Gun Safe Buyer’s Guide

Gun Safe Frequently Asked Questions

For your convenience, here are quick rapid-fire answers to the most-asked questions.

I want to buy a gun safe.  What do I need to know?

The majority of gun safes don’t offer very much protection considering how much they cost.  Most are not a good use of your money.

Why do you say that most gun safes are a waste of money?

Gun Safe Buyer's Guide - Buyer Beware

Burglars pried this gun safe open with these screwdrivers.

Today’s gun safes pretend to be safes but are not.  Gun owners buy them expecting burglary protection for their valuables.  Unfortunately, most gun safes can be opened in a couple minutes with common tools.  My article on theft protection explains these statements in detail.

The same goes for fire protection.  There is an industry-standard independent fire rating for fire safes.  Unfortunately, virtually no “fireproof” gun safe can meet it.  So instead, manufacturers basically make up their own fire ratings.  It is useless to compare gun safe fire ratings from different companies.  Click here for my explanation of fire ratings.

Many people think any gun safe is better than nothing.  Unfortunately, in many ways this is not true.

I just want to keep my guns away from the children and smash-and-grab burglars. What do you recommend?

For just locking up your guns, there are many options.  Most are cheaper and often more reliable than a gun safe:

Toolbox Storage Chest used as Cheap Gun Safe

$250 Toolbox Storage Chest a reader bought to use as a low budget Gun Safe.

  • Buy a job site toolbox instead.  When you compare a gun safe to a tool box with the same thickness steel, a tool box will cost about half as much, be more secure, and attract less attention.  It can also be used for other purposes or sold if you buy a gun safe later.
  • Reinforce a closet or pantry into a closet gun safe/vault.  It can also function as your reloading or tool room.
  • Build or buy a hidden gun safe.  Something as simple as a locking horizontal file cabinet from a used office furniture store can make a great cheap gun safe.

There are many more suggestions in 100 Money-Saving Ways to Protect Your Guns.

Are there any gun safes that aren’t a waste of money?

Yes, there are about half-a-dozen models at different price levels which give you great bang for your buck.  Click here for recommendations.

How much do decent gun safes cost?

If you have time to wait for a bargain, a used gun safe, or true safe, can usually be found for less than $1,000.  You can move a lighter (under 500 lbs) gun safe yourself, otherwise on top of that you’ll have to pay moving and installation costs.

If you don’t have time to wait for a used one, or want a new gun safe, here are some ranges:

  • Minimal protection starts at around $900 for a brand new gun safe.  American-made models start at around $1,200.  These will have a UL Residential Security Container Attack Level 1 (RSC-I) rating.  That means it was independently tested to take one burglar working alone, with basic hand tools (shorter than 18″), about 5 minutes to break into it.  Two burglars with real pry bars or an ax will get inside within a couple minutes.  Power tools will be even quicker.  If installed properly in a good location, that time could stretch to over an hour.  Shipping and installation will run another 10 to 30% unless you do it yourself.
  • For a gun safe that can’t be easily defeated with pry bars, axes, or other brute force methods, you’re looking at $1,500 to $5,000 brand new, depending on size and fire protection.  These offer great protection from common home tools except power tools designed to cut metal.  A burglar with metal-cutting power tools will still get inside in minutes to hours, depending on installation and location.  Due to the weight of these guys, they cost more to move.  Add 10 to 50% for shipping and installation.
  • A true safe will be needed to defeat power tools designed to cut metal.  True safes large enough for guns will run you $2,000 to $15,000 brand new depending on size, security level, and fire protection.  These monsters can weigh into the tons, so add another 20 to 80% for shipping and installation.

I can’t afford the protection I want. What can I do?

There’s plenty you can do to increase the protection of an inexpensive gun safe:

See 100 Money-Saving Ways to Protect Your Guns for more ideas.

A guy at my hunting club has an old gun safe he’s selling.  How can I tell if it’s any good?

For step by step recommendations about every part of a gun safe that matters, see What to Look For in a Gun Safe.

What kind of gun safe combination lock is better, a mechanical dial or electronic keypad?

Both have benefits and disadvantages.  See the detailed comparison of Mechanical Dial and Electronic Keypad Combination Locks.  It’s part of the Gun Safe Locks section which also covers recommended brands and ratings.

