100 Money-Saving Ways to Protect Your Guns

This article covers both cheap alternatives to gun safes, as well as inexpensive ways to increase the security of any gun safe.  It will give you lots of ideas for how you can protect your guns.  You may decide you don’t need a gun safe at all.

Many families just want to keep their guns away from the children and smash-and-grab burglars.  They assume anything is better than nothing and are looking for a cheap gun safe.  In reality, gun safes are an expensive and sometimes unreliable way to accomplish that goal.

Cheap Gun Safe Alternative:  Job Box Toolbox

Job Box Toolboxes start at around $300 new and make great Cheap Gun Safes.

Some of the many gun safe alternatives covered here include:

Some of the money-saving recommendations for improving the security of your gun safe include:

The only limit in many cases is your imagination.  Here are over 100 ideas to get you started.  Have an idea that I’ve missed?  Leave a comment and let me know.

This is the fourth article in the series What You Need to Know Before Buying a Gun Safe.

Assess Your Risk and Desired Protection

The first way to save money protecting your guns is not to waste money buying protection that you don’t want or need.  Before you do anything, it helps to size up the situation and evaluate what your threat level is.  This article Assess Your Risk and Desired Protection will help you.

Once you’ve considered the real risk of burglary, flood, and fire, and taken a look at insurance, you should have a better idea of how much additional protection you want and need.  Maybe you don’t even need a gun safe, or can get away with a cheaper one!

Back to the Beginning

Cover Your Assets

Document Your Valuables

Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance is your first line of defense against theft and fire.  But insurance, and even police reports, are useless if you can’t prove what you owned.   Documenting your valuables will also give you an idea how much insurance coverage you need.  Some readers commented that they didn’t appreciate the importance of this until after a burglary happened.

Catalog the make, model, specifications, and serial number of all of your guns and other big ticket valuables like lawnmowers, ATV’s, electronics, etc..  Take high resolution digital photographs of these valuables, including the serial numbers.  I keep a separate digital photo folder just to hold insurance pictures, where I store more pictures when I buy something new.   If you have an expensive amount of ammunition, document that too. While you’re at it, it’s not a bad idea to scan or copy important documents like car titles, birth certificate, passports, driver’s licenses, etc., as long as you store them securely or encrypt the data.

Store multiple copies of this information, with at least one away from your home.  You can put it at a family member’s house, at work, in a safe deposit box, or other location as long as it will be safe if there is a burglary, flood, or fire in your primary residence.

For storage, you can burn the information to CDs/DVDs, copy it to a flash drive, or upload it to “cloud” file storage site like Google Drive (comes with Gmail account) or Dropbox.  Some services are “free” and some paid or have paid options. “Free” online services have their drawbacks, discussed below.

Put another copy of the insurance information on a USB Drive and store it in your bug-out bag or other emergency evacuation location. Add a recurring notification to the calendar of your email account to remind you every 6 to 12 months  to update your list of valuables and remind you to take pictures of anything else you forgot to photograph when you bought it  Every year or so, burn another CD/DVD, update the flash drives, and replace the off-site copy with the updated version.  Sometimes burned CDs are not readable or have other problems.  For this reason you might want to keep the last couple of CDs so you don’t lose all the information if one is bad.

Another option is to keep the files on a computer with an encrypted cloud backup service like Carbonite running  That way all of your files will be stored off site in case something happens to your residence.  If you have multiple computers that you dock together periodically, you may be using File Sync software (Microsoft’s free SyncToy is one) to copy files between them, which will also create backups.

Insure Your Guns

When I realized out my guns were under-insured, I called my insurance and added an Additional Firearms Coverage Rider to increase the limit, as well as the Replacement Cost Option.  Both cost me less than $80/year — much cheaper than a gun safe.

The cost to insure your collection will vary, and you may have to get separate coverage.  It’s well worth it. An expensive gun safe may fail and get broken into, flooded, or burned up.   Even if this happens, proper insurance will cover the both the contents and the safe (unless it’s TEOTWAWKI). Get any guns, jewelry, or other specific items appraised as required by your insurance company, or find a company which doesn’t require appraisal.

If your collection is particularly valuable or hard to replace, your insurance company may require you store them in a true safe.  Or, they might give a premium discount for a true safe, so it doesn’t hurt to ask before you buy one.

Get Your Deductions

Note that many of the home security improvements below may reduce your homeowner’s insurance rates and be tax deductible.  Check with your homeowners insurance about discounts they offer.  After implementing the improvements, make sure to contact your insurance company again to get your credit.

Activate No-Cost Gun Insurance

If you are a NRA member, it used to come with $2,500 of free gun insurance that had to be activated.  It looks like that benefit has gone away.  If it returns, I’ll link to it here again.

Back to the Beginning

Layer Security Features

Layering security is critical because a security system with only one layer is useless.  Picture a monitored alarm system on a house with no doors or windows. Or, a stocked gun safe in a front lawn by a busy street — how long would it last there?

