By David Higginbotham
If you’ve ever done any traveling with guns, even if it is just to the local range, I’m sure you’ve had to deal with storing them. It isn’t always graceful. The deeper I get in the firearms world, the more I travel long distances with guns. And I’m way past the days of wrapping them in old t-shirts and stuffing them in a backpack. A good gun case will make all the difference, but many come with lousy interiors that do a mediocre job of protecting guns. Some cases come with sliced and diced foam that you can pick into an approximate shape, but they get ugly, fast. So where do you go for good, 100% customized foam? MyCaseBuilder.com.
The process is relatively simple. The first decision is the case itself. MyCaseBuilder (MCB) has options. It carries all of the majors, Seahorse, Nanuk, Pelican…. If you want a brand that the site doesn’t offer, or even if you can find the case you want for less elsewhere, you can get foam by itself. The program allows you to specify custom sizes very easily, so anything is possible.
Once you have the case selected, you may want to do some basic visual layout. The interface at MCB allows you to begin with a blank slate that is drawn to the exact specifications of the selected case’s interior. Toward the end of the process, you determine the type of foam you want to use (firm polyethylene foam, which is less pliable, or ester foam, which has more give), but it is good to be thinking about it now. You then begin the process of placing shapes. MCB offers a wide selection of shapes in its library. Each is 3D and ideal for its respective applications. I’ve used the M4, the 1911 and the GLOCK 19 without having to make any extra adjustments. If you want to do more custom cutouts, you can draw freehand in their design program, or chose from a wide variety of customizable shapes. If you geek-out over things like this, you will like the experience. It is kind of like playing Tetris, but with a more rewarding end.
For this case, I knew I wanted to get a lot in one case. I started with the GLOCK 19 shape and built out from there. I was working with a SE-710 from Seahorse, so I had a fairly small canvas. After getting things positioned, I wondered if I had enough room to get in everything I wanted. I even switched to other case options and experimented with different layouts. In the end, though, I decided I’d pack it all in. There wasn’t anything in here that was so precious that it had to be cradled. I was more concerned with organized accessibility than shockproof protection.
The newest feature, and one that I had to test-drive before I was willing to endorse it, is a photo tracer. The concept and use are both simple. Take a picture of the item you want to protect. It helps if you photograph the item on a contrasting background. Load the image into the processor at MCB. The software will then create a two-dimensional outline of the object with numerous points of reference. If any of those points seem off, you can make adjustments by moving them in or out. After you have the image loaded, you will input length and width, and mark how deep you want the cut to be.
I tried it with this holster from Multi Holsters. It is an odd shape, for sure. The belt loops protrude down at an angle, so I brought those sides in a bit. That way they push out against the foam and hold it more firmly in place. I made the entire cut deeper than the actual holster, so I could make use of the space below for a belt or gloves. When the foam arrived, it fit exactly as I had envisioned. Longer objects may be more complicated to photograph. A rifle for example, when photographed from ten feet away, may be distorted. Get some distance on the photograph, and those effects will diminish.Once the shapes are in, you have to consider the small details. Every time you enter a new shape, you will be asked to include or exclude finger notches. These can be very helpful for getting objects out of the foam (especially the more dense polyethylene). There were some finger notch options that weren’t where I wanted them. In that case, I simply added the shape, and then added additional finger notches by making small circles of appropriate depths. It works just the same.
If you look closely at the way the layout overlays images, you will see a visual depth. This is a great tool for figuring out how to maximize the space by stacking smaller or thinner items on top of other items. For example, I had a magazine holder that I wanted to include in the case, and I wanted the option to use the larger GLOCK 17 mags in my GLOCK 19. But I didn’t have the space in the case for the 17 mags (plus I wanted to use slide-on adapters to help with the fit). So I took the 17 mag templates from the library and positioned them where I wanted them, deep in the foam. Then I added rectangles over the top for adapters and the mag holder as a second layer above the 17 mags. I can see the smaller items on the bottom layer in the design, but the foam is cut to the larger overlays.
When you have the whole case designed and are ready to order it, you will be routed through a troubleshooter that identifies anything that’s not-quite-right. I’ve put the objects very close together in this case. That got flagged. I also cut very close to the outside of the case at some points, which isn’t encouraged. At the end, I had an email from MCB that suggested a couple of easy changes. It is that level of attention that really makes this experience. MCB wants you to be happy and wants you to come back, as I’ve done, again and again. I’ve made a full-sized rifle case, a big case for all of my cameras, and now this one.
The total price for this interior was $54 and change. MCB also offers a nice guarantee. For an additional charge of $7.99, you can add “Fail Safe” protection. So if something isn’t right, MCB will fix it. Like I said, I’m on my third interior from MyCaseBuilder, and I’ve yet to have a single issue. And it has changed the way I carry. I now have the compact, well-organized, completely contained way to carry all of this with me when I hit the road. That’s the point. None of this does me any good if I need it and it is sitting at home.