Where should I buy a gun safe?

For cheap gun safes, pick the one you want and buy it through your local gun shop or gun safe dealer.  You can also buy them online of course.

Many of the best gun safes for the money are only sold factory-direct to keep costs low.  To buy these you’ll have to call the factory or go to the manufacturer’s website.  Some brands are also sold through safe dealers or online.

For true safes and gun safes, buy from a safe technician or safe dealer.  They should be members of Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) and/or National Safeman’s Organization (NSO).

SAVTA/NSO safesmiths modify, install, service, and break into true safes for a living so they know security.  They are also likely to have some used commercial safes for sale that would work for guns.

Because safe techs install very heavy commercial safes professionally, they are also discrete and less likely to damage your home.  The factory-direct gun safe manufacturers usually use these companies for local installation and service of their products.  Some of these safe experts have contributed to gun forums for years.

I don’t have room for a big square gun safe.  Is there anything else I can get?

There are a wide variety of options.  Some include in-wall and hidden couch and bed gun safes.  See the Gun Safe Buyer’s Guide below.

What about the small quick-access handgun safes?

Most electronic units are unreliable and/or unsafe.  Many can be opened by poking them with a paperclip or bumping them, often without any permanent damage.  My small gun safe article includes videos for proof, as well as better options for small-gun safes.  Another article covers biometric gun safes.  Biometric handgun safes have all of the issues of electronic keypad handgun safes, and then some more.

Commercially Available Gun Safe Buyer’s Guide

The products below are organized from most secure to least secure.  For most of these products, the term “safe” is used very loosely.  They are all included here for reference.  If you’d like to jump ahead, use one of the links below.

There are hundreds of different options for locking up guns.  Not all options will work for your situation.  For example, small diversion or hidden gun safes get most of their security from being inconspicuous.  If they are discovered by a thief, they are easy to get into.  They might still fit into your layered security strategy.

Safe Room and Vault Products

Graffunder Gun Vault Door

Graffunder Vault Door

The king of gun protection isn’t a gun safe at all, but a safe room or vault.

If you can afford the expense and can keep the construction a secret, there isn’t much of a limit to the size or protection level you can achieve with a custom vault.

Vault doors can be opened from the inside, so a vault room can also function as a panic room.

Features such as dual mechanical dial and electronic keypad locks are typical on high end vault doors, which can be configured to require only one or both locks to open the door.

Expect a vault door to cost almost as much as a whole safe, and then you still have to build the vault.  Also time consuming steps may be required.  For example, the vault opening may need to be completed to take precise measurements before the custom vault door can be ordered.

You can improvise and save money by building your own gun vault or making a closet gun safe.

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Gun-Sized Commercial Safe Products

Most true safes are too small for long guns, with the exception of jewelry store safes.  A few manufacturers including Graffunder, American Security (AMSEC), Brown, etc. make true safes large enough for long guns.  These safes are expensive brand new (much cheaper used) and very heavy but offer the best protection.    True safes come with and without fire protection.  Fireproofing can add serious weight because concrete amalgamate is predominantly used for fireproofing true safes.

AMSEC TL-15 Rated Gun Safe

American Security (AMSEC) HS7943 UL 687 TL-15 Rated Gun Safe

Because of their protection and reliability these safes are often the choice of law enforcement.    Per DEA regulations, seized narcotics inside a police station can’t be stored in anything less than a TL-15 rated safe.

True safes have a construction rating of B-Rate or better and provide real protection from brute force attacks.  Higher rated safes will additionally provide protection from power tool attacks and may carry a UL 687 Test for Burglary-Resistant Safes rating.

Since UL testing is expensive, commercial grade gun safe manufacturers sometimes build their safes in a manner consistent with UL 687 tests, but don’t get them certified or re-certified.  For example, the Graffunder F-Rate gun safes include a layer of manganese steel in door which adds torch and tool resistance, similar to a UL 687 Class TRTL-30, although these safes have not been tested to that certification.  AMSEC seems to have stopped paying for UL 72 Fire Endurance testing on their new models, but is still building their safes the same way.

Many real safe companies will custom build your gun safe to whatever dimensions and construction you would like.  They’ll also customize the interior layout, paint, finish, locks, and provide integration to your burglar alarm, home automation, or other systems.

