The hard shell bow case market is largely dominated by three major brands. Although there are other brands out there, if we are looking at the top rated models, they belong to Plano, SKB and Flambeau.
So what should you look for when you buy a hard bow case? Protection is clearly high on the list because ultimately, you want your bow to be completely undamaged after travelling. Other priorities include security, storage space and price.
Flying With Your Bow?
You will need an approved case to transport your bow. Visit our full analysis as we present some of the best bow cases for air travel.
Our List of the Best Hard Compound Bow Cases
The list below has weighed up the most popular 12 hard bow cases as judged by averaging out the customer ratings. Price is not taken into account with the reasoning being that customer satisfaction will automatically take whether the case is good value for money.
Following the comparison listing of the bow cases is a more detailed overview of each case that should provide you with additional information to help decide which one will best suit your needs.
Make / Model
35 x 14 x 5
48 x 20.75 x 7.5
43 x 19 x 7.5
41 x 17 x 6
48 x 20.8 x 7.5
39 x 15 x 6
47.5 x 19.25 x 5
41 x 15 x 6
41 x 15.5 x 5
43.2 x 19 x 6.8
48 x 14.5 x 6
43 x 15.3 x 8
Read through the more detailed summaries of each of the bow cases that have been listed above to get a better idea of which one might suit your needs.
SKB iSeries 3614 Parallel Limb Bow Case
The protection of parallel limb compound bows is the aim of this bow case and it is done particularly well. Custom foam inserts ensure secure positioning of the bow. The case is fitted with wheels to make moving it around simple. The case has trigger release latches that can be retrofitted with TSA accepted locking latches.
This is the ultimate bow storage case that offers a waterproof and dust proof design. The cushioned grip even makes carrying it a comfortable experience. This is the highest priced case in the list but it is also the case that received the highest rating.
Plano 108110 All-Weather Bow Case
A lot of hunters have given this all weather bow case the thumbs up. It has a thick-walled construction to give the contents the maximum possible protection. Inside the high-density foam interior provides the bow a soft surface to nestle into.
The lid provides storage space for either standard or carbon fiber arrows. The locking system is the airline approved PillarLock system making it possible to use for airline travel. The case measures 48” in length which makes it large enough for any modern hunting compound bow.
It is also available at a very reasonable price at around the $100 mark.
Plano Parallel Limb Bow Case
This parallel limb bow case provides you with the flexibility of customising the storage area to suit the size of the bow you own. It has a foam pillar placement system that can be placed where you want it to keep your bow in place. There is arrow storage made available in the lid and the case also comes with a utility bow for further storage.
The case is lockable and will meet airline safety standards. The interior area measures 41 inches in length which should be plenty of room for any hunting parallel limb compound bow. Another very attractive aspect of this case is the price.
SKB Hunter XL Series Bow Case
This case is a larger version of the standard Hunter series case (which has also been highly rated). It has been designed to be able to hold the wider types of bows such as the Z7 and Z9 series and the quiver can remain attached. It has a plush lined EPS interior inserts which serves to protect the bow even more carefully.
The case is set up for the storage of a bow only, no additional accessory storage has been included which some may see as a bit of a drawback.
Plano AW Bow Case Bone Collector Series
This is an all-weather bow case (hence the AW in the name) and it provides outstanding protection of the bow through all types of adverse weather conditions.
Not only is the case waterproof but it will also protect from dust as well.
The interior padding has been treated with an inhibiting agent that will prevent rust and corrosion.
The interior features high-density foam and there is storage space for arrows attached to the top lid along with space for a bow quiver as well.
It is large enough to house the majority of modern compound bows comfortably.
The walls of the case are thick and solid and the case is completely lockable.
SKB Sports Hunter Series Bow Case
The Hunter series bow case has been designed to accommodate the modern hunting compound bows along with their quivers.
It has a rigid ABS shell to provide plenty of protection from the outside.
Protection on the inside is provided by a valance bending system that helps create a tight fit for the bow. A water-jet cut polyethylene foam arrow system allows up to 12 arrows to be stored along with the bow.