A gun safe is only one layer of security, and it’s probably the most expensive part.  Want to save money on a gun safe and get great protection?  Improve the other layers of your security system first.

Here are some money-saving ways to protect your guns.  The cost of these “money-saving” tips ranges from free to hundreds of dollars or more.  Remember gun safes are very expensive, so even a tip that costs a couple hundred dollars may allow you to buy a $1000 cheaper safe.  A hidden homemade vault which costs $2,000 to build is a bargain if it offers 10X the protection of a shiny $5,000 RSC gun safe.

If you’re concerned about protecting your guns, implement as many of these tips as possible.

Put Time On Your Side

No security device is 100% effective.  Given the right skills, equipment, and enough time anything can be broken into. Once you’ve Covered Your Assets, the first layer is avoidance and prevention.  If prevention fails, the key to security is putting time on your side.  Make your home as time-consuming, annoying, and painful for the burglars as possible.

  1. Avoid Being Targeted– you can make your home very secure, but if someone wants to get in badly enough they will find a way.  If you can avoid being targeted specifically, the risk of being hit by an experienced criminal is reduced.
  2. Deterrence – the next step is to deter thieves from targeting your home.
  3. Break In Time – most thieves don’t want to take more than 1 minute breaking into your house.  This is part of the reason over a third of Forcible Entries are unsuccessful.  (Sources for burglary statistics can be found here.)
  4. Finding Your Valuables – most burglaries last between 8 and 12 minutes.  If a thief thinks he has found all of your goodies within that time, he will probably leave.  If he sees signs that there may be more to find (like a gun safe), or knows beforehand about particular items that he hasn’t found yet, he may stick around longer.
  5. Accessing Your Valuables – Once thieves start to attack your security container or safe, it needs to make breaking it open as difficult, time consuming, and attention-attracting as possible.  If your valuables are not locked, than this step is as simple as grabbing them.
  6. Getting Away– Even if burglars access your valuables, they still have to get away with them to safety without getting caught.

The key to security is time. Your goal is to force a thief to waste as much time as possible.  From the moment a burglary starts, the longer it takes, the less willing they will be to continue. How much time will be varies considerably.  It may be minutes if they know that you’re polishing your AR-10 in the next room, or days if they know you’re on vacation on another continent for the rest of the week.  A number of gun safes have been attacked for hours while the owners were away on vacation.

Back to the Beginning

1. Avoid Being Targeted

Un-list your Home Address and Phone Number

Your name is very public.  Most people who you meet know it, especially if you’re in the construction trades or otherwise work for yourself under your own name.

Your home address does not need to be public though. Un-listing your number and address in the phone book is one of the easiest steps to make your address a little harder to find.

Landlines are more and more uncommon these days, but this is appropriate for any directory.

Avoid Using Your Name

Don’t put your family name on your mailbox or home.  Don’t use your full name in any directories or outgoing voice mail message.  If you have to give your name, use your first initial and last name.

Google Yourself

One of the easiest ways of gun thieves to track you down is to type your name in a search engine.  Type your own name in Google and other search engines (for example, Leroy Gibbs) and see what comes up.  Also try your name plus city (for example, Leroy Gibbs Stillwater PA), and your full name (for example, Leroy Jethrow Gibbs).  Often, each way will bring up different results.  You may be surprised what you find.

Scrub Personal Information Online

Say a thief is driving through your neighborhood and sees mail overflowing your mailbox.  He walks by and reads a name off of your wife’s cooking magazine and pulls out his phone.  Typing her name in Google brings up her Facebook profile.  Her new profile picture with the family was just posted yesterday from your vacation in Mexico “first day in paradise!!! :-)”  The next day he comes back with his friends and cleans you out.  This is unfortunately more common than you may think.

Check your Security settings on social media and especially Facebook.  You should disable indexing your personal social media profiles by search engines.  This should prevent an online search of your Facebook profile name from bringing up your profile.

At a minimum, set your profile so that only Friends can see your pictures, posts, and information. Check the online profiles of you and your children to make sure they don’t list private information.

Facebook, Google+, and online forums profiles are some of the places where your information may be made public.  Your address/city information is most applicable to protecting your house and your guns.

Your birth date, phone number, and other information may be accidentally made public as well.  Your full birthday with year is a key piece of data used by identity thieves.  The true year of your birth or age should not be posted online.  This is another reason to restrict visibility of profile posts to friends only, to hide the “Happy 30th!” posts on your timeline.

It’s more secure to avoid using your surname in Facebook, especially together with your first name.  For example if your name is Willie Jess Robertson, a Facebook name of “Willie Robertson” makes it very easy for someone to find your profile in a Facebook search, and any information you have made public there.  If you instead use any Facebook name that doesn’t include Robertson like “Willie Jess“, “Willie Sr.“, “Redneckcoleptic“, etc. it will be harder for a stranger to find your info.

Note About “Free” Online Services

It should be mentioned that “free” social media services are not really compatible with privacy, regarless of the security settings.  The simple reason is that on any “free” internet service like Facebook, since you are not paying them, you are not their customer.  Instead, your personal information and “your eyeballs” are the product they are selling to their actual customers, the ones that pay them.  Several high-profile tech celebrities have stopped using these services for this very reason.  Food for thought, amongst other criticisms of these services which aren’t relevant to gun security.

