Best Gun Safe Reviews & Guide
A gun safe is a container used to store and protect your firearms and ammunition, and to allow you quick and dependable access to the contents whenever the need arises. Some gun safes have digital keypad locks, some come with biometric (fingerprint recognition) locks, while others user a combination lock or just a regular key. Sizes and capacities differ from safe to safe; some models can store only one handgun, while other can fit dozens of rifles, shotguns, and ammunition.
With the above in mind, below is a list of expert gun safe reviews. Each of these best safes has been carefully examined and rated based on dependability, capacity, ease-of-use, fire rating and water protection (where applicable), locking mechanism quality, steel thickness an ease of installation. Simply scroll through the comparison chart and click the “read review” button next to the safe that interests you.
|Stack-On PDS-500 Drawer||4.8||$$|
|BARSKA Biometric Safe||4.6||$$$|
|Gunvault SpeedVault SV500||4.5||$$$|
|Gunvault GV1000D Mini Vault Deluxe||4.3||$$$|
|Gunvault GV2000C-DLX Multi Vault||3.9||$$$|
How Were These Best Gun Safe Reviews Prepared?
We only included best gun safes that we’ve personally used, and which have stood the test of time. A few things we paid particular attention to were:
- We covered safes made by as many established manufacturers as possible. Gun vault, Stack-On, Sentry Safe, American Security, Homak, to name a few. If we feel a manufacturer does not deliver quality consistently, we do not recommend their products.
- Our gun safe reviews cover many different capacities. Some people only need to store one handgun, while others need to store 12 rifles, 12 shotguns, a few handguns and ammo – all in one safe. Regardless of your requirements, we’ve covered a model for you.
- Diverse price tags. Not everyone is willing to pay $1,000+ for a high quality, fire-rated, water resistant 500+ pound gun safe. Many of the models we reviewed cost less than $200 while still being perfectly reliable and providing safety.
- Different locks. Want a simple key-lock, or would you rather use your fingerprint or a digital password to open your safe? Again – we’ve got you covered from all angles.
- Solid steel exterior. This is a MUST in every quality safe. All of the models reviewed here have doors and walls made of the highest quality steel available.
- Different sizes. The best gun safe is useless if it can’t be properly fit and attached to a wall/floor. Models we review range in size from small 10 pound safes, to 800-pound beasts worthy of a police gun-armory.
Gun Safe Security & Maintenance Guide
Purchasing the right gun safe is just as important as purchasing the right weapons. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to both get the right model and get the best out of it.
Take Care When Storing Ammunition In Your Safe
While a fire-rated gun safe will protect the weapons inside from damage, it’s possible – if the construction is exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged duration – that the gunpowder in your ammo could ignite. This tends to generate a lot of smoke (far more than if the powder was ignited through proper means when firing your weapon manually), and this smoke could cause damage to some of your other valuables inside the safe, especially documents that you might have stored there. It’s therefore best that any documents should be kept as far from the bullets as possible. You should also avoid storing excessively large quantities of ammo; if they were all to simultaneously explode (while extremely unlikely) because of the heat during a home fire, this could generate enough force to tear a lower-quality gun safe into shreds; this is not something you should worry about if you have one of the best gun safe models around.
Depending on the materials used in a safe’s construction, you may need to use a dehumidifier. If the walls of the safe are made from an outer steel shell with an inner concrete composite (as is the case with many fire-rated models), the safe will be able to keep out humidity, thereby creating a “closed” environment where all your weapons and valuables are protected from moisture. If rather than concrete composite a different material is used, such as fireboard, you will need to place a dehumidifier inside your safe at all times to prevent your weapons from rusting over time, and your documents from dampening. With this in mind, we recommend using a dehumidifier regardless of the type of safe you have if that safe is located in a high-humidity environment, or in a place where there are rapid shifts in temperature.
Simple Is Better
Be careful if a manufacturer offers some very unusual safety features (we don’t include any of these in our gun safe reviews), as these are often marketing ploys, which can actually backfire and make the safe less reliable. What matters most are the materials used, how reliable the lock is, the size and weight of the safe, and that’s pretty much it – quality safes use designs that have been proven to work time and time again and there is no need to “re-invent the wheel.”
