11 Best Gun Safes for 2024 – Helpful Buying Tips

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We reviewed over 35 of the most popular gun safes and found the Stealth Premier 32 to be the best gun safe available.

The fire rating, capacity, flexibility, and premium features all make this safe stand out as a better value than all the others.

Buying a gun safe is a big investment and one that most of us will only make once in a lifetime. Should you pick a big one in case you get more guns in the future? What about other valuables?

I had a bunch of questions in my mind when I bought my safes. In our guide below, I include all of the tips our team has learned.

Best Gun Safe
The author's gun safe with the door open showing handguns, pistols, rifles, shotguns, and ammo

Combined, our team has over 75 years of experience with firearms and gun safes. We have learned from our mistakes, as well as talked with hundreds of others in the firearm community about how they store their firearms. Some weekends I see over 50 people at pistol matches and learn from their experience as well.

Keep reading to find out our tips and what other firearm enthusiasts have learned when buying a gun safe. Also, find out how you can save 5% off of your safe purchase and how not to break your back when moving your new safe!


Comparison of our Favorite Gun Safes

BEST OVERALL GUN SAFE
Stealth Premier 32 Gun Safe

Stealth Premier 32 Gun Safe

90 Min Fire Rating

32 Gun Capacity

UL RSC Rated

MSRP: $2599

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BEST PORTABLE GUN SAFE
Vaultek LifePod 2.0

Vaultek LifePod 2.0

Lightweight

Water Resistant

TSA Approved

MSRP: $159

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BEST BUDGET GUN SAFE
Stealth Essential 23 Gun Safe

Stealth Essential 23 Gun Safe

Affordable

Internal Power

23 Gun Capacity

MSRP: $1299

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BEST SMALL GUN SAFE
Stealth UL14 Gun Safe

Stealth UL14 Gun Safe

14 Gun Capacity

60 Min Fire Rating

UL RSC Rated

MSRP: $1399

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BEST FIRE PROTECTION SAFE
Hollon RG-22 Republic

Hollon RG-22 Republic

22 Gun Capacity

120 Min Fire Rating

EMP Rated Lock & UL RSC Rated

MSRP: $2822

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Best Gun Safes

Stealth Premier 32 – Best Overall Gun Safe

Stealth Premier 32 - Best Overall Gun Safe
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  • Type: Full Size
  • Size: 66” H x 36” W x 26” D
  • Weight: 872 lbs
  • Capacity: 32 Long Guns
  • Fire Rating: 90 min @ 1200 F
  • UL RSC Rated: Yes
  • MSRP: $2599

The Stealth Premier 32 is the ultimate gun safe.

Not only is it UL RSC rated, but it is built with thicker 10 gauge steel. Plus, with a full 90-minute fire rating, this safe will stand up to almost anything.

It will hold up to 32 long guns. In addition, it has two adjustable reinforced upper shelves to hold a ton of handguns and other gear.

I really like the options this safe has on the door pockets. The entire interior of the door is covered with Molle straps, so you can move the included storage pouches and pockets wherever you like. Most expensive safes I have seen do not have this. It comes with 6 pistol holsters, a triple magazine pouch, 3 medium and 1 larger zippered pocket on the door. I love that I can move these around and add my own pouches if I want.

The lower part of the shelf can be configured in two long gun racks or one long gun rack and shelves. This gives you flexibility to adjust it to suit what is best for you.

In addition to the internal power outlets, a light kit is included with this safe. I find that larger safes tend to get very dark inside, even in the daytime, so the light is a nice addition.

The standard electronic lock is UL-listed and is powered by a 9-volt battery that you can access on the outside of the safe. It also has a ¼” hard plate and a relocker to protect it against drill and punch attacks. You can also upgrade this lock to a S&G mechanical lock or other bulletproof NL options.

All of the shelf edges are leather lined. This is a nice touch both for looks and durability.

This safe is heavy and fairly large, so I would recommend Armadillo Safe’s white glove service for this safe. Not only will they deliver it, but will set it up in your home. At nearly 900 pounds, you want to make sure they put it where you want it before they leave!

Recommended for:

The Stealth Premier 32 is for gun collectors looking for the best value in a safe to protect their firearms and other valuables. The 90-minute rating is one of the best on the market, and the price is still affordable for a safe this size.

PROS

10 Gauge Construction

32 Gun Capacity

90 Minute Fire Rating

Light Kit Included

Lifetime Warranty

CONS

Heavy and Hard to Move

Video of the Stealth Premier 32 Gun Safe


Vaultek Lifepod 2.0 – Best Portable Gun Safe

Vaultek Lifepod 2.0 – Best Portable Gun Safe
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  • Type: Portable
  • Size: 12.25” x 8.5” x 2.875”
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs
  • Capacity: One Full Size Handgun
  • Fire Rating: None
  • UL RSC Rated: No
  • MSRP: $159

The Vaultek Lifepod 2.0 is a portable handgun and pistol safe that is one of the more innovative products to come out over the past few years.