Be Invisible

Hide your identity on gun forums and anywhere else where your presence or membership reveals you as a gun owner.  These sites permit anonymity for a reason. Many of these forums link to photo sharing accounts like Imagur or Photobucket.  Make sure your account on that site is also anonymous, and make it private if the information could be used to identify you.

Use Misdirection

In your online profiles, you can also use misdirection to confuse thieves.  If you must give a city, state, and/or other personal information, make it up.  You can choose another town that has no connection to your name and use that, perhaps where your favorite coworker or Army buddy was from. This will be easy to remember and confuse someone trying to find you.

Change Your Mailing Address


With a mailbox like this, I’d wager there’s guns in this house.

Your address is shared with a large number of groups and businesses.  Some common examples are clubs, doctor’s offices, surveys, online petitions, children’s sports teams, online shopping, magazine subscriptions, etc..

Ideally, you want as few people as possible know your address where all your valuables are.

Post office (PO) boxes are relatively cheap and a great alternative to giving out your address.  If you move a lot, your mailing address doesn’t have to.  Now that more and more bills are handled online, there’s less need to get your personal mail every day.

The US Post Office offers a street addressing feature, so that your mail and packages can be sent to a real street address, not just “PO Box 1234”.  Many private local shipping and printing companies offer this service as well, and cheaper.

If you want to save money you could share a post office box with relatives or friends.  For those of you with their own businesses with physical locations, you can send your home mail there since you’re usually there when it comes anyway.

Without spending anything you can use a relative’s address.  If your mother comes over every week or two to look after your children, you can send your mail there and have her bring it over.  Of course using her address so that your house isn’t targeted means that her house may be targeted instead.  But if she lives far enough away that a thief isn’t likely to go there, lives in a low crime area, or has a more secure home than yours, this is a cheap option.

Another option is to use an online mail forwarding and scanning service.  These services serve different customers from small businesses, to travelers and RVers, to people in apartments that can’t sign for packages.  With the largest companies, you can pick an address in many states and have your mail sent there, where it will be forwarded to another address and/or scanned and e-mailed to you.

Earth Class Mail is the biggest with addresses in sixteen states, but has gotten very expensive.  Traveling Mailbox is much cheaper with addresses in twelve states.  There are a dozen or so other notable services which only have one state address.  Many local shipping stores now offer mailbox and forwarding services, so find one in a town convenient to you and ask them about it.  An advantage of using shipping stores is that their addresses are usually commercial rather than residential.  Commercial addresses are often charged cheaper shipping rates for large packages, or those requiring signatures.

A couple words of caution though.  Some companies are better than others, another reason I prefer small neighborhood businesses where you personally know the owner.  Check reviews and the Better Business Bureau, and then try them out for a little while before shifting all of your mail there.  Also, for some purposes your “residence address” will specifically be requested.  If you give a company a mailbox address you may hear

that address is showing up as a mail service, what’s your home address?

You can answer with a valid concern,

Actually it is, it’s a precaution I took after I had my identity stolen. (true story)  Could I provide a separate mailing and residence address?

In most cases you will be able to provide separate addresses, even for home utilities.  Banks may require you to go into a branch to do so.  Doctors offices seem willing to change your address to Pluto as long as the bill gets paid where they send it.

It does take a little work to get everything set up, so choose your company well.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

If you’ve served, OPSEC will be familiar to you.

Treat your gun safe like a confidential family secret.  In some parts of the country everyone has a gun safe, and a gun in their truck.  But, it’s most secure to tell as few people as possible that you have a gun safe anyway.  If you do mention it to friends, you can remind them

I know it goes without saying, but please keep this between you and me.  The fewer people that know about it, the less likely someone will break in to get it.

The less that other people know about your gun safe and other personal security measures, the less likely a burglar will come prepared to deal with them.  That means they will be stuck looking for tools in your house to do the job, which is something you can take care of ahead of time.

Don’t Discuss Your Collection

Cheap Gun Safe Handgun Collection

When sharing photos of your collection online, make sure to use anonymous accounts that can’t be linked back to you.

Don’t brag about your collection, or invite people you don’t know well in to show them off.  Even friends and family members can mean well, but from time to time have a few too many to drink and start talking about everyone’s business but their own.

This also goes for announcing yourself as a gun owner.  If it’s necessary to say so, “I’m a gun owner” is better than “I own lots of guns.

Many people on gun forums post pictures of their collection or their safe fully stocked up.  Make sure if you’re going to do this that your personal information is concealed.

Unmarked Cars

I would venture a guess that in much of the country, someone who has a pro-2A or Gadsden Flag sticker on their vehicle owns at least a handgun, a shotgun, and a rifle.  Hunting stickers may also identify a vehicle owner as a gun owner.

