If you own a firearm, you should have a way to securely lock up that firearm. There is a multitude of different options available depending on your needs. First, we are going to jump into the key points that you truly need to evaluate before purchasing a gun safe. Our goal is to make sure that whether this is your first purchase ever, or whether it’s your fifth gun safe, that you have all the information you need to make an educated decision.
The biggest part of the process of buying a gun safe is making sure you are asking the right questions before you buy one. There are several key items that you need to address before you buy so you don’t end up needing a new safe a few months later. Below are some of the key elements you need to look at when analyzing your first or next gun safe purchase.
There are a lot of things to determine when making a purchase such as size, weight, capacity, anchoring ability, and of course cost. We cover all of the items you should be asking yourself in detail in our Best Gun Safe buyer’s guide. Let’s jump in!
The Logic in Owning a Gun Safe
Below we highlight some of the main reasons that you need to have some way of locking up your firearms. If you haven’t fully committed to proper firearms storage, please consider the following reasons why owning a gun safe is a must.
According to a recent study, Guns kill twice as many children as cancer and 5 times more than heart disease. This in itself is more than enough reason to own a gun vault to properly secure your firearms. You may not have children, but that doesn’t mean your family, or neighboring children won’t have access to your firearms if they visit your home. Protecting America’s youth from firearm accidents starts with you being a responsible gun owner.
While not quite as important as protecting children, a strong gun vault will protect your firearms against theft. Many people put other valuables in their firearm vaults along with their firearms. If you plan to lock away money, gold, silver, and/or important documents I would highly recommend purchasing a model that’s heavy or can be bolted down. Bolting your safe down or buying a heavier model will save you money in the long run by protecting you against theft in the event of a robbery.
Depending on your state laws, if your firearms are stolen, you may face liability from a legal standpoint. Owning a gun safe in states that hold you accountable is an absolute must. Owning a firearm is your constitutional right, but it’s also your job to make sure they are properly secured.
Many of today’s models have fire protection or fire ratings. This not only will help keep your firearms secure in the event of a catastrophic fire but also any other valuables that you might own that you want to keep secure. House fires have grown at an alarming rate and you need protection that adequately protects against disaster. This is always a great idea to keep things out of harm’s way.
Cheaper Insurance Rates
In some states, legislation is being reviewed to propose that firearms owners will need to carry liability protection to insure against the potential firearms accidents. Whether or not this passes will be closely watched by many firearms enthusiasts. With that being said, it’s more than likely that you will qualify for cheaper insurance rates if you have appropriate firearm security in your home.
There are many different things you’ll need to fully consider when purchasing a gun safe. These universal rules apply, regardless if you are buying your first safe, or your third. For first time owners, we’ve organized our recommendations based on the order of importance in our eyes.
This is important for several reasons. The first reason is “will it fit” where you want it to. Some individuals don’t have a problem with a gun safe sitting in their living room. If you are like me and have a spouse that prefers to keep your firearms out of sight, this can become problematic. You need to make sure that you are measuring the correct dimensions of your safe before you buy one. You need to make sure that you are measuring your width, depth, and height appropriately to ensure your new safe fits where you want it to. Some of the typical things people don’t think of are listed below when taking measurements into account:
Safe Depth: Does the depth of the safe include the handle? Sure maybe you can get that safe through sideways at the advertised depth, but does that advertised depth include your handle and combination lock?
Storage Location: Do you have anything overhanging in an odd fashion where it might interfere with the height of your safe? I know for me, I have at least 3 inches of space between my shelving unit and safe which is great for storage of small items.
Anchorability: If your safe is relatively thin and heavy, does it need to be anchored down? Thinner wider safes have a tendency to lean forward when the door opens. Get some shims or bolt it down if you can.
Growth Potential: Does your safe have enough room for you to grow? Nothing is more problematic than buying a large heavy object, installing it in your home and realizing it’s just not big enough. You need to make sure you buy a safe that’s got enough room for it to expand with your family and your firearms.
Is your safe heavy enough? A 300-pound safe is unlikely to deter theft. You can lift a safe out of a house with a simple hand truck and some time if you are looking at a safe that’s 300 pounds or less. If you are buying a safe in this weight range, I’d HIGHLY recommend you bolt it down. Anything 500+ pounds should be adequate enough to give anyone trying to take the safe out of your house at least a little bit of trouble. We still recommend bolting down your safe if it has the option to be bolted down.
