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Plano Rifle/Shotgun Case - AW2™, 42"

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You’re a seasoned shooter and by now, you’ve figured out that quality doesn’t have to equal cost. That’s why we chose Plano as a gun case partner. Take this rugged, affordable AW2 42” Rifle/Shotgun Case: It provides plenty of room for your hog hunt rifle or three-gun kit in a weatherproof, locking, bang-around hard case and still costs less than a Benjamin. 

Measures 43” x 13” x 5”. Waterproof, airtight seal. Room for two ARs.

You’re getting the same features and protection as those mil-spec cases (sans the premium price tag). Waterproof and airtight seals with an automatic pressure valve mean you can fly and travel anywhere. Pluck-to-fit foam means the case is cut to the exact shapes of your rifles to keep them snug and safe while you bounce down the trail, fly cross-country, or make your way to the range in the gamelands.

Additional Specifications

  • Reinforced polymer that takes a beating
  • Folding carry handle for easy transport
  • Four heavy-duty latches, no flex or bend
  • Pluck-to-fit foam provides a puzzle-piece fit
  • Pressure-relief valve, TSA-approved for flight
  • Two locks, two keys, simple security
  • Submersible and fully weatherproof

Plano AW2 Case: Staff Review

Plano’s a big name in the firearm case industry. They serve military and law enforcement and earned a reputation for quality at a low cost over the past few years. Today we will be taking an in-depth look at the features of the popular AW2, or "All Weather Tactical" Firearm Case, in the 42" configuration. However, many of the features discussed in this review also apply to the 36" and 52" options.

This hard-shell case offers some very nice features that are usually only reserved for cases that cost much more money (like a Pelican case), and as you will see below, it is the perfect AR-15 case, given the size. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the Plano All-Weather Tactical Gun Case.

The 42" AW2, or "All-Weather II" Plano Case is designed for transport and all-weather shooting, focusing on fitment for tactical rifles like the AR-15, and most shotguns. However, it would work just as well if you’re a handgunner with plenty of pistols to carry. It has a comfortable shoulder strap for easy transport, and is made of a watertight and durable material that will protect your firearms no matter the weather. The case also has a pressure release valve to equalize the pressure inside and outside of the case, preventing your firearms from being damaged by changes in pressure.

The top half of the case is lined with egg crate foam, while the bottom half features foam cubes that are pre-cut. This allows you to customize the case for a snug, secure fit with each of your rifles or shotguns. Although advertised to be 42" in length, we found the exact dimensions to be slightly longer.

Primary Features

  • Pre-cut foam cubes for a custom fit with rifles, pistols, accessories
  • "Dri-Loc" water-resistant/dust-proof seal for all-weather protection
  • Built-in pressure relief valve for altitude changes and air travel
  • Heavy-duty, two-stage locking latches with cut keys included
  • Molded carry handle with stainless steel swivel pins
  • Manufactured and assembled in the USA

Test Rifles

For our testing, we used two AR-15s with 16" barrels and telescoping stocks. One rifle had a classic A2 profile with an integrated carry handle and sight, while the other rifle had a modern flat-top M4 upper

Case Dimensions

  • Internal Dimensions: 43" Length x 14" Width x 5" Depth
  • Exterior Dimensions: 44.4" Length x 16.8" Width x 6.4" Depth
  • Pre-Cut Foam Cubes: Approximately 0.75" (cubic inches)

The Plano All Weather gun case’s gun capacity easily accommodates any standard AR-15, AR-10, or hunting shotgun. Due to the relatively small size of each foam cube, the gun case can easily accommodate handguns and accessories like scopes and bipods. The foam also offers good protection for your firearms. The cubes are double-stacked, meaning that to reach the foam base padding, you would have to cut through two layers of cubes. This gun capacity makes it easy to get a tight, secure fit on smaller items like a red dot or scope. This is a small but nice touch when it comes to the fabrication and fitment of the product.

Some people may like the “Minecraft-like” look of the foam cubes when shaping their layout, while others may not.

If you want to fix this problem, one thing you can do is draw an outline of the shape you want with a black dry-erase marker, and then use an Exacto knife to cut out the shape. This can give the case a much better appearance and gun capacity you want.

