28 September 2010

Inside the case

Yet another post on what I do in my copious spare time!

This is another sort of DIY post which does not depend on overview but gets down to the actual doing.  What I'm about to cover can be generalized beyond the specific instance, however, to all sorts of other areas, which in this instance is to make a good storage flat for small equipment.

The victim...ahhhh... purchase... is an Armortek gun case seen at Cheaper Than Dirt!  I have purchased a few cases in my time, but they have been milsurp ammo cases or night vision goggle cases picked up for generally abuse resistant storage of ammo and equipment.  This time I was looking for something for generally secure storage in a vehicle for two handgun owners, and it could not be bulky and must fit inside the foot space of the passenger side in a Honda Insight two-door.  No one seems to make a vehicle console vault replacement for the central section of the dashboard going to the floor, which would have fit the bill nicely if any were made.  The cute little pistol boxes for individual storage are also nice, but the question of clutter and tangled cables comes to mind with those.  Space is at a premium in a two-seater vehicle, thus for two handgun owners something a bit larger than a single pistol case but a bit smaller than a metal vault (which can't be stored under the seats due to space considerations) means that something else needed to be found.

Enter the Armortek case, for $20 s&h not applied.  I've down sampled my original images for viewing and the lighting is overhead basement PAR30, so ambient light was lacking.  I am no professional in the picture taking biz.  And I'm not going to spend a few hours playing with them in photoshop: WYSIWYG.  Click on pictures for larger views.

That said, the case:

Armortek Case

Here out of its cardboard sleeve wrapper telling you of its self-evident utility.  Now to open it:

Armortek Case opened

There it is with a nice, soft velour interior, steel cable and key padlock.  Now with a FN/Browning 1922 with a few magazines:

Armortek Case Browning 1922

And something a bit heftier in a double-stack:

Armortek Case Para-Ord 14.45

And my favorite, the Vz. 61 Skorpion:

Armortek Case Vz. 61

And since the case is touted as taking 3 pistols:

Armortek Case 3 pistols

Now we hit the Theory and Practice Conundrum: in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

Here the theory of 3 pistols in a case is not the size of the case, which is excellent, but the interior.  The padding closes solidly together, to the degree that you might want to keep rings, bracelets or other relatively flat pieces of jewelry, or even something like the FN Browning and a Seecamp, but because of the tight fit between the padding getting 3 actual pistols in when they are not of graduating size down to vest pocket from standard 1911 is just something of a stretch. 

Thus it was time to investigate.

Up comes a pad and...

Armortek Case padding

...I am not amused.  What you see is a pad of open cell foam covered by that velour-like cloth, whith the cloth stitched on the sides to make an open pocket and then tape used to keep the cloth from pulling apart.  That trail you see is the glue used to keep the padding attached to the steel grid inside the case.  The foam is just thick enough to make the case nearly impossible to close with just the Vz. 61 Skorpion.  So out it came:

Armortek Case interiors

Leaving me with:

Armortek Case stripped

It is taking you longer to read and look at the pictures than it took me to get the padding out.  The inside, without the foam and material, is really perfect to make a proper storage flat container, one per side.  In other words this was not only a DIY project but an upgrade!  Thus I went foam shopping online for some closed cell (won't let water through) foam commonly used for sleeping bag mats, yoga mats and any other place you need a thin foam layer to cushion something.  Also I wanted some less dense foam to cut into strips to make sides for the flats, and 'pick and pluck' or diced foam that is pre-sliced into half-inch square sections to allow you to take out just what you need.

I go to a couple of places to get foam:  Foam order's packing foam and Foam Factory's packaging foam.  Both sites have a wide selection of other foam types and the only question is price and shipping.  I overbought on all of the foam so I could do multiple projects, which is always something to consider when working with foam as it is a bit bulky to ship.