Buying a large safe? And if so, is it your only safe? If the only safe you own is a large safe, save yourself the time and get an electronic lock. A Manual lock will be a nightmare if you have an intruder in your home at midnight and need quick access to your firearm. Good luck turning that dial with a criminal lurking around your house. Let’s look at the four different lock types.
Biometric Safe Guide. These locks unlock when the owner uses a fingerprint to unlock the safe and retrieve their firearms. It can be quicker to use than a manual lock, provided you pick the right model that doesn’t have any known defects. Some of these safes take less than a second to verify your fingerprint. Fingerprint scanners have come a long way in recent years and I highly recommend that if you only have one safe or have a bedside safe that you get an option with a biometric scanner.Biometric Locks: Biometric safes are a good idea if you can afford the cost. There are several models that we think are excellent, which we cover in-depth in our
Electronic Lock: This is a preference for many long gun safe owners over Biometric locks. You still get the security of working with electronics, and the safe is usually opened by a sequence of button pushes or a code. Electronic locks are good for people that don’t want the hassle of programming a biometric safe.
Combination Lock: These locks can be more secure than any of the locks on this list. Unfortunately, they are as time-consuming to open correctly as your Master Lock from high school gym class. This is the traditional rotational manual combination lock. They are not fast to open, but they are very secure. Often times the electronic lock is not much more expensive than a combination lock safe, so we recommend getting a safe with an electronic lock.
Key Lock: Have your lock and key? These are usually the cheapest safes you can buy. It’s more common to see a handgun safe with a lock and key than a larger long gun safe. This is the simplest type of locking mechanism, and you’ll just need to make sure that you don’t lose your key! Be warned though, a simple lock that can be opened with a key can almost always be picked in less than a minute by an adept thief.
This is personal preference. For me I cared far more about all the other topics than I cared about fire rating. Yes it’s nice to have, but was not nearly as much of a deciding factor as the rest of the topics we’ve already covered. If you live in a place where fires are common, this might be more important to you.
The Importance of Fireproof Linings
Some consumers are under the mistaken impression that all steel gun safes are fireproof. Steel construction can delay fire and heat damage but does not mean absolute fire protection in and of itself. You must buy a safe that has additional fireproofing lining in its interior to fully protect your contents. Without a fireproof lining, the contents of any steel box will be damaged or destroyed as the box becomes hotter.
The flashpoint of paper is 662 degrees and gunmetal can warp when it is heated above 1500 degrees. Since the average temperature of a sustained house fire exceeds both limits, you can understand the importance of having a fireproof lining to protect the contents of your safe.
Sheet Rock Lining: There are two main types of fireproofing material used in the industry: sheetrock and ceramic wool. Sheetrock is often considered the less efficient of the two because it has a tendency to disintegrate when it is heated. Many manufacturers who opt to use sheetrock use a material that has fiberglass embedded in it to minimize disintegration, but the problem can not be eliminated. The crumpling can cause gaps in heat protection, allowing damage to occur when heat is applied or sustained.
Ceramic Wool: Ceramic wool offers the most consistent fire protection. Ceramic wool offers fire and heat protection up to 2300 degrees. This material is used to line melt furnaces in foundries and is sturdy. Since the average house fire never reaches 2300 and the heat is not sustained for as long as it would be in a melting furnace, you can be near certain that a safe with a ceramic wool lining will protect the contents inside.
One last consideration to keep in mind with fireproofing is that you need to be sure the entire safe is protected. Some manufacturers try to keep costs down by only protecting the top or bottom of their products. In order to fully protect your contents, you must have a safe that is fireproofed from every angle.
Regardless of lock type, there are really just two types of gun safes when it comes to storing up your firearms. You have long gun safes, which are meant to house rifles, shotguns, ammo, and handguns. You then have Handgun safes, which are only meant to store your sidearm. These are obviously smaller and more portable. They usually also have the option of being mounted in hidden areas for quick access.