The types of bows named by the company that can be stored in this case includes Mathews Z7 Extreme, Mathews Reezen, Mathews Monster, Mathews DXT, Mathews Drenalin, Mathews Outback, Bowtech Admiral, Bowtech Captain, Limbsaver DeadZone, Hoyt Alpha Max, Hoyt Power Hawk, Kodiak Outdoors Titan 34 Target, PSE X Force, plus many others.
Flambeau 6461SC SafeShot Compound Bow Case
This is a more recent design in a range the company has called the SafeShot compound bow case range. It features a tough polymer plastic material for the outer shell of the case. The internal lid and the base are reinforced with pillar supports to ensure that the case cannot be crushed. This means that the bow stored inside will be properly protected.
On the inside of the lid is a rubber racking system that will enable up to 12 arrow shafts to be clipped securely in place. It also features built-in 3 and 4 blade broadhead changers.
The case is secured with 4 lock hasps and 4 latches that will keep the case tightly closed. The bow will be kept securely in place thanks to the convoluted foam lining and the use of the included hook and loop tie-down straps.
SKB ATA Double Bow, Bow/Rifle Combination Case
Best Bow and Rifle Case
This is a dual purpose bow case that is designed to carry either two parallel limb compound bows or a compound bow and a rifle.
It is made from molded polyethylene which has a very high molecular weight, the material that is used by the US military for cases and containers.
The latches are heavy-duty and made to ATA 300 Category I specifications so it is perfect for airline travel.
The lower rating for the case comes from the fact that the size is quite small and fitting two bows into it has proven to be difficult.
The caveat with using the case is to check your bow sizes before finalising the purchase.
SKB Injection Molded Single Parallel Limb Bow Case
This is an extremely durable bow case that has been designed to accept parallel limb compound bows, perfect for the hunter who travels a lot. The injection molded construction gives it plenty of strength without the need for metal reinforcement to keep the weight light. The interior dimensions measure 40 inches giving you the ability to fit bows up to 36” axle-to-axle quite comfortably.
Where the case falls down a little in its design is with the straps used for securing the bow, which only number 2 (4 would make it more secure) and are also rough enough to damage the finish of the bow.
Plano Protector Series Compact Bow Case
This is one of the most popular hard bow cases on the market. It has a basic design that will fit small framed hunting bows up to around 33” axle-to-axle quite comfortably. It is also deep enough to allow for the bow to be stored with the quiver still attached. The case uses the PillarLock System to ensure the bow is properly protected and won’t move about.
The case can be locked and meets the ATA standards to be airline approved. It also has arrow storage in the lid with space for 6 arrows. The final factor that should be considered is the price and with some deep discounts available the Protector becomes great value for money
SKB iSeries 5014 Target Bow Case
This is a double bow case that can be used for two target bows or a bow and a rifle in combination. The size of the case has been designed to hold target bows with an external measurement of 50 inches long. The case features a bunk bed style of configuration with rigid foam dividers to not only protect your equipment but also to hold it securely in place.
The locking system consists of four reinforced padlock locations and this allows the installation of locks that help it meet ATA standards. The case is waterproof and dustproof and is resistant to impact damage
Plano Bow Guard SE Pro Series 44 Bow Case
This is a slightly larger bow case than many others aimed at hunting bow storage. The 44 inch length means that it will be suitable for any medium to larger bows and will also allow the bow to be stored with the bow quiver attached. The interior of the case features high-density foam to protect the bow and it can be secured with straps that are built in to prevent shifting. As well as foam arrow holders which can hold up to 12 arrows the case also comes with an accessory box, broadhead tool and adjustable compartments.
For the price this is a bow case that will meet the needs of the majority of hunters.
The Best Bow Case for the Money
The best value for money bow case is the SKB Sports Hunter Bow Case.
This case is chosen as a great value for money option because of the quality of protection the rigid ABS shell provides. On top of that is the tight seal that gives great weather and dust protection for your bow. The fact that it offers so many features for a price that sits around the $90.00 mark is outstanding.
The Advantages of Using A Compound Bow Hard Case
There are a number of reasons why people might choose a compound bow hard case over a soft case. A hard bow case offers a little more in terms of bow protection and would be more likely to be used when the storage time is longer.