See Best Gun Safe for some options for gun sized commercial safes.

Ballistic Armor and other Upgrades

If you want a commercial quality safe but your preferred location can’t take the weight, there are options.  Safe manufactures that make tool (UL 687 TL-xx) and torch (UL 687 TRTL-xx) resistant safes often put manganese steel in the doors.  They can also make the outer shell of the door out of this.

Despite being only 1/2″ thick, the ballistic steel on Brown’s “M-Rate” gun safe can stop a .50 BMG round (click for slow motion video).  It’s also been tested to stop repeated shots from a variety of cartridges.  Many of those cartridges will go through 1/2″ plate steel like butter.  Armor steel offers you more protection at effectively lower weight (and higher cost).

Brown Ballistic Armor Demo .50 BMG

Safe and gun safe manufacturers offer a variety of customization variety of customization options.  These range from steel reinforcement in commonly attacked areas to torch-resistant stainless steel inner liners to abrasive additives to the concrete fireproofing to defeat cutting attacks.

Left-Hinged Door Gun Safe

Because commercial grade gun safes are more commonly customized, many of these manufacturers offer options like a left-swinging gun safe door.  Some of them like Brown will do so at no additional charge.

Left-hinged doors are also an option for Residential Security Container (RSC-I) listed or equivalent gun safes from Sturdy, American Security (AMSEC), Zanotti Armor, Fort Knox, and Sportsman Steel.

Double Door Gun Safe

Another commercial safe option is a double door gun safe.  Double doors have benefits for large gun safes.  Firstly doors on large commercial safes are very heavy, so splitting up the weight is beneficial for safety.  Double doors are convenient if you’re managing weapons for a number of people that access the gun safe at the same time, like law enforcement.  These are large gun safes, whose doors make all kind of configurations of long guns and shelving convenient.

Double door gun safes are offered by Graffunder, Brown, and others.  Mesa Safe Company also offers a double door fire safe.  Homeland and Sportsman Steel offer RSC-I double door gun safes.

Brown Commercial Double-Door Gun Safe, Large Gun Safe

Brown Commercial Double-Door Large Gun Safe

In general, two smaller safes offer more flexibility than a single double-door safe.  For commercial safes, double door models will be tested to the same standards as single door models.  Double door commercial safes will be just as secure as single door models.

For double door gun safes however, it’s a different story.  Unless you come across a cheap used double-door gun safe (RSC-I), two smaller gun safes will offer better protection and more flexibility than a double-door gun safe.  Even a single large gun safe would be preferable in terms of fewer moving parts to break and door seams to be attacked.

Dual Lock Gun Safe

If you want the convenience of an electronic keypad combination lock and the reliability of a mechanical dial combination lock, you might be able to have your cake and eat it too.  Many commercial safe companies offer the option to include both types of lock from the factory, configured so that one or both locks are required to open the door.  Some companies charge a fortune for factory customization, so you can also check with a safesmith to see if he can install a second lock on your gun safe cheaper.

Gun safe manufacturers like Sturdy, Fort Knox, and Patriot have started to offer this feature too.  Fort Knox for example ships you the gun safe with the same combination for both locks from the factory to make it easier to remember (until you change them).  The article What to Look for in a Gun Safe covered what type of gun safe lock to choose.

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Gun Safe Products

The term “gun safes” is used in the marketplace to refer to a variety of different types of security containers from pistol boxes to commercial safes.  Conventional “gun safes” are really not safes but security containers, most of which have passed the UL 1037 Section 54 Attack Level 1 Residential Security Container (RSC-I) test.

RSC-I’s come with and without fire protection, although the level of fire protection they provide is generally much lower than a true fire safe.  The location of a gun safe is extremely important in determining how much protection it actually provides you.

What to Look for in a Gun Safe provides detailed information to evaluate a particular gun safe.

See Best Gun Safe for recommendations.

Modular Gun Safes

Modular or take-down safes break down into sections for assembly.  This can be a huge advantage, especially if you move a lot.

Firstly the gun safe can be assembled by you and a friend, saving the money you might have paid someone else to install your gun safe.  Not having installers also means 2 to 4 fewer people that know you have a gun safe and what’s inside your house.  Having a few guys move in a huge heavy safe is conspicuous, but moving in 4 smaller lighter boxers could be Ikea furniture as far as your neighbors know.

