This new gun luggage is incredibly overbuilt—and that’s just what we want when our firearms are in transit.
The Warrior case is a beasty box
that’s 37 inches long, 15 1/4
inches wide, and 11 inches deep.
It weighs 35 pounds unloaded.
I remember feeling sick while standing in the baggage claim area of Midland/Odessa Regional Airport in 1985. I had flown into western Texas to hunt desert mule deer, when my gun case, a plastic Doskocil model, came rolling off the ramp. It was warped slightly, and two of the locks had popped completely open. The other two were twisted and would have popped loose had the case dropped to the floor. The saving grace: Thick wrappings of duct tape prevented the plastic case from opening completely.
Fortunately, everything inside was intact, and I went on to shoot the hunting rifle it contained without further incident. But that experience taught me a lesson I will never forget. After that, I always used lockable metal gun cases because they protected my most valuable assets. Carrying their weight, however, made my arms too long for my shirts.
The More Things Change
I still regard shipping containers as very important pieces of equipment. However, I also recognize that with security comes inconvenience. Building a strong case requires heavy metal and a lot of it, and the length of most rifles and shotguns necessarily requires the cases for them to be long and bulky. These were unavoidable tradeoffs, I thought until I spent two months using Briley’s Road Warrior gun luggage.
Said simply, the $475 Warrior case is a beast. It is a gray box that’s 37 inches long, 151/4 inches wide, and 11 inches deep. It weighs 35 pounds unloaded. The exterior shell is made of high-impact plastic, and every edge is reinforced with aluminum molding.
All of these components are fastened to a backbone of 3/8-inch plywood. Additionally, every corner is further strengthened with a steel riveted to the case body. It has spring-loaded, padded handles on each end and in the center of the front face. These handles lay flat below the outside walls of the case. To the right of the front handle, there’s a three-digit dial combination lock, and on either end of the front face are two flush twist-down latches. On the right end of the case sit two big, thick rubber pads opposed by two hard-plastic wheels. They are connected by a steel axle. On the opposite end of the case is a quick-release extending handle, much like those found on airline personnel overnight suitcases.
Inside the case, gray carpet covers the frame. The case bottom is padded. Two locking stay-open arms keep the open lid from slamming your fingers. In the Warrior’s price, Briley also includes a soft case ($127 if purchased separately) that fits inside the hard case.
The soft case is covered in green canvas. The muzzle end of the soft bag is trimmed in dark leather. On the top edge of the soft case, there’s a sturdy leather handle fixed to the case body with metal O-rings. A brass zipper closes one-third of the case. Two hook-and-ring (Velcro-style) closures secure pockets on the outside of the case.
The long, larger pocket is for shotgun tube sets. The smaller pocket can be used for knickknacks. Inside the soft case are two partitions, one for the buttstock portion of long arms and another for the barrels. The soft case can be removed and carried like a regular gun case.
Using The Case
Briley Manufacturing (Dept. FT, 1230 Lumpkin St., Houston, TX 77043, telephone  331-5718) says the Warrior is primarily designed for hinge-style shotguns and pistols, but I found it handled and protected rifles just as well.
Pistols, of course, may be inserted into the case in their range containers, along with ammo, cleaning supplies, hearing protection, glasses, and other shooting items such as telescopes. Likewise, rifles may also be stowed in the case if you’re willing to separate the stock from the barrel. I don’t see this as a big problem since my rifles are fitted with Allen-head screws, which I back off for transport anyway. When I arrive at my destination, I use an Ansch tz torque wrench to tighten them back to what should be their zero setting. Thus, regardless, if I’m carrying a rifle for hunting or target shooting, my gear must be checked for zero once I arrive at a site. Taking the stock and barrel apart costs me an extra 30 seconds during reassembly.
But breaking down guns to fit inside the Warrior saves time everywhere else. Once ensconced in the box, firearms ride securely, and with limited exceptions, handling the box is a dream—in contrast to standard metal cases. If I take a rifle out of my home safe and put it in a regular carry box, I encounter an endless procession of tight corners. Several corners of my house have ragged marks where a 60-inch metal box has kissed the wall. Fitting the long case in my Suburban takes some doing, since it must be pushed over the back seat and wrestled below the driver’s sight line.
At the airport, long cases track much like the Exxon Valdez. More than once I’ve clipped some unsuspecting urchin with a case, simply because I couldn’t move it fast enough to avoid the ankle biter. On a cart, big cases aren’t much better because they will either extend well out in front or far out the sides. Either way, little Johnny is at risk. Also, the long cases don’t track well on luggage conveyor belts, and the exposed latches and padlocks hang up on all manner of machinery.
Some of these problems are considerably lessened with the Warrior, I’ve found. Once I’ve loaded the case full of pistols, rifles, shotguns, and ammo, I close the top, fasten the front latches, and grab one of the lay-flat handles, standing the case up on its wheels. Then I push the handle release bottom and extend the handle, and spiffily steer the upright Warrior away from my safe, through the halls, and out to the car with nary a problem. Inside my car, the case fits low and flat on its belly, or it stands up without banging the roof.
At the airport, the Warrior is a lifesaver. You’ve heard the old shooting joke: How can you tell a pistol shooter from a rifle shooter? One of the rifle shooter’s arms is longer than the other. Well, that’s not true with the Warrior. Once it’s standing on its wheels with the handle extended, you can stack stuff up on it and wheel the whole mess to the curbside check in, or enter the airport’s bowels and bop right over to the check-in counters.
Also, you don’t have to worry about dimensional baggage-check charges, since the Warrior is the size of a small trunk. In contrast, some double-gun metal cases exceed airline length maximums, requiring you to pay additional handling charges.
Still, despite its many attributes, the Warrior luggage has its problems—chief among them being capacity. I recently used the luggage to transport cameras, clothing, and fishing reels on a trip. When a friend reached down and grabbed the handle to load the case, he nearly herniated himself. It is no trouble to pack this case full enough to make it unwieldy, even on its wheels. This problem is compounded when you face stairs and steps. You must either grant the Warrior up by the handles, which isn’t pleasant, or you bang the box on the stairs.
Price is a factor, too: The combined price tag for the Warrior runs about 150 dollars more than a metal case.
Field Tests Recommends
With these factors in mind then, is the Briley Warrior standard-size gun luggage worth the money? Here’s our answer to that question: If you are tired of lugging your rifles, pistols, and shotguns through airports, consider buying the Warrior. It is unique in the market at this time, and it unquestionably solves many travel problems associated with standard gun cases.