Handgun safes are smaller and usually have three different lock options. Key operated, electronic code operated, and biometric locks. Handgun safes will typically store one handgun and one or two magazines. They can usually house a few important documents like passports, cash, or even social security cards.
Handgun safes should not be used to store much else. These are typically best for storing in your home office, or next to your bed. You can also mount them inside your car for portable firearms safety. Some companies have manufactured sliding handgun safes. These safes are perfect for mounting to a nightstand or under a desk. Once you enter the code or scan your fingerprint, the gun slides out on a rack for easy access. Every second counts during a home invasion and it is important to have your firearm ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Long Gun Safes
Long Gun Safes are usually the go-to choice for any firearms owner. These vary quite widely from both size and budget. There are also several models available on the market that will house anywhere from 4 to 10 guns, all the way up to 64. We always recommend you buy up at least a couple sizes over what you need to make sure you have adequate room. These are most commonly stored in your bedroom, basement, office, or garage.
Some long gun safes also come with shelving for ammo, documents, and other miscellaneous things you may want locked up. We cover a wide variety of long gun safes further down in this guide.
Best Gun Safes For Handguns
If your only gun is a handgun, you are off the hook price-wise. You don’t need a long gun safe. It only makes sense to purchase a smaller safe for now, one that you can utilize later as a nightstand safe, or something that you’ll store in your office or car. Below we take a look at our five favorite safes specifically for handguns.
AmazonBasics Deluxe Quick-Access Safe with Biometric Fingerprint Lock
- Quick-access firearm safety device for securely storing valuables, documents, and a firearm;...
- Whisper-quiet rubber buttons and gas-spring door ensure instant, quiet, single-handed entry;...
- 500 DPI semiconductor Biometric Fingerprint Sensor with excellent match speed of less than 1 second...
If you are looking for a small handgun safe and are on a budget, the AmazonBasics Deluxe Safe is a great option. This is a small stand-alone gun safe with a biometric fingerprint lock so that you can quickly and easily access your handgun when you need to. It can be mounted to the floor or the side of something, so it’s a great option if you are on a budget and just need to lock up a single handgun. There is also a slightly larger version that can hold two handguns in case you need more room.
While this safe isn’t fireproof, it offers adequate protection for the cost when it comes to keeping your handguns locked away. There’s also enough room to store sensitive documents and other small valuables.
The keypad has reprogrammable digital access and is battery powered. It’s made from pry-resistant steel and comes with a backup key in case your battery dies. The one downside to this safe is that it’s lightweight and compact design makes it easy for a thief to take if it is not bolted down to something.
If you are on somewhat of a budget, this safe is definitely worth consideration.
SentrySafe Biometric Safe
- Biometric gun safe provides secure storage for one standard handgun; Pistol safe with fingerprint...
- Pistol safe features a gas strut to instantly and quietly open safe door for single-handed access to...
- Handgun safe is constructed with solid steel and a pry resistant door for strength and handgun...
The SentrySafe Biometric safe is a great choice and has been around as a top pick for several years. This Biometric safe is budget-friendly and has the capacity to store a single handgun, along with some valuables. They do have a slightly larger model that has a 2 gun capacity, but it’s more expensive and less mobile.
You are able to access this safe using either a fingerprint, a backup key, or a digital combination, depending on the model you buy. The Biometric offers both the combination and key as a backup to the biometric version. There is also a version that offers a light inside the case when it opens.
This safe comes equipped with the ability to be mounted to any flat surface. It comes with a bolting kit that allows you to anchor it into concrete, wood, or other material where the safe can be secured away from potential intruders.
The safe is made from a pry-resistant seal, and the gas struts allow for easy open/close. It only weighs around 12 pounds and is relatively thin. This makes it a great option to put in your car, or slide behind your headboard and bolt to the wall for quick access.
Vaultek Slider Series Handgun Safe
- SLIM VERTICAL DESIGN can hold a max firearm length of 8.875” plus 1 spare magazine. Stores great...
- TOUGH AND RUGGED 16-gauge carbon steel construction with a durable finish prevents corrosion and...
- RAPID DEPLOYMENT with the three-point precision rail system and ball bearing guides to rapidly...
The Vaultek Slider Series Handgun Safe is an excellent option for those that want quick access to their handgun in an easy to grab manner. This safe slides your handgun out ready to grab after scanning your fingerprint.
