A record-breaking number of handguns were sold in 2020, and sales continue to be extremely high in 2021. Many of these sales are first-time buyers purchasing a handgun for personal protection. Handguns are a good defense solution for those who want a firearm to defend them at home and away.
Safely storing your handgun so that it is easily accessible can be accomplished with a good handgun safe.
Types of Handgun Safes
These are designed to be near where you sleep so you can reach your gun as quickly as possible. If you lock your bedroom door, that’s an additional layer of protection to keep kids and others from accessing your gun.
A wall cabinet safe can be anywhere but is often placed out of reach of younger children. This may help prevent accidents, for example, if it is accidentally left unlocked.
Stealth and Hidden Safes
A handgun safe doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take other precautions to ensure no firearm accidents occur in your home.
- Teach kids to never pick up a firearm they find lying around.
- Double-check that your guns are safely stored at all times.
- Teach overall gun safety. Never put your finger on the trigger unless ready to shoot.
- If possible, teach your kids to shoot and show them the damage to targets to help them understand what guns can do to people. You do not want kids to think guns are like playing a video game or like the unrealistic gunfights in so many movies and TV shows.
- Trigger locks provide another layer of safety and security.
- Do not store all of your guns loaded and/or with a bullet in the chamber.
- Some kids understand danger better than others. The maturity level of your child should always be considered when it comes to gun safety lessons and gun use.
Never forget that you are legally responsible for keeping your firearms out of reach of children. Plenty of people are criminally charged if a tragedy occurs due to negligence.
Thumbprint or Biometric
Some modern safes feature a thumbprint lock. This requires a particular person to be present to unlock the safe. You can program them to accept several prints if you want another adult to have access. These safes often have an additional security feature such as a key or combination. Typically, you can choose one security feature. Safes typically have a way to override one security requirement in case something happens, like a key is lost or the thumbprint reader stops functioning.
A combination handgun safe takes longer to access. These might be a better option to store valuables or if you’re not worried about quick access.
A key is perhaps one of the least secure methods, but it’s acceptable if all you’re worried about is keeping kids out or traveling with your gun. The most important thing to remember is to double-check that the safe is actually locked after you turn the key, and always remove the key before walking away.
Not all gun safes are fireproof or resistant.
Some gun safes are rated to withstand up to a certain temperature for a specified period. It’s important to note that this is just a basic guideline. A safe may perform better depending on other factors, such as keeping the safe on a concrete floor in the basement where there’s less wood to burn.
Too much humidity in a safe is trouble.
Too much humidity can contribute to the wood on handguns swelling or cause rust. Even if a gun is rust-resistant or mostly made of stainless steel, you might see a little rust if it’s exposed to high humidity.
How much space do you have for a gun safe?
Safes made for just handguns are considerably smaller than safes made to house both rifles and handguns. If you have a large collection of handguns, then a safe to store them all might take up more space than you realize. It may be best to have several smaller safes rather than one large one. Use a tape measure to see how much space you have in the area you want to use to store your guns, and then find one or more safes that will work for you.
Bolting your safe to an immovable object or part of your home is highly recommended for maximum security. Some safes come with the hardware to do this. Make sure that any safe you purchase can be easily bolted unless you need your safe to be portable.
Our Top 4 Picks For Best Handgun Safe
- Quick 1-second access using the biometric print option
- Pry-proof door
- Large capacity to hold multiple handguns
- DOJ certified
- Pre-drilled holes and hardware for floor mounting
- Fits only 1–2 handguns; some room for clips
- Uses 4 AA batteries
Exterior dimensions: 14.37″ x 10.82″ x 3.34″
Interior dimensions: 12″ x 7.87″ x 2.95″
If you’re looking for a handgun safe with a lot of features at a good price, this is a safe to consider. The safe easily fits into most nightstands, and it includes mounting screws to secure it to the floor or within a piece of furniture.
