Custom Cases Made Easy

Custom AR Pelican CaseHaving worked in a previous life for an equipment manufacturer who put their wares into Pelican 1520 cases, I’ve picked and plucked my way through enough case foam to last a lifetime.  I’ve also picked, plucked and cut plenty of cases for my own firearms, electronics and other gear so I know what kind of hassle, mess and potential for foul-ups are involved to often end up with so-so results.  That’s why I was excited to spot MyCaseBuilder while roaming the aisles of SHOT Show 2014.

There are several options commonly available when it comes to storing and transporting firearms in a hard case.  These options range from totally generic to completely custom; a range that generally corresponds to almost no protection to superb protection with a tailor made fit.

KelTec P11 CaseOn the generic end of the spectrum, the bare bones solution would be no foam, letting the case contents rattle around all willy-nilly.  Marginally stepping up from that is what KelTec does with a single piece of foam in the bottom of the case or, better still, sandwiching your firearm between a couple pieces of egg-carton type foam, which probably holds it securely enough for a nice trip from your home to the shooting range but doesn’t offer the kind of protection that a custom case does.  On the flip side, if you carry around multiple firearms with different profiles, these generic cases let you pack them all around without the need for a custom job for each one.

Egg crate case foamMoving into custom territory, you can get a solution that provides multiple dimensions of protection for the contents.  The easiest way is what’s known as pick-and-pluck foam, which lets you rip chunky cutouts from a perforated foam block to create rectangular slots for your gear.  You could also try carving out shapes that more closely match the contours of your firearms and gear with a knife or hot wire, but without a steady hand and some experience, it’s easy to end up with ugly foam that “pretty much” holds your gear in place.

Pick n Pluck PistolThat’s where MyCaseBuilder comes in.  The basic process is you find the case you have (or the one you want if you’re ordering both case and foam) and choose a type of foam – either dense polyethylene foam or softer ester foam.  Then you find the object(s) that will occupy the case from their extensive library of shapes, including many specific firearm models.  If they don’t have your specific item, you can get a truly custom foam job by taking a top-down photo of your item and uploading it to their online software.  Place all of the cutout shapes you want in your foam, view it in 3D and order it online.  They then use one of several cutting methods to create your custom piece and get it sent out to you inside of a week.

Ugly Foam

Does your DIY foam look like this?

Their list prices on the case and foam combination runs a bit high, especially on nicer cases like Pelicans.  If you’re starting from scratch and want the whole package, you’ll likely be able to save some money if you buy the case elsewhere (either empty or with “spare” pick-and-pluck foam) and get custom foam from MyCaseBuilder.  When replacement foam for some cases can cost nearly as much, paying $40 to $100 for completely custom-fitted foam for your specific equipment is a bargain.  Of course, the foam-only option is also ideal if you’ve already got a case or want multiple custom options for a single case.

3D RenderingThe real savings come when you opt for some of the economy options they offer.  In this category, you can score a blow-molded pistol case with custom foam for under $40 or a bigger case that can fit a long gun plus a pistol and accessories for right around $115.  Given the dimensions of some of these cases, you might expect to really get ripped on shipping, but the company offers $9 flat-rate shipping.  All that with a 5-7 day turnaround time.

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