What Size Gun Case Do You Need for an AR 15?

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What good is your AR 15 if you keep it at home all the time? If you don’t use it from time to time, it may malfunction over time. Yet, transporting an AR 15 safely can present some challenges and that’s why you need a gun case. However, buying it online can be tricky and leave you to wonder, what size gun case do you need for an AR 15?

What Size Gun Case Do You Need for an AR 15?

For an AR 15 rifle, you need a 36-inch gun case. These are a good choice for 15 or 16 inches AR rifles. If you don’t own a 16-inch AR 15, just add 2 inches to its length and you’ll know the right size of the gun case you need.

However, 16-inch AR 15 rifles are the most common, which is why most people would recommend you get a 36-inch gun case.

Gun case size containing an AR 15

You also have a lot of things to consider before choosing the size you want. You should also look into the interior dimensions rather than exterior dimensions. Always check the main dimensions of the main compartment which holds your AR 15 before you worry about anything else.

Factors to Consider for Choosing the Size

Not all AR 15 rifles come in the same size. That’s why you should consider these factors before you choose the size of your gun case for your AR 15 rifle.

Overall Length

As mentioned before, you should know the overall length of your AR 15 rifle. You can easily use a tape measure and measure your AR 15 rifle at the end of the buttstock to the muzzle of your firearm.

Most people assume an AR 15 rifle will fit based only on the barrel length. However, some aftermarket muzzle breaks and stocks measure a little longer. That’s why you should always check your AR 15 rifle’s length.

Some gun cases will hold your accessories, such as AR 15 gun oil. If you travel a lot for long periods of time, this might be helpful.


You should know what buttstock is on your rifle. Most gun shops assume that if you have a 16-inch barrel length, you are using a collapsible buttstock on your rifle. They would recommend you buy a 36-inch gun case.

However, if you are using a fixed stock with a 16-inch barrel, they would recommend you use a 42-inch gun case. It’s not always the case though, as some fixed stock can comfortably fit inside a 36-inch gun case.

Rifle Accessories and Width

Some people like to add accessories to their AR 15 rifles. You should take them into account when measuring your gun case. Some of the most reliable gun cases have extra pockets where you can store them easily.

Some gun cases allow for accessories to be already installed even when storing. However, these type of gun cases is not often preferred because of the extra length.

AR 15 rifle placed on a bench

You also have to consider the width when you have accessories and you don’t. The width of an AR 15 with an accessory is different than one that doesn’t have an accessory.


You want a gun case for your AR 15 to hold your AR 15 without wear and tear. You can use a hard case that is commonly durable than soft cases. However, you also need to be mindful of what material the gun case uses.

Soft cases have the problem of fraying which you can repair with sewing. Look for gun cases that have handles that wrap under the case rather than stop as soon as they are sewn in.


It goes without saying, your gun case should also protect your beloved AR 15. The more padding it has, the less it can get affected by an outside force. You can choose a hard shell for better protection but you will have to put up with the weight and bulkiness.


It’s always great to have extra storage on your gun case.

You may need to bring along:

  • your gun cleaning kit
  • safety glasses
  • other things

Extra storage means you won’t have to carry more storage when you go into the shooting range.

Soft vs Hard Gun Cases

It depends on your budget and preference really. There are some instances where you would prefer one over the other. For example, if you air travel, you would want to use a hard gun case to properly secure your gun.

You would also prefer a hard case for its water resistance. It does not mean that soft cases are bad. They too have their own perks. Soft cases are great for modification and easy to repair.

Storage is also a great perk for soft cases. They can store a lot and remain flexible. Most soft storage also has multiple pockets so you can put all of your things in 1 soft case so it won’t be difficult to transport. 

AR 15 beside a gun storage bag

Types of Gun Cases

Gun Case Type Features
Hard Case Extremely durable
Soft Case Lightweight
Waterproof Case Outdoor use for any type of environment

Related Questions

Let’s answer a couple of questions related to AR 15 Gun Cases.

Can an AR 15 Fit in a Backpack?

You can’t fit an AR 15 in a backpack even if its disassembled. Not with standard-sized backpacks anyway. If you have a really large backpack, it can probably fit inside, yet it wouldn’t be safe.

You also don’t want it disassembled if you’re carrying it for safety reasons. You want it ready in case you need to defend yourself.

Can You Fly With 2 Guns in a Case?

Based on TSA’s regulations, you can travel with multiple firearms in one case. Although you also have to check with individual airlines if they also allow it.

If it’s not a problem, regular rules apply. Your guns should be unloaded with the magazine out. They should also fit inside and the case can be closed and locked.


Gun case size depends on the length of your AR 15 rifle. If you own a 16 inch AR 15 rifle, most people would recommend you get a 36-inch gun case. You also have to consider the purpose of using a gun case which determines what type of gun case you should use.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created KeepGunsSafe.com with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.