This safe can be used as a nightstand safe, a car safe, a safe for your bug out bag or get home bag, or as a travel safe.

You can take it anywhere. It is water-resistant and TSA-approved, so you can fly with it. This safe even floats, so no worries about taking it out on the water.

It has an electronic lock with a key backup. Simply enter your four-to-eight-digit code on the touch-activated capacitive keypad. Since there are no traditional buttons, the durability of this safe is better than any other on the market.

The lock is powered by a standard 9V battery. The battery will last for up to one year, depending on use.

There is a steel cable included so you can secure it to an object like your nightstand, car seat, or even in a boat.

Since it is less than three inches thick, it fits nicely under the seat of most cars. It is great for securing your firearm in your car when you go somewhere that does not allow them.

The padded interior is large enough to fit most full size handguns and a couple of magazines. All of the handguns on our best concealed carry gun list will fit in this safe.

If you carry a handgun daily or just like to travel with your pistol, this is the safe to get. The price is reasonable, and the versatility makes it well worth it. It can replace a separate nightstand and car safe easily.

Recommended for:

The Vaultek Lifepod 2.0 is for handgun owners who need a versatile, use anywhere safe. From home, to car, to plane, to camp, this safe works.

PROS

Durable

Water Resistant

Lightweight, Compact

Security Cable

CONS

One Handgun Capacity

Video of the Vaultek Lifepod


Stealth EGS23 – Best Budget Gun Safe

Stealth EGS23 - Best Budget Gun Safe
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  • Type: Full Size
  • Size: 59” H x 24” W x 18” D
  • Weight: 293 lbs
  • Capacity: 23 Long Guns
  • Fire Rating: 30 min @ 1200 F
  • UL RSC Rated: No
  • MSRP: $1299

The Stealth EGS23 Gun Safe is an affordable full-size gun safe that includes features found on higher-priced safes.

I like the size of this safe. It is not so big and heavy that it is impossible to move. Since it is under 300 pounds, you can move it with the help of a few friends.

It is only 18” deep. When you add about 3” for the door handle, the 21” depth allows it to fit through the doors in your home and turn corners easily.

While this safe is not UL listed as an RSC, it is built with 14 gauge steel on the door and body. The door has 8 Solid steel locking bolts that are 1” thick. The door also has an expanding door seal that helps it achieve a 30-minute fire rating.

The UL-listed electronic lock is the same as our top pick and can be upgraded as well. No other budget safe offers locks as reliable as these.

Just like our top pick, this safe has Molle straps on the door. You can move the included storage pouches and pockets wherever you like or even add your own if you like. Want all the pistols in the middle? Just move them where you want!

This safe also has an internal electrical outlet with 3 outlets and 2 USB ports. This is great for plugging in a dehumidifier, lights, or recharging other devices inside the safe.

Four internal bolt down holes and hardware are included to bolt the safe to the floor. Most budget safes do not have internal holes but rather an external foot where the holes must be predrilled. Internal holes make it much easier and quicker to secure.

I also like how the shelving is fully adjustable so that I can arrange it however I want. If you have more long guns, you can set it up to hold them on both sides. Or, if you have less than 11, you can set it up to hold long guns on one side and put shelves on the other.

Recommended for:

The Stealth EGS23 gun safe is for anyone who wants a full-size gun safe but is on a budget. The added features in this safe rival what you will find on more expensive models.

PROS

Affordable

Interior Power Outlet

UL Electronic Lock

Lifetime Warranty

CONS

30 min Fire Rating

Video of the Stealth EGS14

This video is the smaller version of the EGS23, but the features are very similar.


Stealth UL14 – Best Small Gun Safe

Stealth UL14 - Best Small Gun Safe
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  • Type: Full Size
  • Size: 55” H x 20” W x 17” D
  • Weight: 365 lbs
  • Capacity: 14 Long Guns
  • Fire Rating: 60 min @ 1200 F
  • UL RSC Rated: Yes
  • MSRP: $1399

The Stealth UL14 gun safe is a UL RSC-rated gun safe that has a full 60 minutes of fire protection.

This is a smaller safe that can hold up to 14 long guns. Pistols and handguns can be stored on the door or on the adjustable top shelf. I like that this safe has an excellent fire rating and is still a manageable size that can be moved with a few people.

The door and the body of the safe are built with 12 gauge steel, which is the minimum for UL RSC certification. The door is secured by ten 1 ¼” thick locking bolts and includes an expanding seal for fire protection.

Similar to our top pick, this safe has Molle loops on the door, so you can customize it however you want. You could even attach other pouches or gear if you want. This is a big advantage over other safes that have permanently attached pouches.

