We at Gunblast.com use a lot of products.
In order to test and properly evaluate the best products
in the firearms and related productions community, we must put
these products through their paces. From guns to ammo, from gun
cleaning products to gun storage products, from gun protection
products to products that make the guns function better, we use
them all. And, the use of these products often involves travel.
Travel to the hunting destination.
Travel to shoot at events.
Travel requires that we pack our guns (long and short),
optics, and ammo properly and make sure they will withstand the
rigors of travel. It
would be a very disappointing hunt to arrive at the camp a
thousand miles from home and find that your gun or optic is
busted due to the failure of a poorly-designed gun case.
That is the purpose of this article, to evaluate some gun
cases from Starlight cases, and see if they will hold up
to the rigors of travel.
Starlight cases is a company based in North
Carolina. They are
a disabled veteran-owned business. Starlight cases are currently in use in military applications
of Operation Enduring Freedom, and are recognized around the
world for their durability.
Starlight cases have been used in Desert Storm, Bosnia,
Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
They are built to exceed Mil-Spec MIL-C 4150J testing
procedures. Starlightís cases exceed the specs developed by
the Air Transport Association. They have a lifetime guarantee
(donít see this much anymore).
So, before our test cases ever arrived at Gunblast.com
offices to get into the test queue, I knew they had an excellent
We received the test products back several
months ago. Over
the past few months, we have run these Starlight cases through
several tests, and they have held up great.
While we are far from complete in our analysis of these
products, as we have yet to take these cases (as well as others
from other case manufacturers) to an African safari as well as a
winter Canadian hunt later this year, we wanted to get out the
initial test results into this article for your review.
With big game hunting season only a few months away, we
figured some of our readers would be purchasing gun cases for
their important hunting trips this fall.
Any testing we can do on a gun case pales in
comparison to some of the testing done at the manufacturer
facilities, and in real world uses such as in Iraq by our
military. I have
seen pictures of Starlight cases being run over by tanks and
Humvees, and survive. While
we tested the watertight-ness of their cases, we didnít test
them to a depth of 400í as have been done by the factory
representatives. While we dropped them from about 2 stories, we didnít drop
from a 5-story building (but the factory has test results from
that drop; only minor surface scratches).
I stood on my Starlight pistol case and didnít dent the
surface, but I donít weigh as much as a tank.
You get the picture. I did attempt to run my Chevy
Avalanche over the double rifle case and it only put light scuff
marks on the surface of the black injection molded plastic (from
scooting it across exposed aggregate concrete with the weight of
a truck trying to crawl over it).
But, compared to a tank or a Humvee, I really cannot say
I have done much to test the durability of the product.
If the illustrations in the Starlight website are
accurate, and I donít have any reason to suspect otherwise,
then I believe we can say that these are very tough cases.
That has been the experience from our research, and our
experience from the practical tests we have done on these cases
over the past few months.
And, Uncle Ted Nugent uses
Starlight cases, it seems.
Good enough for Gonzo, good enough for Gunblast.
We received the Starlight product number 061352
in black (double rifle case, direct purchase from Starlight
website is $245 plus shipping), and the Starlight product number
101822 (pistol case in black, web price is $240 plus shipping).
These cases are injection molded plastic with rubber
o-ring seals. They
are airtight and dustproof with a pressure-equalizer valve.
They have a reported temperature range from minus 65
degrees to 165 degrees F. They
are practically dent-proof.
They are rust-proof, being plastic in construction (only
metal parts are rivets and spring-latch/handle systems).
They are supposed to float up to a weight of 175 pounds;
this we didnít try (yet; wait till we cross a Canadian stream
this winter). They
have molded holes for locks; a nice touch.
The rifle case has two wheels that roll quite well, even
over uneven terrain. The
cases come in black, OD green, desert tan, and chocolate brown.
Ours were delivered in black.
I tried to mess up the case without a rifle
inside (sorry, but I couldnít risk one of my prized long guns
until I knew the case would perform).
No breakage from the weight of a truck.
I couldnít harm it when I jumped on it.
Rain didnít penetrate it. Dust
didnít get in it. Then
I put in one of my favorite rifles and tried again (except for
the truck trick). My
Savage Tactical Rifle in .308
fit very well indeed in the rifle case.