Zanotti Modular Gun Safe Assembly

Zanotti Modular Gun Safe Assembly

A disadvantage is that modularity comes at the expense of fire protection, which few modular gun safes offer.  They are also more expensive than equivalent non-modular gun safes.

However, due to the ease of moving you may keep it longer.  Or, you may recover some of the extra money by not having to pay safe movers over and over.  Remember that gun safes with external hinges are already somewhat modular because the door (30 to 50% of the weight) can be removed to go up or down stairs.

Zanotti Armor builds modular gun safes which can be assembled in about 30 minutes with just a hand dolly, a hammer, and a pry bar.  You’ll need a second person to hang the door, which at 100 to 200 lbs is the heaviest component.  These gun safes are available with heavier gauge steel than most conventional gun safes, and the panels are hand fitted at the factory for a tight fit.

Dakota Safe Company and SnapSafe also offer modular gun safes.

See Best Gun Safe for modular gun safe recommendations.

Round Gun Safes

Pendleton Knight Round Gun Safe

Pendleton Knight Round Gun Safe

A rotary rack is a great option in a gun safe, and one company has taken that idea even further.  Pendleton Safes offers round gun safes built around a large rotary turntable.  Turntable shelves are available for convenient and efficient storage of handguns and long guns.

The interiors are bright white which reflects the interior light well for those with bad eyes.  Their safe bodies are 3/16″ or 1/4″ steel, which is better than the vast majority of RSC-I gun safes on the market.  The round design also fits better into corners and can take up less space in a room.  The corners near the door have little shelves on each side of the door frame.

On the downside they’re more expensive than conventional gun safes.

Corner Gun Safes

Browning Sterling Corner Gun Safe

Browning Sterling Corner Gun Safe

If you really want to mount a gun safe tight in the corner of your room, in addition to a round gun safes there are corner gun safes and corner gun cabinets.  Browning and Homak offer corner gun safes.

Aside from allowing the door to open directly into the center of a room I don’t see much benefit in these. Corner gun safe add an additional side and weld seams for burglars to attack. They also create dead space in the room next to the short exposed sides of the gun safe.

Hidden Gun Safes, Hidden Gun Cabinets

If you want a gun safe you can hide in plain sight, there are a few companies that can help with a hidden gun safe or hidden gun cabinet.

Heracles Research makes a number of products with integrated hidden gun safes. Their original products are BedBunkers for twin, queen, and king bed sizes.  They also sell the cheaper and lighter LT model in twin, queen, and king sizes, as well as a conversion kit made to replace a box spring.

Heracles makes other hidden horizontal gun safes like the CouchBunker, available in 3 styles and two dozen colors.  Optional bulletproof couch cushions will stop a .44 Magnum.  One of the couches is available with a matching Ottoman Gun Safe.

These are expensive, but your wife may warm up to the purchase if it means getting space in her closet back.  Just remember on moving day that it’s not really a couch because they weight 900 lbs.

Hidden Gun Safe Coffee Table by

Concealment Oak Coffee Table by

Dan at New Jersey Concealment Furniture makes a wide variety of fine wood concealment furniture. It’s all Handmade in the USA.

Hidden Gun Safe Cherry Hutch by

Concealment Cherry Hutch by

The options run the gamut from locking coffee table gun safes to coat racks, floating shelves, hutches, end tables, nightstands, clocks, and flag cases.  Woods include mahogany, oak, and cherry in about a dozen finishes.  Most models are not hardened by reinforcing them with steel, they’re all wood.

Up and Away Storage Ceiling Hidden Gun Safe

Up and Away Storage Ceiling Gun Safe

An overlooked storage area is the ceiling.  Up and Away Storage made remote control storage racks that fold up into the ceiling.  One model is show with rifle and pistol racks to turn your ceiling into a gun safe.  You could probably build one or find a good carpenter to build you something similar into a feature of your home.

If you’re handy, there are plenty more ideas  for building a hidden gun safe or hiding spot.

Decorative Gun Safes

If the appearance of a gun safe is important to you, gun safe manufactures are offering other options than the traditional gun safe.

