Well, I got the Pelican case I wanted the other day. Sportsmans Warehouse had a sale that would have taken 20% off the usual $199.99 price. Saving forty bucks is always a good idea, so I went up there and grabbed one. Silly me. Last time they had them they had the Model 1750 cases. What was up there this time were the 1720. The difference is that one is shorter in length than the other. So…the case I picked up wont fit my CZ550. So, although this case would be excellent for tucking away an AR,870 and Glock it isn’t what I need. Back it goes. As luck would have it, between yesterday and today a 1750 was added to the display so I managed to tradeoff for the one I needed. As a result, my CZ550 now has its own cozy little cocoon. I need to spend some time tonight fitting the foam padding but if all goes as planned my .308 will be safe and secure by tomorrow.
The Hardigg cases have been making a name for themselves lately. Whereas Pelican pretty much limits their design to what amounts to armored briefcases, Hardigg has some very cool stuff…like their ‘mobile armory’ cases. (Which, as it turns out, Pelican just introduced their version.) And their footlockers. And other cool stuff. And it appears to be fairly competitive against the Pelican stuff. Both products can be found on eBay if you want to comparison shop.
Now, if you go and check these prices you’re going to see that on a good day your gonna pay north of $50 for a small case and well over $100 for anything in a useful size. (By usefull, I mean large enough to store the important gear like guns, packs, electronics, etc.) Like much in life, there is a ‘ghetto’ alternative. That is to say, theres an “80/20” alternative. (You pay 20% of the price of the spendy item and get 80% of the utility.) So, before I mention it, let’s see if you can figure it out. Think of a container product that is:
- Extremely durable
- Lends itself to military applications
- Is cheap
- And fairly ubiquitous
No, no, no…don’t go all McGyver on me, the answer is: ammo cans. They’re not just for ammo anymore. Most of us are falmiliar with what we refer to as “.30 caliber” and “.50 caliber” cans. If you’re a little more in the know you’re aware of “Tall .50’s”. If you’re into this subject more than the average bunker dweller then you’re aware of the myriad of other ‘ammo cans’ that are available. Larger ammo cans aren’t really ammo cans…they’re rocket cases, mortar round carriers, etc, etc. However, there is always one made that fits your needs. I’m going to cover a few here so you know what to search for on the various search engines.
- .30 cal. Cans – This is one of the most common cans you’ll encounter. They are ideal for storing things like handgun ammo and smaller things. They can usually be had for $5~
- .50 cal. Cans – This is the other common ammo can. It is also arguably the most useful size for general use. Good for various tools, entire handguns with accessories, etc, etc.
- Tall .50 cans/60mm – exactly what it sounds like. Very similar to the .50 can but a bit taller. Not terribly common but not a difficult find.
- 25mm can – opens at both ends. Heavy duty plastic just like a Pelican case. The interior doesnt offer alot of room, but for the gear that does fit inside these things are great.
- 40mm/20mm can – Extremely useful. One of the most useful ‘big’ cans. A good choice (but not the best) for storing an emergency kit. They can also be made into panniers/saddlebags for motorcycles. They’re excellent choices for hauling stuff around in the back of a truck. (only an inch or two difference in dimensions between the two different caliber cans.)
- 120mm mortar can – These look like extremely tall .30 cans. They’re a good choice for storing certain longarms. Most ‘assault weapon’ type guns will be too long (and possibly too tall), but many of them, broken down, will fit.
- 120mm can – Probably the #1 choice for serious storage. The lid cams into place to provide a good gasket seal, the lid can be locked in place with a simple padlock, and the damn thing is almost bombproof. Excellent for storing longarms that have narrow profiles. Most guns will need to be broken down to fit inside but some (10/22, 870, Mossberg 500, short SKS, etc) can go in without any other concern. These are hard to find but once in a while they turn up. They are very much worth having and an excellent choice for a burial cache.
- 2.25 Mk2 Mod 0 Rocket container – Best ‘footlocker’ type case. They have locking dogs along the edges to assure a tight seal, thick solid walls, and are generally indestructible. Heavy, but first choice for ‘leave it in the truck bed in all sorts of weather’. Theres a ‘tall’ version that has less length but more height. Also a winner.
- Medical chest – The biggest common ‘ammo can’ is actually designed for transporting medical materials. These cases usually run $75~ but they are wonderful pieces of equipment. You can also buy an insert that slides into the case to turn it into a ‘dresser draw’ arrangement. If you have the money, this is the first choice for stuffing a loaded backpack and broken down rifle into. Be prepared to pay a bit for shipping unless you can find them locally. Camping supply stores sometimes have them as ‘bearproof’ containers.
There are a few other sizes Im leaving out, mostly because Im too lazy to go into the bunker and copy down the stencils off the side of the ammo cans. My point, though, is that if you hunt around you can usually find an ammo can that will suit whatever storage need you have. Now, Im the first to want to save a buck but if you can afford to, a purpose-made container like a Pelican case is the first choice for the truly expensive protect-it-at-all-costs gear. Like what? Precision firearms, optics, critical electronics, etc.
I try to keep as much stuff as I can in these types of containers because it makes storage more uniform, but more importantly it makes things man-portable for those times when youre trying to beat the clock. If you have to baby your gear, tuck it safely into someplace dry and protected, and then worry about not banging it around you’ll never get anything done. When the world is collapsing around you and youve got to leave now you need to be able to grab a handle, sling the weight off the floor, over your shoulder and into the back of a wet, snowy pickup truck bed and not worry about the contents of that container. There’s going to be a time when maybe the sheriff is only giving people 15 minutes to grab their possessions and evacuate, or youre trying to beat an advancing fire, or the water is rising too fast to stay longer, or you can hear the angry voices of the mob approaching… and thats when you wanna be able to grab your gear and move, move, move. Thats also when you’ll want that gear in a hard, durable, waterproof case so you can heave it around and get the heck out of there.
So…next time youre at the local surplus store or gun show, check out the ammo cans and see if there isnt something that’ll meet your needs. Even if you never plan on leaving home, having your stuff protected form the usual household threats (dust, moisturem pests, broken pipes, etc.) makes the expense and effort worthwhile.