Have Three Guns, Will Travel: Prepping for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational


The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational, known as the M3GI, is an invitation-only event put together by Crimson trace to showcase some of the best shooting products in the U.S. Originally organized by Iain Harrison, the M3GI is the only 3-gun competition shot at night. Held in the high desert of Oregon near the town of Bend, the shooting begins at 10:00 p.m. every evening and is shot in total darkness. This will be the second M3GI and I’m lucky enough to have been invited this year.

“The response we received after the inaugural event from the media, industry partners, and 3-gun community was overwhelming,” said Kent Thomas, director of marketing for Crimson Trace. “There’s no question that the Midnight 3 Gun Invitational set an incredibly high bar for us and we do love a challenge, so we’ve got some pretty big new plans in the works for this year. With the support of some of the best brands and sponsors in the industry and the highest caliber shooters in the country, I’m confident the 2013 Midnight 3 Gun Invitational will have people buzzing all year.”

The 2013 M3GI will feature a bigger and bolder format with a larger list of invited shooters and media members, and more stages. This year’s M3GI will feature nine stages over two nights of shooting. Competitors may use laser sights, tactical lights, and infrared (IR) and thermal imaging. With up to $10,000 cash up for grabs and a major prize table, this promises to be a big event.

I’ll be participating on media night and I’ll be using some Crimson Trace equipment added to my own guns. I have limited experience in 3-gun but it’s enough to know there’s a lot of equipment involved when you shoot over a hundred rounds each of shotgun, rifle, and pistol. Guns, magazines, belts, and all the peripheral equipment amounts to a sizable pile that must be manageable and transportable from stage to stage.

I’ll be shooting a Colt Competition Rifle, a Mossberg JM Pro shotgun, and a Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 pistol. Since I’ll be flying in, I need a soft case system to transport and manage the guns and equipment at the match and a hard case to ship everything in.

For my soft case, I chose the Safariland 4556 3-Gun Competition Case. This case will carry two long guns up to 46 inches long with an extender that will allow even longer barrels up to 51 inches. It also has a large dual handgun/accessory pouch with individual hook-and-loop-enclosed handgun storage areas. Another plus is the adjustable padded shoulder harness that allows backpack-style carry with straps that tuck away in the storage pocket when not in use.

For the airline/shipping case, I chose Patriot Cases’ Ultimate 3-Gun Storage/Travel Case. This is an SKB hard case with four lock locations and four latches. It’s big enough for all three guns and magazines for each, along with loaders and tools. There are two levels in the case, one for the rifle and one for the pistol and accessories. The shotgun goes in a slot cut through both levels in the vertical position. Patriot cuts its foam to allow shipping the rifle in two pieces to better protect the optic.

Once you have the proper storage/transport gear, you must decide whether to ship or fly with your guns. There are positives to both options. If you ship, your guns will almost certainly be there when you arrive and there’s no airline hassle–but shipping them back can get complicated, as not all employees at UPS centers know they’re allowed to ship guns.

Top Shot’s Chris Cerino runs Cerino Training Group and flies with guns all the time. He’s tried both methods and advocates flying with the guns. They have been late, but they have always arrived. Shipping can tie up a lot of time, especially on the return trip.

Remember, anytime you fly with a firearm, there are rules, and making a mistake is serious business. Unload the gun before coming to the airport. You must declare the gun at the check-in desk, no curbside luggage drop. The container must be lockable and subject to inspection. Ammunition cannot be flown in the same baggage and be sure to get to the baggage carousel early so it’s not possible for someone to figure out your bag’s a gun and scarf it. The degree of hassle varies from airport to airport, and make sure you don’t check out your gun bag if held over in hostile cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and so on. Trying to get the gun back on the flight might get you put in jail. If you’re traveling with a gun and get held over at one of these cities, do not take your gun away from the airport.

Shooting matches far from home is a great way to enjoy both the travel and the shooting. Just make sure you do everything right and you’ll have fun traveling with your guns.

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