Storing guns in a reliable safe keeps them from getting into the wrong hands and reduces the risk of theft. In some states and communities, safe storage (including locking guns in a safe), fitted trigger locks, or securing guns by a cable might even be required by law. Safes designed specifically for firearms have been around for decades, and today’s models are versatile and simple to open yet strong and resistant enough to keep thieves at bay.
The best gun safe for your home will vary depending on the number and type of guns being stored. Before choosing a gun safe, gun owners should contact their local law enforcement authority to determine whether they need to purchase a particular type of safe. Here are several types of gun safes that allow users to secure their firearms while keeping them easily accessible in case of an emergency.
- BEST OVERALL: RPNB Gun Safe, Quick-Access Pistol Safe
- BEST FOR LONG GUNS: Moutec Large Rifle Safe
- BEST QUICK ACCESS: RPNB Mounted Firearm Safety Device
- BEST WITH TAMPER ALERT: Verifi Smart Safe Biometric Gun Safe
- BEST KEYLESS: V-Line 2597-S Desk Mate Keyless Security Box
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Amazon Basics Home Keypad Safe
- BEST BLUETOOTH-ENABLED: VAULTEK VT20i Biometric Handgun Bluetooth Smart Safe
- BEST PORTABLE: SnapSafe Treklite Gun Safe Lock Box
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gun Safe
In addition to meeting potential legal requirements, a gun safe should be large enough to hold weapons, additional clips, and cartridges. It should be secure yet quickly accessible in the case of an emergency. Gun safes come with a wide array of features, varying quality, and different security levels. With that in mind, here are a few factors to consider while shopping.
Gun safes range in size from small portable safes designed to hold a single compact handgun or derringer to large, heavy floor-style safes built to hold multiple long guns, handguns, and a surplus of related items.
When shopping for a gun safe, pay attention to both the exterior dimensions and the interior dimensions. The exterior dimensions identify whether the safe will fit in a predetermined space, such as in a cubby in a closet, while the interior dimensions (which may be a few inches smaller) determine whether the safe is large enough to hold the firearms.
Gun safes feature three main types of locks, biometric, electronic, and combination. The benefits and drawbacks of each are listed below.
- Biometric: A biometric lock allows the owner to program one or more individual fingerprints into the lock’s memory. When the user places his or her finger on the biometric screen, the safe recognizes the print and opens the lock. Biometric locks ensure security as each person’s individual fingerprint is unique. If the finger (or the biometric pad) is dirty, however, the lock may not open. Biometric locks rely on batteries; if the batteries die, they’ll need replacing before the lock will function.
- Electronic: An electronic lock requires the user to enter a three- to eight-number combination via a digital keypad to open it. Electronic locks are secure, and users can reprogram the key codes if desired. Similar to biometric locks, electronic locks also run on batteries. If the batteries die, the user must replace them before using the keypad.
- Combination: The simplest lock design is the combination lock—think back to school lockers. A combination lock requires users to enter a three- to five-digit code by rotating a dial back and forth or by aligning the numbers on a vertical-type combination lock to open the safe.
- Keyed: Very few gun safes open only with a key. More often, keys are used as a backup if the user forgets the code or combination. If backup keys are not available, the owner may need to call a locksmith to open the safe.
A fire-rated gun safe can withstand intense heat for a specific amount of time before the heat enters the safe. This type of safe is often built with thicker steel walls and may come with special seals that expand when the temperature soars to seal the safe’s door and keep fire out. If the safe offers fire protection, it will come with a one- or two-hour fire rating, meaning the contents inside are safe from fire damage for one or two hours, respectively.
In general, the heavier the gauge of steel (8- to 12-gauge is best), the higher the fire rating and the more secure the locking system. The following classifications offer a general guideline for measuring the level of security offered by a gun safe. This is relevant not only to ensure the desired degree of protection but also to guarantee the guns are covered against loss by the homeowner’s insurance policy. However, individual policies may vary, so contact your insurance agent to determine what security level is necessary for the agency to cover your firearm investment.
- UL: This stands for an “Underwriters Laboratories” rating and is used in conjunction with one or more of the following ratings.
- TL: Indicating “tool resistance,” this rating is followed by a number, such as TL-15 or TL-30, indicating the safe will withstand attempts to pry it open with a pry bar or other tools for 15 or 30 minutes. It will usually follow the UL designation (i.e., UL TL-15), indicating the 15-minute tool-resistant rating was determined by Underwriters Laboratories.