Rhino Metals released a decorative gun safe called Ironworks.  It has a unique look reminiscent of an old riveted ship bulkhead or iron foundry door.  It has been popular enough that Rhino has expanded the Ironworks line to include an Ironworks Bar, Armoire, Work Desk, Office Desk, Credenza, End Table, Hutch and File Cabinet, several Rolling Tool Chests, and a Vault Door.

Other decorative gun safes are modeled after a once-meaningful term which has recently been overused to the point of being meaninglessness.  “Tactical” gun safes are now offered by Browning and others.  “Tactical” gun lockers offered by Stack-On and GunVault.

Aside from some cosmetic features and interiors designed to accommodate AR-15’s and other modern sporting rifles, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between these and “non-tactical” versions.  Law enforcement tactical equipment is actually stored in boring looking commercial safes.

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Gun Cabinet and Gun Locker Products

Metal Gun Cabinets, Steel Gun Cabinets

Here I use the terms “gun cabinet” and “gun locker” to refer to security containers which have not met the UL 1037 Section 54 Attack Level 1 Residential Security Container (RSC-I).  As discussed previously, conventional gun safes which does not meet the RSC-I standard are not recommended.  There are lots of better, cheaper options.

With that said, there are a number of steel gun cabinets and gun lockers which don’t claim to be gun safes.

Locks keep only the honest out. – Proverb

Gun cabinets and lockers can be an option if you’re just looking to restrict access to honest people.  They offer virtually zero theft protection and don’t pretend to have any fire protection.  A determined teenager will be able to get in relatively easily with hand tools.

Gun Cabinet Locks

Gun Cabinets and Lockers generally have cheap unrated locks as well which can be compromised relatively easily and are also unreliable.

If you’re going to get a gun cabinet or locker, get one with a robust key lock or Simplex style lock.  Because Simplex style locks generally are limited to one or two thousand combinations, they’re not the best if you have clever children who might methodically try random combinations after school.

Gun cabinet and gun locker mechanical dial and electronic keypad combination locks will not carry a proper UL 768 rating at this price point so avoid them, especially electronic keypad and biometric locks.  A separate article covered what type of gun safe lock to choose in detail.

Wood Gun Cabinets

Wood gun cabinets are beautiful pieces of furniture with fine carpentry and often glass doors to reveal the guns inside.  Like much of classic Americana, these cabinets are becoming more and more rare.

The security level of these cabinets is as obvious as the difficulty of breaking glass or wood.  Also glass doors allow a thief the convenience of sizing up your collection before he breaks in.

Gun cabinets without glass doors can be a way to hide your guns in plain sight.  In the right room, a windowless wood gun cabinet might look like an old-fashioned china cabinet, wardrobe, or armoire–practically invisible to thieves.

In-Wall Gun Cabinets

If you don’t have much space to work with and you are looking for a gun cabinet that can be hidden, you can use the wasted space in your walls.

In-Wall Gun Cabinets are designed to fit in between the studs (16″ on center or wider) with the doors shutting relatively flush to your wall.

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Handgun Safe and Small Gun Safe Products

A gun safe is a compromise between convenience and protection from theft, flood, and fire.

Many gun owners want to keep a weapon for quick access in a home defense situation.  Often the best way to do this is to get a separate quick access handgun safe for your bedroom, in addition to a gun safe.  This gives you more freedom.  For example you’re free to choose a more reliable but slower mechanical dial gun safe lock.  Or, you can put your gun safe somewhere else in your house other than your bedroom.

In Wall Gun Safes

Traditional wall safes make great in-wall gun safes.  Your wife can keep her jewelry next to your home defense pistol in a B-Rate wall safe designed for securing jewelry.  That leaves your gun safe to the purpose it was designed for, guns.  A couple recommendations can be found in Best Small Gun Safe.

Unlike quick access gun safes and other handgun lock boxes, wall safes are available with honest to God UL 768 listed electronic keypad combination locks.  Real UL listed locks are a huge benefit in terms of longevity, reliability, and serviceability.  After all, throwing out a cheap unserviceable wall-mounted gun safe because the lock went bad means an empty hole in your wall.  Reliable locks are also critical if your life depends on getting your gun.

Wall safes look impressive but have an Achilles heel.  Wood framed construction makes it possible for burglars to just rip a safe out of the wall and take it with them.  Keep that in mind when deciding how much of your valuables to put inside.  Despite that security shortcoming, wall safes make a great quick access in wall gun safe for a home defense weapon.

