Best Gun Safes on the Market
Being a gun collector / owner is an exciting, empowering feeling but it also comes with its fair share of responsibilities – and the most important one of these is making sure that your weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands. The other pressing concern is protecting your gun collection from all kinds of damage.
Locking them away is the obvious answer to both these issues but you can’t just use any odd closet to this end – you’ve got to choose a proper gun safe that has the requisite security features for ensuring the complete discretion and safety of your firearms.
Problem is, the market is practically flooded with gun safe products of all shapes and sizes, suited to a diverse range of applications. For someone who hasn’t done this before, choosing the best gun safe for themselves from this wide a selection can be a nightmare.
Fortunately, you’ve got this detailed gun safe buying guide to spare you the painstaking research – by the time you’re done, you’ll know exactly how to pick the right product!
Top 5 Gun Safe Comparisons
Fort Knox FTK-PB
4.25’’ x 12.5’’ x 10.375’’
Simplex mechanical combination code
Stack-On SS-22-MB-E 22
55’’ x 26.8125’’ x 17.625’’
3 year warranty
Blue Dot Safes
72’’ x 40’’ x 27’’
1 year factory warranty
Viking Security Safe
10’’ x 14’’ x 10’’
Steelwater Heavy Duty
59’’ x 28’’ x 18’’
EMP resistant electronic keypad
1 year repair warranty + limited lifetime warranty against fire and theft
Why do you need to keep your weapons locked?
Organize your weapon collection
If you own a significant number of assorted firearms, you’ll need to manage their storage such that they can be accessed readily when they’re needed without having to be spread out all over your house.
Modern gun safes are designed with compartments (and pricier ones come with customizable interiors) so you can store your weapons in a single, secure spot exactly the way you want – optimized for your personal usage.
Prevent damage to the firearms themselves
Most modern firearms are complex technical instruments, with lots of parts that are vulnerable to external influences such as moisture, heat, and general wear and tear.
Obviously, you can’t bring the eventual degradation of your weapons to a complete halt – but storing them in a secure, sealed environment will definitely extend their life time. If you invest carefully in a suitable gun safe, you’ll also be securing them against serious disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes.
Stop unauthorized access
Whether you maintain a small gun collection for office / home defense or have a large selection of customized hunting rifles, it will be at risk of wrongful use by unauthorized individuals such as children, mentally challenged individuals and even criminals.
The consequences can be dire, whether the said person uses it maliciously or accidentally, which is why it is your responsibility to prevent this. Besides the damage itself, irresponsible use of your firearm – if it is serious enough – could potentially bring you on the government’s radar.
- Click here if you are interested in Winchester Gun Safes?
What kinds of weapon safes are available in the market right now?
Gun safes can broadly be divided into large gun safes and small gun safes – the former generally follows a standard design scheme, whereas the latter is divided into several different categories, based on usage:
Small Gun Safes
These safes are suitable for those who own a couple of rifles / handguns – because they’re so small, the manufacturer can’t sell them for a high profit margin – so they cut build costs by using cheaper build materials e.g. thinner sheets of metal.
- Pistol safes
- Car safes
- Biometric safes
- FULL GUN SAFES
These compact safes are meant to hold no more than a couple of pistols, and are perhaps the most inexpensive kind of weapon safe available. They aren’t very durable of course, so it is inadvisable to store a priceless vintage pistol inside them for instance!
These pistol safes are designed to fit conveniently in your vehicle e.g. under the seat, wedged on the console or inside the trunk, to give you access to a small weapon such as a handgun on the fly.
Outwardly, these are also the same deal as pistol safes – except that they pack an intuitive and modern unlocking mechanism that grants access based on fingerprint recognition. While biometrics is definitely a highly secure locking method, the technology – as far as reliability is concerned – hasn’t worked out all its kinks yet, so it’s advisable to choose biometric safes with a pinch of salt.
These safes are compact enough to fit beneath your bed, or into the back of your car’s trunk – while having just enough room to hold one or two full sized rifles. You’ll find that they are more sturdily constructed as compared to other small weapons safes.
Large gun safes
These are full cabinet sized safes, made from thick steel (12 GA or less), and come with advanced protection features such as fire and impact resistance.