The standard lock is a UL-listed electronic lock, like our top pick. However, you can upgrade the lock to a few different other options as well.

I like how the long gun rack is lined with leather. Similar safes just have carpet here that wears over time. I have seen many gun safes that have the carpet worn off here.

An internal electrical outlet is included for lights or a dehumidifier. It also has two USB charge ports.

While this safe can hold 14 long guns, it really depends on the size of them and if they have scopes. Large scopes will take up more room, so you may be unable to fit 14 large rifles with scopes in this safe.

Recommended for:

The Stealth UL14 gun safe is for someone who has a small collection of guns and wants to protect them in a UL-rated safe. The price of this safe is affordable and is a great value.

PROS

UL RSC Rated

Interior Power Outlet

60 Min Fire Protection

Molle Door Panel

CONS

Capacity

Video of the Stealth UL 14 Gun Safe


Hollon RG-22 Republic – Best Fireproof Gun Safe

Hollon RG-22 Republic - Best Fireproof Gun Safe
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  • Type: Full Size
  • Size: 59” H x 30” W x 24” D
  • Weight: 800 lbs
  • Capacity: 22 Long Guns
  • Fire Rating: 120 min @ 1400 F
  • UL RSC Rated: Yes
  • MSRP: $2987

The Hollon RG-22 Republic gun safe is the one you want if you are looking for the ultimate protection for your firearms.

This safe has a fire rating of 120 minutes at 1400 F. It is hard to find many other safes with a fire rating this high.

To achieve this, Hollon has made this one beefy safe. The door is made from a full ¼” solid steel hard plate. It has 14 chrome-plated 1 ½” solid steel locking bolts and an expanding seal. The safe body is made from 10-gauge steel.

If you are worried about EMP protection, the electronic lock has you covered. It was tested to military EMP attack standards and passed.

I like that the internal gun rack and shelving system are fully customizable. The door has six pouches for handguns and five larger pouches for documents and other valuables.

There is an interior power outlet as well as a built-in motion-activated interior LED light kit. I like how the light is around the inside of the door and illuminates the full height. This way, you can see what is on each shelf.

The size of this safe is not huge, so it will still fit through standard doors in most homes. It is heavy, though, so I would recommend the white glove service from Armadillo safe when you order it.

Considering the fire rating and the capacity of this safe, the price is still reasonable. If you can even find a comparable safe at a big box store, they are much more expensive. Not to mention you have to move them yourself.

Recommended for:

The Hollon RG-22 Republic gun safe is for anyone looking for the ultimate protection for their guns and valuables without having to pay an extreme amount.

PROS

Exceeds UL RSC Rating

EMP Rated E-Lock

120 Min Fire Protection

Light Kit

CONS

Heavy, Hard to Move

Video of the Hollon RG-22 Republic Gun Safe

This video is a little corny but gives a great explanation of how this safe is built.


Hornady Rapid Safe Night Guard – Best Nightstand Gun Safe

Hornady Rapid Safe Night Guard – Best Nightstand Gun Safe
  • Type: Portable
  • Size: 12” x 10.5” x 3”
  • Weight: 13.8 lbs
  • Capacity: One Full Size Handgun
  • Fire Rating: None
  • UL RSC Rated: No
  • MSRP: $250

The Hornady Rapid Safe Night Guard is a discrete nightstand gun safe.

I like that this safe tends to blend into the surroundings, and you don’t realize that it is a gun safe. The digital clock on the front makes it look like a clock radio that many people have in their bedrooms.

This safe has an electronic lock and can be opened in three different ways. You can use the four-digit keypad on the front, RFID tags, and a key on the back of the safe.

With the RFID entry, you simply place one of the included RFID tags over the front panel, and the spring-loaded door opens to reveal your handgun.

The safe comes with 4 RFID tags. A watchband tag, keyfob tag, and two decal tags. Personally, I like to hide the decal tags on a nearby object that I can just move over the safe to open it. The back of a small picture frame on my nightstand works well. Just make sure the kids don’t see you open it!

A steel cable is included to secure it to your bed or nightstand. This is a must for smaller safes and keeps it from being removed easily.

This safe must be plugged into an AC outlet to function. It does have battery backup with three AAA batteries, so it will function during power outages. It also has two USB charging ports on the back, so you can plug in a small charging cable and charge your phone or survival watch at night.

Personally, I prefer to have a good biometric scanner on my rapid access safes. The RFID tag is arguably more reliable and costs less, but having to keep a tag on my wrist or on something nearby is a hassle.

There is also no light inside the safe, so when it opens, it is hard to see what is inside in the dark. I found that grabbing my handgun in the dark was not hard to do, but finding a spare magazine – not so much.

Also, check out the Vaultek Smart Station, which has a biometric scanner but is considerably more expensive than the Hornady. It is hard to justify the price of the Vaultek, so I still recommend the Hornady just because of the lower price.

