
- Great Storage Capacity – Soft cases usually offer a larger storage capacity than hard cases. The internal foam takes up much of the space in a hard case. You can carve into it to make sure your rifle, one or two handguns, ammunition clips, and other accessories fit, but the storage capacity will be lower than in a soft case. Thanks to its slightly adjustable form, the soft bag will adjust its size and capacity according to what you fill it with
- Lightweight – Soft rifle cases are lightweight. Their shape and size can also be adjusted, depending on the webbing available and how loaded they are. Not only will this make them easier to carry, but it will make them easier to store as well. Thanks to their lighter weight, a soft rifle case can carry more gear than a hard case. Instead of lifting the gear’s and the case’s weight combined, you’re just lifting the gear.
- Cheaper – Soft rifle cases are usually cheaper than hard cases. It’s true that you can probably find some models that come at a similar price, but the soft case would be the top of the line, while the hard case would be one of the cheapest models.
If you only take out your rifles to go to the range, and when you get back you store them properly in a gun safe, you might not need to invest a lot of money in a hard rifle case.
- Fair Protection – When it comes to protecting your rifle, a soft case is not completely useless. The level of protection offered by a soft rifle case is lower than that of a hard case, but it shouldn’t be disregarded. A soft case will surely protect your rifle and the optics against scratches, but it also does a good job in protecting them against the usual bumps and hits they suffer. However, if you’re planning on placing the rifle case on your ATV and drive off-road for a few miles, you will be better off with a hard rifle case.
- Lockable – Even though they don’t have a rigid shell, soft rifle cases can still be locked. Most of them use zippers, and those zippers are compatible with padlocks. This will keep your firearm safe, away from strangers or children.
- Not Approved For Air Transport – Unlike hard cases which can be suitable for air transport, soft cases are not. No matter how good your soft case is, the airports won’t allow you to board it into a plane.
However, this might not be an inconvenience for most people. Even though you might be a hunting enthusiast, you can find plenty of hunting locations within your neighboring areas. This will allow you to drive to those locations instead of flying there.
- Limited Protection – Even though soft rifle bags offer a small degree of protection, they don’t stand a change when compared with a hard case. Some hard cases can withstand falls from 6 feet or more without even shaking your rifle. This can’t be said about soft cases.
Even though soft rifle bags offer water protection, only a limited number of models are actually waterproof, and those are more expensive. However, the water protection offered by most models will be enough to protect your rifle against rust on a hunting trip.
- Limited Security – A hard rifle case uses several latches to keep the case locked until you open it with a key. Besides the latches, a hard case will also be compatible with padlocks, and you will be able to use more padlocks on a single case.
Soft cases are not lockable by design. They don’t have latches, they have zippers. You can lock the zippers using a padlock, but they won’t provide the amount of security a locked hard case would.
- Content Might Move – Even though most soft rifle cases are very good at keeping the rifle in place while you’re transporting it, there is a slim chance of it shifting its position. This might only happen rarely, but it can happen. The internal foam of the hard cases does a better job at keeping the rifle in its original position.
- More Maintenance – A soft rifle bag can get dirty if you use it, and cleaning it is more difficult than cleaning a hard case. You will have to clean the bag using a small brush, water, a mild detergent, and some elbow grease.
If the bag’s interior gets stained, make sure you clean it as well. After the interior is clean, make sure it’s also dry before using it again.
Best AR Cases Comparison Chart
|Plano All Weather Rifle Case||$$||Rugged thick-wall construction / Molded handle / High-density pluck foam||40 x 16 x 5.5 inches||Continuous Dri-Loc seal / 36 inches long|
|Flambeau Safeshot Gun Case||$||Highest quality material||16.5 x 53.4 x 4.5 inches||Four locking points / Piano style hinge and brass hinge|
|Pelican 1700 Rifle Case||$$$$||Copolymer Polypropylene||6.12 x 16 x 38.12 inches||3-Piece Foam Set / Open Cell Core / Easy Open Double Throw Latches|
|SKB Corp Rifle Case||$$||High quality EPS and ELE convolute foam||51 x 12 x 6.5 inches||Patented "trigger-release" latch system / Gasketed waterproof and dustproof case design|
|Boyt H-Series Rifle Case||$$$||Highest quality material||55" x 18.5" x 7"||All steel powder coated draw latches / Water-tight and dust proof O-ring seal|
|Case Club Rifle Case||$$$||High grade polyethylene||40.6 x 16.1 x 6 inches||Airline Approved|
|VooDoo Tactical Rifle Case||$$$$||Strong & waterproof material||36 x 11.5 x 5 inches||Three gusseted exterior pouches / Thick padding on all six sides cradles|
|Condor Rifle Case||$$$||600D Nylon||42 x 10 x 2 inches||Two mOlive Drabular Mag pouches - One mOlive Drabular Utility Pouch|
|BLACKHAWK! Carbine Gun Case||$||600 denier polyester with thick PVC Laminate||Length 37 inch by 11 inch width||Heavy-duty tactical webbing / Five external mag pockets and two large accessory pockets|
|NcSTAR VISM Carbine Case||$$||500D||4 x12 x 36 inches||Attached with D-rings And cross buckles between the backpack straps|
|Bulldog Cases AR-15 Carry Case||$$||Nylon||29 x 9 x 2 inches||Water-resistant outer shell with padded divider / Brushed Tricot with soft Scratch-resistant inner lining|
|VooDoo Tactical Deluxe Weapons Case||$$$||Highest quality material||12 x 36 x 3 inches||Holds one or two long guns up to 36" long / Padded pockets also hold two pistols|
We hope our short reviews and comprehensive buying guide provided enough information byas Shoooting&Safety Editors to determine which type of rifle case better suits your needs. Keep in mind that everybody uses a rifle case for a reason.
As you could see in our reviews, not even the best 6 hard AR 15 cases cannot surpass the storing capacity of the best 6 soft AR cases. And not even the best soft models cannot compare their protective capacities to those of hard models.
Each type of case is better for a certain job, so make sure you find the right model for your particular needs.