Last year I decided I wanted some better protection for my rifles when I took them out into the field. We do a lot of camping, so when we go we usually have the cabin, tray and trailer full of gear. This makes for the perfect environment to harm rifles that are stored in a soft bag so I got online to check out what is available.
I had never owned a hard cover rifle case before so I was not really 100% sure what to look for, but a quick browse around the internet had me coming back to the Plano AW series rifle cases with wheels for easy transport. I had initially spent a lot of time searching the pelican cases, however this particular Plano model seems to be equal in quality for a considerably cheaper price.
The moment you lay your hands on the AW case, the first thing you notice is how solid and durable it is in construction. The high grade polycarbonate shell is finished off well and is easy on the eye. The handle is very comfortable and fitted to your hand with a wide feeling grip which makes for comfortable carriage.
You will then find yourself unbuckling the latches which have a very positive locking action and cannot be easily bumped open. A considerable but comfortable amount of force is required to operate the latch and this give you idea of its strength. The latches really are built tough and you can see how solid and durable they are just by looking at them. The strength of the latches are critical to the integrity of the full length Dri-loc seal that keeps the whole container both air tight and water tight. To me this a terrific feature and really gives you piece of mind when taking the case out into the field. I have personally found the seal to be 100% effective, and I have had it out in the rain and mud for a couple of days camping. On top of the seal, Plano have also installed a pressure valve to aid in keeping the seal tight and avoid particles seeping in because of pressure variances.
The all round rigidity of the container gives me great confidence to throw the thing in the back of the ute, weather just going to the range or out on bumpy bush tracks. It is fine to bounce around among the other gear and i know it is 100% secure. Upon opening the case you notice that the whole volume of the case is filled with high quality foam designed to provide a scratch free surface bedding for your rifle to sit on, and absorb external shocks with no damage whatsoever to your precious firearms. This particular plano model comes with what they call “pluckable inner foam”. This means the foam already has micro cuts in it forming small cubes that you can pluck off with your fingers. This removes the need for a sharp knife or blade that is normally required to cut the contour of your rifle into the foam.
Being honest, I don’t really like this cubed cut feature. for one, the cubes often tear roughly and because they are square shapes you dont really get a clean finish around the edge of the rifle. I don’t really feel like rifle protection is compromised, as you can still snuggly fit the rifle, but the rough finish looks untidy and unclean. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so this won’t really worry a lot of people but even I have gotten used to it as time goes by.
One thing you do notice when you load 2 varmint weight rifles into the one case is the weight. There is not a lot of inherent weight in the empty polycarbonate case but with 2 guns it is only comfortable for a very short distance. Luckily, Plano thought of this, and in this model has included a solid set of wheels that are nothing short of brilliant. I have to say this is one of my favourite features and really makes the Gun case stand out in my opinion. My local shooting range has a fairly long traverse on hard standing from the car park to the firing line, so i really appreciate using this feature. I have tested it also on dry level grass and to my surprise the wheels worked fairly well.
In summary, I would have to say I have been nothing but impressed with this case. I know it is on the expensive side for the plano line of gun cases, but in saying that it is on the cheap end if you compare it to buying a pelican case. I own a smaller size pelican case and I feel like the quality is so similar between the two that you really couldn’t justify the extra expense of the pelican. I have felt like i got nothing but value from day one with this product and I use it just about weekly.