Making a case for pistols

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. Today he tells us how to make custom cases for our airguns.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Ian McKee
Writing as 45Bravo

Making a case for pistols. 

This report covers:

Double meaning
Why do you need a box for each gun?
And, you are done!
But wait there is more!
Accessories?
We don’t have to have boring metal or plastic pellet tins

PPK/S
A nice air pistol like this Walther PPK/S deserves a nice case.

Double meaning

Ok, that title can have more than one meaning, so today I will be actually be doing both. 

I will be making a case as to WHY you may want a case for your pistol. 

I will also be making a case FOR your pistol.

Actually we will repurpose an existing box to store or display your pistol and accessories, as I am neither talented enough to build one, nor have the tools to attempt to build one from scratch.

While cruising the Goodwill and other resale stores, I am always looking for old computer stuff, shooting related items, and pretty much anything unusual that catches my eye. 

I have always liked the look of a cased pistol, and over the years, I have made many storage and presentation cases from wooden silverware storage cases, cigar boxes, musical instrument cases, and other types of well made cases originally used for other things. 

Today, I spotted a couple of cigar boxes that were not too beat up, were the right size for a small handgun and accessories. They were only $1.99 each. 

People have been keeping precious things in cigar boxes since they were first made. 

Your grandmother probably kept her stash of buttons in one, someone in your family kept photos and letters in one, your dad probably kept a bunch of miscellaneous sized screws over his work bench in one, your mom may have kept your first tooth and a lock of hair from your first haircut in one. 

I am not a smoker, but the uses of a cigar box are endless, and they come in all styles from simple wood covered in paper, to some so ornate they would be at home on the desk of a king. 

My intentions for today’s finds were chosen to fit the Umarex Walther PPK/S sized guns, one for my airgun PPK/S, a few 12gram CO2 cartridges, and a bottle of BBs.  The slightly larger box is for my Hungarian FEG PPK firearm, and a box of shells.

Why do you need a box for each gun?

I haven’t bought a NEW gun (airgun or firearm) in a while. I like used, and I like vintage. That means I probably don’t have the factory box to store it safely from damage in the safe. Also, air pistols today tend to come in clear “clamshell” plastic that is meant for retail display of the item hanging on a peg, and not for storage/protection. 

To me the clear clamshells cheapen the experience of owning a fine replica. 

A nice replica deserves a nice wood box, especially if you use your skills and “age” the gun to give it some character if that is what you like. Others like the new in box look, and the wood case enhances that image also. 

Currently my gun safe has some pistols in holsters on the shelf, some in zippered pouches on the shelf, and some hanging on the door in “holster” like pouches. 

If I had them in their own individual boxes they could be stacked neatly, and better protected from being knocked around or possibly dropped while retrieving a specific gun from the safe. 

Pistols, rifles, it doesn’t matter, I am a self confessed addict of ANYTHING with a trigger. 

I chose these cases for their size, and all of the name branding on the boxes I select are decals, and not burned into the wood. Some cigar manufacturers burn their name/logo into the wood using a hot template, or laser engraving.  Removing those logos can involve a lot of sanding. 

Embossed
This wooden box has a lion and crown logo embossed into the wood, almost 0.5mm deep. That would take a lot of sanding to remove.

These decals being made from paper, only required a damp rag laid on the decal to soften it, then rubbing the paper off while wet. 

decal

decal 2
In this photo the decal is mostly removed. 

There was some adhesive residue left. WD40 on the painted surface removed the adhesive with ease, but it leaves an oily residue on the surface. Isopropyl Alcohol will also remove some adhesives, and it will evaporate, leaving no residue. 

cleaned
All the decal residue is off.

The decals inside the lid were removed the same way, but the adhesive was removed from the raw wood with a 220/320 grit foam sanding block, so as to not leave oil in the wood from the WD40.

Inside boxes
The inside of the boxes before cleaning.

inside decal 1
Clean the decal off the inside as well.

You may choose to leave the wood unfinished, and put the pistol in the wooden case and call it done. You might choose to stain the wood to a nice appealing color. 

The quickest and simplest way to dress up the inside of the box and protect the pistol is to choose a colored fabric you like, or that contrasts with the finish of the gun, and just fold it up to fill the bottom of the box, and display your pistol. 

PPK easy
This is as easy as it gets.

You could choose to cover the inside wood with felt, or cloth, using fabric adhesive, or contact cement to adhere the cloth/felt to the wood. 

adhesive 1
This stuff will make the fabric stick to the box.

You may want to make a compartment in your box to store CO2 or pellets, and to contain the pistol to keep it from moving. To do this, you can get wooden paint stirring sticks from your local big box store paint department, or DIY store for only a few cents, or even free.