In some areas of the country, the revelation that “Bill has a gun sticker on his truck” would be as shocking as “Bill drinks coffee.”  The Virginia DMV even offers Gadsden Flag license plates, which are relatively common.  So, how much this is a concern for you probably will have something to do with where you live.

The visibility of 2A, political, and hunting stickers is the whole point, to draw attention to support for various freedoms.  However, these stickers are visible to all manner of people all day while you’re at work, in a store, parked at a friend’s house, or in your own driveway.  In your driveway, if a sticker is visible from the road, it may be visible from anywhere in the world in Google StreetView or other panoramic street photographs.

It’s likely that some people you wouldn’t like to discuss your guns with will see one of these stickers.  Unfortunately this also applies for any sort of affiliation that might reveal that you’re the owner of something worth stealing.

Someone who breaks into your car after seeing a 2A sticker, will likely find your home address on your registration in the glove box.  Now they know that you own guns, and where they can probably find them.  Or, they can wait for you to come back to your truck, size you up, and then follow you home to get your address.

The rhetoric from anti-2A individuals can be extreme at times.  Based on these comments, stickers may also make you a target for vandalism in some parts of the country.

If these issues concern you, it’s not a bad idea to keep your political activism targeted towards your grassroots organizations and your representatives, and refrain from putting stickers on your vehicles.

For those in severely anti-gun states, this has an additional benefit of not giving the police any possible (unconstitutional) gun-related probable cause to search your car or truck.  If you live in a state like this, you’ll understand.

Political Signs

Around election time, political yard signs go up everywhere.  Putting a pro-gun sign in front of your home is a great statement, but also advertises your gun ownership to everyone who drives by.

Instead, put your signs up in a place that doesn’t reveal your location.  I put my signs up in a nearby empty lot owned by an acquaintance that lives out of state.  It’s on a busier street anyway.

Talk to Your Children

The “loose lips” guideline goes for children as well, who are still learning to differentiate between what’s private and public.  If that includes guns for your family, it’s a good idea to sit your children down and distinguish between “things we share about and things we don’t share about.”

If a teacher is discussing guns in class and asks your child to contribute to the discussion, he or she might say, “I don’t think they’re bad.  My daddy owns lots of guns.”  In politically charged times, that’s probably going to get the attention of the other children, who may go home and tell their parents that “Ms. Jackson was talking about guns today and Peter Parker said his dad has lots of guns.

One or more children in that class may turn out to be criminals in a few years, and their parents already may be.

Be Discrete

The more inconspicuous your gun cases and range equipment are, and the fewer people that see them, the better.  Keep your guns out of sight when you loading weapons into your vehicle.

Skinner Sights HTF Tactical Garment Bag

Skinner Sights HTF Tactical Garment Bag allows you to discretely head to the range without being seen loading your trunk with gun cases.

Most gun owners like to take a large portion of their collection to the range.  This is pretty obvious to anyone that sees you loading a series of gun cases and ammo boxes into your truck.  A passerby may only see you load one case.  However, people sitting on their porch or mowing their lawn will see you making many trips back and forth.  You may only have a couple .22’s, a bolt-action rifle, and a few cheap shotguns in those cases.  But as far as the observers know, you just loaded up an arsenal.

Put your gun or gun cases in cardboard boxes, guitar cases, golf bags, toolboxes, backpacks, or otherwise disguise them when you load your truck or car.  You probably have these collecting dust in your attic anyway.

Blackhawk makes a series of “diversion” carry bags specifically designed for transporting both handguns and long guns.  These bags are made to look like a workout bag, courier bag, backpack, rucksack, sling, or other everyday packs.  So if you’re in the market for a new range bag, think about getting one that looks like a gym bag.

Keep a Low Profile

I remember one pistol shooting event when one of the Range Safety Officers brought his suppressed Glock.  I’ve forgotten hundreds of people that have attended those events but I remember him because it was the first time I heard a suppressed pistol shoot (it’s not that quiet).  The same goes for the wheel-gun guy with the modified 9 mm rounds loaded so light the bullets barely came out of the barrel.

People are more likely to notice and talk about non-typical, unusual, or high-end guns and accessories.

I’m not saying to never take your XM500 or suppressed LRP-07 to the range.  When you do though, the fewer people that see it the better.  Members-only club events or times of the day when it’s not that crowded are better than busy times.  That means fewer people that might get tipsy at the bar and say to a stranger “Those LaRue OBR’s sure run nice.  Too bad I’m not rich like Jim.

Be Aware of Who’s In Your House

The fewer people that come in your home, the better protected your guns will be.  That’s less people to see a gun safe, or other indications that you’re a gun owner like framed 50’s Winchester posters.

If you have a plumber coming in to do some work, you might take those frames down and keep him out of rooms where he can see your gun safe.  Instead of having a new mattress delivered, have them drop it off at the front door and bring them the old one.  Install a new TV yourself instead of having some potential flunkie from a big box store drop it off.

Check the references of any house cleaners or other people you hire to come in your home, especially if they have a set of your keys.