Make sure you hide your in wall gun safe and secure it as well as possible in your wall.  Remember that the master bedroom closet is one of the first places burglars look.  So for example, hiding a wall safe behind a painting or mirror is much better.  A hidden wall safe can be just as easy to get to if you hinge the painting or mirror covering it and install a magnetic latch.

Fireproof wall safes are also available, although they will probably require more space behind the wall.  A wall firesafe with a UL 72 Fire Endurance rating is a better and cheaper choice for storing sensitive documents and media than a RSC-I gun safe.

Floor Safes

Hollon Floor Safe with Cover Plate

Hollon Floor Safe with Cover Plate

Floor safes are considerably more secure than wall safes and much easier to conceal.  They come in rectangular or round shapes with doors recessed below the floor.

Most floor safe doors are hinged, but some are pull-out.  Floor safes generally come with a cover plate which allows you to cover the safe with a rug and walk across it.

Floor safes generally come with mechanical dial locks, which are not the best for quick access.  Few floor safes come with fire protection.

Because they are slower to get access to, floor safes are not as well suited to home defense as wall safes and standalone safes.

Buried Gun Safes

Mono-Vault Buried Gun Safe

Mono-Vault Buried Gun Safes

A buried gun safe is not as useful for home defense, but could be useful as a dry box cache in a SHTF survivalist scenario. Buried gun safes have sealed bodies that allow you to bury and cover them with dirt. In an emergency scenario, you just dig up the cover to the box and open it.

The Mono-Vault is an option for a buried gun safe/dry box cache. It’s available in several different sizes from pistol up to  49″L x 10″ dia. for long guns.

Heracles Underground Gun Safe

Heracles BuryBunker Underground Gun Safe

Heracles used to make the BuryBunker, which was another option for preppers.  You could improvise something similar.

First the sealed steel box was buried somewhere.  Long guns, handguns, ammo, knives, gold and silver, MRE’s, and any other emergency survival supplies could be loaded into a large Pelican-style watertight protective case.  The case would be lowered into the steel container and sealed. In an emergency, after you open the Bury Bunker, you then have a convenient portable weatherproof case to take with you.

Under Bed Gun Safes, Bedside Gun Safes

Under bed gun safes are available for quick access.  Many are large enough for a home defense shotgun or other long guns.  The available locks on these gun safes are sometimes better than on quick access handgun safes.

Wardog Under-Bed Gun Safe, Bedside Gun Safe

Wardog Under-Bed Gun Safe

Keep in mind that most bedside gun safes have cheap unrated electronic locks.  I don’t recommend these locks, especially for a self-defense application where reliability is critical.  See the Gun Cabinet Lock section above for recommendations about what type of lock to look for.

Wardog Safe offers an upgrade to Sargent & Greenleaf UL 768 Group 1 electronic keypad combination and biometric lock on its Premium models.

Fort Knox Shotgun Safe Long Gun Safe

Fort Knox Long Gun Safe

Fort Knox offers bedside gun safes for pistols and shotguns.  These come with reliable Simplex style locks that are great for home defense if you’re not worried about clever children trying to crack your combination.

Under bed long gun safes are also offered by AMSEC, SecureIt, Rhino Metals, TruckVault (BedVault), and others.

See Best Small Gun Safe for recommendations.

Nightstand Gun Safes

Cherry Cabinet Hidden Nightstand Gun Safe

Tonusa Cherry Cabinet Hidden Safe

Tonusa used to make hidden bedside safes in the form of bedside furniture.  The uppermost drawer was locked with an electronic keypad combination lock.

You could buy your own UL 768 Group 1 electronic keypad lock and make a similar nightstand gun safe out of a bedside dresser if you’re handy.

Hidden Gun Safe Floral Nightstand by

Concealment Floral Nightstand by

NJ Concealment Furniture also makes a number of different concealment nightstands.  They offer about half a dozen styles of nightstands and end tables, in about a dozen different finishes.

Single Gun Locks

If all you want is a long gun for home defense, you don’t necessarily have to enclose the whole thing.  Single gun locks like the TruckVault ShotLock are intended to secure a shot gun for home defense.

The ShotLock uses a Simplex type lock and is California approved.