Since they are normally emblazoned with some advertising painted on them, you will need to sand them down to remove the advertising or cover them with fabric or felt, then cut them to the size and shape you want, and glue them in place. 

PPK-2
With some glue and a partition you can make a divided box like this.

And, you are done!

Total time to do this pistol case from start to finish was about 30 minutes. 

But wait there is more!

You are not limited to just pistols and cigar boxes. 

I have repurposed musical instrument cases, an old trumpet case will hold a complete Air Force TalonSS pesting setup. Remove the old foam, or plastic inserts, put in some scrap memory foam, or old cushion foam, cover it in your choice of fabric, and you have room for the rifle with scope attached, a 500cc bottle, the suppressor, fill adapter, fill gauge, and pellets.  When I show up at the job site, I do not draw much attention because I am not carrying a rifle sized gun bag.

trumpet case
A trumpet case provides a complete AirForce TalonSS pest control package in a discreet carry case. 

One of the first ones I repurposed was a case used that was made to protect and carry scientific measuring instruments, I bought the case empty at a flea market, for $5.  It is industrial quality, and I use it to carry a pair of my Crosman MkI pistols. (one for me to shoot, and one to get a friend hooked on airguns, and the vintage Crosman pistols.)

closed foam case
Like the S&W 78/78 series, you can’t own just one of these.  In this case I used the type of closed cell foam Pyramyd Air uses to pack their pellets for shipping.

Suppose you don’t like hard cases, well, that works too, I found a used Shimano collapsible rod case at a store for $1.  Using soft foam rubber, and a sharp knife, I cut out the basic shape of the case, and then cut other foam scraps to make a compartment to contain the pistol, and the fill adapter and room for pellets.  The foam scraps are held in place by hot glue.  Under the foam is the manual, and some tools and spare o-rings for the gun. 

Soft case 1
What was a case for a rod and reel…

soft case 2
…was transformed into a neat pistol carrying case with some foam and glue.

Accessories?

Small jewelry boxes make great pellet/CO2 containers. Some can be used as they are, and others you may decide to dress up. 

accessory boxes
Small decorative boxes make good accessory containers.

accessory box
An accessory box completed and filled.

We don’t have to have boring metal or plastic pellet tins 

This beautiful bamboo inlaid ring box from Russia cost me a whole 0.25 cents at a garage sale. 

pellet box
Isn’t this a beautiful pellet box? It’s the little things like this that make a day at the range just a little more enjoyable.

There you have it, just a few ideas to help you protect and dress up your guns and accessories, and hopefully make your airgun experience just a little more enjoyable. 

Be safe.

Ian

35 thoughts on “Making a case for pistols


  1. Ian,

    Another great guest blog. This one gave me a bunch of ideas and boxes /casses to watch for.

    Now if I could find a way to organize my pellets.

    Thanks for your report.

    Don



  2. 45bravo,

    Do you ever use “pluckable foam”? Guns is cases where they can flop around are no better that a cardboard shoe box. Ones where the items are securely held in place by foam or straps are display items. I have even heard of people who spray an adhesive on top of the foam to give it a harder texture.

    -Y


    • Yogi,

      The one issue with the pluckable foam is it can tear easy, most especially if you take the gun in and out a lot. It does work for carrying better than the non foamed boxes, but these are for stack and store use and the wood boxes look so much better as a presentation case. Now the heavy closed cell foam cut to the silhouette of the gun looks nice and works fantastic.


      • If the guns are flopping around in the case how does the case protect them?

        As I mentioned, I have seen some people apply a type of sealer that prevents the pluckable foam from tearing once it is properly plucked. Anybody know what this is?

        -Y


    • I have a “waterproof” case that has the pluck-able foam, it does protect them very well when in shipping, or transit.

      The downside to me of that type of foam is it absorbs moisture easily, so I don’t store any guns in that type of case as I live in a high humidity area.


  3. Ian,

    Fine job all around. I am always re-purposing things. I was trading some knives one time and I ended up with a nice wood display case with a glass lid. I put a bunch of unused pellets (in their tins) in it and stood it on a shelf, leaning against a wall. Looks good.

    4×8 foam sheets at Lowe’s can be cut to fit (many foam types and thickness). Foam packing that comes with some products can be real good (not Styrofoam). Camping sleep matts and exercise matts can be a good foam source. There is also those interlocking foam matts/tiles that are for making a soft floor area. Foam carpet underlay (the good stuff). Cork sheet? They used to sell tiles of cork that you could do a wall with.

    Chris


  4. Ian,

    Nice job. The wood cigar boxes are great ideas for many pistols. I personally would have to leave the lion and crown logo alone. 😉

    I picked up a couple of DeWalt battery powered drill cases for making into durable pistol cases. Cut out the partitions, glue in some closed cell foam and away you go.

