Proper firearm storage and shipping depends on two factors: the type of foam you choose, and the outer case used for storage. They are both important in terms of protection and can be customized to maximize safety and protection in storage and while in transit.
Choosing the best type of foam for gun cases depends on whether the case will be used for storage, shipping, or both. When considerign a foam it is important to consider not only short-term protection for your firearm, but its long-term safety, as well.
Types of Foams Used in Firearm Cases
The two types of foams that are commonly used in firearm cases for shipping and storage are polyurethane and polyethylene.
Polyurethane is a soft, open-cell foam that offers good cushioning and shock absorption. It is easy to custom shape and fabricate so that it perfectly fits a custom firearm case. Ester-based polyurethanes are typically used because of their high tensile strength and non-abrasive surfaces.
The largest challenge in using a polyurethane foam, particularly an ester-based foam, is that it deteriorates over time. They can also be susceptible to moisture and degradation due to chemical cleaners, oils, and lubricants—all common in firearm maintenance. This makes polyurethane foam ideal for shipping, but not long-term storage of firearms.
Polyethylene is a closed-cell foam that is more rigid, but it does not have the same weakness to moisture and liquids. This makes these types of foams more ideal for long-term storage and custom cases. They do not break down or degrade when they come in contact with liquids and offer much more stain resistance than polyurethane foam. This type of foam is also more ideal for heavier firearms.
Convoluted polyfoam sheets, also known as egg-crate foam, is a soft, open-cell foam that is commonly used to line the lids of firearm cases. Convoluted foam can be good to use for shipping and storage when the case houses different types of firearms. While many custom cases have foam cutouts for specific firearms and parts this strategy means that the case is specific to only one firearm. Convoluted foam allows you to use the case for transporting and storing different types of firearms, as the foam is not generally custom cut to fit this piece.