It’s frighting to think what could happen if your child or a burglar gets their hands on your firearm(s). Using a secure gun safe is one of the easiest and best things you can do to improve you and your family’s safety.
This review will guide you through the maze of countless gun safe options available, to help you make the best choice.
3 Essential Reasons You Need A Gun Safe
If you own a firearm and are still on the fence about purchasing a gun safe, the reasons below should make clear sense for any parent or responsible adult.
#1 Legal Requirement
There are several states that make it illegal not to have your firearms stored in a gun safe. This means you could be fined or face jail time, simply for not having your gun locked up. The list of states can be found here.
This makes a lot of sense considering over 16,000 individuals in the United States are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional gunshot wounds.
We can’t always keep an eye on our kids, and leaving them to find it somewhere in the house could be devastating. A 1991 study found that 8% of accidental shooting deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six.
In addition, the U.S. General Accounting Office has estimated that 31% of accidental deaths caused by firearms might be prevented by the addition of two devices: a child-proof safety lock and a “loading indicator,” (a device that lets you know if the gun is loaded).
You also have to worry about theft. Unsecured firearms are easy targets for thieves, which they may later sell or even worse use against you or your family. Securing something you have paid hundreds or even thousands for makes a lot of sense.
Will Any Safe Do The Job?
In our experience, it is better to choose a safe designed for guns vs a standard safe for documents. Small gun safes allow you to access your handguns quickly, whilst larger gun safes provided solid break-in and fire protection.
But don’t be fooled, there are many bad gun safes that are worse than regular safes. They will tell you their safe is “secure”, but can be broken in with a straw(yes, a drinking straw), paperclip, and other household items.
Luckily for you we have personally reviewed hundreds of safes and if they don’t meet our high standards, you won’t find them here.
Recommended Gun Safe Retailer
Our recommended retailer is gunsafes.com. They have the biggest online collection we have seen, free delivery, and the best brands in the gun safe industry. Not to mention regular deals and discounts for customers.
Our second choice is amazon.com. They don’t have the best selection of gun safes but still have some good options for lower end gun safes.
Best Handgun Safes
Below you’ll find our top picks for handgun safes, priced between $40 – $300.
#1 Top Pick – GunVault GV1000C-DLX
Our top pick is the GunVault GV1000C-DLX. This safe is our all around favorite: quick access, strong constructions, portable, and at a great price. It even has an inbuilt motion detector to alert you of tampering. Utilizes 16-gauge steel and a high strength lock mechanism.
#2 Fast Access – GunVault SV500 Speedvault
If fast access if your priority then there is no better than the SV500. This can be discreetly mounted in numerous ways such as under a desk or table. It’s 18-gauge steel construction will keep your gun secure whilst still allowing fast access. The foam lining interior will also ensure your gun doesn’t get scratched.
#3 Best Features – The Gun Box
If you want the latest tech and don’t mind paying extra for it, then we recommend The Gun Box. This sleek gun safe uses the latest biometric technology to give you quick and easy access. It’s aircraft strength aluminum and slim design make it both secure and portable.
#4 Budget Option – GunVault NV200 NanoVault 200
If you’re on a tight budget, then the GunVault NV200 is a good choice. It has enough room for one handgun and small documents. It’s size makes it very portable, whilst it’s 18-gauge steel construction offers good protection.
Best Standard Gun Safes
Below you’ll find our top picks for standard gun safes, priced between $500 – $2000.
#1 Top Pick – Winchester R19 Ranger Deluxe
Our top pick is the Winchester R19 Ranger Deluxe and for good reason. This safe offers some of the best features for a fraction of most other safes, whilst being of superb quality. It has a sizable 24 gun capacity and is well built with: 10 steel locking bolts, 12 Gauge body construction, and an impressive 1 hour fire rating.
#2 Big Capacity – Bighorn 6039ELX/MLX
Want something a little bigger? Consider the Bighorn 6039ELX/MLX. It boasts a 33 gun capacity which is great for it’s price. You can rest easy with its: 11 Gauge steel, drill resistant armor, 10 thick steel locking bolts, and a 70 minute fire rating. Not to mention countless other security measures.
