Is there a Limit to How Much Ammo You Can Fly With?
In other blog posts, we’ve discussed the rules and regulations that must be followed for flying with a firearm, both domestically and internationally.
It’s all good and well to know the ins and outs of flying with a firearm, but what about flying with ammo? You know, that essential component that goes with your firearm that completes the purpose of flying with the firearm in the first place?
As you might expect, there are rules and regulations that dictate how much ammunition you can fly with, both domestically and internationally. These aviation-specific guidelines must be followed in addition to all applicable local, state, and federal laws as they apply to the places you’re flying both to and from.
Small Arms Ammunition
We’re going to be focusing on small arms ammunition in this piece. Small arms ammunition is defined by the government to include cartridges up to .75 caliber (19.1mm) and shotgun shells. In other words, if you’re looking for information on whether or not you can fly with grenades, mortars, artillery shells, or other such larger-scale pieces of ordnance, you’ll need to look elsewhere for guidance as the majority of people are not trying to fly with those items. (But hey, if you are trying to fly with those items, let us know! You’re probably traveling somewhere interesting and maybe we’d want to come along!)
OK, so back to small arms ammunition.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the part of the federal government that determines what kind of ammo you can fly with and how much you can bring on the airplane with you.
Of course, like most things with the government, the FAA’s answer to how much ammo you can fly with isn’t as straightforward as we might like it to be. They say that you are limited to a “reasonable amount for ‘personal use’ during a trip.” Unfortunately, they don’t define what a “reasonable amount” is and what is considered reasonable will undoubtedly vary from person to person.
As a way of determining how much is “reasonable,” it might be wise to consult international (ICAO/IATA) regulations, which limit this to 11 pounds (5 kg) gross weight of ammunition per passenger. Most, but not all, airlines take this international limit into consideration for their domestic flights when determining how much ammo is allowed per passenger.
So just how much ammo is in 11 pounds? As an example, let’s take a look at Hornady 115gr JHP/XTP 9mm rounds. The math comes out to just over 38 rounds per pound, so that’s approximately 418 rounds in 11 pounds.
Which Ammo Types are NEVER Allowed
There are some types of ammo that you simply cannot fly with. Ever. Period. Under no circumstances may you fly with black powder or smokeless powder, even if it is in the original manufacturer’s container. Primers, percussion caps, or homemade powder and ball loads for muzzleloading firearms are also prohibited. So, if you’re trying to get your reloading equipment from one place to another, you’re going to have to find another way to do it since flying is out of the question.
Check With Your Specific Airline
All airlines must comply with federal laws and regulations regarding flying with ammunition, but they can also implement their own rules beyond what the government dictates. To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at three airlines and the different aspects of their policies.
Delta’s Ammo Policy
Delta follows the international limit of 11 pounds (5 kg) per passenger, with the added restriction that more than one passenger may not combine quantities into one package. Beyond this, they require that your small arms ammunition is packed in the manufacturer’s original package or securely packed in fiber, wood, plastic, or metal boxes and provide separation for individual cartridges.
American Airlines’ Ammo Policy
American Airlines requires that your ammo is in the original packaging from the manufacturer or in packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition (made of fiber, wood, or metal), with a maximum of 11 pounds (5 kgs) per container or customer. Additionally, you may not transport your ammunition in designated magazines or clips, and magazines or clips are not accepted when traveling to or from Port of Spain or Trinidad and Tobago.
Alaska Airlines’ Ammo Policy
Internationally, the amount of ammo you can fly with is capped at 11 pounds, but beyond that, Alaska Airlines has its own unique rules pertaining to how much ammo you can bring on a domestic flight, and it’s actually tied to their flight numbers. If your domestic flight number falls within the range of 001-2999, then you can bring up to 50 pounds of ammo with you. If your domestic flight number falls within the range of 3300-3499, then you are limited to 11 pounds of ammo. The bullets in said ammo must be no larger than 11/16″ in diameter, or the size of a dime, and unlike American Airlines, Alaska Airlines may accept ammunition inside a magazine or clip that is enclosed in its own secure casing within a larger crush-proof firearm case.
Ammo is, in Fact, Allowed on Planes, but Always Check with Your Airline.
So to recap: yes, you can fly with ammunition, but you must follow all local, state, federal, and international laws as well as any airline-specific requirements. As a general rule, ammunition must always be securely packed in boxes or other devices specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition, and clips and magazines must also be securely boxed so that no ammunition is loose or exposed.
While we’re on the subject of “loose or exposed” ammo, let’s talk for a minute about bulk packs or buckets. Yes, those containers are technically considered to be original manufacturer’s packaging, which is allowed, but it fails to meet the separation requirement that prevents individual rounds from coming into contact with one another. So, you’ll have to repackage any bulk ammo you own before you can fly with it.
One last note that we should go without saying but we’re going to say it anyway: Traveling anywhere, at any time, on a plane with a loaded firearm is forbidden. Period. You cannot transport your ammo in the gun, even if it’s in your checked baggage.