How to Choose a AR-15 Rifle Case

Choosing the perfect AR-15 rifle case isn’t an easy thing to do, especially if you’re willing to invest in a quality piece that will last for years to come. So, knowing how to choose a rifle case is critical.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding which rifle case to buy.

The Purpose of a Rifle Case

Tough Rifle Case

First, clarify the purpose of the rifle case you want to buy. Everyone has different needs and wants for their AR 15 rifle case, so one size doesn’t fit all.

Making your rifle easier to transport and keeping it safe is arguably the most important function of your rifle case. But it goes deeper than that. What is the overall function?

Do you need a case that will withstand the wear and tear of traveling in the back of your truck? Do you just want it to carry your gun from your safe to the range? Most rifle case options will allow you to do either of those things, but it’s in your best interest to determine what the primary function will be before you begin shopping.

With that in mind, use this guide to take a look at the most important elements of your case. Most people will start with the soft case or a hard case debate, but we are going to take a different approach and address that dead last.


Let’s start with the heaviest of all the questions when choosing your rifle case. How big of a deal is the weight of the case to you? Are you carrying this bag to your grandmother’s house over the mountain and through the woods?

If you are using your rifle case to transport your rifle from home to the range and back again, weight is not going to be your number one concern. Weight is more important for carrying your rifle case for long periods or through difficult terrain.

A soft case will help lower your overall carry weight and allow you to backpack carry your bag.

With soft rifle cases, you lose the tough exterior shell of a hard rifle case, but a high-quality soft rifle case will still offer great padding for protection. They just don’t offer the hardened outer shell that allows you to throw your rifle around while it’s in the case.


The elephant in the room: size. You have got to consider how long and wide your rifle is with all its accessories and must-have items. Then start looking around for available rifle case lengths.

The most popular rifle case lengths for AR-15 rifles are 36″ and 42″ rifle cases as these two sizes fit most barrel length configurations.

You definitely don’t want to get something that’s too loose or too tight on your rifle and gear. That never ends well.

Fabric Rolls


We will say it anyway: all materials aren’t created equal. There are several materials you will come across in your search for your new rifle case. Here are a few things to consider when trying to figure out how to choose a rifle case.

Rifle Case Exterior

Hard rifle cases are typically injection-molded plastic and can withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure, depending on the specifications of the rifle case. It is extremely important to know what your hard rifle case is made of, so you know your case’s limits and know how well it will protect your rifle.

High-quality soft rifle cases are made with high-denier nylon, typically Cordura, and double-stitched for increased durability. Cordura is a brand of fabric but is most well known in 500D and 1000D, (the D standing for “denier”).

It is often imitated, and often a “denier war” can be seen on sites like Amazon, where you’ll see 500D, 600D, 650D, 1000D, 1050D, etc. But much of that fabric is imported and is not made to the same standards as 500D Cordura.

500D and 1000D are the go-to standards for fabric and if you are in the market for a soft rifle case I would only look at those two numbers as they are more likely to be US-made Cordura.

Rifle Case Interior

Rifle Case with AR


How your rifle case is retention is set up is extremely important because it determines how your rifle will be held.

Most rifle cases have rifle straps that are either sewn into the case or removable, as all our rifle cases have. These straps serve as retention for the rifle and allow you to use as many as are needed to ensure your rifle doesn’t slip or move around in the case.

Cases also have buttstock and muzzle slots to give you a simpler retention method. When you are in a hurry and just need to put your rifle in your bag and go the buttstock and muzzle slots are the easiest method to do that.

Foam & Padding

Foam is the second most important material in your hard or soft rifle case. Foam comes in many different shapes, sizes, and materials types.

The material of the foam affects the stiffness and the amount of protection it offers your rifle. What you want to look for in your foam is high-density polyethylene foam.


Consider features when figuring out how to choose a rifle case

Do you want your AR 15 rifle case to have tons of pockets or molle galore? That’s an important thing to look into before you make your purchase. If you need your case to have a look and key you may want to look into a hard rifle case.

Soft case zippers can be locked together but for really tough protection and the ability to really lock down your case, go with a hard case.