The RPNB can be opened several ways. You get two keys. I like that it includes an extra key because this allows two adults to have access, or you can stash the extra key in a secure location as a backup.
- Safely stores up to 8 handguns
- Made of 14g steel with a 12g steel door
- Quick access
- Can store up to 20 unique fingerprints
- Optional dual-entry security mode for maximum security, when required
- Bluetooth or Wi-Fi options for those that want smart technology management options
- Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capability opens you up to the possibility of hacking or ransomware attacks
- Not as portable as smaller safes
- More expensive than smaller safes
- Requires charging via USB every 3–4 months
Exterior dimensions: 15″ x 11.5″ x 11.6″
Interior dimensions: 13″ x 11″ x 8.6″
The Vaultek MX Series offers the gun owner a lot of space for multiple handguns, clips, and other valuables. The ability to store 20 unique fingerprints means you could program it to open using any of your fingers or allow access for those that you live or work with.
It’s important to understand how high-tech the Vaultek is. If you’re not comfortable with smart technology, this is not the safe for you. There are three versions of this safe to choose from.
- Bluetooth Biometric – Control the safe using an app and Bluetooth connection. The safe is not controllable via Wi-Fi. This version offers biometric security and stores up to 20 fingerprints for fast access.
- Nonbiometric and Wi-Fi – No fingerprint opening option but can be controlled via an online connection and App.
- Biometric and Wi-Fi – 20 fingerprint recognition and Wi-Fi compatible.
The cost varies for each option.
What are the benefits of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options?
The Vaultek app allows you to monitor your safe. Of course, the Wi-Fi option allows monitoring no matter where you are as long as you have internet access. You have real-time access to the following information:
- Battery level
- History log
- Interior temperature
- Humidity levels
- Alerts when safe is opened or if tampering is suspected
The Vaultek features a proximity sensor that lights up the keypad when you need to access your safe. A lot of crime happens at night. This low-level light allows you to access and safely handle your firearm. Low-level lights are desirable because they are less likely to be noticed by intruders or potential assailants.
The higher cost of this safe and its capacity make it more practical for those who want additional storage space for other valuables or with multiple handguns to secure. You might want to consider this option if you plan to add to your firearm collection over time and if you prefer to have multiple safes or one that can handle all your handgun storage needs.
The Vaultek is a great modern safe, but one feature is a deal-breaker for many people. Although the likelihood that you will be singled out for a ransomware or other cyberattack is fairly low, if you choose a safe that can be controlled with an app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you are opening yourself up to this possibility. Of course, the odds can be reduced by practicing good IT security on your phone and home networks.
- Simple and basic design
- Made in the USA
- Does not rely on batteries or electronics
- Easy to reach buttons
- Mountable in a variety of concealed locations
- Made to mount; not designed for portability
- As it weighs 21 lbs., must be mounted to something fairly sturdy
- No light
- Only uses a Simplex lock combination; no additional locking mechanisms
- Slower to open than biometric safes
- Not fireproof
Exterior dimensions: 13.75″ x 10″ x 4.37″
Interior drawer dimensions: 11.5″ x 8.75″ x 2.5″
For those who want to stick to the basics, the V-Line Slide-Away is a great choice. This sturdy slide-away safe features 100-lb rated sliders and anti-pry brackets. It’s designed to be easy to mount inside cabinets, drawers, or even under beds and some car or truck seats. The interior is large enough to accommodate one or two handguns. A tray fits over the handguns and provides additional storage space and organization.
This safe could easily be mounted under a table or desk, making it a good option for those working from home or who can keep a firearm at work.
No safe is perfect. The V-line uses only a Simplex combination lock system. This means you have to push buttons in a particular order to access the safe. You can change the combination if desired. This type of lock is secure, but it’s far slower than a biometric safe. The lack of light means you should probably practice opening the safe so you can open it in the dark. Practice also means reducing the time it takes to access your firearm at any time.
I do like that the V-line does not rely on batteries. If you have a second home or a vacation or bug-out cabin, a safe that doesn’t rely on power could be desirable.