Recommended for:

The Hornady Rapid Safe Night Guard is for anyone looking for an affordable rapid access nightstand safe. The RFID system is reliable, and the discreet appearance is a plus.

PROS

Discreet

Reliable RFID Lock

Security Cable

CONS

No Interior Light

No Biometric Scanner

Video of the Hornady Rapid Safe Night Guard


Vaultek Pro VTi – Best Handgun Safe

Vaultek Pro VTi - Best Handgun Safe
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  • Type: Table Top
  • Size: 14.5” x 10.6” x 3.3”
  • Weight: 16 lbs
  • Capacity: 2 Full Size Handguns
  • Fire Rating: N/A
  • UL RSC Rated: No
  • MSRP: $419

The Vaultek Pro VTi gun safe is a tabletop, quick-access handgun safe with a biometric fingerprint scanner.

I have been using this safe every day for over 5 years now. I keep both my concealed carry gun (Glock 19) and my home defense gun (Glock 17) inside it. I use it as my nightstand safe since I want to be able to have two handguns available.

I really like this safe since it has both a biometric scanner and an eight-digit keypad. The eight digits make it much harder for someone to guess the passcode versus the four digits that most other safes have.

This safe has a built-in rechargeable battery that will last for a few months before it needs to be recharged. Each time I open it, the lights above the scanner indicate the charge level. I simply plug in the included micro USB charger into the right-hand side of the base to charge it.

I have never had an issue with the battery dying on me unexpectedly, but if I did, this safe comes with a key that will also unlock the safe.

A steel cable comes with the safe to secure it. I have mine around the frame of my bed.

The author showing his handgun safe security cable
My Vaultek secured to my bed frame

If someone picks up the safe and moves it around, it has an audible alarm that will sound. It is not super loud, but loud enough to get everyone’s attention.

I have had good success with the biometric scanner. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time it didn’t work. I think the key is to consistently put my finger in the same place every time. I have done it so much now I don’t have to think about it.

This safe also has a phone app that tells me the battery level, if the tamper alarm has been activated, and the access history of the safe. I can also open the safe and adjust the brightness of the interior light with the app.

My only negative is it is kind of loud when it opens. The lock and spring-loaded door make a distinct “pop” when it opens. Quietly opening this safe is just not possible.

All in all, I can say I like this safe and believe in the quality of the Vaultek brand. As important as a gun safe is, I would not want to go with a cheaper copy hoping to save some money.

Recommended for:

The Vaultek Pro VTi gun safe is for anyone looking for a quick-access handgun safe that will hold more than one handgun. The quality and reliability of this safe is hard to beat.

PROS

Biometric Scanner

8 Digit Keypad

4 Entry Methods

Dimmable Interior Light

Tamper Alarm

CONS

Loud When Opening

Video of the Vaultek Pro VTi


Stop Box – Best Quick Access Lock Box

Stop Box - Best Quick Access Lock Box
  • Type: Portable
  • Size: 11.25” x 7.9” x 2”
  • Weight: 1.75 lbs
  • Capacity: One Full Size Handgun
  • Fire Rating: None
  • UL RSC Rated: No

The Stop Box Handgun lock box is a unique way to store your firearm when you are at home and want to have quick access no matter which room you are in.

It is one of the few ways I have found to store my handgun in a safe that is 100% mechanical and provides quick access. It does not need batteries and has no electronics.

This lock box is about the size of a book and is very lightweight, so it is easy to move around my home.

It has an intuitive patented locking system that uses only buttons. There are five buttons, and they are arranged on the top of the box.

To open it, you first simply press the correct combination with the four buttons on the top. Then, you press the side button with your thumb. After you open it a few times, you can do it blindfolded, it is that easy.

The author showing how to open a stop box
Opening the Stop Box is very intuitive and easy

It is also ambidextrous, so left-handed people can use it the same way. In fact, Blake, our left-handed team member, also uses the stop box daily at home.

This locking system keeps your handgun away from children but still allows you to retrieve your handgun very quickly.

This lock box is not designed to keep your firearm secure while you are away from home. It could be easily compromised with a few tools. It is for use when you want to keep your handgun close by but do not want to keep it in your holster.

If you plan to leave your firearm unattended, you do need one of the other safes on our list.

The stop box does offer a lot of value. It opens faster than any other small handgun safe I have tried, and it will work forever. It never needs batteries and has a lifetime warranty.

Recommended for:

The Stop Box Handgun lock box is for anyone who wants a portable lock box for their handgun that opens quickly. It should only be used when you plan to keep it nearby.