How to Choose a Rifle Case Conclusion

Choosing the right rifle case is essential for protecting your firearm during transportation and storage. Here’s a guide on how to select an appropriate rifle case:

Determine Your Needs

Consider how you intend to use the rifle case. Are you primarily transporting your rifle to the range, on hunting trips, or for storage at home? Your usage will impact the features you need.

Rifle Type and Size

Ensure the case is suitable for the type and size of your rifle. Measure your firearm, including any attached optics or accessories, to ensure a proper fit. Cases are available in various lengths and shapes to accommodate different rifle styles.


Rifle cases are typically made of hard plastic, aluminum, or soft materials like nylon or canvas. Hard cases offer superior protection but can be heavier, while soft cases are lightweight and more comfortable to carry. Choose the material that aligns with your priorities.

Padding and Protection

    Look for cases with adequate padding to protect your rifle from shocks, impacts, and scratches. Foam inserts, especially customizable ones, are excellent for securing your firearm in place.

    Locking Mechanism

    For security, opt for a rifle case with robust locking mechanisms, such as combination locks, key locks, or padlock-compatible hasps. Ensure it complies with any legal requirements in your area.


      Consider how you’ll be carrying the case. Some cases come with handles, shoulder straps, or even wheels for ease of transport. Choose one that suits your mobility needs.

      Water Resistance

      If you plan to use the case in wet or humid conditions, consider a water-resistant or waterproof rifle case to protect your firearm from moisture damage.


        Determine whether you need quick access to your rifle. Some cases have latches or zipper openings that allow for rapid retrieval, while others may require more time to open.


        Ensure the case is durable and capable of withstanding rough handling. Reinforced corners and sturdy construction are indicators of a reliable case.


        Some cases offer additional features like extra storage compartments for magazines, cleaning kits, or accessories. Consider these extras if they align with your needs.


        Set a budget and stick to it. Rifle cases come in a wide price range, so you can find one that suits your budget while meeting your requirements.

        Brand and Reviews

        Research reputable brands and read reviews from other users to get an idea of the quality and reliability of the rifle case you’re considering.

        Legal Compliance

        Be aware of any legal requirements or restrictions regarding rifle cases in your region. Some places may have specific regulations governing firearm transport and storage.

          Remember that the right rifle case should not only protect your firearm but also align with your lifestyle and usage. It’s an important investment in firearm safety and maintenance.

          We hope this helps you decide on how to choose a rifle case. It is rarely easy to pick your rifle case, but hopefully, these points will help make your decision easier. If you still need some help deciding on what range case to purchase, check out Ultimate Gun Bag Guide.

          If you need help deciding what to pack in your range bag, head over to our article on what to put in your range bag.

          Shoot down to the comments and let us know what case you decided to go with, hard or soft; we won’t judge!

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          1. Design, materials, and workmanship are deal busters in my way of thinking. The only Bag I’ve found with double corner retention and enough straps to hold my expensive rifles where they belong. Kind of pricy, though. But if you consider two decked out rifles can be $5000.00 + for the pair, that $80.00 Amazon bag that looks good, but is made in PRC Isn’t up to snuff. Enough said.

          2. it all comes down to functionality of the case, I consider everything a tool and every tool has it’s intended purpose and roles.

          3. This excellent information for when I am ready to purchase my first rifle. My first handgun is a priority right now but I have this bookmarked for later. Thank you.

          4. I prefer a case that is going to be strong enough on the outside to protect my gun from accidental drops and such.

          5. A lot to think about.

            Having transported rifles a lot (planes, postal service and automobiles), I really feel that there is no one case Brand or type that is the best. Mission and “philosophy of use” (thanks Nut’n) is the intelligent way to select a case for your needs.

            I am really fond of non gun case looking gun cases. Especially when flying. Even having a non tactical looking range bag, such as a golf bag or even a generic looking rubber made tote can really keep the neighborhood Karen off your back. Also nearly as good as not being discussed over tiny weeny’s at the H.O. Meeting, is preventing your firearms from getting attention from possible thieves.

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