They can hold a large number of full sized weapons, so they’re best suited to serious gun enthusiasts / hunters. You should note that most safe makers will inflate their product’s capacity, so always pick a full sized safe that can hold at least half a dozen more weapons than your estimated requirements.
What kinds of locks are available?
There are two broad categories of lock options for weapons safes – mechanical and electronic.
Mechanical locks are known for their robustness thanks to their simple mechanism of operation. The flipside is that they’re a bit slow to open (the combination lock variety is practically impossible to open in the dark), and they’re trickier to modify / maintain – so you may have to pay for an expert if it isn’t covered in the warranty.
Safe Locks-Electronic or Mechanical?
In comparison, electronic locks are much easier to operate, but they suffer from a comparative lack of reliability stemming from the electronic components and electric power source (DC batteries, DC wall adapter) used in them. This is why any electronic safe you choose should have a mechanical failsafe present.
At present, there are three different kinds of electronic lock actuation methods available for gun safes:
- digital key entry
As discussed before, safes with these are great for when you want fast access to your firearm(s), but they’ve been known to fail randomly, and you may have to clean up the scanner once in awhile, which can be a chore in itself.
Biometric locks guarantee that only individuals who are registered in their database can access the safe’s contents – your fingerprint isn’t like a key or a password which can be stolen or misplaced!
These safes require you to enter a keycode to gain access to their contents. This is done by means of a digital keypad – this mechanism is useful when you’ll be sharing the weapons safe with a number of individuals – at an office, for instance.
Radio Frequency Identification is a relatively new take on electronic locks – they utilize a scanner which communicates with special electronic tags after they are within range. You simply wave the tag near the safe’s front portion and you’re cleared for access.
While they are definitely more convenient than using a keycode and more reliable than biometrics, they can fall into the wrong hands or be misplaced quite easily.
What features determine a safe’s ability to stop thieves?
This is a primary function of weapon safes, and is dependent on a number of features:
Thickness of body
It’s a no-brainer that you should go for as thick a steel body as your budget allows. Thickness is directly related to the ability of a safe to withstand brute force breaching attacks. I’d recommend 12 gauge as a starting point, but even sturdier options are available in the market.
Normally, manufacturers tend to make doors thicker than the rest of the body of the safe, since it is movable and it houses the locking mechanism, making it ripe for power tool and crowbar attacks.
If you’ve got a legitimate concern pertaining to theft (a bad neighborhood, perhaps), you should always go for a safe with a thicker door.
Drill resistant hard plate
All decent safes will have locks that are backed by a thick steel hard plate – this feature keeps the assailant from drilling and breaching the lock.
This serves as a backup to the original locking mechanism, and springs into action the moment the primary system is compromised. It may not be present in cheaper products, but is definitely worth it if you want complete theft protection.
Crowbars are amateur burglars’ favorite tools for breaking into a gun safe, which is why quality gun safes will have at least half a dozen strong live locking bolts spread in a multi-direction configuration (different sides of the door), as well as several dead bolt to back them up.
Some manufacturers also include anti-pry tabs to further deter these types of attacks.
While this manufacturing process isn’t adopted by everyone, it does offer better structural integrity to the final product, since the metal sheets making up the safe’s body are strongly bound by continuous seams.
By building the hinges on the inside of the steel door as opposed to leaving them exposed outside, the safe maker secures it against burglars who intend to simply cut off the hinges and take off the door entirely.
This will of course restrict the angle to which the door can be fully opened.
Note that a strongly built safe means it will be able to weather out a disaster such as a building collapse much better, besides being safer from theft.
What makes a gun safe fire resistant?
Fires are a major hazard to property and this includes firearms – there’s only so much heat metal can take before it starts to deform in a permanent fashion.
Gun Safe - Fire Test - $3,000 Cash In Safe
Fire safety is implemented in most long gun safes by lining their bodies with gypsum boards, enabling them to withstand temperature extremes in a blaze. As the temperature of the safe’s exterior escalates in a blaze, gypsum begins to release water vapor which helps to regulate the temperature of the interior.
Some of the priciest weapons safes will use concrete amalgamate fire lining – which is much more resilient as compared to fireboard. However, these are normally much too expensive and bulky for the average gun collector.
Good gun safes will also incorporate an intumescent door seal which enlarges to many times its size with a rise in temperature. Not only does it keep heat from entering by way of the door, it also prevents the entry of smoke that creates corrosive acid mist once it has reacted with the gypsum board’s water vapor!