A good example has to do with the hinges on most gun safes; these hinges are usually located on the outside, because the average uneducated thief will think that they simply need to cut these hinges to gain access to the safe, not knowing that the hinges are in no way related to the actual opening and closing of the lock itself – they are there to simply swing the door once the lock is opened, and they serve no other purpose. Some manufacturers however are beginning to introduce gun safes with hinges that are attached to the inside of the safe; they claim that this enhances security and hope that it will cause you to buy their safe. The only thing this does in practice is that it makes the burglar go immediately after the lock itself (simply because there are no visible hinges to attack), thereby increasing his chances of actually getting the safe opened.
We urge you to only buy safes where the outer layers of the door and body are made from solid steel (not composite materials). This is the only way to guarantee true resistance and protection of your firearms. If solid steel isn’t used, no amount of extra features or fancy biometric locks will help you prevent access to a determined criminal. Plus, solid-steel safes are much heavier, making them much harder to move by unauthorized individuals. Our gun safe reviews were prepared with just this in mind – if there is no solid steel, we don’t recommend it, period. Steel thickness (gauge) is also very important. The lower the gauge, the better, as it means the steel is thicker.
Pay Close Attention To The Lock
This is perhaps the single most important element in any safe if your goal is to protect your family or business. You simply cannot afford having the lock jam on you as you reach to draw your weapon in a dangerous situation. Read our reviews to learn more about the locks used in different gun safes and whether they can be depended on.
The Heavier The Better
Not only because heavier safes are harder to move by a burglar, but also because heavier safes usually use both an outer steel layer and an inner composite concrete layer, which is the most dependable combination in any true, fire-rated safe. If possible, try to avoid safes with a fireboard or drywall inner layer, as they are much easier to crack by a burglar and much less resistant to fire.
Keep Your Safe Bolted
Other than the obvious reason of making it much harder for a thief to transport your safe, this will also prevent the construction from tipping over when the interior is empty; the door in a quality gun safe is very heavy, so if the construction is not fastened to the floor or wall, and when the door is opened, the safe could fall over and crush anyone and anything in front of it.
Keep Your Safe Closed
Sounds obvious, but it is not uncommon for people to forget to close the door after use. Other than leaving your weapons completely vulnerable and on display, there’s also the risk that a small child could lock him or herself inside the safe by accident – a tragedy that has been documented more than once in the United States.
Types of Gun Safes
Other than the obvious, such as the size, weight, and capacity, safes are usually grouped into sub-types according to the type of locking mechanisms used, of which there are four:
Biometric Gun Safes
A biometric gun safe offers the quickest and most reliable access to your weapons. During an emergency it’s not uncommon for people to suddenly forget their digital access code, or to have a hard time finding their key. A biometric gun safe solves these problems; it allows you to open the safe by simply scanning your fingerprints. Most biometric safe models can store up to 30 different fingerprints in their memory. This type of safe adds an extra layer of security as well, as there is no digital code that someone could gain access to without your knowledge and which they could later use to get their hands on your valuable weapons.
Digital Pass Code Safes
These safes include a digital keypad that you can use to input a code to unlock the safe. Just like biometric safes, these locks require batteries to work. A code can usually be between 3 and 6 digits, and you can often store literally millions of them in the memory.
Regular-Key Gun Safes
As the name suggests, these safes come with a lock that can be opened and closed with a regular key. Don’t let this fool you however; a key may be simple, but the actual locks are very strong and durable, often made of 5 thick action bolts (plus a few hinge-side dead bolts) that extend from both the top, side, and bottom of the safe door to lock it very securely in position, making it downright impossible to pry open with regular tools.
Combination Lock Gun Safes
A combination lock works similarly to a padlock, where you rotate a dial using a predetermined pattern. The rotation moves several discs into position; if they align properly, the security bolts are released and the safe lock is opened. Combination locks are not as popular on gun safes nowadays as they take longer to open than biometric, digital or key lock safes. However, there are a few quality models that still employ this type of lock, for example the Stack-On 24 Gun Fire Safe.