Although the heavy gauge steel is tough and can resist a lot of abuse and some heat, this safe does not have a fireproof rating.
- Easy to mount
- Biometric, combination, and key access options
- Allows fast access to a single handgun
- Mounts well on a wall, desk, or nightstand
- Can store up to 50 fingerprints
- Low battery warning
- Not portable
- Only stores a single handgun
- Uses 4 AAA batteries
- Not a lot of room for accessories
Dimensions: 7.48 x 3.15 x 14.76 inches
This slide-out safe is a good option for desks and nightstands. It provides great security for homes with children. The biometric fingerprint reader allows for 1-second access to your firearm. The safe is very easy to mount.
The inside dimensions accommodate a variety of handgun sizes, but there’s not a lot of room left for accessories or extra clips. What fits depends on the size of the firearm you store.
Overall, this is a good safe for those who want fast access and compact, safe storage for a single firearm. A couple might buy two of these for personal firearm storage on either side of a bed.
This safe is designed to be permanently mounted. Mounting takes just a few minutes with basic tools.
Batteries are required to use the biometric security option. For best results, use a high-quality non-rechargeable AAA battery. Cheap batteries or rechargeable batteries will simply not last. Rechargeable batteries do not hold a charge well over long periods, and it’s easy to forget to change them out. A set of high quality, long-life batteries is well worth the investment if you use biometric security with this safe. Otherwise, you can use the included key to access your firearm.
Typically, you are legally responsible for securing your firearm. If you live alone and don't have kids around, you may get away with leaving a firearm unsecured most of the time. However, if you have guests or work away from home, it's a good idea to secure your firearm. Even kids who are fairly comfortable around firearms and know the dangers can make mistakes. The best way to prevent a tragedy is to keep guns secure when children or others who are not aware of the dangers are around. The most basic safes cost under $100. That's not much to prevent a terrible tragedy and substantial legal ramifications in most cases.
You may notice when researching handgun safes that even for two safes that look almost identical, their prices are substantially different. The thickness and type of metal used for various parts of the safe and the number of security features cause wide variations in price. To some degree, you get what you pay for. However, the price is also determined by where the safe was manufactured. A safe made in the USA or Europe, for example, costs more than a lot of the safes made in Asia. A fireproof safe generally costs more than a comparable safe designed merely to keep people out. When choosing the best safe for you, consider what features are worth paying for. You may find that a simpler safe made in the USA makes more sense than a safe with a lot of high-tech features or extra storage capacity.
If you really just need a safe place to keep a single personal protection firearm, there's no use paying for a larger handgun safe unless you plan to expand your collection soon. Even if you have other guns, a safe for a single gun is easier to conceal next to your bed or in your vehicle. Any safe will be heavier than it looks because it has to be made with materials that can withstand prying and other abuse. For new handgun owners, a small safe is probably best. Remember that a single gun safe is really handy and doesn’t have to cost a lot to be effective. Over time, many handgun owners find that owning several safes with varying capacities works best. Of course, if you want some space to store other valuables or extra ammo, consider that when making a final purchase decision. Always look carefully at the interior dimensions of a safe before purchasing. It's important to verify that it will fit what you want to store, especially if you have a larger handgun or will store the handgun in a case.
A handgun safe is essential for quick access to firearms while avoiding potential tragedy and legal consequences. Biometric safes can store multiple fingerprints and offer the fastest access to a firearm. When choosing a biometric safe, it’s important to get one that others have tried and found to be effective. Although fingerprint technology seems fairly simple, some users have complained that safes must scan a fingerprint two or more times to open.
Safes that feature Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capability and apps allow you to monitor and control your safe remotely. For some, this may be a handy tool. Others may consider Smart Safe technology a gap in security because theoretically, it enables potential hacking or ransomware threats.
Basic lockbox-style safes are tried and true, but they can take longer to access. However, you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries like you do with a biometric safe.