#3 Best Features – 2016 Browning SR26F Silver Series
The Browning SR26F is one of our favorites with beautiful craftsmanship. This modern safe is custom made for you, so you can customize the front scene/marking, color design, lock and much more. Key specs: 11 Gauge body, 16 locking bolts, and a 100 minute fire protection.
#4 Budget Option – Barska AX11898 Biometric Rifle Safe
If you don’t have many firearms to store and aren’t looking to spend much, then the Barska AX11898 is a good choice. It has a modern design, and utilizes the latest biometric technology. Other options around the same price range include the Stack-On SS-10-MG-C and Steelwater 16 Gun Safe.
Best Premium Gun Safes
Our favorite brand for high end safes is Browning for a few reasons: excellent build quality, modern design, very customizable to fit your needs, and pass high gun safe standards. Prices start from $2500 for these safes.
#1 – 2016 Browning M28F Medallion Series
The Browning M28F is one of the best looking safes we have seen. Incorporates Browning’s signature shelving construction which keeps your safe organized. Key specs include: 29 gun capacity, 18 thick 1 1/4″ bolts, 10 Gauge steel, and 110 minute fire resistance at 1700 degrees.
#2 – 2016 Browning M40F Medallion Series
The Browning M40F is the big brother of the M28F. It can can comfortably hold up to 43 guns, whilst still having the solid build quality of the M28F. Key specs include: 18 thick 1 1/4″ bolts, 10 Gauge steel, and 110-minute fire resistance at 1700 degrees.
#3 – 2016 Browning PP52F Platinum Plus
The Browning PP52F is one of their most premium gun safes. For the higher price tag you get an overall more secure safe with: 28 thick 1 1/2″ bolts, a 3/16″ thick steel body, and greater fire resistance at 1750 degrees for 120 minutes. It is able to hold up to 43 guns.
What Makes a Good Gun Safe?
It is obliviously important to want a safe that effectively protects your firearms and other possessions from burglars, children, and fires. However some safes are much better at doing these than others, which are simply marketed well but really don’t deliver.
There are a number of standards that indicate how secure or fire resistant a safe really is. Here are key ratings for gun safes in the United States:
- UL RSC (Residential Security Container) – This is a certificate that is given to gun safes which are given once tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This rating indicates the security of the safe when faced against forced entry. Different grades of the certificate indicate how secure a safe is.
- UL Fireproof Classification – Gun safes that state they are fireproof are also given a rating by UL and again there are various ratings for this. The safes are rated based on how long they can keep the contents below a certain temperature e.g. “350-1 hour” will mean the inside of the safe won’t get hotter than 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.
- California Department of Justice (DOJ) Regulatory Gun Safe Standards – Provides a set of standards such as thickness of steel locking bolts, drill resistant lock, thickness of steel walls, and protection of door hinges. Not as rigorous requirements as UL RSC standards, but should provide decent protection.
The above should make it clear that you want to buy a safe that has been properly tested and meets reliable and trusted standards of either security, fire resistance, or both.
Why Not All Gun Safes Are Created Equal
Just because the gun safe manufacturer claims it has high security, a “secure” locking system, with reinforced steel, it doesn’t mean it can’t be broken into with simply a pry bar, or even a screwdriver. Even if the safe has a thick metal door if it has flaws elsewhere i.e. in its locking system, then it really isn’t going to keep your firearms and other belongings safe.
Other things to look for is if it has anchor holes (to bolt it down), quality of welding, door gap (to prevent easy prying), lock security, and fire rating. The safes we have recommended in these gun safe reviews have many of these features, if not all.
Does paying more for a safe mean better quality? Not always. Many safes are marketed to look “secure” with fancy features, but when it comes to actual security they are weak, and you are really only paying for a better looking safe.
Other Features To Look For
You may also want to consider other features a safe might have, such as: adjustable shelving, door pockets, power in, ethernet, and digital locking. Many safes are now also incorporating biometrics, but these can be unreliable on cheaper safes.
Gun Safe Reviews Summary
There are a lot of great safes available and equally poor ones. The key thing to look for is if they have been tested by reputable organization to ensure they can really back up their claims.
If you enjoyed these gun safe reviews we have a number of more specific gun safe reviews you can checkout using the links below.