Professional thieves may come to your door pretending to be window salesman or local contractors to case out your home.  Don’t let anyone in before they show their credentials.  If you don’t feel good about it for any reason, don’t let them in.  I’ve found my gut instinct is almost never wrong.

If anyone comes to your door because their car broke down, keep the door shut and offer to call for help yourself instead of giving them the phone.

Hire Safe Installation Professionals

Delivering Gun Safe to Basement

Delivering Gun Safe to Basement

Delivery of gun safes is a perfect example of this point.  After delivering a gun safe, the delivery guys will know what’s inside your house, that you have a gun safe, where the gun safe is, and what brand and model it is.  They may also have removed or replaced a damaged gun safe of the same brand, and know how it was defeated.

Having a guy with a questionable past who just started working at a big box store last week install a gun safe isn’t the best idea.  How do you know he doesn’t have some sort of criminal background?  How do you know he won’t tell everybody at his dope spot or card game about the safe he brought into your house?

Am I being paranoid?  This retired cop noticed jailhouse tats on the guys delivering a gun safe, and decided to open his own store and hire veterans.

Real safe dealers have experienced and reasonably paid delivery guys doing the job for a living.  Most do very high end safe and vault installations too, so your gun safe is relatively small potatoes.  They also have better installation equipment and are less likely to damage your floors and your house installing it.  They should use unmarked trucks that don’t advertise to all your neighbors that you just got a safe.

Install a Gun Safe Yourself

If the gun safe is under 500 lbs and you have some strong friends experienced at moving heavy things, install it yourself as inconspicuously as possible.

You and your hunting or shooting buddies can all take turns installing each other’s gun safes.  That way no one outside your group of friends knows what you have and where it is.

Modular or take-down safes break down into parts that individually don’t weigh more than a couple hundred pounds.  As far as your neighbors know, you just bought some Ikea furniture.

Cover Your Combination

When getting into your gun safe, make sure to block others from seeing your combination.  You can cover the dial or keypad with your hand, or make a habit of blocking others from seeing it with your body.

Change Your Combination

Electronic Keypad Wear Showing Combination Hints

Guessing my combination? Want a hint? Wear on unrated Electronic Keypad Lock

If you have a lock with a user-changeable combination, make sure to change it from time to time.  Also, change it preemptively if you catch one of your children trying to watch you type it in.

Changing combinations is especially important on electronic locks, which may develop grime patterns which reveal the keys you use or narrow down your combination.  Unrated electronic locks can develop wear pattern on the keys.

To reduce the likelihood of creating a wear pattern, it’s better if your combination doesn’t repeat the same number twice.  If your keypad starts to show wear, use all different numbers when you change your combination.

Make sure you don’t forget your new combination.  This is one of the most common problems with electronic locks.  People often forget their combination right after changing it.

Take Advantage of Your Electronic Lock

Higher end electronic locks have a number of features which can be used to your advantage and convenience.  Make sure to read the manual so you know all of the capabilities of your lock.

The most common feature is a wrong combination penalty lock out which will lock out the keypad for a certain number of minutes if a wrong combination is entered a certain number of times.  You may be able to configure this option for fewer attempts, which makes it more secure.  Or you could increase the number of attempts for home defense in situations when you fumble typing in the code under pressure.

Some electronic locks come with the ability to program multiple combinations.  If this is the case, there is a huge range of uses for this feature.  You can program a backup emergency combination to use if you forget your primary combination.  You could also program different combinations for different people.  That way, if you later want to deny a certain person access, you can just erase their combination without having to give everyone else a new combination.

On some locks you can program a separate “duress” combination which is connected to your monitored burglar alarm.  If you someone forces you to open your gun safe, you can type in this code, setting off a silent alarm.

Re-lock your Mechanical Lock

Gun safes with electronic locks generally re-lock automatically when the door handle is locked.  Gun safes with mechanical locks do not.  If you don’t turn the dial, the door can be opened right back up without putting in the combination again.

Make a habit of turning your lock dial at least one spin after shutting the door.  “Flicking” the dial may wear out the lock (and void your warranty), so make sure you turn it instead.

Back to the Beginning

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What do you think? Leave a comment below, your thoughts are welcome.


  1. store valuables says

    You are so interesting! I do not think I’ve read anything like that
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    This web site is something that is required on the internet,
    someone with some originality!

  2. There is a major flaw in Job Box boxes. The locks can be drilled out easily. Its happened to friends. After showing someone how to do it when they locked the keys inside that very person drilled out the locks and stole their nailguns and purposed destroyed the collated nails that were also inside as they lost their job there.

    We used to get into the full sized containers yanking on the lock with a chain and a forklift since its hidden up inside to make it more secure. This also was done when a boss left his keys inside.

    • Great points, thanks for your comment.

      It’s important to understand the level of protection you’re getting for your money when you buy protection for your guns. As Framer points out, the weak point of job boxes is the lock(s). This isn’t an area you want to skimp on, so buy the best locks you can that fit your job box.