    The pellet box is AWESOME! I will most definitely be watching out for something like that. For the old gals that are hanging on the wall of my great room I hang a Wilkiins pellet pouch filled with their favorite pellets with them. The other tins are stacked in ammo cans, one for each caliber so I can just grab and go.

    I myself am obsessed with having each one individually cased to help protect them from me and each other.


  5. 45Bravo ,

    Those cigar boxes bring back memories of my Grandfather’s workroom . He had boxes for each type of shotgun that had special ground screwdrivers and spare parts . Thinking of the Model 12 box always brings a smile to my face ! Not to mention cigar boxes with loading tools also . Great blog topic , people are too fast to spend money when a little time and effort can make something nice .

    Gene Salvino


    • Thank you Gene, my dad also had stacks of different cigar boxes in his “ham shack”(W5JHF).
      Some had electronic parts, switches and stuff, some had special tools, and some had miscellaneous “junk”.
      But he could take apart an old light switch that had quit working, and use a part from that To fix something else, that needed a spring.

      Like me, his interest and repair capabilities spanned many hobbies.

      He could fix anything, but using computers eluded him, he had issues with using the ATM.

      Ian


  6. Nice one Ian!

    I love D.I.Y. projects – especially if it uses repurposed stuff. Great ideas for those cigar boxes!

    Not a smoker either but I do like candy and the stackable tins are excellent for storing all kinds of things.

    That wood box from Russia is awesome! We have a couple of small fancy containers carved out of soapstone that were made in India that were surprisingly inexpensive – well worth looking for if you like that sort of thing.

    Hank


    • I have seen some very beautiful small containers from India, their quality for the price is amazing.

      I have picked up many over the years, and would engrave a persons initials into the brass, or stone, and give them as gifts..

      Ian.


  7. Greetings all!

    I went after the problem of loose pistols from the other direction, focusing on box liners. Starting with blocks of foam salvaged from appliance boxes, I’d trace the gun onto a block, then using a drill carve out the shape. It would take a lot of trial fitting to get the depth right, but in the end the gun would have a snug new home.

    It is a messy project, too, with all the foam nubs being kicked around. A shop vac aimed at the surface sure helped.

    The approach I’ve not tried but considered was using expanding insulation foam, just pretty much putting the very well wrapped gun in as it expands and hardens. That *should* leave the perfect shape, but I’ve been too chicken 😉


    • Very cool, I have used the 2 layer approach, but I use the spray adhesive to join them permanently.
      That’s what I did with the Crosman pistols above.

      I bought a used soft side zippered alto saxophone case, it had been done with the expanding foam from the factory.

      My intentions are to use the expanding foam to turn it into a fitted case for one of my 10m pistols, with places for glasses, pellets, and all the other accoutrements you need for a match.

      I have watched videos of people using the foam to make fitted storage cases, so it will be the subject of an upcoming blog.

      Ian.





    • Get the flock out of here, that’s what i have been needing !!!

      I had to say it, and you know some of you were waiting for it…

      I have run into some cases that have had that in them over the years.
      I had heard of flocking, and knew what it was, but could not remember the term, when I needed it, and I thought it was a much more intensive process than what the videos show.

      It’s fuzzy powdercoat for wood. Minus the baking.

      Now that I know what I am looking for, I will have to try it.
      And find out how durable it is.

      Thanks for the idea, and the nudge in the right direction.

      Ian..


  8. Ian,

    An excellent report, congratulations!

    I have been using cigar boxes for storing various items for years, but it never occurred to me to store my air pistols in them. There is a cigar store in town that has both a licensed smoking room and a humidor room. Therefore, they end up with a lot of empty boxes for high end cigars. They sell them for anywhere from $1 to $6. I bought one from them which is huge, the biggest cigar box I’ve ever seen. It could probably be used as a case for a Diana LP8.

    Again, an excellent report.

    Michael


    • I have something special I want to make a presentation case for, I need to visit a local cigar shop, there is one near me that has a smoking room, and a HUGE humidor room where they store and display hundreds of cigars.

      I need to see what some of their higher end boxes have to offer style wise.

      Ian


      • Ian,

        Yeah, when the fellow who owns the shop said they might have some additional boxes ib the humidor. I pictured a small sealed box with a humidity gauge. Then he opened the door, and we walked into the humidor, a room that had to be 500 square feet with cigars ringing the perimeter and overstuffed chairs in the middle.

        Cigars are quite the high-end interest.

        Michael


  9. Ian,

    Great Guest Blog! I really like your Case for a Pistol Case!

    You have given me a lead in for a request to B.B. about a pistol review i hope he does!

    Hey B.B., I know your going to read this; how about a review of a HW 44 PISTOL! You could do a Tofer and match it up with a HW 110. Both of them in the FAC version your choice of .177 or .22 caliber.

