Apache 9800 Rifle Cases: A Budget Friendly Pelican Replacement?
Updated: Jul 11
When you need to transport a firearm, there are all sorts of choices. From traditional soft cases to backpacks, slings, guitar cases, hard sided cases, sports bags, or whatever creative way you may carry your rifle.
There are certain times when you may need to have a hard sided, lockable case. One of these reasons are travel requirements from the TSA. You might also want a case that's protective when you're traveling off road, or when expecting a lot of moisture exposure or possible submersion like being in a small boat. Often times the recommended brand of cases is from Pelican.
Pelican is a long time manufacturer of foam filled, hard sided, protective cases. What started in 1976 as a mom and pop brand producing rugged flash lights, and protective cases for scuba divers has become a mogul producing all manner of protective cases, coolers, back packs, drink ware, and lights. The only downside to a Pelican product might just be the price --- a full size Pelican rifle case is $270.
Enter the Apache 9800 from Harbor Freight. On sale this case is priced at $99. It comes with quite a few attractive features, matching the offerings by the premium brand, but can it compete with the Pelican cases at near one third of the price?
Here are some specs from the manufacturer:
IP65 Rated- watertight and dustproof
Pick-and-pull foam insert for impact-absorbing protection
Strong, secure, easy-open latches
Adjustable pressure relief valve equalizes pressure for easy opening
Pre-drilled for two padlocks (locks sold separately)
Super strong reinforced polypropylene construction
Interior dimensions: 50-3/8 in. x 13-5/8 in. x 5-1/8 in.
Exterior dimensions: 53 in. x 16 in. x 6-1/8 in.
Product weight: 22.65lbs.
On either side of the case there are smaller grab handles. One side has two wheels for transport, which are very welcome considering the empty case weights nearly 23lbs.!
The foam consists of egg crate on the top and pick and pluck foam in the middle. The bottom layer is solid foam.
While not being completely custom, the pick and pluck foam does its job in making a good protective cavity for whatever you're carrying.
A heavy duty gasket runs along the outside of the top half giving the case it's presumed water resistance. The IP65 rating says that a fixture is water resistant and will stay dry when faced with "multi-directional, low pressure water jets"; so it technically isn't rated for being submerged. That should be easy to test.
Place a "moisture indicator" inside the case, in this case just a piece of printer paper. We can use this to see if moisture has entered the case.
Then submerge it in a few inches of water for thirty minutes. One positive note is that the case had to be stood on end to have enough weight to submerge any part of it. The empty case is buoyant enough to float on it's own.
While we're talking about the case being water tight, it needs to be pointed out that this equalization valve has to be closed tightly for the case to even be water resistant.
After thirty minutes of sitting submerged in a tub, the paper placed inside was completely dry. This is good news, as it will very likely protect your valuables from a quick submerging. It will also keep them dry in a rain storm.
Keep an eye out for a future post about how this case holds up to use.