Gun Safe Buyers Guide
If you own at least one firearm, you need a gun safe. In certain states, such as California, not owning a gun safe means you potentially face liability should your firearm be stolen. Not all gun safes are created equally, so it can be hard to choose the right one for your needs.
Lots of research is needed to separate the facts from marketing claims to ensure you end up with a gun safe that is not only affordable and practical, but will serve its ultimate purpose. There are no regulatory standards placed upon gun safes in the USA. Your gun safe will likely be a lifetime investment, so get it right the first time.
Why Use a Gun Safe?
Gun safes not only help protect your firearms from theft, but they can also ensure the guns are safely kept away from children, reducing the likelihood of misuse inside the home. If you live in a state that requires guns to be stored in some sort of safe, it is a good idea to buy the safe at the same time or shortly after you buy a firearm.
Types of Gun Safes
There are multiple types of guns safes, with safes classified based on the type of gun being stored, or the type of locking mechanism used.
#1 Biometric Gun Safes
Also known as fingerprint gun safes, these safes use a locking system that requires fingerprints to open them. Because you can program several fingerprints, you are able to give multiple people access to the safe. The major benefit to this kind of safe is that it can be opened in a moments notice. You have to be careful when you buy one because some of the products available are not made with the highest quality of standards. Pay attention to the brand and make sure to buy a reputable one.
#2 Electronic/digital gun safes
Rather than using a key or combination, the safe opens using a code entered on a digital dial pad. These offer a quick convenience, but you may find they run on a battery, so you must have a backup battery supply to ensure it functions properly all the time. It is also important to change the code on a regular basis since dial pads will begin to wear with time. Signs of wear may hint to others what the code could be, thus allowing unauthorized access to the guns in the safe.
#3 Dial Safes
One of the most reliable types of safe is the dial safe. Because it does not use technology that is prone to failure, this safe offers security. A dial combination is required to open the door. Though secure, it is not easy to open at a moments notice compared to other types of safes available today. You cannot change the combination on this type of safe. No power supply is required, unless there are features such as lighting or dehumidifiers that need power to function.
#4 Handgun safes
These safes are smaller because they are designed to hold pistols and handguns. Some of these are even small enough to fit inside a drawer, which makes them ideal. If you only have a few valuables to store inside the safe and you don’t have any long guns that you need to store, a handgun safe may be the ideal option. These are typically less expensive, though many people opt to invest in a long gun safe so they have room to grow their collection.
#5 Long gun safes
Larger and more bulky, these safes are designed to store larger sized guns, as well as multiple guns. They are available in a number of sizes depending on the number of guns you need to store. Many also include other compartments to allow for storage of gun accessories, such as cleaning supplies. Some safes even feature compartments that allow you to store other valuables. They can also be used for handguns, especially if you use a rack to keep them organized.
Every gun owner will have different needs when it comes to their safe. Inspect different locking mechanisms, explore different brands and features, and look at price points to determine what will work best for you.
It is a good idea to buy a gun safe that is larger than what you think you need. You never know when you will want to add to your collection, so you need to be sure you have extra room for any additional firearms that may be added to your collection later. In addition to protecting your guns, the right safe can protect other valuables as well. You can quickly fill up the safe, and space will likely go faster than you realize. Measure all the items you intend to store in the safe, and add a bit more room when you shop around, to be safe.
While you want a gun safe that will provide you room to grow, you also want to keep it as small as possible, to make it easier to store and to conceal. If the safe becomes obvious, it is a target for burglary. Ideally, it should be kept in the basement or attic, but could also be kept in a closet.
Though thicker steel will make the overall unit heavier – the thicker the steel, the better the protection you’ll have. Thicker steel will also cost you more, so this is something to consider. 12-gauge steel is only about 0.081 inches thick, which can easily be broken into with power tools. It is best to opt for 10-gauge, or lower, with 8 being ideal, for the sides and doors.
Those who have time to wait for a bargain can usually find a used gun safe for less than $1,000. Lighter units, weighing 500 pounds or less, you can move on your own. If the unit is heavier, expect to pay for moving and installation.
