Avoid These Mistakes Flying with a Muzzleloader

Gregg Ritz of Hunt Masters with a great Thompson/Center muzzleloader buck.

Gregg Ritz of Hunt Masters with a great Thompson/Center muzzleloader buck.

If you’re planning a deer hunt this year with a muzzleloader and will be flying to your destination, take the advice of one well-seasoned traveler to avoid problems with the TSA folks at the airport.

Veteran hunter Greg Ritz has flown around the world with muzzleloaders. He’s seen security checks go easy-peasy and others get stymied. Here are some of his best tips for flying with a muzzleloader and how to avoid problems.

Clean Up
First, because I have had this happen, clean your gun. They all wipe it down for explosive residue and I have been flagged. Obviously, not only clean bore for performance and obvious reasons but also wipe down the outside very well and wash your hands. It’s amazing how the remnants of unburned powder contaminate things and that can be a big hassle for you.

If you have one of the newer inline rifles remove the breech plug and clean it well. Removing it also will allow any agent to clearly see that the barrel is unloaded.

Plan Ahead
Don’t take primers, pellets or powder with you. Don’t even go there. And like most hunters I squirrel primers everywhere in bags or whatnot because I’m afraid I will forget them. It’s easy to forget that I have them in pockets, stock of gun, bags. Go through everything and then double-check. Don’t be a hero and try to sneak in powder. Just don’t do it.

Remember that bullets are considered like ammo. It all depends on the TSA officer you get. Some don’t care and know it’s inert, a hunk of lead. Others may say it’s a projectile and is prohibited.

Be Ready for Anything
I’ve had the conversation in the little room with the big guy. If you’re going somewhere it creates issues. You may encounter regulations on cleaning products, too, or an agent who won’t allow them. I’ve had bore solvent, which is really silicone and water, confiscated. Be sure to check your specific airlines’ regulations, especially the smaller airlines.

Filling Out Forms
Unfortunately you can’t get around this one, but when you fill out international docs and put “50 caliber,” you have some people who don’t see “muzzleloader” and then you’ll have to explain what 50 caliber is. I just explain that it is a primitive weapon that loads from the front of the bore.

Other than those few things it’s like any other firearm.


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