- TR: This designation specifies the safe is resistant to unlawful entry using a torch, and it can be combined with the TL designation, such as UL TRTL-30, meaning the safe will resist forced entry by torch or prying tools for up to 30 minutes.
- X6: If X6 appears in the designation, it indicates security testing was performed on all six surfaces of the safe: the front, all four sides, the top, and the bottom. A rating such as UL TRTL-15-X60 indicates the safe will resist forced entry by torch or prying tools on all six sides for up to 15 minutes.
- RSC: A gun safe that bears an RSC (Residential Security Container) rating may deter some thieves, but this is the lowest security rating level. An insurance policy may not cover the financial loss if the safe has an RSC rating but not a TL rating. An RSC rating indicates the safe will deter prying for up to five minutes, making RSC gun safes the least secure.
In addition to heavy-gauge steel, a good lock, and fire protection, some gun safes offer additional protection, such as mounting holes that allow the user to bolt the safe to wall studs, floor joists, or concrete. Some of the newer safes may also offer tamper alerts that sound an alarm if an unauthorized attempt is made to open the safe, and others will track and log every event when someone tries to enter the safe.
Most gun safes can be attached to floor or wall studs, but for gun owners who need to transport their firearms, portable safes are also available. They may come with steel cables that attach to a nonmovable part of the automobile—usually in the trunk—to reduce the risk of theft. Small, nonattachable safes are also available for stowing handguns under a car seat or in a desk drawer. These safes will keep kids out, but they won’t stop a determined thief from carting off the entire safe and its contents.
Our Top Picks
The following gun safes will deter curious children and keep others from getting their hands on your weapons. Sizes vary, but most of the best gun safes come with the ability to mount to the wall, floor, or underside of a counter. Each option listed below allows the owner easy access via a code, fingerprint, or key.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to protect your handgun and keep it safely stored in the RPNB Gun Safe with Quick Access. This safe features biometric and passcode entry at an affordable price. Its powder-coated steel resists corrosion, and the safe features a pry-resistant door and double-wall construction to prevent break-ins. The RPNB safe also comes with predrilled holes on the underside so it can be securely mounted to a solid shelf or the floor. Program the safe to open with a passcode, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) card (one included), or a fingerprint. Backup keys are also included.
The biometric, RFID, and passcode entry features operate on four AA batteries (not included). This compact handgun safe features an interior measurement of 8.85 inches by 6.88 inches by 1.81 inches, which is just enough space for a handgun and a couple of magazines. Exterior dimensions are 11.02 inches by 7 inches by 1.85 inches.
With its roomy 56.5-inch by 13.4-inch by 12.4-inch interior, the Moutec Large Rifle safe can store up to five long guns. This safe has solid steel walls, a tamper-resistant door, and it can hold rifles and shotguns. It comes with a top shelf for storing ammo and magazines, and an additional 13-inch by 6.7-inch by 8-inch lockbox inside the safe opens with keys (included).
Exterior dimensions are 14 inches by 13.8 inches by 57 inches, and the safe comes with predrilled holes in both the back and bottom for securing to the wall or floor (mounting hardware included). The safe can be programmed with a passcode and includes backup keys, just in case.
The keypad emits a beep when the correct code is entered, but the sound can be muted if needed. Four AA batteries (included) power the programming and keypad.
Designed to be mounted under a counter, desk, or dashboard, the RPNB Mounted Firearm Safety Device keeps your handgun out of unauthorized hands but within reach for quick access. Its compact interior holds a single pistol or handgun, and it can open with a programmed fingerprint, passcode, or with backup keys (included).
The exterior measures 13.47 inches by 7.43 inches by 3.07 inches—small enough to easily conceal from inquisitive eyes. Made from steel and designed to resist prying, the RPNB safe features a foam-lined interior and comes with a low-battery alert to let you know when its four AA batteries (not included) need replacing.
With the Verifi Smart Safe Biometric Gun Safe, you’ll have a time-stamped record of every attempt at opening the safe. The biometric fingerprint sensor is FBI certified and operates on four AA batteries (included). The digital sensor alerts you when the batteries run low. Only a registered administrator can view the safe’s diagnostics.