Concealed Pistol Boxes

In-wall pistol boxes are available with equivalent (lack of) security to an un-rated gun cabinet.

Most of the security of these devices is in their concealment, so in-wall pistol boxes should be concealed as well as possible and install it up high if you have children.

See the Gun Cabinet Lock section above for recommendations about what type of lock to look for.

Hidden Small Gun Safes

Also known as diversion safes, small gun safes come in some designs intended to hide their true identity. Console Vault makes one disguised as an in wall electrical panel. You flip open to reveal a couple fuses as well as a three digit combination lock marked as a frequency adjustment. It’s not the most robust lock box, but it will go unnoticed by most burglars.

DocuGem makes a diversion safe which looks like a small personal refrigerator.

Barksa makes a book safe with a key locked steel box inside.  The outside is modeled to look like a volume of Pride and Prejudice, a book no burglar is going to steal.  You can also buy handcrafted non-locking book gun “safes” for a variety of pistols.

See the Gun Cabinet Lock section above for recommendations about what type of lock to look for.

Cannon Biometric RadioVault Clock Gun Safe

Cannon Biometric RadioVault Clock Gun Safe.  Is this more or less likely to get stolen than a gun?

There are a lot of options in small gun safes which are made to look like other things.  But make sure that whatever the hidden gun safe is modeled after is invisible to thieves.

Cannon makes a biometric clock gun safe called the RadioVault, which looks like an iPod dock and clock radio.  A thief may steal this expecting that it is a piece of portable electronics, only to find that he got himself a gun instead.

Quick Access Small Gun Safes

A number of companies make quick access small gun safes for home defense.  Despite their popularity, these have major shortcomings.  Click here for my article on these, with videos.

Biometric Gun Safes

Fingerprint gun safes have become very trendy and popular recently.  Most of these biometric gun safes have all of the problems of the electronic quick access gun safes, and then add some more. If you’re interested in biometrics, click here to learn about biometric gun safe locks and why you can’t trust most of them.

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Car/Vehicle Gun Safe Products

Car Gun Safe

Car Gun Safe

Vehicle gun safes have become very popular, especially with the rise of concealed carry.  Many state laws restrict the legal ways a firearm can be secured in a vehicle.  Concealed carry laws also prohibit carry in certain businesses and workplaces, meaning you need a secure way of locking up your carry gun when you can’t take it with you indoors.

Fortunately vehicles offer a lot of flexibility for storing guns.  Because vehicles are normally with you at work and/or locked, children don’t get unsupervised access to the vehicle gun safes.  So almost any type of reliable lock can be used.  Cars and truck exteriors already lock, so the security on vehicle gun safes are less critical.

Most of these models come with key or Simplex locks, which are excellent choices for vehicles and small gun safes.  Other than that, the Gun Cabinet Lock recommendations apply to vehicle gun safes.

Wardog Truck Gun Safe

Wardog Truck Gun Safe, available with S&G Group I Electronic Keypad

The most important consideration when choosing a car or truck gun safe is that it will be concealed from people outside the vehicle.  If someone can tell that you have a gun locked up inside your vehicle, all they have to do is break a window or steal the car to get it.

Car gun safes which can be mounted in locations which can’t be seen through the windows are best.

Alternatively if you live in a state that permits it, you can use dark window tinting to conceal your interior.

Center Console Gun Safe

Console Vault and others make lock boxes designed to fit into specific vehicles’ center consoles. The center console gun safe is completely concealed with the console armrest down. When you lift up the armrest, a key opens the gun safe.  Since you already carry your car keys with you, a key lock isn’t inconvenient.

Heracles Vehicle Gun Safe

Heracles ConsoleBunker Vehicle Gun Safe

Heracles takes the center console gun safe concept a step further by replacing it with their ConsoleBunker. The ConsoleBunker is even large enough to fit an AR-15 carbine with the stock collapsed.

Some general purpose car gun safes like the Titan Gun Vault Handgun Safe (right), and TruckVault’s Smith & Wesson QuickDraw, include a holster inside connected to the door. When the door opens, the handgun is presented to you for easy and safe handling.

Titan’s version also has an optional piggyback ammo box compartment to lock your magazine or speed loader separately if your state requires it. Opening the door unlocks both the gun and the ammo at the same time, presenting them for quick loading.