However, you can’t expect it to look like a custom-molded foam layout, given the blocky material you have to work with.

The Shell

The Plano All Weather exterior shell is made from a molded, impact-resistant plastic typical of the hardest case models. It looks like Plano took a bit of time to "polish up" the shell by sanding and finishing rough edges and seams left over from the molding process. We couldn’t find any sharp or pointy bits that might slice your hand, as you might find on a much cheaper rifle case.

The handle is tough and stiff, but relatively comfortable. Stainless steel pins keep it in place and allow it to swivel, and we didn’t experience any bending or bowing with both of our rifles inside the case. We particularly like the leading edges on both ends of the case -- the taps near the handle give the lid some rigidity, and the opposite side provides a sort of "spine" along the hinges, allowing the case to stand upright.

As far as toughness is concerned, this case is pretty close to the quality you’d find in more expensive cases, such as a USGI Pelican case. The injection molded plastic in Plano isn’t that far away from the Pelican. Of course, you can’t expect this case to hold up under a nuclear attack or anything, but for moderate protection from blunt force drops, the AW2 can take some punishment.

Pressure Release Valve

The pressure release valve is a nice feature, something mostly found on more expensive cases, particularly Pelicans. This helps ensure that the integrity of the Dri-Loc seal isn’t compromised by altitude changes. This also means you can safely fly with your case, as the case adjusts to altitude changes while stored as depressurized cargo.

Keyed Double Locking Latches

Yet another feature we were surprised to find at this price point is that the Plano All Weather gun case latches are locking (like most other firearm cases), yet these latches come keyed. If you prefer even more security, Plano also provided cut holes for padlocks (pictured immediately left of the keyed latch).

Dri-Loc Water & Dust Seal

Shown around the edges of the upper half of the case, the white Dri-Loc seal is a thick rubber seal that provides a generally watertight and dust-proof fit for the case. This gun case closes securely. However, when it comes to being a waterproof weather gun case, Plano doesn’t explicitly advertise the case to be submersible, and we didn’t test submersion. But it did not take on any water with some good ole’ "water bucket testing."

Also, this case features a special O-ring seal that runs the entire length of the lid. On the opposite side of the case, there is a raised injection molded piece of plastic that will compress that O-ring to give a solid lockup as far as water resistance goes.

But, once again, it’s worth noting that Plano does not advertise this case as waterproof, so keep that in mind before taking it out on the water. That said, I’d be surprised to find any moisture inside if you dunk this case in water for some weird reason. The design seems to suggest your equipment would remain dry.

Also, suppose you were using this case to transport your firearms while flying. Which in this case is TSA approved based on its configuration. The case’s pressure release valve will do its job to ensure the seal never gets compromised in terms of altitude changes.

Tie-Downs and Padlock Access

The AW2 case also features two slots that allow you to install the padlocks of your choice, providing additional security. Plus, it has four tie-down points, so if you’re on a boat and want to tie the case down with some strapping, or if you want to put it in the back of a pickup truck, on top of a car, off-road vehicle, or wherever you don’t want it sliding around, you can secure the case well without worry.

A Note About the Rear Hinges

One thing to note about the rear hinges is that they are not flared out, which means the pins might start to walk on you over time. Of course, this is an easy fix, you just knock them back in place with a hammer, but this is probably something you might want to pay attention to as the years go by. And while I’ve not heard of these hinges walking out, I know from past experiences that hinges such as these run that risk.

The Verdict

The Plano All Weather gun case is a great entry-level rifle case with plenty of gun capacity, and does a good job of securing and transporting the typical tactical rifle, shotgun, or various pistols and magazines. The foam inserts are easy to adjust and provide a snug fit for your gear.

We read reviews from other shooters who complained the Plano All Weather gun case is more "flimsy" or less rigid than its predecessor. We found that while the lids are relatively flexible, they’re still rugged and can take a decent beating. Once closed and locked, the case is, too, quite rigid. We imagine Plano updated the shell material to make the case more lightweight, and it certainly is. While the Plano All Weather gun case may not be "battle-ready" like those military roto-molded cases that run for $300, it’ll do a great job of protecting your firearms, and it still comes packed with plenty of features under the $100 mark that you would normally only get from that $300 case.



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