PROS

Quick Access

Intuitive Lock Design

Discrete

CONS

Not for Unattended Security

Video of the Stop Box


Tactical Walls 1450 Hinged Mirror – Best Hidden Gun Safe

Tactical Walls 1450 Hinged Mirror - Best Hidden Gun Safe
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  • Type: Hidden Mirror Safe
  • Size: 63” H x 25” W x 7” D
  • Weight: 48 lbs
  • Capacity: 1-2 Long Guns, 3-6 Handguns
  • Fire Rating: None
  • UL RSC Rated: No
  • MSRP: $737

The Tactical Walls 1450 Concealment Mirror is a clever way to secure your firearms in plain sight.

From the outside, this looks like just a plain mirror hanging on the wall. You don’t think anything more about it when you see it.

But, once you place a magnetic key on the side of the mirror, the frame opens up to reveal recessed compartments. These compartments can hold handguns, magazines, rifles, shotguns, or knives.

Each compartment has a magnetic backplate that holds any metallic object securely and gives you full access when you need to grab one.

The only real downside to the Mirror is it doesn’t offer any fire protection for firearms or other valuables. But, it does conceal them very well.

This mirror is installed into a standard drywall 16” on the center stud wall. So, if you do not have drywall, this mirror will not work. Since you have to cut a hole in the drywall to install this mirror, interior walls work best since they typically do not have insulation.

If you do not have room for a gun safe and want a way to conceal your firearms, this is a great option. However, if you rent, you probably won’t be able to cut a big hole in the wall unless you want to leave the mirror when you move out.

Recommended for:

The Tactical Walls 1450 Concealment Mirror is for someone who doesn’t want a typical gun safe but would like to secure and conceal their firearms.

PROS

Conceals Firearms Behind Mirror

Magnetic Back Panel

Easy to Open

CONS

Requires Installation

No Fire Protection

Video of the Tactical Walls 1450 Concealment Mirror


Secure It Agile Ultralight Model 52 – Best Modular Gun Safe

Secure It Agile Ultralight Model 52 - Best Modular Gun Safe
  • Type: Modular Long Gun Locker
  • Size: 52” H x 20.25” W x 15.25” D
  • Weight: 105 lbs
  • Capacity: 6 Long Guns
  • Fire Rating: None
  • UL RSC Rated: No

The Secure It Agile Ultralight Model 52 gun locker is a modular lightweight locker that can fit in tight places.

What makes this safe alternative unique is it ships disassembled in panels. This is good for people who have a tight area like a closet or small room that a traditional safe won’t fit in.

It is also great for people with apartments on the upper floors. Since it only weighs around 100 lbs and comes in a flat box, it can be delivered by UPS or FedEx right to your door.

The interior has a modular system of cradles that allow you to configure it to suit your needs. They have long gun cradles, pistol pegs, shelves, and bins that you can arrange as you wish with the grid on the back. A door organizer is also available to give you more storage space.

The door of the locker has a 6-digit electronic lock with two override keys. It can also be bolted to the wall or floor, which I would recommend since this locker is so light.

Keep in mind that this is a gun locker and not a safe. It can be easily compromised in a few minutes with a few tools and offers no fire protection. If you live in an apartment with a sprinkler system, a large safe with a good fire rating may not be important or possible for you.

For some people, the benefit of this locker coming unassembled could also be a negative. If you are somewhat mechanically inclined, assembly is not too difficult. But it does take some time, and you really need two people to complete it. See the video below for how to assemble it.

The great thing about it coming disassembled is you can assemble it in a space where you couldn’t get it down a hall or through a door if it was assembled. Just don’t forget that if you ever want to move it you will have to take it apart!

Recommended for:

The Secure It Agile Ultralight Model 52 gun locker is for anyone who doesn’t have space for a traditional gun safe and needs a lightweight option. It can be assembled anywhere, and the modularity and flexibility make this a great solution.

PROS

Lightweight

Modular Design

Flexible Interior Layout

Ships Disassembled

Great for Apartments

CONS

Minimal Security

No Fire Protection

Video Review of the Secure It Agile Ultralight Model 52 gun locker


Tips for Choosing the Best Gun Safe

Buying a gun safe is a big investment; you need to know what to look for, how to buy one, and what not to do. Spending a ton of money on a huge safe you can’t move is a heartbreaking mistake. Find out below everything you need to know!

Why Do You Need a Gun Safe?

When I was young, I remember my grandfather had a gun cabinet in the living room. It was a huge piece of furniture with a smooth dark oak finish inside and out with two big glass doors. It was more of a display case and didn’t really offer much security. Although, it did have a key lock on it to keep me out.

Gun cabinets like these are nonexistent these days. I think the main issue is they display to everyone the valuable firearms that you have. Anyone who comes into your house can quickly assess that you have something of value.

Even if it is someone you know, they could talk about it later, and the wrong person could overhear it.

Many people just stash their hunting rifles and shotguns in the closet. I did this for years myself. Handguns are another story and are usually stashed in a nightstand drawer or on top of a bookshelf.

