Benefits of Soft Cases Compared to Hard Cases
The biggest choice when choosing a case for your AR-15 is whether you want a hard case or a soft case.
Hard cases are more resilient and can even be waterproof. But are they always the best choice?
Nopes. Soft cases are better than hard cases for many people.
For one thing, hard cases can be extremely expensive. A cheap hard case is still as expensive as a good soft case.
Most people do not need the added resilience of a hard case. Sure, the impact resistance is nice, but it comes at some serious handicaps.
Hard cases are bulky and heavy. An unloaded hard case can weigh more than a loaded soft case while taking up twice the amount of space.
This bulk can make a hard case hide to conceal in a vehicle. It can also make them more awkward to handle, and no hard case has shoulder straps!
Toting around a heavy-duty hard case can wear you down. Soft cases are inherently lighter and less fatiguing. Some soft gun carrying cases come with shoulder straps, which relieves your arms of the weight.
Despite their larger size, hard cases do not have as much storage space as soft cases. Soft cases can have a multitude of compartments and pockets.
Plus, by using MOLLE attachments or even sewing them on, you can add more pockets to soft sided cases!
Also, soft cases are repairable while most hard cases are not. When plastic is broken, you cannot fix it—but a torn seam or hole in a soft case can be resewn or patched up.
The last advantage of soft-sided gun cases is that they take up a negligible amount of space when you are not using them.
Hard cases are always the same size, and even with nothing inside, they take up a lot of space. Soft cases, however, can be squished down when there is no gun inside. This lets you store them much more easily.
You can also fold or roll up a soft gun case. Try that with a hard case and you’ll quickly come to tears!
How to Choose an AR-15 Soft Case?
There are many different styles of soft cases out there. How do you go about picking the best one?
Here are several questions you can answer, along with what that answer means regarding soft gun cases.
Do you want to carry one or two AR-15s?
This is a simple one. If you only want to carry one gun, then a smaller soft gun case will save you money and space.
However, if you want to carry two carbines at once, you will need a double gun case. This only adds a little bit of weight and you can still use the case for carrying one gun if you want to later.
Also, the backpack-style straps mostly appear on double gun cases. So if you want those, you have to get the larger style of gun case.
Where will you use the carrying case?
If you only ever go from home to the range and back with your gun, you do not need an expensive, rugged case. Save some money and use it for more ammunition.
However, if you plan on traveling into the wild with your firearm, then you should get as rugged a case as possible.
While it is possible to repair soft cases in the field with a simple sewing kit, buying higher-quality products will save you from having to do so.
What do you want to carry in your case?
Some AR-15 carrying cases have enough storage to lug around everything you need for shooting, including a shooting mat.
However, if you do not carry much gear with you to the range, or you already use a range bag, why spend the money for storage space you will not use? All of those extra pockets do take up space, even when empty.
How well do you want to conceal your AR-15?
A giant tactical gun bag may be able to store lots of gear and four guns, but it will also draw all sorts of attention.
While soft gun cases are easier to hide in your vehicle than are hard gun cases, the big ones all but say “THIS IS A GUN” on the side.
Smaller gun cases, especially ones with less external storage, are more discreet.
The Bulldog Cases Ultra-Compact AR-15 Discreet Rifle Case is small enough to be tossed into another bag. Talk about stealthy!
Do you want to travel using commercial airlines?
If you want to fly with your gun, the TSA requires that it be placed in a hard case.
This does not mean the death of the soft case. You can still put the gun in a soft case then put that into the hard case.
This will let you use your preferred soft-sided gun case at your destination, while keeping you legal with the TSA.
Good hard cases can be expensive, but for this purpose, you can get away with a small, cheap hard case. After all, your soft case will be inside, granting additional padding and protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you secure your AR-15 in a soft case?
Soft cases, unlike hard cases, do not have the pressure of foam holding the gun in place, so your AR-15 will have to be secured to the soft case.
The majority of soft cases have one or two methods of securing the AR-15. The most common method is the use of Velcro straps.
All you have to do then is position your gun and strap it tightly into the case.
Some cases also have two sleeves to help secure your AR-15. These are like half pockets. The gun’s muzzle goes in one sleeve and the buttstock goes into the other sleeve.
If your soft case does not have either of these options, then you can put the AR-15 into a gun sock and put it inside the case. This will help further protect the gun.
In a pinch, you can always wrap the gun in a scarf or shemagh to help keep it from bouncing around inside the case.
You can also sew in your own Velcro straps to upgrade the gun case!
2. What size soft case should you buy for a 36″ AR-15?
The general recommendation is to add two inches to your gun’s measurement and use that to figure out what size case you need.
Often, cases are designed to store the AR-15 in its most compact form. Collapse the stock and remove the suppressor, if you have one.
So, if your AR-15 measures 36″ from butt pad to the end of the muzzle device, you need a gun case that is at least 38″. Sometimes you can find a case that long, but you may have to go up to the more commonly found 42″ length.