This is certainly the case if you are intending on traveling for long periods of time, particularly air travel.
When you bow(s) is out of your hands during the majority of your travel time, you would like have the comfort of knowing that they are well protected in a hard coated case.
While a soft bow case is padded and offers the bows inside a certain level of protection, the bags can come under some highly stressful periods when being loaded on and off a plane or train. A bow that is packed into a hard case, nestled in the foam cut-out space is going to be better protected.
We have further itemised the reasons why people feel that hard bow cases are the better option.
Bow Case Security
Security is a big issue when transporting your bow. It’s not only referring to making sure no-one can steal your bow while it is out of your sight. There are also legal requirements at play here.
If you are travelling by air and sending your bow through as luggage, there is a requirement that the case that your bow is being stored in has been airline approved. Otherwise the airline company will refuse to carry your bow. When buying a new compound bow case it is important that you find out whether the case has been approved for use on airplanes.
To help with this, we have included a column on our list below that indicates whether or not the bow has been airline approved. In some cases the case may not already be set up to be compliant with ATA Specification 300 Category I but it can be modified to add the necessary locks.
For an extensive list of bow cases that you might want to consider for airline use you should visit our page of best bow cases for air travel.
Wheeled Bow Cases
Weight is rarely an issue when transporting compound bows and accessories because the industry is very conscious of the need to keep everything as light as possible. That being said, the addition of wheels on the top of the line bow cases makes it far easier to transport when you are carrying other bags and equipment.
The bow cases with wheels enable you to treat your case as another piece of luggage and helps make it easier to move from place to place. Look at it as a “nice to have” rather than an essential feature of the case.
Waterproof Bow Cases
Don’t be misled by the suggestion that your bow won’t get wet inside a bow case that is said to be waterproof. Many people have left their bows in the back of the truck, driven through a rain shower only to find the waterproof case full of water when they get home.
If you want to get a case that will keep your bow dry no matter how bad the conditions you should look for a watertight case. This type of case will state that it is IP67 rated which is a standard that says the material is resistant to water even when it has been completely submersed.
Look for a bow case that allows you to customize the interior design. All good quality bow cases will provide padded protection but not all of them will enable you to configure the interior so that the bow will not be able to move around at all.
The padded protection should extend to the straps that are made available to hold the bow in place. Some straps are pretty rough and have been known to damage the finish of the bow it is holding.
High-density foam is a good form of padding, layered felt is even softer and provides a luxurious bed for the bow to sit.
Plano provides an innovative PillarLock system that enables you to customise where the padded rests are placed so that there is no possibility of the bow shifting around if it is not a perfect fit for the cut-out section.
Bow Case Size
Although they are highly desirable forms of storing your bow, some people might have issues with using a hard bow case. Listed below are some of the negative thoughts that some people may have in relation to using a hard case.
- The hard case is not flexible. If you buy a case that is not quite long enough for your bow, there will be no chance of any “wiggle room” to get it to fit. Similarly, there won’t be much room for stowing small accessories in the case because of the nature of the molded foam insert that holds the bow.
- Bow hard cases are generally heavier than soft bow cases. If you haven’t manage to buy one with wheels and you expect to be carrying it for some distance the weight might become an issue.
- Not all cases will allow you to simply place the bow in and shut the lid. Some hard bow cases require that you dismantle your bow so that it fits snugly which means you may be constantly setting up and dismantling it every time you go somewhere.
- The case will be prone to become scuffed. People’s opinion about whether this is good, bad or neither may be open to debate. If you do a lot of flying, the chances are your bow case is going to get bumped by baggage handling operations and quickly look old and scuffed. Some may see this as a good thing because the case is doing its job, others may not like the fact that their bow case quickly shows signs of wear.
- Cost. This can be a real issue for some people and will be a deciding factor. For the most part, the price of a hard bow case is higher than that of a soft bow case.
If you are not planning on travelling by airplane with your bow or you are looking for a storage solution that is going to cost you less, you should also consider a soft bow case. As can be seen from our list of Soft Bow Cases there is a good selection of high quality bow cases available at very reasonable prices.