There are two big issues with this and the main reasons you need a safe gun.

Security and Access

The first is access and security. Obviously, you don’t want a firearm in the hands of a child. Firearms are interesting to young children, and once they find them, they want to play and act out what they have seen on TV or in movies.

Firearms are one of the main targets of burglaries. Some firearm prices are expensive, they are easy to sell, and the demand never disappears. The first place they will look is in the closet behind those dusty clothes you never wear on the end of the rack.

Handguns and pistols are some of the most common items stolen from vehicles for the same reason.

Protection and Corrosion

The other reason to store your firearms in a safe is to protect them from damage and corrosion.

In my first apartment, I had a rifle and shotgun in my closet. My closet door was in my bathroom, so when we took a shower, the humidity would increase in the closet and the bathroom. This caused my shotgun to rust quickly, so I would have to wipe it down frequently.

They would also get dusty and knocked over easily. Not to mention trying to deal with all the other stuff that tends to get stuffed in a closet from hitting them.

Bottom line – a proper safe is a must-have if you have firearms.

Best sure to check out our guide on the best gun cleaner and lube for what we have found to be the best protectant against corrosion. Also read our best gun cleaning kits guide for our top picks on affordable cleaning kits.

Gun Safe Type

This seems like the most obvious decision. If you only have a handgun or pistol, you don’t need a long gun (rifle and shotgun) safe. If you want to keep a handgun in your vehicle, then you need a car safe.

However, it gets more complicated when you have more than a few guns, and you want to be able to access them in an emergency. It may be that you need more than one type.

The Author's Vaultek nightstand gun safe
It makes the most sense to spread out your firearms in multiple safes

Pistol and Handgun Safe

These safes are smaller safes that can hold one or multiple handguns. Since they are smaller, they can be placed almost anywhere. However, since they are easy to move, ensure they have a way to secure them to a larger object. Otherwise, someone can just grab it and walk out the door with it.

The most common way to secure a small safe is to screw it to another object, like a desk or wall. Many also have a steel cable that you can loop around something heavy, like a bed frame.

Nightstand Safe

These are pistol and handgun safes that are intended to provide quick access on a nightstand. These can have added features like clocks, alarms, and phone chargers. The main thing to look for here is a way you can quickly access them in the dark. Fumbling around with a key is not going to work here.

Long Gun Safe

These are larger in size to hold rifles and shotguns as well as pistols, handguns, and any other valuables that you may have. The size and construction of these safes are important to consider. We will discuss this more below.

Car Safe

Since everyone’s vehicle is different, this is perhaps the most difficult safe to choose. Not only does the safe need to fit in a convenient place in your vehicle, but it must also be large enough to hold your handgun or pistol. Access is also important, especially if you want to be able to get to it without getting out of the car.

Security is also important here. The safe needs to be attached to your vehicle somehow, either with screws or a cable. Some safes, like a headrest safe, are hidden in plain sight and work great.

Jeep with headrest gun safes
Headrest Safes are a great option for your car, they are “hidden in plain sight”

Choosing a car safe really depends on how you intend to use it. A safe under the seat is fine if it is just for securing your firearm when you are not carrying it. If you want a safe that you can access while being seated in the driver’s seat, then a safe under the seat won’t work.

Hidden Safes

Some safes can be hidden in plain sight in your home. A mirror safe is a good example. Unless someone sees you accessing it, they will never realize that it is a safe at all. The capacity of these is usually limited. They are intended to provide a quick way to access some of your firearms without accessing your main safe.


Gun Safe or Locker – Know the Difference

It is important to understand the difference between a gun safe and a locker. A gun safe is a substantial safe that will take someone a long time to break into. It will also provide some protection to the contents in a fire. Guns safes will also provide some protection from humidity if they have a humidity control device.

Some manufacturers refer to their product as a gun safe, while they are really just a locker. A locker is more of what you saw in high school, a metal box with a lock on it. They are easily broken into and do not provide any protection to the contents from humidity or fire.

However, locker-type gun storage units do have their place. They are lighter and easier to move than large safes and cost less. They can also be placed in more convenient places and sometimes customized. These are popular for gun owners with apartments.

Just keep in mind that not all “gun safes” are the same. Study what you are buying and read our reviews above.

The Underwriters Laboratories has a standard called the Residential Security Container Standard or RSC. This standard defines what can be considered an effective safe against theft. If you have expensive firearms or other valuables, make sure the safe you buy is RSC-rated.

Where will you put your safe?

This mainly applies to larger long gun safes since a nightstand safe will obviously be on the nightstand.

Think through the best place for your gun safe in your home. Do you want to be able to access it quickly? Is it mainly just for your hunting rifles and shotguns, and you only access it during hunting season?