      He also pointed out the importance of locking up your tools, which the reader in the pictures did with a second job box (the combined cost of both job boxes was still about half of a basic RSC gun safe). Leaving drills or other tools accessible outside the job box hands burglars a way in.

      Job boxes are best for those just looking to save money on a cheap gun safe, keep their kids out, not draw attention to their guns, and avoid/deter basic burglaries. If you’re looking for more protection than that, you should consider something stronger than a job box as Framer noted.

  3. Sanjay Dutt says

    Job Boxes can be positioned so that there is only enough clearance in front of the locks to get a hand in with a key. Then fill the bottom of the box with 500 pounds of lead shot and tie it down with a couple of redhead bolts. Won’t stop a well-planned assault, but will stop most folks. Might as well force them to saw the box open, which is a long noisy job.

  4. Walt S. says

    The statement that a home invasion forcing you to open a safe is a robbery, not a burglary, is incorrect in Pennsylvania and I would suspect everywhere. Entering an occupied building with intent to commit a felony (robbery) is burglary.

    • Jeffrey Walker says

      In Michigan, taking property using force or threat of force against a person is robbery. Armed robbery has a max of life in prison. If a home invasion or burglary
      is involved, it does not matter, it’s still a max of life.

  5. That’s quite a list of tips there. Interesting to note the NRA insurance has to be activated. That feels a little sneaky to me, but maybe I’m misunderstanding something?

    • I wasn’t a big fan of the requirement for activation either. It’s moot now though as the $2,500 in free coverage (after activation) is no longer advertised.

  6. Michael says

    Very impressive list of ideas – some of which I have exploited and others that I’m definitely going to deploy soon.

    It would also be interesting to see a full inventory of collected breached/cracked/stolen gun safes, true safes, makes, models, residential/commercial, etc. Did anybody compile or maintain a list?

    • There are pictures here and there, but no central repository that I know of. Safe techs generally avoid posting pictures of breached gun safes and safes. One major reason is that from these images you can tell how a particular unit is constructed. Some of this information, particularly the lockwork, is useful information for other thieves to defeat that model. Another complication is that using images online involves getting rights or the permission of the picture owner. Since some people have posted pictures using emails/accounts that are no longer valid, it makes things even more difficult. I was able to share most of the interesting pictures I found and I linked to others. Thanks for reading!

  7. Was looking for good ideas to use to store cell phones and other important items within our store.It is a hassle to take everything home each day.
    I saw a great idea San Jay Duty had for using a job box.
    If there is a break in,I figure that the culprit will know that the devices are in the job boxes but I’m only concerned about them not being able to take the box or get inside before police respond to the alarm.
    Very good article and comments!

  8. #101
    On one of the bolts used to bolt down your RSC type gun safes, have someone weld a heavy duty eye bolt on top of it and use an open end wrench to tighten it down. Have a high strength, coated steel cable made with crimped loops in each end. A plastic coating will prevent scratching. Run the cable through each trigger guard and use a high quality lock purchased from a locksmith to lock the ends of the cable. Now even if they saw into the top or side they’ll have a devil of a time dragging the guns out. If they manage to breach the door they’ll still have to deal with the cable.

    No safe or vault on Earth is impenetrable. Even an ISM Treasury safe only buys time. Everything you can do to slow them down will help.

  9. Framer Dick says

    I have a real issue with the suggestion that a Jobox is suitable for a gun safe. It may work yet we find them unsuitable for tools. Perhaps it is not much worse than some of the cheaper gun safes. I have worked in framing many years and rarely ever stored my tools in a box. For years on job sites we put tools in common big blue walk in job containers that have the lock hidden up inside and difficult to get to. I remember a framing contractor locking his keys inside once. The method to getting back in involves… [redacted descriptions of ways people break in to job boxes on job sites]

    Of course the more stupid theives will try and pry it open rather than [those methods]. Its like my brother’s Ford F350 superduty. The internet is probably full of utube videos of how to easily break into one. Kinda of like Rangers are easy from under the handle. A company makes a anti theft plates that bolt inside that area someway in a number of trucks. But along came some idiot that attempted to turn the door key lock with a flateblade screwdriver most likely and just twisted out the locks metal so a key won’t go in anymore. Some are just low tech and low thought, low brow. In Seattle I used to see nice old cars with wing windows in the door broken just to get in when the door was left unlocked. Some of these ppl would not have survived long in the caveman days if dinosaurs were present.

    • Thanks for posting your misgivings about job boxes. You gave some descriptions of ways people have broken into job boxes on job sites, which I redacted. It would be a shame for anyone to learn any tricks here which would wind up putting readers’ guns in jeopardy.

      Your comment reiterates the importance of not getting a false sense of security about job boxes, or any security measures. Job boxes are great for those wanting something cheap to keep guns away from their kids, for not attracting attention like a gun safe, and for low brow burglars you described. They are not high security. But, they are not worse than cheaper gun safes as you point out.