Being a double case, I could have put its twin in the
bottom layer and this one on top and still had excellent
protection of the firearms.
With the case bouncing around with the rifle inside, even
without cutting the foam (as recommended) for a more secure fit,
there was no movement of the gun within the case.
At first, I didnít like the latch system on
the Starlight cases. Being
a user of Hardigg Storm Cases
(another excellent-quality case), I was accustomed to simply
pulling up several heavy-duty plastic latches around the case to
get into the interior. With
Hardigg and others, there is no need for an air purge valve, as
with the Starlight case. You
lift one special latch first and it purges the unit.
When I tried to pull up the latches on the Starlight
rifle case, I was faced with a spring-loaded J-latch system that
prevented the latch from opening.
To lift the hard plastic latch, one must first push over
the spring-loaded metal ďJĒ and then pull up on the latch. Admittedly,
it was difficult at first, a bit frustrating, and I didnít
like it. My first few attempts required two hands. Loosen the purge
valve, push over the metal ďJĒ, and then lift the latch. However, once I did it a few times, and got used to the
process, it became quite easy to do one-handed.
Not quite as easy as lifting a plastic latch as with the
Hardigg cases, but still easy to do. The benefit? There is no way the Starlight latch will come open by
accident. While it
is not easy (but it is possible) for a latch system like on a
Hardigg to be pulled open, this cannot happen with a Starlight
case. While I am
perfectly happy with a Hardigg rifle case on a hunting trip, and
havenít had failure on any to date, I must say that the
Starlight latch system is stronger and better.
Another feature I really like is the
spring-loaded carry handles on the Starlight cases.
When needed, they can be pulled up.
When not needed, let go and they spring shut.
And, the padding on the handles feel good. A nice touch.
Another nice feature is that these cases are
designed to be stackable. Also,
the foam used in Starlight cases is superior to the foam sold in
many cases on the market today.
The Starlight pistol case easily holds 10
pistols and/or revolvers. It
has the same high-density foam and latch system as the rifle
case. I put 5
prized handguns in the Starlight case on the top layer, and they
fit well. Another 5
could easily fit in the lower level. I didnít cut the foam to
fit around these guns, but that is recommended once it is
determined which guns will be used to travel.
I actually plan to order additional foam from Starlight
(can be purchased right from their website) and label the foam
ďopeningsĒ based on various handgun configurations I may use
from time to time. One
case, many pistols.
Starlight cases are owned by New Innovative
Products, Inc. Since
1994, Starlight cases have been utilized by the Army, Navy, Air
Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Army National Guard.
Their cases are also used by the Department of Defense,
Dept. of Justice, Department of the Interior, FEMA, and other US
government agencies. They are also dispatched to many police and fire departments
across the country. Starlight
cases are designed to carry and protect guns, tools, optics,
electronic equipment, first aid products, musical instruments,
diving gear, etc. Steve Ramos, their founder and CEO, has an impressive
Gunblast.com has used and currently use quality
cases from manufacturers like Hardigg, and others. All are good and have served us well. However, comparing feature for feature and quality for
quality, it is my personal opinion that the cases of Starlight
manufacturing are the best on the market.
Their pressure equalization valve system is more accurate
than a simple purge valve system.
Their wheels are very tough.
The spring-loaded handle is strong and automatically
folds out of the way when not in use.
Their ďJĒ latch system, once accustomed to its
design, is superior to other designs on the market to prevent
accidental opening of the case.
Starlight uses a specially formulated polymer resin that
is much stronger than the ABS plastic used in many other good
cases on the market. And,
being an old space guy myself, with experience working in NASA
and DOD environments on high-security projects for many years,
you cannot get the government to buy anything but the best
quality products on the market (at least not repeatedly).
Starlightís customer list, and fan base, is extensive.
If it is good enough to protect the expensive firearms
and equipment utilized to protect the freedoms of our great
nation, then the case is certainly good enough for the rest of
us. Again, there
are many good cases out there. None I have seen compares to the ruggedness of the Starlight
Donít take my word for it.
Spend two-and-a-half-hundred dollars and buy their double
rifle case or big pistol case.
I think you will find that you will rest much easier
knowing that your expensive guns and optics are well-protected
from accidents or the weather when residing in a Starlight case.
Starlight cases can be purchased online at www.starlightcases.com.
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