The author's nightstand gun safe open
My quick access Vaultek is in a separate room from my main safe

The absolute best place for a long gun safe is in a climate-controlled room. Humidity accelerates the corrosion of firearms as well as temperature swings. While safes do a pretty good job controlling the humidity inside them, they are not airtight.

Putting a safe in your garage, outbuilding, or basement requires more attention. You cannot just lock it and forget about it. You will need to monitor the amount of moisture in the area and keep all of your firearms clean and wiped down. Some type of powered safe dehumidifier is also a must (see the accessories below.)

If you store your firearms in an area that is not air-conditioned, it also means that you will need to clean them more often. The presence of salts from your hands and the gunpowder accelerates the corrosion process. The presence of moisture from humid air also accelerates this.

The best place to put your gun safe is in a bedroom, spare room, bonus room, or finished basement. These areas are climate-controlled and away from the main traffic in the home. You can also access it quickly if needed.

Gun Safe Size, Weight, and Capacity

When buying a gun safe, especially a large long gun safe for your home, the size and weight of your safe are important to consider.

If you have more than a few guns, it is natural to just count up how many you have and go for a safe that will hold all of them. After all, bigger is better, and you might as well buy one that will hold everything, right?

Usually, this is the wrong choice.

Unless you live in a barn dominium with huge doors, your home probably has doors that are not very big. There are probably steps to get into your home, furniture, and hallways.

The size and weight of your safe will dictate where you can put it. If you have decided the best place is in a spare room, then you need to review how you are going to get it in there. If it is larger than the door and weighs 500 pounds, it’s not going to happen.

I see so many people just order a gun safe that will hold everything they have, and it ends up sitting in their garage because it won’t fit in their house. Now they have all their firearms in one place, virtually outside, facing the road where everyone can see it when they drive by. Not the best choice.

Usually, the best choice is to use multiple smaller safes if you have a large collection of firearms. They are easier to move if needed, and you have multiple options.

The author showing a dolly to move a gun safe with
A furniture dolly is very helpful to move your safe and keep it upright

Don’t forget that just because a safe is smaller than your door frames does not mean that it will fit in a particular room. Often there are corners and halls to negotiate, and the diagonal length of the safe will come into play.

To test it, cut a piece of cardboard that is the rectangular shape of the safe you are considering. Move it through your home from the door to its final resting spot. If you can’t make it down a hall or into a room without lifting it off of the floor, it is not going to fit.

This is assuming that you can move the safe with it upright through your home. With very heavy safes, they require special dollies that you probably don’t have either.

To make it easy, if you are purchasing a large heavy safe, consider buying from a company that offers white glove delivery service like Armadillo Safes. With this service, they will deliver, unpack, set up, and move the safe into your home. You don’t have to lift a finger.

Gun Safe Access and Lock Types

Gun Safes have two basic lock types, mechanical and electronic.

Mechanical locks are opened with the traditional key or combination lock. The great thing about them is they are reliable. They don’t need a power source and always work.

The bad thing about them is they take time to open. For the keyed locks, you also have to keep up with the key. If you lose or misplace the key, well, you are out of luck.

Some mechanical locks have a combination of buttons that you press to open the safe. These solve the problem of being slow to open. Safes like the stop box we reviewed above can be opened very fast.

The author's stop box open with a Glock 19
The Stop Box lock is 100% mechanical, no power needed

Electronic locks have a keypad that you simply enter a code for access. Some safes take this a step further and have a biometric fingerprint scanner. These safes are very easy to open and usually have a light to aid in access at night.

The downside of electronic locks is they need a power source. Most have either an internal battery or they can be plugged into a power outlet.

The author's phone showing the Vaultek app
The Vaultek app

Most also have a mechanical lock that can be opened with a key as a backup. My Vaultek safe has a built-in rechargeable battery. If the battery malfunctions and cannot be charged, it has a key as a backup.

Some advanced safes have Bluetooth and phone apps that allow you to adjust settings, open the safe, and see the history of how many times it was opened. Some even have built-in EMP protection and are rated to withstand an EMP attack or discharge.

For most people, I recommend an electronic lock. Larger long gun safes typically run on a 9V battery that lasts for years. For a nightstand or quick access safe, a biometric scanner safe that also has a keypad for entering a code and a key backup is the best of both worlds.

The author's gun safe showing the battery for the electronic lock
Most electronic locks have batteries that can be changed from the outside

Biometric Gun Safe Entry

As an engineer, I have installed many biometric scanners on different types of equipment to allow user access. There are different types of fingerprint scanners on the market. Some work well, and some do not.

I have found that the cheaper scanners use sensors that do not have enough resolution to work reliably. You have to try over and over again, and sometimes you have to re-save your fingerprint in the system for it to finally work.

For gun safes, there is a lot of talk on the internet about how they don’t work well for this same reason.

If you would like to have a biometric safe, do not buy the cheapest one you can find. It will not operate reliably and is a waste of money.

