I travel with guns pretty frequently for competition and for work – about 15 trips per year for the past three years. I want to share my experience using SKB cases, specifically the 3i Series which I use for 3-gun and general firearms transportation. While I have five other SKB case models, my 3i-5014-6B-L (how’s that for a tongue twister?) is the one which has been used and abused the most.
My SKB case has been mailed through FedEx and UPS, flown in the bellies of many airplanes, dragged/rolled on the ground + up and down stairs, put through the mud and plenty of dust and dirt. It’s been in the trunks of many cars and traveled miles on shipping company and airport conveyor belts which don’t always treat packages nicely.
SKB cases have many foam options, but I use my Brownell’s 3-gun soft bag which snugly fits right in the empty case. The soft bag acts as a cushion and is super convenient when traveling. Once in my hotel I just leave the hard case in my room while I take the lighter more nimble soft case to the range. If you like the traditional cut-out foam, you can cut till your heart’s content.
Let me cut to the chase of this review though, which is their “unsurpassed lifetime guarantee.” You hear about these claims in products all the time, and I ran into a situation where I put it to the test. The weakest parts of the SKB 3i gun case are the “reinforced padlock locations” which are reinforced by these dinky metal clips that are prone to fall off depending on the type of padlock used.
I use MasterLock 175DLH padlocks which have held up strong. I like their combo feature because it means one less key to carry around. The MasterLock padlocks often take the brunt of lateral forces as the case goes through its travels.
Here’s where the SKB 3i case is weak. All that lateral force is applied to the chinsy metal clips which eventually fall off. You’re then left with exposed molded plastic and over time the padlock shackle applies outward pressure, deforming the padlock holes. The deformation got so bad that I was fearing the shackle holes would fail and my padlocks would fall out, leaving my guns unsecured during transit.
I contacted SKB Customer Support to inquire about getting a replacement case. I am happy to report that the process was super easy. I was instructed to ship the empty, damaged case to their Southern California headquarters (payment was on me) and that once they received the case they would either repair or replace the case. One week after I shipped them the case, a new one arrived. My only disappointment was that the weak metal clips are still part of the design, but I guess if/when they fail again I can get another replacement from SKB.
Having worked in customer service for five years at Google, I know good support when I see it. It’s always heartening to see a company back up its claims, and I am super satisfied with SKB and look forward to many more years of using their cases.