Thus from left to right is the high density, lower density and diced foam:

Armortek Case the foam

Now the tools needed for the project:

Armortek Case the tools

Measuring devices, straight edge, scissors, and your choice of glue.  I used the Sticky Ass Glue and contact cement to try both out.  The Sticky Ass Glue is a foaming polyurethane glue that works wonders with foam.  Contact cement does a great job, also, and I have used single tubes and pots from various manufacturers with these just being the latest.

Basically what is done is to cut out a rectangle to fit the bottom of the case, a long one and quarter inch strip of low density foam to go around the edges, and glue them together.  Then determine the amount of diced foam to cover the interior minus the thickness of the side foam and glue all around the outer set of cuts lightly so as to gently secure the interior.  Wait and let dry.

Once it is all set to go, you set down each thing that needs to be on the flat and pluck out the foam.  Here is a plucked outline of the FN Browning:

Armortek Case plucked foam

And the flat it came from that will house both the Para-Ord and FN Browning:

Armortek Case two pistol flat

This was done with Stick Ass Glue, note the foaming where I made a couple of mistakes in my cutting:

Armortek Case Stick Ass foam

Unsightly, yes, but it does hold everything together and you can use a knife to carve it off if you don't like it.  I didn't do as well with the Skorpion flat done with contact cement...

Armortek Case Skorpion flat

...but that will be on the case side with some indents, so those problems along the side are from that.  Plus a bit more contact cement as I had oriented things right when I was putting it down. Live and learn.

Now insert the flats:

Armortek Case double pistol flat

Armortek Case Skorpion flat

Now if you've done the math you get a quarter inch of foam on the bottom, one and a quarter inch sides and one inch thick diced foam, which leaves you the ability to make a second cut-out from the denser foam to put on the top of the flats:

Armortek Case covered flats

Armortek Case revealed

Armortek Case on end

And then it is time to fill the flats:

Armortek Case filled

Its a bit sloppy here and there, and you can put diced foam back in with contact cement, although it gets a bit more rigid with that, so be warned.  Now to see the method in the madness of this:

Armortek Case opened

Armortek Case reverse view

As the Skorpion is a bit chunky, I knew it would need some space for pressing into the other side.  Thus I positioned it and kept that in mind as I made the layout for the opposite side.  The top layers of foam keep everything snug while traveling.

Now, when you do try to open that with everything in there and loaded, the Skorpion magazines tend to want to wander around.  Thus the flats need some method to secure the top foam on them.  I recommend 5/8" webbing straps.

Or make your own snug container system like I did:

Armortek Case containerized

It does help to be able to sew and that part took a couple of weeks, the flats were about two days, total:

Armortek Case both sides

Now I can place some additional spacers on the underside of the tops in the pockets I made for the tops.  Or put in a nice, soft, fleece layer.

I wish that there was a place that did precision foam die cutting and had the outlines of popular handguns available... the few places that will do that cost more for one sheet, die cut, than this entire project, which clocked in under $75, s&h included, although cost of extra foam not included.

My time is free, of course.

But now I have the perfect, modular case that I can make flats for other handguns or equipment, so that I can re-purpose the case just by swapping the interior foam flats.  That is way, way, way more than I can do with most other cases...


Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you could help a man out. I noticed you have links to gun related sites, and I was wondering if you could link to my free gun classified site: gunsxchange.com. I'm trying to the site noticed so people can benefit from using it. A link would help out a lot.

Thanks for your time sir,


A Jacksonian said...

My pleasure to do so!

Unknown said...

I love to have guns and those gun case are amazing.

A Jacksonian said...

Stepfannie - My thanks! I really do like that case with the metal frame construction. Going with just foam works well and I really, really went over the top with fabric, but wanted something to resist accidental splashes and such and 1000d Cordura fit the bill nicely. Armortek makes a great case there, but the interior is really designed for jewelry, not firearms.

I need to make a few more inserts for it since it seems I continue to get pistols and just need a nice, secure way to tote them to the range.