The author unlocking a biometric gun safe
Biometric safes are a convenient option, if you get one with a quality scanner

I have used a biometric safe from Vaultek every day for the past 5 years. It is important to hold your finger on the scanner at the same angle and position every time. I have two different fingerprints saved, one for standing and one for lying down while using the same finger. I find that this makes it much more reliable than trying to rely on just one.

Gun Safe Wall Thickness and Fire Rating

The wall thickness of a safe is important to consider for security reasons. A thin metal locker can be easily busted into with a hammer or crowbar.

A long gun safe should have a wall thickness greater than 12 gauge and have a recessed door with multiple locking bars. This will prevent someone from easily breaking into it with just a crowbar.

If you would like to protect your firearms, valuables, and important documents from a fire, consider a long gun safe that is fire-rated.

Gun safe fire ratings are easy to understand. They will include the temperature and the time. A safe that is rated at 1200 degrees for 30 minutes means that it will keep the internal temperature in the safe below 350 degrees for 30 minutes in a 1200-degree fire.

Typical house fires burn at around 1100 degrees. The paper will typically burn at around 400 degrees. Depending on the composition, plastics will start deforming at around 500 degrees. Typical firearm metals will not start to become damaged until they reach 1000 degrees.

Gun safes that are fire-rated will have an expanding seal around the door that reacts with heat. This seals the safe to protect it from smoke and hot air from entering the safe. If you are looking at a safe that does not have this, it is likely not fire-rated.

Interior Features – Lights, Racks, and Electrical Outlets

These are features that are often forgotten about but, in my experience, make a difference in an OK safe and a great safe.

For nightstand safes that you want to be able to access quickly, look for one that has an internal light. Being able to open a safe quickly doesn’t mean much if you are fumbling around trying to find your gun in the dark.

The author's nightstand safe in the dark showing the internal light
My Vaultek safe interior light in the pitch black darkness

For larger long gun safes, consider what you will store in them. Safes with adjustable and configurable shelves are nice to be able to customize to your needs. Some can be arranged to hold long guns on one half and shelves for handguns, ammunition, or documents on the other.

If you have a bunch of rifles and shotguns, look for one that has long gun racks across the entire width.

One feature that you don’t realize you need is internal electrical outlets. These a very handy for lights and dehumidifiers.

One of my large safes doesn’t have this, and I keep a flashlight in there so I can see. It is still a pain to find stuff in the bottom since I can’t use both hands. Internal outlets make it easy to plug in a light.

Dehumidifiers are also recommended for all safes, regardless if your safe is in a climate-controlled area or not.

Powered safe dehumidifiers work great and you can plug them in and forget them. But, you need an internal outlet to plug one into.

Safe dryers that require no power are an option if you don’t have outlets. However, they must be plugged in and “recharged” periodically.

The author's gun safe dehumidifer
A gun safe dehumidifier is affordable and a must for your safe

Gun Safe Brand

As with most things, you get what you pay for. There are a ton of handgun and pistol safes on Amazon that are copies of reputable brands and are made in low-cost countries.

Most of these are “biometric” safes that use cheaper fingerprint scanners, as I mentioned. If the English in the description is not very good, stay away from them to avoid a lot of aggravation.

If the brand name is unfamiliar or sounds kind of funny, do more research and check them out. We have experience with or researched all of the brands in this list, and they are all reputable companies with great customer service.


Gun Safe Accessories

These dehumidifiers are essential for any large gun safe. We have included a powered option with the Goldenrod, and a cordless option with the Pro Breeze.

The Goldenrod is plug in and forget, while the Pro Breeze will need to be plugged into an outlet periodically to recharge. The sight window makes it easy to see when you need to plug it in.

MAXSafes Goldenrod Gun Safe Dehumidifier

MAXSafes Goldenrod Gun Safe Dehumidifier

Compact

Standard Outlet Plug

Mounting Brackets Included

Pro Breeze Gun Safe Dehumidifier

Pro Breeze Gun Safe Dehumidifier

Cordless

Charge every 20-30 days

Works in Large Safes


Buy Your Gun Safe Online with Confidence

Now that you know what to look for, buying a gun safe will be much easier and remove a lot of the hassle and disappointment that many safe buyers face.

Our top pick, the Stealth Premier 32, is the ultimate gun safe. But it does not have an ultimate price and is an affordable safe that will last for generations.

Buying a gun safe online is the easiest way I have found to buy a safe since it removes the hassle of picking up the safe at a big box store and getting it home. It is also usually much cheaper.

You can save 5% off of your purchase at Armadillo Safes by using code “survivalstoic”. Their customer service is great, they have a huge selection, and they have the best prices I have found.

Now that you have picked out a gun safe, check out our other self-defense guides and reviews! If you would like tips on how to save money on ammunition, check out our full ammunition cost guide.

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.