This safe is thin! It also has predrilled mounting holes, similar to other models on this list. This means you can mount it to the inner side of a desk or the side of a nightstand for easy access in a home. The safe will fit most handguns that are 8.75″ or smaller which includes 1911s. It can also hold an extra magazine so you can lock that up too.
The safe is made from pry-resistant steel, and can connect to your phone’s bluetooth for added security. The safe features a lithium-ion battery that will last for approximately 4-6 months before needing to be recharged. The safe can always be opened with a key should the battery die.
We’ve already mentioned the slim design, but just want to point out again that this is the perfect home office companion. The compact size works well inside a drawer or tucked behind a desk. While this safe is slightly more expensive than the others we’ve discussed so far, we feel that its ease in accessibility and features are well worth the price tag.
RPNB Mounted Firearm Safe
- Quick Access : 500 DPI Semiconductor Biometric Fingerprint Sensor in any gun safe captures...
- Handgun Safe : If you have young children who don’t understand the potential danger of firearms,...
- Desk-Mounted Design : Slim Vertical Design stores great under a desk or nightstand, discreetly on a...
The RPNB Mounted Firearm Safe is another perfect option for those who are looking for a cheap, budget-friendly slide-out handgun safe. Like the Vaultec safe, this safe features a biometric scanner along with an electronic keypad. Once either has been entered or the key is put in, the handgun will slide out in an easy to grab manner.
The slim vertical design is great for storing on the side of a desk or nightstand. The safe can be mounted from the right, left, or the top depending on how you would like it setup. The safe comes in a sleek matte black finish making it easy to blend in with any similarly colored furniture.
If you are really on a budget and are just looking for a safe with an electronic keypad, there is a non-biometric version available as well.
Hornady Portable Gun Lockbox
- Hornady TriPoint Lock Box – Store your firearm and valuables with confidence. This XL portable gun...
- Heavy and Sturdy – This Hornady safe is made from 16 gauge steel. Comes with a heavy duty 1500 lb....
- Ideal for Travel – The gun lock box provides pistol storage and security for concealed carry...
If you are on a tight budget and are just looking for a simple safe to keep your handgun locked up in while you’re not carrying it, the Hornady Portable Gun Lockbox is the perfect choice for you. This safe is simple, yet effective at doing what it is supposed to do.
The Hornady safe features a simple key entry that can be open using one of the 2 barrel keys each safe comes with. On the inside is a nice foam padding to protect your gun from getting scratched by the 16-gauge steel housing. The housing is pry-resistant in an effort to discourage thieves or curious kids.
While this box does not contain any mounts or mount points, it does have a four-foot long security cable that can withstand 1500 pounds of force. Clip that to your desk and this safe is not going anywhere unless your thief has an angle grinder! This safe is also perfect for air travel as it is TSA compliant and certified child-resistant.
Best Gun Safes For Rifles
If you have a rifle or multiple rifles and handguns, then you’re going to need to get a long gun safe. These safes are larger, heavier, and more secure than a handgun safe but have some drawbacks. For one, they can be hard to access if you need a gun quickly. Unless you put one next to your bed, it won’t beat the speed of a nightstand handgun safe.
Barska 4 Long Gun Biometric Safe
- 【High Level Secure Rifle Safe/ DOJ Approved】BARSKA DOJ Approved Biometric rifle safes are the...
- 【Biometric Scanner/ Optional Silent Mode】Our high-quality biometric scanner allows access to...
- 【Solid Steel Construction/ Durable】Solidly built with 100% steel walls and tamper-resistant...
The Barska Quick Access Biometric Rifle Safe is a great starter safe for someone who has a few long guns or handguns and knows that they will not purchase any more for a long time. It is also a great option for someone who wants to put a gun safe in their bedroom or bedroom closet. This safe is not as cumbersome and heavy as the other gun safes on our list and is the perfect option if you’re looking to keep a rifle nearby while you sleep.
This safe features a biometric scanner for easy access that can even be silenced so as to not alert anyone that you are opening it. It features enough space to store 4 rifles along with a removeable top shelf to hold ammo, documents, or a handgun.