A point that is often missed out in fireproof gun safe reviews is that even the thickness of the safe’s body also indirectly affects its ability to withstand heat. The best fireproof gun safes will have a thick steel body that will keep the heat from reaching the interior for a while.
In a nutshell, you should aim for a safe that provides a 1200F / 1 hour fire rating at the minimum (though a half hour rating can be allowed if you live close to a fire station). You shouldn’t compromise on the temperature though, since metal sheets start distorting at around 1000F and safe markers are known to inflate their ratings!
What makes a weapons safe water resistant?
First off, it is important to clarify that gun safes are not waterproof – in fact, they utilize water vapor to keep the temperature down in a fire – as I’ve discussed above. So when a manufacturer claims that their product is so, they’re not being truthful.
What is achievable however, is a degree of water resistance – made possible through a combination of tight construction and a good door seal. This will be sufficient to keep the safe’s interior dry for some hours in a flooded garage – but it will not hold out indefinitely.
Which gun safe ratings do you need to consider?
If you only had claims from manufacturers to go by, then it would indeed be a difficult pick from all the products being gloriously praised by their makers! Fortunately, we’ve got third party ratings to filter out the best gun safes on the market.
The most fundamental rating you need to look out for is the California DoJ rating – it establishes a bare minimum level of performance in terms of theft safety by stipulating a 12 GA thick steel body, an RC60 grade steel hard plate, three or more 0.5+ inches thick steel locking bolts, secured door hinges etc.
However, if you’re looking for serious reliability, you should look for a UL RSC rating issued by Underwriter’s Laboratories. They’ve got more stringent testing conditions which establish both a safe’s theft resistance and fire protection ability.
Another much sought after rating is the ETL Mark issued by Intertek – it has the same strict stipulations as the UL RSC rating, and indicates that the product complies fully with the safety requirements in North America.
What features to expect from various budget ranges?
Not all of us have access to unlimited cash, so it’s important to know beforehand how much you’ll have to spend on a gun safe and what features you’ll get in return:
As a general rule, remember that the more expensive the product, the more generous will be the warranty that you get. Cheaper warranties offer a 1 year coverage against theft / fire / manufacturing defects, on the other hand, expensive safes will have unlimited warranties with extensive coverage.
In any case, the minimum warranty you should aim for is 1 year – this period will be sufficient to thoroughly test the product for critical flaws that merit a return / replacement.
Gun Safe Reviews
Fort Knox FTK-PB Pistol Box Handgun Safe
- Body Thickness: 10 GA (3/16’’ door)
- Body Dimensions: 4.25’’ x 12.5’’ x 10.375’’
- Lock Type: Simplex mechanical combination code
This old school small safe eschews fancy electronics in favor of solid core features to provide unbeatable reliability for pistol owners. Sporting an exceptionally strong (for a pistol safe) 10 GA steel body and a simple mechanical lock system, the Pistol Box puts up a strong defense against all kinds of breaching attempts.
Its lid is even thicker – at 3/16’’, securing it against drill based attacks. Furthermore, the lid has a hidden tamper resistant hinge under it to impede any cutting tool attacks. You can secure the Pistol Box to a mounting surface by means of 4 built-in bolt holes, but there is no pre-built option for looping a security cord.
The safe’s lid is heavy, and to facilitate quick access, the manufacturer has fitted it with a gas strut. While it’s great in theory, a small number of users have experienced trouble with the strut, so be sure you test it thoroughly upon receiving yours. If there is an issue, you can always capitalize on the lifetime warranty the Pistol Box ships with.
The interior of the product has been given a thick foam lining to protect your pistol against bumps and scratches due to sudden motion e.g. if you’re using it as a car safe. The safe’s exterior has been given a coat of silver to complete its subtle, conventional look.
What We Liked
- Exceptionally strong body thickness.
- Dependable mechanical lock.
- Lid has gas strut assistance.
- Limited lifetime warranty.
What We Didn't
- Gas strut has received a few complaints.
- Lacks pre-built security cable holes.
