If you ever travel with your guns – whether by air, land, or sea – they need a protective case to keep them safe and secure. Even if your guns never get to go on vacation or to the latest training or to go shoot a match in another state, it’s still good to have a hard-shell case to prevent damage from bumps and bruises that happen at the worst times.
Enter the Explorer Cases 9413, stage right.
This heavy-duty case can take all the beating you can give it. Let’s face it, we don’t always treat our guns with kid gloves. They are made to work hard. They get tossed around in the truck or trunk, on the range bench — all over the place. So the least we can do is offer some padding and protection when transporting them.
Now, before I get too far into this, let me address an oft-cited argument about rifle cases: soft cases are good enough. Yes, soft cases certainly have their place. They can be perfect for certain situations. For example, I use one for carting my AR around locally. If I head to the range in town or out to a friend’s farm to shoot, my trusty rifle stashes inside a soft, well-padded rifle case I got a few years back made by a big-name tactical gear company that will go unmentioned here because this review isn’t about them. A soft case works well for short-distance transport, especially when it won’t get banged around by a lot of other cases, boxes, or gear. So soft cases can be a good option for certain applications. However…
Sometimes, a hard-shell case is the best way to go.
The Explorer Cases 9413 starts with a rugged copolymer polypropylene outer shell, which is fancy chemical talk for a really tough but lightweight box that will stand up to the rigors of carrying your gun in tough conditions. The entire case weighs in at just under 18 pounds, which may sound like a lot but lands it squarely in the middle of comparable cases. And as you’ll see in a minute, the case is easy to carry and move around despite its size and weight.
Inside, the second layer of protection comes in the form of a double layer of wall-to-wall closed cell foam with tear-out cubes like you would find in a good camera case. All you do is lay your gun and any other accessories that go with it on top of the foam, trace the pattern with a knife or marker, then pull out the foam from the first layer until you have the perfect cavity for a snug fit. In my case, I wanted to carry my AR-15 with optic attached and a couple of spare mags. See the image for how it turned out. Once closed, the soft, convoluted foam – which looks like a uniform layer of foam stalactites – lining the ceiling of the case keeps the contents from moving around.
At just shy of 39 inches long, the 9413 is large enough to carry a standard AR or AK with a 16-inch barrel or shorter with a few mags and some other small accessories added around the edge. Or you can turn it into a pistol case that holds multiple guns and mags. The highly versatile customization lets you protect a wide range of weapons and the stuff that goes with them.
What if you don’t have an AR?
Well, you can instead use the Explorer Cases 9413 to house whatever other kinds of weapons you own. The beauty of the customizable foam is you can make it fit whatever you need to protect. If you prefer to carry your handgun collection and all the spare mags, simply pull out the foam you need and make everything fit. A word of caution, however: Once you customize the foam, there is no going back. It’s customized for life. You can’t put any foam cubes back in unless you’re extremely talented with a glue gun.
To answer the ease-of-carry question, there are three burly handles for easy grip and transport: a large, heavy-duty main in the middle and two smaller but still robust handles on either end for two-person carry. There is also a pair of super tough rubber wheels on one end for rolling.
The four hinges on the 9413 are ultra-strong, with door-hinge style pins and loops. Once shut and the four latches closed with a solid click, the whole system is sealed with a rubber gasket that keeps out water. There is even a pressure release valve on the front if you need to regulate the pressure for altitude changes, such as when you receive the case at baggage claim after flying.
For security, the lid can be locked down using any or all of the four lock loops on the front. The loops fit standard padlocks and all TSA-approved locks. Yeah, I know, the TSA keeps changing their definition depending on the airport and bag screener. Frustrating, no? Don’t get me started. That’s why it’s good the Explorer Cases 9413 allows so many options.
Is it Durable?
I have had my 9413 for over three years and traveled with it several times. Each time, everything has arrived safe and sound. Aside from a few superficial scratches courtesy of the ne’er-do-well baggage handlers, the case looks almost new all these trips later. I’m sure it has had other bags and boxes set on top in its travels with nary a bit of real damage to show for it.
Available for around $215 online, the Explorer Case 9413 is a solid choice if you want peace of mind protecting your arsenal.