      One difference I would mention is that a job box locked in a basement or garage is more secure than a desolate job site. Job sites generally have very little security, no one around to see/hear someone breaking in, they attract vandals and thieves, and most of the passers-by have pickup trucks and/or tools — which could be used to take or open the job box. We never used them on a site, either, although we moved around a lot anyway. For a home though, they have many uses if the guns outgrow the box.

      Thanks again Dick!

  10. Eddie Sinclair says

    Awesome article. I’ve been through the flood disasters. I 100% agree with all your good advice. Seems very complete. Thank you. People should follow this advice.

  11. Personally i would get an average to cheap safe, store a couple cheapest guns in there and the really good stuff in a hidden wall (behind book case / etc)… This way they find safe, they find guns and think thats it.

    Also like mentioned in the article with contractors, etc… OPSEC is very important, if people don’t know you have guns, right there you solve a HUGE potential problem. I myself am a cable tech and go into many homes and you would be amazed what people let me see or don’t go through the trouble of concealing… oops, a 1911 mag there on the counter, a box of .308 over there… on many occasions… lucky for them I am an honest person!

  12. A lot of very useful information and a number of excellent but practical ideas. Some of the information and videos are concerning enough that I am re-thinking my gun storage strategy entirely.
    Thanks for putting together a wealth of information in one place. I stumbled across your article when researching gun safes as I am about to upgrade to a larger safe. A lot of food for thought here.

    Hugely helpful.

  13. Jim Kimball says

    If there are trees close enough to your driveway you can place a relatively inexpensive game camera on one of the trees. Set at the right height the camera may catch a license plate number and possible picture of the driver/burglar either coming onto or leaving the property. A license plate number will increase the possibility of the police tracking down a suspect.

    • AGREE! I have two Cuddeback game cameras. One set up to take pics of the wildlife crossing my property at night (mostly deer and bear) and the other camera is set in the trees facing the driveway. Get perfect HD pictures with a time stamp of vehicles and persons entering or leaving the property.

  14. Eric Wood says

    GREAT Article! Packed with practical, helpful advice and scores of ideas. Thank you!!!

  15. Great site, sucked up every one of my lunch breaks over the last 2 weeks. Easy to see you’re a passionate industry expert who cares more about helping consumers than making a buck or pitching a particular product. Wish there were many similar blogs out there, run by SMEs. Shared over 4 Survivalist FB forums and personally to a dozen similarly-minded friends.

    1) Is there any sort of dedicated Gun Safe Forum? I’ve found sections on anandtech, 1911forum, survivalistboards, ar15.com etc but nothing dedicated to the topic. Maybe a good opportunity for you?

    2) After reading your blog and visiting a local safe showroom (NW Safe co in Enumclaw), I’ve come to the conclusion that a vault/armored closet would be best, supplemented by a something small in the bedroom. My question is about the “Closet Vault” door: – Does anyone have any good ideas about where to buy/how to make a decent metal door/jam/locks? My space is only a few feet wide/high so best idea I have come up with so far is to buy a wall safe big enough to crawl through and grind the backing off.

    3) Does anyone make a “hardened” (i.e. wood-appearing steel and Plexiglas) gun cabinet like the Amish one? I have several older gentlemen friends who are adamant about wanting this style. Have scoured the Internet with little luck so far. Yes, I’m aware it wouldn’t hold up well to a determined attack.
    https://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=8&f=9&t=336564 “To answer the OPs question, about ten years ago there was a company that made “glass” gun cases that were really bullet resistant plate glass and steel under a wood veneer. The company is out of business now, but you might find one used on Ebay or something.”

    Unsurprisingly, Google Trends reports a ~7x volume of searches for “gun safe” than “gun cabinet”. The later still has significant volume but is steady while the former is steadily increasing. https://www.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=gun%20cabinet,gun%20safe

    4) FYI the “indiana jones” comment above is spam.

    • Hi Carl,
      Thanks for the kind words. Glad you’re finding the site useful, and thanks for sharing it!

      1) There is no gun safe forum that I know of. Before I put this site together I thought quite a bit about the most effective way to get information to gun safe customers. I concluded that for most gun owners, gun safes are one time purchases. People do some research, buy one, and then move on to other concerns. Also, much like gun technology, sound safe and gun safe designs don’t change that often. So, I figured that other topics lend themselves better to frequent member engagement and forums. Instead I structured GSRG more like a reference than a blog or forum with constant new material.

      Speaking of forums, glad you patronized NW Safes. One of their safe techs has contributed a lot to ar15.com.

      2) A reader sent me pictures of his similar approach to what you described. He took a floor safe, cut off the door, and cast it into a masonry feature in his house. He used a liner and waterproof membrane to protect the interior from moisture. The floor safe door opens to reveal a deep chamber sized for long guns. And since the chamber is built into the structure, it’s well hidden.

      Some brands of true safe use the same door frame for multiple grades of safe. E.g. the door frames for their B-Rate and C-Rate are actually the same. If you decided to go this way, you could buy the one with the thinnest walls, as you’d just be cutting them off anyway. Of course if the area you’re trying to protect is wood framed, this could be overkill without significant reinforcement to the walls.