Stack-On SS-22-MB-E 22 Gun Fully Convertible Security Safe with Electronic Lock, Matte Black
- Lock Type: Electronic keypad (9V DC battery) + 2 Backup Keys
- Maximum Gun Capacity: 22
- Locking Mechanism: 3 1’’ live action locking bolts + 3 dead bolts on hinge side
Made from solid steel with enough room to hold a fair amount of full sized firearms, and sporting a California Department of Justice rating to boot, the Stack-On SS-22-MB-E is the best cheap gun safe for someone on a tight budget.
While the thickness of its steel body isn’t much more than that of security cabinets, it nevertheless has a drill resistant hard plate to secure its lock against power tool based attacks, and 6 (3x 1’’ live action steel bolts and 3 dead bolts to protect the hinge side) locking points to thwart prying attempts.
The safe utilizes an electronic keypad as its primary unlocking system, but also comes with two mechanical override keys in case the electronics malfunction. This is a sensible move on part of the manufacturer, given the low cost nature of the safe.
The safe’s carpeted interior is divided into 4 adjustable shelves – offering you a degree of customization seldom seen in budget products, and it has a quoted long gun capacity of 22, so it can furnish the needs of the average gun collector.
Also impressive is the safe’s 3 year limited warranty – you won’t see this in most budget options, and it indicates that the manufacturer has faith in the product they’ve made. You should keep in mind that this safe is neither fire- nor water-resistant, because solid theft protection is all the manufacturer can pack in the meager budget they’re allowed.
For more Stack on reviews click here.
What We Liked
- Stores a decent number of firearms at a cheap price.
- CA DoJ rated.
- Acceptably strong theft protection features for a budget option.
- Allows interior customization.
- 3 year limited warranty.
What We Didn't
- Electronics may develop issues.
- Customer support isn’t stellar.
- Not fire or water resistant.
Blue Dot Safes Second Amendment Fire-Resistant Gun Safe
- Maximum Gun Capacity: 51
- Body Thickness: 12 GA
- Fire Rating: 1700F/ 1 hour
- Lock Type: Electronic UL Rated Securam Lock
- Locking Mechanism: 2 way 11 live bolts & 7 fixed bolts
Featuring a mighty 51 long gun storage capacity at a very reasonable price, the Blue Dot Second Amendment is geared towards gun owners who a reliable storage solution for a large collection without having to break the bank.
Surprising for its cost and relative size, the manufacturer has managed to make it from 12 gauge steel, ensuring that it can hold its own against the majority of tool-based and manual attacks. It also features a UL Listed Securam lock with a 5/16’’ steel hard plate to block drilling attempts. There’s even an auxiliary relocker that provides backup in case the primary system is breached.
The locking system utilizes 18 bolts set up in a 4 way configuration, so prying attempts are thwarted nicely. If this doesn’t give you peace of mind (and it should), you can also bolt the safe down using the two pre-drilled anchor holes – this is serious theft protection, and I’ll admit that it took me by surprise.
The safe is rated to withstand a 1700F temperature for 1 hour, and also packs a heat expandable door seal. This is more than sufficient fire protection for your gun collection.
Naturally, the safe won’t be able to hold 51 guns as per its quoted capacity, but around 30 to 35 is a very safe estimate and this is still more than what most competitors offer in this price range. Plus, the Second Amendment has door pockets to hold your ammunition and other accessories so the interior can be devoted to the guns.
One issue I have with this safe is the uneven space between the body and the door – undoubtedly, it stems from a slightly loose manufacturing standard. The other is its rather stingy 1 year warranty. In spite of that, this may well be the best gun safe for the money you’ll come across, considering the features it packs at such an affordable price point.
What We Liked
- Reasonably priced.
- Remarkably strong anti-theft and fire safety features.
- Plenty of storage room.
What We Didn't
- Uneven gap between body / door.
- Fleeting 1 year warranty.
Viking Security Safe VS-25BL Biometric Safe Fingerprint Safe
- Body Thickness: 2mm w/ 5mm thick door
- Lock Type: Biometric + Digital Keypad + Mechanical Override Key
- Warranty: Replacement Guarantee
If you’re in need of a quickly accessible storage solution for your handgun, the VS-25BL Biometric Safe is definitely worth considering.
Boasting a 500 DPI Optical Sensor for scanning your fingerprints, the safe guarantees that only you (and those you allow) will be able to access the safe, and that too in a swift, reliable and intuitive manner. It supports storing up to 32 simultaneous prints in its memory, so it’s also great for an office environment.
