I have always been a big fan of Pelican cases and have lots of them in all shapes and sizes, my favourite of which is the 1510 Laptop Overnight Case. However, Pelican doesn’t make many cases dedicated to handguns. Sure, you can cut their foam interiors to suit your needs, but it is not the same as something pre-designed with special features.
A few years ago I found a potential solution, the Seahorse SE540 4 pistol case. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations.
Since that time, I have heard a lot about Nanuk cases. I had the chance to explore their whole product line at the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show and again at TACCOM and was very impressed! I was also super impressed when I read about all of their certifications (plasticase.com/certifications/).
I especially liked the 925 as it seemed to solve all the problems with my Seahorse. I also liked the 909 single gun case as I sometimes take just one handgun to the range (to accompany my long-guns) and picked up one of each. (thanks to Nanuk for all the cool swag!)
I am including the Pelican 1510 LOC in this review as at least the exterior is identical to their standard cases. Of course, its interior is not comparable here so I will leave it out of that part. Here is the lineup
Looks / design: On the outside, the Seahorse does not look as good as the others. The Pelican looks the most military while the Nanuks are a bit lower key, definitely sleeker.
One interesting thing is that the tops of the Nanuks are flat which is more conducive to stacking or putting things on top of the case. I noticed this because I have used my Pelican case as a background for pictures and the beefy ridges running across the top have gotten in the way.
In terms of colour, I believe this particular Pelican case is only available in black (though their other styles come in more colours), the Seahorse is available in 4 colours and the Nanuk in 6. The graphite that I chose for the Nanuk 925 looks pretty classy IMHO.
Case material: All the cases use different materials, such as Polypropylene copolymer for the Pelican and NK-7 resin for the Nanuk. I am not 100% sure about the Seahorse but per their website “we have cases made with fiberglass reinforced ABS, Calcium Carbonate additive in polypropylene, Nylon and Polycarbonate.” In terms of feel, the Seahorse is the slipperiest, the Pelican the roughest, and the Nanuk is in between.
The Pelican has had the most usage by far and it has picked up a few scratches. Time will tell how the other two hold up.
Latches: Again, all three brands have different latches, single throw for the Seahorse, Easy Open Double Throw for the Pelican, and the “Powerclaw” for the Nanuk. Unlike the other two cases, the Powerclaw latch on the Nanuk is attached to the bottom part of the case so it effectively pulls the top down when you lock it. Also, it is easy to use with the pull down tab that releases the latch.
The Seahorse wins for cool factor here as the purge valve is built into the latch! Seahorse says that their Automatic Pressure Purge System “guarantees a perfect seal by incorporating its own O-Ring under one of the latches. You will never forget to set the valve since it automatically activates when closing the case. Pressure is released as you open the latch.”
It is also the only case with key locks in addition to the padlock holes that are also found on the other cases. However, I understand that you can also get locking latches for the Nanuk.
Double Throw latch on the Pelican
Automatic pressure release valves on the Nanuk and Pelican for comparison
Carrying options: One of my biggest gripes with the Seahorse is that shape feels bulky to carry, which is ridiculously obvious when you compare it to the Nanuk…hard to believe they are both designed to carry 4 guns!
The bulkiness of the Seahorse is made worse by the fact that the carry handle has sharp edges that dig into your hand.
By comparison, both the Pelican and Nanuk 925 have smoothed out carry handles. In the case of the Nanuk, the handle is over molded with soft rubber which is supposed to be shock absorbing to reduce fatigue…I haven’t used it for long but I can definitely say it is way more comfortable than the Seahorse.
Interior foam: Once again, different approaches for each case here with cross link Polyethylene “Accu-form” foam in the Seahorse and closed cell PEF foam in the Nanuks. Of course, the overnight case does not have foam inside but typically Pelican would use “Pick N Pluck” open cell Polyurethane foam. I definitely like the closed cell foam in the Nanuk the best.
Interior layout: My biggest issue with the Seahorse is that the handgun cutouts are not really great for trigger locks. Of course, the product was designed by an American company so they did not take our transport rules into consideration. As a workaround I have used cable locks but I don’t really like those.
Being a Canadian company, Nanuk did account for trigger locks and the layout is super.
It easily swallows handguns of all shapes and sizes, with or without any type of lock
It also takes single and double stack mags
The 909 has the “classic” interior which fits most handguns but there is a different interior for Glocks (which I will have to get for my inbound John Wick gun).
1911 with trigger lock fits easily in the single case
Nice touch on the slot for silica gel inserts.
It should be obvious that the Nanuk case is far superior to the Seahorse product and there is not much more to say about that. So how does it compare to the Pelican? Well the best way that I can describe it is that the Pelican feels “old school” while the Nanuk feels very modern. Keep in mind that Nanuk was initially only available to the military up till the last few years and as you can see in the link I posted to their certifications, they match or exceed Pelicans performance in terms of being watertight, airtight, crushproof, and dust proof. They just do it in a different way…think brute force vs. elegant design or shotgun vs. precision rifle. So the bottom line is that I would definitely consider another Nanuk, in fact I am eyeing the dedicated AR case right now. Their great reputation is definitely warranted.