Buying new means you’ll spend an average of at least $800, with many American made models starting at $1,000. Unless you ship and install the safe on your own, add another 10 to 30% to cover shipping and installation costs.
Gun safes that cannot easily be defeated with brute force methods will run anywhere from $1,400-$5,000 brand-new, depending on size and fire protection. These safes offer a tremendous amount of protection against all non-power tools. However, power tools will still get inside in a matter of minutes to hours depending on installation and location. Because these are heavier, they cost more to move, so add and 50% for shipping and installation.
To get a top quality true safe that will stand up against power tools, prepare to spend anywhere between $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the size, level of security, and fire protection. These can weigh more than a ton, so add anywhere from 20% to 80% more to cover the cost of shipping and installation.
Though the budget is important, also take time to consider the level of warranty and support that comes with the safe at the time of purchase. Read the fine print, and be aware that not all safes will come with one. If you purchase a safe with fingerprint scanners or electronic locks, these components could fail over time. If a locksmith ever needs to come open or repair the safe, there could a potentially substantial cost involved. If the warranty covers these issues, it could be worth the extra expense when initially buying the safe. If not, the money you save by opting out of a warranty could cost you later.
Increasing Security and Protection
If you cannot afford the safe that offers the protection you desire, you can do things on your own to make a less expensive safe better.
Select a good location – out of plain view – and bolt the safe to the floor. Consider hiding the safe altogether – perhaps inside a hollowed out refrigerator. Customize your gun safe with extra steel, only in locations where you need it.
Improve overall home security and reduce fire risk. Fireproof the safe yourself, or install a sprinkler head directly over the safe’s location. Keep your personal tools locked up, or hidden, so as to prevent burglars from using your own tools to break into the safe. Don’t store ammunition or powder in the safe, as these could ignite in a fire, and make the situation worse. Store it separately, in another container, away from sources of heat and flame.
Practice “free” home security techniques, such as forwarding your phone calls when you leave, or using timed lights, so you appear home when you’re not to avoid becoming a burglar target.
Tips for Buying the Right Safe
Spend the money on a safe that offers the size, features, and protection you want. Your gun collection may easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars in value, so why protect it with ta safe that only cost a few hundred dollars? If budget is a concern, opt for a used safe. Compared to many other products, safes typically do not wear out over time. Look for businesses in your area that are changing locations; you can secure a high quality commercial safe for not much more than the cost of removing it.
Spend more on a safe that offers fire resistance. Pay close attention to the claims of the safe, as fireproofing may not be effective. If sheetrock is used, make sure that is properly installed. If you are also using the safe to protect media files another valuable documents, it is a good idea to purchase a commercial grade fire safe to put inside the gun safe for double protection.
Research multiple brands before you buy. Unlike other products on the market where brand may not represent significant differences, there are significant differences among brands of gun safes. For instance, Browning offers a patent pending door mounted rifle rack. Fort Knox uses advanced methods for security and stabilization. Brown offers a custom wood interior shelf with commercial grade burglary protection. Compare differences between brands to determine which brand has features that best suite your needs, and then select the size and lock style you need.
Pay close attention to the specifications of the safe. Just because the unit is heavy and large, does not make it secure. Heavy gauge steel is less likely to be cut and drilled than light gauge steel. Some safes out there have thin walls that can be penetrated with a fire ax.
Research the safeguards against tampering for your safe. Quality safes will have extra armor or features that will prohibit drilling. Lower quality safes can be opened in a few minutes using battery-powered hand tools. All safes should have re-lockers to make sure the safe remains locked in the case of a burglary.
Don’t expect to be able to find the right gun safe for your needs without shopping around. Make sure the safe meets all state regulations in terms of safety ratings. Have a professional install the safe, somewhere in your home that is out of plain sight. Train other adults in the home about how to use the safe, and educate children on an age-appropriate level about gun safety.
Still think owning a gun safe isn’t worth the investment? A lot of times, you’ll be storing a collection worth two to three times more than the safe itself – and quite possibly priceless, irreplaceable items. Divide the price of the safe, including shipping and installation charges by the number of years you expect to use the safe. Compare this dollar amount to the total value of the items stored in the safe. You’ll quickly find the cost of the safe makes it an inexpensive insurance “policy” in and of itself.