It is worth noting that the manufacturer has also included a digital keypad and a mechanical override key as secondary and tertiary unlock options in case the primary one fails. Although there have been very few complaints about this, it is commendable that the manufacturer managed to do so in such a small budget.
Equally impressive is the safe’s 2mm steel body, with a 5mm thick door, perfectly adequate for withstanding burglary attempts. Dual anti-pry tabs have been used to foil lever based attacks as well. The safe also comes with pre-drilled holes, in case you want to secure it to a permanent place.
Even the LCD display has been designed with the user’s convenience in mind: it indicates the safe’s working status and the battery’s charge so you’re never taken by surprise by a dead battery in a contingency.
The interior incorporates an LED light – but it requires two additional AA batteries to run, and eliminates discretion in the dark, so I’ll advise against using it. The product comes with a replacement guarantee – again, unorthodox for a low cost pistol safe – but nevertheless indicative of the company’s confidence in it.
What We Liked
- Reliable biometric scanner at a low cost.
- LCD screen provides useful information.
- Can store up to 32 unique fingerprints.
- Strong core construction.
What We Didn't
- Limited complaints about quality control.
Steelwater Heavy Duty 20 Long Gun Safe Fire Protection for 45 Minutes
- Maximum Gun Capacity: 20 Long Gun
- Body Thickness: 12 GA (4.75’’ door)
- Fire Rating: 1550F / 45 minutes
- Lock Type: EMP resistant electronic keypad (9V DC)[+ mechanical key backup]
- Locking Mechanism: Gear driven 6x locking bolts & 3 dead bolts
If you own a dozen or so firearms of some value, and want unflinching security against both theft and fire, the Steelwater Heavy Duty safe, with its 12 gauge body, 4.75’’ thick reinforced steel door and 1550F/45 minute fire rating is a fine candidate.
Besides the sturdy body that provides essential protection against theft, the safe utilizes a gear driven lock system for optimum security against drill, punch and pry attacks. In particular, the lock is protected by an enhanced hard plate which covers eight times the surface a normal plate would, so a successful drill attack is a near impossibility.
The safe has 6 live action bolts as well as 3 dead bolts at the hinges to ensure adequate protection against crowbars and similar tools. It is also worth mentioning that the electronic lock system has been made EMP resistant, so your weapons wouldn’t be exposed to thieves even in the event of a nuclear catastrophe! You can also secure the safe in a fixed spot thanks to the already present mounting holes, which have been strengthened by quarter-inch thick steel plates to keep burglars from dragging it away.
Apart from the aforementioned fire rating, the manufacturer has also utilized an expandable door seal to keep the safe’s contents from getting damaged by ‘acid mist’.
The safe can hold 20 long guns according to the manufacturer, but realistically speaking, 16 guns would be the most you can put in. Still, this is quite adequate for a modest collection of weapons. You can set up the storage as you want, because the four internal shelves are adjustable. There’s also a pre-drilled hole for installing a dehumidifier into the safe to keep the weapons from rusting.
The only thing worth complaining about with this product is its rather skimpy 1 year warranty, but if user reviews are an indicator, you won’t have to use it in all likelihood. On the whole, this safe offers some serious bang for your buck as far as core features are concerned.
What We Liked
- Robust construction, adhering to CA DoJ requirements.
- Strong theft protection features.
- Functional fire safety.
- EMP resistant lock.
What We Didn't
- Warranty period is brief.
Having reached the end of this guide, you will be better educated now on choosing the right gun safe for yourself – that’s right, there is no universally applicable answer to the question of what is the best gun safe brand or product – because it is entirely dependent on your own requirements!
With that in mind, I won’t recommend one product as the best gun safe: if you want to securely store your long guns, I’ll advise you to go for the Blue Dot Safes Second Amendment, because of its adequately thick construction, decent fire rating, large gun capacity, UL rated Securam lock, and balanced pricing.
However, if you only want to safely store a pistol, you may as well go for the Fort Knox Pistol Box because it’s cheaper and offers an exceptionally hardy structure that can put up an admirable defense against the majority of theft attempts.
Once again, these aren’t the only options – you might find something even better for your needs by doing a little market research of your own!