Do You Need a Safe?
Our gun safe reviews are for everyone who owns a firearm, period. It is however a good idea to understand the exact purposes these safes serves.
With the number of gun-related accidents and tragedies on the rise, it’s more important than ever to restrict access to your firearms. The sad thing is that the majority of these accidents could have been avoided if the gun owners had taken proper steps to safeguard and contain their weapons properly. Keep in mind that it’s not only children gaining access to a handgun or rifle that can lead to an accident; many adults have less imagination than you would expect. It’s therefore critical that you restrict access to only those people or family members who are responsible, and who are legally allowed to and capable of properly handling a firearm.
And what would happen in case of a break-in? What if a burglar were to gain access to your house and get his hands on your gun right as you approached them to defend your home and family? And what if someone were to rob your house or office while you were away and they were free to take your firearms as well? The legal, monetary and psychological impact of such an event is far from enjoyable. This is particularly true for hunters who often have a wide collection of guns with different calibers for different game. Purchasing all these guns takes a lot of research, time, expert consulting and money, and you simply can’t afford to lose all of this for no reason, especially if it could have been easily prevented.
Considering the above, here is what you need to do:
- Make sure your handguns, rifles and shotguns are stored in a safe large enough to fit them, and one that is strong enough to make gaining access to its content with hand tools (drills, crowbars, saws etc.) next to impossible.
- Make sure the safe is firmly bolted to the wall or ground. A safe is useless if a burglar can simply carry it out; for instance, two strong men can carry out a 200 lbs unbolted safe.
- Make sure the key or digital access code to your safe is in your posession at all times and that it’s never left unattended, especially in close proximity to the safe.
Protection From Disasters
No one believes their home/office could catch fire or be flooded with water – until it finally happens to them, and then it’s probably too late. Not all gun safes can protect your weapons from these elements, however. For extra safety, look for models that include:
A Fire Rating
These safes, while more expensive than regular ones, can withstand extremely high temperatures (1200-1700 degrees depending on the rating) for a certain duration (usually 20 to 90 minutes, though there are exceptions). Make sure that the rating was a result of an independent auditor’s testing, and not of testing done by the manufacturer. These types of safes contain special heat-resistant insulation material within the walls, and there’s also extra coating around the edges of the door that will expand under heat, providing even further insulation. As an added bonus, a fire-rated gun safe will be significantly heavier than a similar, non-fire-rated safe, due to the extra weight the insulating material adds. This makes it even harder for a burglar to move your safe on a wheel-cart, if they were to somehow unbolt it from the floor/wall.
A Waterproof Rating
Gun safes that are waterproof are usually expensive, and for good reason. Such models will keep your guns safe for 48-72 hours in 2 to 3 feet of standing water, depending on the rating. If floods are a possibility where you keep your weapons, it’s worth spending some extra dollars for a waterproof safe.
When purchasing your unit, consider that waterproof and fire-rated models are usually quite bulky, so make sure you can fit it through the door to where it will be installed. Also, keep in mind that a lot depends on where you live; in some cities or neighborhoods, your chances of falling victim to a burglary are far lower than of your house or office catching fire, in which case getting a fire-rated safe is almost a must.
Quick, Quiet Draw
When things really go wrong and you need to reach for your weapon quickly, a quality safe is exactly what you need. Knowing that your gun is in a secure place, waiting for you to access it in a matter of seconds, will give you a certain psychological advantage over someone who simply keeps his weapon in some drawer. If your safe is large and is positioned in just the right location, the door can be even used as a shield if necessary.
Some smaller safes, such as the Gunvault SpeedVault SV500, can be attached to the bottom of your desk, allowing for a quick, inconspicuous and quiet draw when necessary. Our gun safe reviews feature a few models with “Quiet” mode available; what this does is it turns off all sound notifications emitted by your safe, so that anyone in your surroundings will be none the wiser when you reach for your gun.