When you buy a hard gun case, it comes fitted with blank foam inserts. But unless you get the dealer to customize the foam for a specific gun, you’ll have to do it yourself. Also, you may want to use the same case for multiple firearms.
So you will need to cut foam for each configuration. This 8-step guide will show you how to cut foam for a gun case. When you cut out your own inserts, it’s easy to use the same case for hunting, range shooting, competitions, or travel.
It’s not expensive to cut your own inserts, especially when you take the value of your gun, the ammo, and the case into consideration. One option is to send specs to a place that cuts foam using a CNC machine. Another option is to order pre-cut, semi-customized inserts for specific cases and specific guns.
But you can save a fair amount by opting to get blank inserts and do the cutting yourself. With the right tools and the proper quality foam, how to cut foam for gun cases doesn’t need to be done by the dealers you buy the foam from.
Today we look at the types of foam best suited for gun cases, what you will need before you start to cut and fit your templates, and most importantly, how to cut the foam for your specific gun and case.
If you are looking for gun cases as well, check this best rifle case review here.
How to Cut Foam For a Gun Case
Different Types of Foam for Gun Cases
You get many types of foam for all sorts of applications. The foams discussed here are specifically for firearms. Foam that’s too flimsy will tear easily.
It won’t offer enough support to keep the gun from getting damaged if dropped or manhandled. And most importantly, the reticle (crosshair) can get knocked out of focus if not firmly secured in the foam casing.
Gun cases come with 3 pieces of foam; convoluted foam inserts to fit into the top/lid of the case and at least two layers of foam on the bottom.
A thinner insert for the base and an upper layer insert for cutting out your configuration.
The two layers can be left separate. Once cut, you will place the cut-out on top of the bottom layer. This makes it easy to remove if you use your case for multiple weapons.
Alternatively, you may want to glue layers of foam together (or you can buy them already layered).
This is for when you won’t be cutting through the whole piece of foam, This method is more tricky, as you need to get the gun and components lined up flush with the surface and the different gun parts will be placed in hollowed out sections that will be different depths.
Most Commonly Used Foams
- Std Polyurethane (PU) foam – open-cell foam
- Std Polyethylene (PE) foam – closed-cell foam
- Pre-scored Pluckable foam (pick ‘n pluck)
- Flat/layered foam – PE or PU foam
- Convoluted/egg crate foam, usually PU
Polyurethane Foam – Open-cell foam
This foam is not as dense as polyethylene (PE) foam. Polyurethane (PU) foam is suitable for lightweight components. It will absorb moisture. It is shock-absorbing and will protect delicate parts, like your optics.
Convoluted foam is usually made from PU foam. The convoluted foam is used in the lid of the case.
Polyethylene Foam – Closed-cell foam
This is the most popular type of gun foam. The closed-cell foam will not absorb oils or moisture. It dampens vibrations and provides good insulation.
It is shock-absorbing and the surface can be wiped down without absorbing spills or getting stained.
Standard polyethylene foam sheets come in 35.5” x 16” sizes at thicknesses between 0.5” and 3”. These large blanks can be purchased at most foam and upholstery places.
What Will You Be Using It For?
- Are you using the case for multiple firearms or just one?
- Will you be traveling with this case?
- Will you need to cut out multiple inserts for various firearms?
- Is it a handgun case?
- Is it a rifle case? Single or double?
You can get blank replacement inserts for specific rifle cases, like the Pelican, Nanuk, or Plano brands. Some quality gun foam brands include Appalachian Tough, Kaizen Foam, and Cobra. They will have their own range of blank inserts cut to the various sizes of cases.
Gun foam inserts come in different dimensions, with thicknesses ranging from 0.25 inches right up to 3 inches. Handgun case sizes (internal dimensions) start at (width x breadth) 12” x 12” right up to rifle case sizes of 24” x 52”. But it also depends on the brand and whether it’s a single or double gun case.
How to Cut The Foam
When you buy a case it will come fitted with a blank piece of stock foam. From here you will prepare and cut the foam for your gun case.
Assume you have a convoluted foam insert for the lid and the layer of foam at the base of the case. These instructions are solely for cutting the third piece of foam that will house the firearm, magazines, ammunition, clips, etc.
What You’ll Need
- Blank foam insert to fit case.
- Sharp knife for cutting big sections. (You can use an electric knife but a very sharp fillet knife or even a bread knife will do.) Alternatively, you can use a hot wire. A hot wire cut gives the smoothest finish.
- Xacto knife, for precision cutting around intricate areas.
- Chalk or whiteboard marker for tracing out your configuration.
- Piece of plywood to place under foam so you don’t damage the surface you are cutting on.
- Adhesive – if you are layering the foam. You may need adhesive if you opt for pre-plucked foam. This used to be a popular choice for DIY foam cutting for your gun case, but if you ask most gun owners, they’ll tell you to give the old pick ‘n pluck a wide berth.
- Plasti Dip (optional). You can spray this over your finished cut-out to add strength and prevent tears. See the clip below on how to apply Plasti Dip
- Place your foam insert on a firm surface. Place a piece of plywood (or a piece of cardboard) underneath the foam to prevent damage to the surface when cutting.
- Place your firearm and all the components in the position you want them to be stored in. Make sure the scope will be facing the handle and not the ground.
- Take your marker and trace the outline of each item. Be sure to leave at least 1” around the edge of the foam and enough space between the separate components. This increases the longevity of the foam and gives better support.
- Remove the firearms and components.
- Using your knife, or hot wire cutter, start cutting out your marked shapes. Try to cut on the inside of the chalk mark. Remember, you can always cut foam away if it’s too tight.
- Cut a semi-circle shape, the size of your thumb tip, somewhere on the side of each cut-out shape. This will be the space for you to place your finger to lift each item out with ease.
- Wipe off any remaining chalk marks and place your newly-cut foam insert into its case.
- Place your firearm and components into each cut-out.
- Admire your handiwork and snap a cold one.
See the video clip below for instructions on “How to Plasti Dip your insert”. It‘s a good idea to Plasti Dip if you are using Pull ‘n Pluck foam.
Where Do I Get Blank Foam Inserts For My Gun Case?
Foam can be ordered or purchased online from
- companies that manufacture and/or sell foam,
- from Amazon,
- or from your local firearm dealerships that sell cases, accessories, and replacement foam inserts, designed to fit into the various gun cases.
Get them couriered right to your door, collect from the post office, or buy directly from your local gun dealers.
Time Saver: Everything You Need For The Job Here:
Knives for Cutting Foam
- Kaizen foam cutting knife
- Kaizen knife set (5-piece)
- Electric Hot Knife Foam Cutter (14W)
- Electric Hot Knife Cutter 200W
Blank Foam Inserts For Gun Cases
- Pelican 1720 Replacement Foam Insert
- Plano Case 108191 Foam Replacement Insert
- Cobra Foam Inserts for Pelican, Plano, Apache, and Zero Halliburton
Pre-Cut Foam Inserts
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