Nanuk 990 rifle case comparison with a Pelican 1720

What are the similarities and differences between the new Nanuk 990 Rifle Case and the Pelican 1720?

Green Nanuk 990 Rifle Case next to Tan Pelican 1720
Green Nanuk 990 Rifle Case next to Tan Pelican 1720

Background:

I use a Pelican 1720 with a SERT TCC softcase.  The softcase / hard case combo is really nice, and the SERT fits perfectly inside the Pelican 1720 – which makes sense since it was designed that way.  I can fit a DTA with a 28″ .338 Lapua Magnum into the SERT case, along with all my other gear (Rangefinder, additional barrels, magazines, tools, Kestrel Ballistic meter, suppressor and ammo).

A lot of vendors have been attempting to bring a replacement hard case to the market to give folks another good choice besides the Pelican.  Plasticase (the makers of Nanuk) and Plano are two examples.  At SHOT show 2014 I reviewed their prototypes – but both vendors prototypes had various problems – the biggest was that the lid was flimsy.

Plasticase isn’t a newcomer to the case market.  They have been in business since 1984 and have produced millions of cases sold worldwide.  This however is their first foray into rifle cases.

I received a Nanuk 990 Rifle Case – which is the almost the same size as the Pelican 1720 recently, and here is how they compare.

Pelican 1720 width compared to the Nanuk 990 Rifle Case
Pelican 1720 is 16″ wide while the Nanuk is a bit wider

Pelican 1720 dimensions:

  • 42″ L x 13.5″ W x 5.25″ D – Interior
  • 44.37″ L x 16″ W x 6.12″ D- Exterior

Nanuk 990 Rifle Case dimensions:

  • 44.0″ L x 14.5″ W x 6.0″ D – Interior
  • 47.1″ L x 17.3″ W x 6.6″ D – Exterior

As you can see above – the Nanuk 990 Rifle Case is a bit bigger all the way around – about 2″ more interior space is the most significant difference in the size.

Nanuk 990 Rifle Case Width
Nanuk is around 17″ wide

 

Both of the cases come with foam inserts which you can cut out to your heart’s content.  I really don’t notice any real difference in the foam itself – they both seem pretty similar in this regard.

Nanuk 990 Rifle Case Foam
Nanuk 990 comes with a 4-Piece Foam set

 

Feature comparison:

Ok, lets address the similarities first:

  • Both are Waterproof, Crushproof and Dustproof.
  • Both have 2 handles (one on the side – another on the end).
  • Both have wheels on one end.
  • Both use stainless steel hardware.
  • Both have a lifetime warranty.
  • Both have an automatic pressure equalizing valve (since they are sealed with an O-ring).
  • Both are lockable.
  • Both are designed to allow easy stacking.
  • Both are available in Black, Green and Tan (mostly military colors)

Ok, what are the differences?

Certifications:

  • Pelican 1720: Def Stan 81-41/STANAG 4280
  • Nanuk 990 Rifle Case: ATA300 (impact test), ASTM D4169 (Rain, Vibration & Drop test), MIL-STD-810F (immersion test) and IP 67 (Ingress protection test – dust & immersion)

Handles:

  • Pelican handles: Hard plastic
  • Nanuk 990 Rifle Case handles: Soft grip handles with spring that returns handles to folded position automatically
Nanuk 990 Rifle Case Handles
Nanuk 990 Handles have a soft grip, and are spring-loaded to return to closed position automatically

Hardware:

  • Pelican 1720 hardware: most of the Pelican hardware while stainless steel are pegs pushed through holes in the plastic of the case.  This means they can work their way loose, and have no positive retention – for example the pegs that hold the wheels in place.
  • Nanuk 990 Rifle Case hardware: 100% stainless steel – and uses positive fasteners (e-clips) to retain the pins which seems to be a more reliable method to me.

 

  • Finally – the Nanuk 990 Rifle Case has stainless steel inserts in all of the padlock holes – while the Pelican only has them in 2.  The quality of the inserts also seem much better in the Nanuk 990 Rifle Case – they seem milled, and not pressed, while the Pelican’s overall seem to be more cheaply made.
Nice Stainless hardware on the Nanuk 990 Rifle Case
Nanuk Stainless hardware is much nicer than the Pelican 1720

 

Fit and Finish:

  • Pelican 1720: The fit of the lid to the body on the 1720 is OK when there is nothing in the case.  However if you pack like I do – and you have a bit of extra packed into the case – the Pelican lid and body no longer fit perfectly.  I think this could lead to dust intrusion and potentially to leaking.  I am also not a fan of the way the Pelican lid and body make the fit – they abut – rather than overlap.
  • Nanuk 990 Rifle Case: The 990 lid overlaps the body of the case, providing extra protection to the mating area of the lid / body.  I think this is a more durable and protective mechanism than the abutting fit of the Pelican.  In general, the Nanuk 990 Rifle Case seems nicer over all – you can tell that the company wanted to do things right and took extra effort to make things look polished and clean rather than trying to use the least expensive methods of production and assembly.
Nanuk 990 Rifle Case latches
Nanuk 990 Latches are MUCH nicer than the Pelican 1720

 

Latches:

  • Pelican 1720: I am sure everyone who has used a Pelican case – has cursed the latches.  The “Double Throw” system that the Pelican uses is not very reliable to close.  It does seem pretty durable however.  I know since I often bash the latches closed – and I am sure I am not the only one out there doing this.
  • Nanuk 990 Rifle Case: The “Powerclaw” latching system is easy to use, and is self locking – so you have to push down on a button to unlatch (which is nice), and just overall are much easier to use.  The one downside I have run into is that when you close the lid – since the latches are on the body – sometimes one of the latches is in the way of the lid and stops it from closing.  Not a big deal – but something to check for each time when latching.  This can be fixed by pushing down on the latches when opening which locks them into the open position.
  • In this area, I want a longer term evaluation to see how durable these latches are.  They are so much easier to use that I hope they are as durable as the Pelican since I much prefer them!
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