      Another option is to build it yourself. As you saw from the construction of the old vault door, the construction of a custom safe door can be relatively simple. The Graffunder pictures and cutaway show that the door frame of a true safe is primarily lots of steel. Of course DIY building a vault door, it’s not everything aligned and operating smoothly. But, if you’ve done some fabrication, you’ll have an intuition for how hard it would be for you to do.

      3) There are hardened bed and couch products and lots of hidden furniture options. Some of the furniture diversion safes are lightly hardened, but I don’t know of any like you’re asking about.

      4) Thanks, “indiana jones” snuck in but has been sent back to the Temple of Spam.

  16. This morning I’m reading about the shooter at Ohio State and finally decided it’s time to exercise my 2nd amendment rights. I’d figure out how to secure them first which is what led me here. Excellent ideas. The main problem around here is drug fueled break ins for which a hardened closet is probably best. Thanks.

  17. Three 100+lb dogs is all I’ve ever really needed to keep people from looking too closely to my house…….Especially Dori, who broke through the side window of my van to get at someone who was being a pest.

  18. Hey, just a quick note on clothing and books for hiding. It’s not very secure! When I was broken into the thieves stole guns & ammo, knives, etc. They went through all my cloths (took some too), stripped the bed, upended the mattresses, used pillow cases and sleeping bags to pack stuff off, went through every book and drawer, picture, and adding insult to injury, stole my leather bound bibles off the bed stand. Seriously, bibles???!!!

    Another note about clothing and books, just a few days ago, saw a news item on a local retired Sheriff that was burgled. They showed him in his living room. Every book and painting visible in the room was overturned. Looked a lot like my master bedroom 15 years earlier. Thieves are much smarter about looking for firearms and valuables, so really think the hiding strategies through. If it appears handy to grab near your chair, door, bed or not near a window easily observed from the outside, it will be searched!

    I am really enjoying the information on gun safes though. You have given a lot of food for thoughts! Thanks!

  19. James Russell says

    Be careful with some job boxes. The long hinge pin can be removed from the back unless it is tack welded or stored in a location where the thief cannot drive it out. Great article and lots of good ideas for safe storage.

  20. Bruce Gibson says

    If you have a home alarm system, run a contact wire, through the electric hole. Wire it to your system (you can do this yourself, or hire a professional installer), and place a contact at the inside frame. This way, even if they get into the house without setting off the alarm and try to pry the door open, the alarm is set off.

    Thanks for all of the other great ideas!

  21. Avid Reader says

    Thanks for this great repository of safe information etc. I’d note the importance of turning off geotags when posting smart phone pictures of firearms or your security measures online.

  22. That wasn’t Charlton Heston’s gun vault in the pic. Just saying.

  23. Fire extinguishers . . . Kidde has just (12/17) recalled 38 million fire extinguishers made from January of 1979 to September of 2017. Any Kidde or similar brand (sold under about 130 different labels) with plastic handles needs to be checked on the Kidde website. They will send you a brand new one for free, and a shipping label for the old one. These extinguishers are found everywhere, homes, businesses, workshops, even boats and RVs. Problem is the trigger gets brittle and breaks off, so the extinguisher won’t work even if it is fully charged. Again – replacement is FREE. You’ll need the model number (lower left side of label), and the serial number (lower right side of label). Takes about 14 days for the replacement to arrive. Check you extinguishers NOW before you need to use one, then it is too late. Again, FREE at Kidde.com

  24. Mr koolio says

    What about good hiding places instead. I have used the rafters in my garage for rifles and ammo. Not mentioned was the fact that if they find ammo, they know you likely have a gun. If you dont keep the riifles in boxes/cases, what are thr odds guys are going to climb around your garage rafters. I took an old mattress, slit the sides and it held 4 rifles. The i piled old clothes, photos, and other junk….up to the roof….so they just cant push it all off on to the floor….oh snd inscrewed the mattress down and put other rafters (using old dark wood…not new, so that it was all kind of wedged in there. Kind of a pain to get at for me….but with my ladder locked up outside….hard for them to get up there….whst do u think?

  25. David Bell says

    Thanks for all the work you’ve done on this website. It’s the best! One thing you said that I would like to reiterate and stress is your statement, “Any ‘booby-traps’ need to be non-lethal and of course legal.” People really need to check their state laws before installing even a pepper spray booby trap. I like the idea but it’d be really said if it could get you in enough trouble that you would no longer have a need for a gun safe.

  26. Matthew Kerr says

    Thank you for your efforts in making this long article. I really appreciate this! I was searching on how will I protect my guns without using a pot of money and less hassle, then I discovered your link. A friend of mine recommends your website. This article helps me a lot. I’m starting to like your content.

    Best Regards,

  27. Corey Naylor says

    I love how you enumerate the possible tips on how to protect guns. Your article helps gun owners have the ideas, tips and advices. My husband told me that I will search on what are the possbile ways of protecting a gun and then I saw your article. This is perfection! I will show this to my husband so that he will also get the ideas. Thank you so much for this article!

    Best Regards,

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