The American Academy of Pediatrics lists firearm-related deaths as one of the top three causes of death for youths in America. Using a handgun safe to store your sidearm can prevent children and other unauthorized persons from accessing your weapon and deter accidental discharges in your home. Handgun safes also secure areas to store and quickly access your home defense weapon.
With such high and varying safety needs, purchasing the right safe for your handgun can be daunting. The following guide provides features and considerations for you to keep in mind as you shop, as well as some of our recommendations, to help you make the suitable handgun safe option for your home.
Most handgun safes have multiple ways of accessing your firearm. Whether keypads, biometrics, RFID or lock and key, all options ensure your weapon is safely stored but have unique considerations that might make them a preferable choice for your home.
The lockbox is the most basic and straightforward option, utilizing a simple lock and key. Lockboxes are easy to hide in various places around the home and offer great portability for safely traveling with a handgun.
However, the unlocking process can be slow compared to other security options, slowing one’s response to a threat. The portability also allows for an unauthorized person to take the unit, and therefore the weapon, out of the home. To deter this, some manufacturers include a steel cable to secure the lockbox to a stationary object.
Keypads allow gun owners to secure their weapons with a passcode utilizing four to eight keys. Though it may seem easy to guess the code to a four-digit keypad, there are 10,000 possible combinations, making it highly unlikely for an unauthorized person to gain access. An eight-digit keypad provides additional security, increasing the possible combinations to 100,000,000. Some keypads also have backlighting for use in the dark.
Much like lockboxes, keypads can be comparatively slow to open. Also, an alarming number of owners use passcodes that are easy to guess, like 1111 or 1234, or elect to write down their passcode, making it easy for an unauthorized person to gain access.
More advanced handgun safes use radio-frequency identification. An RFID keyring, pad, sticker or tag transmits data via radio waves to an antenna or reader within the safe, unlocking the unit. RFID makes entry contactless, codeless, keyless and quick.
Like a key, only the individual with the RFID chip has access to the safe. However, due to their small size, the item containing the RFID chip can easily be lost or stolen.
The most advanced handgun safes use biometric information specific to the owner, like a fingerprint. A memory chip stores the information inside the safe and allows for quick, one-touch access. Some models allow for multiple people to store their fingerprint information.
Many biometric safes also have smartphone apps. The apps track who accesses the safe when it was open, alert the owner of possible tampering and some models even allow for WiFi access.
Cheaper models can have issues with inconsistent fingerprint recognition. Multiple attempts may be necessary to access the safe, slowing down retrieval of the weapon.
Exterior hinges are easy tampering targets. Interior, hidden hinges are essential to the integrity of a handgun safe.
The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the steel. A handgun safe with a gauge from 12-16 offers quality security without compromising practicality.
More than aesthetic appeal, presentation plays a significant role in the rapid retrieval of a firearm. Some models allow your firearm to “hang” inside the safe, permitting the owner to retrieve the sidearm quickly.
LED lighting in the interior is aesthetically pleasing and allows for faster and easier retrieval in a dark environment.
Foam-lining inside the unit protects the sidearm from damage and abrasions, reduces rattling, and can also position the handgun for quick retrieval.
High-quality safes with multiple safety features often need a power supply, usually batteries, to function correctly. The best handgun safes have long-life lithium-ion batteries that recharge with a USB cable.
The price of a handgun safe can vary greatly depending on what level of security they provide. For a simple steel lockbox, expect to spend between $20-$30, while a high-end safe with more features can cost anywhere from $200-$600.
A: Though you can purchase a larger gun and general-purpose safes that are waterproof or fireproof, the handgun-specific safes we have provided here are not. Small doors that open frequently make constructing a waterproof handgun safe very difficult. Though the handgun safes we looked at may give fire protection from direct flames for a short time, the internal temperature will often reach a level where items stored in the safe will be damaged.
A: All guns must be kept in a locked safe in Connecticut. Other places, like California and the District of Columbia, have some regulations for specific situations. However, safety and security of your home are paramount.
A: For domestic flights inside the United States, yes, but it must be in checked baggage and unloaded with no chambered rounds, though you may be allowed to store ammunition in the same safe. Also, you must declare the weapon and ammunition when you check-in. For more information, visit the TSA website. Flights to and inside other countries have their own regulations, so we recommend reaching out to the proper authorities to determine if you can bring your handgun safe.
Our Thoughts: This option has impressive security features with room for multiple handguns.
What we like: It holds up to five handguns and allows for quick retrieval thanks to electronic access and a spring-loaded drop-down door.
What we dislike: The red interior light is dim and can make it difficult to retrieve your weapon in the dark quickly.
Where to buy: Amazon
Our Thoughts: A lightweight-yet-sturdy option, this handgun safe fits perfectly in your desk or nightstand drawer.
What we like: It’s small enough to fit in a desk drawer but spacious enough to hold a sidearm and additional magazines. Concealed hinges provide increased security.
What we dislike: Unless mounted to a wall or desk, the unit can be easily picked up and moved.
Where to buy: Amazon
Our Thoughts: This model is designed to be mounted to a desk, allowing for convenient and discrete storage.
What we like: The safe allows quick access in case of emergencies, while its 18-gauge steel housing and foam interior make sure your weapon is secure and doesn’t rattle while stored.
What we dislike: The single nine-volt battery powering the unit needs frequent replacing.
Where to buy: Amazon
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Gerrad Frei writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.