The advice I received, to be "mo-clearer" than my first post:
TSA lock on the SUITCASE, which is just as subject to inspection as any other suitcase. If they want to open it, they will cut off any lock... and the last thing you want is an unlocked SUITCASE with your (locked) pistol case inside. If you want to use a non TSA lock, you can. No worries. You might just find it's been removed though. Or you may not. What you do is based on your own rationales, and not mine. I use a TSA lock. If you don't... you'll probably not find it's been cut off and you'll probably be as happy as a clam too.
Non-TSA lock on the PISTOL CASE, you retain the key (or combination), and put a note with your cellphone number on the side of the case so they can call you if needed. This case is NOT subject to further opening without you present.
Essentally, the form that you use to "declare your item" is really a paperwork tool to permit you to have a "locked case inside a locked case" that is not subject to normal "open without permission" TSA rules. If you view it that way, it's actually a system for your benefit.
Sorry if I was not as clear as I might have been in my first reply.
Last edited by Willie Sutton; June 2, 2012 at 11:29 AM.