If these integral-holster vehicle handgun safes will fit in your center console, they make a convenient and safer choice to hold your handgun.  Having to reach around in a small box to fish out your gun can be dangerous if it’s not holstered.  Accidentally pulling the trigger grabbing your gun is going to make for a bad day.

Under Seat Gun Safe

Car Gun Safe

Car Gun Safe

General purpose vehicle gun safes will fit under the seats of most vehicles. A good question is whether to install them with the door opening towards the floor well or the door. The design of your vehicle may limit you to one option or another.

Having the under seat gun safe door open towards the driver’s door is safer and easier to access, but you will have to open the car door and get out to use it. Installing an under seat gun safe so that the door opens to the floor well is harder to see, and may result in you unsafely drawing across your legs to get the weapon in and out.

Any under-seat gun safe should be secured to the floor so that it doesn’t slide out and interfere with the pedals during hard braking and cause an accident.

Car Gun Safe

The most secure location for a car gun safe is in the trunk.   Unfortunately opening a trunk to unholster and secure a weapon lets everyone watching know there’s something valuable in the trunk.

Many of my recommended small gun safes will work well for car gun safes.  Fort Knox’s FTK-AUTO is specifically designed for cars and covered in that article.  Their other models will also fit in a trunk.

TruckVault makes the TrunkVault, which is quite large and can lock up long guns, ammunition, and other items in addition to handguns.

Some people choose to mount car gun safes along the side of the passenger’s or driver’s foot well.

This offers a convenient presentation, especially for gun safes with integral holsters that present the gun’s grip in a ready to grab position.  When you get into the car, you can just open the door and rely on the gun safe holster.

However, this location for a gun safe can be dangerous in an auto accident.  In a crash, the seat occupant is often violently thrown around the foot well.  That’s why these areas are made of plastic and thin sheet metal to bend and cushion impact.  If you mount a gun safe in a foot well, the occupant’s knee or leg can slam into the rigid metal in an accident and cause serious injuries that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.

Truck Gun Safe

If you have a truck, a number of companies make gun safes that fit into the bed, or a bed rail.

TruckVault’s all-weather models create a huge gun vault the width of your bed, and can hold up to 2000 lbs so that you can still put things in the bed. With the tailgate up they’re relatively inconspicuous, especially if you have things on top or a camper, tonneau cover, or bed cover.  A locking tailgate offers another layer of protection.

SUV Gun Safe

TruckVault Quick Response SUV Gun Safe

TruckVault Quick Response Rifle Vault

SUV interiors are protected from the elements and the rear windows are generally tinted.  As a result, SUVs give more flexibility for gun safes.

Almost any type will work in the back of a SUV, but some manufacturers make specialty gun safes just for SUVs.

Motorcycle Gun Safe

Console Vault Motorcycle Gun Safe

Console Vault Harley-Davidson Bagger Motorcycle Gun Safe

Many of the small gun safes will fit in the pannier or topcase of a motorcycle.

Console Vault used to make a gun safe made to fit into Harley-Davidson luggage.  It’s been discontinued, but many other vehicle gun safes will fit.

Tow Hitch Safe

Mesa Hitch Vault Tow Hitch Safe

Mesa Hitch Vault Tow Hitch Safe

Vehicles with tow hitches can make use of a small safe that installs in the tow hitch receiver.

You can use a tow hitch safe for a variety of purposes, including holding your keys there when you go into the woods to hunt or fish.

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Portable Gun Safes

TruckVault S&W Transporter Portable Gun Safe, Portable Pistol Lock Boxes

TruckVault S&W Transporter Portable Gun Safe

Portable gun safes and portable pistol lock boxes are also becoming more common.  They are now part of the TSA airline travel guidelines for checking in firearms.

Portable gun safes are very similar to vehicle gun safes, but include a cable to anchor the gun safe to something.  Many vehicle gun safes come with cables so they can be used for this purpose.

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As you can see, these products run the gamut of security and cost.  Hopefully they’ve given you some ideas for your security strategy.

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


  1. this is a great website with lots of fantastic info!!!! I’ve learned a lot and being a mechanic and have a good friend who’s a metal fabricator and we can both weld I think im going to build 1 out of a job site box. thanks for all your info!!!

  2. Vinod jetti says

    It’s awesome and very nice!

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