    Thanks again Ian for making the Case!

    shootski


  10. Off Topic,

    But not really! Found this today in my NEWS briefing:

    “The chemical, nootkatone, an oil found in cedar trees and grapefruits, is so safe that it is used by the food and perfume industries.

    Nootkatone is considered nontoxic to humans and other mammals, birds, fish and bees, the E.P.A. said in a statement.
    Manuel F. Lluberas, a public health entomologist who has worked on mosquito-control campaigns all over the world, said he hoped that nootkatone would be accepted by people who fear synthetic repellents and that it could be made cheaply enough to be bought by foreign aid programs like the President’s Malaria Initiative.

    The E.P.A. registration applies only to nootkatone as an active ingredient, the statement said. Any formulations using it in the future will have to be tested and registered separately.

    The chemical repels mosquitoes, ticks, bedbugs and fleas — and, in high concentrations, kills them, according to the C.D.C. It may also be effective against lice, sandflies, midges and other pests, some of which can carry lethal diseases.

    It is not oily, lasts for hours and has a pleasant grapefruit-like scent, said Ben Beard, deputy director of the division of vector-borne diseases at the C.D.C.

    If you want more information about it:

    https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20200810/from-cedar-trees-and-grapefruit-rinds-comes-a-new-bug-repellent

    Sounds like my new addition or replacement for DEET!

    shootski


    • Shootski,

      Sounds good. But wait!,…. how about the dozen or so chemicals (with names you would be challenged to pronounce) that are in all of that sun screen, bug repellent and body/hand lotion, etc.? The big chemical and pharmaceutical companies can’t make any money using NATURAL stuff!

      Never been a fan of absorbing massive amounts of some unknown “goop” into my skin anyways. Being a bit older now, we have all seen products that were all the “trend”,.. only to find out 5-10,… 20 years later that using them lined you up to get some form of cancer.

      Good. I hope it takes off.

      Chris

      One more thing,….. “acceptable” PPM (parts per million)? I can be in a very toxic environment,… but it is OK? if the PPM are below established “safe” levels? Yea,… got an issue with that too.


    • Shootski,

      I have to agree with you, never really cared for that DEET stuff. It made me itch like crazy every once in a while.

      Since you are off topic today I’m going to follow your lead. Since you are the blog snow/cold weather guy, just wanted to ask if you have ever used those slip on chain traction devices for boots? If so, what was your impression of them? I was thinking about getting a set for hunting season this year. Not really worried about ice and snow, more for wet weather conditions. As we all know: RAIN+LEAVES+STEEP SLOPE +BEANBOOTS= unexpected sliding events when you really don’t want one! I know, I know, the simplest solution is to wear a pair of boots with a lug sole, but I just can’t be quiet wearing those darned things. They seem to find every stick, twig or small rock within a twenty yard radius when I wear them. For all I know the chains might make more noise than wearing the lug soles? Experimentation may be in order!

      Thanks for any and all input

      BobF


      • BobF,

        Yea I know what you mean! In the Snow or Ice when I’m not on skis or snowshoes; I’m on Yaktraxs:
        https://yaktrax.implus.com/
        most folks don’t know they come in lots of versions these days that REI doesn’t carry. Lol! The leaf and wet slippery moss, mud, skreed and other stuff is way harder to deal with. I was taught to look before i took a step, so just like shooting, it is all about placement. The lug sole boots aren’t the best answer because the spots that get you are the layers of stuff on top of the REALLY SLIPPERY base. I always carry a good length of Spectra and/or Dyneema wire rope along with my Instructor’s belt and D ring…a fall in the wilderness can be life ending in a hurry, better safe then sorry. Tie off to a good object with a release hitch (knot) and Belay is my best advice for steep slippery/skreed slopes. Or find another route… usually the one that animals use works best.

        The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.
        Lewis Carrol

        shootski


    • Shootski,

      I’ll have to try that out. Herbal remebies and supplements like that are rarely regulated by government agencies such as the F.D.A. (Family’s Dead Already), so it might be readily availabe now.

      When I was in the Scouts, for lunch and dinner during campouts, our Scoutmaster would add a ton of garlic into the dishes. As every one of us was garlicked-up, none of us could smell it on the others. The smell from out breathing and persperation was supposed to repel mosquitos, but I recall that I still got bit some. Our parents were in for a surprise when we would walk in the door!

      The Scoutmaster was a pretty smart guy, though. Our last full day in the woods he would feed us a bunch of reconstituted dried prunes. He’d say stuff like, have some more, that’s not eough. Take more, they’ll clean you out.

      Michael


  11. I made a case for my Crosman Mk1 LD with custom rod stock. I lined the box with foam and made cut-outs to fit the gun, stock, and a CO2 hangy tan and covered it in red velvet fabric. I kind of liked the looks of the old tool case so I didn’t try to dress it up.


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