As you and I know, the world can be a pretty tough place. If it weren’t, theres be a lot of EMTs and auto body shops out of work. Additionally, since fate is not without a mean streak, when it rains it pours. Take some of the lessons from Katrina for example…some folks had their guns stored in safes. They werent stolen but they sure weren’t dry. (Actually, some guns that were in safes were stolen..by NOPD for their own use.)I’ve seen photos of guns that sat in the sewage-and-chemical-saturated waters for a week or two and they were pretty sad. This time next year youre going to see a large number of very experienced, very talented amateur gun refinishers and stockmakers down there.
So, what can you do? You want something to protect your electronics, guns, documents and other items that dont respond well to immersion, dust, dirt, impacts and abrasions. The answer, naturally, is some sort of protective case. Lets start with the basic simple ammo can…like a quality prostitute, theyre cheap, available, and take a surprising amount of abuse for the money.
Ammo cans come in all sorts of sizes…most people can go their entire lives and never see anything other than the .30 and .50 caliber cans. However, there are bigger (much bigger) cans available. With the exception of the hard plastic cans that are used for certain ammo, most US ammo cans are made of steel, painted OD green, have removable lids, and use a closure that levers the can shut. Waterproofing is achieved with a rubber gasket that goes around the lid of the can. Assuming everything is in good shape these cans will do 90% of what you want them to do…thier only drawbacks are really their limited sizes and that they will dent if you hit them hard enough. When buying ammo cans always check the gaskets to make sure theyre in good shape and that theyre actually there. You also want to make sure the mouth/lid alignment is good without dents and dings that would prevent a good seal upon closure. Even in good condition, some ammo cans will still leak if submerged. For being out in the rain, bounching around in your truck, being dropped into snowbanks and the like they are great…but for actually sitting in a flooded truck under five feet of water for a week, you might be disappointed. However, since ammo cans work so well for most preparedness needs they shouldnt be dismissed. For truly important stuff, I’ll seal the item in waterproof plastic or another container and then put it in the ammo can. Belt and suspenders. Some of the larger ammo cans are well suited for larger things like guns and probably some of the best ammo cans are the ‘rocket cases’ that turn up from time to time. These are about the size of a small footlocker and usually have a lid that is completely removable and is held in place by six locking ‘dogs’. For storing a single longarm the absolute best Ive found is the cylindrical shell container…its got a lid that is padlockable, cams into place to provide a waterproof seal, is extremely durable and has attachment points to secure it to another object using a cable or chain. Theyre big, heavy and hard to find but its almost as good as a Pelican case in terms of durability.
The next step up from ammo cans are the plastic cases that come in various sizes specifically for guns and electronic gear. Pelican is probably the most well-known brand and their products are good. Heavy-duty plastic ‘briefcase’-style cases with locking latches and pressure vents. Usually lined with foam that can be cut to make a custom fit for your gear, they are outstanding weapons and electronics cases. Big drawback is the exepnse…this kind of quality doesnt come cheap. If youre lucky, you can sometimes find used ones locally or on eBay. Scrounging around photography or electronic stores that are going out of business may turn some up as well. The foam inserts can be replaced if you need. A clever trick that eliminates the need to cut the styrofoam in the case to fit your guns is to simply remove the foam entirely and keep your guns in their normal padded soft case and put that inside the Pelican case. Keep in mind that soft cases usually retain moisture so throw some dessicant in there with your gun. Pelican cases are about as waterproof as you can get, are very durable and come in a variety of sizes…they even make cases small enough to hold a GPS or HT radio.
The ultimate in hard, waterproof storage is probably the military-grade cases that are starting to show up. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has spurred the development of cases to keep the ever-growing quantity of military electronincs dry, clean and sand-free. Additionally, the fast-reaction nature of the conflicts puts an emphasis on portability and survivability (like kicking stuff out the back of a humvee at 50 mph or out the door of a Blackhawk at 30 ft. above the ground). These military-grade containers are designed to be stackable and ‘pallet-ized’ (fit neatly and securely on a cargo pallet) which makes them a good choice for storage. Drawbacks are pricing (about 50%+ more than Pelican) and availability. Used ones turn up on, surprise, eBay frequently but theyre usually well-used and I’d be cautious about the integrity of their waterproof seals.
Is it worth $250 for a Pelican rifle case? Depends. If your going to just take your AR out of the safe and to the range you probably dont need it. If your going to stuff an AR, 870 and Glock in there and hide it out in the rafters of your garage or in a culvert somewhere, then you most definitely need it. I’d feel perfectly comfortable heaving a Pelican rifle case into the back of a truck, bouncing down a logging road and dragging it up the side of a hill in the rain. If I were concerned of an impending disaster that might put my house underwater I would definitely pack the guns up in Pelican cases if i couldnt get them somewhere safer.
My point is that unless your carrying an object with you on your person, or you’ve already stashed it at its final destination, you need some sort of transport/storage container that can protect your vital gun, radio, computer, etc. from the nasty stuff TEOTWAWKI can throw at it. When youve got 30 minutes to pack your entire life into a truck and leave in a hurry you want to be able to grab stuff and fling it into the back of your rig without worrying about it. Youre not going to have time to wrap it up, baby it, gently place it behind the drivers seat wrapped in a blanket. You gotta go and you gotta go now. Its pouring rain, trouble is coming and if it isnt packed and ready to go five minutes ago it ain’t going. Thats when you’ll be glad you packed your mission critical stuff in some hard, weatherproof, tough-as-nails container.