This is a safe you’re going to want to bolt down to something. Since it is so small, a thief can easily strap it to a handcart and haul it off with no problem. Once it’s bolted to the floor, their only option is to try and pry it open which will be impossible due to its tamper-resistant edges and steel deadbolts.
SteelWater 16 Long Gun Safe
- NEW and IMPROVED Free Door Organizer Included, Upgraded to 1 Hour Fireproof,
- Larger 1.5″ Locking Bolts, Automatic LED Interior Lighting Included -60 Minute Fire Rated @ 1875...
- 1/4 inch steel reinforced bolt down hole for extra mounting security-(10) 1” diameter solid steel...
The SteelWater 16 Long Gun Safe is an amazing option for someone looking to store all of their current rifles and have room for a few more down the road. The 5″ thick door comes with 2 layers of fire-boards that can also be found in the walls, floor, and ceiling making this an excellent safe if you live in an area prone to house fires. The door even contains a heat activated seal that will keep out smoke and water in the event of a fire.
The interior features two lower sections with removable shelves that can hold 8 long guns each along with an upper shelf that can hold ammo, equipment, or anything else you want to secure.
This safe does not come with a biometric lock and only has a manual and electronic lock. The electronic lock however is EMP-proof in the event of an electromagnetic pulse.
Agile Ultralight Model 52
- ULTRALIGHT GUN SAFE – Don't let a traditional gun safe slow you down. The Agile 52 is strong and...
- KEY OVERRIDE - A keypad control panel with the addition of a hidden key override as back up, keeps...
- EASILY ADJUSTABLE - Comes standard with SecureIt’s CradleGrid Technology for organized and...
The Agile Ultralight Model 52 is an excellent choice if you are looking to spend more and get more. If you’re on a budget for a long gun safe, this one probably isn’t for you but the price it commands is surely worth the features of this safe.
This safe empty weighs 105 pounds. That’s right – 105 pounds. This safe is made of an ultralight durable material and is made with the same professional-grade craftmanship SecureIt uses for their U.S. military storage containers. You can easily move this safe by yourself but fear not! This safe is able to be bolted into the floor so you don’t have to worry about a thief walking off with it. There are 4 holes in the bottom and 4 holes in each side so that you can bolt it to a wall or the floor.
This safe can hold a lot of firearms. I’ve personally seen people fit 8 long rifles inside of it along with a number of handguns on the door and there was still plenty of space. If you have handguns you should opt to get the door organizer so you can store them there. There are options to get shelving units too for the safe as well as other accessories that help you customize the space to your specific needs.
Fast Box Model 47 and Model 40
If you read through our section on handgun safes, you will have noticed that there are plenty of options out there for safes that make your firearm readily accessible in the event of an emergency. There are also great options for long rifles to make them readily accessible as well. While harder to find space for than a handgun, SecureIt’s Fast Box Model 40 and Model 47 are the perfect options for you if you’re looking for something like that.
The Model 40 and 47 both come with pre-drilled holes allowing you to mount the safe under your bed, in your closet, or other locations in your home that you feel are perfect spots for a firearm. If you place the box on its side it technically only holds one rifle since the other will be laying on top of it, but in a vertical application you can place two long guns side-by-side.
If you’re wondering which Fast Box model you should get, simply go and measure the rifle or shotgun you wish to place in the box. The model numbers indicated the length of the box. If your rifle is 40 inches or under, you should get the Model 40. If it is over 40 but under 47, get the Fast Box Model 47. The boxes themselves are not particularly heavy, weighing in at around thirty pounds, meaning whatever you mount them to should be able to hold the weight.
Gun safes are not a one-size-fits-all type of situation. Everyone has different needs and different requirements. In our view, it’s best to own one larger gun safe, and an ideally a secondary backup. The backup can be used for your bedside, office or in any other place you’d need to have quick access to a firearm. This way you are only a hand-swipe away from having quick access to your sidearm.
If you are a beginner just starting out, we recommend looking at a handgun safe to lock up your first handgun. These are usually cheaper and will set you on the path for proper firearms safety as you grow. Once you’ve purchased your first rifle, you’ll want to at least get a smaller sized rifle cabinet that can be bolted down and store anywhere from 6-8 guns to accommodate future growth.