Users can configure this safe to emit an alarm if a nonregistered fingerprint touches the biometric screen or if someone uses the backup keys to open the safe. An LED night-light illuminates the interior to retrieve a handgun in the dark, and users can register up to 40 fingerprints in the biometric lock if desired.
The outside measures 14.4 inches by 10.8 inches by 5.8 inches, and it offers interior dimensions of 14 inches by 10.5 inches by 3.3 inches, providing enough room to store two or three handguns and accessories safely. Mounting holes are on the bottom and back of the safe.
If you’re looking for a keyless handgun safe, try the V-Line 2597-S Desk Mate Keyless Security Box designed to be opened by a programmable passcode. The exterior of the solid steel safe measures 7.5 inches by 10.5 inches by 2.5 inches, and it comes with a bracket that mounts to the underside of a desk or counter.
The safe fits into the bracket, but a quick-release lock makes it easy to remove for transporting the gun inside the safe. The V-Line safe opens using a five-button passcode only—it doesn’t take batteries or backup keys. If you forget the code, you will need a metalsmith to cut the safe open to retrieve your gun, so write down the code and stash it in a safe place.
The V-Line safe features heavy-duty steel construction for added security. Its interior dimensions (6.75 inches by 8.5 inches by 1.75 inches) are just roomy enough to hold a single handgun or revolver.
With its heavy-duty, 8-gauge carbon steel door, the Amazon Basics Safe will secure multiple handguns and other valuables, and it comes with predrilled holes for bolting it to a wall or floor.
The safe features an electronic keypad for quick entry, and it comes with a set of two backup keys in case the code is ever forgotten. The door features two solid steel bolts, and the body of the safe features 14-gauge steel construction. The door is designed to offer a measure of pry resistance as well.
This Amazon Basics safe features exterior measurements of 13.8 inches by 13 inches by 16.5 inches. The interior compartment measures 13.6 inches by 10.6 inches by 16.4 inches, and it comes with two internal shelves for holding handguns, cartridges, and other valuables.
With the Bluetooth-capable VAULTEK Handgun Smart Safe, users can monitor the safe’s status, including remaining battery charge, audio alert features, a log of entry events, and whether someone has tampered with the safe, all from a smartphone or other digital device. The VAULTEK gun safe comes with a downloadable app that syncs to the safe and can be used within 20 feet of the safe.
This portable safe comes with exterior dimensions of 11.5 inches by 9 inches by 2.63 inches and interior dimensions that measure 11 inches by 5.75 inches by 2 inches, just enough to hold a compact handgun and perhaps a small clip or additional cartridges. Firearm owners can monitor and open the safe via a smartphone or enter a code or use a recognized fingerprint with its biometric scanner. The safe features anti-pry protection and a rugged 16-gauge steel body for added theft protection.
The SnapSafe Treklite portable gun safe is small enough to comfortably slip into a backpack, under a car seat, or into a desk drawer. It comes with a steel cable that users can attach to a stationary object to deter thieves. The safe features impact-resistant polycarbonate that weighs just one-third as much as steel yet provides a tough, secure case.
The SnapSafe meets TSA airline firearm guidelines, and it comes with a four-numeral combination lock in addition to a backup keyed lock (keys included). Exterior dimensions are 10.75 inches by 7.5 inches by 3 inches, and the interior space measures 8.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 1.5 inches. The safe weighs just 1.6 pounds, making it the lightest safe in this roundup.
FAQs About Gun Safes
Many states and communities have strict gun storage laws, and buyers must consider these when choosing a gun safe. Also, for those who are new to the world of gun safes, some questions are to be expected.
Q. Is a gun safe airtight?
Fire-rated gun safes are airtight for a specific length of time, usually one or two hours, but after that, intense heat could cause the seals to fail and put the contents of the safe at risk. If a safe is not fire rated, it’s likely not airtight.
Q. Where can I hide my safe?
Out of sight is also out of mind. Safes designed for installation in walls and under beds will be out of view.
Q. How do you hide a safe in plain sight?
The larger the gun safe, the more challenging it is to hide. If no concealed spots are available, stow it in a place where thieves are unlikely to look, such as in a cluttered area like a garage, where it’s less likely to be noticed.
Q. How long will an electronic lock’s battery last?
Expect a safe’s batteries to last six months to one year, depending on how often the safe is opened.